||March 22, 2011
A memoir recounting the author's adventures through five inpatient treatment centers for alcohol abuse.
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The psychological experience of withdrawal the morning after years of drinking four bottles of wine a day, every day, evokes the image of my mind being stretched and warped over an Event Horizon as it's about to be sucked down and through a Black Hole. My withdrawals/delirium tremens (DTs) were terrifying and excruciating.
My story takes the reader through my experiences of late stage alcoholism, two arrests by my new husband of three months and my subsequent adventures through and between five inpatient treatment centers for alcohol abuse.
Thoughtless to the limited freedom of my legs I attempted to take a normal step forward and immediately tipped straight over. I couldn’t even put my arms out to brace for my fall because they were cuffed to my waist. It was nothing less than a sweeping act of benevolence by the Universe to place an officer right next to me at that moment. I hadn’t even noticed him and he grabbed my elbow as I tipped forward.
“You have to take SHORT steps. Baby steps.” He explained.
I was too panicked to look at him. Several people around me yelled, “BABY STEPS, BABY!“ I was absolutely mortified and completely traumatized. The words, “WALK LIKE A GEISHA!” lit up like fireworks in my head and I had to watch my feet as I followed the women outside.
A long, light gray bus with barred windows sat parked outside the doors in a garage so long it resembled a tunnel. A long line of male inmates had lined up against a cement wall and about eight cops paced back and forth in front of them. As we walked towards the bus the air filled with whistles and cat-calls. All of the woman, about ten total, boarded the bus ahead of me. Within 30 seconds they were all inside.
Jennifer Place tells her own story and holds nothing back. "Saturation" is a hard look at a hard life. Through sheer determination, she made her way down long, ugly roads most of us never travel, and came out safe and sane at the end. The tough broads and eccentric jailbirds she meets belong in a movie. Many of the prison scenes are disturbing, but they show how much this gritty young woman went through before finding her way back to a more or less normal world.
The Cool Hand Lucy of Recovery Works
Perhaps three-quarters of the way through but soon thereafter I thought that Place's book was like the Cool Hand Luke of recovery memoirs. This thought unearthed, in fact, before I reached the pages toward the end of the story when the run-ins with the cops and other such "authorities" commenced.
That's saying a lot. That's saying read this book it's so real, so revealing, brave too.
An aspect of the tale I found particularly amusing (I am, it must be stated, female) was Place's quick and certain irritation with many females. The scenes that show us exactly what comprises her sandpapery reaction while she's in rehab depict not only the absurdity of the societally held notion of "normal behavior" enacted by women, but what happens when that behavior is confronted.
It's laughable, how easily not only women but men (no dirth there in these pages) reveal their insecurities and vulnerabilities when in the midst of stripping themselves away from addictions -- not exclusively chemical -- and find reflection in Place's words.
Laughable because it reveals to us we're all in the same sea, no matter what type of liquid path we're navigating.
Could not put it down
I was amazed that Ms. Place told her story with such clarity and detachment. I became so immersed in her narrative that at times it felt as though I was crawling through the wreckage of a roller coaster that had collapsed in the middle of my ride. I was most impressed by her ability to acknowledge her addiction and its effect on her life, something that most alcoholics I have known refuse to recognize.
I read it in two sittings: the first, late into the night until I could no longer keep my eyes open, then the next day until it was finished. I literally could not put it down.
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