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My Mom, An Alcoholic

Brian McCollom Addict addiction Alcohol alcoholic Confessions environment genetic Lifestyle mom Mother pills recovery sobriety

My Mom, An Alcoholic

A question people often wonder is why someone becomes an addict. Is it their environment? Or is it all in the genetic make up of a person? Is it our own faults? I know that as addicts, we love to play the blame game. We blame loved ones, friends, schools, ex-boyfriends, dealers, whoever. I personally would place blame on anything and everything as long as it meant that I had no responsibility in becoming and staying an addict. One of the biggest things I blamed was my genes and upbringing. I took refuge in blaming my mother specifically.

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My mother was a great one. She was loving, understanding, praising and selfless. She dedicated every second of her time to making sure we were cared for and loved. She often had no time for herself, as she would cart us all around to our activities. She would spend hours with me at the barn when I had horses, watching me train for competitions. She would sit there in the freezing cold cheering me on no matter what. I never went to bed without a hug and kiss. I was always told that I was loved. My mother didn’t lack in parenting skills by any means. Being a fantastic mother, however, doesn’t mean she didn’t have faults. She did, and they were big ones.

I knew from a very early age that my mom wasn’t like other moms. I knew from the time I can remember that she had a problem with alcohol. I also knew that she was often sad and depressed. I didn’t understand at the time, but thinking back on it, the signs were always there. Unfortunately, it’s not the smaller symptoms and behaviors that I remember most. The things that have haunted my psyche are the large, traumatic events caused by my mom’s
alcoholism.

My father was the breadwinner in the house, owning his own business and working out of town. He often spent three or four days a week in Toronto doing business.  This meant that the workload of raising four children often fell onto my mother’s back. It wasn’t easy, raising us without much help from my dad. So I can understand her stress and depression. Before I was born my dad sent my mom to a nice rehab in British Columbia (where she grew up). She was sober when I was born and it wasn’t until I was a bit older that she started to relapse here and there.

When she did relapse, it would cause huge blowout arguments between her and my dad. I often remember holding on to my older brothers, crying and worried that my mommy and daddy didn’t love each other anymore. At that young age I didn’t understand being intoxicated or why it was such a bad thing for my mom to be doing. Because of this tension it would cause between my mom and dad, my mom started to drink when he was away for work.  I remember vividly the day my older brother had to call the police because my dad wasn’t home and my mom was drinking. He told my younger brother and I to hide in the closet until it was all over. My mom wasn’t arrested, but I was absolutely terrified. I was also angry with my brother for doing that to her. I didn’t understand why he would call the cops on our own mom. My brother’s were old enough then to care for us then, so after he put her to bed in the middle of the day, he calmed us down and told us what was happening. I remember him saying that mom has a drinking problem and that she can’t drink otherwise she acts in bad ways. This simplistic definition of alcoholism stuck with me throughout my childhood years.

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When I was in grade school, my mom would usually wait until we were home from schools safely before she drank. However, I remember one day when I was in grade two and my and my little brother were waiting for her to come pick us up. We waited for a long time and she didn’t show up. Fortunately, my oldest brother was walking by from high school on his way to a friend’s house. He noticed us and ended up walking us home. I remember getting home and having my mom and my brother get into a huge argument. She would always deny, deny, deny. Finally, she broke down and kept saying sorry to us. I realized she smelt funny and was acting like someone I didn’t know. I knew she was drinking. She got drunk and forgot about us.

There were other times where she would cause scenes at my brothers high school, pick us up wasted and drive us home. I remember knowing I shouldn’t be in the car with her because she didn’t know how to drive properly. I tried to help care for my little brother when things would happen. Even as a young child, I knew something was wrong and I wanted to protect him. Every time she drank I was filled with such sadness and fear. I was disappointed in her for letting us down. I made her promise to never do it again, but it was a promise that was broken.

The last time she drank I was much older and in grade four or five. I was at a friend’s house and my dad and brothers were all out of town. She forgot to pick me up and refused to answer the phone. I finally I got a ride home. I came home to find my mom drunk again. I was so upset because I was home alone with her this time. I didn’t know what to do. She would act so different and would often lie so I didn’t know what was true or what was fiction. This was the worst time she relapsed because she made me promise to never tell my dad. She said he would send her away forever if I told him. It’s a promise I kept until this day, even after my father’s passing.

My mom’s drinking had a negative impact on my developing years. My childhood memories are full of instances where she was drinking and I was terrified. I knew deep down that I could end up being like her too, so I never drank. Even as a teenager when all of my friends were partying, I chose to stay home and work on school. I knew I couldn’t risk getting into that because I knew I would like it too much, just like my mom. However, after my dad passed away when I was 19 I decided I no longer cared. This is when i started drinking experimentally and using pills.

I often blamed my mom because I thought it was her fault that I ended up the way that I did. I would think, “If only she wasn’t an alcoholic, none of this would have happened to me!” I thought that as long as it were her fault, I didn’t need to change. It was semi-comforting knowing that it wasn’t my fault. And blaming her gave me the excuse I needed to get whatever I wanted from her. She also felt responsible for my downfall and I manipulated this emotion to get money or things I needed. This is something I feel bad for now that I am sober.

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After getting sober and regaining a clear head, I know now that none of this is my mother’s fault. I have no right to blame her for my choices in life. Yes, I had a predisposition to addiction and mental illness, but I knew this before my drug use started. I chose to still go into it with that knowledge. My mother didn’t force me to get high the first time, nor was it her fault that I continued. In fact, my mom is my biggest support in sobriety.

Since my mom has been sober for many, many years, she understands the struggle of addiction but also understands the struggles and successes of sobriety. Her empathetic caring is often what gets me through the day. It seems odd, but I am glad that I grew up with a mother who is an alcoholic. If she hadn’t been, she wouldn’t be able to help and support me the way she does today.

Throughout my sobriety I have learned to forgive her for her past mistakes, just as she has forgiven me for mine during my time of drug use. No parent is ever perfect, but aside from her drinking, nobody could ask for a better mom. Her love, support, caring, selflessness, and intelligent humor are the greatest gifts I have been given. I don’t know what I would do without her in my life and my sobriety. I wouldn’t be who I am today without going through the struggles of having an addict as a parent. I no longer hold blame for my mom and instead have a better understanding of her as a person. I think I have learned so much because of her drinking and even more because of her recovery. I truly am blessed to have been the daughter of such a wonderful, alcoholic mother.

 

~

Owner Note

The experiences Jordyn D. (@JordynDalton) shares about growing up with an addicted mother are real.  These types of struggles are real.  My own father grew up in a very similar situation, as I never personally knew my own Grandfather on his side.  He died from the disease of alcohol, and whether or not a parent has passed due to addiction or is still in our lives doesn’t take away the affects of an upbringing a child had no control over.  I feel for Jordyn and am joyed to see their unconditional love towards each other and supporting each other’s sobriety.  Many are in the same situation as Jordyn and even her mother.  This may give us more insight into how the household is affected not just being an addict in the family, but growing up with an addicted parent.

Bless Jordyn, bless her mother, bless those still sick and suffering, bless those we’ve lost to addiction, and bless you.  Find more on Jordyn’s story and follow her on Twitter @JordynDalton

Congratulations to Jordyn and your mother on your sobrieties!  Showing our love to you always. Keep showing everyone how it’s done and keep on inspiring. Sharing your story is one the most powerful things you can do! Be strong be you!

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