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How Alcoholism Shaped My American Dream

My mother’s addiction morphed me into a better person.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the three ideal components that make up the American dream for most US citizens. The ownership of a home, obtaining college degree, and starting a family are some of the most common responses individuals will give when asked what their dream is. However, rather than possessions, degrees, or a family being my American dream, it would simply be to live in the moment and to be surrounded by honesty. My dream is a result of having too many people in my life being stuck in the past or they continue to pour lies from their mouth; which has greatly affected me.

As a little girl, my personality bubbled with excitement, and my curiosity stretched for miles. For six years, I was told by social services that my mother was an alcoholic. However, according to my mother, the system was flawed. Of course, I believed her, because every child trusts their parent’s every word. Even though I was being told two different versions of the story, which happened to be my life, I always remained positive. During our monthly visitations, my mother would wrap her arms around my fragile body. A wave of love was passed from her to me, an affect only a mother has on her child. My brain was scrambled with questions. How is it that I am in Foster Care, when my mother appears to be the most kindhearted woman? Why do all of the other foster kids get to go home to their parents, but I have to stay? Why do they say she has a drinking issue, but I’ve never seen her drunk? It must be a lie, right?

By the time I was eleven, my brother and I returned to my mother’s home. Finally, as a small family of three, we could make up for the years we lost together. We would be able to move on from the past, and live in the moment. At last, I thought, I would be in paradise. My mom and I would be able to have tea parties, get our nails done together, and do everything that a mother and daughter do together in a perfect world. Finally, I would be able to call a house my home. However, as the years with my mother passed, my world with bright colors, endless smiles, contagious laughs, and my bubbly personality were slowly being covered by a dark cloud. A cloud filled with lies, disappointment, and worry. It was very common for my mother to present a vase full of flowers the morning after one of her drunken episodes in an attempt to apologize for the distress she caused me. To her, the deliverance of the aerial, blush flowers was supposed to serve as an apologetic message. Indeed, when this effort began years before, I was easily convinced due to my young age. This gesture would have created a clean slate with my mother and I, but its redundancy no longer served its purpose to me. I no longer saw an attempt at apologizing, but instead I saw a pathetic excuse. This woman who had birthed me has stood before me countless times with an abundance of blossoms. Each time becoming more and more captivating, hoping for me to take, and seeking forgiveness for projecting her pain and anger on the only loved one around her. Through my tear glistening eyes, a woman of the same height as I, stood in front of me, managing to smile a hurt and lost smile upon her flustered cheeks, which blushed a deep rose from the years of alcohol she has consumed. I stared blankly at my mother, astounded that she had no recollection of the words of hatred she hurled at me. My mother has repressed past life experiences, and the consumption of alcohol makes one of the most self-driven, intelligent, and strong woman I know, to instantly become a woman who is so upset and unhappy with herself, that she displays actions of the devil himself on those she loves.

My mother used to say that she fought for six years to get us back...

It took her less than a year to send us right back to where we had come from.

A hug from my mother no longer passed the warmth of love through my body. Instead, it passed dishonesty, sadness, and panic. At last, the truth was slowly being uncovered. My mother was an alcoholic in denial, and she took advantage of my innocence to convince me that everyone around her was against her. During stays with my mother, she would do everything she could to fit the ideal motherly image. She would bring my siblings and I a delicious home cooked meal. My personal favorite was her Swedish crepes. The thin, slightly bronzed pancakes was a traditional dish served on our birthdays. The copper colored glassware, specially used for crepes, released a wave of steam as my siblings and I hounded behind my mother with our plates. Our mouth’s salivated as if Pavlov himself was using us as his test subjects in one of his experiments. However, this gracious meal came with a secret. My mother would mutter under her breath, “You could have these every Sunday if these people didn’t take you away. You know they stole you away from me just to make money off of you, don’t you?” Her words were forever engraved in my ears, and played on constant replay. As did her criticizing of how I held a pencil, because she claimed, “they aren’t even taking the time to show you the proper way to hold a writing utensil, yet I’m paying them over a grand each month to have you.” The events that my mother continues to repress had begun to reach the surface. From the moment she was no longer the center of attention at the age of nine, to her getting stood up at prom, her late abortion before my eldest brother, the abusive relationship with my father, and the removal of her children have all been pushed deep into my mother’s unconscious. She was unable to put all of the events that occurred in her past behind her. It consumed her, and she drank herself into oblivion because of it. The toxic liquid she drank seeped into her veins, and the devil itself over took her body.

Today, I have my mother to thank for making me who I am. I have grown into a young adult, sure to live in the present. I do not want to follow the footsteps of my mother. A woman, nearly 60, who not only ruined her life, but managed to ruin a whole family tree. It is my American dream to focus on one day at a time, and to only move forward. I strive to look for the bright side, no matter what obstacle life throws at me. 

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