Back to Reality
As luck would have it, my mother was not in prison when I arrived. This of course came with very mixed emotions for me. On the one hand, I would have someone to take me from the airport and truthfully, I was worried about having to find my way back to the trailer. I wasn’t even sure if my mom still lived in it. We never lived in any one place for too long. As relieved as I was to have her there to pick me up, I also knew that this meant, I was truly back in my own life.
Back to no power on in the house, back to her 3 day long disappearances, followed by her 3 day long drug induced coma’s while she slept off her “come downs”. Back to walking to school alone, back to sleeping on egg crates with pillows for a mattress, back to being worried about whether she was breathing when she was sleeping it all off, back to her paranoid rage when she was awake, back to finding her and her friends in dark houses with people sleeping along the walls. Back to no new clothes, no toys and no friends. Only this time, I felt the burden of it all in a way I had never known before. It was the beginning of what would become my single biggest demon…feeling like I was never good enough and always less than everyone else.
I sometimes wonder, if I had not tasted a bit of the good life, had not been given a yardstick of measurement by which to compare…would I have ever birthed this demon that haunts me to this day? I don’t know. I suppose in time it would have still surfaced, as surely I would have eventually seen that my life was not like others. I know that I never felt ashamed, or less than others before that moment. But I also know, that it is these roots that push me forward in life. That allow me to take risks others dare not, fueled by only a chance at something better and a lack of fear in failing. For even failure is better than where I came from.
As a child I learned many lessons, one of them was that nothing lasts forever. I have spent my entire life preparing for goodbyes. Saying goodbye to the good life as I knew it was just one of those examples. My story is riddled with goodbyes…goodbyes to friends, schools, homes, even family members. Having learned early on that getting too close, only caused you pain is another one of the demons I still carry and battle.
Although this particular demon, has been a double bladed sword in both serving me well, while also hindering my growth and attachments to people. In dark times, I would remind myself that nothing lasts forever and in this way, I could get through anything. But in good times, that same voice of protection would remind me that nothing lasts forever and to not get too comfortable.
I tell you this because, for as long as I could remember, my mother would go through good spurts and bad spurts and just as I learned to let go of schools, homes, friends and family; I also learned that both the good and bad things in life and people, also come and go. A good spurt for my mother, would mean that she was determined to change her life. She’d enroll in dental school, or nail school, or one of any hundred endeavors that she had tried and given up on; and she would genuinely try and walk the straight and narrow, if only ever for a bit. Eventually though, the call of the wild would pull her back into it’s clutches and she would be lost to me again. The good spurts were frequent, albeit short when I was young; but as I got older her bad spurts consumed more and more of our lives and a bad spurt meant that she was back on drugs. Her flavor of choice changing over the years with her circle of friends, location, financial situation and as I can only imagine… the high it gave her.
When I was a baby it was pills…queloides and yellow jackets. I have memories of what must have been my toddler self, learning to walk and seeing these jars of giant pills on top of the Alhambra water filter. My grandma tells me that my moms drug addiction, started when she was 13 huffing paint. Over the years of my life, I have witnessed her flavor change from queloides and yellow jackets, to heroin, to meth, to prescription pills, back to meth and now most recently methadone (prescription heroin).
It’s sad to think that here, 36 years later, my mother having lost all of her kids, her freedoms, her self respect, her self worth, her self love, her beauty and even her sanity; still battles the demons that cause her to turn to drugs and that she still loses that battle every day, day after day.
When I was young, I used to wonder what was wrong with me. Why my mom didn’t love me enough to give up her drugs. Why her drugs, were more important than me. I used to hate myself, for her habit. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough to be loved. It took me many, many, many years of self reflection to finally understand that addiction, is truly a disease. That it was never about me, or my worth, but that it was about her fight with her own demons.
Like my father, my mother lived fast and hard and she had an indomitable spirit of her own. She was charming when she wanted to be and ornery as hell when provoked. She would fight anyone, including men large enough to intimidate other men, my teachers, our neighbors, druggies who had “burned” her and any random person she encountered throughout her day that pissed her off. My mom had a rage that seethed through her veins and always burned hot; she also had a gigantic chip on her shoulder, that seemed born of her belief that the world had some how wronged her and owed her.
She was a hard-head as much as she was a hot-head. She ran away when she was 13 and made her away around the country by hitchhiking with truck drivers. She later became a truck driver herself for a few years and eventually even married one…one of her now, countless marriages. Truck driving was probably the only job, that ever really suited her. She didn’t take to authority well and working on the road solo with only a deadline and herself in-between, suited her well.
For curiosities sake, my grandmother and I once tried to count how many times my mother had been married and we lost count at 8. Some of them had been marriages on top of marriages, on top of other marriages, most without ever having divorced. Needless to say the wake of my mothers love life, was a very messy one. As it relates to the men in her life, I could literally devote a whole chapter to each of my mothers men and the chaos that ensued each of those relationships and the drama that spilled over into all of our lives as a result, but those stories are for another day.
It’s probably no surprise, that mom ran with the hells angels for a time when I was in middle school and I am sure you are starting to get the picture that my mom was one helluva badass, rough and tumble bitch. But this picture would be a very linear one of her, as she was also very beautiful before the fast, hard life and the drugs took their toll on her looks. My mom looked liked Valerie Bertinelli back when she was on the popular 80’s tv show, “One Day At A Time”. With brown hair, and big almond shaped, dark brown eyes; she had this natural confidence about her that could cast a spell on men, in a hopeless way.
They were truly helpless to her guiles and would fall head over heels in love with her, before they ever even saw her for who she really was and by then it was far too late for them; as she had already sensed the end was near and would have taken what she needed or wanted from them and left them in what was always the cruelest of ways. I never understood this power she had over men, but it was amazing to witness.
So here I was, back in Oregon with my druggie, criminal mother; reeling from having tasted the good life and trying the best I could, to make sense of all the thoughts and emotions swirling around in my young mind.