Monday, November 26, 2012

Family Struggles

Let me preface this by saying a few things:
1-      If you know me in real life, please keep this between us.  Some people know about this, and some people know parts of this, but it is very rare that I share the full details of my family situation because I prefer to keep them personal.  However, I am at a point that I feel like I’m just not sure what else to do, and I hope sharing will help.

2-      I’m going to try to share enough details to explain everything without giving years worth of back story.  Bear with me if I get wordy. 

3-      I normally write about my weight loss journey, but this has been weighing on my mind very heavily lately.  No, this is not my “why” in my weight gain.  My weight gain is just because food tastes good. 

4-      I have written this a thousand times in my head, but don’t even know where to start once it comes to actually putting it into real words.  I’m going to do my best.

My mother struggles with addiction.  She is an alcoholic and self medicates.  Her father was an alcoholic that took his own life when she was 18 years old.  Thus, I believe this is when her own problems began.  She and my father both drank and partied when they met, and throughout the beginning of my childhood, but stopped drinking when I was in the 6th grade, when my mom had a wreck that nearly killed her. 

On my 21st birthday, both of my parents started drinking again.  Things went downhill almost instantly.  Fortunately for me, I was in college and not home most of the time.  My younger brother was not as lucky, as he was still in high school.  Fast-forward about 7 years later and here we are.  Both parents drinking regularly (and my mother much more than regularly), years of non-stop arguments, neglect of family and friends, an affair and a separation. 

Right before the separation, my brother and I went to an Alanon meeting for family members of alcoholics.  From that meeting, I learned that there is nothing that I can do to change her.  She is in control of her own choices and actions.  I cannot change her.  I learned that I have to live for myself and not get caught up in the craziness because it will only bring me down.  Now, that is a VERY hard lesson for me, because I am an extremely compassionate person, I want to help everyone, and this is my mother, for crying out loud!  The woman that gave birth to me.  The woman that wiped my tears as a child and held me when I was sick.  The woman that taught me to be the woman that I am now.  She was an excellent parent while I was growing up.  We had such a close relationship.  It’s hard for me to stand back and watch all of this happen.

But I’ve also tried so many times.  I see what it does to me when I get mixed up in everything.  I feel guilty.  I feel like I need to fix everything.  I feel like the parent instead of the child.  I literally lose sleep over it.  I lay in bed and wonder if she’s at home, safe, or if she’s in a ditch somewhere.  It literally drives me crazy.  I’ve talked to her.  I’ve driven her to rehab.  I’ve cried with her.  I’ve supported her.  I’ve done absolutely everything that I know to do.  Two years ago, my brother wrote her a heart-wrenching letter that had me sobbing when he let me read it.  She read it.  She cried.  Nothing changed.  I thought surely, if anything would change her, his words would.  They didn’t.

My brother has detached himself from the whole situation.  He’s very private and closed off.  Some people even take him as being cold.  He’s not though.  He’s just guarded.  He explained to me not too long ago that he just cannot be a part of the situation because he can’t handle it.  And he’s one of the strongest people I know.  So how then, if he can’t deal with it, do I figure out how I’m supposed to?  My husband gets so frustrated with everything that my family has gone through that he doesn’t even want me to talk to him about my mom.  So, here I am.  Writing to complete strangers, with the hope that someone will be able to relate, or give the smallest piece of advice or give me just a peace of mind. 

As I said, I’ve done everything I know to do for my mom.  I’ve even driven her to rehab before.  My brother wants nothing to do with her when she’s drinking or on pills.  My father is just done with everything related to her, forever.  Her mother is in bad health and just basically accepts it, and her aunt is pretty much in denial about the whole thing.  I feel like I’m the only one that CAN do anything.  I just don’t know WHAT to do. 

Wednesday, she came to my house for me to do her hair for Thanksgiving.  She was sober, but may have taken pills or been drinking out at her car when she went outside to smoke.  I’m just not sure.  We had a great time together.  She even went with me to Walmart to pick up a few things that I needed.  Through the course of our time together, she said something along the lines of, “I need help.  I know I do.  But I just don’t know where to go.  I’m not working.  I don’t have any money.  But I know I need help.  I feel like I need Dr. Phil or Intervention or somebody to help me.  But I know my children are smart and if they think I need help, they’ll find somebody or something for me.  They’ll get me help.” 

Well, there ya go.  I’m in the middle of it again.  I didn’t respond.  I didn’t know what to say.  This is when this blog entry began forming in my mind.  I was going to write to ask for suggestions.  With the holidays, I was very busy and didn’t take the time to sit down and write everything out.  Then, we went to a friend’s graduation celebration Saturday night.  His father is a pastor and his mother is a counselor.  She recently started an alcohol and addiction program at the church.  Before she left, she gave me her cell phone number for me to give to my mother.  We didn’t talk about her or her situation, but we live in a small town, so I guess she just knows.  Well, I thought this was an answer to my prayers.  What I was looking for.  I didn’t have to write to anyone and ask for help after all.  Surely, this is what was meant to be.  So, I called my mom yesterday to give her the information.  Here’s what she said to me.  “Well, I’m alright right now.  I’m doing well. I have an appointment with a doctor at the end of the month.  But thanks for thinking of me.  I’ll keep her number just in case.” 

Seriously!!??!!!  After you make me feel like it is MY job and responsibility to fix YOUR problems, I find a solution, THIS is what you say to me??!?  So now, I’m back to my frustrated state.  I’m mad at her for putting me through this constant whirl wind of emotions.  I’m mad at myself for giving in again and feeling like it’s my job to fix her.  I’m mad at her for not wanting to do anything about it herself.  I just don’t know what to do.  And at this point, I’m sure I’ll just go back to trying to distance myself from the situation as much as I can again.  I don’t even really know WHAT I’m looking for in sharing this.  Maybe affirmation that I’m doing what I need to be doing, which is taking care of myself and my husband.  Maybe suggestions of what else I should do, or what I should not do.  Maybe just someone else that can say, yes I’ve been there, since no one else in my life seems to understand exactly what this does to me. 

But there it is.  This is what I’ve had weighing on my mind lately.  And I’m open to all comments, suggestions, ideas and thoughts.  Thank you for reading and anything you have to share with me.


  1. My heart breaks for you and your family in this situation. First of all, you need to take care of yourself and your husband. It sounds like your mom knows she has a problem but may be afraid to get help because she knows she will have to let all of that stuff go. She seems to want the help but is probably just scared. Maybe she will come around but like I said before, first and foremost, you have to watch out for you and your husband. I've never been in this situation so I have no advice from that standpoint. It sounds like this is probably going to be a never ending battle that if you allow to consume you, it is going to drive you batty. Hang in there, seek God's wisdom and guidance, and I will be thinking and praying for you and this situation.

  2. Bridgette, I'm so sorry that you've been put in the middle like this. I can feel how much you want to help, but it's important to remember that you can't make a person seek help unless they want to help themselves. You can bring all the resources to her door, but if she's just not there they will do no good. I grew up with an alcoholic father and a codependent mother who has stayed with my father despite him being unfaithful and I've learned to just step away. Someone once told me that I am only responsible for my happiness and my children's happiness and that's it. In the same spirit, I remind you that you are ONLY responsible for yourself.

  3. I am surrounded by addicts. Some with addictions to pills, some with addictions to alcohol. Some with both. Truthfully, an addict is an addict. Addiction is something that literally runs through their veins. What you need to know, and what will be hardest to believe and cope with, is that an addict is manipulative by nature. I don't even know if they consciously know they are doing it. By asking for help, and telling you that you can get her help, is her manipulating her. It is putting the blame on your shoulders. All you can do is love them. Sometimes from a far like your brother needs to. You can't help her. She can only help herself. You have to decide if being in contact with her is the best decision for you and your family. I won't put any details of my story and the people I love here, but if you want to talk privately please feel free to send an email (I am a MLFC gal). Loving someone who hurts themselves is the hardest thing I have ever done. Take care of yourself and know that you are a GOOD DAUGHTER, but she will only stop when she hits rock bottom.

  4. I am so sorry that your going through this. Maybe she needs to see a psychologist?? Maybe there is a reason why she drinks??

  5. I grew up with an alcoholic father. He doesn't drink any longer. I still have lingering effects from it and I feel so defective because he seems to be fine now but I feel I am defective from it. I know that it affects you and your brother. I feel for you. I am proud of you both for doing your best and becoming successful adults. I am also "cold" in a way that I hide my feelings and don't talk about my problems. You and I both know your brother has strong feelings. He just takes care of himself the best way he knows. I'm sorry your mom feels she does not need help. I hope that you are able to be happy and healthy and know you are a wonderful person for trying.

  6. I dont have anything helpful to say except I am sorry that you are in this position and it isnt fair. And I am always availble if you need to vent.

  7. I don't really know what to say but such a weight is on your shoulders when it shouldn't be!! thinking of you heaps xx

  8. When i was growing up, my mom drank, and did any number of drugs. She failed me when I needed her. She failed my sister, and my brother. She saw it happening. She knew she needed to make the change. She was in and out of rehab several times. She tried again and a again to quit, only to go back to it. She managed to kick the drugs, but thought it was totally normal to drive around with several giant bottles of booze in her trunk and a water bottle constantly full of it to drink, while she drove, while she worked, all day, every day. There was not a single person in the world who could help her, besides her. She would make attempts at getting clean, only to fail and accept that she would never get over it. On the day of my brothers 10th birthday, my mom got pulled over, and arrested. She spent a little time in jail. Miracle of miracles, that was exactly what was needed. She came out of jail clean, and has never taken another sip of any alcohol. My little brother is now 22 years old. For the last 12 years, we have had a mom. She is an amazing woman. She is a wonderful mother. Bottom line, just like with weight loss, your mom needs an "a-ha" moment. For my mom it was the terror of being arrested and put in jail. There is not a single thing in the world you can do to create that change for your mom. She absolutely must get there on her own. I am so sorry that you are suffering. Feeling responsible for her will only be detrimental to your own life. Let your mom know where you stand on the subject, and then let it go. I am so sorry.