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Grapevine : January 2012
house, new school—and I had always felt like an outsider everywhere I went. Now I knew how to act tough. It was my world now, and I would choose who the outsiders would be. This isn’t to say that my new- found attitude came easy. In fact it was taking a more serious toll on me than I could admit at the time. I was constantly on edge; what if someone found out what a phony I was? It was at this point in my life that I started drinking for effect. be- fore I was drinking just to fit in and gain approval, but now I had come to equate alcohol with relief. I was drinking to escape before I had my 10 th birthday. Having learned the “proper” way to drink from some grade-A drunkards, I knew nothing of the concept of controlled drinking. At the very beginning I was taught that if you drank less than your friends or couldn’ t handle your liquor, you were less than a man. Since I was so desperately seeking approval, my drinking started at alarming levels. I didn’t have a beer, a shot, a cocktail—I drank absolutely ev- erything I could get my hands on. Once I started drinking I didn’t stop until I blacked out or the booze was gone. The more frequently I drank, the more intensely I drank. It wasn’ t long before I could out-drink my older friends and adults. Funny thing was, once I started that mode of drinking I had no control of my behavior. I didn’t know where I would wind up, what would happen, who I would fight or where my clothes would go. That’s when I started devel- oping my “stage character” our big book talks about. On the outside I had to pretend that I was enjoying my escapades. I wanted everyone to think that everything was no big deal, that I could take it all in stride. The truth was that I was horrified at the things I would do. I hated myself and every episode made it worse. I wanted to die. I sat with a ra- zor on my wrist every sober night— crying, wishing, cursing and plead- ing. I knew that a drink would fix how I felt. I had learned to drink to oblivion, and that was what I was after. I had to completely separate myself from my consciousness. I couldn’t stand to be inside my own skin anymore. my obsession to drink was now in full force at age 12. I was willing to do anything to get to that blank space. It wasn’t long before I had drunk up the reputation I imagined I had as a tough, cool guy. I had no friends. No one wanted to be around me anymore. I was either so completely smashed that I couldn’t speak (let alone keep my bodily fluids where they were supposed to be), or I was sober and crushingly depressed. No one wanted to be drooled on or lis- ten to me cry and moan. I had been arrested several times by now and found myself needing to hide out 18 January 2012 GRAPE_16-21.indd 18 11/22/11 3:57 PM