Dear Mom – A Letter About Growing Up with an Alcoholic Mother

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Henry Ford quote

Dear Mom,

Did you know…

Growing up with an alcoholic mother was not the highlight of my childhood. I was actually quite embarrassed by the whole situation so I never revealed it to even my closest friends. I was afraid of being looked down upon. I knew it wasn’t my fault but I have a big complex about being judged (even to this day). When you are cursed at, told how worthless you are, and occasionally hit by a random objects thrown at you from someone who is supposed to love you it doesn’t give you the best self esteem in the world. I know you loved me
but your alcoholism just pushed me away.

Did you know my favorite time with you was in the mornings before school? This was the time that you shined in my eyes because I knew by the time I got out of school you would be drunk (although occasionally you were still drunk from the night before). You were so funny and smart. I wish I had your charisma and humor. I always loved that about you. You could talk to anyone (being plowed most of the time may have helped you with that though). Your personality was contagious. It’s too bad that you squashed my self-worth in the process of fueling your addiction. To this day I have self-esteem and trust issues.

I know you had a disease. You tried so many times to stop but over the years I learned to not believe anything until I actually see it. After a while I hated when you would try to stop drinking. You would try different rehabs and be okay for a bit. Soon enough though you would be making up for lost time and be 10 times worse than before. Did you know those were not very fun times for me?

Most of the time I would talk back to you because you were drunk and in my eyes I didn’t have to listen to you. Why should I listen to someone that can barely even walk straight? You weren’t very nice to me when you were drunk and maybe I took advantage but I didn’t feel you deserved be treated nice if you couldn’t be nice yourself. Tit for tat. Most of the time we fought about your drunkenness. I hated when you were drunk and you were drunk ALL of the time. Did you know sometimes I took sleeping pills just so I didn’t have to listen to you? Sleeping was one of my favorite hobbies. It was so much more peaceful than reality.

Sometimes I would hide your alcohol or water it down just to try to slow you down a bit. I give you credit though. You were very determined. I remember if you didn’t have alcohol money you would hunt for change or pawn things. If the car needed gas and you had 10 bucks you would spend 2 dollars on gas and the rest would go toward some kind of alcohol. Did you know I was always scared to drive with you? You must of been a pro drunk driver though because that’s how you drove (drunk).

Did you know sometimes you being drunk had it’s perks? I could get away with a lot more because I knew you wouldn’t remember anything the next day. You were more lenient with things than other mothers would be. I could just ask to stay home from school and you would let me. You know I was a good student and graduated with over a 3.0 but since I dealt with so much home stress sometimes I didn’t want to go to school. It may sound odd. You wanted to stay home with the drunk? No. I just wanted to be with you before you morphed into my enemy.

Did you know I moved out of the house when I was 18 just to get away from you? I didn’t even tell you I was leaving. You know I still visited and called you but lord knows I never wanted to live with you again. I had about all I could take in those 18 years. Did you know your alcoholism did catch up with you eventually?

When I was pregnant with my first son (I was almost 23) you started to show signs of liver cirrhosis. You got pretty sick. Your liver was barely functioning and the toxins would go to your brain. At times you didn’t even know who I was or anything about me really. It was sort of an alternate universe. Did you know you had a time you were retaining so much water you looked more pregnant than I was? Eventually all the medications you were taking (a pharmacies worth) got you out of the fog and you were able to think more clearly again. In fact you were thinking SO clearly that you had one thing on your mind, your friend mister alcohol. You’d been chums for years. I knew you could never forget him.

Whether it was the alcohol or the billion medications you were taking three years ago you accidentally overdosed. You didn’t even last 3 years after being diagnosed with liver cirrhosis. We think sometime during an alcohol bender you forgot to take your medications which caused your brain toxins to return making you lose your memory. You forgotten you’d already taken your medications at some point and kept taking them. Did you know you passed away at 50 years old – 3 months before I became pregnant with your second grandson? You could have lived so much longer if that burden (alcoholism) hadn’t been placed upon you. You could have babysat your grandchildren and we could have been closer.

I wish this disease never took hold of you. Did you know you were so amazing when that demon wasn’t inside of you? As a child I swore I would never be like you (in terms of drinking). I know alcoholism can be hereditary but if it is in me that’s something else you squashed (thankfully). Your actions cause me to do the exact opposite of yours. I could have easily been lead down the same road as you. When I was a teenager you would offer me drinks and such (What were you thinking!?) but I refused. I had seen its damage and wanted to stay clear. These days I rarely drink and my husband hates alcohol (maybe one of the subconscious reasons I chose him).

Did you know despite everything I do miss you? I miss your spunk. Your good side. Your amazing smile. You used to say you’d haunt me when you passed, playing tricks on me. I could so see you doing that. Maybe you are and maybe you aren’t but wherever you are I hope you have been released from the evil hold of alcohol and are just free. I hope no one ever loses a loved one like I did. There are many sites like Intervention Support that can help with this.

–Love you mom. Happy (early) Mother’s Day.

P.S. The quote at the beginning of this letter reminds me of you. You are one of several reasons I chose that quote for the poster. The great quote poster was made by a wonderful woman named Susan of the blog Finding Our Way Now. She made this for me when I nominated her for the Kreativ Blogger Award. She is an amazing talent and loves to make these posters for other bloggers. She has a wonderful way of looking at life. I think you would of liked her.

Have you ever know someone who have dealt with an alcohol problem?

Disclosure

Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.

Comments

  1. Oh my goodness. That had to have been super difficult. I can’t compare to it at all accept that I have seen it happen to others. I’m so glad you learned from it instead of following in the same path! You are a strong person! I hope YOU have a Happy Mothers Day knowing that you have made a difference for your children.

    • Thank you. It was tough. I cried a lot. That is in my past now though and just a memory. I do, however, wish things could have been different. I hope you have an amazing Mother’s Day too!!

  2. Susan Cooper says:

    What an amazing story. In the end you are the best tribute to your Mom, your ability to rise above it all and become the wonderful person you are. You understood her disease and still loved her in the end. If I could give you a hug I would. So, close your eyes and feel my arms around you in a warm and comforting hug. :-), Susan Cooper

  3. This was awesome and so powerful, I am thankful that I can not relate to it although my dad went through a period when he was drinking a lot it was nothing like this and only lasted a year or so well that I can remember I was 13 at the time……………Now though I am married to an alcoholic but for the most part he is a good man he isn’t violent he did go through a stage when he was but that was caused I belive by him mixing vodka with his wine and with his beer and by mixing I mean adding it to his glass of wine or beer and that made him violent. Now I just worry about what all the grog is doing to his health but as you know I can’t make him stop drinking and I do still love him and we have a lot more good times then bad and I will not give up on us.

    • Thank you. I’m glad you can’t relate fully. I wouldn’t wish that on any child. I’m sorry to hear about your husband though. I hope one day he can stop but most alcoholics are very determined. It has such a hold on them. Has he ever tried AA? Or does he not think he has a problem?

    • No Tim doesn’t think he has a drinking problem and I know until he does there is nothing I can do to stop him drinking……

    • Yeah. I understand that. A lot of alcoholics are like that at first. I hope he realizes it one day.

  4. What a heart-felt and touching story! It seems that you have healed from this experience and taken the good from it… congratulations! Also, Happy Mother’s Day to you!!

    Make it a great day!

    • Thank you! I’m okay I guess. I still have self-esteem issues. It’s just something I’ve tried to learn from. I hope you have a wonderful Mother’s Day too!

  5. wow, I’m so sorry that you had to deal with all of that. Thank you for sharing.

  6. Bindhurani says:

    I am a reader of Susan’s blog too. Love the heartfelt letter you write to your mom. Thanks for sharing the feelings. That way, many, like myself can understand the feelings of a child growing up with an alcoholic mom.
    Thank you

  7. I too know how it is to grow up with an alcoholic parent. Mine was my dad. He was what I call a functional alcoholic. He went to work each day, stopped at the bar and got very drunk, came home and verbally fought with my mom then went to bed and got up and went to work the next day. He broke many promises to come home for dinner and many school functions were missed. My father’s parents were both alcoholics too. My husband grew up with a mother like yours. His story is very similar. She had times when she was sober but then would fall back into her drinking.

    Both my husband and myself decided long ago we would not do this to our kids and neither of us drink at all. The alcoholism stops with us.

    My dad is sober and has been for many years now. My kids have never seen him drunk, he is a wonderful grandpa to them. I am so happy he has been able to overcome his drinking. My husband mom is sober too. She has had a few relapses since we have been married but is committed to staying sober.

    I only wish my mom could have lived to see my dad sober. She loved him so much but died of a heart attack before he became sober.

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. I am so sorry you had to go through a childhood like that. Have a Happy Mother’s day.

    • Thank you for sharing your story. My husbands father is a functional alcoholic too and my father may be too. They both work but drink afterwards. I am glad your dad and your husbands mom are sober now. I wish my mom would of been able to overcome it. It was just too strong for her. That is sad that your mom didn’t get to see your dad become sober. She would of loved that. My mom and grandmother passed away within a year of each other. I felt so bad for my grandfather losing his wife and daughter so close together. He just wanted the best for her and always supported her. I’m sorry for your childhood too. And I hope your Mother’s Day is amazing!!

  8. Magnolia Mom says:

    What a well written post. I don’t know personally what this is like, one of my friends in high school went through something similar but it was with her Dad. Although, we didn’t know this was going on, he ended up passing away our jr. year in high school. I didn’t find out he was an alcoholic until years later when we reunited through our blogs. I just can’t imagine what children endure in these situations. Thanks for sharing something so personal.

    • Thank you. I’m sorry about your friends dad. It is hard for kids to admit while it is happening usually. I think they feel like other kids will make fun of them or look down on them. It was so embarassing for me.

  9. Michelle says:

    So sorry for your tough childhood and for the loss of your mom.
    Michelle
    http://www .Normalchaosforamultitaskmom.blogspot.com

  10. Wow. Thank you for sharing such a personal and heartfelt experience. I am sure there are many that can learn from your experience and many that it inspire to heal. You are strong and your strength can serve as a light for others. Thanks again for sharing!

  11. This is a very touching post. Thanks for sharing your inner most feelings. I love the quote by Henry Ford and the poster.
    PS: Since you requested we let you know, I came by here from the bloggers helping bloggers group.

  12. Coretta says:

    Krystle,
    I’m glad that you’ve decided to take a different route. I volunteer at juvenile detention center and I hear stories similar to yours…the difference is by the time I hear them they are already in rehab. I met a 15-year old who was in rehab for the fourth time. Keep healing and keep telling your story.

    • Thank you. I could of def turned out different. I remember my mom offering me drugs when I was in elementary school. It’s sad how addictions have such control over people.

  13. Krystle, this was an amazing piece of work. And having it illustrated with one of Susan’s wonderful posters was the perfect touch.

    Have you considered submitting this to Alcoholics Anonymous or MADD? I think that it would be a powerful motivating tool for families of alcoholics. This is much too good to keep to yourself. You must find a way to share it beyond your blogging family. I’m really quite serious about this. This needs to be shared!

    Kay in Hawaii
    http://BizBitchBlog.blogspot.com

    • Thank you Kay! I appreciate your kind words. I’ve never submitted anything anywhere before. Maybe I will look into one day.

  14. Carlo/Carlo At Your Service Productions says:

    You’re quite a strong woman, Krystle. And for that I am so proud of you. You could have gone the opposite direction, but didn’t. Unfortunately, your mom didn’t have your fortitude, character, or strength.

    They say that “things that don’t kill us make us stronger”. And in your case, that is so true. Bless you for being the mother today that you never had. Stay strong and compassionate. What you’ve learned will come in handy one day… there’s a reason for everything and no accidents in life. So I don’t know when, why, or how, but you’re equipped to deal with helping someone in the future through.

    Happy SITS Day!
    Celebrate every Mother’s Day with a big smile on your face and for YOU.
    You deserve it!

    • Thank you. You are sweet. I’m not sure if I’m stronger because I still feel broken at times. There are certain ways I am that I’d rather not be and I know it is because of my past.

  15. JDaniel4's Mom says:

    My mom was a holiday and special occasion drinker. I was always afraid to drive with her in the car after she’d been drinking. I love you to wrote this heartfelt piece. It is filled with honesty and love.

    • Thank you. I wish my mom was only that kind of drinker. My dad may be a functional alcoholic but I’m not sure. He does like his alcohol too.

  16. Laura @ Pruning Princesses says:

    It is hard to lose a mom. Under all circumstances. Harder still to lose her when she is still alive. I’ve reacted to alcoholism in my family in the same way as you, avoid it. I pray that you may be healed of the pain of your past so you can move forward to raise your boys whole. Thanks for sharing your story.

  17. This must have been super sad for you, sorry about all you had to go through. I know writing this has done some little help, it helps to just pour out.
    Visiting from SITS, have a very memorable SITS day today, congratulations!!!

  18. What a powerful post. My heart breaks for the younger you, but I admire the older you and the way that you have been strengthened by your painful childhood. Thank you for sharing your heart … and touching ours!

    Enjoy your SITS day! 🙂

  19. This is such an honest letter! I feel like I know you. That’s inspiring. You are so wise to be able to connect with all of those little-kid feelings and recognize them now!

  20. Thank you for sharing your story.

  21. Thank you for sharing your story. I have tears right now because I know this is how my mother grew up. My grandmother died of liver cirrhosis at the age of 60. I was 3. My younger sister never even met her. I think it’s important for other people to hear these stories, because they are more common than we think. I will be sharing this on the Crossroads FB page, a substance abuse treatment facility I work with in Maine. Stay strong!

    • I’m sorry your mother had to deal with this too. It’s not a fun experience. Thank you for sharing this. I hope it can help someone and let them know they aren’t alone. I felt so alone.

  22. My mom was addicted to Valium for many years when I was young. She had a few years when she was functional and working. Then she was addicted to shopping and had a hoarding problem. Now it’s still the shopping and hoarding but also Ritalin and Clonazapam and who knows what else. She’s 70 and lives in my town. She frequently shows up and takes over our lives. I work hard to maintain the proper boundaries but it’s often tough to know what is my responsibility and what isn’t. I often wonder if I’ll miss her when she’s gone. Right now I would say I won’t. And it makes me sad.

    It’s so tough to have a parent that you feel like you have to parent. I’m sorry for all the pain you experienced. Thank you for sharing your story. I hope it helped with the healing.

    • Thank you for sharing! That must of been tough for you too. I miss my mom but only the part I didn’t see very often. It’s sad.

  23. Sheila Skillingstead says:

    I’m pretty much speechless. I hope this helped you. I could write one saying, why did you let me get beaten, and why did you hate me? The only surprising part was staying home to be with the non drunk mom in order to enjoy her. Thanks for explaining that part. Happy SITS Day.

  24. Simply beautiful. And so hard for me to read. I related to so much of what you said here. My mother had different addictions, but they, too ultimately cost her her own life. Same but different. From one motherless mother to another, I get it. And I am sorry. Stopping by for your SITS day and so glad I did.

  25. Thank you for sharing your story – that takes a lot of courage! I think the above commenter is right – you ought to submit this post to MADD or Alanon. Really touching!

    • Thank you! Like most in my situation I’m sure I could write tons on the subject but it was very personal to me as a child and a secret to most. I could only talk about it once I became an adult and learned it wasn’t my fault.

  26. Thanks for sharing this. I can relate in some ways. My father is an alcoholic and I too left the house at 18 because I couldn’t deal with it anymore. I could write a novel here on this subject, but let me just say again that I appreciate you sharing this. It’s helpful to let others know they’re not alone.

    Happy SITS day!

    • It was a very tough time but I made it through I guess. I think I am still effected by it in someways but I’m dealing. I’m glad I’m not alone. I always felt so alone when I was a child.

  27. What a touching post. I am so sorry your mom suffered with alcoholism and made your childhood miserable. It is unexcusable. But it does sound like it has made you a very strong woman and mother. Hang in there! Happy SITS Day, enjoye your day.

  28. Thank you for such a honest post and for sharing it.! Enjoy your SITS day with your SITS-stahs!

  29. This is so well-executed and you sound like a real survivor. Have you ever read the memoirs of Mary Karr or the poems of Courtney Queeney? Your story kind of reminds me of the type of mother-(growing) daughter dynamic they endured.

  30. This is a very compelling story!

  31. Kay Froebel says:

    This was an incredibly powerful letter. I can relate to this, though only partially. My father was a drug addict, but I had a saint of a mother who sheltered me for the worst of it. I know what you mean though when you say when not under the influence, they were incredible people. My father was the same way. He was funny, charismatic, and just a solid good guy. When high or drunk, he was not. He didn’t care who he hurt. Though he never resorted to violence, he would squander away any money we had on drugs and alcohol. I am sorry for your loss, and from what I can tell from your blog you have risen above it and created a beautiful life for yourself. I wish you all the best.
    -Kay

    • Thank you for your kind words. My mom also dabbled in drugs but alcohol was her main downfall. I sometimes wish such things were never created because ultimately they just take away from otherwise great people.

  32. Stopping from SITS. I’m so sorry you had to live this, and I’m so sorry you lost your mom so early in life. how brave to write this letter. I can feel the love you have for her, even though it was so hard.

    • Thank you. It’s weird not having her around but I still wish my childhood could of been better. I hope she is at peace making people laugh somewhere.

  33. This is great–and although it’s weird to write that this is great–it is. I think people need to be more honest like this–and show it to their relatives right now who are putting them through hell. It’s honest and raw, and while it might not be the magic pill to pull someone out of their selfishness……it’s better then saying nothing at all.

    Happy SITS Day.

    • Thank you. Your words are very kind. I tried to explain my feeling to my mom while she was alive but never really got it all out before.

  34. Thank you for being so honest, it takes a lot of courage to share such personal details…

  35. What an experience. It shows tremendous growth that you’re able to share your story after having a difficult time sharing it with close friends. What healing in blessings in that! Happy, happy SITS day SITStah!

  36. Krystle, I grew up with an alcoholic mother. It’s one of the most difficult things to face because my mother was a handful also, could be down right mean. I forgave my mother long time ago, I don’t know what she went through when she was young. She kept a lot about her past to herself. You have given me an idea to write an open letter to both my parents, I used to question why my daddy stayed, but love conquers all and I’m glad he did, no telling what would have happened to us. Happy SITS Day!

    • Yes, it was very difficult. An open letter would be great! I bet they would love that. I wish my mom could of beat it so we could of been closer though.

  37. Sandy Bucholtz says:

    Ouch! That was powerful! It took a lot of courage to share your soul the way you did in this post, I fully embrace your awesome!

  38. Bobi Jensen says:

    wow, this post is really powerful!

  39. Hi Krystle, I grew up with an alcoholic father. And unlike you, It actually affected me in school. Someday I would love to write about it like you. Not because it would be fun… because I’ve never been profound or honest about it in my 35yrs of life. I’m sure most kids of alcoholic parents feel this way at some point. We just wish we didn’t have to explain our life so much… yet it seems hard to live normal when this craziness happens at home while all your friends get to say good things about their parents to you. Most of my childhood friends know about my Dad being an alcoholic, but you just don’t really talk about it, even though those are the years of your life you really need to. Thanks for sharing! Happy SITS Day!

    • I’m sorry you had to deal with this too. I think school was one of my outlets for it. I felt like I had to do good or else. I guess I needed something good in my life at the time.

  40. WOW, some childhood 🙁 I just want to give you a big hug; it sucks but thank you for sharing your story with us.

    Happy SITS Day!

  41. Just awesome! It’s a heart felt story that I too can relate. My father was an alcoholic he believed he could take on the world and anyone who wanted to go there. He had a thing about breaking a beer bottle across his forehead, I just could not understand what that was all about. Something I was never able to share with my friends. Hugs to you….

  42. Amanda Duvenage says:

    Dear Krystle

    I can totally relate to your wonderful post. I experienced much of what you did in your childhood. My mum has been sober for a few months while she has been with me but only after I really laid down the rules and after she had a bad fall. She blacked our and hit her head on the tiled floor and spent two days in hospital. She is leaving me in a few days to go stay with my youngest sister for three months. She has already asked my sister to make sure that there is alcohol when she gets to her place. I am so hurt that my mum has decided to pick up her drinking habits again after everything that has happened. I am sitting here today in two minds as to what to do with my mother. She has destroyed my childhood which is still affecting me today as an adult. I cannot watch her do the same thing to my sister and her daughters even if it is only for a few months before returning to my middle sister where she lives. I am contemplation writing her an open letter but at the same time too scared to hurt her even though she caused me so much hurt and despair. I feel so helpless.

    • I’m so sorry you are in that situation. My mother did things like that as well. She dislocated her arm so many times. I never had a problem telling my mother how I felt about the things she did. I always felt that she should know how much pain she caused. I hoped it would open her eyes one day. I would tell your mother how you feel about everything. The present and the past. I know many alcoholics just care about their alcohol most of the time but a few cann beat it. I hope your mother will fight it. I am here if you ever need to chat ~hugs~

  43. Dear Krystle,

    Thank you for your post. I can totally relate. I too have an alcoholic mother and am still dealing with it. When I was 18 I decided on a college far away and since then I have never lived near her again. Yet her alcoholic still affects me everyday. It’s so difficult not being able to deal with her when she’s drinking, her painful words to me and the next day she acts like everything is okay. I’m still dealing with if I should cut her out of my life or not. All she does is hurt me, but in the end she is still my mom. When she’s not drinking she’s the most wonderful person, when she’s drinking which is most of the time she’s always putting me down and is so cruel.

    No one really understands so thank you for your post. I just feel so helpless I don’t know what to do 🙁 I just wish I had a mom who wasn’t an alcoholic 🙁

    • I can totally relate. I wish my mom hadn’t been an alcoholic either. I’m sure being away at college has made it easier. My mom lived in another state for a while after I moved out. She was much easier to handle over the phone. I don’t think you should cut her out of your life. Call her now and then and check up and if she’s rude just say you have to go. I miss my mom now that she’s gone but I def do not miss her drunk side. I hope your mom can find a way to beat it!! Let me know if you ever need to chat about it.

  44. Thank you for sharing, there is so much beauty despite the pain, in your words.

  45. I cannot imagine the pain of your upbringing yet I feel the pain 0f th e loss of a mother, The missing her. I talk to my mom sometimes. Similar to writing them a letter as you did. I also hope your mom is free from the pain she lived that drove her to alcoholism. Be string, She is well and It is well 🙂

  46. Miranda (Anosa) says:

    Awwww dear, I am sorry to read this letter but look what you’ve gone through and where you’re now. My dad used to drink a lot when we were kids but he was a happy drunk and used to wake us up kids at 1am will sing play and it was one of the happiest times.

  47. Barely Vegan says:

    Wow, thank you for sharing such a powerful and personal story. I honestly don’t even know what to say. Obviously I don’t know you, but you seem to have overcome A LOT and turned into a great person after all the hardships you’ve endured. It sounds so cliche when people say the pain we go through is for a reason and all of that stuff, but it’s true! I really needed to go through my childhood hardships because now that I’m an adult I feel like I’m so much stronger than a lot of people I’ve met. I can handle negativity better than a lot of my friends. I have a strong work ethic because I’ve worked since I was a young teenager. I know how to get things done because I had to depend on myself many times as a child and it taught me not to rely on others too much. I am who I am because of these things. This was such a great post. Thanks for sharing!! 🙂

  48. So touching. I wish you all the success in your life.

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