Do you think forgiveness has to start with yourself before you can forgive others? Absolutely. My biggest road block to recovery was my inability to forgive myself for the hell I put my family through. Even though my parents and the majority of my friends had long forgiven me, I still wasn’t able to accept their forgiveness and move forward. As silly as it sounds, I actually enjoyed feeling sorry for myself, because it gave me license to continue being a miserable drunk. It was like I was throwing one long, elaborate pity party of which I was not only the host, but the guest of honor.
This is reflected in my book, in which Monty, being the neurotic, self-destructive alcoholic that he is, takes full responsibility for the accident that killed Vicky even though it wasn’t his fault. He uses her death as an excuse to keep drinking, because it’s a whole hell of a lot easier to get drunk than have any real feelings. But, when Dave finally admits that he was the other driver, Monty has no blame to hind behind. He is totally exposed.
I won’t tell you what happens. You’ll just have to read it, to find out for yourself.
What’s your take on the 12 step programs – too many, not enough? Your question must refer to all the different types of twelve-step programs out there. I ran a quick search in Google and it seems there’s an Anonymous for just about everything. Here’s a short list:
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACA), Friends and Family of Alcoholics (Al-Anon/Alateen), Cocaine Anonymous (CA), Clutterers Anonymous (CLA), Crystal Meth (Crystal Meth Anonymous), Co-Dependents Anonymous (CoDA), CoSex and Love Addicts Anonymous (COSA), Debtors Anonymous (DA), Emotions Anonymous (EA), Gamblers Anonymous (GA), Heroin Anonymous (HA), Marijuana Anonymous (MA), Narcotics Anonymous (NA)…and I’m only halfway through the alphabet.
It’s a little exhaustive, isn’t it? Not to mention pretty redundant. I was taught that a drug is a drug is a drug. My only explanation is…and forgive the cliché…“Birds of a feather flock together.” I guess people feel more comfortable with their own kind, even down to the nitty, gritty details.
It kind of makes sense if you think about it for a minute. I doubt a cocaine addict would get along very well with a heroine addict. One would be bouncing off the walls and running around in circles, while the other would be laid out on the floor trying to get some peace and quiet. I’m not sure what the Gambler would be doing. Probably watching a horse race!
How has the book been “received” - are people liking it, hating it – seeing too much of themselves in it, or are they able to better understand someone in their life who is dealing with addiction/forgiveness?
So far, people are really liking it, but having a difficult time with the roller coaster of emotions involved in it, especially if they know someone who is or was an addict.
For example, I traded emails the other day with a young woman who said she cried several times during the novel. It seems her husband, now a full year clean and sober, had a real difficult time trying to get off painkillers. From what I gathered, he was addicted to synthetic opiates, which have one of the most or perhaps the most painful withdrawal symptoms. She said her husband tried everything he could to get off them and even lasted three full days cold turkey, before eventually relapsing and being admitted to the hospital. His doctor prescribed him Suboxone, which like Methadone, is supposed to help addicts transition through the early psychological withdrawal symptoms. Unfortunately, these “transition drugs” are just as addictive, if not more addictive, than the real thing, heroine. As a result, the woman’s husband had to go through several episodes of withdrawal, relapse, withdrawal, relapse, before he finally was able to stop for good.
There’s a part in my book where Dave Bell, the former all-American track star, breaks into the detoxification trailer and steals a bunch of Suboxone. When the reviewer read that part she had a real personal moment and remembered all the pain she and her husband had gone through only year ago with the Suboxone. She really complemented me by saying the book was “truly gut-wrenching because I discussed, in very explicit and accurate details, the mental, psychological and physical effects of withdrawal and the various stages of recovery.” This makes me so happy, because my main objective, above all else, was to paint an accurate portrayal of the insidiousness of addiction. I think I’ve accomplished that. And if just one person can gain a better understanding of recovery and addiction, then I’ll know I’ve accomplished something that I can be proud of.
Do you have any writing rituals? As a matter of fact, I do. Before I even power up the laptop, I always go out and grab some coffee, usually a quad latté; hot if it’s morning, iced if it’s the afternoon. I know, I know, eight shots a day…not very healthy. But what can I say? I’m an addict. I traded alcohol for espresso. I find it stimulates the imagination. I’m actually sipping a latté as I write this. The key is to not go overboard. Just like alcohol, you can get seriously ill from too much caffeine. In fact, my acting teacher and I trade stories all the time about our past addictions. He used to be a caffeine addict, but not coffee, as you might expect. His poison was Diet Coke. I know, I know, it sounds benign. But get this; he used to drink 216 ounces a day. That’s 18 twelve ounce cans! It’s the first thing he drank when he got up in the morning and the last thing he drank before going to bed at night. When he finally quit, he said he had a migraine for six days, threw up for three, and was in bed for two. It sounds a lot like one of my alcohol detox’s. Crazy stuff.
Genre – Literary Fiction
Rating – R