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  • ritasuszek

I Don’t Know Why The Caged Bird Drinks

This might be only a good idea late at night, after 3+ drinks.

I used to never drink, never.

I didn’t get it. All my vices were cerebral. Well, that and food. Reading, and reading, and reading my way out of my reality. Trying to be someone else, somewhere else. Trying to not be my dad. I never wanted to drink. For entirety of my twenties, I succeeded.

Then I started to. First, it was reclaiming. I was tired of fear. Tired of thinking that one glass of the stuff will release a demon, a thing beyond my control. Look ma, no hands! I could drink one, two, before my body demanded water. I had no tolerance. I didn’t want it. I was trying to reclaim pleasure. I don’t know that I succeeded.

Then my thirties came. And I started to rewire my body. Reconnect. Rename. I was trying to become atoucahable thing, something beyond the cerebral. And it turned out that when you are a body, alcohol does work. It does something. It creates artificial relaxation. That was new information to me, cerebral-only-plus-food, never-in-the-body-fully. I was in the body, my body, at least part-time. The part that could potentially, occasionally, enjoy a drink.

Then I worked in a school. My school put a lot of thought in what they called a self-reflective practice. I was good at that. I was forever churning my brain about how I could have done things better. But at the same time, I really struggled coming home, full of tension. No caring profession has enough support. It was true for me, too. Alcohol.

First I drank weekdays. And I had to stop, because quality of my sleep plummetted. Think of the children. I was no longer a person, I was an entity tied to children in my care. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and yet I was drowning.

Story without end. I drink alone, sometimes. After therapy it is solely self-destructive. But tonight, I drink, because… need release. Because I watched a movie that made me cry. Because I’m (maybe) getting old. Because “Knock The House Down” featured so many women, shoved into our convention of hero’s journey, with the hero (except female! heroine! what!) faces against impossible odds, and I couldn’t take it sober. I don’t know. I know that I’m sad, with sadness going back to times that I don’t want to face sober. It scares me, both what I remember and what I might remember. Women in my family have a nasty habit of remembering stuff later in life. And I’m afraid of what’s waiting, what seems inevitable.

Meanwhile, watched this film. American Dream. USA, and to lesser extent UK succeeded in seeding themselves into our subconscious as The World. The Democracy. The representation. I’m a white girl (woman) (human) (nonbinary_something) and even I say, decolonise the gaze. And having said that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s path to fame makes even me cry. Because I recognise the narrative as old as time. Going up against a power that pretends to be benevolent and too big to fail. Winning. That’s just beginning, but she did something, changed something, proved again that change is possible. And I can’t tell you that there is a connection between me, at home, drinking to prove that I’m allowed that, that I can enjoy that, that I am not my father, I’m not on the floor or scaring any kids, I’m watching a woman win over a smooth-talking democrat. I am me. I am allowed that. The only question is whether I hit publish on this thing. Maybe I can, now. Maybe I know why the caged bird drinks.

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