I’m shocked that he remembers…
Can we go in there, Mommy?
I want a sucker.
Where do you get a sucker, I don’t understand?
He’s pointing across the parking lot, to a strip mall. I look up to see the liquor store and my heart sinks to my feet. No, honey…we can’t go in there.
Because that’s a liquor store and I don’t drink alcohol anymore.
Then he blows me away. Mommy, if you saw the wine in there, it would make you want to drink it?
Yes. That’s true. It would.
After that, maybe it was a rising up of things buried, of things I thought I had forgotten, heavy feelings of regret, I don’t know. But I could not stop crying. I drove and cried and remembered and even though it hurt, it’s good to remember so we don’t have to go back.
They were so vivid, the memories of walking the aisles of the liquor store with two small kids with me. Don’t touch. That’s glass. Don’t touch. Be careful. And I would hurry and hurry and try not to think about how I couldn’t not be in there, how I couldn’t not drink. How I had to take my boys with me, during the day, so my too often trips wouldn’t be so obvious to Ryan. And I would feel the shame, the Anaconda guilt wrapping itself around my heart while I tried to make the stressful and hurried walking of the aisles fun by always asking for suckers when we got to the counter.
It’s not fun to be buckled in and out of seats and then carted through the parking lot to walk through aisles of glass. To witness your mother’s anxiety, her shifting eyes, so often. Of course they were small, they probably didn’t know or feel what I’m afraid they felt. Maybe they did, maybe not, I don’t know. I only know what it felt like to hope not, to wish we didn’t have to be there…to know that I had taken it too far, that I was addicted, that I could not let go and I was taking them with me; inside a store and inside my disease. All the many nights of my disease.
It just welled up today and it came out. A year and a half later and there I was, stone sober, staring with my boys at a store of glass and saying no to the suckers that were supposed to make it fun. Saying no to the wine that was supposed to keep me going.
There is so much weight to this, even behind the questions of a boy going on six. His silence from the back seat speaks of deep thoughts and the questions keep coming. I explain in a way he can understand and something like peace floats up because of truth.
And the suffocating snake