This week’s HTYH is a continuation of Cindy’s story: I took a drink, the drink took a drink and the drink took me and it didn’t take very long for that to happen. I had a very short drinking career; it grabbed me and took me down—somewhere I never thought I’d be. Alcohol began to run my life; I didn’t go anywhere or do anything if alcohol wasn’t there. I stopped sports and all extracurricular activities at school because they interfered with my partying–partying is all I thought about. I no longer cared if I went to college, coached, or taught, because my whole world evolved around the people that I partied with and I began to get into trouble almost immediately. The first time I got busted for alcohol the police called my Dad. I remember the disgusted look on his face when he came to get me and I think he already knew where I was headed and what was going to happen. The next time the police called my house they said that they had found my car but not me and when I think about that I see the torture my mother was experiencing. I cannot imagine what she must have thought, was her daughter dead, murdered, kidnapped, will I ever see her again? That’s how it was and my alcoholism steadily and progressively worsened. All I thought about was me, my party friends, and alcohol, it was all about me, I thought nothing about the consequences of my actions, or my parents. Through it all I never saw the connection between alcohol and the downward spiral that I was on, or the pain it was causing my parents. I thought it was just bad luck when I got arrested and the bad things happening to me couldn’t be my fault, or be related to alcohol.

My friends and I thought we were so smart and we imagined that we floated above everybody else, especially the squares that didn’t drink alcohol and then one night we were all at a party where lots of underage drinking was going on and the place got raided. The police loaded us into a patty wagon and hauled us all downtown and we made a big joke about it. I was 18 years old then and the court sent us to alcohol classes. We made a big joke about that too and we tormented the poor lady who was trying to teach us about alcoholism but I heard her say something that hit home—she talked about black-outs. I suddenly realized that I had been having black-outs right from the beginning and she claimed that if we were experiencing black-outs we were alcoholics—normal drinkers, she said, “don’t have black outs.” We nevertheless laughed that off and we were drinking shots from the salt shaker and making a big joke out of everything she said because we believed dancing on the table and blacking-out was just part of having fun. Drinking alcohol was fun and if you had fun until you passed out that was having fun in the extreme.

There’s other symptoms too besides black-outs, if you’re an alcoholic, sooner or later you will become a liar, cheat and a thief and although I didn’t want to admit it, I knew in my heart that it was true. I didn’t think I was an alcoholic because I kept a job but my co-workers gave me a calendar with all of the Mondays removed—I was bad about Mondays. When I was 23 I got arrested for drunk driving and it really ticked me off because I wasn’t nearly as drunk as I normally was. But I still did not make a connection between the bad things that were happening to me and alcohol. I didn’t learn anything from that DUI experience—I suffered from extreme denial—another thread commonly found in the fabric of an alcoholic. Alcoholism is the only disease that convinces you that you don’t have it!

To be continued…

John Barleycorn

The phantom writer of the column "Here's to Your Health". This writer is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous and therefore must maintain anonymity. > Read Full Biography > More Articles Written By This Writer