Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery

Moments of Clarity: Voices from the Front Lines of Addiction and Recovery

by Christopher Kennedy Lawford


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061456220
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/09/2010
Pages: 265
Sales rank: 257,443
Product dimensions: 8.08(w) x 5.34(h) x 0.73(d)

About the Author

Christopher Kennedy Lawford is the New York Times bestselling author of Symptoms of Withdrawal. He has worked extensively in Hollywood as an actor, lawyer, executive, and producer. He has three children and lives in Marina Del Rey, California.

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Moments of Clarity

Chapter One

Jim Vance

Jim described himself this way: "I'm a cocaine addict, a father, a husband, a man trying to make a difference in the world." Jim also anchors the nightly news at WRC-TV in Washington, DC, where he's worked since 1969. He was one of the first people to break the color barrier on TV, and he's earned seventeen Emmys and a spot in the National Association of Black Journalists Hall of Fame. He's also one of the stalwarts of the DC recovery community. A couple of things stand out to me about his story: his humor in telling it, and the way he feels most ashamed when he's being recognized for his success. That sense of being a fraud is so common among addicts.

I haven't known hopelessness since 1987, but I remember very well what it felt like. I had a total, complete, full conviction that I was going to die. I did not believe that I had a chance at getting a decent life. I knew I was going to die, and not just die, but die a miserable death. I had decided that if I could get any "good" out of this misery, it would be that I died more miserable than my father. My father died in 1951. I was nine years old. He was thirty-eight. He died of cirrhosis and DTs. I don't know a worse way to die than DTs. Jesus, what agony. But my condition in April 1987 was that I'll find a way to die worse than he did.

I think that speaks to the hopeless state of mind that I was in. I didn't want to die, but if I was going to die, then let me die even worse off than my father was. What kind of insanity is that? That, my friend, pretty much defines hopelessness.

I'm a broadcastjournalist and I had been the anchor at the NBC station in Washington, DC, since 1972. In 1987, in August, somehow or other I was still hanging on, but I had been missing in action for two days again. I was down in Southeast DC, where people were living hard lives, and still are. There was a public housing complex that had been abandoned or determined to be shut down—huge, as most of them were, from an urban renewal program in '62. In one of the buildings, there were two apartments that were still occupied. There were no utilities: no water, no electricity, no telephone, no anything. There were some mattresses on the floor. And for two days, I was in one of those apartments, desperately trying to get one more hit off the pipe. I'm in that apartment, I didn't have any clothes on, couldn't get an erection, and couldn't get high. I don't know how that is for most normal people, but for this colored boy, that was as low as he could get. You couldn't get your dick up and you couldn't get high. What is left?

I finally got out of there at some point. I didn't have a car because my car had been repossessed. I went back to where Kathy, who later became my wife, was living and I got cleaned up. She had nothing to say, because by that time, there was nothing else to say. There comes a point when silence becomes deafening and cruel. I mean, silence can cut like a knife.

I went to work and got through it, I don't know how. I have some pictures from back then, and I'm not sure why they allowed me to go on the air. Cheeks sunken in, eyes way back in the sockets, dark circles around the eyes because I hadn't slept in probably three days. My teeth were falling out. Literally falling out, because my gums were deteriorating and the bone under the gums was deteriorating. I had to talk in a certain kind of way just to keep my teeth in my head.

On a Thursday night, I did the six o'clock show and I left work at seven o'clock. Richard, who worked at the station, had loaned me his car. I was supposed to turn left to go home but I turned right. I drove around for a couple of hours, stopping every now and again at some phone booth, trying to get somebody to get me something. I finally got a guy in another part of Southeast Washington. I went to his place and got an eight balland fired it up. Didn't even pay him, just smoked it right there. When the ball was smoked up, at this point I was geeking. You got to get more. You can't be still, you're bouncing around, kind of like when people want to speed. Geeking was the term at that time, and I was geeking.

I told the guy, and he said he had more but he wouldn't give me any more without seeing some cash. I said, "Let me go over to the money machine." I walked out of the apartment and I left the keys to Richard's car because I was just going to walk over to the bank right across the street. But I hailed a cab. As it pulled out from the curb, I saw the guy running out of the house. He had a pistol in his hand, and he ran this way and ran that way looking for me. I got down in the cab, and the guy was still running around when we turned the corner. Oh, he was pissed off.

I got home and got Kathy to pay the cab. She went to bed. I went downstairs, got the shotgun, took Kathy's car, and went to Great Falls Park. The Potomac River runs through it, and there's a serious drop that creates some big rapids. The Olympic kayaking team practices at Great Falls. I was upstream, where you don't have the roar of the river as it drops off the precipice. It's more brooklike, more tranquil, but on that night it was deafening where it should have been melodic and soothing. Deafening and discordant. Jagged and unnerving. It was a violent noise that didn't really exist. My, it was horrible!

Moments of Clarity. Copyright © by Christopher Lawford. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Moments of Clarity 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
¿You don¿t understand, no one understands¿ an addict¿s mantra, which until Moments of Clarity, was very true.

Mr. Lawford and the contributors in this book fearlessly break the validity of this mantra through the strength of sharing their stories, bringing to life the realness of the disease of addiction and the holds it has on the mother, husband, teenager, employee, and celebrity, forcing them to go against what they know is the ¿right thing to do.¿

Each story truly reached deep within and touched my soul, as they not only share their hardships, but proclaim their moment of clarity, and the astonishing changes made in their lives because of that moment. They are all great examples of willingness, and almost anyone can find identification with the feelings, thoughts, adversities, and subsequent moments of clarity as we all face some form of them during our lives on a daily basis.

I would recommend this book to those who have family members suffering with this disease and need to understand the pain and hopelessness felt by those they love. To the addict who is still suffering as they will find the hope they are so desperately seeking and to those who are in recovery as they will be able to experience renewed epiphanies as I did.

Thank you to everyone who courageously contributed to these pages as I know many people will find salvation and peace of mind through your strength.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you are wondering what to give a special friend or family member in recovery. This book makes the perfect gift.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a wonerful read, not only for someone in recorevy,but for anyone. It covers many different types of addiction, and the ways the writers cope form day to day.
TOODLES More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. It is so moving. Sometimes it brought me to tears when it hit home. Thank you Christopher.
Lorib736 More than 1 year ago
TammyWI More than 1 year ago
I would highly recommend this book. I really enjoyed reading this. It put a lot of things into perspective and I also related to a lot of things to. I have dealt with a lot of these issues in my family. It is nice to read about all different type of situations, it gives you hope when you think there isn't any, you never know, some of these people in these stories didn't even plan on recovering for some reason they just fell into it and stayed in recovery. I just think it is great when people get together and do something like this and share such a personal part of them. To them they might not think their story makes a difference, but you never know who you reach or connect with. So it is always such a blessing when I see people reach out like this. Thanks so much to Christopher for doing a novel like this, I think I could read this book over and over again. Thanks for reaching out to people like me who always need hope and thinking that maybe something will click with our loved ones to get in recovery. It is stories like these that can still give us hope and to keep praying no matter what. You never know what might happen.
JanetCDiCicco More than 1 year ago
Extremely honest, revealing, and personal stories of struggles with and recoveries from addiction. Each story is so unique and yet the common thread is so obvious to the reader. Anyone who has had experience with addiction, their own or that of a loved one, will appreciate this book. I was moved to tears numerous times.
MoniqueM More than 1 year ago
MOMENTS of CLARITY is one of the most powerful compendiums I have ever had the privilege of reading. And, I say that because I truly feel Chris Lawford's most recent work is a generous gift of its contributors sharing experiential knowledge, humility and honesty meant to help each and every reader.
When reading about the "A-Ha" moments via the trials and tribulations of the famous and not-so-famous -- from Oscar-winner Richard Dreyfuss, Jamie Lee Curtis and Katey Sagal to former federal inmate DeJuan Verrett and Safe Harbor sober homes founder Velvet Mangan -- hope, courage and the willingness is the thread that ties all the stories together. The reader is left with renewed focus and energy to move forward in life and embrace change.
We are all on a path for a better tomorrow. Moments of Clarity is that comprehensive manual that if we put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward, we will get there with dignity, grace and clarity.
jwcooper3 on LibraryThing 5 months ago
A compilation of recovery stories based on interviews Lawford had with those willing to public concerning their many addictions. Much wisdom and gut level honesty is found here, along with generous helpings of hope and gratitude.
lanewillson on LibraryThing 5 months ago
Moments of clarity is a compilation of recovery stories representing a broad range of folks. However, on the whole I found it a bit disappointing. Many of the stories caused me to question the sobriety of their creators, and others brought the standard southern declaration of failure ¿bless their heart¿. That being said, there were a few that were quite inspiring. For these stories the moments of clarity were profound and universal. I especially liked Jamie Curtis, Earl Hightower, Thomas ¿Hollywood¿ Henderson, and Marie Morning-Glory. Ultimately the suggestion of always looking for similarities rather than differences makes this a worthwhile read.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Laugh out loud funny in parts, heart wrenching in others, joyous throughout. Shows the resilience of the human spirit and the importance of the 12th Step of A.A.--carrying the message. This book should be on the list of required reading for human services major.
JCOK More than 1 year ago
This is a great book! So much hope fills the pages as well as insight into the disease of addiction. This is not a book on how to get a loved one sober, it is a book that offers insight into how each person interviewed found the desire to get sober.
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"Loved BOTH your books - could not put either down and cannot thank you enough for your honesty and compassion. You rock!"
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The stories jump out. MOMENTS OF CLARITY is inspiring to anyone who wants to be a better person. You don't have to be addicted to a substance to find bits of your own life in this book. Mr. Lawford is a fantastic person who not only turned his own life around because of his moment of clarity, but then went on and created an inspiring, elevated resource for everyone. In my opinion, if you feel down about yourself, pick up this book and lift your own spirits.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A magazine article, similar in subject matter, prompted me to read this. I wanted to see the "corollary of discovery¿ shared by other cases. While dissimilar in many facets, I find the common ground in a tenet of Chris Mecham's (case expose) boyhood religious orientation: human progress is perpetual and eternal.

Aside from occasional lingual degradation, well spoken Mr. Lawford.
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