I was half adopted.
For those of you who don’t know what that means, for me it was that my mother who was maybe 22 took off from our hometown in the northeast and followed a man to Georgia. That man was not my father. She left me with my grandparents intending to return for me when she got settled which she did. I love my mother. She did the best she could with what she had.
My parents divorced and there we were all by ourselves (the other man didn’t work out). She was a single mother in the mid 60s and that was a huge stigma in the small town to which she’d “escaped”. So as quickly as she could, she wrote my father out of my life and picked a new one. He was a kind man, a good daddy. I was giddy but the damage had been done in a way. All traces of my biological father had been erased except for me.
Even at a very young age I looked different. I was the brown eyed, olive skinned girl in a sea of blonde southern children. I was forbidden to speak of my father and no one spoke of him either except to say how horrible he was. I felt so odd and out of place.
I learned to make up stories, grand ones about who I looked like, my heritage, you name it. I continued this charade of the made up story of my life until I got to high school and met someone just like me, half adopted. I couldn’t believe it. We poured out our souls to each other and I felt like I was floating on air. I still carried on the charade with others but with him I could be myself. He was the center of my universe.
I was finally leading this charmed life like Charlene Tilton in the coke commercial. High school was dazzling for me. I was popular, smart, friendly all the things I had dreamed of being. I didn’t drink. I had had a taste of some nasty liquor at a spend the night party when I was 12 and my parents had allowed us to sip wine with dinner in our teens but I didn’t drink, I was a good girl and was terrified of getting into trouble and messing up my charmed life.
And then I got pregnant and we quickly got an abortion but I felt at least inside that I had to continue with the charade . Keep it a secret, don’t tell anyone. You’ll be fine.
I wasn’t fine. I felt tarnished, damaged, broken but I carried on and still didn’t drink.
Then in the spring of my senior year my cousin to whom I was very close died in a car accident. I had gone to a party and gotten drunk for the first time that very same night. It was horrible. I got home, finally, after a search and rescue by my boyfriend and some sobering up at the local Waffle House to the news that my beloved cousin was dead. I had to ride 800 miles the next day with my very first hangover, But it didn’t stop me, in fact, it propelled me.
From then on, I was full on party girl.
It was March of 1981 almost 38 years ago and my last hangover was 28 days ago.
I decided 28 days ago that I was tired.
I was so very tired and I just don’t ever want to feel like that again.
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