My mother delivers my son home, including a rather handsome cork bulletin board. Nels’ penmanship has shifted – without any teaching or coercion on our part, without schooling of course – and his hand is taking a stately, yet arcane bent. He has taken to concocting recipes for sweet beverages. He posts a grocery list.
“I need soda-water for my
“Reward: a free orange Navy
I am dying, here. Not urgent. Thank you. I didn’t want to have to pick up at midnight and head out for soda-water! My son’s father would, though. He is that tender-hearted for the family.
I am having lunch yesterday with my mother. She is dieting. She is trying not to drink. We talk about these things a bit. I tell her a week and a half ago on my drive home from work I was hit with a craving for fried chicken, which I haven’t tasted in about a year and a half. She tells me she sometimes craves hard alcohol, when she sees someone drink in a film. I say, “Now that? That hasn’t happened to me.” She then says, “Well, I think you were never addicted to alcohol.”
I tell her it is completely not okay to ever tell anyone what they were, or weren’t, addicted to!
She says, “You didn’t drink that much.” As if she knows!
We alcoholics are treated abysmally. If we drink and people know we drink, they hate or pity us. Not a day goes by I don’t hear people speaking in belittling, pitying terms about an addict or alcoholic – I heard it today, at work. We all know the words they use.
But if we stop drinking, if we get clean and sober, we are patently ignored (by most). We are told we never had a problem in the first place.
It’s hard to imagine someone telling a cancer survivor that she never had cancer in the first place. Insulting.
I’m going to pause for the few people reading here, who remember the personal hell I went through when I got sober.
I know people don’t mean to be condescending, but what they mean, what they intend, is half the story. The other half is: those of us who’ve experienced the agonies of addiction. How do we feel about it? What do we think? Stop belittling our experience! It is real. I lived through it. I help others who are battling the disease, every day. Every day!
Today, though, something else is on my mind. I’m passing a kidney stone and I’m feeling sick, feeling low. Suddenly set back and I can’t work the way I used to. The weekend I worked, a few things here or there. Today, I am tired. I feel it in my face, stepping into work and feeling as if I’ve had a few slaps to the noggin. I come home from a six hour shift and I take a hot shower and have dinner and I park on the couch for a bit and watch a terrible British exploitation film. I try to do a little handsewing.
What I struggle with isn’t the pain. But the nausea, the fatigue. And worst of all: what do my kids think? Who wants a sick mother? I tell myself that the way I am ill, and how I handle it, and being loving and matter-of-fact and grateful, is good for the kids. It helps them. Maybe a little today, maybe a lot tomorrow.
I drink my last quart of water for the day. I take my potassium citrate. Ralph will start a fire. I’ll curl up next to someone. Maybe a cat on my lap! The evening will transpire, as it often does, in peace and quietude.