Coming To Terms

Hi. My name is AJ and my mother is an alcoholic.

For as long as I’ve known my mother she has been an addict in some way or another. Before I came along it was heroin. After that it was marijuana. Now it’s alcohol. But when I was little and we first moved to California I remember living in a constant state of fear. For a long time she was a dealer.

And while her supplier was never mean to me, (I remember one time I found this black and white kitten in one of the driveways behind our apartment complex and quickly named him Oreo. But Buster, my big fat gray tabby with eyes the color of grass, did not take a liking to him. So we gave little Oreo to her supplier and he paid me $5 for taking such good care of his new companion.), you knew that he meant business. I know he was a little crazy in the head. I know he took steroids. I know he was a man not to be reckoned with.

At a young age I worried about my mom all the time. I worried that she wouldn’t come home, I worried she’d get arrested. I knew the consequences. But as I got older I started taking more responsibility. Sometimes she’d leave me at a softball game and my coach would take me with him when his family went to dinner at a Chinese restaurant, (it was my first experience with authentic Chinese). Sometimes she’d come home so drunk that I had to undress her and get her into bed. Sometimes she didn’t come home and I’d call every police station and hospital asking if she was arrested or hurt.

I don’t think she ever realized how much anxiety she caused me. Her motto was, “No news is good news”. I could never come to terms with her addictions. One time she was so drunk that she left me at the skating rink. Finally at 2 a.m. I called the police and asked for them to give me a ride home. Another time she refused to pick me up at a friends house. Around midnight I started walking and ended up hitch hiking home.

Then in one year she lost everything. Her supplier. Her business. Her friends. We lost our home and lived in a motel. For some time I had to curl up in the backseat of a Dodge Duster and sleep in the car. And for a while we stayed at her job only after everyone left. Of course, we had to be out of there by 5 a.m. when people started to file in through the doors. Most nights I ate baked potatoes, potatoes are cheap. Sometimes I had noodles. And other times, well, I just didn’t bother to eat.

After Shawn and I met and moved my mother wouldn’t move with me. I gave her the opportunity. The stipulation of not drinking never crossed her mind. She holds a death grip around a tall can of Budweiser.

Two nights ago after taking me to the doctor, for yet another problem, she drank 5 beers and about 3 shots of Southern Comfort that had lingered in our cabinet for months. I tried taking her keys away from her. I begged her to stay. I bribed her with clean laundry, Sweet and Sour chicken, a warm bed and me dying her hair. She resisted. Jem followed her to her car and said she was walking into things. Shawn followed her home, again. Not five minutes after they left he called to tell me to call the sheriffs. She was going 80 on the freeway and swerving in and out of traffic.

The hardest thing I’ve ever had to done. I called the CHP, crying. When they asked me if we knew the person in the car I replied, “It’s my mother”. The police never did catch up to her because she took off in another direction and Shawn couldn’t find her. She left him a voicemail, “I’m home. I’m in the driveway. I’m fine.”

But she’s not fine. You see, I can no longer tolerate the disease that is affecting us all. I have been blamed for her being the way she is. I’ve done this to her. I won’t accept that. So I got to work and took a few sheets of copy paper and began writing. I let my words unfold. I let back no detail of my disappointment and hurt. I placed the blame on her, her behavior, her choices. Ending the letter was the hardest. I have finally said what I’ve always wanted, needed, desired, to say. That as long as she chooses alcohol as her friend, companion, drug of choice, I cannot, and will not, be her daughter. That as long as she must drink herself in a stupor that she is no longer my children’s grandmother. I can no longer be her mother. I need her to be mine.

I have to move on. I have to protect my children. I will never allow her to put the pain and hurt into my children that she has caused me for 28 years. I try to remember the “good” times, but they are veiled by the “bad”. I want a mother so badly that it hurts. A mother that’s happy to make me teddy bear pancakes for breakfast. A mother to help clean my wounds. A mother who reads to me at bedtime. A mother to confide in. Just a mother. I know now that I have to be this kind of mother to my children.

Lastnight I lit some candles. To bring me some peace. To bring me some light in the darkness that shrouds me and suppresses my true self. I hope that she will encounter some light and ask for help. I will be here if she does.



13 thoughts on “Coming To Terms

  1. Hooray for you! You can break the cycle set before you. I pray for your peace during this difficult time. Your children have a good mother!

  2. AJ, I’m so sorry. I know it’s not easy, but you are right to put yourself and your family first. I disowned my father shortly after my mom died, for a different set of reasons although his being an alcoholic contributed, so I can empathize with you to some degree. You’ll be in my thoughts 🙂

  3. thinking of you as you express your courage and your hope by writing that letter and taking this step. wishing you peace and all good

  4. What a courageous, loving daughter you are. You’ve made the best choice for you, your children and your mother. May you be comforted by peace and love — and encouraged by all of the good things in your life.

    Thinking of you,

  5. Can’t find your new phone number…think a grocery list got printed on the back! 😦 Our grandmother died last Sunday and the funeral is Friday, so I won’t be at the SnB. Call me Saturday if you are going to meet somewhere, or just because I need you to give me your new digits…again! Looks like we’ve both had the week from hell and need a good talk/cry…you did the right thing, by the way! It sucks that doing the right thing doesn’t always feel so right, but it is…keep reminding yourself of that fact. Talk soon…Jody

  6. You are not to blame – ever!!!! I’m so sorry that you’ve had to be the mother all your life. You are definitely doing the right thing. You have your own family and own life and you must take care of you!!

  7. Wow, AJ. This is really touching. I’m so glad that you are in a place where you realize that these things are not your fault. You seem to be a wonderful mother with the right priorities. Your children are blessed to have you.

  8. As a Adult Child of an Alcoholic… I do understand your pain. I like you put distance between my mother and myself for years. My moms choice of drink was Miller Lite. I remember the day my brother set the house on fire because he was made at her. I didn’t live at home then as I had grown up and moved out. I had stopped by moms after work. The young kids said she went to get some food. I asked how long had she been gone. 2 days was what they said. I was up stairs talking to my youngest sister about the death of kitten that she loved so much. When I smelled smoke… I ran to the basement door and opened it… smoke came swelling up around me. I yelled at my youngest sister to grab her shoes, hat, coat, and flute and run outside as the house was on fire. I stopped long enough to call 911. I raced to the basement.. there lay my brother unconscious on the bed. I grabbed him up and sort of slung him over my shoulder up the stairs we went. Of course the cops and the fire dept came. When the police asked where my mom was all I could say … I think she is either at this bar or that bar. So they took me to go look for her. We found her and she was so drunk she started hitting me and yelling at us to leave her alone. I told her she had to come…. Anyway to wrap up this long story my brother and I both had to be treated at the hosipital for smoke inhalation. Then he went to jail for setting the house on fire… it was just a few years after that … that we did not speak. It took several years of her being sober (12 Yrs) before I would speak to her again. It was due to health issues that got us speaking again. She has had some serious bouts with cancer. I am very thankful for the chance to know her again. I would not have been able to live with myself… if I could not have made peace between her and I, if something would have happened to her. But I will tell you if she never got sober.. I would not have a relationship with her now. So I do understand your pain.. and I pat you on the back to be able to say enough is enough… You go Girl!!!!

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