By Nicole Walkow
Shortly after I quit drinking, I would have these moments where I felt like I needed to come clean with my parents about stuff from the past.
One of the biggest moments was when I told them that I’m not only an alcoholic, but I was also abusing amphetamines and cocai….pot. My mother responded to this with a “we know,” thanks to my ex-boyfriend who reeked of grass, and the empty plastic, weed-scented bags that were found in my backpacks, purses, jewelry boxes, coat pockets, pants pockets, and drawers also tipped her off.
Another grand moment of truth was when I tried to paint a picture to explain the progressive nature of alcoholism. I established this by telling them that I was drinking on the metro on the way to work, and in the bathroom at work, and I would get up in the night and drink cough syrup, and once I started drinking I couldn’t stop, so I would try and push the first drink to as late in the day as possible, but eventually I couldn’t do that, so I would drink as soon as I woke up. They looked horrified, so I decided not to tell them anything that would make me sound like a really bad alcoholic.
There was also the little stuff I told them that I instantly regretted. Like when I revealed that, like most teenagers, I used to drink their liquor and replace it with water—only I was still doing this when I was about to turn 30. This newfound information then prompted several phone calls from my mother, during which she’d ask, “Which bottles are water? Your father and I are cleaning out the liquor cabinet and would like to get rid of them.” And I’d humbly reply, “Anything that’s been re-corked. Anything that’s in a brown bottle. Anything that’s in a clear bottle. Anything that is full but has a broken seal. And pretty much anything that’s in the cabinet.”
Sometimes the honesty thing would result in a surprisingly sweet moment. Like when I confessed to my father that I had stolen dozens of packs of cigarettes from him over the years, and he replied like the closeted smokers that we both were, with a “No, you didn’t.” And we both agreed.
All of this came to mind today, when I recalled a memory from my high school years, where I got really drunk at a party and threw up on myself.
I can vividly remember that next morning, when I came home, head hung low with puke all over my new Abercrombie & Fitch sweater. I didn’t want to get in trouble, but I felt embarrassed and sad about the sweater, so I told my mother that “I wasn’t drinking. I was helping a bunch of drunk kids and they threw up on me.”
I’ll never forget her response. She hugged me. She smiled. And she said, “I think we can get that out,” and then she stood beside me and we scrubbed vomit off my sweater.
I’m not a very sentimental person. In fact, my therapist just had me take the Myers-Briggs, and as usual, it says I am an INTP. Which means that I hate everyone and I don’t have feelings. Or at least that’s my interpretation. However, sometimes I have these moments, like today, where I involuntarily reflect on the seemingly insignificant details from my life. The dad with the cigarettes, and the mom with the puke-encrusted sweater. And I realize that somehow, in my somewhat twisted mind, these end up being the big moments.
I love my parents. And I know they have gone through many painful years dealing with my illness and various methods of self-destruction. Yet they have always been patient, tolerant, loving, and supportive of me. And I know that they are not to blame for my problems. In fact, all of my various issues have had very little to do with them. I just got lucky and inherited all the bad shit from the family tree, at extremely concentrated levels. But it’s fine. I have a fucked up sense of humor and I can handle it.
And also, everyone has shit.
All of this came to mind today: the sweater, the confessions, and the gratitude for all. And it reminded me that I need to call my mother. And when I do, I need to make sure that I really take the time to tell her how much she means to me. I need to tell her that I am grateful for her, and I love her. Not only because of all that she has done for me, but also for who she is. She’s a smart, strong, loving, beautiful and wonderful woman. She is my mother.
And also, I just got a bunch of meatloaf on my cable knit and need to know how she got those drunk kids’ vomit off my sweater.
About the Author
Nicole Walkow is a writer and stand up comedian in Washington DC. When she’s not performing on stage, she’s writing stories and jokes at home, or in the bathroom at her grocery store job. She also really likes snacks.