Being raised by a mom who was drunk out of her mind most days was really tough. She was always so sad and angry and as a child, I internalized it all and felt there was something so profoundly wrong with me that my own mother hated me.
I didn’t understand it was her and her disease. I just knew that I didn’t have a mom like my friends or cousins did. I had this woman who repeatedly got drunk night after night, and spent most of those nights crying about how bad her life was and how much she hated my dad.
She would on occasion hit me.
She once almost drove into the exit center median on the highway (you know when a highway splits at an exit? Yeah, we were headed straight for that with no signs of turning). She was so drunk, I remember screaming my head off for her to turn the steering wheel. I don’t know if she was intentionally trying to hurt us or if she just didn’t see what was in front of her.
There must have been some angels watching out for all of us because nothing majorly bad ever happened to us despite the internal destruction my mom cultivated in her life on a daily basis.
All of this has lead me to have this lifelong belief that I am not good enough. That there is something fundamentally wrong with me. That I have to change, confirm, fit into molds, pretend everything is perfect in order to be accepted.
And despite all of that, I was never really accepted. We moved nearly every year growing up so I was at a new school pretty much every year until grade 6. I never had any friends. I was broken, I had a secret, I was quiet, small and had a funny name. Plus I was not good enough so why would anyone want to hang out with me?
This theme carried through my entire life. Even as an adult, when I actually know better, rejection cuts me so deep to the core that I find it really hard to function when someone says “no” to me.
I have a lot of redeeming qualities that came out of this experience, like the fact that I deeply know and understand what it feels like to hate yourself, to want to die, to sabotage your life and so I can deeply relate to others who feel that way.
I’ve also developed some weird state of resiliency. I am a fighter. I am a warrior. I don’t give up. Ever. I am fiercely loyal and deep inside, when not hidden from fear, I am deeply loving and want nothing more than to just connect with people at a soul level.
Someone said to me last night that I’m the type of person you sit down and have a conversation with. Not someone you chitty chat with, not someone you do shots with (although I’d do a shot with you), but someone you can go deep with. And I do. I can’t tell you how many people have confessed deep things to me. People I have never met. Like the person last night who confessed that he doesn’t see anything wrong with beating your kids as a form of discipline. I didn’t bat an eye because I hold zero judgement. That’s his dark side. His shadow side. And when he said it aloud and I didn’t recoil in disgust, it was like a massive weight being lifted from him. He did follow up by saying he actually doesn’t want to beat his kids at all, but that he understands it, from a cultural perspective, how it can be beneficial for kids. This conversation started because someone at our table said something about beating their kids in a joking manner and he shot up to leave and I stopped him and asked him why it was so triggering. He was beaten as a child in Sri Lanka and continued to tell me his story. I suspect now he will feel a little lighter.
That’s my gift.
That’s the gift my mother gave me. To go deep with people, to go deep within myself. To get to the fucking truth because everyone is always hiding or lying in some way. And this is hella scary for a lot of people. Facing this side of yourself. The truth. Cause it means you have to make decisions that are hard to make. You have to decide what kind of person you want to be. And that usually means getting rid of shit that no longer serves you and that is fucking PAINFUL. And Terrifying.
My mom passed away two years ago from pancreatic cancer. My sister and I found 7 bottles of vermouth in her apartment. She was on about 10 different medications – none of which were for cancer. Painkillers, anti-anxiety, anti-depressants. It was a chemical cocktail.
I tried for years to save my mom. I tried. So hard. Until I could not try anymore, then I rejected her. I cut her out of my life for years.
She was sober for around 7 years – the entire time I lived in England. The month I was moving back to Toronto was the same month she decided to leave Toronto and move to British Columbia. I was 3 days from returning home when she left. I asked her if she could delay her plans a bit so that I could see her before she went…but as usual, her answer was no.
She moved out to the west coast and took up her fave hobby again and I remember clear as day realizing she was drinking again. I was newly pregnant with Mason. I needed a mom. I was scared, and I needed a mom. So I called her and instead I got the sad woman who blamed everyone for everything. I was devastated. For her, for me, for my sister, for my children. I remember calling my aunt in sobs (hormones will do that to ya) and was just beyond words as to how rejected and alone I felt, and how disappointed I was. And how sad I felt for her not being able to be strong enough to fight for herself.
When you have an absent mother, NOTHING fills the gap. NOTHING. I have been seeking my entire life for that gap to be filled. For someone to take the place of my mom. That person to tell me I’m good enough just as I am.
Fast forward a few more years and my mom finally decided to get sober again. She went to an in person facility in Vancouver for 3 months and inside that place, she finally let out the demons. But on her return back home, back in the familiar space again, she started to drink again. And 2 months later she got her cancer diagnosis.
I wanted to go and see her, but I also didn’t. At this point my mother and I had such a broken relationship it was so hard for me to even feel emotion or sympathy around her condition. A deep part of me just thought that’s what she deserved. She made a lot of choices in her life that lead her there. This may sound harsh, but think of someone you don’t know very well, someone you have zero emotional connection to, and you learn that they made all sorts of choices that led them to a particular point in their lives. You’d feel bad for them for sure, but at the same token understand that it was their choices that led them there. Nobody held a gun to her head. She had a shit ton of support around her, she just chose to live inside the devastation of the sexual abuse that I only found out about when she was dying.
I knew deep down that something must have happened to my mom. There is no way someone is that broken for no reason. I suspected sexual abuse but she never said anything. On my visit to her on the year of her death I was having one of my usual rants to her about how she has so many amazing things in her life, she should be fighting for her life, getting cancer treatment rather than just succumbing to the disease (yes, I know, this was her decision, but at the end of the day wouldn’t you fight for someone?). She simply did not want to get treatment. I knew deep inside she wanted to die and this was her chance. Then a thought occurred to me. It said “sexual abuse”.
So I asked her, and she finally admitted it, but wouldn’t tell me who, or any details. I don’t remember my reaction. I don’t think I hugged her or cried with her or anything. Too much had passed. I was too bitter and selfish and angry.
2 months after that, she died.
I was at my chiropractor’s on my lunch hour when my sister called me. It was early in BC so I knew something was up. She said my mom had had a seizure and that I needed to get my ass out there pronto. I was committed to a friend that weekend to help her at a retreat, I had a job, kids etc. I called my aunt and she told me her flight details and so I booked on a similar flight but from Toronto to Calgary, Calgary to Vernon. My aunt was going to meet me in Calgary and we’d be on that same flight together.
When this was happening we were also moving house – we were closing on our Toronto house and moving to the suburbs so I had to leave Chris to do the entire move by himself, with our two kids.
Once I landed in Calgary I was getting off the plane and the flight attendant called me aside. My aunt was there. My mom had died while I was on my way.
I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye.
She once again didn’t even wait for me.
Rejected once again.
Further solidifying the belief that I’m not even good enough for my mom to wait for me to say goodbye.
I know logically that I’m looking at this all wrong. That I’m feeling sorry for myself. But I don’t fucking care. This is how I feel and I challenge anyone else not to feel exactly the same.
After she died I was pretty devastated. Not because she was gone, but because I couldn’t save her. I couldn’t love her more. I spent more time being angry and pissed off at her than I did loving her.
But now she comes to me all the time. She leaves me dimes everywhere. Every medium I’ve hired since says she’s there. She’s now watching out for me and strangely I feel like I have a mom more now than I did when she was alive. She said it’s ok for me to write about this finally, because it’s going to give me peace so I don’t have to live tortured about this for the rest of my life like she did.
This is a side of me not many people know. If you could see me right now, I am full out ugly crying. With my sage burning beside me to help clear out the energy.
I have been on a journey my entire life trying to find out what’s WRONG with me. What can I fix. How can I conform? How can I be better, more perfect and thus have people like me finally?
The past couple weeks have been a doozy for me. You know how I said I don’t deal well with rejection? Well, in my infinite wisdom I decided on a career as an entrepreneur. And not jus an entrepreneur but a HEALTH coach. I mean, that’s rejection central.
If I were a money coach, I’d be golden right now. But as a health coach…well, it’s not really what people want to hear is it?
I launch things, nobody buys. I put really amazing content out there, barely anyone watches. Fidget spinner videos have 15 MILLION views. My video on how your hormones are making you feel like shit has 3 views.
I chose the toughest industry, most rejection inducing industry to PROVE to myself that I CAN fucking do this. That people NEED THIS. And that no matter how many times I’m told no, it does not mean I am a bad person.
I have spent every penny I have on putting my message out there. I have done nearly everything, and am about to do some super scary things too like deliver a keynote speech for the first time ever. To a potential crowd of 200. Yeah. Shit your pants kind of stuff.
But what I haven’t really done is accept myself for who I am. I haven’t leaned into BE-ing because I am terrified who I BE isn’t good enough. So I stick to DO-ing because it’s safe. It’s metric driven. It’s tangible. I get to say “I DID ALL THE THINGS”.
But what about my BEING? What about just accepting myself for who I am, flaws and all? What if I took a look at my life and saw that I have a huge team of supporters and people who love me to bits? What if I realized that I am responsible for being my mom and filling the gap myself for what’s missing instead of trying to seek it externally all the time?
What if I just said fuck all of it and leaned into the pain, the dark side, what I TRULY want for myself regardless of what society thinks. What if I lived in full integrity instead of pretending everything was fine, admitting it isn’t most days.
Can I build a global brand on blubbery, slobby imperfection? I don’t know. I guess we’ll see.
If you are an adult child of an alcoholic please reach out to me personally. firstname.lastname@example.org. One of the things I really want to do is help support people who have been through this so that you don’t have to go through all the pain I did. I have spent thousands on personal growth and done a lot of work on myself up to this point, and am still going. No matter where you are, I can help you get through it, be someone who truly gets it and who can just listen.
If you are someone who is sick of feeling sick, then please – share my message. Share it so that others can see that there is someone out there who really does care about how you feel and that I only want to see you feel amazing in your body, mind, and soul with no judgment, no guilt, no shame.
If you’ve made it to the bottom, thank you. I hope that this has shifted something in you. It has for me.