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Every human being on the planet has their own story, their own journey that both shares things in common with others and yet retains its own uniqueness. My story is the same, it is my own individual story and it remains unique to me, but many who read it can see themselves or someone that they know within this story. I hope those who read it derive something good from it.
My story begins before me, like everyone else's story, a large part of who I am, the tendencies and characteristics I have, come from the individuls that came before me in my family. While I am an only child, I come from a large family.
I was originally born on an air base in Texas, and my father returned to his childhood home in the coalfields of a rural mountain community when I was 6. I went from attending a private school in a large metropolitan city to attending a public school in a small town, surrounded by various kinfolk and relations. If you have ever read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings or seen the movies, the Shire and its hobbits remind me very much of what it was like to move to my grandparents farm and grow up there, surrounded by relatives.
My paternal grandmother came from another nearby mining community, and when she was young her mother moved to another county to get her father away from his "social club", a community of men that hunted and drank together, they made homemade moonshine and enjoyed the fruits of their labors that they did not sell to miners and others in the town. I can remember my grandmother showing all of us a picture of her father and the members of the "social club" it was a worn black and white photograph of a number of men on horseback, her father was there holding up a picture of something in his hand, we couldn't see what was in his hand, but my grandmother always said it was a picture of her father and "Uncle Scratch". It was many years before we realized that "Uncle Scratch" was moonshine, so named because his wife, my great grandmother, had scratched the image of the bottle out of the photo with her fingernail. She had scratched alcohol out of the photo, but she could not scratch it out of his life. She had moved her husband away to another county in an effort to remove him from "the social club" trying to get him to give up alcohol. While many in the family thought he had given it up as no one ever caught him publically drunk, it was only after his death decades later that the family found hundreds of empty and half empty alcohol bottles underneath the front porch. He had continued drinking on the side his entire life.
There were members of my paternal grandfather's family who made their millions by legally manufacturing and selling beer after the end of prohibition. There is another photo of my grandfather standing together arm and arm surrounded by his brothers and my father and his next oldest brother are young boys sitting together at their feet. For a long time I thought the photographer had taken the photo at a lopsided angle when one day my grandmother explained that the whole family had gotten drunk, and they were swaying in the photo, this is why it appeared lopsided and this was why she didn't like my grandfather to be around his family and why she didn't like her children or us grandchildren around them. If you look closely at the photo you can tell that my father and uncle are also drunk and they were both under 8 at the time.
All of my cousins grew up slipping drink on the side, stolen easily and unnoticed from the bottles that their parents, my father's brothers, kept hidden in cabinets and cupboards. When I was older and became a victim of both incest and date rape it should probably not be a surprise that I turned to alcohol for consolation as well. Alcohol was everywhere around me, and it was impressed upon me that it was the "appearance"of alcohol and not the drinking itself that was evil. After the rape I found out I was pregnant and I lost the baby, but not before everyone found out. I was ostracized by the people I thought were my friends and I started running around with the kids that drank and did drugs. My family was very angry with me, particularly my grandmother for embarrassing the family and I was shunned. I moved out shortly before graduation into an apartment with a man that was friends with one of my friend's boyfriend. This man had been a convicted felon that was out on parole for dug dealing and assault and battery. I shared his apartment and pretended to be his girlfriend. His ex-wife was in jail for trying to kill their infant son and her parents had custody and he was trying to get extended visitation. He had thought if he could show that he was getting his life together and was in a stable relationship that he would be able to get unsupervised visitation with his son. Also, years ago, homosexuality was not as understood as it is now. He ws also bi-sexual and rumors had began and he was afraid that he was going to lose visitation altogether if social services found out, so he needed a way to portray himself as straight and stable and I needed a place to stay.
After the rape, I turned to drinking and drank heavily for several months, especially right after graduation from high school. I can remember being in the senior chior and singing "The Greatest Love of All" , a song by Whitney Houston that was popular at the time. Over half of us were drunk or stoned while we sang. Later that summer, overwhelmed by feelings of guilt and despair by some of my life choices I had left the apartment where I had been staying and I went to one of the many parties that was thrown that summer in celebration of our new "freedom" as "adults". I remember the dishes of various pills that one of my friends had set out, like they were party favors or dessert mints and I remember being drunk and not wanting to live anymore. So I began to take handfuls of assorted pills and chase them down with a half empty bottle of "jack" that was there. I remember my first boyfriend, that I had dated off and on through high school was there and he and another friend were trying to get me to stop. I remember staggering out of the house and walking out the door and down the road when they had turned the other way. I walked a long time, it was the middle of the night and it began to rain, one of those downpours that falls so hard and fast and cold like it only does in the middle of the summer. It was raining and lightening and I was trying to walk home so that I could lay down and die on my grandparents porch, I thought that would make them happy, but I was so sleepy and tired and I thought to myself, I am just going to lie down here, in this ditch and go to sleep.
Suddenly a pair of headlights were behind me shining brightly as a truck stopped and waited. I moved out of the road so that it could go by, but it remained there. I walked up to the door and I heard a voice in my head tell me to go inside the vehicle and stay with the man inside if I wanted to live, but that if I ever left the man I found there I would regret it for the rest of my life. I opened the door and there was actually a man there and I stood staring at him and he said well get in if you want out of the rain or close the door if you enjoy drowning. I got in and sat down and shut the door. As we drove he extended his hand to me and told me his name, which I can't remember. What I remember is how hairy he was, like he hadn't cut his hair or trimmed his beard in a long time. He made me think of a lion, if a lion could be a human being. He wore glasses and had bright blue eyes with flecks of gold and black, I imagined that they looked like the aegean sea in a storm. He had eyes that seemed to stare straight into your soul. He looked just like a boy I had met years ago on a football field at one of the away games and I tried to tell him that I thought we had met before but he just laughed at me. He kept trying to get me to let him take me to a woman that he knew that took in "young girls in trouble". I tried to explain to him that I was an adult, I was 18 but he would just laugh at me, he thought I was under 15 or younger. We went back to his house, he was getting ready to lose it "due to trusting a woman". I remember him standing in front of his fireplace mantle and talking about losing all of his dreams. He talked to me about being in the Marines and watching his friends die in front of him when the barracks was blown up in Lebanon. I don't remember what had happened to the house, but it looked like something, a fire maybe, had happened and that someone had been working on it. I remember him telling me about the plans that he's had to fix it, that he was going to redo it with "cathedral ceilings, I know how to build them" and then he went on with an explanation about how one builds that type of ceiling and I remember thinking that my family would have liked him if they didn't hate me so much. There wasn't any electricity there as he was losing the house. He had only come back to the town to get his tools before he left, so it was really strange that we had met on the road. I remember him saying, just one more day and I wouldn't have been driving on this road to meet you. He decided since I wouldn't let him take me to his friend's house that we needed to go somewhere that was warm where I could take a hot shower. He kept telling me I was going to get pneumonia or something. I remember him driving us somewhere and I guess it was a motel and then I remember throwing up black looking stuff and then I remember waking up and he was holding me and I remember that I had never felt so safe before. I remember thinking that I just needed to keep laying there and nothing bad would ever happen to me again. He had been getting ready to leave, I don't remember where he was going, but I had talked him into taking me with him. We had to go somewhere so that he could see someone to tell them goodbye. I don't remember where it was that we drove to, but we stopped in front of this store. I remember him telling me, "now promise me that you aren't going to go anywhere, I just have to go inside speak to this man and use the bathroom and then we can go." I remember laughing and kissing him and I remember seeing him walk inside the door. That is the last I ever saw of him.
When he went inside my grandfather and some of my uncles and cousins showed up. My old boyfriend had seen me get into this man's truck and had told his mom who had told my father who had called a lot of people to look for me. My grandfather told me to come with him, that my father was in the hospital and dying and if I did not come with him to see him I had no family anymore and that my father's blood would be on my hands and I told him I needed to tell my friend and he said, no, you leave now, with us, and I remember my uncle drawing out the colt 45 that he had under his jacket and saying, it will be better for your friend if you leave with us now, and I knew that they would shoot my friend, so I got out of the truck and my gradfather took my arm. I remember him saying it will be better for your friend if you laugh now and I remember him holding my arm like a vise and squeezing and twisting it and I did laugh almost like a scream as he drug me into the car and took me to see my father.
My father really was dying. He had congestive heart failure and his hands and feet had swollen and burst from all of the fluid and they were literally rotting off of him while he was dying. My grandfather took me back to the farm after that and locked me in the basement for several weeks, my grandmother sliding my meals to me through the door before she would chain it back shut.
Over several months my father's condition worsened. I was let out of the basement and began classes at a local college. I was involved in a serious accident and had signifigant brain trama. It took a long time to recover. During that time I met another man who would later become my husband. I would like to say that my story and difficulty with alcohol ended there, but it didn't . I turned to it once more as I coped with a second serious accident in less than two years and I began drinking on a daily basis. I eventually became pregnant again, and it was only after having my first two children that I realized that if I wanted to be a good mother and raise him that I would have to stop drinking and find more constructive ways to deal with my issues. I have been sober since 1990. I still have a lot of issues and it is a constant stuggle. Unfortunately I find that I struggle with overeating issues, and while its not illegal to overconsume food it certainly is not healthy, so here I am again, admitting that I have all of these issues and realizing that I am still walking this road to being free of addiction, regardless of the substance or behavior.
I haven't drank since 1990, but I will never be free of the tendancy to turn to that or some other substance or habit. During my journey I have learned that I cannot do anything without the help of the Lord. God is the only "substance" substantial enough to free me and keep me free. But i have to pray for help and guidance and reach out to friends for support every day.
I hope if anyone ends up reading this that you will draw support from my story and know that there are people out there that care and that want to help you and that you may sink very far into a pit of hell but you can never sink so far to be beyond god's reach because he does love you and want to help you live a life clean and sober.