Eating My Way to Heaven - Chapter 5

eating2heaevn By eating2heaevn, 12th May 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/14wxtgkh/
Posted in Wikinut>Health>Recovery & Coping

This chapter is about alcohol abuse and dropping out of college.

Flush

I chose Austin College in Sherman, Texas, (sixty miles north of Dallas) because it had a great reputation for pre-med, and partially because it was a dry town (no alcohol served there). I thought it would keep me from drinking. As my teen-age friends would say, “Not!” It was a short walk across campus to find a fraternity bathtub full of Everclear (pureOnce again, I thought a change of venue would change my life, and once again, it did. Another giant step backwards.
Although I had always been a straight-A student in math, I flunked calculus my first semester, apparently not my cup of tea. Though I had managed to squeak through chemistry in high school, it was now a monster also.
Besides my studies I had a couple of other teensy-weensy challenges. I had no money, so I had to sling hash at Denny’s on the graveyard shift. I had no wheels to get there with, no time to study. And I broke my right arm, so I couldn’t write.
My classmates, who were some of the thousands of applicants I would be competing against to get into medical school, seemed to be well funded. I was not. The reason I was broke, however, was a bigger issue than the fact that I had no money. grain alcohol) that someone had driven the thirteen miles to Oklahoma to get.

$$$

Once again, I thought a change of venue would change my life, and once again, it did. Another giant step backwards.
Although I had always been a straight-A student in math, I flunked calculus my first semester, apparently not my cup of tea. Though I had managed to squeak through chemistry in high school, it was now a monster also.
Besides my studies I had a couple of other teensy-weensy challenges. I had no money, so I had to sling hash at Denny’s on the graveyard shift. I had no wheels to get there with, no time to study. And I broke my right arm, so I couldn’t write.
My classmates, who were some of the thousands of applicants I would be competing against to get into medical school, seemed to be well funded. I was not. The reason I was broke, however, was a bigger issue than the fact that I had no money.
Not long after Sam returned to Houston, I had come home from school one day to find him and my mother waiting for me at the door.
“We’re going to the bank,” my mother stated.
Somehow this didn’t feel like a good thing. I wasn’t sensing that we’d won the lottery or had received a visit from Publishers Clearing House. Apparently my brother was in some sort of trouble. My mother wanted to eliminate the problem without my father finding out. It required money. I was told, not asked, to give the $1000 I had in my savings account to Sam.
I was a sophomore in high school at the time, saving for college. I dreamed of being a thoracic surgeon. I loved my brother. We had always run interference for one another and I wanted to help, but I also wanted to realize my dream.
“Okay, I’ll do it, but I want the money back before I go to college.” They agreed, but it wasn’t until twenty years later that I would get my $1000 back.
I could have earned more money before college except that my father made me quit my job at Big H Fried Chicken not too long after Sam wiped out my savings. David said that I was spending too much time at work and good grades for college were more important.

Schlepping at Denny's

Now for my broken arm excuse: My brother had been quite good on the trampoline and I pretty much did everything he did. Though I wasn’t as good as Sam, I wasn’t bad. I was unofficially coaching some students at Austin College on the trampoline, as I had the most experience. I taught them how to catch by locking their arms in front of their chest. If someone were to come flying off the trampoline towards them they could block with their forearms and keep the person from leaving the mat.
One day one of the guys participating in our trampoline group came back from swimming practice very tired. My intuition was to tell him to wait for another day. I ignored my inner voice.
He did a couple of sloppy layouts (a three-quarter back flip that lands you on your belly) and started another one. He ended up flying off the trampoline towards me. He was destined to land on his back on the bars and then tumble to the floor. Instead of doing what I had taught everyone to do, I panicked and threw my hand up and hurled him back onto the mat. I sensed that something was very wrong, but I felt no pain.
When I looked down, my wrist was about an inch around, all my bones were in a pile and my fingers were sticking out at a ninety-degree angle. They aren’t designed to go that way! I freaked out and took off running. My fellow gymnasts caught up with me and treated me for shock. I was taken to the hospital. I wanted a local anesthetic, but the doctor insisted on giving me general anesthesia, which meant that I had to spend the night. To my knowledge, I had never spent the night in a hospital before. I slept soundly after the surgery until about 2 a.m. when a nurse came in and woke me to ask if I wanted a sedative to help me sleep.
I barked, “I was sleeping fine. No, I don’t want any drugs. Why did you wake me up?”
Now I found myself wide-awake. After several sleepless hours I called her back demanding that she “Bring me some Demerol!” She did, and they triple-charged me for it. This was the first of my many experiences with the corrupt medical profession I thought I wanted to join.
Tips at Denny’s picked up significantly as I waited tables with my wrist to shoulder cast. There’s nothing like a little plaster to open up those wallets. My studies didn’t flourish, however; my grades were pretty dismal.

The Inquisition

When my quarterly report card reached my father’s desk, I was summoned home to explain my grades. Instead, I stalled, saying I couldn’t get away from my classes for a few weeks. I was hoping for an earthquake or a nuclear attack or something that would save me from this meeting with my father. Although I seemed to be an expert at manifesting disasters, nothing happened. So I had a nervous breakdown instead.
Faced with the looming encounter with my parents, I didn’t sleep for seven days. My mind and body were breaking down. So I grabbed three of my roommate’s stomach tranquilizers, in keeping with my lifelong theory that if one is good, three times the recommended dose must be better.
I slept like a baby for ten hours or so. When I woke up I stumbled to the dormitory bathroom. I was splashing water on my face when I realized that I was blind. I couldn’t see my own reflection in the mirror or my hand when I held it up to my face. I was also so desperately thirsty that I couldn’t get two feet away from a water fountain without having to go back for more water.
My roommate got me to the campus infirmary. The nurse there noted that temporary blindness and severe dehydration were the side effects of overdosing from these pills, according to the Physician’s Desk Reference. And they weren’t all that convinced on the temporary part. I was scared. Fortunately, they agreed that involving my parents would not help the situation, as they were the source of my anxiety. In a few days my vision returned and my thirst backed off.
I still had to go face David, though. I now had my sister’s car, which I had hitchhiked to Iowa to get. I was to deliver it to New York for her in a month or so. I was exhausted by the time I got in the car to drive the three hundred miles from Sherman to Houston. I had attended school that day and then worked all night. I picked up a box of No-Doze for the drive.
I popped the No-Doze (which contains concentrated doses of caffeine) like M&M’s the whole way. I was so buzzed that I pulled into my parents’ driveway, stepped out of the car and fell to the ground.
“Oh this is going well,” I pronounced loudly to myself.
Soon I was standing in the den like a war criminal facing a firing squad. My parents were somber and seated. I explained that my job and my broken arm had interfered with my ability to maintain my grades. My father wanted to know why I was working. Where had all my money gone?
My choices were to betray my mother and brother’s secret or to take it in the shorts for something that wasn’t my fault. I took the heat. I told him that I had squandered it.
I listened to an endless verbal assault about my stupidity and headed back to school the next day. A few months later, about to flunk a final exam, I decided to bag the whole college thing and move back to New York, where Paula was.

Drinking for dollars

Once in New York, even with 2000 miles between us, I about collapsed when I called my parents to tell them that I had left school. I don’t remember any of that conversation.
It felt good to have Paula’s support, but we hardly knew each other. It had been six years since we had lived together on Greenwood Lane in Valhalla, New York. She had left home to go to college when I was twelve. There is a big gap between twelve and eighteen. We didn’t have much of a relationship then, nor did we stay in close contact after she went off to school.
Of course Paula had the right to go to college, but my twelve-year-old mind hadn’t registered that. All I knew was that she had left me there with them, and I had never really forgiven her for that.
Now, six years later, we were reunited. We didn’t know each other at all as adults. She was about to undertake twenty years of being my surrogate mother, shouldering this burden out of guilt, because she had dared to leave home to go to college and leave me in an abusive situation.
Shortly after I arrived in Albany, Paula and her boyfriend Teddy took me out to their neighborhood watering hole for a drink. Teddy and I each ordered a glass of beer. Paula had her usual Canadian Club and ginger ale. When Teddy went to the bathroom, I turned to Paula and stated, “When Teddy comes back I think I’ll ask him if he wants to chug a beer for a buck.”
She remarked, “Oh, he drinks a lot of beer.”
“So do I,” I told her. She didn’t know that Sam had gotten me a false Canadian I.D., which enabled me to get into bars at fifteen. (I spoke enough French to pull it off.) She also didn’t know that Sam had taught me to chug pitchers of beer. I was good!
When Teddy came back I challenged him to a chugging contest. The loser was to buy the winner another beer and a shot of Tequila and pay one dollar. He laughed and put his dollar on the bar. Paula would be the official timekeeper. When she gave the signal I hoisted my mug, poured the beer down my throat and returned the mug to the bar in my usual time – two seconds.
Teddy had not even taken a single sip from his glass. He was stunned. Thus began my career as a professional drinker. Every guy in town had to challenge me after the word got out. Nobody could beat me, so they nicknamed me “Flush.”
I could go out every night, drink until I puked and come home with a profit. One night I was so drunk that I ended up lying on the bathroom floor of the bar at 4 a.m. They were trying to close up, but the room was spinning too fast for me to get up and leave. I told the bar owner to just lock me in, promising not to touch anything. Of course he wouldn’t. It became apparent that it was time for me to get a life.

Paula

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last occasion that my drinking got out of hand. There was the time I went to a party with Paula and Teddy, deeply depressed because I couldn’t find any work. I spent most of the time by myself drinking wine.
Later, I was walking down a steep hill in the dark, towards a lake, looking for a tranquil spot in which to continue my “Oh poor me” roll. I stumbled and fell and ended up face down in the water. I remember lying there in the water thinking that my arm was broken, but I never made any attempt to pull my head out so I could breathe.
I must have made quite a commotion during my drunken tumble, because Paula and a few others came running. She thought I was dead as she lifted my head out of the water. She was so traumatized by the event that I quit drinking for a while. Alcohol was one of the few substances that I could walk away from at will, because it was fattening and often made me sick. I preferred drugs.

Whiskey and Milk

I must have made quite a commotion during my drunken tumble, because Paula and a few others came running. She thought I was dead as she lifted my head out of the water. She was so traumatized by the event that I quit drinking for a while. Alcohol was one of the few substances that I could walk away from at will, because it was fattening and often made me sick. I preferred drugs.
I took the last of my money, moved out of Paula’s trailer and rented a room in a boarding house. I had twenty dollars left for food. I stocked the little kitchen I shared with an old man and the young guy down the hall. The old guy would try and pour whiskey in my milk when I wasn’t looking, and the young guy ate all my food, even though he made twenty-five dollars an hour working for the railroad. I just couldn’t seem to turn things around.
One day I saw an ad in the paper for the job of my dreams. A new dinner theater was opening in Albany. They were looking for people who could sing, dance and wait tables. I really didn’t believe that I was good enough, but I went for it anyway.
It was slated to be an old English dinner theater. When I called about the auditions, they told me that I should show up prepared to sing the tune of my choice – A Capella. I spent days in front of the mirror practicing “Loverly” in my best cockney accent. I really didn’t expect to get the job, but on the other hand, I planned to be devastated if I didn’t.
When the auditions started, they asked for a volunteer to go first. I threw my hand in the air. I could tell that they were in a hurry, so I thought that jumping out of my chair would score me some points. To my horror though, they stopped me halfway through my song. I was about to go into a manic depressive roll when the woman running the auditions said, “You’re hired,” then turned to the rest of the applicants and announced, “That’s the kind of talent we’re looking for.” They didn’t need the best of Broadway, just people who could carry a tune, a tray and some exuberance for a few hours a night. I was in heaven!
Trouble was, I had no food and no money with several weeks of rehearsals to go before ever seeing a tip or a paycheck. I moved in with one of the other girls from the show, but she had no more money than I did. So, we set up an account with the local mom-and-pop grocery store down the street. They let us charge up a jar of peanut butter here, a pack of cigarettes there. When we’d get really low on smokes, we’d pluck all the butts out of the garbage can, dump the tobacco out and roll a fresh cigarette. If there weren’t enough butts we’d just smoke the ones we had down to the filter.
I loved the job at the dinner theatre. I learned the dance numbers quickly, so the choreographer had me teaching the others at times. Finally, a little self-esteem was creeping into my life. Not for long, however. The show packed up for Miami in a few months and I was not one of the chosen few invited to go on the road.

The Ghetto

About this time, my sister hosted a reunion of a bunch of her old buddies from around the country. I ended up having laryngitis the weekend that they all showed up. I could barely gravel a word. Tom, one of Paula’s closest friends, had traveled from Colorado for the reunion. He and I fell in lust. We spent the whole weekend together without my uttering a word above a whisper. After he returned to Denver we wrote long, mushy letters almost daily. It seemed we had fallen in love. He was nearly six years older than I, and 2000 miles away, but that didn’t seem to matter.
In the meantime, Faith had come into my life, a woman with two children who lived in the ghetto. She was quite functional when it came to dealing with the government in an effort to get her welfare, but she had never known anything else. A continuous stream of welfare checks and food stamps was as big as she could dream.
I went to visit her one night in the ghetto. Her very large, very abusive boyfriend was there. This guy reeked trouble. Faith indicated that there was a warrant out for his arrest for seven counts of armed robbery.
Her adorable little girls were about three and five. Steve, the boyfriend, was calling Faith a whore in front of her kids. To this day I don’t know what came over me. I picked up an ice pick and told him to leave. He stared me down for a moment and decided that maybe I was crazier than he was. He left. I became the new head of this brood.
Faith had leukemia and couldn’t care for these children on her own, so I moved in. I had taken a job as a caregiver making $100 a week. I paid the rent of $100 a month, my car payment, insurance, the electric bill, and tried to put food on the table. Some days I had to steal food to get everybody fed. Faith ate first, then the kids. The stray dog and cat and I fought over the leftovers.
I slept on the couch with a spring sticking in my back. The kids slept on a bare mattress, they each had a sheet. Faith had a bed with one blanket. We had an ice pick stuck in each door jamb for security. We used the stove to heat the place, and after the toilet blew up we had to squat outside. It was definitely not heaven!
A friend of Faith’s named Phyllis Frey showed up from Massachusetts with a boyfriend in tow. They couldn’t find work right away, so I was now feeding four adults, two children and two animals. We lived on potatoes, ramen and bread. I dropped a few pounds but I was still about twenty pounds overweight and suffering from malnutrition.
Phyllis was about forty pounds overweight and one tough biker chic, but I liked her. We forged a bond that lasted for seven years. To this day, I consider Phyllis the best female friend I have ever had. She taught me about honesty and friendship. Her boyfriend left before long and it was just us gals.
I was scared to death of getting stuck in the ghetto. My father had been traumatized by the Depression and held tightly to the fear of poverty. I thought that if I didn’t get out soon, it would become a lifetime struggle of trying to break free. I was saving my pennies to move to Colorado to be with Tom, planning to take Faith and the kids with me.
Instead, Faith fell in love with a medical student from NYU and decided to stay behind, so Phyllis planned to join me instead. I had lost my car to the bank after getting behind on the payments. Phyllis and I saved a few dollars and set out to hitchhike to Colorado — anything to get out of the ghetto.
The change-of-venue theory was working so well for me that I decided to give it another shot. It was a pretty good gamble that things couldn’t get worse. On to Colorado…

Food For Thought

It was a real eye opener for me to be living in extreme poverty after the abundant life I had experienced as a child. The most startling discovery for me was to see that Faith’s children were happy!
They only had a few toys but we all put a lot of energy into playing and talking with them. Faith didn’t have any money to provide them with a comfortable life, but she was by their side, all day, showering them with love and strokes. They were much happier than I had been, living in the luxury of Westchester, New York.
Perhaps that is one of the messages that I picked up along the way that caused me to choose poverty for so many years, thinking it was a noble gesture. My work in the dinner theater was fun, but the applause didn’t have much effect on my infinitesimal self-esteem. I could barely hear the applause over the thunder of my inner demons screaming for my attention. All I could do was keep acting out, hoping somebody would eventually save me from myself.

Just For Fun

In tribute to my brief stint in show business, I’ll share one of my favorite jokes from childhood.
There was a sweet old man named Jake who worked for the circus. Day in and day out for fifty years he had followed the elephants around and cleaned up after them, furiously shoveling away.
One day his close friend, Abe, approached him and said, “Jake, why don’t you retire and enjoy the fruits of your labor? You've earned it.”
Without missing a shovelful, Jake exclaimed, “What, and give up show biz!”

Tags

Addiction, Autobiography, Bulimia, Detox, Diet, Eating Disorders, Eating Healthy Food, Eating Healthy To Lose Weight, Exposeeating Habits, God, Memoir, Nutrition, Over Eating, Recovery, Spirituality

Meet the author

author avatar eating2heaevn
My passion is writing about natural health, addiction and human behaviors. I have saved my life twice with conscious living and am devoted to helping others do the same.

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author avatar Retired
2nd Jul 2015 (#)

Congratulations for being the Author of the Day.

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author avatar Lerynne West
25th Feb 2019 (#)

Friday, October 26th 2018 started out like most other days, only it was kind of special for me because I had bought my first home, I bought a home in Redfield, Iowa, and I was moving that day. Around noon-ish, the movers had left, my son-in-law had left and my sister was coming up to help me pack. I and my sister took a break for lunch. Since my car was full with moving supplies, the pair traveled in my sister's truck to Casey's General Store, where they bought coffee, pizza and some lottery tickets. "I got my lottery tickets and we went back out to her truck, I kind of just set those down at the foot in my purse — or so I thought — and didn't think of them again until Sunday morning.

On Sunday, a friend informed me that the winning tickets had been sold in Iowa and New York. When i went to look for the tickets in my purse, they weren't there. I called my sister, who found the tickets in her truck and sent me a picture of the numbers. I entered the numbers into the Power ball website, where winning numbers show up in red, and got a response of "red, red, red, red, red, red — jackpot." I won Three Hundred And Forty Three Million, Nine Hundred Thousand Dollars ($323,900,000)

I told my sister, Get that ticket, get in your truck and get up here now — and drive slow.

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