Ask Gee: What to do when a loved one relapses
My father is a long time alcoholic. His addiction always took priority over myself and my sister growing up. Nights sitting by the door and at the window waiting for him to actually show up were not uncommon. Our bond was broken for years. About 10 years ago it reformed. He wasn’t done destroying his life and liver through addiction but my need to have a father in my life pushed that to the side so we could reconnect. He became my best friend and the father figure I always wanted growing up. We even worked together (I’m actually his boss now since my recent promotion!).
This is his third stint at the dealership I work at and this time seemed like the success story I always hoped he would make for himself. It’s no longer that way. He has hit a big roadblock in life and he is letting it take control. He has relapsed and I know it yet, he doesn’t know I know. Sorry for the story book but here is my question:
What do you do in this situation? Do I confront him and let him know I know he relapsed and that he is throwing his life away again? Do I remind him that this was his last chance to have a real relationship with my children as their grandfather and he is throwing that away? Or do I just leave it alone?
Do I not say anything and just let him make his own mistakes despite knowing that it could be the relapse that kills him? (He has been told his liver function is so bad that at any time consuming alcohol or pain pills and it could totally shut down).
How do I handle this Gee? I have no one else to turn to. Everyone else in his life has cut him out and won’t speak or have anything to do with him. Anyone who hasn’t done that just doesn’t like him and are rooting for him to fail so how can I trust the advice they give me? You are such a fountain of knowledge and wisdom that I am hoping to get some kind of clear and sound advice to help me. Again sorry for the story book and I’m not sure if this is the right way for your segment but I just have to get this off my chest.
-Austin, Kennewick, WA
I’m sorry to hear about your father relapsing. I’m quite sure you love your father and want the best for him. Let me start off by saying that the first thing you need to do is to seek help from a professional in regards to help for his sobriety. Once you have done that, then it’s time work through all of this with love.
My grandfather was an alcoholic. My father looked down on him for it, and didn’t want anything to do with him because of it. I never got a chance to meet him, as he died before I was born. I do remember one day my father telling me that he would do it different if he could. He said that he felt that not only did his dad die of alcoholism, but he feels that it was sped up by a broken heart. Even those with an addiction still need love.
You’re a great son, never forget that. Do the best you can, keep love in your heart, and do all of this while getting the help of someone that is trained to help with this. The best thing for your dad is him knowing that you will still be there for him. When dads are gone, there’s no do-over.
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