The day of my birthday was a big one: I was fifty. My daughters and I would go shopping, our new baby too. Married Daughter with the baby strapped in her car, called for Laura and brought her to my house. A big bunch of flowers my girls gave to me. Laura sat in front of the car next to her sister. I sat in the back with my darling grandson for our customary birthday treat: a trip to the shopping centre. Laura chirped up, ‘I was locked in a cell when I was picked up for drink driving.’

Me: ‘I don’t want to hear this.’

Laura: ‘The policeman was flirting with me.’ Laura started laughing. We did not.

Married Daughter: ‘Laura! Mum doesn’t want to hear this. Shut up.’

We shopped in different department stores. We picked up this, we put back that. Married Daughter tried on a pair of shoes. Laura and I sat close to each other and waited. I could smell stale alcohol leak from her skin, a stink I was familiar with: The aroma of an alcoholic. I chastised Laura about her alcohol consumption, a lecture she again ignored. Married Daughter queued to pay for chosen shoes. Laura took her chance, she had me alone, ‘Mum, I’m in debt. I have no money.’

‘Why’re you telling me?’ She shrugged her shoulders, a sulk on her face. Another stone dropped in my stomach, sat on top of previous ones. We moved on through the open stores, to look at sunglasses set out in a glass case. Laura saw a pair she liked, a pair she could not live without. I bought them for her, to make her happy. To ease the sickness in my heart. It was my birthday and she had ruined it.

Addict Child by Lesley Sefton buy on amazon

I am the mother of two adult daughters, both much loved and cared for. The eldest thought she could handle social drinking and party drugs, she could not. There is a journey addicts relate to - their journey. As a mother I have healed through the written word. This is my journey.

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