She Bets Her Life

A writer and former compulsive gambler reflects on women and addiction.

Cyndra 2: Do I still love him? Did I become my mom?

A woman remembers what she longs to forget.

Cyndra is back by popular demand.  Her story is one of a collection of stories I brought with me from a year living on a little Mojave Desert mesa northeast of a town that wasn't much more than strip malls and human longing.  Many of my neighbors were hard-working people out of work or poignantly young Marines and their families or old-timers who couldn't figure out what the hell had happened to California.  To read the beginning of Cyndra's story, go to the recent post:   Cyndra 1:  Why did I marry him?  Who is he now?

For those of you new to Cyndra, J.B. and the kids, I began to write the story because I ached to write it.  And sometimes a story aching to be written feels a lot like the jones to use.  Maybe that's why so many writers, artists, musicians and other makers become addicts.  I write Cyndra with commitment to my recovery, with respect for her and with the conviction that often a story can teach more than a psych lecture or a professional paper.  We begin where we left off.

She had a pile of her mom’s magazines next to her on the seat because she had planned to leave them at her sister’s salon.  She glanced down at the top one.  "How to welcome your soldier hubby Home."  Right.  There would be---she didn't have to look---a recipe for The Most Outrageous Triple Chocolate Torte and two articles on how to lose weight.  For your soldier hubby.  Both of them so stupidly hopeless, the cake which J.B. would not eat because he would have slammed eight Dos Eq longnecks during dinner; and gorgeous skinny her if she was ever gorgeous skinny her again, because if J.B. did touch her, it would have everything to do with want, and nothing to do with respect.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Her sister's salon?  Three stations and an ex-biker chick who called herself an asthatician coming in about once every six months to do some old lady’s toenails.  Tyra, herself, was the sister from hell.  No details thanks, except for how the bitch had managed to steal away Cyndra’s true love when they were teenage chicks.  And, Cyndra all perfect boobs and butt and heart-shaped face and Tyra, the Tyrant ha ha, 250 lbs. with boobs that would be hanging to her knees by the time she was 23.  Yeah, and now Cyndra was pushing 225.

Cyndra realized L’il’s mouth had fallen away from her breast.  She set him on the magazines and pulled down her blouse.  She was a mess.  She was a slobby mess.  Once she would have wiped off the milk and tucked herself into the nursing bra.  Now she didn’t even wear the nursing bra.  She looked down at her top and saw the tiny star of wet spreading out.

Now what.

If it weren’t for the air-conditioner she would...what...she would who knows.  The last time J.B. had cruised up to the truck he had smelled like a brewery.  He'd taken a 12-pack out with him strapped to the back of the bike. He was drinking every day, sometimes he'd already popped a few on the drive back from the Marine Base. And it seemed like the only time he ever wanted to fool around was in the morning when he had a hang-over woodie. Cyndra could not figure out why guys had to give such ugly names to the act of love.  

Suddenly she had one of those lousy memories, the ones that made her skin crawl, the ones that she thought had gone away when she was first in love with J.B.  Back then when he put his arms around her, she knew she had escaped her past.  Everything was new.  Everything was magic.  Like normal people.  Like normal love. Not  like her mom and dad.  And there it was - the friggin' memory - her dad's voice in her ears, even louder than it had been back in the trailer.  Her mom was crying, not mad crying, but pitiful crying.  And her dad was saying those ugly words.  

Cyndra cranked the volume on the I-pod.   There was a new voice.  She had no idea who it was.  She'd downloaded a mix from a website.  It was a woman singing quietly, a sad guitar behind her.  Cyndra had never heard it before, but the song was about making mistakes and running away and Cyndra wondered if it had been written for her.

 

 

Mary Sojourner, M.A., is the author of She Bets Her Life: A True Story of Gambling Addiction (Seal Press/ April 2010) and Going Through Ghosts (U.Nevada Press, 2010).

more...

Subscribe to She Bets Her Life

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.