Saturday, October 20, 2018

Tara Westover Educates All of Us About Shame

I'm just over the moon about this book. Yes, you’ve read about it or maybe heard the author, Tara Westover interviewed on TV or NPR, and yes, it’s about that girl who never went to school and then went to Cambridge and Harvard. It’s also about fundamentalism and (sort of) alternative healthcare. But it's so much more.

If you or a friend grew up in a family with addiction, abuse, or mental illness, and struggled to both heal and thrive here is a model and a roadmap of that complexity. 

And here is the best illustration of the power --and origin--of shame that I have ever read.

Tara Westover wrote about growing up in rural Idaho and about a father who was either/both mentally ill and fundamentalist. 

All of that is fascinating and curious and scary. Her story is filled with violence, perseverance, and strategizing for survival. But the big cost emerged so much later in her life.

In showing us how those very early years play out 10 and 20 years after the fact we get a sad but startling depiction of the true cost of growing up in an addicted or abusive home.

The parts of this book that made me pull the car over (I was listening to the book) and cry or take deep breaths occurred long after Tara has left her parent’s home, long after they have any official control over her life, and well into what we expect to be her new “successful” life.

If you ever felt—long into recovery—that you were still stuck in some way, or that old ghosts might be running too much of your head, Tara Westover has perfectly described how that happens and how deep those hooks can be.

If you have ever noticed that sometimes a compliment is more uncomfortable to you than a criticism, you’ll want to see what Tara learns about that.

I am recommending this book to everyone in recovery, everyone making sense of their trauma history, and every parent as well. There is so much help and healing in Westover’s beautiful book.

She might make you cry, but you will also be cheering for her—and for your recovering self.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Black Out Drinking--What it is and What It Isn't

So, there's been a lot of conversation and media discussion about drinking this week: What is youthful drinking versus alcohol abuse versus alcoholism.

A question that comes up over and over is about drinking and memory loss--and from there to black out drinking.

Folks in recovery know what this is--even if our drinking experience never took us there, we know from listening to our comrades in the rooms that people can do all kinds of things in a black out and have some, little or no recall.

Today I read this great article explaining what black out drinking is--and what it isn't. I was surprised
to see that--after I posted Hepola's article on Facebook--how many people thought that a "black out" was the same as passing out or going to sleep. Not at all!

Thanks to The New York Times and to Sarah Hepola author of the powerful memoir, "Black Out".

Here's the link:

For more on drinking, alcoholism and recovery check out my book, "Out of the Woods" published by Central Recovery Press: