Archive for the ‘Reflections’ Category

One-Year Followup

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.


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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.  ❤

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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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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.

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