Psychologist Paola Capelli’s life took an unexpected turn when her daughter Constanza decided to take part in a reality show, where she openly shared details about her struggle with cocaine addiction. Since then, Paola has become the target of merciless cyberbullying, with thousands of accounts defaming her as a woman, mother and psychologist. How can we reconcile children’s autonomy with the need for maternal guidance? What are the ethical boundaries of children’s personal lives?
In October of this year, after almost five months without seeing his daughter in real life, Paola Capelli (50) entered the Big Brother house in Argentina and hugged Constanza. I do not cry. Its objective was to strengthen the young woman in confinement and not to transmit to her the moments when, as a mother, she missed her, felt anxiety or frustration behind the screen. It was only when leaving her the next day, when the doors to the set were closed, that he burst into tears.
He says the goodbyes reminded him of the first time he took coni in kindergarden. The first time, he was separated from his daughter. “There is something very intense that happens to us mothers with our senses. The same smell she had when she was a child is the same smell I felt when I hugged her before taking me back to Chile,” she recalls.
During these almost six months of confinement, Constance Capelli (27 ) has, through his own experience, brought various issues to the public spotlight, despite controversies, such as abortion, bisexuality, emotional abuse in relationships, and problematic cocaine use. Likewise, he shared some of the recovery he has been facing for the past seven years.
Since then, the social networks of his mother, an organizational psychologist and municipal employee of Quilpué, have been flooded with messages of hatred and threats. Many emphasize her work as a mother: they tell her that she has done badly, that her daughter is a drug addict, that she should have her hospitalized, and others also question her quality as a professional, They wonder how, as a psychologist, she did not have the tools necessary to prevent Capelli from falling into consumption.
This is not an interview about Constanza’s rehabilitation, which is a story that belongs to her – and her mother makes it clear from the first moment – but rather the reflections of a mother who faced a painful situation. , but also frequent: according to SENDA, young Chileans occupy first place among all countries on the continent for the consumption of marijuana, cocaine, base paste and tranquilizers without a prescription. Far from the television show, here no lights or scenarios, but it is a true story.
What happens to you when you read all these comments on your social networks?
I think that when you experience something as strong and painful as seeing a person you love almost lose themselves due to problematic use, there are a series of things that stay in the background. When Constanza and I talked about her addiction, I quickly understood what we were going through, there was no time for denial: my daughter was going to begin a difficult and personal recovery process, so there was no more space to think about what others were doing. say. . I knew, not because of my profession, but because we see it every day, that there is a social punishment for drug addicts. And everything we experience as mother and daughter is not part of a television program, but is reality. The priorities are therefore different.
Do you think there is a social expectation that the lives of psychologists and their families are perfect?
I’m an organizational psychologist, I don’t do clinical work, but of course, at home I’m the mom Paola, not the professional. What I’ve seen is that there is a kind of catharsis in people when they look for mistakes or hurt in others, because they alleviate their own guilt. Comments on social media, things I’m not responsible for, use “your daughter is a drug addict” to denigrate and hurt, and it seems to me that this speaks to enormous frustration and an encapsulated level of anger. But our story and that of her rehabilitation is something that belongs to us and although many people find it shocking, it makes me proud and I will always say it, because my daughter, just as she made the decision to use, also made the decision to consume. decision, decision to heal.
What is the extent of a mother’s responsibility in the lives of her children?
Motherhood is the most rewarding experience, but also the most difficult. And I think it happens to all women. I raised my daughters giving them a lot of freedom and gave them the responsibility to choose their own path. In Latin America, especially, it is very difficult for us to let go of them for cultural reasons and when they fall or make mistakes, guilt arises.
Have you experienced feelings of guilt as a mother in this process?
Of course it is, and it’s an extremely harmful feeling: “What did I do wrong?” “, “What did I do wrong? “. All these questions begin to float, because it is difficult to understand that even if we influence them, they are independent beings who chart their own path. That in addition to being children, they are adults. This one has a limited range of action. Additionally, drug addiction is a social problem that leads us to view it as something individual.
When a person consumes, they usually do so because of a deficiency, but these are social illnesses, where there is not only a reflection that must come from parents or guardians, but also a responsibility from the environment: friends, partners, families, institutions. There are many factors. But of course, since there is no recipe for breastfeeding, the first thing we do is look for the culprit: “What if I had done things differently? ”, and this exercise is most of the time a waste of energy.
Comments on social media, things I’m not responsible for, use “your daughter is a drug addict” to denigrate and hurt, and it seems to me that this speaks to enormous frustration and an encapsulated level of anger.
Were you afraid when Constanza told you about her fight against consumption?
Completely. I didn’t want to lose her. It’s a terror that runs through your entire body. You panic. I was afraid that he would stay there, that he wouldn’t come out, that the environment would be stronger. At that point, at least for me, I just had to trust. Remember, I knew the person behind this addiction. It was my daughter. That I knew what his abilities were. I think my own sanity rested on the belief that I knew his tools. Looking back, I remember it was a dark but healing moment for both of us: it made us appreciate life and our connection, it gave us another opportunity where we had to be mindful of our emotions, we could no longer ignore our fears. , but neither is our hope. . We need to remove the stigma of shame from recovery.
How did the relationship you had with your daughter evolve when you discovered her addiction?
She asked me several times if I felt proud, and I answered yes, because from each fall she got up, she learned, she learned a lesson. She has not remained a victim of her history, because she chooses every day not to fall back into consumption. I believe that when these things are revealed at the family level, there is a breakdown in trust, but it is also something that can be repaired and rebuilt, especially when you see that your daughter is determined to move forward.
There is a stigma, perhaps because of films and series, about the effect it has on families, but in my case there was neither shame nor anger, but rather the need to act quickly. And I don’t think I determined it by his decisions either. It’s part of her past, I don’t have an “addicted daughter”, I have a daughter of infinite dimensions and I haven’t lost sight of her: she’s a talented dancer, a woman with great sense humorous, happy, restless, curious and loving. I know that society in this sense is biased and as she comments on social networks she will always be punished for her story, but for me these are memories with nuances, her mistakes do not define her. The lens through which I see it is different and has many colors.
Do you think it is important for these topics to be covered on television?
I believe there must be many young people who also want to get better, but who must have a terrible fear of the judgment and social punishment that people with drug addictions face. It is urgent that as a society, space is opened to integration and rehabilitation in the broadest and most concrete sense of the term. People who have a history of problematic consumption should not be re-victimized, but on the contrary, I think they must be contained and empowered: sometimes human beings hit rock bottom to be able to find well-being and that’s it. is an incredible ability. .
What are the social repercussions a mother faces in such situations?
When a marriage breaks up, the children generally remain with the mother and shared custody is not assured. When children are good, “they are the equal of their father”, but when they make mistakes, the first culprits are the mothers. I would even say that we are parents out of guilt. And everyone can be the harshest judge. I had this space of judgment: “What did I fail? What did I not see?”, “Maybe I should have been more worried?”, but being a mother is an adventure that never ends and that’s how I thought it was the most honest and correct way to educate a woman. There comes a time when parents also become mere spectators of their lives. It’s a learning that I reinforce every day, even at fifty years old, motherhood is a school that never ends. My task today is to support her, but giving her a distance of love and respect so that she can write her future.
I am Robert Harris and I specialize in news media. My experience has been focused on sports journalism, particularly within the Rugby sector. I have written for various news websites in the past and currently work as an author for Athletistic, covering all things related to Rugby news.