My experience

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samon

Not necessarily looking for support or advice. It’s just it feels good to write this down as I never really talk about it.

My mum has been an alcoholic for as long as I can remember. There would be lots of shouting in my house as I child and it was only around the time I turned 12, 13 that I realised what being drunk looked like and from that point on I knew what was happening.

Her drinking would vary, some weeks it would be every day, sometimes she would go weeks without being drunk as far as I could tell. She would be really drunk on say a Tuesday night around the dinner table pretending she wasn’t. She would just say stupid things and often get confrontational. It really started to anger me. I didn’t understand it, I didn’t have sympathy, I was just angry at her.

My dad, sister and I would find vodka bottles hidden around the house and try to confront her on it. If we asked her “Why are you drunk?” when she was drunk, she would aggressively deny it and that’s when it would get nasty. If we just ignored it and brought it up the next day, she would say “I don’t want to talk about it” or “Not now, can we talk about it another time”. I can probably say between 2014 – 2019 my mum said she would try do better (it would never last) a maximum of three times. It was always just pretending the problem isn’t there.

Then in the summer of 2019, when my dad’s parents were visiting (I’m not sure to what degree they knew she had a problem, if at all), my mum phoned the police on my Dad citing domestic abuse. It did not happen, she was drunk and angry for whatever reason and this was her way of getting one on him. My dad is the most gentle person, he is a shy man and avoids any confrontation if he can. Their ‘arguments’ would just be a one way shouting match. Anyway, the police turned up and had to question my dad, in front of his parents.

This for me was the final straw. I said to myself on that day, I will not speak to my mother until she stopped drinking. I was 19 at this point and it would just annoy me so much. My relationship with her was doing me more harm than good. I’ve still not spoken a word to her three and a half years later.

I have since moved to a different city with work and live with my girlfriend. I do visit home, so occasionally I still see her, but I do not speak to her when she tries to speak to me. It is a bit silly and awkward, especially in the presence of outside family and friends who are not aware I don’t speak to her. I know she still drinks heavily.

I still have a good relationship with my dad, so I get get on with life completely fine. I don’t feel isolated from my family or anything like that. Part of me wishes I tried harder to fix the issues at the time but it felt impossible. I hold a small amount of anger to my dad for not standing up for me and my sister more, especially when we were younger. I feel he was happy to let it happen as a way to minimise conflict.

Despite this, my childhood was good. She was a good mother, there is no doubt about that. She always made sure I had what I needed and I really loved her, I still do. I don’t feel it had any lasting effects on me. I made a promise to myself one day and I have kept it. It was only meant to be a temporary thing. It was to protect myself and hoping that maybe not having a relationship with her son would make her stop drinking or at least want to have a serious conversation about it. But it never happened, and I’m not sure it will ever happen sadly. What bothers me is that there is a somewhat likely chance that one day my mum will die and I go to her funeral having not spoken to her since I was a teenager. That’s what upsets me about all this. She is in her fifties, so she is not old but I just cannot see how this changes.

I am doing just fine. I don’t really need any help or support. I just came across this charity and website which is applicable to me, so it felt good to write down.

Thanks for reading if you did.

  • listener

    Hello Samon,

    Firstly, thank you for sharing your story with us. It is never easy to open up about these experiences and even if you mention you may not currently need support or advice, it will certainly help someone else out there who is going through what you are going through and might feel comforted in knowing they are not alone.

    It is never an easy decision to start distancing yourself from family members but you have to do what is best for you first and foremost. The hardest thing with these situations is often to accept that the only way the drinker can get help is when they actively seek it, they cannot be forced to do so, even if it would be in their best interests to reduce and eventually stop alcohol. It is for this that it is vital that especially those most impacted by the drinking can be given the freedom and choice to do what is going to bring you stability, calm, support etc.

    It sounds like you are a very supportive person and I am glad that despite the complexities of her drinking that you are still able to take away having that close bond with your mum. While there is never any guarantee that someone will get better from their addiction, we can also say never say never and there is always possibility of things changing.

    It is completely understandable to be concerned about the what ifs of the future especially in regards to when a parent goes. The best thing you can tell yourself at this stage is that you have given the support and tried everything you can, and there is only so much anyone else can do. I hope that writing out your story felt a little cathartic and helped a bit more.

    Take good care of yourself,

    Helpline Volunteer

  • psychmentor

    Hi Samon,

    Very similar situation here. I cut contact with my mum in the hope she’d stop but it didn’t happen for a long time, I didn’t speak to her for three years and honestly she doesn’t even remember that period!!
    I’m 34 now and have a one year old, she had apparently stopped drinking in 2018 and I was told by family members that she’d been really good for a year, so I unblocked her on WhatsApp and started to reply slowly with not very in depth answers.

    I live in a different city to my hometown too, and every time I’d go back, I’d never see her. But when I fell pregnant I agreed to meet with her in a mutual place (my grandparents) and told her about the baby. She was very happy and has actually never even brought up her drinking. She had been ok since we were back in contact but I kept her at arms length to protect myself too.
    However, very recently she hit the bottle again because her friend died. I haven’t let on that I know, even though it’s completely obvious from her random phone calls and texts that don’t make any sense. I just know if I say anything then it’ll cause chaos and I don’t need that again. But we’re having my daughters naming ceremony & birthday party this weekend in my hometown, all my family will be there and I’ve made everyone promise not to tell her about it because I don’t want my daughter to be affected / I don’t want it to affect me again. And she will make it all about her if she finds out that she’s not invited, and drink, and blame me for it!

    I guess what I’m trying to say is I think it’s totally okay not to talk to your mum while she’s still drinking. One day she may realise and not want to drink again, when you know that she’s sober you may want to be back in contact, but it’s totally normal to protect yourself. You have to, we all do when we’ve lived in that situation. Don’t beat yourself up over it, I completely get the regret, but at the same time while she’s drinking she’s not in her right mind so it’s probably not even affecting her until she realises when sober at what she’s missed out on.
    I hope that helps a bit, and I agree that it’s very cathartic to tell your story!

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