How Do I Deal With Alcoholic Wife and Bitter Daughter?
My wife 62 is a teacher, who is ready to retire. She became an alcoholic about 8 years ago when our son went away to college and then dropped out. She has always had difficulty sleeping.
We had high hopes for our son and his dropping out devastated my wife. This lead to depression and sleepless nights. She started medicating herself without me or anyone else knowing by taking a drink before bed, so she could sleep.
Several years later she started drinking at different times and getting pass out drunk. We were very naive and thought she was having strokes and other medical problems.
One day I came home and she was passed out on the floor and I couldn't wake her and couldn't feel a pulse. I called an ambulance and they were very concerned and took her straight to the hospital and said, she almost died on the way.
At the hospital they ran numerous tests and were coming up blank. Then they ran a blood alcohol test and she was .40. The Dr. came out to talk to me and when he told me she was drunk, I was floored. I could not believe what I was hearing.
My wife is a very respected teacher with numerous awards, beautiful children and I thought a great marriage. I was stunned. During this time our married daughter was pregnant with her first child. She was desperately worried about her mothers health and would be the first to come to the Dr. office, hospital, wherever when we didn't know what was wrong.
You must understand my wife hid the fact that she was drinking for years and led us to believe that it was health issues. When my daughter found out that it was all due to drinking, it hit her hard. She couldn't believe that her mother would do that to her while she was pregnant.
Since then, my wife has been to detox 3 times, seen counselors, gone to AA, been on medications to help her quit drinking, but she continues to cycle. She will go for weeks, even months sober and then she loses it an will go on a 2 or 3 day binge.
Then she will say enough, work hard at going to AA, counselors, etc. and then repeat. She never drinks outside the home. Has never driven while drunk and is nearly always sober in time for work. She has called in sick a few times when she was still recovering from the binge. When she drinks she always drinks Vodka straight and keeps it hidden around the house.
Now my daughter has 2 beautiful grandchildren that we both adore. My daughter has grown impatient and wants her mother to quit drinking. About a year ago she started putting up barriers.
Even though my daughter never is around when my wife is drunk, she knows because my wife will not call or email her for days and when she is not drunk, she calls every day and emails multiple times a day. Then my daughter calls me and asks me if Mom is drinking.
It has gotten to a point were my daughter thinks my wife is drinking even when she isn't. She has become paranoid about it. They used to come to our house for all holidays and birthdays or when my son comes into town. Last year she said that until my wife quit drinking for good that we would have to come to their house.
Then she started telling us we could only come by once a week to see the kids and then if she found out that her mom had been drinking, she would say you can't come over for a month.
My problem is that my wife is fighting this, but has still not come to the point were she will quit. She works the meetings, reads our books, sees her counselor, but then the slip up. My daughter has not been to our house in over a year.
I hardly ever get to see the grandchildren and my daughter just keeps imposing more and more boundaries and it's gotten to the point where our relationship has become very strained. My wife is really distraught over her relationship with her daughter and is drinking more often.
Since this also affects my relationship with my daughter, I have tried to talk to her on numerous occasions. I understand consequences, but I don't understand her attitude of shutting out her mother completely, even when she is doing well with her sobriety.
It has finally gotten to the point where I don't want to talk to my daughter anymore and she doesn't want to talk
to us. She has been trying the same approach for the last 2 years and it hasn't worked. Do you think she is doing the right thing by shutting us out? Do you have any suggestions?
I am tired of my wife crying from hurtful conversations with our daughter. My daughter really gets in a "have you been drinking"? Weary tone and really never offers any support or words of encouragement when things are going well. Now when I try to talk with my daughter, she said she doesn't want to talk anymore, because I maker her feel guilty.
I am not happy that my wife is an alcoholic, but I have come to realize over the years and after Al-Anon meetings and meetings with counselors, that there is nothing I can do. It is hard to watch someone you love with this destructive behaviour, but I live with it daily and most days are good.
I am beginning to resent my daughter and her actions and I am to a point where, if she doesn't lighten up, that I will cease all contact and that is very, very sad. Fed up with both of them!
Your daughter is obviously deeply hurt and disappointed with her Mom's alcoholism. And the fact that it seemed to co-inside with the birth of your grand kids probably just compounded that - and for her what should have been a beautiful time and period of celebration when families are brought closer together, was overshadowed with what was happening with your wife.
So there is a lot of anger and resentment there because she wouldn't have been able to really enjoy her moment - the birth of her child - because she was worried what was happening with her Mom.
And the fact that your wife continues to drink is something your daughter probably can't understand either because in her mind she probably thinks she's provided her with all the reason in the world to be joyful and happy in the form of 2 grand kids, yet it still isn't enough, as your wife continues to succumb to her alcoholism.
So unfortunately you're caught in the middle here, but like you've accepted your wife's drinking and are grateful you have more good days than bad with her, you're going to have to try and do the same with your daughter.
If she doesn't want to stop punishing her mother, in reality there isn't a lot you can do. And the more you try and fight it, the worse its just going to make things. But tell your daughter that her mother loves her and her grandchildren but right now she hasn't quite managed to beat her illness yet, but continues to try, and that you'd prefer she didn't continue to punish her, but that you can't stop her.
Then try and reach a compromise with her whereby you are no longer caught in the middle of what's happening - and be clear that her and her mother need to sort this out between themselves one way or another ... and that you refuse to continue taking the brunt for what's happening. If they want to fight, disagree or be upset with each other then they must do so directly, rather than through you.
You're obviously trying to stand up for your wife, but you also need to realise its not your fight so you should stay out of it - and that's something you need to be firm on with both your wife and daughter.
And if it was me, I'd be saying to my daughter 'if you want to be cross with your mother then fine, but don't exclude me from seeing my grand kids' - and try and get more involved in their lives, even if it means doing so without your wife on occasion.
Unfortunately there is no perfect way to handle this, other than to also show your daughter some compassion and understanding. Another thing that may be effecting your daughter on some level is that she may feel that if your wife started drinking out of disappointment for your son's lack of achievement - surely her providing your wife with grand kids should have provided her with more than enough reason to quit.
People are complex and maybe you'll never really get to the bottom of why your daughter is so angry and upset. Hopefully it's a phase that will pass. All you can do is to continue to love your wife and your daughter, with the hope that one day they'll manage to repair their relationship. In the meantime though, try and avoid letting yourself get caught in the middle of it all.