Woman Speaks from Experience about the Deceptions of the World and of the Flesh

June 5, 2016

BlackoutHeartbreaking.  A memoir for our time.

On NPR’s Fresh Air, Terry Gross interviews Sarah Hepola about her book, Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget.  The world convinced her that she should drink as much as men, and sleep around as much—and consider it as casual and meaningless—as men.  As the publisher’s summary on Amazon puts it,

For Sarah Hepola, alcohol was “the gasoline of all adventure.” She spent her evenings at cocktail parties and dark bars where she proudly stayed till last call. Drinking felt like freedom, part of her birthright as a strong, enlightened twenty-first-century woman.

As the title hints, she knows better now, but not before losing decades out of her life into a black hole, the meaningless and self-destructive life that the world tells us we want.

The ironic lies are tragically layered:  The world tells her that this is what she wants.  It’s not, really; so the world tells her that she must drink enough alcohol to deaden her own desires and needs.  The world tells her that being enslaved to sin and dependent on alcohol represent true freedom and empowerment.  The world tells her that she should let men use her like a disposable thing, and that she is the one using them.

In the introduction to his book No One Sees God: The Dark Night of Atheists and Believers, Michael Novak reflects on facing reality and life:

Naturally, coming face-to-face with God is to be feared (Mysterium tremendum et fascinans, “The Mystery fascinating, attracting, and to be feared,” in Rudolf Otto’s phrase.)  Happily for some, this encounter with the self is fairly easy to avoid.  There are many ways to avoid inwardness and to “kill time” simply by keeping busy; frequenting rooms throbbing with the strong beat of certain kinds of music; picking up the car keys to search somewhere else for something to do.

But some can escape it only by drinking enough alcohol to black out entirely.

It’s enough to give some idea of what hell will be like, and how we end up there.

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