High School and After
I had been dating a girl that same year. I don’t know how I pulled that off, it just kind of happened. I’d bring my acoustic guitar to school and saw she could play too, so it went from there. But man, I was even timid around her. It took me forever to grow the guts to kiss her, much less, hold her hand. Everything was on her schedule because she had to make the first move, every time.
I was the first in my group of friends to go all the way, sexually, though. So I had that going for me. It felt like real love at the time. I really thought It was.
I was able to go to prom with her since she was a junior, while I was only a sophomore.
This was another reason for my experimenting with alcohol. I’d be an idiot kid when it came to prom and the many after parties, if I had never drank before.
So there I was, sitting comfortably in World History, feeling beyond great. I could feel as though my eye lids were hanging on for their dear lives. They descended into two slits in the middle of my face, while my mouth was gaping and giggling. Who knows what was so damn funny, I just had to laugh.
I had taken about five swigs in a three-minute period. A tingling sensation grew in the back of my neck, as well as the top of my head. The rest of my body was numb, inside and out. Internally, my conscious revealed that I had just been reborn. I couldn’t remember who or what I used to be, only what I was now.
I turned around to Sam, sitting behind me, and whispered, “Oh my God, getting drunk is awesome!”
She glanced at me, lifted her eyebrows as high as they could go, surprised, exclaiming, “I know.” All the while, nodding her head.
I turned back around in my seat—a chair connected with half of a desk, instead of the full ones we had back in the middle school days. I wasn’t able to get that goofy grin off my face. I was permanently, The Joker from Batman. Sensations of confidence flowed through my body and soul like waves on a beach. Filling me with, what felt like, a new power. A secret that I had found. And it was all mine.
I took another long swig from the bottle that was now half-full. I sat up a little and took a long look around the room at everybody. It was dark, but I could still see all their faces. Now, normally, I’d be thinking everybody was looking at me, judgingly; however, nobody was looking. Nobody was judging (except maybe Sam, who probably thought I was an idiot for drinking in class). This was what having no worries, no fears, and no inhibitions felt like. This was how I was supposed to be—without a care in the world. I didn’t care what others thought of me anymore. I was able to be my true self.
It was awesome that our substitute put on some boring-ass movie, otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have had this alcohol-induced, spiritual and mental revelation. I put on my inconspicuous headphones—my desk was across the room from the teacher’s desk—and pressed play on my Disc-Man. It was a fast-paced punk band known as The Casualties. Their music was blaring inside my head. It seemed like my ears were bleeding.
That felt impeccable.
I felt impeccable.
I wanted to jump out of my desk-chair and go wild. Dance in front of everyone like they weren’t watching, and who gives a damn if they were, too. I needed to keep myself hidden though—I still some smart sense—so instead, I sat back and slunk down in my chair, finding a new love of myself. Loving life. After all these tortuous years, I was finally comfortable in my own skin.
I ended up killing the bottle by next period.
I gotta do this again.
Beep, bzzzz, beep, bzzzz, beep—
The clock radio read 5:00pm in digital, red numbers. Our time was up for this session. I turned to look at Gail—
“Wow, there’s so much more that I gotta tell you.”
“I’m sure there is. What a story, so far! I am very glad you had the courage to tell me certain things. Thank you. That was very brave of you,” she said.
I sat up, then glanced down at my black chucks, shaking my head, “that’s funny. ‘Cuz that is nothing compared to the rest.” I looked at her, eyes up but my head down.
She jotted down something on her clipboard. Maybe where I left off in the story, for when I’d see her next time. But I wasn’t ready to end it there…
“Can I at least finish the high school part? It won’t take but a minute.”
She looked at the clock again and asked if I could make it quick. I nodded and began, again—
“Ok, well… I ended up breaking up with that girl I was dating back then, after I went to prom with her and her friends twice. She was crushed, heartbroken. I never thought that would come back and bite me in the ass later.
But it sure did. And I’m not talking about the rumors she started about me either.
I started to tell her about how I experimented with pills that went great with alcohol. I remembered sitting in Geometry, feeling a few Valium kick-in with some vodka I drank earlier. As it kicked in, The Verve’s “Bittersweet Symphony” started to play in my headphones. I slowly melted into my seat feeling pure ecstasy—until I later tried real X at a show, which was truly surreal.
I mentioned that I loved X. Took it every time I had the chance. I didn’t care for mushrooms or acid, though. I had had a bad trip when my parents weren’t home and my buddy brought over a gallon-sized Zip-lock bag of shrooms, then told the five of us to eat up. I wish I knew how much I took ‘cuz it was horrible, everybody went insane. I tried acid and found it a lot more smoother than caps (shrooms). I’ve even “Yoda Flipped,” which is where you take X on top of acid, while snorting bumps of Ketamine. “That was a fun night.” Gail shook her head at that.
Acid was always great; that is, until I was tripping and felt a sharp pain in my lower abdomen. It hurt so bad, but I couldn’t tell my parents because I thought it was from the acid.
A day later, I couldn’t bear the pain anymore so I eventually told them. They took me to the Emergency Care doctor who said my white blood cell count was through the roof and I needed to be rushed to the hospital. My appendix had ruptured. I then told Gail that a doctor in the E. R. told me I’d be dead, had I waited another day—
“Oh my god!” Gail stopped me. “Ok, this is becoming longer than a minute. Let me check to see where my next client is.”
“Sure thing, doll.”
Every female nurse or counselor has been a victim of my pathetic but friendly charm.
After she picked up the phone and waited a few seconds, she started talking. I took glances around the room looking at the different furniture, pictures, and little knick-knacks she had. Of course, she had a full bookcase containing probably every textbook she bought for schooling and counseling. She had two different versions of the DSM, including the most recent one (DSM-IV, at the time). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s used to categorize and determine a patient’s diagnosis. It has a list of every single disorder and disease you can think of. If your therapist doesn’t have one on their shelf, it’s time to find someone else.
She hung up the phone after a minute and said her client was running a little late so I can continue if I want.
“Of course I do. Quickly, though.” I gestured my hands in a chop-chop motion. Then stuck out my index finger, rolling it—
“I had a band back then, too, where I played drums. Sorta hippy jam band, but we had a decent following. It was right before our last show when my appendix flaked-out on me, so we had to cancel the gig. I was super pissed.
I started to finish the rest of my high school story by commenting on how I was drinking everyday at school; gettin’ at least, tipsy. Then I’d have a wicked hangover at the end of the day. That’s when the drugs came in handy. That’s when I started doing cocaine at parties, then quickly, everywhere.
As a senior, I’d sell key bumps to underclassmen for five bucks a pop. Stupid kids. Then we graduated. When I walked, tons of people cheered. The alcohol had been my liquid courage throughout the years, which brought me out of my shell and into a new life. The life I always wanted. I became a popular guy, knowing almost everyone in my school and also dated some very cute girls. On the other hand, I told her, I was becoming an alcoholic, though I didn’t know it at the time. Even for graduation, I took some X and drank before our school-run graduation party, afterwards.
Out of high school, nothing changed. I kept drinking. Blacking out became a routine thing for me. I felt like a detective the morning after, trying to figure out what I did the night before.
I was constantly sneaking out of the house and fighting with my parents. They couldn’t take much more of my destructive behavior, so we agreed that I go see a therapist. We tried to keep it a secret, but I didn’t care—I was either drunk or high on something. Even when I met up with my new shrink. I couldn’t talk to him unless I had drink beforehand.
One time I had to pay a bum to get me a pint of whiskey, so I ended up being late. In his office, I would talk and talk and talk, usually about nothing, and always being a smart ass. This lasted a few months, until one day I could see and feel what the drugs and alcohol were doing to me. My liver hurt, I had scars and bruises obscuring my pale skinny body. My parents then brought up rehab. Initially I said, “no, absolutely not!”
Until, I finally gave in and told my shrink that I was sick. His eyes were half-closed with his head resting on his hand when I said, ‘I think I need help.’
He jumped up as if he’d been shocked by a taser. “Yes, yes, you think?” he said.
The expression on his face was of priceless. I think he was tired of my blabbing and knew I drank every time I saw him. So he called my parents, who had already found a rehab, and two days later… I was off.
I took a big breath in and slowly exhaled.
“So then you went to rehab,” said Gail, confirming.
“Yep. The first one.” I nodded.
“Ok well, thank you for having the courage to tell me all this. I know it was hard for you. So… I’ll see you next week?”
“Indeedy. And that’s when things get juicy.”
She laughs as I close the door, thinking of how I’m going to get high today…