Friday, 10 July 2015

Best Kept Secret

A few of my readers have mentioned a book by Amy Hatvany called A Best Kept Secret.

I'm enjoying it hugely, but it terrifies me.

The heroine, Cadence, is a Mum (sorry, Mom), just like me. For many years she drank 'normally,' 'moderately'. But then it starts to get out of control. In secret.

Unlike me, Cadence splits up with her husband.

I know from e-mails I've received and blogs I've read that divorce (like bereavement) can be a huge catalyst. Not only is it hard, but - once there's no-one around to hide from and to disapprove - the gloves are off.

Cadence (and this is not a spoiler, you know it from the beginning of the novel), ends up fighting for custody of her son who is, for the time being at least, living with her ex and his (ghastly) mother.

There's an analogy in the book that really resonated with me. Cadence asks a man at an AA meeting how he know he'd 'hit bottom.' He replies "When I stopped digging."

Hatvany/Cadence then writes: I see myself at the base of a deep, dark hole, shovel in hand, face blackened, exhausted. I'm prodding the soil, digging here and there, the ground literally falling out from under me, right along with my footing. But it's me, I'm the one digging. I stop my jabbing movements and see myself lifting the shovel out of the dirt. I hold onto it still, unsure how to let go, where to put it, no clue as to what else I might use as a tool to find my way out of this deep well I've put myself in.

"How do I stop digging?" My voice is quiet. "I don't know how to stop."

"Put down the shovel, honey," he says. "That's all. Just put it down, and start looking up."

#1 has a friend who, for as long as I've known her, has lived with her Dad. She never talks about her Mum. Her parents split up when she was tiny, and, like Cadence, her Mum's drinking spiralled out of control.

Like Cadence, she had to fight for custody. I don't think she had any fight in her by that stage. She lost.

I've never met this lady, but her story, and Cadence's, terrifies me. Because my children (and the husband) are what kept me 'high functioning'. Once you've lost your kids how can you cope without the drink? What's to stop you drinking yourself to death?

So if you're standing there with your shovel, digging deeper, thinking 'I'm not a proper alcoholic! I'm functioning! I haven't reached 'bottom.'

Stop and think. Do you really want to know what bottom looks like?

Start looking up whilst you can still see the sky. Start climbing while there's not so far to go.

Just put down the shovel.

Love SM x


  1. Love it! Just got the book on my ipad....

  2. I read this book a few months ago and found it to be very inspiring. I was not surprised to learn that the author, Amy Hatvany, has had her own struggles with the Evil Wine Witch! No wonder the story rang so true! I have found that the support the heroine finds in AA is available online through blogs like this one.........a great thing as I don't think I could bring myself to attend an AA meeting! I can't wait to read your book Sober Mummy :). I feel so fortunate to read your blog every morning! It has helped tremendously. XO neinwine

  3. Hi SM, great post. I hadn't heard of that book before but it sounds good so have ordered it. i love a good read! A x

  4. How terribly sad. Its añ old wine witch trick to tell us we're OK if we haven't hit rock bottom yet. Stop digging while you can see the sky are wise words indeed. Flossie x

  5. No. I hope I never have to see job at how deep I could dig.
    There are many sad stories out there. No one decides to a revive their family, freedom, health to alcohol. But it harms every day.

    Best to just leave it behind.