I Almost Pulled My First Book Off Amazon Out of Shame This Morning

We had a beastly nor’easter here two nights ago and while we didn’t lose power, our satellite TV was still pixilated last night, meaning I couldn’t embrace my usual Thursday night flip-back-and-forth between Thursday Night Football and Everybody Loves Raymond.

A month or so ago, I read the last few chapters of my first book. It had been well over a year since I cracked it open. I wanted to add a new chapter to the end of the book before I reintroduced it to Amazon. I forgot that those were the chapters that briefly detailed the beginning of recovery, so they generally have a positive tone.

With the lack of consistent TV last night, I figured I’d read the rest of the book again. I have a lot of podcast interviews coming up in support of the next book, so reviewing my history seemed like something that would at least fill the time in my Raymond-less life.

It started OK because the first chunk of the book is about why I wrote it and how I get better in the end. My former publisher told me that we should establish upfront that I wrote the book for the right reasons and was on the path to turning my life around when I was working on it. The theory was that if we immediately got into the bad stuff, people might be turned off. I think that makes a lot of sense.

Maybe I’ve started to block, or forget, some of the details of my life in the last year before the police showed up, but for the first time ever in reading my story, I felt a pit-of-my-stomach shame and embarrassment I’d never felt before. I think just a day or two ago I wrote that I felt ashamed of what I did, but I’m not ashamed of myself. Scratch that.

I really can’t believe what honesty and detail I put into the book. It’s all there for people to see: the unbearable boss I became, the narcissistic local celebrity, the horrible father and husband and worst of all, perpetrator of a disgusting crime. It really blew my mind that I was willing to release it to the general public. It’s not graphic by any means, but it’s brutally honest.

I recall the bullet points of what happened and recount them for the podcast and radio interviews I do, but this was a level of detail that didn’t stay top-of-mind. It was difficult to read.

I wrote the book as a cathartic release in jail, found it even more therapeutic when I edited it down from 200,000 to 90,000 words, and felt like I put a lot of those demons to bed when I finally read the finished version in book form. I think I got a glimpse of those demons last night through different eyes.

As I was trying to fall asleep, it dawned on me that I didn’t want anybody reading it because I didn’t want anybody to know that stuff about me. It’s not who I was for most of my life and it’s not who I am now. Sure, I think a lot of people found me difficult to deal with through a lot of my life and I did have my addictions, but they were nothing like they became in that last year before the arrest.

I figured it would be easy enough to get rid of the book. I just had to pull it off of Amazon since that’s the only place currently selling it. Problem solved. I drifted off to sleep and had a dream I can’t recall.

My son has a nasty cold, so I don’t need to rush around in the morning to get him ready for school. This means I can sleep in a bit and check my phone from the comfort of my bed in the morning. I was reminded of killing the book when I came to check the overnight stats of this blog.

It dawned on me while I could ax the version of the book currently for sale on Amazon, I can’t eliminate the first version. It sold almost 1,000 copies, include around 250 into libraries across the country (and for some random reason, New Zealand). I can’t recall those copies. I also remembered the people who wrote to me after reading the book thanking me for being brutally honest; not just addicts, but their loved ones and members of the healthcare community.

After hesitating, I decided I’ll leave it out there. I guess it’s easy enough to find a copy at this point that eliminating it is pointless and, if I want to spin it for good, despite being a very shameful experience reading it last night, the book might still help people and that was the reason I wrote it.

I need to just own that it’s out there. I own what I did, why it was wrong and how I became that way. I’m a writer. Is it so strange there is a written record? It’s what I do.

In many podcasts I’ve done where the host has read the book, they often say I’m brave for coming forth with my story. I never fully understood that sentiment. I think today, I get it. I feel an unease, but a bravery for leaving it online.

I’m not asking you to buy it, but for strict transparency’s sake, if you’re interested in seeing the book, click here for the soft cover and here for the Kindle. I think one of those options leads you to be able to read the first few pages. I can’t run away from it, so I may as well embrace it. I’m probably done reading it, though.

7 thoughts on “I Almost Pulled My First Book Off Amazon Out of Shame This Morning

    1. In the week after my arrest, the media reported a few things incorrectly that made things sound even worse than the reality of the situation. Those are still out there and they aren’t even correct. If I take my book away, I take my voice away. Still…jeez…it was a tough read.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. As a partner, I think I’d be concerned if you didn’t feel ashamed. I know that’s the antithesis of what recovery is supposed to be about, but to me it’s where the recovery industry misses the mark a bit. Shame may be at the root of many an addiction, but it isn’t the root of all evil. Healthy people can and do feel ashamed over bad things we’ve done (not just at the act, but at ourselves for the fact that we made the poor choices that led to the act). It’s what clues us in that we violated our own moral code and reminds us that we have such a code. Hopefully it keeps us centered. We just don’t wallow in it. It doesn’t drive us deeper into additional bad behavior. I believe you are strong enough to not let the shame you experienced throw you off track and you don’t strike me as the wallowing type. I think your reaction to re-reading your book was quite normal, and that’s actually kind of wonderful if you shift perspective a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, I think you describe it very well. Part of my distaste for the whole shame topic comes from my second rehab. There was a lazy counselor there who, instead of actually doing anything, would just put on Brene Brown videos twice a week. She’s made a lot of money as the shame guru. Her speeches resonated with a certain group of women at the rehab, but not with most of us, me included. I felt like she was trying to further shame to sell more books and videos. Like you said, she wanted me to wallow and I’m not that guy. I always drew a line between what I did being shameful and who I was being shameful, but I guess in looking back, there was so much to be shameful about, not just a single act. I kept thinking to myself, “How did I not see any of this as it was happening?” I feel like I’m getting more perspective on it as the hours pass, but it was just not a reaction I was expecting last night. Thank you for providing your on-target comment.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess you can’t the easy way out and not ‘remember’ the whole story like it usually goes because it is written out there. To read it again from the poit where you are now can be healing too. It is brave to put your story out there and it is brave to read it again. You can make the decision to put it to rest and that is a powerfull dead. You’ve written very well about the struggles one can come across regarding to past actions, I think many of us have some stories were a not proud of.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, for sure. I could have put 10 chapters of stupid stuff I did when I was drinking or on manic highs when not taking my bipolar meds. Thanks for your perspective. I think you’re right about it maybe being healing in a certain way.

      Liked by 1 person

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