A reader’s perspective on recovering.
My job allows me to listen to a lot of audio programs. Initially it had been a lot of audiobooks, but as it was getting harder and harder to leave my car due to being engrossed in a great book, so I’ve tried to intermingle my listening choices to podcasts and educational presentations. It has been an interesting mix and at one point all these programs seemed to simultaneously hit on an aspect of addiction and the recovery process. No big deal except, after reading one story with a LOT of wine drinking I was pondering how wine seems to be the go to beverage of LesFic (unless there is a rebellion aspect then it seems to be beer). It’s one of those character traits that, over the years, I’ve just ignored and attached myself to other relatable traits. I don’t drink. Not for a noble purpose or to hold it over anyone’s head- in fact it is probably more awkward for me than the casual drinker. It’s hard when every occasion I am offered a drink to which I refuse. Then the speculation starts, why don’t you drink? It seems pretty simple to me, I don’t like the taste. All wine tastes the same, all beer tastes the same which, in my opinion, is gross (and people have tried to educate me- still yuck.). But there is an enormous pressure to drink! In almost every LesFic story I have read a bottle of wine has been uncorked or a bottle of beer uncapped to be shared between the protagonists. As I mentioned, for the most part I ignore it, but what if you couldn’t? When I’m asked, why I don’t drink it turns more annoyingly humorous that Erin hasn’t grown up yet because she doesn’t like adult beverages. It would be hard to imagine if it was something more for me, especially after reading some amazingly insightful LesFic stories where one of the characters has an addiction issue.
I’m making a huge assumption right now, that most people realize that our genetic make-up influences our health in tremendous ways. That we are at the mercy of what previous generations provided us including addiction. I find trying to navigate everyday hard enough with dealing with what I’ve brought into my life as I imagine everyone does and having to navigate an addiction would be… wow! I don’t want to express pity, I want to express awe for those who have to struggle against the genetic propensity for addiction. Harper Bliss did an amazing job of following that path in Beneath the Surface. Her character development of Sheryl Johnson over the course of a decade and watching her fears and challenges manifest were absolutely amazing. It was a delicate balance of fear that was scarier than any horror movie you could imagine watching and confidence that love and acceptance can instill. With this story, the reader gets to see how an addiction can lie dormant until it’s not.
The struggle is one that continues through time and that is where I am in such awe of individuals who take the steps to move into recovery. Every day they do something amazing because I can not even begin to imagine how much pull that addiction has to give them what they crave. I thought Lise Gold did an outstanding job of documenting how that everyday struggle weaves it’s way into life and showing how each day is a new challenge but also a new opportunity to continue living and loving to the fullest in her story Fireflies. With each of her characters of Mia and Ava, Lise Gold provided a different stage of sobriety and with both, they faced challenges. Many of those were social with friends and family. Can you even imagine what it would be like to have your temptation sitting there in your friends glass or your sisters bottle? I don’t accept drinks because I don’t like it, but how hard must it be to have to constantly say no to something you do want? This is where Mia and Ava share with the reader how hard that journey can be and how rewarding it is when they succeed.
Another angle of the addiction world is prescription drugs. Almost every day I work with individuals who have been prescribed this form of pain management and it is definitely powerful. To have someone say they went from an 8/10 pain level down to 0-1/10 means something is working and it comes in the form of little pills found in yellow bottles. Hip replacements, knee replacements, broken bones, all of them have that ability to create excruciating pain that I can’t even imagine, but become the sole focus and attention of these individuals. So imagine crashing on a downhill ski course and breaking your body and potentially ending your career. It seems obvious that there would be pain medication involved with such an event and that is what ej Noyes captures with her character of Aspen in her story Gold. The combination of loss of career and loss of body had put Aspen on a dark path. When the reader meets her, she is on the other side punishing her body in new ways in order to keep the addiction under control. It is a stunning portrayal of how one event can create so many lifelong challenges.
One of the first stories I read that involved addiction and recovery was LJ Maas’ None So Blind. It was in the Xena fanfic era, but I remember it being so specific in how Taylor’s fun times in college escalated to more dangerous behavior until it came full circle to her sharing a life of sobriety with a young woman in need of guidance. This seems to be an important part of recovery, finding that support with others and with the community. It’s been years since I read it, but it left the impression that potentially the addiction can be more than one single thing- that it can encompass many temptations that need to be modified if not controlled. It also showed how it can create a full lifestyle change that incorporates all aspects of wellness to make the person stronger.
What are some of the powerful LesFic stories that have spoken to you on the topic of addiction and recovery. I know there are a few out there and I would love to hear what resonated with all you wonderful readers out there.