I was floating along in such a happy space when I last wrote it’s not surprising something burst my bubble. More specifically my mum did. We had a birthday tea for C with mum and J, my youngest. Lots of banter and fun, then J mentioned a story granny had told her – the time C had taken her to a hospital appointment because I’d ’been drunk in bed in the afternoon’.
This appointment was several years ago when I wasn’t self employed. I remember not going but not the exact reasons. My sister was here so went with her, and I think that I was at work and it was too difficult to not be so I figured my sister could sub. I am pretty certain I was not drunk mid week as that wasn’t what I did even in my worst days. C had got lost causing mum and sister anxst, and the junior doctor discharged my mum. She has often said that wouldn’t have happened if I was there.
I expressed my disbelief and explained the above. My mum looked sheepish whilst J said “What about Mondays – you didn’t work then?” “I wouldn’t have been drinking in the afternoon on a Monday” I asserted, more hurt by this than my mum in some ways, adding to mum ”You’re casting aspersions on my character”. The conversation moved on.
My mum has always done this sort of thing whenever she feels let down, neglected or ignored by someone. I‘d been away a few weekends in May. She spins a yarn with a grain or two of truth in it and makes them look bad; involving others in her web of lies, half-truths and drama. She was much worse when she was drinking and when I was younger I managed it by being distant – literally and figuratively. Since we’ve been closer if she tells me something along these lines about someone else I usually say a firm ”I find that very hard to believe”. There have been times we have not believed her when it’s been true – like when our cat went missing whilst we were on holiday and she was taking care of her when she first moved nearby years ago. We thought she was creating a drama and thought no more of it until we got home to no cat!
I spent the weekend at my eldest daughter’s E helping her sort her garden. I told her about it and she laughed saying ”you have to let her have her little dramas”. Both my girls know about this side of granny and it doesn’t bother them or change their love for her. ”She was the one drunk in bed in the afternoon” I exclaimed. ”Total projection then” E said and again we moved on.
When I arrived home the next day after a difficult longer drive than I’d hoped I flipped out at C over something trivial, didn’t do any of the things I intended to and sulked in bed. As we processed together I remembered me coming home often followed this pattern in my first marriage. I’d be happy and excited then something trivial would flip a switch and I’d be angry or upset. As a child coming home was fraught with anxiety as we never knew which mum we would find. Clean house and tea cooking, in bed drunk or worse sat at the kitchen table with her friend, almost empty bottle of gin and breakfast plates unwashed in the sink, the scenario that would often lead to a violent row with my Dad. As we talked and again the next day with my therapist, I expressed my anger towards my mum, both past and present. She is the one person I love that I never get angry with directly. Others have often received my anger towards her unfairly. I felt something shift and my emotional baggage lighten.
When I next saw my mum it was her cardiology appointment (I’ll tell about that in another post). I was over it and fine with her; able to support her without irritation and able to see her vulnerability and love alongside her occasional spite. I also realised that part of what hurt was that although this wasn’t true in itself; the reason J believed it was because her experience of me was often that I was emotionally unavailable through drink. I have been on both sides of this parental addiction coin and neither one is any fun.
Since then I’ve been away for a few days with E to Barcelona. I arrived first and wanted a cig and a drink when I got to the hotel. There was a minibar and I decided a beer would be ok. I couldn’t find an opener though so went down to the bar and ordered an AF one. The next day I saw the opener in the fridge but was glad I’d not found it. We had a really relaxed lovely 2 days; we talked a lot about past, present and future. I’d seen J recently and had a similar experience of openness and sharing with me.
My girls are both growing and changing as young adults do; and have both softened into themselves, and are more at ease with themselves – their bodies, jobs and their relationships. They’re lovely young women inside and out. I think some of this change is due to the changes in me. As I’ve become more reliable and consistent emotionally they are more secure in their attachment to me which means they can be with others too. I realised if I had had that one beer it could have changed the dynamic of our trip, not necessarily because I’d have been drinking (though of course it could easily have led to more), but because it would have brought anxiety back for E, maybe some anger towards me too. Is a drink worth risking my relationship with the 2 people I love most in the world? My drinking like my mum’s caused problems where it matters most. I’m still processing my childhood as I chose numbing and alcohol for many years. I am hopeful that my girls won’t need to and that alone is reason enough not to have that one drink.