Knapp, C. (1996). Drinking: A Love Story. New York: The Dial Press.
Fifteen million Americans a year are afflicted with alcoholism. The author began drinking at age fourteen and continued to drink through her Ivy League college years, and award-winning career as a columnist. This autobiography traces how her love affair with alcohol began to ruin her life and how she overcame it.
The author explains the power of alcohol in her own life through a series of personal anecdotes and revelations. Each chapter presents another glimpse into the destructive life of an alcoholic and the slow and arduous healing process that follows. Though not in a strict chronological order, her chapters reveal more than expected: "Love," "Double Life I," "Destiny," "Hunger," "In Vodka Veritus," "Sex," "Drinking Alone," "Addiction," "Substitution," "Denial," "Giving Over," "A Glimpse," "Double Life II," "Hitting Bottom," "Help," "Healing."
Knapp offers an honest account of a lifetime of alcohol abuse and how it affected so many areas of her life. Though there are statistics about alcohol abuse, this autobiography explores the many dimensions of alcohol abuse. Moreover, the author provides an incredible perspective into a life controlled by a disease that eats away at life. The gripping anecdotes reveal more than just memories; they reveal the reality and rationalizations of substance abuse. The author provides insight into a life through which so many people suffer. Readers may begin to comprehend something so difficult to understand without experience; this is an invaluable tool for discussing the issues that affect so many young people.
The phrase is high-function alcoholic. Smooth and ordered on the outside; roiling and chaotic and desperately secretive underneath, but not noticeably so, never noticeably so. I remember sitting down in my cubicle that morning, my leg propped up on a chair, and thinking: ‘I wonder if she knows. I wonder if anyone can tell by looking at me that something is wrong.’…‘Can anyone see it?’ The wondering itself made me anxious, chipping away at the edges of denial.
The fact is, nobody would have known from looking.
But there’s rarely a single defining event and even people from the most chaotic alcoholic backgrounds struggle with that knowledge, even people like Abby. For all the concrete reasons she had to drink, she still can’t look back and say, with certainty, ‘It’s because of this’ or ‘It’s because of that.’ None of us can.
As soon as I could sit up in my mother’s lap, I started rocking, rocking myself back and forth, and I did it for years…I can see the rocking now as a first addiction of sorts. It calmed me, took me out of myself, gave me a sense of relief…I also did it for a long, long time, although when I got old enough to feel self-conscious about it, I kept it secret from everyone: my parents, my sister, my friends. I’d sometimes go to my room and rock for an hour or so before dinner, closing the door, turning on the radio, climbing onto bed and rocking myself…I was deeply embarrassed that I did this, ashamed of it, really, but I needed it. I needed it and it worked.
The truth: I did this until I was sixteen.
The rocking was just like drinking.
The amazing thing, of course, is that you do all this—all this drinking, all the keeping of secrets and withholding of information, all the self-medicating—without making the connection between the drink and the outcome.
Better. The word seems thin, even a little deceptive. Sobriety is less about "getting better" in a clear, linear sense than it is about subjecting yourself to change, to the inevitable ups and downs, fears and feelings, victories and failures, that accompany growth.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION AND DISCUSSION
- Do you believe that alcoholism is a disease? Is it just an issue of self-control?
- Are all of one’s major problems solved once he or she gives up drinking (or any other addiction)?
- Can you always tell that someone is an alcoholic? How is it possible that no one knows?
- If you know an alcoholic, have you done anything about it? Why or why not?
- Responsibility and success do not necessarily prohibit alcohol abuse. Even the most responsible, organized person could have a problem that very few people perceive.
- Although alcohol abuse itself may be addressed, there are many underlying and interwoven issues that need to be solved as well. It is a long process with many, many ups and downs.
Bum Jun Jeoung cCYS