When people read a synopsis of LIFELINE, one of their first questions is often, “What inspired you to write this story?”
They mean a story about addiction, about heroin abuse and overdose, about the slow and painful process of recovery.
What’s true is that there are very few among us whose lives haven’t been touched by addiction. I am no different. Like many other people, someone I love very much has struggled (and continues to struggle) with opioid addiction. But that’s not what inspired LIFELINE—not really.
The daily conversation about opioid addiction that we hear on the news and on social media centers around death, despair, and the general sense of hopelessness that is certainly justified in the face of the crisis our country is facing. That hopelessness is only intensified when the addiction story is playing out front and center in your daily life.
In many ways, writing LIFELINE helped me to grapple with the anger, the grief, and the fear that my loved one's battle with addiction inspired. Yet before I even started writing the novel, I knew how it would end. (Don’t worry—no spoilers here!) I knew that while the subject matter was dark and intense, the central message of the book would be about the light that comes through the broken places and the things that we hold onto when we think there’s nothing left. Faith. Love. Hope.
For me, the process of writing and the steady reliability of the rituals surrounding it (the lit candle, the hot coffee, the cozy blanket), became something I could hold onto that pulled me through the worst parts of my loved one’s addiction. While I have no control over the ending to my loved one's story, writing Eli's story allowed me to create change in my world in the only way I could--by aligning myself with hope, love, and possibility. In it's completed state, LIFELINE became a prayer for recovery, for my loved one and for the millions of others for whom sobriety is a daily struggle.
Awareness and prevention are certainly crucial parts of the opioid crisis conversation, but what if shifting our thinking is just as important? To quote an oft-used sentiment, what if by holding a space for the possibility of recovery, we could BE the change we want to see in the world?
Over the next few weeks and months, I'm going to be highlighting various people and organizations who are doing this very thing--painters, artists, youth and service organizations who are creating lifelines in communities of desperate need. These people are bringing light to the broken places by showing up with a simple but powerful offering: hope.
To learn about these people and their stories as well as the various ways that you can get involved, check back here each week or subscribe for weekly email updates. You can also follow this conversation on twitter at #whatsyourlifeline? and share snippets of your own experiences of hope and possibility. I look forward to hearing from you!