Driving My Mom to Rehab
‘Although I probably wasn’t fully aware at the time, I was embedded into my mother’s recovery as much as she was’
Growing up, my relationship with my mother was not a seamless one-shot take, but a montage of different clips. Certain scenes were in Memphis, Tennessee, jumping from house to house for reasons I was unaware of at the time. Small flashbacks of finding airplane bottles of whiskey, vodka, and gin hiding amongst my stored baby clothes stick out to me. A number of clips take place in Southern California, visiting her at the Betty Ford Clinic and staying with her in a cluttered rental apartment.
Once my mom returned to Memphis, I started to learn what it was like to be a child of a parent in recovery instead of a child of a person with an addiction. We moved into a home two minutes away from her Alcoholics & Narcotics Anonymous meetings, where I met people that to this day feel like characters in a storybook. During my mom’s early months of recovery, I remember spending hours with her and her fellow recovering addicts — a couple named Gina and Raymond, hairdresser Jennifer and her temperamental baby Harper, and my mother’s proudly gay male sponsor Lonnie. I attended AA meetings, went to sponsored dances, and spent the holidays with them. Although I probably wasn’t fully aware at the time, I was embedded into my mother’s recovery as much as she was. A few years later, I would learn that Gina and Raymond relapsed on Fentanyl, leading to Raymond murdering Gina and then taking his own life. They had two children.
My mother’s sobriety made high school and college an easy transition, and slowly the clips from my childhood were replaced by much fonder memories — staying up late watching reruns of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, laying poolside on vacations, and shopping for furniture at antique malls. As the years went by, I wasn’t disturbed by how my mother stopped attending AA meetings. In my eyes, if she was sober, that was all that mattered. During my sophomore year of college, I celebrated her near-decade of sobriety by tattooing the date on my rib cage. In that moment, I fully believed she had won the battle, and the thought of relapse was a complete impossibility. Now, I realize that was a naive and unrealistic belief.