MY OWN PRIVATE HELL

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					MY OWN PRIVATE HELL
My father was the one who gave me my first drink a swallow of bourbon when I was 4 years old. We were at a party together. He thought it was funny and I liked the warm rush it gave me. I remember that feeling so clearly even two decades later. I drank alone in secret because the instant I drank everything that was wrong in my life suddenly felt okay. My home life got difficult pretty early. I was molested when I was 7 by an old handyman. Throughout my childhood, my father was domineering and angry, lashing out verbally and emotionally and forcing us to do things we didn’t want to do. My mother was so hurt by him that she became a shell of a person and couldn’t protect herself or my brother and me. So I drank alone in secret because the instant I drank everything that was wrong in my life suddenly felt okay. Like I was bulletproof. With my faith and trust in adults destroyed, I wouldn’t tell anyone the truth or ask for help. It seemed like no one wanted to hear it anyway. So I kept quiet, drank, focused on my school work and did very well. My dad got worse and started to come after me when I was 12 or 13. Shortly thereafter my mom kicked him out -- his cheating, lying, anger, putdowns and attempt on me became too much to bear and she got angry. Feeling alone in his new apartment my father There are years of my life that I don’t remember past 8pm and I’ll never get those memories back. Waking up face-down in my own alcohol-smelling vomit and wet from my own urine became normal. decided he wanted to see my brother and me. He would bribe me with beer to get me to join my brother on custody visits. Mostly I wouldn’t go, and never alone like he wanted. Throughout this time, my grandmother was the most stable person in my life. She was like a safe haven with her big lap and chocolate cake and cookies. Plus she lived with us, so I got to see her all the time. Once I was in boarding school I started hanging around the wrong crowd and the dealers with guns. I tried most drugs, though alcohol remained my main love, and put myself in many bad situations just to see if I could get out of them. I stole, lied, hit my mom, got suspended, got picked up by the cops, fooled around with guys who didn’t care about me thinking about it even now makes me want to shower for days just trying to feel something. It made my life seem normal and sane to pick friends that were more screwed up than I was. I blacked out every time I drank because Recovery is hard. I had to rebuild my life from the ground up, to deal with old wounds, to eat when I’m hungry, to say no to bad situations, to manage my life without the alcohol crutch.

I couldn’t stop drinking (nor did I want to.) There are years of my life that I don’t remember past 8pm and I’ll never get those memories back. Waking up face-down in my own alcoholsmelling vomit and wet from my own urine became normal. I had so much anger and bravado that it powered me like jet fuel. I hated the world and wanted to die. Then my grandmother actually did die and I was crushed. My goal at that moment was to get really drunk, meaning two bottles of Jack instead of the one that gave me alcohol poisoning, sitting on the steps at varsity knocking back shot after shot until I couldn’t see or answer the phone. But somehow I had this vision of myself at 35 as a career woman with a family, messing it all up because I was a drunk. I knew that would be me. Maybe it was my grandmother death that let me see myself for the first time in a while. Without really thinking I decided to try not drinking and went to a rally against sexual assault. I cried all night. I didn’t know what to do but somehow I knew it had to be something different. Unfortunately it still took two years to get it. I never went to in-patient treatment because I didn’t need detox. For most of my life at 18 and 19 I tried to just drink occasionally. But all it took was one drink and I’d finish the bottle. I was a mess. I couldn’t talk to anyone because I thought no one understood. I was depressed, and I often wanted to kill myself. I was more alone than when I was drinking. Then a varsity roommate brought me to a young people’s recovery group, and finally, someone understood. Looking back, this group made everything I now enjoy possible. Recovery is hard. I had to rebuild my life from the ground up, to deal with old wounds, to eat when I’m hungry, to say no to bad situations, to manage my life without the alcohol crutch. My sponsor helped me to see my life was unmanageable when I drank, but that there was something out there greater than me which could help me get better. Slowly I stared asking for help from a few people I came to trust -- My good friends have been very supportive. Thankfully, my mom got her life together and is now strong, supportive and remarried to a great guy. Today my life is unbelievable. I’m happy, healthy, with a great education, career and fabulous friends who care about me. I know that I am extremely lucky. Of the kids I used to hang out with, two are speed addicts with small children, one is in jail for crack related violence and child abuse and one is still living with his parents, smoking crack. Only one girl ended up okay. If you can relate to this story or are in a similar situation, please believe that life doesn’t have to be this hard. Listen carefully and you will find someone you can trust to help you. But no one can help you if you don’t reach out. My wish is that no one else ever has to endure the pain I went through trying to do it alone. With love, AJ


				
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