The holidays are coming up and I'm on pins and needles. I know that she expects to be invited out to dinner with us, but I don't enjoy her company.....slurred speech, boring, repetitive, doesn't listen.........and, in addition, tends to be rather passive aggressive in her snarky comments. She lives two blocks from us. Anyone have any idea how to deal with this? It seems like when there is any big event, holiday, birthday celebration, etc., she goes out of her way to focus attention on herself and wreck the occasion. I'm so very tired of this. I want to do the right thing, but don't want to be held hostage every holiday. A few times, usually my husbands birthday, she's too "sick" to go out and we bring her a nice dinner she can enjoy at home, but when it comes to her birthday, she's always ready to go. Now she's looking forward to going out on Christmas Eve with us and we really don't want her to come because of her drunken, drugged up behavior...

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
I suspect that I am more vocal than many people, but, I think that I would likely ask her if she realizes how unpleasant she is due to drugs and alcohol. I'd explain that I didn't care to be around it. You might act as if she isn't aware of it. As Blannie said, suggest to have lunch without cocktails and decline any dinner plans. I see no reason that I should have to feel miserable, so others can feel fine. I would never expect that from others. Oh, can your husband tell her this or must it be you?

You might ask her if she wants a referral to a place to get help with her problem. If not, there's not much you can do.
Helpful Answer (24)

I would take her to a quick lunch on Christmas Eve and then you and your husband go to your nice dinner on your own. There's no reason she's got to eat dinner with you on Christmas Eve.
Helpful Answer (21)

Ah. This is my area. Both of my parents were alcoholics.

Very simply, tell her the truth. Detach from the outcome and do it anyway, as we used to say in Al-Anon. Also I recommend Al-Anon - the 12-step group for friends and families of alcoholics. You can find meetings by calling the Alcoholics Anonymous phone number in the white pages of your phone book.

There's nothing to be gained from lying, really. I have strong feelings about this, but basically, I think lying to an addict is just another form of enabling them.  I DO NOT believe in enabling addicts.  I believe enabling an addict protects them from the consequences of their actions, and that protecting them from the consequences of their actions is protecting them from the consequences of their addiction.   And if someone is always protecting them from the consequences, they will never get better. 

I mean, maybe if it's your boss and you HAVE to lie, or risk losing your job. Or if it's some friend you see once a year at reunions. But I assume you are in love with your husband and plan to be with him for a very long time. That means your MIL is going to be part of your life for a very long time. 

There's nothing gained from lying to your MIL, or in humoring her, except for the heartache and pain you'll feel in an even greater way down the road, when you realize you've willingly made yourself part of a co-dependent relationship, and you've allowed her to believe her behavior is ok with you. Are you prepared to pretend you're ok with all this, for the rest of your MIL's life? Are you prepared to lie to her, lie FOR her, make excuses for her, coddle her, pick her up off the floor when she passes out, clean up her vomit, or deal with however bad it's going to get?  (It could get VERY bad.)  Are you prepared to do these things in front of your children or future children? What would you be teaching them?

Tell the truth. Call her out. Let her think about it, or get smashed in retaliation, but whatever the outcome, speak your truth and stand by it. Speak your truth even if it makes you shake.  Don't worry about how others judge you for it. Let other people be content to enable an addict, but don't be one of those people. Enabling an addict is the opposite of helping them.  You would NOT be doing her any favors.

Where is your husband in all of this? He must know that his mother has a problem. He must have known it when he settled two blocks away from her. Has he ever addressed her drug use and drinking with her? Did he hope he could keep her or the situation under control by being close by? Is he the only child or are there siblings to help? You should know that alcoholism is a family disease - not that someone like your husband is necessarily an addict, but the disease impacts the entire family. Especially if he grew up with it. If he can't or won't back you up in calling her out, then you have another problem on your hands, for which I especially recommend Al-Anon.

They say every addict has to hit their own rock bottom before they decide to get better. In my parents' cases: for mom, it was when she didn't have me to caretake or cover up for her anymore; with my dad, it was the risk of losing our relationship. Whatever your MIL's rock bottom is, you and your husband can't help her climb back out of it if you never acknowledge how fast she's falling in the first place. 
Helpful Answer (17)

Mom, Sweetie and I haven't been able to spend as much time together as we need. This year we need to do more things as a couple, without others. We'll be doing our holiday dinners alone this year.


I know if your realize this, Mom, but your drinking and using drugs can make you quite unpleasant to be around sometimes. Not always, but we are not going to risk it this year. We'd be glad to bring a nice meal home to you.
Helpful Answer (16)

You don't have to be held hostage by your mother's behavior. There's nothing that says she has to join you. And because she is an alcoholic/addict there's nothing wrong in not including her. And be honest about it. Tell her that her behavior makes everyone uncomfortable and there will be no family dinner this year.

I know it's a difficult conversation to have but you're well within your right to have it. Soften the blow by telling her you'll bring her a doggie bag.
Helpful Answer (15)

Don't have alcohol in your house, or keep it under lock and key, and don't take her to a restaurant where she can drink. That will solve one problem. If she's drunk or high when you pick her up you tell her that you are sorry she's "sick" and leave her at home with the promise of bringing her food later. We did this with my mom-in-law. I loved my mother-in-law when she was sober and this worked well for us.
Helpful Answer (14)

Good responses, one and all.. As a recovering alkie myself with 31 years without a drink, I know a bit about the addiction....A big thing to know is that reasoning with an alkie is useless. Even more useless if it is from a family member..

One nice person suggested telling her you will bring a nice meal from ________ restaurant...Very nice thought, but what if she calls a cab and shows up there?

"Hubs and I are dining out alone this year...we will bring you a nice dinner on our way home." Better yet, have a restaurant deliver the meal...

When she asks why, just say you have decided to be alone this year...whatever her next question is (or accusation) deflect it and say you are not discussing your decision further....(It can be done, although likely difficult)

Keep in mind that you will not slow down or stop her drinking...Many think that reasoning long enough will do it...It won't. Alcoholics anonymous can help, but only if she initiates contact...

Grace + Peace,

Helpful Answer (12)

Joysuthe, My mother is an 84 year old alcoholic, living with my husband and me for the past 12 years. She could no longer live alone safely due to her extreme drinking. She was falling down, driving while drinking, etc. We built a mother in law apt on the ground floor of our home for her. I cannot remember a time (even since early childhood) when my Mom was sober during the holiday season. After she retired from work 22 years ago, she would drink heavily all year but on holidays, there was no counting, she would just drink until she passed out, and when she awoke, drink again. Three years ago, my Mom nearly died of an esophageal tear, a common complication of alcoholism. Now, while totally dependent for cleaning, shopping, and cooking she continues to demand 3 beers and 3 glasses of wine a day. At this rate she is not 'drunken', she is satisfied and relatively happy. She states that its half what she drank previously and since she is old she should be able to do as she pleases. If I refuse her the beer and/or wine, she says I'm abusing her. Amazingly, even her doctor's nurses, knowing she has cirrhosis of the liver, tell her and me its OK for her to drink 'a few' drinks/day. Getting my Mom to reduce to 'a few' has caused nothing but arguments and a generally ugly family atmosphere. Alcoholism is a serious disease with no known cure except from within that person. Stating to your MIL that she becomes unpleasant while drinking WILL open a Pandora's box. Addiction, even if its a seemingly harmless one like sugar/carbohydrates for a diabetic, causes great pain within families. Only you and your husband can determine what is acceptable within your family. God Bless you all on this journey...
Helpful Answer (10)

Great advice here! It would also be good to make sure you and your husband are on the same page as to what you're going to do and what you will allow on a consistent basis with your MIL. We've had to do this with my Mom, since she expects a lot despite the fact that she rarely gives of herself. We've set our boundaries, and been as diplomatic and respectful as possible enforcing them. We establish dates and times ahead of time, so she doesn't have unrealistic expectations of what we are/are not going to do. We also have a family member who we deal with who wants his own way, so we always "head him off at the pass" by calling him first and saying what's happening, instead of him catching us off guard or making us uncomfortable by unrealistic expectations of us. There is nothing wrong with saying what you will and will not accept, and/or making sure you set things up so you are not held hostage by your MIL's bad choices and intolerable behavior. Best of luck to everyone to have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Helpful Answer (10)

My parents moved down the street from me 15 years ago. I didn't know, but somewhere after I moved out of their home, they started drinking heavily. After retirement, their drinking started sometimes as early as 7 AM. I begged them to change but over about an 8-year period, things only got worse. I had to "detach" as previously mentioned and let the chips fall where they may. I'm honestly sorry that they moved so close to me and that I had to witness and become a victim of this. My advice is to do everything you can to keep MIL at a distance or you and your family will become victims as she declines. A 35-year old alcoholic is bad enough, but an alcoholic over the age of 70 is a daily drama with daily life threatening consequences. Elderly alcoholics are really accountable to no one (no more job, little driving, etc.), therefore, they fly under the radar in general, except for their impact on family members.
Helpful Answer (10)

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.

Ask a Question

Subscribe to
Our Newsletter