My mom has never gotten sober and she never will. I have made peace with that but my siblings and dad have not. That’s their problem, most of the year, except when my dad goes out of town…then it is all of our problem. That is the time when my mom hits rock bottom. She goes on a drunk crazy driving spree, she gets arrested, she goes missing, etc. If he is gone more than two days, she takes full advantage of it. I used to be a part of the enabling cycle where we would go and stay with her. I told myself I was protecting her and protecting the community. All I was really doing was enabling the situation. Learn from my mistakes.
It was the summer after my freshman year of college. My parents had just gotten home from a vacation and while they were gone, I had my wisdom teeth taken out. They were on some island south of Florida for a nice long weekend getaway. They got home a day after my procedure. I was hopped up on Percocet’s but still in a lot of pain. My dad was leaving the same afternoon he arrived for his annual trip to see his mother. By the time he was ready to leave, my mom had already been drinking. He had been busy packing and she started sneaking alcohol from somewhere. He left furious and said it was my problem to deal with. I shrug it off because I’m high on pain killers so I don’t really care.
I hear the garage open after a few hours and go downstairs to a very drunk mother packing the car. She informs me she’s going to the beach. I am groggy but still realize this is a bad idea. I try to take the keys from her and she pushes me away. I go to take her stuff from the car and there’s an empty fifth of vodka in the front seat. I throw it at her head and tell her I hope she crashes and dies (subtle I know). My mouth is swollen and sore so I burst into tears and the drool starts pooling out of my mouth. My mom is too drunk to care and gets in the car and drives away. I call my sister and she says there’s nothing to do but wait (the police should have been called).
My sister comes over shortly after and we wait. We call all of my mom’s friends and no one has heard from her. We sit there and I stop taking my pain medication so I can think clearly. My mouth is throbbing but I can’t stand the fuzziness in my brain. Eight hours go by and my sister gets a call from my mother. She got arrested for a DUI. She had been passed out at a stoplight about an hour and a half away. She drove that far and no one was hurt…that’s a freaking miracle. We have a family friend in that county and my sister calls them to bail her out against my wishes that she stay in jail. The friend just happens to be Susan (remember her from the last post).
Susan goes and picks up my mom. My sister informs me that me and my brother will have to get her from Susan the following day. I try to explain to my sister that the pain meds I am on will affect my driving and she says she can’t because of work so there’s no other choice. We call my brother and explain the situation and he says he will come get me in the morning.
That next morning I take half the prescription I am supposed to take so I won’t be too groggy. My mouth is aching and I feel like death but I would rather drive and survive than die trying to help my drunk of a mother. My brother gives his opinions on how to get my mom sober and I ignore him. I tell him I honestly at this point just wish she would die. Things would be a lot easier. He rolls his eyes at my “dramatic response”. We get to her friend’s Susan’s house pretty silently after that.
When she walks out of the house, I could have killed her. If I had a gun, I might have. She was drunk. My brother asks Susan what she had been drinking. Susan said there was no alcohol in the house. I shake my head. She was probably still drunk from the night before. Susan gives us the information for where her car was towed and gives us her legal papers. I open the folder and see her mug shot and even though it hurt my mouth, I laughed…and I laughed hard. My mom’s smiling as hard as she can in her mug shot. I show my brother and he laughs too. My mom had already crawled into the car and was asleep. Susan gives us both a hug and says she praying for us. I try to smile but drool comes out. Classy.
We get to the tow place and pick up her car. My brother has been yelling at my mom in her sleep. I understand his frustration but the yelling is futile. She won’t remember anything. He puts her in her car with me and says he will see me in awhile. He tells me not to call him because he doesn’t want to deal with this the rest of our dad’s trip. I don’t respond and shut the door. Did he think I want to deal with that?
When we get home, my mom sleeps it off and I hide her keys and her wallet. When she finally wakes up the next morning, my mouth is still too sore to yell at her. I choose not to speak to her. We are in silence all day long. She tiptoes around me every few hours and will ask if I need something to drink. I shake my head each time.
Around dinner, she asks if I need anything. I look her straight in the eye and say very calmly, “I need a mom who doesn’t suck so bad. Can you give me that?” She doesn’t say anything and looks down. I am trying to be calm but the tears are falling again. I turn around to head up stairs but pause…”I hate you mom. You’re a bad person”.
I go upstairs and cry myself to sleep. I have five more days until my dad comes home and my sister and brother are counting on me to babysit my mom. I have nowhere else to go and feel too shitty to go anywhere if I could so I have no choice. It was the longest week of my life. I had never told my mom I hated her before. She had done a lot of bad things but I was in pain and I needed my mom to take care of me. Her alcoholism prevented her from that…again. I was devastated but still felt terribly guilty.
My family should have left her in jail. We shouldn’t have taken her wallet away. We shouldn’t have paid her tow bill. We shouldn’t have done any of those things. My dad ended up paying her lawyer fees and her charges were dropped. She could have killed herself or someone else and she still had no consequences. This was the first of many incidents where my mom could have killed someone and had no accountability afterwards.
I have been waiting for a phone call for the past 15 years from the police saying that my mom had died or my mom had killed someone. Every unknown number, every time I can’t get a hold of my mom, every time my dad leaves town…I am just waiting. That phone call may never come. I hope it doesn’t. My mom truly might be the luckiest drunk in the world. But that phone call may come one day and I will hate myself for how much I have enabled her.
I truly believe if 15 years ago, we started holding her accountable and not trying to put this protective bubble around her, she might be sober today. She might have actually been motivated to change if she had some consequences. Coulda, shoulda, woulda. We are where we are now.
I shared this story with you for a few reasons-to destigmatize the disease is always my first reason. People picture alcoholics as minorities, poor, and predominantly male. My mother is none of those things. Alcoholism can affect anyone. My second reason is more needy-I shared this because this story hurts me still to this day and I felt like if I wrote it down and shared it with you, maybe it wouldn’t be mine to hold onto anymore. Thirdly, to press that enabling someone will not help them get sober. Only they can help them get sober.
Thank you for following along with my story! It is so therapeutic to hear from you all. I hope you continue to share your kind words and reach out. Please share this blog with anyone you think might be able to take something from it!