I had an uncle who was rich by our limited standards and he had an impressive bar in his basement. I decided that I would steal booze from his bar and drink it with some friends. I stole a bottle of Jack Daniels and the friends brought some beer into the mix. It was the August that I turned 14 and I was very thin, under 100 pounds. I rode my bike to my friends house and the three of us proceeded to get drunk, insanely nearly deadly drunk. We counted 21 shots, that’s what I drank by myself plus whatever beer I got down. There was a lot of vomiting that day which likely saved my life. I don’t remember much from that day, I woke up in a hospital. A sweet nurse commented that she liked my nail polish as I lay there covered in vomit with no memory of how I arrived.
At some point my friends left me in an apartment complex laundry room. Someone called an ambulance (thank you responsible citizen) and I was found vomiting and passed out. Truly lucky to be alive. When I arrived at the hospital I was covered in vomit and my bra was undone and my pants were unzipped. I had no recollection of what happened so I had to see a gynecologist to determine if my hymen was intact. It was thankfully, but no memory of several hours that day an absolute black out.
This would have been a great time to reflect on what happened and decide a different course and I did. I never drank Jack Daniels after that day. That clearly was something I could not handle. I stayed away from beer for awhile maybe a few weeks but mostly I gained momentum on a course for self destruction. It’s been so long I don’t remember the specifics of what I consumed but I do know that I put myself in harm’s way for the chance to drink or get high and that is all I wanted to do. I stole, lied, cheated and even hitch hiked for the chance to get high or drunk. I think back on it now and again, I am amazed that I didn’t get raped, beaten or killed. I did have some tense moments hitch hiking but I was able to talk my way out or crawl out a back window.
I mostly drank beer and smoked pot but I was a garbage head and would do whatever mind altering chemicals were available. I was fortunate that some harsher chemicals were not at my disposal. If heroin was as prevalent as it is today I have no doubt that I would have used it. I was fearless in my quest to destroy myself. I do recall having a hard time looking at myself in the mirror. I had moments of remorse and disgust with the girl looking back at me. Part of me wanted to get my act together and the other part just wanted to party all the time. I drank to escape and when the escape starts to be worse than reality….well what is the point then….it just turns into a dark, fast, downward spiral.
I breezed into the adolescent rehab with an I’m-gonna-write-a-book-about-this-someday attitude. Grandiose, probably. I really thought that I could just charm these people for 28 days and bonus when I got out I would have some street creed. I thought I was a bit of a bad ass. I had absolutely no intention of getting sober – none, zero, null, the empty set wasn’t.gonna.happen.
This particular institution relied heavily on the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) 12 steps of recovery approach to sobriety. Here it is in a nutshell – admit you have a problem, believe in something bigger than you (God, group, whatever), take a moral inventory and discuss it with someone you trust, continue to evaluate yourself, make amends (past and present) and help others. That is the basic gist of it. I remember reading the 12 steps on a giant poster and considering each one as if just reading them would count as some kind of a checked off task, so naive.
AA has some well known sayings – “One Day at a Time”, “This Too Shall Pass”, “But for the Grace of God….” these slogans and common experiences are discussed often in meetings. Many people talk about a “spiritual awakening” which can happen in recovery. I would think that was total bullshit if I didn’t experience it myself. I was about three days into my rehab stay when my “spiritual awakening” occurred.
I know what your thinking “spiritual awakening” has this woman traded in her booze for weed or some other mind altering chemical, no I have not. For me my “awakening” was a moment of clarity. I can still visualize it some 30 plus years later. I was sitting in my room which was huge, it served as some sort of drama room in another life because there was an elevated platform where the two beds were, like a stage. I was sitting on the steps to this area and I was wearing white jeans with a dark top and a scarf and so help me there was a beam of light coming in through the window nearest my bed. In that moment a calm washed over me and I was able to see how messed up I was at that time. I realized that I was in a rehab and that I was indeed an alcoholic and that I needed to be there and I vowed to get sober right then and there. I remember thinking I am going to stay sober no matter what…….and a lot of no matter what happened especially that first year.
To be continued……https://wasthatmyoutloudvoice.com/2015/05/01/1-out-of-37-part-3/