A Conversation with 'Blackout Girl'
Jennifer store is the author of blackout girl. It is a memoir published by Hazel in twenty eleven and it's about to have its second printing. Read the book and You won't doubt the power of addiction in the day to day life of a young woman, the subtle persuasion of alcohol, the pervasive violent consequences, one drink too many and the sheer luck some my call at grace to survive at all Jennifer Storm. Welcome to let's talk. Thank you so much for having me. You know one of the dynamics of our mission at Hazelton Betty Ford is that we published books and we publish your book in twenty eleven it's done. Very very well in fact, it's about to have its second printing. What does that mean to have a second printing of a book? It's such an honor truly to not have the story come out once and reach an audience but for it to have a whole new audience to touch I, it's it's a wonderful experience. It feels more relevant today than actually when I did publish it unfortunately just because of what we're seeing with sexual violence and addiction, it's still dominating headlines. The headlines more than it ever has. So it feels really timely and on the heels of the metoo movement I know there are a lot of people that are suffering in silence and so my goal is to get to those people and we'll come back to that in a couple of minutes. Cisco back into your own. Life. For people who haven't read your book or no the story Tell us a little bit about your introduction to alcohol and what happened as a result. So. I came from a mother and a father who both came from very abusive alcoholic homes and they of found themselves in high school and really vowed to to get away from that and so they married young my father went off to Vietnam my mother he returned my mother started having US Children's I'm one of three I'm the youngest and they did their best to keep us away from all of those family members that were heavily. Addicted at the time, they had their own demons, and of course, their own traumas that they never dealt with and for the most part though they did a really great job trying to raise us I really was only exposed to alcohol when my parents would have it at family gatherings, and then a friend introduced me to alcohol when I was twelve years old and I had my first beer which literally led to ten beers and I drank. The first time I picked up a drink and I write in the book that I it never felt that thirsty before my life and I blacked out that night and subsequently a came to well being raped, and so I had this horrific introduction to alcohol this very addictive introduction alcohol and yet it was the first thing I turned to to deal with the trauma of that incident. When you were sexually assaulted a home. was that your bottom as it related to alcohol it was the start actually. So it's what really propelled me into continuing to drink because. I had all this shame and this guilt in this anger and rage that I didn't know what to do with it and I was young and my parents coming from their own alcoholic abusive homes didn't have the coping mechanisms to deal with their own stuff. Let alone now watching their daughter go through this horrific trauma. So I started drinking you know and this was in the eighties. So alcohol was in everyone's homes. We all had the you know the liquor cabinet, and so it was really easy for me to access What happened to me led to the breakdown really up my. Parents marriage, and so the supervision and our home started to deteriorate my parents divorced by the time I was fifteen and so I was kind of left to my own devices as where my older brothers and drank alcoholic and that gave way to starting to use pills I would do anything to numb the pain I was having and so if it meant alcohol, it meant pills it meant marijuana that led me to LSD, which then quickly led me to cocaine but everything every single time I drank the result was always the same I drank I drank to excess I blacked out. and. So the introduction of cocaine when I was around fifteen sixteen helped kind of. Sober me up. If you will I always say that parentheses it would keep me from blacking out. It would allow me to retain control because when I was putting myself in situations where I was blocking out of course, then I was vulnerable to more violence and more abuse and I didn't want that. So the cocaine and the alcohol then became this really damaging codependent relationship and. And how long did that codependent relationship work before? You had your bottom. So eventually I turned to crack cocaine at age seventeen and I had my bottom at age twenty two and I it was brutal and I attempted to take my life. I didn't have any hope I was completely destitute. I didn't see a way out of my addiction I couldn't go a day without being high and being. Completely out of my mind and that got to a point where it felt so. That I wanted out and I didn't like I said, I didn't have any hope. So tried to kill myself and By. Some measure of grace I am here today and I woke up in hospital bed the next day and I. I had sliced my wrists pretty severely to the extent that of one was bandaged to to hold it together done so much damage and it was a miracle and the doctor looked at me and said, it's a miracle that you're live and I was in a psych ward because that's that's where they. Put you was nine, hundred, Ninety, seven and an intake officer came in and kind of started going through the questions and she looked at me and said you, you're not. You're a drug addict do you want treatment for that? Because you you shouldn't be here? Do you want to go to Rehab and I said, yes, it was the first time I had made the admission that my solution was actually my problem. And then you got treatment, did I went to a traditional twenty eight day treatment facility in Allenwood Pennsylvania by all accounts a great facility I they didn't they weren't trauma informed which that's the term that I would come later to understand and really appreciate but they didn't take into consideration the underlining trauma that I had dealt with. It was solely twelve steps addiction recovery. We're not going to deal with these outside issues right now you're here to get clean and sober and that worked for me my first night and Rehab came to share her experience strength. And hope much like I do now and she had said something that profoundly impacted me and she said that her secrets kept her sick and that has been my mantra since that day in that Rehab and it told me that all this stuff that I was running from all these bad things that had happened to me and these pains and these traumas these were the causation. These were the reasons and I needed to deal with these if I really wanted to be clean and sober for the rest of my life, and so I did that work on my own. The trauma work did yes. which point you decide that you're story. was worth telling. In a memoir. I started writing that night in Rehab writing has always been a source of of empowerment and healing for me. Even after the rape I have a book of poems that that I wrote I would stay up all night i. now know that that's post traumatic stress disorder I couldn't sleep. I had insomnia had irrational fears so I would right and that would calm me and so because I couldn't talk about my trauma in traditional treatment facility I wrote about it. And I kept writing and then I did my fourth step and I kept writing and kept writing and you know I was an avid reader at the time and that's really when memoir was starting to come into play and I wasn't finding my story anywhere and so I thought well, I have a good story. Maybe I'll maybe I'll submit it and I was a big fan of melody babies and so I just happened to twelve of her books. So I happened to look in the book and see well their published by this amazing place called women, and so I reached out to Hazelden and sure enough they were interested and it was it was an incredible