So, I’m an alcoholic with about three and a half years sober as I write this. I’ve been sober and in the program long enough to have done a ton of self-reflection about my drinking years (25-33 were pretty bad) and to be removed enough from those bad times to not flinch too much every time I think about them. I’m one of those people sober folks and newbies at meetings are sometimes shocked by, because I tell horrible stories of things that I did or that happened to be drunk with humor, because I’m at that point where they’re bitterly funny lessons for me.
But this book still made me flinch. This is an honest exploration of the shocking, stupid, embarrassing things we do drunk. It is especially about the particular methods of self-destruction many alcoholic women choose: sudden anger, sudden extreme sadness, and regrettable hookups. I nodded along to so many of Hepola’s story, wanting to go back and time to hug my past self and drag her to meetings every day until she got it (she probably wouldn’t have: you’re not ready until you’re ready).
I appreciate that Hepola is careful to point out that her sexual behavior was unhealthy FOR HER, because I get frustrated when stories about these things turn into moralizing about how much sex is too much sex and how many hookups are too many hookups. She makes a point that it wasn’t about sex specifically or casual sex being unhealthy or bad, it was that she wasn’t making choices about what she really wanted, but instead was performing a role.
I always wish there was a little bit more about people’s experiences with AA and other programs in memoirs about drinking, but of course that’s a hard line to walk, because anonymity is so important and people have different levels for what they’re comfortable sharing because of that. That being said, I really enjoyed reading this and added a few amends to my list after.