I am happy to introduce my readers to a wonderful author, Fran Simone, PhD, who has written a heart-felt and helpful memoir entitled, Dark Wine Waters: My Husband of a Thousand Joys and Sorrows. This book recounts the author’s experience of being married to an alcoholic and is a clear-sighted look at the disease of alcoholism from the point of view of a spouse, who comes to realize that she is also part of the substance abuse dynamic.
The author recounts years of looking the other way in an effort to deny her husband’s drinking problem, then more years of being angry about his substance abuse. She finally has a moment of clarity that results in an intervention, which moves her husband and Fran into recovery, but then a slip-up sends them back onto the alcoholic road with less hope for a happy future. The story eventually becomes Fran’s story of recovery after she accepts her need for help for herself and is willing to admit that she “was powerless over the effects of alcohol” in her life. I will not give away the ending, but suffice it to say this is a book filled with challenges before recovery becomes part of Fran’s life story.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is experiencing the ramifications of substance abuse, whether his/her own or someone else’s. This no-nonsense memoir takes the reader right through a life that has been peppered with the pain of substance abuse and demonstrates first-hand that there is the possibility of a “sane” life after such an experience.
Fran was kind enough to answer a few questions for me regarding the book. Please read her candid answers regarding her writing process as well as her emotional journey.
1) What motivated you to write this book?
I wanted to tell the story of a loving marriage challenged by the disease of alcoholism. Although my marriage ended tragically, I recovered. I want my readers to recognize that they can also recover and lead happy and healthy lives whether the alcoholic stops drinking or not. I have a tee shirt that says, “Get hope. Get recovery.”
2) What were your greatest obstacles?
Honesty. Could I be honest and describe my unhealthy and negative behaviors as a co-dependent spouse? Could I present an honest portrait of my husband? Hence, the subtitle of my book “My husband of a thousand joys and sorrows.” Many who have read my book say that I was brutally honest. So I feel that I overcame this obstacle.
3) How long did it take and what was the process?
It took about ten years altogether. I was teaching at the university and didn’t carve out enough time to write on a regular basis. So the draft was completed in starts and stops. After I retired two years ago, I was determined to complete it. All of the chapters had been written by then, so I tackled major revisions. .
4) Was there a healing process as a result of the writing?
Definitely. There’s a body of research on the healing power of writing. I found the experience to be cathartic and cleansing. In Writing from Life, Susan Witting Albert says, “We can use our stories to heal and make ourselves whole.” I found this to be true.
How did you come up with the “waters” concept in the book?
I knew that I needed a thread to weave through my story but couldn’t come up with one. A writer friend, Laurie, helped me with revisions and editing. One day we were chatting and I mentioned that I grew up on Long Island (New York), loved the ocean, lakes, rivers, just about any body of water. I also shared that I swim laps at the YWCA pool. Laurie said, “Why don’t you try water? See if you can come up with chapter headings with “water” titles.” Eureka. That’s how it happened. Laurie is my water muse.
5) There are people who are struggling with substance abuse/ substance abusers now. What is the main message from your book to them?
There’s help for the addiction and hope of recovery. If someone has an alcohol/addiction use disorder and is willing to change, he can contact professionals, get into treatment, join recovery groups, such as AA or NA, which meet both face to face and online, read about addiction and watch DVDs and programs about recovery. The movie, “The Anonymous People” is a wonderful celebration of individuals in recovery. The tools of recovery are also available to family members. Addiction is a family disease. Every member can benefit from help. Every member can recover.
6) Your journey includes going to recovery meetings. Can you expound on how these meetings helped you?
When my husband was alive, I flirted with a few twelve-step meetings, but decided that they weren’t for me. At the time, I believe that I had control and could fix my husband. I was unwilling to surrender. Years later when I discovered that my son was using illegal drugs, I again resisted. But when the situation become intolerable, I decided to give the program another try. I’ve been in a recovery program for a long time. One of the first bits of wisdom I heard was the three Cs: I didn’t cause it, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it. For co-dependent like me, the Cs helped loosen the burden of guilt, shame, anger, frustration and self-pity that I carried around like a boulder for way too long. I learned much more which I write about in my book.
7) What did you learn from writing this book?
Although I always believed that writing is an act of discovery, I learned it firsthand as I was writing my book. As I said earlier much of what I discovered about myself wasn’t particularly pretty, but I learned to forgive myself, my husband and my son. That’s been a major part of my recovery.
This book provides a window into the roller-coaster world of substance abuse, and also the possibilities for recovery. It is a definite must-read for anyone who is experiencing the insanity that comes with addiction and is in need of a well-told and honest story of hope and recovery.
You can purchase this book at Amazon.com at the following link: