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Don’t Get Drunk Fridays: Kym’s Story

Note from Stef: Something I have heard over and over in sobriety is that you can’t get stop drinking for someone else. Sobriety has to be something you do for yourself or it will never work. Well, I have to call bullshit on that. There were quite a few times in the first few months I wasn’t drinking that I tried to convince myself that I wasn’t that bad. I wasn’t hurting anyone but myself so why was I being so hard on myself and quitting drinking all together? I mean, that’s so drastic right? But then I would look at my babies -in fact, I took photographs of them with me anytime I went on a trip so I could pull them out as a reminder -and I would think, “I haven’t hurt anyone yet. But I can’t take that chance. I can’t predict with 100% certainty how I’m going to act after I have my first glass of wine. So how the hell do I know I won’t ever do the things that “real” alcholics do?” When I can’t do it for me, I do it for them.

This is Kym’s story:

My mom was the “cool mom”. I had virtually no rules or curfew, she would buy me and my friends alcohol and let us party in the basement. Her behavior was a little strange sometimes in the evenings, but I was just a kid…what did I know?

While I was in high school, she got her masters degree in Psychology and became a drug and alcohol counselor. She was drinking almost every night at that point, but I convinced myself that I was being too sensitive. Every time I would try to talk to my mom or dad about it, I would get the same response – she was just having a little fun, it was no big deal.

The first time that my mom seriously embarrassed me by her drinking is when she sat on my boyfriend’s dad’s lap on Thanksgiving. That night she got so drunk she fell off her chair twice during dinner. The next weekend she dropped a baby during a dinner party with our neighbors. By this time, my dad and I were so horrendously codependent that we could explain away her behavior without blinking an eye. We had perfected the art of not talking about the “night before.”

I cleaned my parents’ house for extra money and found bottles everywhere; between her jeans in the closet, in the laundry hamper, in the pantry, hidden behind books. She had become two different people – the mom who was incredibly supportive and generous and then the terrible drunk who was out of control. I finally began to realize that something wasn’t right. I tried to talk to my dad about it, but all he had was excuses for her, and made it clear that it was his expectation that I would stay quiet.

Our lives were incredibly intertwined at this point. Financially, I relied on my parents very heavily. They were paying for my college, my wedding and helping my husband and I buy a house. Almost every time she would get drunk around me, she’d call me the next day and invite me shopping or buy me a gift. I would feel terrible bringing up the “night before” when she was always being so generous. I continued to bite my tongue. The pain and hurt I felt was huge.

During my pregnancy with my first child, she got a DUI. She said she was finally going to get clean – she enrolled in an outpatient facility, geared towards working adults who didn’t want their lives disrupted by getting sober. She was adamant that no one in her practice know about what happened, or she’d lose her credibility and her job. I continued to keep her secret. She only stayed sober a couple of months that time.

Shortly after my son was born, she came over to my house and insisted that I take a nap while she watched the baby. My dad was there too, so I felt okay. Almost without thinking, I made a point to note how full the bottle of wine was that my husband had opened the evening before and left half full and corked on the counter. When I woke up from my nap, there was a considerable amount missing. True to form, I didn’t say anything, but I realized after they left that I was furious. For the first time, I was unwilling to keep quiet. She could hurt me, but I wouldn’t let her hurt my newborn son. I went over to her house the next morning and told her that I no longer trusted her to be alone with my son, ever. I told her I didn’t want to see her until I could clear my head, that she had crossed the line and I needed time without her around for me to think. That night, she tried to commit suicide. The next week, she checked into a 30 day treatment program in another state. She drank within 3 weeks of coming home.

There are specific moments that will forever be ingrained in my memory – when she came to the hospital drunk while I was in labor and another time when her secretary called me to ask my advice on what she should do since she saw my mom drinking in the parking garage while on a break from work. I will never forget the birthdays and BBQ’s and family get-togethers where she would get just drunk enough that most people thought she was the life of the party, but I would go to the bathroom and cry because it hurt so bad to watch her.

After about a year of individual therapy, I finally realized my role in the cycle of my mom’s alcoholism, and am no longer a part of it. I know now that I cannot save her and I cannot change her. Today, our relationship is hard. She is in our lives, but she isn’t allowed to be around my kids without supervision. She lies about everything – it’s like it’s her second nature and doesn’t know how to stop. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to ever fully trust her again.

My dad told me about a time when I was very little when she started to drink heavily and got her first DUI. He remembers her feeling so ashamed, and making the decision to stop drinking, acknowledging that things were out of control. She obviously didn’t stop then, but I just can’t help but wonder how different life would have been if she had.

As always, if you think you have a problem with alcohol, there is help. Check the front of the phonebook and come on over to the Booze Free Brigade for support.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on February 5, 2010 4:39 pmDon't Get Drunk Friday22 comments  

22 Comments

  1. Ellie said,

    Oh, thank you for your beautiful and honest words. It is a stark reminder of the impact addiction has on a whole family. As a Mom in recovery, I eat up these words as a reminder of why I want to stay sober. And on the days I don’t want to? It’s a reminder of why I need to. Thank you.

    -Ellie
    .-= Ellie´s last blog ..7 Quick Takes Friday – Heavy on the Potty Mouth =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 5:14 pm

  2. Elizabeth said,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story. You help me and other moms feel validated for quitting drinking now before things start to get ugly. If any moms out there have quit for this reason, HANG IN THERE. You may not be able to quit again. Elizabeth

    | February 5, 2010 @ 5:16 pm

  3. Rebecca said,

    Thanks for sharing your story, Kym. How freeing for you that you have been able to work through the role you played and know that you cannot do anything to change someone else. That information is often so hard to deal with – but ultimately, it frees us up for a better life.
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..What writing is like =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

  4. Caroline said,

    First, a note for Stef: I hear all the time that we have to make a decision to stay sober for ourselves, and I call bs on that, too. I remember one of the first meetings I went to, when I was so raw I could barely speak, and I remember sharing and saying, honestly, that I didn’t have any love for myself as an alcoholic. My point was that it was totally love for others that got me to the rooms of A.A.,and that the most I could hope for was that I would find just enough love for myself to KEEP me there. That’s my thought on that.

    Now, for Kym. I can’t imagine the pain I put my family through when I was drinking. I was that person who couldn’t go to the hospital when my sister was being transported for the birth of her son, because I had started drinking and just. couldn’t. stop. I am so grateful that I did, and that my family had the capacity to forgive me (even if they won’t ever forget it). I hope that you have that experience with your mother one day.
    .-= Caroline´s last blog ..A Letter from My Father-in-Law Re: Haiti =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

  5. Lisa Rae @ smacksy said,

    Kym –
    Thanks you for sharing your story and reminding us all that alcoholism is a family disease.
    xo
    .-= Lisa Rae @ smacksy´s last blog ..The Democrat =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 6:34 pm

  6. lauren said,

    Thank you so much for posting something from the viewpoint of a family member. It really is a fisease that affects everyone.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  7. Gretchen said,

    I am grateful today that my kids won’t, by the grace of GOD, have to write this one day. 10 mths and counting!

    | February 5, 2010 @ 7:08 pm

  8. Abbigail Gutierrez said,

    This is a story I can relate to! My father is a “hiding” alcoholic. In the past ten yrs he has gotten significantly bad. It is hard for me because I used to be Daddy’s girl. He has written me hate mail on my birthdays, if he hasnt forgotten them, simply because he doesnt think I am around enough anymore. My step family just promotes it. They bring him alcohol, they party with him, etc. I have had many conversations with my step mother about how hurtful he is to both her and I. But she has been abused her whole life and while my dads drinking is bad, he has treated her the best out of many people. This makes it hard for her to stand ground and most of the time she ends up drinking with him. I have not confronted my dad about this because I do not want the pain it will cause. I know he will just flip out on me. I keep my distance. Call once or twice a month. I dont plan too much with him and if he drinks I leave before he gets too drunk. He spends his drunk hrs telling made up stories and beefing himself up. I know his life was rough and he has battled with mental issues his whole life so I know this is his way “out”. He will never accept either thing so I really dont ever see him getting help for this no matter what. I have to watch myself with alcohol. It is on both sides of the family. When I drink I lose control. I am a happy drunk but I do stupid stupid things. My husband does not drink even at all and that helps me out tremendously. I do have a beer here and there but thats it. I do think about alcohol everyday though. But watching my father makes me think about my own family and how they would feel. Thank you for sharing!!!

    | February 5, 2010 @ 7:09 pm

  9. Elizabeth Sober said,

    Yes! This! This is what I want to avoid. Kym, thank you so much for sharing this – it brought tears to my eyes. I’m sorry that you had to experience this. My mother is also an alcoholic – less dramatic, perhaps, but I’d still never leave my kids alone with her at night.

    And Stef, thank you so much for your candor, Don’t Drink Fridays, and the Booze Free Brigade. They have really helped me take steps I had been avoiding for a long time.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

  10. Brooke said,

    Stefanie: I agree with you. I want children more than anything else in this whole world. I don’t have children yet, but while I quit drinking for myself, I am staying sober for them. I know for sure that for me, drinking and motherhood will not play nicely.

    Kym, thank you so much for sharing your story.
    .-= Brooke´s last blog ..Wow =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 7:28 pm

  11. Corinne said,

    Thank you so much for your story…
    .-= Corinne´s last blog ..Sobering gifts =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 7:43 pm

  12. Mommy on the Spot said,

    Kym, I am so glad to see a post from the point of view of a family member. My brother is an addict, and it had a huge effect on me. It still does.

    Thank you for sharing.
    .-= Mommy on the Spot´s last blog ..That Awkward Age =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 7:59 pm

  13. Wishing4One said,

    Man that was powerful. I have seen addiction from a far and it is some scary shit. You ladies are amazing. Thanks for sharing Kym and Stef you are powerful girl.
    .-= Wishing4One´s last blog ..Clexane… the devil? =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 8:09 pm

  14. robin said,

    Thanks so much for sharing your story. As an recovering alcoholic, it is a good reminder to hear the other side of the story so that I will spare my kids from going through what you had to go through. I’m just glad I caught it in time.
    .-= robin´s last blog ..And the art continues… =-.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

  15. Nancy P said,

    I probably should not have read this while at work. I didn’t grow up like this but my husband did and guess who drinks too much now? Yep. But oh he is such a responsible drinker..blah blah blah.
    I will never forget mentioning to him how it bothered my son and the response he gave me. My hands are shaking.

    | February 5, 2010 @ 8:21 pm

  16. Natika said,

    Kym, My 21yr old daughter thanks you for reminding her mother why she quit drinking. My daughter could of written that and I’m very ashamed to say so. Thanks
    6wk & 6days since my last drink!

    | February 5, 2010 @ 9:42 pm

  17. Teresa said,

    It has been 8 weeks for this Mon since I have had a drink. I still don’t know why that day was special for me-I wasn’t even that hung over, just a little bit. That day I decided I was done. I was so scared though. i had tried to stop so many times before. I would generally last about two days. This time I felt like someone had opened a door for me and if I didn’t take this chance-I was certain for some reason that I was never going to get another chance. Those first few days I felt so alone. I couldn’t tell anyone because noone knew. I was a Mother who drank too much but hid it from everyone. Most people didn’t even know I drank. On the fifth day sober I was at work and saw a People magazine about mothers who drink and inside a caption about Stephanie’s blog. I logged on immediately at work and instantly felt I wasn’t alone. I sincerely feel her blog is what got me through those first few weeks. She seems like a cool chick too so therefore since we have this in common I’m cool too! Thank you kym for your story today. Today I came across a stack of pictures of when my son was two-he’s now 5. In every single picture I’m either holding a drink or there is one sitting right next to me. I’m doing such fabulous mommy things in the pictures-camping, vacations, making fancy cookies togather. But in every single stupid picture is a reminder that I had to be drunk to do those things. Today I’m not so fancy. Today we’re making homemade yogurt and I’m drinking tea. If someone came over we would look so boring but I have never been so happy in my entire life. I’m so grateful for Kym’s reminder today about how my son could be affected if I ever forget how awful alcohol is or get complacent about my recovery.Thank you soooo much!

    | February 6, 2010 @ 12:14 am

  18. Betsy said,

    Thank you for this post. I am a member of family riddled with alcoholism. Both of my parents drank, my dad left after 30 years of marriage. He is a “dry drunk.” My mother continues to drink. Two out of my four siblings are sober. It is a hard fought win that is a daily, DAILY struggle. I do not have the booze gene but the food gene. We, as members of families with alcoholics, bear the scars for a long long time. It alters so much of who we are and who we could have become.

    Thank you again for the sharing your story, Kym.
    .-= Betsy´s last blog ..Compassion, need and miracles =-.

    | February 6, 2010 @ 7:29 pm

  19. Nigel Lane said,

    Thank you for sharing your story. Very inspiring.

    | February 7, 2010 @ 9:15 am

  20. Nan said,

    This one really hit home – thanks Kym. And Stefanie thanks for these Friday posts…somehow by Friday I am often looking for inspiration, as this was my regular “Happy Hour” socialization time. It is not easy, but a HUGE part of my sobriety has to do with my kids and my family history. My mother drank alcoholically, no DUI’s, lace curtain, but lots of ripple effects – and personality changes, which is tough on kids. Kym, your story really hit home, and makes me grateful for each sober day with my family. Gracias.

    | February 7, 2010 @ 11:38 am

  21. Marie said,

    Thank you for sharing your story. It only reinforces my decision to stop drinking. If I had not made this decision, my daughters would be writing your story in a few years. And that would just break my heart. Thank you again.

    Marie

    | February 8, 2010 @ 1:06 pm

  22. Lisa said,

    I remember, too, having to keep my mother’s drinking a secret or making excuses for her. As a teen she used to kick me out of the house and then phone the police that I was a runaway. They thought she drank because I was an “Out of control teen”. She used to do crazy stuff like that for attention. It didn’t take long for them to catch on. There are about 1000 stories I could share. All involve embarassment and shame. I’m 45 and rarely drink. My mother passed away 5 years ago. I do not miss her.

    | February 8, 2010 @ 2:43 pm

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