The Fun &
the Chaos, 1


The Fun &
the Chaos, 1

My pal Kirsten grew up in Maine with her mom, her dad, and her two brothers.

Their dad, Norm, owned a couple of restaurants. There he is at the second one with a teenaged Kirsten.

Norm always knew how to find the fun in anything: throwing a secret ingredient into fried chicken; letting Kirsten play hooky in high school when she got dumped; turning a bunch of road-side weeds into centerpieces for her wedding. But, as I’ve learned from Kirsten over almost 20 years of friendship, there was a flip-side to Norm’s fun. Tune in to hear what Norm passed down to Kirsten … both the good and the chaotic.

Kirsten and me in 2007, the night before I got married

What traits have you inherited from YOUR parents?
How are you like them? What parts of them have you fought? Tell, tell!

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19 thoughts on “EPISODE #112: The Fun & the Chaos, 1

  1. What a fantastic episode. I can relate to Kirsten managing her Mom’s anger and frustration, “trying to protect her, save her from the suffering.” Looking forward to the follow-up next week!

  2. What a great episode! Love this podcast! I try to validate my son’s feelings, and let him make decisions for himself, which is not what my parents did for me. To them, I was being over dramatic if something upset me and I cried. They said it was rude if I refused to hug or kiss someone. If my son starts to cry, I comfort him, and if he doesn’t want to hug grandma, or his aunt, I say that’s ok. I don’t want to teach him not to trust his feelings.

  3. From the bottom of my heart, thank you for sharing so much. By far one of my favorites, you had me in tears. Kirsten is so authentic, open, and loving. Can’t wait for part 2.

    1. Laura, thank you for your beautiful words. Both of these episodes have been deeply cathartic and your feedback is so appreciated and part of the healing. Thank you so much!

  4. I connected so much with Kirsten’s life story. I was also homeschool and had a fun loving, happy go lucky but alcoholic father. I have to say I started crying when listening to this episode. Thank you so much for sharing. My family’s still in the mist of all the chaos and it’s comforting to know people have come out on the other side. ❤

    1. Eden! Thank you for sharing part of your story! Peace will come, it does. It’s not easy, but there is a simple quality to it when we decide we are ready and choose it. It’s like a muscle that needs a lot of exercise to grow strong. And our life and families provide many practice opportunities!

  5. My Dad prides himself on his ability to annoy those closest to him. Memories of ice buckets thrown in the bathtub and secret holes poked in plastic cups are just the beginning. He’s still developing new tricks, and I have – for better or worse – inherited this creative-annoyance lifestyle. Successfully irritating my wife gives me great pleasure, and I’m planning my own new tricks for our first child, currently on the way. Thanks Dad.

  6. I loved these two podcasts. I also grew up in an alcoholic home, in an attempt to escape that I got married to my high school sweetheart, who years later also turned out to be an alcoholic. I’ve been in Alanon for several years and it has saved my life and my sanity. I’m so grateful for your willingness to publicly share your story, I could relate to so much, especially the denial since my husband’s alcoholism looked different than my dad’s. The affect of the family disease of Alcoholism stole my mother’s life way too young and I am determined to have a different outcome for my family and myself, one day at a time.

  7. My parents fought.. badly. Scary and violent. They are still together, still fighting. Its hard because we just have to endure it. I think I inherited the coping mechanksim of being as quiet as possible. Lol.

  8. Wow, Hillary- so many recent episodes lately have been so relevant to my life. Kirsten’s story is so eerily similar to my life and my relationship with my father that I had to stop listening several times. This is a long post since I’m catharsizing a bit (p.s. is that a word?)

    My father, who passed from suicide brought on by severe alcoholism in 2012, was less outwardly warm than Norm, but slightly more highly functioning. He was darkly funny, cultured, and wickedly smart. I also grew up in the country in New England. We didn’t struggle financially until I was in college. I am an only child so the pressure to keep my family together and protect my parents through all sorts of magical thinking was immense. I know I was the light of his life. He worked so hard to give me the best possible life.

    As I got older, he mentally deteriorated once his drinking caused him to lose his job. My parents soon divorced. I too had to “back off” from my father near the end of his life. He was skeletal, losing control of reality, desperately coming up with money making schemes, getting hurt, having bronchitis… it’s just SO eerily similar, Kristen! He had pushed most of his family away by the end. He moved to the other side of the world– literally– Tasmania. The last I saw him was there, and he was a shell of his former self. I remember telling my mother that he was brain damaged. He became angry and bitter, delusional. I wasn’t talking to him at the end of his life and there is a large part of me that carries guilt over that. When I was engaged in 2011, we had to tell him not to plan to come to the wedding here in the US, because he wasn’t in any state to travel across the world. He died before my wedding and before we could make plans to go see him. Ultimately, his inner darkness was too much and he took his own life.

    Being the child of a parent who commits suicide is a badge I don’t like to wear. I don’t like to talk about it to many people. But the truth is, it was almost a relief, because he was suffering so much. I feel terrible admitting that, but its true. And like Kirsten, I knew he was gone long before he died. When your parent is a severe alcoholic and dies, you mourn them twice, because you lose them to their disease long before they pass.

    As a parent (my son Benjamin was born in 2016), I’ve never actually thought about how this story plays out in his life. I handle booze like my mother, only socially and well controlled. My husband’s father is recovered and sober, so I am aware that Ben carries this genetically on both sides. I’m worried about that. But I am more worried about the psychological effects that my experiences might have on him, and until this podcast, have yet to consider it.

    THANK YOU for always sharing brave stories!

  9. Thank you Kristen for sharing your story. And thanks LST for making it happen.

    Both of my parents are alcoholics, so this story really resonated with me. My dad, who was the classic abusive alcoholic, has been sober for 15 years, but my mom, the single-coping skill alcoholic like Kristen, has only been able to stay sober for 8 months at her longest stretch. I had a huge falling out with her after I gave birth to my son last June because I came home from the hospital, son still in the NICU, to her slurring, stumbling drunk in my house. We didn’t speak for 4 months and are still on precarious terms at best.

    It’s hard to be the child of an alcoholic. I’m so proud of Kirsten for sharing her story including her journey to sobriety. I often wonder if mental health professionals who are children of addicts are more sensitive to our own addictive behaviors or are more likely to deny them because we think we have the tools to identify it better, even if we don’t have the tools for coping. Keep us updated, Kristen, including how you talk to your son about all of this. Best of luck!

    1. Verhanika! Thank you for sharing your story too. I’m sorry you had to go through that, still do. I wish peace for you and your family!

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