Nervous breakdown from alcoholic mother - FYI this is very long

Old 09-24-2013, 09:50 AM
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Nervous breakdown from alcoholic mother - FYI this is very long

Hi Everyone,

As difficult as it is for me to admit this, my Mum is an alcoholic. I am 24 years old and I have been witnessing my mothers terrible drinking habit for as long as I can remember. I have over the years begged her, pleaded with her, left letters for her. The most thing I have ever wanted in my life was for my Mum to give up drinking or at least not drink as much OR at not become a completely different person after that first sip.

To give you a bit of a background, my Mum grew up in an excellent family. Supportive, very loving and very close. Her father, my grandad, although he was an amazing person, had a drinking problem also - especially after my grandmother passed away from Cancer at 53 years old. This was a traumatic event for my entire family to go through, especially my mother who had been through a lot of loss previously and was raising me as a single mother. My grandma and grandad took care of me so that Mum could work to support the two of us, and they offered a lot of other help and support. My grandad continued filling this role until I was 7 when he too died of Cancer. Today, 17 years on, I still don't think any on my relatives have fully recovered from the loss of my grandparents. I am convinced this is the major trauma in my mothers life which has led her to alcohol an use for so many years. It's the main reason I find it so hard to confront her problem, I feel so much sympathy towards her that it tears me apart. I just don't know how to help her. Every time I bring it up, I either get the promises that she will stop drinking or she will just get irritated and dismiss the conversation.

My biological father has never really been on the scene, he paid minimal child support (my mothers wishes) though he never made the further effort to be in my life. To this day I have never met him.

The person I call 'dad' is my step father who came on the scene a few years before my grandad died, when I was 5 years old. He has been a great provider for us, he and mum had my 18 year old brother and 10 year old sister and we are one big happy family. Except for the drinking. Dad used to make an effort to try and stop mum drinking, i recall countless screaming matches, him pouring alcohol down the sink repeatedly until the cupboards were dry. Etc. etc. I don't remember whether it made a whole lot of difference but I felt like someone was at least trying.

Over the years, dad has given up caring or trying. To the point where he almost seems to just accept it. I feel like I am the only one who sees that the problem is still there. Since I moved out of home 4 years ago, I have not seen any great improvement. On my 21st birthday I specifically asked Mum to lay off the drink (I was sick of being embarrassed in front of my friends and family at every special event). she said and I quote "darling, of course I won't drink on my baby girls 21st". It was the best present she could have given me. Still, she drank like a fish and was almost blind by the end of the night. Typical. Same thing happened at my engagement party a couple years ago.

At the beginning of this year, I got married to my high school boyfriend. The lead up to the wedding was stressful like any other, the only difference was that my major stress was the fear of Mum being drunk. This was the ONE day that I didn't want anything getting in the way of my happiness. I was determined not to let it happen. The night before my wedding I was kept awake by my drunk mother ranting and raving, fighting with dad and just drinking until 7am. I got no sleep at all, spent the night begging her and yelling at her to stop drinking, go to bed shut up. It was supposed to be a relaxed atmosphere for the bride to be and it was anything but! I swore to myself that morning that if she continued her behaviour through the wedding, that I was never speaking to her again. She stopped drinking while we got ready but was still drunk until around lunchtime when she started up again. Even after I so politely requested that she not drink today and that it was the only thing I wanted in the world. I even said it through tears, complimenting her on everything else she had done so perfectly in my life.

I was so annoyed and disappointed at her that I just had to forget about it. It was my day and I couldn't let it be ruined by one person. She continued to drink all afternoon and night, she was a complete mess by the end of the reception, she barely spoke to me or our relatives she just kept wandering off to drink for whatever reason she saw fit. Needless to say though, my wedding day was still amazing and perfect. I'll never forgive her though for acting the way she did.

The wedding was 8 months ago and I've not yet pointed out to her how angry I am or how much of a drunken mess she was. She is clearly in total denial about it.
About 2 months ago, After witnessing another drunken rampage one night at her house for dinner, I got so upset later that I made the decision to confront her again about her drinking habit. I went to her a week later after being so depressed and upset about it and just let loose. I still left the wedding out if it but I explained how I felt about her alcohol abuse. She actually admitted that she is an alcoholic and that she needs to get help etc. she also admitted that she had received a letter from the hospital that she was due for a cancer check (from cancer she has been battling for 10 years which has never reached a life threatening stage). She said it really upset her and brought back all the memories from my grandparents cancer experiences etc. fair enough I thought. So this was a really productive conversation! She seemed to really pull herself together and I was over the moon about it.

Of course now my concern shifted to the cancer issue. I realised mum was the exact age my grandmother was when she died. My thought process for the next couple of weeks spiralled until it felt like the world was collapsing. I decided that I needed to meet my real dad because I figured that i might miss my chance for good if anything happened to my mum. I approached mum about meeting him and she was really supportive and assured me she would take care of it and track him down so she could talk to him first. I was at peace. I was happy and I felt like things might sort out once and for all. The thing I was scared of the most was that mum wouldn't cope with the stress of it. She said it was fine and it wasn't a big drama. The next time I spoke to her on the phone she was drunk. And again. And again. I lost the plot...

I started noticing every little thing in my life that was bothering me, every little thing that I wanted to change. I couldn't sleep, lost my appetite, couldn't focus at work, was getting very stressed out about everything. I was extremely anxious, jumpy and very In the end I got in the car and just left town. I was trying to open up to people but I couldn't explain the root of the problem so instead I just blamed it on work being too stressful, troubles with other relatives etc. things which despite how bad they really were, weren't the actual cause of my trauma. In hindsight , I should have gone straight to a professional. I was determined I could work it out though. I drove for 15 hours up north to the destination where my grandparents graves are. That was the sole purpose. It was the town I was born in and the town my mum drove me out of to get her baby away from all the stress that was going on after my grandmother died. I just needed to go there. I worried everyone at home including my boss, colleagues and family and friends but no one would just trust that I could look after myself. Except the relatives who I was staying with up north. They understood where my head was and encouraged me to take a timeout from everything. It helped immensely and got me back on the straight and narrow.

The problem: I am right back to square one with my Mum. During my breakdown I told her that I didn't want to meet my real father anymore so I'm even further back to square 1!!!

I know this was long but if there's just one person who can give me advice, I would be very appreciative. I know I should see a professional but right now I just needed it off my chest...

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Old 09-24-2013, 02:33 PM
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It is quite a lot tash.

I am sorry you have gone through all this alcoholics are not reliable and predictable. Trying to understand our behavior or thinking that your wish to see your biological father could send here of balance, that is not right. Many start drinking because of some problems, but drinking gets to be a force on its own, you can not predict it, you did not cause it regretfully you can not stop your mother from drinking either.

Many children of alcoholics take on a parental role for their parents, that is not fair. It is hard enough to be young and start ones own life.

I am glad that you have support from some relatives.

I am sorry to say I do not have so much advice to offer here.

You can not cure your mothers alcoholism, she needs to do that maybe with help from professionals, AA or similar organizations.

Please take care of you.
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Old 09-24-2013, 02:46 PM
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Hello Tash, I'm sorry to hear what's going on for you.

Soberhawk is right, alcoholics usually just end up drinking anyway no matter what. You can try to understand them, but it's hard and impossible, as often people do just keep drinking and it doesn't make sense.

You do need to look after yourself at the moment, could you start seeing a therapist while getting support from your relatives? There are also Adult children of alcoholic meetings and al anon, it depends how you feel about going to groups.

It can and it does get better. I'm putting boundaries in place around my interactions with various family members and others now (I'm trying to learn detachment). It takes some practice, but you need to do what's best for you.

Focusing on yourself and getting care is important for you, you can figure out other things as you can along. Let us know how it goes.
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Old 09-24-2013, 03:05 PM
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I feel your confusion and pain.

When my pipes spring a leak, I call a plumber. When the roof leaks, a roofer. When my relationship with myself and others is a bowl of spaghetti, I go see a therapist to straighten myself out.

This is a great place for support as well.

Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength.
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Old 09-24-2013, 03:05 PM
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And if you can't find meetings we have a list of books that may be just as helpful.

You are at an age when you need to take care of yourself to grow into the person and act as who you are meant to be, instead of reacting to your mother's stress.

It wasn't fair for your mother to use a letter for a checkup as a reason to drink. But there is never a good enough reason to mess up like that. They manufacture reasons to drink, and if you object they use that as a reason to drink, so it's a no win situation.

One thing that helped me and others immensely is to emotionally detach. Stop expecting any semblance of normal from her, or hoping that she won't drink. This is the life she has chosen for now and it doesn't include you. Sure I wish I had a normal non alcoholic parent but I didn't. So I lived my life accordingly. My dad finally quit drinking at 80 after being incarcerated but it's not because of anything I did or didn't do. The three C's explain it:

You didn't Cause it
You can't Control it
You can't Cure it

But you can live your life and be the best person you can be for your husband and future children.
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Old 09-25-2013, 01:08 AM
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Hi Tash, and welcome. I think you've pretty much gotten the rundown of how this ACoA thing works. All the screaming, pleading, letter writing, and ultimatums won't make your mother stop drinking. If we could love them or nag them into sobriety, then none of us would be here. Nobody likes to hear that there's nothing they can do to control the situation, but it's the truth. Get to an Al-Anon meeting or read a few books to learn how to protect your own well being while the chaos rages around you. I wish you all the best.
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