Writing about my parents’ alcoholism has been incredibly therapeutic. I love sharing with people and I love hearing their stories. What a comfort to know that we aren’t alone. Its been so easy to write my stories because I carry them with me everyday. However, this story is not going to be so easy to write. I have tried to bury it and forget about it. Its something I am incredibly ashamed of and I replay it over in my head wishing I had done something differently. I have had two pretty significant breaking points in my life with my mother’s drinking. When I say breaking points, I mean times when I completely lost control of my emotions and acted out of hate. This is the first of those two breaking points.
My last post (Have You Seen my Mom) was about the time my mother was arrested for drinking and driving. This story is a follow-up. My father was still out of town and I was responsible for watching my mom until he returned. This was one summer break while I was still in college and I had recently had my wisdom teeth out. I was in pain, I was tired, and I was emotionally exhausted after my mom was arrested. This doesn’t justify my behavior but maybe it will help you see things from my perspective.
After my mom was back home, I searched the home for any alcohol. I got rid of anything I could find. I found where my dad had his good liquor stashed and I called friends to give it to them (he was not pleased). I had about 5 days left with her alone though and I couldn’t afford her to go off her rocker. My mom slept most of that day and into the next. I slept on the couch outside her room so when she woke up, I would be ready for her (I was still pretty enabling at this point).
When she finally did wake up, she was mortified. She felt horrible about herself and she was incredibly apologetic. She was moping around the house and full of shame. I had planned on yelling at her. I had a whole speech prepared but I was looking into the eyes of a broken woman and I couldn’t do it. It was heartbreaking and I decided ignoring her would be best for both of us (or so I thought). By mid-afternoon, she was cleaning and taking care of the dog. I decided to take a nap because my mouth was still sore and sleeping on the couch didn’t give me the best night’s rest.
I woke up about two hours later to yelling. I went downstairs and my sister was there holding back tears. I looked at my mom and I could tell she had been drinking. My sister was pissed and demanded my mom tell us where the alcohol was. I was so disappointed in myself because I thought I had found all of it and I failed. My mom was behaving stranger than normal. She looked more high than she did drunk. Its also normal for her not to talk when she’s drunk but she wouldn’t even open her mouth. I told her to open her mouth and she smiled with her lips shut. I grabbed her by the jaw and forced her mouth open, her entire mouth was a minty blue.
She drank mouthwash. My sister and I stood there in shock. That’s some desperate shit right there. My mom walked towards her room quickly to lock us out (The good thing about drunk mom is that she normally leads us straight to the alcohol because she isn’t thinking clearly). I stick my body in the door to keep it from shutting but she continues to try to press it closed. I shove it open and she runs to her bathroom. I cut her off there and see an empty mouthwash bottle and an empty Nyquil bottle. I bring it out and show my sister. She goes back to the kitchen and starts dumping all our medications. This is a new level for my mom. We have never known her to be so desperate to do something like this before. I am in shock and moving around slowly. This is a scarier level of drinking than I am used to handling. We can hear my mom puking in the bathroom and I sit down at the kitchen table. My sister continues to clean and I just sit there in silence.
I know my sister wasn’t blaming me and even if she was, I know that it wasn’t my fault but I still felt guilty. I was in the house. I should have stayed awake when she was feeling that bad about herself. I should have known better. Thoughts of self-hate were pouring throughout my whole body and I felt so angry with myself. Then my mom slowly glided in the room and smiled her sleepy smile. She had the deer in the headlights looked and she just stood there looking down at me. Her eyes were getting heavy and she looked like she was about to fall over. She started patting me on the head. That’s when my anger turned.
This wasn’t my fault. I did not pour the mouthwash and Nyquil down her throat. I did not tell her to drive drunk to the beach. I did not tell my dad to leave even when he knew my mom wasn’t doing well. I did not do anything to cause this. I was not to blame. This sleepy, giant toddler of a mom in front of me was to blame.
I stood up very calmly and walked over to the counter. My moms eyes followed me. She was wavering back and forth unsteadily. My sister advised my mom to sit down. I pulled out a chair for my mom to sit in and she began to sit. Without thinking twice about it…I pulled the chair out from under her. It was almost as if someone else was in control of my body. I still cannot remember what my thought process was at that moment. My mom hit the floor with a thud and looked up at me confused. My sister and I were silent as my mom rubbed her back and struggled to sit up. She reached out to both of us to help her up but we just stood there looking down at her.
My sister eventually looked at me with disbelief and confusion. I stared at my hands with the same expression. Why did I do that? How did that happen? My mom sat on the floor staring at me with sad sleepy eyes. I started to laugh and looked at my sister and she looked at me full of judgment and then looked at my mom and cracked a smile too. In that moment, we had the same thoughts. It was nice not to be the one hurt. It was nice for my mom to feel a little pain. It was nice for me to be the one doing something to her. My mom slowly scrambled to get herself up and looked at me without saying a word. She put her hands on her hips and waltzed off to her room to sleep it off the rest of the night.
My sister sat there waiting for an explanation. All I could come up with was “I don’t know. I just wanted her to fall”. She didn’t say anything and took the garbage bag full of medicine outside. She told me to watch my mom closer the next few days and leaves the house. I cried for about an hour. I hated myself and my mom. My sister and I didn’t ever speak about that incident again. My mom didn’t bring it up either. I truly don’t know if she remembered it or not.
I watched her like a hawk the next four days (enabling). It drove us both insane and by the time my dad got home, she was more anxious than she had ever been. I told my dad everything that happened, except me pulling the chair out from under my mom. He yelled at her and said they were going to be doing things differently. My mom was on eggshells for the next few months and actually stayed sober. It was good but it was followed by another pretty significant relapse because it was us that was keeping her sober. She had no choice in the matter so she didn’t have the strength to stay sober when she got some freedom.
You might be thinking, that’s it? You pulled out the chair from your mom? It could have been worse. You’re right. It could have been worse. After everything my mom put me through, was it really that terrible? The answer is yes. My mom’s drinking put my family through hell. No doubt. But she didn’t drink to hurt us. She didn’t drink to inflict pain on others. She drank because she had a terrible addiction. She struggles with a disease that she may never recover from. What I did, wasn’t due to a disease. I did what I did to intentionally cause her pain. I wanted to see her be hurt. I wanted to be the reason she was hurting. I did what I did out of hate, disrespect, and malice. No matter what my mom has done, she didn’t do those things to me. I did this to her.
If my anonymity is ever compromised and my mom sees this, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wanted to hurt you. I’m sorry I intentionally caused you pain. I’m sorry I wasn’t stronger. This breaking point was good for me though. I saw how much hate was in my heart and I knew I had to make a change with how I was handling it. I wasn’t coping at all at this time in my life. I was just dealing with the aftermath of your drinking. Even though I will always be ashamed of this act, I have learned so much from it. My second breaking point will be shared later on.
We will take a break from my mom in my next few posts. I will talk about how I started to cope outside of my family while I was in college. Some coping skills were healthy and some were not. If you are enjoying my posts, please share my blog with others! My goal is to fight the stigma of what people think addiction looks like, spread a little laughter in the process, and continue to build awareness of the effects of alcoholism in a family.