Let me catch you up to speed if you’ve never read my blog before or talked to me about my family. My Mom is an alcoholic. I don’t know if she thinks she is, I’m pretty sure she has never admitted that she is, but she is.
It has affected me my entire life and still does to this day. I struggle speaking up for myself. I struggle feeling like I’m worthy of love and friendship. I struggle with self confidence. I have trust issues. I am a control freak. I’m afraid to let loose and almost always feel guilty for having fun. I’m nervous to have kids someday. I can’t handle being around anyone raising their voice. Confrontation makes my hands shake uncontrollably. I fear “bedtime” and have terrible sleep anxiety. And I constantly make myself small.
The one good thing about where I’m at now is that I can recognize where all of this stems from. It makes sense. I get it. It doesn’t make all of it go away, but it does make me feel like I’m not a crazy person.
When I was able to realize how damaging maintaining a relationship with her as an adult really was for me, I had to tell her like it was and cut off ties with her (which I did back in April of last year). Since then, I’ve been less stressed and anxious. I fully believe that this move, among others I made around the same time, was in part responsible for me getting my period (that had disappeared for over two years) back just a couple months following that decision. This daily walking on eggshells feeling that I had slowly melted away. It really did do a world of good to kindly stand up for myself and take care of myself in a way that I knew I needed to. It wasn’t easy- it was sad and scary- but I had to do it for me.
I get the occasional crazy text from her calling me names and criticising what I’m doing. Things blew up around Christmas this year. I hear rumors about the things she says about me to other family members. And as seen in the little letter above, she always finds a way to try to take me down a peg or two.
That letter was sent to me with a student loan document needed to fill out my taxes, by the way. A document I had already received online and downloaded. It’s sad how little she has to cling to now that she literally has no power or control over me.
In the past, a note like this would have sent me into a tailspin. I would have curled up into a ball, cried, and it would have ruined my day.
I rolled my eyes, shook my head, and simply said “wow” out loud when I opened it this morning. And then I took a picture of it, sent it to family members, tweeted it out, and now am writing about it on my blog.
Why you ask? Because I refuse to let her try to silence me or make me feel less than. Part of my Mom’s alcoholism was her wanting us to keep it a secret. I wasn’t allowed to talk about it. And if I did- she’d say I was being dramatic or over exaggerating and then punish me in someway (not letting me do things I wanted to do- like stay after school for a particular club- or simply be mean to me at home for the next week and make me feel like a piece of shit). I’d believe her too! She made me quite literally feel crazy. No more. I’m sorry, but no more, Mom. I’m putting it all out there. Keep sending me letters, go ahead.
In addition to feeling anger about this note, I feel sadness. Not for me- but for her. Projection is the best defense of an alcoholic and I hate how long it took me to realize that. Every mean thing she’s ever said about me and my sisters could be said to herself. It’s so obvious that these things that she’s says are really just how she feels about herself.
She has become an asshole. Her life is empty.
It breaks my heart. Because for as hard lined as I am about all this, at the end of the day, I love her more than words can say. I want her to find hope, light, and an ability to love and respect herself. I want her to climb out of this and reach out for help. I want her someday to really care for herself enough to not live this way. Just because I’m calling her out on her shit and her mental illness, doesn’t mean I don’t have compassion for her. I think about her everyday and just hope that someday she can have an honest relationship with herself. And of course, that the two of us can have a genuine relationship.
How I grew up made me who I am. For better or for worse.
Yes, it created all these long lasting problems for me that I mentioned above and I wish I had a normal, functioning relationship with my Mom, but this way of life also gave me so many blessings.
It has given me my strong maternal instinct to protect and nurture. It has made me more understanding of people and their differences or faults. It has made me a great orator and debater. It has allowed me to approach my demons in a calm, cool, collected way. It has made me able to express my feelings with a detailed and honest approach. It has made me appreciate the good things in life in a way I think most people don’t. It has made me a dreamer. It has made it clear to me what I want my future to look like and what I don’t want it to look like. It made me channel all of my energy into school and the things that gave me life (art, reading, and music) and thus cultivated this cultured, well rounded person. It pushed me far from home and made me go to school in DC changed my life for the better in too many ways to count. It has made me strong. It has made me resourceful. It has made me self-sufficient. It has made me feel like I can handle anything the world throws at me. It has made me feel like a true survivor. It has made me want to be more loving. It made me this extremely emotional being who feels everything. It has made me cherish the things that matter most in life. It has made me feel lucky to be alive and free. It allowed me to feel the struggle of working my way out of complete and utter heartbreak and depression and eventually into a really good place.
AND bringing all this back to current events, I think being exposed to this type of toxic behavior is what fuels my fight for what’s right and against deranged bullies (ahem our current President).
Oh, and if you were wondering- I changed my mailing address.