"Hey Mom, can you take me to the library now? You said you would yesterday," she asked.
"Hello? Mom? Library?"
I look up from my book to see her leaning against the door, arms crossed, purple sweatshirt draped over them, tapping her feet, eyebrow raised questioningly. Damn, I had forgotten about that.
"Can I take you tomorrow instead?" I say.
"But you promised" she sucks in her breath sharply as her eyes fall onto the table beside me. I pretend not to notice.
"Don't be ridiculous, your mother is in no condition to drive", he spits out with disdain as he turns the corner into the room behind her. "You're better off taking your bike and going yourself. At least that way I won't find you wrapped around a pole later on."
I look at him not bothering to hide my anger. It's always like this, he criticizing me. I chug down the remainder of my wine glass. I don't see HIM offering to take her.
"You going to drink yourself into oblivion again today dear?" he asks coldly before picking up the empty Burgundy bottle. "It's not even lunchtime yet and you've polished off this one. What's that? Five? Six glasses this morning?"
So, he's counting now, just lovely. Something else for him to hold over my head and rail at me about. I hop up from my chair, grabbing my keys, ignoring him. Silence probably being my best defense.
"Come on Chelsea, I can still drive", I say as I walk towards the door.
"No you can't. Will you just listen to yourself? You're slurring. I won't let you."
He grabs my arm pressing his thumb into the bruise already there. "When are you going to admit you're nothing but a drunk?"
"Leave me alone" I yank my arm back. He doesn't understand how tough it is. "My child needs me" He seizes the keys out of my hand and throws them across the room.
"It's OK Mom, never mind. I need the exercise anyway." She shoves her hands into her pockets, looking away, uncomfortable. She sees another battle looming.
"You asked me to take you so I'm taking you"
"Chelsea, Go. Get out of here now"
"NO" stern voice "take your bike and go - now"
She starts to say something, bites her lip and runs out the door slamming it behind her. I watch her out the window flying down the road, pedaling fast.
"Was that really necessary?" I snap
"Yes, it was. I will not have you hurting the kids"
"I'm not hurting anybody"
"Yes you are and it's time you faced up to it"
"You are mistaken".
I scoop up my book, head into the kitchen, swoop up another bottle and move outside to the deck. I shrug my shoulders as he slams the door behind me. Oh well, at least he's shut up quickly this time and I can relax in peace.
I settle onto the lounge chair opening my novel. The paragraph looks vaguely familiar. Have I read this one before? Frustrated, I throw the book down. I pick up my glass, swirl the red liquid around, holding the glass up to the sun and take a sip. Mmmmm, nectar of the gods. I don't know what he's talking about.
I do not have a problem.
I am the child of an alcoholic. Scenes like this were very common growing up in my household, constant fighting, constant arguing, constant battles. I learned to shut up and say nothing. What was the point? Often these fights ended with flying pots, pans, or other utensils. I learned how to duck quickly. I never knew what the mood would be. I heard every excuse in the book. I had a hard day. It helps me to relax. I can't sleep. My head hurts, this will help. More often than not, she would pass out on the couch. These things I noticed and said nothing about. I do not even know if she realized I saw this. At that time, she probably didn't really care.
It came to the point when I was eighteen, that she started sending me to the package store to pick up her fix. She would go into a rage if I showed reluctance. It was easier to go. I was embarrassed and ashamed that I was helping her sink deeper into that black hole. I was angry with myself for not being strong enough to tell her. NO. ENOUGH. The best escape from her mood swings was to disappear, hide in my room, take my bike and fly away. Anywhere was better than here. Being the child of an alcoholic sucked, plain and simple. I am ever aware of the statistics. Children of alchoholics are four times more likely to become alcoholics themselves. It runs in families. No matter how stressed my life may get, I refuse to become one of those damn statistics. I will NOT put my children through the same hell I went through.
I don't know what finally caused her to see what she had become. It was not my father's anger with her. It was not my youngest brother's acerbic tongue. I did not ask. She did not tell. I only know that she finally sought out help long after I had married and moved away.
At that time, she could not accept responsibility for her drinking, she was not capable of it. No one could tell her this is what you've become. She had to discover this for herself. She had to find her own way home. It was a long time in coming. I'm just glad that she finally did it and found her way back to the living. Alcoholics Anonymous was/is the best thing she ever did for herself. Now I can say to her...
Mom. Good for you. You've made me proud.