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Toxic Relationships

drikingcoverI first discovered the  insightful writing of Caroline Knapp through her book about her relationship with her dog, Pack of Two.  What I didn’t know at the time was the story of her life leading up to that point:  a story of her battle against alcoholism and anorexia that led to her recovery through a relationship with her dog.  Everyone should read her books.  That is a bold statement, but one I stand behind one hundred percent.  I am saddened to learn that after Caroline Knapp beat her alcoholism and eating disorders, she did not have a lot of life left before died from lung cancer at the age of 42.  I am heartened by the fact that she probably faced it sober and head-on, with the laser like focus and analysis she brought to bear on her previous problems.  The book “Drinking: A Love Story” is a stellar work of self analysis, but more than that, it is a clear-headed view on the problem on alcoholism.  The metaphor she works through the book is that of a love story, which is so appropriate and just right in its description.  It begins: “It was love at first sight.  The beads of moisture on a chilled bottle.  The way the glasses clinked and the conversation flowed.  Then it became an obsession.  The way she hid her bottles behind her lover’s refrigerator.  The way she slipped from the dinner table to the bathroom, from work to the bar.  And then, like so may love stories, it all fell apart.”  The uplifting part of this story is Knapp chronicles her descent with unflinching honesty, but then lifts us back up out of her abyss through AA, describing every detail of her struggle in such a way that anyone with any sort of compulsive behavior can identify with her struggle. Although I did not always understand the injuries she suffered from her family situation, I understood her isolation and self-destruction, because she described it so beautifully.  Beautifully?  That is hard to imagine, but her writing is so lucid, so honest, so spot-on that that is the only word that springs to mind.  She was a writer before, during, and after her trials with alcoholism, and we should all be thankful for the gift she left behind to help anyone struggling through the same ordeal, or anyone who is living with a loved one in that situation.  Thank you, Caroline.  May you rest in peace.  Finally.  carolineknapp

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