The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

In the mornings, looking over the Ventura sunrise, I began to show up at the grocery store to buy liters of gross white wine.I was thirty years old, I had very little money at that point  but I tru…

Source: The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

The Truth and Nothing But The Truth

alcoholism_treatment

In the mornings, looking over the Ventura sunrise, I began to show up at the grocery store to buy liters of gross white wine.I was thirty years old, I had very little money at that point  but I truly could not stop drinking around the clock. Alcohol had me in its clutches.

I thought I could fool the checker at the grocery store by purchasing a potato or something small with my wine so that they would think I was having the wine for the evening. I would also go to many different stores but eventually I was recognized everywhere I went.

One time I went to this liquor store at 8am sharp. I casually walked in slowly to pretend I was in no hurry for my wine. The guy at the counter rang me up and then smiled “I haven’t seen you in a while.” I felt caught and ashamed. I was not fooling anyone but myself.

While most alcoholics drink everything they can and pass-out, I always saved a glass for the morning. I desperately wanted to avoid the pain of withdrawals and therefore I stayed very disciplined about that rule. I rescued myself from myself in a sense.

But..more problems accrued. Beside the normal financial problems and relationship problems that most alcoholics create, I had essentially leaped into being part of some Jerry Springer Show  production with no way out.

Pregnant!  But by whom? I had been sleeping  with two guys off and on during the summer. The days were blurry and my peculiar ability to remember dates and times suddenly disappeared while my life was being lived out in the fog of substance abuse.

Well, I did what any normal person would do and left a message on one of the guys answering machines about the pregnancy. It is fair to say this did not go over well.  But I did not know when he would return my call and I needed to talk to him now. I had a hunch he was the father because condoms were used in all my sexual encounters except for one time when this guy (who I actually knew for many years) had sex with me in the middle of the night with no protection as I laid sleeping.

The message went something like this, “Hi (jerk -0ff) , if your daughter is there turn off this message immediately (long pause) but I am pregnant. Please call me back.” I heard from him shortly and he was like “get rid of it.” But I thought I was pro-life and I was very hurt how insensitive he was being.

Please know this: All my life I was exposed to the 12 steps of AA. I knew them by heart. I looked forward to some at an early age. For example, the inventory one…oh yeah. I was ready to do that by age twelve. But there was one..an important one I could never fully understand and nor could anyone else unless they are truly in the grips of addiction.

Step One: I admit I am powerless over alcohol; that my life had become unmanageable. Powerless? Unmanageable? Hmmm…that was starting to make sense. And for once in a long time I had a moment of clarity. My life had become unmanageable by me.

But powerlessness? I don’t know. I simply thought I am pregnant I will go to meetings and give the baby up for adoption. And when I say simply I mean…I was totally freaking out and was at a total loss for a solution. It is one thing for me to abuse myself and whole other to try to bring someone else in the world while I was so sick.

I got in the car, drunk, and headed to my first AA meeting. But I was spinning and inebriated therefore I ended up in Taco bell instead.

From then on…maybe every forty minutes I would declare that I would not drink every again along with smoking nasty cigarettes, too. But then the withdrawal would come and i had to have the drink. I truly belonged in the hospital but the only thing I figured out was that I was absolutely powerless over alcohol.

I fell to pieces and made an appointment with Planned Parenthood to see when I could get an abortion. In my eyes, I would have killed that baby anyway. At the point of no return nothing is clear.

The guy who got me pregnant paid for half and never spoke to me again.

I was early enough in my pregnancy to have the at-home abortion with medications. Therefore, early in the morning, completely alone, I follwed all the doctor’s directions and for 12 hours with a glass of wine in one hand and a Tylenol 3 in the other, I cramped, I cried and I died inside a little more that day. It was the loneliest day of my life. And I still live with the guilt of having to make that decision fifteen years later.

But I was powerless and unless there was a miracle, I was just going to continue to go down farther and farther into the abyss. Luckily, miracles do happen….

 

 

The Days of No Return

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After my father died, I went a little crazy. Actually, a lot crazy. If anyone has lost a parent especially the parent that raised you, then you will know the great pain and strange grief that unfolds after the parent’s death.

First of all, I was starting to get suicide ideation back. I could not stop picturing myself with a gun in my mouth blowing off my head. That started 4 months after he died. I finally went to an urgent care where I was introduced to antidepressants via sample packs. I did not understand at the time I needed to take the same amount every day so I would take 10mg one day, 100 mg the next and then maybe 25mg the following days. Nothing in my life was in order.

My first husband and I bought a house with some of my inheritance money. It was a small house that was perfect for he and I and our six cats. It was our little home and he worked hard to make it nice.

My first husband was not aware that I had started drinking up 15 drinks a day. I had been since I took care of my dad in hospice at my home. My ability to care about anything was completely lost. Therefore, when I was mixing my Zoloft with 15 drinks of alcohol a day and smoking pot, my decision-making was based on anything that would keep me numb.

The summer of 2000, my ex husband and I had gone to Italy for a wedding. When I returned from Italy…it was on!  Dinner parties at my house  became common. Drinks and laughter and mania continued and I really thought I was happy.

But this is when my hands began to shake. I had gone to enough AA meetings with my father to know that this was not good. But I could not stop. Alcohol was taking over my life. Eventually, after taking mushrooms and talking to some close friends, I came home and asked for a divorce. He was stunned. I was cookoo.

Immediately, after he left I called the guy I had been in love with over the course of my entire time spent with my ex husband. The guy had a girlfriend but for some reason I decided that he was my property and I had dibs. Not two days after we went out did he declare that he loved me. I wasn’t ready for a new relationship but who cares, right?

This guy could always read right through me and I had never had anyone so smitten over me at the time. Although, it is important to mention that this guy was an excessive alcoholic who could be compared to Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas. But I had crossed a line that many other alcoholic people cross. The point of no return.

We stayed together for one year and half and he was extremely abusive. But I was not innocent either. Plus, he continued to see his ex girlfriend behind my back. And I unbelievably thought I was being wronged by her when I was the one who stole her boyfriend in the first place!

There were times the police came because we fought so loud. And TV’s were thrown out onto the lawn. My little house became a breeding ground of wild abandon with pot smoking, drinking, cigarettes and total delirium.

I was about to leave him when he came home one night to say he had cancer. I was far too loyal to leave anybody in that position so I waited.

Things got worse. I crashed my car, I maxed out all my credit cards and decided I did not need to pay my taxes. The promises of payments to some creditors for my ex husband and I became greater debts unbeknownst to him. And I lived in awful fear of doom and gloom where the mailbox was not my friend and I could no longer answer my phone. They turned off cable, the trash stopped and I could no longer make long distance calls. I could not see how far of a hole I was digging but the bottom was still far away.

In the end, I made a decision to move back to California where there was no greeting party waiting for me. I had lost my friends and I was not prepared for the trouble that awaited me.

Still…it went on until one day.

 

 

 

Success

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The morning of my meeting with the administration staff and my father, I was extremely nervous: crawling out of my skin nervous. I was in big trouble and it had been chasing me for three years at that point.

Sometimes I wonder how I thought I could ever get away with all the self sabotaging I was doing to myself with drinking,doing drugs, smoking pot, smoking cigarettes, ditching school and failing almost every class.

At the time “the future” and “consequences” simply were non existent to me. And oddly enough, not many people knew how much trouble I had really created for myself. I was told I seemed happy and always positive. I didn’t mean to hide my shame. I just cared more about what people thought about me than I cared about myself. And this was a problem I carried into adulthood. But I digress.

So…we are in Mrs. Merriman’s office: all of us. I felt three very concerned, incredulous pairs of eyes staring at me. The room was small and the walls were caving in. But some how I mustered the strength to argue my case against getting kicked out of school against all odds.

My GPA was non existent: maybe a low low F, nothing better than that. I had 89 credits to make up to graduate: whereas most seniors had less than 45 credits to pass. This was going to be a tough sale. And so it goes…

I presented my poster board (these were pre-PowerPoint days) and I started by explaining in meticulous detail of how I would make up the classes and raise my GPA in order to graduate.

First I would take ROP which stands for Regional Occupational Program. I could earn 15 credits after school by being in this class. Much to my surprise this class was very helpful to my life because it gave me an upper-hand on how to present myself at job interviews, what to wear, how to fill out the application and shake someone’s hand: all strategies I still use to this day.

In addition, I agreed to take a class  at 530am once a week and agreed to work 30 hours a week for 15 credits. I struggled with this class because I was reckless and I kept quitting jobs. Throughout the year I worked 13 different jobs to earn those credits.

As for ditching school, Mrs. Merriman suggested that I spend 2nd period with her helping out at the office. I truly enjoyed this idea and finally became well known to the most of the staff in a positive way.

Next I would go to adult school and make up several classes. This was actually incredibly easy because it was independent learning and did not require a lot of my time.

Lastly, I would take the 45 credits like the rest of seniors were required to do. And in four years I attended TOHS I finally got to know my peers. In the prior years I hung out with people much older than me and I deceived myself that I could care less about people my own age. Actually, the truth was people my own age made me extremely nervous. I felt inferior and I did not know how to have real social relationships so I always tended to be hang-out with people that were older because that sense of competition was not present.

 

At the end of year, I was sitting in Mr. Coffman’s class surrounded by all the football guys goofing off when we were all handed a performance report. I opened my eyes and I tried not to cry. I was graduating but I ranked 520 out of 540 in my class. That mean 20 other students did worse than me. Furthermore my GPA was an .006 (if that existed!) And in all my glory of successfully fulfilling my goals I still felt like a bottom feeder. In fact, I never told anyone until years later.

Regardless, I was given my cap and gown. I walked across the podium hearing my name being announced and threw my cap in the air with all my peers of the class of 1990! From that point further, I knew if I took action I could probably overcome any issue that came way. And for me that was the safety I needed to go out and live on my own in the great big world.

Big Trouble

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One frightful day, I returned from ditching two classes, totally high.  I was called into the vice-principal’s office. Mr. Eckland and I had met on many occasions but this time was different.

“Where were you for second and third period?” He asked staring straight into my eyes. “I was cleaning my kitchen.” I said and that was absolutely true.

My dad was suffering from some sort of clinical depression and our house was covered with stains, dry hot dog on the counter, vegetables dying in the fridge, and other expired food strewn all around the kitchen. The floor was filthy and even after two hours I still had not  cleaned it enough.

Well, this didn’t go over well and I am pretty sure they administration became concerned about my home life. My dad was called in and Mrs. Merriman,the attendance officer,  along with Mr.Eckland began to take a hard look at my academic profile.

A meeting was set with my father and me to meet with the two of them. Mrs. Merriman reviewed the facts with my dad that I was not going to graduate next year do to all the D’s and F’s I had in my classes since freshman year.I am sure my father was alarmed because a friend of mine was making fake report cards for me stating that I was receiving all A’s and that my attendance was excellent.

But the jig was up. Mrs. Merriman said I needed to leave Thousand Oaks High School and begin attending Conejo Valley Continuation High School. Now don’t get me wrong. I had plenty of friends at that school but I was honestly scared to attend. I imagined people forcing me to take PCP and classrooms out of control. The school had a reputation for troublemakers and I definitely had earned my spot there, however, I truly thought I was better than that school. It was unimaginable to me to that I would be kicked out of school at all!!!

First, I started brainstorming. I would take the GED. School would no longer be in the way of my social life if I chose that route. But several friends talked me out of taking the test and I was in utter panic.

Mrs. Merriman had put me on a probationary period and I still ditched class so she set up another meeting  where I knew it was over.

The class I had ditched in the first place to clean my kitchen was a child learning class taught by Mrs. Williams. I did not like the teacher and she had no reason to like me. But Mrs. Williams noticed the day before the big meeting that I looked exceptionally distraught and she approached me.

I began to cry and told her the dreaded news. She listened and she said nothing judgmental. I thought this was a waste of my time until she said, “I have a plan.”

And her plan was the hardest undertaking of my life thus far.I was two grades behind in credits and I had only attended school 25 percent of the time.  But she had far more experience than me and  she began to teach me how to negotiate and persuade with concrete ideas and not tears.

I began to be hopeful. The plan was developed around a presentation on poster board showing what classes I would attend, before school and after school to make up the credits.Yet I wondered how I could ever actually accomplish this painstaking plan she and I set forward in order to graduate on time.  I would see the next day if the plan would work or not. My presence at Thousand Oaks High School was wearing thin. Could I convince the administrators and my dad that I found a way to graduate?

We will see…