Rene Eram, commercial TV director, gallery owner and author with a copy of his new book, “The Addict’s Loop: A New Understanding and Workbook for Codependent Relationships and Addiction.”Photo by Marshall Smith
Rene Eram, commercial TV director, gallery owner and author with a copy of his new book, “The Addict’s Loop: A New Understanding and Workbook for Codependent Relationships and Addiction.” Photo by Marshall Smith

Rene Eram, filmmaker, author and local gallery owner, once made $10,000 a day as a sought-after commercial TV director. He painstakingly sought to compose the perfect visual balance between a glass of orange juice and a bowl of cereal to satisfy ad execs and their clients. While achieving perfect balance on the small screen, he was at the same time destroying any semblance of balance in his larger life.

Successful in his mid 20s, he remembers directing a TV commercial in which a live butterfly had to land on a rose, flap its wings a few times and then fly away. The shot had to be live, since at this time there were no computerized special effects. “Filming that butterfly debacle was the day I decided to add rum to my can of Coke and drink on the set,” he recalled.

He described directing as the perfect environment to feed and sustain ingrained co-dependent patterns — a place to be in control, hide any weaknesses or doubts, and be celebrated and highly paid for his talent. As he became more successful, he described how his unconscious patterns were causing him to spin out of control. “I had discovered the ‘Golden Rule’ of Hollywood very early,” he wrote. “The more talented and messed up you are, the more they pay and enable you.”

Fortunately for Eram, there was an epiphany, a moment of realization that a change in medium, in form, and in approach had to occur in order to move forward. He was 32. He described how his addictions had progressed and destroyed his filmmaking career, his relationships, his family and his friendships. “Everything had stopped working,” he recalled. He was at the edge. He made a choice that would define his way forward and his life’s mission. “I could get sober in a 12-step Program; white knuckle it and, once again, go it alone; or kill myself,” he wrote. “I decided to go with choice number one. I wasn’t ready to die and knew I could not stay sober alone.”

Even with a 12-Step Program, he thought there was something missing — some missing information without which, even after years of sobriety, he could still fall back and once again slip over the edge. He began to train as a drug and alcohol counselor and to research the causes of addiction. Through his training and research, Eram found what he calls the missing “mousetrap” — the awareness and mechanism that could stop his unconscious and deadly choices.

Fast forward to Idyllwild, where Eram capped a decades-long journey of spiritual and emotional growth by writing “The Addict’s Loop: A New Understanding and Workbook for Codependent Relationships and Addiction.” Eram describes the book as an easy-to-understand model that shows what he believes had been missing in traditional approaches to breaking addictive habits. “What I saw were people unaware of their unconscious codependent patterns,” he said.

His book details what he teaches as the mechanism to break addictive patterns: the need to become conscious of, identify and name ingrained and inculcated unconscious dependencies and destructive patterns — the repetitive and constantly recycling addict’s loop leading from fear, repressed anger, abuse and emotional pain upward to hoped-for connection, love and a euphoric fix, to a downward spiral of betrayal, rejection, abandonment and, once again, fear. The learning, as Eram counsels, is that the loop continues as long as it is left unconscious. The key, as he teaches, is to consciously recognize and identify the steps in the progressive loop.

Eram said Idyllwild gave him the space and solace he needed to write his book. He and wife Linda Lauderbaugh had chosen Idyllwild for home base to reboot after their Los Angeles careers.

They opened their gallery, Over the Rainbow, on North Circle to market art made principally by Lauderbaugh, a successful commissioned fine and commercial artist. “I named the gallery ‘Over the Rainbow’ because I think that is where we’ve landed,” said Lauderbaugh.

On any weekend, Eram can be found at the gallery, greeting customers and soaking up Idyllwild’s open and free-flowing creative ambience. “It’s inspiring here,” he said. “It’s a hot spot for creativity and deep thinking.”

For Eram, relocating to Idyllwild gave him what he needed to complete this leg of his journey, write his book and to continue to grow as an artist. He has articles coming out in two magazines, Serene Scene and Sober World Magazine, and has a screenplay that is under option with James Franco. “I write every day,” he said. “I also have begun to counsel with singles, couples and families, to counter-condition and help break co-dependent and addictive patterns.”

Eram said the picture on the cover of his book tells his and his book’s story — that of a child abandoning who they are in their truth and running toward a dishonest identity they think might better serve them. “It’s all out of survival,” said Eram. “The child feels invisible in their truth and runs toward a role they think will give them power and purpose.

“There is a part of our being that wants to be free, and that requires being conscious of what has hijacked our authentic self and created destructive behaviors.”