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The Daughter of Addiction
I awoke on the morning of June 23rd, 2016 to the wide rays of yellow sunlight beaming through the window right above the mattress my sister and I shared. My body was rested but my mind was tired, which was typically my constant state when living with my parents. I made my way out of bed, and walked down the hallway, across the creaking wood floors, and made my way to the left into the kitchen. I stumbled my way toward the kitchen window over the sink, which was full of a heap of dishes, and took a deep look outside into my backyard. The grass towered wild and high, because the lawn was no concern to anyone in my family. The Earth’s hair waved as the soft summer breeze blew, and looking at this grass allowed my brain to slip into a split second of ignorant bliss. A split second of time in which I was not in panic mode. A split second of peace, yet reassurance that the circumstances had not changed, and a reminder that I had awoke in the same situation as yesterday. Seeing my two younger sisters playing harmless creative games in the midst of our life's ever churning roots and growing grasses had always brought me back to reality.
“Hey, i'm leaving baby i'll be back soon I promise.” My dad said as he rushed down the creaking hallway, and through the kitchen. The cold glance of a backstabbing sick man’s ambition had been a mask that had sunk its claws deep into my father's face, and deep into my heart which had become numb with yearning for change. The pathetic breeze he created from his mission out of the house sweeping across my back as he left, leaving me with the sensation of icy wounds from the grasp of a ghost upon my spine as he slammed the door behind him.
His rush of course was of no surprise, I was not typically left with time to respond to these vague unnerving statements, which I had learned from seven years experience were completely false, but a kind gesture at the least. Almost like a thoughtless phrase forced into the impressionable mind of a child by a nervous parent who wants to ensure their child’s outward politeness. A kind condolence, which within the next few minutes was always forgotten. I stood motionless, staring blankly at the two glowing and soft children twirling in the cross-hatched weeds, laughing carelessly. I curled my calloused toes against the cold wood floors of my kitchen, and took a sigh of relief. They had not seen my father leave for his morning drug run.
I was then shocked to hear the sound of my mother’s footsteps creaking down the hallway. Her feet seemed to be slapping the floors with passion, which either meant she was somehow already high, or that my dad would be home “soon”, as he had actually promised he would be. I figured that catching her in her euphoric state, whether from heroin or just pure excitement from the promised arrival of it, would be my best opportunity to try and tell her how I felt again. To try and convince my mom that her two babies who were still stuck in the ignorant bliss of childhood could love her more than they loved me, if she just cared for them. To try to convince my mom that her life could flourish under endless supplies of nourishment if she made a change. To try and convince my mom to get clean, before one of her accidental overdoses actually killed her.
I looked deep into my moms eyes, her pupils were wide and black which told me that she was not high yet. I knew this was my only opportunity of the day. A cloud of heavy mixed up emotion surrounded me. I heard my sister’s light-hearted laughter from outside. My mouth began to speak all on its own.
“Mom I really….” My mother began to interrupt me.
“I'm not getting clean so you might as well save it.”
Her cold tone shot through me like an arrow, leaving me frozen faced and frozen hearted. In this moment my compassion died. I felt my cheeks get hot and red, and I turned around and walked defeatedly, like a dog who had just been scolded, through my kitchen, and out of the same door my father slammed behind him. I left the house and went into my gray garage where I sat alone. I let my emotion consume me here. The three cement walls mocked me with their echoes, bouncing back at me and reminding me of my own pain. Of my own pity. Of my own humiliation. I stared at the blue rusted back door which led to my yard overrun with dandelions and wild grasses. They were so entangled that even upon trying to mow the yard the grasses would stay weaved together, interlocking their hands and holding on so tight that even the blunt force of gas powered metal could not separate them. I heard my both of my sisters giggle from outside, mixed with the sound of untrusting truck engine coming from the driveway through the garage door. My heart began to flutter nervously.
My father was home.
This nervousness was unfounded, because my father had gone on this journey to scrounge up what he needed, however he could, every single day. Whether it was lying to his family for money, his “friend’s” family for money, stealing my money, or stealing other people’s personal items and pawning them for money, he made sure he got what he needed for the day, even if it met leaving me alone in my home with the morbid shadow that had morphed my mother into an unrecognizable version of herself. I lived with a complete stranger.
I heard my father’s muffled tone through the garage door as he said a stale goodbye to his ride, heard his footsteps up the patio, and finally I heard him pounding on the front door to be let inside. I knew my mother was practically running to the door, or was already there waiting for him. I stared down at the concrete ground and watched the sunlight beam in through the bottom of the closed blue door. If only I could open it, walk through it, and forget for a moment. Ignore reality such as a child could. I knew that being 13 did not mean I was grown up, but my mind had been continuously stretched, continuously warped to the point that I did not behave like a 13 year old. I felt as if I was crumbling of age, and chained to my home, permanently. As if these chains had been bound over me hundreds of times, allowing me to see only through small gaps naturally left between the tight restriction. I decided to go inside before my mind got the best of me.
I stood up, and made my way through the door into the kitchen.
My eyes were immediately met with the image of my pale mother chewing on something my dad was shoving in her mouth, along with her abrupt and ashamed movement to turn away from me, as if she was trying to conceal an event I had not seen before. As if she could protect her child from the reality she had single-handedly created for herself.
“What is that?” I asked sternly.
Before my mom could respond, my dad jolted his head over his shoulder and answered my question. His small hazed pupils glared through my entire existence without even meaning to.
“A nicotine patch I found, we don’t have money for cigarettes so I just gave her this to hold her over.”
Little did I know, my mom had just eaten 5,400 micrograms of fentanyl.
I did not think twice about this reply, because it made sense to me. We really did not have money to afford a pack of Marlboro Reds. I could not stand in the kitchen any longer, so I hurriedly left the room and went back into the place I woke up. I sat down on the mattress which was strewn on the floor. Hunching over I covered my tired eyes with my hands, and began to rub them so hard I fell into space for a moment. A black abyss which swallowed me whole, twisted me up like a towel being rung out, and laid me back down as if I was a child being tucked in by a parent. Upon removing my hands from my eyes I saw my youngest sister carefully opening the door, as if she was interrupting me from an important moment in my day.
Her gentle face was covered in the thin translucent cloak of darkness produced by the bedroom I was sitting numbly in. Her shocked expression paralyzed me and I could immediately sense the discomfort in her face and spirit. She wasted absolutely no time telling me what was wrong.
“Mommy is falling asleep in the bathroom again... and falling on the floor.”
I felt absolutely nothing but disappointment in myself for believing my dad’s short stolid answers, and taking a second for myself, which ultimately lead to my sister having to see my mom in this state.
“Go back outside, just go play.”
I heard her feet slap the hallway floor, and I heard the door close softly behind her as to not disturb my mother’s slumber. I was instantly filled with contempt for my mom, who had finally pushed me beyond my limit.
I stomped out of the bedroom, and walked right across the hallway into the bathroom, where I saw my mother passing out discombobulated sitting on the bathroom floor. I stomped over and began to shake her violently.
Her milky eyes meant mine, and then promptly shut again, as if she was blinking in slow motion. It was as if her eyes were the mouths of every individual who had hurt me in any way, spewing insults at me and thrashing my mind continuously. I finally shook her body hard enough to wake her mind up long enough to say one angry phrase to me.
“You better stop right now.”
My mind was on fire. I felt a hot wave crash over my entire body. My face became painfully hot, and I was no longer stopped in my tracks by my mother’s evil remarks. Her comments were like gasoline that continuously sputtered onto the sparks of my emotion. I responded with indignation.
“You’re such a piece of shit.”
But, my mom was already laying back against the bathtub with her neck bent upward as if she was studying something in heaven, unable to hear any words coming out of my mouth at all. I felt infuriated because she had not heard or felt any ounce of the overbearingly heavy weight I carried on my shoulders. However, the plunge into my pity was soon confronted with an overwhelming feeling of fear. I had never seen my mother this bad.
The cry of the devil began to seep from the mouth of my mother. Her head fell freakishly toward my direction, I watched it sag to the side and her eyes of winter met mine. Her body slouched addled on the ground and her limbs twisted around one another as if she had never had any bones. As if the entire structure of my mother’s living breathing life had been stolen as fast as the hate filled words I had said were thrown out of my mouth.
My heart froze, and I felt my mouth drop. I had absolutely no time to waste. In my panic I called 911 as fast as I could. My mom was lying dead on our bathroom floor.
My ears began to ring and everything around me blurred together. I had never experienced this state of numb panic, which sits within the human psyche like oil and water. I stumbled as if I was under the influence all the way out to my garage, and layed on the dust covered concrete. All of the energy to ever reside on Earth crowded my entire body and held my fragile frame together, however my bones still protruded out of my skin as if I was trying to escape myself, as if my skeleton was trying to flee the fragile cement skin that held its entire existence together and find another person to become. I stayed in my cocoon of astonishment and began to count. The ambulance would be here in two minutes, 120 seconds, 0.3 hours, 120,000 milliseconds. I picked out the numbers from the cascade of nothing in my head and repeated them in my mind. One. Two. I began to count to the beat of my heart. Three. Four, five, six, seven eight nine ten. Eleven. Twelve. Was I ever going to hear my mom’s voice again? Thirteen, fourteen, fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen. Nineteen. Twenty. What did my mom overdose on? Twenty one, Twenty two, Twenty three. My ears exploded with the sound of sirens from the driveway, this was the only time in my life I was comforted by the sound of their inevitable whirring. I opened my eyes to find myself completely alone and aware of what was happening around the blue, red, and white floor I now rested on. The colors of the siren fit themselves under my garage door and lit up the entire cold surface around me. Blue. Red. White. I was bathing in the colors of my mother’s disadvantage. Blinded by the only dull source of light coming from the outside world, besides for the crack underneath the rusted blue door. I had completely forgotten about my sisters. I gathered up my jumbled body parts and ran for the back door, the echoed sound of my increased panic bouncing from every direction back toward my head. I ripped the door open and was immediately blinded by the golden light of summer. Light so golden it seemed as if God himself handed it to the Earth and placed it gently around her so as to nurture every soul. I then heard two seperate impenetrable cries of terror coming from the gentle blowing grasses that carelessly crossed over one another. My sisters realized what was happening, it was too late to talk to them or protect them in any way. They were both exposed to the rawness and traumatizing way our life functioned. They had both known something was horribly wrong this time. They were aware they may never get to hug their mom again.
I watched stunned as my sisters thrashed through the grass, screaming out for mercy. They trampled through the jungle that was our backyard and became as emotionally entangled as the long pieces of nature that shot out from the dirt. They held their hearts and wept so hard they could not breathe. They cried out in pain in the yard they once played carelessly in. In this moment I realized they played so often to mask the fact that their home was crumbling down around them. I could never convince them that everything in our home was normal. I felt my face become hot, and the taste of tears soon met my lips. My face tensed up and I went to join them in remorse and realization.
My mind was then confronted with absolute regret.
The last phrase I was ever able to say to my mom was a horrible insult.
I did not tell my mom I loved her, or ask if she was okay.
I called her a piece of shit.
My body then began convulsing violently in the verdure. I held both of my sisters as we wept in the grass. I wished that I could take those words back and tell my mother that I missed her old self. Tell my mother that I needed her. Tell my mother that my frustration came from lack of understanding. Tell my mother that I loved her. I promised myself that I would do my best to only speak with kindness after this moment, because words can never be taken back, and I never thought that this would be the last phrase my mother would ever hear. I would speak with other people’s emotions in mind from here on out. I could never feel regret like this ever again.
The sun was beginning to set, I glanced up and watched the ambulance carrying my mother drive into the yellow and red horizon. I decided to put my sisters to sleep.
“Let’s go inside guys, we need to get some rest.”
I woke up the next morning to my mother’s swollen face hovering above mine, crying. I was absolutely bewildered. I was ecstatic, but also so bitter toward my mother. She began to speak.
“I’m so sorry. You guys need to leave now. Grammy is outside.”
My heart swelled with pain and excitement. I was finally going to get a fresh start. A new chance.
I gave my mom a hug and told her I forgave her, and that I was sorry if I had ever hurt her feelings in any way. I hurriedly stuffed my sister’s clothes, and mine, into trash bags and we made our way outside.
I was met with the smell of freshly cut grass and the forgiving face of my grandma. She spoke a singular phrase.
“Let’s go home.”