BY: Cherry Maggiore – “The Freak of Nurture”
Chapter 14: Crossing the Border of Sobriety
“I hate men!!! Yes, that means ALL men” said Cherry, the Freak of Nurture at her niece’s 6th birthday party.
Nice, Cherry. Really fucking nice.
At that point, the entire room explodes from absolute disgust and anger. My brother exclaims “Are you fucking kidding me?”
In my head, I’m screaming at myself to shut up and stop being a fucking idiot. The alarms are ringing ABORT! ABORT! But I am entirely in the red zone, so I retort, “No, I’m not fucking kidding you. And I’m glad I don’t have a son!”
Judge me now. I deserve it.
But then, let me share what brought me to this boiling point. First off, I should never be allowed to drink a couple of glasses of wine followed by two glasses of bourbon. I learned this harsh lesson, when I had a similar outburst at my family’s Christmas dinner and said, “Anyone who voted for Trump is an asshole.”
In further examining these situations, there are three major issues that caused my ignorant outbursts. Three common denominators: politics, personal angst, and whiskey.
Let’s start with the political issue…I am the lone fierce independent liberal-leaning person in my family. I am also the first woman to go to college (albeit I didn’t graduate). I am the first woman to ever live on her own before getting married (and thus far, still the only one). Additionally, I am the first woman to have a career, get divorced, and own her own home, on her own (three houses all in; two on my own).
In my teens and twenties, I vehemently defended Clinton and the entire Democratic party to a family of people who are fiercely conservative Republicans. I recall many family events, where I sat there (or stood there), arguing loudly against many equally loud and passionate family members. Hands flailing as we Italians tend to talk with our hand; aka guinea sign language.
As the self-proclaimed black sheep of my family (they agree), it has been a long road to convince anyone that I have a point (nor would they ever admit if I had a point) or to have my argument fully heard. This is the reality. So for the most part, I tried to avoid political conversations.
That was until 2016, and our new President was elected. The divisiveness of this administration has caused everyone to choose sides and has torn apart family and friends along with our country. It has become an issue of morality, more so than politics. It is an issue of whether you support the rich or the poor, black or white, gay or straight, mother earth or manufacturers, the right to bear arms or gun control, a woman’s right to choose or the right to life, etc., etc. These are polarizing issues, and we have been forced to take sides because there is no middle ground. There are only the extremists of both parties being given a platform; who are given a voice in the media and homes across the country.
And when you stitch those political and moral issues together with the problems I’m personally facing, it was a cesspool of hate bubbling under the surface. It became an ever-present, widening crevasse that neither side is willing to cross.
Let’s now dig into the personal angst…dealing with my ex-husband (The Chupacabra of Joy) has been a tumultuous journey over the past five years. I hold back many stories because when I am with my family and friends, I genuinely want to forget. I choose to compartmentalize his impact so that I can enjoy time with those I love the most.
However, earlier in the week, before the party, the Chupacabra and I had a massive fight. A few facts you need to know, as part of our divorce settlement, I pay him custody support. I was 80% of our combined intake, and therefore with joint custody, I have to support his time with her financially. With that agreement, I also pay for summer camp (among all other childcare expenses). However, we are supposed to agree on the camp selection.
With him residing in Brooklyn, NY and me residing in Westfield, NJ, it was important that he found a camp near where he lives so we wouldn’t add time to my commute with MSP. In 2017, he found a summer camp in Mill Basin, Brooklyn which is much farther south from where he lives. The camp is an additional 13 miles from his house, which is already 23 miles from my home.
When he sent me this camp recommendation, I declined and asked him for an alternative. He refused my request and decided to sign her up anyway. I chose not to pay for the camp because he completely disregarded our parental agreement and my participation as a co-parent.
I reluctantly but ultimately did pay for 2018, because MSP loved the camp and she wanted to attend (there’s a long story with this as well). So as you may recall from my blog (blog #13 link), he served me with another petition for the 2017 summer camp payment. We are now going to court to resolve this issue. Considering I also had to pay for 2019, I requested the camp contract so I can understand the terms of the nearly $3k I am funding. After reading it over, I realized that without knowing it, I was paying for the bus service on the days MSP is in his custody.
Ok, let me share another essential fact. I do ALL the commuting for every single drop off and pick up. Two mornings a week, I drive from Westfield to Brooklyn and then Brooklyn to my job in midtown Manhattan. Then two nights a week, I drive from Manhattan to Brooklyn then to Westfield. Ladies and gentleman, that is about two and a half hours of driving per session for a total of ten hours per week just commuting my daughter.
So I feel that it’s pretty fucking simple, on the days she is with him, commuting expenses are HIS responsibility and financial burden. It should also be noted that part of the custody support I provide could easily cover the bus expense or, you know, he could merely drive her since he picked the fucking camp at his convenience (I could scream right now).
So after discovering this, I reach out and suggest that he is responsible for paying for the bus fee on his days. He was not receptive and became extremely vindictive. He wanted to punish me in any way he could. The scary part is that the only way he can punish me now is by punishing my daughter.
About a month before this argument, he had agreed to allow MSP to be with me on Halloween which is her preference cause she loves going trick or treating with her cousins. Additionally, we decided to switch weekends in December so she could participate in her music school recital.
Because of my request that he funds the bus transport for summer camp, he decided to renege on these agreements (insert powerful visual of me punching him in the face).
As a result, I completely LOST. MY. MIND. And eventually begged him not to hurt her this way, not to take away these days because of our financial disagreement or because he wants to punish me. After an entire day of angst including hysterical crying in my car (at some points screaming “I HATE HIM” over and over at the top of my lungs), he ultimately came to his senses and agreed to stick with our original plan for Halloween and the recital weekend. We agreed to address the bus fee in court and leave it up to the referee to decide what was right. Logic wins. I immediately popped a bottle of wine to “celebrate” a rare win.
Adding insult to injury, the week before the Chupacabra fiasco, I had my fifth date with Rut. 39, Financial Advisor. Father of a 2-year-old boy. Former drug dealer.
Rut and I met on Bumble in February of this year. He then ghosted for six months (he put our conversation on ice until things settled with his kid’s mom) and decided to zombie when he outreached to me in late August, to rekindle the connection we sparked. You may recall my blog when I gave up dating and dating sites (blog #9 link) because I was so exhausted from disappointment after disappointment. I stated that a guy would have to fall out of the sky for me to even consider going out on a date. So said guy fell out of the sky …
Sadly, but not unusually, after the fourth date, I broke it off with Rut. He was too intense, and his situation too complicated as he had a young son and the custody arrangements with his baby mama weren’t formalized. He also shared that in his twenties he sold drugs and that’s why he got a late start in his career. Then he voluntarily revealed his annual salary during one of our conversations (this is SUCH poor taste). Neither was good. My gut told me that if we got into a relationship, I would be back in another situation of supporting another person as well as taking a risk in being with someone with a criminal past. Enough is enough with these fucking criminals. There are moments I think I have a radar inviting them to my door. Honestly, I am way past settling for less and I didn’t like him that much to further compromise.
He was genuinely upset (he actually told me he loved me. I was like you don’t even know me how can you say those words…then the romantic in me thought, well maybe –I should’ve smacked that bitch right out of my mind) and outreached a few times to convince me to give him another chance. To hang out one more time.
One night, after a few cocktails (are you starting to see a trend?), I was feeling a bit lonely and subsequently reached out to him so we could get together.
A few days later he came over to my house, and we ordered in. We started to watch a movie, and one thing led to another. We landed in my bedroom, and bow chica bow wow (note to reader: this would be our second time as we crossed the sex bridge on our fourth date). He says to me “put your arms around me.” So I eagerly comply and put my arms around him…then he says “Higher. No lower. Tighter. No, wait, not that tight.” I immediately take my arms off of him as I couldn’t believe I was being instructed how to hug him. Ok, let that settle in for a minute.
NOTE TO READER: Let me take a beat and apologize in advance for sharing something so crude, but it’s important that I offer this insight to give you full context of what I am dealing with.
THEN he says…“Slow down…STOP moving and just take my dick.”
I’m sorry. What the fuck did you say to me? The alarms start going off in my head again, so I stopped moving. My stomach turned inside out; I was utterly disgusted. Here I am consenting to be intimate with this man, and he just made me feel as if I was getting raped. After I stopped moving, he asked what was wrong. I couldn’t answer him as I had tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. I felt paralyzed. He then decided to get off of me. Thank GOD!
My mind is racing. I am in utter shock that this “nice guy” just said those words to me, and then the fear settles in. I don’t know him at all, yet he is in my home and my bed. I try to calm the panic and process how to deal with him not knowing what he is capable of…how angry do I get? Do I yell? Do I kick him out? Do I punch him in the dick?
I decide to play it safe, and ask him, “Do you realize what you just said to me?” He responds “No, what, what did I say?” Right, ok, so now I think he is delusional. I repeat back what he said, and he whispers, “Oh God, I said that?” He begins to apologize to me and tries to explain what he meant by it. I said “Intention is not the issue. You said those words and I can’t ever get past that.” He asks, “So that means I’ll never see you again, right?” I quietly, but firmly respond, “That is right, you will never see me again.”
As I put myself into a trance so I don’t fall apart in front of him, I anxiously listen to him try and explain his vulgar words for an hour. Praying for him to leave. When he does finally leave, I fall apart. I crawled under the covers and cried. Every single man that has ever hurt me comes crashing over me like a tidal wave. I am drowning in sorrow. Loathing an entire gender due to decades of disappointment in matters of love. Angry at myself for, AGAIN, being in this vulnerable position.
So at this point, I reach for a bottle and attempt to suffocate the ache of my grief.
Which gets me to my final issue…alcohol.
Alcohol is not the issue on its own. It sits in a bottle, very innocently teasing me to take a sip, and all the hurt will go away. I am seduced by the rich amber color of whiskey in an antique crystal decanter. The sound of a cork popping and the clug, clug, clug of wine being poured in a designer wine glass can bring an instant smile to my face. The zesty smell of lemon being added to my vodka on the rocks immediately calms the stress of a long day. I have a love affair with liquor.
But liquor does not love me. I have done some very fucked up things when I drink too much; when I cross the border of sobriety. I often wake up the next morning with the rancid taste of regret in my mouth, accompanied by a migraine headache that makes my eyes tear and my ears ring. My only long-term love affair was and is with booze, hooch, more appropriately poison. What’s my poison? Anything that will help me forget for the moment.
But when I mix alcohol with anger…when I bury the grief and the stinging hate I feel, it becomes a loaded gun. And that is why I found myself at a six-year-old’s birthday party drinking too much whiskey while talking politics as I stood on my soapbox of rage.
The morning after the party, I began my parade of apologies. First to my brother and sister-in-law then to my mom and cousins. I spewed so much garbage. I said things I don’t mean to rile them up. I spewed ideas I don’t believe in, to be controversial. And I allowed all those men, those fucking assholes, to creep into my life again. I empowered them to hurt me just one more time…but then, I took their place and hurt those I love.
I was open and honest about the reasons, but in the end, I hurt them. Regardless of my excuses, I took accountability. I was culpable and needed to own it. They all forgave me, with one exception. They know me well and love me enough to realize that wasn’t me, it was my anger and the hooch talking. While my behavior was not acceptable, they loved me anyway. It is not lost on me, that I am a fortunate person and they are wonderful people.
Then I decided that I had to do something about this disaster of a love affair I have with liquor. While I can’t erase decades of resentment, I can stop fueling it with liquor. Liquor is my lover and my antagonist. And it’s time to get it under control.
I committed to stop drinking for ten days. It is imperative for me to confront my issues BEFORE pouring myself a glass. I need to respect the bottle, and most importantly, myself.
I plan to be sober for ten days as a start (by the time you read this I will be five days sober!). And I chose the most public platform I have to share this decision. While I can continue to blame every single person that has ever done me wrong and remain in the undercurrent of misery, it is much healthier to take responsibility, heal my hurt and honor my life. When I stop punishing myself, I know this loving, funny, smart, sassy, and sometimes crazy, independent-liberal leaning woman, will be ok.
And I trust that, eventually, my light will shine through the darkness.
Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 9-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP) and 15-year-old pug baby (Tiki Barber); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at NBCUniversal.
Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.
This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure.