So for those of you that don’t know much about the more personal side of my life, I should start out by saying that my mother is a functioning alcoholic and has been for probably about twenty years now. I didn’t start to notice it becoming a problem until I was in my late teens. By now I’m a professional at spotting when she’s had more than one cocktail and her feeble attempts to assure me she’s not drunk are useless. In the last few years, the drinking has become increasingly worse. There are several contributing factors to that, I assume. My Gram passed away in 2011 and my sister moved out of the country shortly after that to live with her now husband in Berlin.
Additionally, my mom has never really had a large group of friends and the friends that she does seem to spend time with outside of work, are also alcoholics. Her closest friend is definitely an enabler and that doesn’t help one bit.
Then yesterday, out of the blue, my mother informs me that she has decided to quit smoking and drinking at the same time. For her the two go hand in hand. She doesn’t want to use the patch; she just wants to quit cold turkey. This makes me incredibly nervous. For all of her talking about the importance of getting rid of the negative, my mother is one of the most negative people I have ever met. I hope that getting out from this Bacardi induced stupor will help her shed some of the shit she’s been dealing with for years.
I would like for her to be happy and healthy and find friends that can support her through this time because it’s not going to be easy for her. She’s been an on and off smoker since she was thirteen-years-old. She quit during her pregnancies and a few times throughout my childhood, but she has always gone back to it. My bedroom is next to hers so I hear her struggling to breathe at night. I hope that not smoking anymore will help her sleep better. I hope it will help her be able to take a deep breath without coughing so hard that I worry she might crack a rib or throw up from the force of it.
Most importantly, I hope that not drinking anymore will make her more pleasant to be around. I avoid her when she’s drunk. Talking to her is a waste of time when she is. She says the same things over and over again. She’s gotten to the point where most nights she’s drinking herself to sleep and that’s not healthy. I noticed her eyes starting to yellow and she says that’s part of getting older. That may be true, but the liver damage certainly can’t be helping with that. She told me her liver is okay but I doubt that’s entirely true with the amount of alcohol consumed regularly.
When she’s sober, she’s a fun person to be around. Sadly, my mother isn’t a fun drunk. Her abuse of alcohol has made me determined never to go down that path. In fact, it makes drinking at all difficult. I can’t stand the smell of rum. I hate that when she has a bad day, that’s her go-to for coping. I hope that she finds a new way to deal with the stresses in her life because quitting drinking and smoking isn’t going to make those things go away.
For years I have been urging her to seek counseling to deal with things in her past that seem to be haunting her. There’s always an excuse for why she can’t or won’t go. I’ve come to the conclusion that she’s one of those people that likes being miserable. That’s fine for her, if that’s the way she wants to live. Unfortunately, that leaks out on the people around her and no one wants to be around a Debbie Downer all the time. I love my mother and I love talking to her, but there are certain parts of her life that aren’t my business. Her issues with my father (whom she divorced when I was 5) aren’t my business. I have enough reasons of my own to despise the man without carrying her burdens as well.
So while I wasn’t expecting the bomb she dropped on me yesterday, I was more than happy to hear it. I’ll be as supportive, patient and understanding as I can through all this for her, but I may rip some of my hair out at the same time. I’m thinking positive thoughts that she can and will get through this. I just hope that she believes in herself as much as I believe in her.