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Title, Author, and Genre Information for event
1. Bowling For The Mob. Bob Perry with Stefan Bechtel. Sports Biography
2. Braver Than You Believe. Sue Mangum with Claire Cameron. Memoir
3. Warming! William Espinosa. Cli-Fi
4. Scary Mary. S.A. Hunter. YA Paranormal
5. Camila’s Lemonade Stand. Lizzy Duncan with Giles Jackson. Pre-K
6. Lotto’s Super-Awesome Unbelievable Park Adventure. Jan Ferrigan. Middle Grade
7. One Step Ahead of Your Future. Christine Ballard. Estate Planning How-To
8. Radical Doubt. Avery Chenoweth. Fiction
Eve Pearce is a full-time writer and mother of two. When she was in her teens, addiction hit the family and left wreckage in its wake. She has since moved states, settling down in Oklahoma, which is a far cry from her Connecticut roots, where she writes about her experiences and passion for art and literature to help addiction’s victims and addicts themselves.
The therapeutic nature of writing should not be underestimated. Studies have shown that writing can help people overcome personal trauma, and even helped US students come to terms with the events of 9/11. Writing has also been linked with helping to ease the physical symptoms of such illnesses as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis, and is said to boost the immune system. With all that writing is capable of, the question remains; can it help those suffering from addiction? Whether it is addiction to drugs, alcohol, or gambling, addiction presents itself in a variety of ways. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to overcoming an addiction, but as with so many problems in life, writing can and does help.
Taking the First Step
Of course the first step to overcoming an addiction is admitting to having a problem. The next is to seek outside help, as this will give addicts a much higher chance of beating the addiction and staying on the wagon. While the love and support of family and friends can be a great help in the journey to recovery, for most people it takes the help of qualified professionals to truly get them on the right track. Drug abuse rehab is one of the most reliable options available for addicts who truly want to get better. New York rehab facilities are some of the best in America, with places that offer varying types of programs to help deal with all kinds of addiction. Therapeutic writing is often used as part of rehabilitation programs, depending on the facility. Regardless of whether it is part of the program, patients can and should use writing as part of their healing process, whatever stage they are at in their recovery.
Regular individual and group therapy sessions are commonplace in rehab. Individual sessions can help patients to identify the root cause of their addiction, and what changes need to be made in their lifestyle to keep them from temptation. Whereas group therapy can help patients in understanding that they are not alone in their struggle; that others experience the same highs and lows that they do. Some people thrive in this type of therapy, and have no issue with discussing their personal problems and experiences with strangers, while for some the process can be very tough.
Keeping a daily journal provides a fantastic addition to this form of speaking therapy, helping those who are shy about speaking to let out their bottled-up emotions. It is a human tendency to omit certain details when relating our experiences to others, depending on the image we want to present of ourselves. This happens subconsciously. A journal however, will only be read by its owner, and there is really no point in lying to oneself. Patients should empty their thoughts and feelings onto paper, without worrying about coherency and without censoring any of the less savory details. This process of ‘letting it out’ provides an immense sensation of relief. Reading back through the journal will also help patients to identify areas they need to work on during therapy.
In order to have gotten to the point of admitting to having a problem and seeking help, most addicts will have reached the ‘rock bottom’ stage. Addiction grips its sufferers in a way that forces them to make bad decisions that they would not have made in their right mind, as getting the next ‘fix’ is all that matters. Family relationships and friendships are often greatly damaged as the result of addiction, and putting pen to paper can go a long way towards repairing this damage. It’s often hard to eloquently express ourselves through speech, and it is also too easy to avoid the most difficult of topics. Writing a letter to the loved ones that have been hurt because of addiction is the best way to truly express remorse. Not only will this process help to repair the broken bonds, it will help relieve the guilt that can often drive people back to the source of their suffering.
Sharing Your Story
Whitbread and Orangeprize-shortlisted novelist Jill Dawson began her writing career with a journal she started writing at age nine. As quoted in The Guardian, she says: “It has helped me personally and also made me a better writer.” Like Dawson, addiction sufferers may find that the process of journal writing unlocks a potential they never knew they possessed. Addiction is a common problem throughout society, and for many, reading or hearing about the struggles and success stories of fellow sufferers can be a great help. So for those who have faced addiction and come out the other side; there may be no greater way to give back.
I’m moving out of my apartment this Father’s Day weekend, so I have no business blogging. But the events at the University of Virginia (UVa), my employer for the last 5 years, are too exciting to ignore. On Sunday, the Governor-appointed Board of Visitors announced their surprise decision to fire Theresa Sullivan after only 2 years as UVa’s first female president (not a splendid, ice-cream-truck-type “surprise” but more like a corporate takeover, coup, or nighttime dealing by a secret society, of which UVa has many).
There has been excellent journalism on the situation, though little concrete information has been offered by the Board of Visitors. I particularly liked this Slate article, by a UVa faculty member, for summarizing what seems like the main issue – I’ll give you one guess – money and how places like universities get it in a recession.
Here’s the part that’s of interest for this blog and my interest in honesty and growth: the lack of transparency in the Board’s actions. In the most concrete terms I can manage, the Board’s mistakes were 1) replacing a president who was enormously popular with virtually the entire university community, 2) for no clear reason, 3) and without informing anyone else at the university before doing so.
These layer upon other problems, which are ethical, philosophical, existential, financial and (probably, for good measure), psychological. But I’m supposed to be packing. So, just two more things:
1. Since I have been at UVa, much has been made of “The Community.” As in, what is the definition of a community, is UVa a community, and how can we help people who feel like it isn’t feel like it is? I participated in an event following Yeardley Love’s death called Day of Dialogue, which brought together staff and students from across the university to communicate honestly about sensitive issues that most people don’t talk about at work, such as racism, sexism, cronyism, hierarchies, how UVa relates to the non-UVa Charlottesville, community, mental health, communicating with one’s supervisors, and religion. (The UVa Day of Dialogue has no connection that I am aware to the Focus on the Family’s Christian-oriented Day of Dialogue).
I came away from the Sullivan-supported Day of Dialogue, which was actually several 1.5-hr sessions, with a greater optimism about UVa being a place where open communication is possible. In my group, there was impressive diversity in age, though somewhat less diversity in gender and race/ethnicity. Women especially seem to dig this sort of group activity. The point of the group was talking, and we spent the first session establishing how to listen and respond to people whose opinions and values differ from one’s own. Still, I met a UVa Groundskeeper, a head of Dining Services, undergraduate students, and non-education faculty members whom I never would have encountered otherwise. Participating helped me decide that a community is a place where people attempt to – at the risk of being redundant – communicate with one another about issues that matter to them. It was one of the UVa activities that I felt proudest to be a part of, even after three years with a research team whose work inspires and uplifts me.
2. Shame on you, Board of Visitors, for being so secretive about a decision that affects so many members of the UVa community. You have corrupted a tradition of open communication that universities and their members aspire to. You have shocked a community that, if not always succeeding, is trying to be one of those places where people talk about things that matter to them and to others. I’m sure you have your reasons and, if you were willing or able to articulate them, they may even make sense to people who are not in your privileged position. But the way you went about removing our president was shameful. The way you went about it casts doubt on your ability to serve on the Board and your ability to represent the diverse interests of an intellectual, yes, financial, yes, but ultimately social community.
As you undoubtedly know, humans are inherently social creatures. We need each other. We need to be able to tell the truth to each other, even if the news is difficult. So I recognize that you, Board members, are also human. And maybe your news was tough, maybe it was “look, folks, your beloved UVa is going under if we don’t do something drastic like offer online degrees.” Or maybe it was “Gosh, I don’t know how we’re going to be able to pay out your retirement benefits.” Maybe it was, “Faculty, we have to get you to bring in more grant money or teach more classes because the state is just not helping us out very much,” or “We need undergraduates to pay more tuition than they can afford because our funds are drying up” Or maybe it was – gasp – “Time to let go of some staff who are taking advantage of the system,” or “What if we reduce your hours?” or – God save us all – “We think the only option besides firing 20% of UVa employees is to sell millions more university brand t-shirts.”
If those are the options, let’s talk about them. While we may not be wealthy land developers or political appointees, we are adults and we can handle it. We know that our country and our state and its institutions are pressed for cash. And we can certainly handle/face/confront/resolve (or whatever business-school lingo you would like to use), the problem a lot better if you communicate about it, instead of doing urgent backroom dealings without consulting anyone with an opinion other than your own.
The way you went about removing our president suggests you have little respect for openness, honesty, or due process. And so, to use your own words, would it be too much to ask that we “mutually agree” on your collective resignation?