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Where Dreams go to Die, or at the very least, Flounder

By Susan Eileen Published 2 years ago 3 min read
Photo by Jene Yeo on Unsplash

I grew up in a town where dreams go to die as my friend would say. Our big claim to fame was a burning river and a race track where you bet on horses. Doesn't that sound inviting? To make matters worse it seems to have the same level of addiction that you find among minority disenfranchised populations like American Indians, or any ghetto in the world, for that matter.

I beat myself up time and time again - what could I have done differently? Nothing really. Between genetics and environment, I was born an alcoholic, and if I wasn't, that future was carved in stone long before my first drink. Bad genes, a mother with suicidal tendencies and a bad neighborhood outside of Cleveland, Ohio. It wasn't cultured like a city, or quiet like the country. It's a special level of hell I call Surbugatory.

Northfield, Ohio was a sleepy little town when I moved to it in 1974, but things have changed. It's halfway between two major Ohio cities, Cleveland and Akron. Being equally distant between these two metropolises gives it an identity problem. The last thing a surburban mom needs is an identity problem. Plus in Surbugatory, it doesn't matter how you feel, it only matters how you look - your house, your car, your clothes, your smile. It's exhausting really. So exhausting in fact, I found myself swimming in pills and alcohol around the age of 40.

Most people like me seem to think they are the only ones with this problem, but surely the news lets you know we are all in the same boat - bank robberies, mass shootings, and prison overcrowding - a lot of people are unhappy and depressed - especially now with the pandemic. Addicts like to think that they are unique; that we have a terminal uniqueness. Nothing could be farther from the truth if you ask me.

Part of this terminal uniqueness lets us say to ourselves, "if you had the boss I have, you'd drink like me too." Gross numbers of people have horrible bosses, but don't turn into addicts. Why? Genetics? Lack of Trauma? Both? We also tell ourselves, if you grew up like I did, you'd be an addict too. But's that not true. Go to your high school reunion - plenty of social drinkers will be found.

Don't get me wrong, there are some nice parts of Northfield. And nice parts of growing up before cell phones. We left the house in the morning to play and didn't return until the street lamps came on. I was in the park with friends for much of my high school years. Rock climbing and exploring abandoned houses for hours at a time with my mother not knowing anything about where I was at and what I was doing. I loved being in nature and I loved reading from an early age.

In the end, that was something that motivated me to get sober. I missed the outside the world. My world was no bigger than the bottle I drank out of. No friends, no hobbies, no future. I'm overjoyed that I got out alive.

Oh - I almost forgot the burning river! The Cuyahoga River flows in Lake Erie. Problem was that factories were dumping their waste into the river. So much waste that the river caught on fire. Unfortunately, people were also drinking this water and swimming in it. Mystery illnesses were probably the result of unclean drinking water.

But, yes, Surbugatory. No museums or anything of culture to digest. If you were in the country, you could ride a four-wheeler or go horseback riding. But in the suburbs, people pride themselves on their children's or their parent's achievements, none of which has anything to do with their own self-esteem. This co-dependency leads to many, many problems to attend to here. So surbuban wives shop to kill time and look so basic you can barely tell one from the next.

The problem is, that in surburgatory there seems to be a lack of support system for many families, especially when both parents work outside the home. Your child could be the next Tiger Woods but you don't have time to cultivate that relationship. But believe me, the ignored child is well aware of what they are capable of. I think these unrealized dreams lead to addictive and other reality escaping behaviors.

My suggestion should live in a place like this, is to make time for your children where possible to take them to an art museum in the city or a horse back ride in country. They will thank you for it. Believe me. Cultivating their personality could hopefully addiction proof, or at least addiction resistant their brain.


About the Creator

Susan Eileen

If you like what you see here, please find me on Amazon. I have two published books under the name of Susan Eileen. I am currently working on a selection of short stories and poems. My two published books are related to sobriety.

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    Susan Eileen Written by Susan Eileen

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