The Voices in My Head ………

So ……. why did I drink?

Obviously I had full-body cravings, an epic lust, that just could not be ignored.  But there were times when I didn’t feel that way.  Empty nights when I came home and knew deep in my heart I didn’t HAVE to today.  Regardless … I always did.  I was a daily drinker and didn’t know how to NOT be.

Have you ever had someone come in the room, someone negative and obnoxious and rotten, and you just wanted to get up and walk away?  You see them coming, you shift your eyes, and rise to make your exit before they see that you see them and have made the connection.  Every word they utter – even if it’s not directed directly toward you – is like an assault.  They bitch incessantly and it’s such a buzz kill.  Well?  I was that person.  Even I wanted to get away from me.

Other people LIKED me.  Don’t get me wrong.  I could be funny, witty, smart, sweet … anything you wanted me to be.  But  that’s because I didn’t always have the audacity to voice the negativity that was spinning unchecked in my head.

“This sucks.  Why does SHE have to be here?  Man, I hate her.  Why me?”  This is the kind of stuff that churned inside like a brewing hurricane.  I’m actually surprised no one could see it.  It was a category 136 storm.

“I have to get out of here.  OH man, how much longer do I have to be here?  This sucks.  I hate my job.”  This was me at work.  The silent me.  The verbal me was cracking jokes and smiling, desperately trying to hide the part of me that detested where I was.  Detested WHO I was.

“This is f***king boring.  This sucks.  Why me? ”       This was me at home.      Alone.        “Life sucks.  This blows.”

So how could I possibly see this girl coming and sneak out of the room without her seeing me?  How could I avoid being taken hostage from this hostile, rotten wretch?

I drank.  I quieted her down.  She didn’t CARE if life sucked after a few.

For the most part, it was cravings.  It was a magnificent hunger I couldn’t ignore.  But on the days when the hunger was quelled, it was to shut me up.   Of course there were still other reasons.  But this was the biggie.

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The Party Started ……..

After my first drink, I was determined not to be an alcoholic.  I was 8 and did not know what an alcoholic WAS, but I had my own concept about what drinking was and how it would never effect me.

My first addiction was anorexia.  At age 13 I was 198 lbs. and did not look like an anorexic, but that balmy spring evening where I cried to my mother hysterically that I didn’t want to be fat, I was instantly an anorexic.  An internal fire mobilized me to action.   I was done eating.  I was compelled to exercise frantically.  Pounds melted off week by week with rapid-fire succession.  Goading me, people told me how great I looked.  A neighbor used the word “glamorous.”  It was on.

By the end of the summer, I had lost 80 lbs.  I was fainting.  I had a couple of seizures.  I was now taking Phenobarbytol for seizures as well as Dilantin.  The doctor gave me Valium for the fainting. It was, after all, from “anxiety attacks” and “hyperventilating.”  Most prescriptions instruct the patient to take it every 4-6 hours or whatever.  Mine simply said, “As Needed.”  You probably see where this is going…..

And this abuse of prescription meds was OK because I wasn’t drinking.  It was okay when it progressed to street drugs because I wasn’t drinking. It was okay when it morphed into pot-smoking and coke-sniffing.  I wasn’t drinking.

At age 17, I got a job in a restaurant.  The 20-somethings always came in hungover, giggling about the goings-on the night before:  who went home with who, who danced, who got kicked out, who played pool, who was quiet, who was rowdy …. and I wanted IN.

They got me in.  I was their mascot.  I was cute and funny – and cuter and funnier with booze.  I thought I was a social drinker. I went out and drank and socialized.  I didn’t drink alone. I didn’t drink in the morning. I didn’t drink and drive.  It was okay.

My “sure thing” was a restaurant first, a bar second.  They had waitresses with ties and cummerbunds.  Flickering candles glowed goldenly in their glass hurricanes.  The menu prices were a smidgen pricey. But there was a full bar and they had open mic night with a coworker of mine.  I’ll call him Larry.  He was short and squat with an endless black beard.  He wore a black ponytail that traveled the length of his back, a bandanna tied taut to the top of his head.  Larry played some classic rock acoustic numbers  and we cheered him on.  I drank and drank.  I joked with the waitresses and bartender so they would remember me – and they did. I never was asked for ID there.

A drink in my hand and a joke on my lips.  I was sure this was social drinking.  Anyways, I was young.  We all were.

Thinking back to those days, I could forget the barf.  I could forget that my social filter instantly dissolved and sometimes I offended people.  I could forget the fear the following morning when I woke up and didn’t know how I got home.  I could forget inspecting my car for …. pings.  I could forget the purple freckles on my face, the broken capillaries that took years to heal.  I could forget waking up in strange places with people I drank to forget.

In those days I didn’t look like an alcoholic.  Much like the 198 lb. anorexic that no one had yet detected, I was a 17 year old alcoholic.  I might not have looked like one, but I would one day.

This was 1989.  It was only the beginning.