My mom became a mom too early.  She was 18.  I was born in 1968 to two young parents who were clueless, as most 18 year old parents are.  They tried to make it work but it didn’t.  They divorced and mom shortly thereafter married the man I call my dad.  I was about 3 or so (don’t ask for specific details…couldn’t tell you…my childhood is a big black blob).  Anyway…

I have been told that my mom was a drinker even back then.  I don’t recall.  I do remember being older and my mom drinking every night.  Every single night.  I don’t even remember how I felt about it then but in my adult years I remember trying many times to get her to stop.  It got really bad over the last 15 years or so.  By bad I mean her drinking, being argumentative, beligerent.  By bad I really mean that we starting seeing the cummulative effect of many years of nightly drinking.

Fast forward.

Mom got so sick 3 years ago that when it came time for our family Christmas get together, I was warned that mom looked bad.  When she arrived at my house I could not believe my eyes. She was a skeleton with what looked like a basketball under her shirt.  For those familiar with the disease, you understand.  It was that visit that made her family take charge.  Her husband (not my dad) in my mind failed her miserably.  THAT is another story altogether.

At that time I had just started realizing who I was.  I was in the middle of a huge discovery and quite a mess of my own.  So all of this was quite overwhelming.  

Mom was hospitalized and told frankly that if she didn’t stop drinking she was going to die.  Period.  Her body was giving out.  She stopped drinking and has been sober ever since.  Sober but still very sick.

Needless to say, I am leaving out a million important details. 

Fast forward again.

In her sobriety, my mom has finally realized it’s time to get happy (cue Partridge family song).  She is divorcing her third husband.  It is beyond scary for her because she is basically disabled.  She is on tons of medication to keep her body going.  Her liver is permanently damaged and we have no idea how long she has to live.  She is stable for now but we know the damage the alcohol has done to her body.  Divorcing means being alone with whatever her attorney can get for her.  She is losing her health coverage.  Losing it to never get it back.  She is uninsurable.  And she has to see several doctors and she depends on lots of medication.  All that costs money.

This decision was not made lightly.  And it will be one that is costly and possibly ugly.  We don’t know yet.

She told her husband she wanted a divorce and that she had an attorney.  I told her to come stay with us for a bit while she waited for her next doctor appointment, which happens to be here in Atlanta this week (she lives in Augusta).  I had to talk her into it but she finally agreed.   Since being here I have helped her with divorce papers and tried to convince her that everything would be ok.  That God apparently had a plan for her (which her attorney told her too).  She’s lived through so much and it was time to live her life.

She is not well. She’s a hand full.  She’s nervous and anxious and paranoid and depressed.  She has incredibly low self esteem and is THE most negative person on the face of the earth.  Not a pretty picture.  It’s hard to have her here but I feel so much better with her here instead of in a house where she is basically alone with no companionship, no friends and nothing to do.

Her divorce is going to be scary – for all of us.  We have no idea where she’s going to live or even how much money she is going to leave with after the divorce.   We have told her that she is welcome to be here but we all know that it’s not the most feasible solution.  We have a tiny house with the four of us, two big dogs and a cat.  Having her here means moving the girls into one small bedroom and they all share a bathroom.  We are squeezed in tight here, that’s for sure.  But it’s a roof.

My heart hurts for her.  It’s a pitiful sight, what she has become.  It’s just a culmination of so many years of destruction.  I keep wondering if there is anything we can do to help her be more positive and enjoy the time she has left on this earth.  My church has been praying for her for awhile now.  She has started going to church herself and has also started AA meetings.  It’s definitely a start.

I don’t know what the future holds for my mom.  I am taking her back to Augusta on Friday.  She will have to face her husband and deal with all of this head on.   She’ll meet with her attorney again next week and we’ll see what the next step is.  That’s all we can do.

In quiet moments alone, my demons visit me.  Trying to convince me that the depression, the addictive personality, the insecurities, the paranoia…they’re all in the genes and are inside me.  I fight those demons daily.  Sometimes I win, sometimes I don’t.  It’s hard.  I pray that I am nothing like her and that my kids were somehow cut from a different cloth so they will be different than her too.

Regardless, I will do everything in my power to make sure her last few years of life are happier ones.  She is, after all, my mom.


3 Responses to “Mother”

  1. Tonya –
    I don’t know quite what to say, other than the power of a mother/daughter bond is both wonderful and mysterious to me. Of all the people in my life, my mom seems to be the one that can touch me deepest. I respect you for being willing to love your mom, even when she is not necessarily easy to love and take care of. It says a lot about your character.

  2. Hey there Tonya, I think things will be rough for a bit but will come to a good end.
    I know about those fears of yours for your kids and yourself. My ex husband is an alcoholic, since January he quit drinking, and this time, I think not only for good, but he doesn’t seem to be a dry drunk either and that is a first ever. The AA meetings will help her tremendously in learning how to deal with life head on too. While it is hereditary, environment has a huge part in it too I am learning. If you don’t view alcohol or other addictions as an escape in life neither will your kids and they will be much much less likely to develop the habits of their Grandmother. One of my boys has no problem with not wanting or needing anything to cope. My other one has experimented and when he told me, we had a long talk about not only the dangers but also how it will destroy his life if he lets it and that life is wonderful all by itself even when it is hard. My kids are older of course….so talking about these things is easier. For you, you may want look into AlAnon which is for the families of alcoholics, adults and children. Just a thought. If you don’t have problems dealing with life head on, you may not feel the need for more than some self examination. And it isn’t likely that you will suddenly turn to addictive behaviors that are harmful if you haven’t in the past, relax and take care of your needs during this hard time, which is easier said than done……my prayers are with you for your own peace of mind.

  3. creativgg Says:

    Girl! Do we have the same mother??? Are you sure we aren’t sisters?
    My mom IS your mom, just 10 years younger. I know she’ll be in that same situation in the near future.
    All I can say to you is that putting up boundaries with your mom is going to be tough, but worth it. I’m still trying to do that.
    Loving her and enabling her are two very different things, something I’m still learning on a daily basis.
    I hope all turns out well and don’t let her run all over you….write me when you need to vent, ok?

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