Thursday, May 14, 2009

Alcoholism Too Ordinary?

Recently I found a blog post regarding “The Saving Grace of Sobriety” that I’d written in April. The upshot was the alcoholism portrayed in Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace was nothing out of the ordinary and the Pierson’s apparently, didn’t suffer enough.

The novel was inspired by a true story which includes the alcoholism of blood relatives such as Kay and Paul’s and the four generations that scar the family’s past and present. If four generations of broken lives isn’t enough suffering, what is? We’ve buried one sibling and our parents would tell you there is no anguish comparable to the grief of losing a child.

We’re in the midst of an intervention with another blood relative and again, unless you’ve lived it, most people have no idea of the trauma involved in attempting to save a loved one from them, because we know we might fail. Unless the person has hit bottom enough times and decides their life is worth living, beyond an intervention there is not much else we can do. We can’t stop that family member from ultimate destruction if that’s the path they choose.

But in writing a book outside of a memoir an author has to make decisions about what details to include and what details to leave out (unless you’re Jonathan Frey and your travails of drug treatment are certainly interesting, but they’re also completely false). In Shades of Darkness, Shades of Grace, the focus was on keeping those details that were important to story being told, while also moving the narrative forward.

So reading that the Pierson’s family history of alcoholism is too ordinary is almost laughable. No one ever looks at drug treatment and says, “Now there’s something I haven’t tried”. For both Kay and Paul the road leading to a drug treatment program is one of few remaining options. True, it’s family driven and not as dramatic as being forced into treatment by the state, but drug treatment means things have reached a breaking point.

The opinions of this particular blogger are, like anything, as relevant as their experience. Another person (in this case a book reviewer) found the alcoholism addiction sub-plot too gruesome and depressing. Opinions at opposite ends of the spectrum but one thing I can tell you - no one goes into drug treatment because they want to. They go to try and save what’s left of their lives, and if that’s boring or too gruesome, so be it.

1 comment:

Jaz said...

Without alcoholism treatment, these problems can often go undiagnosed; most alcoholics don’t ever seek treatment until they wind up in some major problem involving severe health problems