I Have a Hole in my Heart Worn by Alcohol. You Want to Drink to That?

I am telling the story of my mothers decline into Wernicke – Korsakoff, alcoholics dementia.

I had every intention of telling this in as coherent and chronological way as possible.

The truth is that writing is my Healing Tool and is a Sacred venture.

I am finding that I am not just a story-teller telling yet another story,

but a seeker on pilgrimage.

Given the Sacred relationship between my heart and Words,

I am going to follow the path that is before me;

chronology be damned.

My father died and my mother could have saved his life.

Her alcoholism prevented her from saving him.

I am angry.

I will diverge from the days following Daddy’s death for a time. I am finding it impossible to put the experiences with my mother in the early days on paper.  I will wait for the road to clear to revisit those times. I know that the words will come eventually and that with them will come healing. I will meander as that appears to be my Hearts Path.

I am finding it hard today to come to terms with my father’s death and my mothers inaction. I do not know how to reconcile this. I do not want to dwell on the past and what can not be undone, but I do need to face this head on.

Daddy was my best friend.

We became very close when I was 16 and he quit drinking. He did not choose to quit; he had an ulcer caused by his alcoholism that ate a hole through his stomach. He should have died, but did not.

He quit drinking because it caused him physical pain.

My father, thank God, hated pain more than he loved drinking. No more booze for Daddy.

I finally had one sober parent for the first time in my life.

Daddy was a much more highly functioning alcoholic than my mother.

Thank God for the small things, ehh?

I started college at 17. I began to drink heavily and found in short order that I was very good at it.

I was a natural.

They say Do What You Are Good At;

I could drink anyone under the table with ease and wore that well.

Or so I thought.

I was at the University of Iowa and had wanted to enter the Writers Workshop since a teacher mentioned it to me early in high school. The Writers Workshop was a Holy Grail.

At the University I had written my heart out for a creative writing  prof, wanting to prove my metal.

I did.

He met with me one day and asked, “Are these true stories?”

  I told them they were.

“You suggest we write what we know about. I am doing that.”  I said.

My conversation with him moved him to suggest I seek therapy.

He also encouraged me to keep writing.

The Mental Health Center on Campus worked on a sliding scale. It was through those doors that I had my first real glimpse of how totally fucked up my life had been and continued to be.

When you are an adult child of alcoholics, you don’t have any idea what ‘normal’ is.

Your life is all you have.

When I would visit other families, the few friends I did have outside my families circle,

I assumed they were hiding their true selves when company was over,

the same way we did if my aunt visited.

Therapy, writing, and drinking too much led to conversations with my father.

He was sober but still loved to meet in bars and talk.

He listened while I ranted about my childhood and how they had stolen it from me.

It was a conversation that took many years to complete, but he finally heard me. He began to see how dysfunctional it all was and finally admitted that social services had indeed removed us from the home due to abuse by my mother.

That conversation took years.

The healing took decades.

When my father died I can say without a doubt in my mind that he and I were clean.

Our relationship was solid and our friendship was the one I counted on.

I miss my father.

I miss him terribly.

Sometimes in the middle of the night I will wake and come downstairs.

I check the answering machine, I look for an email.


Sometimes I swear I am certain I can reach my father by email if only I knew how.

But I can not.

Daddy is gone and Mommy could have saved him.

My mother has Wernicke – Karsokoffs Syndrome; alcoholics dementia.

  Her dementia is unraveling my heart.

Her alcoholism over the entire course of my life

has worn a hole in my heart where the love for her belongs.

If you are reading this and wondering, even just a teeny bit, if you drink too much,

that answer is probably ‘Yes.’

I have a hole worn in my heart by alcohol.

You want to drink to that?

No.  You sure as hell do not.

Peace,  Jen

~ by Step On a Crack on October 16, 2011.

14 Responses to “I Have a Hole in my Heart Worn by Alcohol. You Want to Drink to That?”

  1. I have tears prickling my eyes, and my heart is full of love for you. You are being so brave to do this, brave and clever too. Brave to face the horrors of your life, and clever to realise redemption lies in doing this task.

    Finding forgiveness for your mother and her actions/inactions will be a difficult task for you, it would be an almost impossible task for many. You’re going the right way about it though, and I feel you will get there.


    • You HAVE NO idea how much this lights me up! I woke feeling so Dark and you brought me back. Thank you, Gardendog. You have given me yet another gift. I hope the Old Pass it Forward comes your way….. Thank you!!!! xxx Jen


  2. Oh, Jen…
    No, you’re so right, I don’t.
    There’s a verse in Luke that says “To whom much is given, much will be required.” I think there’s a corresponding thread throughout the NT that also says :
    From whom much has been required, much will be given.
    That’s my prayer for you now, that you’ll continue to be given to. Given the strength and grace and vision that you need for your journey. Given comfort and peace and companionship as you wrestle with these sad truths. You remain daily in my prayers.


    • Debbie. Daddy had me read the bible when I was about 13. Catholics don’t really read the bible. He had me read it so I would understand the biblical references in English Literature and so I could begin to understand the crisis in the Middle East. I have since read both many times. I focus my reading on the New Testament and include the Gnostic Gospels in that reading. The historical Jesus upended the thinking of his time and transformed our ideas about how to live. He moved us from “an eye for an eye” to “Those without sin cast the first stone” MAN! totally different ways of living. I dig Jesus and what he taught. He sacrificed all (as did his mother) to give the world a new paradigm for living. I DO believe that my God carries most of the weight IF I allow it. It is when I try to force my will that thinks get ALL messed up.

      Thank you for reminding me that I am not alone, not just with your company and presence, BUT the Presence of the Lord. Too easy to forget and MAN is that a silly thing to lose sight of. I will take time today to remember the Gospels. Bless you! xxx Jen


  3. Jen, I can see your healing with each word you write. I thank God for your decision to write the hard things and open yourself to His healing. I pray you are feeling his blessings on you each step of the way.


  4. Jen, You definitely were born to be a writer. Keep writing what you know. What a blessing you are.


  5. Jen, i’m so overwhelmed! I cannot believe we didn’t share our “stuff” when we were in college. I remember snippets of “bad things” you told me … and i remember sort of looking at you, like, REALLY? … but you would say … “oh well”, with your big, beautiful, toothy smile … and i thought, all is well, sort of, but with our silent “knowing” i was afraid to touch the tender spots.

    Oh my God. I feel like crying … i am so upset. Your mom could have saved your dear dad, i am so, so sorry … that adds so much fuel to the fire. I am feeling your pain in such a big way today.

    I am at work at the moment … and i feel devasted by your stories.

    For you, i know you want to write that book (whatever you decide to write), and you will … but as many teachers tell you … journaling is an excellent discipline to writing every day. Remember when we went to The World According to Garp in IC? I think Garp said at one point, — a writer writes every day without exception (i may have my references mixed up) so keep writing (as you tell me) and share your heart. It is big and knowing!

    I can’t wait to read on, my friend.

    With love and respect,



    • Mel We did share. You were honest with me and we talked alot about your bulimia and your tremendous struggle. At 18 you had already been to Hell and back. Sweetie, you were there for me in ways I can’t begin to count. You and I both said, “Oh Well” and really at that point, what else could we say. We said I love you in 1000 ways to one another; in ways that we could hear at the time.

      We did have silent knowing and we took that and ran with it. I am grateful for that.

      My mom. Yep. She could have saved Daddy IF she had not been an alcoholic. That is harsh but that is true. PLEASE don’t be devastated by my stories. That breaks my heart. You and I are telling some truth. That is what must be done. We can continue to bear witness to one anothers pain and SURVIVAL! Lets focus on our SUCCESS!

      TEETH! Woo HOO!!!

      GARP!! Oh what a great memory. I think we went to see the Black Angel afterwards and then, just a guess, dancing after that. Write. Paint. Write.

      Yes, Ma’am. I Adore you! Jen

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for continuing this no doubt pains taking exercise. You write so well that you help us feel your pain, which is healing for everyone.


    • Your comments mean an awful lot, Al. Pain. you got that right. BUT there is healing on the other side. I tried that with the bar: became a bartender thinking somehow THAT would ease the pain. NO GO, As you can well imagine. The other side of the Bar = no healing. Hope the other side of this will be a different ball game. thank you….. My best to the Mrs….


  7. That hole in your heart happened drop…by…drop…by…drop. Just as water wears away stone, you have sustained damage. But unlike stone your heart and soul are capable of healing. It is an honor to observe the healing process. Thank you for sharing.

    I can’t begin to imagine the people lives that will be touched by your healing work!


  8. Wow it is amazing to read your story and I feel that you are doing the right thing by writing about it all. Words can heal as well as sharing. My father too was an alcoholic and quit by choice and it was the best healer of my relationship with him. Good for you for dealing with the demons. Keep writing, sharing, blogging.


    • Val,

      Thank you for stopping by! It seems we have quite a bit in common. This Blog thingy is amazing. Writing seems to be your outlet also, it works and it is hard. I will keep putting one word in front of the other. Step by step right? Thank you very much for stopping by and for relating. That is some Healing Juju right there. Peace, Jen


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