Whiskey Cowgirl

We were two whiskey cowgirls in the concrete desert

We had cowgirl hats, boots and southern drawls, but what I remember most is the whiskey

She introduced me to that now-familiar burn

I shot it back like I was born with a bottle in my hand, playing it cool as my esophagus was scalded

I later came to understand the influence of my genetics (coming from a long line of alcoholics) and my environment (growing up around drinkers- it was the norm)

We left our small towns for the big city when we were young and pretty. I was 18 and she was 19 when we met.

She put me on a first-name basis with the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Jim Beam, John Jameson, Johnnie Walker, and Jack Daniel

We were fresh as we poisoned our flesh on the brink of young adulthood

We were roommates in a poor neighborhood, clawing our way toward a better life through education as we strived to save the world along the way. We thought we were so clever.

She recognized in me what can only be known through personal experience; the effects of childhood abuse and neglect

She likely survived worse, although trauma is immeasurable

We never talked about it outright, but I reckon all that booze was our way of drowning out the pain, an ineffective anesthetic and amnesic.

I didn’t know that instead of filling the howling depths within us, we were only digging them deeper with each drink

Years passed. We used to share a bed, and now there is a continent between us.

When I speak with her, she is drinking still. She has transitioned from whiskey chased with cheap beer to fine wine, has her life in line with a successful career, loving husband and bright children, however I fear she is slowly drowning herself with the same toxic habit born of the same pain- the gaping wound of childhood

She will always be my older sister, though I walk my own path and see my own way

I wish healing for her and for all beings today

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