But I should.
Back in April of 2014 I posted about my mother’s addiction to alcohol. She said then that she was going to seek treatment. She lied. Maybe she didn’t lie; maybe the addiction wouldn’t allow it. Whatever the word is for it, treatment didn’t happen. She saw a therapist twice and I know she’s been prescribed drugs that are supposed to help with the urge to drink. The prescription is filled. Not one pill has ever been taken.
Last night I had to help my mother off the floor because she fell there. I know, I know, that is enabling behavior. I’m justifying it because she had carpal tunnel surgery 2 weeks ago. Truthfully, that should be all the more reason to let her stay where she was. If she doesn’t give a fuck about her own safety and welfare, then why should I? Why is her recovery more important to me than it is to her? So. Many. Questions.
Of course this morning there’s her usual chipper self like nothing happened last night. I’m angry as fuck but we won’t talk about that. No, best not. You know, because whether or not she knows it, she’s the only one who fucking matters around here. That’s what living with an alcoholic does. You can be the most giving, generous person to everyone else outside of your immediate reach but let me tell you, if you’re an alcoholic, you’re a selfish asshole. That’s right. And everyone who has to deal with your bullshit drinking problem thinks it.
They just don’t say it to your face.
Why? Because you’ve trained them not to.
And if you’re the child of an alcoholic, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
You know it’s better to just keep quiet and go with the flow so as not to upset the drinker. Then you’re just part of the problem. You’ve only made things worse. You don’t want to be the reason they drink more, even though on some level, you know they will anyway. Logically, I know I am not to blame for my mother’s drinking. She would do it no matter what her circumstances. She can invent all the excuses and justifications she wants for her behavior but at the end of the day, none of it matters. There will always be a reason for her to drink.
Rum will always win over me.
It won over my sister.
My mother acts like she’s some innocent victim. She’s not. My sister moved to Berlin back in 2011. My God, how different she is now. I am so proud of her for finding a life that suits her. She’s been working so hard to get healthy. Not just physically (which was quite a struggle for her) but also mentally and emotionally. Living with an alcoholic takes a serious toll on the people who have to live with it. I’ve been thinking about moving to California for the last few years. I see what getting away from our mother has done for my sister and on some level, I envy her. She’s doing exactly what she wants to do in her life and it’s wonderful. I don’t begrudge her anything. She did the right thing by leaving and I admire her for doing it.
A big part of why she left was because of our mother’s drinking. Last year she was able to get a job with a podcast that she is a huge fan of. It means working remote and being present on social media. Their already fragile relationship hit a breaking point when our mother decided to make some passive-aggressive comments on old photos she went way back to look at on Instagram. Now there’s no guarantee that any of my sister’s coworkers might have seen those comments but they’re not appropriate. That was the last straw, as far as my sister is concerned. She blocked our mother on every form of social media she could and then sent her a long email, detailing her feelings.
Speaking up for herself is something she couldn’t do when she left America. For many years she relied on me to be her voice because she didn’t know how to use her own. Not anymore. She cc’d me on the email because our mother likes to paint herself as the victim in her own life. Bullshit. So every time she gets all pouty because I’m having a conversation with my sister, I remind her that she made the choice to not have a relationship with her daughter. My sister loves our mother but she doesn’t like her very much right now.
And I fully support her decision to take care of herself first.
I need to start doing the same.
For the first time, I looked into Al-Anon meetings last night. I don’t really think they’re a good fit for me. I’m not a very religious person and that whole “let go and let God” mentality isn’t really one I want to adopt. I mean no disrespect to anyone who has that mentality or who has been attending those meetings. If that’s what works for you, then by all means, keep doing you. We’re all different, though, so what works for one may not work for another. I’m tempted to go anyway just to check it out and see what’s up. I know there are different meeting styles depending on where I go so it might be more than one I have to try before I find the right fit.
In the meantime, I have to figure out a way to distance myself from someone I live with. First of all, I need to stop cleaning up her messes. If she falls down, I’m not going to pick her up anymore. Let her figure it out on her own. She got herself there. She get can herself back. If she spills things, breaks things, or knocks things over I’m not coming to the rescue. Over the winter she bumped a wax tart warmer and got wax all over the carpet in the living room. Who was the one on the floor with paper bags and an iron to get the wax out of the carpet? NOT HER. I need to stop making the fallout from her drinking my problem. It’s not my problem.
Maybe if I stop fixing things for her she’ll realize what a mess she is.
The thought of leaving and moving to the west coast is scary to me. I’ve never lived on my own. My whole life I have lived with my mother. I don’t know what life is like without her there every single day. I think, though, it’s even scarier for her. See for me, there’s nothing but opportunity. I can make friends, find a new job, pursue my interests, and I get to do it all without worrying about the drunk at home waiting for me. For her, she’s never lived alone. She went from her parents to her first husband, to her second husband, to living with her kids. My mother doesn’t know how to be alone. Right now she thinks a dog is the answer to her problems. It’s not. It’s just another thing that will have to learn to cope with her behavior.
I know it’s not up to me to fix her. I couldn’t even if I wanted to. Believe me, if that was in my power it would have been done long ago.
I want her to get better.
I want her to deal with whatever demons that are causing this.
I want her to grieve for her brother instead of hiding that pain.
I want her to repair her relationship with my sister so I don’t have to compartmentalize everything in my life to spare them both.
I want her to find friends who support her healthy habits instead of enabling the bad ones.
I want her to love herself.
I want her to find peace and serenity in who she is.
I want her to realize that she’s not weak. She’s been through some shit. She came out the other side of it. She can come out the other side of this too.
I want her to be healthy. No alcohol. No cigarettes.
I want her to make the decision for herself that she deserves a better life than the one she’s been living. Hiding out on her couch isn’t living.
I want to be able to have an honest conversation with her. I don’t know when the last time is I was able to have one. There have been bits and pieces that I have edited out or tucked away for as long as I can remember.
I want to get to a place where I want as many good things for myself as I want for her.
And that last thing on my list? That’s what living with an alcoholic does to you. It makes you put yourself last because everything in your life revolves around the person with the problem.
I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.
So for anyone who is reading this and going through a similar struggle, just know that you’re not alone. We share the same dirty little secret. I hope that you’re doing whatever you can today to take care of yourself because you deserve that. We all do.
I hope everyone has a wonderful day.