Finding Alcohol

Already insecure, uncertain, and feeling awkward in my own skin, I started drinking in my freshman year of high school. Not that I drank frequently, but I quickly learned the seeming effectiveness of alcohol as a social lubricant and emotional analgesic.

Sadly, over the next years, self-doubting became self-hatred. My emotional growth was slowed first by lack of nurturing, then by excessive drinking. It is said that an alcoholic stops maturing emotionally when they start drinking. I was already behind when I started drinking. At 14, I may have still been in single digits in terms of my emotional age. That makes for a dangerous drinking career.

When I quit drinking at age 24, I appeared to  be an adult-college degree, teaching job, car, apartment, insurance. But the trappings that define adulthood couldn’t hide the fact that I was terrorizing myself in my head, heart, and soul. A line I wrote in a poem at age 16 captured it:

“I found alcohol before I found me.”

Alcohol became my unhealthy escape:

Escape

The first goes down slow

The second goes easy

The third even easier

And I keep it up

Because the feeling I get

Is what I need

To stop the mess

That’s running through

This crazy head of mine

I’ve got to break loose

From these chains

Holding me inside myself

Because I can’t take

Being locked up

I’m really just a coward

Taking the easy way out

(a poem written when I was 15)

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