Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Confrontation

Even though the near-fainting continues (I only got through 30 minutes of church on Sunday -- ought to make ushering this week fun -- and had to get out of the car and walk before I actually got to work this morning), I feel like I need to talk about something else.

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The other night I dreamt that I finally confronted my mother about her drinking and its consequences regarding her relationship with her grandchildren. I woke up with an odd sense of calm and relief. And then I remembered that it was just a dream.

It's not just that I don't feel comfortable leaving young children alone with her. I don't even feel comfortable with the idea of her holding them -- she has been known to misestimate the distance between herself and the floor and just let go of a wine glass, shattering it. Wine glasses are fungible and replaceable, unlike, say, children. In attempting to pet him, she has poked my dog in the eye, more than once. And, as the day goes on, she has trouble standing or walking (or speaking in complete sentences, or following the conversation taking place around her). I don't want to put vulnerable people at risk, and I don't want them exposed to her behavior, and I certainly don't want them growing up with the same warped belief I had, that all grandmas (mommies in my case) are like that.

But I am also fully incapable of dealing with this issue. As much as I hate the person she often is, I do love my mother. That love used to be tied to various fond memories from my childhood, a vague recollection of the person she once was. At this point, as those memories have faded and/or been replaced with worse ones from adolescence and adulthood, that love has become untethered, existing primarily as something more akin to a requisite (but fully ingrained) filial affection. The type of love that stems from a feeling of "supposed to." But regardless of its source, it keeps me from dealing with these issues, in part out of a fear of hurting her while gaining nothing, and in part out of a fear of losing her affection, an affection that often feels as unanchored as my own, and far more fleeting as well.

I have managed to avoid the ultimate confrontation with my mother for 16+ years. I wish I could avoid it forever. But I know P harbors the same fears that I do regarding my mother and our future children, and we're going to have to deal with this issue at some point, and that point is starting to seem a lot closer to now. It's weird, because I can actually envision the conversation -- and can envision it going well. It's probably a conversation I should have had with her a long time ago, one that would have improved our relationship substantially by this point.

But the only way it goes well is if we have it alone. My stepmother can't be there. Even though I can only imagine that my mother's drinking has as profound an effect on her as it does on me, she perceives everything as an attack and first goes on the defensive, then switches to attack mode, making it about me and the ingrate I am. And I can't handle it. I become a mess. But I've only seen my mother alone once in the past 16+ years. Once. Because I insisted. Just because I missed having a mom. A mom with whom I could have a relationship, like other people.

And in the end, the whole subject just fills me with dread.

10 comments:

KimboSue said...

wow. that sounds rather...complicated. Good luck to you no matter which route you choose. NCLM

Maria (MKC101103) said...

Oh that's such an awful situation. I wish I had some good advice but I hope you can figure out the best thing to say and do.

Hugs.

JuliaS said...

Here from NCLM.

Wishing you strength, wisdom and comfort to help you with your mom situation.

Good wishes.

mo*reezy said...

Maybe I'm assuming too much, but it sounds like you really just miss that connection with your mom that you feel like a mother and daughter should have. Unless she enters a period of long-term recovery and makes amends for the loss of that connection it's not likely to happen. And now you are acting as the guardian of your child, and you are right to be concerned about what kind of access she'll have with the baby.

One awesome part of this messy situation is that you'll get to be the mom you want her to have been.

Queenie. . . said...

Here comes the assvice:

First and foremost, you have to protect your child. If that means mom can't hold or touch the baby, so be it. You didn't choose to make her drunk; you can't spare her feelings and keep your child safe.

If you want to talk to her about the drinking, and you don't want to involve other people you know, think about hiring a professional to approach her with you. There are substance abuse professionals who can guide you through this process, even if you DO decide to do it alone.

Good luck to you, with both mom and the rest of your pregnancy.

Cece said...

I have the exact same problem with my father. His health conditions make it so he actually can't drink - but he still has the hurtful personallity of a drunk. I won't put myself in a situation that I can't get out of with him - such as visiting him in is home (a plane flight away). He often asks why I won't visit - and I'm just not tough enough to say - because I'm afriad you'll make me feel bad. Instead, for 7 years, I've just avioded it all together.

Fun.

starsgoblue said...

Sorry about your mother. I don't think I would trust to have her with my children either unless I was there in the room with her.

Kelly D said...

My in-laws like to drink. The day we brought our babies home from the NICU they proceeded to get a little toasted. I complained to my mom and they overheard me. So now, they only have one glass, maybe 1 1/2 glasses, of wine whenever I am around.

My husband is taking them on vacation with the in-laws for a few days while I'm at a seminar. I am a little nervous to say the least...

It's not an easy spot to be in. I wish you strength and courage.

Kim said...

So sorry. Dh has a brother that is an alcoholic and it is a mess. I will be thinking about you. NCLM

DC said...

I'm so sorry. *hugs* Maybe it would help to have a counselor or clergy member present when you confront your mother?