We have come to a crossroads in our lives as father and daughter. I have spent a good part of my life being my parents’ caregiver, both my Mom(rectal cancer) and Dad’s ( Dementia/Alzheimer’s). While their suffering has been extensive I am going to focus a bit on the changes a Codependent-Bipolar-Recovering Addict/Alcoholic with Disabilities-Caregiver faces(which, by the way is me.).
When I moved back home in 1997 Mom and Dad were in good health. Mom was 61 and recently diagnosed with type 2 Diabetes, but even being about 40 pounds overwieght she was working at Breakers (their Billiard Parlor) and enjoying her life. Aside from a jagged relationship with an unreasonable husband and cranky recovering daughter, Mom was upbeat and cheerful. We really rekindled our friendship and became inseperable.
At this point I was SO happy to be home with them both, back from such a tumultuous marriage. Mentally I was bouncing from elation to depression, and trying so hard to change the things around the house that did not suit my taste. I wanted to move furniture, paint rooms, throw junk away- basically disrupt their whole cozy world. I tried so hard to gain Dad’s approval, an impossibility though it proved to be. As a rebellious hellion I fought often with Dad, huge arguments and obscenities exchanged, which upset my Mom to no end.
As I spent time in 12 step life, I changed and after a year sober sought mental health counselling at a nearby state funded facility on an outpatient basis. With a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder and proper medication my raging moods changed slowly. I learned to be tolerant, accepting of shortcomings in myself and others, making my ammends and dumping years of grudges and resentment into my mental trash dump. My Higher Power took the refuse and threw it away for me, and a huge burden was lifted and I eventually was relieved of the compulsion to get high/drunk.
It took years of work, and after working at Breaker’s for a few years it was time to spread my wings a little. I got a job at a counselling center as a driver, and was exposed to people in Recovery forty hours a week. I had free access to addiction counsellor advice, reading material, and began studying codependency among other issues. I took clients to 12 step meetings a couple nights a week, got a great sponsor and worked the steps like a lion. I saw first hand the ravages of addiction in the faces of new clients I picked up at the airport as they flew into our sunny skies to get clean and sober in the great state of Florida. They were so, so sick and broken, just as I had been such a short time before.
Sharing my “story” at AA meetings was cathartic, purging myself of excess baggage, but mostly focussing on upbeat positive changes in sobriety. I started a Gratitude journal, and kept my thoughts written down each day as I morphed into a citizen. My relationships at home mellowed, and I was milder, kinder, and Mom and Dad responded. We had familial peace for the first time in the 25 years of my ative addiction. I felt so indebted to my parents, and felt I just had to show them how sorry I was , how changed I was. It became a driving force in my life, and my new obsession.