I’ve recently been feeling anxiety about my past decisions regarding my mother.
When I was young, she was an amazing mother, always working hard to provide for my siblings and me.
But things went downhill. She began drinking heavily and wasn’t able to hold a job.
She’d be gone for days, leaving me to care for my siblings.
She often got verbally/physically abusive. When I turned 17, she kicked me out of the house. Children’s Protective Services got involved and my siblings were removed from the home into my care.
Throughout, I struggled to maintain a relationship with her, hoping she’d eventually realize that her drinking needed to stop.
I reached a breaking point for me and cut contact with her for my own mental health.
Years later, I’m now grown and married with a child. It pains me that she wasn't a part of my major milestones, as I’d dreamed she’d be when I was young.
I’ve recently heard that she’s attended court-ordered rehabilitation multiple times for her drinking, since we last spoke.
I miss our old connection but fear that again I’ll be let down and see that she hasn’t really changed.
I’m wondering whether I should reach out and see if she’s changed her ways. Or, should I continue as is and not concern myself with old hopes?
Missing My “Lost” Mother
She may not be able to “change her ways” just when you want it to happen.
But that doesn’t mean you can’t take small steps towards her. It also doesn’t mean that she doesn’t want to re-connect with you.
Before you reach out, go on your own to a counsellor who deals with long-term alcoholics, to ask what initial approaches work better than others.
For example, telling your mother that you worry about her health and would like her to have the years ahead to know her grandchild, might spark a willingness to see a doctor. It could be a start.
The counsellor might also know specific local resources that have a better impact than others on alcoholic women.
I also urge you to personally attend, or be in touch with, an alcoholism support group to prepare yourself for this future meeting with your mom.
I mention Al-Anon frequently because of their long record helping family members and friends dealing with alcohol-addicted loved ones.
There are also other resources you can find online, such as Secular Organizations for Sobriety.
Based on the details that you’ve shared, and the research I’ve done, I also advise:
Though you long to soothe the girl you once were, make your early connection about her, not you.
While alcohol abuse is the problem, you both know it, so it doesn’t have to be discussed immediately.
If you can meet/chat a few times without confronting her drinking, she may relax enough to acknowledge that she needs help.
Some people will warn: Beware of being deceived, believing that the addict will only seek money or disappoint you in other ways.
But you’re an adult, experienced with this situation, and wanting to give your mother another chance.
I say it’s worth a try, so long as you proceed wisely and armed with good information.
Some reader-recommended books that might help you learn what alcoholics face in trying to gain some control over their addiction, are Alcohol Explained, by William Porter, The Naked Mind: Control Alcohol, Find Freedom & Change Your Life, and The Alcohol Experiment, both by Annie Grace.
FEEDBACK Regarding how to deal with young teens arguing with parents for more freedoms, especially to be out with friends on weekend nights (November 7):
Reader – “As a mother of four children ages 19-26:
- Be open to welcoming teenagers’ friends and they’ll start hanging out at your house, and get used to not minding your presence.
- Most important - Know your children but know their friends even better - our children are the sum of the people with whom they hang around.”
Reader #2 – “I’m a mother and retired teacher.
“Do NOT give orders. Your kids will then need to ignore and break them.
“Emphasize that they are responsible for their own behaviour and safety.
“Discuss issues, particularly how to say “No” to other people’s dangerous or foolish ideas.
“Have some arrangement so that they can always get and pay for a taxi to get safely home.”
Tip of the day:
Hoping to re-connect with an alcoholic relative? Get informed about the best approaches, build trust slowly.