Drug of Choice

Some people just seem to have a propensity toward addiction. It’s not just drugs and alcohol. It’s food, gambling, shopping, gaming, working, etc. There is something inside some of us that just lends itself to addiction.

Laura is one of those people. When she was a teenager, she was told by multiple therapists that her impulsivity was her most dangerous behavior. That tendency to act before she thinks and not consider consequences has led to many regrets.

In my experience with Laura and recovery, one of the phrases I have heard often is “drug of choice”. Though she would use anything she could get her hands on, she’s told me her favorites or “drugs of choice” were xanax and cocaine. Recently I’ve been putting a lot of thought into one that I think she forgot… Men.

From the time she was little, Laura always had an interest in boys. At 3 years old she had little boys in preschool that she told me she planned to marry. She even developed crushes on a couple of teenage boys and would follow around behind them convinced they would be her boyfriend. Of course, those boys never realized that but she would tell me about her crushes.

When Laura was 18 and a senior in high school she met her first husband. Within a month of dating him she had moved out of my house and quit school and, just four months after meeting him, she went to the courthouse and married him. Of course that marriage didn’t last long. They were 18 years old with no way to support themselves, not even a high school diploma. Add the issue of drug addiction into that and it is no surprise that their marriage was short-lived.

After leaving her first husband Laura thought a change of environment would make a difference in her life and she moved 3000 miles away from home. She got a job and was hopeful for her future. However, she still had a drug addiction that she had not addressed yet. She wasn’t there long before meeting a couple online who were looking for a sister wife. They bought her a plane ticket and she moved again.

After Laura moved in with the young couple and their 4.5 children, she tried to convince me that this was indeed the life she wanted and they were planning a wedding that she wanted me to attend. I was expected to respect her second marriage as a real one and accept the children as my grandchildren. That was not something that I was willing to do… not because I can’t accept an alternative lifestyle but because I knew that it was not forever.

Laura was a sister wife for a few months before she convinced another man to buy her a bus ticket back home and she ran away from her “marriage”. It seems that it wasn’t everything she thought it would be. Who could have anticipated that? (Forgive my sarcasm there.)

Laura returned home. Not to my house, but back to her hometown. She couch-hopped around. There were always men she was dating. There seemed to be no shortage of men willing to let themselves be manipulated by her. When she finally hit rock bottom and went through rehab, we had a short reprieve. Nine months in inpatient rehab and nine months in a halfway house after that. Not long after being on her own, maybe a few weeks, she met her second legal husband.

Laura’s second husband had some MAJOR red flags but we could not convince her to slow down. Four months into dating, she married him. Things went okay for a while but, in the end, she left him. At least this time she was sober. She had a secure job and was actively trying to make her own way in the world. She got an apartment but, after a few months, she was finding it financially difficult to support herself so she asked if she could move back in with me. We said yes. She moved her stuff in and then literally spent every single night at her boyfriend’s house. I have to admit that it hurt me. I was actually looking forward to having my sober, adult daughter being an active part of our family.

When Laura broke up with that boyfriend, she did stay at our house for a while but she acted like a teenager. The longer she was there, the less she cleaned up after herself and the more time she spent in her room and on her phone. She was always talking to some guy or another. Always looking for her prince charming.

Now Laura is living with her fiance. While I will admit that this one is different in that it’s the first time she’s ever been with a man that she was friends with first, she literally went from friends to living together to engaged in a 2-week time span. Now they’re planning the wedding for, you guessed it, four months of being together.

now that you have the backstory (with so many details left out because this is a blog… not a book) I want to talk about how all this feels.

As a mother, this gives me major anxiety. I want my children to have strong, healthy relationships. I truly pray that this marriage is the one that lasts forever! I just don’t understand why it has to go so fast. Why can’t they wait a year, give their relationship time to grow?

I feel like the same issues that drew her to other drugs, draw her to her current “drug of choice”. Perhaps she doesn’t feel worthy of love. Perhaps she doesn’t see the beauty in herself so she needs someone else to validate her. Maybe the only way to feel full and good enough is to have someone else need her. I wonder what she sees when she looks in the mirror? Wouldn’t life be grand if our children could see the beauty in themselves that we see in them?

Now I have to navigate this engagement. I have to find a way to make her aware that I love her, regardless of her life choices, but that I have reservations about the pace of this relationship. While she says it’s different than all the others, it feels the same to me. I am not the only one affected by this. Sarah has said that she feels like this is being forced on us and causes resentment in her. She loves her sister but doesn’t want to have to accept a new brother-in-law into the family so quickly. David feels the same way.

So many of the behaviors we saw before rehab have been resurfacing. I know she’s not alone in this because I’ve seen a lot of women do it, but she makes the wants and needs of whatever man she’s with her priority over everything else. She ignores friends and family. She puts less effort into her work. She ignores responsibilities like paying her bills. (I know when she hasn’t paid because the bill collectors call me.) Her time with her fiance is definitely more important to her than her time with her family.

I don’t want you to think that it’s ALL bad. She does call me. A couple weeks ago she stopped by to see me on her lunch break from work and even brought me a cupcake. She tells me she loves me. It’s just that I know I’m second fiddle. I expect her to make a life of her own and make her family her priority. Ideally she’d make a life with her husband and we’d all do things together. I’d love to do that! A few months from now. I just cannot force myself to go at her speed. I cannot welcome a new son-in-law into my home (no matter how great a guy he might be) when just 6 weeks ago she was dating someone else.

When Laura was making her amends during her 12 step rehab she said to me “I can’t just tell you I’m sorry. You’ve heard it too many times so it doesn’t mean anything anymore. I have to make living amends. I have to show you different behavior”. Now, the same concept applies. I need to see a relationship last to know that it’s real.

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