My Mum was a lovely lady when I was young, always singing, always happy… When I was approaching my teenage years things changed, alcohol was becoming a problem. The one glass of whisky to help her sleep became three or four glasses, bottles of wine were replaced with boxes – and there were always arguments.
During my teenage years, the drinking got heavier, the arguments became more heated and would often end in her being violent (to my older Brother more so than me). Mum would disappear for days at a time, often going to relatives where she could drink as much as she wanted without us telling her to stop. She would return home and we would find ourselves locked out the house with her screaming for us to go away. We would wait for her to leave the house (to go and buy drink) and would get back in, if we couldn’t, we would stay at my Auntie & Uncles house. This was life and it was normal.
When I was 16, Mum disappeared for almost a week, but this time when she came home something was different. I remember her lying on the bed and she told us that she was an alcoholic, which was the only time I heard her say those words. My Brother said it must have been hard for her to say, but I didn’t really understand why, as it was quite obvious.
That night, we took her to hospital and she remained there for a week or so, it was clear by this point that alcohol had completely taken over as she had no idea where she was. When she came home she would talk about events that hadn’t happened, about people that didn’t exist – The only part of her brain that still worked was the part that craved alcohol.
In the 2 years that followed, Mum would still drink, even if we hid money, she found a way to get it… She would wake me in the night to tell me she had taken an overdose, or be downstairs dancing to music full blast. It was difficult to know what sort of night you would get.
Those 2 years were the hardest for me, my Brother had gone to university and he was the only person who really knew what it was like and all of a sudden I was by myself. I would stay away from home as much as I could, I was lucky to have family I could stay with. When I was at home I would go straight to my bedroom. I had no idea how to handle the situation, I would punch walls to make my hand bleed and if that didn’t work, I would physically cut my hand, so people could see… This was my way of asking for help, without “asking” for help.
Back then, I believed Mum had made a choice to drink and her actions were a result of that choice and I blamed her for it. Although we lived in the same house, I never spoke to her and I moved out as soon as I was able to, this was hard as I was leaving my Dad behind, but I could not wait to leave.
My Mum was diagnosed with Cancer and passed away when I was 21; I believe it was alcohol that killed her, as physically she would not have survived a common cold after the years of alcohol abuse her body had been through. I had not spoken to her for 3 years…
I very rarely allow myself to think about that period of my life as it fills me with sadness and regret. Regret I did not do more to help myself understand, but more importantly I did not help my Mum. I realise now that it was not her choice. She died believing I didn’t care about her, something I will never be able to change.
I had great support from friends and family when I was growing up and without that I would not have the life I have now – I have built a career, have the most beautiful family and am happy.
I know others are not as lucky to have the same support I had. As I have got older I realise there is no shame to admit things are getting too much and asking for help.