"The nights I can't remember are the nights I can never forget."
July 8, 2015 7:37 AM Subscribe
It's possible you don't know what I'm talking about. Maybe you're a moderate drinker who baby-sips two glasses of wine and leaves every party at a reasonable hour. Maybe you are one of those lucky people who can slurp your whisky all afternoon and never disappear. But if you're like me, you know the thunderbolt of waking up to discover a blank space where pivotal scenes should be. My evenings come with trapdoors.An excerpt from Sarah Hepola's new memoir: "Everyone has blackouts, don't they?"
Interviews with and essays about Sarah Hepola and the aforementioned memoir, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget:
The Atlantic: Anatomy of a Blackout
"What we consider to be consequences of drinking aren't always consequences to the drinkers," [Aaron] White says. "[A blackout] can be considered a barometer for how drunk you got, so therefore you must have had a lot more fun."The Rumpus: The Saturday Rumpus Interview: Sarah Hepola
There's a confusion here of what adventure is. Alcohol can fuel a sense of adventure, and make you feel like anything could happen. But a blackout is the reverse. Anything could have happened. "After a blackout, I would torture myself thinking of the awful things I might have said or done,” Hepola writes. "My mind became an endless loop of what scared me the most."
"It's a uniquely lacerating punishment to not know what you've done. Because it means you could have done anything. I didn't sleep well when I drank, so I often woke up at 5am, and I would lie in bed for hours torturing myself with what might have happened. "What might have happened" is a list you can build until the stars fall out of the sky. It didn't help that my past experience taught me my behavior in blackouts could be bizarre. Exhibitionist, aggressive, cruel. I didn’t even have the dignity of assuring myself, "I would never do that," because I did quite a few things in a blackout that I would normally never do.The Dallas Observer: "It's my story, but I'm not alone."
So yes, the shock of not knowing is unforgettable. Where am I? What the hell happened? But that sentence has a double meaning for me. Because I was prone to relapse and magical thinking, it's also a call to awareness. Never forget your own story."
"...the longer you walk into sobriety, the more how you see yourself shifts, your memories shift. What does that mean? Are you remembering it more clearly? Or worse with more distance? As a personal essay writer, I have these really specific memories of my life that I can use as material, and here is a place where there is just a blank space. People know more about your life than you do, which is the weird thing that drinkers get into where they're so detached and distanced from their own activity and also the damage they do to other people. It just seemed to me that it was a really interesting way to talk about memory, the faulty mechanism of the mind but also the beautiful machine of the mind, and this weird thing that drinking, something that is celebrated across our culture, that is legal after the age of 21, but socially acceptable from the age of more or less 17 on, can give you amnesia, and nobody talks about it."Vogue: A New Memoir Explores a Taboo Subject: Blackout Drinking
NPR Weekend Edition: After Years Of Blackouts, A Writer Remembers What She 'Drank To Forget'
She Knows: Author Sarah Hepola talks women and drinking habits, and why we hide it
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