A drug addict-turned-therapist chronicles her journey in this debut memoir.
Holly was a crack-cocaine user for 16 years, and her dependency on the drug contributed to the destruction of two marriages and led to suicide attempts and hospitalization in a psychiatric ward. After achieving sobriety, she earned a master’s degree in psychology and turned toward helping others recover from addiction. In this work, she offers an unflinching remembrance of her life in “crack hell,” with the goal of sharing her story with a wider audience and coming to terms with her drug-ravaged early years: “There are moments when the thought crosses my mind of erasing some if not all of my past,” Holly writes. “But without this disturbing past who would I be today?” The author grew up in a Connecticut housing project. “As a family we had a lot of fun,” she recalls, though there were dark undercurrents of disharmony; her father’s Sunday drinking escalated into a ritual, and her mother, on one occasion, beat her with an extension cord, she says. She entered adulthood with a poor self-image, magnified by feelings of body shame. She started experimenting with marijuana, and later tried crack: “It felt like a ride on a rocket headed towards the stars,” she writes of the first time. “Ecstasy traveled from my head to my toes without missing space in between the two.” Holly is particularly effective at conveying the craving that made her a “full time slave to crack,” devoting most every waking moment to “chasing the dragon.” But the account of her almost-daily encounters with crack gets tedious at times, and she’s somewhat vague about the roots of her addiction, touching only fleetingly on parental neglect, genetics, and poor self-image. Ultimately, however, she shows how she recognized that “What was bad were the choices [I] made,” and that now, at least, she’s made a better choice—“not to relapse. My life has not been perfected.”
A somewhat-repetitive remembrance, but one that powerfully captures the feeling of addiction.