17. Rob Roberge, Liar: A Memoir (2016) (7/12/18)
You're forty-three years old. You've been a college professor, a good husband, a good friend, an honest person. The disgrace of being arrested for heroin would burn even worse than taking a newcomer chip. Everyone would know. Shame is an endless white noise of pain in your head. You're confused and overwhelmed and you are as alone as you have ever felt.But in fact, he's not really done, but keeps rising again, keeps stumbling along learning new things about himself, about life. As one of the book epigraphs, by his best friend Gina Frangello, puts it, "Meaning isn't made only in a moment but in how it is processed over a lifetime." This is Roberge's processing.
You can't go to rehab. You can't admit your weakness to anyone, even though you know, god you know—what addict doesn't?—that addiction's not about intelligence and it's not about strength. Your whole life has been a lesson in this: Knowing something may make it a fact, but feeling something makes it a truth. And the truth is you are trapped. You have nowhere left to go that doesn't make you feel like your life has added up, in the end and despite some great moments, to you being a loser who just can't stay clean. Who can't keep people happy. You can't function in this world. You're done. Defeated.
One reason I picked up this book is that I "sort of" know Roberge: he taught at my low-residency MFA program (though I did not have him as an instructor) and he's a Facebook "friend," as are several of the people he mentions in the book: Gina and Tod and Patrick (Patrick I actually know in person). So it's as if I'm hearing the confessions, pain, struggle, and confusion of a friend. He makes me care, deeply, that he'll be okay.