Substance Use Disorder

Book Review: Dark Wine Waters

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Late last summer, just before Recovery Month in September, Fran Simone emailed to see if I’d be interested in taking a look at her book, Dark Wine Waters: My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows. She thought I might want to write about it here, for Recovery Month.

Sure, I said, send it on. My blog calendar was pretty full for Recovery Month 2014 but I told Fran I’d see what I could do.

Rigorous honesty, right? Fran did indeed send her beautiful book and here’s the truth: It became buried on my desk.

You see, Recovery Month is a tiny-bit hectic for a recovery writer. I’m a piling sort of writer anyway—put Dark Wine Watersstuff away in desk drawers and I have a hard time finding it—so there are sensible stacks on my desk that grow out-of-control during hectic times.

Please consider this my amends, dear Fran. I’m sorry I didn’t read your book then but I have read it now—and I am moved by its transparency. Thank you for your bravery.

For the readers

I want to tell all my friends in recovery and those who love us that Fran’s Dark Wine Waters may cause you to cringe repeatedly as you read. That will be a normal response so don’t panic.

You will quite possibly shed tears at times too, and don’t be surprised if you become enveloped in sadness. That was my experience as I read.

Please don’t turn away in fear of these emotions. One of Fran’s gifts to her readers is the idea that feelings need acknowledgement. They must have a safe place for expression and that safe place begins within the confines of our hearts.

Tweet: Without expression, feelings congeal, becoming resentments we use to beat ourselves and our loved ones. http://bit.ly/1uRU1uf @bheretoday

Dark Wine Waters is a memoir of Fran’s life with her husband  Terry and their relationship with alcoholism and drug addiction.

Much of the book describes their painful, tortuous descent into the belly of the beast, played out with lies and subversion, disappearances and blackouts. In many ways, the day-to-day drama is different only in the details of other stories lived every day in every town, perhaps on every block, in America.

Terry’s drunken escapades—and Fran’s valiant efforts to hide them behind a normal facade—felt intensely familiar to me; I suspect they might to you as well.

The gut-kicker

Terry’s story is so much like my story, like many of our stories yet society still looks past him—and me—and says, “why can’t you just stop?”

Fran writes about the times when Terry thought he could stop on his own. She also writes about how she thought she could get him to stop—on her own.

But alcoholism and drug addiction gradually took possession of his body and their lives. It rendered them powerless to stop its onslaught.

That’s what the disease of addiction does. It ravages the wiring in our brains and does its damnedest to convince us we’re in control. There’s nothing wrong, we think; just drank a little too much.

Virtually all Americans are affected by addiction, whether they’ll admit it is another story. Too many remain hidden behind walls of shame and denial.

But thank God for the Fran Simones of the world who have stepped from behind the wall as family members of the afflicted. Thank God she now knows she didn’t cause Terry’s disease (or her son Matt’s), she couldn’t control it and she certainly couldn’t cure it.

There are 23 million people in the United States who are in recovery from a addiction. Another 20 million suffer with substance use disorder; a large portion of them don’t get the help they need. For every person afflicted, there are several family members and loved ones deeply affected by the disease. 

Thank you, Fran, for sharing your family’s story with us. May you find continued peace in recovery and retirement!

For a copy of Dark Wine Waters, click here. Please leave a comment and I’ll enter your name into a drawing for a free copy.

Photo courtesy of richcd

Meet Recovery Carrier Becky Vance

Lesser Yellowlegs

When it comes to recovery-related issues, Becky Vance is one of the most passionate people you’ll ever meet. We met nearly 10 years ago while working on the field services team for The Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, then known as The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Our lives have changed drastically since 2005: while neither of us works at The Partnership any longer, we still live and work and breathe recovery–as a couple. Having Becky as the November Recovery Carrier not only honors the professional work she does, but expresses my loving gratitude for the many ways she models recovery for me in our daily lives together.

This is the 11th post in this Recovery Carrier series.

William White defines recovery carriers as “people, usually in recovery, who make recovery infectious to those around them by their openness about their recovery experiences, their quality of life and character, and the compassion they exhibit for those still suffering.” (www.williamwhitepapers.com, 2012)

When you hear the term “recovery carrier,” as it relates to addiction, what does that mean to you? Do you think you’re a recovery carrier?

A recovery carrier is someone who is not afraid to share the miracle of her own recovery with anyone. In fact, she is always looking for new opportunities to share her story withBvanceRally others, because she knows others will pass it on. Yes, I believe in my heart that I am a recovery carrier. People often tell me that my passion for recovery is infectious and I love that! I even joke that I am the poster child for recovery; if you think about it, that’s really true, at least to the people I meet that haven’t been exposed to recovery.

What makes you uniquely qualified to do the work you do?

It may sound kind of weird but I believe that God selected me to share this message of recovery. I did not wake up one day and say “I think I’ll share my recovery story at a breakfast of 100 corporate leaders to help promote the value of drug-free workplace programs.” Not at a time when I had a huge fear of public speaking! That particular event, which we called “Sex, Lies and Drugs in the Workplace,” turned out to be a sentinel event for me, and was the launching pad for the work I do today.

As a result of saying “yes” to sharing my story outside of a 12-Step meeting, which was absolutely terrifying to me at the time, I’ve been able to touch more lives than I could ever imagine.

Tell me how your personal story fits into why you do your work.

Maybe a better question is, How do you carry the message of recovery in your work life? I have been truly blessed for the past 26 years to have jobs that allowed me to share my recovery story with literally thousands of people.

(To read more of Becky’s interview, click Becky Vance 11-14)

Photo courtesy of AcrylicArtist

Mindful People in Recovery Manifesto: Free!

People are writing all kinds of manifestos these days. Lifehack.org even published a cool post called “10 Insanely Awesome Inspirational Manifestos” that includes several worthy of emulation. But please finish reading here before you click away . . .

By definition, a manifesto is a written statement declaring publicly the intentions, motives, or views of its issuer.

I’ve held a vision for this blog since its inception in May of 2010–to share and explore how mindfulness and presence lead to a happier life. It’s a pretty simple mission.

Somewhere along the line I began to incorporate a recovery theme too and for a while split the posts between the two themes. But I soon began to feel like a house divided because I thought I was writing for two different audiences.

Wait. Don’t mindfulness and recovery naturally go together?

This past summer, a spiritual two-by-four smacked against my head. GUS (God-Universe-Spirit) had my attention. Ow.

Anybody who lives on a successful recovery path is mindful and anyone who is mindful has the ability to recover from anything.

Oreo cookie, anyone?

I began to watch people in recovery and easily noticed that people who were mostly happy, joyous and free from worry and fear had some sort of mindful practice.

Conversely, people with a well-developed sense of mindful presence tended to rather easily bounce back from life’s more shitty moments. They recovered from a mental, spiritual or physical deficiency with grace and dignity. I’ve witnessed that too.

Getting back to the Manifesto

Then I made another observation. Mindful people tend to intuitively know how to bounce back. Their faith is instinctual so they have at least an idea of where to turn for help or who to consult to start the process.

But with people new to recovery, the concept of mindfulness is foreign; therefore practicing presence is like teaching a rescued stray greyhound who’s only known homelessness how to play with dog toys. So what if the hedgehog squeaks?

The Mindful People in Recovery Manifesto is that squeaky hedgehog toy.

The MPR Manifesto is a terrific summarized reminder of the truths of recovery for those in long-term recovery as well.

If it resonates with you, I’d love it if you’d tell your friends, your colleagues, and anyone you know in recovery about the MPR Manifesto. Post it on your bathroom mirror, next to your computer or on your refrigerator. Share please with your social media connections.

Let’s start a Mindful People in Recovery Revolution. Let’s advocate for the continued Oreo-cookie connection between mindfulness and recovery. But please don’t dunk the Manifesto. It’s not milk proof.

The MPR Manifesto

Here is your free copy to download. And don’t forget to share on social media!

Photo courtesy of Penywise