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Breaking the Family Silence on Alcoholism

Photo by Ozgur Donmaz / Getty, Illustration by Homestead Studio

Alicia Lutes | Longreads | October 2019 | 18 minutes (4,426 words)

I remember turning around, but I don’t remember why. It was sometime in 1996 or 1997; maybe 1995? I was small, sitting on the couch in our living room, probably watching a cartoon on the comically large television my father had insisted upon, when something moved me to turn around. When I did, I saw my mother, her rapidly shrinking frame surrounded by the rays of a setting sun, her wafer-thinness outlined in fiery gold, a woman on fire. I watched her through the back porch as she cried on the phone, studying the slight way she swayed, how her emotions physically moved her, and how despite her lessening weight, her body moved so forcefully, the white wine in her glass twinkling in the near-twilight — but never spilling — as she moved. She slugged gulps between sobs and unremembered utterances to who-even-knows. It was tragic and beautiful, the way wine made her anorexic form seem to languish in the misery around her.

It also made her mean.
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