Sixteen. My father cleans up her vomit in the middle of the night and makes breakfast in the morning like he hasn’t lost his appetite.
Sixteen. I blame my mother
Sixteen. My father blames the alcohol
Sixteen. My mother blames me
Sixteen… I arrive home after school to find my dad storming out the front door; my mother slurring behind him. Chucking his belongings, her wedding ring, family photos…
Seventeen. I learn that alcohol is an addiction worse than drugs as it is legal. Fourty dollars can buy a bottle of Bacardi, instead of putting dinner on the table. My mother fails to be a parent. She taught me how to love vodka, more than myself, abusing it to hide her inability to deal with life, she sees through a broken lense. Telling me to ‘have a drink’, when things go wrong, she doesn’t have the skills to teach me how to cope, only vodka when I don’t, know how to take the pain away. I should be concentrating on building my own life, and yet my life is in limbo, waiting for her to wake up from this hellhole she is putting me in.
Eighteen. My heart shattered on the floor along with the pieces of glass from her bottles of whisky, I learned to hate myself. I learned to despise myself from caring so much, whether she is ok, because while thinking of her, she is thinking of the random guy in bed next to her. I dreaded those nights. Those nights I lay alone drowning in my own tears, while she drowned herself in the bottles of vodka and whiskey, swallowing the pain until she was numb. As if she was the one who didn’t have a choice. She chose the bottle over her family, substance over her own child and yet I struggle between forgiveness and hurt. Vodka fixes everything, but, not a broken heart.
Nineteen. Every conversation is a subtle competition she is never prepared to lose. She tells me that what I feel is nothing, but nothing is destroying my happiness, nothing is shattering my hope, nothing is numbing my soul. She looks at me like the fire in her eyes has been dowsed with water, like she wants to abandon this burden she no longer wants to carry. As if I’m the one who can’t see past my own reflection. She is like her own poison, and it leaks through her skin into those unfortunate enough to share her life. I am told to love the addict and hate the addiction, but I can’t even remember the memories of who everyone says she ‘once was’. She withdrew her love from the very start, and her poison has dragged me into this pit that never lets you go. I don’t want to live, but I don’t have the energy to follow it through. Vodka fixes everything.
Twenty. She is never home to hear my depression banging on my bedroom door or see how my anxiety is suffocating me in the middle of the night, as random men sleep under the same roof as me. She can’t see me drowning in a sea of neglect and abandonment, and doesn’t listen to my cry for help. Instead, she showed me that you will only ever feel loved at a bar, when somebody sleeps with you, and that self-image is all you can rely on in this world of pain. She taught me that pain is a given, and that life will always be against you, people will always bring you down, and it doesn’t matter if you hate yourself, or if you care about anybody else because she taught me, vodka fixes everything.
Twenty-One. And one morning, when she still hadn’t returned home, I threw the bottles out the window and found myself in utter despair, as tears rolled down my face. Unlike my mother, I knew that I was broken. I knew that my life was far from normal. I knew that I needed to get back up again. I knew that my mother was never going to change her drunken ways, because, I deserved a better life without her. And to my own devastation, when I packed my bags and began walking towards the front door, I found my mother sprawled on the bathroom floor with blood dripping from her mouth, and tears frozen on her face. I saw her vodka, be the result of her downfall… and I learned that vodka doesn’t fix everything.
Twenty – seven. Hey, I’m Adriana. I have been going in and out of rehab for five or so years now… I see a few familiar faces. Well you see, my mother…