Thursday, January 7, 2016

Killing Field

Let us pray...


I watched this movie the other night called "The Way" about a father (Martin Sheen) who walks the Camino de Santiago after his son dies when attempting it. Now I've got a hair up my you-know-what (somehow it doesn't seem appropriate to say the word "ass" here although apparently some people ride asses on the route) to walk it myself. I don't know if I ever will, but I like to think about it. And I like knowing it is possible. I have the way, the means, and the sobriety to do it.

I can dream. 

Thank you, Sobriety.

So in preparation of my trek, somewhere in the far future, I got up at six this morning to walk. My house in Mexico is on the fringe of our village and it is about a mile into the town center. I walked as far as I could on the beach but then reached the house that is falling into the sea and had to cut back into town. Along my way I passed piles of dog shit, mounds of trash that the dogs that left the dog shit had torn through, some beautiful houses and some houses that are falling to rubble but when I looked inside I could still see the inhabitants slung in their hammocks, swaying like bananas on the banana trees in the yard. "T.I.M." as we say down here. This is Mexico.

I passed one little house that used to be so picturesque with its red tiles and the bougainvillea threatening its very existence. I almost wept when the former owner had that bougainvillea cut back, it reminded me so much of Sleeping Beauty's castle and the bramble patch that grew up around it to keep anyone from saving her.

Now, the bougainvillea is winning and the red tiles are chipped or barely hanging on and she, the former owner, can no longer be saved.

Linda. That was her name. She and I moved here at the exact same time, we got drunk together the night we bought our houses. She was a nurse, just like me, but into stem cell research. She had great plans to do good, just like me, and we talked about opening a clinic here together. She was about 50, just like me. 

She was an alcoholic. Just like me. 

I watched her struggle, just like me, off and on through the years. She'd disappear for months on end and I'd ask someone where she was and they'd respond, "Up North, in rehab."  The last time I saw her she showed up at our Christmas Toy Give Away. Drunk. I didn't see her again. I finally asked someone where she was and they replied, "She died."

So I thought of her as I walked by her house today and the dreams she had and all the possibilities and all of our similarities.  

And I thought of the others. Just like me. Just like Linda.

Patty: My dear, dear friend and larger than life. She gave up drinking for 8 years. Then she drank, Then she died. Ruptured esophageal varice and she bled out. Alone.

Debbie: Came to the Bahamas to start a new life with her husband. 5'10 and that was without the "fuck me" heels she always wore. The most gorgeous long legs I ever saw, I used to accuse her of spraying Miracle Grow on them as we leaned up against the bar every Friday night at Sapodilly's. (We called it Slap Me Silly's). Last time I saw her we were both leaving the Bahamas for the last time. She was a shaking, rattling scarecrow of the girl I had met two years before. We got our plane tickets then crossed the sand road to drink at the bar. We caught the flight together to Miami and never saw each other again. She died the next year. She was 47.

Hilda: I never even knew she drank. But she knew I did. Boy, did she know I did. I remember she watched me with those sharp eyes of her one night as I drunkenly tried to make change at one of our fundraisers for the toy drive, She finally pushed me out of the chair and took over. I headed back to the states that summer and sobered up,  she took a dive off her balcony and scalped herself along with some other damage. We got to know each other better after that. She'd been sober once for 6 years she told me, but she'd never been able to stay that way that long again. She gave me her AA 90 Day Coin with the promise I'd give it back when she made 90 again. I still have it. She died three years ago, her daughter thought she had wet brain but it ended up being Stage 4 colon cancer. 

Terri: A few years ahead of me in school and married one of the neighbor boys. I worked for years with her twin sister. Died at 47 from liver failure.

My aunt, Orvella, a pale specter of my childhood. Died at 53, my age right now, from breast cancer and cirrhosis.

Did you know that female alcoholics have death rates 50-100 percent higher than those of male alcoholics?

But I'm not an alcoholic, I can hear you say.

That's what all these women said, too. Just like me. For a long time.

All of these women were just like me, middle aged women, between the ages of 47 and 60 who had drank all their lives and thought they would still get one more chance to turn it around. To quit again.

God, the universe, and nature gives us all the chances we need, and the means and the ways, to obtain our dreams.

Booze doesn't. It finally starts plowing us under.

And the sneaky son-of-a-bitch never tells us when our chances have run out..

P.S. Anyone that is attempting a Dryuary and needs some extra support, check out the  Dryuary Site hosted by Moderation Management.


  1. This made me cry. Thanks for sharing it. xo

    1. You're welcome. The thing is Thirsty, all of these were vibrant strong women when I first knew them. If I showed you pictures, you'd say, "Noooo, not her, no way." We still think we have to be shriveled up crones to be alcoholics and for alcoholism to kill us. It ain't so.

  2. Oh man. This was hard to read. I saw that every new paragraph was going to be another one lost to booze. That could have been me, could have been any one of us. The only thing I'll disagree with you on is that the sneaky son of a bitch never gives us notice. We get so so so many notices, and we just toss them aside, ignore them, think we will think about it tomorrow. And then one day, tomorrow shows up. I am so deeply sorry for you for losing so many friends, Kary. Someone else might have used all those as excuses to keep drinking, but you didn't. Kudos to you and stay strong.

  3. You're right, it does give us notice. I thought about that after a I published the post but I knew someone would point it out to me. ;) The dirty bastard plays us a long for years, giving most of us chance after chance, than one day it declares: Game Over! He never tells when we've used up all our chances. There are so many that are my age, still playing the game, and it scares me. I don't want to lose another friend.

  4. Such a sad waste.
    I was almost 41 when I quit. Even then I never considered myself an alcoholic.
    But I end decided I would prefer to believe I am an alcoholic and live a sober life. A real life. A life full of joy, contentment and peace.
    The alternative is just too unattractive.

    1. I am the same way, Anne. I'm pretty sure I'm an alcoholic, but it doesn't really matter what I call myself or others call me. Drinking made me miserable and I continued to drink, there's something vitally screwed up about that. I see too many of us that don't take on the label because we think not calling ourselves an alcoholic means we should still be able to drink. And, we stay miserable until we die. Wake up, girls!

  5. I too was sad, reading about all of your friends/family member who have died due to drinking.
    I am so glad I quit, even if it wasn't until I was 60.
    My dr. is so happy I did, too.

    1. You did it at the right time for you, girlfriend. I firmly believe that we all have a right time, but some of us don't take it and then some of us don't hold on to it. Let's hang on for dear life together.

  6. boom, reality hurts.

    thanks for reminding me that the road to nowhere is very very sad. and thanks for making me grateful that i was able to take another one.

    take care!

    1. I'm grateful that found a different road, too. I know we all question ourselves as to why it took so long, but thank God, we didn't wait until it was too late.

  7. So sad...but a great post on how precious our lives are and how we shouldn't waste one more day destroying ourselves. Thank you for this.

    Oh, and I did walk El Camino, after watching the movie, it was an awesome journey, and one in which I did sober as I had quit drinking at the time - so thankful for that. You must do it.

    1. You did???!!!Okay, now you've got to tell me all about it. Write me at
      Please, pretty please. I want to try and get my brother to walk it with me when he turn 60 which is in three years.

  8. Damn girl.

    This is awesome. Powerful. Beautiful.

    Just like you.

  9. Wow. This reads like "Leaving Las Vegas," except over and over. Strong, Kary. Passionate. Tragic. All in one.

    This belongs in your book, too.

  10. Thank you for this. I'm 54 and have been up & down the last five years. More sober time than not - your evidence was just what I needed to reinforce my commitment to staying sober.



  11. Makes me mad and sad all at the same time.. What a fu*king waste. All that potential. All that love and life, gone, because of a beverage.

  12. This films sounds incredibly inspiring and moving, and it clearly struck a chord with you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I hope life gets a little easier for you this year.