Growing up, Lauren Grant was often hesitant to have friends visit her at home.
While they all loved her mother, there was something about Mom that Ms. Grant was trying to keep hidden — the fact that she was an alcoholic.
Decades later, Ms. Grant has used her mother’s disease and the effect it had on her life to write a novel, “The End is the Beginning.” Available on Amazon.com and at Burton’s Bookstore in Greenport, the book follows a husband and wife who face the challenges of his alcoholism and her ensuing codependency.
Her mother’s addiction affected Ms. Grant well into her adult years, she recalled in a recent interview, by instilling a sense of codependency. She described herself as having been very driven, but in a way that made her controlling, angry and miserable.
“I found myself constantly trying to put fires out to keep people happy that I could never make happy,” she said.
About 20 years ago, the New Suffolk resident started to attend Al-Anon meetings, which the organization’s website says are designed to offer “strength and hope for friends and families of problem drinkers.”
During this time, Ms. Grant also began to keep a journal of her experiences. A few years ago, she sat down to type her handwritten notes when she realized she had something on her hands that she wanted to share with others. There was just one problem: She felt her own story was “boring.” So she began working on “The End is the Beginning.”
The most difficult part of the book, the author said, was creating believable and likable characters — something she felt was important since she wants readers to empathize with their struggles.
“I wanted people to see what [the alcoholic husband] was about, but not hate him,” she said, adding that she interviewed people at Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon meetings to develop her characters.
“I wanted to show he was just troubled,” she continued. “I wanted to make the two people real and believable to help the reader understand what these diseases are about.”
By creating characters that showcase the realities of alcoholism, Ms. Grant, a former producer and manager of radio and television shows for NBC, said she hopes to start a discussion about a topic she feels isn’t talked about enough — especially since alcoholism is so prevalent in the U.S. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence reports that 17.6 million people, or one in every 12 American adults, suffers from alcohol abuse or dependence. Additionally, over half of all adults have a family history of alcoholism or problem drinking, and more than 7 million children live in a household where at least one parent is dependent on or has abused alcohol.
As someone who grew up with an alcoholic mother, Ms. Grant felt it was important to share the side of the disease people don’t normally see: how it affects the sufferers’ loved ones.
She said many people who have already read her book, including fellow Al-Anon members, have thanked her for tackling the topic so openly.
“Someone told me it does nail the feeling a codependent goes through,” Ms. Grant said. “She said, ‘I’m a codependent and I didn’t even know it.’ So I just say, ‘Thank you God for making me do it.’ ”
Photo: Lauren Grant, pictured with her dog, Gracie, used real life experiences growing up with an alcoholic mother to inspire her latest novel. (Credit: Nicole Smith)