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Author Topic: My mum.
Trippy
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Hi, I dont know if this is your field of expertise or anything, but I dont really know who else to ask.

So basically, I think my mum has a drink problem. But the difficulty is that she isn;t one of these stereotypical drunks who are rolling around drunk all day. She only drinks in the late afternoon/evening/night. But it is EVERY night. I can hardly remember a day when I havent seen her drunk in the evening.

A few weeks ago, she got drunk at a party (as per usual), and fell down the stairs at the front of my house, cut her head and arm and hurt her ankle. My dad was trying to help her up the stairs and yelling at her (this was all a little embarrassing considering my boyfriend was staying over the same night). But eventually I had to go out and take her shoes off and help her up the stairs. She was bleeding everywhere and dad had to relly force her into the bathroom to clean her up, and she was screaming that she didnt want to and was fine. CLEARLY she was not.

We took her to hospital in the morning and it turned out she just had some soft tissue damage, not a break like we'd thought. And for a while she stopped drinking. But that was... probably just over a month ago, and for the past couple of weeks she's been drinking again.

I can even remember occasions from years back when she got stupidly drunk, like at a christening, and a holy communion. She fell out the car when we got home in front of some builders doing the house next door.

My dad has to go away a lot with work to China, and it's worse when he's away. I understand she's missing him, but she has my little brother to look after. He's nine, and he doesnt understand what it means to be drunk. She's tried to put him to bed at like five in the afternoon before because she was "tired" and wanted to lie down, when my dad was away. It's ridiculous. I end up having to act like the parent and look after my brother because she's sitting with drink after drink on the sofa.

But what annoys me the most, is that my dad KNOWS about this. He is completely aware of her drinking, and I've heard him talking to her about her "drink problem". But she doesnt agree. She says "Most people have a drink after work, ask any of my friends, its normal". But she cant have just one. It's a whole bottle of wine, or glasses and glasses of G and T, or whatever else she drinks.

Last week I got really annoyed with her one evening, because she was drunk and arguing with my dad (my brother had kicked up a fuss about going to bed, so my dad had literally had to drag him up there, and mum said it was "brutal"). You can tell she's drunk, because her eyes go all weird and she's slurry and repeats herself a lot. And cant balance. So, I was trying to justify that my dad was right (he was, believe me), and she said to butt out because I wasnt the parent, and I think I said something along the lines of, yes and Im also not the one that's intoxicated. And so then she started having a go at me, saying how dare I say that to her and how I have a "very selective memory". All the while my dad was sat on the sofa, and he didnt say a word. Didnt defend her, but didnt say anything to back me up either. But then they were in the kitchen and she was yelling at him about what I'd said and how he hadnt said anything, and I heard him say I had a point. I went to bed then, I couldnt be bothered to hear it all again.

The next day me, dad and my brother went to get food shopping, and in the car dad said "I think you said more than enough to your mum last night, you really upset her. I dont want to hear that again okay? She's trying". I didnt know what to say. It's so INFURIATING! How can she be "trying" when she doesnt admit anything is wrong? How is she supposed to understand how people see her if someone doesnt say something? And how come its ok for HIM to talk to her about it, but not me? Im the one that has to deal with it every eveing when he's away, or out with his friends in the gym or at the pub. It's me that has to look after his son when she's "having a lie down". Why can't I say something about it? Its a complete joke!

I suppose I should be sorry if I "upset" her. But Im not. She upsets me far more often. Its not particularly nice to have it thrown in your face that you're a spoilt princess, selfish, cold, calculating etc etc. I hope Im none of those, perhaps a little selfish, but so are most people these days.

I just dont know what to do. One more particular incident that sticks out is on my boyfriends birthday (29th June) this year, I came home early from college to bake him a cake, and couldnt get in the house because she'd locked the door and "gone to have a lie down". Eventually she came to the door in her pyjamas (this is like 1pm by the way) and said she was tired and going to bed. I didnt think anything of it, just assumed her ankle was still hurting and she was tired. But then dad came home and I heard him yelling because apparently she'd opened a bottle of wine last night and had some, and now there was a whole new bottle in there. So clearly she'd been drinking that morning when nobody was in the house and polished off the rest of the bottle. He was angry because she was meant to collect my brother and his friend from school but obviously was in no fit state to drive, so my dad had to go get them even though he had a meeting to go to about a new job.

I dont know what I should do, or who to talk to. How can you make someone get help if they wont admit there;s anything wrong? How can you make them ADMIT they have a problem?

Im going to university in September, and I dont want to think that I'll be leaving my brother with a mum who's slowly getting worse, and wont be looking after him like she should. My dad got a new job that he's starting in september too, which means he wont travel as much, but still. I dont want her to get ill because of this, because Im sure she's drinking too much. She's always in a bad mood, every day, possibly because she's hungover, I dont know. I dont want my brother to end up feeling as angry with her as I do. I feel like Im not going to want to come home once Im at university, knowing that this is what I'll be coming home to.

The whole situation has been really getting me down lately, and Ive been having a hard time with it. For the past couple of months Ive had huge college art project to do on top of revising for and resitting some English papers from my A levels to try and better my grade. My old best friend completely stopped talking to me this year, convinced I was trying to copy her in every way because we had applied for the same course at university (but at different institutions). I got really upset over it and changed my course and university at the last minute to try and stop the whole horrible situation, so now I dont even know if I'm going to enjoy what Im doing at university. I was going to do an art based course, but changed it to English, as different as I could get but still do something I enjoy. My tutors at college werent very understanding as they think I have a real gift for art and couldnt get why I didnt want to do it anymore.

It's all just made me so stressed and angry, and I'm taking it out on my boyfriend of nearly four years, and I dont want this to destroy our relationship. Its going to be hard enough in September because we're going to universities quite far apart, and I dont want to just be angry and horrible to him in the short time we have left here together.

I dont know if Im being very clear here about what advice Im looking for. If not then please just tell me and I'll try to be more specific.

Thanks for taking the time to read this.

xx

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Heather
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Just so you know, there really isn't a "typical" alcoholic. People's behaviour, and the way they act when drinking, tends to vary a lot.

All the same, it's pretty clear this certainly is an issue.

Can you give me an idea of where you're at? Because what I'd suggest for YOU to start with is a children of alcoholics support group for yourself. They can also help connect you with resources for your Mom. Inviting her to go to an AA meeting with sensitivity, perhaps even suggesting you'd be glad to go with her if she needs the moral support, might be one good place to start with this.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Trippy
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Where I'm at? I dont know what that means. Do you mean location wise? If so Im in the UK.

I dont know how I could go about suggesting it though, when she refuses to admit that she has a problem. Me and my dad have both tried, he's spoken to her about it quite a few times, but talking isnt getting us anywhere.

I could try though. Thanks for the advice!

xxxx

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atm1
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Why don't you check out the National Association for Children of Alcoholics's UK website

They say that if you call their hotline 0800 358 3456, they can help refer you to local centers. You can also email them at helpline@Nacoa.org.uk . They can also give you some more specific advice about what to do with your mom.

Have you directly spoken with your dad about your fears about your brother's well fare and your other worries? If not, I strongly suggest you sit down and have that conversation.

[ 07-17-2009, 07:38 PM: Message edited by: atm1 ]

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Trippy
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Thanks, I'll give that a look.

Yeah I've spoken to him. But he's pretty much the same as me, no idea what we're supposed to do to get her to see something is wrong.

But thank you, I'll definitely look at that site.

xxxx

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Heather
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I should also add that it might be helpful for you and your Dad to go to a meeting together that's about support for children and families of alcoholics. It might help you two get on the same page better, which is going to help all of you better, including your mother.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Trippy
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I'll see what he thinks about it. I'm just not quite sure if he feels as personally affected by it as I do. But I'll talk to him more about it and see how it goes.

Thanks for all your help

xxxx

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Heather
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(Just a note, I've sent a note to someone about this who I think could have some good feedback/support for you. Making an exception to the answers here being from staff/volunteers only in that respect, and hope that's okay with you.

He's in the middle of a whole heap of work right now, so not sure when it'll happen, but probably in the next couple days.)

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Trippy
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Yes that would be great, thank you. Do you mean he'll just be contacting me via this thread?
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Heather
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Yep. He's a partner of mine, really sensitive, a longtime recovered alcoholic (who also went to meeting in the UK for a while in the early 90's) and who also has experience when it comes to alcoholic parents.

I'll be frank, I also have an alcoholic parent myself, however he wasn't at that stage yet when we lived together. And to boot, he's homeless (though has had shelter for the last few years) and ill, so in many ways, his alcoholism is the least of my problems with him, the least of his, really, and something where I feel like it's just not my place to get too in-depth about it given what his whole-life situation is. So, I could speak to some of this more with you, but I feel like I know someone better for it. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Trippy
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Thanks Heather, I really appreciate all your help. And please let your partner know I'd be really grateful to talk to him.

xxx

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Blue Griffin
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Hi Trippy,

My apologies for the delay in responding. I just now had a chance to catch up and wanted to reach out. My specific experiences are different from yours but I grew up in a home with an alcoholic as well and know what you are going through.

A little bit about me. I am 20 years recovering alcoholic. I am 42 now, so you can guess I caught it early and started sobriety early. I also grew up with an alcoholic father in a family that never confronted him and was always managing the chaos that his drinking caused. It influenced my life in many ways and was probably a contributing factor in my drinking as well.

First let me go out on a limb and take a risk to say that from your post I would say your mom is an alcoholic. In AA, we never want to call someone an alcoholic because the power of recovery is when you yourself realize you are and decide to deal with it yourself. Nobody makes you drink and nobody but yourself will make you have this self realization. The first step is admitting to oneself that you have a problem. But frankly drunks know drunks, we've all tried to figure out ways to manage it so we see how others try to do the same thing. So yeah, she has a problem.

Alcoholics come in every form, the stereotype that alcoholics are the ones who are homeless and drunk 24/7 is false. A majority of alcoholics have families, homes and jobs, but can't deal with life without drinking. Sometimes that is full on drinking all the time, other times that is that afternoon cocktail that one can't live without and other times it is binge drinking or constantly over indulging at social events, the list can go on and on. My dad was a commercial airline pilot and had the discipline to not drink before or during flights, but when he was not flying he drank every day and often excessively. My mother and I were constantly dealing with it.

Having a parent who is a practicing alcoholic sucks, it leaves you feeling helpless because you are dependent on them yet you are forced to be the adult when they are not. Adding insult to that is that when you are the voice of truth and responsibility you often get labeled as the problem. All the anger, fear and hurt everyone else is feeling about the alcoholics behavior gets put on you. I found that this is because controlling the one who speaks the truth nobody else will is easier than controlling the drunk. By speaking the truth, calling the question and vocalizing wanting to do something about it you upset the way things are. Your family system is set up in a way that enables your mother to keep drinking and anything that upsets this is not going to be welcome. Alcoholism is nasty that way, your mom is not the only victim of it, you, your dad and your brother are too. It is hard to break out of this, but doable. The fact that you see so clearly what is happening and see how it is affecting your brother and yourself is a good.

It is hard to control someone else who drinks. Basically you can't, it is their choice. What you can control is how it effects you, what you do around it and how you support yourself and the others you care for. I am saying this because you could spend a lot of energy trying to get your mom to stop drinking and until she sees it for what is is doing to her, you can't. If your efforts are solely focused on stopping her drinking you will loose yourself because it will be an fight you can't win. You can hold strong to what you know is right and what you know is unacceptable and go from there. Often alcoholics start recovery when the people around them get a clue and stop putting up with it and make boundaries and hold fast to them. To do this you will need support other than your father. It would be great if you two can support each other, but you need support for yourself first. It is part making sure you can heal from your situation. Eventually you made decide to do an intervention which may or may not help your mother come to that all important realization, but it sounds like right now you need to know how to deal with how the situation is effecting your life.

I got a lot of support and understanding in this with two groups. One is called Al-anon (www.al-anon.org) and the other is called Adult Children of Alcoholics (www.adultchildren.org). It looks like there are groups in the UK, there are also on-line meetings as well that may help. The important thing is to start talking to people who have been in the same situation you are in. You will find some commonality and get a lot of support for yourself and even get some ideas on how to deal with your situation. If you can't find one of these groups I would suggest going to an open AA meeting and talk about your situation, my guess is you will find people there who were in your situation and could be a support or a guide to a good ACoA or Al-anon group.

A good book to check out is called "Al-anon's 12 steps and 12 traditions". Again this will be more of a support for you and not a guide to stopping your mother's drinking. It is important that you take care of yourself first in order to be healthy and by doing so you will be in a better position to speak your truth and support the people you care about and love.

Let me know if this is helpful and what you do in all this.

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Trippy
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Hi, thanks for replying, I really am grateful that you would share your experience with me.

I had a look at Al-anon, but couldnt find much to help. I'll look at that adultchildren.org though, I hadnt heard of that one.

Im located specifically on the Isle of Man (its a little island between England and Ireland), and the only help groups available are AA meetings in various places. I dont know for sure, but Im pretty sure that's for alcoholics themselves, and not for relatives, am I right?

I am trying to talk to my dad about it, but he's not very open about it right now, so I'm not sure who else I could go to to talk about it. Who do you think would be best? Another relative? Her friends? My friends/boyfriend? Or someone more professional?

I'm glad you could clarify for me that I'm not just overreacting and this is a problem, because it's hard to judge whether or not it is when my mum keeps claiming it's not but its quite obvious it is.

Also I'll see if I can get hold of that book. Thanks for all the help.

xxxxxx

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Heather
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Trippy, I sent Blue an email to check back in, but in the meantime, I found a few different meeting options for you where you are:

For Al-Anon:
Castletown
Friday 20:00
Location: St Mary's Catholic Church Hall, Bowling Green Road, Castletown, Isle of Man, IM9 1EB England

Douglas - Rosemount Tuesday
Tuesday 20:00
Location: Trinity Church Hall, Rosemount, Douglas, Douglas - Rosemount, Isle of Man, England

As well, you may want to look at Alateen: http://www.al-anonuk.org.uk/alateen

And you can email the whole org to find out where those -- or any other -- meetings are, here: enquiries@al-anonuk.org.uk

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Trippy
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Yeah I looked at Alateen too.

But aren't AA meetings for alcoholics as opposed to family members/people indirectly affected?

Castletown is my closest one, so I did think about it.

xxxxx

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Blue Griffin
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Trippy,

Glad to help, again your position is tough and is unfair, you are not over reacting at all, your reactions are right on target and healthy. My hearts desire is you remember this and hold on to that clarity you have despite the chaos your mothers drinking creates. If you ever spend any time with people in recovery you will learn that they are grateful for the people who saw through their drinking drama and held that level of clarity for them because it was the one that got them to make a shift. Sometimes it's a kid, sometimes it's the boss that fires them or the partner that leaves them and sometimes it is a complete stranger. One never knows where, when and via whom the message gets delivered but it is important that people not shrink from the truth when they see it. I am hesitant to leave this on the post because I don't want to claim that by doing so you will change your mother, you may not, but for you it is important that you take care of yourself and know you are serving yourself, your brother, your dad and her by not putting up with it anymore by deciding do do something about it for yourself.

Your dad may not be ready to deal with it. My guess is he has been dealing with this part of his spouse longer than you have so he is more entrenched. He may be okay with how things have been because he has been managing it longer and by doing so he gets to be the good guy. He will have his own process in this as well. Just keep talking to him about your process and hopefully that will sink in.

I would recommend finding others to talk with. If they are friends and family do a little vetting of them and how they think about your mom's drinking, some people may think she is fine and it won't be because she is but because they drink more and don't want to change themselves. Start with the Al-anon, Alateen and ACoA if you can. Also commit to going to at least 3 meetings before you stop., you may go to one and it just doesn't feel right, it probably won't for a while and decide not to go.

I strongly recommend checking out the resources that Heather posted for you. That will be your best bet.

Another good place to start would be checking out some AA meetings to see if there are any people in those meetings who may be good to talk with about this.

AA is very open it is about people finding each other for support for what they are dealing with. While yes some meetings are meant primarily for those who wish to stop drinking and that usually means an alcoholic, they let people know this. AA does have a tradition of something called an "open meeting". Open AA Meetings welcome anyone, alcoholic or not, who wants to learn about alcoholism, recovery or the AA program, so you don't have to have a drinking problem yourself to go to one.

I recommended this for a couple of reasons. Mainly because I was unsure of how available Al-anon, Alateen and ACoA meetings were to you where you are located but it seems that Heather found some resources for you (she rocks at that kind of research). When I was in the UK I think there was one or two in the whole of London so I am glad there are more available to you.

I still recommend checking out an AA meeting because most alcoholics come from families with alcoholics and I am pretty sure that you'd find others who have gone through the same thing as you are going through and could get good support. They can direct you to other people and resources for you and your family as well.

Even if you don't make a connection at a meeting you will still see a room full of people who were probably worse off than your mother is, who have recovered and are doing great. Figure that might help you hold a vision for your mum as she goes through what she will need to go through and you can tell her you've been to one and it's not so bad.

Ok, that is a lot, hope this is helpful. Looking forward to reading about your experiences with what's been said here.

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Trippy
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That's a good idea. I'll try to get to a meeting tomorrow or next Sunday then.

We've just come back from a lunch out for my parents' anniversary and I think it's fair to say she's had too much to drink, and its only 3.15 in the afternoon. It's ruined another day out, and she's bought another two bottles of wine at the supermarket, even though when she bought it she said "which were the ones I bought yesterday?" Well, surely if you bought two yesterday then there should be some left today?

And she's been given some bottles as presents by kids at the playschool where she teaches. I don't know if they've gone already or not, she might have hidden them for all I know.

They're arguing right now, rather loudly, and I hate that my brother is hearing this. She keeps saying she doesn't need my dad, "I dont need anything" and stuff. I hate how it's ending up like this all the time, even on a day that's meant to be a celebration of their twenty years together.

She cannot admit to her problem. I can hear her throwing things in my dad's face (verbally not physically!), like about how he had an affair back when I was like three, how her dad is dead and so on, saying "I'm used to being on my own", as if this all justifies her drinking. She's coming up with random, irrelevant reasons. BUt my whole point is that she's so obviously defensive about her drinking, so surely this is evidence in itself that she has a problem? How can she not see that?

Sorry for my extra rant there. It's just that it's all going on right this minute, and its the middle of the day, and once again it's me having to look after my brother and try and prevent him from hearing what's going on. I'm just a bit annoyed and angry about it right now. It isn't fair on us.

But again, thanks for the AA info and stuff, I'll get on to it asap.

xxxx

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Blue Griffin
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Trippy,

No worries on the extra rant, you get to do that when you are in the situation you are in. It is important you not bottle up your feelings about this, again why finding others to talk to who have dealt with a similar situation will be really helpful for you. Also finding friends you can talk to about this is also good, you don't have to tell tales on your mom, but finding people who will support you in this is also really important.

Let me know how the meetings go for you. Sometimes they can be a little odd feeling at the start, but it is worth sticking with it to get the support you need.

I really like how you are caring for your brother, you are being a good big sister, I encourage you to take care of yourself in this too. It is perfectly okay for you to take him out of the house when your mom is drunk and fighting. It's a toxic environment for you both so you should avoid it as much as possible. A good strategy may be to set things up there so when things get crazy you take him to the park or for a walk or over to a friends, anything that will get him and you out and give you a space to not be in all the drama.

I found a good link for you today. I think this has several good points for you to keep in mind as you are dealing with this.

http://www.wikihow.com/Deal-With-an-Alcoholic-Parent

Take care of yourself.

Blue

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Blue Griffin
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Trippy,

Sorry, I didn't answer your question as to why your mom doesn't see her problem... well it is simple, it is the insidious nature of being an alcoholic. Alcoholics don't see they have a problem until the hit a bottom. To some their bottom maybe as extreme as loosing everything and being out on the street. To others is can be as simple as seeing themselves drunk in a mirror, some internal revelation or by people drawing boundaries and having an intervention.

My bottom was when I got accepted to study at Oxford, I had an insight that I would loose all that I had worked towards if I kept drinking. Nothing dramatic, but the thought of loosing something I had worked hard towards and really cared about showed me I needed to change. When I got the notice I had been working my way through a six pack that I had justified would be okay do do alone and before noon if I drank the beers by pouring it in a shot glass. I remember laughing and crying and that's what got me to make a shift.

There are things you can do to support your mother, but you really can't trust her if she is actively drinking. She won't see it until she is ready. It's important for her that you to take care of yourself, keep telling your truth, set up healthy boundaries and by talk to people about what is going on with you. Sometimes seeing others take care of themselves and remove themselves from the alcoholics drama can spark an insight.

Being an alcoholic sucks, there are internal and external pressures that can keep one drinking. it is hard to get out of by yourself, but one has to take the first step ones self in order to really recover. I really feel for your mom and I hope that she gets the insight she needs to deal with her drinking and be able to be the great parent she could be. It sounds like she has a loving family around her that will be there for her as she works it out.

Blue

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Trippy
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Thanks for replying Blue,

I'm thinking I might try and talk to my boyfriend about it all, considering he unfortunately was witness to the occasion she fell down the stairs drunk after the party. I have a friend who I have mentioned it to once before as well, she told me she worries about her dad drinking too so I guess its good to have each other when we're going through a similar thing.

Also thanks for the advice on my brother. We dont live near to his friends but I could take him out to the shop or to feed the ducks near our house or something. I'm not really making any headway with my dad, he's tending to change the subject when I bring it up, or just avoid it completely, so I guess I'll just leave it until he's more ready.

I'll look at the other article you suggested, I'm pretty much scouring the internet for anything and everything right now.

xxxx

Posts: 83 | From: at my desk | Registered: Aug 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

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