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My mother was an alcoholic and it's ruining my adult life

(52 Posts)
bizarrelyjubilant Sun 26-Feb-17 08:14:19

I never used to think it had impacted on me so much. I put my lack of success with everything down to school bullying, down to my own bad choices and down to everything really.

But then I found this which was like reading a list of my own characteristics sad to the point where I've never actually had a relationship because I'm terrified of intimacy.

The question is what can I do about it? I am not sure about therapy; I just can't see how one hour a week is going to change entrenched things that have been there twenty, thirty odd years?

MrsBertBibby Sun 26-Feb-17 08:40:11

But therapy isn't just an hour a week. That's just the time you spend talking. There's all the reflection and stuff the therapist gets you to do between sessions.

noego Sun 26-Feb-17 08:44:11

If you believe the characteristics are entrenched then they will remain entrenched. Therapy will help the undoing of those characteristics.
You could discover why mum was alcoholic? What happened in her life that she needed alcohol as a crutch. It might in someway lead to understanding and maybe forgiveness.
It is also part of the healing process.

bizarrelyjubilant Sun 26-Feb-17 08:56:54

I can't, she's dead now noego, she's been dead 19 years.

I'll think about therapy but some of them don't seem great blush and I never know how to go about finding one who can help with my specific issue. As I feel I just keep saying I don't know. And also my memories are patchy as I was quite young when she died.

junebirthdaygirl Sun 26-Feb-17 09:14:23

You could try alanon where you will meet many people affected in the same way. Also some with parents who have died.

PacificDogwod Sun 26-Feb-17 09:17:52

Have a look at the Al-Anon website and consider going to one of their meetings - they are a support group for people affected by alcohol in their families.

I know getting in contact with them has helped a friend of mine immensely - like you she grew up with an alcoholic mother who died very suddenly and she found only after her death that she was no longer prepared to live with the legacy her experience had left her with.

And yes, 'clicking' with your therapist is important for any therapy, and yes, not all are great, but unless you try, you'll never find the one for you.

PacificDogwod Sun 26-Feb-17 09:18:10

Ah, junebird beat me to it smile

BantyCustards Sun 26-Feb-17 09:23:43

Have you heard of adult They have chapters that follow AAs 12 steps to help AC recover from the impact of growing up in GTA functional families.

I'm planning on checking out the one local to me - I am sick of history having such a hold over me.

BantyCustards Sun 26-Feb-17 09:24:36

GTA???? I have no idea how autocorrect deduced that from me mistyping 'dysfunctional'

AttilaTheMeerkat Sun 26-Feb-17 09:27:51


I would have a look at NACOA's website; specifically this part of it that I have linked for you.

noego Sun 26-Feb-17 09:30:12

Try BACP for counsellors and therapists in your area. And it doesn't matter how long ago this occurred it can still be undone

bizarrelyjubilant Sun 26-Feb-17 09:53:51

Thank you so much.

I would feel odd with an Al Anon meeting as although I recognise I have been affected it is subliminal and it's not something I explicitly recognise. Does this make sense?

My older brother has also never had a relationship.

ClopySow Sun 26-Feb-17 10:03:56

I just read that list too and can identify with so much of it. My dad was an alcoholic and died 10 years ago.

I've had counselling a number of times over the years and while it helped me understand things, i didn't feel it changed how i did things. I had some hypnotherapy over the last few years and saw a counsellor again after that. It's the first time i felt counselling worked for me.

I'd be happy to talk via pm if you like.

PacificDogwod Sun 26-Feb-17 10:04:00

Yes, I understand the reluctance smile
it seems like a big step, and as if you are 'officially' conceding that your upbringing still has an effect on you and it can seem like a weakness or some kind of defect.
When in fact, the opposite is true.
Reaching out for help takes strength and resilience and is hard.

Look at the various websites suggested and read some of the testimonies.
You are not alone with your problem and if you did go to any kind of meeting or a counsellor, trust me, you are unlikely to feel odd or out of place.

PacificDogwod Sun 26-Feb-17 10:05:13

Counselling in whatever form is there to bring these subconscious effects to the conscious, to allow you to recognise them and, crucially, change them.

sheusestangerines Sun 26-Feb-17 10:07:20

OP I'm sorry you've had a difficult time. I started therapy completely unconvinced how talking once a week could change things but knowing id hit rock bottom and had to try. It's been over six months and I'm in a much healthier place now.

I found it really daunting being faced with the huge list of BACP counsellors in the area. I found a local theraputic practice with a range of professionals and associated therapists. I had an assessment and he then found someone he thought would be a good match. There may be similar near you?

Or one of the organisations linked may be able to put you in contact with suitable counselling.

I don't think change is easy. I think you are wise to question the process. But i think as you understand more about how your experiences shaped you, you might find that the bad stuff in your adult life feels less inevitable and it's easier to see how you can change things.


bizarrelyjubilant Sun 26-Feb-17 10:17:56

Thank you. Yes, I do get intimidated by the long lists. I think when I've had counselling before it's been very much 'this is the story of my life ... that's terrible, how do you feel ... well mostly ok but ...' you know? smile

I know it's a how long is a piece of string question but how long does it take? As I don't have limitless money shock

Fighterofthenightman Sun 26-Feb-17 10:21:31

Those characteristics are so broad they'll apply to huge amounts of people regardless of background. Counselling might be a good idea if you're distressed though.

HarryTheHippo Sun 26-Feb-17 10:23:19

Can completely relate to that list. I've underperformed as an adult, fear of confrontation and conflict don't help establish yourself in a career.

I'm in counselling as I have an eating disorder but we tend to focus on the now and I'm a year in.... My mother still dominates my life a lot in terms of getting her care/sectioned often. I'm exhausted.

bizarrelyjubilant Sun 26-Feb-17 10:28:43

Fighter possibly but not every single one. There is only one that doesn't apply to me. They also apply to my brother and believe me, we are VERY different people.

Harry flowers I sometimes wonder what my mum would have been like if she'd lived but I just can't imagine. And she must have felt dreadful. To be 51 and dying and leaving your young teenagers and knowing you'd done it. But she couldn't.

sheusestangerines Sun 26-Feb-17 10:36:04

Tricky. I have spent a lot on therapy. But I was barely functioning and I'm almost living a pretty normal life now.

I saw a counsellor who seemed to want to work through all the shit in a chronological fashion and very much just echoed back my feelings. I found the idea of recounting everything too difficult and the approach unhelpful. I dont think she was particularly intelligent (not sure how to say that without sounding pompous).

My current therapist is far more intelligent than I am! And has studied extensively. She also works as a mental health professional. She doesn't just passively listen. She offers great insights and we play around with ideas.

Despite it having been months and me expecting to see her for some time yet, we have discussed the possibility of stopping early.
The early work focused on improving my life now. The processing the past is a work in progress. If I had to stop therapy now I would cope ok.

Timescales, goals etc are something you should discuss up front and review as you go along.

Sorry for such a long message about "me". Hope hearing anothers experience is useful in some way.

Dontsayyouloveme Sun 26-Feb-17 10:43:23

Please, please, please just have a read if this if you do nothing else:

It's not necessarily about having an alcoholic parent but about the way you were treated as a child and it's long term effects on you now. I'm going through this as a result of losing my mother at 11years old followed by years living with an emotionally distant father. It's effects have been so far reaching in terms of having intimate adult relationships but at last I know why and how to get over those issues. It's changed my life to the point I've ended my shit marriage, something I couldn't have done a year ago!!

Best of luck flowers

sheusestangerines Sun 26-Feb-17 10:48:40

Cross posted.

It's a terribly sad horrible illness isn't it?

51 is so young OP. How sad for you and your brother. And your poor mother of course. flowers

I hope you find someone to talk to who can help.

noego Sun 26-Feb-17 10:53:43

There is an old Buddhist proverb that goes something like.

Living in the past will cause depression, Living in the future will cause anxiety. Living in the now will cause peace and calm.

SeaEagleFeather Sun 26-Feb-17 10:53:51

I think the quality of the counsellor/therapist is key as sheuses says. and the click with them.

don'tsay I'm in very much the same boat with death of mother and a distant and not very pleasant father. It doesn't go away, does it. Though my husband is a good one, flawed but we make it work. Best of luck.

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