• Quote of the Day
    "Don't let what you can't do interfere with what you can do."
    John Wooden, posted by David Baxter

stargazer

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Again, I'm not sure where this thread belongs. I was looking for a "co-dependency thread." My daughter's recent situation is affecting me. I'm not sure to what extent I must detach, and to what extent I must be involved.

Here is the situation. Her best friend Justin died Friday before last. She had thrown a party for all her friends when her roommate was out of town. He arrived and became very drunk. She described him as being more drunk than he had ever been. So they put him to bed (in her room), and when they went to check on him about an hour later, he was dead.

The police are suspecting foul play, in that it is rumoured that a friend of a friend was passing out prescription drugs that might have interacted with the alcohol. The coroner's report has not yet come through.

Justin drove Echo to work and/or school every morning, whichever came first, and gave her her morning coffee when he arrived. He called her every night to see if she was okay. She naturally is devastated.

However, she has not gone to work since then, or to school. In fact, she has not even gone into her bedroom. She says she can't bear to go into the room where he died. As a result, she has not changed her clothes for eight days.

She calls me uncharacteristically early in the morning, before she would ever usually call. Then, if I try to call back after 10am, I get a message that the Mobile customer is not answering. I also notice that she is on her MySpace quite a bit more often than usual.

In her last call, although she did not ask me specifically for money, she requested that I contact my brother and sister and ask them for money. At first, feeling her pain, I agreed. Then later I thought that in our culture, the death of a friend does not usually suggest giving money to the bereaved.

Finally, my friend Jim called and when he heard the data, he said: "She's probably drinking a lot."

With that in my head, I've been pretty much a wreck. I remember now that at the initial gathering, she said: "I'm going to get drunk!" At certain times, she has confessed to me that he "main problem is alcohol," and at other times, if I bring it up, she says: "Alcohol? What do you mean? I've got that under control!"

Of course, I don't know that she's on a drunk, but things are pointing in that direction. Does anyone have some detailed advice? I prayed about it, and reflected, and realized that I need to detach at least to the extent that I do not forsake my self-care. In other words, I didn't abandon my three-mile run this evening, and I have been taking my medication. I'm drinking fruit juices, sleeping, eating, and so forth.

But I wonder what I can do for my daughter?
 
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HA

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Stargazer,

That's a tough thing for your family to be dealing with. It's good that you don't let your own health become so affected that you won't be able to be there for her.

If it were my daughter, I would suggest professional help because she is dealing with a trauma and may be using unhealthy coping strategies which will make things worse...not better. This is not your everyday youth problem so friends and family can only do so much.

I think the best way you can support her is to be there to listen and suggest ways she can get help for herself. Just listening, caring and being there for her can be so helpful.

You also have to step back if your own health starts to become affected. Pace yourself and be there when you can. If she has professional help then you have far less to worry about. If you have a therapist yourself she/he may have referal suggestions for her. Her family doctor may be able to help her get support as well.
 

stargazer

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Thanks for your feedback, HeartArt.

It's good that you don't let your own health become so affected that you won't be able to be there for her.

Yes, I agree. If I forsook my own health, I wouldn't be of much help to her or anyone else, least of all myself.

If it were my daughter, I would suggest professional help because she is dealing with a trauma and may be using unhealthy coping strategies which will make things worse...not better.
I actually did suggest she get grief counseling in Berkeley. In a city like Berkeley, there has got to be low-cost sliding-scale counseling of all kinds. After I heard from my sister, in agreement that we would not be giving her any money, I left her this message on her MySpace (which seems to be the only way I can reach her right now):

Hey Echo,

Just so you'll know, whenever I call you, I get a message saying "The Mobile Customer at Such & Such doesn't answer. Please try your call again later." I'm not sure what that message means, but I've gotten it before a few times.

My sister won't give you any money. I haven't asked my brother yet, but I woke up from my depression-healing nap yesterday remembering that in our society, the death of a close friend is not such as suggests giving money to the bereaved.

Given everything you've told me, though, I think grief counseling would be a good idea. There's probably low-cost grief counseling in Berkeley--probably all over the place--and maybe Uncle Steve would help if it were framed in that light. Friends can help a lot, but the grief counselor helps in a different way, and opens new doors to you.

I hope I don't sound cold. Jim also called, and he suggested that you've probably been drinking a lot, which thought had not yet occurred to me. That's a natural response, of course, but there's also a natural grieving process which, though different for every individual, is greatly stifled and stunted by alcohol. Please forgive my second guessing if you haven't been drinking. It's just that I know something about alcohol, and I also know something about you.

Everyone I've talked to about your situation, and having related statements you've made since Justin's passing, has echoed that the sooner you can get back into the daily swing of things--school, work, what have you--the better. No one has agreed that to give you any money will help.

I am sorry to have to say these things, especially at this time for you. I don't intend to be hurtful, but I need to speak the truth.

Love,

Dad

I think the best way you can support her is to be there to listen and suggest ways she can get help for herself. Just listening, caring and being there for her can be so helpful.

Yes, I think that this is best. It's probably also best if I wait for her to contact me (generally speaking) rather than pester her with incessant queries, on the other extreme. Kids don't like it when their parents are worried about them--I know I never did. But if she calls me, that's an opportunity for me to be there for her.

The note I wrote isn't perfect, but at least it's a step in the right direction.

You also have to step back if your own health starts to become affected. Pace yourself and be there when you can. If she has professional help then you have far less to worry about. If you have a therapist yourself she/he may have referal suggestions for her. Her family doctor may be able to help her get support as well.

If my own health begins to become affected, I will take that as a sign to step back. Thanks for that.

Now, about professional help, my concern is that she simply won't go. I can only suggest it--I can't force it on her. I'll be seeing my therapist this Wednesday, but because we are separated geographically (I'm making a special trip to Lodi from my summer sublet in San Francisco in order to see my therapist and pick up my medication re-fill) I doubt the therapist will have referrals related to the Berkeley community. But she might be able to connect me to Berkeley Mental Health. Also, Wednesday will be an occasion on which I can discuss this with my own therapist.

Thanks for your comments. They helped.
 

stargazer

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A couple other things: Echo has no health insurance, and no doctor. I'm on MediCal, and it doesn't cover family members. I carry a State of California Benefits Identification Card that only works in San Joaquin County unless it's an emergency. I guess the governor is pushing for universal health care such as I hear they have in Canada, but that hasn't come through yet.

Also, I realize now that I probably ought not to have said anything about suspected alcohol abuse, because that was speculative. The other factors alone--not going to work, not going to school, not changing clothes for a week, avoiding her bedroom--already suggest enough unhealthy coping mechanisms to warrant her seeking professional help.
 

HA

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It's probably also best if I wait for her to contact me (generally speaking) rather than pester her with incessant queries, on the other extreme. Kids don't like it when their parents are worried about them--I know I never did. But if she calls me, that's an opportunity for me to be there for her.

I agree, Stargazer. There is nothing wrong with saying, "I am worried about you and am here just to listen if you want me too." Then leave it to her to contact you if and when she feels like it.

I remember one time when my daughter was going through a very difficult and trying time. I would suggest or say something and she then told me to "Just listen!" It is natural to want to come up with suggestions but sometimes that is not what's needed. You can also ask, "How can I help you?" and see what you can do about that....if it's a possiblity. If not ask, "How else can I help you?"

It is best not to bring up your own struggles in life when trying to help her so that she does not feel like she is bothering you by asking for emotional support. It can be easy to try and help someone by talking about our struggles hoping they may see that they are not so bad off, or that we understand what struggle is.... but when they are in this kind of situation they just need you to listen.

I think your therapist can help you the best with how to deal with this, Stargazer.
 

stargazer

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Well, she called again this morning at an unreasonably early hour (before 7am) and she was slurring her words. I asked her if she had been drinking, and she said no.

She perceived me as angry before I had consciously expressed any anger on my end, and it didn't seem as though she was permitting (or perhaps capable of?) a communicative interaction, and eventually I hung up on her. I felt really bad about it, but by the time I hung up on her, I actually *was* beginning to lose self-control, and my own anger issues were being aroused and aggravated.

My anger issues of course have nothing to do with her situation, but are my own issues, and are on an entirely different plane. At least, I believe that is the case.

Then I did something I never ever have done: she called again, and I didn't pick up. She actually called three more times, and I've not yet listened to the messages. When I got off the phone, my hands and fingers were shaking, and I went into write-for-therapy mode on the computer keyboard. I did this until my hands stopped shaking.

I decided that if the messages were angry, I wouldn't return them. If she's in tears, I will have to call her back. I've never been able to let her cry, even though her grandmother always advised me to, because she said that this is how she manipulated me to get her way. If she's just being defensive or self-explanatory, I won't call her back just yet.

But you're quite right. My therapist will be the best to help me with this. However, it is not possible to reach her over the weekends, so PsychLinks is a logical resource. As I've said ealier, if I called Crisis during the daytime, they'd vibe me off. They can only be called at night, when it's slow in the office, unless it's an emergency.

Anyway, it's Bay-to-Breakers today, which I abhor, so I'm headed over to the East Bay to avoid the spectacle. I'll be on again in a couple hours.
 

Mari

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H! My condolence to your daughter for the loss of her friend. Is there any family close to help her out? In some cultures it is customary to give money to the bereaved. My family gave money when my son died. My sister was concerned about my drinking because she knows people who have turned to alcohol after a loss. I hope your daughter finds a better answer than alcohol. :heart: Mari

H! Another thought to you. One of my sisters does not spend money wisely so when she needed financial help we offered alternatives. Rather than give her money we purchased things she needed such as food and medicine. We did give her advice and a shoulder to cry on. Mari
 
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stargazer

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We're all concerned that if she's given money directly, she will spend it on alcohol. However, I am wondering if my brother or sister might finance grief counseling for her (or another appropriate form of counseling). I myself cannot afford to help her financially right now.

Also, I did eventually listen to her message (there was only one message, although she had called three times), and it was pretty much explanatory, not really defensive. She just said she's been reaching out a lot, and since she's knows I'm an early riser, it was logical for her to call me in the early hours. She also asked me why I had hung up on her.

She was more controlled in the message than she had been during the interaction. But she was still slurring her words. When I called back, I got the voice mail. I explained that I hung up on her when I realized that my own anger issues, having nothing necessarily to do with her, were being stirred up inside me. I didn't want to lose my composure any further, so I hung up before it might get any worse.

I'm not sure how to support her, but I know that if she's drunk, and she's denying that she's drunk, we won't be able to communicate. It's the old "elephant in the middle of the living room" scenario.
 

David Baxter

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Not to mention that while she's drunk, anything you say to her will be of limited benefit, even if she can recall it when she sobers up, so you'd be putting yourself through the stress for little or no reason.
 

stargazer

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Yes, that's true too. What I did do was message her on her MySpace with some links to crisis counseling resources in Berkeley. Who knows when she'll read it? Also, in my message, I told her I would be here for her if she wants to call, but I suggested she not call before 7:30 in the morning. (By the way, I'm not *quite* the early riser I used to be.) Goodnight. ;)
 

stargazer

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To fill you in, nothing's happened today yet. She didn't make an early morning call, after I'd requested she not (and after what happened yesterday morning.) I, in turn, slept in till nine in the morning, and caught up on some needed sleep.

I'll just wait and see if she calls. I've got so much to get done on my own end, it doesn't make sense to contact her when, like as not, it won't help.
 

stargazer

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I'm still (periodically) concerned. The basic statistics are that, prior to this event, my daughter called me every single day. Since the time I was a little off-set when she called at 6:45am, she hasn't called me at all. Not sure exactly how long ago that was--it seems like about 3 weeks. So I can't help but be concerned. I've called her a couple times, but she hasn't replied. Should I still let go?

Her lifestyle also concerns me. It's so "anti-establishment." These people are bound to get into trouble. I doubt seriously she would consider therapy. Therapists and counselors are just another part of the "establishment." These people are rappers. They're anti-authority in every sense.

It is very hard not to worry about her.
 

David Baxter

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It's only been about 10 days since her last call, SG. Would that be unusual for her?
 

stargazer

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I somehow suspected it was in actuality less than the "three weeks" I'd interpolated. However, yes--a ten day lull in our communication would be very unusual for her. Prior to this event, as I expressed earlier, she called me every single day.

Admittedly, there have been periods where she's inexplicably stopped calling for a week or two; but in this case, I can't help but correlate her not calling with the event(s).
 

stargazer

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I'll do so later on this afternoon. One thing that's stopped me is that I left my cell phone at the voice studio last Friday, and the director and I have not been able to connect till this afternoon. So I haven't been able to call her. I did call her one week ago (at seeing a show in San Jose together, for which I had comp tickets) but she did not return the call.

Thanks for your feedback.
 

stargazer

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When I retrieved the cell phone, the battery was (naturally) dead, so I had to wait till I got home to give it a long, overnight charge. So, I called her this morning. I got the voice mail, and she hasn't called back yet. She did change the picture on her MySpace, however, so she must be doing *something.*

I think what I might do is, if I don't hear back from her, call her in another week, and just once a week; so as not to seem like I'm nagging.
 

texasgirl

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I hope that you are able to reach her, SG. I know that as a parent, kids are always in the back of your mind. I agree with everyone here that you can only do what you can do, and it seems like you are trying your best within the limits of your own life to reach out to her. My best to you.

TG
 

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