She may be an alcoholic but I still love my mum – Hayley Matthews

A young Hayley with her mother on a day out to the beach
A young Hayley with her mother on a day out to the beach
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I still feel like a six-year-old girl who just wants to hug her mum and make everything OK, writes Hayley Matthews.

I always try and write about ­positive experiences and life events, however, I’m also quite honest about situations that I experience too and it’s all been quite difficult recently.

I’ve touched before on how my experience with my mum’s alcohol addiction has taken its toll massively on me, but the last week has been really tough to say the least.

The reason I’m writing about it is that I have a few people to thank for coming to the rescue when she decided she’d had enough of staying in the Western General Hospital during the week and decided to take herself on a four-mile walk, with cellulitis, not to mention dementia, COPD, and in the middle of alcohol withdrawal.

READ MORE: Hayley Matthews’ searingly honest first hand account of growing up with alcoholic mother - and what that means for her children

READ MORE: Hayley Matthews: I have an unhappy mum and it’s heartbreaking

The police were notified and due to her being in a very vulnerable and ­confused state, we had several cars out on the lookout for her. My fear has always been receiving a phone call to say she’s been found dead in a ditch somewhere and that fear had never felt so real than it did on Tuesday evening.

We decided to post on Facebook and asked everyone to share a picture of her so they could look out for her. Within a few hours, a message from Carol ­Morris from the Four in Hand pub on Easter Road came through as she’d seen her walking past not long after looking at my post.

I was hesitant to post such a ­personal situation online as not ­everyone is understanding and ­educated in alcohol abuse and can be quick to judge.

However, I’m glad I did and thank you to everyone that night for helping me get her back to the hospital safe – to Dale the policeman, and all his many ­colleagues who were on the search, to the public for keeping a vigilant look out, and to my dear friends on ­Facebook who took the time to share and send messages of support.

The next stage will probably see me go grey overnight as I have a fraught relationship with my mum, but I’m trying to do what is right for her as she has lost the ability to make ­decisions for herself. It’s a very sad state of affairs and I hold alcohol abuse responsible.

I’ve been quite open with my close friends about my relationship, or lack of it, with my mum but she has always been, and will always be, my mum. Even when I see her lying on a hospital bed, completely unrecognisable to the woman I once knew, there is still a familiarity that anchors me back to being a six-year-old girl who just wants to hug her mum and make everything OK.

Unconditional love is strong, so, despite a painful past, the parent and child bond is one that the maternal spirit in me can’t ignore. Many have said that she doesn’t deserve my time or nurturing and if it was a friend ­asking me for advice with their ­alcoholic mother I’d tell them to let her rot and save themselves. To carry out such a course yourself, however, is a different matter.

I can only think about how she was a beautiful soul when I was very young and how now she seems like a baby herself, almost unable to feed herself or articulate a sentence. It’s truly ­heartbreaking to see and even more so to know she’s done the majority of the damage herself.

The only thing I do know is being there for her in her time of need is not something I can say no to easily.

It’s better to regret doing it than regret not doing it.