Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Postscript To The Postcard

The title of the book was Postcards From The Edge, I read it in the midst of my own recovery and found the voice refreshing. The idea that drinking and drugs could be so alluring and yet still so debilitating to relationships as well as your physical being was reassuring to me at the time. These days, when people ask if I miss my own days on the edge of reason, I can give them a straight answer: No. I don't. Back then, well, I nodded and smiled.
Back then I was still in the process of making a life change. I thought a lot about making exceptions or deals with myself and sobriety. My initial plan was to skip the binge drinking of green beer I had scheduled for St. Patrick's Day, an annual rite. I would bounce back. That stretched into a month, then two, and after a year it became apparent that there were advantages to seeing life through clear eyes. Is it possible that I could have grown a career and gotten married and had a kid while maintaining anything resembling my former trajectory? Possible, but not likely. Maintaining those things would have been nothing short of impossible.
Which brings us back to the edge. I still have dreams in which I have made some barely conscious decision to hop off the wagon. I wake up from these dreams relieved to find that I don't have to worry about starting the count all over from one. I don't currently have an accurate count, which in itself is its own relief. I know people who have not been as lucky. The physics involved in actually falling off the wagon are pretty severe. The edge is a drop of some great height, and once you hit bottom again, the climb back up is a tough and embarrassing. Sure, there's always something to learn along the way, like what it might take to keep it from happening again.
The lady who wrote that book fell off herself. A few times. She was always very candid and honest about it, sharing the bumps and bruises with us in other books and a one-woman show. The demons Carrie Fisher battled were of a different size and shape than the ones I experienced. Addicts have "war stories," the ones they tell about their trip to the bottom. She was great at making them entertaining and educational. I was happy to hear that she was still clinging to her own ledge. Until then end of last year when she died, She fell asleep on a plane bound for London. She didn't make it there. She had heroin, ecstasy, and cocaine in her. Doctors said it was sleep apnea "and other factors" that got her. I know what it really was. It was the drop. From the edge.

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