My Stepmother the Fish

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Parents play an important role in a child’s development. However, some say that stepmothers play a little part in a child’s life, while others are of the opinion that stepmothers play a big part in a child’s life. Some stepmothers are hated and have little influence on the child’s development, while others are loved and play a tremendous role of influence on the child. Having lived with my stepmother for over 12 years, I would fall under the latter of the two situations, especially since she was an alcoholic. According to the NACOA (National Association for Children of Alcoholics), “Almost one in five adult Americans (18%) lived with an alcoholic while growing up” (Children). Many may say this would have devastated their childhood. However, I feel fortunate that I had the chance to experience and learn first hand of the hardships that can occur when a parent is an alcoholic.

This experience taught me some important issues that have helped and will continue to help me in my life.

        In the beginning my stepmother, Kathy, was an excellent example of how a stepmother can play a great and important part in a child’s life. She met my father thirteen years ago. After a year of dating, they decided to get married. She was the best stepmother me and my brother could have asked for. She normally agreed with us, and we got things we never got before, like cool birthdays, great Christmas presents, and did cool activities. She was also a very successful dog groomer in which she won many south east regional awards. However, about four years into her and my father’s marriage she started drinking very heavily. She had always drunk a lot before, but she had started drinking more and more during all parts of the day. After about a year of the heavy drinking, she lost her job and stopped competing. It was at this time I realized she was an alcoholic. Her conversations started becoming more incoherent each day. She would repeat things as if she had not said them before. A common example was after I would come home she would ask, “How you feeling Chris, you ok?” I would always reply, “I’m fine.” She would mutter something incoherent then start to ask the same question again, “How you feeling Chris, you ok?” This would continue up to ten minutes at times. It wasn’t long before my views of Kathy started changing. I started becoming very aware to the effects of alcohol. It was at this point I told myself I would never abuse alcohol. I now realize Kathy was the reason I didn’t drink alcohol until six months after I turned twenty-one. She had indirectly taught me something, what I never want to become. However, the worse was yet to come.         After about two years of her heavy drinking, I realized how devastating alcohol could be on oneself. Kathy started becoming violent and paranoid. There was an incident with her and my father while out on his boat. She wanted to go home but my father was not going fast enough. She picked up a gaffing hook and began to beat my father with it. My father did not have much of a choice other than to hit her, which he did right between the eyes. This knocked her unconscious long enough for him to get home. She awoke about the time they docked and went straight to the house and then to bed. My father says he is lucky that she did not call the police when they got home. He was adamant that they would have sided with her and hauled him off to jail. This made me realize that alcohol was changing her personality entirely. It seemed like it had been months since I had seen her sober. Every morning when I woke up and went down stairs to get something to eat, she would be there drinking like a fish, sometimes drinking straight out of the vodka bottle. Sometimes she would barley notice me in the room, other times she would talk to me about stuff that did not make sense. These talking sessions would sometimes take hours, in which she kept thanking me for listening and not walking away like everyone else. As time went on, I began to despise alcohol and what it did to a person. I realized how devastating alcohol could be on a person, and I was going to make sure alcohol never controlled me like it did Kathy.

        My brother, Nicholas, thought my father did not like him very much, which was largely due to Kathy. She always seemed to be making Nicholas look bad in some way. Nick felt my father was always on Kathy’s side. Of course, Kathy thought just the opposite. It seems that she hated Nicholas most for that reason. When I asked her why she hated my brother so much she replied, “It wasn’t one sided, he hated me also. He was always trying to get your father against me and always talked to me like I was only a drunk and not a person.” (Neal, K.) When I brought this up to my brother and asked for his reply, he could only respond with this story.

I was trying to leave to go to Mom’s and she came up to my room and said I wasn’t going anywhere. I told her to get out of the way I’m going over to Mom’s house. Then she grabbed my hair and slung me against the wall. So I grabbed her and threw her on the ground and got on top of her. She started calling mom a bitch and a whore so I started slapping her. She called the police after I got off of her and when the police came they asked Dad who he wanted to go to jail. And he chose Kathy. (Neal, N.) Because my father chose Kathy to go to jail, my brother realized that our father was actually on Nicholas’s side and not Kathy’s. After the event, my brother and father seemed to have a closer bond. About a month later, my father decided to get a divorce. He secretly talked with his lawyer and started getting the divorce in order. After he gave Kathy the papers, he asked my brother to move in. He thought this would expedite the process of her moving out and signing the divorce papers. This was not necessary, after a week she was out living with some friends.

        Most children see only wrong things about their alcoholic parents. I, on the other hand, think my alcoholic parent did lots of wrong, also taught me many great things. I experienced first hand the tragedies of alcohol. I learned what could become of me if I drink too much alcohol, and how devastating it can be on a person’s life. I also realized how a family can come together during hard times. It’s too bad that most people see only the bad rather than trying to see some good out of a situation.

Works Cited “Children of Alcoholics: Important Facts.” National Association for Children of Alcoholics (1998). 12 Feb. 2003. .

Neal, Kathy. Personal interview. 4 Feb. 2003.

Neal, Nicholas. Personal interview. 4 Feb. 2003.