My Name Is Mom, And I Am An Alcoholic

I visited my 32 year-old daughter for a long weekend. She and my two beautiful grandchildren (boy 6 and girl 10) live a 12-hour drive away, so I don’t get to visit very often. I flew up on Wednesday evening and stayed until this past Monday. She had just purchased a home (she is a single mom and very determined to be self-sufficient). She sent me a text a few days before my flight to make sure she had all my flight details. She mentioned that she had a large bottle of Chardonnay chilling in the fridge for me. Oops. We don’t talk much about me. Her life is full of “stuff” with an annoying ex-husband, two busy kids, and a job whose profit depends on a strong economy. Add to that the purchase of her first house…we talk mostly about her.

So, I sent a text back and matter-of-factly stated that I don’t drink any longer. Hopefully the wine won’t go to waste. I knew it wouldn’t since she loves her evening glass(es) of wine. She immediately sent a text to my husband “why didn’t you tell me mom doesn’t drink anymore” “what the heck!” To which my husband responded, “I didn’t know it was my job to keep you up-to-date with Mom.”

Well, I was determined to get there and talk about ME. I wanted her to know why I quit drinking. I wanted her to know alcoholism is a real disease that runs in our family. I wanted her to know how happy I am now and all that I am doing with my spare time. Never did I want to talk about her drinking. I was not going to go there.

How do you start that conversation. I casually dropped hints while we were unpacking boxes. The new drinks I enjoy, the paintings I’ve created, the piano I’m playing. NO RESPONSE. I told her I no longer need my BP meds or heartburn meds. NO RESPONSE. I told her I no longer take my anti-depressants. NO RESPONSE. I kept waiting for her to ask me about my life. NOTHING. So, in desperation, when we had some quiet time, I blurted it out.

“We need to talk,” I said. “I need to tell you why I quit drinking.” “I am an alcoholic, I attend AA, I blog with other alcoholics, I bake, I read novels and remember them, blah, blah, blah.” She didn’t even blink. I asked her why it was so difficult to talk to her. I asked her if she knew enough about me to write my obituary. I asked her if she knew what I did for a living.

Geeez…I just threw it out there with no response or emotion from her. If my mom told me that shit I would have hugged her and broken into tears. You’d think that my daughter and I were estranged, but we’re not. We have really good times together (usually drinking) She counts on me to help her through stuff, to unpack boxes, help her decorate, have fun with the kids. We’ve always been close, but it’s always been about her.

Just this once I wanted it to be about me. Well now she knows. And I know she is on the phone with her sister saying, “Did you know about Mom?!” I know she’ll talk to her dad when he visits next week. I just don’t know why she didn’t want to have the conversation with me.

One of the bloggers (maybe Paul?) said something very wise. “Only alcoholics really care if you’re not drinking.” Or something like that. I guess that’s true.


12 thoughts on “My Name Is Mom, And I Am An Alcoholic

  1. I am sorry to hear that the conversation (or lack of) didn’t go as planned. I like what your husband said…lol. We never know how people will react to news like this. We expect that they will act this way, or that way. But we just never know. It might have been too much for her, or she was just processing it. I am like that sometimes – I need time to mull it over. I am not defending your daughter or making excuses…but sometimes we have a hard time figuring this stuff out. This is Big Stuff you laid down. You’re used to it. your husband may be used to it. But perhaps she was expecting you to do what you normally do, and just come down, drink, unpack, talk about her, do things for her, drink more, etc. But it was a whole different ball game! She had no idea that mom was coming with a plan 🙂

    So see how she feels in another day or so (I don’t know how often you guys talk). I am sure you are anxious to get a response from her, one way or another. Or not. Perhaps she will digest and get back to you. Who knows. But I am glad you got that off your chest. Not that you owe her or anyone else reasons, explanations, etc. You don’t. But most people are happy for us when we discuss this with them. All the people I made amends to were happy for me. Some took more time than others, but it’s always been positive. I am sure I will make one where someone doesn’t care or something like that. Opening up to people like this can be hard. We usually close off, not wanting to be vulnerable. And perhaps something like this is a good test to take in something that might sting…and deal with it sans booze. There is always a lesson in these things.

    As for that saying, I can’t say I remember saying it, but it does hold some water. Most non-alcoholics don’t really make waves about our decision – they are happy, sure, but they don’t usually discuss it much. Problem drinkers and other alcoholics tend to be a lot more interested in our sobriety…ha ha.

    I hope things turn around. But you did well.


    • I appreciate your thoughts, Paul. You’re right. My expectations might not be the same as her reaction. It’s not right or wrong, it just is. I can only be responsible for ME. I love her like crazy and she knows that, and now she knows even more 🙂

  2. I said before parallel lives, it’s really scary. I’m glad you went first. I’m still chicken. I can really relate to your feelings. I’ll contact you. I could cut this out and paste most of it on my blog as my words. She’ll come to accept but it may take a while. Really scary.

  3. I found your story sad and very touching. Good for you for speaking up, even if you may not have been heard. My family of origin tends to operate this way too, more comfortable in talking about people than to them, especially when things are hard to talk about. I think that’s maybe the case in many families/cultures where there’s been a lot of alcohol. It’s good you’re here online where we can really have these conversations. You’re making big changes, and you are making it be about you. Huge steps, for sure! I admire your strength, even while I hope your daughter comes around.

    • Thanks Thirsty, It’s easy to talk to all of you. Is that because we are invisible to each other or because we have so much in common? As I think about these posts, I realize that as a child I never asked my mom about her past or background…she just always told us stories. I grew up knowing everything about her. I never did that with my kids – or my husband for that matter. I enjoyed keeping my secrets. So what did I really expect my kids to know if I never shared? Hmmm. So much to learn.

  4. I’m glad you got to see and talk to her. Those first conversations are rarely easy, but you did it! And was it successful? Um, did you drink after it? If not, it was successful. 😉
    xx, Christy

    • It was successful Christy. Because I got it off my chest and I didn’t drink and I don’t have to think about it anymore. How she processes all of it is now on her plate. Hopefully our conversations will now be less guarded.

  5. I’m chiming in a bit late to this, but I’m just reading your blog, and I love the way you write.

    I can so relate to this conversation you have, and at least you got that off your chest, because sometimes telling the truth is the hardest thing. Just saying it out loud..however, it’s so hard when you don’t feel heard. Or no one reacts. I feel similar with my husband, who just listens, thinks, but never seems to ask any question or follow up with anything, ever. What’s true is that you can’t control them or their reaction, but you can control you! Keep going!! Ellen

  6. Thanks Ellen. Now that some time has passed, I’ve realized the truth in what you said – I can only control myself and my actions. I’m not sure why others react or don’t react as I would expect. But I feel great going to bed each night knowing that I’ve made good decisions that day.

  7. I feel so blessed as I sit here in Alaska able to read blogs that reach out and entwine me in arms I cannot see or feel! I’m a Mom and have the affliction of “alcoholism.” Being an Irish-Indian, my family tree is like an apple tree full of red apples-those afflicted as I am. I’m not alone nor will be. Three grown daughters, two seem free and one shares my journey. I pray her’s is shorter and filled with less rife than mine. This shared, for my family although never sheltered from the woes of alcoholism it’s still a learning process for us to talk about it with candor. I think it somehow can be perceived as “too close to home” and is frightening to accept that its among us, up close and personal. We’re getting better at disclosing and accepting encouragement, and just sharing honestly. I commend you for being spacious in your sharing of yourself. It shows our willingness to be not only “Mom” but also a human being that is vulnerable. Thanks for your post!

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