Danville writer included in anthology to benefit families impacted by addiction

Published 10:06 am Saturday, January 20, 2018

A Danville writer is among those included in a new anthology, with the net profits from sales of the book benefitting families dealing with drug addiction.

Jenean McBrearty (Photo submitted)

Jenean McBrearty’s flash fiction piece, titled “A Visit from Reality” will be included in the anthology “Howling Up to the Sky” from Pact Press. It’s a personal piece from McBrearty, who was married to a man battling a heroin addiction when she was younger.

“There is a lot of stuff about heroin addiction that people do not understand,” she said.

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The two were married for about five years.

“I didn’t even know about his addiction until they came and repossessed our car,” McBrearty said. “I said, ‘What do you mean we haven’t been making payments?’ That’s how I found out.”

Something she learned quickly was that living with an addict meant that her life became wrapped up in that, too.

“There’s a lot of implications for the families of addicts that people don’t know about … until they’re caught up into it,” she said. “It was a process of getting him into rehab. He went to rehab three or four times and didn’t work … Eventually, we got divorced.

“I hope to show people how addiction breaks the trust between people, between spouses, parents and children, employers, friends. Once the trust is broken, it becomes so difficult because you keep loving the person, but there comes a decision point. That decision point is, do you want to live the life of a person connected to an addict or do you want to live your own life?”

With children from a previous relationship, McBrearty said she tried to stay, but eventually made the choice to leave for the sake of her children.

“They’re terrible, horrendous decisions to have to make, but you have to make them. You have to save yourself or die with the addict. I chose to save myself and my children,” she said. “I wanted to share the emotional part of that, to demonstrate what people go through, having to sever that relationship with that loved one, so that you stop enabling them.”

A few years after the divorce, McBrearty said she met her ex-husband again. That is what the piece is about, she said — what happened at that meeting.

“It was very emotional for me to write it, but I thought it had to be done,” she said. “At this point in my life, I don’t have any fear it will have a negative impact on me and my family … The impact of that situation can no longer have an effect on me. It’s not the case for younger people.”

McBrearty said addiction “passes on” to family members “in ways you never expected.”

“When people find out, for instance, that your husband is an addict, all of a sudden, you are an outsider as well. You carry that stigma right alongside with that person. It’s a tough road,” she said. “I understand how difficult it is to find out a loved one has an addiction.”

McBrearty is a graduate of San Diego University. She taught political science and sociology. Since 2006, she has resided in Danville, to be near her daughter and grandchildren.

“I want to be here and write; that’s how I’m spending my retirement,” McBrearty said. “I have, probably, the best retirement I could have dreamed of in my life.”

This is not her first published work. Her fiction, poetry and photographs have been published in online and print journals. She won the Eastern Kentucky English Department Award for Graduate Creative Non-Fiction in 2011 and a Silver Pen Award in 2015 for her noir short story, “Red’s Not Your Color.” She also has published a young adult novel, “Raphael Redcloak: Guardian of the Arts,” which was chosen as a young adult recommendation for the Santa Clara County Library. McBrearty has two other published pieces, a short story collection, “Here Today, Noir Tomorrow,” and “Wanted Ones: Published Stories of 2017.”

McBrearty said she wanted to be part of “Howling Up to the Sky” when she heard about how the proceeds were going to benefit Shatterproof, a national non-profit organization based out of New York, which is aimed at helping families who have been impacted by addiction. According to Shatterproof.org, the organization launched after the death of Brian Mendell, son of Gary Mendell, founder and CEO. Brian Mendell had been battling addiction since he was a teenager, eventually taking his own life in 2011.

(Book cover courtesy of Regal House Publishing)
Howling Up to the Sky, an anthology, will be published on Feb. 2. Copies can be pre-ordered at https://regalhousepublishing.com/product/howling-up-to-the-sky. Proceeds benefit shatterproof.org.

Since it began, Shatterproof has served as an advocacy group for families and has influenced legislation regarding addiction and treatment throughout the country.

It was that mission that spoke to McBrearty, so when she heard the opportunity to contribute, she knew she needed to share her own story.

“I hurt for these people. I understand that, for many people, they’re facing this for the first time … (drug addiction) can hit anyone of any class, age, race, financial situation, education — it doesn’t matter. It can happen to anybody. To understand that this is happening to Kentucky families — they may not have any idea what’s going to hit when this happens to someone they love or themselves. I really do hurt for those people,” she said. “I feel it very personally.”

McBrearty said she hopes the anthology appeals to people.

“I have read it. It’s very good; the other pieces in it are very good. It’s worth reading, as far as literary content,” she said. “I’m hoping teachers around will pick it up as something they can share for their students. I would like the library to get a copy. I just hope we can sell as many as we can — that would be my hope.”


Howling Up to the Sky will be released on Feb. 2. It can be pre-ordered at regalhousepublishing.com/product/howling-up-to-the-sky, in ebook format for $6.50 or paperback for $13. Net proceeds from the book will benefit Shatterproof, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to helping families impacted by addiction. For more information about Shatterproof, visit shatterproof.org.

Jenean McBrearty’s works can be found on amazon.com and Lulu.com.