A question about triggers...
Harry Fletcher Asks ...
I’m about 8 months in recovery and my question is about how long I should wait before going back to see people from my past life that still party like I used to. My daughter and her husband and his brothers party all day and I’ve told then I can’t be around them when they are like that (I tried to get them to stop like I did but they did not want to hear about it). The problem is, I love my grandkids to death but now my daughter thinks I’m judging them all the time and that I’m just showing off. We had a big fight when I asked if I could take the kids for the day and she said if I am too good to come over then I am too good for my grandkids and maybe I should just stay away.
I used to see those kids everyday and I miss them so much. My sponsor says I’m not ready to be at that house again, but I think I am ready and I don’t know if a sober life is worth very much if I can’t be with the people I love.
I feel pretty strong and have no desire to drink right now. Is 8 months clean and sober enough time to go back and really face all my triggers?
Dr. David Sack Says ...
The answer is that when people are secure in their sobriety they realize the last thing they want is to be around people who are using and drinking and partying; part of the dilemma is that you don’t recognize how big a problem this is. When you are further along in recovery you will realize how distressing it is to be around your grandkids when they are immersed in a drug culture.
My advice is that if you want to visit with your grandchildren try to work out a scenario where you can take them out for the day but you don’t have to spend time with your daughter when she’s partying. You can plan trips to the zoo, movies, or other events.
If your daughter still balks, take a gentle approach. First it’s important not to discuss this with your daughter when she is under the influence. Keep the focus on your issues, not hers: ask her for support and to understand how difficult it is for you to be around drinking. Your daughter says she wants you to visit, and you want to visit, but it can’t work if you are around people who are high. Emphasize that you are not criticizing them for what they’re doing, but if they care about you then they will respect the fact that it is very uncomfortable for you to be around people who are drinking or using drugs.
If you emphasize that this is your issue, not hers she may not feel like you are judging them. You might also ask her if she has seen any improvement in your behavior – are you a better grandmother than you were a mother because you’re now sober?
Your sober life is most definitely worth finding a way to get through to your daughter without compromising your health and well being. And right now, you might be the sanest person in your grandkids' life. You don't want to take that away from them.