Chapter Twenty-Eight – Addiction – In Mom’s Eyes
1993 – I am 44, Scott is 19, Julie is 16
Julie and I are fighting a lot these days. Scott has permanently moved out to my Dad’s. He says it’s so he can go to school, but I think he just wants to be away from us. I don’t blame him. Julie is doing God-knows-what, and I have been drinking a lot too. I know I shouldn’t drink as much as I do, but I just can’t help it. It’s been a struggle for a long time, and I’m so stressed out right now, that all I want to do is escape.
I don’t even know what Julie is up to. She’s been hanging out with a bunch of new kids. I don’t even know where she found them. Some of them are way older than her, and it worries me. She’s too young to hang around 21-year-olds, and some even older than that. I know she’s doing drugs, I just hope she doesn’t get in trouble. I don’t want her to do the things she’s doing, but I’m afraid if I push her too hard, she’ll go further into it. And she started smoking. She was stealing my cigarettes for a while, and I confronted her. She thought it was a big joke. I don’t want her to smoke, I REALLY don’t want her to smoke. But, she does. I don’t know how much, or really what else she’s doing, but it all makes me nervous. So, I drink. I drink to forget. I drink to escape. I drink because it makes me feel good. And some days, I drink because if I don’t, I feel like I’m going to die. I know I have a problem. But, it’s my problem, and everybody needs to just stay out of it.
We are on our way out to my sister’s house, near my Dad’s, for the Christmas family pre-party. At least Julie can’t get in too much trouble out there. I have a beer between my legs during most of the drive, drinking the whole way there. But it’s not anything new. When you get into that neck of the woods, it really doesn’t matter. There are no police, everything’s a back road, and nobody cares. Except Julie. She’s embarrassed by me. She thinks I’ve ruined her life, and Scott’s. She told me so a few weeks ago, during a big fight. She thinks I don’t remember because I was drinking. But I remember most things that happen when I’m drinking. And she said some awful things. She was really trying to hurt me, and she did. I know I’ve said some terrible things to her too, over the years. It torments me to think about what I’ve said to her when I’m drinking. It kills me inside. I hate it, and I know I’m a bad person for it. I don’t mean what I say when I drink the hard stuff. I don’t even KNOW what I’m saying most of the time. But I remember it the next day, and I hate myself for it. I don’t blame Julie for screaming at me, for finally fighting back. I’m just a little scared that she’ll really fight one day. She’s got a lot of anger these days, where that came from I really don’t know. But I haven’t been the best mother a person can be, I know that. And I think, she must be mad at me for our life. I don’t blame her. I blame myself.
I’m looking forward to seeing Scott, although I know he’s not happy with either one of us. And I know he’s gaining weight. I probably won’t see him until tomorrow anyway, because tonight we have the party, and I know he won’t come. He’s embarrassed by me too. And he doesn’t like to be around me or Julie much these days. I worry about him because whenever I talk to him, he’s always tired, always bitter. And he’s always talking about food. I’m not sure what’s going on with him, or why he sounds so depressed all the time. Maybe he’s just angry with me, or Julie, or both of us. Maybe he doesn’t like school anymore. I know he hates his job, but it seems like there’s something more going on. He doesn’t talk to either one of us much.
He’s been taking a lot of trips into town, my Dad says. And I wonder what that means, what he’s doing. But when I ask him, he just says sometimes he needs to get away from the farm for a bit. I understand that. I grew up out there, I know how secluded it is, how lonely sometimes. I know how much work he does, and how helpful he is with Dad. I’m glad he’s there, but I miss him too. I’m proud of him for going to college, though I know it’s been a struggle for him so far. He was never very good at school, Julie and I always helped him through, finished projects and wrote essays for him. I’m not sure that was the best thing to do for him, but I just couldn’t bear to see him struggling so much.
We pull into MaryBeth’s driveway, it’s full of cars, there are Christmas lights on everything, and music playing, people laughing, everyone is drinking. I’m ready for a stiff one. Julie and I walk into the party, greet people, say hello, and someone puts a drink in my hand within a minute. I’m grateful. Julie disappears. About a half an hour later, Julie finds me again, she’s got a beer in her hand, and I can tell it’s not her first. I tell her it’s not a good idea, and she scoffs at me, rolls her eyes and takes a swig, tells me she’s going to go up and see Scott, then head down the road with her cousin to another party. At this point I don’t care anymore. I’m feeling light and happy, and surrounded by friends. As long as she brings my car back before going to the party, I don’t care what she does. She really can’t get into too much trouble out here. So, I let her go. Someone asks me about Scott, I tell them he’s been working hard, then we all lose ourselves in the alcohol, the party, the people, and the holiday. My kids’ll be okay. They’re good kids.