real life

'I didn't reply to my mum's text message. Then she died.'

If you've ever experienced life with an alcoholic parent, you will understand and empathise with the complexities and inherent heartache that comes with it. If you haven't, I'm jealous. 

I spent years of my adult life grappling with the reality that my relationship with my mum was not the relationship I desperately yearned for. I craved the kind of mother-daughter relationship that is often portrayed on TV or in movies, like Lorelai and Rory in Gilmore Girls, or Donna and Sophie in Mamma Mia

It is such a striking comparison to the relationship I had with my own mother but there was always a small part of me that thought I'd experience it one day.

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My mum was a vivacious, bubbly, charismatic and beautiful woman. She lit up any room she entered and had this innate ability to make you feel warm and loved no matter what the circumstances were. 

The sober version of my mum was strikingly different to the intoxicated version of my mum, and it was often me who copped the brunt of the spitefulness that appeared whenever the Sauv Blanc was around. 

The hurtful text messages and the late-night Facebook post for everyone to see about how I was an awful daughter that would then be deleted the following morning once she had sobered up. They say you often hurt those closest to you right? 

Our relationship often followed the same cycle which was dependent on whether she was sober or not. If she was sober, it was a joy to talk to her and be around her, however if she wasn't, our conversations would be heated and often end in me telling her to stop talking to me until she got help. 

Those close to me would see the flow on affects and how much my strained relationship with my mum hurt me, often telling me to cut contact because it's not my responsibility to help my mother, I was the child and she was the adult. 

I read repeatedly that you can't help someone who doesn't want to be helped, but she was still my mum and I wanted a relationship with her. I wanted her to be proud of me. It's all I ever wanted.

Watch: Your Body After 1 Year Without Alcohol. Post continues below.

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Fast forward to when I was 26 and I had just purchased my first home with my partner. When I called my mum to tell her, my excitement was met with slurred words filled with contempt and jealousy. I thought she would be proud of me, but I ended the conversation in tears feeling like nothing I did was ever good enough for her. 

I sent her a text message the following day requesting that she didn't contact me again until she was sober or getting help because I felt like I couldn't deal with the rollercoaster of emotions anymore.

A month went past, and we hadn't spoken. Out of the blue my brothers and I each received a text message from her saying, "I love and miss you". I remember picking up my phone and feeling a pain in my chest because I loved and missed her too, but I put my phone down without replying. 

I continued with the conversation I was having with my friend at the time and made a mental note to reply later. The following night my mum had a heart attack and died. She was 53 and I never replied to her last text message.

Image: Supplied.


The small amount of hope that I'd always had for that special mother daughter relationship was ripped out from under my feet in an instant. She was gone and it was unfathomable. 

I have spent the last few years riddled with guilt and regret for not replying to her message and beating myself up for the tumultuous relationship we had, even though I know deep down the addiction is to blame, not me. My mind is often flooded with questions like, did my mum question my love for her? What else could I have done? Was I really a terrible daughter? Did she know that she didn't have much time left and that's why she sent the message? These are questions that I'll never know the answers to and that is something that I'm still trying to come to terms with three years on.

What I have realised though is the importance of not leaving words unsaid. Whether it is to a friend, a family member or a significant other, tell them you love them and that you are proud of them. 

Tomorrow isn't promised and I wish every day that I had sent that message.

Feature Image: Supplied.