A CRY FOR HELP

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Each summer during my mother's vacation from work my family would go stay at my Aunt Leah's camp on Eddington Pond. My family wasn't fortunate enough to own a camp so we had to rely on her generosity. As I got older, my brothers stopped going to camp and opted to stay home so they could have legendary parties. While the cat's away the mice will play and play my brothers did!

I hadn't reached the "I don't want to go to camp" stage yet. The highlight of my days at camp as I got older were the boys who had a camp next door. As with any 13 almost 14 year old girl, I immediately developed a crush on one of the boys named Jimmy. I've always had a run of bad luck with guys with that name, but I finally learnt my lesson after marrying one.  This "ginger" Jimmy gave me my first real taste of what rejection felt like. How humiliating it is to feel like the ugly duckling and the odd man out. I hated feeling not good enough. I hated being me. Why couldn't I have been born a small, dainty beauty instead of a lanky-legged, awkward ugly duckling? 

I've always had self-destructive tendencies as far back as I can remember. Although I've only halfheartedly tried the big "S" a few times, I now wonder what was my actual goal when I downed a whole bottle of aspirin chased by a massive amount of straight whisky. Did I have any idea that it could have killed me? More importantly, was I disappointed when it didn't kill me? 

My mother brought a whole gallon of Canadian Club whisky to camp that summer and now I wonder why she did that. My mother wasn't a drinker. Did she have plans of entertaining after the children were tucked snugly into bed in the loft overlooking the pond? If so, I never saw any evidence of it. Were my actions a cry for help or was I just looking for the attention I obviously wasn't getting? So many questions in hindsight, but never any beforehand.

After going on a very animated teenage tirade that probably resembled the Tasmanian Devil going after Bugs Bunny and ingesting the only things available to me at the time...a bottle of aspirin and whisky, I remember continually vomiting until all I could do is dry heave and heave and heave. At that point the desire to die was more than just a fleeting impulse. I felt so bad, dying would have been a welcome relief. The next morning when asked about my "illness" I passed off what was wrong with me as being some type of intestinal ailment when in reality I probably should have been in the hospital. 

It always amazed me how strong my mother's sense of denial was. She was a nurse and never "saw" all the classic signs I exhibited of a teenager in crisis. All my stunts went unnoticed until I eventually overdosed on barbiturates at school less than two years later and was rushed to the ER. Since she worked at that hospital, it was out of the question for me to try to cover up that one. Oops! I got too high and forgot how many pills I had taken! Actually, that was the truth. In those days, I ate pills like candy. If 3 were good, 6 or more were spectacular. Who knew how many drugs I had in my system at any given time? Like an alcoholic, one could never be too high unless it resulted in being unconscious or comatose. Oh, what a wonderful gene pool from which I come!

My ears rang so loudly for the better part of a week that I could hardly hear anything, but the ringing. I felt like I had a severe case of the flu. I hurt all over and I couldn't keep anything in my stomach for several days. My best friend, Margie witnessed my descent into a dark, dangerous place. She had accompanied me to camp that summer and fretted over me. When I look back, I wonder how close she came to ratting me out. It must have been difficult for her to watch me be in so much pain and to self-destruct without saying a word. How frightened must she have been for my well-being and ultimate survival. (I'm sorry for doing that to you, Margie! I'm sorry for doing that to myself.) 

Now, I look back and wonder where my mother was during all my brouhahas and why she had left Margie and I unattended that evening out in the boondocks in a place without a phone. The unattended theme carried through the next summer as well. By that time, I had a boyfriend (BTW, his name was not Jimmy) and that boyfriend was allowed to come stay at camp with me. Oh, what a summer that was! Skinny-dipping, frolicking in the summer sun and lazy nights and early mornings spent listening to the loons echo their cry across the pond while wrapped in each other's arms. For awhile, I got the attention I needed and wanted and then poof! It was gone and so was I. I stayed "gone" for quite a long time until I eventually allowed myself to start healing, but to this day, just a faint aroma of whisky still makes me nauseous.

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