When I regained consciousness, I was upside down in a ditch. A stranger stopped to pull me out of my car. The police arrived and arrested me immediately. The next morning, reality set in. I had done so much damage in my life that my son, Taj, who was 16 at the time, refused to talk to me. That was the last night I drank. For the first time in many years, I wanted to live more than I wanted to drink. I found myself in this weird dilemma: I could no longer see myself drinking, but I had no idea how to live my life without alcohol.
My son was the first person that I told I was going to stop. He had seen plenty of unsuccessful attempts to quit. But he held me, as a parent would hold a child after her first heartbreak, and he told me we would get through it together.
At 16 years old, my child was more of an adult than I was at I became a mother at 18 years old. I had never wanted children. Partying my way through high school and getting drunk with my older brother was my only priority.
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It stayed that way even after I had my son. I never thought I was capable of loving and nurturing a small human; after all, I was raised by a working single mom who rarely showed affection. At 19, I signed over custody of my son to my mother in order to join the Air Force. The rigid environment in basic training forced me to get sober, which lasted until my follow-on training school, where I drank at every opportunity. I assumed this was what people my age were doing in college.
Are You an ‘Almost Alcoholic’?
Unfortunately, my drinking would delay regaining custody of him by almost a year. I wanted to fit in with the guys, and the only way I knew how to do that was to drink with them. So I did, every night. Along with a nonjudicial punishment given by my commanding officer, I received a yearlong suspension of driving privileges on base. This meant many months of working hard to convince my unit and my mother that I was responsible enough to regain custody of my son.
I still drank, but I learned how to do it without being caught. By 21, I resumed full custody. I was determined to take care of my son and not to act irresponsibly anymore. As an aircraft maintenance technician, I worked the day shift on the flight line — until a more senior noncommissioned officer started showing me a lot of extra attention. The guys with whom I worked thought he was harmless, but he soon started stalking me. He left angry messages on my answering machine, letting me know he knew what times I left my dorm and what time I returned.
He would harass me at work. I reported his behavior, but instead of taking disciplinary action against him, my superiors switched me to a different shift and issued him a no-contact order. Then my unit deployed to Diego Garcia, a remote island in the Indian Ocean, and this man began harassing me again. Our unit was busy, and the no-contact order essentially stopped being enforced.
A few days before we were scheduled to return home, the harassment escalated, and he assaulted me in my tent.
I was paranoid. I was combative and angry.
How To Tell If You Have A Drinking Problem Or Just Love To Drink
I disengaged from my life and my son. I left the flight line. People started to notice how much I drank. There were always people at my house getting drunk. I felt as if I had to drink in order to function, or at least appear to function, as a normal human being. Alcohol made me jovial. Alcohol quieted the rage inside me. Alcohol allowed me to sleep.
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Alcohol was my lifeline. Eventually, my commander remanded me to the alcohol-and-substance-abuse program along with anger-management classes.
But the courses never worked. I knew I was an alcoholic, but under no terms did I want to do anything about it.
By , it was time for me to re-enlist. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby. But alcohol sort of compensates for not getting them. In terms of emotional comfort it was our belief that no amount of physical contact could match the healing powers of a well made cocktail. They should be more vivid. Here is one I would suggest: "Alcohol will turn you into the same asshole your father was. Chesterton, Heretics. People outside such relationships will sometimes ask, "How could you let such a business go on for so many years?
Didn't you see the elephant in the living room? I didn't know it was an elephant; I thought it was part of the furniture.
And what can this tell you about American culture? Well, look at the drugs we use. Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in. I can't become a part of a crowd because I can't get past that feeling that I don't belong.
It was a harmless enough hobby, but eventually, I had to give it up.
Questions to Ask to Determine an Alcoholic
Throughout the next twenty-two years I lay still and discovered that after a few minutes I could drop off with no problem. Often I never even made it to the bed. It makes me feel horrible and sexy! The cat jumped up in his seat with indignation. This is pure alcohol!
So I stayed in bed and drank.