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Grapevine : March 2011
room sofa, got sick, blacked out and passed out. An alcoholic was born and Nana never got to baby-sit again. I began drinking seriously as a sophomore in college. I was a time bomb waiting to explode. The emo- tional, mental and spiritual parts of the disease were in full bloom. The truth be told, I was an addict pure and simple. Give me a person, place, thing or substance and I would overdo: food, alcohol, drugs, lust, men, success, power, money, vanity, partying, popularity, shopping, smok- ing, lying, jealousy, hating, resenting, coveting, religion, education and lots of toys. I was out of control. Believe me, I tried every self-help program and therapy. As much as I tried, I could not stop the insanity. My life was full of contradic- tions: voted most likely to succeed and named to my university's "Hall of Fame" while fading in from blackouts in strange places with even stranger people; on the verge of a major pro- motion and trying to avoid personal bankruptcy. I would create with one hand and come along to destroy with the other. I just could not stop snatch- ing defeat from the jaws of victory. From a distance, I looked together. Up close, I was glued and taped together. I remember very vividly the chains of addiction and the pain it caused others and me. If you thought I treated you badly, it was nothing in comparison to how I treated myself. I lived in self-imposed slavery to my disease; prison camp Beverly. An ob- sessive, power-driven perfectionist, I never had enough or was enough; never measured up to my outlandish expectations. In my disease, I beat up on the people who attempted to love me, going through family, friends and jobs like pop-up tissues in a box. In the middle of my second di- vorce, I was barely functioning in a high-stress job. I was power- and money-driven and obsessively climb- ing ladders that led nowhere. I was so lost I should have died. On one of those very gray and misty New York City days, in late February 1984, I was hit between the eyes with the two-by-four of truth. It was a leap year and I had been out celebrating at a Sadie Hawkins party into the wee hours of the morning. I recall feeling especially desperate that day, hope- less and full of fear. My hangover had kept me out of work. It was two o'clock in the after- noon and I decided to take another stab at getting up. I had a bad case of the shakes and was not very sta- ble. Losing my footing, I tripped and braced myself on the bureau just a few feet away. It was then that I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. Horrified, I saw the face of death. Falling to the floor, I screamed out sobbing to God. "Please, help me. Please God, save me from myself. What is my problem? Why do I keep screwing up?" I believe they were the one, if not 40 March 2011