Unstitched: The Book

Unstitched: Understanding Opioid Addiction and Repairing Our Communities is the book I was born to write.

This nonfiction book begins when I was working as a librarian in a tiny, one-room library, in rural Vermont. A man who lived nearby, and was rumored to be an opioid addict, began breaking into the library after-hours, to use the computers and hang out in the space. I put a great deal of effort into preventing him from breaking in.

Then, one frigid January afternoon, he died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

This book was written during my quest to understand my actions, my motivations, and my guilt.

I wrote a proposal, sold the proposal to Steerforth Press, and received two grants (including a coveted Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant) to aid in writing the book. But when I turned in the book, my editor suggested rewriting — and rewriting hard.

What I hadn’t written about was my own struggles with addiction. I had mentioned my own “skin in the game,” but I hadn’t looked unabashedly at my own life.

I rewrote the book during the terrible, hard days of 2020, during the Stay at Home Order time, when I could sense my own livelihood slipping away. I worried about my teenage daughter, confined in our house, and was acutely aware of my vulnerability as a single mother. But I kept writing and rewriting.

The summer unwound into riots after the murder of George Floyd. The country fractured along political lines.

Addiction is the visible manifestation of our broken communities, of us as individuals and how we treat each other and our neighbors. Addiction is a story I now know very well.

Rumi famously wrote, “The wound is where the light enters.” I am far beyond the point where light is magically healing. The light is painful, lovely, necessary, and true. Let the light in.