Growing Up With An Alcoholic Mother

by Grace Currie

I love my mother dearly. She is, hands down, one of the kindest people that I know. I remember when I was in elementary school, we were driving past an ice-skating rink in my hometown. A teenage boy was standing out in near-freezing temperatures, and it was raining. My mother promptly turned the car around, pulled up to the boy, and asked him where his parents were. After learning that he had nowhere to stay, she invited him to stay at our house. He lived with us for two weeks until a better living situation could be found for him. That is my mother. Another vivid memory that I have from my childhood is locking myself in the bathroom (my bedroom had no lock) as my drunk mother pounded on the door, sobbing and saying she “just wanted to talk”. This happened several times a week.

I quickly learned to read all of the signs that she was drunk. I learned to stay at my friend houses. I learned to stay in my room at night. I learned to cook my own dinners. I learned to calm down my younger brother. In addition to being an alcoholic, my mother suffers from major depression. Once, I went into my parents bedroom after school (I was a latchkey kid) and saw a questionnaire on my mothers bedside table about depression. She had checked off that she was majorly depressed, that she felt her life was meaningless, and that she had thoughts about suicide. I was 8. After that happened I determined to always take care of her.

As i’m sure other children of alcoholics know, you are not a child because you don’t have a responsible parent to take care of you. I began to watch after her like a hawk. I would put blankets over her when she passed out on the couch. I would make sure to give her some of the dinner that I’d made after school.

My father has always been there, and my parents are still married. My father has two beers at the most, and only on Sundays during football. But my father also comes from a conservative family that does not talk about alcoholism (or feelings for that matter). So inevitably, if my father was home, he was either ignoring my mother and watching TV, or he was ushering her upstairs to their bedroom, where they would fight loudly as my brother and I listened. By the time we were older, her addiction had gotten worse. On the night of my 15th birthday party, I went to my best friends house to have a sleepover with our friends. That night I got a call from my dad saying that my mother had gotten drunk and left. She didn’t have her phone with her, and he had no idea where she was. I lied to my friends and pretended I was sick, and my dad picked me up. We spent the next few hours canvassing the neighborhood looking for her, with no luck. I didn’t sleep that night. The next day, we get a call from her: she was at the local inn. She had walked a few miles to get there, and spent the night. When we picked her up, she pretended that nothing had happened.

Here I am, 24 years old, and two days ago she got drunk on my parents 26th anniversary, started cursing at the bartender, and ending up passing out on the floor in front of the bathroom. My dad and the bartender had to carry her out. And even though I now live 3,000 miles away, I still feel responsible for her.

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