One woman’s unique and loving insight into living with her alcoholic mother.
My mother was and still is a functioning alcoholic.
Throughout the years I’ve woken up in the morning to find the kitchen sink caked with chunks of dry vomit.
I’ve pretended to be asleep in bed when she’s whispered in my ear, trying not to gag when her stale, hot, red wine breath fills my nostrils.
I’ve dragged her back into the house after she’s stumbled outside, declaring she’s going to take her own life.
One time, mum was drunk by 10am. This wasn’t entirely new, but it was Christmas Day and it was just my mum, my sister and myself. The alcohol and emotional abuse went hand in hand. I left and spent the rest of Christmas Day alone. At that time I was 17 and lived out of home. I no longer had to stay and listen to it, but leaving my crying 10 year old sister behind broke my heart. I felt like a terrible person.
As a young girl I was constantly reminded I wasn’t good enough. I was an “ungrateful, undeserving wretch of a child”. A bitch. Worthless. etc etc. As a single parent my mum “gave up everything” for us “selfish little toads”. We had ruined her life.
I’ve laughed with my mum. She’s held me when I cried and we’ve had deep mother-daughter conversations. The Easter bunny came every year. I had a collection of Barbie’s, Polly Pockets and a swing set. We had a roof over our heads. I was always clothed and never went hungry.
What did I have to complain about? Nothing. So I didn’t. I just tried hard to please her, relishing in the moments when I did.
Read more: Giving up alcohol doesn’t have to be hard.
On the school holidays we would stay at my grandparents. Mum would call to check in. “Hi darling,” was all it took for me to be able to tell. I remember reluctantly handing the phone to my grandma and then hiding behind the doorframe. I watched her mime the universal drinking signal to my grandad. I fled to the bathroom sobbing. Because she knew.
Mum never asked me to keep the drinking a secret. It was like an unspoken agreement. I don’t think it ever crossed my mind to tell anyone. I was ashamed. Embarrassed. But not of her. I can’t explain it. If anyone found out they wouldn’t understand. She wasn’t a bad mum. When she was sober she was great. She was a good mum.