Where do I start?
I’m a 17 year old girl studying for her A Levels; my mum is a forty something alcoholic. Alcohol has always played a big part in my life as it has for my mum too. My mum grew up in a village pub run by her parents; she herself also lived with an alcoholic, her dad.
Since I was a little girl, my parents would regularly take me and my brother to pubs at the weekend to meet family friends, pretty normal. However, something changed. I remember times we used to come back and she’d be on the floor dribbling, or driving the car home drunk and avoiding crashing it into ditches. Those were my first memories. From then on in, it was a nightly occurrence for my mum to be drunk.
My brother and I would have to tip toe round the house in fear of disturbing her, we used to try and hide her drink, put water in her vodka or hide her money. It was like a mission to stop her getting drunk. I never really thought this was anything abnormal until I got into my early teens when I stayed round friends’ houses and to my shock; their parents were stone cold sober. This was the moment I realised something was different. I stopped friends coming round and would do anything to avoid talking about her; it was like she didn’t exist to others.
When the bell rung at 3pm, most of my friends couldn’t wait to get out of school. For me, I dreaded that sound. Sitting on the bus knowing I would walk through the door to the smell of booze and stale fags is the worst feeling. Knowing that from then on in, until about 8am the next day, I was alone.
Arguments are a regular occurrence, she seemed to think nothing was ever her fault, so would blame the tiniest things on me. My dad hated the thought of her picking on his children, as arguments escalated he would often intervene in the only way he knew, violence. He’s the best dad anyone could ask for, but he never knew how to deal with it, the only way he got through to her was through hurt.
She had a habit of calling up people and trying to speak to them for hours on end when she had been drinking, often speaking too much truth, this meant people were aware she had issues. Friends of hers deserted her, as did most of her family.
It’s hard when I see friends and their mums and I often think that I’ve missed out on things that mums do with their daughters. I think my dad makes up for this but as a teenage girl there’s some things you just need your mum to be there for, but there is no relationship anymore.
The hardest thing I’ve ever seen, is her taking an overdose. Seeing her swallow numerous pills and claim she wanted to die was terrifying. My dad made her vomit the pills up and that was it. Nothing was ever said of that matter again… I wish I had called an ambulance, anything to raise the alarm. That’s what always happened, after a heavy tough day and night of arguments I’d have to get up for school and pretend nothing had happened.
Events like this screwed my brain; I’d self-harm as I saw no other way of expressing myself. At school I never seem to pay attention out of pure dread about what’s to come that evening. I kind of hoped people would see my scars, or notice something wrong with my grades, as all I ever wanted was someone to pay a little more attention.
I’m now 17, trying to get on with my studies. Although I’m incredibly embarrassed by her problem, I understand it’s a disease and that it’s not really her. It’s still ongoing, I wish I knew what was to come but it’s such a volatile disease I only tend to focus on the day in hand.
A particularly poignant moment I had was recently, I received a text from my brother away at Uni on a particularly challenging night when I needed him. I always thought my mum hated me; it was always my brother who was the saint. It simply read “it’s not her that hates you, it’s the disease”.
For anyone reading this, you don’t hate your parent, they don’t hate you. There’s just a brick wall in between with alcoholic written on it, which won’t let you in. The more and more you hammer away at that brick wall the dirtier it becomes. When they’re ready, they’ll demolish it. For the meantime, don’t ignore the brick wall, but try and build yourselves around it until they’re ready to let you in.