I’m back after a brief hiatus. I’ve been deep into the writing for over a week; also, I’m teaching three classes at the moment, so I’ve let the poor blog wither a little. Sorry about that! The good thing is that Emmett’s manuscript is making excellent progress.
The not so good thing is that writing about another alcoholic’s demise is depressing. On my last visit to Florida, I remember an archivist talking to me about how the manuscript was coming together, and I told him it was downright hard in several places, because this is not a happy story. I know what happened to Emmett and how he got there, and sometimes, I just want go back in time and kick some sense into his ass once or twice.
Truthfully, I believe Cephas or Lula, or even his father did some fairly good ass kicking of their own, and had I shown up in my 21st Century ass kicking cowboy boots, they would have just told me to get in line. There were several interventions for Emmett; none of them worked. I don’t know why I think I would have made any difference; Emmett wasn’t ready to change his life.
Whoever said alcoholism is hardest on the alcoholic doesn’t know what they are talking about. It’s infinitely worse on the loved ones who are powerless to change the addict’s behavior.
Occasionally, I have to take a step back from both the writing and the research for a day or two just to remind myself that I’m sober and OK. Emmett’s story is not my story. But the lesson of his life is something that helps keep me on the beam.
And really, this whole process has been great for my own sobriety. When you have several years, or almost a decade, of sobriety, it is easy to forget what the drinking days were like; even easier to listen to the disease in your head telling you that ‘you’ve earned a break,’ or ‘you can handle it now.’ In a way, writing Emmett’s story has kind-of made him a spiritual sponsor all this time. I know I talk to him about his disease often enough; and he has never told me that I’ve ‘earned a break.’ Not from sobriety, and not the damn manuscript. Ha!
I’ll have some interesting new research to share with you in a few days; meanwhile, my thoughts and prayers are with my friends and colleagues in Florida today who will be dealing with Hurricane Matthew.