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Alcoholic friend/ BPD advice needed(8 Posts)
I have the teenage dd of a friend living with me as she is currently unable to live at home (emotional abuse etc). She has been living here for 6 mos - the original agreement was a temporary stay until her dm's mh issues and addiction were under control (very difficult time, suicide attempts/ hospital stays/ residential rehab etc). Now likely to stay until she leaves school.
Since the dd has been living here, her dm has actually left the family home (and the dd's stepfather) - it is uncertain whether this is permanent or temporary, as the dm changes her mind about this on a fairly constant basis. The dm is now living two days drive away, with the intention to seek support for her bpd and addiction issues. Everyone was v supportive of this move - she was refusing to access services here as she felt they were unable to meet her complex needs - and she had put a good team in place with three different support networks - a ft M-F placement on a three month victims of trauma program, twice a week aftercare meetings from a residential rehab facility, plus good availability of AA/ NA meetings on a daily basis. As she was refusing to access support here, the only real question was where she was prepared to go.
At this point, two months in, she has dropped two of those networks completely (aftercare and AA) and her attendance at the ft course is patchy (she legitimizes this with a raft of reasoning as why she wasn't in attendance on such a such a day). She is drinking more, her thinking is even more complicated, and she is now trying to get me to police her dd's relationship with her sd. (She doesn't want him talking to her, but he is allowed to give her rides around town etc - essentially wants the dd to provide a taxi service on her behalf, but no more).
I am walking a fairly narrow line with trying to provide support to my friend, and to her teen dd. I think it is in the dd's best interest to build as wide a support network as possible - at this point it looks unlikely that her dm is going to recover in the near future, and the dd will be moving into young adulthood having to decide how to manage a very difficult relationship with her dm. The sd has been on the scene for 11 years and has essentially been a father figure to the dd. (She sees her dad twice a year for a week, but does chat to him - he lives a five hour flight away - she does not want to move to him at this point as it would mean changing schools etc). I should add there is absolutely no accusation of abuse from the sd. This is a 'control' issue about parenting, and I do understand that the dm feels very out of control currently and is trying to assert that.
I have explained to the dm that I will not police a stepfather's relationship with his almost adult step-daughter. And suggested that it is in her dd's best interest to have a good support network, with her mum and dad so far away. Now the dm says she is going to email her dd and insist that she breaks all contact with her sd, except for getting rides. (The rides thing is a convenience tool - I have three kids and when it was agreed that the dd could stay here, they insisted on still being responsible for day to day stuff except the actual living scenario - I have no guardianship or legal status and am effectively a landlord - all good, I am not trying to replace any parents).
I can see that my lovely friend is hurting desperately - the dd has now been pretty much NC with her for an extended period (the dd's counsellor supports her right to manage her relationship with her dm in whatever way she sees fit, including NC for protection if she feels she needs that). I am now really disturbed that in order to try and exert her own authority over her child, the dm is trying to limit the dd's support network. She has previously tried other routes to force the dd into increasing contact (including telling her she would remove her funding for university if she didn't move home, or that she would just 'disappear' if the dd didn't move home - essentially blackmailing her with suicide threats. Throughout her illness she has blamed the dd (as well as many other people/ factors) for her addiction problems).
I know she feels that everyone is trying to turn her child against her, to bankrupt her by tying her in to financial support for the dd by advising her to sign up for expensive education choices, and she believes that the sd is trying to divorce her and remove his liability for the dd's schooling. I can see that she clearly believes all of these things. (The sad has been clinging on to this relationship for the sd's sake, and because he feels so guilty about thinking about leaving someone because he can't cop with their illness). And that by refusing to police the dd/ sd relationship, she deems me to be aiding and abetting this plot against her.
I have tried over and over to explain that no one is advising her child to do anything. There is no plot. We are all just trying to support the dd to make whatever choices she wants to as a young adult, and ensure that she has a good support network available to her. But that I will not 'tell' the dd to do anything. I will support her right to make her own choices, and try to suggest she discusses them with her counsellor (but again - I am not going to force her.)
My poor friend sees everything as an attack. She was coming home at Christmas to see her husband (and her dd if possible). Her dh (the sd) finds her drinking very hard to cope with, and it exacerbates her bpd, so he called the program to ask if there was a good way he could support her for three weeks at home over Christmas away from the program and her supports. The dm saw this as a gross infringement of her privacy and won't have him involved in her treatment or recovery at all. And now won't go home at Christmas, but intends to drive back here and stay in a hotel so she can see the dd. She had asked her sister if she could go there - the ds is said she could not stay in the house as she was still drinking, but she was welcome to stay in a hotel and spend the holiday with the family. She took umbrage at the drinking and refused.
So two questions I guess - am I really at the end of the road here? Is there any way I can try and support the dd to maintain her network and not make the dm's paranoia worse?
And wtf do I do about Christmas? The idea of the dm driving four days (two here, two back) and staying in a hotel on the off chance her dd will see her is a disaster. Frankly she will text me morning noon and night to try and coerce me into persuading the dd. And get madder and madder when I won't force her. Generating more drinking and possible suicide threats. The idea of it is making me dread Christmas. We always have a huge family Christmas with family staying from overseas, and I am starting to fret a bit at the prospect of feeling I need to support my very unhappy friend in the margins.
I know she truly believes that she has done nothing wrong, her dd is in the wrong, her dh is in the wrong, I am in the wrong. She is completely unable to accept that any of us, except her, have been in any way affected by her bpd, her drinking, her suicide attempts (and for her dd, years of emotional abuse). To her, we are severely lacking in empathy, not trying to protect ourselves so we can continue to support her (and her dd). She doesn't see that just by still being here, we are trying desperately to support her.
Where do I go with this? <and apologies for the essay>
Reiterate I will not support her trying to sever her dd's contact with the sd?
Tell her not to drive here at Christmas? Or just accept I will have to deal with whatever she chooses to do...
I'd say, the dd has to come first, you need to do what is right for her even though it will hurt the mother. Also you cannot fix your friend and her illness is not your responsibility, tell her you love her but detach. If she sends texts over Christmas switch your phone off. I'm sorry if this sounds harsh. I have a much loved family member with bpd and problems with alcohol, and nodded in recognition at a lot of your post.
Would you tell her in advance that you think Christmas is a bad idea, though, Rosie? I'm struggling with the idea of being responsible for the dm over Christmas if she has driven all that way, to essentially sit in a hotel to see if her dd will see her or not? I know she is an adult, but it seems like a really problematic idea. (I can see it will be 'look at all the effort I put in to see you, and you bitches don't understand, why do you hate me so much, am I evil, what have I done? Throw me a fucking bone, here' etc etc)
Or would you ignore and let her make the decision herself, however problematic? ('Let' being a weird concept - she is absolutely free to make the journey if she decides to - I'm just worried about the consequences for her own my and for the dd (and frankly, me)).
I think I am just going to stick to my guns with the dd/ sd thing and refuse to police it, and ensure the dd knows that her relationship with her sd is her own business.
I would tell her in advance I think, yes. Then she can make her own choice. I think for your own wellbeing you need to move away from this idea of being responsible for her, her reactions and emotions. I spent a long time worrying I would say or do the wrong thing and family member would commit suicide or self harm. It took me a while to get to realise that it would be the illness that caused her to do that, not me. I honestly think that spending so much of my energy trying to talk, reason and support may have actually made her illness worse. It certainly didn't make it any better.
Stop engaging with your friend. If she says she is Christmas then tespibd with "that's nice".
When she contacts you to ask to see her DD "you have DD's phone number, give her a call".
If she messages about SD ignore, don't respond etc
Maybe deep down I'm trying justify that decision, mistletoe. Trying to validate that as an allowable solution.
I have enough detachment to not accept responsibility for her behaviour in terms of suicide attempts/ flight etc - but I worry when I can see she is distancing herself from her supports and spiralling again. It's much easier for me to dissociate when I know she has a good support set up. I guess I habitually try and plug the gap as I don't want her trying to deal with decisions on her own. But I need to take that dissociation a step further and accept that she has the right to accept treatment or choose not to. And that still is her right even though it makes everything else harder for everyone.
It's gutting knowing that she moved herself two days away to set herself up with a support network though. All that time, effort, expense. I'm honestly torn between shrugging and wanting to shout at her to just go to the groups. Get some addiction support. And stop drinking.
I won't. She's an adult. And it would be utterly counterproductive.
But it's so bloody sad.
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