Did you know it takes the average person about forty-two minutes to get drunk? I've counted. From my experience, I can tell you that statistic is painfully very true. It can change a bit, depending on your sex, size, weight and tolerance level. How fast you're drinking. If you're already hungover. If you've eaten. The proof of the vodka.
If you're actually average or normal, and the alcohol isn't already permanently in your blood.
I've learned to gauge how drunk my mom is by how far down the vodka is in her bottle, how many swallows, the clumsy sloshing into the glass, the slurring of her words, the unsteadiness of her footsteps. How unfocused and glazed her eyes slowly become, as if she's disappearing right in front of me. She will swing from euphoria to depression in exactly eleven minutes.
Even the air around me changes, grows heavier, thicker. The rooms in my house get darker, colder, lonelier.
The walls start closing in as the addiction sneaks through like shadows, seeping through windows, slithering along the floors, underneath doors, until it takes over everything in its path.
She usually goes through three bottles before she can no longer stand. One more before she blacks out. And then there's nothing but deafening silence until she comes to and does it all over again.
I told my first lie when I was four. While my mom lay passed out on the bathroom floor, I told our next door neighbor that my mom was fine and we didn't need any help. Even at such a young age, I had already learned to protect her at any cost. Before I ever lost my first tooth, I started keeping her secrets, and have never stopped.
The lies got easier to tell. She's sleeping, she's sick, she's not home, she's on the phone, she's busy, she'll be right back.
I don't know if anyone ever believed me, but the neighbors eventually stopped checking on us, and my mom kept drinking.
I constantly wonder what it's like to be normal. I've never known. To look at me you'd think I am. On the outside my life looks almost boring. My name is Lexy Monroe and I live in the suburbs of Los Angeles. I just turned eighteen. We have two cars in the drive. My dad's name is Richard. He is a lawyer at a firm downtown.
My mom is Victoria and she used to be a homemaker and she used to laugh and she used to sing me to sleep at night and she used to be involved in the PTA when I was in elementary school.
My mom used to be a lot of things. But, now, she's just an alcoholic.
If you drove down our street you wouldn't see anything on the outside that made you think anything was wrong. Minivans in the drive, swimming pools and summer bbq's, soccer balls and bicycles on the lawns. Normal, every day people living their normal every day lives.
Our house is the yellow and white two story near the end of a court. You wouldn't look twice at it. Nothing stands out and nothing looks different. It's how we've kept our secrets for so long. No one ever suspects what is really going on. No one would ever believe the hell we really live in. No one would guess, because the minute we walk outside, we lock all our secrets up behind closed doors.
If you came inside - not that anyone ever does - you wouldn't see it, at least not right away. Our house is clean; floors vacuumed, furniture dusted and polished, dishes done, laundry folded, beds made. I make sure of it. I have to keep some sense of order in all the dysfunction and chaos. I've been making my own breakfast since I was five. I'd burnt the toast and the eggs were runny, but it had been better than starving.
If you stay long enough you'd start to see the little cracks. You won't find any family photos anywhere on the walls or on the mantle above the fireplace. And you won't want to stay very long. The atmosphere will be too quiet, too tense, too uneasy and strangely hushed. My mom may or may not make an appearance, depending on how wasted she is. You'll start to realize something is off, and you'll be right. You'll be uncomfortable and you won't even understand why.
What you won't see is what happens after you leave. My mom is locked up in her room and I won't see her again for four days, maybe a week. She hides out and drinks. She can't not do it. I've never known the reason. She won't ever tell me, and I've learned not to ask. If she goes more than a day she shakes, sweats, vomits, gets blinding migraines.
She always keeps a bottle of vodka stashed somewhere nearby. She won't stop until she passes out. Once she resurfaces, she'll offer me desperate, slobbering apologies, promising to stay sober this time, swearing she'll change, but I learned years ago that those promises mean nothing.
She'll manage to stay sober for a day, two at the most and then there's always something that happens, some trigger I don't see coming, and the cycle begins all over again. The alcohol and addiction are stronger than her, than me, than all of us. It's winning, and we all know it.
And the sickest part is, I think she likes it.
I've spent every second of my life waiting for her to put the bottle down. But, she never does.
This is my normal. This is my life. I wonder if you'd even want to know me. I don't. It's too hard trying to act sane all the time. It's exhausting.
You always hear that home is where the heart is, and where you are supposed to be safe. When you go to bed at night, you lock your doors and fall asleep with the security that all the danger has been kept outside.
But, there is nothing safe or secure about my home. My doors are locked, but it's too late. The monster has already found it's way inside. And it's after my mother.