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…Unexpected.

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.

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Queen of Notes

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.

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It’s not me, it’s you.

Already I’m forgetting the ‘expectations’ thing, despite the fact that I’ve been murmuring about it to myself for the past couple days.  It hasn’t just been in regard to my mother, either:  today while driving home, as some little blonde in her cutesy VW Cabrio cut me off, I tried reminding myself that people drive like idiots (and so I really, really need to stop getting so steamed when they do this stuff!).

But then I arrived home and Mom actually seemed coherent.  There was still a bit of that feverish craziness in her eyes, the sign that were she engaged in conversation longer than a few words, I’d quickly become annoyed with her again.  Briefly, I flashed back to the talk I had with God last night…and by ‘talk,’ I mean it went something like, “Fucking do your job, you piece of shit deity, we’re not your own personal Sims game, so stop fucking around with us!”

God gets insulted all the time by disgruntled mortals, so I know my little before-bed rant did absolutely nothing to motivate Him.  Still, there were those few brief seconds where I allowed myself to think I was awesome enough to cow him.  (Maybe not really.)

I still couldn’t lift my gaze to look at her straight-on, though.  When I did accidentally glimpse her face, the worn, weathered skin looked bruised around her eyes.  She shambled out the door to get food, and while I shouldn’t have allowed her to drive, I was too hopeful from the idea of her eating to care.

Besides that, as I’ve already mentioned, I’m a coward.  And it’s her car anyway.

Then tonight I was cleaning the cats’ litterbox, and some noise must have startled her because she bolted out of her bedroom asking if I was alright.  That’s about as alert as I’ve seen her since well before she went into the hospital.  Again, I could still tell she wasn’t 100% sober, but it was a lot more sober than she’s been in past weeks.  I guess my thought at that point was “This isn’t a great place to be, but I’d rather her where she is right now than where she has been.  If she could just stay like this for a bit and work up from there…”

My dog trotted out to greet her, and Mom cooed, “Grandma needs some time alone!  Yes she does, Grandma just – needs – time – alone!”

It was said just loudly enough to be one of those passive-aggressive “I’m going to pretend I don’t think you can hear me, but I actually know you can and hope you’re listening to me” statements.  I don’t know if it was, but I also don’t know why she’d hang just out of sight of the room I was in and say something like that, either.  She needs time alone?

Allow me to explain here that for the past several years, she’s basically had two residences:  her apartment, and her boyfriend’s apartment.  99% of the time, she stays with him.  Then she becomes annoyed with him, picks a fight, and retreats to the apartment for a couple of days.  I guess she just can’t stand to be cooped up with one person for a long period of time.

So right now, I guess she’s just mad that she doesn’t have a third residence she can go to and be alone.  I’m not entirely sure how she can’t feel like she’s living alone now, however, considering I keep myself locked in my room most of the time.  I’m like the Invisible Roommate.

Anyway, she apologized to me for the second time for panicking, and I admit there was a bit of exasperation in my voice when I called back, “It’s fine!”  If there was more than a touch, then I need to work on how I modulate my tone, because she started muttering angrily and stormed back to her room.

This is how most normal, pre-drinking-to-stupor days went.

At this point, I expect I’ll wake up tomorrow to find another scribbled note lashing out at me for some random thing.  And ever since she stormed to her room, I’ve been repeating to myself, “She’s not actually angry at me, it’s not me, it’s her…”  Of course, not getting irritated with her (or at least, not letting it show) could help, too.  😛  But on the other hand, I can’t help but wonder if part of the reason for letting the snarkiness slip out is because I’ve never actually just…stormed on her.  I’ve never actually sat down and told her when I’m angry and why, so there’s a decade’s worth of anger just bubbling out of me at inopportune moments.

And that’s what I’m supposed to get out of all this therapy, I know.  I’m supposed to learn how to change me.  I hope the changed me is more awesome than the current me.

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Terrified.

Every time there’s a noise in the apartment, I flinch.

It’s not a fear of thieves or murderers that has me so on edge.  It’s my mother–my incoherent, slovenly, alcoholic mother.

I think the drinking began when my father left.  Once upon a time, I might have blamed him, but the fault isn’t his.  My mother might–and would probably–disagree; she hasn’t been able to crawl out of her depression since it happened, I think.  That was in 2000.

It all happened kind of gradually, but after awhile I realized that the only time I could expect a sensible, coherent conversation from her was if I got to her in the morning.  At that time, I was unemployed and a serious night owl, so I saved all my questions for those early hours before she left for work, then avoided her as much as I could in the evening.  When she went to bed, it always felt like a serious weight had been lifted off of me.

She broke her ankle last February and was out of work for awhile, and that’s when things reached a low point.  I had no idea what was going on–all I saw was that she was having stomach pains and couldn’t seem to keep food down.  After a time, she couldn’t seem to drink anything, either, and she was admitted to the hospital.  I’d grown used to her erratic behavior by this point, so I guess I didn’t link the symptoms to alcohol abuse…and naturally, she didn’t confess anything.  “They can’t figure out what’s wrong,” she told me.

They released her from the hospital, she was fine for a couple of weeks, and then she went right back downhill again.  I still remember leaving for work one morning with her too weak to get out of bed.  Luckily, her boyfriend (who is an alcoholic himself) managed to get her to the hospital, and she stayed there for a week or so.  They gave her antidepressants this time, and her disability checks ran out so for awhile she was great.  I felt like I had my mother back again, and I thought things would be fine as long as she stayed on those pills.

But then, early this year, she began receiving unemployment checks and I immediately noticed the change in her behavior.  It was impossible to hold a conversation with her, at any time of the day, because she’d always go off on some tangent that was completely unrelated (but made perfect sense to her).  Getting exasperated with her (which happens often) would only result in her turning passive-aggressive, leaving nasty notes and destroying things in the house.  That sort of behavior is something I’ve grown up with, though.  I’ve gotten so used to it that I don’t even try to talk to her.  I avoid conflict at all costs, and retreat to my room rather than deal with her.  But even that doesn’t save me, because the sight of my closed door seems to send her into a rage all by itself, and I inevitably walk out later to find yet another note left on the kitchen counter.

I’m not sure why ‘alcoholism’ wasn’t the first thing to pop into my head.  It was there, but my first thought was that maybe she was developing Alzheimer’s.  Her mother had it, and it’s been my fear since then that either Mom or I will also develop the disease.  I guess I didn’t think about alcohol abuse right away because she’s become so good at hiding it.  She keeps her vodka bottles under her bathroom sink, and while she drank all of the alcohol I had (a bottle of peach schnapps and some bottles of wine I’d bought from a local winery), she then put the empty bottles right back on the shelf.  I drink so rarely that it took me awhile to notice this had happened.

Of course, after the realization of what was truly going on, all the other little pieces fell into place.  There was the day I knocked on her bedroom door, only to be met by her staring at me with glazed-over eyes and the blankest expression I’d ever seen her wear.  The time I said she smelled like alcohol–merely smelled like it–and she absolutely flipped out on me.  At first, it was almost a relief to find out her problem was alcohol and not Alzheimer’s.  I figured the former was something that could be “cured.”

Only now I think it’s just as bad as Alzheimer’s would have been.

My 30th birthday is coming up soon, and all I can focus on right now is the guilt and the anger and worry and depression.  In the past, I’ve had just enough energy to keep myself from falling into that black pit, but with all of this added stress, I can’t seem to keep myself out anymore.  I’ll be fine while I’m at work, but the minute my shift ends I feel that heavy dread wash over me again.  Even when I’m at work, while I’m laughing or joking around or otherwise feeling momentarily carefree, there’ll come a sudden thought “Why are you happy?  You’ve got more worries than you can deal with, don’t think you can escape them.”

Anyway, I’ve decided to start writing everything down here.  I’m hoping maybe it will help me cope with everything that’s going on.  Tomorrow, I’m going to my first Al-Anon meeting, and I’m both excited and terrified.  It’s not so much the sharing part–I have a problem with pouring my heart out to anyone I think will listen–but I’ve never done anything like this before.  Nonetheless, I’m accepting the fact that I need help, and I hope this will be the right place to start.

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