Mishka Shubaly Has Nothing to Make up for With His New Memoir
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Mishka Shubaly Has Nothing to Make up for With His New Memoir


mishka shubalyBestselling Kindle Single author, ultra marathon competitor and former AfterPartyPod guest Mishka Shubaly doesn’t drink anymore. Perhaps this fact alone doesn’t make him different from many of the readers and contributors on this site. The adventurous, colorful and often extremely painful path he took to arrive at his current sober status certainly serves to diversify him a good bit. When we interviewed Shubaly in 2014, he was at work on his memoir. Now it’s done and yours truly had the pleasure of devouring every word.

I could go on and on about what a compelling, captivating writer he is and how I was hooked from the moment I started reading I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You (Public Affairs/Perseus Books, release date March 8, 2016). But I’d rather focus on how I related to the story as a fellow non-drinking, non-drugging human being. I’m going to do what alcoholics do best and make it about me. Just trust me when I say, oh so eloquently and elaborately, I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You is really, really good. Regardless of whether you’re struggling with substance abuse or in recovery, it’s a story about overcoming a shit ton of adversity.

As is often the drill when you listen to another sober person tell his or her story, there are a lot of aspects to Shubaly’s life I really relate to but other things that are completely foreign to me. When he describes his friends’ shrug-like reactions to his apologies over his drinking, I totally get it. I often get a lot of “Stop, you were fine” responses when I try to make amends for past drunken behavior. When he details the physical sickness that accompanied his hangovers, I really related. Chapter four is dominated by quite a bit of drinking-related vomiting. It’s also the chapter in which he graduates college summa cum laude a few years after he graduated from an elite, collegiate-level boarding school where he was on scholarship. Oh, and he got a scholarship to one of the most prestigious graduate writing programs in the country, Columbia University. Talk about high functioning!

When he references a multitude of other artistic endeavors (he is a musician as well as a writer) and ups and downs with various family members, I became more of an observer than an identifier. Still, his victory in repairing a seemingly irreparable relationship with his father, who left his mother and siblings after uprooting them multiple times from Canada to New Mexico to New Hampshire when Shubaly was a teenager, is certainly inspiring, as is his commitment to maintaining, or reestablishing, good terms with his mother, sisters and adopted Vietnamese brother. He is also brutally honest about his relationships with women throughout the course of his teenage years and 20s. Like all of us (hopefully), he seemed to learn valuable lessons, both about love and his own shortcomings, from each one of them.

What really stands out for me though is how he’s stayed sober. Besides ultra marathon running, which he took up in the beginning as a healthy, rigorous distraction turned passion, he seems to have developed his own system of treating his addiction and the mindset that accompanies it. Shubaly says he learned early on that the 12 steps did not resonate with him but he knew he couldn’t white knuckle it either. He instead created his own philosophical bullet points to live by. The Shubaly creed (with my commentary) includes:

“Alcohol can’t make it better; it can only make it worse.” Yup.

“Make it watertight.” When approaching it one day at a time feels like it could mean there’s a loophole begetting an excuse to drink.

“Make a list.” Write shit down. Totally agree.

“Do the worst thing first.” Absolutely. It’s along the same lines of learning to just deal with things you don’t want to do like so many functioning adults, who don’t have drinking problems, learned to do a while ago.

“Harness the wolves.” I can’t do this justice with a quip—you’ve got to read it.

“Escape is no escape.” Exactly! Feel it. Go through it. It all passes. Every emotion or fear or negative thought is fleeting.

“Try every day.” Whether it’s running 10 (or 50) miles or mastering your to-do list, you’ve just got to get after it.

I’ll let you read the rest. Read about his bands, his solo touring, his heartaches, his soul-crushing day jobs, his diversified palette of living situations and roommates, his partying and ultimately, his bottoms. Then read about what it’s like now.

“I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You” is set for release on March 8, 2016 by PublicAffairs.

Photo courtesy of Joseph Purdy; used with permission.

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About Author

Mary Patterson Broome has written for After Party Magazine, Women's Health Magazine Online, AOL, WE TV and Mashed. She has been performing stand-up comedy at clubs, colleges, casinos, and festivals for over a decade.