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From my experience I’ve learnt that it is OK not to be OK all of the time - I’ve accepted way less than I deserve, and have let people take advantage of me in my 17 years of life. I’ve learnt now that it is perfectly normal to get the support you may need, and for others who may want but don’t know how to get it. If you’re anything like me, I was afraid to ask for help because I saw it as a weakness and did not want to be a burden to anybody. Now I am going to share my story.
For as long as I could remember I woke up wondering whether it would be today that my Mum got taken from me. I was always drained – physically, emotionally and mentally. I didn’t know what more I could do to help my Mum – I shouted, I screamed, I ignored and I left her to see if a difference would be made. My Mum was an alcoholic and I felt this was the main priority in her life. Not me her daughter - the wine. Getting ready for school at 7am my Mum would be fast asleep with last night’s bottle of wine by her side, ready to finish off when she woke up a couple of hours later. I couldn’t concentrate at school and had a short temper regularly in class. I never did my homework because I knew I would never have time – my job was being a Mum to my own Mum. It crushed me to know that every day after school my Mum would be back to how I remembered – the drunken, aggressive, monster. I always tried to make the house as normal as it could be for when my brother came back from Primary School. I wanted to protect him and give him the loving family I knew I always desired for whilst growing up. I made his tea; I cleaned his clothes, the house and tucked him up in bed kissing him goodnight... whilst Mum was mumbling words to me, slouched on the sofa with her no.1 priority.
It broke my heart to find out what I was doing each day was not normal. As the night went on, Mum became more agitated and aggressive often chasing me up the stairs calling me all sorts of horrible names, purposely arguing with me, or screaming in my face. I do not think I can recall having a good night’s sleep living with my Mum, but as each night went, I drifted off the sleep, crying, wondering when my life would be as easy as all my class friends were.
Up till the age of 14 years old I had always been a professional at bottling my feelings up. I didn’t know how or who to seek help from, as after all, Mum’s are meant to be the person who you can rely on to comfort you through the tough times. After my older sister and younger brother decided to live with my Dad, life then got tougher as I was then caring for my drunken Mother, alone. Yes I was petrified to go home in case I would find Mum dead on the sofa, or if tonight would be the night when she would hit me. Each day I never failed to wear a smile on my face and hope for a better tomorrow. My teachers were already made aware by my Dad that I was living alone with my alcoholic Mum, but I was quite good at saying “I’m fine” when asked, even though my life was falling apart.
As time went on, I got more and more frustrated at being a teenage adult and not being able to have the freedom my friends had. So I spoke out. I’m not going to lie and say it was the easiest thing to do, but now I am so glad I made this choice. I told my teacher that I wanted to live with my Dad, that my Mum was paralytic each night I returned home and that I wanted to lead a normal life now... that I was tired of being a broken hearted girl. This was the start of my new life; I had clean uniform for school and didn’t have to wash them myself, I had a proper tea ready and lots of cuddles from my Dad. Despite receiving text messages of how lonely Mum felt or how it was my entire fault, I decided to put myself and my feelings first now, and to get the life I had always dreamt of. It wasn’t an easy ride, as each morning, day and night was still always taken up thinking of how much I wanted my Mum to change. I began to get my life on track – I attended my sports extracurricular activities, and attended Celebration Evenings, having now being nominated for awards and built up the motivation to work at my GCSE’s.
After 9 months only, I began contact with my Mum again as she now moved nearby where I lived with my Dad. I still loved and cared for this woman massively and knowing she had been in and out of hospital I knew I had to support her. So I went round to her house and gave her cuddles whilst watching films. I knew something had changed. I felt like I had the loving Mum I had always dreamt of – not the monster I once remembered. Mum was admitted and discharged from hospital several times since December and became progressively ill. I knew she was still drinking and I got told that Mum was never going to get better anymore, that it was out of my power now.
I have always been the person to have two different faces for the world, one when I am around people and then another when I am alone. Unfortunately after years of trying to stop Mum from drinking, she passed away at 39 years old on 20th April 2013. It’s lonely now, as if nobody understands the pain. But as always, if you are anything like me, you will still wear a smile on your face. My experience has been very daunting, and not a day goes by when I wish my Mum was here. I have learnt that sometimes you have to step outside of what is going on and put yourself first, and do what is best for you and not everybody else. I have now realised that I matter too and deserve to put effort into me as well as other people.
The suffering still goes on with wishing my Mum was still here with me today. It hurts a lot to grieve and it is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. I am so grateful for the counselling I am now having and especially to COAP for supporting me through my grief - it has been like a second home to me. To be able to have other people who can support and relate to you makes you feel loved and cared for by someone who understands. I am very much looking forwards to training as a mentor next year.
One thing I keep as a memory is my Mum saying “I love you so much and I will be right inside your heart” a couple of days before she got taken from me.
Remember that whilst you are tired on the inside there are people out there waiting to help you and support you. It is OK to get the support you need and I am so thankful for taking this step.