When she drinks, she becomes who she is

I don’t drink. It’s not that I don’t ever drink, or haven’t ever drank, but I don’t drink to get drunk. I never drink to get drunk, and I rarely drink at all.

I grew up with alcoholic parents. There are few things scarier than being a young kid (too young to be left caring for my even younger siblings) and seeing your parents drunkenly stumble into the house in the middle of the night, knowing that they drove home in that condition. Even worse, many nights she ended up on the bathroom floor, puking her guts out and intermittently passing out between purges.

She didn’t drink all the time, not every weekend. But when she drank, she went overboard. She didn’t know any other way than to get stupidly, disgustingly wasted. He was a worse drinker, but he normally passed out in an expected place. When she drank, she ended up on the floor, choking on her own vomit, begging for me to come take care of her.

When I had my own son eleven years ago, I made the decision that I wouldn’t ever be like that. I also made the decision that I didn’t want to be around it. That has been a bit harder to avoid.

Every time I visit, she’s drinking. Not drunk, but drinking. She doesn’t see herself the way that I’ve always seen her — as an alcoholic. She sees herself as in control. She’s never been in control.

Tonight, she had a glass of wine with dinner and was what everyone expects from her: fun, charming, and attentive to her friends.

Then, she had a martini. Then another. And another. And another. It took her two minutes into her first martini to turn on me, her only daughter, and the only one of the three of us who she’s still able to talk to. It was like she wears every single mistake I’ve ever made as a badge of honor(as well as those my dad and brothers made, since I’m related to them). She loves opportunities to flaunt those badges so that she can look better.

In front of her friends, with just a little “liquid courage,” she showed her true self. They didn’t see it, but I did. I saw the woman in her fifties with more regrets than accomplishments. I saw the woman who verbally abused her children. I saw the woman who attempted to take her own life on several occasions. I saw the woman who wanted to kill her kids by driving them into a large body of water. I saw the woman who slept around in an effort to make herself feel better. I saw the woman who has spent my entire life trying to tear me down and bring me to her level.

She didn’t know that I saw her, and I won’t let her succeed.