Jeff Lawrence

Gay Jewish Brooklyn Nets fan recovering addict Stand Up Comedian Need to know more?

30 Days Sober and 11 years of My Mother Passing

As I lay in bed at 6AM I realize that I'm not going to go to sleep tonight. Not even the least bit tired, and then it hit me; it was 11 years ago today that my mother passed away. I was much closer with my Dad, but my mother's death perhaps signaled the end of family for me. My mother was not a good parent by any measure. She often yelled at me; told me I shouldn't have been born, left me with caretakers that were abusive, locked me in closets when I refused to go to school, and purposely didn't feed me. She left me alone to cook my own lunch when I was about 9 years old and I set the kitchen on fire; I think we were kicked out of the building because we moved months later. I always hated her and told her so since I can remember. We once got a dog at our Summer home which I wanted more than anything in the world, and after three days she gave it away. I wanted desperately to take piano lessons and she refused. I used to run away in the neighborhood in search of pianos; often the cops were sent looking for me. Sometimes I would just call them for no reason. I turned to drugs when I was 12, and stayed addicted for 30 years; many of those years we barely spoke.

When I told her I was gay, she said "no you're not" and "how could you do this to me?". She never worked, she never cooked, never helped me with school. She complained that my Dad didn't make enough money even though he worked his ass off his whole life. She spent all of the family's money on herself, fur coats, jewelry, whatever she could get. I always told her when she got old I'd stick her in a nursing home and throw away the key. But as she grew elderly, something shifted; I practiced compassion and forgiveness. I moved in with her and became her primary caretaker. It's ALWAYS the gay son that sacrifices. I also began to understand mental illness. It was a therapist friend that explained to me that my Mom was psychotic. I remember she always took pills, lots of pills. They were prescribed so we didn't think much of it. I remember when I was 12, taking all of her pills, I think they were anti depressants. I drank all the Nyquil, cleaned out the bar, smoked cigarettes, and smoked weed pretty much daily since I can remember; and graduated to freebasing, LSD, Quaaludes, you name it; I'm lucky to be alive.

When my Mom grew old and fragile we became closer. She came to my 40th birthday; a gala affair that had Boy George and Pee Wee Herman stop by. She said it was the most fun she ever had. She would clip out articles about how gay people had higher IQ's, and were higher educated and leave them on my desk. My therapist would tell me that's her way of saying I love you. I guess when her time came I realized that you only get one mother, and sometimes, we don't get to choose. But, she was still my Mother and I realized she did the best she could. At her funeral there was only one relative, and I chose not to tell my friends; I wanted it over with. It was like Elanor Rigby. After her burial a cousin told me that my Grandmother, her mother whom I never met, was evil, and that she never had a chance in life. She was made to care for my Grandfather at the age of 8, and was traumatized by his terminal illness. In life we get to see people, but we never get to see their past, and what made them the person they are today. For some, just being alive is the best they can do.

I have 30 days of sobriety today. It may not seem like a lot, but for me it's the equivalent of 30 years. Every day I'm sober is a victory because of where I came from. I smoked weed morning noon and night for 29 years. I never thought anything was wrong, it was just how I coped. It was the only way I could be at peace with myself, my family, my upbringing, my sexuality and my struggle. So the next time you complain about your Mother don't be surprised if I punch you in the face. Your mother is the reason you are alive today, and if she isn't perfect, well you're not alone. One thing I always did no matter what, was take my Mom out on Valentine's day to one of the cities best restaurants. It was painful, but damn I had some good chef connections; it happens when you're gay and have the best weed in town. So take your Mom out this year, buy her some flowers, tell her you love her, and know that no matter what she is doing the best she could do. You only get one Mother, and if she isn't perfect, she is still the perfect mother for you.