I've recently been suffering several deep bouts with depression, and I've taken to confiding in an older, long-distance friend who's given sagacious advice with my situation, but it's only been of limited help.
I'm a young adult, and I'm still plagued with mood swings and all the troubles that brings, but the main source of my sadness is my family: specifically, my mother. She's a terrible alcoholic, and we've reached a point in our relationship where she only speaks to me to obtain money/transportation so she can purchase alcohol. When her ploys and manipulations don't work, she gets extremely upset and pesters me until her harassment wears me down enough for me to provide money or a ride. My toxic relationship with her doesn't bother me, but what does is the incredible guilt that I feel when she flees from my room in tears like a sobbing mess. She's had a terrible life, so I can justify her constant need for being in a drunken stupor so she can escape her problems, which makes it difficult to simply say "That's tough," and shrug my shoulders when she says it's not fair. Logically, I understand it's a simple guilt trap, but I just can't do anything while thinking that I'm being a bad son to my mother.
So, in this constant war, I believe she's generally the winner, seeing as in 95% of our skirmishes, her fits end up getting her a trip to the liquor store and money for alcohol. A lovely cherry on the cake of our relationship is her being a horribly loud, offensive drunk who delights in insulting me.
I've made plans to enter the military when I leave home so I can make a new start for myself, but that's a year from now, and I'd prefer to not wallow in despair until then.
I've never been talented with compressing my troubles into small questions, so I apologize for that. I hope my letter isn't too difficult to wrench a question from, and if it is, I'd like to apologize once more.
Jack (age 17)
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You don’t mention whether or not she has sought out help from a group such as Alcoholics Anonymous. If not, I strongly recommend it. It doesn’t have to be AA—there are other groups out there (see below)—but she needs more help than you can provide.
Not buying her booze is not being a bad son. You shouldn’t feel guilty about not supplying her with alcohol. It’s sad that she has had a rough life, but turning to addiction is not a solution. As you have seen, it only makes the problem worse. For one thing, it is adding to (if not the cause of) your depression. So, she is not only making her life worse, but yours as well.
It’s important to recognize that you are in no way to blame for your mother’s alcoholism. Do not feel guilty!!! Also, if she doesn’t get better, it is not your fault. She has to want to help herself because nobody else can make her recover but her. Stop helping her get booze and stop feeling bad when she cries because you didn’t buy her a fifth of scotch (a key is to always be consistent here; don’t buy her booze sometimes and not other times--never buy her booze because when you do you are just being an enabler). By giving into her bad behavior, you reinforce it. She knows it works 95% of the time, so she keeps doing it. I know it's hard, but do not give into her fits. If she gets violent, do not be afraid to call the police. In fact, tell her you will call the police if she becomes abusive in any way.
You do have to go out and make your own way in life, and joining the military might be one way to do it. I applaud you for taking some initiative to try to make your life better. In the meantime, however, please do try and get your mother some help if you can.
Some places you can call:
I wish you and your mother the best.
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