I think we can all agree that Christmas is a time when dysfunctional family dynamics are put under the microscope causing a cascade of heightened emotions. I wouldn’t normally publish something concerning another person when it remains raw and unresolved. However, with the help of anonymity and in the hope that it may help someone else in a similar situation start to unpick what addiction means for them, here is my perspective of it. For some, alcohol isn’t just for Christmas, it’s for life.
When her daughter was little, she told her that the moon came out to welcome her dad home from work. She would watch as the pair star-gazed and waved to the man in the moon. While he was there, she didn’t have to raise two children alone. Not that her guilt would allow her to admit that she struggled.
Her son’s autistic world appeared distorted, broken and isolated. He had no interest in seeing the moon. As far as most people could tell though he was happy living inside his own mind. Occasionally, when his brain made the connection, his ability to communicate astounded the few who understood him. The rest passed by without a glance and he didn’t bother to get their attention.
Despite her daughter’s cerebral palsy, she made sure she taught her the fundamental belief that disability did not mean inability, and to always speak up for herself. In doing so, she instilled within her a burning desire to prove herself and strive for nothing less than perfection. Through an inherited determination and stubbornness, her daughter created a rapport which forced people to see beyond the wheelchair. She was proud of her, but every friend she made was a bittersweet reminder that her son had none.
The day her son took himself to the toilet she felt like she’d found a pot of gold at the end of an eternal rainbow. Yet, the success came with the realisation that time and time again, his achievements went unnoticed by those who supposedly loved him. In an effort to compensate for their ignorance, she tirelessly fought for his rights and celebrated his victories. Irrespective of the fact that he didn’t utter a word to her, their bond would never be broken.
Unlike her son, her daughter had everything going for her and the love from everyone around her to support her, so she couldn’t comprehend why she chose such a destructive path. Her background in psychiatric nursing told her that it was a common phase that teenage girls go through, but it merely seemed as though she was torturing herself for no reason. All she needed to do was eat.
Addiction gravitates to those who are outwardly least vulnerable. She had a tough exterior and a no-nonsense approach to life which blinded everyone, including the man in the moon, to the truth. When a stranger stared at her son or a relative forgot his birthday, she put a smile on her face and secretly drowned her sorrows. Her alcoholism manipulated the burning hunger for perfection which lay at the heart of her daughter’s anorexia to sit in the forefront, so that she could continue to hide in plain sight.
More than ten years on from the initial anaesthetic, the roots of her pain are entangled and numb. She lives in her unique world of isolation with a broken and distorted mind.