On the back of my senior t-shirt, I added these words in white vinyl letters.
Harmful or Harmless?
What do YOU think?
My maiden name is Harm, thus the creative play on words. But a darker meaning also lurked there.
I swallowed my first taste of alcohol at age 16 sitting on a car in the high school parking lot. The next morning, I sat in the choir loft for church. I was a notorious good girl who thought way too much about doing, saying, feeling the right thing, so I quickly learned that alcohol was an “easy” way to release the nagging voice in my head. Under the influence of elixir, layers of weight shed from my skin. Words flowed freely. Spontaneity was achievable. My reserved nature fell away and an alter-ego took her place with sweet release.
For the first decade of my drinking years, there was no such thing as simply enjoying a glass of wine or a can of beer.
I drank to become someone else.
“You know, alcohol is more dangerous for you than for others,” my father said one night, a reminder of our shared family history.
The angel on my right and the demon on my left. A conflict of character. A battle of identify. I was both of them, but thankfully they weren’t all of me.
Can you relate, Messy Miracle? Do you sometimes wish you could change the things you dislike about yourself? Do you wish there was a pill to erase the fear? Do you long for a magic mirror in which to see the future yet to come?
We all do. It’s universal, this desire to control. And sometimes it actually works…for a little while.
The dark side.
I’ve experienced two drinking-induced blackouts. Entire evenings missing from the cavern of my mind. On my 19th birthday, the last memory I have is throwing back shots at a bar during a fraternity social. I woke in my sorority bedroom soaked in layers of vomit with no recollection of laying face down, comatose on a parking lot the night before. Nor do I remember the (thankfully kind) designated driver who carried me home. He left a note. His name was Troy.
In my twenties, I attended the marriage of friends and drank the glasses of wine that continuously appeared before me. I vaguely recall dinner, then dancing and then nothing. Except the echoes of embarrassing stories the next day.
Blackout. No memory. No picture in my head.