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Alcoholic elderly parents(15 Posts)
Apologies for the length of this post, however despite editing three times, I don't feel I can make it any shorter.
OK, take a seat ..
My parents live 4 hours' drive from me and I have just returned having spent a rather arduous 48 hours in their company. I tend not to see them that often (twice a year, in the past few years) as every time we spend more than a few hours together, resentments and issues crop up and an aggressive atmosphere occurs.
Throughout my childhood they have always drank (big parties in the house when we were younger, me coming back from spending the night at DGPs to find hungover strangers in my childhood bed), smoked a lot of weed, other drugs depending on the occasion, weekends were spent down the pub... always put a priority over our needs (there's just DB and me) - I remember my mum saying she'd done a weekly shop for 4 people on 5 pounds however always enough money for booze and fags, but if I needed a new pair of jeans as was wearing halfmasts, it was an utter ball ache to go out and purchase and I was never grateful enough - just don't realise how easy I've got it etc - no extra curricular activities/encouragement, as 'why should I give up my free time for you to do XYZ' etc).
Both my parents had tough upbringings and I believe they have been together now for 40 years as they allow enable the other.. and whilst they have always 'partied', in the past few years, since retirement, they have got dramatically worse. For example, my dad (69 yo) ploughed through 2.5 litres of wine plus 3 triple brandies on Sunday, but 'soaked it up' with 2 tablespoons of pilau rice and quarter of a naan bread...
I find it very difficult to 'let them live their own lives' when I see they state the pair of them are in. Yes, they are adults, however I cannot help but worry about them and want to help. On the flip side, I cannot forget or forgive the violence and aggression that was foisted on me and my brother. (My brother received the worst of it, however I do remember barricading myself in my bedroom with every piece of furniture I could shift, aged 9, as DF tried to kick the door down, calling me a 'fucking cunt' and a 'fucking whore' - I had a falling out with him a couple of years ago when I very calmly, non-judgementally, brought this up, and of course he denied all knowledge of this (he wouldn't have remembered because he was drunk at the time. I, however, remember it as one of the saddest memories of my childhood) and said I was making it up and told me to 'get to bed. fucking get to bed' - I was 37 at the time, in my own home... and we've never brought it up again.
I later told my mum about this exchange and she said 'well, darling, I knew he could be a little violent, I meant he's clumped me a couple of times, but I doubt I would have ever let him hurt one of my babies..'. then in the same breath she said 'but I do recall I time I threatened to call the police as he was about to throw DB down the stairs (DB was 14 at the time)...
A childhood of chaos and unpredictability - as a result, I went through a period of eating disorders (my dad 'fucking hates fat people'), promiscuity (for which I've been called a whore by him, in public at parties & other social gatherings, throughout my entire adult life) self harming and depression when I was 16 and sorted it out myself via a CPN, medication and leaving home at 17 whilst still at school. When having been encouraged by my counsellor to confide in them about what was going on, I was told 'Oh darling, don't be so silly'...
Anyway, as I say, Ive just spent a weekend with them, caring for my mum who has been bed bound for 6 weeks (and not sought medical assistance) and once again dealing with a drunk, snarling, aggressive father. At one point, he snapped at me and I swear, if he'd been 20 years younger he would have hit me...luckily he can't move that fast nowadays and I'm somewhat stronger and taller than him...
I could go on forever about the things that make me very very sad, angry and hurt -and then I have that inbuilt self-doubting thought of 'am I just being dramatic? Should I not just 'get over' this.. Am I mad for overthinking and carrying on this resentment and anger and sadness? They (he) really doesn't believe he has done anything wrong and I am 'too sensitive'. If I try to bring anything up, I get told to 'fucking shut up'...
The questions I really want to ask are, if you went through the same sort of childhood, how the hell did you 'let go? Did you forgive? Did you heal? Did you cut an alcoholic parent off? Where did you get support? When was your 'aha' moment of realising your upbringing was not 'normal'? (I was 35, having a failed marriage to an alcoholic - qu'elle surprise- and a lifetime of relationships with addicts). I'm just a bit overwhelmed and whilst I can chat to friends about it, none of them have experienced similar.
I have been unable to let go because I’d never see the nice
headsburiedinsand side of the family. I didn’t experience the violence, but the drunken behaviour is very familiar. At 80, my parents are still horrible drunks, but because it’s only from 4pm onwards, it’s apparently ok I’m very lc, see them twice a year.
Why are still going to stay with people who abused you, OP? FOG?
I am not in touch with certain family for different but still traumatic reasons. The only way was to cut them off as it was just so draining. I'm much happier and I've learnt not to feel guilty. Life goes on and it's a short one.
The aha moment was knowing I had the choice to NOT torment myself anymore and walk away. When you feel empowered it is life changing.
No experience, but have you ever gone to Al Anon for families?
Why are you taking care of these people?
That there is no rule (legal or moral) that states that we must care for those who never gave a shit about us. You owe your parents nothing.
There will come a moment when you decide you are sick of this. Just keep in the back of your mind for that moment that your first duty is to YOU, not to them.
What is your brother's relationship with your parents like? Does he see them or has he cut them out? Would it help you to speak with him about your shared past and how he's dealt with it (if he has)?
You're not being over dramatic. I'm going through something very similar atm, except my alcoholic father has unwittingly instigated his own NC with a prison sentence.
That's how far it's escalated.
I think I first realised it was not normal when my dad offered me and my teen friends a lift whilst half cut, pretty much forced us into the car actually. Me, being used to it gripped on for dear life whilst my friends thought his reckless driving was hilarious and I felt so ashamed.
I would like to say that it's all sweetness and roses now I've got some distance, but it's not. I have guilt for not communicating with him. However I can also not constantly think/worry about him for the first time in about 5 years.
I've tried counselling, Al Anon family group, and am now trying CBT. The former were not for me and the latter is a work in progress.
The only thing I'm really gained from the period of NC is that I can/could not help him. It's a decision for him to make, the only thing I can try to do is protect myself.
I would suggest heading over to the stately homes thread op
It's not you
Aha moment was when I found out F was a drunk driver who was also financially abusing DM. Until that point he was just a sleepy drunk in denial. Knowing he'd deceived us all for such a long time and done such awful things fundamentally changed my view of him. We've barely spoken since, however he is still married to DM who is convinced she can change him
I have very little to do with him, but support DM where I can as I understand she is codependent for reasons beyond her control.
He's very ill at the moment and I give zero fux. DH thinks I'll regret this as at some point but I've been dealing with this shit for 20+ years and am just so over it.
Support comes from friends in RL as unfortunately many
all of us seem to have at least one alcoholic parent.
for you, OP.
There’s a nice Facebook group called COAisathing that you might find helpful.
Thank you for your messages.
DB's relationship with them is strained and always has been - he effectively cut them out last summer (dad more so than my mum, but they come as a package deal) - which I certainly don't blame him for, however it has left me feeling I'm in the position of being the only one who can look after them (which I am, as we don't live in the UK and have no other family out here. Parents don't really speak the local language and they live in a very isolated area, 4 hours drive from my house) - TOTALLY my own 'choice' to feel responsible, I know - I just now want to figure out how to 'choose' something different.
A friend suggest Al-Anon and there's a meeting I would like to go to next week, in the hope it might lead me to somewhat more healthier frame of mind. I KNOW I cannot change them - however long term conditioning has led to feeling like I shouldn't 'give up' on them. It's really bloody hard to unlearn these patterns...but step by step...
It's not giving up to realise you don't deserve to be treated badly and to accept that they won't change.
I don't see my father any more. My life is much better without him in it.
I'm sorry OP. I agree with a PP it is NOT you. It's them.
Keep this in mind:
I did not cause this.
I cannot control this.
I cannot cure this.
I think Al-Anon would be very helpful. There comes a time for all of us where we have to cut the alcoholic in our lives out of our lives for our own mental & physical health. Al-Anon can help you see where you are on the road.
The alcoholic in my life is my brother. I was his only support and I had to yank the rug out from under him by telling him not to contact me until he was sober. I did it with the help of DH and a good counselor. It nearly broke me but in the end was the best thing I could have done for him. He hit rock bottom and had to pick himself up without my help. He's been sober 3 years.
Oh my goodness. You owe them nothing. You really don't. You can not help them . They are beyond help and it will just be a waste of time. Leave them to it. Go NC. Don't let them ruin your life as well as theirs. You sound as if you have sorted your life out after a very tough upbringing. No one did that for you, you did it all yourself. Don't let them destroy it. Don't give them one minute more of your time and enjoy the life you've built for yourself from nothing, that's what you deserve, not exhausting yourself clearing up a mess of their doing.
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