with Jennifer Storm

Q & A for Picking Up the Pieces without Picking Up

Why did you write Picking Up the Pieces without Picking Up?

I wrote this book because there currently exists nothing like it on the market. There are no resources that walk a person through the criminal justice process and the healing journey, all while addressing co-occuring issues of substance abuse. I wanted to take what I do on a day-to-day basis in my work as an executive director of a victims services organization and put it in print. Books have always been my go-to resources, especially when I am not ready to talk to someone or reach out yet, so I wanted this guidebook to be available on bookshelves for people to access.

What makes this book unique?

There is not a workbook like this on the market—not one that addresses all of the issues I address in one clear and easy-to-read book. I make this book very concise, as to not add to the overwhelming nature of trauma and the effects it can have on a person. As a survivor and person in recovery, I have looked to guidebooks to aid me on my journey, and I have had to turn to multiple books to find all of the information I have included in this book.

Additionally, most “healing workbooks” I found were large and overwhelming just to pick up. I literally and figuratively felt the weight of these books, so I wanted to provide something more simple but effective.

How does  Picking Up the Pieces without Picking Up address recovery?

 In many instances, trauma and/or victimization is at the core of a person’s addiction and abuse history. For me, secrets kept me sick, and finding ways to heal from the reasons I used was a foundational piece of my long-term recovery. I truly believe that people who don’t fully address the “why” of their addiction are at a high risk for relapse.

Who is your target audience for this book?

All crime victims or witnesses and their loved ones who wish to heal from their experiences and maintain their recovery while doing so. Also, counselors, therapist, advocates, and anyone who works with victims to help them heal and recover will find this to be a book they will recommend or give to clients as an effective recovery tool.

Q&A for Blackout Girl

What inspired you to write Blackout Girl?

I knew early in my sobriety that I had a story to tell and that I wanted to someday write it all down. It was several years before I actually pulled the thoughts out of my head and put them on paper. I felt compelled to share my story because I realize how blessed I am to be alive, and I feel that I have a purpose to carry my message of survival to others.

Was writing a catharsis for you?

Yes and no. It was a lot more painful than I anticipated. I had processed so many of my life experiences in therapy and through working a program of recovery that I assumed it wouldn’t be as painful to put these experiences on paper until I started writing. In order to bring the reader into my life, I had to go back into my past myself and relive every detail of my experiences all over again. There were parts that I breezed through and then others that were excruciating to write and led me to a much deeper, more mature level of healing than I ever anticipated.

What was your main purpose in writing this book?

To finally give voice to all the silence that existed in my life and to share my experiences, strength, and hope with those who are still suffering in silence. I also wanted to shed some much-needed light on the darkness of addiction and abuse. It wasn’t until I heard someone else’s story that was similar to my own that I realized there were others who thought the way I thought and felt the way I felt. It gave me extreme hope.

There are so many memoirs about addiction and recovery; what sets yours apart?

My book deals with so many different issues. I had a rule that while writing my own memoir I would not read any others because I didn’t want to be influenced in any way by what already existed. With that being said, I obviously have read many of the memoirs that are currently out both before and after I finished writing my own my book Two of the main things I noticed in many addiction memoirs was the tendency to really glorify the disease and the lack of actual information on how the person got clean and sober. I wanted to write a book that would shine a light on the horror of addiction without glamorizing it and also illustrate how I got clean and sober.

What do you hope people will get from this book?

Hope-the knowledge that they are not alone in their darkness and that there is a way out.

Do you feel your confusion over your sexuality played a role in your addiction?

Yes, because it was yet another thing I had to keep secret and didn’t know how to deal with. It just fueled my desire to escape even more. I knew at such an early age where my attractions were but then I had all these societal messages that influenced me and no one I could trust enough to talk to about things.

Why is this book important?

Because there are so many people out there who have struggled with the issues I have dealt with and not enough people willing to share on such an intimate level. I had to set aside any and all concerns about what people would think about me and be 100 percent honest about everything I did: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Not many people are willing to do that, and we need more voices out there. There are too many people who die from addiction and who are currently struggling. I want to provide a message of hope for them.

Do you plan to continue writing?

Yes, I am in the process of writing the follow-up memoir. I had a lot more to write but didn’t want a 400-page memoir; I just think that is too daunting for the reader. The second book will carry the reader through all my hard early sobriety lessons, discuss how I dealt with many of the issues in Blackout Girl, and describe some further victimization that occurred. I have really fallen back in love with the art of writing and want to continue to build my craft.

You work as the executive director of a victim services program; how do you feel your experiences help you in your current position?

I feel that my life’s purpose was mapped out a long time ago as there is way too much irony in my story and my life for me to not believe I am exactly where God wants me to be. I feel incredibly honored to be in a position to help other survivors to their path of healing after whatever trauma they have endured. The experiences I bring to the table today give me greater purpose in my work because I am so intimately aware of its worth and value to the client.

What audience do you hope this book reaches the most?

I really think many people will be able to get something from my story. I do hope to show young people that no matter how hard things get and what painful mistakes you may make, you can turn your life around and start over. I also want to give parents a resource to use when talking with their own children. My book, I hope, will open some eyes and help some conversations get started around the dinner table.

Do you believe that addiction is really a disease or a matter of poor choice?

I wholeheartedly believe that addiction is a disease. It is not like most diseases that start in the physical body and destroy tissues or cells; rather, it manifests itself in the brain chemistry and in the soul. Yes, picking up the first drink or drug is absolutely a choice; however, once a drug or drink is ingested by someone with the disease of addiction something happens in the brain that inhibits that person from stopping. It is only by acts of great willpower and control that an addict can have just one or two drinks or drugs, and usually a true addict cannot sustain that type of controlled drinking or drugging for a long period of time.

Doesn’t a person have to drink every day, all day in order to be considered an alcoholic?

Absolutely not, and in fact, many addicts don’t need to drink or drug every day. I was a full-blown binge drinker. While I did not have the physical need or desire to pick up a drink every day, when I did, I would 9 times out of 10 get totally hammered. Many people have this stereotype of what an alcoholic or drug addict looks like, when in reality, this disease affects every type of person in the world.