Over the years, I did a lot of reading about drinking and alcohol abuse. Let’s face it: you can’t swing a bottle of Jameson without knocking over another alcoholism memoir. My shelf is full of them. Here are some of my favorites:
- Lit, by Mary Karr
- Parched, by Heather King
- Dry, by Augusten Burroughs
- A Drinking Life, by Pete Hamill
- Traveling Mercies, by Anne Lamott
- Drinking: A Love Story, by Caroline Knapp
- Loaded: Women and Addiction, by Jill Talbot
- Smashed: Story of a Drunken Girlhood, by Koren Zailckas
- Blackout Girl: Growing Up and Drying Out in America, by Jennifer Storm
Each of these stories hit a nerve, sometimes several. There was always something I connected with viscerally: rotating my patronage of wine and liquor stores so I never rose to the status of “regular”; a heightened awareness of the drink in front of me and the realization that not everyone was having such a complicated relationship with alcohol; the unsuccessful attempts at cutting back and watching the pendulum swing ever more violently between teetotaler and heavy daily drinker.
But as I read the last words and closed the back cover of each story, I’d think to myself, that was amazing, but it’s just not me. I kept coming back to bookstores, hoping that some day I’d find the story about the person who fell somewhere in the murky gray area between the true moderate social drinker and the falling down drunk, who never had a DUI, arrest, or major injury, who either finally got control of her drinking or decided to quit. I’ve yet to find it.
Would a story like that even get published? Would it be entertaining enough? Part of what makes the stories out there so successful is the hijinks the authors got into while wasted, the extreme highs and lows that are at once hilarious and shocking.
Then I think about all of the people I’ve spoken to over the years who have had questions about their drinking that were similar to mine. And the people who’ve commented on my blog so far. And the ones I know are out there and who probably have questions or know something is not quite right but might not have said the words out loud yet.
The young mother who feels completely overwhelmed and can’t wait until 5 pm so she can have a glass of wine, perhaps even thinking that drinking makes her a better mom. The man or woman who’s not quite on the career path he or she had hoped and is not sure how to change course, so each unsatisfying workday ends with cocktails at a local bar. The shy 35-year-old single guy who can’t imagine dating without a drink in hand or the 50-something divorcee who goes home every night to no one but a bottle.
That’s why I’m taking the risk of sharing, exposing, and quite possibly embarrassing myself. In case you were wondering. I know there’s a story here.