the gift of desperation

Posted on June 20, 2007


Drinking, a love storyThis is heartlessly stolen from the late Caroline Knapp‘s brilliant and beautiful book on alcoholism, Drinking, A Love Story.

(ebook for purchase here; sample chapter here).

Whether or not you’re an alcoholic, you’re a human being and this book is a work of art and a work of true insight into human nature.

It is highly recommended for students of the human species, particularly those of a Romantic disposition, ie all of us.


The gift of desperation has a spiritual quality. At some point, if you’re very, very lucky, it dawns on you that you really might kill yourself if you keep living the way you’re living. It’s just a matter of time, just a matter of time before you drive home drunk one night and run someone down or end up in jail or lose your job. You can be so lucky for only so long, and at some point it dawns on you that you are the only one capable of orchestrating your own future, of ensuring that you live a different sort of life.

I gradually began to feel more and more alone in the world, a sensation that seeps into the heart slowly after a major loss. I was on my own, my parents dead. If I truly fell — ended up jobless, homeless, suicidally depressed — there was no one to run to, no one to pick up the pieces. Not my brother or sister. They had their own lives, their own problems. Not even Michael. I didn’t think he’d stick by me much longer if I kept drinking the way I was drinking.

This was by no means an overnight revelation. I drank my way to it, and as they tend to say in AA, I needed every single drink it took to get there, every drink and every attendant moment of degradation and despair.

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