In a fresh take on the addiction narrative, my book tracks the emotional arc of the parent, from secrecy and shame to surrender. The following excerpt is from the first Book Club chapter, where the reader is introduced to a concept of “community”. The statistics within our group are staggering.
We took our places around Suzanne’s kitchen table. We were the invisible casualties of addiction, five women drawn into a circle of light. Celeste’s daughter had been kicked out of school for pot. Ruthie’s son had almost died of alcohol poisoning. Each of us mourned the child who might have been, the child who was desperately lost. We could not have known, not then, where these children were headed. In the upcoming decade we’d find ourselves attending the funerals of six young people within our children’s world, two car accidents, three overdoses, one suicide.
The stats wouldn’t tally for years. But that night, among the five of us, were eleven children, five of whom were addicts. They’d experimented with alcohol, Xanax, Ecstacy, pot and heroin. They’d struggled through eating disorders, been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and endured sexual abuse.
Collectively, we’d seen thirty-two counselors, attended AA, Narcotics Anonymous, Al-Anon, Families Anonymous, consulted with educational specialists, interventionists, psychologists, psychiatrists, tutors, an acupuncturist–even an energy healer. Our children had matriculated through wilderness programs, courtrooms, prison pods and halfway houses. They’d earned four DUIs, two and a half years of jail time, three years probation, five felonies, three high school expulsions, and three near overdoses.
Together, our families had spent over $350,000 on addiction. And not one of us was out of the woods yet.
“What can I get for you, Lynda?” Suzanne called over her shoulder as she reached into a cabinet for a glass. Here was the tribe I’d never dreamed existed, their understanding a salve. I sank into their acceptance like a warm bubble bath. “Not a thing, Suzanne.” I answered. “Not a single thing.”
“Open your books, now,” Celeste guided. “Let’s read the first step out loud.” We are powerless in the face of addiction. It might seem like a simple concept, but we stayed on this chapter for months.
The mothering instinct is to fix, smooth over, repair, cover up, bandage, or, if all else fails, beat the crap out of anything that hurts our children. We think we can control what they eat, what they wear, their school, their friends. Then addiction lumbers in, sniffs the air for signs of weakness, licks its chops, sharpens its claws, and terrorizes us before knocking us flat and ripping our hearts out.