Confrontation

I’m not generally afraid to speak my mind. I take my time when it comes to formulating an opinion on something because I don’t want it to come out sounding like a knee jerk reaction. I like to weigh the different sides of an argument before deciding where I stand on something. Obviously when it comes to the little things like cake vs pie or Coke vs Pepsi, it’s not really that life altering. That’s simple preference. When it comes to bigger, deeper issues it’s another story.

It’s also different when it comes to confronting something that means a lot to me. I can be an extremely passionate person if it’s the right subject. There are certain things that I am not going to budge on. I don’t care what studies you put in front of me or what argument you present. How I feel is how I feel and I’m not moving. So we can debate it, but don’t think I’m going to move around the spectrum. That said, addiction is something I have conflicting feelings about.

I see more than one side of it. I’ve watched enough Intervention on A&E to know that addiction is considered a medical condition, and I believe that it is. What I don’t really believe is that it’s not a choice. Four years ago I quit smoking cold turkey. I decided I was done and that was it. I smoked the last cigarette in my pack and that was it. Done deal. Is it that easy for others? No. My cousin’s wife has tried pretty much everything known to man to quit smoking and it just doesn’t work for her. He, on the other hand, and start and stop at will. I’m not going to pass judgement on people who do it different from me because whatever works for you is what works for you. But can we just agree that addiction is addiction, whether it’s cigarettes, shopping, heroin, food or even sex?

At some point, you do have a choice in the matter. No one just becomes a heroin addict. It’s not like you wake up one day and poof! you need to shoot up to get through the day. Whether you started off on some other drug and made your way over to heroin or you thought you could just do it once, you made a choice to give it a shot (no pun intended). Maybe the addict didn’t think they’d get hooked. Maybe they didn’t care because being high felt better than dealing with whatever drove them to use in the first place. Maybe they didn’t consider themselves and addict because a doctor prescribed those Oxycodone after a surgery.

I know in my family, no one thinks my mother’s problem is really “that bad” because she hasn’t lost her job, gotten a DUI, or dealt with any negative consequences aside from losing her relationship with my sister. Rather than everyone telling her maybe she should re-examine her choice to drink instead of have a relationship with her daughter, the majority of my family has decided that my sister is selfish and ungrateful for everything Mom has done for her. It’s a steaming pile of horeshit and I defend my sister every damn time someone tries to talk shit about her for making a decision about what was best for her own health.

And you don’t want to fight me when I get in that mode.

I say all this because as passionate as I can be and as quick as I am to stand up for the things I believe in, confrontation isn’t necessarily the easiest thing for me. Yet, I felt yesterday like things reached a crisis point. So I did what I needed to do and what I think my mom needed to hear. I told her I was extremely angry with her for the shitshow she was starring in the other night. I said a lot of things that I have been holding back for a long time. All those things I mentioned in my last post? I said them to her.

I was proud of myself for doing it. I don’t give my mom a hard time too often about how much she drinks but it’s getting really old. Not only is it beating me up, it’s taking a toll on her. She’s in her sixties now. Falling down drunk when you’re older and dealing with bone density issues is not a good idea. On top of all that, I really do want my mom to be happy. All the shit she’s been trying to bury isn’t going anywhere. Addiction never solves your problems; it just creates more of them.

She sat there stoically, rather stone faced, and agreed with me. I heard all the same things I’ve heard before about how tomorrow is a new day and she’s embarrassed about the way she behaved and she’s going to change. I told I don’t believe her. Of course I will do whatever I can to support her if she’s serious about wanting to kick her old habits and start newer, better ones, but I don’t have a whole lot of faith right now that she’s actually going to do it. Maybe it was a mistake to tell her that and I should have kept it to myself but this is definitely a situation where actions speak louder than words.

My sister doesn’t believe it either. She’s heard the same things I have. We’ve heard it several times in the past. Things might change for a day or two but ultimately, it’s right back to the way it is. It’s a lot of change and my mother hasn’t really tried to create a good support network. On the bright side, the enablers she used to spend a lot of time with have either moved away or died, so she doesn’t really have friends who can talk her down off the wagon. A friend of hers was visiting from Iowa for the last week and I was not at all sad to drop her off at the airport this morning.

Mom does not need to spend time with this broad. They are not good for each other when it comes to sobriety. They definitely feed off one another. It’s not something Mom needs in her life if she’s going to try to slow down her drinking.

So we’ll see what happens. I said what I needed to say and I hope that she meant what she said about getting better. I’ll believe it when she actually starts making appointments with a therapist or doing some research online about where she can get treatment. I don’t expect her to go to AA because I don’t think that’s really for her, but there are other options out there. Since she’s off work anyway because of her hand surgery, now seems like a great time to try to figure out a plan. She doesn’t have the work stress on her back, although she’s still slightly intoxicated tonight. So it’s not just about stress.

I know she’s not going to quit overnight. It’s a process. She didn’t get to where she is in a night. I just want to see improvements. Little by little, I want to see the drinking become less and I want to see her blossom into a person she hasn’t met yet.

A person I haven’t met yet.

So while I may not have faith, I do have hope. That’s the one thing I really can’t afford to lose.

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I found this on Instagram today and it made me laugh out loud for like five minutes, tears streaming down my face. If you have never seen The Office, do it. The episode where Michael burns his foot is HILARIOUS.

Happy Friday! I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Meg

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Something I Don’t Talk About Enough

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.

Now I’m going to get back to reading Like A Queen by Constance Hall because she inspires me to be a better person and a better Queen.

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I hope everyone has a wonderful day.

Meg