Monday, January 11, 2016

On Rock Bottoms...

Today marks the publication of my third YA novel, OTHER BROKEN THINGS. There's a lot of me in this book, a lot of honesty and hurt and acceptance and trying to figure out how to fix yourself. Release day is usually my reminder day, the day I remember that I'm doing the greatest job in the world because I get to be creative and make art. An auspicious and happy time for most authors.

But when I think about this book and all that went into it, I can't help but think about rock bottoms (which is maybe not the most happy thing for a release day, but stick with me, we'll get there).

In doing research on alcoholics, "rock bottoms" came up a bunch of times. The questions were different but all circled around the same thing: what made you decide you were done drinking? when did you realize the only way out was up? what happened that you were finally able to see how sick you were?

As I told Nat's story in OTHER BROKEN THINGS, I thought about how in a certain way, we all have rock bottoms. Sometimes they're extreme and sometimes they're a series of steps spiraling down until you realize that everything is dark and hard and you can't see anymore and you can't remember where you're going or what you're doing and why you were even doing it in the first place.

When I examine my own life, I think about the blanket of regrets that I could wrap around myself. At one point or another, I have been a crap parent, a crap daughter, a crap wife, a crap employee, a crap sister, a crap student, a crap friend. I am what someone wittier than I would call "the okayest human alive."

At times I have wanted the people who love me the most to go away because they were also the people who saw me at my worst. I've often thought that it isn't the people who won't forgive you that are so hard to deal with, it is the ones who will, because they are the ones who have witnessed you at your absolute suckiest and isn't that a reminder we could all do without. (Though I know Carrie, Asher, and Jolene would tell me that those people also have seen you at your absolute best.)

Regret can become its own rock bottom, in the same way that resentment can—they are both diseases that are incurable if you hold on to them, and undoubtedly only toxic to the person feeling them, not the objects of their regret/resentment. And yet these emotions are hard to shake.

And so I think about this past year and how in a way it has felt like a rock bottom: I have failed professionally more than I have succeeded, I have dropped balls in my personal relationships, I have stumbled a lot as a parent, more than I thought I could. But here is the thing. All these failures, they weren't really a rock bottom (even though they felt like it at the time). Because they didn't compromise the things I value the most: compassion, integrity, forgiveness, honesty, grace.

My Natalie in OBT has given up the things she cares about the most: a true rock bottom for her. But even then, she finds a way out. Something I realized is possible for us all. Even if we do lose our way, even if we are truly at the bottom and have had our values compromised, everything keeps moving. Possible still exists. Above all, I have learned that tomorrow will be different than today, even if it's just the tiniest bit. There is a way out. It is hard and it is up, but as Glennon says, "We can do difficult things." Particularly if we know that we aren't doing those things alone.

Why yes, my stepsister did put my face on a Wonder Woman magnet.

So here's the cover and the blurb and buy links and all the sell-y stuff that I must do because it's my release day.

Natalie’s not an alcoholic. She doesn’t have a problem. Everybody parties, everybody does stupid things, like getting in their car when they can barely see. Still, with six months of court-ordered AA meetings required, her days of vodka-filled water bottles are over.

Unfortunately, her old friends want the party girl or nothing. Even her up-for-anything ex seems more interested in rehashing the past than actually helping Nat.

But then a recovering alcoholic named Joe inserts himself into Nat’s life, and things start looking up. Joe is funny, he’s smart, and he calls her out in a way no one ever has.

He’s also older. A lot older.

Nat’s connection to Joe is overwhelming, but so are her attempts to fit back into her old world, all while battling the constant urge to crack a bottle and blur that one thing she’s been desperate to forget.

Now, in order to make a different kind of life, Nat must pull together her broken parts and learn to fight for herself.

(And because I work at Anderson's Bookshop, you can call over there and get a signed copy shipped to you!)

Thank you always for all your love and support!


Kim Bradley said...

Can not wait to read this. Oh, and FYI, lots of alcoholics in my family. I'm not one of them, but grew up under the influence.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Congrats girl. We all have regrets but the people who are there for you at your worst are way better than those who only show up when things are going well. I would rather the former than the latter. Plus if you don't have people in your life who see you then you are just left with a bunch of strangers. Ewww.

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