Trying to see the light

Looking back I can see that my mum has always been an alcoholic, however I only opened my eyes to it when I started high school, unfortunately I haven’t been able to close my eyes to it since. Growing up I was always surrounded by mum being drunk, mum arguing with people, mum crying, mum not getting out of bed, mum hating me.

I have tried breaking away but I have a 3 and 11 year old brothers who are living with her. After spending a lot of time looking after the 12 year old I feel a very strong bond with him and mum uses this to her advantage. There are no other family members that see her or the kids as she has shut them all out so I feel like it’s all on me.

Growing up I felt like my life was fairly normal, it was just me my younger brother and mum. We had fun; mum did as much as she could. She brought us up well, she always made sure that we said our ‘pleases’ and ‘Thankyous’. I don’t really have any memories of mum without a drink in her hand, but in the beginning she seemed happier and like any other mum (but she had a can of special brew in her hand)

That all changed when my mums parents died suddenly within the space of a couple of years. She didn’t tell us for two weeks when her mum first died, I was nine and my brother was seven. All I remember is her walking to the local shops where my brother and I would be playing with friends; her face was red and puffy from all of the crying. I asked her what was wrong, but she would not tell me, I guess breaking the news to us would make it more real to her some how. Finally she plucked up the courage to tell us, my brother cried I did not, not because I wasn’t sad but because if I cried who would make sure mum and my brother were ok.

One of my first strong memories of mum drinking was when we had come back from a family wedding I was 6. We were sent straight to bed even though I was trying to get mum to bed as she could not walk properly. She was very angry so I knew I should do what she was saying, I got me and my brother ready for bed and then tried to sleep. However I remember laying in bed and hearing her scream, she fell from the top of the stairs to the bottom. I laid in bed and all I could hear was my heart pounding in my chest, she was dead I knew she was dead. I ran out of bed to try and help her, I got to the bottom of the stairs to help her. I put my hand out and said “Mum you are drunk i will help you get into bed.” Mum turned around and smacked me across the face and screamed for me to get back in bed. This was the only time she ever hit me.

Finally it all became too much for mum as she woke us up one night and told us that we were going to stay with friends by the coast, 30 miles away from where we were living. After two weeks of staying with these friends mum took us to a new house on the coast, as she was showing us around I suddenly realised that all of our stuff was there. Mum had moved us away from where we had grown up, there was never any word of us moving and then suddenly ripped away from all the people I had grown up with, and made to start a new school.

As I started high school and spent more time around other families I began to realise that something was very wrong with my mum. Why was she always so angry, why was she always shouting at me, why did I not make her happy. Mum has never shouted at my brothers the way she does with me. She has never hated them like she hates me.

When I was 11 years old, in my first year of high school I took an overdoes – I wanted to die. I remember on the Sunday night before school I broke a plate in the kitchen and mum would not stop shouting at me. She would not have shouted at my brother so much if he had of done the same thing. It was me that she did not like, I couldn’t understand it I tried so hard to make her happy yet she would never stop shouting at me. I ran upstairs and decided that I was not going to let her shout at me any more, I went into the bathroom cabinet and wrapped 8 tramazipane tablets up in cotton wool and put them in my school bag for the next day. Monday morning arrived and I very clearly remember walking into the living room just because having to catch the bus. I walked up to Zac who was playing in his bounder, I picked him up, gave him a big cuddle and told him how sorry I was that I could not stay and look after him any more. I walked out of the house in tears so ashamed of not being stronger and staying for him. I got to school took and took all of the tablets, I made it half way through my first lesson and collapsed. I never told mum why I really did it, I asked if I could see a counsellor but she said no.

All I remember from my high school years is being a very unhappy teenager that sat in the corner of the class room being miserable. Until one day I realised that no one wants to speak to the miserable person, they didn’t care what was wrong with me how could they ever understand. So I became the person that everyone wanted me to be, I put a smile on my face and became the clown of the group always up for a laugh. Whenever I tried to mention it to some of my close friends they never understood what my problem was. After all they loved coming to my house because mum would let them smoke and drink. However after that they would go home to their families, tea on the table, parents who actually cared.

For years mum used to say to me that I was evil and that everyone hated me. It was just a matter of time before everyone found out what I was really like and then I would have no one. Over time I really believed this, as you can imagine it messed with my head. I spent a year having counselling which working for a while but now I am starting to believe it again. I am going to go back and see my counsellor soon but don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

I cant remember a time when my mum has ever been normal, I don’t ever really remember a time when we haven’t argued. But over the years she has gotten a lot worse, she has been addicted to very strong tablets for 14 years, she has been agoraphobic for 4 years (unable to leave the house) and her drinking is rotting her brain.

Mum is very mentally unwell and I all I want to do is to help her, I would give up anything in my life to make her better. She does not function like the rest of us, she does not leave the house, she does not organise her money, she doesn’t clean the house, she doesn’t shower, she only wears old dirty pj’s everyday. All of this I think I could deal with if it were not for my younger brothers being in the house with her.

I have a good life; I have my own house, a brilliant boyfriend, a very good job and good friends. For the past couple of years I have been strong, I have gotten on with my life and done a good job. Although now I feel like I have been travelling at 100mph and crashed into a brick wall. Mum and I have recently had an argument that has resulted in us not speaking to each other and me changing my telephone number. I have tried for several years not talking to her but I always going creeping back, she has too much of a hold on me when it comes to my little brothers. I have reported her to social services twice, but they are not interested. I think I am struggling so much this time because I am finally accepting that I will never have my mum back.

I know I can be strong and I know that I have a good like ahead of me but I feel like I and falling and falling fast and if I don’t pull myself up fast there will be no return. I feel like I am trying to grieve for my mum yet she is still alive, maybe it’s the pain of having her here but never really being able to have my mum.

Thank you for listening

Angela 23