In all honesty-I don’t know enough about the subject from an alcoholics point of view to be profound, but I know how it is to be the victim of alcoholism.
I haven’t got it, I should add that, I barely actually drink. Maybe that’s because I’m so scared of being the person that is suffering from it right now.
That person is biologically, my Mother.
I have to say it like that now. I have to say biologically because she is-biologically my Mother. But that’s all she now is. We have no relationship anymore. We haven’t done for over three years. And even prior to that, the relationship was fraught.
All because she chose to make her decisions under the influence of alcohol.
My parents divorced when I was 13. My sister was 10. My brother was 8.
I woke one night to hear them rowing, I crept to the top of the stairs and as I did, my Dad came up, on his way to the bathroom, murmuring as he passed me to go back to bed-that everything was fine.
I’m unsure if she did it to spite him, but my Mum shouted up to me “he’s leaving me-your Dad is leaving us!”
Unable to process this, considering my Dad, my idol, had just told me everything was fine, I rushed back to my bedroom, and got back into bed.
Within minutes, the feeling of worry crept over me and I remember the panic taking over. My Dad came in and I didn’t give him chance to explain. I just kept asking him if it was true.
He confirmed it was, but he wasn’t leaving us, he was leaving my Mum. Nothing would change between him and his children, it was his wife he’d fallen out of love with, not us.
Shortly after he moved out, leaving us with someone grieving the loss of her marriage.
I get this, I really do. 20 years of marriage thrown away like that, you’re going to struggle.
Unfortunately, my understanding didn’t last as long as I hoped it would, because, although I understood she was sad, my 13 year old self assumed we, her children, would remain her driving force to stay strong and keep going because she had us.
It didn’t happen like that at all.
Within a week, she was out every night. She was spending all of her money on drinking in her local pub. I was left at home, at 13, cooking for me and my siblings, getting them into bed on time when she would go out prior to their bedtimes, and making sure all was ready for our school days.
On occasions, she wouldn’t come home until the early hours, on other occasions she’d bring random men back with her and I’d have to try and sleep through loud music, while she continued her party downstairs.
I was effectively a Mum. At the age of 13.
I did this for 5 years. We saw my Dad on a Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday one week, then a Wednesday Thursday and Friday the next. When he met his now, wife, he would holiday with her,, so, in August he’d be away for 3 weeks. I’d dread it.
Not only was it the Summer holidays, so we’d have no school to break up our day, she’d have spent all her money on alcohol so there’d be no days out, no treats.
We’d just count down until he got home.
When I was 18, I got with my husband. For a few months we’d stay at my house every night, because I had the children to look after. Within a year we were engaged, and he made the decision we would get a flat.
If he hadn’t done this, I don’t know where I’d be today.
She was upset when I left, I can never be sure whether it was because I was leaving and her daughter was growing up, or she’d lost her babysitter.
She married again, I didn’t go to her wedding-I wasn’t invited, and I didn’t want to go. Her husband is also alcohol dependent, and openly told her he wished she hadn’t had kids, something he repeated to me during a drunken rant down the phone one night.
During my wedding, which her and her husband attended with my late Grandad, she spent the day with a face like thunder. I can’t watch my wedding video because she taints it in the background constantly. An hour into my reception, following the food and the first dance, she left, to go to her local pub.
During my sons christening, which I also invited her to, she didn’t speak to me or my husband. She sat in the pew in front of us and didn’t even acknowledge my son. At the drinks afterwards, she made her excuses to my Dad and left without speaking to me.
When I lost my three babies after having my son, she wasn’t there-she doesn’t even know she could’ve had three other grandchildren.
The day my daughter was born, I messaged her to tell her the name and weight of her new Granddaughter. She didn’t reply. I messaged again and she responded asking why I’d chosen the name. She was angry my daughter was named after mine and my husbands grandmothers-there was no congratulatory message, no plans to visit and meet my daughter.
She refused to be part of her life unless I allowed both of my children to call her Nanny-something I’d made very clear during many previous arguments, fuelled by her decisions made during drunken phone calls, that she’d not earned that right-that her constant flippant relationship with me and my son, didn’t warrant her to have that title-that it had to be earned. At the time of those conversations she’d agreed.
But suddenly that agreement wasn’t accepted anymore.
She’s never met my daughter. My son doesn’t remember her.
Around 18 months ago, I messaged her during a clear-out of my old photos, to tell her I had pictures of her with her late parents, and I’d give them to my brother to give her if she would like them. She responded telling me to f*** off out of her life.
So I did.
Honestly, I’ve never found a decision so easy but hard, so upsetting but elating, and so final.
There’s a certain element of grief in it. I’m grieving for the Mum I had as a young child. The one who spent time with us, as a family.
But I’m also grieving for the life I never had. For the love I never felt from her. For the cuddles I never had. For the relationship I’ll never have again.
Yes, alcohol did this, but her choice to drink that alcohol, to get through a divorce, caused her to end up addicted to it. She not only make her decisions under that influence, but showed no remorse the following days upon realising her mistakes.
And I’ll never forgive her for that.
Ultimately throughout all of this, I’m left with peace. I have a doting Mother-in-Law, Step-Mum and Auntie (who ironically is my Mother’s sister-another family member alienated by poor life decisions) who play the role of a Mum better than I have ever known.
I have two children who are shielded from a relationship they could have had, with an unhinged adult I couldn’t have allowed to influence their lives.
I am proud of what I do, decisions I make and relationships I have, and I’ve made those decisions based on a need to never act how she has.