Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My mom is a very independent and active 72. Nonetheless, she is 72, and I worry sometimes, since she’s on her own. When she’s home, she has people around that she sees regularly; however, she’s currently on an extended vacation in another state where she knows no one. She has a cellphone, but she keeps it turned off. And the phone where she’s staying doesn’t seem to be working.
I’m concerned about the state of this. If something were to happen to her, no one would potentially know for days. Is it unreasonable for me to insist that she keeps her cellphone on and fully charged on this trip so I can reach her at all times? Then, in the event I couldn’t reach her for some time, that would signal that I should call for help. At present, I just feel cut off, and I’m not comfortable with that.
If I were to fall down the stairs in the morning, I might not be found for six hours. I’m not 72, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be bested by fuzzy socks.
That bad things can happen at inopportune times is a fact of life. If I were your mom, I might indulge you if you asked, but since you’re now asking for permission to “insist,” then I’m thinking she has already refused your request.
The phone is nothing more than a placebo to make you feel better anyway. You can’t keep something bad from happening from out of state. You just can’t. If you’re talking about being there after something happens, then just ask her to carry emergency contact numbers. That’s smart for solo travelers whether they’re 72 or 27.
Otherwise, your best option is to deal with this strictly on your end, by learning to trust your ability to handle it, emotionally, if something goes awry.
Dear Carolyn: A few weeks ago I broke up with my boyfriend, who has been in recovery 10 years. Before that I was married to an active alcoholic. A friend of mine recently broke up with her boyfriend, an active addict.
Last night, we made a pact – to help each other not date addicts anymore. I am just wondering, do I really want to automatically dismiss ALL addicts as potential romantic partners? That seems unfair. And can either of us really be trusted to guide the other? Neither of our track records is great and, personally, I have no idea how I got in this pattern to begin with.
(1) “I have no idea how”: Therapy! Call it an eight-week workshop on Why I Date Addicts, with an option to re-enroll.
(2) “That seems unfair”: Bleep — fair. ALL active addicts are automatic no-thank-yous, as is hitting oneself with a brick. Recovering addicts are a different story — except for you and anyone else with a history of dating against your own best interests for reasons you do not yet understand. Seems fair to me, especially since your enabling is against an addict’s best interests, too.
And no, you can’t trust each other as guides – not because of your history, but because ultimately no outside monitor can accomplish what your own judgment can’t.
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