I wrote a book about addiction. When the idea of Dandelion came to me I did not intend to set out to write a book about addiction. I really did not. It even surprises me that Dandelion turned into what she did. I hope that is not disappointing to anyone. That’s how writing can be, though. You get a half-formulated plot, sit down, and start writing a draft, only to come out the other side thinking, ‘Holy shit, so that was all there.’ I finished writing my first novel in 2014, the same year my best friend moved from St. Louis to Boston for three years. While I helped her pack and helped her drive her belongings to a storage facility, we discussed my writing. I had completed an entire book, I did not think it was great, but I had completed a project. I wondered if I would be able to do it again. And so, we discussed characters, plots, ideas. One day as I stood outside the storage facility, looking around at the odd junk people had accumulated, I started making stories about all of it. I mean, of course I did, that’s what I do. Somehow, that day, the first chapter of Dandelion was born. Her father lived on some property, he owned a storage facility, one of his good friends was much younger than him, sort of a mentee, someone who did not actually judge Dandelion, but she always felt slightly judged by. She had tried to escape it all, run away, go to the big city, only to fall on hard times and we would open with her packing up her apartment, meeting a handsome stranger, and coming home.
Storage units are an odd thing, anyone can keep anything in them, and all that junk has a story, just like every secret you never tell. What were Dandelion’s secrets? Now, I don’t want to give the book away for anyone who has not yet read it, but she has a lot of secrets, and addiction is her biggest vice. Just as the people who lock away their junk in a storage facility, Dandelion locks away her secrets with drink and drugs. But that day the first chapter came to me, I didn’t know that yet, she hadn’t revealed that secret to me. Not until I sat down and started writing her did I know, not until I got her back home did I know the depth of it all.
Addiction has dotted my life, all my life. I think that is a lot of us. We have either watched the addicts or been the addicts. When I look back on my life I realize how easy I could have been the addict instead of watching it. One or two different turns and I would have joined in. My life story could have been vastly different. I am not sure there are many of us who are above it. If most of us are honest, we really do not want to feel hurt, pain, rejection, you name the unhappy, uncomfortable feeling. Numbing our unpleasant emotions is appealing. And while there is only a certain percentage who do it with drinks and drugs, there is a large portion of us doing it through sex, shopping, avoidance. We use socially acceptable means of numbing ourselves and if those don’t work we hide behind the shame of using the none socially acceptable means.
When I came to the end of Dandelion, took a step back, looked at her for what she was, I realized it should have never surprised me that she lived inside of me and had waited until now to come out. I had lived through my fair share of pain and trauma. I had watched a great deal of pain and trauma. Watching others suffer makes you suffer as well. Being an empath, I absorbed a lot over the years. Just as my first novel helped me heal, Dandelion helped me to release a lot of my own junk. Through her story, I have had people open up to me about how addiction has impacted their lives. It will forever be my hope that her story will make it easier for others to share their stories. For others to discuss what addiction means to them.