A little while ago I received a review on Amazon for my memoir, Appetite for Addiction, that simply said “Appetite for Attention,” implying that I was simply seeking attention by writing this book. If I honestly wanted the goal of releasing Appetite to be to get more attention then I simply would’ve called the book Appetite for Attention. At this point in my life, I don’t have any reason to be deceptive. I’ve proudly laid everything out on the table. That being said, the review still got under my skin.
Another review read:
(1 out of 5 stars) A Hard No
This book is a poorly written personal account of an arrogant and entitled young man who sees himself as a victim, in spite of having every opportunity in life to exceed. He glamorizes his small town Oregon party scenes regaling readers with incessant hookups, alcoholism, and excessive drug use. Written below the third-grade reading level, this book fails to introduce multiple perspectives or demonstrate any knowledge of literary structure or style.
Based on the fact the other people who have left reviews share names with people in the book, it seems my review is the only one not written by a friend. – Melissa
Initially, I wanted to react to this review, mostly because of the “third-grade reading level” comment. However, “Melissa” might have a Ph.D. in writing for all I know, and her perspective could very well be different than mine. That said, for a short second, I still considered offering an immature and unproductive reply of “*#&@ off.”
Certainly, I’m not naive to the fact that I have cast myself into the realm of public opinion, consequentially opening myself up to criticism. Once I published Appetite I knew that negative reviews would come simply because not everyone is going to like the story for their own respective reasons. Today, I respect that. There are plenty of books that I’ve read in the past that turned out to be something that I wasn’t expecting, written poorly, or just plain boring. Also, I’ve come to realize that some people just want to be negative for whatever reason. Internet trolls are everywhere. I can get that way too, especially when I’m sitting in self-judgment. During those times I can silently become a bit of an asshole. But, don’t we all? Not lost on me is that fact that some people are just not going to like my book! And that is OK.
Opening myself up and sharing my vulnerabilities took a leap of faith. Wholeheartedly I wrote Appetite for two reasons. One, to help me understand my evolution to becoming an addict and two, to help other people understand that they are not alone in their own individual struggles. With those two cornerstones of intent I felt confident in releasing an unabridged and transparent story that to this day, I am still very proud of. However, because this is my story and I still have levels of vulnerability, yeah, I’m going to fucking take criticism personally sometimes. Especially when I’m in a state of anger, tiredness, or loneliness.
Hand in hand with the need for constant reassurance, negative self-talk has been something I’ve dealt with for decades. Without a doubt, after hearing negative reviews I revert back into old behavior patterns and think that I’m no good, unlikeable, etc, etc, etc. Obsessive-compulsive thinking can lead me into a dark hole that’s steeped in self-doubt. This, however, can be a chance for me to continue to learn that all of the shit I tell myself sometimes can be an illusion, a fabrication of thoughts that comes from a story that I tell myself, about myself, for no other reason than I’m just used to telling myself this. Being in recovery, I learn that these character defects can be addressed with time and patience. From the time I released Appetite until now, one year later, I can say that the bullshit I tell myself doesn’t affect me as much as it used to. It’s progress, not perfection. That being said, I still have a long way to go.
Another adage that I adhere to is “what other people think of me is none of my business.” Sometimes, this can tug at some pretty deeply rooted insecurities that are the crux of my addictive nature. However, these past feelings and resentments stem from intuitions that are as old as I’ve been alive. Again, it’s consistent learning that’s going to help me cope with these insecurities and character defects.
This whole journey that I’m on is about consistent self-discovery. Through writing Appetite, to being in recovery, every day I’m presented with opportunities that allow me to be a better person, not only to others but to myself. It’s my responsibility to follow through on steps that will lead to an easier and softer way of living.
Today, I can take criticism as it comes and not become as overwhelmed with it as I have in the past. When I’m presented with the challenge of negative feedback I take it as a learning opportunity, as well as a gut-check, to check in with myself about what really matters to me in this world to me: being candid, transparent, honest, and real. I think that’s a pretty cool way to approach life.