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Old 02-04-2014, 11:23 PM
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Please help

This may seem petty in camparison to what others are going through, but i am at a loss for words and don't know what to do or say or how to help. A little background...my mom is an alcoholic, although she has never admitted it, I've known for 10+ yrs. I'm in my mid 20's. She is a functioning/social alcoholic of that's any way to describe someone and has never hit rock bottom. Years ago I tried to talk to her about her excessive drinking and wanting her around for as long as possible etc and it went ok but not much changed. I soon realized she needs to want to change and until then I can do nothing but love her for the wonderful woman she is (and she is a great mom, no sugar coating here). Fast forward 4-5 yrs. I've been on my own now for a few yrs and it seems my moms drinking has gotten better, maybe because I don't live there to see it, but either way it's been easier on me. Today I felt like I got kicked in the stomach when my dad told me that my step-mom is an alcoholic and has been for many many years. I am pretty close to my step mom and had NO IDEA. She may have hit her rock bottom today and it has effected me more than I could have imagined. Maybe opened up some old wounds. Anyway I love her veey much and she is also a wonderful person, but I dont't know how to approach this with her. With my mom it was not easy, but I did it, got nowhere, but this is different. My SM has his rock bottom, because of this my dad told me whats been going on, and told her that I now know ( she didnt want anyone to know..including me) She feels embarassed, which is the last thing I want. I have not seen or spoken to her yet. Waiting for things to calm down and hopefully get plans into place. How do I offer my support? I dont even know if she wants it or if she recognizes the problem? She may just be going through the motions because she kind of has to? I want her to know I love her and although im very surprised it doesnt change a thing. She just needs some help and I want to be there for her if she wants me there. Is that ok to say? Im afraid she wont even want to discuss it. She is very strong on the outside...perfect some might say. How do I talk to her? I dont want to pretend nothing has happened, but I also dont want to put any more stress or pressure on her right now. Advice is more than welcome. Thank you all in advance.
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Old 02-04-2014, 11:25 PM
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I would just tell her you love her and will support her in recovery, but that you will respect any boundaries she needs to set to get there. Ball in her court, and she knows you care. Welcome, but sorry you had to find us.
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Old 02-04-2014, 11:42 PM
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Thank you. Short and sweet. Lets hope I can at least say that without crying.
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:16 AM
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Hi justwanttohelp, is the news about your SM stirring up the feelings you had when you realised your mother was an alcoholic? Because although you love both your Moms, it's not your battle, or even your business. Yes you are shocked, but this has been going on for years without your knowledge, and may never change. Is there a particular action or health crisis which has brought this out in the open?
My own parents went through a stage where they were drinking inappropriately, and I was devastated, so I may have an idea of how you're feeling.
Now that you've found out about your SM, you're not required to take action, even if you do have strong feelings. Any movement towards recovery will have to come from her and her alone. Nobody can force an alcoholic to be sober. In time there may be some ways to help her, or support your father, and I'm sure you'll be there.
As for what to say to her; I think NWGRITs nailed it.
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Old 02-05-2014, 12:41 AM
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Yes definitely made some feelings resurface regarding my moms drinking. I had a really hard time for years dealing with that. Finally decided it was too much negative energy focused on something I had zero control over. I talk to my mom almost daily and see her weekly and I'd love for her to just say hey I want help, but I ignore it for now since none of it effects me. My SM I think wants help and maybe thats why I am wanting so much to be there for her. It hit me hard. My dad was even surprised by my reaction. I think very highly of her and her professionalism...i'm just baffled. The situation was work related so I think since her career is her life this will be taken seriously. I feel sad for her and sad that my dad has been dealing with this on his own. He was the one who helped me realize I cant help my mom if she doesnt want help so I know he understands he cant do much for my SM, but drunken stoopers are still stressful for anyone in the house. I will talk to her in the next couple days and sag just that. I agree, well said nwgrit.
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:02 AM
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You are putting yourself under a lot of pressure with the worries about how to help but ultimately, you can't really do anything to help a recovering alcoholic.

You don't need to bring up her condition; I would let her initiate the topic. If she doesn't it means she doesn't need to talk to you about it.

The only support I looked for from family was keeping alcohol out of the house and their understanding if I didn't want to go to places and events where alcohol was served.
Hah, I had zero support in those areas! But that's another thread. I am sober today despite a rocky road in the beginning.
Sounds like you are a fantastic step daughter and your step mom is lucky to have you.
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Old 02-05-2014, 07:52 AM
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Thank you for your advice. My dad took all alcohol out of the house. I dont drink so she doesnt need to worry when being around me. The thing is though...they always had a glass of red wine for dinner and she wouldnt even finish it....or a beer at a cook out. But my dad said she is literally a closet drinker. She hides bottles and only drinks alone or behind his back. He can obviously tell shes drunk but never actually catches her drinking. He said he even put a bottle on the table and said go ahead drink but she didnt. When they go out with friends or on vacation she still doesnt. Its just when shes home. Why? I want to understand what makes someone be a closet drinker as opposed to my mom who is a social drinker ( also drinks at home but doesnt hide it).
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:21 PM
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Originally Posted by justwanttohelp2 View Post
Why? I want to understand what makes someone be a closet drinker as opposed to my mom who is a social drinker ( also drinks at home but doesnt hide it).
It's not uncommon for alcoholics to hide alcohol. It's part of the shame, I think, and the lying and denial that come with shame. Some part of them knows it's out of control and hurting them and their loved ones. But they can't control or stop on their own.

When I first came here, I spent some time reading the threads on the "other side", where alcoholics post for support. It's pretty eye opening. One person said they hid their alcohol so well, even THEY couldn't find it. Another said he hid bottles, even though he lived ALONE. It's a powerful, baffling addiction with many illogical behaviors attached. That's why there is support in Alanon and other recovery groups for the loved ones, too.

Have you considered therapy or group support for yourself?
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Old 02-05-2014, 02:57 PM
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Justwanttohelp, my A is not only a closet drinker, but a closet cigarette smoker! For our entire marriage, almost 18 years, he has hidden his smoking from me, and god only knows why. We both smoked when we met, and HE is the one who suggested we quit shortly after our marriage. I did quit. He pretended to. Every few years, he'd get sloppy and I'd catch him. I was angry and hurt--wtf? If you want to smoke, then go ahead and smoke! Why lie? This repeated again and again.

Even now, w/6 months in recovery (so far as I know), he still very seldom smokes in front of me. He doesn't lie about smoking, so THAT is progress, but he still keeps it very secret.

As spiderqueen said, addictions are baffling. The need to hide seems to be as great as the need to drink for some of these folks...
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Old 02-05-2014, 03:36 PM
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Why? I want to understand what makes someone be a closet drinker as opposed to my mom who is a social drinker ( also drinks at home but doesnt hide it).
Nobody knows for certain why alcoholics are alcoholics. Or, why anyone becomes addicted to any substance. All we know for sure is that it hits about 10% of the population and the theories abound. Genetic, a defect in the reward system of the brain, environment, etc, etc.

You can wonder until the cows come home why one person can drink moderately and another cannot, but science has no answer in sight. The most common reason that people hide their drinking is shame. Especially women. And it is very common for the drinker to hide their drinks and then drink moderately in front of others. My old routine.
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Old 02-05-2014, 09:53 PM
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Thank you guys. I have heard about the meetings for family. I will mention it to my dad and see if he would like to go. I'll definitely take a look on the "other side" of this board. I am going to try to let my dad handle everything and just give whatever support I can when it is needed. He did not want me involved for many reasons and it only came out because of the work related incident (we work together). I tend to way over analyze and stress (did not sleep at all last night and needed to work a 12hr shift today) so he said they will handle it if I'm needed in any way theyll let me know. I feel much better after talking to him today. She does indeed recognize theres a problem. She feels relieved mostly, a little scared, and hopeful which seem like pretty normal feelings? Fingers crossed for her please. Shes a wonderful lady thats hopefully going to fight and win this battle. I wish strenghth for her and my dad. Thanks for all your advice.
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