My Mother

My mother is a most abstemious woman. Where ever I get my ‘addictive tendencies’ from its definitely not from her. My father died when I was 21 – and I didn’t really know him as a person at all – he had been unwell for several years before his death. If I had to hazard a guess I would think I inherited the ‘risk taking’ part of my personality from him.

I don’t think my mother likes me very much. I know that she loves me, and I know that to some extent she is proud of my achievements, but I have always felt that a) she dislikes me as a person and b) she disapproves of me. I don’t know if this is because I remind her of my father, or she just doesn’t like me very much. In fact how SHE feels about me matters less than why it bothers me so much, even at 51.

She dislikes me drinking. I have never ever seen my mother drunk , or even tipsy. She literally cannot see the point of drinking more than 1 glass of wine – or two on special occasions; and appears to despise people who drink more than this. She is also amazingly focused on herself. When I stopped drinking in 2013. her response was only about how awful it had been FOR HER watching me drink, which bearing in mind that I rarely drank in front of her was quite something. Not one word of praise or encouragement, not one comment of sympathy or empathy, just comments about how awful it had been for her watching me drink. Writing this down I can feel that I am ANGRY about this response, that is literally the first time I have felt anger about this.

So why do I care what an almost 80 year old woman thinks ? Why do I care that she has never once told me I looked nice, (indeed one of her comments on my appearance was that ‘those shoes make you look like a prostitute’) has always always disapproved of my boyfriends/ partners (all of them) ; cannot understand why I want to travel, questions me about my fiances and is generally passive aggressive.

And why do I feel that this constant quest for approval, that will never come, is in some  way tied up with my addictive, anxious, insecure frail personality which wears a coat of armour to face the outside world, and destroys herself behind closed doors.

Answers on a postcard please

Lily x



  1. My mother doesn’t drink, never has. She calls people who do “alkies.” In her part of the world growing up, drinking was a shameful thing, not a social lubricant. No one in her extended farming family in Canada drank at all. It took the next generation, especially us, raised in the U.S., to adopt the habits of drink. I view my mom as someone raised on those awful 50s values where women were judged harshly for everything from their “figures” to their homemaking skills. I think she was trying to protect me with all her years of snide drinking comments. I drank anyway, just not in front of her. If she approves of me, I will never know. It doesn’t matter to me anymore. I’ve accepted her for who she is and know that she has her regrets, like we all do. Because I was far from the model mother, I can no longer judge anyone else.

    If it helps, why not put a photo of her as an innocent little baby near where you can see it? It helps me to think of my mom as a child as she ventures on into her eighties. It’s scary getting old. (Sorry for the rambling … too much coffee.) ; )

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    • Thank you ! I’ve been thinking about the photo idea, they somehow if I could see her as a child , with hopes and dreams sales as other children, and as a ‘victim’ of her age and her own parents, I might be more able to forgive …

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  2. Oh Luly, how I feel for you! First of all, you are not alone. 2nd, you must come to accept that this way of thinking, this selfish disposition that your mother has is her, and has absolutely nothing to do with who you are or the choices you make. If I were to guess, possibly she grew up feeling like a disappointment to her parents, which, yes is heartbreaking to any child. My father is one of those….even though his parents have long passed, he still dwells on the fact that he was never good enough and never lived up to their expectations. It truly haunts him and he is miserable for it. He is selfish and only cares about what is going on in his life, much like your mother. Due to this, he has missed out on seeing his two amazing grandsons grow up and achieve more than any mother could wish for her children!!! He knows I am an alcoholic, but is okay with that because he drinks too and my problems or desire to get better aren’t his issues….so he doesn’t care, is not supportive, whatever! What I can tell you is your mom has HUGE insecurity issues that have NOTHING to do with you! I have had to learn, and it’s been hard, to know that it’s just how he is and he isn’t going to change! I’m sorry you are having to go through this….but, again, you are not alone! Huge hugs xxxx


  3. Lily There are some that argue that addiction is caused by poor or faulty attachment experiences in childhood where because we lacked having a secure relationship with our primary caregiver we go on to attach to a substance in later life as a coping strategy to that unresolvable feeling of not being good enough. The best book on the subject is by Gabor Mate MD and is called ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts.’ You might want to read it 🙂

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  4. My mother sounds like yours and behaves in ways that you describe. She is full of judgement and negativity and is contemptuous towards people and activities she disapproves of. I’m most comfortable having next to no contact with her, and feel a lot of guilt about that. I don’t consciously seek her approval now and don’t tell her anything about myself or my experiences (she doesn’t ask) but the weird thing is, I know that when I do make overtly positive changes in my life (eg losing weight) it’ll attract the kind of insulting compliments that I’d rather not get in the first place! As ASM says, she is a product of her time.
    I recognise the feelings you describe and I’d love to be able to offer advice but I’m pretty clueless myself. I try not to let the anger and frustration (and guilt) I feel towards her build up and turn in on myself but it’s hard work trying to quieten those feelings once they’ve been prodded. I guess that’s one of the ways wine fitted in to the picture for me but I’m still trying to understand. I will try and get hold of the book Lucy mentions.


    • Hi IH, thank you for posting. I’m like you, I tell er as little as I ca about ME (again she doesn’t ask much) but she DOES get upset when she realises that I have kept something from her. Guilt is a huge part of it for me – she lives only a mile from me, but I rarely see her at weekends because I find her too stressful… My brother manages her much better than me, whether that is because she likes him better than me (I think she always has done, as he is more like her), or whether he is just better at distancing himself, I don’t know. He does have a thicker skin than me, and a loving wife and family which probably acts as as a buffer for him !


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