By Mimi Jones
My name is Mimi Jones and I am the adult child of alcoholic parents.
In my life, “keeping up with the Jones’,” means something entirely different.
From the outside, it would seem that I had an idyllic childhood. I grew up in a middle-class family in Southern California. My parents both worked hard to provide us with opportunities to travel, experience the arts, and attend private schools. One of my parents’ favorite activities to include my brother, sister, and I in was going out to eat. We grew up sitting in restaurants for hours on end eating food that was way too fancy for kids and watching our parents drink wine.
Lots and lots of wine.
As young children, we didn’t think much of it, but as we got older we learned what it meant when our parents popped open a bottle. As the drinking got heavier, the insults got meaner. We had to learn to let the words our parents spat at us roll off our backs.
When they drank, they would drink to blackout. So we quickly learned that we’d have to repeat everything we talked about the next day. But most devastatingly, we learned that we couldn’t depend on them. I’m not sure my parents ever knew when I was on a field trip, in a classroom or ditching school altogether. My brother, sister, and I were on our own when our parents were drinking.
Then things changed.
My parents’ drinking came to an abrupt halt when I was sixteen. Their sobriety came as a result of messy and hurtful extramarital affairs, crumbling extended family relationships, and threat of unemployment. My parents were no longer able to keep up the functioning alcoholic charade. The only way to keep the family together was if they both stopped drinking immediately.
Alcohol nearly destroyed my family. And even though my parents were able to find sobriety, addiction isn’t done with the Jones’ yet.
Now I’m watching in fear as my little brother struggles down the same path. Within months of his twenty-first birthday, he checked into rehab. He’s still there and I don’t know what’s next. The real world is waiting for him, and it’s full of temptation.
So here we are, living in a difficult balance. Nine years after my parents stopped drinking, we are all still tiptoeing around alcohol, and trying to navigate sobriety as a family in a decidedly non-sober world. Stay Tuned.