A Subplot of Sobriety

I’ll say it outright: Waiting for You is Romance. Perhaps it is on the cusp of Women’s Fiction, as there is so much more to this story than the main love story between Kylie and Adam. Family. Parents. Frienship. Loss. Many Romance novels focus solely on the main couple, usually to the point that it seems like both parties have zero friends, family, or basically anyone else in their life. That’s why I find it somewhat cringe-y to admit that my work falls under the Romance genre.

I’ve gotten several positive comments about Shawn, who is Adam’s roommate and bandmate, and his subplot in Waiting for You. The main thread in all the comments I’ve received about this subplot of sobriety is how they’re glad a modern day issue among today’s twenty-somethings–alcohol and drug abuse–is touched upon. It is by no means a major part of the plot, but it’s there. Waiting for Life, my next novel that’s still in its first draft, has mental illness and alcohol abuse as its main theme–an extremely personal theme.

 

There are quite a few aspects of Waiting for You that are a nod to aspects of my own life. Shawn’s subplot of sobriety is one of them. Friendship is another. Between Kylie and Cat’s friendship, and Adam and Shawn’s, I wanted to show that there’s more to their lives than a romantic plot and a happily-ever-after. I am incredibly lucky to have so many amazing friends. They give me cake and stuff. (Really, our friendships go much deeper than cake, but I always appreciate a good cake.)

I traveled to New York this past summer to visit my friends. One put together a flash drive of a ton of photos from college for me. I was browsing through the photos this morning, chuckling at some of the evidence of our shenanigans, when I came across this photo, which prompted this post:

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I was 21 and one month clean. Out of everyone I knew in college, I have three friends who have stuck by my side through everything I’ve been through. While they were entering their senior year in college (and what would have been mine, too), I was home, attending an outpatient rehab five days a week and figuring out my new diagnosis of bipolar disorder. But these three friends of mine — Theresa, Anna, and Candice –they drove two hours to visit me for a weekend, get a cake for me, and celebrate my one month anniversary. At that point, I had a sponsor. I was beginning to work the steps. I was doing a ninety-in-ninety. I was scared shitless. But I couldn’t ask for more supportive friends.

In contrast, this photo was taken about 6 weeks prior to the photo above. This was just a few weeks before my suicide attempt in ’08, and my subsequent journey into sobriety:

sober, sobriety, alcoholism, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, suicide, mental illness, bipolar disorder, romance, contemporary romance

My drinking was at its worst. I was abusing pain pills on top of my drinking. I had bottles of liquor hidden in the house. For a while, I had some friends fooled. We’d go out to the bars, and I’d have a drink or two then go home. But then I’d sit alone in my room and down shot after shot until I passed out. I’d skip meals so I could get drunk faster. I was in a horrible mixed episode–both depressed and manic, and delusional. I was sick.

 

And, of course, this is me nowadays, 8 years sober (and not sure if I’m panicking over the fact that I’ll be 30 soon…) 🙂

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