girl growing

and a space for her to play in

Sunday, April 29, 2007

my mother is an alcoholic.
that's my big, fat secret.
this upcoming thursday i was supposed to tell my 'story' at our wellspring group gathering,
but unfortunately i won't be there. prior commitments.
a few people know my stuff,
and since i keep meticulously alluding it here on my blog,
i've started to wonder if anyone else will ever hear it.
i've grown up in the suburbs my whole life.
i've never really had to pay for anything either...
i was lucky enough to have a banker for a father.
my siblings and i are all around 16 months apart,
and while my father was off working his way up...
my mother was on her way down deep into depression.
at 10 years old i was asked, along with my siblings, to come downstairs to the kitchen.
my mom was crying and something was wrong with her.
i was too young to know what it was,
but my father informed me that she was an alcoholic.
i had no idea what that meant.
from then on i would spend my nights awake listening to them fight,
sitting at the top of the stairs...alone...then waiting for them to stop so i could tip-toe downstairs to see where they were sleeping.
i was the oldest, so i feel like i took on a protective stance for my sister and brother even if they never really saw it. 
(typical 'hero' child if you know anything about ACOA's)
it was your typical middle-class family.
one things we did do-rain or shine- was eat dinner at 7 o'clock every night. the whole family. together.
my little brother has always been too young to really understand what has gone on.
my sister dealt with it all by hiding and by pretending that things were much happier than they actually were.
i was angry.
i provoked my mother and said horrible things.
i tried to get her to fight with me so that when my dad got home she could blame her state on me, and then when he got mad and yelled at me i somehow felt better.
some of it was just sheer anger for what was wrong with her.
i knew she grew up with her own issues, and one can only wonder if the alcoholism was really her fault,
but i was young and just wanted my mom to be happy.
i had no one to tell...and no way to express my anger.
in high school i invested everything i had into anything outside of home.
i stayed late with our student council and i made sure i was in charge of every committee.
i spent a lot of time at church too...not finding solace, but finding distraction.
i didn't want to be home.
growing up, i have learned that not everyone is my mother.
alcohol is not the evil...
and that i, along with others, can drink and not turn into a monster.
that's what she was...she was dr. jekyll and mr. hyde.
one day i could be sharing my inner-most secrets with her,
and then the next day she would be a complete stranger.
today, we have that same relationship.
when i graduated high school i moved out and i lived by myself for four years,
i recently returned home when i became really involved with wellspring and wanted to spend more time in 'community' with them.
i, like my sister now, disappeared.
i forgot that most of this life existed.
and so here i am, dealing with it all over again.
i still come home to her severely intoxicated, crying in their bedroom.
she still says horrible things to me when she's like that.
but now my father doesn't yell.
he just waits it out, and when she's sobered up the next day, he pretends it never happened.
sometimes i admire him for staying, and sometimes i can't understand it at all.
much of my childhood i have forgotten.
as i've mentioned, it wasn't until recently that i began to realize how much i simply don't remember.
today is sunday. my mother hasn't been drinking today...yet.
i had asked her to go shopping with me and she got wrapped up in a t.v. show with my dad so that we didn't have time to go.
that bothered me.
maybe because i'm selfish, and maybe because i really just miss the opportunities to spend time with my mother when she isn't working or hasn't been drinking.
she got up and left the room to take a shower,
and my father, reclining back on the couch reading a newspaper casually said,
'that's all she needs'
'what?' i asked...
'an excuse.'
now usually my response would have been to agree with him.
all my mother needs is an excuse to drink and she will.
it doesn't even have to be logical, just an excuse.
that's how alcoholics work.
but this time i blurted out that it wasn't my responsibility. that i can't take ownership, and that i'm allowed to get upset too.
and so there it was.
it is heartbreaking to realize that i've been trying to take responsibility my whole life.
and it's one thing to say all of that...but it's another for it to become...
so vividly real.
clarity comes like a rush...and i feel as if i can touch reality.
i do not have to be 10 years old anymore.
i do not have to be manipulated by the alcoholism.
i do not have to take responsibility for what isn't mine.
and so, for those of you who read, you know.
there are stories far worse than mine...
but this is mine.
i lived a lot of my life being ashamed of it.
mostly of the things i've left out in telling my story here.
things that i will eventually share, i hope.
i'm just sick of apologizing for the alcoholism...
and for what's wrong with me.
i'm sick of waiting on ryan or whoever else is closest to fix me.
i'm sick of feeling like i'm still on the stairs all alone.
i just don't have the energy anymore,
and today made me realize a lot of that.
so this has been a long blog,
and i hope you'll all forgive me if it comes across a little dramatic.
a lot of the time i'm afraid to say most of this because i don't see a whole lot of people around me being honest...
i'm afraid of judgment and that people won't understand...
i find that being misunderstood is the loneliest place i can be.
and so today my emotion drove me so far that i felt compelled to write.
normally i would talk myself out of blogging about it...but today i didn't.
the next step for me is to find other people, a little more certified, that can help me through a lot of this.
i know i'm not crazy...i just want someone to help me make sense of it all.
i don't really know how to end something like this... always...thanks for listening.


Blogger Jim said...

Wow! What amazing courage Juli. Thank you for writing - so candidly - so clearly. When I was your age and struggling with the shame of my chaotic, crazy family nothing helped me more than finding others who could simply listen and understand. I'm asking God to give you those people. I'm offering to be one of those people. You are not alone.

And your courage inspires.

8:00 PM  
Blogger KC said...

I have much to say and none of it belongs here except this -- thank you and you are loved. Let's plan on that lunch "meeting" some time very soon.

7:47 AM  
Blogger texelct said...

It is such a privileged to know you and to be a part of community with you. Thanks for allowing me to hear your story.

4:43 PM  
Blogger CzechFest said...

I have put some pieces together having a glimpse of your story and merging that with our time in community.That little girl on the stairs is a powerful memory, I am praying for healing as I write this.I admire your courage and honesty and count it a blessing to hang out at Wellspring with you.

8:49 PM  

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