Friday, June 6, 2008

We Do What We Have Been Shown

My parents are both adult children of alcoholics. Neither of them were blessed with childhoods that they'd like to remember. My mother had two alcoholic parents, and my father had a father who was an alcoholic, and a mother who committed suicide when he was just four years old. My parents were not coddled, cooed, nurtured, or psychologically validated. They were ignored, neglected, disregarded, abused, and abandoned.

It is no accident that my parents met and married. Likes attract likes. One adult child of an alcoholic marries another adult child of an alcoholic. Back then these similarities were not spoken of. They were considered coincidental, silly, and amusing if they were considered at all.

I was born when my mother was just nineteen years old. Four months before my birth, my fathers mother suffered a massive cardiac arrest and died. Just prior to his death, he promised his daughter he would stop drinking once I was born.

I cannot remember, sadly, a time when my mother ever made me feel 'seen'. I felt awkward in her presence, as if my presence annoyed her. I felt as if I was a burden. The only thing that felt right, was removing myself from wherever she was. Feeling invisible to her, hurt more deeply than removing myself from her presence. In my removing of myself, I felt oddly good for doing something that was pleasing to my mother.

My mother was a caretaker and enabled my father throughout their marriage. It was common for me to witness my mother shrink when my father raised his voice on the phone. My father owned and operated his own refrigeration business out of our home, and my mother answered the business phones. If she routed the calls in a way that displeased him, he was not the type of man that knew how to control his anger. He made no excuses for taking his frustrations out on my mother.

Growing up I witnessed my mother disowning her own Self for the sake of her man. Their relationship was not a tender, nor a sharing one. It was distant, unemotional, and more like a business relationship than a marriage.

As my marriage began to draw its last breaths, it became clearer and clearer to me that in many ways I had become my mother, and in other ways I had married her as well.