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Grapevine : December 2011
F aith was something I had always wanted, but it was always contingent on my un- derstanding of that which can never be known. Raised un- der the concept of a vengeful God, I was convinced at an early age that my soul would cer- tainly be snatched away and I would be doomed to spend eternity in hell. It was difficult to acquire much faith from that vantage point. A life lived lacking faith is a lonely and confusing existence. Some- where around the third grade I was no longer able to care about school. My grades dropped and my percep- tion of home life became intolerable. Punishments continued to escalate, and I began to contemplate methods I could use to kill myself, particularly when report cards were coming. I had already begun to lie often and knew the grades would not reflect what I had been telling my parents. The con- sequences of my actions seemed too overwhelming to handle. This was the way I saw the world. The reality was that I grew up in a good home with loving parents who did the best they could for me. I was smaller and looked young- er than my classmates. I wanted so badly to fit in. I was a good athlete and enjoyed playing sports. On a field I didn’t feel completely out of place. I was cut from the junior high school baseball team, being told I was too small. I joined the wrestling team in tenth grade but would have had to gain nine pounds to make the 98 pound weight class. Then one day a wondrous event happened. I met a couple of guys in high school who were willing to let me spend time with them. I remem- ber where we bought the beer, my six-pack of ale, the country roads we drove that night, the songs that played on the radio. I clearly remember the bushes I threw up in, thinking to my- sel, This has been the best night of my life. I was 16. My thoughts quickly became concerned with drinking. It didn’t matter what was happen- ing each weekend, as long as alcohol would be present. I started college full of hope. Things would be different here, better. I attended my first class and that fa- miliar feeling of not belonging quickly returned. I soon managed to find a way to drink nearly every night. There were many nights that I sincerely thanked my idea of God for beer and alcohol so that I could have a social life. I worked nights. Working alone at night is not a great idea for a person who has a strong attachment to alco- hol. I went to school every day after drinking every night. However, I did manage to make the dean’s list. After graduation I was going to work almost every morning with a hangover, promising myself and my family I would never do that again. 40 December 2011 GRAPE_39-42.indd 40 10/28/11 2:24 PM