My name is Joe. I am the child of two alcoholics
Or at least that’s what I would say if I was actually standing before you right now… probably fidgeting nervously, heartbeat quickened with anxiety ridden nostalgia.
To be honest, I might scream or pound my fists; pace back and forth or run away if thought I could cause sympathy with this admittance. So perhaps it’s just as well that I’m not present, but presented through the voice of another.
I’ll admit it. I’m not normal, or even happy sometimes. But neither are you and neither were my drunk parents. No one is. That is all I want to say. No one is perfect.
The fact is, alcohol, cocaine, and playwriting stole my father away from me when I was about two. I don’t remember his leaving, or his ever even being there at the beginning, actually… But I do remember my mother’s crying on the floor, and empty bottles in the garbage. I remember her laughing and playing childish games, and then condemning my games as childish when she needed to cry into her drink about the mortgage.
She was a kind, if unrelentingly honest woman, and forever steadfast in her one goal: To always put her children first despite her complete lack of control of her own life. For me to go on, I need this one distinction to be made with the clarity of crystal: My father left. My mother stayed. They were both totally messed up… just like the rest of us.
I think the cocaine and spirits made my dad a social beast, living the artists’ lifestyle, and having a beautiful and horrific time. But back home, Mom was a bankrupt, bi-polar, single parent, desperately trying to make do with what she had: A bottle and a dream.
I imagine most people can pinpoint the exact moment when they lost utter confidence in their parents’ perfection, but I don’t. And if you’re listening, I bet you don’t either. People like us have never had the liberty of hold onto such convictions for long. We never knew that magical world of early life, which cushions the blows of beautiful brutal humanity.
We’ve always known that no one is flawless; and maybe some of us don’t ever learn to discourage those flaws, whose very existence defines us, but wield them like weapons against each other or themselves instead. Some of us can only hope to defend ourselves, but any way I look at it… we are all wounded.
Everyone has defence mechanisms and weapons of mass destruction at their disposal… But the destruction is always mutually assured. And just like the nations of the worlds, we are judged by our use or disuse of our arms and armour.
What I want my parents, and everyone else to know, is that these things that hurt the people we love, make them who they are. It also hurts us, which makes us who we are. Does anyone truly condemn that which they cannot see within themselves?
So what should we do? Walk around with a big open wound all the time? No, of course not we get out the antibiotic whose cleansing sting we know will be worth it in the long run. My parents taught me this, by crumbling before building themselves back up on a stronger foundation. And I don’t blame them. No one is perfect. That’s why I am proud to say: My name is Joe, I’m the child of two alcoholics.