Time In A Bottle

bottlesFor those of you old enough to remember, that’s the title of an old Jim Croce song that I used to love. Maybe now I know why. Time in a bottle. I tasted alcohol for the first time when I was about 13 or 14. Then I started to get more adventurous and raid the liquor cabinet when my parents were not home.

By the time I was about 17 or 18, I started drinking a little more regularly.  The drinking age in my home state back then was 18.  I went away to college when I was 17, and the closest bar was right around the corner from where I lived.  Also, the man across the street was giving me drinks when he first urged me to come over.

I did well in school for my first 3 semesters, but by then I was getting drunk 3-4 times a week.

During the summer, between my first and second year at school, I stayed away at school by taking a summer class to fulfill my science requirement.  Yet my third semester went very well, with my grades putting me on the Dean’s list.

But my life started falling apart.  My fourth semester, I was drinking heavily, regularly, and near the end of the semester, I was looking at a list of incompletes, withdrawals, and failures.  I had no choice but to drop out of school, as I lost both of my scholarships.

In order to escape from home, I went in the Navy.  The night before my swearing-in, my recruiter showed up with a fifth of vodka and a gallon of orange juice.  I think we just about killed that bottle, and I have no memory of returning to my hotel and I woke up in someone else’s room.

I went through about 10 weeks of boot camp, with some minor drinking my last weekend in Orlando.  Then I was sent to Great Lakes, IL, to start my schooling as a nuclear power Machinist Mate.

But all the freedom I had there led to my first arrest for DUI, and a night in the local county jail, as the brig wasn’t set up for women at all.  I got out the next day with no repercussions at all.  I finished my first and second schools, on time, and continued on to my ‘C’ School.  By this time I was totally out of control with my drinking, and thus my actions.  I started going to class, reporting in sick, then going back to my bunk, where I slept and recovered from my hangovers.

After an attack on a Petty Officer while I was still on Christmas leave, I enjoyed my second visit to the County jail.  All I remember is that I shared a cell with a nurse!?

I went before the Captain’s Mass and was fined and demoted two grade levels.  At this time I was recommended for discharge, and sent to TPU (Temporary Personnel Unit).

While at a bar one night, someone removed my jacket from my bar stool, along with my keys and wallet.  I was restricted to the base at the time, so I didn’t have my ID to get back on base.

But I was a sly one, and was able to get myself back on base without anyone ever knowing that I was gone.

The day after my discharge, I had to back to base to face the Federal Magistrate, for my on-base DUI.  I was fined $100, but the Magistrate asked if I could pay that amount, and I told him honestly that I could not.  So I was fined $50, and set free.

It took many attempts, and many failures, before I was able to pull myself out of the bottle at the age of 36, and have been sober ever since.  But that time in the bottle did have other consequences.

I was diagnosed with depression while still 20.  Eventually I was diagnosed as Schizo-affective Disorder with Major depression.  But that’s another story.

~ van ~

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