In the Summer of 2011, after years of imbibing, pill-popping, and being a general sexy, agoraphobic mess, my brilliant but troubled best friend entered a mental facility to once-and-hopefully-for-all purge all the chemicals from her body and begin the unholy process of getting her mind right. Depression and dependency are so sophomore year, and all that. During her stay, I was on the mend from an ill-advised move to Paris, and an overall confrontation with my own stupid, largely self-imposed demons. In short, we were in a state.
Right around the time she was leaving what we now affectionately/ begrudgingly refer to as the “Asylum,” I was accidentally getting my uterus fertilized with pure, all natural baby. And thus began our mutual embarkation upon a life devoid of the chemical crutches that had eased our respective anxieties for years past. For different reasons, we were both off the sauce (and I couldn’t smoke cigarettes, to boot). She went booze-free to keep her mind clear to deal with her years-long struggle with anxiety and depression; I was abstaining because, as I understand it, fetal alcohol syndrome is the Wu-Tang Clan of baby afflictions (ahem, it ain’t nothin’ to f-ck with).
Our general philosophy as we navigate the oft-painful condition of sobriety/ pregnancy is a healthy serving of “Chin up, buttercup!” with a requisite side of “Let’s not kid ourselves, this is really sh-tty sometimes.”
And lest ye judge, keep in mind that A) We don’t claim that our relationships with substances, other people, or our own brains are healthy examples to follow.
B) We talk some sh-t about AA, but we don’t think that AA is a bad thing for every person. For some people, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous do a great deal of good. Our negative feelings about it stem from the fact that it’s forced on people in recovery as a one-size-fits-all approach to the cessation of drinking. The tenants that AA is founded on, and the assumptions it makes about every drinker are not universally applicable, nor are the always helpful. But seriously, yay for AA and the people it helps.
We don’t actually take any of this lightly, which is precisely why we constantly and inappropriately joke about it. Just clearing that up. Now back to business:
Below is a sample conversation that we might have on any given day.
Me: Are you alive?
Anne: Kind of, yes. How are you?
Me: I’m fine. How are you?
Anne: I’ve been depressed about my 6 Month Sober-versary. I never wanted to be here.
Me: I can understand that. It’s weird when so many people are congratulating you on something that you would greatly prefer to not be happening. I felt the same way when I was first pregnant… everyone happy and congratulating me, feeling like I should be celebrating when I mostly felt awkward and upset.
Anne: And pardon the dramatics, but, like, I don’t want to live abstaining from alcohol. I miss it.
Me: I know.
Anne: People are like, “THAT’S HUGE!” and I’m like, “Thanks, I hate my life.”
Anne: Like, let’s take away something you love, and see how you feel.
Me: I have a theory about you and alcohol, but it’s just my theory.
Anne: What’s the theory? That it’s my abusive boyfriend?
Me: That alcohol itself was never your problem, that obviously it was just a symptom of your problems with anxiety and depression. And you abstaining from alcohol doesn’t necessarily have to be a permanent life change so much as it’s clearing your head and body so you can deal with the real problems. You cant do that when you’re drinking. But maybe think of it like a reward, like, “Once I fix my brain and get stable emotionally, I can have a healthy relationship with alcohol.” Maybe it won’t work out like that, and maybe you will discover that you can’t be a well-functioning, happy person with booze in your life, but there’s nothing wrong with trying. You will know when and if you come to a place where it’s safe to try.
Anne: I know.
Me: I think we should never think of anything as permanent or definite. It’s too big and scary to digest, and we’re not arrogant enough to think we know what will happen later, or how we’ll change. Just focus on what you’re doing, rather than what you’ve lost, or something.
Anne: Like, it was always, “I’m depressed, LETS DRINK IT AWAY!”
Me: “Don’t let any AA bastards convince you that you have an “alcohol disease” that you’re “powerless” over and that you can not have “even one drink,” and that you have to “surrender to God” if you have a goddamn prayer of wellness. That isn’t you.
Anne: That’s why AA is stupid; it teaches that the only way to put down the bottle is to admit that you’re permanently broken and stupid and only God can save you.
Me: Right. You’re disease isn’t alcohol. It’s sadness. That’s what you’re trying to fix. Quitting drinking is just a tool to do that. A really annoying tool.
Anne: I agree. AA cheerleaders are as bad as religious zealots. Leave me alone, you coffee addicts.
Me: I know you know all this I’m telling you. I’m just reminding you that I understand because sometimes we all need someone to tell us things we know just so we can see some reflected sense of understanding. Sometimes all I need is to not feel alone in how I’m feeling, which is also a thing you know.
Anne: To a certain extent, I am kind of taken aback by it being six months, only because when I used to try to take time away from booze, I never made it a week.
Me: Even if it sucks, making it six months is undoubtedly impressive. I feel the same way about smoking. I hate every minute of not smoking but I’m still proud.
Anne: That’s true.
Anne: Point being, all I want to do right now is go get f-cked by a bottle of whiskey.
Me: IF IT WILL HELP, I will fashion you a whiskey bottle dildo. Whatever I can do to help.
Anne: Does it count as relapsing if you ingest it through your ladybits? Or really any orifice other than your mouth?
Me: Don’t even joke about vodka tampons. Let’s just give you a merlot enema and see what happens! SCIENCE!
Anne: Well, you can’t do that. Your problem lives in your junk! SCIENCE EXPERIMENTS!
Me: That’s true. Unborn babies probably don’t like vodka tampons.
Anne: Yours might.
Me: Also true. The spiked watermelon doesn’t fall far from the vine, or something.