I’ve been a fan of the television show “Mom” since it debuted in the fall of 2013, mostly because it has dealt with a light-hearted take on people in recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. But recently I watched an episode that really pissed me off, so much so, that I felt the need to write about it.
Oddly, the title of this episode was called “Esta Loca and a Little Klingon”, which for the life of me I’m not sure why. Regardless, one of the main characters, Jill (Jamie Pressley) was in a chronic relapse mode and constantly drunk dialing her sponsor Christy (Anna Faris) and Christy’s mother Bonnie (Allison Janney). While that’s actually something that occasionally happens in the recovery from addiction realm, it’s how one responds to those types of calls that makes all the difference.
In the episode, Christy and Bonnie proceeded to immediately drop anything they were doing every time Jill called or texted drunk. In fact, at one point, when Jill’s housekeeper called and told Christy that Jill was at her own home totally inebriated, Christy was out celebrating with her boyfriend Patrick’s for his birthday at a nice restaurant. It was also not the first time that Jill had done this to Christy and Patrick and it was at this point in the episode, that I got truly irritated at how the show was portraying the way one should deal with a person in a chronic relapse mode.
From what I’ve learned over the years, through Al Anon, sponsors, and people who’ve been around a long time in recovery, one NEVER, EVER, caters to someone who is choosing to keep getting drunk. I remember being told by my first sponsor and a number of other long-time sober people that if someone was to ever call in that state, you simply telling them “Call me back when you’re sober.” Because frankly, a person who’s inebriated or high on any substance, is not going to be receptive to anything that a sober person has to offer them. Rather, they usually only want people to feel sorry for them, to cater to them, and to baby them, which isn’t healthy at all for either them or the person attempting to come to their rescue.
In my past, there was a guy from my own life who I used to run over to his home every time he picked alcohol back up, hoping that my action might somehow help him eventually choose sobriety again. But, all it turned out to be in the long run through that repetitive action, was me care-taking and building up codependency within me, and him as well.
The harsh reality is that no one can save a drunk or an addict. NO ONE. And coming to a drunk’s or addict’s beckon call every time they pick up is only going to enable them to keep on doing it, over and over and over again. Sometimes, the best action is to just let them “sit in their shit”. And I mean that literally. Trying to “save” someone in the midst of their relapse can often act the very opposite on what one is trying to achieve. It can keep a person in their addiction for far longer.
So, yes, an episode of Mom showed what so many people in this world often try to do when someone they love gets in a perpetual state of alcoholism and drug addiction. It showed people rescuing, care-taking, and doing very codependent behaviors that aren’t healthy at all, not for the people who are sober and not for the people who are in a relapse mode.
While I may entertain a phone call at a special event, a birthday meal, or anything of the sort, by a person I’m sponsoring in recovery, if I discover during that call that they are actively engaged in their addiction, I will tell them I love them, I care about them, but I won’t talk to them anymore until they choose to sober up. Yet, on the contrary, if one of them ever called me up and were stone-cold sober, and said they were about to relapse and needed my help, then and only then, would I leave what I’m in the middle of doing, to go help them. Because that indeed is how a healthy program of recovery is meant to work, at least from the perspective I’ve learned.
Nevertheless, hopefully the TV show “Mom” may show in a future episode how unhealthy it ultimately is to care-take, babysit, coddle, or rescue any person who’s choosing to chronically relapse, because the reality is that nothing anyone does can ever help them remain sober until they choose to practice Step One in entirety themselves. And quite frankly, that often tends to come when a drunk or addict is left utterly alone to “sit in their shit.””
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson