It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my drunk mother on the phone and cried myself to sleep because I couldn’t help her and I couldn’t stop her. She couldn’t stop or help herself either.
It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve felt helpless and powerless…just like her.
It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve been bombarded with phone calls from the E.R., hospital, police, concerned people and life line.
It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my mother cry and tell me she was scared because she was bleeding again and knew she would eventually bleed to death. Even though she knew Vodka was killing her, she couldn’t stop. I felt scared…just like her.
It’s been over two and a half months since I’ve heard my mother’s sweet sober voice on the phone. The one that would say “everything’s wonderful” on one of her good days.
It’s been over two and a half months since I laughed with my mother.
It’s been over three years since I tried to force my mother into treatment and she refused. I sat next to her while she spoke to her niece on the phone. Mother was crying so hard it was difficult to understand her. She told her niece I was trying to make her go to treatment, she didn’t want to and I was being mean to her. I wasn’t being mean but I was firm and made it clear she wasn’t staying with me. She had to go to treatment or go back to her apartment. My boys weren’t going to be put through this. I felt bad for her but I was also furious over her stunt of walking my neighborhood and knocking on doors until she found someone to take her to the liquor store. I was angry that she had humiliated herself and my boys…mainly my boys. I tried to protect them from all of the hurt and disappointment that I had known throughout my life and she brought it into my home. She got drunk and Madden had been alone with her. She was a scary mean drunk. It was very emotional for me. I was furious. My kids weren’t going to go through what I had lived through.
Everyone knows you can’t force someone into treatment. But I tried and I failed. I ended up driving her back to her apartment. It took many months before I could speak to her again. I knew she would eventually kill herself and I couldn’t take it. I had to separate myself from her. It was the only way I knew to protect myself from the hurt.
As I drove home from work yesterday, I thought about Mother and my feelings about her recent death. I let my mind move through different questions and feelings. My thoughts wandered to my friends – How would they feel if they had lost their mom? Would they be devastated? Would they spend a lot of time crying? Would their world be turned upside down? Would they feel heartbroken and hopeless? Would they feel like they had been cheated? Would they miss them? Would they have a hard time? I imagined the answer would have been yes to most of those questions.
I didn’t feel the things I thought my friends might feel. I know this sounds harsh and cold but I almost felt relief…like a ton of bricks were lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I could breathe and finally had some peace. I no longer got the endless, helpless, heartbreaking phone calls. I was no longer tormented with worry about her – wondering if she had enough to eat because she had spent her last three dollars on another bottle of vodka. I no longer had to worry if someone was taking advantage of her, if she was getting beat up, if she was in jail or in the ER or hospital. I no longer anticipated the phone call telling me she was dead. I no longer worried about what others must have thought about me – her only daughter not saving her or not hopping in the car and driving the almost 2 hours with every phone call. I no longer felt guilt about putting my kids and husband first and wanting to protect them from the craziness.
That’s when it hit me – my grief was in reverse. I grieved my Mother throughout her life – my life. The feelings I imagined my friends would have with the loss of their mom where the feelings I had during the life of mine. I felt devastated, heartbroken and hopeless. I felt cheated and missed not having her. I had a very hard time with her decisions and the things she put me through. I grieved her my entire life. I prayed for her and tried to help her. It was only in death that she could have peace. Even though she had struggled in this life, I knew the moment she had taken her last breath she had gone to heaven. That gave me peace.
I wish I had gotten the opportunity to have my mother be the mom that I always knew she could have been. It makes me sad that we both missed out on that sweet mother/daughter relationship. God blessed me with so many sweet relationships and I am thankful for those.
I still cry occasionally but it’s not for what was…it’s for what could have been.
The greatest gift of all was that her struggles and my relationship with her inadvertently taught me to be a better mom and savor the sweetness.
Finding the sweet side of crazy!
Your words are always filled with so much wisdom. I’m thankful for that one peaceful phone call where everything was “wonderful” for her because I got to speak with her during that time. I truly cherish that phone call.
I’m thankful you called her Shelley. It was a blessing that it was a good day. It meant a lot to her.