My brother has been in rehab two weeks today. From all accounts, he’s doing well. He’s not complaining. He’s not in a hurry to get out. He’s going to meetings and learning. He told his daughter he’s never going to drink again. He’s never said that before. In fact, just the opposite:”I’m not going to lie to you; I’m not going to stop drinking.” He told me that on Christmas Day. And three days later, we intervened.
I have spoken with him briefly once since I kissed him goodbye and told him I love him. I’m pulling for him. He cried. Like me, he’s always been very emotional. (At least when you get to know us.) So I left him with the rehab nurse, and I’ve talked to him only once, since. He was still in detox. I called to see how he was doing and the nurse handed him the phone. He sounded puny. I got the distinct sense he was glad to be safe. He was glad to be ridding his body of the poison that was killing him. That was day 3. He hasn’t called me. I’m trying to let go. To let him do his thing and have faith. But I want him to know I’m thinking about him; I haven’t abandoned him. So I told my niece, when she was on her way to visit him and to meet with the counselor, to have him call me if he wanted to. He told her he would, but he hasn’t called. So I have let go.
Last night my mother told me she heard he’s supposed to get out a week from today. She thinks it’s too soon. It’s only been two weeks. I got annoyed and cut the call short. Tonight, again, she commented that if he gets out next Friday, it will have been only 3 weeks. She wanted me to call the facility and find out what’s going on, why they’re letting him out early, what’s the plan. I told her he’d tell her when he’s ready. I wasn’t going to call and undermine him.
“But he won’t know you’ve called and I’ve got to know! I can’t having coming and going as he pleases!”
“Mom, calm down. Listen to yourself. You wanted him to go to rehab. You expected him to stay a month! He’s not doing anything you didn’t want or expect!”
“But he’s getting out early!”
“Mom, you cannot control this. He’s either going to continue recovery, or he’s not. You can’t do anything about it.”
“But you could call and find out what’s going on.”
“Mom, if you want to help him, go to an Al-Anon meeting. I sent you the schedule. Make an appointment with the counselor I got a referral for. Take care of you.”
She doesn’t hear me. She makes excuses why a meeting or a counselor aren’t what she needs; won’t solve her problems.
“Mom, I cannot be your counselor!” I’m yelling now. The cat is upset. I don’t yell. I don’t like where this family breakdown is taking me. I don’t want to go there. I was free dammit. I was free of all this.
She’s pleading now. “Can’t you just call and find out what they’re doing?”
I wish they’d all just leave me the hell alone and solve their own problems. I hate that I’m suddenly responsible for my mother. Is this a requirement? If you’re a decent person, you let yourself get sucked back into the family dysfunction you’d escaped at least a decade ago? Is this the right thing to do? What if hypothetically it is right for my mother, but it’s not right for me? Then what? Who wins? Whose happiness and sanity goes first?
Is it wrong to put yourself first?
All I can do is yell, “Mom, go to the counselor! Go to a meeting! I’m tired. I’m going to bed.”
And now I feel shitty.