I suffer from a particularly rare combination of shamelessness and crippling pride. It’s been this way for awhile but I’ve never really been able to put into words. My pride prevents me from doing a lot of things that would put me in positions were shame might enter my life, and my shamelessness allows me to not bruise my pride all too often. (While it’s been this way for awhile, it hasn’t always been this way–but that’s a story for another day.)
Ten years ago. Ten years ago I was living at home for the summer in between my freshman and sophomore years of college. That’s the time and the scene for this story of how my shamelessness and pride almost killed me.
* * *
I can’t remember how I had become the proud owner, at age 19, of a fifth of Jim Beam. Or how I had even come to enjoy Jim Beam, having been a vodka girl my whole first year of college. But there I was with it in my possession and I was going to do some damage.
It lasted two weeks. Which, these days, seems to be pretty conservative (taking in multiple occasions and sharing with friends). But in reality, it lasted two weekends. Particularly: two days spread across two different weekends.
And I didn’t share.
It was there with me that night at Andy’s house when we all sat around in the basement and drank and laughed. And later I turned down a persistent suitor and drove home safely in the morning. That night it was about friends and shots and my pride was not involved (a little shamelessness, yes). [And there are pictures.]
Out of respect for my shamelessness, I have posted this picture from that night.
But flash forward one week and I was out of my comfort zone.
There was a party, and it was close to my home. And it was after another party. And at the first party there were jello shots. And I did quite a few. And then I got to the other party and I thought I saw him and so I chugged my beer.
There’s this weird reaction that happens sometimes when you see someone who stirs up something big in you. When you don’ t know how to act–or even how to want to act–and everything is so confusing and you just have to do what you can to keep afloat and not injure your pride or do something ridiculous. So, instead, you just stop thinking and you run off these horrible instincts that you swear are trying to kill you. It’s almost the evil twin brother of the “fight or flight” response.
And the pride. Dear God, the pride. There was the group that I had spent the summer before drinking with, when I was the inexperienced one who made a lot of mistakes and who was both the joke and the constant. And so I had to show them–had to SHOW them how much I had grown and how cool I was and how I could hang with the big boys.
The last thing I really remember was going to my car, grabbing the bottle of Beam, and walking up to the fire (both literally and metaphorically), and opening the bottle (about 2/3 full) and chugging. And repeat. And repeat. Until it was almost gone. Within 15 minutes.
And they were cheering me on, was the thing.
I was racing men twice my size, and they were cheering me on!
There were flashes of light and sounds similar to those experienced while swimming underwater. There were crackling steps as I walked through the woods, flashes of his smile. Brief flashes of contact and darkness.
I could say things began to get a bit clearer, but they didn’t.
I remember looking up and seeing concerned faces of my friends (my real friends) and him standing over me. His shirt was off and he was telling them he was trying to save me. They, of course, did not believe him and I to this day still do not who to believe. He said I had led him out there and then just went blank and was shaking and shivering and he took his shirt off to try and warm me up. It was July, but I was shivering and I was told I was holding the shirt. I think this time I believe him.
They took me into the house to get me water but I couldn’t even drink it. Everything was everything and nothing all at once. I couldn’t stand on my own and for the most part those persons who were cheering me on were now nowhere to be found. (well, except for one who ended up watching over me that night.)
A nurse was present and saw the warning signs and luckily came to my assistance before I could do more damage. There would be no trips to the ER or even trips back home. My stomach wasn’t pumped but it might as well have been.
And, amazingly enough, I made it into work the next morning at 4:30 am. I put the donuts in and promptly left to lay in misery of the pain of drinking roughly 2/3 a bottle of Jim Beam in 15 minutes and of my wounded pride.
Later, I came to find out during the time I was blacked out I attempted to run across the interstate but was stopped. And hit on a man three times my age. Both such things I would honestly never have done at that age. It wasn’t me, but I take full responsibility (a side effect of the shamelessness).
And while this tale has fallen apart at the end, it is one I felt I had to share and in the true style of my shamelessness and crippling pride was written stream of consciousness with no editing (like everything else you will find here). But this is me and I am prone to own up and take responsibility and bare my faults before anyone else can take that ability away from me.
But I learn. I do learn–I promise you.