Letting go




I’ve returned from what I believe I’d the last visit to my mother I’ll ever make. I had to drop everything and find to Ireland from the UK at 3am due to a call that was made flagging that she was about to become homeless. I found her slumped behind a wheel in a car park, intoxicated and dirty. She had been living in squaller. Over five days, I housed her in an air BnB, got her off the booze, had paramedics and a GP come and asses her. Medicated her, fed her and found her temporary accomodation which I don’t think she will be able to pay for much longer.

After 28 years of trauma I believe this event has triggered a PTSD response and had decided I cannot intervene again.

My life has been impacted by her addiction and personality in ways I can’t even begin to explain. As a child, teenager and adult, I have protected my mother in every way imaginable. From a young age, she made me complicit in a lot of her dysfunctional behaviour and manipulated me so that I felt I couldn’t speak up or tell anyone. This has bled into my adult life and has meant I’ve tried endlessly to maintain her life for her, with little to no acknowledgement, guilt or remorse from her end. Speaking with the GP was life changing, as I finally had the strength to tell the truth, and spoke to her about things I’ve never told anyone. Leaving her behind was painful because in many ways, I’ve been her carer for as long as I can remember. I know this is difficult to read, but the truth is she has never protected me or put me first – I have always been the parent in this relationship, even when I was a child.

In recent years, I’ve had to make contact with charities such as Al-Anon and NACOA to try and begin processing the damage caused by all this. I’m going to be organising some counselling with a therapist who specialises in adult children of alcoholics moving forward, and I’m hoping I can begin to live the life I want to create for myself. I have an incredible support network and I feel lucky that I have this in place. I believe i’m a good person, and in return have been able to create and maintain a group of amazing friends who care for me and want the best for me.

At not even 29 years old, there’s many things I would love to do with my life which she has made me believe aren’t possible. To feel responsible for another person from birth, means putting your own hopes, aspirations and goals on hold. I’m fearful that if I continue down this path, I will eventually look back with deep regret and a feeling of loss of my own life. I love my mother, but I feel this isn’t reciprocated in a way most parents love their children. Again, this has been a devastating conclusion to reach in recent years and I’m trying my best to come to terms with it.

I’ve had this conversation with her several times over the past few days, one of which was in front of her FP and I recorded on my phone. She knows and understands my stance in that I cannot intervene like I have done my entire life anymore. I know now that if I continue to do so, my own life will be destroyed and the cycle will continue.

Does anyone have any advice on how you finally let go?

  • here2help

    I am so sorry you’re going through this. It sounds like you are making the best possible decision for yourself to focus on yourself going forward. Sadly we have no choice about how we come into the world and who raises us and the adults who are meant to care for us are not always suitable due to their own difficulties. But we do have a choice in how we live the rest of our lives and that often comes with setting boundaries with people who are detrimental to our wellbeing and happiness. You deserve to be happy and to have a life filled with people who care about you and lift you up and I’m so sorry your mother isn’t one of those people. I know it’s hard to accept. But you are doing so well with recognising that you have to move forward and I’m so glad you are getting support through Nacoa and other outlets as well as focused counselling to help you on this journey. Sending you courage. Take good care of yourself.

  • listener


    Thank you for posting your story. I am so sorry to read about your experience with your mother, this sounds like it has been incredibly hard for you. It must have been so difficult to have made that step, but it sounds like it was also the necessary one to make, as if you had not, as you say you might never have been able to release yourself of that overwhelming responsibility and receiving little reciprocity, which is really unfair for you.

    To be able to start reaching out and speaking so openly on this experience (which is often overlooked), such as the GP and creating that support network that you now have, I hope that this process has begun to help with healing these emotional wounds.

    I can just feel from your words how much that sense of stability and hope means to you. To be able to place that focus back on to you, as it should have been from the moment you were born, must feel freeing. To be able to put yourself first and feel comfortable doing this is such a big step. Especially to have spoken to her directly about your own stance and how much it has impacted you, that must have been incredibly hard but it sounds very much like it was something you felt you had to do for yourself. To place boundaries like this is not always easy but it is good that you recognised in yourself what was going to help you to move forward from what sounds like a painful experience.

    I am so glad that contacting charities like ours has helped for processing these complicated feelings that many COAs can experience. The process of letting go can look and feel different person to person. I think that reminding yourself that you can have empathy and love for someone whilst also protecting your wellbeing is completely valid. Equally, you have listened to your inner child who had to be the parent, by saying with conviction, that enough is enough. And that is okay - you are giving yourself now the protection you needed from childhood.

    I truly hope that in time you can find the path for yourself that was previously not made possible due to prioritising and being the parent to your own parent.

    If you would like to reach out to our helplines some more, our information is:
    Telephone helpline (0800 358 3456) Monday to Saturday 10am to 7pm
    Email helpline (helpline@nacoa.org.uk) Monday to Saturday 10am to 7pm
    1-2-1 chat (blue logo on our website) Thursdays only 12pm to 5pm

    Take good care of yourself,

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