Friday, August 31, 2012
Daughter of an Alcoholic Speaks Her Truth
A note from Ellie: alcoholism and addiction is a disease that impacts everyone around the addict/alcoholic. Especially family. Every now and then we like to post submissions from family members/loved ones; to remind us all how this disease consumes not just the alcoholic but those around them.
***Submitted by Anonymous
I am the daughter of an alcoholic.
I am an adult myself – 32 years old, with three young children, ages 5, 3, and 1.
My mother has not met my youngest two children at all. My oldest has met her but the only thing he remembers is her having a breakdown and sobbing uncontrollably. He asks about it and I am not sure what to tell him except that Grandma is sick.
She has been an active alcoholic for most of my life, but was somewhat functional when my sister and I were children. However for the past four years she has really gone downhill and for the past year and a half she has not left her house except to buy more booze. She does not have a job and is spending all of the money she had previously saved for retirement – which I think might run out soon, but I am not sure, since she does not want to tell me the extent of it. She has many brothers and sisters, and of course, her children. We all love her dearly and have tried many different approaches – from staying with her for a week or two and helping her get “back on track” to formal interventions with a counselor.
She has been to a few different rehab places, although nothing long-term.
Nothing has worked.
Now I am trying to practice detaching with love, but it is very hard for me.
Every time I talk to her I feel like my heart is shattering into a thousand pieces. My sister has gone to her doorstep but she will not let anyone in. She occasionally calls on the phone but I am not sure what to say.
She says that she cannot imagine any different future except drinking herself to death.
I am not sure how to convey to her that I love her and I want her to recover, without her thinking I am trying to make her feel guilty. I cannot help thinking – what is wrong with me? If only I were better in some way, she might love me enough to choose another future.
I made up a photo book of me and of her grandchildren and sent it to her, thinking that might incite her to choose to get some help. But then I think maybe it made it worse – because she was getting a “reward” of seeing her grandchildren even though her actions make it clear she does not want to meet them. She says that she has no interest in seeing any of us again.
I feel so powerless – there is nothing I can do in the face of this addiction.
I still call once a week, but now I do not tell her things about the children any more. I think that is petty behavior but I cannot help it. It is the only thing I can control. I alternate between sadness and anger. I try to be compassionate but I am not sure what to do to help her. I get mad and defensive and act like a child – you hurt me, so now I will hurt you, by withholding information. She does not seem to care. I tell her that I know it seems bad now, but she cannot change the past, only the future, and ask if she wants a different future than drinking herself to death. But she says that she does not.
I am at a loss.
I look at my own beautiful children and I cannot imagine ever treating them this way. I have no idea what it will take for her to wake up and have a moment of clarity about her addiction but I pray every day that it comes soon, before she dies.
Why doesn’t my own mother love me? She says that she remembers that she loved me once, but she cannot feel it any more. I wish there were something I could do to change this situation. I have only (my attempts at) loving detachment and prayers. But those are not enough thus far. I am failing at detachment and this is really affecting my life.
There is not a second that goes by that I don’t think about her.
I feel like it is negatively affecting my own mothering. I am not present for my children like I should be. I cry. My children notice and ask me what is wrong. I feel terrible for putting this burden on them. I am not sure how to let go and this is just tearing me apart.
The mother-child relationship is the most primal of all things. And I feel rejected by the one who is supposed to love me the most. What is wrong with me? What is wrong with her? Why me? Why us? Why anyone?
She had a hard childhood but so did I (thanks, alcoholic mom!) and so do a lot of people. No one is perfect, but I am trying to be better every day. But she does not care to even try. She is slipping away and I have no idea how to stop it. At this point I fear that the constant drinking has taken such a toll that she will have physical problems for the rest of her life even if she does stop drinking.
I would love to hear from anyone about what I can do here, how to manage my own feelings and my own life without being crushed by sadness every second of every day. I know for my mom, there is nothing I can do to get her into recovery until she wants it herself.