The classic image of an alcoholic is that of an older male, trudging unsteadily down the street with a bottle of booze in hand – which is why being addressed as one seems like a strong accusation. Alcoholics are in constant denial of their alcoholism and find excuses to cover up their chronic drinking habit.
When dealing with difficult emotions, the instant ease that alcohol gives us may eliminate the pain for a short period of time.
That feeling of relief can be so intense that it leads some people to become addicted. The more you consume and the longer you consume it, the more prone you are to be dependent on it.
Caroline has been romantically involved with two men simultaneously for a long time. The two men, Julian and Michael, are polar opposites. She described the relationships as yin and yang.
Julian is an alcoholic art dealer who constantly criticises Caroline and gets into fights with her. Michael is a laid-back freelance illustrator who stands by her side during hard times.
Deeply attached to both men and unable to break off either relationship, she has to cover her tracks through minor deceptions while trying to avoid outright lies.
Despite coming from a well-disciplined family, author Caroline Knapp began drinking as a teenager.
Caroline’s father was a psychoanalyst with a drinking problem and other personal issues to deal with.
Caroline’s drinking problem worsened after her father died. When her mother died a year later, she continued to fall into the dark pit of alcoholism. She hit bottom 10 months later and ended up in rehab.
The sad fact is that not everyone who lands in rehab recovers. Many relapse. While some keep returning rehab, others give up and let fate decide their day of death.
Knapp writes: “A lot of alcoholics use the cucumber-to-pickle analogy to describe that phenomenon: a true alcoholic is someone who’s turned from a cucumber into a pickle. You can try to stop a cucumber from turning into a pickle, but there’s no way you can turn a pickle back into a cucumber.”
Fortunately for Knapp, she was able to get sober after she got out of rehab, and stayed sober until her death at 42. To top off her unhealthy drinking habit, Caroline started smoking in her 20s and never stopped. She was diagnosed with lung cancer in April 2002, and died in June of that year.