Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A preview of "The Sober Door" (The book).

I am by no means finished, but it's getting there so I wanted to share the preface (again) and first chapter of my fiction piece, "The Sober Door". It's grueling, painful and wonderful all at the same time. Thank you for all your support and would love to hear feedback. (This is also NOT edited yet, so it's simply raw material)



Locked in. Barricaded from the outside. He spared me. Saved me. Threw me with resounding force. I am conflicted. I am being spared. I am being enveloped in blackness. I can hear him. Screaming outside. Ranting, ranting, ranting.

“What do you people want from me. Who gave me this hell?”

I know that I am safe for the moment. He is hurting everyone outside the door. I am shut in, shut out from him. They are outside. I am safe. I am spared. The noise of the punches. Each slap stings. Screams. Cries. It rings in my ears. I hear my brother screaming. My mother screaming. I am enveloped in blackness. The vibration of each hit comes through the floor. I cannot see beyond the door in front of me.

“I am not the man you want in your life.”

I know I want him. I want him to open the door. I want him to bring me out, beat me and take me out of this dark place he has born me to. I want to feel the pain. EACH and EVERY lash that is being inflicted. have been in here for hours, this I know. Cramped and cowering, only wishing that he would love me enough to hit me too. I can smell his breathe, even from inside the tomb I am in. Acid. Fire. Sweetness. His nose, white like Christmas. His eyes wild as he had pushed my thrashing limbs. I was left out of the carnage. .I hear everything but cannot see. I am so desperate not to be forgotten in the massacre.

“You are all f***** nuts.”

For a moment, I hear his hand on the door knob. I think, “he’s going to bring me out.” I am not scared. I am ready to handle his wrath as it is inherently mine. I tremble. For once, I am not forgotten. I will be his daughter. I will wipe his tears away with my hand. He will know that I want him.

Quickly. So quickly. His hand is gone.

All goes silent. I hear whimpering. It is my own. I know he is gone. Left me here in the closet. Darkness. I am alone. I don’t know where he is going or how long but he won’t be back. He went too far. He left me.

He left me.
He forgot to leave my present. He forgot to sing, to blow out the candles. He forgot to tell Mom that I only eat chocolate frosting. He left. He left his only daughter. His baby girl. I only want him to buy me presents. Love me. Adore me. I am alone. He won’t sing my birthday song. Ever. Today is my sixth birthday. I am locked in the closet with the only way out is to my private hell.

You are about the read my version of what happened next. 

chapter one.

By the time my twelfth birthday candles were lit by my own hand, I was a newly coined and initiated fatherless alcoholic. This combination would continue to haunt me for the better part of my life.

I walked into the house, mom and my brother Sam were there. Grandma and Grandpa were there. I walked into the singular moment that I would attribute every flaw and painful recollection. My father was dead.

“There’s been an accident?”

“An accident?”

“Dad is gone.”



I remember screaming. I don’t think at the time it was a truly harrowing and blood wrenching scream. I believe I screamed for the pure drama of the moment. I had, since my sixth birthday and likely at birth, a colorful and serious penchant for dramatic flair.

I look around the room. My brother hysterically crying. My mother panicked. My grandparents stoic. I collapsed. I picked myself up and ran into the room I had at my mother’s house. I thought about nothing. I was utterly numb. Void of any emotion. I would, over the course of many years, seek out any method I could to bring myself back to that moment of complete and utter disconnection. It was fabulous and instead of grieving my father, I relished in the emptiness I felt.

My delicate ego took over. This was an opportunity for attention. I, in my childhood, had been largely and grossly neglected by anyone within intimate range. Seeking out my own spotlight, I returned to the stage.

“How did he die?” “What happened?”

My father, in his stupidity had killed himself with his vehicle. He was not drunk this time. Not high or strung out. He was simply going from one place to the next in his transient life. A simple car accident killed him without incident. He drove off a mountain in the middle of the night, died instantly and with little fanfare. In his death, he was alone. Left to die on the side of a mountain.

In my bed I slept during his demise, dreaming of what I would be able to manipulate him with next and not knowing that I would never be able to control him again.

My brother Sam sat crumpled over in the kitchen chair. He was devastated at the loss of his best friend. Sam, who was seven years older than I, knew my father in a completely different way. His relationship had history. My father was present in his childhood, a force unlike any other. In my own, he was flippant and obtuse. My brother, then a nurturing soul, would manifest his grief of losing my father much much differently than myself. Sam was truly crushed by his loss. As so many times I would recall, I became enraged at his ability to feel the pain of loss for what it was.

I turned to Sam,

“I need to go for a walk.”

At twelve, I was so apt at stirring up dramatic moments and then quickly disappearing from my self induced spotlight. I would be running so fast, I rarely looked back at the pieces I was leaving behind. I walked away from my family. I ran into the street and walked for hours. I only recall thinking about what my friends would say or how embarrassed I was that my father was, once again,causing spectacle in my life. I blamed him. I blamed myself. I cursed everyone I knew in my short life.

I sat down and thought only one thing.

How could he leave me again?

With that thought, on that night, I picked up my first bottle of alcohol.

Three days later, we had a funeral. I don’t particularly remember the three days preceding actual burial. I was drunk. So drunk, I still have very little recollection of those hours save one conversation.

“Gus, are you drinking?” Gus was my given name. I was a girl with a boy name and a boy haircut.

“What mother?”

“Are you drinking?”

I was, as luck would have, drinking all of her cognac that was kept in the house for the occasional guest. Grief was masked by the astonishment I felt at the fluidity in which I poured myself my seventh glass of alcohol ever.

“Drinking what?” I laughed in my euphorically giddy state of new found inebriation.

My mother stared at me. She was too deep in the midst of her own crisis to realize the road I was about to run down.

“Don’t be smart”

She turned around, heading towards the door.

I was so intoxicated by intoxication, by my sheer ability to numb myself within minutes, I laughed hysterically.

“I am smart”
She shook her head and left.

From that moment, I knew life would be a lot easier drunk.

At the burial, where the hundreds of friends my father had all attended with heavy hearts, I carried that exact cognac with me in a thermos to lighten my own heart. I reached for it, twisting the cap with every insincere and made-up eulogy that was given. I ran to the car to alleviate the angst of seeing the many girlfriends that I had lived with his custodial time and during his marriage to my mother. Here, I could replenish the numbness I strove for. In my stupor, I shunned the people who really could give a rat’s ass about me OR my family. I watched people. I took note of who said what and how they remembered him. I was subconsciously creating a list of people that would I would love to hate over the next fifteen years.

I was twelve years old and drunk at my father’s funeral. In the wake of his death, I had never felt so alive. I could be present and escape interchangeably. Without shining the spotlight on myself, I was unnoticed. I blended with the masses of faces that I chose neither to recognize nor acknowledge.

At the funeral, I never shed a single tear. But confusion overwhelmed me on so many levels.

I was torn between being a fatherless child and an angry daughter. In the ensuing months, I had started to realize that missing my father was advantageous to gain control. I could miss him and excuse myself from being responsible. His death became my mantra for inability to deal with life. I felt overwhelming guilt and grief wrought with anger and abandonment. I was pissed and happy. I cried in the middle of the night. I found every picture of my father I could and poured over the detail in his face. Wore his clothes trying to smell him. Cursed him. Cursed myself. It was a state like I will never know again. I was so young and so old in one breathe. Because through all of this, I was stealing cocktails at my neighbors. Learning the intricacies of highballs and martinis through my keen observance.

With all my father’s affairs to be put in order months after the funeral, my mother walked around in a haze of denial and indifference. She was long past living and breathing my father. Her decisions reflected not her children, but her need to release herself of him. Where would Sam and I live? Not with her. Who would sell the house he lived in? She did, very quickly. Every decision that was made allowed my mother to distance herself from the pain she had endured. Her only real mistake, in the process of her own grieving, was that she let go of her dead spouse's children by pure accident.

In this neglect, during the first months, I was finding my own dependence being shifted from any parental figure to one that closely resembled a bottle of Vodka.

I recall this moment:

“Gus, I need to move the pictures of your father.”

“Mother, where do you want me to put them”

“Not in here, not in your room. I don’t want to see anything on the walls or the dressers. Put them in your closet. You can look at them in there.”

“The closet?”

“The closet.”


Anonymous said...

AMAAAAAAZING! I, too was a child alcoholic, my first drunk at 9. Your writing breathes articulation and emotion, I cried with you, for you. Thank You.

Anonymous said...

I normally don't comment on blogs, but I really have to say that your writing is incredible. I think that true writing elicits feeling, and this is what your preface and this chapter does. I absolutely cannot wait to read more. Thank you also for sharing your heart on this blog--what you do is inspiring. Stay strong and thank you again.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you. You speak for all child drinkers. God will bless you for your dedication.

Olivia said...

todayI chose to quit drinking..and cut the chain of alcoholics that runs rampid through my family. I typed in sobriety on google and found you. thank God I did. Now I know I can do this. THANK YOU

Anonymous said...

I relate so much to what you have expressed in your story. I feel so much for the little girl that you were and still are inside. Alcohol becomes a companion very early to some of us but it is always replacing love. Always. I really enjoy your blog. It's really well done and engaging. I will soon have two years of continued sobriety and I really needed these stories today.