Friday, 14 June 2019

Overcoming Addiction, Living A Dream

"Born into an alcoholic family, odds were that Dave Harm would become an alcoholic" is how the back cover of Damaged Merchandise: Poems and Stories of an Alcoholic Addict, written by Diller resident and first-time author Dave Harm, begins.

Harm has drawn upon experiences during his time being addicted to alcohol and drugs, and has used them as fuel for his first book, which was released for public sale Saturday, Dec. 4. Through short stories and poems, Harm has catalogued his descent into alcoholism and drug addiction, and his struggles through recovery, in hopes that he may somehow help others find the strength and courage to begin their own journey toward recovery.

Harm was born and raised in New Jersey where, on the outside, the family seemed to be quite functional with strong moral values. Inside the home, however, things were quite different. Both of Harm's parents were alcoholics, and they were abusive. This dysfunctional childhood, Harm said, ruled his life and gave him an excuse to start and continue with his destructive behavior.

Failing to accept responsibility for his actions and blaming his parents for his addictions became a habit nearly as destructive as the drugs and alcohol had been. Finally, when facing the possibility of years in a jail cell, Harm was forced to take responsibility. That was more than 10 years ago, an he has been clean and sober ever since.  

The road to recovery has been rocky at times, and that is what his first book, Damaged Merchandise: Poems and Stories of an Alcoholic Addict, focuses on - his first 10 years of sobriety. 

Harm has been writing for the past 18 years, keeping journals of his life experiences. When he finally got clean and sober, he began reading through his journals remembering things he'd long since forgotten. When the memories of his alcoholic days came crashing back in vivid detail, Harm needed an outlet to express his feelings of sorrow and regret. Writing poetry seemed to be the perfect way for him to deal with the harsh realities of the life he'd led.

"Seven years ago I began experimenting with poetry," Harm said. "People seemed to like and understand what I was trying to say, and that led to the idea of making a book on my poetry."

Harm said he decided to compile the poems into a book because readers were commenting on how the poetry had touched them, stating that a book of his poems would be interesting to read and might even help someone who is having difficulty dealing with his or her addiction.

Harm began getting the book ready by locating the poems he'd written over the past seven years and he started organizing them. After reading the poems through and grouping them according to subject matter, he decided to write short story introductions to the poems so that the reader would more clearly understand the situation he was in, or his frame of mind at the time.

Once Harm had completed this part of his project, he began shopping around for a publisher who was interested in printing the book. He contacted a publishing house named PublishAmerica who felt Harm's book would quickly resonate with an audience. They purchased the publishing rights in late April, and printed copies of the trade paperback were released for purchase on Dec. 4. Ten percent of the royalties Harms earns from the sales of Damaged Merchandise: Poems and Stories of an Alcoholic Addict will be donated to the University of Nebraska-Omaha Lied Transplant Center.

PublishAmerica Executive Director Miranda Prather said that Harm's book "is a well written and crafted work of contemporary poetry. Mr. Harm is a promising talent in his field."

Harm said that having his book published is a dream come true , and he hopes that he can serve as an example of what overcoming addiction can accomplish.

Mostly though, Harm hopes that his book will help someone suffering from alcohol or drug addiction.

Harm said he wants the book to take the reader through a self-discovery process, instead of being an instruction manual on how to get sober.

"I wrote in my book, that all alcoholics have a hidden talent," he said. "I've known some alcoholics who were fantastic artists, and others who were great writers. Everybody has a gift that's just waiting to come out, and the only way you are going to find it is to quit drinking or taking drugs. And don't expect results overnight. It will take awhile." 

Damaged Merchandise is the first book in a trilogy that Harm expects to write. He has already sold the rights of publication to his second book which he calls a prequel and focuses on the last few years of his life before sobriety. The second book is expected to be titled, War Zone - Backing Out of Hell and will be written more as a story book instead of a compilation of poems.

Although Harm will be writing a different style for his second book, he still retains a love of writing poetry and hopes readers enjoy what he has produced.

"I would love for somebody, anybody to open my book and read a poem and say I know exactly what he's talking about.'  Somebody who knows what I'm talking about but never thought about it that way."

Article from the Beatrice Daily-Sun, Beatrice, NE by Bill Aldrich 24 DEC 2004

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