A Dream Week... A Week of Dreams

My Dr. Drew Story.

(Editor's Note: Click here for Dr. Drew's excerpts of Susan McMartin's appearance with Susan's mom. Congrats to both of you from Patch—m.)


Over 11 years ago I sat down to write a book. A story for children of alcoholics. I wrote it in one night and immediately shoved it in a drawer. I knew if I did anything with it... well, it would be out there. The secret. Most important, I didn't want to hurt my mom.

Growing up in an alcoholic home made me fiercely protective of my mother. Sure, it was okay for me to rage, blame, judge and shame her, but god forbid anyone else did. So, how can I possibly write a book that would reveal to the world that she drank?

And then one night I pulled the story out of the drawer and gave it to my then husband to read. He said, "You can't keep this in a drawer."

I knew he was right. I knew if this story could help one person feel understood it was worth it. I knew if I had read it when I was a child it might have helped me. I knew it was time to tell the secret.

I gave it to my mother to read and asked for her blessing. This is the beauty of my mother—the side of my mother that made me always admire her by day and then feel devastated at night—she is the most giving, unconditionally loving woman I have ever known. As painful as it was for her to read my words she knew that there was a bigger picture here—a chance to help others. Putting her own feelings aside she gave me her blessing.

I started by giving this book to friends I knew who were suffering. I built a work table in my backyard and taught myself bookbinding and made each book by hand. Sewing pages, binding each one in beautiful fabric, hand drawing my cover.

Each book was an original. I still have the very first one I ever made. Over the years it has been a bit bruised, a bit worn down, even has a wonderful crayon stain from my daughter. And, yet, it still holds the story and anyone who picks it up can read it.

When making them by hand became more challenging and expensive I started to do what made more sense at the time—go to Kinko's. This way I could donate more, give away more, hand them out at readings. They may not have been as pretty on the outside but it was about what was on the inside. Kind of like life, I guess.

Fast-forward to last week and me deciding to (as I had done last year as well). The emails and comments I received last year from people sharing their own experiences were so moving that I felt doing this once a year might be nice.

And then... an email popped up in my mailbox. From the producers of the Dr. Drew show.  Well, I nearly deleted it thinking it was a joke or spam—thank goodness I didn't.

My little story made its way to their producers and they wanted me as a guest on Dr. Drew's show. I was in utter disbelief.

Dr. Drew has long been a hero of mine. The commitment he has made to helping addicts and alcoholics, the passion he has to help families heal from this disease, the wisdom he has shared on a subject that many don't truly want to talk about is such a gift.

Dr. Drew has done more to bring this disease out of the dark and into the light than anyone I know and now I was being asked to sit with him.

A dream. I knew if I had the courage to do this, to overcome my fears of being on television, I could do something really good for all those children, young and old, who's lives have been severely affected by alcoholism.

Alone I can only reach so many... with Dr. Drew I can reach people in places all around the world. My hope has always been that one day this book become available in schools, hospitals, institutions, recovery houses, therapists offices, even police stations. Children who are taken out of their home in the middle of the night due to parents being involved with drugs or alcohol... if they could be handed a book that might help...

Yes. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. Thank you, producers of the Dr. Drew show, for finding me. Thank you.

Once again I called my mom. Once again, she gave me her blessing.

The producers were so moved by my mother's story that they even asked if she would call in to the show. She did—and to say that people were inspired and moved by my mother getting sober at 79 years old is an understatement. Even Dr. Drew, who has seen it all, heard it all, even he was blown away by my mother's story.

I was incredibly nervous before going on the show. After all, I'm a writer because I want to be behind the camera not in front of it. But, the extremely talented producers of the show and Dr. Drew himself were so kind, so inviting, so generous that once I sat on that stool next to Drew I forgot about the nerves and just focused on having an honest conversation.

I did it. And it felt great. The response I have received from friends, family and strangers has been so overwhelming. I'm humbled, truly, by the outpouring of support and love. My book (still self published only not at Kinko's) is now available on Amazon and after one day it shot up to number 1 in the recovery section.

So, that's my Dr. Drew story. Except for one last and most important part...

After I left the CNN building I drove straight home. There was only person I wanted to see. My beautiful daughter.

We got in our pajamas, sat on the couch and together we watched the show. She held my hand the entire time, she screamed with joy when she saw pictures of herself on television, she teared up at the sound of her grandmother's voice and before going to sleep she touched my face and whispered,

"I'm so proud of you, mommy."

I kissed her and told her to remember this day.

"What you believe in matters, baby. Dream big and follow your passion."

And just before I turned off the light I heard,

"Mommy... you were on television."

We laughed. Crazy, right? Crazy.


See here, and you can buy the book here: www.createspace.com/3975768 

Miki Henderson September 04, 2012 at 12:55 AM
I love this, and love that you have shared this with us, and on Dr. Drew, I plan to get a few copies for poeple I now.
Susan McMartin September 04, 2012 at 02:16 AM
thanks so much, miki. you are always so incredibly supportive!
Ilona Saari September 04, 2012 at 03:28 PM
As a fellow writer who's spent time in front of the camera, I know how difficult it is, tho my stints were about design and didn't peek into my own life. I applaud you for writing about your experiences and sharing them to help others in your book and now on Dr. Drew.
Kelly Lester (EasyLunchboxes) September 04, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Oh wow!!! I loved watching you on the show Susan and I just love this follow up post. You and your whole amazing family certainly do have a special way of moving people, and I'm just so thrilled that more of the world can know you and your beautiful gifts.
Susan McMartin September 05, 2012 at 03:17 AM
thank you so much, IIona!
Susan McMartin September 05, 2012 at 03:18 AM
kelly, thank you. you're so sweet! you're pretty amazing yourself, lady! xoxo
Michelle Weeks September 11, 2012 at 11:00 PM
Hello Susan. I really love your column and was able to watch your Dr. Drew appearance. Thank you so much for being a voice for those of us unable to speak out. Your mother sounds incredible. I went thru this with my own mother and there was certainly damage done. Even with years of therapy, I find myself trying to save friends with drinking problems, and always dating men with drinking problems. I'm trying to learn that it is not my responsibility to save them. The damage this disease leaves in it's wake is remarkable.
Susan McMartin September 12, 2012 at 03:05 PM
michelle, thank you for your comment. the hardest part is letting go of the alcoholic. once i learned it wasn't my job to rescue my mom and that i had to trust that whatever her journey was going to be my getting in the way wasn't helping... well, peace, relief and growth truly began. thanks again for your comment!


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