My fiancé “John” has struggled with alcohol abuse since we’ve met, and over the past few years it has only gotten worse. Recently, John’s father passed away, and he hit his rock bottom.
He finally checked his pride at the door and realized that he needed to stop drinking, which was a complete about-face for him, and he has really dedicated himself to making a change. Of course, I notified his mother of the “rock bottom event,” and she was extremely concerned yet still overwhelmed by grief in the loss of her husband. But glad that I didn’t keep it a secret. When we saw her after the “event,” she berated him with questions on how he was going to stay sober and told him what he should and shouldn’t do, though ultimately it came from a place of love and that she just wanted him to get better. During this, she had also stated that she was “at the edge of [her] cliff” and needed her son to help her through her grief.
Since John needs to focus on himself and prioritize his sobriety, I asked if she would consider talking to a professional (i.e. therapist) to help her process her grief, adding that I had done so after my dad passed away and that it helped me immensely. But she was vehemently opposed to it and didn’t want to talk about it again. I tried to be compassionate in understanding generational differences about mental health and that talking to a therapist can be scary for some. But I was pretty livid: My fiancé has already humbled himself and is embarking on a new and scary sobriety journey of his own; why can’t she do the same FOR HER SON? It makes me feel like she can tell everyone else what’s best for them and what to do, yet isn’t willing to embrace change for herself, especially for something that can only help her mental health. Grief aside, she also has incredibly high anxiety and suffers from regular panic attacks, so I also just want her to know that she doesn’t have to live like this and that there are professionals who can help her lead a panic-free (or panic-reduced) life. Should I revisit this conversation and encourage her to seek help or leave it be?
— Concerned and Angry