Sunday, September 29, 2013

Just. Like. That.

 It's no secret; my mom went to a recovery center in 2006 to get her new beginning at life. Her vice is drinking beer. She's an alcoholic.

 Growing up with a mother that is an alcoholic is probably really traumatic and awful. But I wouldn't know anything about that. She wasn't that bad. She drank the most, once I was a teenager. I remember mixing beer, tobasco and clamato for her in the evenings when I was a pre-teen. It didn't bother me then, I considered this normal. It's literally my only memory of mom drinking when I was younger.
 Once I was a bit older and going to high school, I noticed that she would drink a few beers at night. My mom has had a back disability since I was 13 or 14. She had a few operations and was on heavy medication to manage the pain. When she would have a couple of beers, mixed with her medication it made her very sleepy. Her speech would slur and she wouldn't make sense when she spoke because she would get pretty out of it. That, was hard to see. It was shrugged off as funny if it happened in front of any of our friends. But in all honesty, it wasn't funny. It became dangerous when she was eating or smoking a cigarette because she would fall asleep with a mouth full of popcorn or with a lit cigarette.
 The drinking certainly didn't stop when Rudi was diagnosed with brain cancer in 2005. He passed away and she continued to drink, this time with purpose. I was 19 and still living at home. We decided to move to Vancouver Island to start a new life. Rudi was well known in our town and very respected and liked. It was difficult to go anywhere without the constant reminder from people, from places of what we lost. I ended up taking on a lot of the responsibility of moving because of mom's disability. I had a five bedroom house, with a full two car garage, two living rooms and what felt like a thousand closets to go through.. I had to decide what to keep, throw away or donate.. It was a very heavy task for a 19 year old. I didn't do it all alone. But to be honest, mom wasn't the best support system at that time. She was going through a misery all on her own. It would be an understatement if I simply wrote that we fought. We fought.... a lot.
 We moved from a five bedroom, two level house to a two bedroom mobile home in the middle of nowhere. We were a ten minute drive from two towns, but it was not the best place for a widow and her angry, sad 20 year old. Again, we fought. I left the house as much as I could. I worked, I partied. Mom stayed at home. Mom drank.
 It was mid September 2006 when mom phoned me to say she was going to a recovery center on Bowen Island. She admitted that she drank too much and wanted to change. Just. Like. That.
 September 24th, she went with my Auntie over to Bowen Island overnight. The next morning, she checked herself into recovery. The rest is history.

The first time we were able to visit with mom on Bowen Island.

The whole gang visiting mom at recovery..

  Last week we celebrated mom's 7 year birthday, her 'sobriety' birthday. Most recovering alcoholics refer to our actual birthday as our, 'belly button' birthday. I thought that was cute and wanted to share.
 Mom invited us over to her house for dinner last Wednesday, to celebrate her 7 years of sobriety. I happily accepted her invitation and was tickled pink that she wanted to share her special day with us. I think some alcoholics are bashful about such occasions when it comes to their families. Not everyone understands how the program works and then they don't respect it, like they should. I'm glad mom knows that I respect it enough, to have us come over on her special day to celebrate appropriately. The dinner was delicious and I felt very proud of her and all that she's accomplished over the past 7 years and as of very recently.

In her fav. spot at Baba's..

 Mom invited us to an opened AA meeting the following Saturday. Everyone that celebrates a birthday in AA receives a chip and then they get to have their birthday cake. So Alina and I eagerly agreed to join. Rob was busy working a side job for a friend, so he wasn't able to make it. I'm so glad I went to this meeting because it was the first time that I'd ever been to one. I really enjoyed listening to the people that shared. It is nice to be in a room full of people that are willing to openly share very personal life lessons, experiences straight from their hearts. I was honoured that the doors were open to Alina and I. I feel like mom is in very good hands when she goes to these meetings. She has a little family of her very own and that is a comforting feeling, knowing that she is well taken care of, outside of our family.

  Someone that has a close bond with mom stood up to share and she said something that really made me think.. I think that AA is good for people that need help with addiction but I also think it is good for everyone. I certainly learned a thing or two just sitting listening for one hour. A room full of strangers opening up will do that to anyone, I think. Excuse me, a room full of strangers opening up and speaking their truth.. will do that to anyone. The above quote is what my mom's friend shared and it has stuck with me ever since.
 It is difficult to express how proud I was of my mom on Saturday. My heart swelled with every "Happy Birthday" directed at her. I felt pride being there because it was the first time that mom's two world's met up. She deserves all of the good that she gets because of all of the good she's been giving.

Mom's 7 Year Chip (front side)
The Serenity Prayer on the backside. A true gift, to any recovering alcoholic... the symbol that "You're doing it!!!"

  If someone had asked me to share.. it would have gone a little something like this:

 "Hi. My name's Haley and I'm here to support my mom Kim. This is the first time that I've been to a meeting and I have to say that I am so glad that I came. It is very inspiring to hear all of the stories being shared today. They're not even stories, but just people's honest thoughts. I like how open everyone is here, it is very contagious and I think that's why people do so well in this program. The positive energy coming off of everyone here, is inspiring. I'm really proud of my mom everyday, but especially today, on her birthday. She wasn't herself when she drank and she recently wasn't herself when she stopped going to meetings. Since she has returned, I feel like I have gotten my mom back again.
 My mom always had a great attitude going into the program. She spoke openly and was honest with herself and her family about everything. I found that mom opened her arms to sobriety with such grace and ease. I'm sure it wasn't easy for her, but she has always shown great poise in the way that she has dealt with it. Some people really struggle but I feel like as soon as mom decided to stop drinking, that was it. She stopped. It's support that she needs. The love and the hugs, the well wishes and the friendships that keep her smiling. It is all of you that have helped save my mom. So thank you, for being here everyday. Thank you, for giving her something to belong to.. "

(Mom if you want, you can bring that to your next meeting and share it.. because I wanted to say something on your behalf yesterday..)

Alina and Mom on her 'birthday'..
 My name is Haley and my mom is an alcoholic... and it's okay!


Amanda said...

Haley this post was so moving. It's clear you and your mom have a very special relationship. xx

Noor said...

Haley , I am just so happy for your mom . It was the best part that she realized it all on her on . I am sure you did your part well as being a great daughter .

Alex[andra] said...

Your mom is such an inspiration! I don't know her but I'm incredibly proud of her for being able to recognize that she had a problem and get the help she needed for it before it was too late.

What I've never discussed on my blog was how my mom passed away.. Like your mom, she was an alcoholic. Unlike yours, she didn't get help. She refused to even admit that she had a problem. Like you, as a child, I thought much of the way she acted was normal. As I got older, I realized it wasn't. Eventually, the alcohol took over completely and that's why she's no longer here.

It's so inspiring and so wonderful to read of a happy ending. <3

Jade Wright said...

This was wonderful to read - so open and moving. Not far from what I went or at this point, AM, going through... this really helped. Thanks Haley, this really touched me.

Looking forward to you receiving my letter :) x

Filipa Moreira said...


Would you like to follow each other?! Let me know!!