What is Normal?


When you love someone struggling with addiction, nothing is normal. The old “normal” you used to feel, never truly comes back. There will always be that fear that the current calm will be disrupted by chaos and pain. If anything, the waiting is worse.

My mom is behaving “normally” right now. She has gone a few weeks sober and I am terrified about the crash that is soon to follow. I love her and I hope she does better but I also know her. When she goes this long without drinking, the crash is typically pretty big.

For example, my mom worked really hard to be sober for my wedding. After she had been uninvited to an engagement party and a shower because of her drinking, she vowed that she would not mess up her daughter and future son-in-law’s special day. Sounds super…Everyone was on edge.

I was so excited to be getting married though and I tried to make our wedding about us. I found a wonderful man and our wedding was going to be everything we ever dreamed. There was just this one tiny concern that drunk mom would show up and kill the party. I wasn’t the only one concerned. My husband, my family, my in-laws, and anyone who knew what was going on was worried. Everyone had back up plans, excuses ready, and plans of escape. Because on your wedding day, it isn’t the time to address the addiction. It is supposed to be about the bride and groom. At some points, I felt like everyone was more focused on keeping my mom sober than they were our wedding but in the end it worked. She did not drink that entire weekend.

Our wedding was perfect. It was extravagant, it was beautiful, and it was all about my husband and I. We couldn’t have been happier. My family looked normal. Shoot, we looked better than normal! We looked awesome. The weekend went by flaw-free. I am truly grateful that my mom fought so hard to be sober for that weekend but we knew what was coming afterwards. She had gone weeks without drinking up until that point and the fall was going to be big. And BOY was it big.

After returning from our honeymoon, my dad started leaving hints that she had been drinking again. She ended up getting arrested a few weeks later for a DUI. It was in the paper the week after my wedding announcement was. Score! Looking good in our hometown. We thought that maybe that would shake her out of her downfall but it didn’t. She continued to drink.

My dad had to go out of town for work and while he was gone, my mom got drunk before she went to work and passed out at her desk. One of her coworkers had to contact my sister and I to come and get her. She continued to spiral downwards and we all were just standing by waiting for it to end. This wasn’t stressful though. This was our norm.

After a few more months of these epic relapses, my mom started to fight to get sober. That brings you up to today. She is sober today. She has been sober a few weeks. It is terrifying. I cringe every time I get a phone call from someone in the family or from an unknown number. I panic when she doesn’t return my texts or my calls. My stress is ten times worse than it is when she is full blown drinking. Expecting the unexpected is so unsettling.

What’s worse is, my mom can feel our anxiety. Of course we want her to do well but we also have to be realistic. That of course doesn’t instill a lot of confidence in her. It puts her on edge too. She tries to go out of her way to prove her sobriety. The pressure ends up pushing her over and a phone call from the police, the neighbors, or her coworker is just around the corner. Its a fun cycle.

My friends hate my perspective during this stage and I hate their perspective. They will ask how she is doing and I will say she has been sober for a few weeks. They will say “that’s awesome”, “congrats”, “I knew she could do it” and I just want to hit them. It’s not their fault. They are happy she is having a good spell. Nothing wrong with that. I however feel so wound up that if someone bumped into me on the street I may burst into flames. I am holding my breath and walking on eggshells. The unknown is suffocating.

So what is normal? My mom binge drinking is sort of normal because its what we are used to but definitely not healthy. Society’s “normal”…where we are all functioning as healthy, productive adults is exhausting because we are all just waiting for the tip of the iceberg. Do we get to have a normal feeling again? Will she ever be sober long enough that we aren’t holding our breath? I don’t know. I hope I get the answer one day though. I do know that I will always love her. Sober or not sober she is my mom and I want the best for her. I also want to kick her.

I wrote this post because I was feeling overwhelmed with keeping these thoughts to myself. I hope that you read this or share this so understanding can be spread about how emotionally straining it is to love someone struggling with addiction, even in the good times. Thanks for reading! Subscribe if you’d like to read more in the future.

-Grumpy Sunshine



5 Replies to “What is Normal?”

  1. Thank you for sharing this. I am currently going through the same with my sister, seems the other shoe dropped this week. Trying to let her go and take responsibility.

    1. It is hard to step back. Remember that you aren’t responsible for their sobriety. Don’t forget to take care of yourself!

  2. I continue to keep you and your family in my prayers.

  3. Another post in which you tap into my inner most dialogue. The one I’ve only been honest with myself abut recently. My future wedding (I am currently) engaged is going to be a huge test. We plan to do a destination one in Portugal because it’s what my fiance and I want. And I know full well my mom wouldn’t travel 2 hours for my wedding, so who cars if it’s across the Atlantic. She won’t be happy that it’s not in my hometown – where I haven’t lived in over a decade. I’m facing her to tell her of our plan when I’m visiting in November, my first visit since our Christmas blow out that I’m still rattled from. At the end of the day I have a great support system, a great counselor, and community with ACA.

    1. The holidays are very hard so I wish you the best of luck. Remember to take care of yourself and I am so glad to hear that you are doing the wedding you want! Having a wonderful support system really makes the difference. Thanks so much for reading! I hope you keep me updated on how things go.

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