I tucked myself into bed, excited to read a new book, loving memoirs, yet -- terrified.
I have a way of absorbing books into my pores so that they occupy my mind for much of the day. Or night, if I read before bed. I began reading, and I had to put it down. Oh man, I wasn't ready for the pain, or the descriptions of drug use, the loneliness seeping out of the pages. I waited until the next day when I was feeling stronger. After my first read, I was sucked in and finished it in a few days.
I am definitely squeamish about drug use, maybe it's a past life thing, or maybe it's what I described above. The loneliness and pain that drive someone to use. Sullivan gives us an intimate look into her life growing up in Brooklyn and Long Island in the 1980's as her mother sank into cocaine addiction. She relays between this time (between the ages of 10 and 22) to her times as a successful working woman in the 2000's, who is also a heavy user of cocaine and alcohol. "I'm not my mother," is a phrase I know I've thought a number of times, and I assume I'm not alone here. Sullivan repeats this mantra to herself over the years. She totally transforms herself in college, disguising her history, creating a new persona that she feels will be more palatable to her more privileged classmates in college. "I am not my mother."
Well, she becomes more like her mother than she'd like, unfortunately, and we read as she tries to confront her true self, who her mother was, and who and what family is. Definitely a tough read, but an amazingly written memoir. It's also interesting because it addresses what one needs in a mother, and how sadly her mom was lacking in much of it. I lucked into hearing an interview with Felicia Sullivan on a local radio station, and was struck by how she admitted that yes, she was an addict like her mother. But she realized that the way she was living was a good way to die, not a good way to live. Her mom never did.
If you like memoirs and can stomach the intense pain and descriptions of drug use, most definitely give it a read. Even if you have never used, don't have as conflicted a relationship with your mom, anyone can recognize in oneself the need for love and the search for identity that Sullivan addresses.