The day of my birthday it was a big one. I was fifty.

My daughters and I would go shopping, our new baby in tow.

The car with the baby strapped in called for Bella, and brought her to my house. A big bunch of flowers my girls gave to me.

Bella 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.

Bella chirped up, ‘I was locked in a cell, when I was picked up for drink driving.’

Me: ‘I don’t want to hear this.’

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

Married Daughter: ‘Bella! Mum doesn’t want to listen, shut up.’

She did.

Different departments we shopped, picked up this, put back that. Married Daughter tried on a pair of shoes. Bella and I sat close on chairs and waited. I could smell stale alcohol leak from her skin, a stink I was familiar with: The aroma of an alcoholic. I chastised her about her alcohol consumption, a lecture she again ignored.

Married Daughter queued to pay for chosen shoes. Bella 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. Bella 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.

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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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