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How do we approach alcoholic mother?? Please help!

Old 10-12-2009, 04:13 PM
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How do we approach alcoholic mother?? Please help!

This is going to be long...

My mother has always been an alcoholic. My father divorced her because of her drinking about 15 years ago and my mother has been single since. She has been able to hide it from everyone outside of our immediate family. I am 32 and I always remember my mother with a beer in her hand. My mother has excelled in her career and nobody around her would suspect that she has a drinking problem. It's like this big secret we have always protected.

We are a very close family and spend most weekends at my mother's vacation home. My mother was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. She went through chemotherapy and radiation. She didn't work during that time and she basically spent it either going to chemo/radiation or drinking. Her drinking has spiraled out of control and she has "graduated" to wine now.

My sisters and I are now scared for her and others. She has absolutely no issue with getting in a car and driving while drunk and we know that it's only a matter of time until something really bad happens. She was giving my 6 month old a bath and left him alone in the bathtub for 5 minutes to get a refill on her wine.

Before my father left my mother, he had a family meeting (surprise to us!) and told my mother that we all hated her drinking. She attacked all of us and it was a terrible experience. I was 15, and my sisters were 13 and 11. We are now 32, 30 and 28. We have never discussed her drinking with her since that time and frankly we're all terrified of destroying our relationship with her if we mention it.

We know that this behavior cannot continue, but we don't know how to go about approaching her. I tried to mention it to her last weekend, without coming right out and saying that she had a drinking problem, but she blamed all of her behaviors on the hormone therapy she is now on. She is in total denial and doesn't understand why I won't let her babysit my 3 and 1 year old. This has got to end before she kills herself or someone else!

Any advice, support, or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:34 PM
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I am new to this forum, but not the issue of alcoholic parents. I was raised by alcoholics. My dad is now deceased, my mom is 77 and still drinking.

Years ago I sought therapy regarding how to deal with my parents, and my shrink's advice was a question: can you stay away?

I confronted the issue of their drinking when I was around your age, and I'm 51 now. Guess what - she hasn't changed, at least not for the better. As she has aged (and the disease progressed), she became less and less interested in her children and grandchildren. I did draw the line about my parents driving my child.

It sounds a bit flippant, but the reality is there's nothing you can do about your mother's drinking. Do you get anything out of your relationship with her? Does she make you feel good about yourself like a mother should? Does she treat you the way you will treat your kids?

My mother is in my life, but I have given up on the notion of a real mother-daughter relationship with her. Fortunately, I have a wonderful 29 year old daughter with whom I am very close. As she grew up I realized that I had learned nothing from my mother about parenting, other than what not to do.

I've read about interventions, but I don't know anything about them myself.

Good luck.
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Old 10-12-2009, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by trapeze View Post
It sounds a bit flippant, but the reality is there's nothing you can do about your mother's drinking. Do you get anything out of your relationship with her? Does she make you feel good about yourself like a mother should? Does she treat you the way you will treat your kids?
This is where it's difficult. Up until she was diagnosed with cancer, she was my best friend. I lived in Europe then and she would come spend 2 or 3 weeks with me at a time. We traveled and had fun together. Sure, she was drinking at that time, but not to the extent she is now. I'm having a really hard time dealing with the person she has become in the past year. I don't want my kids to remember her this way. I don't like being around her anymore. I want my mother back.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:33 PM
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Hi destruction! Welcome to the forum. Hopefully you'll find many gems of insight here. This place is full of folks experienced in dealing with alcoholic parents.

One hard truth is that we can't control the choices our parents make. Many of us are here because drinking has been more important to our parent(s) than their relationship with us. That's not our fault; that's not our choice. And no, it's definitely not fair, but that's how it is.

I'm sorry to hear that your relationship with your mom is suffering, but there is little you can do unless your mom wants to get better. No one can control or make decisions for another adult - that responsibility is on the adult themself.

Until then you are very, very wise to enforce strict boundaries (e.g. no more looking after the kids).

Originally Posted by destruction View Post
frankly we're all terrified of destroying our relationship with her if we mention it.
Healthy relationships take two. What is your mom doing to keep your relationship from being destroyed?

I faced this question with my own alcoholic father, who was also diagnosed with cancer a couple years ago. He went through many stages of extreme optimism (was going to quit smoking and drinking, start his life anew) and depression. I used to work so hard at making life wonderful enough for him to want to be here with me. But you know what? Unless he wants it, what I do will never be enough. What am I left with? A father who is not the father I thought I had. I found that as I faced just how serious drinking was in my father's life, I had to grieve the loss of the father I wish I had - the father I was close with as a kid, who I chatted with for hours, who made me feel important. Unfortunately I've had to to realize that a person with an addiction is not someone you can rely on for sane, rational guidance. As long as the addiction is active, it is the addict's top priority - even over health, life, and you. The good times in my relationship with my father were only of part of him that I was fortunate to experience. But the good times don't change the ugly whole.

Destruction, I think you should give yourself a lot of room to be upset. You're watching addiction destroy someone you love - many of us have witnessed this. But the reality is that you can't change your mom, so what are you doing for you to help yourself through this?



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Old 10-12-2009, 05:36 PM
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I wish I had an answer on how to get her back. My mom was diagnosed with cancer 2 years ago, too. That's a lot to take in.

It seems that she lost her marriage and had the reality check of a cancer diagnosis, but yet hasn't gotten to the place where she is ready to change. This must be very hard on you and your siblings. I am so sorry for your pain.
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Old 10-12-2009, 05:43 PM
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Originally Posted by dothi View Post
But the reality is that you can't change your mom, so what are you doing for you to help yourself through this?
I'm not doing anything for myself. I have tried to include my mother in our normal mother-daughter activities, but it's awful. I don't want to be around her anymore if she is going to act like this. I do feel that I at least need to tell her why we aren't visiting as much. Would it be wrong for my sisters and I to get together and tell her how we feel? I feel like at least that way we will have made our position clear. She can attack us and refuse to change, but at least I will feel like I have tried rather than just allowing her to self-destruct.
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Old 10-12-2009, 06:37 PM
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There's no right or wrong here. I believe you know what you want to do, and it doesn't sound like there's much to lose by trying.
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Old 10-13-2009, 01:26 AM
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Originally Posted by destruction View Post
I'm not doing anything for myself. I have tried to include my mother in our normal mother-daughter activities, but it's awful. I don't want to be around her anymore if she is going to act like this. I do feel that I at least need to tell her why we aren't visiting as much. Would it be wrong for my sisters and I to get together and tell her how we feel? I feel like at least that way we will have made our position clear. She can attack us and refuse to change, but at least I will feel like I have tried rather than just allowing her to self-destruct.
Destruction,
I would recommend that you prepare yourself emotionally and mentally for the possible outcomes of doing some sort of intervention/confrontation. I agree there is no right or wrong answer, but make sure you take care of yourself because these situations can be very difficult. If you feel it is best to at least share your feelings and concerns, make sure for your sake that you are prepared for her rejecting your concerns and making up every excuse in the book. And if that means limiting contact with her, that may be the sanest and safest thing for you at this point in time and there's nothing wrong with that.

Take care of yourself.
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Old 10-13-2009, 04:36 AM
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Originally Posted by reverse View Post
Destruction,
I would recommend that you prepare yourself emotionally and mentally for the possible outcomes of doing some sort of intervention/confrontation. I agree there is no right or wrong answer, but make sure you take care of yourself because these situations can be very difficult. If you feel it is best to at least share your feelings and concerns, make sure for your sake that you are prepared for her rejecting your concerns and making up every excuse in the book. And if that means limiting contact with her, that may be the sanest and safest thing for you at this point in time and there's nothing wrong with that.

Take care of yourself.
This is so true.

I was up half of last night thinking about it. My mother hasn't been rational for about 6 months, so what on earth makes me think that she will see reason if I sit down and talk with her?

We can't go on like this. I can't stop her from destroying her life, but I'm not going to enable her either and I most definitely am not going to subject my children to it.

I guess the hardest thing for me is knowing that she is driving after a full day of drinking. I know that every Sunday evening she heads back home from her vacation house. She is already drunk and still fills a travel mug full of wine so that she isn't without on the hour drive back home. We'll have to take a stand on that one too. Oh, I'm so thankful that I have my sisters to lean on and back me up on this!
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Old 10-13-2009, 06:57 AM
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Destruction,

I'm so sorry you're going through this, but I'm glad you found us.

Lots of good thoughts above me. We really don't have the power to control our parents' behavior and get back the relationships we had before just by saying or doing some magic combination of things. That really isn't up to you, unfortunately, because of the choices she's making.

And I'm sorry for that. I've been through that grieving process several times in my life (mother, father, brother, two sisters) and it's painful.

Some things I tried, with mixed success:

--Writing a letter. I am able to explain myself much better in writing than in person, and could say things that i would be much too afraid to say in person. My A family members always knew I loved them, and always knew why I wasn't in contact with them. That took a lot of the guilt out of the equation.

--Protecting the living. I would not hesitate to call the police if I knew someone was getting into a car drunk. I simply couldn't take the chance that they weren't going to kill someone - themselves or some innocent - as I knew the guilt would scar me. I also would never let my kids alone with this person again, for the same reason. All the wishful thinking in the world isn't going to bring back someone killed by neglect or drunkenness.

--Al-Anon. This was possibly the most helpful of all. I started going to a regular Al-Anon meeting (for friends & family of alcoholics) and talking with others who were also dealing with a loved one's alcoholism. It was calming, supportive, educational, and prepared me for the inevitable confrontations so they weren't as hard as they would've been.

And there I learned the three C's: You didn't cause this, You can't control it, You can't cure her of it.

It doesn't make it all better, I know. But truly, with alcoholism we often have little choice but to tell them the truth, accept what IS and not what we want back, tell them we love them, and focus on our own lives as much as possible.

Sending you hugs and strength
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Old 10-13-2009, 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by GiveLove View Post
Destruction,

--Protecting the living. I would not hesitate to call the police if I knew someone was getting into a car drunk. I simply couldn't take the chance that they weren't going to kill someone - themselves or some innocent - as I knew the guilt would scar me. I also would never let my kids alone with this person again, for the same reason. All the wishful thinking in the world isn't going to bring back someone killed by neglect or drunkenness.
This is a good suggestion. Since you know exactly when she is driving drunk, you have every right to notify the police about this. They can sort of patrol the area and even fine her for driving while intoxicated so that it might make her think about her actions...or even worse...get her license taken away so she cant' drive. No one should be entitled to drunk driving no matter who they are b/c the results can be disasterous. I've worked for 5 years doing hospital work and direct patient care so I have seen what can happen.

Take care~
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Old 10-13-2009, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by GiveLove View Post

--Protecting the living. I would not hesitate to call the police if I knew someone was getting into a car drunk. I simply couldn't take the chance that they weren't going to kill someone - themselves or some innocent - as I knew the guilt would scar me. I also would never let my kids alone with this person again, for the same reason. All the wishful thinking in the world isn't going to bring back someone killed by neglect or drunkenness.
Originally Posted by reverse View Post
This is a good suggestion. Since you know exactly when she is driving drunk, you have every right to notify the police about this. They can sort of patrol the area and even fine her for driving while intoxicated so that it might make her think about her actions...or even worse...get her license taken away so she cant' drive. No one should be entitled to drunk driving no matter who they are b/c the results can be disasterous. I've worked for 5 years doing hospital work and direct patient care so I have seen what can happen.

Take care~
This is going to be the hardest step for me. My mother is in a career field in which she will most likely lose her job if she gets a DUI. I know this is not my fault, but I also know that she will blame me rather than herself. I don't want to live with the guilt of her harming and innocent person and I don't want to deal with the wrath of my mother if I report her. I know this is what needs to be done and it's the right thing to do, but that doesn't make it much easier.

Thanks for listening and responding. I'm just within the last week realizing that this is something I have to deal with. I can't ignore it anymore.
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Old 10-13-2009, 02:33 PM
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It's so hard coming to this realization, I know.
I would encourage you to find an al-anon meeting in your area and start going. It's not for everyone, but I know it's definitely helped me learn to detach with love from my alcoholic/codependent family.

Your first priority here needs to be you, your sanity and your children. Don't lose sight of that. Keep reading and posting here, as well. This place has also been very helpful for me. Hugs and love to you.
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:16 PM
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Hi Destruction

Welcome to the forum, I'm glad you've found your way to us. Sending you lots of hugs and strength.

As a child, I was in three minor accidents in a car driven by my alcoholic father. I got lucky. What I have never been able to understand is the fact that my codependent mother let us get in the car with him.

An alcoholic family is a crazy existance where denial rules - it is not as bad as all that, he can still drive the car, he won't crash, the kids will be alright - absolutely mad, crazy thinking - total denial.

My father lost his license for two years - did it stop the drinking - no, he died from a throat cancer, common in alcoholics who are heavy smokers.

Keep posting and keep reaching out to others. I have found so much help, support and good advice on this forum, IWTHxxx



Originally Posted by trapeze View Post

Do you get anything out of your relationship with her? Does she make you feel good about yourself like a mother should? Does she treat you the way you will treat your kids?

...I have given up on the notion of a real mother-daughter relationship with her. Fortunately, I have a wonderful 29 year old daughter with whom I am very close. As she grew up I realized that I had learned nothing from my mother about parenting, other than what not to do.
Hi trapeze

Just had to say, I read this and thought to myself, I could have written this word for word. For a moment I was sad and my stomach clenched then I remembered...

I too am very lucky, my daughter is 14 and we are also very close. I can remember when my kids were tiny, I promised myself that they would know what hugs, kisses and cuddles were and that I would get as many as I could before they grew up and didn't want any more. We are blessed both my teenagers still come to their Mum and Dad for hugs and cuddles

IWTHxxx
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Old 10-14-2009, 02:16 PM
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I got quite emotional when I read your post, it seems you are just a few steps behind me in terms of timelines and where you find yourself.

I have had many, many conversations with my mother over the last 12 months, the responses were either defensive, angry, victimised, guilt trips, sob stories etc etc. I have spent many months waiting for her to change her ways and listen to me and my father BUT NOTHING HAPPENS. And in the last few weeks I am starting to believe nothing will happen. My mother actually drunk drove with my son in the car, in hindsight I should have called the police there and then. But she has already lost her licence twice before and this time would mean imprisonment, I couldn't bring myself to do that and then I became and enabler.

I don't feel experienced enough to give you advice but I can honestly say that the other people on this website have REALLY helped me and I went to my first Al-anon meeting on Monday, which I will continue with. I have had no contact with my mother for nearly 2 weeks and I am composing a detachment with love letter to her as we speak. I cannot tell you how much weight has been lifted off my shoulders, I'm sure it will be a bumpy road but for now I feel this is where my recovery begins.

My sincerest kind wishes go out to you.
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Old 10-14-2009, 06:26 PM
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Originally Posted by destruction View Post
This is going to be the hardest step for me. My mother is in a career field in which she will most likely lose her job if she gets a DUI. I know this is not my fault, but I also know that she will blame me rather than herself.
Ya, it's a tough one. The state finally pulled my Dad's license last year, and he tried to get it back once, but failed the test, and has pretty much decided he's not going to try it again. (He thinks he's perfectly OK to drive, but that because of a number of high-profile crashes involving elderly drivers recently, that the examiners are "using any excuse they can find to fail an old person."

OK, fine -- he can think what he wants. At this point, I no longer take issue with him on anything, because it really doesn't matter who's right. He can think he's right -- so f890ing what? I just nod my head and say, "Ya, I know what you mean."

But if he had succeeded in getting his license back, d*mn right I was prepared to call the cops and make sure they knew that he was back on the road and was not safe. The combination of his age (89!) and the fact that he still drinks a lot -- that does not make for highway safety.

If your Mom gets a DUI and loses her job as a result, who knows? That may be what it takes to bring her to "hit bottom" and do something about her alcoholism. Or it may not. But either way, getting a drunk driver off the road would be good for everyone!

T
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:16 AM
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Originally Posted by destruction View Post
My mother is in a career field in which she will most likely lose her job if she gets a DUI. I know this is not my fault, but I also know that she will blame me rather than herself. I don't want to live with the guilt of her harming and innocent person and I don't want to deal with the wrath of my mother if I report her.
How would she possibly know that it was you who reports her? How could she blame you if she thought it was a fluke that she got caught drunk driving. Unless, of course, you tell her it was you, which I wouldn't recommend doing.
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Old 10-15-2009, 12:20 AM
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Originally Posted by tromboneliness View Post
If your Mom gets a DUI and loses her job as a result, who knows? That may be what it takes to bring her to "hit bottom" and do something about her alcoholism. Or it may not. But either way, getting a drunk driver off the road would be good for everyone!

T
Also, to add to this, I think she may be forced to attend AA meetings or some sort of thing like that. I know my sister had to attend AA meetings after so many DUI's. And it might be just what she needs as a "wake up call". However, I would try not to focus so much of fixing or changing her. That is not something within our power to do. :praying
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Old 10-15-2009, 09:48 PM
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Destruction,
I send prayers for you and your sisters in this stressful time. Everyone who has shared before me has given you such wonderful suggestions and love that it has even ministered to me too. The people here are great counselors and comforters. You are here for a reason and I'm sure you will learn more and more when you keep coming back. I also have an A mom who has progressively gotten worse in her drinking and behavior. She was not a drinker when I was growing up but turned to wine in her senior years. She starts drinking sometimes in the late mornings. It is so hard to see them live this life since they are getting older and have more health issues anyway. I worry about her since she has already broken her leg and has other health problems. So far it seems she doesn't drive when she is intoxicated but really, not living near her, I am not 100% sure. That would be a whole new ballgame. I guess I would have to do something about it too. My brother and I have tried to talk to her and that has blown up in our faces. So I decided to start going on this amazing website and to an Al Anon meeting to learn what I could about this disease and how to respond to my mom etc... I am new to this too. I get to listen to what others share about their experiences and how they deal with the problems that come from alcohol. It has been most helpful. I have heard others that have similar stories like mine and can relate to what they go through. It has been so therapeutic. There is Al Anon literature that is good to read and I even went to the library and checked out some Al Anon books. They are helpful too. Just know we care and are always ready to listen. We will not tell you what to do just what we have done and hope it will help you too.
God Bless
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Old 03-17-2013, 01:12 PM
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Tell her a story.

Originally Posted by destruction View Post
This is going to be long...

My mother has always been an alcoholic. My father divorced her because of her drinking about 15 years ago and my mother has been single since. She has been able to hide it from everyone outside of our immediate family. I am 32 and I always remember my mother with a beer in her hand. My mother has excelled in her career and nobody around her would suspect that she has a drinking problem. It's like this big secret we have always protected.

We are a very close family and spend most weekends at my mother's vacation home. My mother was diagnosed with cancer a year ago. She went through chemotherapy and radiation. She didn't work during that time and she basically spent it either going to chemo/radiation or drinking. Her drinking has spiraled out of control and she has "graduated" to wine now.

My sisters and I are now scared for her and others. She has absolutely no issue with getting in a car and driving while drunk and we know that it's only a matter of time until something really bad happens. She was giving my 6 month old a bath and left him alone in the bathtub for 5 minutes to get a refill on her wine.

Before my father left my mother, he had a family meeting (surprise to us!) and told my mother that we all hated her drinking. She attacked all of us and it was a terrible experience. I was 15, and my sisters were 13 and 11. We are now 32, 30 and 28. We have never discussed her drinking with her since that time and frankly we're all terrified of destroying our relationship with her if we mention it.

We know that this behavior cannot continue, but we don't know how to go about approaching her. I tried to mention it to her last weekend, without coming right out and saying that she had a drinking problem, but she blamed all of her behaviors on the hormone therapy she is now on. She is in total denial and doesn't understand why I won't let her babysit my 3 and 1 year old. This has got to end before she kills herself or someone else!

Any advice, support, or words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated.
- Hi, I'm 14 years old. I battle with codependency. I have so much anger towards my mother because of all the pain she put me through with her drinking. For my whole life I've watched my mother drink. My advice to you would be to tell her a story. About herself but by starting off with saying I have this friend that is having a lot of trouble. Her mother is an alcoholic and I don't know how to help her. Do you any suggestions? Tell her a story. Using someone else's name but your story. Maybe it will open her eye a little bit. Maybe. I'm sorry to hear that you've been going through this your whole life. My heart feels for you. I just pray that my mother stops before its too late. By too late I mean before she has no one left to turn to in her life because of this drinking problem she has. I will pray for you, your family and your soul. God bless you and yours.
- Sincerely, Destiny. <3
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