So enjoyable to watch a film during my commute. I started watching My Name Was Bette on the way home yesterday. I felt the need to blog about it before I complete it. I rented it from Amazon.com. Do it!
The second part of the documentary is about the physical effects of drinking on the body and mind and how Sherri VandenAkker saw those effects in her mom over the years. I found my heart racing and my mind racing as I thought of my mom and dad's health over the year. And I thought of the damage I might have already done to myself. Scary-ass shit.
It makes me want to get my liver tested for damage, see if I'm in the clear. I thought about my own gastrointestinal problems, sleeping issues, anxiety...I am so grateful I stopped drinking. So so grateful.
I also thought a lot about my mom, who died three years ago next week of colon cancer. She had many of the symptoms of alcoholism, but until recently I haven't thought of her as a problem drinker. I think she started drinking more and more after I left for collage and I also wonder if she was a secret drinker. Or maybe just overlooked because my dad's drinking was so obviously problematic. I miss you mom, so many things I wish I could ask you.
And of course I am seeing my dad in Bette. The medications to counter so many ailments, the lack of muscle mass and the big beer belly, eating once or twice a day, his face so much older than his brother's who is 11 years his senior. I know it will be hard to see him this summer, here starts the bus tear-up!
The one thing that I did question in the film was the general use of "drinking." It might be addressed later, but VandenAkker doesn't talk about what qualifies as an alcoholic, how much drinking actually is damaging? Again, with alcoholism, it is left to each of us to determine what is alcoholic drinking, and judge if we or a loved one is indeed an alcoholic. So easy to deny alcoholism when we can conclude that we "aren't that extreme" and carry on. It's dangerous to not have the specifics, for those who are drinking heavily and for those who need to remember why they don't drink any longer.
I will enjoy the rest of the film on my way home from school today, it is doing the job, a kick-in-the-pants reminder that I'm doing the good work for myself daily by not drinking even when I loose sight of the big picture.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp