Synopsis

When 29-year-old Alex Moser passed out following a deadly cocktail of barbiturates and alcohol, she believed she was closing her eyes for good. Fortunately, the universe wasn't quite ready to let her go.

The Existence Game is the story of an intense two-month period in the life of 29-year-old Alex Moser, detailing her path from a suicide attempt to long-awaited healing. Recounted by Alex ten years after the events of the story, this honest portrayal of mental illness is told with the wisdom and humor only the perspective of time can offer.

When we join Alex, she has wrestled with borderline personality disorder for over half of her life. She has never understood her fears and false beliefs, but in the safety of a top-notch psychiatric hospital and with the help of the staff she meets there, Alex begins to explore these forces that have dictated her entire life. Dr. Jonathan Frank, the talented therapist with whom Alex is privileged to work, offers Alex the unconditional acceptance and consistency that had always been absent from her life. In the safe space of their relationship, Alex allows herself to give voice to the small child inside her, finally acknowledging that child's needs, anger, frustration, and confusion.

The turning point in the story comes when Alex guides herself to uncover a repressed memory of childhood trauma. Her new-found self-knowledge opens the floodgates to other childhood memories and a deluge of self-understanding. As painful as the memory is, Alex experiences the relief that comes with understanding as she sees for the first time the chains of cause and effect that have unfolded in her life and how her mental illness is the result, not the cause, of so many problems she has encountered. Armed with explanations, Alex is now ready to take responsibility for the decisions that will move her forward.

Although Alex is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, many of the struggles she faces are common to most Westerners of the modern era, from getting a job and paying bills to childhood fears and difficult family relationships. One of Alex's biggest accomplishments is coming to see her mother – and the toxicity of their relationship – more clearly. As Alex comes to understand that she has always been a pawn in her mother's game of existence, she realizes she has a choice about continuing to play that role. The impact of that choice ripples into Alex's other relationships, freeing her to relate more deeply and honestly to everyone in her life. As Alex refuses to continue feeling fearful and angry, she discovers space in her life for gratitude and joy.

While The Existence Game is a serious portrayal of mental illness and recovery, it is simultaneously humorous, offering anecdote after anecdote from the Irish pub that serves as the setting for most of Alex's social life. From a police officer who drunkenly believes himself to be Superman to a pub owner whose hands-off approach leaves people wondering how he stays in business, there is no shortage of comic relief and characters who are well worth getting to know. As Alex's own story unfolds, scenes from the Pub remind readers that life marches on and that no one's story occurs in isolation. True to life, Alex is frequently amused, sometimes surprised, constantly enlightened, and unexpectedly touched by members of this family of choice.

At once neurotic and utterly easy to relate to, Alex tells her story with self-awareness and intimacy that are ultimately the tools of her healing. The move that was supposed to end it all becomes the catalyst for an unpredictable chain of events that resolves itself in a way that shocks everyone involved. This two-month window into Alex's life shows how powerful healing can come to those who are open to it and have the courage and patience to work for it.