Being an adult child of an alcoholic can be multifaceted. Why did my mom become an alcoholic? I’m not sure that anyone can say that there is just one thing that makes someone an addict. I believe it is a number of things.
As far as the character of defects she had were – insecurities (she was short and got teased about it), unresolved trauma of her dad passing when she was just in her twenties, jealousy, anger, not being good enough (at least one of her sisters would make her feel unworthy), she didn’t have friends until later in her years because her parents didn’t allow her to school until later so it was hard for her to socialize, confusion on sex/male and female relationships (keep in mind, she was very young and throughout her life probably heard about and couldn’t understand what happened to Lina. Lina Medina was only three years older than my mom and was around the family), and the neglect and possible abuse that occurred.
I’m not here to analyze my mother or diagnose her. But, I am here to know and understand how her own unhealed wounds played out in her life that would eventually have an impact on me and my life. We can’t understand why we do things or believe what we believe without unpacking our childhood to see what we were told, taught, and just saw from those closest around us.
Between 1973 and the end of 1979, we lived in Ohio. Having just migrated from Peru, things were very different, especially culturally. The one who did not take this well was my mom. It heightened all of her own underlying issues, especially her drinking. Once my dad got a job and began to travel for work, things got worse. I grew up learning about infidelity before I knew what the word meant. I heard about affairs, him being on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro with his mistress (his secretary). I’d see the fighting that would occur, especially when he’d get back into town and she was drunk. In my head, my memories, it seemed like they were constantly fighting about this. At an early age, I would ask my mom, “Do I have to get married?” She would say back to me, “You don’t have to get married if you don’t want to.” Now years later, take a step back. Throughout the years, she brought this up. This seemed to be said more than once between my mother and I, to the point that she would mention it from time to time. And, she doesn’t have the greatest memory. So, I am not sure if she just found it cute or that she found it relieving because then I’d be independent which she never was. I don’t think she ever wanted to get married but had to because that is what women did in her time.
When you take a step back, the only thing I can say that I was truly saying is – if this is what it means to be married, I don’t want to ever get married. And so until I was around the age of 38, even though I loved monogamy, I didn’t want to get married because I was fearful of having a marriage like my parents.
It took a lot of soul-searching and therapy, to realize that I am not my parents nor my mom and therefore will not necessarily have a marriage life like theirs.
Now the impact of all those times I heard what a cheater my dad was. He may have or may have not cheated. I’m not here to judge. But, what that put into my head, into my psyche, was that all men cheat. And, that’s how I lived. On one hand, I didn’t ever want to get married because I thought that it would be volatile and if I didn’t get married, it wouldn’t hurt as much because if whomever I’m with cheats, at least then I can walk away.
So, as a teenager through to my 30s, I was actually with men that never wanted to get close enough to me as to ever talk about marriage and for the most part, they saw other women while seeing me (or I believed they were cheating because that is what all men do). Even though this was my thought process, it hurt just as much. It felt like it broke me at times. It felt like I could and would never be loved enough. Throughout the years of working on myself and healing many aspects from my childhood, relationships, especially with the opposite sex, was and always felt like it was going to be a part of me that was going to be unresolved, unfixed, unhealed.
But like I mentioned earlier, little by little, my thought of me and marriage changed. I saw that I am different, a separate person than my mother, and therefore won’t have a marriage like hers. I rarely, if at all, drink. I like to analyze myself and think of why something might be the way it is or where people might be coming from (their perspective). And, I like to problem solve and I can talk things out, rationally without screaming or fighting. So, marriage – yes. If it happens, I am open to it with the right person.
Cheating on the other hand.
All men cheat. That is what they do. When they are not with you, they are with another woman. This mindset would take a few more years until that lightbulb moment would happen. Like many times before when I uncovered the end of the thread or the beginning of the thread that would unravel most of my unhealed trauma – defects of character – I carried for so long and would have a starting point to pool at that thread, to unravel these misconceptions I was taught or interpreted as a child. This week that happened on – men that cheat and when they are not with you, they are obviously with another woman.
It all happened on the floor of the shower. I was taking a shower, kind of thinking about a guy that I had met weeks prior and couldn’t get out of my head and why we weren’t working out. To know something about me, I’ve never been boy crazy. You know, those kinds of girls that can find so many guys attractive or interesting. I like to say, I’m picky. But, the truth is is that I intuitively need to see or feel that something and for me, that doesn’t happen often. So, this man that I met a few weeks earlier, I was just drawn to him, even prior to meeting him. There was just something about his eyes, his face, that drew me in. Or, maybe it was something else. Maybe he was supposed to be someone that was going to be someone in my life to show me something I needed to see. I believe everything happens for a reason and those that come into your life are meant to come into your life for a reason. I didn’t see it like that at first. All I knew was that I was interested in him.
So, after we met, we hit it off. So, I thought. We texted a few times and then I texted him another time and he didn’t respond. I flipped. Not that bad. Just asked if I should delete him out of my phone? It had only been 24 hours that he hadn’t responded. But, he hadn’t responded, so the things that I thought…He wasn’t interested. He was with someone else.
Well, thinking about this while taking a shower, I came to realize that I behaved just like my mother would have. Everything in my mindset was my mother’s mindset. It was what I saw in my childhood. The insecurities, the unworthiness, the jealousy, the infidelity. For the last few weeks, all I thought about was that he didn’t get to know me enough. He would like me enough if he’d just get to know me. And, I also thought that he is with somebody else. Even though he told me he worked a lot. My mind went to, he is with somebody else.
So, there I was, beginning to cry, finding myself go to the floor of the bathtub while hot water hit my back. Once I hit the floor, I was bawling. And it all hit me.
The things that were said.
The scenes that were shown.
My childhood mind that interpreted it all.
That was my parent’s truth, their reality.
Because a man is not by your side, every waking minute does not mean, there is another woman by his side. What about all the times I’m doing things? Out bike riding and being at the beach for hours, meeting with family or friends, running errands, or just hanging out at home alone. Does that mean, that I have another man by my side? No.
So why, all the times before, did my mind go there? I now know why.
But, I now know that I don’t need to think that way or jump to react that that is what is going on. Like, I did weeks before in that stupid text.
Now, I don’t know if this man and I will ever see each other again. But, what I know for sure is that our paths were supposed to cross because he helped me to find this piece of thread that I can unravel and heal and not think all men cheat.