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My mum’s addiction was unknown to me until I was 35

Posted by Jbr on 25 April 2018.

Really interested to speak to anyone who has experienced anything similar to me.  I found out 5yrs ago that my mum has been an alcoholic since I was a child. I was 35 when me and my sisters were finally told. We were only told because my mum was going through a horrific detox in hospital where she nearly died and had to learn to talk and walk again. Basically it had finally got to a point where it couldn’t be hidden from me and my sisters any more.

I have read lots about children of alcoholics but have never found anyone else who, like me, didn’t even know they were a child of an alcoholic.

I grew up being very aware that my mum acted strangely, seemed very unhappy, completely closed off to me emotionally, didn’t get involved in family trips etc (my dad did all of this), would sometimes say really mean things or really stupid things (which we all learnt to just laugh off).

My dad was the only person who ever knew. He NEVER confided  in anyone apparently until he told me and my sisters when my mum was in detox.

When we were told, suddenly everything made sense! I finally had a reason for why my mum had seemed so distant all my life. I thought this revelation would bring us all closer as a family. I was completely wrong unfortunately.

My dad has since made it very clear that the reason he disn’t Tell us about my mum’s addiction was not to protect me and my sisters but was to protect my mum. He still takes this view now. My mum is apparently not drinking any more but neither of my parents will accept that mum’s addiction could have had any impact on me or my sisters. It’s crazy. 

It is still a secret from the rest of the family and my parents want to pretend that everything is fine. It really isn’t. I really would love to speak to somebody who has experienced something similar.


5 May 2018

Similar but different situation. I’ve recently found out that one of my parents has had a drug addiction for many years without me knowing. I’m in my late 20’s. It was shocking and I didn’t quite believe it ar first. Everything on that side of my family has broken down and it’s definitely not going to get better for a long long time. My parent doesn’t want to talk to me about it and I feel quite shut out and still distant from it all. The not knowing part is horrible because you wonder how you could have helped or supported them much earlier. So I know how you are feeling! And I’m sorry to hear this. Hope your situation gets better soon!

8 May 2018

Hey Nala,
Sorry to hear about your situation too! You’re the first person i’ve come across who has related to the secrecy aspect of my situation. The biggest thing that I remember thinking when I found out about my mum was ‘how the hell did I not put 2 and 2 together before now!?’.  All my childhood she was distant, used to say weird things, excluded herself from family occasions or at worst she would say really mean things to other people, my sisters or me.  I always just thought she was strange, or blamed her behavior on her painkillers she was taking for her back. Truth is, I don’t know what her real ailments were as I grew up. I now look back and think that any time she was poorly she was very possibly just drunk.

My dad has known all these years but chose to not tell me or my sisters out of loyalty to my mum apparently. Now we all know it still has to remain a secret from the rest of my family and my parents are completely unable to accept that my mum’s addiction has had any impact on us at all. They simply think that because we didn’t know until a few years ago, that we can’t have been affected. Makes me so frustrated. I love them both but they make it very hard to have any kind of relationship now.

Anyway, hope you don’t mind me waffling on...

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