My experience – Alcoholic mum




I didn’t know what to call this but i just wanted to write it down. My mother is an alcoholic and has been my whole life (i’m now turning 34), she is in her 70s. Over the years she was a functional alcoholic and was able to go to work but drank every night when she came home. She has now been retired for several years and it has got significantly worse. Covid lockdowns especially impacted it. I’ve never known her to be sober. She’s been very verbally abusive to me at times, and even has said to me at one point when she was drunk that she never wanted me, i was only a young teenager.

She refuses to admit she has a problem even though she has now been in hospital and caught drink driving by the police and been to court (she’s now lost her license). I always thought i was alone in knowing my mum was an alcoholic but it turns out the family knew. My dad was ill when i was young also so could not have helped, he has also passed on. I was a child unable to do anything and it angers me that family never intervened. They just told her to stop, not even in person. I can’t help but feel some bitterness towards them. When i opened up to them recently when things were really bad, it was like oh that’s awful! but youll have to deal with it you’re her daughter. Recently i was out of the country for work and a family member rang me to demand that i come home because my mum had been out in public and was wearing her dressing coat. I don’t know what they actually expect me to do, she’s an adult and i don’t control her.

I’ve tried to get my mum help in the form of care but as she didn’t use it it was taken off her, which i understand but it is very frustrating. I’ve rang the doctor several times to see what can be done and its basically – there’s nothing you can do unless your mum agrees to be helped. Which again i understand but its again so frustrating. I basically have to watch her slowly kill herself and let it happen.

I feel extremely conflicted constantly about feeling sorry for my mum, then angry at her for not seeing she has a problem, and then angry for putting up with it. She rings me up when she’s drunk 30+ times sometimes when i refuse to answer wanting me to get things for her. I don’t answer as the conversation isn’t logical and she treats me like im a servant to get her things. I’ve tried to confront her but all she does is laugh it off or insist she doesn’t have a problem. My partner says that i need to keep at her or i will feel guilt later on for not trying enough and i understand what they mean but it cause me more pain to know that ive tried and nothing works. I’m just exhausted and im finding it difficult to care sometimes. I know that’s selfish but i don’t have the mental strength to keep going. I don’t want to lose my own mental health because someone else isn’t taking care of theirs. I’ve managed to create a good life for myself in spite of everything. I’ve dealt with this for all my life almost entirely alone and have only recently opened up to friends, who’ve been great but only understand to a degree

My mum is now extremely frail and drinks around the clock. She has some growth on her pancreas now that might be cancer but she wont go to get it seen about. She always claims she is ill and when i say you need to ring the doctor/ill ring them she suddenly is ok ‘its not that bad’. I don’t know what to do but it will probably kill her, its a surprise the drinking hasn’t.

Sorry for the essay if anyone has made it this far, I just wanted to write something down there’s so much more. If this resonates with you on any level, i understand your frustration and helplessness. I try to remember the good i saw in my mum.

Thanks for reading

  • psychmentor

    Hello, I can really relate to this - I’m the same age as you, my mum is 61 and also alone and an alcoholic. I’m really sorry that your family aren’t more supportive, it’s really unfair that you’re shouldering this burden on your own and are expected to drop everything just ‘because you’re the daughter’. I honestly wouldn’t feel bad about shutting off from your mum if that’s what you want to do, guilt is a feeling that we children of alcoholics (albeit adult children) often feel because we need to put ourselves first in order to protect ourselves, and as you rightly say, your mental health.

    I’ve also made a nice life for myself, have a 14 month old daughter and am pregnant with my second, my priority is my own family, my mum had her chance with us and frankly it’s hard to come back from now. Mine is also melodramatic about her health but I’ve learnt to ignore it and put a boundary up because I have to focus on ensuring that I’m happy and healthy for myself and my children. I don’t want to get caught up in her stuff, and frankly we’re old enough now to make our own decisions so if it’s hindering your mental health then my advice would be to protect it and not worry about what others think, even your partner & extended family. It’s your life and you’ve been through enough, you don’t want to continue in a cycle of guilt and being the parent to your parent. Of course this is only my own opinion and you have to do what’s right for you, personally x

    • yellowdog

      Hi , thank you for your response. I've thought several times about cutting her off but the guilt keeps me there like you said. If the family were more present it might be easier. I've been trying to do what i can to make sure she safe while looking after myself too. There is only so much you can do.

      I'm glad you have also made a good life for yourself and your family. It's so important to keep living and not fall into the same trap. I have hopes of my own family soon, so i think i would make the same decisions as you have x

    • listener

      Hi Yellowdog
      I can really hear how much you have to take on. I'm sorry to know you dad has passed. It must be frustrating and perhaps hurtful to know that close family were aware of you growing up with a mum who was alcohol dependent but did little if nothing to help you but now expect you to take responsibility for her. It must be incredibly frustrating that help that has been offered has not been taken and yet your mum still needs help which again falls to you. Your partner sounds supportive, I wonder if there is anyone else helping you and if you are able to take time for yourself? It's ok not to take calls from your mum, you have to take time and care for yourself. Remember the 6 Cs,
      • I didn’t cause it
      • I can’t cure it
      • I can’t control it
      • I can take care of myself
      • I can communicate my feelings
      • I can make healthy choices

      Take good care,

      • yellowdog

        Hi, thank you for your kind words. As frustrating as my mum can be I dont ever want to cause her any more distress as its obvious she's very depressed. I try and cheer her up if I can but like you have written I cant cure or control it. It's just very hard to watch and be unable to help. I try my best to open up to friends about it but I don't want to burden them but they are very good about it and listen to me.

        • listener

          Hi Yellowdog,

          You're very welcome. I can hear the compassion and empathy you have for your mum. You sound like a wonderful support. The powelessness you feel over the situation is a hard one to sit with and something that many people in your situation struggle with.

          I'm glad you have supportive friends, but appreciate that you don't want to lean on them too much. I really hope that you find support through these message boards, and please remember that you can always reach out to the Nacoa helpline too ( / 0800 358 3456).

          Take good care,

  • zeebee

    I'm in the exact same position, I'm 28 and think I'm about to cut my mum off forever. I'm absolutely petrified but I've become ill from the trauma she is putting me through and I can't do it anymore. I have to make a life for myself or I'll look back with deep regret. I'm so scared for the future and the unknown. Sending so much love to you, you are not alone and I hear you x

    • yellowdog

      Hi Zeebee

      Thank you for leaving a comment. Sorry to hear you are in the same position. It's very difficult and not a lot of people understand if they haven't been though it. I know it terrifying, but you are right you have to make a life for yourself. The stress of looking out for someone who doesn't look out for themselves never mind you is exhausting. If you need to vent just type a message :) x

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