I don’t think I’ve ever devoured a book so quickly yet been completely unsure if I loved or hated it. I have no idea how to rate Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife on Goodreads. At the very least I’d give it 2 stars, but feel it’s worth 3 for entertainment value alone. But entertaining doesn’t mean substantive when it comes to recovery memoirs.
Talk about throwing people under the bus! Brenda Wilhemson published her diary from her first year of recovery, and no one is spared. I used to keep a journal years ago, but stopped when I realized I was using it primarily to bitch about other people. Maybe it vented built-up resentment, but I felt embarrassed cataloging every slight from my coworkers and spouse. Brenda bitches in excruciating detail about her friends, her parents, her husband…even her fellow AA members.
This is the part that blew my mind. It’s one thing to write an anonymous blog detailing how a “friend” relapsed and peed his pants while catering the lavish 40th birthday party she threw for herself, but she puts her name right on the cover. If she still goes to meetings, I can’t imagine the backlash she felt. It makes for fascinating reading, but she comes across as a self-aggrandizing asshole.
Still, I may not have liked her, but I could relate to her. One reviewer on amazon criticized her for not doing 90 meetings in 90 days and for being around alcohol so much in early sobriety. I didn’t do 90 in 90 either, so this hit a nerve. I wasn’t being obstinate – I work full time, have two young kids and my husband’s work schedule limits which meetings I can go to. In the first 90 days, I made 2-3 meetings a week and that worked for me. As for the alcohol, I was around it daily at home and I didn’t drink. I’m not saying it was ideal, but I think it taught me that alcohol is still going to be out there, and it was up to me to keep making meetings and remembering why I stopped drinking in the first place.
The thing I loved about Diary of an Alcoholic Housewife was her brutal honesty. The thing I hated about it was her brutal honesty. Go figure, another paradox in recovery.