This Ragged Grace: A Memoir of Recovery and Renewal
“Clever, thoughtful and full of profound insight, Octavia lays bare her life with honesty and no self pity, navigating a soulful reckoning with addiction, grief and love. Woven into her writing are symbols and ideas from literature and culture which serve to illuminate her own emotional understanding from a legacy of great thinkers before her. Octavia has a particular talent for capturing the wild and nebulous experience of grief in a truly eloquent way, holding lightly the many contradictions inherent in coming to terms with love and loss.”
I kept putting myself in danger, and I couldn’t make it stop. It rarely felt like a choice, though, of course, in some ways it was. It’s only the death drive, my dear, Freud would likely tell me, if I lay my body down on his carpet-covered couch. Everybody needs a little oblivion. Besides, what is the fantasy of the knight on a white charger if not an abandonment wish? A desire to be rescued from your own life by a story. But if addiction is rooted in the will to forget, recovery is an act of remembering – a slow reconnection with the parts of yourself that slipped out of reach while you hungered for escape.
This Ragged Grace tells the story of Octavia’s journey through recovery from alcohol addiction, and the parallel story of her father’s descent into Alzheimer’s. Looking back over this time, each of the seven chapters explores the feelings and experiences of the corresponding year of her recovery, tracing the shift in emotion and understanding that comes with the deepening connection to this new way of life. Over the course of this seven-year period, life continues to unfold. Paths are abandoned, people fall ill, waters get choppy, seemingly impossible things are navigated without the old fixes.
As Octavia moves between London, the island of Stromboli, New York, Cornwall and Margate, each place offers something new but ultimately always delivers the same message: that wherever you go, you take yourself with you.
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