Late onset alcoholism - parents live in Florida and visits are a disaster. Advice? -

Late onset alcoholism - parents live in Florida and visits are a disaster. Advice?


My parents live in Florida both in their early 70's. My family and my brothers family live I the northeast so visiting involves airfare car rental and hotel ... Not cheap. The grandkids are older teens young adults. The last couple of visits have been terrible due to their drinking . Mom starts on the wine mid afternoon --- full glasses drunk like water , and dad drinks vodka. Eventually he becomes argumentative and mean and she starts rambling and gets sloppy. She has told our kids her opinions about things in our lives that have upset them greatly and he has said some mean things. I've confronted her recently told her the drinking is a huge problem etc but of course she is stubborn and now mad at me. My question is what do we do now... Continue to spend money to visit..I don't really see where an ultimatum will work . They just act like petulant children. The distance makes things very difficult. Anyone have any experience with long distance issues? Thank you

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Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad what I wrote helped. It sounds like you have learned some painful lessons.

I think that I have lost one very long time friendship because we are no longer comfortable around each other. Frankly, he told me more than he really should have which should have been told to a therapist and I highly doubt that his wife knows. We have always shared our struggles in life and work together, but not only have we grown apart in some ways, I just know too much about him and it is impossible to know that. I talked about this in general terms with my wife without going into details for I'm not going to betray his confidentiality. She agrees that it sounds like he's shared too much.

While you don't specifically say it directly, part of what I hear you saying is that even the intimacy of marriage cannot bear all of our issues in their raw pain. You are right.

I think people expect too much from one person in a marriage that is just not possible. I've conclude that only to God and to your therapist, plus possibly online anonymously, as long as you don't give identifying information, can we totally bear our entire souls.

Thus, I believe this frees the marriage up emotionally to do what it can do without expecting what it cannot do. Sometimes people seek to escape their dysfunctional family by getting married, but that often solves nothing for their parent still lives in their head. Others, seek the mom or the dad that they never had or someone who can stand up to the parent that they never have stood up to, but they need to in order to be free. Sometimes for some reason people will marry someone very much like the parent that they had issues with.

When we can look to each other as each other's mate in marriage instead of look for each other to be one another's perfect soul mate who will fit perfectly with them.

Well enough on that. I tend to get long winded.
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Thanks cmagnum, I think you have just given the best reason to use a councilor/therapist that I have ever considered. I always had this idea that everyone would want their husband-wife to know everything about you and everything you think about, well to tell you the truth sharing too much of my pain with the last 2 I was in relationships with is actually what made them turn away from me in the end and I never did anything wrong other then expose my sadness to them. Now if you would tell your secrets to your best girlfriends or best male friends there is a large chance those secrets would be exposed and come back to haunt you, but with a therapist/professional you have a higher degree of hoping they will keep the confidentiality factor so that you can rant on and on and on with them and it won't come back to you through the grapevine. I know I would have this deep want to talk about everything with someone I was married to, but in the end I am coming to the conclusion that people are never going to understand you truly and if you talk about certain things you can unknowingly seed things into the other person you never had any intention of doing or even knew you were doing, which can then lead them to distrust you or feel depressed about you or whatever, which can lead them to leave you in the end and you wondering why. I think if I ever meet someone again I am not going to talk about certain things in life with them, I will do that anonymously on the internet, with a councilor or maybe rarely with someone who does not know where I live or if I am married or something like that with no future grapevine connection possible. Then I can have my ranting time fulfilled but I didn't torture my spouse in the process.
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Sorry, my eyes failed and I typed Philip instead of Philis.
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There is a lot of wisdom in what Philip has sad!

I think one reason that spouses and friends can only bear so much of our stuff is that their natural response is wanting to fix it, change it or go beat the people up for you because your pain and what others did to your to cause that pain makes them so angry.

Thus, they loose their objectivity and the emotional gas tanks begins to get used. With the lack of objectivity, I think some this sense of hurry to see you get past this real soon so you are happier. When this does not happen, I think a sense of powerlessness to help begins to creep in as does some tiredness. So, if this one thing they can't really help you with becomes all you ever talk about things get strained.

I think all of these issues and weakness come from a lack of being able to stay objective which is understandable, and yet that is what you get with a therapist. It is easier for them to be patient with your progress in the process because they have a sense of objectivity.This is also why a therapist cannot do therapy with their own family. They lack objectivity there.

I think part of what I mean when I add remember to breathe after saying keep pushing in your labor or a new life is while being focused do breathe in terms of relax from it all from time to time so that your passion for your goal does not become an controlling obsession of your life. Try to find something that you can do for you that you like, seek some fun things you and your husband can do together just the two of you, maybe find some time to spend some down time as mother and daughter plus the family needs to have some fun too. You don't have to plan all this by yourself. Get your husband's input and your daughter's input in putting things together. I think this is part of your self care while at war. Even in war, there are times after a strategic move that the troupes need fresh replacement of need to pull back some to regroup.

Take care!

I hope this both makes sense and is helpful for I've never put this together before, bu this is what comes to mind this afternoon.

I believe much of this comes from both my experience with my wife and her battles with her mom, my own issues and our feeling a bit worn out from getting sucked into her twin sister's drama with their mom. Frankly there is nothing more we can say other than we love you because it has all been said either by her therapist which she told us what she said or by us who have said the same thing. I somewhat would like to rescue my SIL from the wicked witch of the west but Dorothy needs to realize that she's got what she needs in getting back home from the emotional world of Oz back to Kansas. Neither my wife nor I can rescue her. Yet, there is an emotional connection that leads me to believe that she's like for me to rescue her in place of the weak dad she had as well as the weak husband she has. However, I refuse to be someone's emotional substitute. for what they didn't have or don't have. I'm not an object for use. *Sorry, but this had nothing to do with answering your question)

There are things about my wife's past war that she just doesn't want to talk about anymore and much of what her twin sister is dealing with reminds her too much of that. She's learned not to use me for pre-counseling before seeing her therapist. Most of the time when she begins doing that, I will point that out by saying that really needs to be discussed with your therapist whom your seeing later today. Likewise, I know my wife's issues well enough that I only share with my therapist some painful issues that are just better dealt with in therapy than unloading on her. I'll share overall how I feel that I am doing without going into details but that is me.

Again, your home sort of needs to function both as a fortress and a defense system which may need to fire some anti-aircraft weapons when attacks come from afar, but also to some degree a Mash unit also. I know it is tough to both fight and try to heal at the same time. Keep pushing and try to remember to breathe!!!!!
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"I've learned from experience that spouses like friends can only bear to hear so much of our stuff to a point without feeling frustrated"

I just started noticing this with a friend of mine, I would tell him all the crap I was dealing with with my bastard alcoholic brother and it affected my friendship with him as well as he would start to get angry with with about letting the bastard even live here another 2 weeks and that I should call the police and have him removed immediately. As much as I want to hear someone support me and what I suffer, I realized what you said that no one can support you, everyone you tell this crap to will suffer and be tormented just like you if you even expose them to it, you can't expose anyone to it except maybe non friend professionals or anonymously on the internet.
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You have finally taken the step to stop enabling your parents. Their drinking is their problem. You and your brother do not owe them apologies for any negative outcome due to their drinking. I hope you have enough strength in the future to keep that toxicity out of your life. I wish you well.
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Kimber166 thank you for sharing your story it helps greatly and I love the " this is between us" response. I do love my parents -- my real parents not the people they have become. The distance makes things very hard. We've decided not to visit anymore combined with a vacation. It's too hurtful forums and fact is something is going to happen that will necessitate me going anyway. My moms COPD wil only get worse and with all of this added stress it's only a matter of time till she ends up needing some help. Also they are thinking of moving and I will be needed at that point too I know it.

She is refusing to call my brother and feels he owes her an apology. Everything I've said to her --- everything -- she's refusing to acknowledge and I am very certain she hasn't told my dad any of it. She's a big one for not telling everyone the whole story so as not to make waves. Dad is a stubborn angry person and she thinks she can keep him from getting upset--- I know this from many years of experience. It's never that he needs to apologize for anything it's "why did you have to bring that up?" Directed to me usually as the oldest child.
A few years ago my dads sister and her husband went thru a thing with their adult kids and grandkids that it all came out in the open her husband had sexually molested his granddaughter and upon being confronted (with the help of a therapist) my aunt and uncle got mad and now none of them speak to each other. My mother and fathers stance was ok he is a monster but she is their mother they have no right to cut her off . Seriously.
So my mom has the same perspective here....he might be a jerk but we are supposed to look past it and not take it out on her

As I've said she's probably got a worse drinking problem than him --- I've told her all of this but the refrain is still that she was wronged by my brother

That's the dysfunction
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ms1231 - I have no additional advice - the advice here is wonderful and I pray that you follow it. Many years ago my husband and I were in very unhealthy relationships with manipulative parents (my mom - bipolar, would not get treatment, alternately loving or hating; his parents - micromanage and control our lives). We had to set boundaries, firmly, lovingly and consistently. with your therapist (it might help to go with your husband) decide what you will do, will not do, and how you will handle the bad behaviors. World War III happened, friends of parents called us to ream us out, relatives called us to ream us out - and after the initial guilt and thinking we were being jerks, we decided that it was unfair that they were bringing all of these others into it, and that reinforced our boundary setting. Plus the therapist - who was great - and helped us foresee the attempts to manipulate and helped us lovingly prepare. My mom and I didn't speak for over a year - it took that long for her to realize that as soon as she started screaming at me, I would hang up or I would leave. My husband's parents took 6 months to realize that when they started in on him, he would likewise disengage. As for the relatives and friends calling, we would state "we love our parents, this is between us. goodbye" Years later, we have a son, and have good relationships with our extended family and whenever necessary - we bring back boundaries. I think for my husband's parents - they finally realized that we were adults and they respect us now. It was a very tough road and we had enormous guilt. Our therapist and priests helped us healthily acknowledge our love for parents, no tolerance for certain behaviors, and how to calmly disengage. You can tell I get on a soapbox about this :). You have a husband and daughter and your primary relationships are with them. You love your parents and need HEALTHY interaction with them. Good luck to you and I hope you and your family can make a step by step start to change the current cess-pool. God bless.
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It is good to hear from you and to learn of your progress. You are figuring this out and you and your husband have become a team which means a lot for a stronger relationship.

It's a position to hate for along with anger very often there is shame, but even that can fuel your determination to get free. Here's a very good article about dealing with shame."How to Despise Shame"


I hope you don't mind my using the labor of giving birth as analogy for your situation and anyone in a situation like yours.

I use that analogy because your giving birth to a new life, your own.

Plus, like the labor of childbirth, there is a lot of pain which I've only observed in my wife having given birth to our two children.

Lastly, like labor pains, they are so quickly forgotten with a new life birthed into the world which is my way of saying, your labor may be long and hard, but the joy of giving birth to your own new life will outshine the pain.

Thus, despising the pain, keep pushing forward and as they say in the labor room, remember to breathe.

Take care, get the support of a therapist which you two will probably need as you get into what I'd call the hard labor of transition. I have all the confidence in the world that with your insights and determination plus teamwork with your husband that you and your family will find new life.

I'm sorry that your brother is feeling bad. What exactly does that mean in terms of the dysfunction?
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I have done so much reading in the last week , so much of it has been extremely helpful! Lots of people over the years have told me , kindly , that my parents are overly attached, critical and expect too much accountability from me and I guess my brother. Fact is I've allowed this to continue-- I know I have no responsibility for the drinking but it is within my power to recognize the unhealthiness and to shape my own future

Surprise-- this is exactly what we have decided to do.

By the way mom called the other day and acted as if nothing had happened. She was less happy than usual, there was an undertone of tension but I guess we are back to don't ask don't tell.

She has not called my brothers family , he is starting to feel bad ... And so the dysfunction begins.

My husband and I have been doing a lot of talking and its helps greatly .
Cmagnum-- I am digesting all of the reading you have suggested. And yes there's anger to even have to be using my time to figure this out when they are just feeling sorry for themselves that their kids are so disrespectful ugh.

I really hate being in this position and am working on channeling that anger to fuel my determination that we are going to step off the drama triangle and not put ourselves in emotional harms way again and again
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