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My addiction to alcohol started as a child. I was the youngest of ten. By seven or eight years old, I felt different. I come from an Italian family and it was common to have a little brandy when we were sick. I can still remember the taste. Brandy was expensive and I had to steal it from my dad, so when I got into my teens, I started drinking beer from my neighborhood friends. As I aged, my addiction progressed. I wanted to drop out of high school but, after five years, I managed to graduate with a diploma. By my twenties, I knew I had some type of problem, but I never took it seriously.
On the outside, I looked like a normal kid, but I definitely had depression, anxiety, and fear on the inside. I was uncomfortable with myself. I was raised as a typical male: don’t cry or show emotion. Prior to going to elementary school, I was in a Presentation of Mary kindergarten, and the nuns were even stricter. My whole life was regimented and restricted. It was almost like being institutionalized. As a teen, when I really started going down the wrong path, I was guided toward the military. I was in the Army National Guard for six years because, if I hadn’t enlisted, I would either be dead or in jail.