This story was submitted anonymously for our Recovery Stories series in honor of National Recovery Month 2016.
The first time I was ever drunk I was with my mother. I was 15. We were sitting on the patio of a good family friend’s place with a 2-liter wine cooler. My brother, who was just a year older than me, was also there drink in hand. My mom thought it was funny, two kids getting their buzz on. And I did, too. I also thought I was so cool. Like, my mom is a cool mom and when everyone hears about how I drank with her on the weekend I, by default, will basically be the coolest girl at school. My constant need for validation throughout high school is a story for another time however, it’s not until much later in life that I realized how very uncool my mom’s behavior actually was.
My Mother, The Alcoholic
When most people think about alcoholics they think about homeless people or someone whose life has just derailed to the point of no return. At least that is what I always associated alcoholism with growing up. I remember my mom going out a lot and alcohol was frequently around the house. One time I woke up in the morning and there was vomit all over the bathroom and my mom was sprawled on the living room couch. It didn’t occur to me that she had been drinking at all. I was four and thought my mom was sick. So I took care of her in the best way that a four-year-old knows how: by covering her with blankets and petting her hair.
That memory is definitely one of the more tame one’s I can recall but for most of my childhood, I was clueless. I don’t know if it was the fact that my mom did a really good job of separating her social life from her home life or if I was just too young to understand what was really happening.
What I didn’t know at the time, was that my mom really was sick and there wasn’t a thing that I could have done about it. She’s struggled with intergenerational trauma, she’s clinically depressed, and lives with anxiety every single day. Pair all that up with a little bit of alcoholism and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster. The guilt that stems from this realization is something I continue to struggle with almost daily.
How My Mother’s Alcohol Abuse Has Affected Our Relationship
My mother and I used to be really close. Close in that, we used to party together a lot and tell each other what was going on in each other’s life. When I was about 23, I started to pull away from my family and I slowly cut the ties I had to the partying world. We went from living together to seeing each other every month. Once a month turned into once every few months pretty quickly. Then, I moved to another country.
Now, we barely speak to each other.
As I grow up and I have more distance from our relationship, I realize more and more how so much of what I experienced as a child was just not okay. It wasn’t normal and it makes me so mad at my mother. Even though I understand that addiction is a disease and that co-occurring disorders are very common, it’s still hard not to feel resentment and anger.
I also often feel guilty about allowing this distance to grow between us, both literally and metaphorically. It was purposeful on my part. I had always been trying to escape it. And now each day, I just try to work through the complicated feelings that I have as a result. One day at a time.
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