So, to the Big Island of Hawai’i I went in March. Spent hours every day in front of the computer, looking out over the ocean and the tide pools at Kapoho, writing until my fingers hurt. When I returned to Seattle at the end of the month I had most of a book done. I backed it up to my flash drive, and onto the hard drive of one of my computers. I had a plan; Memorial Day weekend was coming. I would have days in which I could write in large chunks. Maybe I’d finish the book.
Then life, in the form of thieves, intervened. We went out for an evening and didn’t lock the door to our deck. We came home four hours later to find the house plundered. Computer, gone. Flash drive, also gone. Manuscript, in the wind. Everything else that the thieves took was replaceable. The book, not replaceable at all. I write as a sort of cognitive giving birth, pouring out onto a keyboard the ideas that have been gestating in my head for months, sometimes years. No outlines, no hand-written notes. I was devastated, grief-stricken.
And fortunate. I had a hunch that I knew who my thieves were; my neighborhood is home to a loose collection of methamphetamine addicts who steal packages off porches, break car windows, and case back yards for doors, like ours, left unlocked. I knew where they hung out—the local convenience stores selling tobacco, alcohol, and sugary snacks. I found a photo of the flash drive online, made up a poster, and plastered my neighborhood, particularly the area around those stores, with an reward offer, no questions asked. Four days later an anxious and uncomfortable man showed up at my door with my flash drive, all of its contents intact. My book was back.
Thus, in October, I returned to Kapoho and completed Not the price of admission: Healthy relationships after childhood trauma. We shot the photo for the cover; new life growing out of a lava flow that had obliterated the community of Kalapana and its black sand beach 25 years ago. With the assistance of a wonderful group of editors and designers, I was able to publish this child of my heart and brain just before the winter solstice of 2015.
The experience of loss and recovery associated with this book made it, I think, a stronger and better manuscript, more dear to me because it was almost lost and gone forever (and yes, I do now back everything up into the Cloud as well). Immersing myself in the challenges and struggles of people who had less-than-adequate experiences of attachment, love, care, and connection in childhood, and sharing the hope, strength, and compassion that I have been taught by my work with those folks, made the writing process transformative for me. I’m excited about this book because I think that it fills a gap and will empower people to have a sense of how to create the quality of connection with others that has been difficult for them to achieve.
I continue to very much value your comments and feedback on all of my work. Because the work of a therapist and a writer tends to be somewhat solitary, it’s always a treat to discover that my work is showing up in your lives. Thanks to my clients, my students, my colleagues, the people who continue to teach me so much of what I know about how to do this work.