This book changed the way I looked at my own drinking and my life. I read it about 3 months ago at the recommendation of my therapist. I read the first few chapters in one sitting. With every turn of the page I recognized myself more and more. I was mirrored in her story. I behaved very, very much as she did. The brutal force of this reality immediately knocked the wind out of the sails of my denial. The booze cruise of refusal I was drinking the night away on was now stranded on the water, rocking back and forth, going nowhere. Stalled. Stagnant. Making me seasick.
“But then the wine came, one glass and then a second glass. And somewhere during that second drink, the switch was flipped. The wine gave me a melting feeling, a warm light sensation in my head, and I felt like safety itself had arrived in that glass, poured out from the bottle and allowed to spill out between us.” – Caroline Knapp, Drinking: A Love Story
That is me. 100%. Although my switch generally flips after the first three sips. The warmth swirls into my face, my shoulders drop and I relax. It’s like the moment right after you have an orgasm and all your faculties turn to mush, you’re sated and you exhale deliciously. Your body loosens. Wave after wave of pleasure flows through you. Thought and control are both very distant. All you want is to marinate in this sensation until your fingers get prune-like and wrinkly. You never want it to end.
It is safe in that space. I feel incubated by the slow buzz creeping through my blood. I feel disconnected from the pain I constantly feel. That in and of itself is why I have begun to drink more and more. The pain. The loss. The aloneness. I don’t want to feel it anymore. I want to be distracted from it. What better way than to drink a bottle of wine, alone before bed?
The good feelings and the safety I feel when I’m drinking are fleeting. There’s always the inevitable headache, rotgut, dry mouth, general sense of malaise and bone deep exhaustion that follows me every morning when I wake. And every morning – for the last 6 months or so – I have said to myself, ‘I will not drink tonight. I will take a night off because my body needs a break. I am making this promise to myself right now.’ And I believe it, until mid-afternoon or so when the small hangover I have starts to walk away from me. Once I begin to feel a tiny bit better I think, ‘well, maybe I’ll just have one glass tonight. Just one with dinner and that will be it. I promise.’ But it’s never just one. It’s always 3 or 4.
I rationalize and I bargain. I feign control in an uncontrollable situation. I pretend I feel fine all day long. And for the most part, I do. I physically feel like shit and I’m always quietly worried about how I’m going to get to the other side of this deeply ingrained habit of mine, but in the grand scheme of things I am F.I.N.E. I have a stable and safe place to live, a great job that I love, family and friends who love and support me, food in my belly every day, a kitty girl who makes my heart grow 3 sizes every time she looks at me and a warm, delightfully comfortable bed to sleep in every night. If you look at what I actually have in my life, I’m living the dream. On the surface it’s fucking hunky dory. Underneath it’s………bad.
How did this happen to me? When did I lose sight of the goodness and light in my life? Where did I go wrong and not realize I had fallen into a pit of addiction?
“Trying to describe the process of becoming an alcoholic is like trying to describe air. It’s too big and mysterious and pervasive to be defined. Alcohol is everywhere in your life, omnipresent, and you’re both aware and unaware of it almost all the time, all you know is you’d die without it, and there is no simple reason why this happens, no single moment, no physiological event that pushes a heavy drinker across a concrete line into alcoholism. It’s a slow, gradual, insidious, elusive becoming.” Caroline Knapp
I think she nailed it. Thank you, Ms. Knapp for opening my eyes. Now I know more about what I am becoming. Awareness, for me, is half the battle. Mindfulness will help me move out of the dark and into the light.
Thank you for reading…