For: Alcohol Addiction Awareness Month
By: Larisa Hunter
As I worked on the book of my mother’s poetry, pouring over a ziplock bag full of her notes, pieces of paper and more, the smell of dank and decay reminds me of what is gone. When you live a life with an addict, that life is often somewhat smudgy, as if you too are in the sweaty, heaving tremors of that itch. Just like them, you know it’s coming, you feel like, like a slinky, creepy, grungy gremlin who’s fingers sink into your flesh, wrenching it apart. You know the days of wiping up vomit are coming, followed by the days of hiding bottles, denying why you are going to school in the same clothing for the fourth day. You become their alibi, their liar, their doctor, you are no longer a child, no you are the dreaded word, a witness to a sickness that can’t be avoided or abated.
I never knew what made her go to those bottles all the time, some of them I knew, I read them as the things that kept the silence of the abuse in our home in check. They were filled with the horrible glassy reflections of the bruises on her face, the belt welts on my body, or my sisters…as we didn’t clean that day…we didn’t cower that day…we didn’t obey that day.
Whatever it was, I was there with her, except I had to bear it in full, not numb myself to it, but instead boldly stand and take it, to keep my sisters from it. Flinging my helpless body in front of a man if you can call him that, who’s brutal voice and horrible venom lashed upon the belt that struck me. My sister held for hours in a room, unable to escape, or hit again for not listening, the horrors still haunt us.
When finally I was free, my freedom brought the awareness of the thing that my father had been somewhat through all the abuse protecting me from seeing, I saw what her addiction did. It reminded her of her childhood, of her trauma, of her belts and wounds of her hiding in the dark. It brought full bearing on the horrific truth that my mother was not in control of herself.
The later part of the years free of some abuse was met with watching my mother drink herself homeless, then hospital upon hospital until she found some stability. But it was short lived, like seasons her cycle would begin again and the booze would call to her and remind her of how worthless she was. Each glass would bring her more and more pain as if she could not drink it fast enough she mistook that pain for silence, giving into each glass once more.
I heard her spit at me how much she hated me, and loved me at the same time, and the bottle sat still, silently listening to the words that she cursed out, and I swear the bottle would laugh at me. “I have her, you don’t” it mocked as it slowly replaced her blood with its sick poison. It drained her…and then the cycle would turn again..
This time I faced the vomit, the puking the forgive me daughter, The I love you daughter, the daughter I’m sorry, and again the heavy retched smell of it would waft in the air, and the bottle mocked, as every ounce of her was spilled out in gush and goob. We would not speak of this again, this moment would be hidden, and we would try to move it.
The cycle turned to her being happy, enjoying life, relishing in the summer sun or the winters swell, she would promise then, it would be different. However it was short, a promise broken again, as that bottle called to her…there it was taking and taking until eventually it took it all…
It took everything, every last drop of her…until there was no more. I have no mother now. There is no one to comfort me in the dark, no one to call when I am in desperate flight from my demons, the silence is here, it’s deafening. I only now understand her pain, I now have a daughter of my own that looks at me, no doubt the way I looked at her, and yet I am able to give my life the thing she could not give hers, there is no bottle to take me, no bottle that contains my pain.
I choose to break my pain open, let it sing out from the top of my lung, let every wound in its deep and painful stinging, be shown as proud battle wounds won by those who have risen up. My last drop, when last it falls, shall find itself absorbed into the earth and travel in the rivers of my kin. There on that night, the one in which I arrive in that place, I know she will be there, untethered to her pain, free as I was, and maybe then, her and I will get the time stolen from us, maybe then the last drop that night will be in celebration, a cup of cheer and love and light, instead of one that is black with poison, and that will be when I can say, the last drop was kept for you mom, and the bottle will be heard no more.