Wednesday, April 13, 2011

such is life

I must go on. I can't go on. I'll go on.

I'm not sure if quoting Beckett before 8am is one of the twelve danger signs that you are taking yourself too seriously. I feel like I must write, but I cannot write, but I need to write, but I don't know what to write. So, writing is my Godot right now. (Yes, I know Beckett is rolling over in his grave saying, "As for thee, fuck thee."*)

This is the thing, I used to drink and write at night, after the kids went to sleep. Then in the morning, I would edit, tweak, rewrite. So, night was inspiration. Morning, perspiration. I had an abundance of thoughts, topics, novels, poems and paintings and never enough time. Now, I stare at the screen. *crickets*

I have things to write about, I guess, but none of them feel imperative to write about. Nothing feels inspired. I don't know which came first the writing or the drinking. I don't know which I did for which purpose. Did I drink to write, or write to drink? It is all muddled together. I fear my office at night now. I wasn't someone who went to the bar. No, I went into my office, and sipped on a nice bourbon on the rocks, while I leaned back in my office chair and it came out. The words, the ideas, the projects. Liquor loosened my emotions, which I keep in a tightly wound ball of yarn. The bourbon pulled on it gently until the emotions tumbled down the screen, following the trail to my truth.

I don't really know how to feel. I am too analytical. Too think-y. My therapist used to get frustrated beyond words because I had parsed out all my emotions, dissected them, but I didn't feel them. In the Myers-Briggs personality inventory, I tested with almost all Ts and no Fs. Actually, it was all Ts, according to the therapist. I have to learn how to feel. It sounds more fucked up than I thought it would to see that on the screen. And more important.

I have dreams now. The dreams are of me drinking and forgetting I am trying to stay sober. They are dreams of throwing it all away, of losing everything. And I wake up in a panic, spending the day in a vague fog feeling the shame of drinking even though I didn't drink. I still wonder if I can control my drinking, even though that is the most exhausting part of drinking to me. Controlling, or trying to control, my drinking. My alcoholism manifested in an extreme obsession, like Fatal Attraction. Come to think of it I should make a t-shirt that reads Bourbon Boiled my Bunny. It was just this obsessive thinking--am I drinking too much? When can I have another drink? Why isn't that person drinking their drink? Am I drinking too fast? When can I drink without seeming like an alcoholic? Is it too early to drink? Should I have another? When can I have another? Do I have enough booze in the house? Maybe I should quit. Should I quit? How should I quit? I won't drink tomorrow if I can have another now. Maybe I am an alcoholic. How do you know if you are an alcoholic?

Fuck. The best part of sobriety is the silence in my head. The peace of not having to figure it out. I couldn't do it. I couldn't figure out the right formula for drinking healthily. The obsession was exhausting. Taking it off the table at all is liberating. It is liberating not to be expected to drink correctly, or non-alcoholically. I am not capable of it. 

Once you open this door, you cannot turn around and walk back in comfortably. I have ruined my relationship with drinking. I guess that it exactly what I wanted when I wrote about it. There are only a few reasons to break the anonymity of alcoholism and one of those is to keep yourself sober. I knew that if I outed myself, I was less likely to drink with any of you one day when I was feeling destructive. Or to drink at all. I am a prideful, ego-driven animal, but as long as I don't drink that first drink, I am fine. It's the first drink that kills you, you know, because without the first drink, I am sober. It is impossible for me to turn down the second drink, and very easy to turn down the first .

It's not that I want to drink, even. I don't crave it. I just want to be normal. I don't want to have dreams that I am drunk. I don't want to worry about how I will be on vacation with my in-laws and not have wine. I don't want to wonder how I will tell my drinking friends if I ever see them again. I don't want to worry about being angry, or frustrated or sad and wonder if it is a gateway to drinking again. I don't want to never step into a bar again, because it is dangerous, and yet, it is dangerous for me. I have no business being there, except that I just want to be like every other person who doesn't think twice about it.

This is what I felt after Lucy died, wanting to crawl out of my new reality.  I didn't want to think about how to answer "normal" conversational small talk questions like "How many children do you have?" The feeling of wanting to be "normal" coupled with the understanding that I can never be the person I was before again. So wanting to be normal with the realization that I am not normal. Funnily, now, I don't really think about those things in regards to Lucy's death. I don't worry about betraying her memory if I don't mention her, or feel like I am dropping a grief bomb on the party if I do mention it. I integrated her death into who I am. This is normal. Not new normal, or old normal, it is just normal. And that is what I will grow into with this sobriety. Normalcy. Until then, I guess I will sporadically write, and awkwardly broach the topic with quotes from my favorite absurdist play. Because really, that is exactly what it feels like.

Was I sleeping, while the others suffered? Am I sleeping now? Tomorrow, when I wake, or think I do, what shall I say of today? That with Estragon my friend, at this place, until the fall of night, I waited for Godot? That Pozzo passed, with his carrier, and that he spoke to us? Probably. But in all that what truth will there be? (Estragon, having struggled with his boots in vain, is dozing off again. Vladimir looks at him.) He'll know nothing. He'll tell me about the blows he received and I'll give him a carrot. (Pause.) Astride of a grave and a difficult birth. Down in the hole, lingeringly, the grave digger puts on the forceps. We have time to grow old. The air is full of our cries. (He listens.) But habit is a great deadener. (He looks again at Estragon.) At me too someone is looking, of me too someone is saying, He is sleeping, he knows nothing, let him sleep on. (Pause.) I can't go on! (Pause.) What have I said?  -Act II, Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett.

*Quote from Mercier and Camier.


  1. There is so much here, I don't know where to start.

    I think first off that you are emotional, but I understand the need to analyze those emotions (I'm an INTP so I get the living in your head). But my impression of you is someone who feels greatly and loves strongly, both great qualities.

    As for the drinking, I'm proud of you, Angie. It can't be easy. Try and be gentle with yourself.

    Remembering Lucy. xo

  2. You wrote exactly what you needed to Angie.

    Good for you for being honest with yourself and your readers. I hope you find a way to let your emotions flow while remaining sober. Maybe they are flowing just fine, but at a gentler pace than when fueled by alcohol.

    I hope this doesn't sound like I'm minimizing how disturbing your new dreams are but I still sometimes have dreams that I eat spaghetti and french bread before remembering that I cannot eat wheat. I call them the pasta dreams. Don't even get me started on the donut dreams!

  3. It's clear to me that you're a writer, and I think you'll find a way to get the words and emotion and truth out again, but I wish it weren't so hard right now. I hope your office becomes home to you again, that you find a feeling of normalcy with your writing soon.

    I would say that Godot before 8 a.m. is probably okay, though it may be a slippery slope. If you start quoting Endgame, I'll be worried.

  4. I'm thinking about you. I know this is hard.

  5. Angie, you stole my comment before I could get to it, I was going to say that just like you are integrating Lucy's death into your life, and it no longer feels different, it just IS what is, I know that you will have the same relationship with not drinking too someday. And I know you will continue to write, when you can, when you will, and I know that I will continue to savor every single word that you share, because you are that good, that wonderful, that insightful...

    Abiding whether there are words or new posts showing up here or not. Always here, Angie.


  6. You know you made me realise something very important today - this is not my new normal. This is my normal. I hadn't thought about it like that before, but you are so right. And my counsellor says similar things about me. Some days I wish I could just switch off from the thinking.
    I'm so proud of you in so many ways, Angie. And you're such a gifted writer.
    Keep on keeping on. We're all here for you.

  7. Once again thank you for sharing your heart so pure... today is here... no worries for tomorrow. I have cliches but "Just for today.." I dunno that one makes sense? Thinking of you...

  8. If I ever quote Beckett, before or after 8AM, it's a sign that my body's been taken over by a well-read pod person.

    I could say that I'm so sorry that you're having to deal with the struggle to stay sober on top of everything else but it's really more like I'm pissed off on your behalf. This just doesn't seem fair. I want things to be easy for you. I demand that the universe serve up some normal right now!

    It probably won't work. But know that I'm thinking about you and sending you strength from across the mighty Delaware.

  9. You're awesome Angie, you really, really are (and I think Godot would be proud of you too!!)

    I believe your relationship with words will come back - I do. As you integrate your sobriety, I think it will all flow again. you are too good a writer for it not too.

  10. The Giraffe Princess announced in all her 9 yr old innocence the other day how she was the only one in our family who was 'normal' and then starting with LBR and his asthma worked her way up through us all - and I thought to myself - "You are very much in the minority, my love. That doesn't seem like normal to me." You are so so normal, Angie, every bit of you.

    You have so much feeling, but it is your feeling, in your way and that doesn't have to everyone else's way. Maybe the drink helped for a while, but the drink wasn't the feelings and it wasn't the words you used to let them out either.

    Whenever I am really beating myself up about my way of being - my "not the same as everyone else's" way, my therapist asks "What is good about being like this?" It is always hard to answer, but always such a relief to stop beating myself up and realise it the way that I need to be right now for me.

    Willing you up this mountain.... xo

  11. It's taken me a long time to learn the difference between understanding your emotions and being able to name all the technicolor variations in them and actually feeling them. Hope that, little by little, this very complicated journey starts to feel more like just you, walking.


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