Friday, August 13, 2010

Sobriety, Finally

I just finished Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp.

               Drinking: A Love Story

Caroline Knapp is a good writer and writes about her relationship to alcohol, as well as to her family and her various partners while she was drinking. She talks about how she couldn't rely on herself and her own experience when she was drinking...

"There's something about sober living and sober thinking, about facing long afternoons without the numbing distraction of anesthesia, that disabuses you of the belief in externals, shows you that strength and hope come not from circumstances or the acquisition of things but from the simple accumulation of active experience, from gritting the teeth and checking the items off the list, one by one, even though it's painful and you're afraid.

"When you drink, you can't do that. You can't make the distinction between getting through painful feelings and getting away from them. All you can do is just sit there, numb and sipping, numb and drunk."

And she remembers her thought processes before she stopped drinking...

"...but by and large I saw growing up as something that happened to you. In some ways giving up an addiction involves reversing that equation, understanding finally that growth comes from the inside out, from trying and failing and trying again. When you quit drinking you stop waiting. You begin to let go of the wish, age-old and profound and essentially human, that someone will swoop down and do all the hard work, growing up, for you. You start living your own life.

"Circumstances - in particular, my parents' deaths - had been chipping away at my childhood for some time, but most of these had been out of my control. Choosing to get sober may have been the first truly adult decision I'd ever made, a step toward growth taken on my own behalf."

Knapp's journey to sobriety is a compelling one, made more so by the knowledge that she died from cancer in her 40's. Her descriptions of how alcohol kept her bound in unhealthy ways of thinking and acting were powerful and effective. I felt as though I got quite a glimpse into the life alcoholic.

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