EPISODE #113

The Fun & the Chaos, 2

EPISODE #113

The Fun & the Chaos, 2

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We continue our story this week with Kirsten, one of my very best friends in the world. If you missed our last episode about her and her dad, check that one out first!

Now, as we learned last week, Kirsten got a lot of her magic and her empathy from her dad, Norm. But there’s another thing she inherited from Norm that is less fun. Spoiler alert: if you want to be surprised by that thing, stop reading this post now and come back after listening.

Kirsten has an 11-year-old son named Jack. Back when he was born, he was a preemie—you may remember the story we told in episode 21 about how Kirsten obsessed over getting Jack’s weight up with her breast milk so that he could leave the hospital. Even after he came home and plumped up, Kirsten weighed him on this antique scale in her kitchen at least 20 times a day.

Kirsten was sleep-deprived and on edge. There only seemed to be one thing that would calm her down, and that was wine. Kirsten drank more and more, especially as her dad deteriorated, until she reached one to two bottles a day. And even though Kirsten’s dad died from alcoholism, Kirsten didn’t see herself as an alcoholic; her drinking looked so different from his.

For example, she could play tennis drunk. Here she is at what she calls “happy hour tennis.”

Then, six months ago, Kristen quit cold turkey. Tune in to hear the story of how this lethal trait of Norm’s snuck up on Kirsten … and how she decided to take a different path than he did.

Kirsten’s Recommended Resources for Recovery
There are tons of great resources for people working on sobriety, so add yours in the comments. Here are Kirsten’s personal faves, along with her commentary in italics.

Favorite blog: Hip Sobriety

Favorite motivational book: The Little Book of Big Change by Dr. Amy Johnson (helps you examine, understand and control cravings!)

Favorite memoirs: (Memoir was great in the early, early days because I wanted to feel less crazy, weird, fucked up, alone and it was so helpful seeing myself in others’ stories. However, I got a little turned upside down because I started comparing myself to the writers and feeling “less alcoholic” because of thoughts like “my rock bottom wasn’t that bad” or “I didn’t get arrested.” There’s a sneaky little trap there!)
Lit by Mary Karr
Bottled: A Mom’s Guide to Early Recovery by Dana Bowman
Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget by Sarah Hepbola

Favorite mindfulness and spiritual reading:
When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chodron (really anything by Pema—she teaches you how to feel worthy, calm, whole, how to act from a place of love not fear)
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz (he writes about the assumptions we live by and with and how they undermine our joy and peace)

Favorite new coping skills: Do yoga, drink tea, bitters in seltzer, take lots of baths, write in a journal, and drink kombucha. In the beginning fill the time when you would most often drink with another routine. I do yoga during happy hour and take a bath with candles and bubbles every damn day!

There’s Kirsten in her favorite yoga tank, plus a kombucha flight, which she says is “kinda like drinking alcohol, but not at all like it!” She says the fermentation in kombucha doesn’t trigger cravings for her, though she knows it does for some people.

Talk to Kirsten
Kirsten’s Instagram account is pretty much all about her sobriety. (Lots of tub selfies.) She graciously invites LST listeners to connect with her through that account to discuss alcoholism and recovery. Her account is private, but if you request access she will likely accept your request!

What has addiction looked like for you or YOUR family?
How about sobriety? Think of this as a place to share and connect with others.

Our sponsors for this episode are Madison Reed (offer code: LONGSHORT), Aeroflow Breastpumps, Third Love, Yogi Teas, and Wunder Capital. Use the promo codes at checkout for a special discount.

65 thoughts on “EPISODE #113: The Fun & the Chaos, 2

  1. Dear Kirsten, Thank you for sharing your story. I wrote to Hillary last year offering to share my story which is so similar to yours. I have been sober for seven years and could not be happier. I think your story will hit home with so many women. Alcoholism and addiction are still taboo.

    The day I realized I was powerless over alcohol the urge was lifted. That stopped the obsession for me. I was able to focus on my boys and getting healthy. Your husband did not get a bum deal, he got the best gift ever. A women that is present, aware, in the moment and not numb to what is going on. Stay strong and believe in yourself!

    Thanking you on the behalf of all the women that need to hear your story because you will make a difference in their lives!

  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I’m an adult therapist with a long history of trauma. My coping has been/is smoking pot. I realised today, listening to your story that my use is being driven by fear of feeling engulfed by emotions and that I don’t have other coping. That the reason I haven’t been able to stop is I don’t replace the negative coping with something else. Feeling more hopeful than I have in a long time. Thank you.

  3. I have listened to every episode of LST, and many episodes have challenged or encouraged me in some way. This episode did both. Thanks to you, Kirsten, for sharing a piece of your story with us all!

    I have never labeled myself an alcoholic. However, I am definitely a problem drinker. Although I am “highly functional” (Ha!), I have hidden alcohol and used it to cope with stress and to dull pain. I even lost my first pregnancy due to my drinking since I did not realize I was pregnant until my sweet potential person had been harmed. After that experience you would think it would be fairly straightforward to desire change. And I did have the desire, yet the guilt only served to make the struggle harder.

    Thankfully I also have wonderfully supportive people in my life. My husband helped me in my first stretch of harm-reduction followed by sobriety. And our precious son was born during that year. And yet, I could totally relate to the middle of the night glass of wine once the last breastfeeding of the day was done. Lasting change can be hard even when one has strong motivators and supports. Hell, I even worked for years as a mental health and addiction recovery counselor. And yet… I can definitely relate to the difficulty in translating positive strategies into one’s own daily life candence.

    I have just recently started up another spell of reducing the amount of wine in my life with the hope of cutting it out altogether again at least for a few months to see how that goes (notice a bit of residual ambivalence?).

    During a tough time I found this story to be thought-provoking, especially since I can so relate to the desire to be truly present for my husband and son.

    Thanks again for sharing!

  4. I’m 33 and I quit drinking 5 years ago. (I’m also expecting my first child in 4 months!)

    For me, it was a journey of self discovery. I’d say the first year I was full of shame and didn’t want anyone to know I quit, especially co-workers. I had a whole list of excuses as to why I wasn’t drinking at a work function or party.

    I’d say the hardest part was the first 6 months and it changes so much as time goes on. I quit on my own, no AA, so I read a lot about the topic (see below). I found a great therapist who helped me tremendously. I honestly feel like a new person now. I feel like my life just started since I’ve quit. So, please, stick with it, it’s totally achievable (and rewarding).

    • I read so many books and articles those first few years. One of my favorite books was “Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety” by Sacha Zimmerman Scoblic.

    • Also, there is a cool app called “Quit That” which tells you exactly how long it’s been and how much money you’ve saved, I’ve saved $18,862!

    Anyway, take care. You got this!

    1. Thanks for sharing your story and I passed on the info about the app to a pal today, who is considering quitting drinking! Great timing! I also really enjoyed Unwasted. Isn’t it wild how sobriety journeys can be the same and different at the same time? So far, I’d say that things have gotten most challenging around the 6 month mark. It’s as if the first few months of sobriety I was high on sobriety itself and now I’m coming down and really becoming acquainted with both my alcoholism and myself.
      Keep on keeping on!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing your story and opening yourself up in such a way that others can relate to what you are going through. I did not grow up in a home with alcohol however, as someone who came to motherhood later in life, trying to manage a career and take care of two children has become overly stressful. I find myself depending on alcohol to get me through the stressful evenings and I carry a large guilt for using alcohol in the first place since it was never a part of my parents’ lives. I really appreciate your honesty.

    1. Karen! Thank you so much for listening and for your kind and thoughtful words. I think it is amazing that you are being reflective about your coping strategies. Brilliant! That’s the work, tuning our ears towards our own internal voice. Good luck and thanks so much for commenting!

  6. Kirsten, you said your alcoholism didn’t look like your father’s. It never occurred to me that it could look like anything other than an actual falling down drunk. It’s made me reconsider many things. Thank you for pointing out that the same problem can have different forms.

    1. Kim,
      I’m so glad that point resonated with me. One of the main things I wanted to communicate and accomplish with these episodes was exactly that:Alcoholism is a tricky disease because it looks so different on everyone. Thank you so much for taking the time to listen and to write a comment.
      Kirsten

  7. I have to start out by saying that this podcast is absolutely incredible. I am a first time parent and at times feel isolated(none of my close friends have children). These stories make me feel more connected as a mother, but Kirsten’s story especially hit home. My deepest sympathies go out to her and her family. I am the daughter of an alcoholic and have had many similar experiences and feelings as a child, teenager and now adult. I am fortunate that my dad has been sober the past 5 years and I finally have a relationship with the man I knew he always was deep down. This story has made me acknowledge the fear that has always hung over me like a dark cloud; that I too will become an alcoholic. It has awoken me to be mindful of my actions and thoughts, and to take preventive measures so that this awful disease doesn’t quietly enter my existence. Kirsten, I cannot say thank you enough for sharing your story.

    1. Em! I know, Isn’t Hillary and the Podcast AMAZING!!!! I has been a support for me as a listener as well as a contributor! I’m sorry for your challenges in your family. Alcoholism is the pits. Thank you for your wonderful, kind words. I feel like we all have our own individual stories and through this process of sharing mine it feels like a collective story is being created!

  8. I had a similar sounding upbringing as Kirsten did. My dad did amazing , spontaneous things also like her dad. As well as he never held a job down more than a year, so money was tight. We moved a lot. Even lived out of an RV for a while. And like Norm, he was a secret alcoholic but much more so on the secret side. I can’t say when he was drinking, but I don’t think he had ever been sober my entire life. My father died last Christmas of what was a mixture of cancer and basically body-wide organ failure due to alcoholism and his last few conversations with me involved him denying he drank. I’m much ashamed to admit I am also a parent and also struggle with alcohol abuse, and indeed I have very few coping mechanisms and life stresses in the last year that I feel would test even someone’s ability to cope if they did have good coping skills. It resonated with me when you said you wanted to avoid pain. I cannot deal with my rampant anxiety, never have been able to, and drinking puts something in between myself and that panic. Hearing a story similar in these ways was a bit of an “ah-hah!” and helped me wrap my head around what I am doing. I have also tried quitting, but silently, without admitting I’m an alcoholic. But I need to make a move to help myself. Thank you for sharing your story, so much. I hope I can also find strength and clarity as you are doing.

  9. I’m a 34 year old mom of two daughters; an 18 month old and a 4 year old. I’m sitting here in my living room at 3pm, listening to the second part of this episode, wine in hand, a hot mess, ugly crying. I recently admitted to myself and my community that I’m dealing with depression. Starting counseling next week. I might be an alcoholic, too, but I’m not sure if I can actually say that yet. Kirsten, you said your community wasn’t alcohol-centric. What do I do if mine is? How can I quit without isolating myself even more?

    1. Gretchen you brave, strong Mama! I would love to chat with you more about this (if you do Instagram, follow me and we can message each other), but for now I’ll just say that I bet it’s hard if drinking is a central way yer pals chill and hang, but what I’ve come to realize is that my a big part of what has made sobriety work for me is my creation of a new identity. Not that I’m a totally new person, not that I’m not me anymore, but I’ve added some new parts. And I’m not a joiner, or a good group member, by nature, but I have begun to identify as someone who does yoga, someone who tries to be mindful, someone who writes. I was worried that I’d become known to myself and others as someone who DOESN’T do things any longer. But to be honest, I’ve been so busy doing these new things with old and new pals, I haven’t had a lot of energy for thinking about that previous identity.

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