My alcoholic mum is smiling again and I’ve got some people to thank – Hayley Matthews

writes Hayley Matthews.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 7:40 am
Hayley Matthews and her mother, who is now in hospital and smiling again

A few months back I wrote about the harsh reality of alcoholism and how it has impacted both me and my family. It’s destroyed lots of my relationships and I have to be honest and say that talking and writing about it helps.

I’ve never had so much support from people sending in messages through social media after writing about my mum, sadly though, some friends and members of the family, not so much. Some ask a fleeting “how’s your mum” and some just pretend that she doesn’t exist – ignoring any upset that I’m going through. However, the real heartfelt messages of support have come through good old social media and it got me thinking why? Are we ashamed to admit that we’ve had problems in our family with addiction, drugs, alcohol or gambling etc? Are we too ashamed to admit that the people who raised us aren’t perfect? Or is it just that ignorance is bliss? I don’t have the answer but what I do understand is that some people find it easier to reach out to someone in the public eye and confide in them after they get the green light that it’s okay to speak up about things like this.

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Hayley Matthews' searingly honest first hand account of growing up with alcoholi...

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I’m the first to admit my family aren’t perfect but I’m striving to learn from the mistakes so that my children have a better childhood with no violence, alcohol abuse, threatened suicides or mass anxiety and upset. I’ve come to realise that to move on from the past, I need to address the issues, acknowledge them and find that speaking to people helps. For those burying the past deep, I hope you find a way of healing as it always rears its ugly head at some point and I always think that ‘pretending that the bad times haven’t happened’ always catches up with us at some point.

Mum getting stronger each day

For those who reached out, I’ve read all of your messages and sorry if I’ve not been able to reply to everyone, I’ve been inundated over the past few months. People have told me of their experiences with a loved one who’s alcohol dependant or have simply offered acknowledgement of how difficult the relationship with an alcoholic can be. The messages of support and kind words of how strong a person I am have not fallen on deaf ears. I feel strange calling myself strong as I don’t feel strong at all at times. However, when I think about how things could have turned out, I count my blessings and am grateful for them – all of them. The opportunities I have to share my experiences have certainly made it easier to deal with. So thank you for reading, caring and offering support.

Many who know my mum have asked how she is now and if I ever see her and the answer may surprise some. I saw my mum reach a crisis point a few months ago and found it extremely difficult to turn a blind eye. Even though we hadn’t spoken for many years, that direct mother-daughter link never leaves me. It can be painful, however not being involved is even more painful. So I stepped in and we’ve rebuilt a relationship. She’s in hospital and has been for some time and is trying to get stronger each day but it’s difficult at 71. In a selfish way, it’s quite nice for me to be around her knowing that she is alcohol free and can’t get any access to alcohol. I see her smile now which I haven’t seen in a long time and she sees her grandsons which brings an even bigger smile to her face. Some may not understand the very complex relationship that my mum and I have but for those that do and care – thank you for being there for me. I’m grateful beyond belief!