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Thinking of cutting off my toxic, alcoholic mother, struggling with the guilt.

(18 Posts)
DuchessFanny Tue 29-Jan-13 16:29:37

I feel sad for you ... I have a Mum who is very similar ...

My Mum is what used to be termed as 'manic depressive' and was on medication from a teenager, she's also an alcoholic. Growing up wasn't much fun.

She would veer wildly from cloyingly loving, to nasty and violent. There were several suicide attempts ( mainly to get attention, she'd take pills, then go straight out into the street and tell a passer by, so she could get to hospital)

She lied about having cancer, she faked a heart attack, she would turn up to meet me from school pissed, she attacked me the day before my wedding, then attacked my brothers gf, after years of shit it just looked like it would never end ... but then i had kids ... she then was banned from being around me or them drunk

I felt no guilt

My poor brother took pity and had her over to stay with him ( i had sheltered him from a lot growing up, big sister !) and she repaid him by stealing and trying to throw his wife down the stairs in front of their kids - awful, awful, awful ...

I felt no guilt

She is not allowed to ring our house if she's had even one drink - we ring her on special occasions ...

you guessed it, no guilt, it's worked out better than i hoped as i get on better with her now than i ever have.

With the space and distance i can see she is ill and won't change, and i understand that.

Best of all my children are protected ( by distance more than anything) so i do allow her a relationship of sorts, they love photos she sends and packages of cadburys and have NO idea that she can be a nasty, nasty drunk. I'm proud of that and the fact i've let some of my anger and bitterness go, it hasn't been easy though and i'll always wish i had a proper 'Mum'

Mother2many Tue 29-Jan-13 16:25:41

I"m on a NO Contact period with my mother too. It IS hard.. If I am somewhere she is, the I'll deal with the situation, but I'm no longer going to intentionally put myself out there to get hurt.

You know, just because they give birth to you, doesn't mean they have the right to hurt you. It takes more to being a mother. That is something I remind myself frequently.

I also compare it to allowing someone to verbally/physically/mentally/emotionally abuse you, and accepting it, just because they are "your mom/dad/sister/uncle/grandparent" etc... Doesn't make it right. Blood lines doesn't give anyone permission to treat you cruelly.

Poutintrout Tue 29-Jan-13 15:54:12

Good luck with the meeting.

As for contact, if you don't feel ready to cut her off just yet then finding a happy medium, that suits you, is a good plan. That is the point I am trying to reach. A massive part of that is making the decision that I will no longer do what makes my mother happy at my expense. All contact will be what suits me. That's the plan anyway!

On occasion I have tried to tell my Mum that she has spoiled countless Christmases and my nephew's birthdays. It doesn't get through. She does this whole routine of "I have been a terrible mother" poor me, poor me etc. Then two weeks later she is back to her usual self and acting totally baffled as to why my other sister won't have anything to do with her. It's exasperating.
How does your mum react when you are honest with her?

As for admitting the extent of her problem it varies. When she has gone too far and is called on it then she will say how she is an alcoholic and can't control it. More of the poor me routine and crying. Most times she reckons that she is able to have a few drinks and doesn't need to stop and only drinks rarely. She constantly lies about being very obviously drunk on the phone. She is constantly ill with what I reckon is a hangover or DTs but of course in her mind it's a bug or virus. She also has deeper health problems that I know to be because of the alcohol but again she won't have that.

I think a huge part of the problem is that the people who care about her have either given up and told her to bog off (or she has taken umbrage at their honesty and told them to bog off) and the only people left are the ones who don't care enough to tell her that she is a pain in the arse. They are happy to invite her out for lunch, let her get steaming drunk and see it as the floor show and then take her home. I have actually been quite disappointed in the lack of support people have shown us especially other extended family members who know what she puts us through.

I totally understand what you say about not wanting your mum to drink around you. I think that's all me and my sister are really asking for these days. That is the real kick in the teeth for us that she won't put our feeling first at all. Turning up at my house blind drunk is blatantly telling me that she doesn't give a monkeys about my feelings. Even when we have tried turning a blind eye to a sociable drink with a meal she pushes that way too far and wants to start drinking way before everybody else and is helping herself to huge quantities of booze and not wanting to eat. She then starts with her attention seeking routine of literally sobbing. It is draining.

I know what you mean about the feeling good to vent!

IDrankAllTheGravy Mon 28-Jan-13 16:53:08

Thanks for the advice you lovely lot smile
I'm going to one of them al anon meeting on Friday, bit nervous as I don't really know what to expect. I'm hoping I'll be able to get some advice on how to help her though. I've been thinking it over and don't think I am quite ready to cut her off but I do need to keep her at a distance a bit more.

troutinpout, would you be able to be honest with your mum and tell her you don't want her coming to visit seeing as she spoils it for you by getting steaming drunk? I used to avoid the issue with my mum but over the past couple of years I've found I get through to her a bit more by being totally honest about her and my feelings.

My mum will never admit how bad she has got, she will only just admit she has a little bit of a problem. Is that normal for alcoholics? I don't really know what I want from the relationship tbh, well I do know I'd love to just have a normal mum but obviously that's never going to happen. I think I would be ok with her if she would just stop lying all the time and not drink around me. She is a compulsive liar though and I can't see that ever changing.

Thanks, it's doing me good to have a vent on here smile

Msbluesky32 Sun 27-Jan-13 20:39:42

I just wanted to send a hug and some support. My mother is not an alcoholic but she does have anger problems and she tells lies quite similar to your mothers. I can imagine its very hard for you. I've been distancing myself from my mother for a while as it just became too much - perhaps you are beginning to feel that way too. I'd try and get as much support as you can and just do what feels right. You sound like a very balanced and kind person and you really don't have to live with it because she is your mother.

axure Sat 26-Jan-13 19:47:25

OP - I hope the excellent advice from Poutintrout helps. My mother doesn't have issues with alcohol but is very manipulative and demanding. I made a decision about a year ago to stop allowing her to push my buttons and I refuse to feel responsible for her unhappiness. It has helped me no end to take a step back and not let her guilt trip me anymore and in fact our relationship has improved as she has begun to realise that her behaviour doesn't work. It's hard having a Mother who puts herself first all the time, especially if you've had it drummed in from an early age that you're responsible for looking after her and making her happy.

Poutintrout Fri 25-Jan-13 22:41:15

Gravy I know what you mean about the lying. My mother has persistently lied about getting help for the drinking. I think she did one meeting. A big bugbear for me was when she finally admitted that she had a drink problem and she started to almost use it as an excuse in a kind of "I'm an alcoholic, I'm ill you can't be mean to me" way. Has your mum admitted she has a problem?

I've tried loads of times to be candid with my mum and tell her straight how she is behaving, that she is pushing everybody away, that she is making a tit of herself. I even told her that she smelled of wee the last time I saw her because she had been so drunk she had lost control of her bladder. I have even written to her so that she can't claim not to remember conversations. It's all been to no avail. She will behave for a couple of weeks and then the drunken calls start again or the selfishness or the nastiness about my gran or my sister.

As for contact, it's a difficult one. In an ideal world I wouldn't want any contact to be honest (in an ideal world she would be a better mother of course!) but I don't think that I have the bottle to cut her off completely. At the moment I speak to her on the phone every couple of weeks. This is huge progress considering she used to telephone every single day and expect to speak for at least an hour each time. She still persists with the calling and will try every ten or twenty minutes until drink o'clock but I ignore the phone or unplug it. It drives me nuts but it is better than speaking. I used to find that speaking to her would put a massive downer on my day so it is nice to have that cloud lifted.

As for visits I haven't seen her for nearly a year. She lives over an hours drive away and never makes the effort to see us. She just demands that we go there or expects that my DH pick her up and ferry her to our house for week long visits. The last time she was at our house she was steaming drunk when she arrived and was drinking in our bed at 3am. That was the point at which I vowed she would never come to my house again and I have stuck to it. The last time I saw her was at my wedding almost a year ago. She had initially claimed that she "wasn't up to making the journey" and wouldn't be coming to the wedding (she wanted a lift). That was the last straw for me in terms of making an effort with her. It is difficult though on the visit front and she is angling to come to the house - she has a new man who is prepared to taxi her here! The plan is to keep putting her off with a simple "it's not convenient".

I am so sorry that you are struggling with the same kind of guilt and issues. Have you tackled your mum before about the drinking? Do you have any idea of what kind of resolution you would like in an ideal world?

IDrankAllTheGravy Fri 25-Jan-13 17:34:02

Thanks poutintrout, it's really good to hear from someone in the same position. I think that is the main thing I need to keep in mind, that she doesn't give a toss about my feelings. Can I ask how often you see your mum now? Will you be cutting contact completely or hoping to keep her at arms length?

I'm going to give her a ring tonight and tell her what I've been thinking and try push her towards going to an AA meeting. The only thing is I'd struggle to believe her if she said she went to it, but then she can be really rubbish at lying most of the time so hopefully I'll be able to tell.

pmcblonde Fri 25-Jan-13 15:46:41

If her family think she's dead they can request that the police visit to check on her using the non-emergency number.

Al-Anon is a good recommendation

Poutintrout Fri 25-Jan-13 15:41:49

I have similar issues with my mother. She has done so may lousy, selfish things over the years mainly because of the alcoholism. Despite all the desperately crappy things she has done, for me the turning point came about after some fairly tame bad behaviour. Something just clicked in me that I can't and won't put up with it anymore. When I waiver I just remind myself that she clearly doesn't give two hoots about me (incidently she can curb her drinking when there is a new man on the scene but seemingly can't for the sake of her daughters and grandson).

Like in your case, my sister has cut contact completely with her already and she is much happier. As a result my mother is hanging on to me for dear life and trying to manipulate and guilt me by making out how close we are and what a wonderful daughter I am and how much she relies on me. It is so difficult but I am persisting in reducing my contact with her. It is a gradual thing but the guilt gets less and less over time. I keep reminding myself that she won't change, how I have given her lots and lots of second chances, I have tried to offer practical & emotional help but ultimately she doesn't care that she is sucking the life out of me. She brings nothing to my life except stress, anger, misery and a crushing sense of obligation. Telephoning me everyday simply to talk at me/cry/tell me how she had nothing to live & generally to bring me down is not the action of someone who loves me. Our relationship is not real. She wants me to play this role of adoring daughter/protector while she can pretend to people that she is the adored mum.

Cutting contact is difficult OP. The worst part for me has been my mothers transparent attempts at manipulating me into feeling guilty for the low contact by leaving messages with some "drama" and asking that I call because she needs me. I ignore it & see it for what it is. In the past I would have felt so guilty and phoned but this has just rewarded her manipulative behaviour.

Also op, blow what other people might think of you too. Let them experience a little of what you have put up with and then see what tune they are whistling. I have noticed that many of the friends with opinions on how "wonderful" my mother was have ended up telling her to bog off.

Good luck with what you decide to do but remember that you are not her doormat. Your feelings do matter. Why should you be a slave to her drink problem too? At some point people have to learn to help themselves and accept that other people have a limit and won't indefinitely put up with selfish and bad behaviour.

IDrankAllTheGravy Fri 25-Jan-13 15:00:17

Thanks for your replies smile
axure I don't do anything that helps her out day to day but seeing as I live so close to her I am the go between person for her family for those times when she's letting them think she's dead.

Have never thought of an al anon meeting so thanks for that. There is one fairly near me that I think I will make the effort to go to.

I have tried keeping her at a distance but it just doesn't work, she worms her way back in and makes you all worried about her when she's the one causing her self all her problems. How do you blame someone for something like that though when they can't really help themselves doing it? She's got deep mental health issues that were there waaaay before the alcohol came along. I feel so bad for her, I'd hate to think of her all on her own sad

Moominsarehippos Fri 25-Jan-13 13:51:31

We have a group that meets in our office block - every day. The support is fantastic and they seem to really find it useful - bubbling and excited when they come out.

CartedOff Fri 25-Jan-13 13:45:29

Have you hear of al-anon? Al-anon meetings are for friends or relatives of alcoholics and provides support from people who have experienced what you are going through.

Here's a website:

I recommend it because it can be very hard to talk to people who haven't been through it, as they can sometimes be horrified or judgemental about cutting someone off. If there's a meeting near you it might be worth going along and talking about it with others, as deciding to cut contact with an alcoholic relative is an extremely difficult decision and you should have support if you do it.

I would also recommend therapy. It's worth it: decades of worrying, guilt, builds up and sometimes you need someone else, with professional expertise, to help you see that you are not a bad person and have done the right thing for you. Best of luck.

Moominsarehippos Fri 25-Jan-13 13:42:06

Is there an al-anon nearby? I would give her the details and tell her to call you once she has called them.

popsgran Fri 25-Jan-13 13:36:43

I believe that alcoholics are very manipulative.If this woman was a friend and not a relative I guess you would cut all contact.its the mother/daughter thing that makes you feel guilty.I can see no reason why you should put yourself and children through this stress.
Only you know whether you should tell her you cant meet her any dont have to answer the phone.i have a similar problem with a family member who now only phones when sober.We maintain contact but it is limited.she will never change until she loses everything. It is so painful and difficult to accept when your heart cries out for a different loving relationship.I believe there are organisations like AA who have advice for families of alcoholics.Its a hard road for you.get advice/support from professionals make a plan and stick to it

axure Fri 25-Jan-13 13:28:48

You say that she has no-one else to look after her, do you do specific things that are vital to her day-to-day living?
If not then I would have no contact whilst she continues to drink. Maybe you could contact Social/Mental Health services, but if your Mother refuses to engage not sure what they can do. Don't let yourself get dragged down, you are not responsible for her drinking and refusal to get help.

IDrankAllTheGravy Fri 25-Jan-13 13:15:16


*should mention my older sister has almost totally cut her out of her life

IDrankAllTheGravy Fri 25-Jan-13 13:14:25

My mum has been an alcoholic for some years now, she's gone through stages of doing really well and others of doing terribly. She's also extremely toxic, she tells lies or her own pleasure. She recently told me she had cancer, she tells me she's fallen down the stairs and broken bones etc, they were all lies. She's done loads more horrible things but it wold be very long and boring to go in to it all.

I feel bad for her cos she's obviously got MH problems but she won't help herself.

Yesterday she came to meet me and she was steaming drunk at 10 am angry I was mortified as we met in a v public place with my young son there. obviously she wouldn't admit it, she never does. Anyway I feel like this is the last straw for me, I can't be done with lies anymore and I want her out my life. The guilt I feel over feeling like this is horrendous though! She doesn't really have anyone else to look after her. She has family but they're miles away, her few friends don't know the extent of what she's like.

I worry that if I cut her off as well then something terrible will happen to her, but then if I keep her in my life she's going to bring me down with her.

Has anyone else been through similar? I don't know what to do for the bet

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