Memoirs – Age 5 – Can I Take Her Pain Away?

{ PREFACE: Mami, please don’t be hurt by what I am writing for it is my truth, and the only way I can move past it, is to surrender to it. I love you always and forever and do not blame you, but our story of addiction should be shared. }

I walked through the door of our two bedroom apartment. The music was so loud, but of course it didn’t bother me, I was accustomed to The Three Tenors. The apartment seemed empty, which was strange, since my mother was there when I left about 4 hours prior. I was a pretty obedient child, and I always knew, when it started to get dark it was time to go home.

I closed the door behind me and began to wonder. Where could my mom be? I walked towards my bedroom and before I made it past the dining room I found her. There she was, lying in fetal position, vinyl records scattered all over the floor around her. Any other child would have been scared to see their parent on the floor and perhaps would have panicked, but this wasn’t an unusual scene at Casa de Rodriguez, in fact, I almost felt dumb for not knowing she would be there.

I turned the volume down, and it almost seemed as if she was hypnotized by the music, because she quickly began to open her eyes. They were red and bloodshot, and she had smeared mascara all over her face from the tears she was shedding hours before. I could smell the alcohol protruding from her body and at that point it clicked. She was drunk, again.

As I helped her get up, she went through the usual range of emotions in a matter of minutes. What started as confusion quickly turned to embarrassment, when she realized where and in what state she had been discovered. From embarrassed to angry for the disruption the final state was generally sorrow.

She asked me to sit next to her as she cleared the records from the floor surrounding her. I had heard this all before, but I listened, because that sorrow could easily have turned back into anger, as she was in a very emotionally volatile state of mind. I began to hear the same story, pretended it was new, and listened because that was all I could do. I heard about her fathers’ death when she was just a young girl, and how she wasn’t given the chance to say goodbye and about how much she missed touching his face and hearing his voice.

I knew where the story was headed. There would be more tears, a panic attack or two and then eventually I would remind her that I had school in the morning and really wanted her to sleep next to me. I knew, even at that age, that it was the only way to get her to go to bed. So as that night wrapped up, she sang me a lullaby and drifted off into a happier dream world, while I laid there and continued to process my reality and wonder if I would ever be able take her pain away.


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