This post was submitted by Louise.
My boyfriend and I have been dating for about four months. He is 25 and I am 21. He has a history of alcoholism and drug use, but he has been sober for five years and is doing really, really well. Unfortunately, his mom is also an alcoholic, and she's not doing well. She got sober about six months ago (before I met him), but she didn't get involved in support groups, etc. My boyfriend was worried about her because of this, and because he knew that support groups and AA were really instrumental in his own recovery.
Two days ago, his mom's boyfriend of eight years broke up with her. Yesterday, she relapsed. My boyfriend told me this last night when I called him just to chat. He's obviously devastated, but is also angry with his mom and confused about what to do.
I don't have any experience with how to help someone in his situation, so I didn't know what to say to him. I obviously said I was really sorry that this happened and acknowledged that the situation is really tough, but other than that, I was lost. It seemed like my boyfriend was waiting for me to say something else - to comfort him, or something - but I didn't know how. I really don't want to minimize the situation by saying something like, "Don't worry, it will all work out," because there's a good chance that it won't work out, that his mom won't get better, and that she'll die from her alcoholism.
How do I handle this?
We're both super busy, so we only hang out a few times a week and just talk on the phone the other days. Do I just sit there and listen? Do I try to offer some comfort? Do I talk about other stuff going on in my life as a sort of distraction?
I just want to let him know that I care and that I'm here for him if he wants me.