“Why did you write this book?”

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

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4 thoughts on ““Why did you write this book?”

  1. As an adult daughter of an alcoholic mother I applaud your book. I wish my mother, who is still drinking at 78, had a “moment” but it was not to be. This is not a bad thing for your son to know, it is taking your addiction out of the careful wrapping most keep their’s in, banishing the horrible “don’t tell” mentality from your family forever – something your son will be grateful for. Your book gave me some insight into my own mother, where before there as only been supposition. I thank you for this – from one of the “why?” askers.

  2. Tremendously brave to share what is, I believe happening more than we know. Thank-you for being the voice for many, and what I think will lead a few to help.

  3. I wrote my impression of your excellent book in a blog in response to Lisian Jutras article ( ferthjani) in the Globe & Mail.You
    are telling the Truth, that is not over sharing. I am sure you know, what would be over sharing. And that’s not in the book.
    We all have a few secrets, we blush when we think about them, and we keep it to ourselves. What you are telling us is your
    thinking when sober and thinking when drunk, and your feelings and your behavior when sober and when drunk.The motifs
    for behaving a certain way is a mystery, has nothing to do with reason or willpower. For better or worse this is who you
    are, the unique you, like no other, just like there are no two leaves the same. But as you have experienced,- there is Hope.
    One can change for a day. Bring out and realize the possibilities in life. One can be happy. And the days can pile up.For
    me, they piling up for the last 50 years next week. I am happy I read your book, and I thank you for writing it.

  4. Thank you for writing your book, for not pussy-footing around the ugly side of alcoholism. I picked up your book, hoping that it could help me understand a little bit my own mother’s struggle with alcohol. She sadly never got that moment, that pause, and she died while I was pregnant with my first child. She was just 60 years old. Reading your words gave me a small insight in how her mind was working. I know that she had managed to convince everyone around her that she had given up alcohol, but when we cleaned up her house, we found her bedroom littered with bottles. So many little things throughout your book clicked, things that I never would have connected, like shopping to distract yourself.
    We had no contact in her final two years. I could no longer deal with it all or her. But alcohol stole her away from me long before that.
    I hope that your son will appreciate your memoir when he is old enough, and love you all the more.

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