Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Problems with Alcohol: Unavoidable Temptation

Practically a teenager, there are just things I never should have been exposed to and while I walked into it with caution and boundaries, because of the road I was on, meant I would inevitably be met with many temptations. You are confronted with choices; you either choose to engage or you don’t and if you aren’t careful, your environment will end up choosing for you-your best intentions won’t matter.

Nicole began experimenting with new things. When people want to have new experiences or they have found something they enjoy, most times, they want to bring someone along for the ride.  I was her closest friend. She knew my boundaries, but that was not going to stop her from hassling me.
 
On one of our days off, Nicole decided to drop acid and begged me to do it with her. I refused-I was too chicken to try something like that! To me, that was some heavy duty stuff, I wanted to stay clear from. Watching her have a grand ol’ time by herself, I began feeling really weird, all of a sudden.  Textures on walls and floors began moving.  Everything I looked at became distorted and funny. Following suit, I started laughing hysterically.  As we’re both laughing, she tells me she dropped acid in the soda I was drinking.  She thought this was too good for me to pass up. Too high and too loopy to care or be furious with her; I was really enjoying this ‘trip’.

Never in my life, did I laugh so hard-I was always too intense and serious to just let go and enjoy life. On that day, I felt that whatever happened to me didn't matter because I wasn’t thinking much about any of it. Today, I would be without a care in the world, and the only thing that mattered was how much fun I was having.

I was mesmerized over the simplest things; things we don’t give a second look; stuff we walk by every day and here I am completely enamored by them: carpet, grass, wood grain and pretty much anything with a pattern. This was no quick high; a tiny piece of paper dipped in some chemical, the size of a tear drop, lasted eight straight hours! I later heard of people who had really bad ‘trips’; doing this stuff on a bad frame of mind can lead to terrible episodes. I wondered why this experience was as good as it was for me. I remembered during my ‘trip’, looking in the mirror, my face began to form into some kind of a demon.  Instead of freaking out, like what most normal people would do, I was fascinated by it. But something told me not to stare too long because I'm sure I would have gotten lost in it and like those others who had bad ‘trips’, would have had a difficult time coming out of it.

Once you find something that feels that good, you become desperate of that feeling -you search for it, in everything.  Tired of feeling rotten, stressed, guilty-you've had a taste of something different, you know now there is an alternative and you want more of it.  Still cautious, I didn't by any means become an addict; but it did lead to me to making more and more bad choices. Once that door is swung open and you walk through it, it’s hard to turn around and walk out. One experience multiplies into many others and habits begin forming. Oddly, I still wasn't there with alcohol. I guess at the time, I didn't find it to be very exciting. To me, it tasted like poison and I couldn’t get past the bad memories.

There was nothing around me that was wholesome; nothing fighting for me to do good. I slowly succumbed to the ways of this industry.  I started meeting customers outside of the club; hanging out with male strippers-like something out of the movie, ‘Magic Mike’. I thought I was something special: an insecure girl surrounded by hot men-I was smothered by temptation. Thankfully, I had some sense and did not get sexually intimate with these men. I made a vow when I was in high school to save myself for marriage. Having my innocence stolen at such a young age, it was my way of feeling somewhat good about something, in attempt to preserve some level of purity. The fact was: I was tainted; damaged goods; trying to restore what was once untouched. Unfortunately, there was no reversing what was taken from me.

But while I felt good about keeping my version of sexual purity, it sure didn’t stop me from manipulating the men to get what I wanted.  I went as far as promise men dinner dates if they would take me shopping.  The guy would take me shopping-I got what I wanted and then I made up some lame excuse of why I couldn't do dinner.  It was so deliberate. Using men in this way gave me a thrill.Thinking back it disgusts me how I used to be.

If compared to the other girls at the club, I would be considered tame. I was in it for the fun-to feel good.  I welcomed any willing participants into my little party. My attempts at keeping everything under control only spun my life, out of control. I started to become a product of my environment, but fortunately, just in time, to keep from being fully corrupted, my stay in South Florida and fun all came to an end…

Thursday, June 14, 2012

My Problems with Alcohol: I Do Not Belong Here

My first night at the club was awkward. I felt like a small fish in a big pond; I felt inadequate. How could I measure up to what I was competing with? I thought, 'If I stay on this shift, I will surely starve.  These women are gorgeous!'  I was a girl still in my teens and under developed!

I was timid and I could not get into a groove.  I remember sitting at the bar for most of the night until I was called up on stage; I was terrified.  Over and over in my head, I kept thinking about 'how in the world did I get myself here?' I wanted to run; I literally wanted to crawl in a hole and die.  I had convinced myself that this was the ultimate low and I was very desperate.

In order for me to endure through this,  I had to counter those negative feelings with power thoughts:

Just a few months!

You are here for one reason and that is to survive!

You are in control!

Everything is going to be ok!

My stage name was called and that switch turned on; I was determined to work it out!  I commanded the stage and the fear somehow found its way out.  As the tips came, my false sense of confidence started building. I had to be someone else, called by a different name, because the real me that existed behind those layers I built up around me, was a scared little girl who was conditioned to think she was stupid and ugly. That girl would have been eaten alive here; she wouldn't have survived.  So, I had to bury her.

The club required that when the girls were seated with customers, we were asked to order drinks and if it was offered, we were not allowed to turn it down.  I had this sick feeling, remembering the pain alcohol has caused me and my family. What was I going to do? I really didn't have a choice; that was the way the club made their money and I had to follow their rules if I wanted to be employed.  However, I was really funny about it; I ordered very frou frou beverages with very little alcohol.  I honestly did not want to be drunk. I felt that altering my state of mind would relinquish any control I had. I eventually figured out how to order drinks that looked like adult beverages without the alcohol content.

 I did not make a lot of money on my first night, and to be honest, I never made nearly the amount other women there made.  I watched them count their bank rolls nightly and listened to them brag about how much they hustled their customers into champagne rooms. I suppose I just didn't have it in me to hustle the guys.  I didn't own the skills to seduce men in that way.  I wasn't lookin' at getting rich. I just wanted to make an adequate amount daily to get me to the next chapter of my life.  Interesting enough, I wasn't the only one who noticed this. The manager at the club randomly came up to me one evening and said something I will never forget.  He said, "you don't belong here."

As weeks passed, I made more and more money.  Nicole and I would hop from hotel to hotel looking
for the best accommodations.  We were spending money like it grew on trees!  My Army recruiter called me often because he knew what I was doing.  He was worried that I would get caught up in this life and decide against joining the military.  I assured him that this was just a means to an end.  I wouldn't allow this lifestyle to suck me in no matter how tempting it was; there was a goal in sight!

But while I had the greatest of intentions, that lifestyle has a way of pulling you into things you said you would never do.  Surely, I was traveling down a road that would deepen my sorrows and open new wounds…

Friday, March 23, 2012

My Problems with Alcohol: Survival

Still so young and lacking confidence, I was proposed an idea that I never thought I would agree to.  But what choice did I have? I had a few hundred dollars to my name and about four months to kill before I can begin training in the military.

 Nicole's plan was well thought out and she knew I couldn't refuse because of the predicament I put myself into.  The dreaded 'ok' came out of my mouth but the moment it left my lips I wanted to take it back!  I was then reminded of the filth and shame I carried from having my innocence stripped - I felt dirty and all of a sudden this seemed like a natural progression; something that was supposed to happen next.

Thinking about it, there must have been something about me that men wanted - something they found appealing and attractive, even though deep down I felt ugly and disgusting.  Why not get paid? This curse is going to follow you anyway, you might as well make the most of it.

Ok, but this time - I'm in control.

If I had second thoughts, any chance of taking the couple hundred dollars and stretching it for four months quickly vanished; I was robbed shortly after our talk.  It was as if my 'ok' stamped my signature into a life I had no chance of escaping from.

 I kindly asked a guy at the gas station for directions. Pointing to my map, he glanced over at my purse on the seat, grabbed it and took off! I immediately jumped out of my car screaming and he was gone.  Thankfully, I had my ID and some cash in my pant's pocket. Oh God, what have I gotten myself into? Why am I still here? Survival.

Turned out, Nicole did have a friend here and he agreed to let us stay with him.  He was a son of a rich man who lived in a high rise on a very popular south Florida boulevard.  But our stay could only be brief, as dad and son had adjoining walls; dad wasn't too keen on two girls staying with his son.  After connecting with Nicole's friend, we needed to go shopping for the appropriate attire working in a gentlemen's club; I certainly didn't come equipped.  Trying on multiple articles with minimal fabric that sparkled, we found the working gear that would land us an audition.

I was in the company of folks who knew exactly which club to hit up.  Nothing raunchy and nothing too upscale - something right in the middle.  The rule was, no touching, I didn't want any nasty man's paws on my body.  Remember, I'm in control.

We walk in during daylight hours and there are women working and men scattered about.  We asked to speak to the manager.  Some buff guy greets us at the front and escorts us into an office to see the boss.  Dressed in a suit, this man was no nonsense.  He took a good look at us and gave a brief run down.  Individually we would go out to this caged platform, the size of a small table with a pole in it, strip down and dance one song while he watches from the multiple cameras facing the stage.  Afterwards, we would leave the stage and walk back into his office to hear his decision.

 I was scared, nervous, unsettled, feeling completely out of my element.  But it was like this wicked voice spoke confidence into me and the sexy switch was flipped on.  You're in control was what I kept hearing and for some reason, those few words fueled my way through this. I was ready and I was going to act like I knew exactly what I was doing. This job is mine and I'm taking it!

That was easy. He was impressed. I didn't have to start working the dead day-shift hours; that was usually the starting point for some girls not quite up to par. I was scheduled during primetime but I was not ready for what this all entailed.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

My Problems with Alcohol: Trapped

Things at home started to get worse. I felt trapped.  I was lost.  I just wanted to leave. God, get me out of here!

The drinking continued to the point where my father just stopped taking care of himself, not to mention, I was left cleaning up the messes he left around the house.  I did not feel like his daughter in any way, nor did I respect him as my father.  There were times I felt like his mother, taking care and cleaning up after him.  This was going beyond normal chores that kids should be doing around the house.

I remember having an argument with my father.  I don't recall the details, but what I do remember was, my father grabbing me by the neck, picking me up, slamming me against my closet door with his teeth clenched, growling at me.  I was terrified. I had never seen this side of him before.  My father's nickname in the Air Force was 'nasty' because of how mean he could get. This stopped me dead in my tracks and there was no way I was going to have another one of these fights again.  Obviously, I was reminded of my mother's abuse and with my father's heavy drinking habit, I didn't know how far he would go.  My best bet was to just stay clear of him as much as possible.

I somehow managed to end up living with a friend of mine until her parents thought it was time for me to go back home. Then I lived with one of my father's old girlfriends; one of the only women I took a liking to. I couldn't tell you how my father came in agreement with this, but he did. To my dismay, it didn't work out and back home I went. I made a vow to myself that when I turned 18, I was going to do whatever it took to move out.

A girlfriend of mine that I had become close with was having her own set of family issues.  I begged my father to allow her to stay with us and he agreed.  I felt like if she was with me, I was somewhat protected from any unwanted advances or violent outbursts.

My friend, let's just call her Nicole, had convinced me that she had the perfect plan on how I was going to move out.  I had just graduated and decided to enlist in the military, but because I was a part of the delayed entry program, I could not go in right away.  I had about a four month waiting period before I could start basic training.  Nicole told me that she had some friends who lived in south Florida and we could stay at their place until it was time for me to go into the military.  She would secretly pack my things up while I was at work and when I came home, we would take off before my father returned.

I came home, we put my things in my car - my heart jumping out of my chest because I was so scared my father would come home and catch us, wrote him a nasty note basically saying 'good riddance' and we were on our way!  The moment I left the driveway, I felt so free!  I was excited to be out of my home and on a new adventure to south Florida with my best friend!

The drive took what seemed like forever; we had finally arrived!  I pulled over and asked Nicole, "ok, how do we get to your friends place?"  She had this look on her face that immediately put knots in my stomach.  "WHAT?! WHAT'S THE MATTER?!" "We don't have a place to stay. I lied." I started freaking out, "WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE DON'T HAVE A PLACE TO STAY!?! WHAT DO YOU MEAN, YOU LIED?!"  Nicole explained that if she told me the truth, I would have never agreed to come.  Nicole assured me not to worry because although she lied, the truth was, she always had a plan, just a different one.  She needed me to get her down here and if I joined her in her little 'plan', it would be a win win situation for the both of us according to her.  The alternative was to return to my father or become homeless.  After the note I wrote him, I pretty much burned the bridge of ever returning and she knew it.  And homeless? In a place I knew nothing about? Before I could consider it, Nicole revealed her plan.

Once again, I felt trapped and my hand was forced into the unthinkable...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Problems with Alcohol: Innocence Stolen

There were things that started happening in my father's home that I found to be really inappropriate - inappropriate outside of all the things I've already mentioned.  This time, it was towards me; inappropriate behavior that should never be expressed by a father to his daughter.

This wasn't something I was new to; I've had plenty of other encounters.  And by those encounters, I mustered up the courage and strength to say NO!

When I was about 4 years old, I don't recall my exact age, my mother left me to live with a woman she knew.  I cannot remember how long my mother was gone, but it was long enough to do further damage that had already begun in my life.  This woman my mother left me with had an older son.  I will spare you the details, but what I will tell you is that, my innocence was stolen from me on multiple occasions by this man.  This led to a reoccurring theme in my life - something that I could not seem to escape from.

Going forward from that time, I had several episodes of sexual abuse ranging from strangers, people I knew, all the way to the men in my family. Just a few examples: As a little girl, I would walk into a convenience store with another little girl to pick up some things my mother needed and the man working at the counter would decide to touch me inappropriately.  His reason was, he wanted to check to see if I was stealing; this ended up in court. The curse continued when I was left with a babysitter who was a woman, and she was coaxing me to do things to her but I refused.  There were many other instances but I won't get into that; you get the gist.  What was troubling was the abuse from my own family members. The men that were supposed to love and protect me - men that I was supposed to trust - in one way or another, made unwanted sexual advances towards me, including my grandfather, if you can believe that! I could not understand it, why was this continually happening to me? I wasn't a scantily clad girl; I wasn't even fully developed yet. Why was I such a target for people to take advantage of me?  Was it because I exuded a scent of 'weak' and 'victim'?

My father began coming on to me in a playful manner. At first, I denied it was anything more than him joking around, probably because I was in such disbelief - not my father!  But then it began happening more frequently, going a step further and each time, the stench of alcohol was so strong because he was so close.  This man was under the influence and he was making passes at his daughter! Thankfully, because of what I have already been up against and the fight I had on the inside of me, I did not allow this is go very far.  GET OFF ME!  I think by the way I said it, he knew I meant business.  My demand for him to stop fortunately struck him enough to withdraw those advances.  He followed my words with a laugh and, "don't flatter yourself" in attempt to make me think that this was a figment of my imagination.  I knew better because although I was no expert on wholesome relationships between father and daughter, I knew that jumping on top of your daughter and kissing on her neck was not a healthy expression of affection.

This stuff definitely started affecting me outwardly.  The internal damage taking place started manifesting itself in the worst forms.  My sense of worth and value was so out of whack. Strangely enough, I think I tried to convince myself that this must be how men love.  I was so confused.  One thing I knew for certain, I needed to get out of this house!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

My Problems with Alcohol: Revolving Door

 With my stepmother gone, it was just me and my father.  But as time went on, my home became a revolving door of women, passing through.  My father prided himself in being a womanizer. I believed that he had lost the ability to love another woman - at least in the only way he knew how.  I began seeing things in my father that made me wonder if these were the reasons why my stepmother left.  I suppose I never really paid too much attention when my stepmother was around.  I was too distracted with school and my problems fitting in that I just assumed things were great between my parents.  Now that my stepmother was gone, I was forced to be the woman of the house, so things became more apparent to me.

My respect for my dad began depreciating at a fast pace.  I was not able to look at this man and acknowledge him as my father.  With the shifting in our relationship, and with everything that has happened thus far, a rebellious spirit was born.  I saw no real good in doing the right things and I honestly didn't believe anyone cared.  Grant it, by the stereotypical rebellious type, some would still consider me to be a good kid.  I didn't drink, do drugs, have sex, grades began declining but they were pretty decent.  The worst part about me was that I had a bad attitude.


My father drank a lot of alcohol.  There were times when I would witness him stumbling around the house making his way straight towards the recliner to pass out.  It pained me to see him this way.  I remember a time being curious about his alcohol and finding myself at the cabinet filled with different kinds of liquor, looking through the bottles.  I recall asking my dad about this particular bottle that had a worm on the bottom and him coaxing me to try some.  "No.  I don't want any of that."  "Go ahead, try it"  I wasn't interested in it; just wondered what the worm was all about.  I think, perhaps, I witnessed what alcohol did to my mother and father that the thought of drinking it scared me, although, I was still very curious about it.

I was a gutsy teenager.  I managed to convince a friend over 21 to give me 2 forms of identification so that I can apply for an ID card - her information and my picture.  I didn't do this once, but twice!  Since I could not seem to fit in at school, I thought maybe older people would take interest in me.  I found this out quickly when military men used to hit on me.  What I found strange was, school kids thought I was ugly and older men found me attractive.  With my fake ID, I headed to the nightclubs.  While most kids with a fake ID would have used it to buy alcohol, I just wanted to go out dancing!  I would come home and hide my ID card in my diary.  Guess who found it?  My father.  Oddly, I could keep it as long as I would go and buy him beer and cigarettes, whenever he wanted.

The different women that passed through my home was irritating.  I didn't know how to act around them - it was a toss up on who I was going to be mean or nice to.  I mainly viewed them as objects that my father used for his own satisfaction.  I would watch one woman go through his bedroom door and wake up to find another woman coming out of his bedroom door.  I would call him out on it and he would just laugh; he was proud and I was disgusted.  There was a time when I had a pretty girlfriend come over, I would go to my room, come back out to find him giving my friend a shoulder rub.  I was floored!  "What are you guys doing?"  They both just laughed it off like it was no big deal.  When my friend wasn't around, my father would ask about her all the time.  "When is she coming back?"  This definitely struck me to my core.  My father was attracted to girls my age??  Every time I accused him of it, he would dismiss it and just laugh.

The drinking got worse.  Alcohol just permeated from his pores; I could smell him throughout the house.  Between that and the chain smoking, I needed fresh air!  I would find ways to leave the house.  There were times when I told my father I was sleeping over at a friends house, when really, I was with an older man - older meaning like 19 yrs old up to the age of 22.  I know what you're thinking, but believe it or not, I made a vow to save myself for marriage.  I slept over at these guy's homes I was dating to have companionship and to get away from my father.  Because they were older and expected sex, I eventually got dumped because I wouldn't put out.  When I think about [now] how old I was and how old these men were, I get sick to my stomach.  But when I tell you what led me to do such things, you might understand it more...

Monday, February 6, 2012

My Problems with Alcohol: Cursed

The dreaded late night wake up again - this time coming from my parents. Being woken up in the middle of the night in my life meant 'your head is about to get knocked or your world is about to get rocked'.  Clearly, from the noise I was hearing, this wasn't going to be anything good.

Half asleep, I am trying to figure out what exactly is going on. The details of this emotional night is cloudy, but what I do recall is grabbing the phone, yelling at a man I didn't know on the other end.  How could you!?  How could you do this to my family?! 

There was infidelity in the marriage and I could not wrap my mind around it.  I thought things were good! Doesn't something like this come with a warning? Why is this happening?!  

Why me?! Oh God, WHY ME!?

I felt like my life was one big punishment - a curseWhat did I do that was so bad to deserve this? God must hate me.  He removed me from one bad situation to another.

I wanted so desperately for things between my stepmother and father to work out.  I remember playing a song and begging them to dance.  Please dance, because for a moment, I wanted to know that things were going to be ok and my home would return to the way it was before this all happened and we could just all stay together.

Please?

The inevitable happened.  My stepmother moved out and divorce followed.  I had such mixed feelings about this.  I loved her, after all, I did consider her to be my mother but then I hated her at the same time.  Didn't I matter?  How dare you get close to me,  call me your daughter, just to hurt me like this!?  Does my father mean nothing to you?  Aren't we enough?  Of course, as a teenager, I was making it mostly, all about me.  It didn't matter the reason and it didn't matter that she wasn't happy because this was ultimately hurting me.  Don't I get a say?

The anger, hurt and resentment began stirring on the inside of me.  Things in my home quickly started changing and not for the better...