Alcohol Is Not Cool

My mother is killing herself, and there’s nothing that anyone can do about it.

This isn’t everything, this isn’t even 10%, but I’ll set the scene for you. I know people’s opinions and views become distorted, and people twist things over time, but I’m reassured by others that this is not the case here.

In 2001 my mum started drinking. At least I think it was 2001, my memories from my childhood are hazy as I’ve blocked out so much, but I’m pretty sure that was the year. It started following a court case and an unwanted verdict. I remember her sitting with a bottle of wine and a straw on the sofa and the more she drank, the more she giggled. It didn’t take long for her to get drunk and at the time, it was amusing as I’d never seen her like that. You see, I hadn’t grown up with alcohol. My parents had a drinks cabinet but never drank and my mum instead claimed to be a born-again Christian and was exceptionally strict. Growing up without alcohol wasn’t a bad thing. I wasn’t interested in parties and booze, and I was actually proud of the fact they didn’t drink. Weird huh? Anyway, back to 2001 and a bit more preamble.

It  was only a short time before I became angry. She had broken her promise and everything negative about her was heightened to me.Things fell apart quickly and my mum changed. I can’t remember if this was before or after she started drinking, but she used the September 2011 attacks as an excuse to sit on her laptop all day spouting religious vitriol in websites. She would get up in the morning at 7am, sit on the laptop, take the kids to school (usually late) and then spend all day on the internet. She didn’t like any of us to go out. We went to school miles away and weren’t allowed to go to friends’ houses, to sports events, after school clubs, anything… Thing is, when I did have the chance to go out she would make such a scene that I daren’t go.

Because I never grew up with alcohol, I didn’t even have my first drink until my 21st birthday (that’s another story), but when I was 18 my mother started to accuse me of stealing alcohol from the drinks cabinet. I was furious. I hated being called a liar. Hated it. It was the final punch in a long assault, and following an argument, I left and moved to Banbury (and in with my then partner). Freedom. I can’t explain what it felt like. I was free from constant scrutiny and was finally able to exhale. I didn’t have her screaming at me. Asking me to do the housework, go to the co-op and buy food. I didn’t have my two sisters getting into my bed in the middle of the night (aged 7 and 3) because they wanted a cuddle they never got from mum. It was a strange feeling.

I saw my mum a few months later when my parents separated (again, they had previously divorced and re-married) and she assaulted my dad. I went over and can remember sitting at the circular dining table while she smoked and laughed at how she had attacked him for having an affair. She has angina, and she recalled having an attack, dad carrying her back in the house to medicate her and then, once able, attacking him again. I couldn’t laugh. Words didn’t come and yet she leaned in and stared at me, saying: ‘you remember when he used to beat me, don’t you’.

No. No I don’t. I never, ever, saw dad lay a hand on her. Sure he would hit the kids (overzealously) and she would hit us with a riding crop, or strangle us for scratching her pots and pans when washing up, but never did he raise a hand. He was a mouse. He still is a mouse. He would work long hours and then when at home sit in front of the computer and not talk to anyone before going to bed. We were an inconvenience to him.

After that night, when I refused to lie for her, I kept my distance and she cut me out of her life. My parents reconciled and I started to get abusive phone calls. Looking back, she was clearly drinking, but at the time as an 18 year old estranged from her parents, I didn’t have a clue what was going on. She blamed me for my dad’s affair, said that I should have told her about it. It became this warped scenario in her head. The only family member I had to vent to was my beloved nan. My dad’s mum, she was patient, understanding, and guided me. But they were being punished for my dad’s affair too. My mum stopped letting them see their grandchildren. Their crime was loving their son and not getting behind her when she attacked him and he left.

After 5 years, I received a phone call from mum (out of the blue). She’d heard about my job and wanted to meet me. I agreed to go and see her en route home from training one day. Walking into the house, I was gut-punched. My memories of a spotless house were replaced with grime and chaos. Piles of dirty clothes in the hallway, stained carpets, and a mattress on the living room floor. I didn’t know what to say or do. Everything was crumbing and with hindsight, I should have realised what was wrong, that the demon drug alcohol had its grip on my mother. I didn’t. I was still clouded by anger at her behaviour, and after 5 years it was still a festering wound. She had cut me off from my brothers and sisters. I had spent nights, weeks, months, crying and being comforted by my nan.

We both made a bit more of an effort after then though. I would drive down to see her ( but she never came up to see me) and I would sit patiently in the kitchen while she smoked and poured an orange juice and vodka at 10am. For about 2 years I kept this up, but her lies and behaviour continued to grate.  Now it would be unfair of me to say that nothing good came from that time. I reconnected with my siblings (of which there are 8) and met my little brother for the first time. My mum actually helped me too. When I separated from my partner and bought him out of the house, she helped me with money and gave me £120 a month, and this happened for about 8 months. But she  would lie over ridiculous little things and started having affairs. First with a businessman and then with the man she’s still with, and as everything fell down and she became bankrupt, I stupidly gave her the use of one of my bank accounts. I still wanted her approval and love. Stupid really. Little did I know that a few months later I’d be paying off a £500 overdraft that she ran up without a care in the world. I told her not to use the overdraft, and instead she laughed and called it her ‘play money’ and continued to  spend money on a computer game called Second Life, and cigarettes and yet more alcohol at the co-op.

At my wedding (just prior to bankruptcy) she told numerous guests (who in turn told me) that she had paid for the entire day. She was drunk, loud, abrasive and embarrassing. Considering she had just spent £500 of my overdraft on trinkets, I was angry and upset again. No, she didn’t pay for the entire thing. I received £800 in total from my parents towards the wedding and this was during a time when my dad earned 6-8k a month. No, I realise they didn’t have to give me anything, but telling guests that they paid for everything was another lie. One there was no need to tell. What could it gain? Why? I still don’t understand.

A year later my 16 year old sister came to live with me. At her 16th birthday party my husband and I arrived to see my mother completely inebriated and unable to take care of 80 young adults. She was so drunk that we couldn’t leave the party until much later than planned, because we didn’t want to leave young adults alone with someone who was unable to care for them. She stood in the kitchen that day with her adult neighbours, telling them about how she wrote, how she sewed, how she had two degrees from Oxford University. All of it lies.
Three days later my sister moved in. At her birthday party my mum had, whilst intoxicated and after we’d left, thrown crockery at her and then strangled her in the presence of her friends. It didn’t stop there. The following day she continued to assault my sister and when my sister hit her back, my mother became the victim. Of course she told everyone: the school, family, friends, that my sister had attacked her viciously and without reason. In my mother’s mind, my sister was a violent monster, and in my mother’s words, godless.

It makes me angry to look back and see the depressed, quiet, broken teenager that came to live with us. She was too frightened to tell us when something broke as she was worried we’d hit her. She didn’t know how to hug or love and she didn’t trust us. It took nearly two years to earn her trust and love and she’s now the most beautiful girl I know. I can’t explain in one blog post what years of living with my mother’s alcohol abuse and unloving, narcissistic nature did to her, did to all of us.I saw mum twice after that. Once when I went to collect my sister’s belongings and her partner went to hit me – my husband had to shield me, and then once when was drunk and vulnerable at Christmas. She asked to be taken to the cashpoint where she withdrew money and tried to give it to me. It upset me more than I can ever explain. You can’t buy love, mum.

My mother now drinks a 750ml bottle of wine a day, and most weeks will also drink 2 bottles of spirits on top of that.

She’s 5’4 and less than 7 stone. She doesn’t eat.

She bruises easily. Her psoriasis is bad and she’s constantly cold.

She cannot go a day without drinking.

Her partner tells her that there’s nothing wrong with her, and he drives her to buy her wine.

She cries when a bottle of wine gets accidentally smashed.

She doesn’t accept she has a problem.
She will be dead soon, and there’s nothing we can do.

 

 

 

 

Perceptions & Personas

As the title suggests, I want to ramble on a little about the internet and how we, as individuals, can be perceived.

I’ve thought about this all week (on and off). Who are we exactly? Do we always portray our true selves online?

I’ve been disillusioned recently. A handful of people that I thought were actually friends – have turned out to be anything but. I’m not going to name them and I’m sure if they read this they’ll realise I’m talking about them. I just hope that they take this post for what it is – a musing and not a moan. If they don’t – c’est le vie.

So, perceptions.  I used to think I was good at judging people. With my job I find that I can read people quite well, but that is of course when I see them and gauge their body language etc.

Online – I’m rubbish. No, really. I am.

I take a lot of what people tell me at face value. I don’t consider the fact that they may be lying or exaggerating, and I always look to see the good in them.

For example: one person told me that they “were always right” and had “read every book on writing and poetry by all the greats.” Now, I thought they might be exaggerating and I pushed it to one side. I didn’t see the arrogance in their demeanour until one day I dared have an opposing opinion. After that – I was told several times that I wasn’t intelligent enough and I simply did not understand the poetry – and this person went as far as to call me liar. With this person upsetting me (and me telling them that) – their response was to call my upset self harm; they failed to see that they had said anything untoward.

I forwarded on the email thread to 2 people. The first thought the other person was dangerous, and a very odd individual with an ego so inflated that they would never see the error of their ways. The other thought this person was beyond arrogant and wondered why I ever spoke to them. Why indeed. Well, I didn’t think to consider that this person might be portraying a persona and only showing me a certain side of their personality. I threw myself into a friendship without thinking.

This was my worse experience – the others involve the usual back-biting, stalkers, terribly written love stories  involving bodily fluids being exchanged and play fighting with cupcakes, and being used for information for my job.

Not all in that order, and some of those are combined.

When chatting to another friend about this issue: we discussed the fact that so many people seemed to portray a different side of them to the online community. The shyest of people become flirtatious and chatty. The insecure ones demand presence and status by striking out with an unwarranted and unearnt authority. and so on.

Hiding behind avatars and screen names these personas become something dangerous. We start to believe in them, become friends with them and sometimes this backfires and we start to see the truth in them.

And it hurts.

I think I must be an idiot though – I keep doing it. I’m hoping that I’ve clued up a little now.

From now on …I won’t be believing anything, well, not until I’ve got to know the person better.

Again, I’m not perfect. BUT I do ‘pitch’ the way I speak to people until I know them. For instance, I try and find out the age of the person I’m corresponding with. If they are a lot younger, or older – then I try not to swear so much. Respect, you know? I don’t however behave or email in any other way than my usual cheery self. I simply don’t have the energy to hide my personality.

I’m not quite marmite though …

 

Of course, it might be that these people really are egomaniacs, sex pests, stalkers, users and bullies in real life … but I really hope not.

 

Ever the optimist.

 

 

 

Gaining Trust.

This is different to my normal posts. I usually like to ramble on about films, books, quotes and/or friends. This evening however, I got home from work and instead of burying my head in a book, or writing, or studying, or faffing around on the internet, I actually sat and thought about those that I hold dear and close to me.

And the reasons why.

Now, people who meet me often think I can come across as brash, argumentative, judgemental and opinionated. Sometimes, they’re not wrong. I can be all these things. I can be the biggest bitch in the world. I can be two-faced. I can be nasty and feed off rumours and gossip. (I’ll stress here. I do not and will not ever LIE about anyone. )

I’m not going to lie. Why bother? We’re all capable of  the above negative traits, and, 99% of us have      displayed them at one time or another. Anyone who sits there and says “I’ve not. I’ve never gossiped about someone, bad mouthed them or spread a rumour” – is LYING.

Why though? Why do we behave this way?

Don’t worry – this isn’t going to become a philosophical debate on society, human interaction, understanding and such. I’m merely asking the question “why?” And then putting across my thoughts:-

I am an insecure person. I’ve said it before, I’m saying it again. Confidence, assertiveness, thick skin and faith in my abilities are qualities that I am simply missing. (Most likely washed away during my hideous time at secondary school.) And as such – I can be an emotional fucktard at times.

So, when I lack the above I make up for it with attempting to ingratiate myself with others in any way that I can. Sometimes that involves gossiping and bitching, but most of the time it involves being the ear, the shoulder or the bottomless wallet (I’m looking at my brothers!!) for those that want or need me. I like being wanted, feeling needed and helping. It gives me a buzz. It makes me feel like I actually have a place in society, and a purpose.

(Until I get stabbed in the back, used and then ignored in every conceivable way when someone prettier and “more fun” comes along – FYI – just because I’m quiet and don’t like to get wasted doesn’t mean I don’t know how to have fun!)

But, so many times I’ve then thought back to how unbelievably lonely I am. Yes, I know, time to play the violins. But seriously, I have just a handful of friends (exc my husband) and even then I don’t get to speak to them as much as I’d like due to work and commitments. But these are people who have gained my trust.

Ironically, they’ve gained my trust because they haven’t behaved in the way I have in the past. They’ve stood up for me when others have hung me out to dry (and gossiped and bitched and some outright LIED about me) and they’ve even fought in corners when no-one else would. They’ve spent hours listening to my fears, my issues and rants (sometimes, although rarely to the early hours of the morning!) and when I’m down and simply crying out for a bit of TLC – they’ve been there. They just know what to say, when to say it and how to say it.

They know I bitch and moan; I know they bitch and moan – but it doesn’t matter. Why? Because they’ve shown me that they care. It’s that unspoken rule that only “real friends” understand.

We’re not perfect creatures.

So.

Gaining trust: that was the title. How’s it done? Answer: with difficulty. If it was easy, we wouldn’t get the pleasure out of those special friendships that we do.

But try and  remember the golden rule: don’t act like a cock. And if you do, and if that friendship isn’t meant to be (because you simply can’t help but bitch, moan, spread rumours etc), at least have the decency to admit you’ve been an idiot to yourself.

Some things are never meant to be; but those that are should be cherished.