A Conversation With Sarah Katherine Lewis About Her Self Published Book “My Boring-Ass Rehab Diary”
By Tapati McDaniels
I enjoyed reading Sarah Katherine Lewis’ previous books, Indecent: How I Make It and Fake It as a Girl for Hire and Sex and Bacon: Why I Love Things That Are Very, Very Bad For Me, so I was delighted to read her new, self-published book in .pdf format, My Boring-Ass Rehab Diary.* I wasn’t disappointed. It was so engrossing that I felt like she was in the room and I wanted to ask her questions. I’ve become acquainted with her over the last few years online and realized, why not? I can do an interview. The result was a ninety minute conversation by phone where we realized we talk entirely too much. Perhaps there’s a rehab program?
TSM So the first question I sent you in advance because as I was reading some of your problems with the paradigm they were operating under I found myself wondering, if you could be in charge of a program, how would you redesign it?
SKL [sigh] Yeah and I thought that was such a great question and I’ve been thinking about it since you sent it to me. I don’t know how I would design a program because I think one of the genius things about the 12-step program is that it’s like McDonalds and there are franchises everywhere and even if what they’re offering is not delicious to everyone it’s at least acceptable. You could be anywhere in the world and you can go in and buy a Big Mac and be pretty sure of what you’re getting. I think that kind of consistency is really, really helpful to some people. It’s not something that I seem to need but when people get into addiction one of the things that happens is that their lives become really chaotic and at the same time they feel like they have less control over their lives, and so in a way it’s just kind of like, ok, so there’s this thing that you can choose to do wherever you are, you can go to it pretty much at any hour of the day and it’s gonna be pretty much the same. It seems to me that would be pretty grounding no matter what the routine was, no matter what the activity was. It could just as easily be, you could come out and go bowling for an hour, or come out and press flowers for an hour…I don’t think the activity matters as much as the idea of control and consistency….
TSM Yeah, that makes sense. But then in your book you write about how that it turns some people off so much that they resist going…
SKL Right, well really what was sort of the main problem that I had with what I was being asked to participate in was the whole ‘powerless’ thing, because it seems to me like what I was doing was being anything but powerless. I had worked really hard to get into rehab. I had pursued the whole thing with Writers in Treatment because I knew I couldn’t afford it on my own, and I followed up and followed up and sent in my tax returns and you know, got with the whole thing while they were trying to get funding and stayed with it and stayed with it…I mean, I felt like for the first time I was actually being powerful…and it was kind of frustrating for me to sort of feel for the first time like I was doing something that was really important for my health and really important to sort of get back on track the way I wanted to be and then as a necessary condition of that I was asked to pretend as if I believed I was not a prime mover in the situation and that I was simply a vessel for the will of a higher power. It did not feel authentic to me at all, particularly after what I had experienced, that of being powerful for the first time in many years.
TSM That makes sense. As I was reading about the whole powerful/powerless issue, you know, where is God in all this and why wasn’t He helping you when you were so powerless thing, a lot of thoughts were coming up for me and among them, that initially people have to admit that they have been powerless over this problem because whatever they were doing before they came to the program wasn’t obviously working for them.
SKL Yes, but what’s wrong with saying it like that? Why do we have to get into who is powerful and who is powerless? Why can’t we just say, you know, we admit that the addiction wasn’t working for us anymore, or we admit that we didn’t like what our lives had become, or we admit that we were scared and we didn’t know what to do and we didn’t know how to fix ourselves--all those things seem like they could be true, but they also seem like they are left potentially alienating to somebody who does not identify as powerless. you know? I never, I never identify as powerless. I feel like I can always do something.
*My Boring-Ass Rehab Diary can be purchased directly from SKL for $20.00 U.S. via her paypal account: markedformetal(AT)yahoo(DOT)com (you fill in the @ and .com). Her website is currently being reconstructed. If you prefer another payment option you can contact her at that email address to arrange it.