When I was a teenager, I remember sitting on the sofa starting blankly at the TV while my mother vaguely attempted to educate me on the ways of the world. She would have her heating pad on her back after a hard day at work. She carried most of the parenting burden as my father was either traveling for work or drunk or both. I would to lose myself in Star Trek the Next Generation, imagine myself being magically transported past the boundaries of West Chester Ohio. I had very few friends and an emotional unstable boyfriend, a perfect storm of self pity I could not wait for the weekend so I could get out of the house.
Around 7:30, my vegetative meditation would be broken by the sound of a car in the driveway. I could feel a chill go up my spine. I held my breath with anxious anticipation as my father turned the door knob. I never needed to look up from the tv but I could tell within three steps if he was drunk. In fact, I already knew he had been drinking today. I saw him at the bar on my way to school. The bus passed by the pub where he swore he ate his morning breakfast. I suppose it was more like hair of the dog. It was always silently humiliating to me to know that he was drinking before 8:00am. As if he was on auto pilot, He would come home in the afternoon, sleep it off, then go back to work. His command of the alcoholic arts was truly masterful- up until he got fired for being drunk on the job. He had "hid" it for years, or at least they had tolerated him. Now he was home from another job. It was too late to try to hide in my room.
As he walked through the door, I sensed the extra stagger. There was always an extra step on the end when he was tanked. I exhaled my frustration into the universe. With a silent glance, my mother insisted I say hello to him. She said it "made her life easier" aka he would continue to put his check in the bank as long as I was nice to him. I knew his routine. He just wanted to get food, go upstairs, smoke a few pall mall gold 100s and pass out without incident. Normally, there would be yelling as I scurried away. She had her heating pad on so she wasn't up for an argument, not tonight.
I took a sip on my beverage, a sprite and peach schnapps. I had started stealing from the bottle and adding water here and there. This was a Christmas bottle from a few years back. If my mother smelled the alcohol on my breath, she never let on. Maybe she thought it was better to have me drinking in the house than out with my "friends". As I sip the syrupy relief, I resolve to myself that this will not be my life. NEVER. I cannot wait until I leave for college in a few months. I cannot take these feelings.
Between the cutting and the laxatives and the alcohol and the vicodin, maybe I can be thin and normal. I think to myself would rather be curled up with some drugs than stuck on the couch with my fucking heating pad waiting for my drunk husband.
When I look back now, it was so easy for me to judge them. So easy for me to feel superior to my hard working parents. I left Cincinnati Ohio with my college money that a traded for an arm full of heroin. As I puked from one end of the public bus to the other, I thought to myself "this is the fucking life". I never wanted to be like my parents. In fact, I wasn't like them. I was a spoiled self indulgent asshole that only thought about myself. A heroin addiction, I believed, was my cosmic punishment for being so ungrateful for the life I left.
The truth is somewhere in the grey area. I am sitting on my couch tonight with a heating pad wondering what my children will think of me someday.