Survival, creativity and whipped cream

I just discovered one of my friends and a former writing student tried to hang himself. Now he's in a coma and so we don't know if he'll wake up at all or what the brain damage might be. What I think about is the lovely piece of writing he read aloud from a sense memory he did in class. He was a child in the woods and the piece made you feel his wonder and happiness, happiness that has completely eluded him as an adult dealing with an addiction and other things. Sometimes I am amazed by the resilience of children. They want to be happy and to have their lives work. Is that bred into our DNA or learned like guilt and remorse? We become adults and sometimes that childhood determination fades despite having so much more autonomy.
The ravages of alcoholism and drug addiction are obvious and yet the public perception continues to be that it has a connection to self-control. The death of DJ AM so ironic after surviving a serious airplane crash that killed others and then finding himself back on pain killers so he returns to the crack pipe and then overdoses either by accident or on purpose. There is this focus on talent or some kind of creative spark that people point to as a possible cause of this self-destructiveness but that's ridiculous in my opinion. Look at the drunks on the street and then look at Heath Ledger; the difference was he tried to fight against the inevitable, to continue to use even though he knew he was someone who couldn't afford the high. I truly believe for some of us it's sobriety or death, pure and simple. I knew I couldn't drink myself to death but at my worst I was ready to end my life to turn off the self hatred, the shame and the loneliness. It didn't matter who was standing there assuring me I was loved. There was nothing but a bleak wasteland with never enough drugs or alcohol. It was something that gnawed away at my soul and I despised myself for being sick.
Do I think my period of suicidal self-destructiveness fueled my creativity? Who knows? I guess it gave me a taste of living on the edge that can help but I'm not sure the actual experience provides a better handle on what addiction is really like. Suffering sometimes is nothing but suffering. Also, I haven't successfully captured the texture of some of those fabulous experiences like nearly ending up gang raped by a group of men on a yacht who attempted to persuade my drug dealer boyfriend to leave me as an added bonus to their coke purchase. Or the terrible abortion I had alone on Christmas Eve because the same boyfriend persuaded me to not do anything until I realized no child deserved a mother like me. Or the degrading loneliness of recognizing you were married to someone you didn't love, that you wanted to die and the chances of someone doing it for you were slim to none.
I mark 25 years of continuous sobriety if I'm lucky this December and 25 years of grief for my sister, 33 years of grief for my best friend, both killed by drunk drivers, both filled with so much brilliance and goodness I miss them in my life every single day.
Whipped cream? Ah, it's not on my diet but I have to have it. So be it.


  1. Sometimes people just want to die, whether they are alcoholic or not. I also think they whole 12 step message that one drink will kill us is melodramatic and untrue. I am glad program works for some but for me as a woman it was as bad as being on a yacht with a drug dealer. I have never been exposed to so many evil people in my life. And they were just now "sex-addicted" instead of drug addicted. Congratulations on 25 years of sobriety coming up and on your openness and willingness to change and perservere. That, I believe, is what makes you a survivor and a woman to respect. xx L

  2. I think that's what made the program work for me. I always felt I had the right to find my own set of beliefs. Also, I don't think it's about one drink killing but all the others that normally follow. Again, some people may find they are not immediately reduced to their need for oblivion but that was my experience. I'm sorry you had such a bad experience with a 12-step program. Evil in the guise of support is very bad.

  3. I hope and pray for your student that he recovers. A friend I know was brain damaged from a suicide attempt, a brilliant writer of many books. It really stops one in ones tracks and is devastating. My thoughts are with him and you. xL

    Yes, my life improved immeasurably when I got out of the program -- but I know women are most at risk in it, and not all like me.


Post a Comment

Popular Posts