My dad would sit in his lazy boy chair after work. He said once. “If you go get me a beer, I’ll give you a sip.” My little legs ran to the fridge. I’d grab one of his beers. Then hand it to him. He’d crack it open, and hand it back. I took a sip, crunched my face up. “Yuck! that tastes like dog pee.” I said. Which he replied proudly. “Good, you remember that.”
When I was 19 I worked at a hospital. I was an environmental service employee. (house keeper) My carpool buddy got me my first bottle of hard liquor. I just had a couple beers with friends maybe a few shots in High School. I honestly didn’t care for drinking in my teens.
I got this big bottle of Bacardi and had two day’s off. I was excited. While browsing the liquor choices. My dad’s voice popped into my head. “You remember that.” I drank three quarters of the bottle in one day. Safe to say I didn’t listen.
Not to that extent, but it seemed as if that’s what every adult did whether it be on TV or in real life. My dad comes home cracks a beer. On some TV drama a mother would put her kids to bed and sneak in a glass of wine. It’s a social norm. Yet in my hands it seems like the opportunity to self destruct. So how is that these people can go about having a few beers and no bad comes from it?
Since I was a kid, I over analysed things until my brain would run out of thoughts. If a woman sneered at me for example. I would exhaust every single possible explanation for why this woman looked at me like she just bit into a lemon. After you start to rethink the same thoughts over and over but change certain things. There wasn’t a moment that I could remember where my brain gave me a moments rest.
I started taking walks when I was 13 to clear my head. I’d listen to music and let the world passing me by give me new ideas, or at least thoughts. I would walk for hours. When I didn’t feel like going out I would pace until my feet cracked and I could barely stand. But I continued to walk anyway putting pressure where there wasn’t pain. I had to keep walking, something compelled me. My English teacher said that I had Attention Deficit Disorder. My Jr. High counselor sent me to a psychiatrist and without testing me gave me Ritalin. “We’ll start him off with a high dose and work are way down until we see what fits.”
Whatever positive miracle they were expecting this drug to have on me didn’t work. The very teacher that recommended I get put on some sort of medication wasn’t pleased. Because the side effect of the drug wasn’t keeping me focused like she wanted. It was keeping me unconscious. I slept for probably 14 hours a day. I could not keep my eyes open. Which was ironic because I also had insomnia. I use to have incredibly violent nightmares. but if I got a few hours of sleep I was good through out the day. So it solved one problem I guess. They lowered the dosage but I was still missing episodes of Dragon Ball Z on Toonami because I was still nodding off so often. I refused to take anymore. I made an oath that I would just try harder to get my grades up the old fashioned way like Gohan.
The walking, analyzing, and pacing continued as well as the insomnia. I was bullied pretty heavily in school. Repeating in my head what people would tell me good or bad over and over for hours. Until I couldn’t take it anymore. I would squeeze my palms against my temples telling my brain to shut up. I just wanted my brain to shut off. Finally when it did my alarm would go off. I didn’t understand why my brain would repeat and analyze every single thing. At first I would come up with witty comebacks of what I should of said. Being painfully shy I wouldn’t say anything back… at first. (looking back this was probably my introduction to writing dialogue.)
I was fed up. My brain was apparently broken I felt attacked by kids at school and my piers. I had started fighting back and speaking up. But after you’ve reciprocated every punch that was given to you and run out of lines to comeback with. It just became exhausting.
“It doesn’t matter who started it.” Was enough of a statement to let me know the teachers didn’t care. They couldn’t be bothered. With zero self-esteem and a lot of anger. I started ditching school in sixth grade. It was a long walk to get out of school. But I had my headphones and it seemed all I did was walk anyway. My face would cringe with pain putting shoes on.
Eventually my principal said, “look, you clearly don’t want to be here, and we’re tired of dealing with you. So why don’t you just drop out. I did, for a short period of time. But I went back eventually to a charter school graduating on time.
I told you that, to tell you this. My uncle was checked into a psychiatric hospital for suicidal thoughts. He had O.C.D. which I didn’t know about at the time. I wanted to go see him but I was told it was too depressing. I asked my mom why she had him locked up. She told me why. Then I told her that I shared some of his habits. She replied, “Don’t say things like that or I’ll put you away too.”
I was 20 years old and I worked at the hospital for a year and a half. I wanted out of Arizona to experience something new. My friend asked me to come live with him. With my tax return I moved to Wisconsin. Freezing my ass off for five years. (Thanks for the warning that it snowed 8 months out of the year!) Then again I probably should of done some research.
We lived in Waukesha at first. I’d say that my alcoholism flourished here the most. If your not familiar with Wisconsin imagine living in a freezer for eight months. All you have to live off of is bar food and booze. Then when summer time comes around everybody walks out of their freezers beaming with positivity because they haven’t seen another physical human being in months. They know after three to four months it’s back into the freezer. So they had to make the most out of it.
He would throw parties inviting all his friends. We would drink and socialize. I would mostly drink. I would drink beer, straight vodka, whiskey whatever was available. You know you drink too much when official alcoholics are worried about how much you drink. Looking back all those pounding headaches kinda felt like revenge for all the times my brain tortured me through out those sleepless nights.
One night I got so drunk the last thing I remember was somebody broke out a sombrero. Then I woke up covered in blood. That’s all I could remember. My back and head were competing which could cause me more pain. I went to go grab some water out of a mini fridge and just about chugged the entire gallon. When I put the cap back on I noticed red spots all over my hoodie. I saw a trail from the couch I was sleeping on. I followed it into the basement. The blood trail came from out side but veered off to the mirror. I walked over to the mirror and discovered a huge gash on my forehead. It was my blood. I asked everyone at the next party what happened and they all just shrugged.
I decided to take it easy. I was done with hard liquor. For some reason after the first few sips I couldn’t put it down. I thought that was the right thing to do. “Bro, your not even going to drink… at all?” This was probably the fifteenth person to ask me the same question. Once again I reiterated. “It’s not permanent. I just don’t feel like it tonight.”
Me and another guy who usually drank too much took influence from me and decided not to drink either. Eventually he caved from pressure of the party. “Man you guys are kill joys.” Some guy groans at us. That’s when he grabbed a beer to head over to the bonfire. People kept asking me why I wasn’t drinking and if I was okay. My temper started to rise and I got more and more defensive. It was such minuscule decision to not drink. Yet everybody kept coming at me. “Why? Why? Why? Who cares! Why, out of all these people do you need me to drink?” He searches through his flooded brain for an answer. I don’t know? Cause… it’s a party. See, you’re all angry and what not. Some might say that you could use a drink to lighten up.” I was surrounded by idiots. I went down stairs to watch a movie.
Like I said not drinking wasn’t permanent. Though that night felt like a mirror was being reflected at me. “Hey stupid, as annoying as these people are right now. They probably never woke up covered in blood.”
During college I didn’t drink until I had my stuff done. All I did was work and go to school. I worked with a women who after telling her that I walked 6 to 8 miles in the snow. She offered me a car… for free! I told her, “I didn’t take handouts and I’d like to pay her for it. with what little I had.” She told me that life isn’t easy. When someone offers a way to make it a little bit easier, then take it. So I did.
She offered me a full time job at her new restaurant. As well as a place to live. After the place where we worked was collapsing under terrible management. Now out of school and unfocused I began to drink again once my anxiety came back. In college I was broke and slept on the ground. My room had carpet and I laid on a comforter. Now I had a car, a full time job. A bed to sleep on. So what was my problem?! why was I in this rut once again. I felt numb. There was no funny stories this go around. It was me alone in a bar with some angry old woman with a vape pen. I would watch people and read bar signs.
I had been awake 24 hours and just couldn’t sleep. So I went to the restaurant where I worked which had a bar. I had five beers and three shots. By Wisconsin standards that was a few beers to a normal person. It was 2 am and I had to be back at work in a couple a hours. I was friends with the bartender and as we departed she told me just to sleep in the car. I told her I would. I tried. I got in the back seat. But I’m 6 foot 4, so it didn’t really work out. Plus drinking gave me confidence I normally don’t have so I made sure she left, turned the car on. Then there was black. I remembered a picture in my mind of headlights approaching a stop sign.
I woke up jarred by my boss banging on my window then shaking me awake. I was still drunk only a few hours had passed, and I was back in the parking lot. She was furious she shook her head and pointed to my bent license plate. “What happened here?” I had nothing to say that would make the situation any better. “I can’t remember.”
“You blacked out?” I nodded. That image popped into my head. “I remember headlights beaming on a stop sign. I think I… hit a stop sign.” I had an idea which one because behind the image of the stop sign there was a house I recognized. I told her which one I thought it was. Then for the next couple hours at work she just shook her head and talked to herself. She was pissed and I felt terrible. The car was fine it was just a bent license plate. After sobering up I went home. I was nervous about seeing the damage but I needed to see it. The stop sign was hunched over and pulled a little out of the ground. I was surprised my car received so little damage.
She told me after coming home and seeing it for herself. “What if that was a person you hit?” When all is said and done. There was no more bullies, no more hecklers at parties, no mental disorder that could compel me, and no alcoholic gene that was passed down my family tree. All that remained was a choice that I made. But for what reason? The reason I drank was because it numbed the feeling of hatred I had for myself. It gave me an artificial confidence which was stupidity in disguise. After the accident I felt good. I took a long walk sorting out what made me happy. Writing, videography, sunshine, and family. Refocused, I moved back to Arizona where I was welcomed with delicious barbecue. I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I found Jesus or that I go to meetings to deal with my problem. I no longer have the urge to drink because I found real confidence in myself.
I hope you enjoyed this story. There was a lot to cover within’ 5 years. I wanted to hit the major reasons for my drinking without repeating myself, or creating a soap opera. Maybe you or somebody in a similar predicament can relate. Please like and share with friends via social media. Thank you.