Lillie: Welcome to A Writer’s Words, An Editor’s Eye, Michi. Although we’ve never met in person, we’ve known each other in the virtual world for more than a decade. I’m excited about the release of your book and delighted to introduce you to my readers.
Michi: Thank you, Lillie. I’m excited to be here.
Lillie: Please tell us a little about your book.
Michi: My book was written from personal experience. I had been through so much in my life, and I realized that I wanted to share that with others in the hope that it might actually help someone. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has struggled with codependency, and with trying to please everyone else, so much that you lose who you are. With my codependent childhood and my multiple marriages and divorces, I finally came to the point that something had to change. I had to learn to live for me—and it’s a process that’s ongoing. I’ve already had a few people talk about how much the book meant to them and how they saw themselves in so much of what I was writing about, so that’s very encouraging to me.
Lillie: The book has an interesting format. In each chapter, you relate your personal experiences, then you reflect on what you did wrong and what someone who may have a relationship addiction should look for. Finally the therapist, Marcus A. Lindemann, MSW, gives his advice. How did the collaboration with the therapist come about and how did you come up the format for the book?
Michi: I actually met Marcus through mutual friends, and when I realized that the book needed to be more than a memoir, he was a natural choice to assist. He’s given me a great deal of informal therapy throughout this process. The format was partially my own doing, and partially the suggestion of a fellow writer who took a look at what I had written. He recommended that I bring in a professional and give people something to think about after each chapter. I think it really worked out well, overall.
Lillie: To introduce my next question, I need to give my readers a little background. When I was editor-in-chief for the now-defunct company Your Information Center, Michi was a writer, editor, and member of the editorial board. The company published short, how-to guides, and all writing was work-for-hire, with payment for writing and editing only in royalties. Unfortunately, sales were negligible and so were royalties. In spite of the fact that the only compensation she was getting was the hope of future royalties, I could always count on Michi to volunteer whenever I needed help. She was a competent writer and editor, but I most appreciated her initiative and cooperative attitude. Now for the question: In your book, you say that during this time, you did only enough work to get by. When we were working together, you told me you sometimes had panic attacks and there were a few occasions when you were a little late on a project. You also told me you were getting married then that the wedding was called off, but I had no idea of everything you were going through. I’m amazed at the differences between our perceptions of your performance. I don’t know if you did such a good job of hiding your problems or if I was just not very observant. Should friends and associates be able to recognize if someone may have a relationship addition problem, and, if so, is there anything they can do to help?
Michi: I don’t think it’s that you weren’t observant. It’s just that it’s much easier to hide things over the Internet and through email. If you’d have been around me face-to-face, I’m sure you would have seen the problems. Friends and associates that have real-world interaction with a codependent person would probably notice that something was “off.” Some of my family members, for example, got tired of being invited to my weddings, because they just kept happening. A few friends started distancing themselves. My parents didn’t really know what to say, but I’m sure they saw the problems, too. They were probably confused about what to do—and I wondered if they thought it was their fault. I think everyone really just wanted to see me happy, but if you see problems in someone you love, you need to speak up! No one should be so coddled and socially restricted and sheltered that they have absolutely no idea how to live on their own when they turn 18. No one should get married and divorced 5 times in 17 years. It’s not healthy to do those things—and I know other people around me had to realize that. Encouraging someone to get help, and supporting their efforts to get better, is something everyone should be doing for friends or associates or family members who have any kind of addiction.
Lillie: You are very open about your experiences and mistakes you have made. I know it couldn’t have been easy to write the book. What motivated you to share your experiences in this book?
Michi: I knew, if I was going to write the book, that I had to do it honestly. I couldn’t paint myself to be so perfect and everyone else to be so flawed. It was, honestly, terribly painful and embarrassing to share my serious, repeated mistakes with the world. But, you know what? It was also cathartic and healing. I feel better about my past because I’m using it to help other people have a better future. That’s worth something.
Lillie: It’s wonderful that you could help yourself and help others, too. What is the most important thing relationship addicts and codependents should know?
Michi: They aren’t alone. They can get help. They know, deep down, that something’s wrong, but fear—or shame—may keep them from admitting it and taking that first step toward doing something about it. They are valuable human beings who are worth the effort, and they need to get that belief into their heads and hearts and souls, so they can see hope and peace and joy again.
Lillie: Will you tell us how music made such a big difference in your life?
Michi: It was the only thing that brought me joy when I had reached a time in my life that I thought I really wasn’t going to be able to recover. I guess I thought I had to live my life the same way I had been, over and over and over again, and it was getting worse with every marriage and repeated mistake. I wish I could explain why music affected me that way, but I really can’t. It’s just one of those things that affect you so deeply…maybe it comes at just the right time in your life or it hits you just a certain way…and you’re never, ever the same. I don’t think music would do that for everyone, but there’s something out there that will. When they find it, they’ll know—and they need to keep looking until they find it, because it could be the start of a life-changing transformation.
Lillie: In the book, you talk about how spirituality has affected your life and your recovery, and you have the title Reverend, followed by the initials RM. Share with us, please, about your credentials—what does RM mean?—and ministry.
Michi: I am now, and have always been, a Christian. Specifically, a Lutheran. I make no effort to hide that and have no desire to change it. I became a Reverend because I have a deep reverence for God and what He’s created, and I wanted to honor that. I’m not planning on starting up a church or anything along those lines, but I would enjoy being able to help and counsel people who are struggling with the same kinds of problems I’ve been through. The RM stands for Reiki Master, which is a designation that is given to energy healers that have been certified in Reiki. Some people have trouble with that because they feel that concepts such as Reiki conflict with Christianity. After much study of the matter and a lot of thought and prayer, I decided that I don’t see a conflict in the two beliefs for me personally. I became certified in both Tibetan and Usui Reiki in 2008. Spirituality and religion are very personal, and I tried to convey in the book that you don’t have to share my beliefs, or even agree with them, to get benefit from my story. People with relationship addiction and codependency problems come from all spiritual, religious, financial, and educational backgrounds. Addiction doesn’t discriminate.
Lillie: I know you have written other books besides this one and that you are represented by a literary agent. What other books can we look for in the future?
Michi: I’m working on fiction at the moment, and hope to have at least four books to my literary agent by the end of the year. They’re nearing completion, so I should be able to make that a reality. Two are horror novels—but not your typical ghost stories, one is a Christian book with a bit of a unique twist, and the other is a love story of a very different kind. I hope they’re well-received, because I’m excited about all of them. I also have 22 short ebooks available. They were too short for literary representation and traditional publishing, so I self-published them. They’re under “Michi Beck” and can be found on Amazon. All of those are non-fiction, and the topics are really varied—everything from budgeting to horses to travel. I hope to have at least two more of those available by the end of the year, as well.
Lillie: Where can readers learn more about you and your books?
Michi: They can find me on my blog, and they can find my book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, and many other sites. The publisher’s site—Chipmunka Publishing—also has the book listed for sale.
Lillie: Is there anything I’ve failed to ask that you would like to share with my readers?
Michi: I can’t think of anything you’ve failed to ask, and I really appreciate the interview.
Lillie: Thank you so much for stopping by and telling us about your book and your experiences. Readers will probably have more questions for you. Will you check in during the day to respond to comments and answer questions?
Michi: Absolutely. I’ll be checking in periodically—and thank you for inviting me. It’s been really enjoyable, and I hope your readers will check out my work and let me know what they think. Feedback is always appreciated.
Bio: Michielle DJ “Michi” Beck is an accomplished writer of print books, e-books, articles, essays, ghostwritten research, opinion pieces, and white papers. A prolific writer, Beck has produced thousands of short pieces in addition to her longer works, creating quality content under her own name and as a ghostwriter for others.
As an editor, she has worked with ebooks and print books, as well as articles, essays, white papers, and dissertations, in copy editing and substantive editing roles.
Her full-length books—both fiction and non-fiction—are represented by The Swetky Literary Agency and published through traditional channels as “Michielle DJ Beck.” She also publishes online articles and blogs, as well as ebooks that are too short for literary representation and traditional publication, under the name “Michi Beck.”
Ms. Beck is the author of Sorry, I Thought I Loved You, a groundbreaking new book on relationship addiction and codependency—available in ebook and paperback from Chipmunka Publishing.