There are moments that stay frozen in our minds whether they were of uplifting happiness or unprecedented misery. They mark our lives and they are never forgotten.
I remember clearly, after hours of insults, walking into my mother’s bedroom and seeing her drunk husband sitting on the floor. I was 17 and my English still limited. In a firm voice I made a promise to him and to me, “I’ll raise above you. I’ll never let anything control me like it has you. I’ll never have an addiction.”
Months and years of hard work followed that day. I walked hours under the scalding sun of California to make it to a factory where I made cassettes 5 days a week and two days at the garage in the Ontario Airport. When those jobs didn’t have enough hours, I was a maid at a Motel 6 and I lasted a few months at a laundry mat where hot sheets fresh off the dryer burnt the tip of my fingers. Eventually I bought an old car and with two dollars gas a day, I made it to college in the evenings.
During those years there were times when I didn’t have enough to eat. Days when my menu was white rice with nothing else I could afford. I put back a .25 apple in the college cafeteria when I couldn’t pay for it.
But the difficult times didn’t dent my resolve. I never picked up a drug, and never smoked a joint.
Over the years I have enjoyed drinks, but I’ve made sure the drinks never enjoyed me and when a cup of coffee became too important, I made sure I skipped it a few days. Nothing, no substance will ever be a necessity in my life. Nothing will ever control me.
I have tried to help others overcome, but I can’t truly and honestly relate to them. I don’t know their struggle. I don’t know the demons that live within. I have only lived the horror of being around an addict. At times, I pity the mother who watches their kid succumb to an addiction. At times, I pity the addict and at times I am angry at both.
I sit on my porch sipping a glass of wine and I remember the dark days of my youth. I can still feel the fear, my heart beating fast to the sound of the voice of that drunk man. His tall figure balancing against the door. My mother crying yet always defending him. And I remember that promise:
“I’ll raise above you. I’ll never have an addiction.”