On Sobriety by Tara Larkin
It is good to be sober. I felt so much shame drunk! I feel much less shame at any given time now. I am still sorting out if I felt more shame for my drinking, or I believed I was shameful before I started drinking, or I drank to fulfill what I believed I deserved to feel.
It was a secret ,my drinking, or so I wished to believe. I only drank at home. I only drank beer. Towards the end, I drank 6 to 10 beers a day. Sometimes I’d drink wine. One Thanksgiving, I stood up from my father -in- laws table and fell over. I had on a short skirt. I ripped my hosiery. I felt embarrassed. And ashamed.
Shame and embarrassment are not the same. Embarrassment lasts just a short time. A gaff ,a slip of the tongue, a misstep, these we all do, and these things can cause embarrassment. We can feel embarrassment for others, too, as when somewhat farts loudly in Pilates class. I felt embarrassed once when I told a patient I had to give him an injection under his foreskin, rather than saying an injection under the skin of his forearm. He was drunk. Thank heaven, I was not.
I did drink and drive. I did drink and drive with my children in the car. I never got a DUI. I was always afraid I would. I would have deserved it . I am ashamed of such behavior. Drinking affected my ability to parent.
One evening I was drunk and I blurted out to my teenage son and daughter that I had had two abortions. I gave them the details. I think I wanted their forgiveness. It doesn’t work that way.
I would scream at my husband when I was drunk. I screamed at my sister. She called the cops. I started crying. The cops came. They knew me because the neighbors had called the cops on me for screaming before. My sister hasn’t spoken to me since 2004, when the cops came to my house for the last time.
Soon after sobering up, my writing changed. There was a clarity to it, a confidence that was not present when I drank.
“You’re serious about this!”, my family said.
“Yes.” I replied, as I wrote furiously: Seriously.
It’s not so much that ,in my sobriety, I write seriously. It’s now, that six years after my last drink , I am writing well.