From the April 2012 magazine.

April 2012: I Dream of Jeannie's Bottle

As a child, she wanted to magically hide, but as an adult, she found escape in booze

I remember the days of looking in the mirror and hating the person looking back at me. Toward the end of my drinking I literally spat at the mirror, because I thought who I was was the result of how I felt. If I felt like garbage, that meant that it was because I was a piece of garbage, and on it went through a host of negative emotions and hostility. I was the picture of belligerence, seething out of control. That’s when the alcohol stopped removing me from myself. I deplored that gal in the mirror and believed she had no right even to be alive—yet there I was.

When I was 7 years old, I dreamed of Jeannie’s bottle, until I found my own. I loved that Jeannie had a safe place to go whenever she wanted or needed, and she wouldn’t come out until she was ready and able. Television can be a magical place, especially for children. I saw the way my parents faced their problems, and there never seemed to be peace in my home. I didn’t feel safe in my home, with good reason. In my parents’ living room there was a three-foot-tall wine bottle with dried flowers inside, which was pretty hip at the time; after all it was I969. I used to pretend that I could escape in that bottle, even when we had company. No one, of course, knew because my actual body was still present, but my mind and emotions were tucked away safely. If only this refuge could take all of me, I would be OK.

-- Stacey F.

Staten Island, New York

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