Caroline Knapp

(an extra post for me today)

I was reading book reviews on Goodreads. I have been reading Caroline Knapp’s memoir “Drinking: A Love Story” the last few days, in between reading/writing blogs and spending time with my mom. A lot of it is resonating well with me.

Then on the book reviews I discovered that she died in 2002 from lung cancer. I felt deep sorrow. I feel I have been sitting on a couch with her, hearing about her life and addiction the past week. And then woke up today to find out she passed away. It feels as if I lost a close friend. She died around the time I first thought of quitting booze.

She died six years after the book was published. It also makes me think of how precious our time on earth is. I don’t want to waste away any more of my life in the bottom of a bottle.

Article about her death:

Caroline Knapp died at age 42


There are only two mistakes one can make along the road to truth;  not going all the way,  and not starting. – Buddha

I am still struggling with the truth of my disease. I have been sober 22 days. I have done 30 day drinking breaks in the past. But there was rarely the plan to NEVER drink again.

Maybe my brain is still not realizing that fact. Part of the brain is saying “ok we are abstaining from booze FOREVER” and the other part is saying “don’t worry Ego and Self-esteem.  She has taken these breaks before. One more week and we can get sloshed again! Woot!” I can almost picture the different lobes whispering and cheering.

The truth is I can never drink again. It is no longer “I need to quit drinking.” I quit. January 21 was the last night I drank. I now need to reprogram myself to learn to NEVER drink alcohol and learn to control temptation. One glass of champagne to toast a celebration could be the match to burn the forest. I need to prevent it before my life becomes a charred mess.

The truth is my body can not process alcohol the same as most people. I blackout.  I do not know when or how to stop once I start. I do not make good choices. I can drink a case of beer, search for more liquor, and not see that as wrong. My brain does not function normal when alcohol is introduced into my bloodstream. Booze becomes the immunization preventing sanity.

On the last night I drank, I was going to visit a married couple. The wife reminded me it was “tipsy day.” This was a night we would meet others at different bars throughout the city. I told her I don’t want to get tipsy because of my drinking problem. (I received word a few days before this of problems my past DUIs were currently causing for my career.)  Her response was “do you think you have a problem?” She said “nothing wrong with a drink. Just don’t get hammered.” She doesn’t understand that for my body, there is something wrong with a drink. My drinking breaks were proof to her I do not have a problem.

I felt a little hurt. I wanted her support. Even the last time I saw them, when I was on a drinking break, they tried to talk me into drinking some wine. It was very good, expensive wine. They criticized me for taking a drinking break during the holidays. I should have waited until after New Years like a lot of people.

I don’t blame them. I know I have felt uncomfortable drinking around people that went sober. I actually felt relief when friends fell off the wagon. Was I worried how it reflected on my drinking? Or did I just not know how to react?  I couldn’t connect with people that did not drink. I worried they judged me. Boozing together validated my need for it.

But I was resentful and mad that night when I arrived. After some small talk, I asked for a beer. She offered me one of the two large jugs they had in the fridge. One was IPA. They knew that was my favorite. I decided I will show her my problem.

I had 3 pints by the time her husband was home from work. Had a few more with dinner. I was drunk by the time the three of us went to the bar. We were in the bar about 15 or 20 minutes. I downed two pints. Then we went for a walk where I was itching for another bar. We went to a wine bar. I treated them to a glass each. I finished off mine while they were still sipping and ordered another. Back at their house, I finished off the IPA and drank a couple glasses of the second jug. I don’t know how many but I passed out on the couch with my phone on Netflix.

I did not do anything stupid that night. They did not see any problem. I did not even feel hungover the next morning. Just dehydrated. The idea that I drank that much in a “I will show you” mentality indicated a problem. I decided then to try to stop drinking.

The truth is there is something wrong with one drink for me. Not everyone. Not society. But for my body and brain. Now my brain needs to accept that truth.

Mistake #15- Two years before they were married, the husband from that story met up with me for one of our weekly bar nights.  I arrived at the bar drunk. I started drinking at home that afternoon. I should not have driven there. But I did. I do not remember most of the night. A guy I used to date showed up. My friend said I had a long conversation with that guy. I have no idea what we discussed. My friend offered to drive my car home for me. Then he couldn’t because he did not know how to drive standard. So I drove and he was in the passenger seat holding the steering wheel to keep the car from swerving. He said it was one of the scariest nights of his life.

But they don’t think I have a problem.

Also, he said I was making sexual advances towards him. A lot. This was more embarrassing to me than the driving part. I always thought of him as a little brother. I do not know if she ever knew.