by Elaine Miller
After Mary broke up with John, she went through a bad period. She seemed like a lost soul. She started going out at night again and frequenting the bars. I was so depressed. I really wished that she could have gotten back together with John. She would stay out all hours of the night and sometimes not come back until morning. I worried about her driving.
Mary has never been a very good driver. We always provided her with old beaters to run around in. She would drive while putting on make up or lighting a cigarette. She was always hitting things, like scrapping down the right side of the car against a light pole. Once she had Sean in the car and hit a light standard in a parking lot. No one was hurt, but he was just hysterical. He was only a little guy at the time. I could hardly stand to think of her drinking and driving.
One night we got a call at one a.m. from the jail of a near by town. It was my birthday in June. I called Marie. We scrapped together the money for bail and went for her in the morning. I wanted her to see how it felt to spend overnight in jail. The police had to tell me where she left the car and how to get to it. All she was concerned about was getting the car. She had taken a wrong turn when she got off the bridge and had ended up in a different county and never really knew how she got there. She just looked at me when I laid into her and tried to get through to her about drinking and driving.
I hired an attorney and she got fined $700, including court fees. She also was put on six months probation. She didnít get a stiffer penalty because the breath test was just under the legal limit for receiving a stiffer penalty. I paid the attorney and added $25 a month to her rent fee. She made payments herself out of her social security for the fine to the circuit clerk.
Mary continued to go out at night. The next time I got a call in the night from jail, I called my ex and told him it was his turn to go and get her this time. He was not happy, but he went and bailed her out. He brought her back home and she came in. She didnít say she was sorry or show any signs of remorse. I told her she was in big trouble now. I had decided she would have to find a court appointed attorney this time.
A week later she went back out and got picked up again for drunk driving. That summer she was picked up three times for drunk driving. I was beside myself. She just didnít seem to care or else she didnít seem to comprehend the seriousness of the situation. The state sent her a notice that her license was suspended indefinitely. Before that we had made her drive the clunker down to the junkyard and turn it in. Her driving days were over. Don told her we were not ever giving her a car again and to not ask. He told me never to ask in her behalf again either.
We got her a good used bicycle. She really got into that. She bought herself a helmet, basket and light to go on her bike. She rode all over East Peoria, and if I wouldnít take her to see her friends, then into Peoria she went across the bridge. She would go to AA meetings at night and ride back alone on the bike through a bad section of town and across the bridge. Now I had something else to worry about. I was scared that she would be found dead at any time murdered or mugged, but she never was. She had a guardian angel with her.
I did not pull any punches with Sean. He asked me about her being in jail and I told him that it was against the law to drink and drive and she would now have to go to court and face the consequences. She went to court for the second time in our county. At that time she was assigned an attorney. I could tell he was really rather disinterested. I asked him to please see if he could get one court date for both offences. He managed to do that. When it came time to go to court for the third time, he told me the two states attorneys had bargained and if she spent twelve weekends in jail or else one week in jail, then she was free. She opted for the week in jail.
They gave her a choice of when she could go do her time. I dreaded it. I just felt sick inside. I quietly explained to Sean that his Mom had to spend a week in jail for her drinking and driving. It was breaking the law. He seemed to accept that.
When it was time I drove her with her medicine up to the jail. It was one of the hardest things to see one of my children in jail. I felt that she was not going to learn anything if she did not suffer the consequences for her actions. That was a pretty long week for her and for me. She called me every day and she was crying and said they refused to give her the medicine, because they didnít have a doctorís approval. I told them to call and get the approval. They never would until the last two days. She finally got her medicine. She was already in trouble with her ulcerative colitis and had to go see the doctor when she got out.
Mary, when in one of her nasty moods, was always threatening to sue everyone. She threatened to sue everyone in her own family at least several times a week. I got really tired of hearing it. She said she was going to sue the jail, but I told her she had best leave it alone and this time she listened.
She continued to go to AA. She would go every time she knew there was a meeting at the AA building. I really think she loved the socializing best. She would sometimes get rides from people on this side of the river and sometimes get people to bring her home from the meetings, but by in large, she rode her bike back and forth.
Just like in the car, she would just pull out in front of people on the bicycle. Not very far from the house once, a car did hit her. It was going very slowly and she wasnít hurt. The driverís insurance bought her a new bicycle. She had not been looking and pulled out in front of the driver.
I started taking her to the Wednesday noon meeting, because in another room was an Al-Anon meeting. I would go to that and she would go to hers and then we would go with my group to a restaurant and have lunch. They were always real sweet and nice to Mary.
It seemed that through the Al-Anon program I was starting to come to terms with accepting Mary the way she was. We did have some good times together. Mary was always smart and very witty. She had a wonderful sense of humor. She would at times put a perspective on a subject that was hilarious. At times I really was now beginning to enjoy being around her. It still was terribly difficult when she was in one of her paranoid moods, threatening to sue everyone and throwing a fit. It seemed that those episodes outweighed most of her good points. At least it tried my patience to the max. I always seemed to react to everything.
I also had problems with Marie telling me that I was not giving her children enough time. She had a picture of this sweet pink-cheeked little old grandma thinking of her grandchildren all day long and baking cookies in the kitchen for them, just waiting for them to hurry over. We really got into it about that. I wanted time for myself. I didnít want to baby-sit every spare minute I didnít work. I would be tired on my weekends off. Three kids close to the same age were a handful.
When Sean and Jessie were together, both having attention deficit hyperactivity disorder what one didnít think of the other did. Marie would criticize the way I was raising Sean. I kept telling her that I was doing the best I could. I was trying to not do the things I did wrong raising my own children. Everyone does the best that they know how, with what they have. Bad patterns go back for generations and I was trying to break some of those patterns. I was trying not to scream and yell at the kids like my mother had done when I was young, and which in turn I did with my own children. I found, however, when those kids were running around doing things, that I would be reduced to yelling at them. Now I take away privileges and still yell at times.
During the period of time when the three younger grandchildren were in grade school, Marie decided we should go see a counselor who specialized in ADD children. We went for several sessions and he taught us the effective use of time out. At one point Bill went and he told the doctor that he thought that Sean should be spanked more and he wanted permission to do so when he was at their house.
I just blew up. The doctor told all of us to wait in the other room while he talked to Marie and Bill. Later he came out and told me he was out of time and wanted me to come and see him privately alone. I wasnít going to and he persuaded me to do that. I made the appointment. Before I went I had time to sit and fret. I just knew that he was going to tell me what a bad grandmother I was and how badly I was doing with raising Sean. I really had worked myself into a frenzy. My girlfriend Marcia told me that it was one of my insecurities and that she knew he had nothing like that in mind.
The day came for the appointment. I went. It reminded me of going for the sessions when Brett and I were going for marriage counseling and how I knew the counselor would believe everything he said and everything I had told him was exaggerated or made up. I would figure that the counselors probably thought I was crazy. When I had gone to Father for a couple of years, I didnít feel that way, but this situation made me feel threatened again. It was so easy to revert back to the feelings of low self worth and low self esteem if the conditions were right. I brought these types of anxieties on myself.
We were sitting facing each other. The doctor was about Marieís age and was fast moving, nice looking and witty. I had perceived those things about him when I had been in the sessions with the kids and Marie. He smiled at me and told me quietly that he noticed that I always reacted to everything anyone said to me especially when they were critical. He said that was a trait of ADD people. He told me he thought I was ADD. I told him I knew I was. I told him he was also and he was surprised that I knew. I told him I knew because he was never sitting still and he was quick about everything. He wanted me to fill out a bunch of papers, have another person close to me to fill out some and then bring the person with me at the next visit. Don didnít want to do that. I asked Marcia and she did it. They were papers asking pointed questions as to how others perceived me. They had to do with attention span, if I listened well, etc. We filled out our papers and went back.
He told me I definitely fit the bill of being ADHD. He recommended I try the medication Wellbutrin, which is a major antidepressant but very effective for adults with ADHD. He called my doctor and asked him to prescribe it for me. The big thing I learned from the doctor specializing in ADD was that people with this disorder lump information and emotions together. In other words, the minute I hear something it sets up feelings of terrible anxiety if it is something bad, and then I react. He had told me that I react to everything, because I canít separate the two. He said that I would find that the medication would help me to deal with my children and grandchildren. I noticed a big difference within five days of taking the medication. I was elated. I found that my coping skills drastically improved after that. I also found that my mood swings of depression were almost non-existent after taking the medicine for several months. It did not take away all my stress, but it certainly mellowed it out.