I am a child of the most high God, seated in heavenly places with Jesus, far above principalities. But in earthly terms, I was raised as an only child by an alcoholic father and a mother with borderline personality disorder. It has been a journey to get here and know the first sentence to the be truth that matters the most.
My dad was in a dry drunk until I was about 8 years old. That is around the same time that I first remember exhibiting behaviors that could be called classified with OCD. Also during that time, my dad had been having an affair and my mother told me she was suicidal. She went back to graduate school to get a degree and get away from my dad. That wasn’t the truth that was her attempt at punishing him and feeling good about herself. My behavior at that time was an attempt to control what was going on around me that I didn’t like. I had to read the comics in the newspaper left to right top to bottom. I thought that if I didn’t one of my parents would die. I also remember having to go outside to try to catch my breath, I was worried that the world was about to end and I needed to figure out a way to stop that from happening. I begged to go to therapy and church. In the disease I connected none of this behavior, nor did my parents to the chaos in our home. I begged to go to therapy and church. I thought that if I was good enough my parents would get their act together.
In high school I lived a double life. I tried to appear perfect and good especially in front of parents, but I also spent time partying. I distinctly remember thinking “My parents aren’t saying anything, or noticing, I can get away with this.” I went between extremes being very good and drinking. My mom tried to talk to me about it one time my senior year of high school, but it was too late, I told her I could do what I wanted I was “responsible.”
Over the next 7 years we went through a lot of stuff, my parents were falling apart, my dad drinking, losing his job as a partner in a CPA firm, my mom acted terribly, they were so disconnected from my life. I was in so much pain, I was in therapy, afraid to go to al-anon. I cut them off for a while because talking to them was so painful.
My mom overdosed on pills ended up in the psych ward. We believe it was more of a cry for help than a true suicide attempt, but that doesn’t make it any less scary and painful. After that I become completely obsessed with knowing where she was at all times. I lived in SC she lived in VA. I thought that was the caring thing to do, and honestly she liked the attention.
In January 2006 we had an intervention, with a professional. My dad had been trying off and on for 6 months to stop drinking. At his worst he was drinking 24-40 beers a day. He went into rehab for 96 days. I finally agreed to go to al-anon because our interventionist told me it was the best thing I could do to help my dad. My mom decided to leave my dad during his time in rehab and I thought that was great, he was going to stop drinking, she was getting away from him, (after all he was the one with the problem.)
Things were pretty good for about 7 months. My dad and I developed a better relationship than we had ever had, and it is still pretty good now 6 years later.
In February 2007, I started realizing that my relationship with my mom was not working. I was totally obsessed with making her happy, calling 8-10 times a day, giving her money when she called screaming that she needed it. The problem was we were pregnant with our first child. I believed that was going to make my mom act right and I was devastated when it did the opposite. While I was in the hospital after giving birth to our first daughter, I was awake all night with anxiety and panic. Lying on the bathroom floor I told my husband, I couldn’t do it anymore, I couldn’t take care of my mom and my new daughter. In my black and white thinking I could only see one or the other. To make a long story shorter, I had to kick my Al-anon program into high gear. I had to learn detachment with love. Sometimes the love part was hard, but I can say today, that the love is present. I had to learn boundaries with her. I still struggle with this at times but I have the proper support system in place now in my sponsor and Al-anon friends. They understand as no one else how this sick family system can operate, how to recognize it and make better decisions. I will say that I have found complete forgiveness in my church small groups. Especially the Life group. Knowing what Jesus did for me makes me and my ego free to forgive and love. It is a line I walk of keeping myself, my husband and my daughters safe but also allowing my mom and dad to be part of our lives. Today I am able to see the person and their sickness/actions as separate. I never dreamed it would be possible to safely allow my mom to spend time with my girls, but it is! Sometimes I have to ask her kindly and respectfully to not say or do certain things in front of them, but I can do that too today.
I have found the Big Book of AA to be true, it is not an extravagant promise that we can be happy joyous and free despite what is happening around me. For me, I use three things to make my life healthy and happy. I go to therapy, I work my Al Anon program including the 12 steps, and I participate in a healthy church family. All three of these things work together for me. I wouldn’t be as happy joyous and free as I am today without them. Without Al-anon especially I might not be alive, if you’ve lived in this family sickness, you understand what I mean.
In a complete miracle from our Lord and Savior Jesus, my mother has started to heal in the past 3 months. I can say for a fact it had nothing to do with anything I said or did. It is because God loves her even more than I do and aches even more than she or I do over her pain and her life. It is because I got out of God’s way, I detached with love and stopped trying to fix her, that He was able to bring the right person (we refer to her as an angel) that was able to get through to my mom.