Essay on Seraphina Sullivan From the Novel Heave by Christy Ann Conlin

Seraphina Sullivan, from the novel Heave, grew up with an unstable home life. With an alcoholic father, a mentally unstable mother Seraphina was forced to be taken care of by her brother. Instead of having a mother to confide in or a father to protect her, Seraphina felt lost and alone all through her childhood. These aspects impacted her life greatly and at the breaking point of her life she became severally addicted to alcohol, which led her to experience the three stages of recovery. Author Christy Ann Conlin developed a realistic view on how hard it is to go through the phases of recovering from alcoholism in this novel. Anonymous poets who have gone through the three stages of recovery share how the three steps made a difference in their lives. Without going through these stages the addicts state, in a poetic fashion, how these stages helped them through the hard times. Most diseases and disorders are treated in the same general manner, but the fascinating part is how different the recovery is among people with the same issues. Take alcoholism for example. Alcoholism is a disabling addictive disorder. It is characterized by compulsive and uncontrolled consumption of alcohol despite its negative effects on the drinker’s health, relationships, and social standing. Like other drug addictions, alcoholism is medically defined as a treatable disease. This definition states that it is a treatable disease, but how can a person make sure that this problem will stay away? Mundane house wives from Arizona shared with People magazine stories of their frightening addictions and how they required help. Recovery was needed so that these women could live healthy lives with their families. The question remains: what type of treatment provides best recovery from alcoholism? When dealing with this disease there are three main stages that a person must go through to be able to fully recover. Seraphina experiences the feelings of sadness, loneliness and self loathing during the low points of her alcoholism. Once she has some peace of mind she experiences the steps that make an alcoholic recover. The three main stages an alcoholic must go through to fully recover from alcoholism are hope, finding a proper support system and regaining self control while building their self esteem. In all three pieces of literature it is shown how the three stages are portrayed, and how the different people are affected.

Hope is the feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best. An alcoholic needs to want to recover. If the person does not prove that they want to change, then the hope is not there and recovery will be near to impossible. If recovery happens but the hope refuses to remain present then relapsing usually occurs. In the fictional novel ‘Heave by Christy Ann Conlin’ the main character Seraphina Sullivan is an alcoholic who struggles with recovering from alcoholism. She woke up in a hospital after nearly killing herself by overdosing on alcohol and as she watched her disappointed friends leave the hospital she felt as if all hope was lost. “There was nothing but the dull green paint of the closed doors, doors that quietly closed off every tiny bit of hope.” (122 Conlin) For Seraphina, along with most recovering addicts, finding hope to recover was not possible until she became sober through a forced recovery treatment centre. Once her head was able to be clear of the substance she had been abusing, the presence of hope started to become clearer. When Seraphina was very young she realized that the hope had to come from inside the alcoholic themselves, no one else could put it there for them. She learned this after trying to help her father (who was also an alcoholic) recover from this illness. She states “But no matter how much I helped, it was never enough. It would take a long time to figure out it could never be enough.” (136 Conlin) Once Seraphina adopted a positive attitude and wanted to recover, the path of true recovery started to form. Christy Ann Conlin was not the only writer who accurately showed the first step to rehabilitation. A recovering alcoholic wrote a poem called An Addicts Prayer that demonstrates how hope is a necessity to proper recovery. He states “And mind started to falter as I whispered my plea/ I’d lost all my hope, and wondered where could it be?” (Anonymous) Along with Seraphina this author realizes that he needs hope to recover from this addiction. Without hope both people, fiction and non-fiction, realized that they felt empty and the substance could not help them any longer. Hope is the biggest step, not only because it is the first stage but also because it is the hardest. It solely relies on the addict themselves. The person must find the inner strength to orally state that they want and need help, then proceed to follow through with actions. Wendy Vrba, a mother of two, told People Magazine “Their screams woke me up, I could have killed them.” (Dennis) After passing out behind the wheel with her two children in the back seat, Wendy was woken up by the sounds of her terrified children screaming. She then realized that she had a problem and required help. This shows that hope can come from different situations. Sometimes it’s a frightening event that scares the hope into their life or possibly a subtle life changing experience. It may be a big step but it is possible with determination from the addict themselves.

A proper support system is the second stage that an alcoholic must obtain to properly recover. A proper support system is a network of personal or professional contacts available to a person for practical or moral support when needed. This is an important stage because without the positivity and support of the people who surround the addict, the road to recovery is near to impossible. People who struggle with addictions, like alcoholism, usually find that talking to someone when they have an urge to drink usually helps take the urge away. Also it provides an outlet, having people surrounding the addict helps distract their mind which makes them less likely to think solely on the substance. The biggest advantage to a support system is after the addict is ready to look for help; they need moral and physical support from the people surrounding them. This gives them the true help they need by showing that they do not have to experience this experience alone. In the novel, Heave, Seraphina is very blessed because unlike many alcoholics she has a very strong and big support system at her disposal. When Seraphina gained the hope to realize that she had a problem she was able to talk to her best friend. “I tell her there’s something bad about me and drinking; I’m just like my father maybe.” (91 Conlin) Expressing this concern to her friend was a big step for Seraphina. This shows her friend that she is concerned and that she recognizes that she has a problem and needs help. The support system expands through other close friends and family members of Seraphina. Conlin also shows how a support system can be combined of people you are close with but also people who you only speak to once every two weeks. The point Conlin was trying to prove was that a support system is a support system no matter who is involved, the only necessity is that they are positive, are there for the addict and encourage the alcoholic to get better. In the poem, An Addicts Prayer, the anonymous poet wrote about the realization that he had when he noticed how he had a support system. “And then at that moment, I heard something say/You don't need to do this, you've got one more day/ No one abandoned you, we were here all along/ Waiting and wondering for you to hear the song” (Anonymous) When he realized that there were people who were waiting to help him and to listen to him, recovery didn’t seem so bad and scary. Christy Ann Conlin made it seem easier for the alcoholic to recognize her support system while in reality it is a lot harder for the average alcoholic to step out of their daze and realize that there are a lot of support options available. Much like Wendy Vrba, Emily Sadler is a soccer mom who is an alcoholic. These soccer moms are classified as closet alcoholics who get stressed out by doing so much for their children and families that they don’t leave time to reflect on themselves. Their support system is nonexistent in their minds. They hide their addiction from the world. The overbearing need to do things for other people leaves them with an excuse to drink. This isolates the alcoholic because it hides the addiction making them feel like they have no one to go to for help. When Emily decided she needed to get help her two sons and husband were extremely supportive yet very shocked. She was able to attend recovery meetings that helped her realize that she was not alone. After the alcoholic gains hope and finds their proper support system the stages to a full, proper and successful recovery are almost complete.

The final stage to fully recovering from alcoholism consists of the alcoholic working on regaining their self control while building their self esteem. Self control is the ability to exercise restraint or control over one’s feelings, emotions, reactions, etc. While self esteem is respect for or a favourable attitude towards oneself. This is a step that just requires the alcoholic’s determination and spirits; it is also the stage that will take the longest to obtain (varying from person to person). The person must regain these aspects of their personality on their own with a trained professional. If the support system, untrained family members or friends, interferes with this step the alcoholic could develop a false sense of security which may also lead to relapsing in the future. That is why it is highly recommended that a trained professional helps the substance abuser through this stage. In the poem written by an anonymous recovering alcoholic, he states how he goes to a meeting. The meetings he is attending are AA meetings also known as Alcoholic Anonymous meetings. At these meetings he found a place where he could speak to people, discuss his problems and also regain who he was before the addiction. They speak about who the person behind the drinking is in AA meetings, which is why the success rate for attendees is so high. The poet expresses “I got up and knew, I was done lying, stealing and cheating/ and dragged my sorry ass back to a meeting.” (Anonymous) In the novel Heave, Christy Ann Conlin wrote how Seraphina regained control of her life after the rehabilitation centre. She also attended AA meetings to regain her self esteem and to prove to herself that she was able to get through this illness. One of the mundane housewives, Emily Sandler, felt it necessary to also attend AA meetings to help her get through the last stage of recovery. Wendy on the other hand did not feel the need to go to a meeting or find help after this point. She just kept her friends and family near to help her through the illness. In most cases people who choose to do this relapse within a couple of years. This is due to the fact that sometimes support systems move around, or in Wendy’s case her children will go away to school. So when they are gone, Wendy may have a higher chance of relapsing because she will be alone. Once the alcoholic has gained hope, recognized their proper support system and regained their self control while building their self esteem the three stages of recovery are complete.

In closing, through the journey of Seraphina’s life she experienced the three stages of recovery, which led to many years of pure happiness that were alcohol-free. Unfortunately, later on in Seraphina’s life she lost her support system and self control, which led to her relapsing. This novel was very in-depth, and thoroughly described the agony that was in the life of a struggling alcoholic. It showed how hard it was to cope and follow through with recovery. Also it was showed and described how easily life was after the three stages were completed. The poet continued to attend AA meetings and is still living his life with the three stages of recovery present. The poem described the struggle and the feeling of being lost from a true point of view from an alcoholic. It showed the struggle in a different fashion then the book. It was more emotional and lost, where as the novel was more of an over view struggle. The mundane housewives all recovered from the illness after their life changing experiences and the three stages of recovery. These stories were more frightening then the book and the poem. All of these pieces of literature show in their own ways, how important it is to have the three stages for proper recovery of alcoholism. Although the descriptions vary, the overall point is evident and clear. In their own ways they describe hope, a proper support system and regaining self control while building self esteem is needed for proper recovery from alcoholism.