My Irreverent Review of The Recovering: Intoxication and it's Afterlife
Alright, so here it is. I posted how much I loved a book earlier on instagram and someone chimed in...What is it about? Who is it for? And, I started thinking, whoa buddy, slow your roll, I am not a book reviewer. Then it hit me. I read at least one book a week. Sometimes I devour them and sometimes I voluntarily leave them half-finished on airplanes. I didn't leave this one on an airplane, and that means it is good.
Why did I love this book? 7 Reasons.
1. I used to drink. I used to be complacent and stagnant in relationships. I used to do all the things that Ms. Leslie Jamison did. Even down to setting the same "only clear liquid rule." That is the boring part of her book. She grew up a middle-class lady like me making her way through higher education and trying to figure it out. And, she had the same ol' drinking stories that we all have. The same ol' bad decisions. That's the same ol' part of the book. It is still worth a read, but it gets better after that. Literally.
2. She pointed out some hard stuff. The stuff that always irritates me about stigmas...how people are prone to thrown some people under the bus yet excuse and protect others. I blog about this all of the time. I do not separate myself from the rock bottoms. "My skin is the right color to permit my intoxication" as she so brilliantly put it. To me, there is no difference between those who quit drinking by choice and those that "had to." (Newsflash: it is always a choice, y'all.) You know the whole rigmarole plaguing 'Merica. Privilege. Don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the US of A among other countries I've resided. But, the USA does not get the treatment of addiction right from the blatant destructive advertising to the disconnected privileged and non-privileged stigmatizing.
3. She spoke about her travels and the drinking that followed her. I've heard too many people try and say, "this country is worse about over-drinking" or "they don't have the same issues that we have." Apart from countries where alcohol is prohibited (and occasionally these countries, too) we take our penchant for drinking everywhere. Like baggage. And, there is always someone there holding bags of their own. I took my baggage to 42 countries and I am now revisiting locations sober and man it is exhilarating. What the heck was I doing all of those years drinking my way around the world? Being boring. That's what I was doing.
4. The recovery. She solidifies the struggle for about 200 pages which almost had me leaving the book on an airplane, but I am glad I kept reading. There aren't many books that extend beyond the drunken horrors and the dramatization of what really happens when you can't really remember. I would struggle to write a book about my drinking days without classifying it as fiction. Why? Because when you are frequently sussed on two bottles of red....you aren't going to remember the fine details. Anyone who says they can is a liar...and James Frey should not have been thrown under the bus for that, Oprah.
5. She actually says things about AA that are worthwhile versus the constant bashing or worshiping you hear in the mainstream recovery scenes. Wait, pause....
6. She relapses. As a lot of us do. I mean, why on earth is that considered a weakness? I did it. You probably did it. We all rode that roller-coaster of "whelp that was a good sober run, time to drink again." Then, we do. If you're like me, you went back with a vengeance. Actually, I believe Ms. Jamison did the same. Back to number one boring addiction similarities.
7. Then, some crazy stuff goes down because...It. Always. Does. And, boom, back to sobriety.
So, here's why I love this book. It is real. And, it is really valid. And, her writing is a beautiful dance of prose. I had to google a few words, but that just means I was into the book enough to bother. The bottom line is that recovery is not a one-size fits all. You need to find your fit. I do 12-steps. I don't do it right according to some people, but I do it the best way I know how. I do mindfulness. I don't do it right according to some people, but I do it the best way I know how.
It is intertwined with reality, hope, fiction, non-fiction and just plain complacency and stagnation. It is not a book proclaiming answers. It is not another self-help book usually written by someone who is still trying to figure it out herself. It is not a book pro-one specific modality and condemning all of the rest. I cannot tell you who this book is for and who it isn't. I don't think of books that way. It is a book proclaiming questions riddled with a woman's thoughts and relating herself to what has happened in history and literature. And, yes I consider the Big Book literature.
It is a book worth reading. And, that's my irreverent review. I still have 50 pages to go, and maybe it turns to sh*t after this. In that case, I will just update with how I left it on a plane...