Since tomorrow is the official release of my memoir, I want to talk today about why I wrote it. I mean, does the world really need another recovery memoir? What’s so special about my story? And anyway, why would I want to share such embarrassing stuff with the world?
These are all questions I’ve asked myself.
It’s true that recovery memoirs abound these days. Harrowing tales of a good person’s descent into the mortifying abyss of addiction. The story usually climaxes when the author reaches her lowest point—she loses her relationships, career, dignity or health. Or all of the above. Finally, she seeks outside help.
And then the story is over.
Early in my drinking days, these stories assured me that I hadn’t fallen nearly so low as the author. Whew! I still had plenty of time left to drink before I hit that kind of bottom! The story’s tragic end—the author having to quit—inspired me to try even harder to manage my own drinking so I’d never have to. 🙂
As my dependency worsened, I finished these memoirs with a strange mix of hope and dread. Hope, because it was clear that the author had found a way out of her nightmare. But dread, too, because of the deafening silence in most memoirs about what happened next.
I needed to know, what did happen next? What happens after you quit the drug or the drink or whatever it was you were addicted to? How could a life devoid of one’s favorite and most necessary thing be anything but miserable?
I needed to read a recovery memoir that was actually about recovery. I was desperate to hear a newly sober person talk about joy. And if possible, to hear from a woman of faith who had succumbed to addiction, quit, and come out the other side without losing God in the process.
At the time, I couldn’t find that book.
Perhaps this, more than any other reason I have for writing my story, is the one that matters most: I believe there’s someone like me out there searching for a story like mine.
A lot of someones, actually. It’s precisely because my story isn’t special or my experience unique that it matters. Given that one in ten people over age 12 is classified with drug dependence or addiction, I’m convinced that churches today are filled with folks who suffer in silence, many of whom are too ashamed to admit the truth or reach for professional help.
So yes, I’m willing to risk a little public embarrassment. To the same degree I once felt compelled by shame to keep my alcoholism a secret, today I feel compelled by gratitude to bring it into the light. But in case that sounds noble, you should know that it’s also a bit selfish. Being open about my recovery helps me stay sober.
And yet, while alcoholism was the catalyst for my journey, any painful event that brings us to the end of ourselves can spark the kind of spiritual crisis I’ve written about. For others it might be a divorce, financial ruin, a painful loss or a daunting physical challenge.
That’s why I think my story isn’t just for addicts, but for any person who has ever doubted the sincerity of his or her own faith, who has ever felt scalded by secret shame, who has ever repeatedly betrayed God and those they love…and can’t seem to change.
Most of all, I want Sober Mercies to speak to those who want to start over but are losing hope that such a thing is even possible. I want to tell you what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now.
Because what it’s like now is pretty amazing.
P.S. On Thursday, I’m featuring a guest post by–drum roll, please–my husband, Dave. It will be a Q. and A. about his experience of my addiction and his role in my journey to healing. If you have questions you’d like to ask him, please email them to me at Heather@Soberboots.com.
P.S.S. If you want to spread to the word about my book, this is a great article by my amazing agent about how to help an author.