"i write as one who raises a knife in the darkness"
- Alejandra Pizarnik, On this night, in this world
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- Mary Howe, Magdalene
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“I liked Hell,
I liked to go there alone
relieved to lie in the wreckage, ruined, physically undone.
The worst had happened. What else could hurt me then?
I thought it was the worst, thought nothing worse could come.
Then nothing did, and no one.”
- Mary Howe, Magdalene: The Addict
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Just for Today (no emotional time travellers please)
This is the 12th post for ‘How to stop drinking: A guide for normal people’. A series in which I am sharing my reflections on living, and staying sober, in a fun, honest, down-to-earth way to show that an alcohol-free life is possible. Previous chapters can be found below on www.samwarren.net
One of AA’s mantras is that you only need to not pick up a drink today. You don’t need to worry about tomorrow. You don’t need to worry about Saturday night, Angela’s party next month, Christmas, or the rest of your life. You are just not having a drink today. Dear sweet Mary Mother of God, what nonsense!? When I was a drinker I use to think this was the most ridiculous idea – what the hell is the point of kidding yourself? If you believe you need to stop drinking (and I mean really be free of it) then of course it’s not ‘just for today’. Why pretend? Surely it’s better to come to terms with a sober life than play mind games?
Image credit: Chiltern & Thames Intergroup of Alcoholics Anonymous
Now I have stopped drinking, I can see how wrong I was. ‘Just for today’ doesn't mean kidding yourself that at the stroke of midnight everything will miraculously be OK again and you can crack open the bubbly to celebrate. ‘Just for today’ means
‘Worry about now. Right now. Just now and no further’
Not tea time, not even an hour from now. Concern yourself with this moment because this moment is all there actually is! The ‘Just for today’ card you’re given at your first AA meeting contains many excellent practices, but within them, there is one important idea that has stayed with me all these years. And that’s the practice of not loading yourself up now with the anxieties of some future state, so that you feel overwhelmed, plummet into the pit of despair and be far more likely to have a drink than if you stay in the present.
No-one can know the future, so our hopes and fears about what will (might!?) happen are just that – hopes and fears. So beaming them into the here and now, effectively making them real, is a huge source of anxiety which is completely avoidable, if you learn how. It’s an excellent trick to learn for all sorts of things in life actually, and is at the heart of all sorts of ancient ‘eastern’ inspired meditative practices. Shut down your nervous, chattering ‘future brain’ and stay in the present. Mind-full, body-full, and soul-fully right where you are. Because that’s all you have to deal with right now. As I write those words I am wrapping you in this super-soft velvet backed teddy-bear throw, because that’s how soothing ‘just for today’ feels.
In fact I might just join you in the blankie if that’s OK, as I’m in a pretty anxious place myself as I’m writing this – which is why I decided to tackle this particular chapter today. I have a Really Important Job Interview coming up in a few weeks (which is in itself a projection… take away the Really Important, and I might not be feeling so nervous), an uncertain application for a mortgage in progress, travel plans to finalise, a potential home-move to organise (oh my LORD I have to rent my apartment out?! I have no idea about such things!) and so on, and so on. And there will be a whole new set of things to replace these when I’m done getting through this lot. My son calls these matters for “Future Mum”, not “Now Mum”. I like that. It’s really helpful – it means I can pop them in a parcel and post them off to someone else*.
Now it’s one of the great joys of imagination and day dreams that we can conjure up future states at will, just by thinking about something or someone. But it’s also dangerous if we use it to imagine future strife or sorrow. Of course, there are tasks I need to do today in respect of things like job interviews, mortgage applications, and travel plans, and of course there are wider future issues that demand we think about, and act on them, now – like climate change – but the important point is that I don’t need to think (and therefore WORRY) about all of them, all at once, right now. Because as soon as I do, the emotions associated with the ‘worst things that could happen’, flood through my body as if they were already happening.
If drink has traditionally been your go-to support in times of stress, anxiety, or panic, then worrying about tomorrow just heaps on pressure to drink, feel crap about being sober, or hopeless that you’ll never stop craving, etc etc etc… so even if you don’t pick up a glass, you still end up miserable and wallowy. And as being sober seems extra shit under such conditions, you imagine bleaker futures, with more terrifying emotional ‘presidues’. This is my word for residual emotions from something imagined that you feel in the present moment.
Image credit: Complete Health News
Because emotions are chemicals that your mind makes real. To your brain (well, your endocrine system to be precise) your imagination is real. Seratonin and dopamine manifest to us as ‘happiness’, Cortisone becomes ‘stress’, Adrenalin converts to stress too, but also excitement. Yep, it's a bitch that one, even exciting things can stress you out – I still get all weird before a big night out like a five year old waiting for their birthday party to start. My friend Donna and I call it ‘pre-rave anxiety syndrome’. Finally, there’s the mother of them all – Oxytocin, which we experience as desire/ pleasure. This one is also a tad confusing: it is released during orgasm, breastfeeding and when stroking cats. But probably not all at the same time.
So remember folks, that all we really have is now, corny as it sounds. And if we can live ‘just for today’ it’s truly a gift that frees us from living in fear and worry of ‘what might be’. I guess that’s why it’s called ‘the present’.
*I wrote the original text for this piece in early 2018, and I can report from the future that all of those things worked out just fine, in fact better than I could have imagined.
HENRY: (gentle) Meg, I assure you that our cousin, York, is managing everything very well on his own. He is a capable man. I trust in him.
MARGARET: You think management is where it stops?
HENRY: I am tired.
MARGARET: You would trust a man with that kind of claim to the throne to simply manage? To be loyal unto you? To keep us in safety? After what he did to you? To... Somerset?
HENRY: It was unfortunate what happened to Somerset, but as I said with Suffolk, I cannot change the past, Margaret.
MARGARET: But you can ensure the future. A wound to the royal flesh is no small trespass.
HENRY: My flesh does not feel royal.
MARGARET: Yet you wear the crown.
HENRY: (edging volume) I wish I did not!
- All the Bleeding Roses, Part II (Scene 2: “Rota Fortunae”)
@suits-of-woe @themalhambird @chaotic-archaeologist @ghost-minuet @ardenrosegarden
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i just genuinely think men are so boring and i feel insane about that and i am so, so tired of everything being awful.
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Bummed AEW, I’m Bummed.
Bummed AEW, I’m Bummed.
So AEW has been doing really well. I’ve been quiet about it besides a few things. I’ve got a few things to comment on after last nights show.
Firstly, The Pinnacle and The Inner Circle have been killing it, literally. Blood and Guts last week was wild, and graphic, and The Pinnacle walked away with the win. They were feeling themselves, but The Inner Circle came out, and suddenly there’s going…
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Beatrice Viano 💌
the curious magician with a soft heart
Full name: Beatrice Diana Viano
Beatrice is named after Beatrice from Dante’s Inferno, she guides Dante through hell and represents hope, love, and grace even in the depths of despair (source)
The name Beatrice also means "she who makes happy"
Her middle name Diana is the Roman name for the goddess Artemis, it means “heavenly, divine”
(also inspired by the song Diana by One Direction)
Gender: female, she/ her
Birthday: December 28
Age (start of story): 26
Magic: water, healing, light, charms
Occupation: teacher, magical researcher
Familiar: Bramble, a brown rabbit
Love interest: Julian Devorak
Theme song: Library Magic- The Head and the Heart
— ALIGNMENTS —
Major Arcana: The Moon
UPRIGHT: illusion, fear, anxiety, subconscious, intuition
REVERSED: release of fear, repressed emotion, inner confusion
Minor Arcana: Page of Cups
UPRIGHT: creative opportunities, intuitive messages, curiosity, possibility
REVERSED: new ideas, doubting intuition, creative blocks, emotional immaturity
— Water: Beatrice has always been attuned to water, she can conjure water out of the atmosphere or draw it out of larger sources, be it a drop or a wave. She can also manipulate its temperature to make it boil or freeze. Her magic flows like water, she can use it defensively as a shield or even offensively as a weapon if need be
— Healing: She uses threads of her magic to heal wounds. Beatrice is better at healing others rather than herself, and she’s best at surface level wounds rather than healing illnesses or internal injuries. She can alleviate pain with temperature control, creating ice or heating injuries as needed
— Light: Beatrice can create a ball of light as large as she desires and can manipulate the color (she usually chooses purple). The light serves as a night light or a general light source. Though she generally finds fire a difficult element to work with, she can create small amounts of fire for light, most often used to light a candle without a match
— Charms: Beatrice has created her own spells for specific purposes. Her favorites are a warming charm which she often applies to her cloak and her charmed quill pen which never runs out of ink. She also keeps a diary which is charmed to only open for her
Other abilities: she plays the piano, speaks multiple languages, is a proficient dancer, and is very good at chess and strategy games of all kinds, she is also adept at solving puzzles and codes
— PERSONALITY & PREFERENCES —
At heart, Beatrice is kind and empathic. She cares deeply for the world around her and those she loves. She wants to make a difference and strives for ideals of equality and peace. Despite her lofty ambitions, Beatrice is quite reserved and does not like being the center of attention. She is quietly ambitious, preferring to focus on furthering her next project rather than celebrating her successes.
Beatrice is an introvert and doesn’t like crowds, she tends to be shy upon first meeting. She maintains a very polite exterior and follows the rules of propriety and etiquette around strangers. Once she feels comfortable around someone she is much more outgoing and can even be witty or sarcastic. She prefers to have a few close friends rather than a large circle of acquaintances and it takes her quite a while to trust others.
Beatrice is incredibly dedicated and hardworking. She’s persistent in finishing a task after she starts it and has a bit of a one track mind. Beatrice is happiest when she has a project to work on and a problem to solve. She’s curious, loves to learn, and enjoys teaching others what she knows.
She is very loyal and affectionate towards those she cares about, though she sometimes has trouble expressing this in words. Beatrice keeps her emotions bottled up and it takes someone who knows her well to understand what she’s feeling. When forced to face her feelings, she prefers to express her emotions privately in her diary and will only talk to someone else when prodded. She is intuitive and usually knows how others are feeling despite her difficulty deciphering her own emotions.
Mental health: Beatrice is hypervigilant, startles easily, and is often anxious or worried. She has occasional bouts of melancholy, sometimes accompanied by periods of dissociation or “spacing out”. She has abandonment issues and finds it very difficult to trust and rely on others
Likes: books, rainy days, dessert, learning new things
Dislikes: geese, arrogance, unanswered questions
Fears: the dark, abandonment
Quirks: she loves sugar and needs every beverage to be sweet in order to drink it, she’s nearly always cold
Favorite food: citrus olive oil cake
Favorite drink: vanilla cinnamon tea (with lots of sugar)
Favorite flower: violets
Favorite color: plum, dark purple
Most likely to: fall asleep in the library
— APPEARANCE —
Height: 5’4 / 164 cm
Eyes: hazel, more green than brown
Hair: brown with lighter golden tones, long, wavy, with wispy bangs
Other: she has freckles on her nose and dotted around her body, a magical burn scar on the palm of her left hand, and a small birthmark in the shape of a heart on her left shoulder
Color theme: plum, neutral earth tones, white, black
Fashion sense: Dark / light academia but make it medieval. White blouses tucked into trousers, sweaters with collared shirts underneath, knee length skirts, flowy white dresses. She usually wears neutral colors but occasionally goes for pastel tones or dark purple. Her clothing often features ruffles, puffy sleeves, and lace. Despite her love of impractical dresses she always wears practical shoes- usually brown lace up boots
She wears her signature green cloak whenever she’s outside. It was her father’s and it’s a bit too large for her, but it’s like a security blanket for social interactions. It has a hood that she occasionally puts up and deep pockets that are always full of scraps of paper and random potions ingredients
— FAMILY & BACKGROUND —
Antonella Viano - mother - deceased | relationship: very strained
Marco Viano - father - alive, location unknown | relationship: non-existent
Freya Viano- older sister - alive | relationship: strained, but improving
Cora Mirelli - maternal aunt - deceased | relationship: close, maternal
Marcelline Viano - younger half sister - alive, location unknown | relationship: non-existent
Beatrice was born in the South End of Vesuvia to a merchant family. Though her family had little money, her mother Antonella had grand aspirations for raising the family to a higher status. Her father Marco went on frequent trips to sell goods and made a decent living (though it was likely through unscrupulous means). Her mother worked as a tailor for the well-to-do families in the Heart District. Beatrice’s older sister Freya was her best friend and the two had a relatively happy childhood for the first few years.
But when Beatrice was five her father left on a trip and never came back, choosing his crew and the open seas over his family. Her mother became far more strict as a result. She began to train her daughters to become “proper ladies” so that they could make advantageous marriages in the future. Marrying into wealth was the only solution their mother could see to bring their family out of poverty, and working among the members of high society had made her bitter and jealous of their wealthy lifestyles.
Beatrice and Freya spent most of their time in lessons with their mother, learning everything from etiquette and dancing to languages and piano. There was little time for anything but lessons and chores, and their mother was cruel in her discipline of rule breaking. Beatrice was raised to believe that good girls should be seen and not heard. She went from an outgoing, excitable child to a withdrawn, shy teenager who longed for escape.
She found her escape in books and learning. Her mother’s lessons were lax on the academic subjects so Beatrice taught herself science, history, mathematics, and anything else she could learn. She dreamt of running away to the far-off places she’d read about, and though she hardly remembered her father she held out hope that he would come back someday and take her with him.
Beatrice first showed signs of magical ability as a toddler. Her first spell was creating a ball of light to serve as a night light, it was an instinctive bit of magic born out of her fear of the dark. The light spell was her first and her favorite, and she developed it over the years to make sure it could last an entire night without needing her concentration to maintain it.
When her mother learned of her abilities, she forbid Beatrice to use magic as she thought it would make her a social outcast and undesirable for marriage. Beatrice continued to practice magic in secret, though she feared her mother’s reaction if she ever discovered the truth. Her sister Freya was unable to do magic and became jealous of her younger sister and resentful of their mother’s plan for them.
Freya ran away from home when Beatrice was 12, leaving her to face their mother’s wrath alone. Her situation at home significantly declined until Beatrice was no longer allowed to leave the house without her mother’s supervision. Beatrice was her mother’s final hope at a better life and as she got older it seemed only a matter of time before her mother would try to find a suitable husband for her.
At age 14 Beatrice followed in her sister’s footsteps and left home, headed across town to their Aunt Cora’s magic shop. Cora was Antonella’s sister, though the two had a poor relationship which had ended in a falling out many years prior. Beatrice had only met her aunt a few times before and knew only a little about the “witchcraft” she made her living on. When Beatrice arrived she found Cora to be a warm and inviting person, someone she could trust. Best of all- she was someone who could teach Beatrice magic.
Living with Cora allowed Beatrice the freedom to hone her academic and magical skills. She helped in the magic shop during the day, learning magic alongside her aunt. Her evenings were usually spent with a book in hand and Beatrice was the happiest she’d been since her sister left.
When Beatrice was 18 her aunt passed away and the funeral brought more conflict. Freya came back to Vesuvia and she and Beatrice fought, leaving their relationship in tatters. Shortly afterwards, Beatrice met Asra and they became fast friends. As the years went on they became more than friends, but the relationship fell apart as the plague came to Vesuvia.
Beatrice decided to stay behind to help, and though her healing magic wasn’t very strong she volunteered at a nearby clinic to treat the sick. Her mother Antonella died a few months into the outbreak and Beatrice threw herself into her work as a distraction. Over the difficult months of the plague she became close to Julian Devorak, the doctor in charge of the clinic. Not long after, Beatrice shared her mother’s fate and succumbed to the plague, leaving a grieving Asra to bring her back from the dead.
After the events of Julian’s route Beatrice left her aunt’s magic shop to Asra to focus on a bigger project. With Nadia’s help, Beatrice opened the first public school in Vesuvia open to any children who wanted to attend. She spends her days teaching and her evenings researching magic and creating new spells.
Beatrice is ambidextrous but favors her right hand because of her scar
she got the scar from breaking a curse on an ancient book she found in the library, it took her weeks to unlock it and the rebound from the curse caused the injury which never fully healed (read about it here)
Beatrice gains clarity from being near bodies of water and frequently seeks out water when she has a problem to solve
she was chased by geese once as a child and has a fear of them as a result, she avoids the particular park in the Temple District where this event occurred
she carries three pebbles in her pocket, bits of blue-green sea glass worn smooth by years of holding them, she got them from her father when she was little and has a nervous habit of fiddling with the round pieces of glass when her hands are in her cloak pockets
notes: the bio she deserves 🥺 thank you to all of you who have loved Beatrice alongside me for the last few months, i love her a lot 💗 and thank you as always to @leila-of-ravens bc i stole your bio template Again
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Lady Bird (dir. Greta Gerwig, 2017) // ‘Jude’, from the poetry collection Sun-Up by Lola Ridge (first published 1920)
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# THE GENDER PAY GAP
Ever since the dawn of time, women have had a place in society that is in some way disproportionate or even subordinate to men. From the history of the Middle Ages right through to the Victorian era, women were expected to be pretty, say little and give birth. Not much more. During the First World War, a vast majority of men were away on the battlefield, so it was women who stayed home and kept the economy moving. Whilst doing all the work, women mostly seemed to be payed less than men would have been, and women’s rights in the workplace were taken a lot less seriously. Out of this, the initially small women’s suffrage movement grew larger and larger, and the suffragettes fought with peaceful and violent protests, hunger strikes and some like Emily Davison even sacrificed their lives in protest, until women were eventually given the basic right to vote. In the years following, society’s attitude towards women’s roles would calm down too. No longer are women seen as damaged goods if they’ve been through a marriage or had a child outside of wedlock, no longer are women expected to find a husband before the age of 30 or face a life of poverty, and no longer are women looked down upon for using their basic rights to live life the way they choose. But just because things are better than they were, that doesn’t mean we are where we should be.
Ever since 1970, paying women less than you would a man for the same work has been illegal. So when we talk about the gender pay gap, we’re not talking about an actual gap in pay. The gap is actually in the average lifetime earnings of men and women. In the UK, the National Statistics office estimate that British women will earn £263,000 less than men in their lifetimes. Men can expect to earn £643,000 throughout their working life, whereas the average for women is £380,000. Women’s earnings only grew by 3% between 2004 and 2018, which shows just how slow the gap is closing. Why is this gap so high if women are not actually being paid less for the exact same job?
When you take into account that 90% of single parents in the U.K are women, the gap starts to make a lot of sense. Single parents need access to childcare if they want to spend time on their career. How can you work a 12 hour shift when you have a 6 year old child to raise all on your own? And consider the jobs that those men and women are doing. 99% of vehicle technicians and electricians are men, whereas 97% of nursery nurses are women. Vehicle technicians earn a yearly average of £32,000, but nursery nurses earn about £15,000. In fact, the jobs with the highest percentage of men are high paid manual jobs like carpentry, welding, metal works, plumbing, machine operation, forklift drivers, lorry drivers and construction. All of these jobs are over 90% men, and all earn an average yearly salary of over £20,000. The jobs with the highest percentage of women on the other hand are jobs that require much less hours and earn a lot less money. Jobs like child minders, teaching assistants, housekeepers and receptionists are over 90% women and all earn under £20,000 p.a.
So, what can we do to close the gender pay gap? The Conservative government have neglected the issue of childcare during the past decade, with nurseries closing down and childminders being put out of work. Investment into state funded childcare is crucial to closing the gender pay gap. Struggling single parents will have the freedom to focus on their careers and earn enough to provide for themselves and their children. There should also be more opportunities for women to get into work that is dominated mostly by men. The tradesman jobs that are almost entirely dominated by men are jobs that mostly require a large amount of training, which some women find to be intimidating and consider themselves outnumbered during this process. These workplaces need to be a safe environment for women.
Talking of safety in the workplace, another contributing factor to the gender pay gap is sexual harassment. One in three women say they have experienced some degree of sexual harassment in the workplace. The hospitality sector has the most balanced number of men and women in its workforce, and 9/10 women working in hospitality say they have been sexually harassed at work. These figures are far too high, and the only system we have in place to deal with sexual harassment is the law. Unfortunately the law has been failing victims of sexual harassment and sexual abuse ever since its invention. Of course victims of sexual harassment will be less keen to stay in their jobs, but there just isn’t much we can do except continue to support victims and encourage the legal system to progress with time.
The gender pay gap is one of the biggest injustices that women face today. In a way, it shows how far we have progressed in the last 100 years, given that back then women didn’t even have the right to vote. It is also something we can fix. Women can be provided with decent state funded childcare, workplace environments they feel safe in and opportunities to get into a different range of jobs. Hopefully, this injustice can soon be locked in the past where it belongs, and both men and women can earn what their hard work deserves.
May I present: men on the internet thinking they know what women want BNHA edition:
(Minors DNI: sex joke below the cut)
Bro... not even slightly appealing. Would you want to put your dick in a blender? No? Do you want a drill in your nose? No?!
Then why do you think I want a drill in my hoohaw?
Seriously, you need to not take porn literally.
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Was I bad enough?
This is the 11th chapter of ‘How to stop drinking: A guide for normal people’. A series in which I am sharing my reflections on living, and staying sober, in a fun, honest, down-to-earth way to show that an alcohol-free life is possible. Previous chapters can be found below on www.samwarren.net
Last week I introduced the idea that we like to think of alcoholics as bad-smelling, stubbly, broken people who shamble and stagger about. Tragic figures, wearing stained raincoats, either sitting quietly up at the corner tables in low-cost pub chains at 9am, or swigging 50p plastic bottle cider on park benches. On the other hand, we also glamorise drinking as the highest form of entertainment. We recall hilarious tales of drunken ‘adventures’ as if they are our proudest achievements even though we almost died or caused catastrophes.
Me c.2004 partying on my coffee table, with trusty wooden spoon microphone, after the pub. The tequila hangover the next day was not quite so much fun...
We need to construct alcoholics the way we do, and make heavy drinking seem like the most exciting thing ever, in order to insulate ourselves from the possibility that our drinking might be escalating to problem levels. Of course this is all the easier to do if you are in a group of people with similar drinking patterns because no-one will call you out. Calling others out would be calling ourselves out at the same time so no-one would dare. We tell ourselves we’re JUST FINE because this is what everyone does! We have to think like this because we need to place ‘problem drinker’ as far away as possible from our own habits. So, don’t be surprised if you hear people ask “Oh, so how bad were you?” when you explain that you no longer drink:
“Did you drink in the mornings?’
“Couldn't you even go a day without drinking?”
“Could you not just have one or two glasses?”
“What, you don’t even drink at Christmas?”
You can be sure that they are just checking the behaviours you deemed to be alcoholic against their own habits, but this is cold comfort when you are in the early stages of sobriety. The last thing you need is someone shaking your resolve, by questioning if you were really that bad. Especially if – in their eyes – you didn’t really fit their expectations of what truly alcoholic behaviour would be.
In the early weeks and months, the painfully freighted memories that culminated in your last ever drink will fade, as time washes them away. But until you are free of the desire to drink (e.g., you’ve realised life can be pretty OK without booze), any cracks in your fragile foundations can feel like a tractor beam pulling you through the pub door like Sigourney Weaver on her armchair in Ghostbusters being dragged into Zuul. You do not need even a glimmer of hope that maybe things weren’t that bad. You need to remember that no matter what their opinion, yes, yes it was bad – because you decided to quit drinking.
Image credit: Colombia Pictures retrieved from Multiverse Omnipedia
Imagine this another way. Imagine meeting someone who is in an abusive relationship. You can see the bruises and scars and the trail of devastation after an attack. Imagine saying to that person “was it really bad enough to leave?” Would you laugh it off with them? Chortling at their stories with an “OMG, that's mental!! Still, we never learn do we, eh?” I doubt it very much. If you feel unsafe in a relationship, that’s plenty enough reason to get out early, for others to respect your need to do so, and to support you, not question if you should maybe go back and have another go!? But there it is – and you’ll face this question time and time again, because your abusive relationship was with a liquid drug and not a violent spouse.
BUT… and here comes the best part… when the well meaning (but oh-so-irritating) stranger asks, it is SO much fun to pretend you were much worse than you ever were. Go ahead! They’re expecting it! Gleefully tell stories of downing a bottle of vodka, while hiding from your kids in a wardrobe at your parents’ house at Christmas. Recount the hilarious time you tried to sleep in a churchyard flowerbed after a pissed-up fight with your partner, got mistaken for a tramp and found you had laid down in dog poo. Shock them with the story of falling out of a train door, lost and drunk and not being able to stand up by yourself – go on, fill your boots!* It sounds so much better than “I was sick of drinking two huge glasses of wine every night and never having an evening with a clear head”, and will protect you from any insinuations that you might not needed to have quit.
Because the important point is that however much you did drink, and whatever your own answers to those questions are, you don’t want to be drinking now. You don't want to do what you were doing, and you have realised that its futile pretending that you can ever drink “normally” – e.g., in so-called ‘moderation’, or perhaps are forming a dependency that you’d rather not have. And that, my friend is all the reason you need.
*At least one of those stories is true. I’ll leave you to wonder which one(s)
from my Paris Review subscription archive
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submitted my oklahoma history paper an hour before the deadline 💃🏻
Couldn’t you have just one glass? Stupid questions (2)
Part 10 of ‘How to stop drinking: A guide for normal people’. A series in which I am sharing my reflections on living, and staying sober, in a fun, honest, down-to-earth way to show that an alcohol-free life is possible. Previous chapters can be found below on www.samwarren.net
A few weeks back, I started explaining how well-meaning folk still can ask an ex-drinker the daftest of questions. Back then it was, ‘Do you miss it?’ and here, I’ll introduce you to its slightly more inquisitive cousin: ‘What, couldn’t you have just one glass?’
Photo credit: ‘Cinen Miniatures’ Etsy shop
The ‘one or two glass’ indicator is an unwritten test for alcoholism set by that best of experts, Joe and Joanne Public. Other items on the test include: not drinking hard liquor, not drinking during the week, not drinking before lunchtime. These are stakes in the flimsy barricade that heavy drinkers erect to distance their habits from those of ‘real’ alcoholics. If you can drink one pint, one glass of wine, one G&T, and stop of your own volition, then you’re A-OK. You’re in control. You’re the boss of booze. Nothing to see here, move along!
And yes, I could just have one (ok, maybe two). And yes I did sometimes only have one or two. Such behaviour was robustly planned. I would buy miniature bottles of wine in the supermarket specifically so I could only have ‘just one’. I poured them into a small wine glass so it felt like I was having two. Ha! Such trickery! My brain didn’t stand a chance! And all the while I was having these two small glasses of wine, I would feel smug and in total control. Totally in control because while ‘enjoying just one’, there was no room for any other thoughts apart from alcohol and how GROWN UP I was being:
Look! Look at me! The moderate drinker! Look how modern and respectful of her health she is! See her restraint SHINE!
I even downloaded a drinks tracker app on my phone so I could revel in my moderation. I decided I would measure and record my ability to ‘enjoy responsibly’, so HA! What do you think about that? Fuck you alcohol!
So yes. Yes I could have just one or two. But I didn’t want just one or two – and therein lies the crucial point. Why the hell would I want just one glass? This is only a question someone without drink problems could ever ask. And that’s my answer to this kindly but stupid question – why would I only want one glass? The people I know who voluntarily have only one or two drinks (e.g., they’re not driving, they don’t have to get up for work in the morning, yet they still abstain), those people don’t really like alcohol if they’re honest. They’re drinking to fit in. Drinking because it’s what you do, and not liking alcohol is a bit weird. I genuinely don’t believe that people who like alcohol ever enjoy ‘just one glass’. They may be able to stop after one glass, but that’s because they have reasons that are stronger than the desire to drink. So restraining yourself to ‘just one or two’ means parties, events, meals out, basically all of social life, and perhaps even in private too, is tainted by some degree of deprivation. And deprivation is a dangerous feeling, because if at some point, your reasons not to drink become less important than your desire to have that third drink, then drinking more is inevitable. Because, as I repeatedly say on these pages, alcohol is a highly addictive substance you build tolerance to.
But there is another problem I discovered with the ‘just one glass’ strategy too. Did you know two x 125ml glasses of 12.5% red wine registers a massive red DANGER blob on the shitty drinks tracker app? 250ml of strong wine is well over current ‘safe’ daily drinking limits for an adult woman. In 2010 that was one measly supermarket mini bottle, and within, ooh, I don’t know, 0.5126 seconds of seeing that red alert flash up, my pride, good mood, resolve and fragile sense of responsibility dissolved, because even my best wasn’t good enough so why the hell bother?
Let me be very clear here - I am not suggesting that these apps are not useful. In fact, one of my friends has recently stopped drinking as a result of using one of them. But my reaction was to go straight back to the kitchen and quaff the other three mini bottles in the cupboard. Of course I’d bought four mini bottles of wine when I went shopping because they were a multi-buy deal for a fiver. So now I’m a litre in, and full of self-loathing at my failed restraint. The really big FUCK IT is about to be unleashed. I get in the car, drive to Tesco because it’s more anonymous than the off licence, and buy a proper sensible sized bottle of red. I drink that as well. Normal service resumed. Relying on your willpower to have ‘just one’ is a dangerous game that over time you lose the rules for.
The amusing end to this story happened in the murk of paranoia I swam through the next morning when I realised that the Drinks Tracker App knew I was over the limit. It knew my name and where I lived, because the sanctimonious ‘enjoy responsibly’ me of yesterday told it. My phone had GPS. I’d taken my phone to Tesco’s with me in the car. Anyone following my GPS signal would know I was travelling too fast to be on foot. I’ve seen Spooks, I know these things! FUCK. Any minute now the police were going to rock up and nick me for drink driving. Oh GOD! App deleted.
my research paper is due in like 72 hours and i'm still researching askjdsi
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i have SO MANY thoughts about wlw omgcp
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In praise of blow outs
The ninth post from ‘How to stop drinking: A guide for normal people’. A series in which I am sharing my reflections on living, and staying sober, in a fun, honest, down-to-earth way to show that an alcohol-free life is possible. Previous chapters can be found below on www.samwarren.net
I loved being drunk. I loved the frisson as the first mouthfuls melted my veins, the buzz, the shimmer, the silky slide out of myself and into oblivion. I didn’t care that I would probably end up crying, start a fight, or be sick with migraine the next day. I didn’t care that I was hurting and lying to the people I loved, and slowly killing myself. I loved being drunk. And I loved that release – the feeling that you’ve stepped outside yourself and just popped up the road for a while. A few precious hours off from the world with no cares or responsibilities. Just because you’ve binned the booze doesn't mean the urge to get wasted will dissolve with it, and the sooner you make peace with this, the sooner you’ll feel free.
For me, accepting I have a switch marked ‘FUCK IT’ that still needs to be flicked is my way of making sure I never pick up a drink again, along with all the other strategies I’m sharing in these posts. But it is also one that I don’t read about in recovery manuals or self-help forums. It’s somehow taboo even among recovering booze-hounds. But having a need for buzz and excitement and blow-outs does not make you weak and it’s nothing to be afraid of. Own that shit! Enjoy it! It’s part of you and it’s probably why you were seduced by alcohol in the first place. Alcoholics spend all their lives drunk, or thinking about drink. For me, there was never a day when alcohol wasn’t involved somehow, and I’ve said before, even thinking about not drinking meant booze was King. You stopped drinking because of this, and you are amazing. BUT. Ignore that jaunty little devil with “Blow Out’ on her t-shirt at your peril. I don't care what you do, but whatever it is, feed that little critter or your life will be miserable and resemble that of a reluctant monk – either that, or you’ll crawl back to the drink. It’s as simple as that.
One of my vices is caffeine. A big rich jug of coffee at 6am in the morning is what’s fuelling this writing right now. And a mug at a party in the evening is what I need to keep me awake and feeling sociable until the wee small hours if that's what I want to do. (I have even been known to neck a couple of Sudafed at 3am in a club for an energy boost as I am frankly a bit grubby at times). At the moment I also do HIIT training after work – 20 minute workouts of high intensity intervals which are quick and effective buzz generators. I have also been known to eat entire boxes of chocolate eclairs to get a similar effect but this is clearly not sustainable if you want to fit into your clothes after a couple of weeks.
Take up long distance running, bungee jump, join a climbing club, learn to tango, I don’t care what it is, just make sure it gives you a thrill, sets your adrenaline and serotonin/ dopamine flooding, and replaces the RUSSSSHHH. You could even try meditation - ok, so that's more of a ‘blow in’ but I hear it’s pretty cool. I even have a friend who takes recreational drugs from time to time. People don’t understand this at all. How can you refuse alcohol, but pop ecstasy or acid in a field at a festival? But it does make sense to me… because they’re not doing it every day. Unlike alcohol which is a constant, daily necessity of life for an alcoholic, they’re not even doing it every week, or even every month. It’s their guilty pleasure, their blow out. And it leaves them free and rejuvenated to enjoy a calm and happy sober life for the other 355 odd days a year.
A lot of substance misuse counsellors would disagree with what I am saying here – call me irresponsible even – because there will always be the possibility that one day you’ll pick up a drink instead of your running shoes if you’re having a shitty time. But that’s always going to be the case. And I argue that ignoring the need to blow out can actually make that more likely to happen. I think it’s an unreasonable ask of ourselves that as well as kicking the booze (with which we are deeply and destructively in love), we also have to control our urge to blow-out too. And frankly I don't want to. I have not had an alcoholic drink since 6th March 2011. I am no longer in that abusive relationship. I have a clear head every day, my teeth are no longer stained with Merlot and I don’t live with constant heartburn. I’m in tune with my moods – more about that in a later post - and am loving being able to drive for days out in the country. I have relished discovering all sorts of places a short drive from my home town – places I had no idea existed because there was no way I’d waste a perfectly good drinking day by having to drive the car! And that's enough for me. The blow outs stay. Now, someone please pass me the eclairs…
An Analysis of Daddy Issues: with Sally Kempton
Source: (1971). Liberation Now! Writings from the Liberation Movement. Dell Publishing Co.
Excerpts from "Cutting Loose, by Sally Kempton (1970):
Sex occupies even the economic center of [girls'] lives; it is, we have been brought up to feel, our lives work, Whatever else she may do, a woman is a failure if she fails to please men. The adolescent girl's situation is by definition dependent: she must attract, and therefore, however she may disguise it, she must arrange herself to conform with other people's ideas of what is valuable in a woman.
Kempton claims that because women are raised to be sex objects, all their own hopes and dreams are forced into that aspiration.
I was early trained to that position, trained, in the traditional manner, by my father. Like many men who are uncomfortable with adult women, my father saw his daughter as an antidote to his disappointment in her sex. I was someone who could be molded into a woman compatible with his needs, and also, unlike my mother, I was too impressionable to talk back."
The first relationships that most women have are with their fathers. and whether those men know it or not, they are molding their daughters into their "most hopeful self-image."
"It reached a point where I later suspected [my father] of nourishing a sort of eighteenth century fantasy in which the count teaches his daughter to read Virgil and ride like a man, and she grows up to be the perfect feminine companion, parroting him with such subtlety that it is impossible to tell that her thoughts and feelings, so perfectly coincident with his, are not original."
Because she has been so successfully groomed, the girl has no idea that the ideas her father puts into her head are not hers and serve his purposes rather than hers. Her mind is his.
"And since it also seemed to me that be preferred me, his daughter who never disagreed with him, to his wife who did (and that was a fantasy of course, but one to which my father devoted some effort toward keeping alive), I came to feel that male pwer, because uncoercible, could only be handled by seduction, and that the most comfortable relation between men and women was the relationship between pupil and student, between parent and child." (42-43)
The father-daughter-relationship is a narcissistic one. I could even go so far to say that a father's relationship to his daughter is a sexual one
because when a father molds his daughter, he is molding an object of his own desire. Even if he is feeding you knowledge and proclaims himself liberal, a guide, your prophet... that knowledge, that conversation he affords you, all serves his purpose of being a childlike sex object. This will happen whether he knows it or not, because it is baked into society.
"My task, it seemed to me, was to find a man in whom there resided enough power to justify my acting the child, that is, to justify my acceptance of my own femininity. For I regarded myself as feminine only in my childlike aspect; when I presented myself as a thinking person I felt sexless." (43)
The male-teacher female-student relationship is indistinguishable from the father-daughter relationship. it replicates trauma, and that, as we know, can be comforting when that's what you know. But make no mistake. When a male teacher replicates the father-daughter relationship with his idolizing student and that relationship becomes sexual, he has conquered both her mind and her body, because she has been molded to produce his ideas. Her mind has been replaced with his mind, and so she, as he, makes her body his willingly.
"It is not much of a step from seeing oneself as a child in relation to men to seeing oneself as their victim; obviously a child does not control its environment, obviously a child is powerless before adults. All children are potential victims, depending on the world's will". (44).
Because women are kept AND KEEP THEMSLEVES in this state of childhood/sexual malleability—if they don't, they are told in a thousand ways they have no reason to live—they will continue to be victims with about the same vulnerability as a child has.
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Moments please pick yourself up. This isn't it.
I've read 2015 Creepypasta stories on Wattpad with better writing than this
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