Laura For Website

9 Things - Transcript

This is a transcript of a “Terrible, Thanks for Asking” episode entitled “9 Things.” The text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future for accuracy.

Listen to the episode: Website

I’m Nora McInerny, and this is “Terrible, Thanks for Asking.”

And today we’re talking to Laura.

Laura used to work in advertising, in a city called Boston. Advertising is one of those jobs that seems cool. Cool people, working on cool stuff. And Laura’s job was cool! One day, Laura went into a new agency for a job interview.

Laura: Went in for the interview. It was this very cool office in downtown Boston, and they had a bar in the office. And I looked and there was all these wine bottles and everything, and I was like “Oh, yeah, this is for me.” Like, not the conversations, not the potential position. And they talked about it too, you know, it was a selling point.

It was a selling point for Laura, because Laura really liked to drink.

A lot of people like to drink! Drinking is a perfectly acceptable thing here in the U.S. Go to TJMaxx and you can see a variety of faux hand-painted signs that say things like WINE O’CLOCK or, ROSE ALL DAY, or THIS IS MOMMY’S SPECIAL JUICE.

Drinking alcohol is a perfectly acceptable thing to do, especially at Laura’s work. Laura drinks when she takes clients out for dinner. She drinks when she and her colleagues go out for happy hour. And she drinks on the train ride home sometimes. And she drinks sometimes when she says she isn’t drinking, stopping at the liquor store near her house and grabbing a few of those little bottles to stash in her purse.

A lot of people don’t have an issue with drinking. It’s something they can do or not do, no big deal. But Laura, if you can’t tell from this foreshadowing, does have a problem with it. And it’s causing a lot of problems for her.

Laura: You know, I felt like every day was just damage control, even if nothing bad... like my measure was like, if I woke up and I could be extraordinarily hung ver, but like, if I hadn't done something really stupid or said something really stupid, like even if the only damage was just... I totally polluted my body and my mind, I would be like, “Great! Nothing bad happened.” Which is, like, such a fascinating idea, you know, that that was OK. That was my marker of success.

Laura was the 35-year-old vice president of a global marketing agency. She ran marathons, she taught yoga… and she co-parented her daughter with her ex-husband.

And… she has a serious problem with alcohol that she’s pretty good at hiding underneath her big job and her big accomplishments and the fact that she’s a mom.

And she HAS to hide it. Because it’s shameful.

Shame has been a constant in Laura’s life so far. And drinking has only made that feeling of shame more intense.

Laura: I mean... from the very beginning, like as a kid, you know, I felt like it was my fault if people... if people around me, like, namely my parents or my dad especially, wasn't in a good mood. That was my fault. Gotta fix it, you know. So that sort of underlying feeling was very, very old. I just felt like the use of it, despite the negative consequences, was my fault. I was doing it wrong. Right? Like I should be able to drink, quote unquote, “normally.” I should be able to manage it.

She should be able to manage it, because she’s a mom and moms can manage anything. Right? But since she became a mom, Laura’s drinking has become more unmanageable.

Laura: And that's something that I hear from a lot of mothers, is their drinking gets worse when they have kids, and there's all kinds of reasons for that, you know, physiologically our body changes, and hormonally things change a lot. There can be depression and anxiety or not sleeping. And I just remember feeling like it's not working anymore, like, the drinking just isn't working anymore, so I drink more to hopefully get that same relief that I used to feel. And I felt like that it was my fault that I couldn't stop doing it when the results were so obvious, like I was not just hungover but putting her in danger and saying shit I didn't want to say.

Nora: It feels like there's also an added layer of guilt and shame that builds in when you're a wife and a mom.

Laura: Oh god, absolutely, there's a special vitriol for moms who drink, for sure. And ah, just cause it flies in the face of everything that we feel like we're supposed to be, and it's supposed to come naturally, right? That your babies come first and that nothing is going to supplant that instinct. But a very wise person — woman — in sobriety told me that addiction is stronger than love… until it isn't.

One of those nights, the strength of her addiction really shows itself. It overpowers even her mother instinct, an instinct that has always gotten Laura home safe to her daughter even when Laura was blacked out.

It’s the morning after her brother’s wedding, and Laura wakes up groggy, expecting to see her daughter beside her. Instead, it’s a stranger. A guest from her brother’s wedding. Laura is not in her hotel room, she’s in HIS hotel room. And her 5-year-old daughter is alone in the hotel room Laura SHOULD be waking up in.

And this is where the rock bottom moment comes, right? This is where she gets it together?


Not quite.

Laura: Inside I was like, why does this... where is this imaginary line that I seem to be crossing that other people don't cross? Where's that line, and why can I not … why can I not prevent myself from crossing it night after night? So I felt like that was my fault, like… get your shit together.

So for another year, she tries to find an alternative. Like, maybe she drinks just a little bit? Or, just on SOME days? But nothing changes.

Until, everything changes.

We’ll be right back.

We’re back, and Laura has spent the year after her brother’s wedding trying to get sober.

Pema Chodron wrote that “nothing goes away until it teaches us what we need to know,” and Laura has learned a lot.

Not everyone has a problem with drinking, but everyone has a thing. A thing they do that isn’t very good for them, or is even bad for them. A thing they’ve struggled with and maybe are ashamed of.

Laura’s thing was drinking, and she did stop.

And after she stopped drinking, she started to talk and write about her sobriety, and she heard from a lot of people who were struggling with a lot of things and needed a place to feel heard. One day, she got an email from a woman...

Laura: And her sister was really struggling with drinking, and she'd had a lot of consequences. And the family had been trying to help for a while. And the sister was just so upset and frustrated and angry and sad. And she didn't know what to say to her sister. She was afraid of saying anything, which is very common. You know, you don't want to scare them off. You don't want to… just like, what do I say? And I wrote her this long letter back and this list of 9 things was what I said at the end, like, since this can be hard, I'm going to give you a list. And I gave her this list.

The list appears in the very beginning of Laura’s book, We Are the Luckiest: The surprising magic of a sober life. The first time I encountered the list was on instagram, and not knowing any context around who Laura was or why she’d written it. It STILL resonated with me.

The list is 9 items long, and is a list of the things Laura needed to hear herself as she quit her thing.

And you’re going to hear them all right now, starting with #1.

Nora: Number one. It is not your fault.

Laura: We run on this narrative that we are in control and that we just need enough willpower and we just need enough discipline to... make something work or not work for us. And when we... can't stop doing something that is so obviously causing destruction to ourselves and others, hearing that it's not your fault, it's like — I didn't believe it for a long time. I was like, yeah, OK, whatever, I'm still a piece of shit. Um... it was like no, it's actually not your fault, like not just the drinking, not just that fact that you're addicted, because it’s, you know, an addictive substance, but the reasons that you drink to begin with, which all root in trauma for 99.9% of people who get addicted. It's not your fault.

If you’ve listened to our series on childhood trauma, this should sound familiar. Because research has shown that childhood trauma increases a person’s risk of substance use disorders and addiction.

So that’s #1 — it’s not your fault. Your addiction, your anxiety, your depression… and that leads us to #2. It IS your responsibility.

Laura: So number two is it's your responsibility and... unless we take it on as our responsibility, we have zero power to do anything, and I find that people — myself, especially — stay either really hardened into one side or the other, like it's all my fault, it's all my fault, like if I can only just beat the shit out of myself more, I'll change it, which doesn't work. Or... it's not my responsibility. I can't do this. It's not mine. It's that person. have all these, look at all these reasons why I'm so fucked up, you know, and they stay so hardened in that story and they can't get out of it because of that. So, you have to be able to hold both things in your hand.

It’s not your fault. It is your responsibility. And that… sucks. It STINKS. It’s the worst! Having to hold those two thoughts in either hand? That’s not good! Both your hands are full! How are you going to open the car door?

Which brings us to… #3

Laura: It's unfair that this is your thing. Yeah.

Nora: It's unfair! I love that. It is so unfair. And I want you to dig into this, because I think that the um, toxic positivity of Instagram and, you know, there's a whole like, a whole author base that's based on like, you know, get the fuck over it, like, make lemonade and, and...

Laura: Pull up on your bootstraps.

Nora: Yes! And the thing is, like, IT SUCKS!

Laura: It sucks. The thing that took me a long time to recognize about giving up alcohol was that I was so sad about this thing that was really killing me, and it didn't make sense, right? Like, to people where it wouldn't make sense, maybe, that they mourn an abusive relationship. It was such a profound loss. I come from a family of drinkers. Everyone around me drank — my friends, my colleagues and... some of them could do it and take it or leave it, you know? I would say most of the people in my life can really kind of take it or leave it. And I couldn't. I couldn't. I don't know why. I don't even care why. It's just the truth. I couldn't. Once I started drinking, I had no idea what was going to happen, and I couldn't control that. And it felt like the most unfair thing in the world. And it was! And to just say that? It was like, OK, I acknowledge that. And there's such a big, visceral relief to just saying that.

That unfairness is a relief to Laura. Because like many people with addiction issues, she can trace a lot of her adult behaviors back to her childhood.

Laura: I used to, like, roll my eyes at this kind of stuff — like, oh please, the psychobabble. But it's real, and it's true. And I used to show up in therapy and be like, “OK, I can do this.” And I'd sit down and eventually they’d ask the question, you know, like, tell me about your parents and I'd be like, “No. We're not doing that. I'm looking forward. I'm not looking back.”

But eventually, Laura does look back. She does explore her childhood in therapy.

Laura: It was a very disorganized, um, love for my parents, and at times, abusive and at times, wonderful. Um, but overall, I just learned that I had to hustle and lie and make things happen so that I could get what I needed. And that is underneath everything, all of my behavior, um, and you develop these coping mechanisms in childhood so that you can just survive and deal and it's all very intelligent, it's like the smart thing that kids do. But when you keep doing that as an adult, say, lying to make people like you, for example, or to keep the peace, quote unquote, ah it's not super functional. And not only that, but it causes a lot of pain in your relationships and it causes a lot of internal pain.

That internal pain showed up in a lot of external ways as Laura grew up.

Laura: And that showed up in my relationships with men, which are a big, like, area underneath my drinking, um. And it showed up first not even as drinking but as like this eating disorder. Like I got, I had an eating disorder, like a lot of women do, before I ever started drinking just as a way to try to control my world, right? And... so that's what I mean. It's like...but none of that shit was my fault. None of that was my fault. I couldn't control it, but I had to look at it and look at it honestly and with clear eyes — adult eyes. And that's part of the taking responsibility. It's taking responsibility for what is mine, which is what I can do today. And what’s my part in all these things, whatever it is, and I'm not taking responsibility for all the things that weren't mine, which is a lot of it.

Nora: Um, what's number four?

Laura: This is your thing.

#4 actually comes from Laura’s brother, and the talk he gave her about a year after his wedding. It was a big night for the family — Laura and her brother were throwing a surprise party for their mom’s 60th birthday.

Laura: We had all kinds of guests flying in. We had arranged it months in advance. And when my brother and his wife rolled into Logan Airport, I picked them up, and we went back to my house and picked up Alma, my daughter, from school. And I was like, OK… and I didn't even plan to drink. I had no intention of it… and I was like, alright, why don't you guys go take Alma and go to lunch and show... you can show your wife the town that she hasn't seen. I'm gonna go run some errands. And like 20 minutes later, I found myself walking into the liquor store and buying like cheap nips of cherry vodka and like a bottle of wine. And I literally just walked around my town popping into stores, drinking. In the middle of the day. And I got super drunk.

Laura shows up at her house, where her brother and his wife are hanging out with Laura’s daughter. And Laura’s drunk, but thinks she can play it off like she’s sober.

Laura: As if, like, he's not going to know that I'm totally drunk. He's my brother, you know? And... he of course did. And then we went to meet my mom for this, to surprise her that my brother and his wife were there. And I was visibly intoxicated and I just saw my mom's face sort of fall. At first she was excited at seeing my brother and his wife, and then she saw me, and her face just fell and I… you know, had, like wine in my purse during our dinner, just… I was acting like a teenager.

Like a teenager, Laura went outside during the party. Partially to cry, and partially to calm herself down from the shame that had engulfed her. She’s out in the parking lot, sitting in her car. She sees her brother come out of the restaurant, looking for her.

Laura: And I saw in his face when I approached him, he's like, you know, “there's a party going on inside” and he was slightly mad. I could tell. But also scared and sad and frustrated and confused. And I said, “I know I'm right here, ah. I just needed to breathe.” And I could see, y'know, his face softened a little bit at that moment and what I wanted to do was make up all kinds of excuses, you know, like this is hard and uhhh... and this is why it's happening and all that and I just, I just didn't. Uh, and he said, "This is your thing, like, this is just your thing, Laura. You can't — you can't drink." And, and I said “I know.” And it had never been stated like that, you know. And it was a very simple conversation, um, but I didn't drink again after that night, y'know. It was, it was like that, that acceptance of the responsibility part was like, no, this is mine.

Nora: How did it feel to hear him say that this was your thing? What made that different?

Laura: I think... until that point... I had...I had been trying to find another way. Like, I had been kind of stuck in this purgatory of one foot in sobriety and one foot in drinking still. And… it was just this very stark acknowledgement between us. It wasn't news to me that, you know, that that it was my thing, but it was just the way it was said and the quietness around it. Y'know like Cheryl Strayed says “acceptance is a small quiet room,” and it was like that. It was like this moment of… yeah. Yep. It is. It’s my thing.

For Laura, that acknowledgement was her turning point. Drinking was her thing.

Which brings us to #5...

Laura: This will never stop being your thing until you face it. So, this to me was about the end of that search for the third door. So when I was faced with sobriety, I was like, “OK. Door number one, sobriety. Door number two, continue drinking.” And I could not accept that those are the two options. It's like, no. It was classic bargaining. Like this just can't be true. There has to be another option. And of course, there wasn't. And so it's like the extension of the responsibility. This will never stop being your thing. It's not going to go away.

Here’s what it means to go through it. It means that it’s messy and it’s hard. It’s not just that Laura took her last drink at her mom’s surprise party, her brother set her straight and everything was fine. No.

Laura finally gets 30 days of sobriety… the most she’s been able to string together. And then she gets an invite to a work party. The thing is, nobody at WORK knows she’s sober — and trying to STAY sober. The party will most certainly involve drinking. So… does she go? Does she not go? Where is that THIRD DOOR AND HOW CAN SHE CRACK IT OPEN AND SLIDE THROUGH? Laura goes back and forth with herself the entire week before the party.

Laura: OK, I will go. No, I won't go. I will go, but I'll bring a sober person. Oh, my God, that would be terrible. I don't wanna bring a sober person. I will… fuck it. I don't care. I'm just gonna go and drink and it doesn't matter. And I literally would have to, like when I would go out, when I was drinking, I would have to think, what's the worst possible thing that could happen tonight? And am I, am I willing to do that? Cause that's what I have to be ready for. And I would think of the worst possible thing, y'know, oh I'm gonna sleep with a coworker. Am I... am I good with that? Oh, maybe, OK, that's the risk I'm willing to take if we're gonna go out. So I would go through all these mental gymnastics all the time.

Laura gets home from work that day, and still hasn’t decided. She goes for a run, hoping that’ll help clear her head. And on that run, she decides...

Laura: Screw it, I'm going. I'm just gonna go. I got home, got all ready, drove to the train to catch the train from my house back into the city. And I grabbed this gross, used Starbucks cup from my car, my console, dumped it out, dumped out the old coffee, and oh, I also stopped — major part — and got a bottle of wine on the way. Twist-off, so I could open it on the train. And I was sitting there on the train with this gross Starbucks cup and the twist-off bottle of wine. And it was like… watching myself do this, though. Watching myself pull up at the liquor store, watching myself buy the wine, watching myself get on the train.

Laura watches herself do all these things that she doesn’t REALLY want to do. She doesn’t want to break her 30 days of sobriety for this party. She doesn’t want to be on this train. But there she is, barreling towards Boston and the party, gripping a bottle of wine in her bag.

Laura texts a sober friend looking for an intervention. She doesn’t hear back right away, but she also doesn’t pour the drink.

And then, the friend replies. She sent Laura a meditation. Laura did it. Grudgingly. While fidgeting and opening her eyes and squirming. When it’s over, she does it again. And again. Until the train pulls into Boston.

Laura: I scrambled to get off that train, and I knew exactly what I had to do. I grabbed the wine bottle, and I grabbed my bag and my Starbucks cup and I ran through the crazy train station, y'know, through people and the crowd and all that. And I ran to this trash can and I, like, threw the big, the full wine bottle into this trash can, and it made this enormous noise. And I, like, in my mind screamed like F YOU at this thing, y'know? Like, oh my God! I can't believe that this is... this has so much power over me, um. And, at that moment, I was like, I got to go back home. I looked at the train, the train schedule. There was like four minutes to the next train. I bought like two pieces of pizza and ah, that I never ate. And I got back on that train home and I was like, I made it home. And as I pulled up, it's like the night that I wasn't going to have played out before me, right? Like, you're not going to wake up with some stranger or potentially, you know, stay in the city somewhere. You're in your own bed. You're going to be safe. There's no new damage. It was like the most profound sense of relief, but also terrifying because I had just missed it by like a hair's breadth. And what that meant for me was like, it's back to that honesty piece, it's like you saying no to that invite to that party when it comes in. You say no. You don't put yourself through this, the horror of having those mental gymnastics for two weeks, because, look, right now, you just can't do it. It's OK. You just can't do it.

So, it won’t stop being your thing until you face it. Until YOU stop getting on the train.

Which brings us to #6...

Laura: You can't do this alone. I really hated this one. Really hated it. Ah, I tend to want to do things my way and to do them alone and not have anyone see me being weak or struggling, or in pain. A lot of people are that way. But you can't do this — we're not meant to do any of this alone. Whether it's sobriety, grief, life (laughter) life! We can't do it alone. And I — it was so… such, such a hard thing for me to put my head around. It still is. But in sobriety, it's absolutely true. Like, I needed other people to carry me and remind me what I was doing and why, and to hold up this vision of myself that I couldn't see yet. This vision of myself, a sober woman, a strong, beautiful, capable, sober woman.

Laura wrote that one stranger who understands your experience exactly will do for you what hundreds of close friends and family who don’t understand cannot. She wrote that it is the necessary palliative for the pain of stretching into change. It is the cool glass of water in hell.

Laura: And you need to look at other people and to have your experience reflected back to you through someone who really understands. And so I had to know other sober people or people who were struggling to get sober. I had to have that. And those were not the people in my life at that time. They were not my friends and they were not my family. I can't tell you how much that saved me and how much relief there is in that, and kind of whatever your thing is, you need that. You need, you need other people who have walked before you. Because it's an unknown path. It's an unknown path. And what I tell people too is like, it doesn't take an army of people. It can just be one person. It can start with one single person that understands your experience and that can make up for hundreds of people in your life not knowing what it's really like. That one person.

We are going to take another quick break.

We are back. Laura has found her cool glass of water in hell. She’s found the people who DO understand what it’s like to struggle with the same thing she’s struggling with. But what about the people who are still in her life? Her family? Her friends? What is their role in all of this?

Laura: I wanted the people who had been drinking with me to understand exactly what I was going through and how hard it was, and they just couldn't. No one who hasn’t gone to that place can understand what it's like to be addicted in the pain of trying to — of letting that go, this thing that you don't want to go. No one could really understand that.

They don’t get it. But they try. One night, Laura’s mom hosts a dinner for their family. Laura and her mom used to drink together over the years. But at this party, Laura’s mother doesn’t drink. She doesn’t make a big show of it, she just doesn’t have a wine glass in front of her at dinner, and Laura notices.

Laura ditches out a little early, and in the elevator down to the lobby, she realizes she’s forgotten something and heads back up. It’s maybe been five minutes since she has said her goodbyes, and when she walks back into her mom’s place, her mom has a big glass of wine in front of her.

Laura: All I could think was like, I'm the barrier now between people and their real fun, what they really want to be doing. Like, I just, it was — and I felt so other. Like, now I'm that person to everybody. Like, if I'm that to my mom, I am now that person to everybody. I am now on a different... I belong to nobody, and I belong nowhere at this moment.

Laura weeps on the elevator ride down to the lobby. Elevators… are great places to cry.

Laura: And I ran through my list of all the people that I know and where they might be on a Saturday night. And I was like, “Yeah, I don't belong in any of those places.” It was crushing. It was, it was crushing, y'know. And since that time, I have been able to see that what my mom was doing at that time was just being kind and not drinking in front of me. But we see things as we are, right? We see things as we are, not as they are. And that's all I could see right now because this was what was going on for me. And all I could see was like, where, where in the world do… do I belong anymore? And I didn't have an answer on that night. I had no answer. It just was a crushing loneliness.

On that elevator ride, Laura has a realization. That drinking isn’t her mom’s problem. That it’s not a problem for MOST of the people around her. It’s not about her. Drinking is just… not THEIR thing.

So, you can’t do it alone. But if this thing doesn’t belong to anyone else, if this is just your thing, then what?

Laura: So number seven is only you can do it. You cannot do this alone, but only you can do it. So you need other people, but nobody can do this for you. Like... it's yours and people will hold you, and people will, y'know, nudge you along and people will carry you at times and they will be there, but it's yours girl. Like, this belongs to you and only you can do it. I'm the one who's going to say it's OK because sometimes other people won't, right? You have to be the one that says, OK, you're OK. You messed up. That's all right. We are going to forgive ourselves, again. So it's that. It's being in integrity, right? Having some alignment between my thoughts and my feelings and the way I act. And one version of myself in the world. And then also, that forgiveness that like, just continual forgiveness for being a human.

That continual forgiveness of yourself for just being a human. That standing up for yourself and carrying yourself and aligning your thoughts and feelings and the way you act… that’s self-love. Because love is work, and love is showing up, even when it would be easier to just not.

Laura: So number eight is I love you. And... when I wrote that, it was as if… because I wrote the things I needed to hear, right? I wrote the things I needed to hear from myself, and ideally from others, but always for myself. And, OK, so when I... I… about a year ago I was dating someone and he came to me and said... I just had a conversation with one of my friends and they warned me against dating you. I was like, oh, really? He said yeah. Okay, what did they say? Well, the word is that the rumor mill that she is a raging alcoholic who cheated on her husband and lost custody of her daughter. I was like, wow, OK, first of all, P.S., don't ever date someone who is willing to relay that information to you.

Nora: It's like, um, so it was said behind my back? Keep it there, dipshit. Like, why, why on earth would I want to know what someone says behind my back?

Laura is no longer dating that guy, because duh. And she also loves herself enough to know that the things he said, even the ones that were true, about her addiction and her infidelity… fact: she never lost custody of her daughter… didn’t mean that she wasn’t worthy of love. Not just from that guy… but from herself. She knows that she is not just the worst thing she has ever done.

Laura: There was a long time growing up where I would have said, “Yeah, some people are good and some people are bad, right? And I'm one of the good ones.” And it's very black and white. And one of the biggest blessings of your worst nightmares happening and some of those worst nightmares being about you and your own crappy behavior is like, I don't walk around wondering if people are good or bad. I just know that they're both.

Laura: We are all magnificent monsters, but not all of us know that yet. And the ones that do know it, we walk around with our feet in the mud and our hearts stretched toward the sky. We know we're not walking around wondering if people are good or bad. We just already know that they're both. So the I love you is about that. It's like, yes, those things are true. Yes, that happened. Yes, you behaved that way. And that's not who you are. That's never the game we were playing. So I love you.

Laura wrote this list in 2016. When we spoke, she had five years of sobriety. Drinking alcohol is no longer her thing. Sobriety IS her thing, and so is digging into everything underneath her alcohol addiction — the issues from her childhood and adolescence.

We all have a thing.

And maybe that thing isn’t a huge deal for everyone. Maybe it’s just a minor interruption to their daily life, but if you’re listening to this show, your thing MIGHT be bigger. It is for a lot of people.

For a lot of us, that thing can swallow up our whole life. Maybe that thing is a drug and maybe it’s constantly chasing the attention of someone who doesn’t love us. Maybe it’s binge eating, or starving yourself, or cutting, or perfection… or being LIKED. Or being GOOD. Or being angry. Maybe it’s something I didn’t even think to list because there are just so many ways to be awful to ourselves, and so many of them are easier to disguise than others.

Whatever your thing, tell yourself:

It is not your fault.

It is your responsibility.

It’s unfair that this is your thing.

But it is your thing.

It will never stop being your thing until you face it.

You can’t do it alone.

But only you can do it.

I love you.

And very last… #9

Laura: I will never stop reminding you of these things. And the reason I said that last, was because one, we don't get things right on the first try, or the second try or the ever try? Like we're never, we're never... it's never done, y'know? Um and specifically when it comes to overcoming something like addiction, it's so rare that you wake up one day after a bad night and you say, I'm never doing that again, and it sticks, right? When it comes to our behaviors and the things that might be pulling us down — relationships, habits, um... where we live, what we're doing for our work — we tend to ask, the normal question that we ask is: Is just bad enough that I have to change? Like, has it gotten bad enough, you know? But the question that we should be asking... or I want people to ask is, “Is this good enough to stay the same?” Is this good enough? Is it really good enough? And then the question underneath all of it is: Am I free? Are you free in your life, or does this thing own you in some way that smashes your spirit? Does this thing own you, are you able to move through your world and think freely and act freely and behave freely? People almost always have a visceral response like, ooof no, I'm not. Or, yes, I am. That's what I want people to ask. And, I, I have, again, number nine, I will never stop reminding you of these things because sometimes you have to ask yourself this again and again and again and again to get to the truth of it.


Nora McInerny

Marcel Malekebu

Jeyca Maldonado-Medina

Hannah Meacock Ross

Jordan Turgeon

Kristina Lopez

Lauren Dee

Lily Kim
Phyllis Fletcher

Geoffrey Lamar Wilson — theme music