Mom, Poison & Wine

(Trigger warnings abound)

I interpret the song Poison and Wine from The Civil Wars differently than you. It is a duet of a couple in a difficult, painful, and abusive relationship. When I hear it, I am singing it solo to my three parents.

You only know what I want you to

I never told my mom everything that happened while she was out. She saw the bruises. She did not approve. She never asked. She was afraid of the answer. So to protect her, I never told her what I had seen. Heard. Endured.

I know everything you don’t want me to
My step-dad was shocked that I knew about the child molestations that had taken place in our home. He somehow naively assumed that something that perversely reprehensible could occur and he could somehow keep it a secret from the other humans living there.
I remember my father would send mommy to her room if she was bad. He was shocked I remembered that.
I drink and I know things, so that’s a little depressing.
Oh your mouth is poison, your mouth is wine
My mom always lamented about my poor older brother who also happens to be my little sister’s/cousin’s/daughter’s child molester. She thought she was dying one time and entered into a “make-things-right” frame of mind. She called, crying. Apologizing. Profusely. And then it came. “I should have gotten <pedophile’s name goes here> help.” I stopped, torn between screaming at a dying old woman, hanging up (on a dying old woman), and thinking again, but mom, what about me? I wanted that same love. She never changed.
My therapist once observed that despite all the childhood trauma, I am kind and caring. She pointed out that someone did a very good raising me through all of that “mess”. And I knew… like I had always known it. Without knowing it, until my therapist pointed that out. Mom helped me keep small pieces of my heart intact through it all. Yet, no matter how much wine mom might have shared, the poison defined us. That’s the way poison works I suppose.
You think your dreams are the same as mine
My step-dad really, really despised my model building, book-reading, introverted nature. He so much wanted me to love working outside. And hunting. He’d admonish me on many occasions about “playing with paper-dolls” and being a “penny-waste”.
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
I always will
I wish you’d hold me when I turn my back
The less I give the more I get back
I mentally translate this stanza:
I wish I’d left you an’ not looked back
The more I give the less I get back
Oh your hands can heal, your hands can bruise
I remember no hugs from my parents as a child. They may have happened. I just don’t remember any. My memory is pretty amazing, so that’s a little depressing. As an adult, I received many hugs from aging parents who were, no doubt, struggling with guilt at some level. They were each thankful that I was there. Visiting. And saying, “I love you.” Each hug felt so good.
I remember the bruises. Physical and mental. My memory is pretty amazing, so that’s a little depressing.
I don’t have a choice but I’d still choose you
For this line, I hear:
I don’t have a choice so I still choose you
You don’t get to pick your parents.
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
Oh I don’t love you but I always will
I always will
I always will
I always will
I always will
I always will

Mom died yesterday. She outlived all of her abusers. Carrying the weight of the poison for much longer. And sharing wine as often as possible. If I could play the guitar, this would be the song I’d sing at her memorial. I’d dedicate to all three of my now deceased parents: my father, my dad, and my mom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s