My Mother’s Secrets

My mother is not far.

She is on my mind in every moment.

I am looking at each piece of her and of me and of us, weighing the evidence,

measuring the distance between Love and Longing.

There are certain Truths about our relationship that must remain in order to be true to myself.

There is also malleability in my minds wandering in order to see Kindness, Connection or Love.

My mother was not nice to me. My mother did not accept me.

I am trying, I am trying so hard to ignore the memory of her words,

“You did this.”

I am trying so hard to ignore the meaning:

You ruined my life.

There was a time when we connected.

In my early teens I realized that my mother and I were night owls. We stayed up late; the later the better.

During this time I  came to realize that the darker the night,

the more alcohol my mother drank,

the more loose her tongue.

I began a mother daughter ritual that I am sure she was unaware of;

I stayed up very late with my mother.

I would wait in silence until I could sense, in the way a child of an alcoholic can, when my mother was ready to talk.

When that moment came I began my questioning.

I spent two years, late into the night,  when I was not babysitting,

asking my mother every question my teen heart needed to ask.

I  learned years earlier working with my father at the gas station that if you ask a question of someone

and then be still, even the most stoic of people would tell you everything.

He was right.

He  taught me that what you heard were pieces of a puzzle,

the most important puzzle of all;

the puzzle that was that person.

If you are an adult child of an alcoholic you probably understand what I am about to say:

There is a moment when you know the scale has tipped;

the drunk is either ready to blow or ready to soften

and sometimes that moment hinged on your very action.

I became an expert at reading my mothers drunken state.

I learned through trial and error when to ask the first question of the evening;

 eventually I knew just what that first question was.

I learned an awful lot about my mother during those late nights in front of Creature Feature.

Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price and Lon Chaney were the only witnesses to my mother daughter ritual.

They held our attention.

They kept our secrets.


WE did not have secrets.

My mother had secrets.

Looking at the memory now I can see that not once did my mother ask me a question.

  Not once in the years of our mother daughter  ritual did my mother ever ask me a question.

It was all about her; all about her.

Remember the light of the old TV shining blue from the black and white screen?

Remember the warm feeling of intimacy that emanated from the TV screen

and the sound of the knob changing channels?

I do.

I remember it as though it was yesterday.

I remember it with warmth and gratitude and I am holding it dear.

Funny how things turn out.

I hate TV.

I have a bumper sticker on my car which reads:

Kill Your TV.

Thank God I did not Kill our family TV.

Thank God for the black and white TV of my teen years shining blue light into my life.

Thank God for that TV.

Thank God for Memory.

I do know about my mother’s life. I do know my mother’s secrets.

I asked the right questions at the right time.

 My mother’s secrets. My mother’s story.

I carried that story with me into the room she died in.

Those secrets; those precious stories told with some laughter and some tears,

helped me hold Mommy the day she died.

I held her with compassion and Love and awareness of the tender nature of the human condition.

My mother’s secrets bear repeating.

My mother’s secrets, her story are important.

Her secrets shaped her. Her secrets led her into the bottle.

Knowing her secrets, her story, helped me climb out of my bottle.

My mother’s secrets bear repeating so that none of it will be repeated.

Thank God for the family TV.

In this case, thank God for Memory.

Peace,   Jen

~ by Step On a Crack on December 20, 2011.

8 Responses to “My Mother’s Secrets”

  1. Great insight; my parents are shrinks and so part of what I what I experinced is me; The process of forgiveness–to see the good, the pain and grow is a long unending process, just when I think, I have moved beyond… that complex time will trickle out more of different feeling or thought.

    excellent post!


  2. Jen, you continue to amaze me. How you’ve survived such pain. How you’ve broken a cycle that we all know is againstvALL odds. How you can put such pain, sadness and longing into words that search for understanding and compassion. This post shows your strength and will to survive. But you have shown that time and again. Thank you for sharing your heart and vulnerability. It’s a gift.


  3. Oh, the mixture of sadness and smiles in this. I love this post, and am happy that you have not stopped posting. Jen, you give blessing (where you can) in exchange for all the pain–what a Christ-like thing you do. Love you.


  4. How can your posts get more and more awesome? Jen, when i read your writing: I AM THERE. I know everything. Time stops: I am with you at each stage of Alcohol Kicking-in Time. My mom … it was after a scoop of ice-cream with her favorite pie. A smaller window to ask questions and feel love. But, i’m glad we can admit that there were a few windows of sharing EVEN if it was about Them, always. It breaks my heart for you. And, i get it AND i got it too. It’s drugs, it’s booze that sucks the life out of people, and hides the shittiness of our secrets. Oh honey. Keep reflecting; keep writing. I love you so, Mel


  5. It is a privilege to read your thoughts, a gift to see and hear your woundedness. The Healer is working in you and it is a wonder to behold. I know you are changing and I am glad you’re able to share those changes with us. So much to share, to cry about, to rejoice over. Thank you.


  6. Wow Jen. Just wow! You’ve moved me to tears. I commend your strength of character and the wisdom and insight to just know what the right questions were for your mom. Our moms are our moms regardless of the state of their lives and for you to find a way through her barrier is a beautiful thing. Keep writing! So much healing and love!!


  7. Reading this post makes me think of Steve Jobs’ last words, “Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow.” You have described the systemic reality of our relationships with such clarity. The willingness to see our parent fully is a step in our becoming whole. Thank you.


  8. Your writing brings back memories of moments i never lived. Thank you for you honesty.


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