Was there anything better I could have done?




Hey, my mum is an alcoholic and has been for a long time, she and my dad got divorced and as much as they both claim it wasn’t due to her drinking I feel like it was. Anyways while I was younger I never really saw it as a problem but as I grew older I realised it was. I use to argue with her nearly every time I saw her because she use to drink so much and since I stopped talking to her around a year or two ago and now I feel like I’m a massive cause of her drinking.
This is because I feel like I’ve caused her so much pain by arguing with her so much and now stop seeing her that it drives her to drink because that’s what happens, when they feel sad they drink. So i feel guilty because I feel I’ve caused some of this and that by trying to help and trying to make her realise how much her drinking affects me, I just caused her more pain, leading to her drinking which then starts the cycle of me and her arguing again. I use to think by arguing with her it might make her realise that maybe she should stop, but I guess it didn’t work like that and just made her drink more.
Now i always have this constant guilt about it and I feel like an awful person because what if it was mainly me that lead her to drink and what if I made her feel like a failure of a mother, because as much as her drinking has impacted my school life, social life and home life, she tried to be a good mum and it isn’t her fault that she is an alcoholic.
Also was it selfish of me to stop seeing her just because it would make my life easier? Because I had been thinking about doing it for a while, but by the time I had done it I started wondering if it is my fault that she drink and if I was being selfish by no longer trying to help and just stopping seeing her.

  • bestbefore

    I'm sorry you're feeling like this.
    One really important thing to know, and to try to remember, is that you are absolutely not the cause or trigger for your Mum's drinking.
    Everyone argues with their parents, it's totally normal and you should not have to feel the burden of responsibility for what she does.
    If not seeing her at the moment is the best way you can find to protect yourself, then you should absolutely do that. I don't think it's selfish at all.
    Putting yourself first is what you need to do for yourself if your parent won't put you first.
    I really hope that things get better for you.

    • uniquemind

      Hi Book21

      I am sorry you are experiencing these emotions. Your story seems very familiar to me as I also grew up with an alcoholic mother. Always remember it is never your fault that your mother drinks and you are not to blame. It is valuable that your anger is removed from the situation but I feel this can be a natural response towards someone you love and want to get better.

      It is important you put yourself first and you are not selfish at all for doing so.

      I hope you are well.

  • fazza20

    Hi Book21,

    Thank you for reaching out, it sounds like you are going through a really tough time at the moment. Lots of children of alcoholics end up feeling the same feelings that you are at the moment, so I just wanted to let you know about the Nacoa 6c's which have helped me in the past:

    1. I didn’t cause it
    2. I can’t cure it
    3. I can’t control it
    4. I can take care of myself
    5. I can communicate my feelings
    6. I can make healthy choices

    At the end of the day we shouldn't have to see people who cause us hurt, if going no contact with your mum is how you protect yourself then its the right thing for you to do. You are not responsible for her actions, the same way you are not responsible for the actions of a stranger, the only person who's actions that you are responsible for are your own and it sounds like by protecting yourself in this way you are doing a pretty good job.

  • hkmnineteenseventyseven

    Hello Book 21,

    I'm so sorry to hear that you are feeling like this. I agree with everything that bestbefore and fazza20 are saying. A parent's drinking is not your fault. You did not cause it and you can't control it.

    Please have a look at the experiences section of the website at https://nacoa.org.uk/support-advice/for-children/experiences/ to see what others have gone through. This will make you realise that you are not alone.

    If you need further support, please call the NACOA helpline on 08003583456 or email helpline@Nacoa.org.uk

  • pink flamingo

    Dear Book21

    I am really sorry to hear you have been having such a difficult time.

    As other people here have said, your mum's addiction is absolutely not caused by you. You are not responsible for her actions and it is really important you take care of yourself.

    I understand why you having feelings of guilt but try to remember that you cannot control your mum's situation. It can be really difficult when someone we love is not well but if not seeing her is the right choice for you then that is what you need to do. You are not alone, children of alcoholics (including me when I was younger) often feel guilty and try to make things better but ultimately you cannot cure your mum - whether through seeing her, not arguing or anything else. She is not ill because of anything you have done. Please keep taking care of yourself, of you can try to talk to an adult you trust and the Nacoa helpline (0800 358 3456) is there to support you if you need it.

    Best wishes.

  • ljee

    Hi there,

    I saw the title of your entry and immediately came to write a reply. This is exactly how I've been feeling at low points. I lost my dad to liver failure last summer after watching him struggle with addiction and depression for many years, worsening in the first lockdown. I remember being so tired and exhausted when he was declining. I was essentially his carer as my mum was at work, he would yell at me in front of my friends, he wasn't himself and I felt like my childhood had just been ripped from under me. I wasn't angry as much as I was just exhausted and frankly just ready for it to end, hoping obviously that that would be rehab rather than death.

    I've learnt that you cannot save anybody. No matter how hard you try. I remember saying to myself as I knew it was his last week, you're going to feel like you could've done more and as though there were things you should've tried to put in place. You'll wish you weren't as harsh, that you took him out more and that you talked more about stopping drinking. And I said to myself in that moment, don't let yourself feel like that in the future. You are 18/19, you've watched a parent who loves you lose themself, the way you reacted and responded is valid. You have to protect yourself before you save other people. It's the only thing you can be sure of in life, loving yourself. At my worst moments, I wish I did things differently but I tell myself, you knew you'd feel like this because the worst has now happened. At the time you were exhausted and did everything you could. There's only so much you can give, everybody has a rope they give out to people and eventually it just runs out. That's not your fault. We're children, ultimately, watching something practically none of our friends can understand. And we get ourselves in this cycle of thinking we are the solution. We're not. And that's also a hard truth to swallow. You cannot save anybody, and you certainly cannot help somebody who doesn't acknowledge they have a problem. If somebody doesn't want help, you'll lose yourself trying to give it to them. Repair yourself first. Setting a boundary and prioritising your peace will never be selfish. You cannot save your parent you can only save yourself.

    I really miss my dad and I wish I had done more to make him happy. I know he drank because he felt unloved, and that probably stemmed from me being so exhausted with his alcoholism that I just didn't have it in me to show kindness and forgiveness all the time. And even when I wish I could've turned things around, I have to forgive myself. It isn't me, my fault, or my problem to solve. Same goes for you. And I have to take the advice that I'm giving you now, we've both got to talk to ourselves like we would to a friend in this situation. I really hope you find peace with this intrusive thought. It's something very few people understand, and I know it makes a lot of my friends and even family uncomfortable to talk about.

    • book21

      Hi, thank you so much for your reply it really helped. I'm really sorry to hear about what happened to your dad, I haven't experienced something like that before but I know some friends who have and its really tough.
      I really hope you listen to your advice on this because what you said has been one of the most useful things I've heard. I really do get the feeling that you kind of refer to later on about how you feel like you didn't showed him kindness and forgiveness and how you think that might have made him feel unloved, but from what you said he would definitely have known. You cared for him even though it exhausted you and you didn't like his drinking, but you still always cared for him and I'm sure he would've realised that.
      I really hope your okay because I know feeling like that can really hurt but you do need to listen to your own advice because its amazing. I wish I had something as useful as you said to me but the main thing I have to say is that your dad definitely knew you loved him and even if he did not show it he would have appreciated everything you sacrificed for him, everyone would no matter what they would be like. Thank you so much for the advice.

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