My whole life I’ve heard little quips about how the apple never falls far from the tree; that you are given a hand at birth and you have no option in the way it is played, and every time I heard this I viewed it as unacceptable. I come from a history where drama and addiction are soul-mates that seep into the souls of every branch of our family tree. I’ve spent my whole life trying to prove this wrong; to show that it’s possible to avoid addiction and be strong for you. My main adversary, though, hasn’t been stories of my grandmother’s suicide or the exile of my mother from the rest of her family. My problem has simply been my mother. By nature my mother is a kind hearted woman who gives everything she has to make others around her happy. But for years (I believe 12 and counting) she has been nurturing an addiction to alcohol. When she drinks (which is so often that it’s probably easier to describe the times, “when she doesn’t drink”) she becomes cruel and hard, selfish and bitter, and in all entirety the opposite of the mother I loved in my childhood.
When I was little I was a soft child who wanted nothing more than for everyone to be happy, and for rainbows to lead the way to meadows full of daisies and wildflowers. When my mother started drinking that world was brought to a screeching halt. Things weren’t happily ever after anymore. No more running, smiling to mom, instead I had to hide in my room while she tore at everyone in her sight. I was so used to being treated like a doll that when the world changed I knew nothing but fear for every step I took and every word I whispered. I began to grow hard and bitter myself. Not wanting to let anyone close to me, knowing without a doubt that they would hurt me. I wasn’t necessarily wrong either. Rape, betrayal, isolation and being used were just a few of the things that haunted me. I grew weak to a point where life no longer seemed worth it, and suicide attempts soon joined my list of woes.
But in classic novel form, I reached a climax of emotion and with it came an epiphany; the things I was doing were simply showing me to be just like my mother and the rest of her family. Weak and feeble minded. This isn’t what I wanted; I wanted to be strong and show that I could be more than they were that I could break the system. This discovery of self truly saved my life, and slowly I am learning to love myself again and to allow others to get close to me, while still maintaining a healthy wall of defense. In order to gain this strength in myself I had to learn that it was ok to not want to be like the rest of my family, that it was ok if I wanted more from my life than the misery they exude.
It was no overnight journey either, and definitely not something I could handle myself. I tried turning to religion, thinking maybe God could give me the strength I needed, but it didn’t take me long to figure out that I was kidding myself; God wasn’t for me, I needed something else. I began to talk to my few friends about my problems and found that the more I talked the better things felt. I began seeing a counselor where I could divulge my mind in safety. I began to trust others and myself. I started the process of growing strong again. This is how I got to my current point in life, a point where I am a living example of how the apple can fall far, far from the tree.