My beautiful daughter asked me if I'd ever had stitches. This question came after I'd mentioned to her that she has a tiny scar on her chin from the stitches she'd had three years ago. She'd fallen off the playground equipment at her school when she was about four years old, and the incident resulted in a cut deep enough to warrant stitches.
"Momma, did you ever have stitches?"
Well, sure. Who hasn't? There were two episodes that I recall clearly: one set of stitches in my head after slamming head-first into the corner of a wall, and a second set after my parents' evil, shitty dog bit me on the face (I hate dogs--that dog in particular).
But I'd actually had three sets of stitches. This third set I'd somehow forgotten about--shoved it so deeply back that it was a shock to feel this memory come to the surface. I have another set of stitches in my head.
This set came courtesy of my mother. My mother was (is?) a dedicated alcoholic, but she sure didn't appreciate it when people brought her alcoholism to her attention. I'll fast-forward through the gloom and doom of living with a drunk (well, make that TWO drunks) and get to the point of this post.
I had once again had to bum a ride home from school because dear mom failed to show up to get me. When I got home, she was (of course) drunk and (of course) passed out on the sofa. My dad was (of course) drinking whisky from a bottle and told me (of course) to 'fuck off' when I asked why no one bothered to pick me up from school. Another Wednesday night. I think of dad as a 'functional alcoholic'--I mean, he did usually go to work.
But here's where my usual Wednesday took a turn.
My mother (as usual) came-to around 8pm and started walking around like nothing had happened. I was in the basement, doing my laundry and trying to tidy up. I (of course) found a few new fifths of vodka hidden behind the washing supplies. This pissed me off for a few reasons:
1) I had handed over ALL of my money to get our phone turned back on. I worked part-time and pretty much every cent I made went to bailing out my family in one way or another. And you know what? That didn't bother me much (at the time). I mean, it's all I knew. Plus, my father was constantly reminding me that we could be living in a much less-desirable area, putting me in a much less-desirable high school, so I owed it to them to help out with utilities, etc. Whatever. Anyway--the fact that I'd once again handed over my entire paycheck and dear mom STILL used our limited cash for booze...well that just pissed me off.
2) I'd just bummed a ride home from my friend's mom, forcing me to come up with yet another lie about why my mother wasn't there to pick me up herself. I'm sure I said something clever (not really), like she had a last-minute appointment. I hated hiding this secret behind lies.
So, I had just about HAD it with this bullshit. So, I took one of the fifths of Smirnoff upstairs. Found my mother.
I opened one of the fifths and took a long swig. Mind you, I was 15 or maybe 16 years old...
Then I spat the whole swig in her face.
Mind, you, this was when fifths were still sold in GLASS containers. Oops....
Dear mom, while wiping the burning vodka from her eyes with one hand, grabbed the bottle from me with the other hand. And in a moment that feels like it slowed down to a crawl, she hit me over the head with it. With a fucking glass bottle.
The bottle didn't shatter--it just splintered. Gotta hand it to the boys are Smirnoff, they make a heavy-duty bottle. My soft head, however, didn't appreciate the blow and started bleeding like crazy. After staring stupidly at my dear mother for a moment (or an eternity, I don't know), I went to get a paper towel for the blood. Blood was fucking EVERYWHERE. Blood had saturated the collar of my shirt and was running down my back. It was warm and felt thick--head wounds bleed like crazy. And stupidly all I could think was, "shit, this is one of my best school shirts." I was so grateful that my brother wasn't home.
I didn't bother even telling my dear father that his loving wife had just hit me with a fucking glass vodka bottle and that I was bleeding like crazy. I mean, it's not like he was fit to drive me for help, so why bother?
After about 30 minutes of bleeding through a roll of paper towels, I started to feel...woozy. I realized I probably shouldn't allow this bleeding to continue. So, I crept into my parents' bedroom, where the other phone was, and called my friend's stepmom. She had divorced a drunk a few years back and knew what my home situation was. I trusted her. I told her that I thought I needed stitches due to an "accident."
Friend's stepmom took me to the Emergency Room. I told her what happened. I begged her to not tell the attending physicians--I knew they'd have to call child protective services and, as much as my homelife sucked, I really didn't want the alternative. So I muttered some bullshit about a glass tray falling on my head from an overhead cabinet, then sat silently while the attending physician cleaned the splinters of glass out of my head and stitched the wound shut. When he was done, he suggested that next time I use a ladder to get heavy glass objects down from cabinets.
Then friend's stepmom drove me home. I have no idea if my parents even noticed I'd left.
I didn't want this memory to come back. I really don't appreciate it. But you know--whatever. I will go and read my beautiful daughters a bedtime story tonight. I will tuck them in. I will tell them I love them. I will take them to school tomorrow and the take myself to work. I will believe that my past has built me into the person I am, and the person I am is A-OK.
I'm pretty sure this is why fifths now come in plastic bottles. ;-)