Clementine Morrigan is the author of You Can’t Own the Fucking Stars, The Size of a Bird, and Rupture. They write the zine Fucking Magic and have authored dozens of other zines, articles, and essays. She is a working witch and practitioner of trauma magic. See clementinemorrigan.com for more information.
In anticipation of her September 12 appearance at our event, Clementine shares an excerpt from her new book, You Can’t Own the Fucking Stars.
Asking For It
Booze and the way that I consumed it brought me places and made me someone. Not the kind of places you would want to go to or the kind of person you would want to be. Drinking brought me to alleyways, sidewalks, barrooms, stranger’s apartments, snowbanks, park benches and bushes in a park. Drinking turned me into a kind of person who was read a certain way: as a drunk, a slut, a crazy person, a bitch, a girl who nobody cared about, a girl you could get away with doing anything to, a girl who was asking for it.
I was a horrible drunk, an obnoxious drunk, an ugly drunk, a loud drunk. I was a mean drunk, a slutty drunk, a pathetic drunk. I got kicked out of bars, thrown face first off a streetcar, punched in the face, sexually assaulted, GHB’d. I got a knife pressed up to my stomach, a condom taken off without permission, a bag of ice on my head.
Booze was an oblivion that called me endlessly. It created a world of chaos, a world where the only point of reference was a bottle. I felt perpetually unsafe to the point where feeling unsafe felt natural. It was my way of being. I was assaulted regularly and in the back of my mind I blamed myself because I was the one with the big mouth, the one asleep on the park bench, the one making a scene. I was ‘asking for it’. And I got it in plenty.
Booze and the way that I consumed it created a reality for me and those around me. There are narratives about girls like me, what we are, what we deserve, what happens to us. It is an accepted ‘truth’ that girls who put themselves in such dangerous situations are at least partially responsible for the bad things that then happen to them. This was a ‘truth’ written on my body and although it made me angry it was a truth that I also believed.
I rebelled against it by drinking more and by telling myself that I didn’t care. Violence was a language that I came to know quite well. I was crazy. I acted fucking crazy. And my craziness made me a target and simultaneously protected me. I told myself that this was a way of being that I needed and loved and that I chose freely. I told myself that this oblivion was the only thing keeping me alive and that the violence was an unpleasant side effect. An unfortunate but inevitable consequence to my chosen and beloved lifestyle.
Sometimes it slipped through the cracks of my denial that I was an alcoholic but I could not face the powerlessness of my addiction because my consumption was the only thing that gave me any power. I had control over something. I had control over the fact that I could always have more.
Now, booze and the ways I consumed it bring me to different places and make me a different person. My recovery brings me to church basements, community centres and coffee shops. My recovery makes me into the kind of person that people say things to like ‘good for you’.
Those who aren’t alcoholics themselves and who don’t know me from before say things like ‘are you sure you’re really an alcoholic?’ And ‘I’m sure you’ll be able to drink again in the future’ because they have no idea about the way that I drank and where it took me. They cannot even begin to conceive of what my reality used to look like. Other sober alcoholics don’t say things like that because they know.
I am eternally grateful for my sobriety and I know that without it I would still be experiencing violence on a regular basis. Yet this does not mean that I believe I was responsible for the violence that happened to me or deserving of it. Regardless of how fucked up I was acting, no one has the right to do the things that have been done to me. no one has the right to drag me down the stairs, pull a knife on me, grab my ass while I am asleep, put GHB in my drink, throw me off a streetcar, punch me in the face, touch my breasts without consent, pull my shirt down, throw me into a wall, smash my face with a weighted object. No one has the right to do that shit to anyone, drunk or not, addict or not. Drunks are still human beings. There is no such thing as ‘asking for it’.
While in active alcoholism I remember how strange any attempt at living a normal life felt. I remember the fear I felt that anyone might recognize me while I was sober and trying to act normal from one of my consistent drunken rampages. And now that I am in recovery it happens still, people recognize me from before. They remember the fucked up girl with unfocused eyes screaming and getting kicked off the salvation army van. They look at me now, acting normal, speaking clearly and they cannot believe that it is the same person.
But it is. That was me. So is this.
Clementine Morrigan, visits Brockton Writers Series on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in our new home, Glad Day Bookshop, 499 Church Street, Toronto, at 6:30pm (PWYC) alongside Mehri Yalfani, Maia Caron, Emily Sanford , and guest speaker Bardia Sinaee who will present, “How to Read a Poem.”