I actually read the news stories on snap chat. Yes those ones from Buzzfeed and Cosmo, it’s my guilty pleasure. I came across one the other day that a young woman wrote about her issues with blackout drinking. She mentioned a book called Blackout: Remembering the things I drank to Forget by Sarah Hepola. Lucky for me we had it at the public library, I did have to call the other branch to get it transferred which was slightly embarrassing, but whatever. It’s like HI coworker can you transfer me a book about being a blackout drunk? Oh, yes a friend of mine was asking for it, no no, it’s has no relevance in my life at all. I swear I’ve never had this problem…
Actually I have. For a solid decade I operated under the guise of being a blackout drinker, often missing hours of my life at a time. From the outside you would have probably never known it. I was successful at any job I chose, put myself through college and grad school, was in long term relationships, and had a bunch of friends and drinking partners. I was functioning as far as anybody who didn’t know me could tell, but it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. Anybody who has had blackouts can relate to this book, whether it was only that once or if it happened on a weekly basis. Hepola is a journalist that spent most of her 20’s in this same hazy booze cloud. She recounts sex with strangers, broken friendships and relationships, nearly burning her own apartment down passing out in the middle of making food, and finding herself in other interesting situations that I won’t give away. Alcoholism can be sad and depressing, nobody ever becomes an addict because they are just wildly happy with themselves. This book could have ended up being really heavy, but it wasn’t. Hepola has a knack for self-realization, and for describing what the bottom of the barrel feels like. I know because I’ve been at that bottom so many times before. It’s only fun, until it’s not fun anymore, then you just keep doing it for years after it became not fun, then you kind of want to die, then you realize that you ARE dead inside, then you either stop or actually physically die. In the end when she does decides to really stop this time, she kept me laughing with stories about how life and relationships work (or don’t work) after drinking. When your life revolves around it for so long, it can feel like there is no other way to live. Nothing can be fun without being drunk right? It actually can be.
It’s really inspiring, and funny, and honest. Some parts you cringe, some parts you cry and some parts just make you downright laugh out loud. She explores feminism and rape culture, and outlines her first experiences with alcohol and sex and weaves them together to try to understand the motives for her behavior and addiction. I couldn’t put it down a read straight through in 2 days. I love reads like this.
Here’s a New York Times review that probably says it better than I can:
After that If you are still in the mood for blackout drinkers and sensitive adolescents try out:
Girl on a Train by Paula Hawkins. I know it’s a trendy pop read, and they are currently making a movie out of it. But the main character is also a blackout drunk, and much of the book she is trying to piece one particular night together. The author must have some experience with this because she writes the blackout experience so well. Here’s the review on that one:
13 Reasons Why by Jay Asher is a Young Adult read. But, if you were ever a girl in high school the main character is astoundingly relatable. Be careful though, this one might dig up some old wounds you thought were long gone.
The only way you can solve a problem is by turning to face it. Sometimes this takes years, lifetimes to break down the things in our psyche that hold us back and keep us from being our best selves. It’s scary, and maybe one of the scarier parts of being a human is that we often feel alone. But we are not. The human experience can be so common. You can find friends in books and stories as well as the people around you to help you heal, it’s a beautiful thing.