An Open Letter To An Alcoholic Mother From Her Recovering Addict Son
This will be the most difficult thing I’ve ever had to write with the exception of the letter similar to this I slipped inside the Christmas card I sent you last year. But I do have to write it, Mom. Even though It’s not likely to ever reach you. The one I wrote last year was for you. I didn’t know what else to do. I knew if I brought it up in a phone conversation you’d just get upset, or lie and cause me to get upset. I know that, because It’s what I would do if the roles were reversed and I’m just like you Mom, I really am. This letter though, isn’t for you, it’s for me.
There was never a time when your drinking didn’t present problems in my life. There was only a time when I didn’t know it. And that time was very short lived because although I don’t even know if you remember but when I was about five years old I had a Doctor’s appointment with Dr. Rowan down the street from Dad’s. I went to come get you to tell you it was time to leave and I found you in the bathroom drinking rubbing alcohol. At the age of five, I knew enough to tell you “You’re not supposed to drink that, it’s for boo boos.”
Before you go and blame yourself before somehow finding a way to contort yourself into the victim, you should know, I hold not an ounce of ill will towards you. Not a single resentment. I blame you for nothing and I love you with all my heart. However, your drinking is a different story. I hate it. I blame it. In fact, the day I decided to stop drinking was because I started to realize my drinking was starting to look an awful lot like yours. It caused problems for others. It let things I would’ve normally paid little or no mind to infuriate and depress me. It gave me wings to fly and then took away the sky.
I didn’t wake up and need a drink like I can only imagine you do at this point. I don’t say that to embarrass or humiliate you, it’s just science. And you should know I’m no better than you because there was a time I couldn’t get my day started without a pill. The same narcotic pain medication you claim to be allergic to, I’m apparently allergic to as well except when I take it — I break out in a hopeless and meaningless existence.
I don’t blame you for anything because at the end of the day, it’s not you. I know better than anyone there is a deeply loving and kind hearted woman inside you begging to be let free. Free from the pain she’s in. Free from the cage vodka keeps her in. I know Mom, because I’ve seen her and sat and talked with her. She makes me laugh, she’s genuinely funny. She’d do anything for the people she cares about. But she’s also gone the moment you pick a drink up.
What kills me is I don’t even know if you know you have an actual medical condition. I think you might think you’re good at sneaking drinks? As if the smell and the 180 degree turn in your demeanor doesn’t leave you dead to rights. I don’t write this out of anger but instead concern. Concern for the woman who calls me and tells me the same story she did last time I spoke to her because she doesn’t even remember speaking to me. For the woman who drinks problematically with total disregard for the fact she has a chronic lung condition and refuses to acknowledge alcohol slows down your breathing. I am deeply worried about the woman who thinks she’s going to find her happiness in a drink only to wake up to more pain and problems.
I have no ultimatums to give you, you’re my Mother and I’ll always love you from the deepest and truest part of me — no matter what. I don’t want you to stop drinking for me, I want you to do it for you. I want you to want to do it because I know if you don’t want it, it won’t happen. I’ve said what I had to say, the rest is up to you now and I’m painfully aware I have no choice but to accept that fact.
All I know is you can’t continue on like this. The same way I couldn’t. I had to stop because I refused to be the reason you and Dad buried your only child. The day I walked into my first meeting, I thought life as I knew it was over. Ironically, it might as well have been the day my life started. Whatever I was doing before that, wasn’t living. It was surviving. Merely existing, in a miserable fashion. A fashion I know you’ve come to know all too well, one you knew before I did. One that nothing on this earth would make me happier to see you finally escape from and I assure you it’s possible Mom. I promise you, there is a beautiful life on the other side of this darkness. You just have to be willing to let the light in.
Sincerely, Your Loving Son