Here is another anonymous piece that shows the confusion and the grief of having, and then losing a parent to alcohol abuse. If this resonates with you then Nacoa are here to support. If you would like to share as someone affected by a parents drinking then please get in touch.
My mother died very suddenly in November last year. So suddenly that there were no goodbyes and we gained no resolution to the years of pain we experienced. We never got that reconciliation I always held out against hope for.
The first stage I experienced was a sort of disbelief. You had been a constant source of worry in my life. When the phone rang, I expected you to be on the other end of the line; when I walked around town, I expected to bump into you. It was hard to believe that your presence had just ended, when I had half feared/half hoped that you would plague me forever.
Your funeral brought me so much closure. My sister and I were scared in the run up that no one would come – your alienation was that severe. But it was so much more than I could ever have hoped for. So many people were able to share the most wonderful memories of your bubbly personality and generosity and I was able to experience a side of you that had long been forgotten. Whilst I will never be able to forget your choices in later life, remembering that side of you has helped our family to heal.
But whilst funerals do bring closure, they do not mark an end to the healing process. I still have extremely mixed feelings towards you, maybe I always will. You were deeply troubled and part of me wishes that I had done more. But I was your child. I tried for as long as I could – we all did – but you repeatedly refused our help. You could have been a part of our lives, I could have had a mother, but instead you chose the wine.
And now, every time I hear someone say that they’re just going to have a chat with their mum and then everything will be fine, I feel the same sense of unabated sadness wash over me. Because it forces me to remember that you’re gone. But even worse, I would never have been able to call you had you lived longer. The one person that people take for granted, that loves them unconditionally, that fixes all their problems, is the one person I never had. And so, when people tell me how much you talked about me, how proud you were of me, it’s hard to feel that any of that is true. We were so estranged that you barely knew me towards the end. I wanted to tell you everything there was to know about me, but I couldn’t. I was forced to keep you at a distance.
But something has always stayed with me that tempers that feeling. We received a letter shortly after your death from an old friend. You had shared your experiences of alcoholism with them and they in turn shared them with us. You said that battling with your addiction felt like climbing a mountain whilst pushing a boulder in front of you. Every few steps forward forced you to take a step back. The boulder increasingly became heavier to push.
I will never understand you. But I will always love and miss you. You battled, and sadly you lost but your legacy will remain with my sister and I. You were not just an alcoholic. You were a mother, sister, daughter, friend, crazy competitive tennis player, and a beautiful and eccentric human being. I have learned from you in so many ways, good and bad. But since you’ve passed, I can finally look back with less anger and frustration. It’s just a shame that our reconciliation is coming too late.
I hope you have found your peace.