I Don’t Know Why The Caged Bird Drinks

This might be only a good idea late at night, after 3+ drinks.

I used to never drink, never.

I didn’t get it. All my vices were cerebral. Well, that and food. Reading, and reading, and reading my way out of my reality. Trying to be someone else, somewhere else. Trying to not be my dad. I never wanted to drink. For entirety of my twenties, I succeeded.

Then I started to. First, it was reclaiming. I was tired of fear. Tired of thinking that one glass of the stuff will release a demon, a thing beyond my control. Look ma, no hands! I could drink one, two, before my body demanded water. I had no tolerance. I didn’t want it. I was trying to reclaim pleasure. I don’t know that I succeeded.

Then my thirties came. And I started to rewire my body. Reconnect. Rename. I was trying to become atoucahable thing, something beyond the cerebral. And it turned out that when you are a body, alcohol does work. It does something. It creates artificial relaxation. That was new information to me, cerebral-only-plus-food, never-in-the-body-fully. I was in the body, my body, at least part-time. The part that could potentially, occasionally, enjoy a drink.

Then I worked in a school. My school put a lot of thought in what they called a self-reflective practice. I was good at that. I was forever churning my brain about how I could have done things better. But at the same time, I really struggled coming home, full of tension. No caring profession has enough support. It was true for me, too. Alcohol.

First I drank weekdays. And I had to stop, because quality of my sleep plummetted. Think of the children. I was no longer a person, I was an entity tied to children in my care. I wouldn’t have it any other way, and yet I was drowning.

Story without end. I drink alone, sometimes. After therapy it is solely self-destructive. But tonight, I drink, because… need release. Because I watched a movie that made me cry. Because I’m (maybe) getting old. Because “Knock The House Down” featured so many women, shoved into our convention of hero’s journey, with the hero (except female! heroine! what!) faces against impossible odds, and I couldn’t take it sober. I don’t know. I know that I’m sad, with sadness going back to times that I don’t want to face sober. It scares me, both what I remember and what I might remember. Women in my family have a nasty habit of remembering stuff later in life. And I’m afraid of what’s waiting, what seems inevitable.

Meanwhile, watched this film. American Dream. USA, and to lesser extent UK succeeded in seeding themselves into our subconscious as The World. The Democracy. The representation. I’m a white girl (woman) (human) (nonbinary_something) and even I say, decolonise the gaze. And having said that, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s path to fame makes even me cry. Because I recognise the narrative as old as time. Going up against a power that pretends to be benevolent and too big to fail. Winning. That’s just beginning, but she did something, changed something, proved again that change is possible. And I can’t tell you that there is a connection between me, at home, drinking to prove that I’m allowed that, that I can enjoy that, that I am not my father, I’m not on the floor or scaring any kids, I’m watching a woman win over a smooth-talking democrat. I am me. I am allowed that. The only question is whether I hit publish on this thing. Maybe I can, now. Maybe I know why the caged bird drinks.

Reader, I

I stopped having a particular vision for this blog. I used to write weekly. I used to write monthly. I used to write daily. I used to write.

I let the domain expire, I have no clue about what I want to do with this thing, but I still like to write, so let’s go with that.

Story time: once upon a time I was a first year student at Polish Philology specialising in Film Studies in Poznan, Poland. Outspoken in class (whether or not I read the text, I always had something to say) I was known to my lecturers. I can’t really say 100% how I came off, but in a class that was very Into Film I probably read as very Into Literature, so my Lit profs were bound to like me for that alone. Later on I’d be given a “brilliant but lazy” pigeonhole, simultaneously very wrong and very right. Anyway. It was my first year. I have been excited about starting uni. My medieval Lit lecturer allowed me to write about representation of witches in Sapkowski’s writings as filtered through feminist critique (if you don’t know, none of this is very medieval. She was a badass). And then autumn came, winter came. Turn-in-your-essay time came.

I was a month late. And barely passed my exam.

I am grateful to her to this day, because she asked me what was going on. I gave her a garbled explanation of some kind, including a potential health issue and being unable to leave the house – I’d been skipping lectures at this point. She gave me a B for the essay (not an A, because it was so late, she made sure to say), a C+ for the exam and then we walked out of the uni building into the fragile spring sunshine. At the crossing she turned to me and said:

– Look, you may be depressed. It’s normal. If it happens again, just get a therapist.

The combination of these words, having actual money independent of my parents for the first time in my life and absolute fear when next autumn I started skipping lectures again (to this day, the minute my mood goes, leaving the house becomes Difficult) made me get therapy. And honestly? This journey isn’t even close to over. Even now, looking back at myself, I can’t help but heave a sad sigh. If I knew then what I know now… I still wouldn’t have known all that much, even with all that I’ve learnt. I am sad, because I probably suffer at least a bit of Seasonal Affective Disorder, vitamin D or not; because I left university and changed countries in a bid to change my environment, but my psychological issues endured. I am sad, because I haven’t been successful the way I wanted and haven’t changed all that much.

I am sad, because at times I can’t help but look at my life and see wasted opportunity. I’ve spent a lot of time in the last 15 years self-isolating (buzzword of the week), anti-meditating, trying to blot out the uncomfortable feelings that I couldn’t deal with. So much wasted time, trying to live up to my “potential”, as defined by other people. So much time thinking that I was “brilliant but lazy” instead of depressed, unhappy and not particularly well-adjusted, not to mention probably undiagnosed something or other. So much time spent craving validation of others instead of figuring out what’s going on with me.

And this blog post is not even a declaration. It’s not The Last Stand of any kind. It is not about to say “I’m mad as hell and can’t take it anymore”! Even though I am really mad, and I have taken a lot of shit. I know better than to make declarations like that. I know better than to make definitive statements. I changed my name and changed my country, but couldn’t change where I fundamentally come from, so I’m learning how to work with it, day by day. And it’s hard, Reader. It is so hard.

So this blogpost is not a summary or a fiery stance. It is simply another day.

I’m very tired.

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