Isolation and Addiction

Memoir Excerpt:

“I felt very isolated much of the time. And one day, I think I was eleven, I sat on the family room step facing the driveway, took a piece of glass I’d found, and cut my wrist. I still have the scar. But either I wasn’t seriously suicidal or I was pretty dumb about anatomy because the cut was on the far side of my wrist, as far away from the vein as you can get.

Mother was alarmed at the sight of my bleeding wrist and asked me how it happened. Well, that’s one way to get you out of your bedroom, I thought to myself. I lied to my mother and told her I fell on a piece of glass in the driveway. She believed me and the incident was forgotten. In fairness to my family members, my parents in particular, I had become very adept at covering up my pain. They were distracted with plenty of their own, so I just went underground with it. Was this a cry for help? Of course! It was one of several in the next few years that would be ignored or loudly sighed about. My cries provoked much anger and frustration. I was definitely “the problem child” in my family, which kept everyone from confronting, a few years later, the alcoholic right under their nose.

Daddy’s alcoholism got worse and became more apparent as he got older. The elephant was in the living room, clear as a strident cowbell. But there was no serious intervention. This was the early Sixties, when alcoholism wasn’t so openly talked about, at least not in our family. So everyone turned their attention to the baby of the family. I had acted out, first as a child against my sister and then in other ways as I got older. I would rebel a lot in subsequent years and give my family plenty to focus on. I felt like the family scapegoat. And the weight of it, through most of my childhood and young adulthood, was very hard to carry.”

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