Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day 1987 and 2016

My mother and I had a difficult relationship while she was alive, although today I am remembering the events surrounding Mother's Day in 1987.  I had traveled from Bellingham, Washington, to the bluffs of the Pacific Ocean in Gualala, California, where my parents lived. When I arrived, my parents suggested that we all go out to a restaurant for a champagne breakfast.  At the time, I didn't know that I was an alcoholic.  Because of the events that followed my last drink, a glass of champagne, in May of 1987, I eventually came to understand that I am an alcoholic.  On my 21st birthday, in 1970, my mother bought a bottle of champagne and said, "Okay, now you are old enough to drink.  Let's go down to the basement and have a glass of champagne."

Once alcohol enters my system, I experience what has been identified as the "phenomenon of craving," the defining element of a real alcoholic.  It is not a pleasurable mellow feeling.  It is as if a bottomless thirst for alcohol is the only thing that exists.  I had experienced that for quite some time when I drank alcohol, probably from my earliest experience with alcohol, but my solution to that was to "be careful." I had no idea that I was an alcoholic.  I attempted to control my drinking.  However, if one is an alcoholic, control is impossible. Impossible because of a craving that tells me that it must be satisfied or I will die.

The simple solution for me has been not to drink at all.  I have not experienced that terrible all-consuming craving since 1987.

Let us just say that I didn't stay in Gualala to be with my mother on Mother's Day.  I was off and running with a craving that took 3 weeks to quiet down.  During that time, I felt suicidal.  For some life-saving reason, I tried to address that craving and suicidal depression by eating massive amounts of sugar.  However, something did give me the presence of mind to go to a florist and arrange for flowers to be delivered to my mother a few days later on Mother's Day.  My mother was ecstatic upon receiving the flowers.  I felt a twinge of guilt and remorse when I saw the photo she sent a few weeks later of her, radiant, with the gift of flowers.  I felt I didn't deserve to be loved because I was so angry at her.  In the years since 1987, that has changed.

We all deserve to be loved and we can be angry with those we love as long as we need to be.

I was so angry at my mother that I never wanted to have children because I couldn't bear the thought of a child being that angry at me.  I was afraid of being like my mother.  I wonder if that fear and anger kept me from ever getting pregnant.  Who knows?

A few nights ago I dreamed that my mother prepared a gift for me that came in the form of a generous harvest of colorful winter squashes and pumpkins, arranged like a farmer's market display one might see in October, the month of my birth in 1949.

Below is a photo of my mother, Josephine, at Anchor Bay, California, a few miles north of Gualala.  The photo was taken by my father.   The photo at the top of the blog is of my mother as a single woman in the 1940s, passionate about horses.  One of the sacrifices she made in marrying my father and having children was that she rarely rode a horse ever again.  I remember her saying in the last years of her life that she would like to ride a horse one more time.  However, she had an ankle injury, sustained while riding a horse, that prevented her from doing that in the way she had a young woman.

Reconciliation after death is possible.  How?  I don't know, but I am experiencing it again today on Mother's Day.  Maybe my mother was an alcoholic, too.  Who knows?


Anonymous said...

Yes, I think reconciliation is possible after death. It's the peace you make with yourself over past grievances, and the love you feel in your heart for the one who has gone.

am said...

robin andrea: Thank you for your healing words, robin andrea. I hadn't thought about in quite that way before. The peace and love that were in my heart when I was born are accessible again.

Sabine said...

Your mother waited with the champagne until you were 21, my mother offered me valium when I was 12 and afraid of a maths test. I didn't take it, but only to spite her as I had no idea what it was at the time.

Reconciliation comes with time and age. Don't rush it and don't expect miracles. It looks and feels different that what we expect it to be.