It’s not about babies or life. We aren’t stupid, we aren’t blind, we all know it. The overturning of Roe is about oppressing, dehumanizing, ruining, raping, and killing women. With heavy emphasis on the girls and women and all people who can become pregnant who are already the most disenfranchised. When I got sober it was in many ways a great big Fuck You to the patriarchy we live under that can only exist if it keeps women numb, weak, and terrified. Well. I am not numb or weak or terrified anymore.
Pissed? Yeah I’m quite entirely pissed.
But I’m not surprised. Yesterday’s ruling hit like a gut punch to my every internal organ. Knocked the wind out of me. I cried I screamed I lost my shit. But I didn’t drink. I stayed. I stayed here in the goddamn middle of this hellhole shit storm of what doesn’t even pretend to be a democracy anymore. I felt every rage-filled thing. What “conservative” radical white supremacist extremists are doing to the people of this country is calculated and disgusting. It is the most pathetic, easy, cheap, vile thing to go after the women who are already broken, abused, and left for dead by the richest society in the mutherfucking world.
And I felt all of that hatred course through my veins yesterday. I felt all of it in this body that I now know fully and certainly and completely is my own.
Fuck your laws. Fuck your annihilation of my protection, my safety, and my sanity. I own myself and I answer only to me.
There is the kind of tired where you need rest and the kind of tired where you need peace. Or so I have just read upon the social media. I am tired for sure. My brain is so very hugely tired. From the mental stretch of getting sober. From the first six months of this year as they skid to a halt over my worn out little head. From the insanity of what this society calls sanity. What to do when you are exhausted of all the things they tell you you need to keep up with. The job to get the money to buy the things they need you to need to keep this whole ball rolling right off whatever cliff we are headed towards.
The sun is still high in the sky at 5:26 in the evening and it is so thoroughly nauseating. Shut up already. Shut up with the light and the daytime that bleeds arrogantly into the dark time. I’m tired of running a household. I’m tired of reporting where I am supposed to report to at any given hour of the day, morning, noon and night. I’m crippled at the thought of this very evening, in fact. The same thing followed by the same thing. And I should be grateful. And I should be thrilled to bits with my adorable privileged problems.
No wonder no one wants to get sober. No wonder I didn’t want to have to see the dust on the houseplants and books, and the fly shushing around the window. Stupid goddamn thing banging its tiny head-body against the foggy glass over and over and over again. Ten million eyes and not a fucking clue. I make myself a double espresso. It is perfectly rich, strong, hot, and delicious. It’s too late and too early and everything that is supposed to have fallen into place already a long time ago is in pieces in my mind and the pieces don’t settle into anything. My mind is a whole new puzzle and this world is full of the same old shit. Same holes, same shapes, same ditches, same grooves. Same tricky traps and same temporary rewards.
The title of this post is also the title of an album by Steely Dan. I told my husband I was gonna use it as the title of a blog post and now I’ve done it. He has just walked by naked on his way to taking a shower and when I inform him of my keeping the promise about the blog post title he smiles but not enthusiastically enough for my liking. I’ve accomplished no other feats so far this week. It’s only Monday, though, so maybe stay tuned. I’ve taken up running and I am not sure if that is considered a sport though I suspect not. I ran 2.33 miles this morning. Perhaps that is an accomplishment worth mentioning, come to think of it. I always swore I would never be two things in this life, one is sober and the other is a runner. And now I am both and I am insufferable.
Think I’ll swear off swearing I’ll do or not do anything for a while. At the very least it’s nice to just do whatever you feel like as long as it isn’t getting drunk. I know there is no definitive answer to the following question and there are as many answers to it as there are fools who swear they know the correct one but my tired ass has to ask it even if futile, even if rhetorical: what in the fuck is any of this for anyway?
Sometimes there is power in walking away from a fight. We rarely hear about this, of course, in our battle obsessed culture. Because we are taught to be strong and by strong they mean fight back, stand up for yourself. They mean: be stronger than the thing you are fighting with. We are taught never to back down. We believe that in order to be powerful we must fight to the death. If we admit defeat we must be cowards or losers or just not trying hard enough.
Each day for many days during many years, I would hope to have a chill drinking experience. I didn’t want to fight, I just wanted to mess around a little. You know like the kind of good go-around with the drinking they advertise to you with the glass of crisp white wine and the smiling, sexy, sophisticated lady and her lover sharing dessert in an outside garden or the laughter and cheer as she frolics about with her girlfriends as they live their best lives in some Tuscan vineyard and all that shit. What a great time wine always is! How relaxed and cool it makes us all. Except that wasn’t it. It was, in fact, the opposite of that. Because after the fifteen minute happiness, it became more dull than chill. And then after the first two or three glasses, an almost imperceptible agitation would slither in and as the wine kept flowing that subtle irritation just keep blooming and blooming larger and larger like the flower of a nuclear explosion.
I poured wine on my anger and anxiety like gasoline. On a good number of occasions, I was completely out of my mind by the time the bomb went off. Didn’t care. Didn’t even know. I had to come-to the day after and feel the pain of realizing some of the destruction caused. Assessing the scene. Piecing together fragments of what I could remember. How often it was a hell of a fight before I inevitably got knocked out. Wine glass left half full on the coffee table. Me, face down on a mattress and the wine quite literally still standing. As long as I could pry my eyes open and peel myself off the floor, the wine was ready to go another round.
The power in the face of that scenario is not obvious. Or should I say, what seems like the one with the obvious power is the wine. The alcohol, when I crawled into the ring with it, “won” so to speak. I get that now. It shreds my heart to pieces to think about, but I get it.
But to say I was powerless to alcohol, while true and while very necessary to admit, I agree, is not a full enough statement for me to leave at face value. Women are relentlessly reminded of their powerlessness in this society. This culture reminds us incessantly that we should stand down, watch our mouths, bite our tongues. Our human rights are under constant threat. It is exhausting, being bludgeoned over the head again and again with our “powerlessness.”
But in a much broader sense, there are many kinds of power. The power to destroy is alcohol’s kind of power and the only one it inherently possesses. But there is power in walking away from a battle you have no business engaging in. This is true if the opponent is far stronger than you, but it is also true if the opponent is beneath you. If the opponent doesn’t deserve to engage with you in the first place. In my case, the power exists in my ability to lay down the fight entirely. I do not fuck with alcohol. I do not answer its calls to get in the ring just one more time to see if I can finally get the upper hand.
We are done here. This ends here and now. No more fighting.
There is power in the peace of that. To lay down that fight is to stand in a kind of power that is entirely my own. No shame. No guilt. No fuckery. There are many kinds of power: the power to destroy and the power to rebuild, recreate, resurrect, reorganize, reevaluate, regenerate. Alcohol only has one. But I have them all.
When you stop drinking alcohol entirely, the world looks very different than it did before. And I used to think that was because I am just so clear headed now but I think it’s more than that. I think now I’m looking at the world with entirely new eyes. That’s why it looks different, because I am. And I know that probably sounds one of two things: melodramatic or completely made up. Either I am making too big a deal of sobriety or I am faking a feeling I think I’m supposed to feel and trying to convince myself as I try to convince other people how glorious it is to turn down the wine I once coveted with everything I had. There is a lot to pull apart here. But the thing is, and I mean this sincerely, my experience of absolutely everything is new because my perception of it and where it belongs in my new lifestyle is new. Sobriety is like rearranging all the rooms in your house. Once you get the living room sorted out just the way you like it, you’ve gotta do the dining room because it’s right there, and then the kitchen and then since the downstairs is looking really good you move on upstairs and start sorting all that out, too. Or not. Or you exhaust yourself just thinking about moving through all that change and decide you are very sincerely tired and don’t feel like lifting a finger. And as long as you aren’t lifting a glass full of wine to your lips you figure you’ve done enough for now.
I sit sipping fresh cappuccino by my open writing room window. The rain is coming down in tiny sprinkled bursts as the light wind glides through the gigantic green trees. There’s no thunder but small flashes of lightning pulse every once in a while. The gray of the cool sky feels like a merciful hand over a closed tired eye. I just want to be away. Away from here. Away far enough to actually see what I’m looking at. So much change has happened for me in these last five months it feels overwhelming at the moment. And maybe that will pass, I am sure it will – this feeling like there’s nothing left to hold on to because everything has been swept away by the giant wave of sobriety as it crashed over me. I see things now for what they really are, or should I say instead: I feel the real things now. I feel the things that aren’t right and haven’t been for a very long time. My whole life has been upended and trying to minimize the effects of that is scratching at the insides of my bones. Something inside still needs to be let out. When you see what needs to change you have to go about changing it. I guess. Or not. Maybe not. Maybe the thing is to just stop blaming myself for any of it.
Properly exhausted and humbled down to a tiny little nub, I can at least revel in the fact that the writing of my book and the writing of my book proposal are both now complete. What will become of any of this is anyone’s guess but I do promise this (to myself and anyone who may be listening): the book is gonna get published. It will exist in this big wide world somehow. It’s too important to me to let it disintegrate in a drawer somewhere. Which I am sure is what every author feels about her work once it is complete. The funny thing is, as I was walking with my husband around the neighborhood last night he asked me, So… what are you gonna do now? To which I responded the only way one can respond when her whole life is devoted to words: Start writing the next one, I guess.
Just like everything else, one thing leads to the next. You begin a thing and you end it and then you begin something else lest you go mad. You do your little projects and hope with all your mighty might that maybe someone else will like them. Notice them. Give a damn. And maybe they do and that’s really special. And maybe they don’t and that hurts a bunch. But either way, you have to get up and do the day the best you know how. And when you are sober you know right at the top of it that you are about to feel every single thing without hope of escape. And even though the addiction part of you is still fixated on the drink (it really is, it’s fucking insane) the rest of you is hyper aware of all the other various forms of possible escape that people around you are engaging in all the time. Escaping into substances or people or vacations or whatever else. Work. Success. Money. Botox.
All around us hangs the haunt of any other life but the one we’ve got to live in the skin we’re in. We reach for the easy way out and it all goes up in liquid smoke. Every damn time. That’s how you know that what a destructive thing is promising you is an illusion and not a reality. When you get up close to the part that’s supposed to be easy, it isn’t there. It doesn’t actually exist.
Everything I write falls short of what I want to say. Fuck, it’s frustrating. I don’t want to have to but I can tell I’m going to have to renegotiate whatever unspoken agreement I previously had with my writing. Reconstruct a new kind of relationship with the thing inside me which desires to speak. Because wherever my words came from before does not exist anymore. Something dislodges when you first get sober, some big chunk of a thing that you thought was an essential part of you just suddenly breaks free like a giant iceberg and begins to sail right on off into the mist-covered ocean. You can almost hear it crack. That catastrophic sound slicing through the pristine arctic air, all alone where nobody in the whole world can see it or hear it or bear witness. Only you and the echo of whatever part of you that is ancient, timeless, and eternal. As that massive ice formation melts, it ebbs farther and farther away from you, leaving a gash in its place, a colossal empty space. Now that the addiction is quiet, there is a cut-out space in the side of my perception of myself. I used to have something to springboard from but now that home base is gone. If I try to start anything from that old version of me, I fall over the edge into nothingness. I need a new base camp. I need to reorganize some foundational internal shit or I’ll drown.
Any kind of addiction or abuse is an attempt to outrun the darkness inside of you. That may sound counterintuitive but it’s the truth. Nobody’s life is devoid of trauma, separation anxiety, fear of the unknown, maladaptive measures of self-destruction where there ought to be serenity.
Fuck ‘self-love’ and ‘self-care’ and all that fuzzy blanket bullshit. You have to go into the darkness you have been running from. The thing you were told was obscene. The thing that you were never allowed to speak about or express or acknowledge. The part of you you were told could not exist. But you knew it did. You knew it. That part of you that writhed inside, that they kept hacking away at but that always grew back louder with more heads and more teeth. The place inside of you you were told was grotesque, hideous, unclean. You were forbidden to look.
You know why they forbid it?
Because you will find yourself there. They didn’t want you to look because they were afraid you might find yourself there. And because they couldn’t bear the thought that parts of you were dark because if that were true about you, what did it say about them? Their keeping you from the shadow was their keeping you from yourself. But that’s the only way you will ever make peace with it. Not by getting out of it, by getting into it. You’ve got to crawl into your darkness. You have to get into where the sickness first began. Your sick inheritance.
Not so you can kill it off. You will never kill it off. What you want is to be able to peer into the eyes of it, the wound of it, understand it. Once it’s integrated into your own reconstruction of yourself, you own it. Dominate it. Become its master. Until you do, you can never comprehend the profound benevolence of that. The unfathomable power of being in command of yourself.
Even more crucial than identifying your “problem” is identifying yourself. Getting sober is not about deciding “how bad things are” or “if they could be worse.”
Hi: they could always be worse.
Instead, sobriety is about defining who you are in this life. What are the values you will honor in yourself. For what truths will you stand up and be unwavering.
At my side as I journal and write this morning, along with my beloved black coffee and against all discernible odds, is the Big Book. I bought it because even just the title “Alcoholics Anonymous” embossed on the cover in all caps frightened me.
Not that. Please. Anything but that.
But alas here we are. It is that. My addiction is mine. My thing. My beast. My blessing. My angel my demon and everything in between.
I bought the AA Book because I spent a decade terrified to admit that I struggled to control my drinking. I thought my addiction would kill me either way – if I kept going or if I tried to stop. Either way, shame kept me paralyzed and numb.
I know AA is controversial and for good reason. I know it has helped millions to heal their own lives also for good reason. I believe everyone will find their own way, including me. The important thing is I’m open to finding my own way.
Maybe I will read the Big Book word for word. Maybe I will not. Maybe I will take what resonates with my soul, mind, and heart, and leave the rest. Maybe it will help, maybe it will hurt. I know that I will know.
For me right now it’s a triumph I never thought possible just to have this book in my hands.
To trust I will know my path forward whatever it may be. To know it does not include alcohol ever again. To know I’m already 115 days on the other side of a murderous kind of denial.
Because the thing is, it doesn’t matter how much you drink or how often or if you fit a label or a profile or pop positive based on some random online quiz. If you are hiding from yourself you have to explore that in order to find yourself and get free. Without judgement. Without blame or shame or self-cruelty.
Author’s note: If you believe this post can help others and/or yourself please share it. By “help” I mean simply to start a respectful conversation that otherwise may remain in the shadows of frightened minds. We need to be talking about this in new ways. It’s time.
My orgasm grips every muscle inside of my body so completely with decadent, transcendent pleasure that it wrings cutting tears from my eyes. I want them and I curse them. I want all of it to come and come and all of it to please, please stop. I let myself go with the flow of all I’m made up of, the mysterious and cherished, grand and intimate. The feeling is bigger than I am. Too astounding to explain or even experience without the accompanying sensation of a kind of free-fall from reality. From safety.
This feeling of total annihilating bliss. I die and I die and I die against his steady nakedness. Our brazen gleaming nakedness. There is silence and softness of breath. There is the white-flower blossoming tree beside the open bedroom window, moving lazily in the evening breeze.
To someone who believes she is not worthy, the sheer sweet beauty of this life can feel wrenchingly unbearable. Just as pain would. Just as hurt or fear or apprehension would. I have no words yet for this newness in me. Of me. It feels like a beginning although it also feels so familiar I know I have done it before. Be born. Be alive minus the chemicals.
I think about this as I step out onto the patio, goblet of sparkling lemon water in hand. The evening light is a glimmer of golden peach droplets which twinkle like a million stars just fallen from the sky to alight on the new spring leaves of the swaying trees for a while. The air is perfect and smells like rain mixed with sun mixed with dark fertile soil.
And as I take it all in, everything inside of me begins to ache. Because I can bear witness but I cannot hold onto it. I can watch the evening sky change and turn and dazzle but it will only last so long and there is nothing I can say, or write, or snap a photo of, that will convey this overwhelmingly haunted yet alive feeling which swells inside my chest. I see the beauty and I long for it at the same time.
I slide my sunglasses from the top of my head down to rest in front of my eyes and I light up a cigarette. All the gorgeousness is paralyzing and yet tears again flood my eyes on their own. I can’t bear it, this quietly ecstatic life. But I don’t check out. I’m in it now. I’m here for all of it – the pain and the grief and the melancholy. Perhaps the wildest twist of all is that it’s the goodness you’re not prepared to feel. The magnitude of the regular magic. The promise of the pulse of potential in every goddamn living thing.
It’s the absolutely mesmerizing wonder of being here, being any part at all of the enchantment of this pure evening, that grips my veins and tugs at me to please have mercy and down a shot of something to take the edge off. To soften the glare of it. The pierce of this glory that shatters my soul. Something inside screams for escape from the way the beauty hurts. And nobody warns you of that.