Paperback: 256 pages

Publisher: Eye Books (27 Aug. 2015)

ISBN-13: 978-1903070994

Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2 x 19.7 cm

Junkie Buddha

Diane Esguerra

£8.99

“I have read many books about grief - this is the best”

Junkie Buddha, is a Journey of Discovery in Peru is an account of one woman’s grief at the loss of her son, and how she was able to live through it by taking positive steps – literally and spiritually. It is understandably harrowing, but ultimately uplifting, as it gives the reader the sense that meaning can be found, even in the midst of the most profound loss.

Extracts

I never thought it would happen to me. It happened to other mothers – yes, and fathers too. I’d seen them on the evening news, puffy-eyed, bewildered, blinking away tears. The camera zooms in to the photograph of the son as they like to remember him, in his school blazer (eyes still shining then) grinning toothlessly at the school photographer. Or the daughter as a teenager, astride a mountain bike in the Pyrenees, tanned and ponytailed. I never thought it would happen to me.

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Extracts

I never thought it would happen to me. It happened to other mothers – yes, and fathers too. I’d seen them on the evening news, puffy-eyed, bewildered, blinking away tears. The camera zooms in to the photograph of the son as they like to remember him, in his school blazer (eyes still shining then) grinning toothlessly at the school photographer. Or the daughter as a teenager, astride a mountain bike in the Pyrenees, tanned and ponytailed. I never thought it would happen to me.

But in 2005 it did. I discovered my child Sacha, a man now, a man who had never practised yoga, slumped over in child-pose on a beer-stained rug; his alabaster back cold to my touch; a half-empty syringe at his side; daytime television drowned out by the weeping of his dogs and the howling of police sirens.

My future ambushed.

These mothers on the television – clutching handkerchiefs or their husbands’ hands – I used to think they put themselves through this ordeal in order to draw the public’s attention to a pressing social issue, start a campaign, establish a foundation to honour his or her memory. But then I understood they did it to avoid waking up in the morning with the feeling that the very heart of their lives has been surgically extracted without anaesthetic. Although they yearn to escape to the realm the beloved has made an untimely entry into – without their permission – they’re too considerate to inflict this same agony on their living loved ones. So what do they do instead? They search for meaning; for a purpose to rein themselves back from the lurking abyss.

In the weeks that followed Sacha’s death I duly busied myself applying to a charitable trust for funding to set up a project that would in some way honour my son. I wanted to do something to help teenagers who had been abused in childhood and who would, more than likely, go on to self-harm, harm others or abuse substances. But my burnt-out heart wasn’t really in it. I needed a break from that all-too-familiar world, and it was a relief when the funding didn’t come through.

But the void continued to terrorise me. As a Buddhist I believed in the preciousness of life and the concept of ‘turning poison into medicine’ – that suffering – however deep – could, ultimately, prove beneficial. But what value could possibly be created from this?

My daily mantra had become “Why me?” “Why me?”

“I’m not a junkie, Mum,” Sacha used to say. “I’m someone with a habit.”

quotes

“An uplifting book about finding value in the painful experience of profound loss.”

Sandie Shaw

“I could not put this gripping travel memoir down.”

Julia Stephenson

“A heart-wrenching and uplifting story of one woman’s tragedy, transformation and ultimately triumph, made all the more powerful because every word is true – and because Diane Esguerra is a very fine writer.” 

Eddy Canfor Dumas, award-winning screenwriter

“If the purpose of personal narratives is to make sense out of one’s life then Diane Esguerra’s excellent memoir will, I suspect, present not only an invaluable insight into how telling your story may save you from it, but also achieve redemptive potential for all those who have suffered a similar bereavement. Above all ‘Junkie Buddha: A Journey of Discovery in Peru’ demonstrates how the healing process is to pass from the narration of trauma as hurt feelings into the narration of trauma as an experience of deep significance.”

Marina Cantacuzino, Founder of The Forgiveness Project, Journalist, Huffington Post

reviews

‘Put a day aside, get under the duvet and have plenty of tissues ready....’

I read this book in two sittings and would not have put it down if practicalities hadn't intervened. It was beautifully written - shocking in places - and also cleverly structured, weaving in the history of the author's relationships, her son's battle with his addiction and the impact of this on the two of them and the wider family, with the main focus of the book: the author's actual and her metaphorical journey. The historical, geographical and anthropological perspectives were fascinating too. Although inevitably there is introspection, the author 'speaks' to such a wide audience, not just to those who have lost children, but to the population as a whole about loss and the meaning of life. It moved me very much but I felt uplifted by the time I finished the book. Diane has exposed her soul to the world but the world is the better for it.

‘Difficult not to love’

Having known the author in real life made her travelogue of life absolutely impossible to put down from the time I picked the book. Just when you think you know someone and then you read this... it illuminates relationships like you have never known. Its one of those profound reads that make you understand yourself better.Dianne's observations of her travel across the Inca trail up to the sacred citadel of Machu Pichu to spread ashes of young Sacha, is at once poignant, picturesque, funny as well as drenched in deep sadness of having lost her son to heroine. Guided by love, you experience the past and present in a blurred non-judgemental state that is ultimately forgiving and powerfully healing.

extras

Diane Esguerra: Mother who lost her son to a heroin overdose hopes her new memoir will help other parents cope with loss (writing in The Independent)

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/diane-esguerra-mother-who-lost-her-son-to-a-heroin-overdose-hopes-her-new-memoir-will-help-other-10478814.html

Diane Esguerra’s experience of losing her only child, writing for The Forgiveness Project

http://theforgivenessproject.com/visitor/diane-esguerras-experience-of-losing-her-only-child/

Salford City radio interview: https://soundcloud.com/david-southam/smiley-queen-salford-city-radio-interview

ABOUT

Diane Esguerra

Diane Esguerra is a writer, a script writer and a psychotherapist. She studied English at University College, London, followed by a stint at drama school, and, later, trained as a psychotherapist at the University of Sussex.

For a number of years she worked as a performance artist in Britain, Europe and the United States. She has written for theatre and television and is the recipient of a Geneva-Europe Television Award and a Time Out Theatre Award.The founder and director of Greenlight Counselling and Coaching Consultancy, Diane lives in Media City, Salford Quays with her partner David, who works at the BBC.

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