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On Finding Peace in Living

I am the parent of an addict. I am also a bestselling author. The two have more in common than most people suppose. My readers know the Crank trilogy—Crank, Glass and Fallout—were inspired by my daughter's addiction to crystal meth, quicksand my family has treaded for eighteen years. I say my family because addiction doesn't just belong to the addict; it belongs to everyone who loves her, everyone whose life she touches.

It started when she was in high school. She's thirty-five today, and though she's had long periods of sobriety, she is unable to maneuver the combined burdens of work, parenthood and relationships without backsliding. A recent relapse resulted in my rescuing her children, ages 3, 5 and 9, from a horrific situation and taking permanent guardianship, at least until she finds a way to survive and thrive without succumbing to the lure of "the monster." (You can read more about that here: http://ellenhopkins.livejournal.com/21124.html)

On the flip side of the coin, I'll come straight out and say when I was younger I experimented with drugs. I was a teen in the 70s, and the substances were different—mostly marijuana and psychedelics. A brief flirtation with cocaine. Diet pill speed. But it was never a daily call, and for whatever reason (good genetics?) I was able to walk away without allowing a little weekend fun to overcome common sense and a strong desire to realize success.

I have accomplished that. I've published ten bestselling contemporary YA novels, two adult novels, and have more on the way. I've established a nonprofit to help youth-in-need realize their own career goals. I'm working to build an advanced writing workshop and a world-class book festival here in Carson City. I recently adapted Crank to the stage, and watching a brilliant young actress bring the character of Kristina to life was alternately immensely satisfying and completely heart wrenching because it made me relive a dark chapter of my life that I can never bring light to. And now, I'm doing my level best to restructure the lives of my three young grandchildren, and make them feel safe and loved.

I could not accomplish all I do if I was at the mercy of a personal demon. But there are days when an evening glass or two of good cabernet call strongly. I understand the stress of celebrity, and mine is small in comparison to Phillip Seymour Hoffman's. Add the pressures of marriage and parenting, of balancing professional demands with personal commitments, high expectations on every front, sometimes life feels like it's crushing you. I am blessed not to struggle with addiction. For someone who's battling the monster, surrendering would be easy in those times.

Are the actions of an addict hurtful? Certainly. As I say in the Crank author note, it's hard to watch someone you love fall so deeply under the spell of a substance that turns him or her into a stranger. Someone you don't even want to know. Is addiction selfish? Yes. It's a monster, hungry for souls. But its victims aren't selfish; they're frail. In those moments when life closes in, squeezing, the call of the monster is stronger than the whimper of courage left inside. Tomorrow looks too far away. I hope Phillip Seymour Hoffman has found peace in death. And I pray every day my daughter can find peace in living.  


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Melissa Miller
Feb. 4th, 2014 09:49 pm (UTC)
This was absolutely beautiful. I hope your daughter finds peace in living as well. I hope the people in my life that are dealing with their unique "monster" find peace too. Thank you for helping me with your books.
Feb. 5th, 2014 12:25 am (UTC)
Beautifully said, Ellen. xox
Em Henderson
Feb. 5th, 2014 02:38 am (UTC)
That was so beautifully said. Also I believe you are an angel for the way you've taken your grandchildren in.
Nanci Robinson
Feb. 5th, 2014 02:55 am (UTC)
Love n Light Ellen
You Are Such an Amazzing Mother/ Grandmother/ Writer and Most Importantly A Truly Loving Woman !!
I Love Your Writings and I Pray .... I Pray for Your Daughter !!
Just Wanted To Say : Thank You Ellen <3 !!

Nancy from Ontario
Susan L. Lipson
Feb. 5th, 2014 04:54 am (UTC)
Moved by your words
Ellen, thank you for your candid, poignant comments; your words truly touched me. I thought of you and your daughter when I heard the tragic news about Phillip Seymour Hoffman. I can't imagine the hold of addiction either, but you have definitely shown all of us reading this post that addicts are victims of the risky choice that many of us made without thinking back in our younger years. Trying drugs "just out of curiosity" is not an option for those predisposed to addiction, for whom such a sampling is more like a game of Russian Roulette, it seems. I felt especially bad for PSH when I considered how he'd managed to maintain such an incredible work life while keeping his habit out of the public eye--that had to be almost as exhausting as battling the "monster" itself. I also wish him peace, as well as his family. And I wish your daughter the willpower to resist the poisonous pull and succumb to the love you clearly want to give her.
Laura Rennert
Feb. 5th, 2014 04:45 pm (UTC)
Tribute to Phillip Seymour Hoffman
This is beautiful and wrenching, honest and compassionate, Ellen. The last few lines move me more than I can say, and I hope so, too.

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )