I laid on the couch unable to move. My daughter looked at my sheepishly, and asked quietly. “Are you okay mom?”. I nodded and went back to binge watching Sex and the City. Either I didn’t remember many of the episodes or I had never seen them. They were good! Carrie living an amazing life in beautiful New York City. “They never film in the winter.” I said to my daughter as I stared at the TV. She walked away. I was useless. It wasn’t the drinking of the wine that was the problem, it’s when I stopped. It was like all of a sudden a car coming to a screeching halt, or loud music being turned off. I could hear myself think again, but my thoughts were slow and uninteresting. My mom had died 4 months before in the beginning of December. I had bought a case of wine to last me through the holidays, but when I learned of her death, I drank most of them in a week. I wasn’t close to her but her opinion meant everything to me. If she didn’t like something all of a sudden it lost its luster. We had a strained relationship of having no boundaries and being too close, and then being distant and uncommunicative. It was an all or nothing relationship, there was no in between. I was expecting her death, but when it happened I went into a state of shock and denial. I wanted to spend every weekend in a dark bar drinking strong margaritas after she died. Sunlight hurt my eyes. I didn’t talk about her much, my mind was a jumble of anger and pain. I had held in so much anger over the years that now came up to the surface like hot boiling water. The alcohol was like lighting a match to my boiling blood. Not the reaction I thought I would have because I had it out with my mom years ago. But, when friends would ask me what our issues were, my mind would fog over and I felt like I was babbling incoherently about our relationship. They would look at me questioningly, like I wasn’t giving them good enough reasons not to talk to my own mother. There was no simple explanation for why we didn’t get along, it was so many little things that added up to a very dysfunctional relationship. For example, I remember when I was 13 years old she told me we would never be friends. That she would always hold power over me. I remember being so sad when she said that, as I was going into my teen years and wanted to be considered a worthwhile female counterpart to my mom. But she would have none of it. She ruled our family, and there was no room for another female. I didn’t try to challenge her, I just stopped trying to be her friend. When I found out she died, the thought that immediately came into my head was “I forgot to tell her I’m ok.” This thought confused me, why would I think that? I guess because she never acknowledged that I had moved on with my life and figured it out for myself the best I could. I got over her not coming to my wedding because she said she had a cold, I got over her not coming to see me in the hospital when I had my daughter, I got over her lack of interest and support of my life. I moved forward anyway. I liked the distance from her when she was alive because when I wasn’t interacting with her I could pretend that if we were talking that she would be happy for me. I could fantasize about the relationship we would have one day where she would see me for who I am and be proud of me, and she would be calm and listen to me. It was a good fantasy, it made me happy and it was always in the future. But when she died she took that fantasy with her. That time would never come. I didn’t even know how badly I wanted that time until I knew it wasn’t possible. So, a 4 month drinking binge began when she died to mourn what I never had; a mother who was my friend. I didn’t go see her when she was dying because I knew she would say something negative to me that would stick in my head forever. I couldn’t do it. Instead I fantasized that by me not going to see her that those few good moments we had together were running through her head and she had love for me when she thought of me. That is what I believe now, that she loved me in her own way. And what I do know is that I loved her deeply in the only way I could without losing myself. After 4 months of binge drinking and binge watching Sex and the City, I was done. I gave up drinking for good. Along with giving up alcohol I gave up my fantasy relationship with my mother. And I am ok.
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