DEAR AMY: I am a graduate student in my late 20s. My mother has been addicted to marijuana my whole life. She says it's for lower back pain, but when she gets high it is impossible to talk to her. She can't hold a job or keep friends. My parents are getting a divorce, and my dad claims it is partly because she refuses to admit she has a drug problem or take responsibility for her life. Whenever I try to talk about this, my mother becomes defensive. I want to tell her I feel this is preventing us from having a good relationship. She has chosen this drug over me repeatedly during my life. I realize now that she may be like this for the rest of her life. Is it worth mentioning to her how I feel? Or will that just be another burden for her?
--Wanting a Drug-Free Mama
DEAR WANTING: Your situation is heartbreaking, and the answer for you is to speak your own truth with compassion.
And then you must work hard to detach with love. Realize that your mother is flawed, addicted and ill. Even though you deserved so much better, in the cosmic matchup of parent and child, you were handed an extreme challenge.
Your truth might ultimately be your mother's gift, as long as it is accompanied by a request for her to get help for her addiction.
Write down a simple and concentrated version of your truth. Here's a sample: "Mom, your addiction is breaking my heart. I want to have a better relationship with you, but I can't do this as long as you are using. I am urging you to get help. I want to know you as a sober person." Deliver this message verbally or in writing.
You and your father should research rehab programs for your mother (you can start with Narcotics Anonymous, a 12-step program, at na.org). You should also seek counseling and group support through Al-Anon or Nar-anon. The Nar-anon website lists local meetings (nar-anon.org).