I saved my half sister’s life when she was a baby. I didn’t think twice about it, I grabbed her out of a bathtub of water that was spilling over the edge of the tub and flooding the hallway. She was face down in the water, her mother drunk and passed out on the couch.
What did I get for my troubles?
Well, my half sister Katy won’t talk to me now because I criticized her mother for being a bad person in the present. In the past, my step mother punched me in the face when I told the drunken hag that she had almost let her baby die.
Yep. That’s the thanks that I got for saving a human life. My sister never said ‘thank you’, no one did. My older brother spread stories about me and said I ‘lived the wrong lifestyle’ and wouldn’t let me talk to my niece and nephew. I think he says that because I ran away from home when I was just about sixteen as a result of being punched in the face and telling social services and the police about it. I’m not sure of his real reasons. He’s never told me to my face, only whispers behind my back.
My half-sister is a big girl now and she thinks she is the only one who ever lost a mother. I lost my mother eight years ago while I was gone from my family to escape the abuse. My mother wasn’t perfect either but I still lost her. Why is my loss less important than Katy’s loss?
When Katy was about three or four the woman delivering the mail heard a baby screaming in the house. She looked in the window and saw that the house was filthy and could see my stepmother Judy passed out in the living room. I would imagine it was in about the same spot that she was passed out when I woke her up with the crying and recently resuscitated infant in my arms and got punched for saving her child’s life. She liked to swan dive onto the couch.
The mail carrier tried the doorknob and it was unlocked. She came into the house and followed the sound of the screaming baby to the bathroom where Katy had become stuck behind the toilet and was covered in her own filth and waste. Nobody knows how long she was stuck there.
When my stepmother died last year around this time I posted a meme that said, ‘ding dong the witch is dead’. I was so relieved that the insanity was over. Judy would stalk me, drive around and around my block, park outside the house until the cops chased her away. I worried for my safety and the safety of my family and pets. I found poison set out for my dogs. Hearing that she was dead was exactly like hearing the boogeyman wasn’t real and being able to truly believe it. She was truly the most wicked of witches that there ever was.
I wasn’t the only one who suffered from her abuse. I ran away and Katy lived with the abuse her whole life. When Judy was alive Katy would call her and yell and scream at Judy and alternately extort large sums of cash out of her as an ‘apology’ for something her mother did when she was drunk. She obviously had a lot of anger to do that. T
The thing that confounds me is that Katy defends her mother now that she is dead. Her mother died because her body was failing from the alcohol abuse and she fell over in a snowbank and didn’t wake up. She brought her fate upon herself and yet I am banished for speaking the truth about one of the most horrible mother figures in the world.
At first glance this seems to be another injustice visited upon me but I think it goes deeper than that.
Examining Katy from a neutral perspective it is easy to see that she hasn’t accepted her mother’s death. Her mother never tried to stop drinking. She could barely admit, even at the very end that she was an alcoholic. By extension, Katy since Katy never accepted her mother’s death, she also never really accepted that her mother was an alcoholic.
More and more I see her sliding into her mother’s patterns. The first of these patterns is in demonizing me in the same way that her mother did. The second way is by increasingly the rumors I hear about her becoming a ‘party’ girl. Just like her mother, her career comes before her family and is only interrupted by binge drinking and in Katy, an observer can see this leaning increasingly towards alcoholism.
Katy is not only embracing all the mistakes and evils of her mother, she is also glorifying them and putting her mother on a pedestal. If Mommy drank, Katy always got gifts and money afterward. Judy would do anything to make it up to her and my Dad. This set up a cycle of punishment and reward that resulted in a pattern of endless dramatics. By making her mother into a saint and me into a demon she negates the truth that her mother was abusive, not just when she was drunk but when she was sober as well.
This is a common trait in children of alcoholics and it is part of what perpetuates the cycle of abuse. If Katy admits for one minute that her mother hurt me, she will have to admit that Judy hurt her too. She will have to admit that if it wasn’t for Katy and my Dad enabling her behavior Judy would have died drunk and on the street the same as she did even after they put her through every counseling and rehab program available. Katy would have to admit that if I was right about her mother that she had been left behind the toilet for days covered in filth and screaming. She would have to admit all the times when her mom didn’t show up for important events because she was drinking. She would have to admit that the only reason her mother is dead is because she refused to stop drinking.
I don’t have much in common with Katy. She doesn’t have a sense of humor, she isn’t creative, she isn’t adventurous and most important of all, she isn’t a realist. I don’t want or need a friendship with her.
I am glad that I saved her from drowning that day. I’m glad I knew first aid and got her breathing, I’m glad she got to grow up and make mistakes. I forgive her for her treatment of me because she is bound in a world of delusion and she can’t even see me.
I forgive her for being Judy’s daughter. I forgive her for using that fact to get special treatment and rewards after mommy was drunk. I forgive her for everything. I won’t get a chance to say that to her face, at least I would be surprised if I ever did. She has a hate on for me that rivals her mother’s hate for me. What did I ever do to Katy?
Well, I told her the truth. Sometimes that’s too much, especially for children of alcoholics. I feel a deep pity for Katy and her inability to face her reality because I see her walking her mother’s path and I see no sign of her waking up and realizing that she is becoming the same as her mother.
I hear the things people say about her. That she says cruel things, that she has a ‘mean’ mouth on her and it’s the same thing as her mother… generation to generation. Unless you are very proactive, self-aware and willing to examine any delusion you may have the curse repeats again and again. I forgave Judy before her death and am at peace with my relationship with her. Katy never forgave her mother and without facing the reality of the situation, she never will.
I forgive Katy now. I forgive her for hating me. I forgive her for the horrible things she says about me. I forgive her for not loving me. I forgive her for following her mother’s path. Being the child of an alcoholic is a tragedy and forgiveness is the only cure. Forgiveness and bringing the wounds that were caused by it into the light of day.