LADY LAZARUSI have done it again.One year in every tenI manage it--A sort of walking miracle, my skinBright as a Nazi lampshade,My right footA paperweight,My face a featureless, fineJew linen.Peel off the napkinO my enemy.Do I terrify?--The nose, the eye pits, the full set of teeth?The sour breathWill vanish in a day.Soon, soon the fleshThe grave cave ate will beAt home on meAnd I a smiling woman.I am only thirty.And like the cat I have nine times to die.This is Number Three.What a trashTo annihilate each decade.What a million filaments.The peanut-crunching crowdShoves in to seeThem unwrap me hand and foot--The big strip tease.Gentlemen, ladiesThese are my handsMy knees.I may be skin and bone,Nevertheless, I am the same, identical woman.The first time it happened I was ten.It was an accident.The second time I meantTo last it out and not come back at all.I rocked shutAs a seashell.They had to call and callAnd pick the worms off me like sticky pearls.DyingIs an art, like everything else.I do it exceptionally well.I do it so it feels like hell.I do it so it feels real.I guess you could say I've a call.It's easy enough to do it in a cell.It's easy enough to do it and stay put.It's the theatricalComeback in broad dayTo the same place, the same face, the same bruteAmused shout:'A miracle!'That knocks me out.There is a chargeFor the eyeing of my scars, there is a chargeFor the hearing of my heart--It really goes.And there is a charge, a very large chargeFor a word or a touchOr a bit of bloodOr a piece of my hair or my clothes.So, so, Herr Doktor.So, Herr Enemy.I am your opus,I am your valuable,The pure gold babyThat melts to a shriek.I turn and burn.Do not think I underestimate your great concern.Ash, ash--You poke and stir.Flesh, bone, there is nothing there--A cake of soap, A wedding ring,A gold filling.Herr God, Herr LuciferBewareBeware.Out of the ashI rise with my red hairAnd I eat men like air.
Sylvia Plath
Like most people who decide to get sober, I was brought to Alcoholics Anonymous. While AA certainly works for others, its core propositions felt irreconcilable with my own experiences. I couldn, rectify the assertion that alcoholism is a disease with the facts of my own life.The idea that by simply attending an AA meeting, without any consultation, one is expected to take on a blanket diagnosis of diseased addict was to me, at best, patronizing. At worst, irresponsible. Irresponsible because it doesn't encourage people to turn toward and heal the actual underlying causes of their abuse of substances.I drank for thirteen years for REALLY good reasons. Among them were unprocessed grief, parental abandonment, isolation, violent trauma, anxiety and panic, social oppression, a general lack of safety, deep existential discord and a tremendous diet and lifestyle imbalance. None of which constitute a disease and all of which manifest as profound internal, mental, emotional and physical discomfort, which I sought to escape by taking external substances.It is only through one's own efforts to turn toward life on its own terms and to develop a wiser relationship to what's there through mindfulness and compassion that make freedom from addictive patterns possible. My sobriety has been sustained by facing life, processing grief, healing family relationships, accepting radically the fact of social oppression, working with my abandonment conditioning, coming into community, renegotiating trauma, making drastic diet and lifestyle changes, forgiving and practicing mindfulness, to name just a few. Through these things, I began to relieve the very real pressure that compulsive behaviors are an attempt to resolve.
Noah Levine