Should I tell my son about my alcoholic mother?
My mother has been a functional (and very dysfunctional) alcoholic all of my adult life.
She has been in and out of rehab facilities, in and out of AA, with some periods of sobriety but longer periods where she relapses and we go round in circles again, hoping that this time something will be different. It never is.
I have 2 children, 9 and 6 and am pregnant with my 3rd child due imminently.
Since my first child was born, my mother has had periods of absence from his life – either because she was actively drinking or because she was in a rehab facility. Now that he’s almost 10 he’s noticing her periods of absences more and more.
Last Christmas, she spent 3 months in rehab from. November – January. We had to say she had a bad back and couldn’t drive which is why why didn’t see her at all over Christmas, as he had hoped we would.
This Christmas, she was meant to come and stay with us for the whole period which was discussed with him by her, and she told him how excited she was etc. Sadly :£3 ended up on a massive binge a week to fo which is still ongoing and she hasn’t left her house or made any attempt to sober up and travel anywhere except to buy more wine.
Sadly we have not spent a Christmas with her since before Covid. We have once again had to say that her back is bad so she can’t drive, but I know he knows this isn’t the whole truth.
He was so bitterly disappointed when she didn’t turn up on the day she was meant to be arriving (as was I as she told me she was making an effort to be sober and come) and he knows something is up as he wants to call her and speak to her and he can just tell something isn’t right.
This in turn is making him really anxious and sad. He tells me at bedtime through tears that he misses her, he’s worried about her and wishes she would get seen by a doctor about her back so she can come up to stay.
I am wondering if/when it is appropriate to tell him some of the truth of the story. I have said that her back is painful which in turn makes her very sad and she then struggles with day to day things and speaking to us is one of those things as she feels she has let us down.
We also talk about emotions a lot, about how we cannot control anyone else’s behaviour but own own (I do try and pre-empt her constantly letting us down when she doesn’t turn up to family events/do what she has promised).
Should I be more honest with him? Should I explain that she has a mental illness and it’s very sad?
How honest is too honest?