I hosted Thanksgiving yesterday. Twelve people came. They ate and laughed and caught up on family news. Beth came late which is fine. This is one of the ways she copes with her fear of crowds. She makes an appearance late at family gatherings. I was glad that she now has her own place which is close enough to our home that we can visit. It is much easier for me to have a life of my own knowing that she has the safety and stability of her own place.
In point of fact, this is the first Thanksgiving or major holiday that we have truely celebrated in many years. Before the addiction, we had most of the holiday gatherings at my house. Addiction changes the family dynamics as does mental illness.
We also decorated for Christmas and enjoyed xmas shopping today. Is Beth clean and sober? She looks good when she visits us. She still suffers from depression. She does not want to go back on her antidepressants even though she is still depressed. Her explanation is that it is better to cope with the sadness that comes from depression than the wreckless behavior that comes from the mania induced by the depression medication. She does seem a lot more respectful and reasonable.
I am spending a lot more time thinking about my work, my husband and my friends. I see Beth when she wants to see me which is usually three times per week. I dole out her SSI money in the manner that she determined which is 50 dollars per week split up on Mon. Wed and Friday. This puts gas in her car and buys cigarettes.
She came over here last weekend with a new boyfriend. He seemed very intelligent. He had a job and a car and a relationship with his parents. This is a new experience for her. I am sure he has his story too but she seems to be approaching normal more often now. It was nice that she wanted us to meet him and nice that they spent a Saturday night watching movies and playing pool in our house instead of all the other alternatives available to them.
She sometimes has two or three good days in a row. We are happy for those days. If she could hit that number consistently she might be able to work part time for someone else. As it is, she continues doing her pet grooming sporadically. She does her own shopping, house keeping, doctor visits and self care. She tells me which bills to pay and when.She tells me her next goal for improving her life and safety. I help her achieve those goals letting her do for herself as much as she possible can.
Weather or not this housing first harm reduction model will allow her to sustain her sobriety is yet to be seen. It is a godsend to the people who love her. We feel much less guilty and much more free. She is safer and saner now than we have seen her in the past 8 years. The mental illness does not go away. But as they say in NAMI, we learn to manage and cope with the symptoms.
I am greatful to all of you for sharing your stories and support with me. I am always glad to hear from you. I pray our loved ones and our nation will find better ways to cope with the plague of addiction that has fallen on our land.