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Old 10-09-2009, 07:44 AM   #1 (permalink)
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I am a daughter of an alcoholic and not sure what to do next


Firstly my apologies for my life story on-line but I felt it therapeutic to objectively review everything that has happend over the last 16 months. Hopefully someone will recognise something in what I have written and can offer me some advice, so here goes.

My stepfather has been telling me for years that my mother was an alcoholic but she has managed over the years to successfully manipulate the situation by telling me how bad he is to her (although I never really saw that as I was a teenager when they married and moved out in my late teens). Due to this I have never really been that close to him and refused to believe what he was saying, often defending my mother and being her shoulder to cry on.

I had been living in Australia for 7 years and used to get these odd and bizarre messages from time to time and we used to put that down to the fact that my mom was a bit ‘unbalanced’. She has a history of anorexia, bulimia, addition to slimming pills and speed, which obviously have had a detrimental effect on her mental health over the years. Having said that though my mother and I had become quite close after I got married and had a baby. She used to be quite obsessive about my son and her life seemed to revolve around him, constantly buying things for him and wanting photos.

It was only when my husband and I moved back from Australia and decided to live with my parents for a year or two to try and save money and allow them to be active in their grandsons life that the real situation unveiled. Within a few short weeks my parents had a loud and very aggressive (verging on violent) argument whilst I was in the house, thank goodness my son and husband weren’t there to see it! My dad again told me she was an alcoholic and had been drinking since I’d been back and she did actually admit that she had a problem and didn’t want to live her life like this but would try her hardest to sort herself out. I decided not to tell my husband out of fear of him judging her or wondering what on earth we had done by moving our family in. At this stage the plan was that my son would only go to nursery 3 days a week and that my mother would have him 2 days per week.

There was a small improvement over the coming weeks but I caught her out on a couple of occasions, there was one instance when she took my son to the local shop and I just happened to walk in and see her put a litre bottle of vodka in her handbag, whilst giving my son sweets. I felt sick to my stomach that I had let her walk to the shops with him, to fuel her ‘dirty habit’. I didn’t tell my dad about any of these occasions out of fear of her thinking I had betrayed her or that she couldn’t trust me, so I kept her secrets and she again told me she would get better because she had managed to get sober in the past. I then decided to share this with my husband, as I needed someone to talk to about it and it was also his son, not just mine and we needed to be mindful of his care and safety. We made the decision that we could no longer trust her to look after him on her own, so we put him into nursery full time.

After this there seemed to be a period of sobriety for a month or two and we started to reward her with some responsibility of picking him up from nursery on some days. But then there would be some sort of trigger and she would fall off the wagon. The whole thing exploded one day when my husband came home from work and my mom had just pulled up onto the drive at the same time. He went to the back of the car and my son didn’t have a seat belt on, when I got home I could smell alcohol on my mother and asked her if she had been drinking – she denied this for an hour and then finally caved in. So not only had she not put my 3year old sons seat belt on, she also had been drink driving with him in the car!!! It transpired that she has lost her licence twice in the past for DD. I got very angry over this and I had a VERY bad argument with her.

After I calmed down I realised that I needed to help her because she was lost and she couldn’t do this on her own. I took some time off work and she got some sedatives from the doctor to detox and help the withdrawal symptoms. She detoxed for a couple of weeks and was in a terrible state, shaking legs and could barely walk, sweating profusely and pretty much lay on the couch for a week. I researched rehabs, AA, alcohol action teams, therapy etc etc to get her the help she needed. She gave me empty promises of looking into getting help and went as far as going to one AA meeting with my father, to never return again. My dad said that they had done all of this before, he had tried counselling and AA, she had a sponsor but he was against re-hab because he thought she would escape. Apparently after a heated drunken argument she was taken to hospital in an ambulance and then ran out of the hospital after he had left. He found her wondering the streets with hardy any clothes on. He even considered getting her sectioned once but she threatened that he would never see her again if he did and has threatened to kill herself.

I started to talk to my dad about what was going on behind my mothers back and as soon as that happened she saw that as us ganging up on her and she stopped talking to me for a couple of weeks. She constantly lied about not drinking and whenever I asked her is she was ok, she would just reply “yes I am fine”. In moments of sobriety she admitted to me that she didn’t want to feel this way and that I needed to keep an eagle eye on her as she will not miss a trick to get vodka if she wants it! She requested we got a breathaliser to test her and she could prove that she wasn’t drinking, so we started testing her and she was ok for a week or so, then it became such an awful thing to do, driving home from work everyday knowing that you have to breathalise you own mother is not a pleasant experience. Not even knowing if you are going to come home to normality or a drunken argument was very stressful. But I thought she is my mother and I have to do everything I can to help. Even if I start getting tough and she hates me for it, then if the end result is a sober, healthier mother then so be it!

When I suspected she had been drinking I would always tell my dad and bring it out in the open, so there were no more secrets. We would then breathalise her and she would fail but still deny drinking, saying that she’d had cough medicine or that it was broken. We then made a decision that she wasn’t allowed to be alone with my son and that she could not drop him off or pick him up from nursery because she just couldn’t be trusted. I felt awful about this and thought that I would be making the problem worse by doing this to her, afterall her world revolved around him, or so I thought! But how could I possibly ever forgive myself or her if there was an incident or accident due to her clouded alcoholic judgement.

She seemed fairly ok for a couple of months but still didn’t seek any professional help, she went to the doctors a couple of times, returning with different hormone tablets or anti-depressants, which led me to believe that she wasn’t exactly telling the doctor the whole truth?? We were on a cycle then, she would seem ok, we would give her some responsibility for my son, then she’d relapse, we would argue over it and then no more ‘alone time’ with my son. She would lie and offer false promises but still not seek any help. By this stage I was feeling that I had failed her and had given up on my own mother, how could I do that?

Again another aggressive argument erupted between my parents, this time my husband and son were in the house, it almost seemed like it was coming to blows and my son was asleep in bed, I asked them to think about him and what he would think if they wake him up. My dad turned on me in his anger and told me that he had already seen them argue like that. I was furious!! My son has never seen his parents argue like that and I was damned if I was going to let him be exposed to that type of behaviour from his grand parents. We stayed in a hotel for a couple of nights, just to get away from the madness and collect our thoughts. During this time my mom was emailing me at work to see if she could have my son at the weekend, I told her that leaving my son with them was the last thing on my mind. So then I had an email war from her, telling me what a bad person and daughter I am and turning some of what had happened back on to me. I refrained from responding to this email and made a decision to move out. This didn’t go down well and my mom told my dad that everyone hated her and that she might as well kill herself, part of me felt that she would be putting herself out of her own misery – when I look at her I see a tortured soul.

We moved out, which was very stressful and our relationship has been tense to say the least but I do allow my parents to see my son a couple of times a week (but only if my dad is there). Surprise, surprise we now have another relapse and my parents had a shouting match in front of my son when he was over at their house. We have now decided to not let them see him until they have sorted themselves out, properly this time.

From what I can gather from what I have read, it appears that my dad is enabling my mother and in turn I am enabling both of them because there are no clear consequences of such behaviour? This pattern seems to be normal for them as they have been living it for the last 10 years but it is not normal to me or my family. My dad won’t enforce rehab and my mom won’t volunteer to get help, so are they as bad as each other for manifesting this bizarre reality?

I feel so harsh for not letting them see him because on the whole they are great grandparents and he adores them but what options do I have left? I just can’t talk to my mother anymore because she just lies, it generally ends up in an argument and she refuses to get professional help. Am I doing the right thing? Or am I giving her the reason of a lifetime to turn to the bottle hard?
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Old 10-09-2009, 08:53 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Thank you for pouring your heart out to us here! I feel your frustration and pain as I've had to deal with similar issues with my mother before she passed away in her disease.

Other than getting support here, there are other support groups that may be helpful. Al-Anon being one of them.

You're making some huge, cognitive steps! My prayers and best are with you! xxxx

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Old 10-09-2009, 09:07 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Welcome to Sober Recovery, you have found a great place.

Please check out our Friends and Family of Alcoholics Forum:

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

Some really great knowledgeable folks there who have been or are where you are now.

Love and hugs,
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:25 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Welcome!

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Old 10-09-2009, 09:25 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Am I doing the right thing? Or am I giving her the reason of a lifetime to turn to the bottle hard?
I'm going to bite my virtual tongue about a lot of other things I wanted to type, and just respond to your last bit here..

Yes, you are absolutely doing the right thing. After protecting your mother and her alcoholism for so long, you are now finally protecting your son, and your family from her CHOICE to live the way she does, and the fallout that surrounds her.

As for giving her a reason to drink.. do not assume you have that power. An alcoholic will drink for many other excuses than any you feel you might be giving her. You have absolutely nothing to do with her alcoholism.

I hope you visit the friends and family section of this forum and the adult children of alcoholics section too, you will find a lot of supportive and caring people very happy to provide some guidance or just a shoulder to cry on.

YES you are doing the right thing.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:33 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Please stop putting your son at risk as a way of controlling your mother's behavior. It's not fair to him. It sounds like supervised visits only should be the rule of thumb.
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Old 10-09-2009, 09:48 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Mandjas welcome to SR, you have recieved good advice, Ala-non and friends and family.

I am an alcoholic, I have been sober for over 3 years now, I can tell you for a fact that the only person who could have stopped me from drinking or made me drink more was ME!!!

I had all sorts of threats thrown at me.... kept on drinking....... I was begged to stop drinking........... kept on drinking!

The only way I was going to stop drinking was when I hit a bottom hard enough for ME to want to stop drinking.

Please go to Alanon, perhaps you could get your dad to go with you. You and your dad both need to learn how to deal with this and to understand that the best thing you can possibly do for your mother is NOTHING!!!! Except of course continue to love her.

If you help her with any thing except giving her a ride to detox or rehab beleive it or not you are enableiing her. Look I am sure it will not be an easy thing to do, but helpinig her with ANYTHING is enabling her.
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Old 10-09-2009, 02:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Hi Mandjas

Welcome to SR

I think you're had some great advice here.

I'm glad you're safeguarding your son.

I don't believe you can in any way force or cajole an alcoholic to stop drinking - it must be a free choice made by them.

I hope your mother makes that choice soon.

Please do visit our F and F forum - have you considered Al-Anon?
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Old 10-09-2009, 03:34 PM   #9 (permalink)
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As a recovering addict and the daughter of an addict, let me tell you - no one makes me use but me!
If your mother chose to drink from the stress that is her decision. NOT YOURS. If it wasn't the stress now, it will be another situation in the future.

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

Take care of yourself, your kid and your marriage.
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Old 10-09-2009, 03:54 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Mandjas View Post
...what options do I have left? I just can’t talk to my mother anymore because she just lies, it generally ends up in an argument and she refuses to get professional help. Am I doing the right thing? Or am I giving her the reason of a lifetime to turn to the bottle hard?
There are 2 things which make it look as if your Mother is on the road to alcoholism; progression and lack of control over the long run.

You are right in looking for help but need to learn a lot about detachment with love. I would suggest that you try talking with other co-dependents such as yourself at;

Friends and Family of Alcoholics - SoberRecovery : Alcoholism Drug Addiction Help and Information
Welcome to Al-Anon and Alateen
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:04 AM   #11 (permalink)
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Old 10-10-2009, 08:28 AM   #12 (permalink)
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I have dealt with similar issues with my parents and my children. I had to limit my childrens exposure to my parents while they were drinking heavily.

There are lots of great books that can help you understand the alcoholic and alcoholism and also codependency.

take care
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Old 10-11-2009, 02:53 AM   #13 (permalink)
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How do I detach with love?

I have had a lot of great advice throughout a few of the forums. I almost felt like I would recieve negative comments in return for my lack of humility over my mother disease, I am plesantly surprised to hear that I am heading in the right direction.

The 3 c's is very powerful but one thing I am struggling with is detaching with love. Just the fact that I am detaching will make my mother think I hate her and don't care. I must admit I can't bare to be around her when she smells like she has had a drink (she may not even be acting odd) but I know she's not fully there. I keep reaching out to include her in my life, like the other month, after we had moved out (which was pretty tense anyway) I was taking my son to the movies and asked if she wanted to come along but she got into the car smelling of alcohol and acting a little hyperactive, I thought to myself why do I even bother. Since then I haven't invited her anywhere. When she calls me and sounds not quite sober I can't be bothered to talk to her. I'm sure that must be hard being rejected by me a lot - especially as I was the only person that she felt she could talk to.

So how do you detach? Just detach your self emotionally or remove yourself from the situation? How can you continue to feel love and care for someone that has consisently chooses alcohol over everything and everybody else? Someone who shows no remorse or guilt over what they do to people around them?

:wtf2

A popular recommendation is to try al-anon. Good news! I have found a meeting in my area for tomorrow night and I will be attending to see if I can learn more about detaching with love.

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Old 10-11-2009, 04:17 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Welcome to SR

I can't add to the great advice already given, wish you the best
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Old 10-11-2009, 08:27 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I hope you're also asking this over at the friends and family section... I'm the drunk in my relationship, so I can't give advice on the detachment part, however I do know that there's often a recommendation to read Codependent No More as a support too..

Other than the movie date, I hope you are continuing to protect your son from her behavior.
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