I came to Some Space looking for support around my Mum's alcohol use and feeling she was unable to see the size of the problem. She has been drinking and smoking cannabis for as long as I remember, basically since Dad died, but recently she had two serious falls, the last one ending in a leg injury. I feel scared and helpless. I am 21 now, but people say that I look 15 - and sound 45. My Mum is a great person and a loving parent when she doesn’t drink, so I felt it is my job to help her fight addiction. But I have never looked for help for me. I hoped Some Space would be able to help me see a way through. - Dee*
*Client names and identifying details have been changed and multiple stories have been amalgamated and are not the story of any one client. While the stories highlight some of the experiences and feelings of various Some Space clients, any resemblance to real individuals is purely coincidental.
This is a diary of my sessions with Some Space and how they helped me.
I realise that I was caring after mum and two younger brothers since the age of 12. My Nan was helping of course, but she has is not been very well herself for years with diabetes and not being able to loose weight. Nowadays I am helping her more than the other way round.
Mum’s recent fall scared me to bits and made me aware of how much my life is taken over by her drinking. I wanted to move in with my boyfriend, but now I can’t – she can’t walk, I have to look after my brothers. I would like to be able to not worry so much and enjoy my own life more, but I feel guilty when I do.
I really need to look after my own life and hold on to my plans - despite mum’s horrible behaviour and attempted overdose on sleeping pills. I can’t stand her friends bringing booze and weed, wanting her to stay like them – she can’t see that, and lashes out at me. My boyfriend is losing patience. I will try to be more there for him, mum is going to rehab soon. I would like to keep my Some Space appointments for myself, without letting anybody know. Just to have a bit of space for myself. Is it being selfish?
Mum is in the treatment centre. It’s only when she is not around that I can see how much stress I am under when she is here. My session helps imagine the possibility of moving out, we discussed how supporting my Mum meant helping her to be independent rather than increase her dependence on me.
I am so upset about Mum’s relapse. This week’s session allowed me to see how much my life hinges on Mum's moods and whether she is drinking or not. I moved out of the flat to my Nan's. I didn’t want to move in with my boyfriend; I want my own space for a bit. I feel stronger and assured that I am doing the right thing, even if she hates me for it. My brothers have to cope, they are big enough at 17 and 19 – I can help them but they need to ask. I don’t mind helping Nan, she is always so grateful…
I accepted the job trial, which I would have been too anxious to do before because of having to look after Mum.
I don’t want to go back to live with Mum… I am working and enjoying the sense of independence. We decided in the session that I will still help Mum – I still care and love her after all and can’t just leave her. BUT I will do it within MY boundaries, not whenever she calls.
Today I dared to look at the future and I saw things I would like for me in life. Things like having my own family, work, travelling. I realised that loving my mum doesn't mean I can’t have all that. I can love her and love me at the same time…
At my Nan’s we all argued about what to do with Mum. Nan is angry and my brothers are fed up, I want to make it okay for all of them. I feel so sad at the loss of the family we once were. There is a possibility of Mum going to rehab again, her old bosses somehow still believe in her, willing to give her another chance if she gets sober. Instead of being happy I feel angry and anxious, I cant trust her. No more.
I moved back to Mum’s to keep her away from drinking and weed until she goes to rehab, but she lasted only 2 days. In only the few hours I had to go to work, I returned and found her drunk and stoned like before. My sessions made me start thinking that maybe Mum wants this life on some level and it cannot be stopped…
Mum's health deteriorated seriously; she is in hospital. I am the only one with her. Everyone is fed up, including my boyfriend. I am exhausted, and he is the last thing on my mind.
Mum is very ill and still drinking. My boyfriend is not my boyfriend any more. I shouldn’t have to choose between him and Mum. New date for Mum's rehab. I am trying to use the techniques we discussed in the session about letting go and not worrying about what cannot be changed.
Mum went to rehab. We start redecorating the kitchen. We all always wanted a big kitchen-breakfast room with a big table. I so hoped that this change will bring mum and my brothers together and all will be “as before”. After conversations with Mum, I begin to realise how difficult it will be to live with her when she is back from rehab. We’ve changed but she hasn’t. If she has, she can’t accept we are not the same children she remembers from her few moments of sobriety ages ago.
Mum is still in rehab.
The open-plan kitchen is sorted. Mainly by me. To my surprise, I feel even more sadness and grief about the loss of the family. The new dining table doesn't bring the family back. Brothers don’t speak to me and hardly stay at home. They are offended by my attempt of independence and not being at their service all the time
I am even more determined to get a good job, save up – maybe even do a hospitality course and work for travel agency… and actually travel….???
I can see more clearly how difficult it may be to live with Mum when she comes back from rehab. I hate how she blackmailed me into doing what she wanted, like lying to her bosses that she is ill, even though most times I felt panicky and very anxious. She didn’t even hear me!
I start believing that I did the right thing about the family – letting them look after themselves. I don’t need to justify and explain myself constantly…nobody looks after me or explains their actions. I must go ahead with looking for jobs.
I am so anxious about Mum coming home for the weekend from rehab and all my plans will revolve around her…Her trying to catch up on being a good mother – and telling me how to live my life…
I now see that Mum expects me to be a little girl still, but I am now a grown up woman. I had to grow up because of her!
Mum is back from rehab for good and it is difficult to tolerate her. I have to sort out my own flat. I have never noticed how self-centred she is - and always was. I mustn’t fall back into the old ways of just running around her and worrying. I know now that it is ok to feel anger.
Boyfriend is back. I now understand that the choice wasn’t between Mum and him but between Mum and Me. I will always love her, no doubts about that, but I am also learning to love Me and look after Me.
It is so painful and sobering to see how Mum and the others used to treat me. I was only visible when needed, and doing what was asked of me. I won’t let it happen again, I hope... or at least not every time.
I am starting work in the GP’s surgery, and will save for my own studio flat or house share. Meanwhile, I’m staying between Nan and my boyfriend. Life is now mine to live.