I saw everything.
I saw you laying on the floor as he was standing over you telling you to “stop being so dramatic.” I saw you cooking dinner with tears streaming down your face and heart tugging sobs escaping your badly bruised lips. You told me everything would be ok, even when I saw that I had dinner on the table and you did not.
You told me you had eaten, you hadn’t.
I remember you telling me to close the curtains and make sure all the doors and windows were locked, and then I remember you taking me into your room and telling me how sorry you were through glassy eyes. That was when your voice cracked and I heard you gasp for air as you cradled my head in your arms.
I remember when things went bad, I don’t remember much from before then, but I know you must have raised me well – before your addiction set in.
I started to see the one person who raised me through an entirely different lens. It’s a special kind of hell seeing someone you love turn into someone you don’t even know.
It’s strange – the one who tucked you into bed at night when you were seven years old can so quickly turn into the one you pull back from when they ask you for a hug at fifteen years old. I started to see your health deteriorate, I told you, you didn’t care. People kept saying, “she can only be helped if she wants to be helped” and I knew that was true – I also knew that you didn’t want to be helped. No one knows how damn hard it is to grow up with virtually no mother from fourteen years old. I remember thinking you smelt all the time, I remember seeing you put on weight and you weren’t too sure why and this really upset you so instead of doing something about it, you’d down another cask of wine. I remember you looking for your murdered ex boyfriend in every man you’d meet, resulting in you being beat black and blue and me having to leave school to protect you. I remember not wanting to bring anyone into the house because the house smelt like cat pee and there was a horrid smell in the laundry where there were piled up dirty clothes. The shower was mouldy and the dishes were never done, because for some reason you had seemingly forgot how to clean.
I remember being picked up from school one day because your alcoholism had gotten to me so much that I had overdosed the night before, and a teacher had noticed that I wasn’t functioning quite as well as what I should have been. I remember being told that I was an idiot and how could you do this to me – I could have said the same thing straight back to you. Even that didn’t stop you. You told me that you were sorry and that things were going to change starting at that exact moment. However, I also remember walking into the lounge the next day and smelling something burning on the stove, seeing shards of glass shattered on the floor from a broken wine glass that had slipped through your fingers, and also seeing you passed out on the couch listening to Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” on repeat.
I’d go to bed every night somehow wishing that things would be different by the morning. they weren’t. Waking up became painful. It was in one of those moments that I realised that things were never going to change. I could either follow your lead, or I could take myself in a new direction entirely.
So, I had to realise something. I was not you. I would not turn into you. I would never be you. For that, I am ever so grateful. What I am not so grateful for is that when I see anyone around me drinking, it makes me shudder and I feel a knot start to form in my stomach. I still need to learn that anyone else who drinks is not you either. I am trying, but I can’t quite get the thought of them turning into you out of my head.
Your alcoholism has affected me just as much, and if not more than it has affected you.