How the Bottle Drank Me

There was a time in my life when I was an alcoholic. Generally when I share this information people look at me and my youth and instantly shake their head. How can someone so young have ever had a disease that is always given a face of age, grief, and shame? What they see are the walls I have always surrounded myself with. What they don’t see is the soul inside that screams at those walls.

I entered the state of grief when I was rejected the second time by my birth mother. I count the reunion that did not happen as our “second time” because the first feeling of rejection had to be when she left my ass on a street at the age of two years old. Is there any worse way a person can reject someone? I suppose there is, but for a two year old I imagine your reasons are insignificant in comparison. I don’t remember the pain of that day, but when I compare it to the pain I felt during her second rejection I can only imagine. I became the man in the iron mask.

I found an instant companion at the age of eighteen for my new found grief as I went to college. It was neither a she or he, but instead wore a label of the day. The numbers mattered little because we didn’t need digits to connect. All I needed was a willingness to open the cork or top and a resolve to see the deed done. I became an expert at attempting to crawl inside a bottle and in the process I began to destroy my liver. It felt great to finally feel a pain to accompany the pain I felt within.

In 2003 I returned after my failed “prodigal son” journey and resolved to up my game. I was in such a hurry to reacquaint with the bottles of my life that when I landed in Memphis, Tennessee I didn’t stop. I hit the ground running and immediately jumped in my car to drive six hours to Knoxville. Once there I was able to hide my shame from those I cared to hide it from and in the same moment I found freedom at last. I was finally free to hate myself and the happy ending I would never have. I was ready to die.

At the age of 23 I was a full-fledged alcoholic. Some people will immediately ask me with scrutiny in their eyes “what do you mean you were an alcoholic? All kids drink in college and in their youth.” That is very true. Many kids do drink in college and normally their goal is shared. They are out to have fun or to release their stress. Drinking for me became an afterthought. An automatic-thought and action I would do daily and sometimes hourly. I woke up and had a scotch before the breakfast I didn’t eat. I went to bed forcing myself not to count how many it took to get me to sleep. It normally took enough that I couldn’t count them anyway.

I became the type of person I despised. I would walk into Joe’s Liquor Store on Poplar and buy the cheapest, rawest pint I could afford. Roughly four dollars and fifty-three cents later I would crack that bottle open while putting my car into reverse to head home. There was nothing cool about it. I just didn’t give a fuck. And that was how the bottle began to drink me back.

-Opinionated Man

Jason C. Cushman

@smokendust

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36 thoughts on “How the Bottle Drank Me

  1. Pingback: Nombril de semaine… – Cyranny's cove

  2. Our stories parallel one another in many ways, Jason. Perhaps kindred spirits and/or a reluctant need to take away the power that shame has over us by speaking our truth, our pain. I so appreciate your willingness to be vulnerable if for nothing else to heal oneself. Nicely done🙂

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  3. Pingback: Let’s Tackle It | A Momma's View

  4. Telling someone about an alcoholic past can be very daunting. I know this because I’ve been there myself. I would say I became a full-fledged alcoholic by the age of 19. I had to drop out of school at 19. When I joined the US Navy I was still a19 year old alcoholic. Climbing out of that bottle is not an easy process. I was able to climb out, put the cap back on and leave it there. I was almost 40 by then.

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  5. Very open and honest. I didn’t want to admit it back then but I had a drink problem when I came out of the marines. Getting drunk in college wasn’t always the norm, at least not at my community college in the days of 80s Reagan America. I went to the Spring Bash and got absolutely hammered. (I was drinking Everclear.) The reaction of my fellow students was that I would have been more popular if I had gone in there with a semi automatic and started blowing people away. I did tune down my drinking after that and when I came to England, I thought that I never had a drink problem to begin with. I know now that it wasn’t the case. You’ve done well to bounce back and share your story.

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  6. Reblogged this on A Blog About Healing From PTSD and commented:

    I am reblogging this post written by Jason Cushman, known in the blogging world as Opinionated Man, because I used to drink like he did. I drank alcoholically for a period of about two years. Like Jason, I started drinking because of parental rejection.

    Jason’s drinking began when his birth mother, who abandoned him on a street corner when he was two, rejected him a second time when he went to Korea as a young adult to try to meet her.

    I started drinking on the day my father died. My dad had completely rejected me when I was an adolescent. For more than twenty years, I waited for him to come back and “un-reject” me. When he died, I had to face the reality that my father’s rejection was permanent..

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I appreciate your honesty here, Jason. I have family who have been affected, addicted, for generations now. I wish I knew now/ back then, how to help. But they had to go through that painful journey mostly alone. It is so hard to watch. Hugs to you for survival. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for your honesty. It’s important for people to know alcoholism can grab hold of anyone, even teenagers. It’s a powerful, baffling, and cunning monster underestimated by most.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Raw, true and honest… Thanks for sharing that period of your life. It is so true that most people just think all kids drink, and that’s about it. I think there are a lot more struggling young ones who are slaves of the bottle because it is just the only way to go about their lives, and there is nothing funny or “normal” about that….

    Liked by 2 people

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