In some of the criticism of my book, the theme of “oversharing” came up a lot. Why did I not hide some of those ugly bits, why did I put my family in the memoir, what will my son think when he reads this book, why would I write something that portrayed me in such unsympathetic light? Why no cut-clear solutions (this despite the fact that I say in the book that I didn’t write a “self-help” manual).
I understand those sentiments. Truth hurts – it hurt me to admit it. But why not tell the truth? Addicts can be ugly and sad and selfish but they also need help and compassion. Badly. So that’s one thing. Another thing is very simple: it’s that I write and I am a story teller and I wanted to tell a story of 11 months of my life. I wanted to report it with a sharp, clinical eye, without dressing it up, softening it. I had an image of telling my story, face to face, to your face and your face unable to look away. But once you’re done listening, you can, of course, look away.
I understand people’s sentiments when they read my memoir – I understand why it makes them angry, uncomfortable. I understand the rage about the fact that I drank while trying to take care of my son – the boy who is the love of my life. But why did I not protect him from me? I have tried but part of my problem was that I was so ashamed to admit that I had a problem… because there’s so much shaming around addiction. Because we’re told to keep certain things “private.” Because I was hiding, keeping my family hostage, making them hide too.
I’ve been asked over and over about my choice to tell my story over my choice to expose my family to possible scrutiny: “What will your son think?” I don’t know what my son will think but I hope that he will come of age in the world where we don’t hate people simply because we don’t take the time to understand them or because we have preconceived judgments about them. I hope he will have an open heart and lots of questions.
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”
― Marie Curie