I originally picked up Drink by Ann Dowsett Johnson because I know so many of us – too many of us – suffer from addictions. I reasoned that while I didn’t need it ( I don’t drink), someone else might. How right (and wrong) I was!
If you do anything to “seek the numb”… this book will probably resonate with you!
While it is written upon the foundation of the female drinker (Chapter 4 is all about how the alcohol industry lures women, for example) it is relatable to all who struggle with alcohol, whether it is binge drinking or alcohol abuse.
Johnston wrote this book with a story of her own to tell… and she does.
I need to stop here and say that I appreciate her stories, though I can see that some might say she leans on her experiences too much. This notion rubs me the wrong way because… Hello!… I write a lot like she does! I mean, as far as infusing my story into every post. Like say, well, listen to this:
I used to drink. It was the 1970s… and those were the years of spandex and disco. At 19, I once vomited my stomach lining after a night of mixing Screwdrivers and Zombies at a place called The Bahooka. It was dark and there were huge fish tanks and it had atmosphere, that’s for sure! But its real claim to fame? They served minors. It was all so funny… har har har… me, barfing my literal guts out everywhere and then left in my car to sleep it off by well-meaning friends (who were as young and clueless about what to do as I was). When I woke up, it was 3am, my car was at the end of my best friend’s street (it was a cul-de-sac), the headlights were on (hello, police-es, I’m here!), and I had no idea how I got there. My house was 2 seconds away around the corner, luckily, and I drove myself home. Need I say more?
After that, I drank, sure, but getting drunk tended to do bad things to me… especially after I had kids. I got horrible migraines, even after a second glass of wine. After menopause, the headaches came after a single glass of wine. So, I’ve kept my drinking to a very occasional glass of champagne or wine at a party or skip it. Usually, I just skip it. The last drink I had was so many years ago that I don’t know how many years ago it was!
In doing research for this post, I came across some interesting arguments about the book. Why? Because Johnston suggests that men and women handle and process alcohol differently, which makes women appear “weaker” than men.
What do you think?
I think there are obvious differences (yoo-hoo, it’s me, the uterus!) but is a brain a brain, no matter whose head it’s in?
Then, there is the other fight… and it’s about content. From the Toronto Star: “Mixing booze, babies, not harmless” by the author and the retort, by the founder of the group mentioned in the article. Again, interesting, right?
Men and women and alcohol. A drunk’s a drunk?
Towards the end of the book, in the chapter, “Getting Whole,” the truest words are written:
In the beginning, you think it’s all about giving up alcohol. […] But slowly, you realize that abstinence is only the first requisite for growth. This is how you get ready for the real work: the emotional, mental and spiritual push-ups essential to gaining some true perspective.
This is true about any addiction.
So, I’m kinda torn on this book.
Is it just a woman thing? Of course not! But I think we all know that going in. Read it with that in mind. It’s written by and for women. Nothing more, nothing less.