Karley's story: "How my mum’s drinking changed my world."

Karley Meadlarklan | November 2019 | 8 minutes

Karley's mum struggled with alcohol dependency for almost all of her life - here's her story.

Our world came crashing down when my mum was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a major operation which took place on my 12th birthday. She was in hospital for what felt like forever.

I had an amazing childhood. My mum had my brother when I was five and married my stepdad. We had a nice home, pets, nice holidays. Our parents worked hard. My mum had a stressful job in book-keeping and my stepdad was a carpet fitter, he worked hard and long hours.

Our world came crashing down when my mum was diagnosed with cancer and had to have a major operation which took place on my 12th birthday. She was in hospital for what felt like forever.

Things began to change after my mum became better and we moved to a new home and her younger brother came to stay with us. He’d just been through a bad break up and his drinking had become excessive. He then met my mum’s best friend and they quickly formed a relationship.

I had no idea at the time but this led to a lot of drinking and drugs at the weekend. My parents’ drinking was becoming a regular occurrence by the time I was 14, and I felt like I couldn’t speak to them.

I remember things getting really bad when I was 17. We had lots of arguments and there were a number of times when my mum verbally and physically abused me. I ended up spending less and less time at home. I had also started binge drinking regularly at weekends. My brother did so too.

I remember feeling very lost at this point in my life. The rest of my family had pulled away from my family which I believe was because of the drama in our lives and no one was ready to listen to me. I decided the best thing was to remove myself from what was an ever-growing toxic situation.

By this point my mum’s relationship with my stepdad had fallen apart and he’d moved out. I made the decision to try and live there once more. When I was putting washing away one evening, I discovered bottles of alcohol in every draw, suitcase, bag and other hiding places. I left it all on my mum's bed for when she came home. There were over 12 bin bags of bottles and cans.

She came home and cried, saying she promised she would get help if I would go with her. But she never did. I had tried to build a relationship with my mum but there were several years when we did not speak.

My mum remarried and moved abroad to Malta with her husband. Within months of moving my mum collapsed and was rushed into hospital. When I went to visit, I couldn’t even pick her out. She was unrecognisable. She was practically skin and bones, she looked grey, her lips were blue. She had been put into a coma because she kept having fits that the doctors couldn’t control. I stayed in Malta for about a week but as nothing had changed her husband felt it best that I return home.

About three weeks later tests confirmed that my mum’s collapse was due to liver failure. She spent a lot of time between A&E and a mental health ward, and I flew backwards and forwards to try and spend some time with her and meet with doctors. At one point it was discovered that my mum had been asked to go see her doctor following recent blood tests showing abnormities in her liver. She hadn’t told us. I found out through her friends in Malta.

To everyone’s amazement she improved and pulled through. But it wasn’t long before she was back in hospital. Eventually, she passed away following a series of operations and having not responded to antibiotics after she became ill.

My mum is now buried in a foreign country. I was 27 when I buried her. Our time was cut so short because of her dependency on alcohol. She will never see me get married, she will never meet her grandchildren when the time comes, she’s never even met my boyfriend.

If you are reading this and you are looking for a reason to change your life, please think about how your life affects the people who love you. No matter what you do, what mistakes you have or will make, those people will always love you and will always have an empty place in their life when you are no longer there.

If someone you love has a problem with alcohol there are steps you can take to improve things – starting with making sure you have the support you need.

Find support.