Mom

I grew up with alcoholic parents.

Apparently they both drank like fish (including while Mom was pregnant with me) until I was about 5 years old, and then they joined AA. I then spent a good deal of my childhood in AA meetings so I think I’m one of the few non-and-never-been-drinkers around who understands how the disease of alcoholism affects not just families, but the alcoholics themselves.

Dad stayed sober for a while before he started drinking again… that part of my life is another story. Suffice to say he got better, and I had a wonderful 10 years with him before he died.

Mom went stone cold sober in 1990 and hasn’t touched a drop since then.

But the damage was already done.

The years and years of heavy drinking left a horrible mark on her brain. In 2002, after years of slow and almost imperceptible decline, she was diagnosed with atrophy of the cerebellum. It would be degenerative and affect her balance until the point where she would not be able to walk. It also affected parts of her cerebrum, and over the years her ability to speak, and her memory, have worsened to the point where she can barely speak and sometimes doesn’t remember things that used to be so important to her.

It has made her immature, so that it’s like living with two five-year-olds instead of one. In fact, my nephew Xavier often seems to be older than her, mentally.

We are not as patient as her as we probably should be. It’s very hard you see.

My beautiful mother. The actress. The radio personality. The woman who read the entirety of the Chronicles of Narnia to me – twice – with voice action… reduced to a stumbling, shuffling, stuttering, mindless shadow of herself.

It’s very hard.

And I get angry. I get frustrated. I say things I really shouldn’t.

And in honesty I am terrified that one day I’ll be just the same. Because the jury is still up in the air. Was it the drinking? Was it a predisposed condition exacerbated by alcohol. And if it’s a predisposed condition, what if I am already on the road? I don’t drink. But what if my sobriety is completely ineffectual? I do not want to lose my mind. I don’t want to be a burden on my family as she is to us.

Yes, it’s horrible to say. But she is a burden. And gods, I’m a horrible daughter but I hate her. I hate her as much as I love her. I wish she’d die, and then I dread the day when I lose her forever. I want my mother back, but I can’t have her. I can only have a two-yearold in a 63-year-old’s body.

I just don’t know what to do anymore. I feel so helpless.

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