At my sister’s house after the funeral, my niece, Shannon Rosamond, came downstairs with a armful of her mother’s papers demanding to know who had rifled thru them. I approached her and offered her my seven year sobriety coin I had received at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting.
“Shannon. This is all you need. You have inherited your mother’s disease. Get sober, and everything will be yours.”
Shannon mumbled, saying something about her already being sober. Now Vicki Presco spoke up.
“I would like that coin. I got six years of sobriety!”
With a year of sobriety I took my surviving sister to a AA meeting, and she has not had a drink, hence. However, she never went to another AA meeting. I gave he my coin in hope this would set a sane and sober direction for our family. At the Rosamond gallery three women from Christine’s AA group approached me and told he who they were. They informed me my famous sister’s first sober birthday was that day. My mother, Rosemary, told me there was a party planned for her daughter out at Rocky Point, where she drowned. Vicki didn’t tell me any of this. I wondered why.
When my surviving sister hid other information from me, I began to wonder what was being discussed at Rosamond’s house the day after she left us. Vicki did not want me to attend this meeting of Christine’s friends, she saying I would not get along with them. She said they were raising money to pay for the funeral. This was a lie, what they discussed was authoring a book from which would a movie would be made. My family knew I was authoring an autobiography about my recovery, called ‘Bonds With Angels’. Our three sister’s in AA invited me to attend a meeting Christine’s home group was having, they saying their goodbyes to a world famous artist, who began to find answers as to why her life had stopped working for her. I was told Rosamond had a sponsor and was working the steps. I asked if my sister had found a higher power yet.
After my daughter came into my life, I suggested Heather and her mother attend Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings. When they informed me they were going to Al-Anon meetings, I got upset. These meeting were for women who had been married to alcoholics. What I wanted Patrice to look at was her alcoholic father who severely abused his wife, who took her own life by jumping off a cliff. Patrice told me her brother was very withdrawn, and asked me if I could apply my recovery. Craig has no children, nor does Linda, his sister, who drinks around the clock.
A couple of weeks later I can no longer contact my minor daughter. Two years later I find out she as formed a bond with Vicki and her son. The second ghost writer that Stacey Pierrot hired to author Rosamond’s story, had been wooing the Stage Mother and her daughter, he and others wanting our miracle in their book – and movie script. Tom Snyder had tried to trick me into signing a contract that would not have allowed me to mention Christine in my book. After saying he would not use the Family Recovery in his book, he now makes that the major theme.
Never in the history of recovery-writing has a ghost writer written a recovery book for a dead person – and he has no twelve-step program, nor has he suffered the abuse we Presco children suffered. To push aside the surviving artist in recovery in order to realize a profit from revealing the fact Christine and her daughter, Shannon, were sexually abused by my father, is an outrage! The suppression of my revelations employing my newfound daughter and her mother, was blessed by Vicki, and her brother Mark who demanded I sign Snyder contract, and apologize to aunt Lillian for cursing her when I found out she was giving interviews to Snyder – in her home! Lillian had given me a five hour recorded interview a month earlier. Mark disowned me saying I was just as abusive as our alcoholic parents. He set the theme on how to negate, and hopefully crush, my recovery novel.
In 1990, Mark gave me a call and informed me Vic Presco had raped his granddaughter, Shannon. When I expressed shock, Mark said this;
“Don’t be such a prude. I’ve considered becoming a pedophile myself.”
I had to consider if Mark had seduced Shannon whom Christine got into therapy. What other family secrets would she reveal?
Yesterday I returned to therapy in order to cope with the extreme abuse I have suffered by women who owned a hidden agenda that I dare expose. Why Patrice and my daughter would back the rival biographer, is confounding! My book would have created a legacy for Heather, and, my grandson that was not yet born. Stacey and Tom had replaced Christine and I – with the help of Mark and Vicki, who lurked in the background, hid in the dark as they pulled the strings on their Stacy and Tom dolls. Patrice, the Stage Mother, is using our daughter as her personal doll, Heather making sure her mother gets all the narcissistic supply she deserves! Mary and Vicki are getting their vicarious supply, and hope to make a huge profit from the movie that I suspect my daughter wanted to be in. Would she play the young Rosamond who was forced to draw in the dark closet with a flashlight?
“Tom Snyder seems like a really nice guy also. It seems he is supportive of you and he definitely played an important part in connecting you with Heather and that is important and not to be ignored.”
When I graduated from Serenity Lane my aftercare package contained these words;
“Write! Write! Write!”
In 1992 I began ‘Bonds With Angels’ the story of how two siblings could be so creative considering the how hard their destructive narcissistic parents fought them for the limelight. I found a therapist who specializes in working with artists. I attended Artist Anonymous meetings. I begged all my siblings to get sober, get in recovery, and find a therapist. The plan they came up with was ‘The Famous Dead Artist’ program.
My brother got to read the rough draft of Snyder’s lying biography of Christine. I asked him why he didn’t contribute to it.
“I couldn’t think of anything nice to say about her.”
My narcissistic brother – who blessed the outsiders – was at the new Rosamond gallery openings, his bragging right fully in tact after Rosamond’s death, while I, the Abusive One, was banned, set adrift, marooned!
Pierrot and Snyder had given my brother power over me. Mark bid me to include exerts from his misogynist essay in my biography. Three years ago I tried once more the get along with my family so my recovery book could be finished, and my daughter thought our family reunion would be a great event to advertise her new boyfriend, the drunken Bubba dirt track racer who wants to open a Bar & Grill with drunken Flip and Linda, and Vicki and my money we got from uncle Vinnie. I have to assume Heather and her Stage Mother took in one Al-Anon meeting, concluded they were better then this, and set out to get tight with the Gallery Gargoyles who had chosen a Rosamond look-alike to finish her recovery novel, and, crank out more commercial schlock art.
This is more of a nightmare then what the Keane family went through. We all had been replaced by narcissistic outsiders who had not heart or care about what they did to the famous artist when she was alive, and dead. They surely were not going to allow the surviving family artist to have any of their precious narcissistic supply!
Allow me to mix the images I took from the Bar & Grill family memers and mix the in with the ads for recovery novels.
“The Woman’s Movement is based on two entirely false premises. The first is that “Women have been oppressed and sexually exploited by Men”. This is just the opposite of what is really true. Women enjoy a privileged position in this society and have been making a living sexually exploiting Men for the last five million years.”
The simple act of expressing your thoughts and feelings about emotionally challenging experiences on paper is proven to speed your recovery and improve your mental and physical health. This book, written by one of America’s most distinguished research psychologists, guides you through a brief, powerful series of directed writing exercises you can do right in the book. Each will leave you with a stronger sense of value in the world and the ability to accept that that life can be good – even when it is sometimes bad.
How Stories Transform Lives
In the beginning was the word. Since the dawn of civilization, the storyteller has held a unique role in guiding, inspiring, and transforming individuals and communities. Every day around the world, in homes, churches, online, through social media, on convention center stages, in theaters, and big and small screens, storytellers continue sharing their experience, strength, and hope by telling others what it was like, what happened, and what it’s like now. Whether through listening or telling, writing or reading, stories are powerful. Stories are healing. Stories transform lives.
This article focuses on creative writing and recovery with an emphasis on how you can help your clients transform their lives through writing their stories. You will also discover how you can transform your own life and career by becoming a published author. What’s your story?
The Mystery of My Story
By the time I entered the recovery house, I was already a successful author, having written several books on personal finance and consumer issues. I had appeared on hundreds of radio and television talk shows as one of the nation’s leading credit experts. Writing was an essential part of my life, but something was sorely missing – my life was a miserable mess. I needed to do something different. I needed help.
As part of my treatment plan my counselor arranged for me to write out my fourth step in the form of a memoir. For an hour a day I poured out all my thoughts and memories, frightfully surprised as rivers of poetry mixed with secret crimes and lovers bubbled to the surface of my soul and spilled out onto yellow legal pads. The result of this process was a catharsis that led to emotional healing and spiritual insight, transforming my life with a deep and permanent Light.
Within 30 days I had a 300-page memoir in front of me ready to share with the world. I soon found a literary agent who wanted to shop the book to New York publishers as a sensational true confessional. Suddenly, my agent died and the manuscript disappeared into a desk drawer to gather dust. Years later, I dusted off the early draft and decided to change the names, locations, and even the primary character to the point of total anonymity. I recently rewrote the book as a novel titled, The Light, a mystical odyssey about addiction, recovery, and redemption.
Writing and Recovery
How many of the 12 steps actually requirewriting? Many people in recovery programs complete workbooks or journals, writing out their thoughts and answering questions about each of the 12 steps of recovery. If you sit in enough groups or 12-step meetings or ask a dozen different “experts,” you’ll get a number of different opinions. According to a strict interpretation of the book,Alcoholics Anonymous, the only steps that seem to requirewriting are the fourth step, “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves” and the eighth step, “Made a list of people we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.” The “Big Book” further indicates, however, that the eighth step is taken from the writing already done in the fourth step. Therefore, one could argue that writing a thorough fourth step inventory is the only writing really required for recovery. But is that really enough?
Regardless of minimal requirements, writing can be an essential tool for discovering deeper layers of emotional entanglements, uncovering destructive thought and behavior patterns, and discarding self-destructive habits. So whether a person writes out his or her daily thoughts in a journal, completes detailed worksheets for each of the 12 steps, pours out poetry on paper, or expands his or her fourth step into a 300-page memoir, the process of writing is essential to recovery. Writing, as a way to tell stories and express emotions, results in healing and transformation. Words are powerful. Words transform lives.
Most Popular Recovery Books
This groundbreaking work by M. Scott Peck brought the principles of spiritual psychology into the mainstream back in 1978 and has been loved by millions since. As the book famously stated, “To proceed very far through the desert, you must be willing to meet existential suffering and work it through. In order to do this, the attitude toward pain has to change. This happens when we accept the fact that everything that happens to us has been designed for our spiritual growth.” Sounds a lot like the popular AA aphorism, “Pain is the touchstone of spiritual growth.”
Eckhart Tolle’s bestselling testament argues that only by living firmly in the present can people achieve true enlightenment. His has influenced countless people in the recovery movement who relate to his message about how dwelling on an imperfect past or focusing on an unknowable future can only results in self-destructive thoughts and defiant attitudes. In his most famous book, Tolle writes, “The pain that you create now is always some form of non-acceptance, some form of unconscious resistance to what is. On the level of thought, the resistance is some form of judgment. On the emotional level, it is some form of negativity. The intensity of the pain depends on the degree of resistance to the present moment, and this in turn depends on how strongly you are identified with your mind.” If there’s a more articulate way of summarizing AA’s third step, we haven’t it.
Emmet Fox has inspired generations of folks seeking a spiritual message through his words. One of his biggest, and most famous, fans was AA co-founder Bill Wilson. Fox’s book, an exploration of Christ’s Sermon on the Mount, has been read and revered by peoples of all faiths. Though he was a devout proponentof Christianity, Fox was definitely more interested in attraction than promotion. “Never try to force other people to accept spiritual truth,” he wrote. “Instead, see to it that they are so favorably impressed by your own life and conduct, and by the peace and joy that radiate from you, that they will come running to you of their own accord, begging you to give them the wonderful thing that you have.”
Don Miguel Ruiz’s bestseller shared the wisdom of his Toltec ancestors while presenting a straightforward code on how to live. Much of what he writes echoes step work, such as this section, which summarizes the 12th step rather well: “Doing your best, you are going to live your life intensely. You are going to be productive, you are going to be good to yourself, because you will be giving yourself to your family, to your community, to everything. But it is the action that is going to make you feel intensely happy. When you always do your best, you take action.” Many folks in recovery find that bearing in mind Ruiz’s Four Agreements—be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best—is the basis for a truly spiritual life—and a shortened rendidtion of the twelve steps.
One of the best known Zen masters in the world, Vietnamese philosopher Thich Nhat Hanh has written numerous books that appeal to Buddhists and non-believers alike, while addressing nearly every aspect of modern society, from the Civil Rights movement to 9/11. He preaches that only when loving others do people get to be truly human, and in tune with the universe. In True Love, Hanh writes, “Really try to be there, for yourself, for life, for the people that you love. Recognize that presence of those who live in the same place as you and try to be there when one of them is suffering, because your presence is so precious for this person. In this way you will be practicing love twenty-four hours a day.”
The perfect gift for a friend in recovery, this book of poems by the Sufi master Hafiz (translated by Daniel Ladinsky) has spoken to people for centuries and become a beloved source for meditation and inspiration for plenty of people in recovery. Believed to have been written in the 14th century, these short verses about life, love, and God continue to speak to the modern world. As Hafiz writes in one of his most famous poems, “I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in the darkness, the astonishing light of your own being.” Otherwise known, in 12-step rooms, as letting us love you until you can learn to love yourself.
“We can let the circumstances of our lives harden us so that we become increasingly resentful and afraid, or we can let them soften us and make us kinder and more open to what scares us,” argues Pema Chodron in her powerful treatise. “We always have this choice.” Essentially, The Places That Scare You speaks to accepting the dark sides of life and learning how to view anxiety, fear, and uncertainty as tools to enlightenment and joy as opposed to things better avoided. Sort of like that acronym for fear—Face Everything And Recover—often quoted in the rooms.
Santiago, the young Spanish shepherd in Paulo Coelho’s renowned fable about a boy’s search for his own destiny, has entertained the world and influenced millions. Inspired by a dream to go to Egypt and learn from a great alchemist, Santiago learns the wisdom of life. A parable that many in recovery have found applicable because of the way it speaks to the power of transformation and healing when you’re willing to look within, Coehlo writes, “When each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.” Great advice for anyone who’s stumped while trying to make a gratitude list.
One of Deepak Chopra’s most popular books, The Book of Secrets postulates hat we can discover our magnificent potential for love, healing, compassion, and faith only if we abandon the forces that keep us trapped in negative thinking. “Transformation means radical change of form, the way a caterpillar transforms into a butterfly,” he writes. “In human terms, it means turning fear, aggression, doubt, insecurity, hatred, and emptiness into their opposites.” In other words, a perfect expression of steps six and seven.
Marianne Williamson’s widely revered Course in Miracles concludes that love is the most potent solution to all our personal ills and concerns. Her most famous quote—which Nelson Mandela recited when he was freed from decadesn prison is, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be?” You’d be hard pressed to find someone deeply involved in 12-step recovery who doesn’t know about that quote, let alone have it hanging somewhere in their home.
Kristen McGuiness is a freelance writer and regular contributor to The Fix who wrote previously about the 13th step and dreaming about drinking, among many other topics. She is the author of 51/50: The Magical Adventures of a Single Life.