love out loud: vonnegut’s disease
I have this disease late at night sometimes, involving alcohol and the telephone. I get drunk…and then, speaking gravely and elegantly into the telephone, I ask the telephone operators to connect me with this friend or that one.
-Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse Five
My name is Dunja and I am a drunk dialer.
I have long since wondered where this penchant to dial whilst liquored up came from, given that my dislike of using the telephone has afforded me a certain level of notoriety amongst my nearest and dearest. Where others make skype dates, I would sooner log out when someone who may actually desire to hear my voice appears online, assuming I bothered to log on in the first place. My awkwardness on the phone has prompted some to reassess their friendship with me and inspired uncertainty amongst couchsurfing hosts as to my social aptitude.
Nonetheless, I occasionally decide that I must talk to someone, and submit them to ineloquent and possibly incoherent speeches that I later plead not be relayed back to me and unsurprisingly, it is usually love (or lovin’) interests that are on the receiving end of these phone calls.
Suffice it to say that a meaningful relationship has never been the result.
I do sometimes ask myself why I still drink, or at least why I continue to think it is a good idea to have a mobile telephone in my possession when I know I will be drinking. But it was only recently that I truly thought about the harm that inundating someone with drunken phone calls was doing, and not just to my ego.
Whether rightly or wrongly, we often invite others to treat us in much the same way that we treat ourselves. By not awarding what I had to say to someone with the due respect that may have prompted me to tell them while I was sober (and, by extension, not awarding that respect to myself), they likewise had little inclination to listen to my words with much respect for me. Trying to tell my then-boyfriend that I wished we spent more time together came off as desperate. Trying to tell someone I’d only known for a few hours that I thought he was different to anyone I’d ever met came off as maladjustment. My intentions were good, but I failed to communicate much other than the fact that I didn’t think I deserved to be heard.
Telling someone how you feel makes you vulnerable and has the potential for both rejection and humiliation. But this pales in comparison to the embarrassment that accompanies running into someone you’ve drink ‘n’ dialed.
I’ve been in recovery for about four months now, and feel that I will soon have Vonnegut’s disease well under control –
If only I could figure out how to pronounce his name.