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Monday, December 26, 2011

My review of Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety by Sacha Z. Scoblic

One of my favorite books I read in 2011 was Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety! Also one of the first I purchased for my Nook. I read it in pieces, and finally finished it last night. I cried. In a good/moving way.

My review:

It would be almost impossible to tell her story of the first year without alcohol without sharing what alcohol meant in her life, and Scoblic manages to weave the two together beautifully in this moving, sometimes funny, sometimes sobering (pun intended) memoir. She writes about how she relied on alcohol in multiple ways, and that when she took that crutch away, she was left with a lot of assumptions, about 12-step programs, about faith, about relapsing, that she had to reexamine. One of the most crucial parts, one that I related to, was the idea that faith and prayer are not just for believers. She writes about praying even though she doesn’t actual believe, or isn’t sure that she does, and that is a concept that was utterly new for me. From Unwasted: “I have found moments of prayer, as I snuggle into my white bed in my deep blue bedroom—like a woman floating on her own moon—when I get grateful about the man next to me, my little pooch, my groovy neighborhood, and our good health and lives, in which I can rediscover a sense of adventure about life and I can touch a small and wonder-filled current inside of me.” This concept permeates the book.

She includes extended fantasies about alternate worlds, from aliens to celebrities, where she might be “required” to drink, and these relapse fantasies, while fantastical, lend an important reality to the book. Scoblic did not simply hop, skip and jump into sobriety. She does not make it sound simple or easy, and doesn’t gloss over the challenges of being at a heavy-drinking company retreat or at a party where her old ways can no longer guide her. Toward the end of the book, Scoblic writes, “Until sobriety, the idea that I was someone worthwhile and unique a priori had not occurred to me. And, as I looked toward the blank sober slate before me in the mirror, a thousand discarded personas on the floor, I began to sense that this one last transformation—that is, become myself, which is what everyone tells you to be from the start—was going to be an awful lot of fun. I was going to reinvent myself as me.” By the actual end, as she writes about training for a marathon, a lifelong goal, I will admit that I cried. Scoblic does not pretend to have all the answers, but her vision of community, of strength and support, for running and sobriety, is an antidote to the loneliness she explores in the rest of the book, the loneliness and fear that alcohol momentarily removed from her. Her journey in exploring those dark spaces and discovering how to fill the gaps left by alcohol is touching, and should help give insight into alcoholism from a very poignant, personal perspective.

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