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221 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 2000
Alcoholism can stand in for epilepsy, the same way epilepsy can stand in for depression, for disintegration, for self-hatred, for the unspeakable dirt between a mother and a daughter; sometimes you just don’t know how to say the pain directly— I do not know how to say the pain directly, I never have— and I often tell myself it really doesn’t matter, because either way, any way, the brain shivers and craves, cracked open. (pp. 203-204)I'm less sure that it doesn't matter what is true, even though I believe that our stories matter more than the actual facts. That your mother died tells me very little, but that you have told me a particular story about your mother's death tells me a whole lot.
[Standing strong] is what we all learn, the hold your head high, stuff it down, swallow your sobs, work hard kind of will. [This second kind of will,] Will B, while it seems a slacker thing, is actually harder to have. It’s a willingness instead of a willfulness, an ability to take life on life’s terms as opposed to putting up a big fight. It’s about being bendable, not brittle, a person who is brave enough to try to ride the waves instead of trying to stop them. Will B is what you need in order to learn to fall. It’s the kind of will my mother never taught me, and yours probably never taught you either. It’s a secret greater than sex; it’s a spiritual thing. Will B is not passive. It means an active acceptance, a say yes, and you have to have a voice and courage if you want to learn it. (p. 53).The truth or one part of it might be that Slater was raised by wolves, damaged, and not given the skills to handle the stressors she faced in life. Adults failed her, yet ultimately, as she approached adulthood, she saved herself.