Behind Closed Doors: Addiction

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It was a Wednesday. The sun was shining, there was an unusual warmth to the February air and there were flowers, hundreds of flowers. There were friends, a few hundred friends and there was love, by the bucket load. A beautiful service for a beautiful woman.
It was a Thursday. A bitter, dark, cold and bleak Thursday. There were just eight of us. Clinging to each other, trying to make sense of it all. Each feeling our own pain, each of us trying to make it through. A hideous day to say a final goodbye.
And there it was, the end. A great friend observed that the two conflicting days reflected her and her life. Some days there was warmth, love and friends, on others there was simply darkness and pain, a whole lot of pain. And how right she was. They reflected not only my Mum but the very nature of her illness, of alcoholism.
The relationship between a Mother and a daughter is complicated enough, but when a Mother is an addict, an alcoholic, it changes everything.  And when she dies, prematurely, through a series of choices she’s made, ‘death by misadventure’ or so the death certificate says, it throws out a million different emotions, questions and uncertain feelings.
Living with an alcoholic is one thing but living with the loss of one is something else.  In the darkest of days, when venomous words are spoken, objects hurled and hearts torn to shreds one often has thoughts of being released from it all. From the never ending abuse but when that day actually comes the release although momentarily felt, a weight lifted, there is still an ultimate loss, the loss of a Mum, your Mum. The only one you will ever have.
The warm hearted women you caught glimpses of in-between the darkness. The smile and love of the person who brought you into this world, who nurtured and cared for you from the day you were born. The person you miss sharing things with, telling secrets to, seeking solace with and sometimes being simply held by… is no longer there.
As often as you try to remind yourself that due to her own pain, suffering and selfish choices she was often not there for all those things in life, it is still so very hard to come to terms with. The fact that she wasn’t there to guide you during your teenage years, when becoming a woman was inevitable and a role model and confidant was all you really craved. That she wasn’t there to help with your life choices – GCSE and A-level subjects, University, career paths. And that she wasn’t there when your heart got broken by your first love and simply when you really needed her to be… you still feel that loss, every day.
And on the day when you become a Mum yourself and the cycle of life continues, it raises new pain, new loss. Loss of what could have been, what should have been but if completely honest with oneself, may never have been. It’s a brutal truth and although she’s gone, her life long addiction still affects your daily life and emotional well-being.
Why am I sharing this anonymously with the readers of AOW? Well, when the news of Whitney Houston’s death broke, it triggered something in me. Addiction, in whatever form, may make the headlines when someone famous dies BUT like so many illnesses, it doesn’t just affect the rich and famous, nor just the criminal and insane. It’s everywhere and is claiming more and more victims. For me, personally, addiction claimed my Mum.
I feel passionate that it’s something which needs to be talked about, confronted and maybe, just maybe if we start opening up to it, admitting that almost every family is affected by it in some way. Then maybe we can helping those who need help and begin preventing further unnecessary pain and suffering. Not just for the addicted but for those who try so very hard to love them, in life and in death.
Categories: Behind Closed Doors, Family, Friends and Relationships
11 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Sandra C
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    I’m so very sorry you and your family had to go through this. I cannot imagine the drip drip of disappointment, pain and helplesness you must have felt at various points in your growing up and in your relationship. I guess, although you lost her to her disease, as a parent, you lost her years ago. All you can do is try to be the best parent you can.

    I agree also that it should be talked about more openly. I imagine it is a very common scenario (for want of a better word at 7.15am). and that people should recognise it for the serious disease with very wide ranging repercussions that it is. I wish you luck and love with your family for the future. x

  2. Posted June 11, 2012 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    What a beautifully written piece.

  3. Cat B
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    This has brought tears to my eyes. I agree with Rachel, this piece is beautifully written and it’s a subject that shouldn’t be hidden away.

    Your compassion and insight will make you a wonderful mother and I wish you and your family much love and happiness. x

  4. Posted June 11, 2012 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    This is a phenomenal piece on a topic which I feel has been left as a taboo for far too long. That addiction is a disease which destroys lives and families is something that society needs to be better at acknowledging, so that when someone has to go through the horror of losing a parent, partner, friend or child to it, there’s not this looming silence as middle class England shuffles its feet, not knowing how to respond.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, and I’m so glad you’re able to remember fragments of your mother behind her addiction.

  5. Posted June 11, 2012 at 10:03 am | Permalink

    This is phenomenal. You’re right, we should be able to talk about this more, not just the mechanics of living with those who suffer from addiction but also about why people become addicted in the first place. Along with mental illness it’s a subject that is still taboo. Unless you’ve directly experienced it, or someone you love has, it’s all too easy to judge those who suffer.

    Thank you so much for writing this, Anon.

  6. Anon
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    This is a wonderful piece. My Mum is also an alcoholic but fortunately for us all she managed to fight it and has now been sober for around 15 years (since I was about 15).

    It is something I never talk about now and even my husband doesn’t know about my Mum’s illness.

    It should be talked about more, you are so right. Unfortunately there is still such a stigma attached to addiction and people can be very judgemental about it. This makes is hard to open up and be honest and my Mum has never wanted people to know so I have respected that.

    I am really sorry for the loss you have experienced and I hope you are able to keep remembering and focusing on the glimpses in-between the darkness that you talk about.

  7. Posted June 11, 2012 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    This is so powerful, and so beautiful. A conversation that we should all be having, addicts are often judged harshly by society and the condition is so misunderstood, the more people can talk about it, the better it will be. Brilliant piece.

    K x

  8. Anon
    Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:34 pm | Permalink

    Really sorry for your loss. My Dad was an alcoholic. It it is coming up to ten years since he passed away. For me I felt I had lost him many years before as he was not there for me in the way other people’s Dads were. His death was extremely difficult for me and I was a mixture of many emotions, so very sad, in agony thinking about it, also relieved he was not suffering, and also just so sorry for him that he did not get to live a nice life. And because I was not close to him like other people are with their Dads, I did feel some guilt for being sad and for grieving. The loss somehow does get easier over time though, I promise. Thanks for writing this, you’ve expressed something so eloquently that I haven’t ever been able to.

    • Anon
      Posted June 11, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

      Meant to say I was relieved that he was no longer suffering.

  9. Sam
    Posted June 25, 2012 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    This is a beautifully written piece, and very moving. I’m sorry for your loss, not just in your Mum’s passing but that you lost so much of her to the addiction too.

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  • By Life’s little irritations… on June 14, 2012 at 7:01 am

    [...] We are nothing if not diverse. This week we’ve covered topics as wide ranging as alcoholism in your family to how to be the best possible best-man, we’ve had way too many pictures of a smushy baby [...]

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