So many lives are touched by addictions, whether it is from personal habits or the influence of an addicted spouse, family member, friend or co-worker. Some take on the role of enabler in a futile attempt to help or hide the loved one’s addiction. The addicted person might go to great lengths to hide their addiction from the world but the real truth is they are hiding from them self in their addiction.
In the autobiography Loaded: Women and Addiction, author Jill Talbot gives a candid account of her struggles with addiction. Talbot takes the reader back to her family history and relays the influence of her family legacy- alcoholism. Talbot’s mother attempted to shield her family from the grandmother’s alcohol addiction. Her father held a distain for anything connected with booze or bars and aimed to give his children a tea totalling upbringing. Talbot’s parents considered her to be a “wild child” with an obsessive compulsive nature and prone to risk taking behaviours. In the typical style of a self fulfilling prophesy, “Jilly” started drinking at age 15 and moved on to experiment with pot and drugs. To add more drama to the picture, the author reveals her addiction to sex with a particular affinity for married men. In her twenties, the wanton Talbot admits to enjoying the fleeting nature of her affairs and the infamous status of being the other woman. Talbot eventually swears off married men after her partner leaves her for another woman a few short months after she gave birth to their daughter.
Talbot’s poison is, and probably still is, wine. She describes herself,
“I am a college professor, a mother, a wanderer, a distant person. I am ritualistic, fearful of confrontation, a runner, a heavy drinker.”
She tries to function as a reliable and responsible adult stating, “I’ve always been good at living in two worlds- the halls of the English department by day, the bar stools of some joint by night.”
Talbot has a sense of wanderlust, a need to escape and “get away from herself.” She states, “We don’t know how far we can go until we’ve gone too far”. She has an insatiable drive to do just that- drive. The author recounts a dizzying number of alcohol fuelled road trips zigzagging across borders in Colorado, Mexico, Nevada, Texas, New Mexico, Utah and Oklahoma.
When Jill Talbot finally sinks to the bottom of the wine bottle she checks herself into a rehabilitation centre. She finds the writing exercises difficult and refers to the experience as “a writer’s workshop for drunks.” Talbot’s intellectual status as an English professor and an accomplished writer hinder the truthfulness in her writing. She struggles with sharing her autobiography and reflects that “It was hard for the rehab to get past the writer and get to the wino.” The impression here is that the author needs to dig deeper to find her truth. I sense that Talbot is just starting to graze the surface and not telling the whole story of what really fans the fires of her addictions. Talbot leaves the reader as she approaches the milestone age of forty and claims that she has a “firm hold on her drinking” and limits herself to moderate drinking. I imagine that Talbot’s blame and shame strategy to dealing with her addictions will undoubtedly lead her to back to rehab.
Talbot doesn’t come up with any clear answers in her quest for sobriety; a clear head as it were. How can she find the answers without asking herself the difficult questions?
Something to think about...
Wanda Lynne Young