Friday, April 9, 2010

The Remote and the more remote

Last month I received word that my cousin is in rehab. Good for him. He did not have to be arrested or found in bad circumstances to give it up. He was distressed with himself, from what I understand. Couldn't lie any longer. Couldn't walk outside to meet his dealer. Couldn't face doing it one more time.

My uncle is a recovering alcoholic. Surely my cousin knew that substance abuse takes your personhood away. But this didn't make enough difference. I hear he had an illegal self-medication regimen, street-sourced for anti-anxiety. Isn't that a long way around saying he took downers? Or, couldn't we just say he took [blank]? This is still tip-toeing around, not actually touching it.

My uncle is a recovering alcoholic. Something is missing here, that he didn't see his son's problems. His son (my age) is still living with Dad, has no friends, never dates, just buys drugs on the street and goes to work (my cousin did have a job and I hear a good boss) and then comes home to do--what? Drugs and T.V., I guess. Sitting on Dad's couch. This was normal to them. I wonder which one of them got the remote.

It's like the shell of my uncle was filled with alcohol. When you drained that out, he was still hollow. Decades later, nothing has filled it up. But I can't completely judge this; I'm not there.

I worry about this, even though, I have seen this cousin of mine exactly three times, one of which hardly counts since we were both two years old. For awhile, we even lived in the same metropolitan area. I kept trying, but those were the years of the bottle for my uncle, the secret years. Apparently they never ended, even after my cousin did the intervention and got his father in rehab.

So you could say that part of the favor is now returned.

Flashing forward to now: I sent my cousin a letter with my e-mail address, to the center, cleared by my uncle to go to the rehab center. Maybe we could actually be family. I received a note from my uncle this week. I can write my cousin care of his father's e-mail.

It took me a few days to figure out that my cousin is home again after his serious lock-down rehab, and my uncle wants me to write him again. This means my cousin is not going to do it. He is not going to get his own e-mail box. I wonder if he'll ever get his own home, his own date, or his own couch and T.V. I would never say never--it's early days yet--but not even an e-mail address?

What upsets me is that the pattern of living within Dad's realm is not really broken with my uncle, either. It's still normal. It still leaves my cousin remote from the world.

I have seen substance abuse screw things up royally, more than once. It runs in families, they say genetic. I don't think it has to be genetic to pass down in a family. I think the life habits come down too, the lack of--something--that predisposes to a problem.

In a way I think my cousin is more grown up than his father. No one had to intervene. He admitted it himself. In another way, I think he has not learned many life skills worth knowing, so he is not grown up at all. My cousin is old enough to know better, to seek out skills from others. But he did not get what he should have to make that leap. He will be both older and younger than his years.

So here we are. I am as much a spectator as you who read this. Very far removed from the scene.

Everything I have written is true, given that I have met them all three times, decades ago the last time, and never kept up. Yet so far I am the only one who is not surprised. I find that significant. Not that I am so acute, but everyone else must still be in the fog.

I wish him luck. I wish him a future with no more wasted years. I will write him at his father's address. I will wonder why it must be so.
Parking in hell, or, take the key.


Momma Fargo said...

Addictions are difficult to beat. I've seen them succeed and fail. Good luck to your family. I admire them for getting help. It's a hard road.

Slamdunk said...

Sorry to hear about your cousin and I hope he takes advantage of your help.

It is a shame how being overly protective hinders a situation rather than helping.

Bob G. said...

As long as you have had your hand extended, never have a regret or beat yourself up over it.

The ball's in the other person's court.

It's sad to see this happen in anyone's life, as some people can't be urged to become a family (even when one exists).
If and when time allows, it may happen.
If not, then you still did YOUR part to help.

In that there can be solace.

Have a good weekend.

The Observer said...

Ann T:
I say amen to the other comments, plus I add this: Addicts get stuck at the developmental age in which their addictions started. If you started sucking the booze at 15, after you dry out, guess what? You're 15, emotionally speaking. AA and the recovery movement call newly sober people who don't grow emotionally and spiritually "dry drunks". They are just as dysfunctional sober as they were drunk. It's tough to admit you need more than sobriety.
All you can do is offer to help, "extend the hand". What happens after that is out of your hands--a fact that can make helpers, both professional and familial slightly nuts. I have addiction in my family too.
Thanks for the good post, which could not have been easy to write.
The Observer

Unknown said...

Your doing the right things Ann, as everyone has stated before me.

I've known addicts that fail over and over again. I've only seen a couple make the recovery last for a significant period of time.

One of them is my neighbor. He has been sober for 9 years now. He says he still thinks about his sobriety every single day and what it means to him. That kind of blew me away. Made me realize just how hard it must be. He also said, only he can achieve it. Nobody else can want it more than him, for him. It doesnt work that way.

I hope your cousin succeeds.

Books of the World said...

Amen to all comments as well. I have a very simular situation inmy family.
Good luck to you and your family. I hope he makes it.

Ann T. said...

Thanks to everyone who wrote in. I have been very worried, mostly about the predispositions of everyone in the best place to help.

I did write him today, just very casual, about bicycling, my cats,amateur photos, and what's up with this volunteer accounting, just very light and short.

The ball's in his court now. . . we'll see.