“When a woman drinks it’s as if an animal were drinking, or a child. Alcoholism is scandalous in a woman, and a female alcoholic is rare, a serious matter. It’s a slur on the divine in our nature.” ~ Marguerite Duras

I don’t write about it often (or talk about it often, or even think about it often), but I am a recovering alcoholic. I’ve never outed myself properly in writing, except for when I quietly ramble sometimes in my moleskins, so I might as well do the traditional greeting:

Hi. I’m Chrissy, and I’m an alcoholic.

Hi, Chrissy. 

I’ve been sober for longer than I drank actively. On January 25, 2012 I will have twelve years of sobriety. I’m 32 years old. I was 21 when I drank my last drop of wine (because it was wine, and always wine, that used to bowl me over and into pitiful infinity). I don’t shout about my addiction, nor do I actively go to any sort of twelve step support group. To me, talking so publicly about alcohol, talking about the part of me that is feral, wanton, and ill doesn’t soothe me. It keeps the part of me that’s broken center stage in my consciousness. This might not be the right way to recover, but it’s my way, and so far it’s worked. I am of the firm belief that something bigger than myself is guiding me along, and looking out for me. Talking to this personal higher power, and to my husband, has been my healing circle of white, shining light.

But lately I’ve realized that what Gary and I have essentially done, is create a small micro-society all our own. A sober one. One that doesn’t walk through the valley of the shadow of death and war and open bars at weddings. We usually ignore the existence of alcohol. For me at least, the memories are too embarrassing; the taste of red wine still too acrid on my tongue. Entering a world where people drink recreationally is opening up Pandora’s box. Not that I fear that I would drink again, it’s just that I don’t want to remember what it was like when I did.

When I hear people talk about drinking, or mention their plans to pair a certain wine with a certain dish, my thoughts are usually restrained. I don’t mention the green dragon that lives inside of me, that’s been asleep for almost a dozen years. I’m not interested in ruining anyone’s enjoyment. They’re not ill. To them, alcohol isn’t arsenic. It has the capability to turn them into human weapons, if they swallow too much, but usually their experience is positive, their memories warm and festive.

When I drank, it was like swallowing swords. The blade was fast, and cut me cleanly in half each time. Too much was never enough.

Another interesting caveat of being a recovering alcoholic: I can spot my kind out in a crowd. It’s hard to describe, but there’s a sort of self-depreciating bolt that gets loosened in an addict. It gets tightened, and the body and brain can run pretty much normally, but something is still always missing. No, not missing. Something is there. Too much thought, too much feeling, too much craving for sex and pleasure and light and stimulation. The stars are more than stars. The world is never flat. Passion runs through our veins like ivy. We can’t turn ourselves off, and we are never normal enough to enter a society dripping with rum, whiskey, beer, and barrels and barrels of wine the color of blood.


17 thoughts on “drop

  1. I have always thought that one of the reasons people drink (and there are millions, most likely) is that alcohol does create a feeling of passion. Not just romantic passion but a passionate view of yes, the stars, the moon, this cheese dip, whatever.
    It’s true.
    I congratulate you.

  2. I congratulate you, too. I am not a drinker but have known, dated and even married an alcoholic (first marriage!), so I have only an inkling of what you speak. The way you write of everything and anything is gorgeous — and I can’t believe how young you are!

  3. That’s some serious sobriety, Chrissy! Good for you. Personally, I don’t drink–at all. The DNA for alcoholism winds like a Tour d’ France through my family. Since I have bipolar disorder it has always seemed best for me to avoid the stuff. My personality is addictive in the extreme, so it’s been wise to bypass the potential for another demon in my life. Thanks for sharing this!

  4. I wanted to elaborate a bit more…I think that people who are predisposed to drink to excess are passionate people by nature. The alcohol enhances the passion at first, then the rest of the strong feelings start to seep in. Life lived a thousand-fold.

  5. Thank you so much, Elizabeth! It’s hard to be in a relationship with an addict…it’s constant vigilance and constant tumult.

    And I feel pretty young some days! I got sober when I was 21, but before that relapse I didn’t drink for two years.

  6. I commend your courage and ability to stay sober for so long. You’re absolutely right about passionate people and the predisposition to drink. I do find myself feeling more relaxed and passionate with the occasional glass of wine or mixed drink, and I’ve been told that alcoholism does run through the family. Luckily, I get sick too easily when I drink, so I keep it to a minimum.

  7. you write so well about addiction that I felt at moments like I was taking a fall as I read this, only because my mind knows the patterns you hint at and loves them. But you’re right, it feels good to be honest and get the demons out of the dark. Thanks for sharing this, I know you’re intent wasn’t to make anyone struggle and I’ll be okay. It’s 8:18 in the morning and I’ll settle for my coffee buzz before I take the day into any unfortunate direction.

  8. Levon,

    Thanks for stopping by, and for the compliments on my writing! In the program (which I’m not involved in, but take a lot of wisdom from), coffee is referred to as another friend of Bill W. A good cup of coffee can heal all sorts of wounds.

  9. Chrissy, there is indeed a tie that binds us sober alcoholics, and this is one of the reasons I connected to your blog when I read your bio. I will have 13 years January 10, 2012. I also do not participate in program anymore due to my single mom situation. I’m grateful I got sober well before Maycee was even a thought and built an incredible foundation that allows me to continue praciticing the principals without having to drag my daughter to meetings. I’ve done it a few times when the pull felt necessary, but on a regular basis I try to live under a daily reprieve contingent on being spiritually connected in one way or another. And, God willing and Kasey willing, my daughter will never experience her mom the ways she was many, many years ago. My gratitude runs a-plenty, and thank you for sharing so openly. There is no one “right way” to recover. You got it!

  10. Thank you so much for sharing…and the spiritual foundation is incredibly important. One reason I’m so open to other religions/spirituality is that I feel almost a desperate grab for anything and everything beautiful. I’m so glad you shared this part of yourself with me…

"... all my lovers were there with me, all my past and futures."

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