A recovering alcoholic details her struggles with drinking and her path to sobriety.
Despite being born into a “private school world of privilege and excess,” debut author Zarse began drinking in high school and eventually became an unrestrained alcoholic. The effects of her addiction were devastating: Her body began to fail her and her mind was similarly addled by years of relentless self-abuse. Finally financially destitute, she had to concede she was no longer fit to care for her young daughter, Paige. The longing to win Paige back inspired the author to finally give Alcoholics Anonymous an earnest shot, though she was skeptical of its ostentatious religiosity. But she discovered that a genuine spiritual commitment, understood as a full acceptance of and submission to God, was the only avenue to renewed health. The road to sobriety was a long and arduous one for Zarse. She found that alcohol provided a reprieve from her own mind, teeming with self-critical depredations. She also discovered she was a natural empath—she deeply felt the anguish of others—which made her an easy mark for predatory narcissists. With extraordinary candor the author recounts her harrowing attempt to clamber out of a deep hole dug through addiction and the principles that not only produced sobriety, but also mental well-being. And as she makes clear, sobriety is only the beginning—Zarse deftly discusses the rocky terrain between it and a return to the land of the living, including an absorbing account of dating sober and managing romantic heartache without the crutch of alcohol. The author’s writing ranges from informally conversational to aggressively proselytizing—she’s a true believer when it comes to AA and repeatedly (and one could say dogmatically) announces her commitment to its principles: “AA is not a theory. It is a life of sober, normal living. In recovery from my self-imposed crisis, I was asked to decide whether God is everything or nothing. God either is or He isn’t.” Nevertheless, her story is a remarkable one told with unflinching courage of the kind that played a major part in her recovery.
A brief but powerful account of overcoming addiction.