My Earliest Worst Memory

A while back, WordPress had a writing prompt of writing about your best or worst memory. I decided to write about the earliest worst memory I have.

My memory for my life as a child, is crap. I don’t have a lot of memories. There are a few here and there. There are some good memories, and then there are the ones that I can bring back as if it were just a few days ago.

The earliest one was waking up in the middle of the night to my mother downstairs in the kitchen wailing. I dragged my groggy body out of bed and stumbled down the stairs. All the lights were out except for the ones in the kitchen. There she was, with a bottle of Galliano or Midori, drunk and crying. I was about 12 years old.

I don’t remember what she was crying about, other than her life. I remember being upset and crying too. Finally, Dad came downstairs and joined the party. He would gather Mom up and get her back to bed.

Don’t ask me how long this went on; I have no idea. It could have been a month or a few months, or a year. I do remember getting tired of it. And telling my father to “Put your wife to bed.” I can only guess that her body finally decided to cycle out of depression, up into mania, and it stopped.

Probably within a year, one day, my Dad asked us kids to join him in the basement. That he had something he needed to tell us. As he was collecting us up, I stood in the cellar waiting. Something about the whole situation; the tone of voice, the energy in the air, I don’t know exactly what, and in a moment I knew what was happening. Dad was leaving.

He told us that he was moving out for a while, that he and Mom were separating. He said that they weren’t getting along, and that they needed to be apart (or something to that effect). I said, then Mom needed to move out. Dad said that a mother needs to be with her kids. I thought, not this one. Even though I didn’t know Mom was mentally ill, I could tell that things were not ok. She wasn’t going to be diagnosed for another year or two, when she had a complete break with reality. So, Dad left us with a woman who was severely mentally ill and was heading for psychosis. He left me with a brother who routinely molested me. Life was hard. And that was just the beginning.

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