Making Peace With a Mom Who Drinks

By: Natascha Jones, Guest Blogger

I have a feeling people who didn’t grow up with alcoholic parents probably think it’s fun. Your mom or dad doesn’t care if you have a glass of wine with dinner or some beers with your friends “because you’re at home and it’s safe,” or maybe a couple of drinks at a party, “as long as you’re not driving.” They may even let you and your friends have a raging party for your 18th birthday “because you’re at home and it’s safe.” But it’s not great. There’s a lot of uncertainty. There’s a lot of fear and confusion and sometimes neglect. Having an alcoholic parent can be embarrassing when you’re younger and frustrating when you’re older. It can also be lonely; where one would typically have that guidance or that strong advice, a child of an alcoholic parent can typically count on their parent to be weak and afraid of life’s hurdles. 

This sounds disparaging. Because it is. 

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I have a beautiful, intelligent, funny, romantic mother. She is also an alcoholic. I experienced all of those emotions above, and then some. I know without a doubt I wouldn’t want anyone else to be my mother, but I know even more that I wish she didn’t drink. God I wish she didn’t drink.  When we were kids my brother and I would worry ourselves through the night, our imaginations had her laying in a ditch on several occasions. But she almost always found her way home. Now that we’re older she has learned a lesson here or there but the disease still wins, takes the spoils and leaves all of us to pick up the pieces. My beautiful mother has literally been put back together again. 

I used to get angry with her when she hurt herself or gambled all of her money or got in trouble for drinking and driving. I was so afraid she would be hurt and I was so upset that she in effect hurt me that I would just be shaking with rage. 

And then one day I stopped being angry. I don’t know how I stopped, I think there was something in her voice that told me she was upset enough on her own this time, I didn’t need to add to it. It sounded like pure sadness. It sounded like she was just as tired of being hurt as I was.  I felt sorry for her. Not like a pitiful little animal without a home, but just really sad and sorry for her. Like she was my child and she just needed to be held and reassured that she’s not alone. I think I felt compassion for her for the first time ever.  

I didn’t arrive at that moment easily. I went kicking and screaming, positive that I had every right to be mad and hurt and yelling and angry. I don’t think this place of compassion is a place we can force ourselves to be in and I’m not sure how long it will last. But from here I can see my mother as who she is: someone who was once a child, a teenager, a scared young woman who had just moved to America, a single mother trying to feed her children, a wife again and then finally a middle-aged woman, living alone and making a life for herself. I can see her as someone who is also hurt and, given the choice, I believe she would not have chosen drinking as a way to cope. 

I’m grateful to be in this position of compassion. From here I feel like I can finally give her that letter I wrote, telling her why I don’t want her to drink. It’s not my battle to fight, but when I look back I want to know that I did everything I could for my peace of mind with her addiction.  I don’t expect her to quit but I will do everything I can to help her try. I will try not to be angry if she fails. And if she does, I will know that she didn’t fail in order to hurt me. I’ll be able to pick her up, dust her off, and help her take that first step again. 

Let's Chat! Are you struggling with a family member's drinking? Get with someone you trust and talk about your feelings and help yourself first so you can help others later on.

About Natascha

Natascha_Jones_Head_Shot.jpgWhile she would have to inform you that her “day” job is in esthetics and makeup artistry, Natascha truly spends her days in sunny Venice Beach laughing with her friends, riding her bike, and telling grandiose stories encouraging others to laugh, cry or think.  She is passionate about her efforts to live life fully and push her comfort zone, which is why she spills her guts to you and she hopes you’ll still love her.

 

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  • commented 2015-01-23 21:58:33 -0800
    Great article/summary of a daughter’s progression of finding peace with a mother who drinks. My mom bottomed out again just a few weeks ago and was motivated to check herself into detox. At the same time I was packing up my life to move to Costa Rica to be a Righteous Gringa! Sadly, I haven’t heard from her since I left. It will have been 2 weeks on Sunday. She’s either full of shame and hiding out or going to so many meetings and smoking cigs like a feel that she doesn’t have time for email. Time will tell.

    I love her to pieces and want only the best, don’t get me wrong, but I too have gone thru and suffered miserably because of the disease. I don’t suffer anymore. I have to embrace all that THAT GIRL promotes and inspires, so I can live up to my fullest potential. Otherwise, I could find myself coping with the bottle someday wondering where it all went wrong. Break the cycle and identify with the real you – not the you reflected in the bottle.

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