A Suicidal Pee-Soaked Thumb-Sucking Alcoholic Mini-Vampire

A Suicidal Pee-Soaked Thumb-Sucking Alcoholic Mini-Vampire February 16, 2011

Lately I’ve received some emails and comments from people asking how exactly I survived my less-than-Cleaverish childhood.

First of all, I didn’t die. I’ve found that goes a very long way toward surviving.

Isn’t it weird, though, really, how much, no matter how deeply you’re suffering, you just keep not dying? You keep … stayin’ alive. You think you’re going to die; you sort of assume that your system can only take so much before it simply closes up shop. But then it doesn’t close up shop. The shop remains open! You keep breathing. You keep watching TV. You keep sleeping at night; you keep still being there when the morning sun arises.

Which brings me to the point of this post.

Here are some of the ways that just how unhappy I was as a kid manifested. I didn’t think anything of this stuff at the time. To me, this was just … life.

  • I went through a long phase where every morning I would wake up on the ground beside my bed. And I’d usually be hurt. My arm would be all cranged up beneath my body somewhere, or I’d have this big gash on my shin or head where on the way down I’d cracked myself on the steel edge of my bed frame. This happened for about a year. It was so depressing. I’d wake up on the floor, try to feel which part of me I’d hurt this time, and think, “This sucks. One night I’m gonna fall on my head and snap my neck, and that’ll be that. Do I need a crib, with the bars?”
  • I used to sneak out of my room in the middle of the night and go walking everywhere. I’d wake up at about two in the morning, get dressed, quietly climb out my window, and spend a couple of hours just walking around my neighborhood in the dark. I liked the quiet; I liked the the coolness of the air; I loved being out of my psycho house. I felt like a phantom walking  around. Sometimes I’d go and, from the shadows of the darkness, watch through the windows as a man in a white apron made donuts at a Winchell’s Donut House.
  • The ceiling of my bedroom was covered–and I mean covered—with black squashed spiders. Pressed up against the outside of my bedroom window was a bamboo bush. The thing was crazy with spiders. And the screen of my window was severely bent, from my nighttime escapes. So big black spiders were forever pouring into my room. They seemed particularly fond of the ceiling. I poppled them with the butt end of my tennis racket. After a couple of years, the ceiling of my room was almost literally covered with dried squished spider bodies.
  • I used to pee on my bedroom carpet. There were few things in my world worse than leaving my bedroom to go out into the rest of the house—even just to sprint to the bathroom. My solution was to simply sometimes pee into my 70’s green-shag carpet. I think the foamy padding underneath the carpet absorbed it. It apparently didn’t smell too bad, since no one ever said anything about it. I wasn’t aware of any bad smell. But I was sort of … disconnected from my environment. I didn’t do this often. But I did it.
  • I periodically peed my bed until I was about seven.
  • I sucked my thumb until I was twelve or thirteen.
  • I used to think a lot about killing myself. I didn’t experience those thoughts as an extension of any sort of depression, but rather as intellectual curiosity. I wanted to know what happened after we died, and I didn’t want to wait to find out. So I looked into killing myself, and learned the best way was to sit in a warm, half-filled bathtub, and to cut your wrists longways, not across. So then I’d study the different knives in my house, and see which one would be best suited for the job. It was pretty clear any number of the knives in our house would do the job.
  • I started drinking in the fourth grade. I don’t know if they still make this sweet fortified wine called Ripple, but that was my original booze o’ choice. I’d steal it from the store. Sometimes—especially if I’d arranged for a girl to meet me in the middle of the night somewhere—I’d drink it during my phantom walks through the neighborhood. The father of a friend of mine used to work for an airline. By rummaging through his stuff, we’d snag all these dinky bottles of booze. I used to hide those bottles in my junior high school locker. One time I opened my locker, crammed my head and arm into it, and quickly downed such a vodka. At that moment I was student body vice-president of my junior high, and captain of a basketball team that was about to play an intramural game. I had stopped off at my locker to catch a buzz on my way to the game. As I tipped my head back in my locker, and felt the burning vodka going down my throat, I thought, “Interesting life you’re leading here, Contort-o-Boy. You’re going to have to stop drinking.” After that, I seriously cut down.

Anyway, that’s some of that stuff. And I know this all makes it sound as if, as a kid, I was a suicidal, pee-soaked, thumb-sucking alcoholic mini-vampire. And I guess I kind of was that. But mostly, weirdly, I was what I guess I would have to call psychologically, spiritually, and socially successful. My life outside of my home wasn’t just good. It was grand. It saved me, every day. Maybe I’ll later write about how and why that was.

Here’s to how we survive.

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