Dear Seth: A Marriage Letter on Your Sobriety and What it Looks Like to Come Clean


Dear Seth,

I wanted to sneak in a marriage letter today because it feels like a pivotal day. Your book releases today, and instead of being here watching the stats and reviews, you’re in the river with Saint Francis on your mind. You’ll catch trout, and trout have a way of casting a certain light. The small scale takes in the sky and reflects it. God watches the rainbow trouth, the bull, the golden, the cutthroat, and the brown like sparrows. He knows the ones He sends your way. I have no doubt you’ll feel small and surrounded by glory. I want nothing more for you, because I have seen what the small and the quiet has done for you and for our family.

My sister said Coming Clean will be delivered to her door today, which means that everyone who pre-ordered it will have it, too. After my memoir came out, for about a week I swore I would only write fiction from then on. Ha!


Yours is a different way. For you peace is a step away, just like stepping into a river.

Before you quit drinking, life was booming loud. We were a party. We were hard laughing and strong, but then you quit, and I had to watch you fight. I watched you wake and writhe, and then you went to your journal. You fought for this book with no other intension but to get sober, and you did. In a lot of ways, this book is the very thing that sobered you. In a lot of ways, you’re still fighting. You aren’t running from pain anymore. You’ll sit right down in the middle of it, and strangely, it looks like peace.

i-Zhpc2Gd-XLAt first, sobriety was a buzzing in your ears and a fire in your bones. It was deafening. I was afraid you’d never be funny again. I was afraid we’d never stay up late talking. I was afraid you’d stollen the husband I knew. Now, though, it’s like the real you finally reached up out from under all the numb. You felt too much at first, raw, but that was a short season on the way to the quiet.

I tell my friends that you are kin to the quiet. You can sit at your desk and step into the river. You call it “inner sobriety.” I watch you, and I want it. I’m a busy-headed chicken in circles, and you’re a cool cucumber on a vine. You’re  attached to your peace.

It’s been two years now, and you’re releasing this book to help others along, not necessarily with their drinking problems, but with anything they’re using to cover pain. I am following behind you slowly in this, working on it, too. You’re the other side of my coin, your story. So much of our pain is shared and not in these books.

To you who sees the the world charged with the grandeur of God; to you who laughs and releases and sits in the quiet, Seth; you are a gift. This book is a gift to us.

Thank you for quitting what you need to quit and pressing into the hard so the rest of us can see that we’ll survive it, too. We’ll survive it, and maybe even find ourselves Coming Clean.

I love you, man in the river.


41h3SwJH+KL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_Now is the time!

Coming Clean has released, and you can buy your copy today!


Barnes & Noble



If you’ve ordered Coming Clean, please do write a review for Seth. These things help so much.

If you’ve not ordered it, please do and order a few. Those who need it are not few. Coming Clean is not just for those who call themselves workaholic, anorexic, over eater, control freak, porn addict, or for those who fear sitting still. It’s for all of us who keep looking for ways to stop the pain. There are so many of us out there.

Praise for Coming Clean

“Seth writes with a distinctly Southern sensibility—elegant, evocative, lyrical–and his wisdom and honesty shine through every page, gently illuminating our own fears and secret hearts along the way.” ~Shauna Niequist, author of Bread & Wine and Savor

“Coming Clean is not simply a book for alcoholics; it’s a book for anyone who has dealt with pain and been left scrabbling after God when their coping mechanisms fail or easy answers run out. This book is a mirror, held up for all of us to behold our addictions and the ways we’re all still recovering. Raw, sobering, miraculously ordinary, hopeful, beautiful, and yet terrifying. Seth is an honest writer, and there is no higher praise.” ~Sarah Bessey, author of Out of Sorts and Jesus Feminist

“Haines tells an engaging story of faith and addiction, of hope and despair, of trust and fear, of joy and pain, of patience and pride. His honesty is refreshing, his faith is challenging, his hope is encouraging, his love is passionate, and his portrait of God’s grace is amazing. This book is worth reading slowly and thoughtfully, allowing the transformative power of God’s grace to change the reader as it is changing the author.” ~Glenn R. Kreider, Professor of Theological Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

“Vivid, uneasy, convicting. Seth Haines has written the best book of the past year. Coming Clean is the work of a true storyteller, a direct, crisp narrative shot through with poetic asides and the turmoil common to us all. At once a celebration of and a eulogy for our humanity, Haines commands language and style so deftly the work reads like the highest literary fiction. Approachable and witty, Coming Clean is a sobering reflection, no matter your addiction.” ~Preston Yancey, Canon Theologian, Anglican Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast

“No one wants to admit they have a problem, but the truth is we all have one. Coming Clean acts as both a mirror and a map. Seth Haines’ beautifully pointed writing and compelling story of sobriety force us to look at the realities of our own pain, but show us the way of healing by directing us to the goodness of God. For the pastor, for the layperson, for the victim of addiction, for the person with air in their lungs, Coming Clean is required reading. I’ve waited my whole life for this book, and I’m giving it to everyone I know.” ~Nish Weiseth, author of Speak: How Your Story Can Change the World

The amazing photos are from the one and only Kelly Sauer.
About me


Where Healing Begins: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Sarah Jo Burch
November 23, 2015
When Home Is Within: a Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Mandy Mianecki
November 02, 2015
Learning to Bend: A Wild in the Hollow Guest Post from Diana Trautwein
September 14, 2015
Marriage Letters: On Home
July 06, 2015
Who are you, really?
January 27, 2014
It is My Passion That You Know This
January 08, 2014
At the Crux
September 02, 2013
Poor and Powerless: My First Time to Speak
April 17, 2013
Let the Game Changer Change the Game: Part 1
April 10, 2013


Charity Singleton Craig
Reply October 27, 2015

Love this letter, Amber. You and Seth are both doing good things for the world and for all the people you hold close. My copy of the book should arrive today, too. I can't wait to read it.

Lynn Morrissey
Reply October 27, 2015

I am eager to read this, Amber. After I discovered you, with your flowing river of words, I discovered your man in the river. You two simply belong together--ebb and flow and flow and ebb. I am eager to read your Riverman's words, because I, too, am a woman of words, and I nearly drowned in a river of alcohol thirty years ago. And God reached down and pulled me out, while throwing me a lifeline. He put a pen in my hand, too. I know the healing power of words, directed by God, and poured forth on pristine journal pages. God uses our journals to touch our hearts and transform our lives. I congratulate Seth on sobriety, inner and outer, and I am so happy for you both--for actually a new-old life lived in love, together.

Jacque Watkins
Reply October 27, 2015

So beautiful how you both have pressed into the hard so we can all know we can survive too--sitting through the discomfort to become whole. LOVED Seth's words and so thankful for you both...xoxo

Reply October 27, 2015

beautiful Amber!

Reply October 27, 2015

I loved your perspective. Shared with a friend walking sobriety with her husband. About 7 months in. I know she feels a sense of relief that some things are a process, a season. Thanks for being so real and thanks to Seth for allowing us into it all!

Reply October 27, 2015

You guys are awesome.

Ashley Hales
Reply October 27, 2015

I love how you both have birthed books within months of each other -- so much pain and beauty and searching words. Thank you for your presence, your friendship and your encouragement (both of you) to sit with the pain, the longing and find peace. You guys are a gift to this world.

Reply October 28, 2015

This is beautiful, Amber. Thank you both for sharing your stories, and your journey. You speak life.

Sharon Gibbs
Reply November 12, 2015

Amber, I have been savoring your words (and Seth's) for almost a year now. (And I loved your book!) Thank you for your transparency and courage, and allowing us on your journey. I am happy to see more Marriage Letters. They inspired me to write one of my own.
Your letter is beautiful and brave, as are all your words. One sentence that felt deep and rich for me was "For you peace is a step away, just like stepping into a river."
Please, keep the flow of words coming.

Reply November 17, 2015

I am so far behind on life. But this was SO worth holding onto. Tears here -- of gratitude for your story and for the incredible way in which you tell it. Thank you.

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