I’ve been re-reading I Capture The Castle, have you read it? You should. The heroine is a delightful eighteen year old, very intelligent but unworldly, with a wonderful way of puncturing her own pretensions as soon as she writes them onto the page. Near the crisis of the novel, she is deeply unhappy, and desperate for consolation. She considers whether she could lose herself in good works and piety, as suggested by her only friends, and just as she thinks it’s the answer, she has a vision of the town. A wide, straight road bypassing the centre, and then the busy part that goes right through the town itself in a
“tangle of narrow old streets that are so awful for motorists on market days, but so very, very beautiful. Of course, what my mind’s eye was trying to tell me was that the Vicar and Miss Marcy had managed to bypass the suffering that comes to most people – he by his religion, she by her kindness to other And ti came to me that if one does that, one is liable to miss too much along with the suffering – perhaps, in a way, life itself.”
I’m in kind of an angry, sad, despairing place at the moment, but mostly a furious one. I am furious at the world and the ugliness of people who kick those who are down and the stupidity of those who cheer the kickers on, and encourage them, and give them the power to keep doing it. I am furious at the quicksand that surrounds me and my girls when we try and take a step towards freedom, because it is so much effort to keep fighting for basic rights and respect over and over again. I am terrified all the time about my life and my job and getting it wrong, and the bravest thing I do is getting up in the morning, taking a deep breath and telling myself that it’s going to work out fine.
It is possible that my mood would be improved by more cake and less hormones, but we work with what we have at the time.
But I never think about drinking. It isn’t an option. I want to extend Smith’s metaphor about how, instead, I have the fortitude to head into that dark tangle of streets that lead straight through the centre, and I keep going because I am brave these days. But I am sick of my own words and my metaphors and my neat wrapped-up endings. There isn’t a neat wrapped-up ending to this one. It’s dark, and I can’t run my fury out, so I type type type instead, trying to distil it and whittle it down and get to the truth under the flourishes. That’s another tangle of narrow old streets, right there.
The thing about sobriety is that it doesn’t solve things because some things can’t be solved. But the things I am unable to solve are things I wouldn’t even have confronted if I were still drinking. I mean, I am terrified about my job because I am self-employed and flying by the skin of my teeth, and I would never have attempted that in the first place, drinking. The things that make me angry about my relationship, or rather about relationships between men and women and the patriarchy as a whole, they’re things that I come up against because I push, now, for my own space. I used to step aside. They’re things in the middle of the town, awful and beautiful, and I would rather be here, in the thick of it, than taking the road around.