Why I Wrote This Book (and this blog)

sobermerciesforblogSince 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.

Author: Heather Kopp at SoberBoots.com

Heather Kopp is an author and blogger who writes about the intersection of addiction and faith. Her memoir about her recovery, Sober Mercies, was published by Jericho, a new imprint of HBG (Hachette Book Group) in Spring 2013.

88 thoughts on “Why I Wrote This Book (and this blog)”

  1. I am surprised at how much I connected with you in each line. I was so captured by your vulnerability and honesty and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing your story with the boldness and courage that you did. I was never an alcoholic, I was addicted to smoking marijuana which led to a number of other things. Not many people look at it as a problem or an addiction. But every way you described your addiction to alcohol was how I felt with marijuana. From the hiding, to the triggers. It all hit me so hard that regardless of the substance, addiction was still present. I have been a member of New Beginnings Church in Pueblo, CO for 3 years now. By Gods grace I am able to go through my days in complete joy and thankfulness with Him. I am actually present! Thank you again for your story! May God rest His hand upon you and your calling on this earth. You are so loved!

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  2. Wow! I am only on the 3rd chapter and its like reading a story about my life! Only my husband found the empty bottles! But its me or was me I should say all the way down to hiding the booze in my over sized purses middle pocket drinking in the stalls!

    So thank you for this book! It is a reminder of what the H*** was I thinking and Thank You God for rescuing me on that night of Feb. 19th! 2012! Haven’t had a drink since! Although yes I am very proud of that I owe all credit to Our God! Because it was only God striking down on me that night that o haven’t drank!!

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    1. Cara, thanks for this note! And ouch about the husband finding the bottles. Probably for the best, I’m guessing. I’m so thrilled to hear that you found rescue and sobriety. Congratulations! Keep in touch, friend. Let me know what you think about the rest of the book, if you still like it. 🙂

      On Wed, Jun 12, 2013 at 9:23 PM, Heather Kopp

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  3. I can”t wait to read this book. I should be receiving it this week! Your story Heather, touches my heart in a very special way. I have just come through a deep depression and anxioty situation since 2006. I have had similar experiences with drinking when I was down and feeling so far from God! He never left my side as a Christian, but I left His side. God is opening up my eyes and I am hearing from Him much clearer, but I feel, my travels with God are not over! God Bless you!!

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  4. Heather, you are a courageous wise hearted woman and I know God will use you greatly for He never waste anything in our lives, even the bad stuff. Going to get your book. Blessings my sister

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  5. Oh my gosh Heather….I could have written this exact post, except in stead of alcohol, mine’s prescription drug addiction. I’m writing a book, and I’ve searched and searched for a memoir about a CHRISTIAN who fought and and lived to see the other side of prescription drug addiction. There’s not one. And I KNOW there are so many people hiding behind prescription drug addiction…especially moms. I sent the request to review your book and I can’t wait to get it! 🙂

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  6. Thanks Heather, I am eager to read your book, a similar story to mine. I think it was St. Francis that said “God uses everything to His glory, even my sin.” I really can say I am grateful to be an alcoholic for how God is turning my selfishness into selflessness…slowly but surely. Blessings!

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  7. I saw a video about you on Fox a few minutes ago. The connection to a Christian got my attention. I am not around very many alcoholics who attend church regularly; most I know are very critical of “churchy” people. I’m not comfortable with telling my church friends that I am in recovery. One day it will be ok to share that fact with more people. I truly cannot wait to read your book. I will be ordering it as soon as I complete this note to you. Thank you for your courage and willingness to share your experience, strength, and hope with everyone.

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    1. Kay, yikes! That was hard to do. I didn’t realize that the camera was on me when she was talking, too. I was at home staring at a blank screen pretending I could see. Anyway… thanks so much for this comment!! I totally identify with you. I hope so much that you’ll come back and tell me what you thought about the book. Hugs to you, friend.

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  8. To say this book was good would be an understatement! I read through it like I was drinking cold water on a hot day. I identified with several behaviors and reactions, which in and of itself is worth seeking healing. Thank you, Heather, for being so transparent with your life … it means a lot!To

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    1. Miss Connie, thank you! I want to grab your opening line and post it on Amazon. Maybe you already did. I love those kinds of responses because I wanted it to be an easy read and to keep the reader, not just a topic book. So you blessed me today.

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  9. Heather…so very happy for you! I can’t wait to read it! You have helped me so much the last 9 months of being sober! You especially got me thru those tough early days, weeks, months when I was so vulnerable and raw. I was the one who bought new leather boots and wore them for my first sober Christmas! I have thanked God many times for all your thought provoking and honest posts that got me thru some pretty tough days! Hugs!!!!

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  10. Can’t wait to read it Heather, I’m so excited for you and for those who will be transformed by your words. I’m in England with spotty time on the internet but I just had to come over and hug you with congratulations.

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  11. Heather, I have loved your writing since before you became Heather Kopp. Loved reading your columns in Virtue Magazine (see my hand over my mouth and hear me mumbling) some 23ish years ago. And, now, I’m anxious to read your intersecting-with-grace-story. Love and hugs!

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  12. Every story is unique…and the more common threads we hear, the more likely we might be to seek change in our own lives. THANK YOU for putting your life out there…

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  13. “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.” I want this kind of courage, Heather. You’re setting a wonderful example and helping so many. Thank you!

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  14. After reading your blog for a few months I am so eager to read your book. I know it will be wonderful and a tremendous help and blessing to many people.

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      1. I think that there is an addict gene in every human being. Perhaps it was tended for something better but it is there. One of the worst things in the world is for a person with an addiction to sit in a dark closet in fear that someone will discover their weakness. Jesus will use you through this – you have made yourself available.

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  15. Blazing the trail, Heather!
    I can really relate to moving from shame/hiding ‘the problem’ to feeling obsessed about sharing my story. I am so excited to get your book and review it for you. I already know it’s going to be great!

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  16. Hi Heather… a few thoughts… first let me give some context…

    As I have stated before, I read and reply to your blog because it is relevant. We have some overlaps such as our faith, I would say also our approximate ages, and the fact we re both married to non-alcoholics. These add to the relevance I am sure.

    I am tired of fluff in my recovery and my church experiences. I am a little jaded in my involvement in both and can easily be alergic to self-promotion, hype, and other mixed agenda that often weave their way in to recovery and faith teaching and sharing.

    I even have a good friend of over 20 year who has an amazing life story of error, tragedy, and recovery in relational matters rather than substance-abuse. Yet, I can’t stand to hear her speak or read her material because it is all so … well… it just feels so much about attention and drama.

    So, I see a disticntion between what I feel is substance and fluff. I run from fluff and seek out substance. Which is why I read and reply to your posts. Your posts have a lot of substance.

    And it would be wonderful if substance on its own sold and spread like wild fire. Yet, in our world, it rarely does, so we have to engage in some forms of promotion. Just seems to be a reality.

    I think as long as you simply keep putting substance out there… whether it be in your blog, book, vids, or whatever, you can’t go wrong. And keeping your heart and motives in check are your business. But from where I stand, you continue to share substance… which to me is another word for relevant truth, and truth has proven itself over and over to set people free.

    How it all works? I have no idea. Why one needs these days to have multiple social media and training seminars to get their message out there? Again, no idea. All I know is that when a message with substance finally makes it through, people are impacted for the positive.

    So keep doing what you are doing 🙂

    Ciao.

    Chaz

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    1. Chaz, killer comment. And yes, the promotion part sucks! But publishers have this weird thing where they want you help them sell books since they went and gave you money, after all. So I have to be a good business partner, but I do also think the book is a good read, too. So there you have it. My favorite lines in your response, and they could be the theme of my spiritual life: I have no idea. It’s the only box I’ve found that’s big enough for God.

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      1. For sure. We don’t need to know everything, nor do we need to represent ourselves as such. And I think if we have a healthy grasp of the fact that there are many things we don’t, and may never know, we can rest easier in what we do know.

        For instance, I know if I don’t drink today, a bunch of ‘today’s will add up all on their own and I will enjoy prolonged sobriety… hopefully lifelong sobriety. Yet, if I determine to stay sober forever … by way of solemn vow or legalistic rule, and lose focus of how to stay sober today, I won’t…. or at least I never have.

        Why? Well again….. I don’t know!!!! Yippeee!! And I don’t have to know in order for it to work!

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  17. You are so right.. a book about ‘recovery’ is hard to come by. I love the boozy memoirs, but the bits I really pour over are the bits after they get sober. How did they do it? What happened? What was life like after? I got a bit of that from Clarissa Dickson-Wright’s memoir, she wrote really well about the 12-steps. And Cupcake Brown in A Piece of Cake wrote about her journey in AA.. Did you do AA? I’m new to your blog having been led here by MessageInABottle.. I must catch up on some of your old posts. And I do look forward to reading your book! Take care and best of luck with the book launch. Xxx Mrs D xxx (from New Zealand!)

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    1. Mrs D, thank you for taking time to respond. New Zealand. Wow! I do use a 12 Step program, but I try not to name it because they have a tradition of anonymity so that people don’t seem to represent them. But I love my program and thanks for the tips on the books! So glad to “meet” you. I hope you’ll stay in touch.

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  18. Experience, strength and hope… Thank you for the ongoing sharing of yours.

    Preordered Kindle edition, can’t wait to read it.

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      1. Heather, I heard you on WMUZ with Bob Dutko in Detroit. I loved the interview and can unfortunately relate that I am not “soberinmyboots” yet. Your memories shared are my realities these days. I’m not married, but I have a boyfriend who is like Dave. However, I do reach out to our God and pray…and he is guiding me, i.e….I turned on the radio right at the time you were being interviewed! This happens quite a bit with other strong messages that I feel God is purposefully guiding me to hear. I look forward to reading your book.

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  19. Heather, your words will touch others. They already have. Praising Him for bringing you through and giving you the courage to write about it. Looking forward to your release!

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  20. I am looking forward to reading your memoir very much, Heather. Congratulations and blessings on tomorrow’s launch day!

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  21. I love this and I so love reading what you have to share week after week! I look forward to every single post and I’m so excited to read your book! 🙂 It really is so helpful, comforting and encouraging to be able to hear things that I can relate to as a recovering alcholic, a Christian and a mom. Like you, I struggled with my shame for so long and was determined to “learn how to drink”. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I am in recovery. I try to use the tools I’ve been given to help not only those that are struggling with addiciton, but life stuff too. I have a dear friend who is recently divorced, who has 5 year old triplets who’s been struggling with life, who started coming to my 6am meeting once a week just because she heard so much solution when I would share with her. That’s recovery! She has finally found an Alanon meeting that she can find the same support in since she is not an alcoholic. :). … I’m excited to pick up my 18 month chip at the end of this month and I now have 2 women that I sponsor and I get to work my program as I live life on life’s terms and carry the message to others. Thank you for sharing about your journey before and during, and for inspiring me and so many others! I will check out your link on how to promote your book for sure. 🙂 xoxo

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  22. Heather, your writing has helped me tremendously in my 2 years of sobriety. You are one of two bloggers I still read, because of where your words come from and how closely they match the highs and lows of my experiences with recovery and God. Having your perspective and story available makes me feel a part of something even larger than what I see face to face in AA and church. I am grateful, and excited about your book and hope to meet you at a Seattle reading!

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    1. Anne, I can’t tell you how much that means to me to hear that my blog has been a help. We need each other so much. I hope someday I do make it up to Seattle! I will remember you and look you up if I ever am. My mom lives near there now, and so does a younger brother. Hugs to you.

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  23. I knew the moment I met you that God was doing the introducing, and this post confirms just that! When I read, “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,” my heart beat a little faster.
    I too have searched for a story of recovery -A story that witnesses how to “practice these principles in all our affairs” with one hand on my heart and one hand firmly in God’s. I too am writing. I am writing from the Al-Anon/family perspective.
    I am so grateful to have you in my tribe!

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    1. Deborah, right back atcha! I love this community online, too. And I’m always astonished how God knits my heart with people without ever seeing their faces. It is a beautiful thing, and you are such a beautiful example of everything good about recovering families. Thank you.

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  24. This is a wonderful description of why everyone’s story matters, even though we may feel that there is nothing special about us. In a sense, you’re reaching out to yourself, to the person like you who is out there and still looking for what you couldn’t find. Good luck with your book – judging by the writing on this blog, it’s going to be exceptional.

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  25. “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.” Love this. I know, I left our your reason for it, and I love that raw transparency about you too, but this refrain shares the same rhythm of irony I’ve come to know in the One speaking to my soul, the one who waited patiently and mercifully for me through years of despair that I would never change, the one who taught me to embrace the irony that in Him, surrender brings freedom. Bless your heart, Heather. May Christ be glorified and may you be strengthtened as you encourage others.

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  26. “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.” You are offering hope … such a precious commodity.

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  27. Heather,

    I just want to wish you all the best on your new book release. You are a fantastic writer and a genuinely honest and caring person. That combination is sure to succeed.

    Nancy ❤

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  28. Wonderful Heather! I know it is going to be well received and do very well! This is what we do in recovery – we share our stories. And everyone has a different story – different circumstances, different backgrounds, different “bottoms”, different journeys, different ways of recovery, different perspectives. And many of us hear lots of stories until we hear ours being told. That is how many people initially connect and identify with another addict / alcoholic. They have a message with depth and weight because they have experienced what it is like to be an addict / alcoholic. And we know, because they are speaking our language. And what I find is that regardless of the story, we all have the same basic underlying fears and hurts. There are many commonalities amongst us, and we too see that in our stories.

    And I agree that there isn’t enough about recovery. Some books tend to be more about the downward spiral – and perhaps it makes good reading, but it doesn’t show the complete picture. I think those books (nothing wrong with them, by the way) also short-change the reader who is looking for an answer…any answer. And I know through reading your blog that you speak more of recovery than you do what happened in the past. This is what I try to do in my blog and writing. Living in the solution rather than living in the problem. Discuss what it was like, for sure, but then discuss then what it is like now – and that is where the magic lies! We see the solution in action and we can make the connection between the past and the present. What a gift to share!

    Thanks Heather and good luck with the book.

    Blessings,
    Paul

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    1. Paul, you make great points here. Our stories are all radically different and yet completely the same at bottom. And yes, living in the solution is so important, and so easy to forget. I appreciate you and your comments so much. Thank you, bro.

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      1. No disappointment I assure you. Your story has purpose. You are throwing it all out there, giving others the opportunity to judge. Just as we learn in recovery, trying to please others messes with us. Stand firm on your purpose. 🙂 Others will stand with you.

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  29. Good luck. I’ll be looking for Sober Mercies around Pittsburgh! I love a good recovery story. And I still hate it when they end where recovery starts!

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  30. All I can say is, “Glory to God”–and congratulations, Heather. It takes guts to be authentic and transparent, but once we start living that way–it’s addictive in a good way. I feel very alive when I’m telling my story (ies)–and we all have one. And YES, there’s someone–maybe hundreds of someones–who are just hanging on, waiting for your story–because it’s their story too. I wish you all the best success with your book–and my prayers continue for you and your family. God is Good. Bless your over-comer heart–love, sis Caddo

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    1. Caddo, thank you. I just really, really like the way you talk to me in your comments. So natural. I wish we could have coffee. I agree that there’s nothing better for us than telling our stories. Unless it’s listening to others tell theirs. 🙂

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