subject line: grieving the death of my very much alive mother.


jackson, mississippi. 

I recently began therapy again after a 2 year hiatus. It’s been one of the best things for me, but I also hate it because I find myself sitting in this chair twice a month dealing with things I never wanted to talk about and feeling feelings I hate acknowledging. Sometimes I feel darker when I leave, and sometimes I feel lighter. I went to therapy last yesterday and my therapist presented a new idea to me.

You see, my mother is an addict and alcoholic. We’re to the point now where she’s been an addict most of my life-half of it to be specific. I hate her and love her all at the same time-and it’s a weird place to be with the person who gave you life and is supposed to be there always. But she hasn’t been there. I don’t remember a time from the age of 12 and onward that I felt like I could depend on her. But I just thought I needed to be grateful I even knew my mother, and that she was a physical presence in my life-because some people don’t get that much. So I have gone 24 years begin thankful for the small amount of “mom” I do have. Until yesterday.

I found out yesterday my mom was arrested and in jail for the umpteenth time; this didn’t surprise me at all. In fact, I am honestly somewhat pleased she is there. If I’m being honest, which I am because the likely hood of anything really seeing is is slim-I’m glad she’s there. She needs to be there. She needs to see where her addictions are taking her and “managing” them as she does isn’t going to do anything but lead her down a road that ends in tragic death. Welcome to the dark parts of my mind.

Back to my therapist.

I mentioned flippantly how much I hate Mother’s Day. While most of the world is celebrating this lady who is a rock in their lives-I hide. I resent happy families. I get jealous. I cry. I wish the day away. I send my mom a very non-committal present, make my phone call, say all the right words that lay dead in my soul, and move on. I hate Mother’s Day. It’s not a celebration day to me- it’s a day that reminds me I have this huge hole in my life that will never be filled the way I wanted it to be.

My therapist asked, “Have you ever grieved the death of your mom?”
”No, why would I? She’s still alive?”
”Because who she should have been to you is dead, there is a loss there, and I think you need to acknowledge that you have lost something you needed and want still.”
**insert ugly tears**
”I never thought of it as a loss”

So that’s all I’ve been thinking about- the loss I just realized I have suffered for 12 years. I process by writing, which is why I am writing this. I normally just journal it all out and move on, but I needed someone to know. I needed someone to see my words and maybe acknowledge just how shitty addiction really is. It’s the thing no one really talks about. It’s the dark secret of so many families and people. Some days I want to shout it from the rooftops that I am the child of an addict and it’s just super shitty sometimes. I want to shine light on families of addicts, because so often we are the wounded soldiers that no one sees. We are on the front lines fighting this silent and deadly killer-never knowing how the battle or war is going to end-all we know is eventually it will end one way or another. And the funny thing is, the battle was never ours to begin with.

My therapist challenged me to write a letter to my mom grieving her. So here goes nothing..


There is no person in this world, or in my life, that has single handily affected me as you have. You have given me things that I love like my love of children, sewing, cooking, music, and art. You were the best mom to us when we were younger and I just miss that mom. I miss the mom who was in all our home videos laughing and smiling; truly enjoying the life she had. I don’t know when the switch happened for you- when the darkness took your light, but I miss the light. I think you still are my hero. I think I still admire you, because at least-for now- the darkness hasn’t fully taken you away. Which means there is hope. But this isn’t a hopeful letter, this is a grieving letter because you are not light right now. You are not the mom who laughs. You are not the woman I can call and cry to. You aren’t there. And it hurts. Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed by the loss of you that I just want to crawl into the fetal position and let life pass me by. But I know that isn’t an option. I often wonder why you refuse to fight. I fight everyday to not crumble under all I feel, why can’t you fight too? Why didn’t you fight? Did you not want to? Did you not love us enough to? I know you love us, but if you loved us then wouldn’t you have chosen us over the drugs and drinks?

I hate you because I have trust issues because of you. I don’t think I am important to people. I think everyone is going to leave me. I think eventually all the people in my life will figure out I am not worth it and just leave-the same way you always left. I don’t think a human will ever choose me-because you never did. Dad always chose you over us kids. You chose the drugs. Grandma chose you. My brothers and sisters chose their families and significant others- and I am just over here trying to pretend I’m not drowning. Everyone always takes from me and never gives me anything back. I often wonder if I just suddenly stopped being there for you all if anyone would notice until a problem arose. I don’t think any of you would.

I hate calling you mom most days. Mom signifies warm, tender feelings filled with baking and love. I like to call you mother because it’s more distant- Mom shows affection, Mother states a fact. But you hate when I call you Mother because it’s too cold- and I do it to piss you off.

But mom, as dark as all these words and feelings are, I still root for you. I still want to you beat your darkness and come back to me. I still hold out hope one day your just going to be okay. That many years from now, you and I will be best friends and my kids will know how great you are. I think that’s why I can’t grieve the loss of you fully- because I haven’t let that hope go that one day the hole will be filled. Even though, your track record tells me differently. You taught me about God and His love- you told me always that if I have nothing else- I have God- and I just can’t hate you fully because you introduced me to my best friend, my foundation.

I love you just for that fact alone. God gave me to you for whatever reason, and you to me, and I just have to always trust He knows what He is doing. I wish you dead at least once a month-and yet you are still alive-against all odds. God just keeps telling me there’s a reason for it. I get mad at Him sometimes for it,but I also am grateful He hasn’t taken you yet, because I have hope.

This is a terrible grieving letter, but it’s mine and I needed to tell you these things for today. I hate you and I love you. I hope you’ll come back to me soon, but if you don’t I’ll be okay.

-your daughter, Elizabeth.