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WIP (Work in Progress): A Memoir

This is the story of an ordinary individual. A wife, mother and daughter who woke up in 2015 and realized she was fifty and had no sense of self. Her identity has been slowly slipping away as she raised her four children. Her eldest departed for college and she lost an extension of herself.  Fear of what’s next morphed into frustration and pain. Her solution to her discomfort came in the form of alcohol. 

During the summer of 2018 I begin to feel a sense of normalcy. A new beginning following years of substance abuse, rehabs, family conflict and a strained marriage. The old me is rising to the surface and I begin to see the myself in a different light. Trying to focus on the positive after a long stretch of betrayal and self loathing. My head is clear and my focus is on mending strained relationships. Therapy, exercise and writing classes allow me to prioritize my days as I continue to heal.

    Stuart and I fall into a more comfortable rhythm. He’s attentive without being overbearing. We are both vulnerable but courageous enough to prioritize our marriage. children show less signs of strain. We are communicating more easily and I edge my way slowly back into my mothering role. Their eyes are less accusatory, suspicious as they learn to trust me again. We are collectively healing but on our own terms. I’m patient. I don’t expect a miraculous return to the family we once were. 

    The two years that follow are ordinary, mundane. I’m no longer a loose canon. I’m reliable and don’t sink into old, bad habits. My confidence in myself is visible and I’m not afraid of owning the responsibility of the chaos I created. I still carry my shame and guilt but am no longer reprimanding myself at every turn. I make mistakes but they aren’t fueled by hurricane force. The dysfunction we had all grown weary of is slipping away.

    Without warning an avalanche is unleashed and worry is the expression we all wear. My mother is deteriorating. Her decline due to dementia has taken a more serious turn. I’m anxious to see her. I call my father to let him know I’ll be visiting, staying for as long as they need me. The following day my plans screech to a halt. It’s March of 2020. The WHO has just declared a world pandemic. It’s name, Covid-19. Life as we know it is changing and we can’t see what’s on the horizon. We are all put to a test. I’m in the ready position as I’m hit head on.

    For the foreseeable future I move to RI, just an eight minute drive to my parent’s house. From day one I’m cognizant of the challenges coming my way. I’m a mother, wife, daughter and a caregiver and the world is literally crumbling before our eyes. I text my therapist, I’m stepping into muddied waters. How easy it would be to drain my misery in alcohol. To begin the day with a liquid shout of courage. But I know I’m not strong enough to stop with one. A movie reel plays on repeat. Me, unstable, unsteady and dead drunk. 

Read an Excerpt


    Before I’m able to assess my current situation, my body registers pain and fear and I want to cry. I find myself sitting crossed-legged, leaning against a building. I feel bruises developing on my biceps and hips. Perhaps I fell to the ground, landing on something sharp? I begin peppering myself with questions—the first, who am I? Where am I? I know where I am, what town anyway, but not the specific spot. I have a hazy memory of Rolling Rock beer. I feel nostalgic when I purchase it. Stuart and I drank it often, on the boat and beach when we’re dating. Did I drink the entire six pack?  Did I drink anything beyond beer? I won’t know until I’ve made it home. The idea of home causes my stomach to churn, fueling my anxiety. I vomit. Frantic, I search my surroundings for my keys, phone, and cigarettes. The sky is darker than I ever remember. A faint glow comes from the top of the white building where I lean for support. The light seems decorative, offering just enough illumination to the ground below. By process of elimination and the visible steeple, I determine the building is the Congregational Church. The church Stuart and I were married in twenty-nine years ago. Now I cry.

     I ask myself, “Who is this woman in her early fifties who has lost her way in town, but also her way in life?” I’m stitched together in the shape of sorrow, a constant interior ache plagues me. Adrenaline runs through every crevice of my body. Disgusted with myself for bad decisions which led to self-destruction. I’m despondent, drunk and cold. I wander down the hill in the direction of my parents’ house. My feet are sore. I look down and see I’m shoeless. I scream, “Someone help me! Mom, Dad, I’m here. Please come find me and bring me home. I’m scared and I’m sorry.” 

     No one comes to my rescue. The town is desolate. My parents must be worried— angry too I imagine. Maybe my mother is crying, but my hope is they’re both sleeping. I can handle concern, but anger, disappointing them, is unbearable. I walk along the edge of the road and count my steps, it helps me balance. Tonight, the way I feel, isn’t the result of a beer buzz. My head hurts. I place my hands in my hair, feeling around for signs of blood and any cuts. Nothing there, most likely it’s my hangover starting early. My next ten steps open my range of vision. I see lights on the outdoor restaurant, PIZZA, and that’s when I spot my car. My pace picks up. I reach the driver’s side door, pull hard and fall into the seat with an enormous sigh of relief. Where are the keys? I feel around at my feet; I often toss my  keys onto the mat. Bingo, I’ve found them. In the passenger seat is a partially eaten pizza that I don’t remember ordering or picking up. But I know I ate several slices since they’re missing from the box. I run my tongue across my teeth and feel pizza residue along with vomit. I take a moment to recognize the seriousness of my situation. Underneath the pizza box are my phone and cigarettes. Unlocking my phone I have seven missed calls: four from my parents, two from Stuart, and one from Liza. Three voicemail messages. I’m scared to play them. I don’t dare look at my text messages. Concerned voices mixed with sadness and anger will deepen my shame and regret. I light a cigarette and check the time. Two- fifteen. What have I been doing for so many hours? I reach under the seat, pat my hand on the carpet, searching for the familiar shape and size of a vodka  nips I may have purchased, hiding them for a time just like this. I locate four, they’re empty. I open the glove compartment and discover two that are unopened. Tossing my cigarette butt out the window, I light another, unscrew the top, take a gulp, and prepare to listen to my messages.  

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