Garrod - Case 13

Garrod - Case 13 - BEYON D THE EUPHOREC BUZZ This anther, a...

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Unformatted text preview: BEYON D THE EUPHOREC BUZZ This anther, a college junior, describes her double life as a high school studentmrespected stndent leader and secret weekend drinker. Growing up in a permissive family in Florida, Saran slips into a pattern ofbinge drinking, drunkenness, and promiscnity. With ntrnost skill, she manages to keep her high school responsibilities and her drinking compartmentalized and for a while sees no need to change her habits. However, finding “common ground " and romance with a Chinese American man at college compels her to reassess lzer life and to master lier addiction. Now a wife and mother, she commits herself to "a whole new appreciation for the sober life " and to caring for her husband and infant child. Someone go find Luke? His girlfriend is puking.” l’m lying on the bathroom floor; of the hotel room. Luke and i? had been going together for only a month, when he had asked me to be his date for his junior prom. We drank together plenty in those four weeks, but this was the first time I had gotten sick. In my excitement at the after—party, I had veered from my “Beer then liquor, never sicker” rule, and that’s how i came to be in my present situation. I wake up to see Luke walking through the hotel room’s bathroom door. “Oh, hi.” I try to smile, but the room is spinning wildly. I can’t make it stop. 1' close - my eyes. Oh, worse. 1 grab the toilet bowl to puke some more. 1 hate vomiting. It feels like my guts are being yanked out through my mouth for everyone to have a look at. But there’s nothing i can do to stop it. 1 keep waking up, feeling the room spin, puking, then falling back asleep. At some point Luke decides I. need to get in the shower. I argue with him be— cause I can’t move without the entire room turning into a carousel gone mad, spin— ning and spinning. Eventually, he ignores my whimpers. As he stands me up, dizziness overwhelms me. lbegin to fall in slow motion. The world is tipping, like a bottle of tequila, and I’m inside, sloshing back and forth sickeningiy. . . . 3.89 190 ' pita 1i earnestness I am lying in the bathtub. Every movement creates another current in the water around me and the bottle sways back and forth. I slosh from side to side bumping my head on the glass side. Luke is trying to hold the small. plastic flag}; bin for me to puke into. 1 stop throwing up as the waves die down. i move my arm to get comfortable. More waves. More vomiting. 1 knock the trash bin on its side and vomit spills into the bath water. For just a moment I’m watching the room from above. l myself lying there pitifully; sopping clothes, stringy hair, unable to control. my bodily functions, bits of vomit floating around me. Then i’m. back in- side me, inside the bottle that almost finds equilibrium to stand up straight, but then something sets it rocking again. After what seems like hours i drift back to sleep, with Luke holding my head above the water. I’m too exhausted to keep up the fight. Luke says 1 need to change into some dry, clean clothes. 1 look at him. He’s never seen me without clothes on. But there’s no way i can argue. I obviously can’t go to bed like this, and i can’t even stand up by myself. My body is not my own, He pushes my pants down to my ankles and sits me on the toilet to pull them off and to put on dry ones. 1 relax into his arms as he carries me to the bed. Looking back at that night, 1 marvel that i never apologized to Luke. I re- member feeling awkward because I had never become so ill from drinking, and I wasn’t sure how to act. But apologizing was not my instinctive response. Instead, as soon as I had the realization that I had ruined Luke’s big night, lbegan making excuses for myself. “it was only his junior prom,” I told myself. My philosophy had always been that whenl make a mistake, i should resist guilt and invest my energy in learning from the experience instead. But learning from my mistakes assumes some logical causewwsomething solvable. When drinking became the source of my mistakes, my already formed habit of avoiding guilt became a perpetuating force for my mental addiction. if I didn’t feel guilty about the negative consequences of my drinking, what would motivate me to quit? Today I can answer that question easily. I am finishing my last year in col~ lege, I arn a wife and mother, and l comfortably identify myself as a nondrinker. But I. cannot pretend that the person lam today is unconnected to my past. Just two and a half years ago i was driving home drunk, with a six-pack on the seat next to me, and l cruised into a tree in my front yard, putting a sizeabie dent in my mom’s car hood. 80 l must ask, how did things get so bad? Are there aspects of my per- sonality that allowed me to sink so low or was this a simple case of alcohol addic- tion? And what keeps me from having a drink tomorrow, starting the whole cycle over again? What I’ve found is that the more i uncover in the complex netWorks of my mind, the more I see how this will be a lifetime process of realization and readjustment. 1 am the youngest of four girls in my family. So, I learned everything about growing up from watching my sisters go through it. School, boyfriends, adoles- cence, alcohol, high school, drugs . . . i saw it allwfirst through the eyes of a little girl, and then later as I experienced it myself. Lilliana, my oldest sister by six years, was my idol growing up. She was a cheerleader. She was on Homecoming Court. She was popular. She drank, she par- \‘D p"; CASE 13 ssvono THE surnomc soz'z' ' 1 tied. After a while she even did drugs. Pot. Acid. Probably more. But I knew her only as my beautiful, glamorous sister whom I wanted to be just like when I grew up. Her teenage years were extremely hard on the family. Lilliana was anything but subtle in her disobedience. She would yell and scream at my mother at the slightest cause. it was not unusual to find my mother chasing her around the kitchen table, out the front door, and around the rickety old station wagon parked in the driveway. She wielded a wooden paddle and a fierce look—«intent not on hurting her, but on disciplining her rebellious spirit by punishing her defiant acts. My parents learned a lesson in dealing with Lilliana~you can’t force a teenager to do what you want. So they never took an authoritarian approach with the rest of usurWhereas my parents Wouid try to tell Lilliana to come home at one and she would purposely stay out all night, 1 never had a curfew. Their strategy with the rest of us was to persuade us to do what they thought was best by ream soning with us, discussing the issues, telling us about their experiences. But uiti- mately, the decision was ours. They understood that sometimes hearing about their mistakes wasn’t enough. We needed to experience and learn for ourselves too. And that was our relationship, for as long as I lived in that household. l re— spected my parents, obeyed their few rules, considered their abundant counsel, and made my own choices. I could say that not having a curfew was conducive to excessive partying. I could say that being allowed to drink at home was convenient for hearty drinking. But I don’t. I never blame my parents for any position l found myself in, I made my own decisions and l dealt with the repercussions myself. As the offspring of genuine hippies, drugs were never a taboo topic. Grow— ing up, I knew that my parents had lived on a commune with a diet consisting mostly of tofu and pot for the majority of their young adult lives. I was raised on all the “psychedelic” music of the 1960s and by the tune iwas 12 knew all about the allusions to drugs in the Beatles’ songs and many others. But drug use was not a subiect that I took lightly. A memory is imprinted on my mind not because it had great meaning or emotional impact, but from sheer repetition. My mother would be doing some- thing around the house and talking to me at the same time. Suddenly she would stop—always midsentence, sometimes midword. It appeared that she was just pausing in order to concentrate better on what she was doing. l. would wait for her to finish the task, expecting her to then complete the sentence, but she never would. “Mom. What were you going to say?” "What?" “What were you going to say? You were just telling me to do something.” “Oh,” she would say with surprise. “l was? l’m sorry, honey, I don’t remember.” "But Mom!" I would reply, drawing out the “o” in exasperation. "You were just saying it.” "l’m sorry, sweetie.” And the conversation was over. Now for that to happen once is understandable, twice is forgivable, three times a little trying. But over and 192 PART ll RELATlON SHIPS over and over . . . it’s something you can’t forget. Later when I found on” is a typical symptom of being “burnt out,” this memory served as the Ere centive I could ever ask for never to try pot. By the time I was 13, both Lilliana and Rachel, eighteen months my elder were heavily into drugs. Everyone knew it, but there wasn’t much we mum m; as ‘ They totally dropped out of family life. Not just by neglecting chores, but grills: retracting all emotional investment. They couldn’t stand to be around the farm-j“. without the buffer of being high. They only valued smoking and people W116 smoked with them. They were always off in their fairy-tale land where everything was cool and chill and nothing really mattered. High school was a wonderful time, filled with new experienCes, new farms, new challenges. Our freshman class was composed of six hundred students, wan- dering through the halls I saw many familiar faces from middle school, and many new ones. I smiled brightly and said hello to everyone, without hesitation. During the second week of school I was in the attendance office and 1 saw sign~up sheets for anyone who wanted to run for Freshmen Board. Instantly, my mind was flooded with memories of helping Lilliana run for student office. Late nights spent making stickers that read, "Vote for Lilliana Fox!” with little legs and a bushy tail drawn around the “Fox.” It sounded like fun! I put my name dOWn for treasurer, a notable title without a lot of Work, I thought. The following week I made posters and stickers that looked like a sun and wrote “Vote for Sarah Sunshine!" To my surprise, I won. The following week a freshmen student assembly was called to introduce the Freshmen. Board. The four elected ones sat in four lonely chairs on the vast gym- nasium floor. The kids who filled the seats in the towering bleachers were full of that first-Week~of-school, fidgeting, bottled—up kind of energy. The assistant prin- cipal spoke (for too long) and then began introducing the board. Finally, it was my turn! “And here is your newly elected treasurer, Sarah Fox.” Applause, stomping, yelling. Wowi Was that louder than they had cheered for the President? It sure sounded like it to me. But as I approached the microphone, the mob before me was still daunting. "Thanks for electing us to Freshmen Board,” I said with a smile. "Our goal is to make school a more enjoyable place. And I think we’ve done good so far. We got you out of class today, didn’t we?” Booting, hollering! l was beginning to blush. They hadn’t cheered during anyone else’s speeches. As it was getting quiet again, Ted Williams, hunk of the class, yelled out, "We love you, Sarah Sunshine!” That started another round of rowdiness. Realizing that I could control this great throng, I willed my bashfulness to disappear. “Okay, okay,” I said, as if I was used to this, unimpressed. I continued with my speech, and glancing up, 1 saw it. Peo- ple were actually listening to me! With this reassurance, l flashed smiles at faces I recognized. When I came to the end of my note cards, I headed. to my seat. The compulsory applause followed. But i couldn't stand such a mediocre ending. lust before I reached my seat l dashed back to the podium. "Freshmen class rules!” I cried into the microphone. They exploded! They stood on their seats, they went hat atest in- CAGE l3 BEYOND THE EUPHORIC BUZZ 193 wild! But i wasn’t a participant in the excitementfll was the leader of it. Yes, that’s right, follow my lead, I chuckled to myself, as l sat dOWn. Looking back i see that this experience had quite an impact on me. That feel— ing of power over the multitude was intoxicating. Until thenl had lived like a lit~ tie girl, without a care about the consequences of my words and actions. But in the course of that speech 1 lived my first calculated moments. I did not smile or speak as 1 always had, out of an impulsive, friendly instinct. I acted in order to produce a desired effect. 1 was rewarded for my calculation with instant popularity. As my high school career progressed, i treated every action as a political statement. Being on class board was not just about popularity, for me. i quickly involved myself in every aspect of the school’s inner workings. The principal of the school once introduced me saying, “This girl runs the school. She holds everything to— gether around here with her sunshine smile.” i once let a curse word slip out in ciass and was sent to the office. “Look,” 1 said to the assistant principal. “I’ve heard you use that word how many times? How are you gonna. punish me for it?” Not only did i have administrative immunity, but i was making honor roll without try- ing terribly hard and all my teachers loved me. i seemed to spread the fairy-tale glitter of my life over everything and every- one that 1 came in contact with. And the better i became at playing to the crowd, the better my life seemed to get. I couldn’t have asked for more. This was every girl's dream of high school. So why shouldn’t lbecome totally immersed in it? Yes, it required some acting, putting up of facades, surrendering of my hopes to live life with childlike innocence. But it was worth it. Hell, it Was more than worth it. What i had was better than innocence. It was perfection. Throughout junior high and freshman year of high school 1 never drank. I had always been firm in my refusal to drink, to the point that 1 never had to men— tion it; it was known. I was confident in my role and l felt I was being wise. So when I decided to get drunk for the first time 1 could honestly say it was a choice that I made for myself when I felt I was ready. I wasn’t just following the crowd. I wanted to try it. I set the date in my head and then i told eyeryone else. "Next Sat— urday I’m going to get drunk,” I said. “All right! We’ll have to get some good. stuff, then!” That was Frank. He was two years older than me and had this incredibly charismatic personality. He had an air of relaxed confidence about hirn, as if he were so cool he could just relax about it. We were part of a group that-hung out on the beach every night. He lived near me so he often drove me home in his jeep. All. that week I looked forward to it. On Friday, Frank asked, “Why don’t you just do it tonight?” “Nope. Tomorrow. Don’t worry, Frankie, it’ll be just as fun!" And was it everf I drank a beer and felt giddy. l was talking and laughing, which is not un- common for me. Everything just seemed to have an extra sparkle. Then I drank are other and l was off and running. Weighing one hundred pounds, I knew it wouldn’t take much alcohol to affect me. “Let’s go down to the water!” I said ex— citedly. I met with groans and sighs. "It’s too far.” no Ix} ' PAIR-Til"- IREEATIONSHIPS over and over . . . it’s something you can’t forget. Later when I found out that this is a typical symptom of being “burnt out,“ this memory served as the centiye i could ever ask tor never to try pot. By the time I was 13, both Lilliana and Rachel, eighteen months my Bide? were heavily into drugs. Everyone knew it, but there wasn’t much we could d5 about it. I resented the huge role that pot played in Rachel's and Lilliana’s lives. They totally dropped out of family life. Not just by neglecting chores, but also by retracting all emotional investment. They couldn’t stand to be around the family without the buffer of being high. They only valued smoking and people who smoked with them. They were always off in their fairy—tale iand where everything was cool and chill and nothing reaily mattered. High'school was a wonderful time, filled with new experiences, new faces, new challenges. Our freshman class was composed of six hundred students, Wan- dering through the halls I saw many familiar faces from middle school, and many new ones. i smiled brightly and said hello to everyone, without hesitation. During the second week of school i was in the attendance office and I saw sign-up sheets for anyone who wanted to run for Freshmen Board. instantly, my mind was flooded with memories of heiping Lilliana run for student office. Late nights spent making stickers that read, "Vote for Lilliana Fox! ” with little legs and a bushy tat} drawn around the “Fox.” it sounded like fun? i put my name dOWH for treasurer, a notable title without a lot of work, I thought. The following week I made posters and stickers that looked like a sun and wrote “Vote for Sarah Sunshine!” To my surprise, 1 won. The following week a freshmen student assembiy was called to introduce the Freshmen Board. The four eiected ones sat in four lonely chairs on the vast gym- nasium floor. The kids who filled the seats in the towering bleachers were full of that first~weel<—of~schooi, fidgeting, bottled-up kind of energy. The assistant prin- cipal spoke (for too long) and then began introducing the board. Finaiiy, it was my turn? "And here is your newly elected treasurer, Sarah Fox.” Applause, stomping, yelling. Wowt Was that louder than they had cheered for the President? It sure sounded like it to me. But as I approached the microphone, the mob before me was still daunting. "Thanks for electing us to Freshmen Board,” I said with a smile. "Our goal is to make school a more enjoyabie place. And i think we’ve done good so far. We got you out of class today, didn’t we?” Hooting, hollering! I was beginning to biush. They hadn’t cheered during anyone else’s speeches. As it was getting quiet again, Ted Williams, hunk of the class, yelled out, "We love you, Sarah Sunshine!” That started another round of rowdiness. Realizing that I could control this great throng, I willed my bashfulness to disappear. “Okay, okay,” I said, as ifl was used to this, unimpressed. I continued with my speech, and glancing up, i saw it. Peo- ple were actually listening to met With this reassurance, I flashed smiles at faces I recognized. 'When 1 came to the end of my note cards, I headed to my seat. The compulsory applause followed. But i couldn’t stand such a mediocre ending. }ust before I reached my seat 3: dashed back to the podium. “Freshmen class rulesi” l cried into the microphone. They exploded! They stood on their seats, they went greatest its g l .‘3‘ P? .2' “3 :3 a :3 § § s i l r s 3‘. i a. i. s g: l 5. i 3 "tiara Bet/divstserersoncsrizz . 1,3... .. . wild? But} wasn’t a participant in the excitementml was the leader of it. Yes, that’s right, follow my lead, I chuckled to myself, as I sat down. Looking back i. see that this experience had quite an impact on me. That feel— ing of power over the multitude was intoxicating. Until then l had lived like a lit- tle girl, without a care about the consequences of my words and actions. But in the course of that speech i lived my first calculated moments. I did not smile or speak as 1 always had, out of an impulsive, friendly instinct. I acted in order to produce a desired effect. 1 was rewarded for my calculation with. instant popularity. As my high school career progressed, I treated every action as a political statement. Being on class board was notjust about popularity, for me. [quickly involved myself in. every aspect of the school’s inner workings. The principal of the school once introduced me saying, "This girl runs the school. She hoids everything to— gether around here with her sunshine smile.” I once let a curse word slip out in class and was sent to the office. “Look,” I said to the assistant principal. “I’ve heard you use that word how many times? How are you gonna punish me for it?” Not only did l have administrative immunity, but i was making honor roll without try— ing terribly hard and all my teachers loved me. I seemed to spread the fairy-tale glitter of my life over everything and every- one that I came in contact with. And the better I became at playing to the crowd, the better my life seemed to get. I couldn’t have asked for more. This was every girl’s dream of high school. So why shouldn’t i become totally immersed in it? Yes, it required some acting, putting up of facades, surrendering of my hopes to live life with childlike innocence. But it was worth it. Hell, it was more than worth it. What I had was better than. innocence. It was perfection. Throughout junior high and freshman year of high school i. never drank. 1 had always been firm in my refusal to drink, to the point that I never had to men— tion it; it was known. 1. was confident in my role and i felt I was being wise. So when i decided to get drunk for the first time 1 could honestly say it was a choice that I made for myself when I felt I was ready. I wasn’t just following the crowd. I wanted to try it. I set the date in my head and then I told. everyone else. “Next Sat- urday I’m. going to get drunk,” I said. ' “All right! We’ll have to get some good stuff, then!” That was Frank. He was two years older than me and had this incredibly charismatic personality. He had an air of relaxed confidence about him, as if he were so cool he could just relax about it. We were part of a group that hung out on the beach every night. He lived near me so he often drove me home in his jeep. All that week i looked forward to it. On Friday, Frank asked, “Why don’t you just do it tonight?“ “Nope. Tomorrow. Don’t worry, Frankie, it’ll be just as fun!” And was it ever! I drank a beer and felt giddy. l was talking and laughing, which is not un- common for me. Everything just seemed to have an extra sparkle. Then l drank an- other and I was off and running. Weighing one hundred pounds, i knew it wouldn’t take much alcohol to affect me. “Let’s go down to the wateri” I said ex— citedly. I met with groans and sighs. “It’s too far.” m1 194 PARTII RELATIONSHIPS “Aw come on, Sarah, just sit down and relax." "Come on, come on! It’ll be fun!” I urged. “Come on!” I said putting,m Frank’s arm. Finally Diana, who had not yet tried drinking, decided to g0 dowr- with me. And then I convinced. Frank to come too. “I’ll race ya," I said to Diana am; set off running. I arrived at the water’s edge out of breath. Diana was trailing be, hind me, laughing. "Sarah, you’re such a nut” she cried happily. “Oooh!” I said, as I had another thought, “Let’s go swimming!” And before she could respond I was running toward the water. As soon as it was deep enough I- Collapsed into the water. I feit it ciose in around me, hugging my body, making me warm. I moved and turned, feeiing the water swirl around me. And after a while I popped my head out of the water, took a gulp of air, then iet the water en- veiop me again. I just lay there this time. Letting the lull of the waves move my body for me, relaxed completely. And then I felt arms around me. Real, humah arms. Someone was dragging me out of the water. “Oh, hi Frankie!” "Diana. thought you were drowning,” he said flatly. He didn’t sound amused. “Oh. Well, I wasn’t,” I explained. I began thinking how unfortunate it was that he had pulled me out. It was so much warmer in the water! He set me on the ground. And then I caught sight of the sky. “Ooooh! Diana look at the stars!” Isaid. “Let’s spin! ” I stretched my arms out, let my head fall back, and spun around and around and around, looking at the stars in. the heavens. I was a little girl again. Grinning so widely that my cheeks bulged out to twice their normal size. No cares outside of the here and now. Ah life! What joy! I sat down and pondered with amazement, whiie the world slowly stopped spinning around me. This is the story of the first time I got drunk. But it is also the story of howl fell in love with the drunken state of mind, and still love it today. Being drunk is like being a kid again. When I was drunk I could experience careless bliss. Once I tasted the forbidden fruit, I couldn’t give it up. When I discovered. that being drunk was like artificial childlike innocence, I. couldn’t resist. And why should I? I could have my cake and eat it too. Sophomore year '1 was elected class president. I was passionate about the Work I was doing to improve the school. The people around me seemed to sense my dedication. It was the same with all the people I worked with: facilities man- agers, administrators, students, teachers. They worked extraordinarily well with me and for me because they respected me professionally, liked me personally, and thought that the final results of my work repaid their efforts. My products were in- herently more valuable because I put so much of my self into my Work. I wasn’t just the president anymore; I became a public figure. As much depended on my personal integrity as on my capability. Sophomore year I was partying with all the most popular kids on campus. Yes, I stood out from the crowd, but only because when I wanted to have fun, I really had fun. No inhibitions, no quiet reservations. Everyone had a “One time case is BEYOND THE EUPHORIC suzz I I 195 Sarah was so drunk . . story to tell at school the following Monday and I thought it was great. 1 always drank to get drunk. And. 1 usually passed out sometime during the night. I knew people thought it was a big deal to black out but it didn’t make much sense to me. Passing out to me was just like falling asleep. And when can anyone remember the exact circumstances of falling asleep? l remembered my nights in the form of a flash: action, feeling. And the emotion washes over me, in that flash, with an intensity that can hardly be paralleled when. sober. Why dilute that memory with specifics and particulars? In my eyes, i was sucking the marrow out of life. From the second or third time I got drunk I began to think about alcoholigm. i still. wonder, was my instinct warning me, from the very beginning? Could I have known somewhere deep within my subconscious that I was too in love with being drunkmwthat it could become a problem for me? 1 wanted to find out more about al- coholism, but I was scared my political career would be over if my secret concerns became known. in eleventh grade the opportunity I had been waiting for finally came. 1 had to do a documentary on a topic of my choice. 1 immediately knew 1 wanted to interview recovering alcoholics and counselors for substance abuse; then take what E learned from them and apply it to students who were known as fun partiers. i wanted to show that what most people thought of as harmless fun. was truly dangerous. Looking back I realize that I wanted to increase social aware- ness so that people like me would be taken seriously. The best definition of alco~ holism [heard from those interviews was, “When your alcohol use begins having a negative effect on more than one area of your life and you continue to drink." The only problem is that the more addicted one becomes, the more subjective one’s judgment becomes. The definition of what’s “bad enough" keeps sliding. Going into the summer before senior year i had it all made. i was managing to keep my school responsibilities and my drinking compartmentalized, balanced. At that time i was involved in my most serious relationship yet, over one-ende- half years long. His name was Luke. His family was moving to Orlando at the start of the summer, about six hours upstate, and he was leaving for the state university in the fall. Lately, I’d noticed myself iooking at other guys. 1 was just hoping to stay faithful until he left, and then i’d be free. i had already convinced him it would. be better not to attempt a long—distance relationship. Two days before Luke’s departure, we Went to a party. When I had become sufficiently intoxicated, I. pulled aside Steve, a friend of his that i had always thought was cute. “So, listen,” I said. “Luke is leaving on Tuesday. Why don’t you give me a call and We can go party or something?” fie looked at me quizaicaiiy, peering into my face to confirm the implications he thought he had just heard. His face broke into a broad smile. "Sure." Tuesday came and Luke left. Thursday came and Steve called. We went to a kicking party. The end of the night found us skinny-dipping in the jacuzzi. We made out passionately in the steamy water. He pressed himself against me, and. for the first time in my life i seriously considered not saving myself for marriage. 196 PART II RELATIONSHIPS Luckily, I was too nervous about the whole situation (nude in a strange place with my recent ex~boyfriend’s good friend) to do anything. A few nights later I went to another party at the same girl’s house There was an attractive guy there who I had my eye on. He had graduated from my high school two years eariier. When I introduced myself, he said, "I know. I used to watch you during lunch when you sat outside.” I was flattered. He used to watch me from afar! I always wanted an admirer! As the party cleared out, Christoth and I were left on the fold—out couch. We started making out and it got pretty in. tense pretty quickly. At some point he asked. me whether I wanted to “do it.” I said Inever had and he dropped it. A while later he brought it up again and after a few minutes of pondering i said sure. }'nst iike that. That night seemed like it never ended. I don’t know what girls are talking about when they say the first time hurts, I thought it was terrific. Over and over. At times I would forget his name, then the next time I woke up I’d remember it. I awoke the next morning and knew right away that everything had changed. Why had I decided to go for it? I asked. myself. I had no answer. Saving myself for marriage was such an integral part of my self-identity as a moral, good person. Without my virginity, I was left devoid of any positive self—image. It took less than one moment to decide my response. I would not regret los- ing my Virginity to Christopher. No regrets! I would make it a meaningful expert ence by developing a reai relationship with him. And if that worked, wouldn’t it be fantastic ifl actually ended up marrying my first? For the next month, there was little time that we spent together when we weren’t drunk or having sex. But we were getting to know each other a little more. For instance, I learned he was much more uptight than I was, he had been a com- plete loser at school, he had been kicked out of' two state universities in the past year, and none of his friends or family thought highiy of him. In fact, anyone who knew about us tried to convince me that I shouldn’t be with him. Not many peo- _ ple knew, though. If any of my friends from school heard I was with him, they might also hear that l was sleeping with him. And that,-I knew, would be the end of my perfect reputation at school. Our relationship was a constant roller coaster. Every time something came up that put us on less than good terms, I panicked. I could sense that Guilt was just out of eyesight, impending, threatening, and if we didn’t stay together it would come barreling down on me. It got to the point that the simpiest interaction, like calling him up, required having at least a few drinks to calm my nerves and raliy up my courage. After about five weeks I stopped caring. I found what I needed in my drink- ing. I finality ended it by kissing another guy. While We had been together, I told myself that Christopher would be the only exception to my sexual abstinence. But once we broke up, Guiit again threatened to overcome me. I still. did not want to surrender to it. The only alternative was to keep going without looking back. That’s just what I did. AH summer I partied every night. Drinking was starting to lose its excite- ment. My new thrill was hooking up with whomever I wanted. There was a certain ED ‘1 CASE 1'3 ' BEYOND *f‘IiE-EUPI—iGRICBUZZ' 1 satisfaction in knowing that I could seduce anyone. My conquests were always one-night stands and I never became emotionally involved. Looking back it was as if I became a completely different person when I went out drinking. Never would Ihave done those things sober. i knew they were wrong, and I would have felt too ashamed. But as the summer went on I could plan who I was going to get that night, before I ever started drinking. By the end of the summer drinking was not a necessity. Although it was a large part of my lifestyle, I didn’t have to be drunk to carry out my conquests. i was drinking more and more during the day. Partying all night left me de— pleted of energy during the day. Drinking made the dayiight hours bearable, made me feel physically better, more energetic and happier. Not only was my physical health failing, but my emotional health was aiso deteriorating. My sexual con— quests required cutting off all emotions. Once I learned how to cut myself off, I found myself doing it all the time. Not only was it easier to live life without a con- science, but there was a convenient aftereffect: since I didn’t care about anything, even when alcohol was having a negative effect on all areas of my life, in my mind things never became “bad enough" to quit. When school started in the fall I hardly paused. I was president of student council, captain of the debate team, and treasurer of the National Honor Society. I was enrolled in two AlJ courses and three honors courses. I stayed two hours after school. every day, and sometimes arrived an hour early, to take care of the official business of my various positions. I was dedicated to my academics, but somehow I still found the time to drink. On Wednesdays I arrived home from school at four o’clock. My church orchestra practice started at six. On my way home from church, I stopped. by 7—Eleven and bought some brew with my fake ID. A few of my non- school friends would be waiting for me when I got home. I was able. to keep my reputation and positions at school becauSe no one there knew about my drinking. I never partied with people from school. At the time it was because I thought they were superficial and their mere presence an» noyed me, inhibited me. In retrospect l see that I was successful in the various spheres of my life, and in order to maintain that success while continuing to drink, I had to preserve barriers that would never be crossed. ' About halfway through the fall of my senior year i started getting a bit bored by my drinking routine. It had lost its excitement. I feit so old and tired. I could feel myself getting numb. I decided to clean up my act. I wanted to start a real reta— tionship. My plan was to build up a relationship slowly, and at the same time cut down on my drinking and partying. Eventually we would spend all of our time to- gether and I’d have no need to drink at all. It was a good plan. I picked out a sweet, innocent underclassman, Ted. By the next week we were passing notes between classes. Already I felt like a normal teenager again, ex- cited at the mere hope of being someone’s girlfriend. I could almost feei the spiri— tual calluses softening up. And then came the big football game that Friday. I hadn’t gone to a game sober in ages. At first I tried to make plans with some of my old nondrinking friends. But I hadn’t even called them in ages. They couldn’t just drop their new 198 ' " aria ii "Ria'LAri'o'NerPs friends and welcome me back with open arms. Friday came and I couldn’t resist My drinking buddies bought a bottle of tequila and we drank a good portion of it before walking over to the field. Before l could get very far I ran into 'T ed. What terrific luckl l was actually hoping l’d see him here. We saw each other from a few yards away and we both burst into smiles. i ran into his open arms. He picked me up and he swung me around. This is the way it should. be, i thought to myself. I stood with him for a bit, until I spotted my friends, looking impatient as ever. l gave Ted one last hug. The night was still young, the halftime show had just ended. I was beginning to tire of putting on fake smiles for my superficial school friends. Then Iran into an old acquaintance. Not just anyone, mind you. Rick Marciano. Wow! Whatha hottyg He had graduated two years ago, and he was still known as a legend amongst the lady folk. 1 greeted him with an extra close hug and barely stepped away after the embrace. we talked for a few minutes about nothing and then he told me about a party after the game. I already had plans, so he gave me his number to meet up later. “You’d better not forget my number!" he said. as we parted. Don’t forget his number? Who was he joking? Did he really think he was the pursuant here? Or that any girl in her right mind would give up such a gold en op~ - portunity? I walked away feeling even happier than the eight drinks had made me feel. And what about Ted? Well, I did think about him for a moment, as I walked away from Rick. But this was such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity thatl couldn’t give it up. By this time I was so good at making excuses for myself that I hardly had to think twice to defend my actions. Ted and I hardly have anything going, I told myself. l mean, it’s not like we’re going out or anything. Plus, maybe it was a bad idea to try to have a normal relationship. Maybe I’m not ready for it yet. And that was that. That night one of my only true friends from school was throwing his first big party. When I arrived, all the popular kids from his grade were there. After a few drinks, 1. called Rick to invite him over. The next thing i remember Rick and i were making out in the bushes in. front of the house. Of course, everyone saw. Wilson persuaded me to at least find some- where more discreet to do whatever I wanted to do. So Rick and l hopped in his car and drove away. That was all that people needed to start the rumors. it wasn’t long until T ed heard the stories. He called me on Sunday night. It was horrible. He told me I was the first person who ever made him feel like a real man. Why did I do this to him? Was he not fast enough for me? He was crying. There was nothing I could do to make amends for whatl had done. Not just to Ted, but to myself, my family, my church, God. l could feel the weight of the world bearing down on me, about to collapse. In that moment the gates opened up. Feel— ings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, sadnessmall the emotions that l had been re- fusing to feel, that I had intentionally dammed up inside me by drinking alcohol, alcohol, and more alcohol—it all came rushing out in a torrent. i felt like lesus Christ, all the sins of the world cast upon. me in a matter. of moments. Except these weren’t the sins of the world, these were my sins. case is BEYOND rue EUPHO‘RIC rozz 199 Do you know what a shock it is to the system to feel so many emotions all at once, after not feeling anythingw—nothingw—for months on end? It’s paralyzing, to say the least. He was sobbing. What could i do? I was bawling inside. Butl had for gotten how to express those kinds of emotions. Or maybe 1 should say i had un— learned it. I slept for only two hours that night. I dreaded Monday. I considered staying home from school, but that would be a cowardly public statement. At school I could ' feel the stares, hear the whispers as I walked by. By the end of the school day l felt extreme blackness cover my insides l'ke a blanket. It was too much to bear. 1 had to shut myself off again or else I would have a nervous breakdown. I was sure of it. The worst part was the Student Council meeting. Ted was a representative. He sat quietly in the back row, like the martyr that he was. The meeting was com— plete disorder. Everyone thought they had the right and the duty to condemn me. This was their way of showing their disrespect. Eventually things at school died down. I didn’t get back my ability to feel, but I didn‘t really expect to either. I had undergone a trauma. 1 would never be the same again. Sometimes i pitied myself. I’m still a kid, I would say to myself. I’m not supposed to have to grow up this fast. But 1 knew 1 had only myself to blame for it all. It took this harrowing experience for me to realize I had become obsessed with the powerful feeling I obtained from controlling men. Through it all, I never thought to quit my drinking. 1 Mew that my lack of self-control was worst when I was drunk. But quitting drinking would disrupt my whole life. And ljust wasn’t ready for that. lneeded all the comfort I could get at that point. In many ways college was just like high school. I quickly get a reputation that lwas fun to party with, and everyone had a funny, "One time Sarah was so drunk that she . . .” story to tell. The most important difference was Dan. i met him my second day on campus. The moment I saw him my heart started racing. He wasn’t just good—looking, he was strikingly so. This guy was gorgeous. And as we began to talk I saw that his beauty was not just skin deep. Our friendship was like love at first sight. From that first night and every day after, my amazement, admiration, and enjoyment of Dan. just grew and grew. We spent all our free time together. We could be found lying side—by-side on the lawn doing homework, meandering through town, and eating breakfast, lunch, and dinner together. Not only did we have a terrific time, but I was con» stantly in wonder of how alike we seemed, despite our apparent differences. He from the Northeast, me from the South; he from the big city of Boston, me from the midsized tourist town of Sarasota; he Chinese American, me white, Cuban Amen ican; he the oldest of his siblings, me the youngest. But we seemed to find common ground in everything. We were like two puzzle pieces made of different materials, by the hands of different craftsmen, who had spent their lives adjusting to the fact that we would never quite fit in with the rest. Then all of a sudden, by some twist of fate, we discovered that we fitmwtogether, perfectly. it was three months into our friendship before we confessed. our romantic love for each other. The ensuing months were heavenly. We were so in love and PART II RELATIONSHIPS happy about it that the most frequent comment we received from friends was “You guys make me sick.” I The only thing we didn’t have in common was drinking. Dan wasn’t a big drinker. His social scene in high school had never inciuded drinking as a rEgular activity. Our freshman year he went to the frats, because that was the main soda} activity, but he didn’t derive his pleasure from drinking, like I did. About four months into freshman yearmwe had been together as a couple for only a short timem—my partying became a problem for us. Dan was getting tired of staying at frats until. midinorning, when he wasn’t even having a good time. But this was my way of having fun and I wasn’t ready to give that up for any reason. I don’t think it was a matter of being addicted to alcohol at that point. I just enioyed that scene—H the people, the noise, the drunk intellectual conversations, and, yes, the drinking. But maybe that lifestyle is part of the mental addiction. Dan. and I never discussed these issues. About three months into our roman- tic relationship 1 kissed another guy at a frat after Dan had left. It wasn’t a long, passionate kiss. A quick peck. But the guilt was overwhelming. I confessed to Dan the next morning. We talked about why it had happened, how [needed to control myself when I drank, but we hardly scraped the surface. The real conversation started when l. confessed. to a much greater sin. Two weeks after we started dating we had a one—month vacation. On my trip back home I slept with my recent ex— boyfriend, Keith. Dan alrnost couldn’t handle it. We practically broke up. But my begging and pleading finally convinced him that he was the one I wanted to be with, that i would never let it happen again. Other than those incidents, our relationship was wonderful. It was the hap- piest, healthiest relationship lhad ever been in. We never came out of the "in love” stage. We were affectionate and snuggly andpassionate, but we also had stimu- lating intellectual discussions and. challenged each others’ perspectives. At the end of our freshman year, we were faced with a summer apart. 1 had an internship in Miami, about five hours from my hometown, and he had an in- ternship in Boston. I knew l’d be spending several weekends at home, and a part of me wanted the freedom to be able to hook up with people at parties, if the op- portunity arose. l explained that I wanted to be with him. In fact, I wanted to marry him, eventually. But I needed this last chance to be free and irresponsible, before I grew up and settled down. He couldn’t understand how we could be any» thing but monogamous and still stay together. Finally he put his foot down. Either we stayed. exclusive or we broke up. I agreed. We would stay exclusive. All summer we talked every day. We talked on the phone at night, we enmailed each other from work during the day. All was going well. I had visited home a few times and l was confident in my ability to stay true to my promise. Fourth of July is always a big celebration in my town, and it’s a huge drink- ing affair. By the time the fireworks ended, I was very happily drunk. I had invited a few of my old drinking buddies over, for old times sake. While we were all hang- ing out on the front porch drinking, I began to notice how attracted I was to one of my old friends. When everyone else had left, we began to kiss. One thing led to an- other and we ended up in bed. I didn’t really want to have sex with him. That case 13 BEYOND THE EUPHORIC BUZZ 201 I I wasn’t at aii what I had in mind. But that’s what happened. i was so drunk that I didn’t really care. All 1. could. muster was a questioning, "Um, Rob?” As if to say, what are you doing? But E didn’t feel strongly enough about it, at the time, to put up much of an argument. Neediess to say, it was terribiy unenjoyable. The next morning came and I felt like shit. I knew I had to teil Dan. That had been. his one request. “Sarah, if you care about me in the siightest, you’ll give me the respect of telling me if anything happens over the summer.” 1 boarded the bus back to Miami and thought about how i was going to tell him. How i was going to explain that it wasn’t passionate, it wasn’t meaningful, it had just happened. Most of all, how was I going to keep him from dumping me? I called that night. i cried. He was silent. He had expected it, he explained. He had felt something, a certain foreboding, about me going home for the holiday. He called me iate on the night of the fourth, hoping that if the thought of him was fresh on my mind, it would stop me from doing anything. But it hadn’t. He broke up with me. I said everything I could to win him back. Finally I told him I would quit drinking. “Goodi You need to. But that’s not going to make what you did any better. And it won’t solve the probiem, either. I want you to want me. No one eise. Whether you’re drunk or sober, i need to be the object of your iove and your lust. You need me, but you don’t want me.” Maybe he was right. But i had to do somew thing. i called AA that night and found out where the meetings were held. For twenty-four hours Dan and i were in fie-ii, separately. 1 called him the next night. We were miserable. I don’t think he evenliked me, at that point. I could hear the distaste in his voice. I didn’t deserve him. We both knew it. Ihad caused him so much awful pain. But we were even more miserable apart. So he took me back. it was going to take a long time to mend his broken heart and regain his trust. All i could do was hope—uhope that our happiness together wasn’t over for good. Quitting was the only thing I could. actively work on to improve things with Dan. I stopped drinking cold. turkey. it was easy while I was in Miami. Ibarely had a social life there, so I rarely had the opportunity to drink. My visits home were the true test. My famiiy had become so accustomed to my drinking habits, that they questioned my sudden abstinence. Over the next few months, my sisters and par— ents each took their turn explaining that i need not be so extreme. A little alcohol surely couldn’t hurt, they implied. But I knew myself. I knew I couldn’t drink without getting drunk. i never had. experienced that mentality. My mind oniy worked a certain way. Once I have the first sip, my only goal. is getting wasted. I knew that my craving wouldn’t be quenched by one drink. It wasn’t the taste that if desired, it was the feeling. That euphoric buzz that leads to a numb semicon- sciousness. No, I couldn’t even have a sip. When I first quit drinking, I felt like I was missing out on the best of life. Who can go back to a normai lifestyle once they’ve experienced the passion and extreme highs of living for the moment, completely rid. of the inhibitions of societal norms and personai conscience? The memory of my fast~paced, extravagant lifestyle was not enough. I wanted to experience more. Being at a coilege where drinking makes up the bulk of social interaction did not help. When I saw crowds of drunk people .. .202. .. __PARTIE RELATIONSHEPS. . meandering through frat row I felt so much hostility. I wanted to be there, I wanted to join them. I didn’t want to grow up yet. And, damn it, I shouldn’t have to. I’m 18 and I deserve to be still having fun, I told myself. What I knew had been fun and exciting. How could something else be anything but dull and mediocre? To Dan, my decision to quit drinking on July 5, 1998 was a statement that I had recognized, at last, all the pain and injury that my alcohol use had inflicted on myself and those around me. But that’s not what it was to me. To me, it was ad- mitting that keeping Dan was more important to me than continuing to drink. Rew aiizing the myriad of ways that alcohol had affected my life would be a long process. Before I could see that my alcohol use was the cause of many problems, lhad to admit that I had problems. I needed to admit that by my:- own standards my life had gone to hell. I had to admit that I had slipped so far from where I wanted to be. I thought of myself as a failure. The first step is admitting to myself that I feel this way and then recognizing that the source of these feelings is me, my perspec— tive, the way I think life ought to be. I feel like .‘t have done a lot of harm in my day, to myself and to others. I’ve broken the hearts of guys who were foolish enough. to invest feelings in me, dur- ing my alcohol and sex hinges. And I never to this day even thought about what] had done to them. I’ve seen sides of myself that I never wanted to believe I was ca- pable of. God gave me the ability to influence people, to captivate them, and I des— ecrated these gifts by using them for sexual conquests and to further myself politically. This is not religious guilt, put on me by someone else. It’s the way I feel inside. It took me two years just to gain enough distance to be able to talk about drinking without wanting to be engaged in it, deep inside. I’m finally secure enough in my identity as a nondrinker to be able to look objectiver at my experi- ences. I have just started this process. It seems like I’m rather latem—two years and I haven’t made much progress in at} that time. But the way I look at it, at least the process has started. With the birth of my daughter six months ago I became re- sponsible for a brand new life. Today, my desire to take care of my family gives me a whole new appreciation for the sober lite. ...
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Garrod - Case 13 - BEYON D THE EUPHOREC BUZZ This anther, a...

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