Wow...others like me?

Old 10-18-2009, 04:32 PM
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Wow...others like me?

First of all, I'm sorry we're all here. Second of all, there is such a comfort knowing that there are other people who understand my plight. It's been such a rough go....
My step-mother has been my only mother ---and becamse my 'mother' when I was 12. She's been a functioning alcoholic for at least 15 years, likely longer. I realized something was 'off' with her drinking about that time. About 10 years ago I knew in my head that she was an alcoholic but was unable to say it aloud --even to my own husband. About seven years ago I was able to talk about it to my husband...who calmly told me that he knew and held me in his arms. And about three years ago I started therapy. It's been both the most difficult and the most awesome thing I've ever done with regard to my mom.

I had to first muster up the courage, after many sessions, to address her and my father (I'm a total daddy's girl) about her drinking and set up my boundaries. It was so hard. Didn't go as well as I'd hoped and they ended up not speaking to us for an entire year.

My birthday rolled around the next year and I got a call from my dad...I could barely breathe. From there our relationship has progressed to a place that I can't even explain --it's better than it's been in YEARS. More powerful, more loving, more active.....just awesome.

Letting go with love has been so difficult. There are times when my mom will email me and we'll chat that way for a few months --and then she'll refuse to respond to me all of a sudden. For no apparent reason --but I know this is part of her addiction. I know my dad still has a level of codepedence that I may never understand --but I can't get involved in HIS issue.

Setting boundaries was difficult --it's hard not to see them together on holidays (which sometimes means I miss out on my brothers, too) --but it's better than making myself sick for days leading up to the actual holiday because I kept wondering 'what would she do this year?'.....sigh.

I've sent her letters. I've tried to remind her that I love her and she's always welcome in my home as long as she's not drinking. She never responds. It's the best I can do for me...and for MY family.

It's still hard. Some days are better than others. The holidays are coming up. Even though it's easier now that I've made boundaries, it still sends pain to my heart to know that our entire family can't be together. It's never easy, it just becomes a slight bit easier with the boundaries, I think.

I just want to say hello to everyone. I want to let everyone know who is leading up to the boundaries part --it's so hard and the process stinks --but the other side can be rewarding. My relationship with my father is amazing proof......and the fact that my husband and I no longer have fights about the entire situation --what a relief. It was just something that weighed heavily on our lives...and now it's more in the background while we move forward.

I hope she seeks treatment and begins to live her life instead of drown it every night, I really do. But hoping is about all I feel like I can do for her right now. If I could cure her with love, she'd never drink another drop.

Anyways --thanks for listening. And the one thing I can offer --if you aren't already in therapy, it literally saved me. Maybe not from actually dying --but from dying on the INSIDE.

All the best to everyone .....this isn't an easy situation. Sigh. I hope to hang around and learn from you guys, lean on you guys and offer my own shoulders and ears, too.
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Old 10-18-2009, 05:05 PM
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Sograteful, I'm so glad you found our little corner of healing here.

I easily could have written much of your post......stepmother.....the long silences......etc.

It took a lot of years of practice to get to the point where I was no longer immobilized with grief that I can't have the family I would like to have. You are far ahead of me on the learning curve, it is clear, and I think you are doing wonderfully. Blessings on you for reaching out for support from people who "get it."

Just wanted to say hello and send you a hug. We can all use a hug now and then, even when we're doing the right thing.

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Old 10-18-2009, 05:39 PM
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Nice to 'meet you' , GiveLove.

I wouldn't put myself ahead of anyone --some days are harder than others. Trust me. I've just been given the tools from my therapist --it doesn't necessarily mean I'm always 100% at using them. Sigh. We're all human. Don't beat yourself up.

It's interesting how our stories collide w/ step-mothers, etc. Thanks for the hug. One of the things I've been working on lately is that my chosen family is just as powerful as the family I'm missing. We've learned to surround ourselves with great friends for every holiday ---we have a huge Italian family (one of my best friends and her entire immediate and extended family) who have taken us in as their own. We are extremely grateful. We either choose to have a peaceful holiday at our own home or we're always invited to their big events. Having the power to select the people who make us happy is's taken awhile to get there....and I still miss my real family like mad, of course........but we're never really lonely, thank goodness. We're grateful.

Hugs back....thanks for the welcome. Thanks for the support --it's coming right back at you.

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Old 10-19-2009, 02:45 AM
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From reading your post and Givelove's post, I recall that I have probably had to deal with this alcoholism way before I really ever knew about it??

My mother has been on again, off again, on again, off again for many years. When I moved to Australia, I was living with my best friend for about a year and she thought it was really odd that my mother NEVER called or wrote to me? She asked me one day why? And I said she was just like that and always had been, she made a comment that hit me hard. She said that my mother was the parent and that's what parents do! I then called my mom and asked her why she never calls or writes and she said "if you've just called to moan then forget it" and hung up on me. She didn't speak to me for 2 years after that!!

I went to counselling during this period as I was in a foreign country and felt unloved, unwanted, rejected etc etc - a familiar feeling to me growing up. I went for a few months and my sessions were almost exclusivley about my mother. But I didn't know at the time she was an alcoholic, so my therapy didn't deal with that issue.

She did start speaking to me again, after I contacted my dad and told him I was in England for Xmas and would I be welcome to visit. He checked with her and she said yes. It was on this visit that I told her I was pregnant and engaged and then she couldn't get enough of me.

I am still no contact with my mother for just over 2 weeks and am starting to calm down about things. I wrote her my first detachment with love letter last week (which was just awful) and I have no idea how she will respond. I have moments of guilt and sorrow and question myself as to whether I am being too harsh with her?

I am going to my second al-anon meeting tonight, which I am looking forward to and I am thinking now that therapy could be a good thing to revisit.

The main thing that gives me strength is reading messages like yours. Thank you for your post, it so nice to see someone that has managed to live with this and made their lives ultimately better. I can only hope that my situation will become better to handle as time goes on.
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Old 10-19-2009, 06:27 AM
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Oh Mandjas, so much of your note is familiar to me.

I look back way before *I* thought of the alcoholism and can still see signs pointing in that direction. There's a good chance she's been an alcoholic since the day I met her at 12, but I haven't made it that far back in therapy just yet. And honestly, it doesn't really matter to me at this point. The most important thing is dealing with the here and now.

I'm proud of you for writing your first letter. It was so difficult, I know. It will continue to hurt. I've stopped wondering about the harshness--but I did for some time. And the answer to that is NO. You are letting go with love --and that's the best you can do RIGHT NOW. It's important that you don't beat yourself up for the correct decisions that you make....otherwise you could teeter on a dangerous edge of codependency, in my opinion. You're doing the right thing, I promise. Regardless of her response (or lack of), you are STILL doing the right thing.

It's odd what you said about being engaged and pregnant because there are times when I've had issues with my health through the years and oddly, that's when my mother has been available to me the most. There's something about the alcoholic mother and needing to feel needed that I haven't quite put my finger on yet (or gotten to in therapy)....but they do seem to come out of the woodwork when there's something like that. So I know how you feel about the come and go type relationship, too. I would think "wow --she really is going to be present in my life" and then once it was over and I was perfectly healthy again ---bam, back to 'normal'. At least her normal.

You'll get're almost there. It's so very important, especially now that you have a child/ren (or a child on board --not sure of the time frame)--you can't let them be exposed to the same kind of alcoholic treatment you were exposed to.

Good for you!! Keep me posted on the letter.....the most important thing is that you wrote it. Period.
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Old 10-19-2009, 08:42 AM
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Thank you for your message, it is very reassuring. I just went on line and orderd a book from al-anon Hope Today I think it's called. It's about ACOA experiences etc. Do you have any advice on good books?

PS My son is 4 now and I am happily married : ) He has been exposed to her and she drunk drove with him in the car - which triggered my search for help. That and many months of beating my head against a brick wall.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:09 AM
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I like The Language of Letting Go meditation series ---something to read every morning before meditating. I also like Letting Go With Love. And my other favorite would probably be Recovery: A Guide forAdult Children of Alcoholics. I didn't necessarily find it to be a 'guide' but it did provide a lot of information about behvaviors and trends of acoa--helped me identify my 'place' in the whole bit of dysfunction ---I also saw where my brothers fit in, as well. Interesting reading.

I'm sure anything you can find on the subject will have SOMETHING helpeful within it.....let me know how that book is, maybe I'll order it next.

Glad to hear you are happily married...and glad to hear you are not planning on allowing your 4 year old grow up in that toxic environment. What an amazing thing you're doing for your own family. I wish you peace.
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:32 PM
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Thank you, I will look into those.

I have just come back from my 2nd ala-non meeting. I am calm and I feel like I will sleep well tonight : )
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Old 10-20-2009, 09:52 AM
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Hi Sograteful

Just popping on to say hi and glad you're with us. Thank you for your post.

I too have recently set boundaries with my codependent mother (Af died 21 years ago) and alcoholic brother and can so relate to what you say about putting the heavy weight in the background of your life and moving forward.

I am still working at letting go of the mother (family) that I would like but never, ever had.

What I find hard is when I read posts about detaching with love - I am at a point where I am calmly detached in that the hurt, anger, grief, bitterness are no longer raw and bubbling about under the surface. However, I look for feelings of love towards my mother and brother and I'm afraid I can't feel any.

People say, of course you love them and they love you but.... I don't think so. I know how deeply I love my own children and my husband but I don't have any positive feelings whatsoever towards my mother and brother. I feel compassion towards my dead alcoholic father but that is as high as it goes.

I think the damage of my childhood and early adulthood was just too great, I don't think my mother ever loved me and if she did, she never exhibited it. Sometimes I think - I've turned out seriously okay, given the dysfunctional, toxic environment I grew up in.

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Old 10-20-2009, 06:30 PM
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Hi sograteful!

I'm glad you're here. Sounds like you are doing well indeed and are an inspiration to others!

I'm also glad to hear that things are better now with your family. I'm still learning how to "let go with love" but my main issue these days is codie mom, not so much alcoholic dad. I've been in and out of therapy my whole life but it's only been recently that I realized why, despite all the work I'd done on my dad, things didn't feel "right." It's because I had never addressed my mother's unhealthy behavior patterns.

I'm also attending al-anon although I'm still undecided as to whether it's for me. I do think it can be helpful. And I'm working with a wonderful therapist right now.

So hello back! I'm glad you're here. Do keep posting, won't you?
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