Before Recovery: Part 2 – Wandering Lost
This my story before recovery. It is the story of my terribly traumatic childhood, the teenage years of self-discovery and chaos, the onset of alcohol abuse in college, my life as a soldier, the years of drug use, the disintegration of my family, and the dark descent that landed me in jail. I wrote this portion of my story as part of a recovery exercise while I was in treatment. What it lacks in detail, it makes up for in the sheer volume of chaos that alcohol wreaked upon my life.
After a few months’ probation realized my terrible circumstances, particularly the frequent bruises and welts I had during my sessions with them. They removed me from the home and placed me into a home for troubled teens. I was the youngest resident. I had terrible difficulties there. I was teased and picked on for my long hair and quiet, withdrawn disposition. It was then that my behavior of lengthy angry crying outbursts took flight. I would cry hysterically for hours.
The staff would have to restrain me and as I screamed and cried out my rage; no doubt releasing the years of horrible treatment and sexual abuse at the hands “family.” Around 13 the courts ordered me to return to my home. I will never forget my mother’s hysterical reaction; she was so angry, she left the courthouse without giving me a ride home. I cried and shook with fear and begged my probation officer not to take me home. He had no choice in the matter. During that half a year stint I was either locked up, or locked out of my home, left to roam the streets.
My parents wouldn’t come home for hours after school let out and I was forced to remain locked out until they returned. I couldn’t be trusted they said. I needed to stay outside and let off my steam they used to tell me frequently. After a particularly bad streak of beatings, I ran away from home. I was picked up and placed in the care of probation who returned me to the Webster House for troubled teens.
It wasn’t long before I made friends with a kid who smoked pot and began smoking it regularly. I was caught and immediately kicked out of the Webster House and sent to the Youth Development Center, a juvenile lockup facility. I will never forget the utter despair I felt upon hearing the heavy wooden door slam behind me as I was thrust into a filthy cell room. I was left in there for about 6 or 7 days before I was allowed into the population.
Because I wasn’t a violent criminal, I was sent to a less restrictive community-based house of the YDC. It was during my time at the Friendship House that I got to experience hiking, fishing, camping, jogging, and many different types of gym games and activities. I was also to be challenged to my emotional limits in the youth groups which were mandatory.
I was often removed for various emotional outbursts and spent much of my time planted at an eating room table, on restriction. I could be very cutting with the wit and sarcasm I developed as my main defense mechanisms if I felt threatened or attacked. I experienced frequent flashbacks, nightmares and minor panic attacks and told no one about them; making my stability precarious most of the time.
I rejected anyone who attempted to befriend me or who was being nice to me; though I did develop a love hate relationship with my direct counselor, Steven Geddes. But I do recall many fond memories there of learning how to ski, to play pool, and being challenged physically and emotionally on serious hiking trips into the White Mountains. My love of nature continued to unfold and gave me some sense of peace and serenity in an otherwise chaotic existence. I almost felt “normal” when participating in all kinds of activities at that facility.
From 14 to 18 I spent time in and out of that YDC home, group homes, and foster homes. I did not adjust well having to always move from place to place; always having to live in varying degrees of restriction. Invariably most of the Foster Homes would have kids with similar problems as mine and who tormented me and made fun of me because of my long hair and inability to interact well with other kids. I exhibited patterns of behavior that were self-sabotaging and unpredictable.
I continued using pot and I also was introduced to acid and LSD, which I did regularly, particularly my senior year of high school. Drugs not only helped me to escape reality, but they also provided me great relief; not only from my harsh realities, but also from my mental health issues as well. If it weren’t for that one counselor keeping up with me, I am not sure I would have pulled myself out of the terrible angst I was experiencing at the time. My grades were barely good enough to move through 12th grade.
However, when I turned 18 that frigid January of 1982, I was released from YDC and put out on the streets with no place to live and no money. I felt alone and miserable, and rejected and forgotten and retreated further into me, lashing out at anyone who tried to come near me. I was homeless for the remainder of my senior year in high school and began to get into more stupid trouble.
I stole albums so I could eat. I slept in hallways and would constantly get spit at, kicked, and thrown out. Try as I might I couldn’t attend enough school—embarrassed by not showering for days, and dead exhausted from lack of sleep at night—so I failed my senior year of High School, which was devastating to me…to be continued.