A decade and a half ago, I had my last alcoholic drink.
1999 ~ That elixir was not in a pretty glass or served over pink lemonade ice cubes. It was not set before me on a lilac cloth napkin, nor was a slice of lime jauntily atop the glass rim. This finale saw me gulping cheap whiskey straight from the bottle. It saw me use a much practiced trick to keep from vomiting- to keep that necessary liquid in my belly where it could invade my blood stream. Within ten minutes, my flu like symptoms, my shaking hands and my irritability would all dissipate. And I said with a most sincere slur, “Thank You, Lord.”
My anxiety level, my suicidal thoughts and my failed marriage were conspiring to keep me at the bottom of a blackened hole. A hole that I could not ascend as I had no rope labeled self-esteem nor a ladder inscribed with hope. Alcohol and prescription pills numbed those feelings and the black hole became an oasis. For years, yet not for a lifetime, I believed. I bought a most vicious lie.
**** ~When I chose to listen, I had heard my therapist say, “Abuse and genetics equal addiction.” (Check and check.) He continued with, “You see there are emotions that can become so painful that we learn to self-medicate as a form of survival. Unfortunately, one must use increasing quantities to soothe the ache. Soon, quite soon, our body rebels and our mind becomes muddied. That craved potion becomes poisonous.”
I hated him.
1974 ~ Panic attacks and relentless depression swooped down on me during my college days. I hid in that cubicle called a dorm room and suffered. Convinced that I had lost my mind, I told no one of my plight. After all, psychiatric disorders were years from being parlayed on the news and in magazines… in vogue to some degree. When I attempted to venture out, I would feel badgered by racing thoughts and all the physical symptoms associated with a serious cardiac event. I was fearful; fearful of the world, of others and of myself.
**** ~ That therapist said, “Fear of fear can become all consuming.”
I despised him.
1976 ~ An agoraphobic nightmare followed. Living with my parents once again, we all found rather clever excuses as to why I did not, would not, leave that house for three years. I was ill and they enabled.
****~ “Shame is a powerful activator,” Dr. Therapist explained. “If one cannot control themselves or their family, then one is ‘less than’. And, ‘less than’ is shameful. Hide, close and lock the door on life.”
I loathed him.
1979 ~ One day I put one foot in front of the other and began repeating that motion. I left. I went back to the horse stables of my junior years and found some solace and a hippie named, Jack. We went to a million rock concerts and we smoked anything smokable and drank anything drinkable. I learned, “high” and “wasted’ and “drunk” and “stoned.” I learned that those conditions felt divine. I had died and gone to heaven, metaphorically.
**** “What a wondrous relief that was,” Doc stated. “No panic, no depression, no thoughts of self-harm. Why anyone would not continue would defy all logic.”
I abhorred him.
1981 ~ Jack was gone one morning when I awoke. No note, no tears, no great loss. I stuck out my thumb and traveled here and there. I drank, I smoked and I popped any pill or capsule within reach. I overdosed and my mother brought me home after a short hospital stay.
1983 ~ My parents had become wise in my absence. No excuses, no enabling, no hiding. Working part time jobs that a 9 year old child could manage, I functioned in the most basic of ways. And I used…alcohol and Opiates- a lot, daily, continuously for many years.
**** ~ “You stop maturing intellectually and psychologically when addicted to chemical substances. Becoming sober at age 36 for example, after using for 17 years, leaves you beginning sobriety as a 19 year old… maturation wise. And it follows that you would have some catching up to do,” He added.
I cursed him.
1990 ~ I met a decent man. We married. We divorced. My elderly parents passed away and I found myself alone. Isolated and trapped in the deepest and darkest of crevasses, I still willed alcohol and pills to soothe me. That lie, however had been caught out. Check and mate.
Sober, I returned to that state of panic, now one hundred times as prevalent. Like a good addict, I tried using one more time. I drank round the clock, and if it even vaguely looked like a pill, I ate it. Living on the streets was a grand mal seizure of filth, crime and poverty…a Machiavellian hell.
1999 ~ The social worker asked, “What do you have to lose, dear?”
“I have to use one more time,” I answered. “Let me have a few minutes to myself.” This finale saw me gulping cheap whiskey straight from the bottle. It saw me use a much practiced trick to keep from vomiting.
2014~ Dedicated to Dr. B. ~~ wherever you are. I remember that there came a day when I hugged him one last time and…
I thanked him.
“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.”
― Doris Lessing