The last few weeks my heart has been heavy missing both my sweet baby girl and my mom. Back to back I was brought back to their death days as if it had just happened, flashbacks, tears, questioning, longing, missing. Many times I am still thrown off when grief hits. Even after all this time, grief can still knock me down, bringing me to my knees with no mercy. I often find myself still resisting these moments, pushing them down, avoiding them because the pain feels almost unbearable. I judge my grief, especially when it comes to my mom.
When my mom was alive, I feared her death, I feared I would find her, I feared she would die from drinking, which became a reality on June 18th, 2013. One of my biggest fears was finding her dead. The night I found her has been in my head the past couple weeks, replaying that moment, feeling that moment, reliving that night over and over. There are just no words to explain how finding her felt. In an instant none of the drinking matter, I wanted my mom. I felt like a little girl again. Lost, bewildered, confused. I stood there looking at my mom desperate for her to wake up, desperate to hug her, desperate to hear her voice, I just wanted my mom. I was suddenly the daughter needing her mom. Now I am and will forever be the daughter needing her mom, desperately wanting that connection back, the mother daughter bond, the conversations only we could have, they’re gone forever.
My mother was a broken soul. I never realized how broken until she was gone. I replay the weeks leading up to her death and so many emotions fill my heart, guilt, regret, sadness, shame. Images of those last few days I saw her, our conversations, the way she looked, the way I talked to her, the way I treated her, hurts my heart more than anyone really knows. I couldn’t fix her, I couldn’t help her, I couldn’t change her, I was helpless in a situation that I couldn’t fully walk away from. Yet, I am feeling such guilt with her death, with her life, with my mom. I didn’t do enough, I could have helped her more, been more kind, listened to the pain, see her, truly see her. I ache when I remember the look on her face, I ache when I see the desperation in her eyes, I ache when I remember where she was living, I ache because I now understand the pain she was in. It’s too late to understand. She’s dead.
Growing up with an alcoholic is hard. It’s hard to worry all the time, it’s hard to be the “mom” to your mom, it’s hard to wonder not if but when the alcohol will kill them, it’s just plain hard to see the person you love be destroyed by alcohol. In the end of her life I was so frustrated with her, I was so angry, I was so hurt, I was so lost on what to do, that I distanced myself from her more than once. I shut her out; I could not bear seeing her wither away into someone I did not recognize. I could not look past the alcohol, I could not *see* her as the human, the woman, the mom she was under the pain. Growing up with an alcoholic changes everything about them, you, your relationship. It’s hard.
My mom was lost, confused and broken from her past. She did not know how to cope with life. The more I am learning in school, the more I feel that the system failed her, the system that is supposed to “help” people. My mom was in and out of rehab and detox. Neither of which truly helped her. When she went into detox she would be very sick, they would give her medication, and once she was done detoxing she would be released. They would not get to the heart of her drinking, the reasons she drank. She suffered trauma, a significant amount of trauma that she could not handle. If she had someone who would be willing to sit with her in her pain, her suffering, her story, who could walk with her until she could tolerate her pain she may be here today. Sober. My mom desperately wanted to get sober. I saw it in her face, I heard it in her voice. It was her past that was haunting her. Medication was not the answer, alcohol was not the answer, for my mom she needed connection. My mom was a beautiful soul lost in a dark world screaming and no one was hearing her. Including me.
I am not sure I can forgive myself for this. I try and remember that I was the daughter and I did what I could. I try and hear the words a friend told me, it doesn’t matter, your mom knew your love and she loved you no matter what you said, did or didn’t do. Sometimes I just have a hard time believing those words. I miss my mom, my sober mom, the beautiful mom, person, human being that she was. I am thankful I knew that mom, because she is the reason I am who I am today.