I thought long and hard on how to begin this blog. Should I tell my complete story? Should I let you know about how I ended up an alcoholic, a mother, a wife 3 times over, and how I’ve been desperately trying and failing to make a perfect life?
I’ve settled on beginning with where my heart breaks the most. My children.
Happy 1st Birthday!
I lived in a house way back when, and I called this a house a ghosty house because it was haunted. It sat high on a hill in a tiny beach community. It was a leaseback, meaning it would be torn down in 5 years because it was on state park land. It was a lonely old house deep in the woods. We rented it because we were desperate, broke, unmarried and pregnant. I knew the minute I walked in it was haunted, something wasn’t quite right. A medieval chandelier hung from the ceiling, no sun peeked through the windows, and the trees smothered the house not letting it breathe, choking away peace and calm. I was nesting in my pregnant state, wary of my surroundings, and desperately trying to make this house a home fit for a new little family. It wasn’t working. The ghosts were owning the house I struggled for, and the air that was in the house was fueled by my baby’s father’s alcoholic breath. The ghosts mingled and fed from this breath, and as I inhaled it it twisted me and my pregnancy into a bundle of raw nerves with innocent eyes that grew stronger, darker, and fiercer as I fought to protect my baby.
I have the baby and it’s a boy. He is born premature because of the ghosts, the alcoholic breath of his father, and what it was all doing to me. He had to get out, it was too much to bear. So he did, and I stayed with him at NICU, my hands reaching into holes to hold his little hands and feet, stroking his back, and telling him how wonderful he was, how loved he was. I longed to hold him, to feel his skin on mine, his body on mine. But it wasn’t meant to be so we bonded for 3 weeks with my hands in these holes, stroking touching and loving.
He comes home, and I’m scared to death of the ghost house and what’s its already done to my boy. There are drafts and the wind howls on our hill. His nursery is full of dark furniture and heavy air. There’s no money for new things, so he sleeps in a used crib. I spend a little money on baby things to try and make some cheer in the room, but they look out of place, forced. I feel horrible leaving the baby in this room, and my heart longs and breaks for a cheerful space fit for this baby I am so in love with. But I’m stuck, or feel stuck and don’t know what to do.
One night I put the baby to sleep, and go to sleep myself. The baby’s father is home for once this night instead of resting on a bar stool, and he is sleeping too. I drift off, exhausted from caring for a newborn, breastfeeding, loving, and protecting. I begin to dream. I dream the most real dream I’ve ever had. An old woman approaches me silently. Her hair is white, in a bun. She is wrinkled, with long limbs that twist and intertwine and reach reach reach toward me and try to take me and pull me down. She is trying to get inside me and I am resisting, struggling, and with each pull I grow stronger and fiercer. I become a hurricane, a storm and I feel the power rising inside of me to the point where I grow stronger than the ghost, and scream, “Leave us alone! You had your chance to live, this is my time!” And then I wake up. My heart is racing, and all I can think of is my baby. Alone in his dark haunted nursery. I race to his room next to mine and scan every inch of him and the room for the ghost. He is sleeping peacefully, his cheerful stuffed animals stare mockingly, and I pull up the wooden rocker next to his crib. I pick up the little book in his room, The Tailor of Gloucester. I begin reading aloud to him as I protect him from ghosts….. “In the time of swords and periwigs and full skirted coats with flowered lappets – when gentlemen wore ruffles and gold laced waistcoats of paduasoy and taffeta – there lived a tailor in Gloucester…..” How fitting these strange words were for our little house and this little family. Delicate, and out of place in the here and now. So I ended up leaving the ghosty house, my baby’s alcoholic father, and tried to bring cheer and peace to the sadness.
It’s my son’s 1st birthday, and I’m hosting a party at a house where I fled to once I mustered up enough courage to leave. It’s my friend’s house who recently moved with her husband who took a job out of town, so I’m house sitting while it’s on the market. I love it there and it brings me peace. My baby and I are away from the dingy, drafty, ghosty house.
No party in our family is complete without alcohol, including 1st birthday parties. My parents, my baby’s father, and his parents are all in attendance with a sprinkling of aunts and uncles. I remember wanting to get back together with my baby’s father, and this birthday party was a first step. So we cooked together and drank together as we got ready for the party. That’s what we were good at, drinking together. I was good at being a mother, but he was no good at being a father. But we definitely had the drinking part down. Our guests came, and we continue to drink. My mother in law watches me disapprovingly as I have my glasses of wine. We open presents, and I believe I stumble and fall over an opened toy. She calmly pulls me aside, and tells me my son needs to be proud of me, and drinking too much is nothing to be proud of. She tells me I’m such a beautiful, precious and smart girl that this does not fit me. All I want is for my son to be proud of his mother, and my love for him swells and my shame swells with the drunken wine breath I’ll have to lay him down with tonight. I hazily remember the guests leaving, I hazily remember the fight I had with the baby’s father as we drunkenly hash out all the problems in our relationship. I have put my son to bed, and I fall asleep with the knowledge I’ll wake up in the morning with a pounding head, a sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, and the never ending guilt and shame. I will take a shower, and take care of my baby in the morning. I’ll pretend that everything is okay, and I will go back to being a good mom now. This too shall pass I think, as I hold and love the love of my life.