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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5220
Experience:  Dr. Mark is a PhD in psychology in private practice
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my daughter is 43 years old .She left her husband over 3 years

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my daughter is 43 years old .She left her husband over 3 years ago and lost custody of her now 7 year old daughter, She left her family 4 a woman who physically abused her. She was so depressed she coundnt be a mother. she wont work drinks and stays with me and sleeps all day will not work. says therapy wont help her.I strongly suspect she has a personality disorder I have researched DSM but i cant come up with anything.I feel responsible because i had an abusive husband(verbally) and i believe this has something to do withit. I actually separated from him because i am so angry ! Please help
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Hi! You know, to give you the best answer, I think I should ask you a few questions first that will help define the problem and the situation.

It's possible she has a personality disorder, though depression can also account for what you are describing. However, none of this can be sorted out while she's drinking. Is she willing to do anything about her drinking, like going to AA?

Are you willing to require her dealing with her alcoholism and moving forward in order for her to stay with you? Or are you willing to let her be this way and continue to stay?

Your verbally abusive husband was her father? How old was she? I don't know if it comes into play. But certainly, as I said, dealing with the alcoholism will have to come first.

Any extra information that will help, feel free to share.

Dr. Mark

Customer: replied 5 years ago.
My husband is her Father. She never drank before but now she drinks almost everyday, binge eats or doesnt eat at all. She hates to be alonew .My greatist concern is my grandaughter. If i tell her to leave where will she be able to see her daughter
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 5 years ago.

Thank you for the added information. It helps a lot. I believe I can now be of help with this issue.

First, let me say I can imagine how distressing and worrisome this situation must be for you. Let's address your stated main concern: where can she visit her granddaughter?


You can still allow them to BOTH visit you in your home and her visits can happen where they happen now. I imagine this is your chance to see your granddaughter as well, so why should you lose out on this. UNLESS your daughter uses it as blackmail to get you to make you pay for her alcoholism by supporting her. Then your responsibility is first to her, your daughter, to try to help her become functional and have a chance for a decent life and not to model dysfunction to her own daughter. This is your responsibility above and before your desire to see your granddaughter.

But that paragraph I just wrote to you is a whole lesson in something called ENABLING. And this is such an important part of what you have to learn about. Because unfortunately, no matter what happened in her childhood that may have caused PTSD or Borderline Personality Disorder or whatever mental health problem she has, your responsibility as her loving mother NOW is to not enable her to keep hiding from getting the help she needs.

She's an alcoholic. Okay. And that means AA. Why?

Because AA has been around since the 1930s for a reason. At 2 am or 2 pm when there's a choice facing her between emotional pain or the bottle to numb it, what usually wins? Right. And AA has the support to get the person through without going back to the bottle. This is what they are about. I want you to understand something I am very strict about in my practice. I won't see someone who's drinking in therapy. And I'm a psychologist. Why not? Because I know that no therapy or counseling is going to compete with the bottle when it counts. There has to be support; there has to be a sponsor. There has to meetings at least 2/week to start. Every day to start. I have some clients who were there 2/day. I'm serious. Without her taking the steps to stop her drinking, you're just enabling her.

I know I'm being frank, open and honest here. And I am doing this because the stakes are so high, your daughter's life, and because I sense you are a very loving mother and grandmother. What point is there in pretending?

Because your daughter has already signaled that she will only change her behavior when SHE is ready to change it. That there is nothing YOU can do to convince her to change her ways, to cajole her, to plead, to beg, to give, to do for her, or to anything that will affect what she does. She has signaled clearly that she will decide. And she has decided to let her lack of self-respect and alcohol rule her life. You cannot compete with the bottle or the need to be treated badly until she is ready to fight it herself.

You are clearly a good-hearted person and you very much want to help your daughter. But, you all need to understand: your enabling her to be dysfunctional and to avoid treatment for her disorders is NOT helping. That she's not going to AA anyways does not change this dynamic: when you help her in her current condition, you are not helping HER, you are helping the mental disorder and alcoholic that is her majority self right now to keep on operating. All the help is just feeding the bottle and the need to be not worthy of self-respect, not her SELF you are trying to reach.

So, you must help her and help yourself. First, you need to get yourself or yourselves to Al Anon. That's the part of Alcoholics Anonymous that is for the family. Here's the meeting finder:

Not all meetings are the same. So if you don't hit it off with one group, find out where there's a different meeting. But you need support for the next step:

She needs to get to AA right away. She may refuse, but still, you can offer to go to AA meetings with her at first:

Same idea: not all meetings are the same. But, then, it's up to her. She needs to take responsibility and you need to let her take responsibility. All of you have to tell her that you will not be available to her for food, transportation, money, etc. until she has signed meeting cards from AA. That's right. You have to be as real about it as the courts will be when she finally gets busted drinking and driving and hopefully it won't be for having killed somebody while driving drunk. There are consequences to actions of human beings and you have to start acting like she's human and has to bear the consequences of her actions. If she is not willing to live within your standards, that's her right; you can't stop her. But it's also within your rights not to support it. That's what it means to treat someone like an adult.

Well, that was tough to read but I believe you are good-hearted enough to know that I am speaking honestly and openly from experience as a psychologist and from caring and that you need to hear this.

I wish you the very, very best!

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