Here’s To Your Health has another personal story this week, it’s titled “My Chance To Live,” from the Fourth Edition of Alcoholics Anonymous. AA gave this teenager the tools to climb out of her dark abyss of despair: “I came through the doors of Alcoholics Anonymous at age seventeen, a walking contradiction. On the outside, I was the portrait of a rebellious teenager, with miles of attitude to spare. On the inside, I was suicidal, bloodied, and beaten. My stride spoke of a confidence I didn’t feel. My dress was that of a street tough kid you didn’t want to mess with. Inside I was trembling with fear that someone would see through my defenses to the real me.
If you saw who I really was, you would turn away in disgust or use my many weaknesses to destroy me. One way or the other I was convinced I’d be hurt. I couldn’t allow that to happen, so I kept the real me veiled behind a force field of rough-edged attitude. How I got to this place is still a mystery to me.
I grew up in a loving middle-class home. We had our problems-what family doesn’t? But there was no abuse, verbal or physical, and it certainly couldn’t be said my parents didn’t do the best they could by me. My grandfathers were alcoholic, and I was raised on stories of how it had ravaged their lives and the lives of those around them. Nope, I didn’t want to be an alcoholic.
In my early teen years I began to be bothered by feelings I didn’t fit in. Until this point, I had ignored the fact that I wasn’t one of the “in” crowd, and I thought if I tried hard enough I would fit in sooner or later, but at fourteen I stopped trying. I quickly discovered the soothing effects of a drink. Telling myself I would be more careful than my unfortunate grandparents, I set out to feel better.
Drinking released me from the suffocating fear, the feelings of inadequacy, and the nagging voices at the back of my head that told me I would never measure up. All those things melted away when I drank. The bottle was my friend, my companion, a portable vacation. Whenever life was too intense, alcohol would take the edge off or obliterate the problem altogether for a time.
Blackouts became my goal. Though it may sound strange, they never frightened me. My life was ordered by school and by home. When I blacked out, I simply went on autopilot for the remainder of the day. The thought of going through my teen years without a single memory of its passing was very appealing.
I hadn’t given up on life, just childhood, adults had it made because they made all the rules. Being a kid stunk, but if I could hold out until I was eighteen, everything would turn around. I had no idea at the time how true those words would prove to be.
Diving headfirst into what remained of the subculture left over from the sixties, I took “Party ’till you puked,” to new levels. I liked drinking, and the effect it had on me. I didn’t like throwing up at all. I soon discovered there were other substances I could take that would help me “control” my drinking. A little bit of this or that, and I could nurse a drink all night, and then I had a good time and didn’t throw up…To be continued
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