How to Not Be Angry

Updated on February 01, 2011
R.M. asks from Evanston, IL
14 answers

I am going to try to put this in a nutshell to avoid writing a novel here. My mom is an alcoholic that has only been sober maybe 8 or 9 years out of my life. When I was younger my mom was my best friend and since I am an only child we spent a lot of time together. My parents divorced and my dad died unexpectedly shortly after (when I was 13). Since my teenage years I have begun building up resentment and anger because I feel that alcoholism is such a selfish disease and I began to realize this. She got sober for about a year right when I got pregnant with my first child and I began to build a decent relationship with her. She was a huge part of my son's life. When I went into the hospital to have my daughter, she had my 14 month old son in her care and she relapsed. I am talking big time - she blacked out and doesn't even remember anything. This all happened in a matter of like 5 hours as my labor was short. I called to let her know I had had the baby and could tell she was drunk, my husband rushed home to find our son dirty, crying, and baby food all over the house, literally. Thankfully he was ok, but she turned a joyous occasion into a nightmare for us, I was in the hospital and couldn't even hold my newborn because I was shaking so bad. So my telling her she would not be a part of our lives sparked her to get sober. She remained sober for 5 years and I was just starting to build a relationship with her. I had another baby in this time and we even got to the point where we let her watch the kids again because she seemed to turn her life around and was active in meetings etc. Well then a year ago she was going to watch my youngest for us and when I went to drop her off my mother was drunk. Yes I know its a fool me once shame on you, fool me twice... deal. I can't believe she would AGAIN put another one of my children in harms way like that. We vowed that she would NEVER again watch our kids and she swore she wanted to get help and get sober again, however, she ended up drinking for a whole year, ruining my Thanksgiving and other family events that she would show up drunk to after promising not to. The events I mentioned are just the largest instances of how her drinking has negatively affected my life, there have been hundreds of things over the last 15 years. She finally went to a live in rehab last month after I basically forced her because she was getting drunk and falling at her house and almost died. She is out now and active in meetings again, but my main question, after this lengthy post, is how do I let go of my anger and love her after what she has put my family through? I try and say I forgive her but deep in my heart, I don't. I think she is selfish and a part of me doesn't even want to be around her. I know thats awful to say but I can't help it. I really don't have time to go to alanon meetings unless they were online or something, as my husband and I work opposite schedules so any time we DO have together I am not willing to give up. I have no other family around besides my hubby’s family, which are awesome, but sometimes I am so upset that I don’t have a mom that I WANT to hang out with etc. I just don’t get how someone could put a substance before their family, especially since I have kids of my own now. Anyone have any advice? Thanks...

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answers from Boca Raton on

I agree with Peg M. 100% - very well said.

I wish you lots of luck with this issue - I'm so sorry you've gone through all that.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Las Vegas on

I agree with the other moms. It might be worth it to invest the time to go to Al-Anon. I completely understand working opposite your husband and how precious your time is as we do the same thing in our house. Can you find a babysitter while you go or can your husband go with you during your time together? Think of it a a temporary means to get healthy. You have every right to be angry and you should not ever blame yourself for trusting your mother with your children. Your mother has put you through so much emotional trauma. You owe it to yourself to learn about this disease and to understand all of the emotions that go along with it. You will be surrounded by people who truly understand what you have gone through and they can help you let go of the anger. I know it's not fair to you, but if your willing to invest the time, there are tools out there to help you. I wish you the best in your journey to heal and find peace in this very very difficult situation with your mother.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hi Robyn,

My dad was a terrible alcoholic. He was drunk until I was 18, he got sober and stayed that way until I was 26. He was dianosed with lung cancer that year. He had the tumor successfully removed but developed a staph infection that kicked his @ss. During the course of his recovery, the damn doctors perscribed him all sorts of narcotic pain medication and thus fueled his relapse.

During the relapse, he did things that endangered my son's life, he and my son were best friends, Road Dog's they called each other. My son was just a little guy and his Papa was the sun and moon in his life, but I chose to remove my Dad from my son's life because I knew what was in store. I stopped talking to my dad. I hadn't seen or talked to him in at least 2 years when my good-hearted aunt ambushed me and had all of us togehter for Christmas. I was so angry!!!! But I saw that was Dad was dying .. and we talked a little, but more than anything we were able to make some peace with one another. He died the following February alone in a hospital. I was 10 minutes away, but my Dad left this earth alone. It breaks my heart.

I went to meetings, I now understand what alcoholism is, and I know that it wasn't my dad's choice and it DID cause him as much, if not more pain than it caused any of us. My Dad was a good man, a loving man .. and a man with an addiction that was stronger than he was.

I fully understand how you feel, I have been right where you are, but as someone who lost their parent and was still in such an unsure position, I would highly recommend you find an Al-Anon meeting.

It WILL help you. More than anything else, you deserve to feel better about and understand the whole thing, this really is the only way that's possible.

And, it's ok to be angry.

Good luck,

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

You've been through the emotional wringer, Robyn, and your anger is "justified" and completely understandable. That does NOT mean it's healthy for you or anyone near you, and you clearly realize that. Addictions are strange and persuasive creatures, and can leave the addict quite helpless to resist on her own. (Is your mother trying to 'fly solo' when she has her relapses?)

There are at least four ways, in my experience (and the experience of close friends) to deal with the dismay, confusion and anger over a loved one's addiction: Al-anon, or counseling, or surrendering your reactions totally to a higher power through prayer, or a process called The Work, as taught by Byron Katie ( The first two require regular attendance outside the home, the last two can be done at home. They are all effective for different people, meeting individual needs.

Resentment itself can become a sort of addiction for many people. Whether that's true for you or not, you have a journey ahead of you, and it will be challenging. It may seem impossible at times, especially if you're not getting support from people who have made the same journey. But if you persist, you'll be glad you made the effort. I sure do wish you well.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

MAKE time and get to Alanon.
I have seen this movie many times in my own life.
Your M. is a sick woman and alcoholism will be a part of her for the rest of her life.
She needs to want help and seek help. She needs to work the program and you need to understand the disease.
Your M. is not a bad person, she's a sick person.
You cannot "make" her be ANY way.
Do you feel that someone with cancer puts their disease in front of their family?
I know it sucks, but you have to learn how to deal with an alcoholic parent, because, guess what? That's what you got in the lottery.

Put it this way, you don't have time NOT to go to Alanon.
Good luck.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Al-Anon meetings will help you separate her disease from her. You are blaming her, the person, and thinking SHE is to blame and being selfish. If you could go to Al-Anon meetings, you would learn in your mind to separate the alcoholism from her the person. It will help you learn to make boundaries with her, healthy boundaries and to not enable her.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

Go to an Al-Anon Meeting! My husband is a recovering alcoholic. I'm incredibly fortunate that he is sober and has been for a very long time. He goes to AA meetings twice a week. He talks to his sponsor regularly, and he sponsers others. I don't understand what it's like for him (and I never really will), but I have to trust him when he tells me that he needs AA and he needs to be involved in AA. The freindships he has and the support system that he has gain are so important to him.

You need to do this for you. Go to an Al-Anon meeting. Get to know others who are going through many of the same things you are. It will help!

Here's a website to help you find out more about Al-Anon and help you find a meeting in your area:

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Robyn, my heart goes out to you. Both my parents were alcoholics so I feel your pain. On top of all that, I just got out of the hospital yesterday. I had to have 40 % of one of my lungs removed. My dad quit his great job when I was 5. I know it was so he could go into business for himself and be able to drink every day. He sold used appliances and I had clean them with easy off, ammonia, lye, etc from age 6-16.
All this being said, you can see I have alot that I could be angry about. I never let my children stay with my M. until they were older and only for a couple of hours. Still she put them in extreme danger, so I never left them with her again. She and my dad have lots of anger because I won't let them take them anywhere. My children's lives are much more important than anyone's feelings.
I tried Al Anon and it was not helpful at all to me. Too many people were there to whine and never move on with their lives. I found a great counselor that helped alot. Suprisingly the thing that helped me was a Dani Johnson seminar I went to to help me with my business. About 30 minutes after she started talking, I started crying. Within an hour the whole room was. Although what she said had nothing to do with my M., I forgave her instantly even though I had been trying to for years.
Go to and you can listen to some of her audios free.
Some of the other Bible studies and praying I had done had a cummulative effect also.
I am sorry you can't hang out with your M., but find healthy people to hang out with.
If you want to message me, I will be happy to chat or pray for you.
Good luck and God bless,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I have to agree with the other recommendations for Al-Anon. You really, really, really could use the information and support that you would find there. Make time to go, seriously. You need it.

A friend from work's mother is a raging alcoholic who abandoned her and her sister when they were young children and she is still totally dysfunctional and wreaks havoc in their adult lives. My friend is so much more at peace and her life has improved so, so much from Al-Anon.

If going for yourself isn't enough, consider going so that you know enough about addiction to help you be a better parent. Both of my parents are children of alcoholics and neither one of them went to Al-Anon or really dwelled on their experience with alcoholism. They were both sure that the fact that they didn't drink, and that they could tell us kids all about alcohol and what it does to you and that we should avoid it would be enough. They really and truly thought that they were alcohol/addiction experts but in reality, they had no idea that my brother was drinking and using as a teenager and when they were told point-blank (by me) they were in pretty strong denial and didn't know what to do about it. It's been almost 20 years and he's still an addict and alcoholic. These things run in families - get the support and education that you need so that you can process your experience with your mother and be a better mother to your own children.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Spokane on

Hi Robyn,
What you are going through is not easy, and I am sorry you are dealing with this.
I am the daughter of two (now recovering) alcoholics. It has been a long road with the both of them!
You need to educate yourself on Alcoholism. Al-Anon classes are what you need. Try to make time for them. It's extremely important. It will help you to deal with your anger and other feelings (abandonement, distrust, etc.) and it will help you to understand what your mother is going through.
Blessings to you and your family.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I second the Al-anon for families idea to help you heal, but a part of you will always be angry and justifyably so. She doesn't have a disesase, she has an addiction (you can't cure a disease with a 12 step program).

You are perfectly justified in staying as FAR away from her as you possibly can. I can sympathize with you because my bio-mother is the same type of narcissistic B as your (minus the drinking - as far as I know, anyway). I will never allow her to be alone with my son and am extremely glad that I live more than 1000 miles away from her. I was in therapy for 7 years, and it took another 10 years before I could let the drama around my feelings for her get to a manageable place.

I also get upset about not having a M., but I have replaced her in my life and in my heart with loving relationships with my MIL and my (much) older sister. If you have mother figures in your life that care for you, rely on them to fill the hole your mother left in your heart; do your best to put aside the guilt and anger. She's just an egg-donor. She's not a mother. It's not your fault and you CAN let go of her. Feel free to click on my name to send a personal message to me if you need to.

Take care!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

there is a group called Al-Anon for family of alcoholics. I know it sucks that your M. has this disease, I've never really understood it myself, having only been drunk once in my life, I've never seen the appeal of alcohol, but from what I understand, it's a pretty hard thing to kick.

If it were me, I would still allow her to spend time with her grandchildren, as long as she stays sober, and never unsupervised. You could even try doing some therapy together, if you think it would help.



answers from Honolulu on

Well, people battle addictions all their lives. It is just the way they are sadly. My dad's side is alcoholics and we just had to limit contact. They would drink and do stupid stuff like set fireworks off in the fireplace (that is actually something my grandpa did). I have NEVER seen my grandfather sober. I don't think I will ever see him sober either. I love him, and he is really nice when just tipsy but once he has had the 6th beer he just gets mean until the 15th beer. Sure that is about 2 hours of the day, but until my kids can defend themselves from him we just have to avoid him because he will physically lash out at the kids (even the newborn baby that is "whining" too much) even with me or my husband there. does it hurt? Yes, but my kids safety has to come 1st. In the end I just decided not to be angry and just say, "you know what, I can't MAKE you change so we will just do our own thing..."



answers from Dallas on

Sounds to me like you haven't gotten yourself educated about addictions.

Many times, people are genetically born with a brain chemistry that is going to go that way no matter what if they don't understand it and get help.

I'll give you just this much and try to wrap your head around it.

It's not her fault that she has an addiction. Pity her to the point that you tell her she is not to blame (to remove her shame) but that people get educated and get help everyday to manage their addiction and stay clean. She can to but she eneds a seriously good rehab, a mentor, attend AA meetings regularly, and have a sponsor for life. You have boundaries that you cannot risk and your emotional boundaries. Don't enable her, don't abandon her.

You need to get educated about it and what long term effects it has had on you. You must break the cycle that you will otherwise pass onto oyour children. Your anger, your lack of trust, emotional closeness that is guarded, etc., etc. It will pass on unless you get educated and trained.

Anger will give you serious health issues. You must find a way to let it go or you will get cancers or this or that.

Want to be grateful about something? So many people have less. What do you have?

For starters, you don't have a life threatening illness.
You have a healthy child and loving spouse?
You aren't starving and don't have a debilitating mental disease.
You have a M. that is half there. That's better than a M. who flies the coup and doesn't care about you, or adopted you out and your parents were abusive, or you never had parents. Or your parent died. Or has alzheimers for which you must care for. Or, or, or.

I know it is tougher than having a perfect world. But you must find ways to be grateful for what you have so you and yours can live a happier life. Your ATTITUDE is everything. Everything. Get over your anger or it will literally EAT you alive. Then your child and spouse will be angry -- and it will pass on and on. I've been ihn and out of perfect worlds and challenges to my life and my kid's health. I found myself just being grateful once for living another month. Now I have it all back and I am determined to remember that and be grateful for each day.

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