by Kelli JetteEven at a young age, my mother’s alcoholism was searing itself on my brain. I feel the heartbreak in my diary entries, heavy sentences like “I hate when Mom acts funny.”
I am almost 30 years old now, and am still learning to cope with my mother’s addiction. I’m coming to understand that having any type of relationship with her will never be simple, and I’ve realized some things from years of struggling.
I will forever be affected
My mother put me through hell: She forced me to watch gruesome TV programs so I would “get over my fears.” She stole money from me to pay for alcohol and cigarettes. She called the cops on me for no reason. She had a revolving door of boyfriends who weren’t exactly stand-up guys. She made me lie to social services multiple times when she was reported for being drunk and neglectful.
All of this continues to haunt me, and will always influence how I live my life and the way I react to things. If my husband has a little wine, it makes me fearful he will turn into an alcoholic. This gives me constant anxiety. I’m also afraid of doing anything with my kids that will hurt them the way my mother hurt me, so I constantly fear I’m not being a good enough mother.
I will never have the relationship I want to have with her
I will always wish my mother and I could have a close, normal relationship like everyone else seems to have, but we don’t. She was absent when I picked out my wedding dress. We don’t go out to lunch.
She has almost died on a few occasions because of her drinking, but still claims she doesn’t have a problem.
The first question she asked after my daughters were born was not to inquire how the babies were doing, but to demand to know if we called her or my mother-in-law first. Maybe she feels threatened by the other parent figures in my life because she feels guilty for not being a good parent.
I’ve tried many times to build our relationship, but each time lasts a few short months at the most, and my attempts end with a fight.
She is probably never going to change
I’ve had countless conversations with my mother about our relationship, but she won’t ever stop being an alcoholic unless she truly wants to.
She has almost died on a few occasions because of her drinking, but still claims she doesn’t have a problem. She’s been hospitalized for chronic pancreatitis, a disease brought on by alcoholism, but she’s drinking again. When I had my kids, she claimed she would do better to set a good example for them, but after a little while she went downhill again.
I have accepted there’s not much I can do about it. All I can do is attempt to set boundaries with her and limit our interactions as much as I can to protect myself from her blame, from her manipulative claims I’m not there for her.
It’s a constant up and down, and she always goes down eventually.
I wouldn’t be the same person if things were different
My mother’s negative influence in my life has also had positive effects. From a young age, I basically took care of myself because I couldn’t count on my mother to do anything for me. As soon as I was old enough, I made my own food, did my laundry, and got rides from my friend’s moms or walked to places I needed to go. I had to figure it out on my own.
I’ve also had a job since I was 14. I am a perfectionist, and I want to excel in everything I do. I’ve learned to be an extremely independent and hard working person.
These qualities have given me a pretty great life so far. I have a career I love, and the best husband and children I could have asked for.
Because my mother wasn’t there for me, I was also extremely close with my grandmother, who recently passed away. She taught me to be a positive, caring person and I don’t know where I’d have ended up without her. I am so fortunate to have known this incredible woman, and maybe I wouldn’t have been as close to her if things were different.
I’m determined not to end up like my mother
I want to be the best example for my girls to look up to. I want to give them the kind of relationship I have never been able to have with my own mother. I will give them the unconditional love and support they deserve, without any drama attached. I’m going to be a positive influence in their lives and someone they can always count on.
It’s my mission to ensure my kids have it better than I did.
More challenges with my mother are to come, I’m sure. I’ve learned a lot over the years, though, and I’ve finally made peace with the fact she’ll never change. I’m determined to focus on the positive things I’ve gained from my experiences, and to fully enjoy the happy things in my life. I’m extremely thankful to be where I am today.
Kelli Jette writes from Dracut, Massachusetts.