I Get It! I Finally Get It!! is Canadian author Jo Bines’ prodigious memoir of life with two alcoholics: her mother and her husband. Bines relates decades of dealing with their addictions and what she considers her own: loving and enabling an alcoholic husband, much as her father did with her mother.
Initially, many aspects of Bines’ life sound idyllic: family gatherings, European travel, weekend cruises on Quebec rivers, buying a small island (complete with ghosts), and two daughters and grandchildren she adores. She recalls her husband’s many good qualities, such as his home renovation skills and kindness to others.
Yet the thread throughout is the constant psychological and sometimes physical cruelty she experiences at the hands of her mother and, later, her husband. Abusive when drinking and often absent physically and emotionally, her husband leaves the child rearing and home care to Bines while she also works full time. Finally, after drunken rages, physical attacks, DUIs, and the lack of financial stability, she’s had enough. While dealing with reoccurring breast cancer (and later, a life-threatening aortic aneurysm), she divorces her husband.
Although she says she has no regrets, she cautions those in abusive situations to seek professional help and the support of those who have been there. “We, your sisters [sic] will help you whisper it: This is the last time, EVER, I allow myself to be debased.”
Despite punctuation errors, especially in quotes, the book flows well and offers solid insights into the mind of a person who enables and suffers from a relationship with an alcoholic and includes moments readers will find disquieting but eventually life affirming. I Get It! will appeal to those dealing with substance abuse, and others fighting cancer. In addition, Bines’ account of her early days in Quebec Province will be of interest to local readers or those who would like to learn more about the Québécois lifestyle during the 1960s-1980s.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.