I have always had anxiety for as long as I can remember. There isn’t a time I can remember where I didn’t have that butterflies in my stomach feeling. A lump in my throat or the feeling you get before taking an important test or getting on a giant roller coaster. It’s no way for anyone to live let alone an adolescent. I remember dry heaving before school everyday. When this started I don’t remember. I know I was doing it by the 6th grade.
Elementary school wasn’t too bad. I was still thin and cute. I could do gymnastics and my hair was straight and light blond. Then it all changed. My hair became curly and frizzy. I grew large breasts overnight and gained weight. I was also taller than the other girls going into Junior High. I wore thick glasses by this time and the beginnings of puberty wreaked havoc on my skin. I’m not painting a pretty picture am I ? That’s because it wasn’t. I know this because I was always the last one picked in gym class, I was called names, I had stuff thrown at me, animal noises made at me, and even other student’s parents thought it was appropriate to discuss me while I was standing right there.
What did I do? I took it. My twin sister wasn’t having the same experience as I was. When we were in school they separated twins. Twins were not allowed to have any classes together. Did she know what was going on? To some extent. She didn’t completely escape it. She was also taller with bigger breasts but she was pretty and much thinner than I was. She also had the capability to make friends. I know she defended me on occasion. It wasn’t often. Mostly it was in High School and only if the person really crossed a line. Even though I was bigger our classmates were more frightened of her. I don’t know what she did for that to happen.
There’s a picture my sister likes to pull out for a good laugh. It’s a school picture of me in the 9th grade. I have curly blond hair, very thick glasses, a hot pink and white striped shirt on, hot pink beads around my neck, and a lovely fever blister on my lip. She thinks it’s hysterical. My twin is like my dad, photogenic. Neither one of them can take a bad picture.
I thought I had won the friend lottery when I met W. We found the same things funny, we hated the same things and the same people. I couldn’t understand why she wasn’t popular. She was tall, thin with strawberry blond hair and green eyes. She was one of the prettiest girls in the school. I never could understand it. I could never understand why she chose to be friends with me. Sometimes I still wonder. We’ve had a few bumps in the road, mostly because of me but she’s still here.
W and I also loved the same music and guys with long hair. It was the late 80’s early 90’s. We were both also terrified to talk to boys/men. I remember one time W left me sitting at a bowling alley alone while she ran home to swig the pink stuff for your stomach. She was so nervous because a guy she had a crush on walked in she thought she would be sick. lol It was weird, for her I could muster up some courage. My brother had played baseball with the guy and told me how much he loved the band Boston. When W came back I went to the Jukebox and played every Boston song in there. Now this wasn’t the smartest man on the planet but he was attractive. He just kept saying “Holy shit! Why are all the Boston songs playing?”. I was laughing. He recognized me from going in there with my brother and came over. I admitted to playing the Boston songs. For some reason I could talk to him because it wasn’t for me. And I was sober at this time. Weird.
Sobriety didn’t last long after that. When you always feel no one wants you where they are, a birthday party, wedding, your own shared birthday party, it’s difficult. I was always looking for the escape hatch. Then one day W called to tell me she was picking me up with 2 of the most popular guys in not only our town but the surrounding 3 towns. I vomited and jumped in the shower. I sat in the backseat with my favorite one. He was a legend to me. He looked almost exactly like Slash from Guns n Roses but sexier. His name was even great. I won’t put it here because he has since passed away and he was well known. I’ll just say his name was the same as a fat happy religious statue.
He offered me a swig from a bottle that smelled like mint and looked like water. My only experience so far with alcohol was sips of my dad’s beer. I figured it smelled minty and looked like water how bad could it be? Mind you I was 16 at the time. I took a healthy drink from the bottle and by the look on my face he knew I hadn’t had it before. He said “You puke that up I’ll make you eat it”. I forced myself to swallow it down and keep it down. Rumplemintz I’ll never touch it again. That I can definitely say never to.
I proceeded to get drunk and bought the guy $50 in CDs, then we went to a party somewhere in a bad neighborhood I think in Providence or Pawtucket I don’t remember. I know I fooled around with the guy and somehow he got another $20, things took a turn for the worse at the end of the night when he put my earrings in a cup of beer. Yup I knew how to pick them right from the beginning.
That was the beginning. Even though the guy was an ass I found that I could stand up for myself, I felt confident, I didn’t care if people wanted me around or not. Liquid courage.
Someone once said “You know you’re an alcoholic when you stop getting hangovers”. Not true. I always had horrendous hangovers. I had a reason. I had Celiac Disease and didn’t know it. I was poisoning myself every time I drank and on some occasions I was also suffering from alcohol poisoning. You can’t have a breathalyzer result of .30 three hours after being taken in and not have done some damage. I shocked quite a few people with that one and they wanted to throw the book at me. I’m lucky someone thought I was worth saving.
Picture is W and her boyfriend. She exists.