After several years of skipping out on my family’s Thanksgiving dinner, I finally decided to make the five-hour drive to my tiny hometown in Mississippi. Big mistake. My mom’s always been kind of crazy, and I’ve learned to accept that. But it’s much easier to accept when she’s hours away. When I arrived at my parents’ home, she greeted me by stumbling out of the house, martini glass in hand at three in the afternoon!
She stayed drunk throughout the weekend, and that would have been fine if she’d stayed in the house. But since I was home, she insisted on calling all my old high school friends and inviting them over to see me. A group of them dropped by and my mom not only talked their ears off, she also fell over several times and at one point, took her top off. Yep, my 60-year-old mother walked around the house in her underwear in front of my old high school friends.
Talk about being mortified! Alcohol treatment isn’t really an option, as she’s been through (and dropped out of) rehab numerous times. My dad doesn’t seem to mind, and I don’t have to deal with her on a daily basis. But this weekend’s incident makes me never want to go home again, and my parents are kind of expecting me for Christmas now. Should I just disown my mother?
— The Sane Son
Dear Sane Son,
Your mom’s behavior does sound obnoxious, and I’m sure its pretty embarrassing for you. But how did your old high school buds react? It’s easy to feel embarrassed by our relatives, but trust me when I say that other people aren’t judging them as harshly as you are.
Try to see your loved ones through a stranger’s eyes. What if your mom belonged one of your friends? Would you still find her behavior mortifying? If you think she might be amusing — or at least, tolerable — as someone else’s mother, maybe you should try to accept her as she is. If her behavior is so bad that you think she’d be an embarrassment to anyone, then you should encourage her to seek help — again.
If your mom isn't willing to enter treatment (or even if she is), you and your father should consider attending Al-Anon meetings. Al-Anon offers support and counseling for family members of problem drinkers. They can offer excellent advice on how to deal with your mother. For a list of local Al-Anon meetings, check out the Memphis Al-Anon website.
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