Hello everyone, I'm mipmop, a 30 year old woman living in the U.K. I've joined this forum to talk about my experiences growing up with an alcoholic family - and how these experiences have affected my in adult life.
For the last 5 years, I have been - more-or-less - estranged from my mother. Aside from the occasional 2 minutes on the phone, my contact with my mother has been non existent. In many ways this time of seperation has helped me develop a better sense of self-worth. However, there has always been a very large hole in my life that I've never been able to fill. This hole has led me to feel so depressed and isolated. I've cut myself off from friends and remained alone and desperate for much of my teenage life, and beyond.
As a kid growing up with an alcoholic mother and step-dad, I can remember seeing my mum collapsed on the sofa, or asleep half way up the stairs. She was never aggressive or violent, and during her sober moments, was - largely - a very thoughtful and loving mum. Her drinking was compounded by clinical depression, for which she was - as is - taking a heavy cocktail of medication. This medication does not mix very well with alcohol and often led to mood swings that I was unable to process as a kid. Sometimes, when drunk, she would talk to me about sex and marriage, telling me inappropriate things about my step-dad and how she didn't like him touching her. Sometimes she used to imply that her life as a single mother had led her to marry a man she couldn't tolerate. These things were too much for my young mind to comprehend. All I understood back then was that drinking was a way to stop her from feeling pain.
When I was a teenager I rebelled fairly heavily. I had a deep distrussed of my step-dad who could be very controlling. I blamed him for my mother's drinking habit and felt horrible about the fact she was stuck in a loveless marriage. What I didn't understand was that my step-dad was not only a alcoholic, too, but also a very lonely man who was desperate to find love in anyway possible. He saw me as a threat - and in many ways I was - and this resulted in my moving into a homeless shelter at the age of 16.
Since the age of 16, up to about 24, I used to secretely go home to visit my mother when my step-dad was away on business. My mother was always happy to see me, but got into trouble with my step-dad when he found out I had returned home for a visit. As a result of this, my relationship with my mother has been almost clandestine. The consequence of this led to further drinking on my mother's side, and this, in turn, led to my desiding to become estranged.
Last year my step-dad passed away - pancreatic CA. It was a long drawn-out process and something I wish on nobody. My mother is now alone for the first time in her life. It must be scary for her, which is why I decided to break my estrangement and visit her for the first time in 5 years. Largely, the experience was positive, but on the last night all my own insecurities came flooding back when I saw her open bottle after bottle of wine and - later - cooking sherry. At first, I heard my say all those whingy things I hate to hear coming out of my mouth; 'Why don't you have a cup of tea?'. 'Let's not drink so much'. But, feeling weak willed and fragile, I started to join her. before I knew it was was sobbing uncontrollably. Just crying and crying and crying. Thus ended my visit.
The following day I drove home. My mother was furious with me. She perceived my actions as sabotaging an otherwise nice visit. She told me that I had no right to tell her not to drink in her own home, and that she can drink when she wants and however she wants. In many ways I feel like the 16 year old I was back in the homeless shelter: mixed up, confused, angry and resentful.
However, I have come to the realisation that I cannot change my mother's behaviour. She has admitted, time and time again, that she has a drinking problem - but this is always prefixed with the belief that she has every right to do what she bloody well pleases. Because of this, I have to accept that this is who she is, and the only way I can sustain any kind of relationship with her is if I forgive her. The anger and sense of loss is unbearable, and even though cutting all ties offers some kind of peace, I never felt like I was really addressing the sadness inside of me. I'm not sure if I can actually forgive her in my heart-of-hearts, or even if forgiveness is appropriate, but I am trying to find a way to live my life free from the dull-eyed, aching sadness, that came before.
Thank you for reading my rambling message. Please comment, if you have any insights or thoughts.