Some time after I was 17 and before I was 19, I had 18 months of continuous sobriety through AA. During that period of sobriety, when I spoke about my story, I remembered in what order and at what times different things had happened. After those 18 months, I drank, and I continued to drink for roughly five more years. When I again became sober, the time which has continued until now, I could no longer order things or say what happened when.
So, two important events, both happened when I was 16 years old. I think. I don’t know which happened first. I know the course of these events continued along a corroded thread until I was almost 22. I don’t really know the meaning of the way they occurred together for those years. I don’t even know if there is a meaning.
The easier one to write about is my first drink. Although film evidence suggests I did drink a bit as a toddler, my first noteworthy drink occurred when I was 16. I had very painful periods and massive cramps. This was in the days before Ibuprofen. My periods would debilitate me and I would lay in miserable pain for a day or two. My mother, never one to give sympathy when someone doesn’t feel well, (one time when I thought I would keel over from heat exhaustion she said that would make one less mouth to feed at dinner), would go to work and I’d think I’d probably be dead when she returned.
One day she offered me a nonprescription pain killer. She put rye whiskey in a glass of cola. I drank it. I didn’t like the taste. I have never liked the taste of alcohol, not even a little bit. It always tasted to me like poison, like gasoline or nail polish remover might taste. I drank it down and I laid on my bed, and time passed and I felt sleepy. Then I had a thought that would change my life, that would define my life and would threaten my life. I thought
It hurts just as bad, but I don’t care anymore.
I thought I had found the key to the universe. I liked that feeling so incredibly much, I couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want to be just a little drunk all the time. As the book describes it, I believe that I am a REAL alcoholic. There was no line for me to cross, except the line between ignorance and knowledge. There was no social drinking and no slow build up. There was only before alcohol and after alcohol.
My trip down that hill was swift. I’ll write about it next time I get back to my story. For now I have to list the other thing I started doing when I was 16. I started sleeping with – having sex with – the man across the street. I was 16, he was 32. I loved his wife as a friend. I babysat for his children, two little boys. I had not had sex with anyone before.
I don’t feel like listing details here. I don’t know if I will, or if I should. I think I know what’s important about this experience, at least lots of what’s important about it. Central for me is what it says about my morals at that time. I understand that I was a “child” and he was an adult. I understand that he was overwhelmingly in the wrong. I understand I was a victim.
I FEEL bad and guilty and pitiful. I said yes to him, and to anyone who ever asked. OK only he and one other guy ever asked, but still. That’s maybe more pitiful. I was caught in the attention. I suffered terribly all the six years of that relationship. I swore I would never again be involved in a triangle, in a cheating situation. I believed my only road to happiness was through him, and through him leaving his wife and being with me.
Next time I’ll write how my drinking paralleled this situation in time, almost exactly. It’s important that I understand that though they happened together and ended together, one did not cause the other. Very important.