Chapter 3:8 The Black-out
Drinking Begins

< Chapter 3:7                                                                        Chapter 3:9 > 

At this point in my life, I still only felt the only way to fix things was to run from them. I contacted the company I had worked with in Baltimore to see if it was possible for me to work in one of their offices in NJ. Since I had left them without any notice, they weren’t that excited to hear from me. But through general conversation, I found that the VP of the company, Gordon Gates, had left to form his own company. What an opportunity for my distorted young entrepreneurial mind. Gordon had the money, and the contacts and would need great leaders like myself. I had the experience of running the Baltimore office and had been a top sales person when I was in the field. I knew he would take me in with no questions. And I also thought, with New Jersey’s being so close to NYC that it would be a great place for me to hide. I was off to NJ and what I believed would be another new start on life. I was certain that I would outsmart the law, there was no way that they would ever find me. I had 5 warrants out for my arrest and was facing 8 years in jail, but as long as I kept myself out of trouble, they would have no way to track me. I moved into a cheap motel in Mount Laurel, NJ using a fake name. There were about 15 other people living at the same hotel who had followed Gordon to NJ.

It was an amazing time again, just like when I first arrived in Baltimore. No one knew my past; it was like I had a clean slate. There was energy, enthusiasm, freedom; it was an all out party. And just like working in Baltimore, we partied while we worked, and well into the morning hours.

Meanwhile, my paranoia grew. Even though I had this cockiness that the law would never find me, I was constantly looking over my shoulder. I couldn’t escape the knowledge that I had 5 warrants out for my arrest. And all the while, my drinking and drug use progressed. I moved in with a drug dealer and started selling drugs on the side to support my own habits. I was drinking about 2 cases of beer, and a half a bottle of tequila a day. On top of that, I was taking 2,500 milligrams of caffeine “speeders” to counter the effects of the alcohol.

The drinking got worse, and the need for more money to support my habits grew. Gordon soon tired of my showing up for work hung over and suggested that I “clean up my act.” I was insulted. How dare he say something like that? I needed to find a way to support my alcohol and drug use. So I quit working for Gordon (who was ready to fire me anyway) and started my first business. I had made some contacts in the wholesale jewelry business in Philadelphia and had a great market.

It was the ideal situation for me. I was now my own boss. I would start my day when I wanted, then go out to go-go bars and sell jewelry to the girls. I would make a couple of hundred dollars in the afternoon and then drink all night. For the next 4-5 years this was my main way of supporting myself. Even when I was totally intoxicated I could make $200-$300 in a day. Drinks many times were free, as were the drugs that flowed so freely through the clubs, so it became almost a 24-hour a day party.

But even with this “dream job”, it wasn’t enough. I had to be the big shot and throw money all over to prove how well I was doing. Soon I started stealing money and drugs from the guy I was living with in an effort to keep the image going.

One night during an argument between my roommate and myself about missing money and drugs, I ended up staring down the barrel of a gun. His girlfriend intervened, I grabbed what I could and took off on the run again. For the next month, I lived in my car sleeping in parking lots, or cemeteries trying to not draw attention from police.

Through a friend of a friend, I found out that an old guitar player who I played with in my second band was living about an hour south of where I was. I thought it would be a great way to find a place to live and get some money, so I called him about starting another band and asked if I could stay with him until I found a place of my own.

This became one of the darkest periods of my life. I was so paranoid by this point that I was literally a bundle of wound up nerves. I was constantly thinking that the police were making more and more of an effort to find me. I started to worry that I was going to make a mistake, and somehow they would track me down and take me back to Maryland.

I was constantly getting drunk, doing things that I would be embarrassed about, then hating myself the next morning. I became a black-out drinker. My drinking had become a way for me to “disappear”. For those of you not familiar with the term black-out, what it means is that you drink yourself to a point where your but your body functions, you are actually being active and having conversations, but you have no memory of it. Now, many “normal” drinkers don’t believe that a place like this exists. They see their friends do something in a drunken state, and when they confront them, the person who was drinking will say that they don’t remember. Usually the “normal” drinker gets more frustrated thinking that the other person is lying to cover up their actions.

The reality is that they have reached a new “level” in their drinking. You get to a point where you have taken in so much alcohol, a place where your tolerance has gotten so high, that you can almost physically function normally, but have no recollection of what you did. At this point in my life, I hated myself so much that I made a conscious decision that a black-out was the state I wanted to live in.

With everything that had happened in my life, the health problems, the family, my loss of faith, the drinking, the arrests, the daily embarrassments of my drunken actions. I was at the point where I had grown to hate myself so much, that I couldn’t even walk by a mirror without wanting to smash it. I would avoid looking into them, because the image that I saw looking back at me, I hated. I didn’t want to live. But I was scared to die. At those moments when I thought about suicide, there was still that memory of my youth that if you committed suicide you would go straight to “Hell.” And even though consciously I thought that I was already damned, somewhere inside I wasn’t sure. So I would constantly put myself in positions where I would hope that someone else would kill me.

I went to some of the wildest extremes in an effort to get someone else to end my life. Even to the point of walking into a biker bar in Laurel Springs, NJ with a loaded gun. This was the kind of place you see in the movies when they want to make the bikers look really bad, with loud rock music blaring and people breaking beer bottles for fights. One night I walked into this place, with a pistol tucked in the front of my pants. Just the way you see it done in some of the old westerns. I wasn’t trying to hide it. I had it stuck right in front, with the handle sticking out where all could see. I went in there with the full intention of starting trouble. I was looking for someone to call my bluff, and when they did. I knew I would die.

I have a song on my album called Wind Dancer. The song is about my guardian angel. And I have to tell you, that I have put my guardian angel in situations that they are sure to have gotten extreme hazard pay.

That night, no one said anything to me about the gun. I was shooting pool with these guys, stumbling all over the bar. And no one said anything about the pistol.

If you can imagine, the insanity continued to get worse. When I found that I could actually reach the point of a black-out, it became my goal every day. I would wake up, and begin drinking immediately looking to get to a black-out as soon as possible. That was the place where the world finally disappeared and I didn’t have to deal with ANYTHING.

To push the death wish even farther, I would drive an hour and a half north of where I was living to Philadelphia to sell jewelry and drink myself into the black-out. Then, I would work my way back to Millville. I already had 5 drunk driving arrests to my name, and now, 6 out of 7 nights of the week, I would drive an hour and a half from Philly to my home in a black-out, and not remember any of it.

My paranoia had increased to the point where I would see my room mates pull into the parking lot, see them walk up towards the door, and even knowing that it was them… when the door opened, my muscles would be so tense that I would jump out of my chair at least an inch into the air.

The night finally came when the insanity reached its peak. I was near Philadelphia going from bar to bar. I had been drinking all day long, but for some reason I still wasn’t drunk. It was around 9PM, sales had been bad, and I had run out of money. I started to panic. I NEEDED more to drink, I NEEDED to get into a black-out. My mind was racing, trying to find a way to feed my addiction. How could I get more to drink? What was I going to do? Where could I get more money?

The next part of my thought process, happened in less than a minute. It was vivid, it was loud, and when it was finished I feared for my life and everyone else’s.

The words came at a furious pace, like a madman tearing a room apart looking for something, “I don’t have any money, but I can still think, I’m not to that place where it all goes away… I can’t handle this, I NEED more!!! What can I do? I know… I’ll rob somebody. There are people walking alone… I’ll just rob them. But I’m not wearing my leg… they’ll be able to tell the cops what I look like. How many one-legged people are there around here? That won’t work… What can I do? I know… I’ll just kill them. I have my knife… I’ll slit their throat”

As that last thought crossed my mind. I pulled the car off to the side of the road, and sat there in silence. I KNEW that I had gone insane. I was willing to kill someone to get more money to drink. I was willing to kill someone for maybe the $5 they might have in their pocket.

I sat there in silence. What had I become? What happened to my life? Who was I? What kind of monster would even think something like that? I decided I needed to go back to Pennsylvania and turn myself in on the 5 warrants that I was running from. I felt that the only way that the world would be safe from me… was if I was locked up in jail, or a mental institution.

I did finally reach a black-out that night, but I don’t think it came from alcohol. It was a gift, a miracle in a sense. The last thing I remember was driving back towards Millville. I hated myself and what I had become. I was approaching a bridge that went over the road I was driving on, it was about a half mile away from me. I remember looking towards the concrete abutment that supported the bridge. I turned my steering wheel in the direction of the wall, and pushed the gas peddle to the floor of the Trans Am I was driving.

It is my belief that my guardian angel stepped in again. I tell people that he must have knocked me on the head, lifted up the car and set it down in the parking lot outside the apartment, because the next thing I remembered was waking up on the living room floor.

That day I called my mother and told her that I was coming back and was going to turn myself in. Within a week, I was back in Pennsylvania making preparations. 

< Chapter 3:7                                                                        Chapter 3:9 > 


The Warrior Sage Chapter/Section

Who Is Willard Barth?
Author's Notes
Preface - Exploring Strength And Weakness
Chapter 1:1 - The Process Of Self-Awareness
Chapter 1:2 The Stages Of Child Development
Chapter 2:1 The World Changed Forever
Chapter 2:2 The Vicious Cycle Begins
Chapter 2:3 Losing Faith
Chapter 2:4 My Dark Secret
Chapter 2:5 Where Is The Love I Was Promised?
Chapter 3:2 The Road To Alcohol Dependence
Chapter 3:3 Leaving My Childhood Behind
Chapter 3:4 Escaping Responsibility; The Joy Ride Ends
Chapter 3:5 Living A Duality Begins
Chapter 3:6 Out Of Control
Chapter 3:7 Crossing The Line To Insanity
Chapter 3:8 The Black-out Drinking Begins
Chapter 3:9 Facing The Music
Chapter 3:10 A New Beginning
Chapter 3:11 More Lessons To Learn
Chapter 4:1 The Final Party
Chapter 4:2 A Moment Of Clarity
Chapter 4:3 My New Life Begins
Chapter 4:4 Sober - Time To Face The World
Chapter 4:5 The First Year Of Sobriety
Chapter 4:6 Major Change Comes In Year Two
Chapter 4:7 My Daughter Is Born April 20, 1992
Chapter 5:1 Life Changing Decisions Follow My Daughter's Birth 
Chapter 5:2 Recognizing The Voice Inside
Chapter 5:3 The Empress Hotel
Chapter 5:4 A New Chapter In My Life Begins
Chapter 6:1 Finding My Way Home
Chapter 6:2 Falling Into Place
Chapter 6:3 A New Awareness
Chapter 6:4 Personal Finances And Personal Development
Chapter 6:5 The George Washington Story
Chapter 6:6 Letting Go So Others Can Grow 
Chapter 6:7 The Wrap Up 


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