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It really has been over a year now, and my mother is still sober.  I no longer worry about her when she goes out, and the thoughts of whether she’s hiding vodka in her bathroom cabinet no longer haunt me.

I know that doesn’t mean there couldn’t be a relapse, but we’ve talked about the situation now.  If I saw warning signs start coming up again, I would no longer hesitate to speak up before something happened.

We’ve also moved to another state, which has taken us far away from any old negative influences.  That means I don’t have to worry about Jack somehow creeping back in, either.  All in all, I have to confess that a lot of stress has been lifted off my shoulders, and I’m thankful for it…and proud of Mom for remaining so strong.

Relief

I realize it’s been quite some time since I’ve posted here.  That’s a big problem of mine:  once the thing that’s stressing me out is taken away, I no longer turn to things like this blog, or the Al-Anon meetings.  But back to that in a bit.

It has now been 2 months that my mother has been completely sober.  After that last trip to the hospital, she went back on anti-depressants and says she hasn’t even wanted alcohol since then.  Her behavior is no longer erratic, she doesn’t go into those mood swings she always used to have, and in general she’s just gone back to being a functional human being.

I can’t express to you how thinking about this makes me feel, but I’m sure you already understand.

Of course, I know this isn’t the end.  Alcoholism is a disease, and it’s not something a person can just cure and never go back to.  It’s only been 2 months, which in some ways seems like such a long time, but in others seems like hardly any time at all.  Every time she takes the car to do laundry or go shopping, there’s a part of me that worries she’s run over to the bar.  When she visits her friend, I wonder if they’re hanging out at her house or at a bar somewhere.  And I’ve told Mom that I worry about that, and she says she understands.

The difference in every aspect of her being is just amazing.  A few months ago, she looked like an feeble old woman hobbling around, with arms and legs that looked more like sticks.  Now she’s back to being vibrant and kind and I feel so blessed that she made it through.

Unfortunately, I guess her ex-boyfriend isn’t doing so well.  She realized that being around him was toxic to her, thank goodness, and left him, but he’s still drinking himself to death.  He’s allowing himself to be used by people who call themselves friends, including letting someone borrow his car…which was then broken into.  A few things, including his GPS, were stolen from it.

It’s not the loss of the items themselves that upsets me, it’s just what they represent.  I don’t know how to explain it, but I guess they just represent his vulnerability, in my mind.  He’s become such a feeble creature that the vultures have already started to circle and swoop in, and I do feel a bit heartbroken over it.  I guess that means I still have a few shreds of humanity left, under all this bitterness, if I can feel sorrow for a man who’s been such a jerk over the years.  It’s just…this is not the way for anyone to go.  I’ve said it before, but it really does feel like some kind of terminal illness, like cancer or Alzheimer’s where the person is just slowly and painfully fading away…except they have the power to stop this from happening, and they can’t see that.

Yet again, I feel so blessed that my mother straightened up on her own.  I have no idea how she did it or what inspired her to, but in the long run I guess that doesn’t matter.  I just pray every day that she’ll keep it up, and if it means that I have to buy the medication myself to keep her on it, I will happily do it.

As far as Al-Anon goes, I know it’s not the sort of thing you’re only supposed to go to when you’re down.  This is a…well, if not a lifelong process, it’s certainly something you’re probably supposed to stick with long-term.  The idea behind it is to teach coping skills, and two meetings are certainly not enough time to learn those!  There’s a lot of issues bubbling under the surface that I need to learn to deal with, but somehow I’m able to just push them all away and ignore them until something major happens and I fall apart.  That’s a whole other journal’s worth of stories, though, so I will end things here.

I don’t mean to make this sound like an ending to this journal, but thank you SO much to everyone who’s supported me through this.  Even though you weren’t able to be here with me physically, your words and your thoughts and your prayers have meant so much.  I love you.  ❤

Anger

I guess I should have known that the relieved ‘high’ of my last entry wouldn’t last very long.

Sunday night, my mother was just…I’m not even sure what word to use.  ‘Crazy’ doesn’t seem to fit, because she wasn’t manic or anything like that.  She’s just not firing on all cylinders.  For the past several days, I haven’t been able to make any noise at all because if I did–like when my bottle of shampoo fell off the ledge and into the bathtub–she would immediately be all panicked and asking if I was alright.  It wasn’t a normal reaction; it was a gross overreaction.  Sometime Sunday evening, out of nowhere she came to my room and asked if I was okay, and then just began sobbing and saying she was having a panic attack.

I just let her walk away and didn’t say a word.  By this point, I’m so full of anger that she probably could have begun cutting herself and I might not have done much more than call the police and go back to my room.

As usual of late, I didn’t actually wind down to sleep until after midnight.  I usually get to bed around 10, but my brain is so active and panicked these days that I can’t seem to quiet it down.  I keep my bedroom door locked–mainly a habit of living alone, but also because I don’t trust my mother not to randomly barge in during the night.  My fears were not unfounded: as I was settling down, she abruptly opened my door and just stood there in the doorway.  She mumbled something about a panic attack and wanting to make sure I was there…and then she proceeded to shuffle in and pat up and down my leg repeatedly.  It was as though she couldn’t be sure I wasn’t just a hologram.

I snapped at her several times to go back to bed, and she didn’t even respond.  She just kept patting me to make sure I was there.  At last, I slapped her away.  “GO TO BED!!!” I shouted, to which she gave a delayed-yet-piteous “I know you hate me” and shuffled back out.

It wasn’t until afterward that I realized I had locked my door after all.  Mom had just taken down one of the little silver keys our landlord placed above each door and unlocked the damn thing.  No knocking, nothing–she just invaded my privacy like it was nothing at all.  I honestly believed I might finally give myself a heart attack, with the way it was beating so furiously.  It took me another half hour or more to get to sleep after that, and even then I had to pile things in front of my door to be sure she wouldn’t come back in again.

Somewhere in the night, she must have gone back into one of her manic rages, because I awoke to yet another of her stupid notes telling me I couldn’t use “her” car (oh, you mean the one I’ve been paying the upkeep on?).  Luckily, about twenty minutes later she told me she needed to go to the ER, and thereby forgot everything she’d said before.  She’d whimsically decided to detox herself over the weekend, and her hands were shaking uncontrollably and she was nauseated and all that good stuff.

I would have gladly stopped at the curb and pushed her out the door, but naturally I went in with her instead.  The woman I talked to at the front desk has a husband who’s an alcoholic, and it struck me yet again how odd it is–and terribly, terribly sad–that once you open up about something like this, you suddenly find out how many others are also suffering from a similar situation.

The doctors supposedly “evaluated” her and deemed her mentally competent enough to leave, despite my having called yesterday to say that I believe she’s a danger to herself and possibly to me (because if she can now unlock my bedroom door and enter unasked, I don’t trust her anymore).  I wasn’t aware a human being could hold this much anger and still be able to function.  The fact that I haven’t committed some type of violent act is a testament to my fear of the law, because I dream of it daily.

And while I’m at it, I’m going to confess one other awful thing: I wish she would just die and get it over with.  Sure, I’d regret it later, but honestly?  Just die.  It’ll make things easier for everyone.  At least I can mourn a death and gradually move on; I can’t mourn her various mental illnesses and move on because they just keep going.

Even my damn dog is starting to show signs of stress.  Most people wouldn’t think an animal could be affected like this, but for the past couple of days she’s been showing physical symptoms (that I won’t get into here).  She just got better today, and of course now my useless, mentally-incompetent mother is back home so they’ll probably start right back up again.

I hate this.  I hate being in this situation, and I hate her, and I hate that I can’t decide how I want to make my escape.  At times like this, I just hate life in general.  And you too, God.  You’re pretty shitty, too, and not just for what’s going on with me.  There.  That feels better.

My mother, who’d come home last night and was still here tonight when I came home, decided she wanted to have a “serious talk.”

Oh good lord, I thought, this is going to be more inanity and I’m going to have to figure out a way to sit through it without telling her she’s being stupid or doing something that will put her in a mood again.

Instead, she handed me a piece of paper with a phone number and the word “Rehab” under it.  She said she’d called all sorts of numbers today, and this place, apparently, she doesn’t have to pay for (I looked it up just now, and it’s one of those “you may be eligible” sorts of things, not guaranteed).

I’m not going to go into everything that was said, and I doubt I probably need to.  I’m just shocked that she not only admitted her problem out loud, but took steps to seek help for it.

Not for a minute do I believe this is the end.  There is no magic solution for any of our major problems in life, though goodness knows those scientists are doing their damnedest.  The only thing I’m focusing on at the present moment is that she admitted to it.  That’s a big step in itself, but honestly–being selfish for a moment–it’s another one of those relieving moments for me.  Something I said to her must have actually sunk in, and I certainly believed that nothing I did or said would have an effect on her.

The only thing that put me back into an irritated state of mind was her telling me that I “had” to help her, and that I “could not allow” her to drink again, once she started this.  That’s not my job, and I told her as much.  “You’re the one who has to do this,” I replied.  “I can’t do anything unless you’re willing to help yourself.”

I don’t think she has the slightest idea how much work is in store for her.  I feel bad that I don’t have much faith in her ability to succeed, though of course I hope she does.  She tried to quit smoking once, years and years ago with Dad, and while he was able to stop, she just didn’t have the willpower to do so.  I’ve seen her buy gum or patches every so often since then, but I’m pretty sure they go unused.  She always has an excuse: the cigarettes calm her stress, and the doctors say her lungs sound great so what’s the big deal?  It’s not my business, so I don’t press her.  Still, her attitude toward that is probably the same attitude she’ll have toward alcohol.  “I’m so depressed, I’m so stressed, the alcohol helps me sleep.”

I did very well tonight and didn’t remind her that my life hasn’t been so great either, that I’ve had my own heap of stresses to deal with and that she didn’t see me getting drunk every day to cope with it.  I just kept my mouth shut, waited for her to say she was done with her end of the conversation, and simply told her that I was glad she’d done this.

Now, apparently, I have to be the one to call the rehab center.  She says that if I call, that means she won’t be able to leave.  I don’t know the truth of that, but then I’ve never had to do this before, either.

The Big Guy

One of the draws of Al-Anon, so I heard tonight, is the fact that in the Twelve Steps, it mentions “God as we understand him.”  There’s another line somewhere about a higher power, but the point is that these steps try to make it as open to all faiths as possible.  The main thing is that there IS some higher power, and we’re supposed to give our troubles up to it.

Something like that, anyway.

Problem is–and maybe it’s just this particular group of people–there really isn’t any “as we understand him” to it.  Everyone’s talking about the Christian God…and I suppose that’s probably because Christianity is the mainstream religion, but even in discussing it tonight, this one woman was like “I know a lot of newcomers have an issue with the ‘giving it up to God’ part … sometimes I hear people laugh because someone’s talking about their higher power being a tree or some weird shi–”

She cut herself off, but that’s a pretty perfect example of my thoughts toward this.  It really DOES lean more toward the Christian God than any other higher power one might believe in.

Here’s where I feel like I need to censor myself, because I have a lot of friends who are devout Christians, and the part of me that seeks approval from everyone is afraid of them looking down on me for considering that a negative thing–or worse, feeling some sort of condescending pity for the poor lost lamb.  I can’t tell you that I’m not Christian.  I would be more willing to say that I’m spiritual, but not religious.  I’ve warred with the whole idea of that one God for years, and right now I guess it’s understandable that I’d be wavering a bit in my faith (whatever that faith happened to be).

In that thread of thought, the idea of “giving ‘it’ up to God,” there was a woman tonight who spoke of powerlessness and at first I thought she was using it negatively.  After a few moments, however, I realized she was implying that we should be powerless, that that’s pretty much the goal because we’re supposed to be giving everything to God.

There is a sentiment I will never be able to agree with.  The idea that we’re all supposed to just go about, heads down and leave everything in our lives up to some greater power that may or may not exist…What kind of purpose does that give our lives?  It’s hard enough for me sometimes when I think about how our lives consist of nothing but workingworkingworking like little ants, then getting old and dying.  There’s no point to it, there’s no purpose to any of it, and that is really fucking depressing…especially given that none of us actually knows if there’s anything to come after we die.  But to just give up and accept powerlessness?

It could very well be that I’ve entirely missed the point, or at the least, it could be that the woman wasn’t any good at articulating her thoughts.  I just don’t like thinking of myself as some poor hapless Sim that God has queued up and ready to go.  I think there are some situations in which you finally need to step back and say “You know what?  I’ve done what I can, it’s up to [insert deity here] now,” but I wouldn’t say we should be like that in every aspect of our lives.  Hell, if that was the case I could just throw up my hands and say “Okay, God, I give up on this apartment-hunting thing.  It’s up to you to find me something.”

Anyway.  I’m sure I probably do have it all wrong, and it will be pointed out to me later!  Tonight was overall a good night, in that I didn’t feel the urge to cry even once, and one of the other women kind of befriended me and chatted with me a bit on the way into the church.  There was a girl there, whose first meeting had–like mine–been last week, and I so wanted to approach her after the meeting to talk.  She’s young, I think, somewhere in her 20s, and when she tried talking tonight she just started crying.  Her boyfriend, she said, had just signed himself out of rehab.  She just looked like such a kindred spirit, and I’d hoped to at least catch her gaze on my way out tonight so I’d have an excuse to come up and be like “Hey” (you know, being the articulate soul that I am).  Unfortunately, she didn’t look over as I passed and I’m too shy to just approach people out of the blue.

I feel so dumb just walking straight out after the meeting’s done.  Everyone else congregates in little groups, because they’ve known each other for awhile, and I’m the awkward shy kid who keeps her head down and trundles out of the building.  It was like that when I used to attend a class at the gym, too, and there’s such a feeling of frustration, of wishing that I was confident enough to walk up to people and know exactly how to do the smalltalk thing.  Instead, I wish that the other people take notice of me and stop me to chat, which is not the best way to go about things.

Instead, I just have to wait until I’ve gotten to know everyone enough to feel a bit braver.  I’m just not so good with patience!

It was brought to my notice today that I’m potentially making things sound like my mother’s issues can all be blamed on my dad.  I’m glad I was told about this, because I was trying really hard not to make it sound like I blamed him, and often times when I’m just venting I don’t necessarily go back to make sure things are worded the way I mean them.  The fact is, once upon a time I probably would have blamed him.  He knows I was angry at him for a long time, so I don’t think this would come as a shock if he knew.  But I grew, and I took another father’s advice to heart when he said “there are always two sides to every story.”  When I was younger, I was too angry to consider the other side.  Now I know both sides, and I realize that having put the blame on my father for so long was wrong of me.

So what I’m trying to say is that in no way do I think he personally started this trend of drinking.  All I was really trying to do was give a timeline of sorts.  I didn’t notice Mom’s behavior alter until after he left.  That he left is a statement of fact, and not a placement of blame.  Whether she blames him is none of my concern.  All I know is that I don’t, and if I ever reference him here, it is merely in a referential way.

That…was very formally written, like an apology letter.  Anyway, I preface today’s post with that, and will now continue by reflecting on things I’ve just learned about her.  They’ve made me think a bit more about her (and my) current situation, and in a way I feel quite relieved by what I discovered.

In a nutshell, the drinking has always been a problem, though never to the extent it’s reached now.  I think what makes me feel the best (in a perverse way) is finding out that this note-writing habit is nothing new.  She used to do the same thing to Dad all the time, and he always did what I do:  he just ignored it (and her) until she’d gotten over her snit and went back to normal.  It sounds really peculiar to say that I’m glad I heard this.  I don’t mean that I’m glad it’s happened, of course, because this is a really crap way to live and it certainly keeps my stress levels much higher than they ought to be.  What I’m glad about is the proof that this has nothing to do with me.

As a kid, I got shielded from all this because Dad didn’t say anything about it, but Mom would always turn to me and act like he was the bad guy.  She does that with her boyfriend now (though I also know him well enough to know he’s a pompous jackass, without her needing to paint any bad pictures for me).  Whenever she’s feeling stir-crazy or antagonistic, she’ll pick a fight with him and then play it like he’s the bad guy.  In those days, Dad was away a lot on business, so he really couldn’t have defended himself even if he wanted to.  It wasn’t until he left that I started becoming the target of her attacks, because she no longer had someone else to pick on.  And it really is a relief knowing that she’s picking on me just because of her own twisted mental processes, and not because there really is something I’ve done wrong.

I’m kind of torn between wishing I’d been told all this at the time, and feeling grateful that I wasn’t.  There’s that obvious question of “Would you have believed me if I told you?” and at first I would have responded that no, I wouldn’t have.  Thing is, as a kid I loved both my parents fervently and unconditionally.  What I think would have actually happened is that, having two stories bouncing around in my head, I would have gotten anxious and upset wondering who had the right of it and what I was supposed to believe, and whether or not I was supposed to pick one parent over the other.  Depending on when I was told, I might’ve been too naive to know what the hell was going on, anyway.  When I was in third grade, my mother mentioned that she and Dad might be getting a divorce and my clever answer was that I’d just chain them together.

I guess, in the end, my conclusion from today’s conversation is that the basic problems have nothing to do with alcohol, but the alcohol is making everything worse.  I just think it’ll be easier to deal with them now that I fully understand I’m not to blame for her anger.  She’s angry at the universe, but I’m all she’s got to yell at.  Not at all fair, but I’ll manage it.

Today was terrible right from the start.  I awoke to a note that read, “I have the car, call if u need me.”  Well that was certainly inconvenient, as I was scheduled to work today.  While imagining myself having to call a cab or beg a friend for a ride, I dialed her phone number and tried very hard not to ask her where her brain was.  She knows I never have Sundays off.

Or at least, she does when she’s sober.

She arrived just as I was taking the dog out, and as I was running late, I asked her if she could possibly feed the dog this morning.  She used to do it all the time, so I didn’t expect her to say no.  But that’s exactly what she said.  So back upstairs I went, not bothering to wait for her because it takes her a good minute or so to hobble her way up to our apartment door.   When she came in, she made some comment like “So glad to be home,” went to her room, and slammed the door.  Not, however, before snapping, “Go away, dog!”

Daisy’s the one thing she doesn’t get irritated at, so I decided it would be a good idea to crate the dog in my room instead of out in the living room.  This would have an added bonus:  Mom doesn’t let her out, so every day I come home to messes I have to clean up…because not only does she not let Daisy out, but she doesn’t clean anything up, either.  This apartment is turning into something you’d see on one of those television shows, and while I’m absolutely disgusted by it, I’m also so angry that I don’t want to do anything about it.  She’s making the mess and she does nothing but sit around all day, so let her do the cleanup.

This plan isn’t working so well.

Anyway, while at work I received yet another message from her.  She and I share the same weakness for face-to-face confrontation, but the difference between us is that she has absolutely no problem leaving nasty notes for whoever happens to be closest.  This message went to the tune of “i know ur just being stupid, don’t worry i’m gone now, u know i would never hurt daisy, shame on u”

At that moment, I would have hired someone to take her out.  Every time she writes another one of her nasty, passive-aggressive notes, I become angrier and angrier, and while usually I’ll write something back that’s as cruel as I can possibly manage it to be (and then throw it away), today I decided I wasn’t putting up with it anymore.  “How about you stop writing your nasty notes,” I wrote back.  “I put her in my room as a favor to YOU, because you were annoyed with her.  Don’t you DARE ever say shame on me.  I’m not the one drinking myself to death.”  I closed by telling her not to write me back, and that if she had anything more to say to me, she could say it to my face “like an adult.”

And then I blocked her number.

Only before I could manage to do that, she got in the last word, which was simply “Ha.”  Whether or not she continued (she’s an abominably slow texter), I’ll never know; but being the way she is, she left yet another note for me when I got home.  This one was set in front of her door, and said “Drunk room!  Stay out!  Got it”

Yes, folks.  This is my mother.  Perpetually settled in the land of 14-year old girls.

I hate this feeling of anger that’s coursing through me right now, this desperate need to just do something violent.  I want to hit something, but I don’t just want to hit a pillow–I want it to connect with someone’s face.  And I want to scream, dear God do I want to simply let loose with something loud and shrill and grating.  I want to shout out how much I hate my mother in this moment, how worthless and useless I think she’s become and how much I’d love to just hit her until the anger subsided.

STOP TAKING YOUR ISSUES OUT ON ME!!!

How do others even cope with nonsense like this?  I know people don’t have to be drunk in order to behave like petulant, ill-mannered little children, and I know there are tons of people out there who are in my shoes right now.  Assuming they don’t have the freedom to pick up and move, how do they deal with this kind of frustration?  I’ve repeated to myself all day long that this doesn’t actually have anything to do with me, that most likely she’s just so frustrated with her lot in life, her inability to function the way she should, that she’s just lashing out at whoever’s closest.

Problem is, this is how she’s behaved ever since I was old enough to really get in her line of sight, and I am so sick of it.  I don’t care if she’s got the shortest straw God ever handed out, that gives her no right to treat me the way that she has.

And yet I’m still here, despite wanting to move out and despite having a couple of options to do so.  I don’t have to take her shit.  I could pack up and sell all my things and be out of here in a month, and then watch her flounder in a mess of her own making.  But I can’t do that, not only because it’d make me a terrible person, but because the idea of leaving her while she’s so damn vulnerable upsets me, too.

Ever since Dad left, I’ve been afraid to leave her alone.  She has no one to turn to–no one she can actually trust, anyway–and if I leave her as well, what has she got?  I’ve had this feeling for a long time that she’d just sort of collapse in on herself if I left…and granted, she’s sort of doing that now, without my help, but I still worry.  “You need to look out for yourself, first,” I’ve been told by countless people.  The logical part of my brain knows that to be true.  But however much she’s angered me, however much I hate her, that stuff seems kind of fleeting.  She needs help.  Whether or not anyone but she can do that helping doesn’t seem to be as much an issue as whether you abandon someone when they’re weak.

I don’t want to be in this position.  I don’t want to be the one forced to help.  I am so angry that I’m THE ONLY person left to help her.  Her boyfriend will take her to the hospital when she’s half-dead, but the rest of the time he’s drinking and manipulating her.  What’s left of her family are all alcoholics in Backwoods, USA who haven’t been up here to see us since I was a baby.  I am quite literally all she’s got, and I fucking hate that that’s the case.  Unfortunately, as we all know, life is never fair.