I remember my mother’s hands, cold from condensation. How I could feel the decay when she would caress my cheek. Maple-flavored kisses shifted to cigarettes and spirits. I knew then her frostbitten fingers and liquored lips danced towards death. Yet the limit of my love stopped at salvation. As the son of an addict, I can’t prevent her palms from being a pond of pills. Nor can I heal her heart so it’s not a home for Heineken.
For years I tried.
I thought if we spent more time together I’d turn into a reservoir she could extract joy from. Although I made her happy, there is a ceiling to how much compassion can cure. Instead of brushing off the chip on my shoulder, I swallowed it and allowed it to consume me.
I blamed myself for her blues. Most children of addicts do.
We think we are the cause of their crescendoing sorrow, but we aren’t. Furthermore, we believe we can equate to Christ, nailed to a cross. However, our willingness to rot won’t alleviate their addiction.
I remember my mother sleeping away her Saturday’s with cans married to the mattress. As a kid, I assumed she would rather dream than spend time with her son. I wish I could tell my younger self it had nothing to do with me because then I wouldn’t have searched for solicitude among strangers. If I turned her absence into an anchor, my heart wouldn’t have sunk into a landfill.
But I let my heart remain hollow, vacuuming up voices who validated me.
Even when people turned out to be black widows disguised as kittens, I hoped for angels until one came. Yet when it did I brought the devil out of the divine because I assumed kindness to be a facade. So this cycle continued. I longed for love but lashed out when it arrived.
Now that I know my worth, I don’t need validation from others because I found it from within. Through my self-love journey, I made a mantra: Treat yourself how you wish your parents would’ve treated you.
I wish I could tell my younger self this, but I wouldn’t have listened back then.
I remember sipping the same substance which stripped my mother of her smile. And I enjoyed it. I became numb. My fears were frozen. My anxiety was assassinated. And my soul no longer craved charity.
I understood then why my mother loved liquor.
Now that I know there is nirvana in numbness, I fear when my life reaches a certain level of strain, I will search for solace in a bottle. No longer concerned with forging my own footsteps, nor gutting generational curses.
Until I reach that crossroad, I pledge to control the reigns of my pain and not slip into a cycle my mother carved for me.
And on the topic of crossroads, there is one I don’t talk about much and that is death.
My mother has been drinking since I was six. From that information, I know her liver and kidney aren’t in the best condition. That’s at least fourteen years of substance abuse. Not including her pill or methamphetamine addiction.
As hard as it is to say, I’ve been preparing for my mother’s death since I was ten.
I don’t know how far gone she is, but she shows no signs of sobering up. And to be honest I don’t know if she ever will. All I do know is I wake up every day wondering if her destiny will conclude upon this dawn.