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My Night In The Drunk Tank

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My Night In The Drunk Tank


BrianCubanI had gotten divorced from my first wife in January of 1990 and had been on a cocaine and alcohol binge every since. One night, after getting sufficiently sloshed on giant beers at a local bar, by about 1 a.m., I started feeling sorry for myself and decided to head home. I was flying up the Dallas North Tollway at about 75 mph. I was about one quarter of a mile from the house when I passed a state trooper. I knew immediately he had me, and sure enough the lights came on. He pulled me over within walking distance from my house. After the roadside test, he told me I was being arrested on suspicion of DWI and slapped the cuffs on me. He was a nice, older guy who even pulled over to loosen my cuffs when I told him they were cutting into my wrists. We carried on a pleasant conversation the entire trip to the Lew Sterrett jail, which is the main jail and holding facility for the city of Dallas. I asked him if he would take me back to my car when I blew under .10 (the legal limit in 1990). He laughed and said that he did not think that was going to be the case but promised if I was not booked they would get me back. He was right. I blew a .11 on the Breathalyzer. I failed to follow the legal advice I gave time and time again. Don’t blow. But like any drunk, I had convinced myself I was not drunk.

I thought being handcuffed on the side of a public highway was humiliating. It was nothing compared to the assembly line booking process. A long row of fingerprinting and abuse from the local deputy sheriff’s handling the process. Rightfully so. I had earned the abuse. It was open season. One of the deputy sheriffs leaned across the table, placed his face inches from my nose, and starting yelling for all to hear:

“YOU’RE A STINKING LAWYER? ONE THING IS FOR SURE. YOU DO STINK! YOU ARE A DISGRACE TO THE LEGAL PROFESSION! I HOPE THEY KICK YOU OUT!”

I agreed with him. I did not say a word. I believed that I fully deserved the abuse, and it was part of my punishment. It was no fun at all. I was put in a large holding cell that smelled of puke, urine and the stench of the non-showered. Alcoholics and drug addicts ruled the roost. Men younger than myself crying uncontrollably in shame and uncertainly of their future. They were beneath me. I was a lawyer! They were me. I was them. After twelve hours sitting on a urine stained concrete floor, I made bail and was released. I went home ashamed. My first call was to my father. I cried uncontrollably in shame and fear of the unknown consequences to come. My life was over. I vowed to him and myself that “I would never drink again” A statement I would become very familiar with as other young men came in and out of twelves step years later when I would finally begin recovery. I stayed sober for two weeks after getting out of jail. I was “cured”.

It should have been a learning experience. It was not. Like many addicts who are humiliated, repentant, and swear off drinking, drugs, or whatever else in the immediate aftermath, the further the event was removed in time, the more the humiliation subsided and the easier it was to tell myself it would never happen again and move right back into my old ways.

Perhaps it didn’t help that I ended up beating the rap. I pled not guilty. I chose to try the case, and I was lucky. The state trooper did not show up for trial, so they had to dismiss the charges. I heard through the grapevine that he had retired and did not feel like dealing with it. I remember my attorney handing me the dismissal. When I thanked him, he said to thank the district attorney for dismissing the case. I had no idea he was being tongue-in-cheek. I stuck my head in the office next to the courtroom and said, “Thank you.” They were not amused. The look in their eye told me I should have humbly stayed quiet. I high-tailed it out of the courthouse before they changed their minds. No thought about how I had gotten to that point. No thought of being in desperate need of help for an alcohol and drug problem. Just relief that I had dodged a bullet. . No hard consequences other than the few grand I gave my lawyer and getting my car out of impoundment. I got drunk and snorted cocaine to celebrate The life of an addict.

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How I Became A Cocaine Addict

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How I Became A Cocaine Addict


Brian-Cuban-8193-1New Years Day 1977. Sixteen years old. Sitting at a table at the sister of a friend’s house in Morgantown, West Virginia. A pile of white powder in front of me. The question:

Do you want a bump Brian? It will make you feel good”

At sixteen years old I just was offered my first line of cocaine. I had no idea what it was. I had never heard the word before. I had no idea what “ a bump “ meant. I looked at her, then over to my friend with a mixture of fear, ignorance and anticipation of this previously unknown white powder. What I did know is this. Someone had taken interest in me. After years of bullying at school and fat shaming at home, someone wanted me to be part of the group. The other powerful drug in the room. The need for acceptance. A feeling I longed for. In the mind of a fat, shy sixteen year old who saw only rejection and shame in himself, those seemed like magic words. As I reached for the rolled twenty-dollar bill handed to me, my friend grabbed my arm.

“You don’t want to do that”

“Why not?

Its for grownups.

I didn’t do it. I watched as everyone else, including my friend who was a year older than me, took their turn doing bumps. I saw the change in their demeanor. They were who I wanted to be. I was however, excluded once again. I was rejected. I was not cool enough to do that white powder that would make me feel good. I felt ashamed that I did not get to do a line of cocaine, a word I had never heard before that moment. It would be ten more years before I would ever see that white powder again.

Summer 1987. My second year in Dallas, Texas. Hanging out at a local Dallas bar on a Friday night. Trying to fit in. Still wanting that acceptance. As usual, quiet and projecting that thirteen-year-old fat little boy in the mind of every man and woman I made eye contact with. They knew who I was. I hated being there. I was not a drug addict. I was however bulimic, having descended into eating disorders as a freshman in college. I added alcohol abuse a year later and in short order, would be unable to enter any social situation without getting drunk first. All of it wrapped around untreated clinical depression and a term I had no concept of, body dysmorphic disorder.

Out of the blue, my friend asked me if I had ever done cocaine. I flashed back to Morgantown, West Virginia. Those words spoken to me ten-years earlier.

It will make you feel good”

I wanted to feel good. I was now an adult. I took the baggie and went into a bathroom stall where I would be able to snort my first line of cocaine in my life in privacy. Within seconds, I was in heaven. I was suddenly the most handsome guy in the club. I saw a confident, chiseled image in the bathroom mirror. Mirrors had been my enemy for so many years. I had to see that person again. Within moments, I had discovered the magic trick I needed to instantly transform myself from monster to man. I now knew the secret to defeating the shame of self. Cocaine was the answer.

In my mind, despite the illegality, it was as perfectly logical choice. If cocaine would change that fat teenage-boy all the girl saw and give me the self confidence to be what I could never be sober, then it was the thing to do. It did just that, if only for a few moments. Everything changed. Those few moments I obtained over and over. That incredible high of self-confidence changed my brain process both physically and psychologically. The cycle was complete. There was no self-awareness as a person and no peer group as a balance. That is how addicts function. I had become an addict. I couldn’t stop. I had no desire to stop.

By my late twenties, cocaine became a routine part of my life, like washing my socks. I was very aware of the illegality of the substance, but like most addicts I rarely thought about the consequences. I rarely thought about the damage I was inflicting on myself or the possibility of tragically affecting the lives of others often driving both drunk and high. A DWI in 1991 was merely a blip in the guilt and momentary self-awareness that criminal legal proceedings often bring.

It’s 2005. The reasons for doing cocaine have progressed from needing to do it to feel accepted and be able to socialize on weekends to simply doing it almost every night of the week. Getting drunk was also part of the equation. The justification was that the booze equaled out the high of the blow. At one time a fairly high functioning addict, the two worlds now crashing down around me. Doing it the bathroom every morning at the law firm I worked at to get myself going after being up all night. My brain having long suppressed thoughts of illegality and consequences to my legal career as a barrier.

Showing up at work was an afterthought. Getting so bad my brother threatened to drug test me. At that point, everyone close to me knew I was an addict. Everyone but me. Black-market Xanax and Ambien were also part of the equation. Had to come down off those all- nighters. I became addicted to Ambien as well.

July 2005. I sit in the intake room of Green Oaks Psychiatric facility after putting a .45 automatic in my mouth. Thinking back to that hot summer evening in the in the bathroom doing my first “bump”. Thinking back to Morgantown West Virgina. The multiple thousands of dollars spent on cocaine. The wasted years of just surviving. The damage to my body. The “cocaine friends” who were in prison. The ones who were dead through overdosing or suicide. I am lucky that I am alive. I try hard to figure out where the fun part was. When I really “felt good” It’s not coming to me. Shit. I am a drug addict.

Brian Cuban is a an author whose best-selling book “Shattered Image: My Triumph Over Body Dysmorphic Disorder” chronicles his first-hand experiences living with, and recovering from clinical depression, twenty-seven years of eating disorders and Body Dysmorphia Disorder (BDD),drug and alcohol addiction. Brian speaks regularly about his recovery and empowering students and adults to turn their worst moments into their greatest achievement.

 

 

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Legends Of The Fall(Shattered Image Excerpt #13)

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Legends Of The Fall(Shattered Image Excerpt #13)


Brian-Cuban-8193-1

This is the thirteenth excerpt of my book  “Shattered Image”.  Shattered Image is the story of my struggle with, and recovery from, a compulsive behavior clinically known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). That struggle has included recovery from bulimia, anorexia, alcoholism, and addiction to cocaine and steroids. I also suffer from clinical depression. For decades, I engaged in self-destructive behavior with the single goal of correcting a terribly distorted sense of self-image, a self-image rooted in early life experiences.  Release date is July -August 2013  See what people are saying about Shattered Image!

September 1987, 2:00 am.  Just hit my one year anniversary in Dallas.  It still feels like 100 degrees.  The lack of breeze is stifling.  I am sweating like I have stepped out of the shower.  Not sure if it’s the humidity or the three huge lines of cocaine I just did.  Cocaine is my lunch and breakfast with tequila on the side.  Have not eaten all day. Did get in my twelve mile run. That familiar dehydration and heart palpitation feeling. Dabbling in Drunkorexia.    Feeling a little bit like a bad high. Edgy. Lockjaw. Maybe I bought some bad shit. Have to find a new dealer. Then again, maybe the next lines will be better. The rational of a developing addict.  Five Bacon, Egg And Cheese McMuffins from Mickey D’s to be scarfed down followed by a knuckle scraping, tension cleansing, purge.  It’s easier both mentally and physically to toss my binge after I’ve been drinking.  I’ve learned all the little tricks of the long time off and on bulimic.  It’s not throwing up. It’s just life.  

Four hours earlier.  Night out at the new local sports bar, Legends. A boxing ring in the middle of the room with the table’s surrounding the ring.  Televisions ringing the room. Yuppies, pool sharks and sports team groupies. Pretty waitresses dressed as ring girls carrying around the latest knockout potions. There is she. Tall, pretty, curly blond hair.  My mind starts working its developing  BDD thoughts.  You want to sit down at our table?  You’re too pretty to want anything to do with me.   Maybe it’s the eight-dollar, diamond stud, zircon earring I purchased at Target, dangling from my ear.  Waiting for her to laugh at me and tell me I’m ugly.  Memories of the freshman Penn State redhead who did the same. I feel like an idiot, but I am desperate to try anything to draw the interest to me.  I am a frightened child at twenty-six.  Trying so hard to be noticed when I can’t look at myself in the mirror.  It’s the only way I can socialize.

The alcohol and cocaine make me the person I want to be. The bulimia releases the pain when it doesn’t happen.  The image in the mirror never changes.  In this moment however, I am talkative, aggressive and confident until the coke wears off.  A conversation of lies.  To tell the truth is to face the truth about myself.  I am a eleven years old.  What is that dribbling down the side of my mouth?  The cocaine has frozen my throat muscles.  With every lie I tell,  spit either drools out of my mouth or like a projectile finds it’s way onto her arm.   I can see my reflection on the glossy marble table top. I have rabies.  “Are you ok” she asks?  Yes, , why are you asking? I don’t even know I am doing it. “Well you keep spitting on me I’m sorry, I did not realize I was doing that. 

“Do You like Billy Joel?  We should go see him in concert the next time he’s in Dallas.”  Had to get that out before the cocaine wore off.   “Here’s my number,  just please stop spitting on me”.  I sense that I may be hitting critical mass of revulsion with her.  I have McDonald’s on the brain.

Pulling up in front of my apartment.  Door opens. Stepping out of the passenger side. I am airborne!  Feet taken out from under me.  I am propelled into a full somersault.  A death grip on my McDonald’s bag.  Boom! Slamming back down on the windshield of the car that hit me  with the bone jarring force.  What the hell happened?  Where did this car come from? The windshield shatters like I am looking into a mirror.  It  releases from its frame and drops into the vehicle.  I never saw it coming.  I never looked up. I have a McMuffin in my mouth.  My buddy is driving on down the road, oblivious to my street acrobatics.  I roll off the car and into the street face up.   A male is now standing over me.  He is screaming at me. I am laughing.  My  sweat drenched, bar smelling, white polo shirt is soaked in blood.  The blue horse is now red.  A female  is now screaming at  me. “YOU WALKED IN FRONT OF US!  CALL THE POLICE!  I am still laughing at my airborne somersault.  Maybe it’s the cocaine.  GET IN THE CAR BITCH!”  They are gone.

I am still laying in the street amid the broken windshield glass.  Where are my Egg McMuffins?.    A  lot of blood coming from somewhere.  Into the apartment  Lots of cuts and bruises.  Some cocaine left in my pocket. No biggie. Still have my McMuffins.  Shower, change, sniff, shot, binge,  puke. Just another night in Dallas Texas.  Add in three broken ribs.  Another line.  Calling the blonde.  She gave me a number for a local pizza joint.  Next.

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Drunk Drugged And Crazy (Shattered Image Book Excerpt #6)

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Drunk Drugged And Crazy (Shattered Image Book Excerpt #6)


CUBAN_BRIAN 003 4x6 72dpi fileThis is the sixth excerpt of my book  “Shattered Image”.  Shattered Image is the story of my struggle with, and recovery from, a compulsive behavior clinically known as Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD). That struggle has included recovery from bulimia, anorexia, alcoholism, and addiction to cocaine and steroids. I also suffer from clinical depression. For decades, I engaged in self-destructive behavior with the single goal of correcting a terribly distorted sense of self-image, a self-image rooted in early life experiences.  Release date is July -August 2013  See what people are saying about Shattered Image!

“The week of the incident you had been asking me to go shoot (targets). Later in the week you called / emailed about shooting. Still no alarm bells. Then one day you asked if I could get you a few rounds of ammo and said nothing about shooting. You sounded really “out of it” very down. I tried to get you to talk about what was bothering you but you kept going back to the ammo. I realized that something was very wrong but could not get you to confirm what you were thinking. I immediately emailed Mark at three different emails, called Jeff on mobile and home numbers to tell them I thought you were suicidal. I was driving over to your place to talk to you when Jeff called me back and I expressed my concerns about your state of mind. He said he would handle it asap and got in touch with Mark and the rest you know.”-Angelo

Summer 2005.  I was roused from a Xanax, alcohol, and cocaine stupor by the sound of my younger brother Jeff,  beating the front door of my house.  I had no memory of sending emails to my older brother Mark,  intimating that I was going to kill myself. I don’t remember emailing one of my close friends to obtain bullets for the Spanish Star Single action .45 automatic he had given me as a gift a few years earlier.  At the time, I  did not remember repeatedly dry-firing the weapon into my mouth to “get comfortable” with the final act of pain.   In open view in my bedroom were the ample supply of cocaine, Xanax, and anabolic steroids lying around with a box of syringes.

I was not concerned if the police raided my house and arrested me. My career, to the extent I still had one, would be ruined.  I  just didn’t care.  I only cared about the image in my bathroom mirror, which at that moment was unbearable to look at. I was blinded by my self-loathing. The image  had controlled almost every self-destructive decision I had made since I was old enough to be self-aware of what it meant.   It has continued to morph into an illusion that has no obvious relation to the flesh and blood entity standing before it.

I did not care about many aspects of my life at that point. For someone who was suffering from low self-esteem, BDD, and paranoia, I could not rationalize the irony of my situation of not caring about my health or hygiene. The very behaviors I was practicing were actually aggravating the causes of my unhappiness and depression. The solutions I chose for solving my problems merely exacerbated the problems and caused new problems. I spent money I  did not have on an expensive wardrobe, steroids, cocaine and black market Xanax.   If I put my image of ugliness in expensive, flashy clothes and a new body, all would change for the better..  Clothes make the man, right?  Not really.  A self-confident person, comfortable with what he or she sees in the bathroom mirror every morning can be in jeans and a t-shirt and will still exude confidence that influences others. I was nothing more than the naked emperor who had none.

Because I was high or recovering from a high all the time, I was not taking care of myself physically.  I was gaining weight again. Between the steroids, drugs, alcohol, and terrible food, I had ballooned to almost 270 pounds, more than I had ever weighed.  I decided to try black market Alli, a diet drug that is now legal and sold over the counter,  One of the unpleasant side effects of Alli is an inability to control bowels. One night after taking Alli, I passed out in a Xanax stupor and defecated in my pants.  How had a lawyer putting out the illusions of prestige and confidence, put himself on the level of a Sterno bum on skid row?  Addiction and flawed self image,  does not discriminate between Skid Row and Park Avenue.

Jeff  went upstairs and saw the gun on the nightstand. He  determined that it was not loaded, and asked me what I was going to do with it. I  angrily pushed it  in his direction.  Angry that I was being forced to face the mess I had created.   I was angry, not only that Jeff was confiscating the gun, but that he was also confiscating my steroids, cocaine, and Xanax. I passed out again, and when I awoke, Mark had arrived. The two of them arranged for me to enter an in-patient psychiatric facility in Florida that had cleared a bed for me, provided I could get down there ASAP for screening. I did not push back on the arrangement, but I was angry at the prospect of leaving my home to go anywhere that was not my choice. The loss of control I had always agonized over when I looked in the mirror had become a stark reality in the worst possible scenario.

The immediate future was a trip to a local Psychiatric Hospital.   As I slowly came out of my cocaine and Xanax stupor in the hospital parking lot, I realized that I was in jeopardy of being committed as a person who was a danger to himself and others.   As I filled out the intake form while my brothers watched, I suddenly became aware of the gravity of my situation. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and felt as if I had brought a stain on the Cuban name. The realization of my depravity and my feeling of worthlessness increased my desire to kill myself. I began to think of my condition being exposed through the Dallas Morning News. I knew I would be regarded with the same disgust as Billy Carter,  “Billy Beer” guzzling brother of former President Jimmy Carter as the black sheep family member trying to bring shame on the other members of the Cuban family. I felt more ashamed than I had when I stood on the side of the North Dallas Tollway, handcuffed in a DWI arrest back in 1991. At least in that circumstance I had embarrassed myself, but I had not brought shame to the rest of my family members. At the time, the Cuban name was not widely known in Dallas, so I was regarded as another drunk who flagrantly showed disrespect for my life and the lives of others. I wish, however, that someone had scolded me at the time and tried to make me realize that I was on a collision course from which I might never return. I should have realized the extent of my condition, but I foolishly disregarded the red flag before me.

Although the suicide attempt and follow-up at Green Oaks Hospital was a really humiliating and painful experience for me, I had not yet hit rock bottom.

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