When Your Mom Is An Alcoholic
For the past few years, my relationship with my mother has been nonexistent. For as long as I can remember, something has been off with her. As a child, I remember her spending a lot of time in bed, flying off the handle easily, expecting a lot out of everyone around her while she herself gave the minimum. There was support in my home that was used against me at opportune moments, no “I love yous,” and complete rage if alcohol or drug use was questioned. My mom was always quick to anger and isolated herself from her friends and family.
Fast forward to my early 30’s, and this “off” behavior evolved quickly.
At that time, I made the decision to keep my mom at an arm’s distance. We no longer spoke on the phone, only saw each other at large family get-togethers. We simply didn’t have a relationship. I made the decision to cut my mom out of my life to avoid her angry outbursts, manipulation, and lies. I begged for answers. I begged to help fix whatever problem there was. My pleading was greeted with twisting reality… making it seem like something was wrong with me for insinuating there could be a problem.
I knew there was something wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Was she a drug addict? Did she have psychiatric problems? Or was she just a bad person? My mom frequently lashed out. She was never the nurturing type and only told me she loved me when I became an adult. She was almost childlike — someone who needed to be taken care of while she called the shots in her own offensive way. My dad was and is her biggest supporter, protector, enabler, and punching-bag.
When I had heard my mom was unable to walk, I decided to intervene as my dad made excuses about why she couldn’t go to the hospital. What is this secret that was being kept? She couldn’t walk, but she wouldn’t go to the hospital? After much back and forth, threats of calling an ambulance myself, and convincing, my mom was on her way to our local hospital. Countless tests later, and (of course) lies about her alcohol use, it was determined that my mom’s body was beginning to shut down due to severe and prolonged alcoholism.
It was a lightbulb moment. All of my childhood memories, the fights, the drunken rages, the bad decisions, the excuses, the (obvious) lies — it ALL finally made sense. Unfortunately, this was not a lightbulb moment for either of my parents. The next day I visited my mom as she was detoxing. Her ridiculous arguments intensified, and I left when she told me she had “rights” to see my children that she would pursue. My dad also would spend the following weeks protecting my mom, downplaying her alcoholism, and focusing on the other ailments the hospital found while she was there.
I’ve been hopeful all my life to have a relationship with my mother like I’ve seen from others. I wish she could have told me she loved me growing up. I wish she was more involved with my life. I wish our happy moments were not calculated — ammo ready to be used against me at a later date. I wish that when I got married, she wasn’t at war with the rest of our family and it could have been more of an enjoyable time. I wish my memories were joyful rather than painful. And, I wish that pain didn’t follow me around.
Now that I’m a mother, I wish she was there to guide me. I wish my children knew her and were close with her as I am with my grandmother. I wish we could have become friends in these older years, appreciating our time together. I wish I wasn’t writing this blog. However, I know my mom won’t change. I know that when her hospital stay is over, she will go back to her old ways… this can only carry on for so long. I’ll be here if and when she’s ready to get help.
Until then, I continue to keep my distance and vow to give my children everything my mom could not give me.
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