• Chapter 2- Being the Child of an Alcoholic

    I can probably remember as far back as being ten years old when my mom was drinking and I knew what she was doing and I knew what alcohol actually was. I knew what my mom was doing but hid it from friends. It's not something that you tend to talk about when you are ten years old at your best friends sleep over party. I knew it was something she did that was different from anything I would see my friends parents do. At ten years old you want to fit in and you want to have a normal life like your friends did. I enjoyed being at friends houses where alcohol didn't exist so I could surround myself with some sort of normalcy. From what I noticed my friends parents didn't drink when I was around so I never had a friend to relate to in my ten year old mind. I used their homes as a place I would go to get away from the alcohol. I never had someone to talk to it about or ask any questions.

    She started drinking at a very young age due to being the youngest of five children having older siblings made it easily accessible. My mother did have years of sobriety as well though. Which makes it more confusing to me because she was able at one point in her young life when my brother and I were very young to have the willpower to stop. It wasn't for very long, but it did last a few years.

    At ten years old it was just my seven year old brother, my mom and me. All ties had been severed with my father due to issues they had between each other. I remember my mom working a lot when I was younger. The days led her to work and the nights led her to drink and be with her boyfriends. I got off the school bus most days to an empty house. Only to be there for my younger brother who would come home after me. I would dread each and every time my mom found herself a new boyfriend in her life. I never knew if he was going to help her drink and drink with her or make it so she would stop. Most of them drank with her. Which made her situation even worse. Some nights she would hang out at the bar all night and never come home. As a teenager I had the local bars telephone number memorized. I'd call the bar on a weekly basis and it got to the point where I could ask for my mom by first name and they knew who she was. I'd call the bar to make sure she was there and to ask when she would be coming back home. Some nights she would come home around the early hours of the morning and other nights she wouldn't come home at all. I'd wake up get ready for school and help get my brother ready for school. I'd get on the school bus some mornings not knowing if my mom was alive and safe or who she was with and why she wasn't home.

    Not every night did she have a boyfriend to see or want to hang out at the bar. She didn't need the boyfriend to drink. Some nights she would come home from work after stopping at the liquor store and fill herself a coffee cup full of a mixed drink usually orange juice mixed with vodka. She would sit in her room and the only way we talked with her is by knocking on her door and talking through a closed brown wooden door to see if we got a response. Some nights I would write letters to her telling her I hated it when she drank and I wish she would stop for my brother and I. That I hated when she would go out and drink and not come home and how it would make me worry all the time. I would seal up the notes in an envelope or fold them up letter style and slide them under her door for her to read it in the morning when she woke up. Some nights my brother would open her door and find her passed out asleep with the coffee cup still in hand with her hand hanging off the edge of the bed. We could never figure out how she never did spill anything. He would take the mug out of her hand and place it gently on the end table, kiss her goodnight and tuck her in nicely. To this day I can still remember the way her room would smell in the morning of stale alcohol. I can also remember the way she would smell after having too many drinks. The smell of whatever she had to drink would seep out of her pores and breath and you could smell a faint hint of it as she passed by you or gave you a hug or kiss.

    My mom had many jobs while I was growing up. At the time I just thought it was because she liked to change them frequently. Now, as I am older I know it was because she would lose them frequently. She would miss work a few days in a row because she was sleeping off the alcohol, or detoxing which lead her to being fired after missing too many days of work.

    I believe it was around 12 years old that I made a promise to myself to never inherit my mother's alcoholic behaviors. I knew I didn't want that or to have to depend on that. I wouldn't even eat food that was even cooked in alcohol as a child. The near smell of it would nauseate me. I was actually 21 years old when any alcohol hit my lips for the first time. And it never was really something I needed or wanted or even liked for that matter. And, today I am still not a drinker. Could it have been because I saw what it did to my mom year after year? Possibly could have, I just knew there was more to life than drinking and I wanted to enjoy remembering most of my life.