On Addiction and Relationships – Lynn Townsend @tisfan

Welcome Lynn Townsend to the blog with her book Blues, Book Two, the Rainbow Connection novels…

On Addiction and Relationships.

I wish I could say that substance abuse was something I only knew about from research…
It’s not.
I’ve had up close and personal experience with both loving someone with an abuse problem and being someone with an abuse problem.
I know that I’m very lucky. I’ve flirted with the idea of being an alcoholic / substance abuser for most of my life. I say “flirted with” like it was a choice on my part, but it really wasn’t. More in the same tone as “flirted with disaster.” My freshman year of college, I was going through about a fifth of rum every week. In my world “why is all the rum gone” isn’t just a movie quote. I was taking a shot to get up in the morning and a shot to keep going after lunch. Another shot at night to help me sleep, dreamless.

There’s a fine line, or a blurred one, between a problem drinker and an alcoholic. And believe me, I’ve made all the jokes. “I drink, I get drunk, I fall down. No problem.” I’ve done it all; got passed out / blacked out drunk, woke up places that I didn’t remember going to, spent bill money on liquor, had drunken sex with both people I do know and people whose names I still don’t remember… I woke up one time with a girlfriend that I never remembered meeting and felt too embarrassed about this to protest what became a highly destructive relationship… I never drove drunk, and that’s more a matter of the fact that I hate driving and I have always hated driving, than any particular good sense on my part.

I don’t know that I ever crossed the line to become an alcoholic; not in the manner of AA’s definition, at any rate, because I still drink… sometimes I drink for good reasons. To celebrate, to be social, to enjoy myself, and sometimes I drink for bad ones… to clear a cross mood, to ease pain, to prove that I still can. Sometimes I don’t drink at all for quite a while, to prove to myself that I still can quit if I need to.

I’ve got friends who are alcoholics, both still drinking way too much and some who’ve had their last drink a few years ago (congrats, you know who you are!)

My character, Vin, is an alcoholic. He’s got a lot of reasons to be. His mother was murdered when he was 4 years old, and while he doesn’t remember the event, he was found as a child with her body… that’d be enough to give anyone nightmares. He was raised by his grandparents, who are a little less loving and warm than one could hope from family members. He’s gay. And he has absolutely no idea how to form friendships.

That’s one of the things I noticed about Vin, about the middle of book two… he doesn’t have friends. Not the same way Beau does. Beau is an outgoing, cheerful sort of guy who makes close friends, bonds easily with people, and gives trust out willingly, despite being smacked in the face for it several times…. Vin, not so much. He has his party peeps and the ones he knows from the Gay Student Alliance. And Beau, of course, his boyfriend. But even with the people he loves, he’s less than honest. He doesn’t open up all the way, doesn’t make himself vulnerable, and is more likely to try to buy his way out of a problem than he is to try to fix it.

I’ve often had a bit of an issue with alcoholism or drug addiction in novels, particularly romance. Where the addiction gets fixed just in time to not make problems for the plot. In the Rainbow Connection novels, addiction isn’t a one and done fix. It keeps fucking things up… just like in real life.

“What are you talking about?” God, his head hurt. Vin was exhausted and there was way too much light streaming in through the not-quite shuttered blinds.
“You. I am talking about you, Mr. Reyes.”
It was too early in the morning for that much sarcasm, Vin thought. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, trying to use reverse pressure to keep his brains inside his skull. “I’m a little slow and hung-over. What are you in a tizzy about? Spell it out for me, one word at a time. Preferably at a slightly lower volume.”
In answer, Beau went over to the master bathroom and flung the door open. “This. I’m talking about this. And that. And the dishes. And the trash. And your drinking. I am talking about you expecting me to do everything.”
The bathroom was clean. Vin sniffed. Under the astringent smell of bleach and cleaners, he detected the faintest remainder of vomit. “What? It looks great.”
“That’s because I spent all morning cleaning up, after you tossed your cookies all over the floor. Again.”
Did he? He couldn’t remember worshiping the porcelain gods last night. “My aim’s not really that great.” Beau had missed the bathroom last year, he recalled. Of course, his grandparent’s maid, Camilla, had taken care of mopping the floor while Vin hauled Beau into the shower. Which reminded him; he looked down. He certainly hadn’t been dressed in sweatpants when he went out last night.
“I’d noticed.” Beau went back to picking up dirty clothes.
“Hey!” Vin grabbed his arm. “I can do the laundry.”
“But you won’t.” Beau jerked his arm free.
“I am trying to apologize,” Vin protested. Maybe he should go ahead and hire a cleaning service for the apartment. He hadn’t wanted to–he wanted to be a typical college student–but maybe it would be easier if he wasn’t arguing with Beau about the issue.
“Just. Save it for later. I don’t want to hear it right now. I’m gonna throw this in the wash and head off to class. If it’s not too much trouble, maybe, just maybe, you could move it to the dryer.”
“Your complaint is fucking noted, Beau,” Vin said.

Sometimes finding yourself means losing everything else…

Rising sophomore Beau Watkins gave up everything to be with his boyfriend, Vin. Beau is disowned by his father, tormented by his brother, is rapidly running out of money, and suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. On top of that, his boyfriend seems to see Beau as little more than a live-in maid. Troubled by word of his missing father and fighting nightmares of his own, Vin Reyes turns to alcohol to drown his pain. What’s worse, a handsome transfer student is a little too interested in Beau. Vin throws away everything that’s made him happy with both hands, terrified of his own feelings of inadequacy.

When Vin and Beau’s happily-ever-after turns into a train wreck of drinking problems, resentment, insecurity, jealousy, and violence, they both try to pick up the shattered pieces of their lives. Their mutual friends, Hector and Ann-Marie, try to help the two young men as best they can, but neither want to listen. Beau accepts a morally questionable job offer to pad his finances and Vin starts a downward spiral of self-destructive behavior that sends him right for rock bottom. Can Vin and Beau win through doubt and guilt, jealousy and recklessness, to find their place in the world?

Bio Lynn Townsend is a geek, a dreamer and an inveterate punster. When not reading, writing, or editing, she can usually be found drinking coffee or killing video game villains. Lynn’s interests include filk music, romance novels, octopuses, and movies with more FX than plot.