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On the way home from the Buck & Doe last night, Mike and I had one of our many car-conversations. These are random, free floating, stream of consciousness conversations, that have no definable starting or end point. It lead to us talking about how awesome we are at communicating with each other, especially since our momentary lapse a few years back that almost lead to us separating. We talked and talked and talked until we couldn't talk anymore, and then, once we got our breath back, talked more.

Then I sidestepping into some comment about the free flowing river of alcohol at the Buck & Doe, and as the night reminded me a lot of high school, I was reminded of my first illicit drink. I found a bottle of whisky in the laundry room in some old kitchen cupboards that were removed in a remodelling and put into the laundry room. It was dusty and seemed neglected, but it was opened. I checked it carefully to see if it was moldy, or unsound in some way. I didn't see if the bottle was marked, but likely it was in retrospect. Proceeded to make myself a proper drink with it, no big deal. My parents came home shortly after I finished one drink. Not exactly Afterschool Special material even though I was 17 or so at the time.

Then, after I finished telling this memory. Mike told me that he had found a bottle of whisky in the basement when my mom moved back in with us. It was in the laundry room, wrapped in a curtain, under the nook created by the staircase leading into the basement. I was silent for a moment or two. This was a lightning bolt. A big, large, electric shock.

Suddenly, it all made sense. Her erratic behaviour. Wild mood swings. Anger. Viciousness. Especially that last argument we had, and she told me to get out in two weeks. Her obvious pride at having a high threshold for medication which occurred when her first husband broke her back. I can still hear her boasting that, "I can take 4 Tylenol 3's without feeling it at all." I assumed that this meant, the medication wasn't dulling the physical pain, during the year she was recovering from a badly broken / shattered leg.

My mom was sneaking nips of whisky. Apparently, when she was doing her laundry. What boggled me is that she has been doing this for quite some time, if I found one of her bottles at 17. Also, she is on multiple types of medication. So much medication for high blood pressure, etc, that I bought her & dad their own plastic cases large enough to store everything in. I would have used them to store a pair of shoes, that was how many prescriptions they have.

Growing up, I heard discourse after discourse about the evils of drink. Both of my grandfathers were alcoholics. Being born to older parents, I did not know my grandparents, as they had all passed away before I showed up, with the exception of my grandmother (maternal). I have one photograph of her holding me, aged 6 months. However, all the stories of pain and sorrow that both my parents had of their experiences with living with an alcoholic left an impression on me of sadness. Yet, in the end, their demonizing alcohol backfired. It made it exotic, dangerous, illicit. I went crazy at university. I should have had that sense of experimentation out of my system sooner. Or, if they had a more balanced view of alcohol, it wouldn't have taken on such a monumental symbol of rebellion.

I feel totally stupid that I didn't make this connection sooner. After all the failed attempts at trying to win her over, be the best daughter, the perfect one, it was never good enough, never perfect enough.  Now, I think I understand why my pursuits were always in vain. I feel suddenly free.

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slowlyunfolding

January 2015

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