(If you missed Part 1https://susiefinkbeiner.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/drink-part-1/ , make sure you read it before this one. Thank you!)
“This is it,” my mom said. “Either you go to treatment or we’re done.”
“Done how?” I asked. My hands shook. I had to drink something. Anything.
“We will no longer do the following things,” my dad said, raising the piece of paper closer to his face. “Number 1…”
“I want mom to read it,” I interrupted. “I don’t want to hear your voice right now, dad.”
“Listen, young lady,” my dad’s face turned red.
There was a strange satisfaction in getting him angry. For as long as I remembered his rage at me felt comfortable.
“Give me the paper.” My mom grabbed it from him. “We will no longer give you money, house you, feed you, drive you anywhere. We won’t let you into our homes. We will not take phone calls from you. I won’t pay your bills anymore. I will report the times you stole my credit card to buy beer. You will have no rights whatsoever to your children.”
“Where is all this coming from?” I dug my nails into the flesh of my thigh. “Who put you all up to this?”
“I won’t bail you our or visit you in jail.” Her face was soaked. She was crying. I’d made her cry. “You will no longer be my daughter.”
I just looked at her, stood up and walked out.
I plead “no contest” to the charges against me. Drunk driving, child endangerment, the theft of my mother’s credit card. They took me immediately to prison.
It didn’t take long for me to learn how to get things that I needed. Do a favor here or there and earn a bottle of mouthwash. It was never enough. And it burned all the way down to my feet. But I had to have it.
After a month, I sat on the floor of my cell, sipping on a bottle. Even after that amount of time I’d still gag on the stuff.
“What are you doing?” my cell mate asked. “It smells like mint.”
“None of your business.” I swigged down some more.
“Why you tryin’ to kill yourself?”
“I’m not. Just trying to get a little buzz.” I held it up to her. “You want some?”
“You know, I been watching you. You really hate yourself.”
I looked at the stack of envelopes under my pillow. All addressed to my kids. All marked “Return to Sender” in my mom’s handwriting.
“What are you in here for?”
A chill traveled up the back of my neck. “Who?”
She laughed, slapped her leg. “You’re killin’ me. No pun intended. Oh, girl I ain’t murdered no one.”
“Then what did you do?”
“Oh, just held up a gas station. Don’t sound so bad now, do it?” She sat next to me. “Let me guess. Drunk driving.”
“That and a few other things.”
“You know, you’re never gonna get better if you keep drinkin’ that stuff.”
“What do I need to get better for?”
“You’re just gonna leave here and turn around and get yourself in trouble again. You’ll be back in no time.”
Cold cement floor. Hard, creaky bed. Ugly orange jumpsuit. No freewill. No rights. Just the same thing over and over. Everyday. I had ten years on my time here. Unless, of course, I behaved myself.
I didn’t want to jump out of this cycle only to hop back in.
“How long have you been drinkin’?” she asked.
“For as long as I remember.” I put the top on the bottle. “So long I don’t know how to stop.”
“It ain’t easy. But you not alone in it.”
“What. You’re an alcoholic?”
“Nope. Never could stand the taste. But you gotta stop fightin’ this all by yourself. And that booze ain’t helpin’ you none.”
“It’s only ever gotten me in trouble.” I tilted my head back. “I need help.”
“That’s good. You’re about to get on your way. Let’s go talk to the chaplain.”
Counseling, AA meetings, accountability. Sobriety.
And then all the memories started hitting me. Partying in high school with my friends. Waking up next to strangers the next day. Sneaking drinks during pregnancy. Leaving my kids in the car while I drank in the bar. Hitting my son across the face for spilling my beer.
With every new memory I felt more and more worthless. I wanted to die. Shame, self-hate, disgust.
I screamed prayers for forgiveness. Wrote letters to everyone I could remember hurting. Tried to make phone calls.
The only response I got were returned envelopes and the click of a phone being hung up.
The chapel wasn’t what I’d expected it to be. No stained glass. No wooden pews. No candles or communion trays.
It was cold, hard, bright. Just like every other room in the prison.
The chairs were full of prisoners. Drug dealers, prostitutes, abusers, murderers, thieves. A grungy group of no-good-criminals. All drunk on the hope of another chance after this life was over.
I only showed because my cellmate was preaching. Sat in the back. Crossed my arms on my chest.
Loud singing. Arms waving in the air. Swaying hips and stomping feet.
I don’t remember what the sermon was about. All I heard from her were words that soaked right up into my soul.
“Do you think you’re so bad God can’t forgive you?” she yelled. “You think He don’t want to hear from you? Who do you think you are?”
“Amen, sister,” voices from the seats called out.
“No matter what you done, you come to God. Do you think He gonna say, ‘Uh, I don’t think so’? No, sisters. He gonna say, ‘Get yourself over here, daughter of mine. I want to show you the good way to live’.”
“Come near to God and He will come near to you!”
Come near to God. The words made me tremble with fear. And He will come near to you. It was too much.
Why would He come near to a piece of scum like me? I was nothing but filth and stink and dark.
I wanted Him. But I was nothing for Him to see. I didn’t want Him to know what I was.
(to be continued)