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helping my mum but helping myself

Old 10-31-2009, 01:12 PM
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Cool helping my mum but helping myself

My Mum has been an alcoholic most of my life. I am 34. It is something that came and went, with her 'controlling' it randomly, making my sister and I think that we were crazy for thinking that she was an alcoholic. We hid our fears very well for many years.

Looking back on it now, it is easy to see we have known and hidden this for over 20 years.

It has been at its worst the last 10 years.

I have always been pretty good at not allowing her drinking to be a part of my life. I was very harsh, not talking to her when she was drunk, leaving my visits to her if he was drunk, trying hard not to get into any conversation or argument with her. Obviously, I was not always successful.

I love my Mum very much.

I moved away (to the other side of the world) 8 years ago. And feel terrible guilt that I left my sister here to deal with her constantly. She finds it difficult to not become a part of the drama, and it has been terrible for her. I feel protective of my mother in the sense of the world, and have hidden it from everyone, but I feel very protective of my sister in our family world.

Here's my angst as it is now...

My Mum went to detox a month ago, and started going to AA. Things were great. I was so sad, but so glad that she had finally admitted to herself she was an alcoholic, and had walked towards the road to recovery. Outside I was supportive. Inside, I was waiting for the relapse. Waiting for her to say she wasn't like those people. Waiting for her to start drinking again.

Waiting for her suicide.

She relapsed. She attempted, and failed suicide.

I flew home.

She was in denial, now that she is sober again, that she wanted to commit suicide. It was a mistake, she doesn't feel suicidal. I guess now she sees that in her dark drunken state that she did. She is back at AA in full-swing, with a sponsor. She seems to be doing as well as possible, working on herself working to get well.

I am living here with her for the next month. And I really don't want to. I love her and want to help her, but I am angry at her. I want to help my sister more. My sister is scared, and angry and confused and sad. And I have to help my Mum first, because she attempted suicide, and I have to be with her. I suppose, looking at it, I want to help my sister, because I feel those things too - and I feel guilty mostly to her for not being around, except on the phone.

I am doing my best to take time for myself, and keep myself removed from the disease, so that I don't fall into my own role in this family, and can hopefully help. I don't know if I am doing a good job. I am scared Mum will relapse. I am scared to tell my friends I am home. I can't even go see my Dad (divorced when I was 5 - still BIG issues with him in my mother's world) - he knows nothing.

I recognise I am playing my 'role' as the 'strong' one. Even while trying not to be in a role.

I am so confused. So scared. So angry that I had to drop everything for an alcoholic mother. (Hard, it's a disease, I know, and anything else, of course I would want to come and help).

I don't know what I am asking for by posting here.

I just needed some thoughts from people outside my sister and husband.

Thanks for your time reading this.

Many thanks aswell.

DD
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Old 11-01-2009, 01:35 PM
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Hello there DD, and welcome to our corner of recovery.

I was the "strong one" in my alcoholic family, and I also ran away from home for my own sanity. I left a younger brother, and suffered from that guilt for many years. In the end he did fine, and has a happy and healthy little family of his own now.

There was a time I used to drop everything to go rescue my alcoholic parents, and then hated myself for doing what I promised myself I'd never do again. It took me a few years in recovery and a couple good therapists but I eventually learned how to "detach with love".

You asked for some thoughts. What worked for me was to attent meetings of al-anon. They are the experts at dealing with family members that are active in their addiction. They also have a wealth of books and pamphlets full of wonderful suggestions. You can find them in your phone book. We have a forum "next door" that you might also want to browse thru.

Friends and Family of Alcoholics - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information

At the top of that forum, and at the top of this ACoA forum there's a bunch of "sticky posts". Take a little time to browse thru those and see what information is relevant to your situation. You'll find that most of us go thru very similiar emotions and problems in dealing with our parents. The details of stories are different, but the emotions are very similar. As you browse thru all that material please post any questions you may have or anything that is not clear.

I'm glad you decided to join us

Mike
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Old 11-02-2009, 11:35 PM
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Thanks Mike. I really appreciate your thoughts, and will definitely give al-anon a try..

It's all very overwhelming right now - being with a recovering alcoholic mother, who I am just waiting for to relapse. Hopefully that won't happen, but I can't help but be pessimistic. It's hard to show her love and compassion (and I do love her), but I guess I am trying to guard myself against her - so I feel so bad that my behaviour toward her is 'fake' - surely she must be able to tell that my heart is not in being here with her?

Crap, I feel so awful.

But, I must get onto my own recovery too.

This isn't all about her illness - she has affected her family for a long time.

I'm glad I found this forum, it is helpful to read what others feel, and know that I am not alone.

Cheers,
DD
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Old 11-03-2009, 07:47 AM
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This isn't all about her illness - she has affected her family for a long time.
A long time ago now, I had to confront my father with something really horrible. I spoke with numerous therapists prior to confronting him. In all cases, they ended by saying "If he commits suicide, you must remember that it is not your fault."

Remember what you yourself just said: This isn't all about her. You have to take care of yourself. If she does commit suicide, it is not your fault. If you spend your entire life miserable and always trying to control a situation (your mother) over which you have control - that IS your fault.
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Old 11-04-2009, 04:20 AM
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Originally Posted by dutifuldaughter View Post
Thanks Mike. I really appreciate your thoughts, and will definitely give al-anon a try..

It's all very overwhelming right now - being with a recovering alcoholic mother, who I am just waiting for to relapse. Hopefully that won't happen, but I can't help but be pessimistic. It's hard to show her love and compassion (and I do love her), but I guess I am trying to guard myself against her - so I feel so bad that my behaviour toward her is 'fake' - surely she must be able to tell that my heart is not in being here with her?

Crap, I feel so awful.

But, I must get onto my own recovery too.

This isn't all about her illness - she has affected her family for a long time.

I'm glad I found this forum, it is helpful to read what others feel, and know that I am not alone.

Cheers,
DD
I sympathise with you very much, I too lived the other side of the world and came back to spend time with my mother. Since I have been back I have been faced with her active drinking for the last 18months and realised that I have unknowingly been dealing with her alcoholism for many years.

My mom has had sober times in the last 18 months but I am constantly waiting for to start drinking again. And that feeling of being fake is so familiar, I kiss her to see if I can smell anything, if she's sad, happy, moody etc etc I wonder if she's been drinking - not because it's any of my business but she has over stepped the mark with my son, been drunk whilst he is in her care, drunk drove with him, had screaming matches with my dad in front of him - then it becomes my business.

I want to feel love and compassion but like you I don't know how to do it.

My little brother was at home for around 8 years of her drinking days, he has completely detached himself now. He knows more than me the things that have happened and he thinks she is a lost cause, so he chooses no contact but with indifference, not love.

I have been to ala-non a few times now and it gives me some perspective but I know I have a big journey ahead of me. I would definately recommend it.

I will be moving back to the other side of the world early next year and your reality is my biggest fear. I have thought about it on many occassions and wondered if she did this would I go back and try to fix it. In my mind I say no, I have to detach and cannot get on the merry go round of denial anymore but I know my heart would want to go and rescue her.

Sorry I couldn't offer any form of help, as I am very new in my recovery myself but I hope that it gives you comfort realising that you are not alone. I feel your pain and I am sorry you have been dragged back to deal with this nightmare, please keep us posted as I feel we have a lot in common.

Amanda x
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Old 11-04-2009, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Mandjas View Post
I will be moving back to the other side of the world early next year and your reality is my biggest fear. I have thought about it on many occassions and wondered if she did this would I go back and try to fix it. In my mind I say no, I have to detach and cannot get on the merry go round of denial anymore but I know my heart would want to go and rescue her.
Hi Amanda,

My heart goes out to you - it is hard to have your life on the other side of the world, and be displaced to care for an alcoholic parent. I feel so guilty, because if she had something like cancer, - I would OF COURSE come home and take care of her. (Well, not like I didn't come home for this, but it is much more begrudgingly, which I feel just awful about).

I have started to go to counselling, and the counsellor suggested I tell my Mum that I am angry at her, and that I won't come home again for this. So, I did. I told her that I loved her, that I want to help her, but that I am angry as well and that it is hard for me to just leave my husband and life for an alcoholic mother. Then I told her I would not be coming home again for anything to do with her alcoholism. If she attempts suicide again, I will not come.

It helped me to say that out loud. And I am determined that I won't. I know it will be hard.

I hope you will be able to be strong too. You have a family that you need to love and protect, - and your Mom can't be a part of that if she is not sober. That's not fair on you. That must be a really hard thing for you.... sorry you have that to deal with too.

I told my Aunt last night about what has been going on (MORTIFYING, to tell people you have been hiding this from! But, surprisingly really amazing) - and she asked me how long has it been like this. My sister and I had just talked about that.... and were surprised to realise that it has been our whole lives. It's strange to think that it takes someone or something for the light to go on, and then you're left with the ''wwwhhhoooaaaaa" - wow, now what?

Good luck, Amanda - I hope your journey to recovery is successful. And I hope you will stay in touch too. I hope your move back to 'the other side of the world' goes well - and that you enjoy getting back to your own life.

xx DD
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Old 11-05-2009, 02:52 PM
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Originally Posted by dutifuldaughter View Post
H

I have started to go to counselling, and the counsellor suggested I tell my Mum that I am angry at her, and that I won't come home again for this. So, I did. I told her that I loved her, that I want to help her, but that I am angry as well and that it is hard for me to just leave my husband and life for an alcoholic mother. Then I told her I would not be coming home again for anything to do with her alcoholism. If she attempts suicide again, I will not come.


xx DD
Well you sound like you have made big steps in the right direction already.

I know I would have to take the same stance and your story gives me the strength to continue on my road.

I hope you are able to achieve something while you are at home with your sister and take something positive back with you.

We booked our tickets back to Oz yesterday, I am very excited to return back to my new home but sad of the loss I am leaving behind.

Take care and keep me posted x
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