Sunday, 8 July 2007


Right, I have to let you know, before I start that this is my place to work things out sometimes. Today is a day like that. I am not sure if I have been the most hideous daughter a woman could want, or just very honest. Maybe sometimes honesty is not the best policy.
Ok, here goes.
For as long as I can remember its been a family joke that there was never a photo of my mum without her holding a cigarette and a glass of Scotch. As I grew older I began to realise that this was not actually a joke. Actually it was quite serious.Stuff has happened in our family that I won't go into here, but more and more I was aware of her drinking especially.
A few years ago we went on holiday with my mum and over the 2 weeks we were away she drank ( together with the wine that we all drank ) 2 litres of scotch. That seemed like a lot for 1 person to drink and when we got home I contacted Al-Anon the organisation for families of alcoholics. They said that basically there was nothing I could do. It was her life, her decision to do something if she thought she had a problem.

That was a shock. I thought they might come to the rescue. But, no. And to be honest the more I thought about it the more I realised they were right. One day, in the morning so she was sober I talked to her. I said that I needed to be honest with her and I told her that I was worried. I said I was sorry for upsetting her, but that I couldn't live with myself if I just stood by and saw her getting worse without trying to help.

Basically I was told to mind my own business. There was no problem. She was very angry and I said I would never raise the issue again. Until today.

We spent the day together. It was lovely, apart from her drinking. She drank steadily all day. Red wine and scotch. Her old friend had been there for the weekend and confided in me that the night before they had gone out to eat and my mum had been a nightmare. Slurring, forgetting what she'd ordered and shouting about not being allowed to smoke in the restaurant. The day went on and I tried hard to ignore everything. When we got back home there was a message from her wanting to talk about an ongoing problem between my sister and my brother. Its something that's been going on for ages, we all know about it and consider it their problem. They are adults. It will be resolved. All of a sudden my mum is in tears " Is there a problem in my family ? "
I just snapped. I didn't shout, but I did say what I thought. And that was that she knew full well what the problem was and I wasn't prepared to discuss it when she had obviously been drinking. " I have not been drinking !" Yes, you have. You have been drinking all day, just like every other day and I'm sick of it. You have a problem which you need to sort out. You need to look at how much you drink and realise that it is not normal. I am sorry to be so blunt, but I cannot sit here and pretend that everything is alright. I said I would never speak to you about this again, but I have to. You have a problem and you are the only one who can do anything about it.
"Well, you should have a look at yourself ! "
Mummy, I know full well that I am not perfect, but I don't have a drink problem and you do. You drink every day. Wine and Scotch.
"This conversation is over. Goodbye. "
More was said but this was the gist of it.

And that was an hour ago. Part of me is glad that I was honest and said to her face what most people say behind her back. Part of me is appalled that I have hurt my mum. This is a place I can come to put down my thoughts. There are times as an adult when you feel quite lost and I am gutted that we have come to this.


Farm Wife said...

Oh, sweetie, I am so sorry things had to come to a head like that. You can't beat yourself up over it. If your mum has a problem & you let it go, you'd feel even worse than you do now. I hope & pray she'll see the damage her drinking is doing & get help. In the meantime, Al-anon may be able to help you deal with what you're going through. Many places have groups to help the families of people with drinking problems.

You and your family are in my prayers.

Dr Tim said...

You've done quite a brave thing. Hard to make loved ones face cold and hard fact.

Wishing you the best.

Dr. T

Anonymous said...

I dated a guy who was in AA, and had been recovering from alcoholism for a few years. His mentor, also a friend of mine, has been recovering for 25 years. I remember speaking at length with them about how that disease impacts family members who watch, and what it's like when the alcoholic doesn't see their problem. Some of the things they shared with me opened my eyes to things inside my own family. One of my relatives was an alcoholic, and though I never knew that person, they impacted my childhood and young adult years significantly because of how the rest of their family learned to cope and communicate.

I know you may be tempted to beat yourself up over calling your mom out on this. But don't. You may have been the saving voice she needed, even if she hasn't yet listened. Stay strong; know you did the right thing; and know that your blog readers aer proud of you for having the courage to say something so difficult. And, if in the future you need your own support/understanding for the impact your mom's problem has had on you and your family, I highly recommend Al-Anon. It's for friends and family of alcoholics. Some of their written resources are pretty encouraging. But that's just my opinion and experience. You may find your strength and encouragement from other sources.

Even though I'm staying anonymous on this comment (to protect my family), please know that I think you are gutsy and courageous, and beautifully wise.

Sarah said...

I just want to say that I am very moved by your comments. It is a wonderful thing that strangers can pass by my blog and touch my life. I write, so often, to clear my head of "stuff" and I am amazed that people read what I say, never mind take the time to leave such kind comments. I want you to know that you help me immeasurably. I take on board what you say, wipe away my tears and feel stronger for your kindness. Thank You All. Sarah x

trixie stix said...

Bravely done. Family dynamics are tough enough without the outside influence of alcohol. Know that you did the right thing and take comfort in the fact that you are the strong one who she may thank one day.