Ask Me Anything #2 About My Ex-Husband

Ask Me Anything #2 About My Ex-Husband

This week I am sharing a personal conversation I had with one of my best friends, Leanne. We talk about divorce, my ex-husband, and what it’s like to parent kids when their dad is not in their lives. Plus, we also cover in-laws because we’re already going there so why not go all the way… This is the second episode in a new series called Ask Me Anything. You can find the first in this series here.

Two things I want to cover before we get started:

1. Please, respect my ex-husband. Don’t spend your precious time trying to figure out who he is by googling, don’t attempt to find him on Facebook and please, please don’t harass him in any way. We are real people, with a real past. And he is still very much a human with feelings. I know I can trust you to be respectful of our family. I know you would never dream of being mean-spirited. But he has received some communication in the past and, rightfully so, was a little taken off guard. He supports what I am doing, and he supports this community so I want to give him the same respect and support.

2. Leanne is one of the most kind and loyal women I know. She lived next door to me and anyone who knows me knows we are quite possibly the worst neighbors. Six kids, two English mastiffs and bunnies that would get loose and eat up her grass in the front yard.

I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours we have gone walking, working through life one step after another. You think I would be a size zero by now with all the miles we’ve covered. Having a friend like her – one who is willing to get my SOS text and drop everything to meet me on the corner of our street with her running shoes fully ready to walk and talk me through the situation – is very special indeed.

I hope you enjoy our conversation.


Leanne: I think that’s one of the characteristics we bond over, is becoming better.

Michelle: Yes, I’d agree with that. We do both strive to become better.

Leanne: I’m at the point where I’m looking around thinking, “For the love of God. Why can’t I just live in the moment?”

Michelle: Totally.

Leanne: You’re good about that though.

Michelle: I do think I’m pretty good about that. Actually, that’s why I don’t suffer from anxiety.

Leanne: I think you were doing it back when I met you, you lived in the moment.

Leanne & Michelle

Michelle: I think that that’s the secret sauce, but also the downfall because I’m never really five steps ahead. Once I showed up to bible study without a diaper bag one time. But you know what? I’m proud of myself for being there. That’s good enough. I’m saying, “Listen, people, I’m here with a baby, and I’m dressed.” That’s an accomplishment that I’m there with a six-month-old. Everybody should just be grateful for that.

Leanne: But then why did you come back with a fancy diaper bag?

Michelle: Well, I felt bad for borrowing somebody else’s. I think one week he had only one shoe on.

Leanne: I didn’t judge you for it. I was opposite.

Michelle:

That’s why we’re friends. The type of people I have no tolerance or patience for are women who would judge me. Like attracts like.

Leanne: There are some things that we’re so different on. But I agree with that – like attracts like. I heard one time in church, you either like people who like you or are like you.

Michelle: Oh, interesting.

Leanne: I thought that was awesome. They like you, so you like them back.

Michelle: There have been times we don’t like certain people who like us, though. There are some people in our lives that have tried to be our friends, and we’re like, “No. Nobody’s got time for that.”

Michelle: Do you think you have a harder time getting rid of them? I’m getting better at this, and I think you are, too. You go places, and you’re very bubbly, funny, and kind.

Leanne: I hope to be. I think I’m curious and kind. But I like it; I’m going to keep it as my motto: curious and kind.

Michelle: That attracts people to you that feel immediately comfortable. So they want to be your BFF, and you’re like, “No ma’am.” Even when you go to get massages, and the masseuse can’t stop talking to you.

Leanne: I’m curious and kind.

Michelle: I think you have a more difficult time shutting down the conversation because of that.

Leanne: I would agree with you.

Michelle: I have learned over the years, and I’ve seen myself do it – I get masterful at it where I’ll shut the conversation down before it even starts.

I don’t send the message when I walk into a room and go, “I’m here for you.”

Leanne: It’s like the book you just finished reading, “The Courage To Be Disliked.” It basically said whatever you’re doing, you’re doing it for a reason.

Michelle: It’s the best self-help book I’ve ever read.

Leanne: I think part of what it said was, you do what you do for a reason. So don’t you think I’m curious and kind because I like to be liked?

Michelle: Yes, but that’s the ironic part. You like to be liked. Then you’re like, “okay, I’ve got your approval. Bye, so long. You see how great I am.” I think you attract very needy people. I used to do this too.

Leanne: That makes sense too. Or I say to myself, “I’m done. I’m good now. You filled my self-esteem bucket; I don’t need you anymore.”

Michelle: That’s why I think our friendship works. Because we’re both very considerate people. We’ve gone on so many walks together where our talks are all about me. And then we’ll go on a walk, and it’s been all about you. But we’re very conscious of it, and we say, “Okay, it’s been all about me the past couple of weeks. Let’s circle back.”

Our friendship is genuine and that’s why it works.

Leanne: It’s genuine. In other words, I want to hear what’s going on with you. I think it’s even genuine with the masseuse. Someone walks in the room, and they’re going to touch me. I’m the one laying naked underneath the towel, but I want to make sure you’re good. Because I haven’t had a bad vibe yet, I don’t know what I would do.

Michelle: Yeah, what would you do? You’d lay there and be freaked out.

Leanne: I’d want to make sure they know that I can talk and could scream.

Michelle: That’s hilarious. It’s basically your background check while they massage you.

Leanne: Maybe.

Michelle: That’s indicative of the place you go to get a massage. I know where you go, and I wouldn’t go there.

Leanne: Maybe it’s the whole social anxiety though, and that my mechanism is to talk.

Michelle: Isn’t that funny? I was at a Christmas party and had to give myself a pep talk on the walk over there. It was in our neighborhood, but I didn’t know anybody. Brian, of course, dragged me, because I’m like, “No, let’s stay in.”

He’s said, “No, let’s meet people.”

So, he’s leading the way. I walked in, saw three ladies, and thought one of them was the homeowner. I went up to her and asked, “Are you the homeowner?” She said, “No, no, no.” I said, “Oh, but you’re so friendly, you could be. I’m Michelle; we live down the street.” I did the whole spiel.

Then in the middle of it, I was like, “Oh, I’m doing well.” Usually, this is awkward for me, but I was doing really well.

Then when our conversation ended, I found myself standing in the room alone. I was saying to myself, “Okay, what do I do? Do I go and get some water? Do I hang out with my husband?” So I chose to walk over to Brian who was talking about golf (something that I know nothing about) with another man.

So I stood there awkwardly pretending to fiddle with my ring because I didn’t know what to do with my hands.

Leanne: Did the kids go with you too?

Michelle: No, they were my excuse to come back home.

So there I was fiddling with my hands, listening to the golf talk and thinking to myself, “How much longer do I need to stand here? How long have I been here?” Then you start nodding your head and acting engaged. But really, you’re side-eyeing everything in the room and thinking, “How can I leave quietly? Is now the time to sneak out?”

Leanne: Why didn’t you want to be there?

Michelle: I’m not good at small talk. Nonsense is an art form, and I admire people who know how to talk nonsense.

Leanne: Well, I think you have to start with nonsense to get to know people though.

Michelle: No I don’t.

Leanne: You could walk up to somebody and say, “Hey, so tell me, I would like to know…”

Michelle: Are you kidding? Do you know me? I know how to do that better than I know nonsense. I can get to somebody’s deepest issues in two minutes. But with small-talk, I’d need to go to a class.

But anyways, I ended up sneaking out eventually. When I did, I snuck out of the house and texted him saying, “I’m waiting for you outside.”

He likes this social stuff, so I said, “Please feel free to stay. It looked like you were having a great time. I’m headed home to be with my kids.”

Leanne: How far away was it?

Michelle: It was down the block. This is the best part about it – prior to me sneaking out, the owner of the house came up to me and introduced herself. Somehow we went deep into conversation fast. She said, “I’m an introvert. I can’t stand these things. This is my husband’s event, and he just signs my name on the invitation as a courtesy, but I can’t wait for everyone to go home.

Leanne: You just said, “I’ll help you out right now.”

Michelle: Exactly. “Let me be the first one to support your cause. I feel your pain.” You know what’s so funny? I got her number, but I know we’ll never text each other because we’re both introverts.

Leanne: Have you ever thought, “Do I need anything from you or do you have something that can help me?”

For example, do you have a child that my kid wants to play with?

Michelle: Interesting.

Leanne: I think I’ve said this many times and I’ve heard people say that if you think you’re a selfish person, then you’re really not a selfish person by the fact that you identify it. And then the people who are selfish don’t identify themselves as being selfish. I think I’m selfish because I’m sitting back saying, “What do I need?”

Michelle: Okay. I have such an issue with this.

Leanne: Why?

Michelle: Because you’re the least selfish person. Let me clarify. First of all, you’d give anybody the shirt off your back.

Leanne: Well, sure.

Michelle: I saw you help your neighbor, who you didn’t have a relationship with, take her to doctor’s appointments, clean her house, and bring her meals. I mean, you’re the least selfish person.

But I know what you’re saying. We’ll give anybody anything. I think you’re way more giving than I am but to a limited amount of people.

Leanne: I probably keep myself away from people for that reason.

Michelle: Correct, because you’ll just give yourself away.

Leanne: I would agree with that.

Michelle: So you find your safe people and you invest heavily in them. Then the rest is all touch and go.

That’s the thing that I didn’t figure out until I was in my 40’s, which is to find your people and give them everything. But your people aren’t the world. They’re your villagers. For me, it doesn’t need to be a lot of people.

Leanne: I think that’s where the introvert comes in for me: I keep it small.

Michelle: Do you think that’s the introverted way? Because I’ve heard of some people that are introverts who seem to have gazillions of friends. I’m thinking, “How the heck can you be an introvert if you have that many friends?” I don’t know the answer to that.

Leanne: Maybe they have a zillion people who to you, wouldn’t be a friend. Do you know what I mean? A friend would be something deeper for you.

Michelle: I do know what you mean.

Leanne: By default, I think an extrovert has a lot of friends.

That’s the thing about aging that I’m enjoying: getting more comfortable with the decisions that I’m making in my life. Being able to not analyze them so much, because that’s exhausting sometimes. Do you know what I mean?

Michelle: Yes, I do know what you mean.

Leanne: Because of wisdom and age, or are you just done analyzing?

Michelle: No, I’m definitely not done.

You know what else I think is interesting? I’m starting to recognize the mistakes that my parents made that gave me all of the self-esteem issues that I’ve had all my life. I’m beginning to see my parents as flawed people so that I don’t have to own that message anymore. Does that make sense?

I look at my parents and how they’re operating in this stage of their life. I analyze the messages that I’ve received from their love when I was growing up, or sometimes their lack of love. Now that I’m getting wiser, I can look at them and say, “Oh, that’s messed up.” I’m connecting the dots and thinking, “I’m actually not that way at all. That was a label they placed on me for some of their reasons. That’s not me.”

This morning I was laughing with Lauren. I cracked her up, and she said, “You’re so funny, mom.” I was sitting there thinking there’s a part of me that really enjoys my humor. But my parents would roll their eyes at my humor when I was growing up like it was just too dramatic or too sarcastic. This morning I had that epiphany where I thought, “No, my humor is great. I like my humor.”

Leanne: I do too.

Michelle: I’m not going to beat myself up every time I make a joke and then start to hear my parent’s voices. Those thoughts will kill you.

Because I got voices from my parents, I also got them from school. This was another big insecurity because I was never smart.

Which is a perfect segue into the voices that I heard from my first marriage.

I have a collection of voices from my first husband.

I call it the ‘voice of addiction.’ It’s like a mistress – the third party in the relationship.

Leanne: I think when you connect it with the person you’re in love with, you can remove it to where you can see it’s not the person, and instead see addiction.

One thing that you say about addiction that I love is that it’s sneaky, or it’s tricky.

Michelle: It’s all of the above. Manipulative.

Leanne: I think it’s hard to separate that whenever you fall in love with a person. When you make it an outside entity, I think it’s easier.

Michelle: It’s so much easier.

I think when you’re in the middle of a separation, it’s very difficult to separate the person you love from the disease.

It’s very difficult to separate the person you love from the disease.

I was thinking about it this morning. It’s kind of like what I would imagine being in prison. You know how you hear those people that come out of jail, and they’re almost scared to be reemerged and reentered into the community? Because prison, as dysfunctional, scary, and horrible as it is, has become the norm. So this unhealthy, very unnatural setting of prison is now something that they don’t want to leave. It’s become more comfortable for them.

So, then they have all these fears about re-entering an incredibly healthy and beautiful setting, even though it’d be so much better to have freedom rather than a dark, dingy prison cell.

I was thinking about that this morning and how it’s very similar. When I was married to my ex-husband, it was very much like a prison, and I thought, “I can turn this prison into the outside world. Maybe if I bring an extra cozy blanket, or I substitute the mattresses. Or I bust a hole through the wall to bring in more sunlight. Then this prison won’t feel so much like a prison.”

But it doesn’t work that way. You’re fooling yourself. It’s still prison. You’re still there. So I wasn’t able to separate the man from the disease until I left. I thought, “Oh, he’s in prison too.” Prison is the addiction, and he needs to leave that institute as much as I did. But he can’t.

Leanne: To me, it’s saying; when you left addiction, you had to leave him behind as well. Because he was still with addiction and they were holding hands.

Michelle: Exactly.

Leanne: I think that’s why people are successful if they can let go and leave addiction behind. You know what I mean? Some people make it. Right?

Michelle: There are couples that both pack their bags and say, “We’re checking out. We’ve done our time, thank you very much.” And then leave.

I think that’s why some of our favorite authors have issues with addictions. They now have the most incredible careers and make contributions. They’re brilliant and genius people who I look up to.

That’s the thing. My ex-husband is truly genius, charismatic, and athletic. He’s the whole package: he can do calculus, but also write a sonnet. How many of those people exist in this world?

Leanne: That’s why you wanted to hang out longer.

Michelle: I knew if I could just get him sober, he could be this genius person. I also think that he’s incredibly sensitive.

Leanne: That’s one of your theories though, right?

Michelle: It is a theory. I think addiction happens to very sensitive people because they feel things four levels deeper than most, so they need a way of coping. They need numbing.

Leanne: I agree with that. I think I’m sensitive, but I’m really not.

Michelle: I think you’re sensitive. What would you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10?

Leanne: If 10 is the most sensitive, then I hang out at eight.

I’ve said to you before many times, but I feel like I’m searching for the addiction. None of it makes sense. So I became a co-dependent. I kept trying on alcohol, but everything I put on didn’t make sense to me. But it would be easy to go into the addiction world.

Part of that’s our friendship. But for different reasons, I’m not susceptible to it today; however, I would’ve been over the years.

If any of those things gave me what I needed, then I would have been. Alcohol never gave me what it was that I was looking for.

There are tons of addictions, but none of them did it for me. They didn’t give me that euphoric feeling that I would keep doing it if I got that feeling. It’s like what you said: it’s not about you. It’s about them.

Michelle: That’s why I think also separating the person from the disease helps you get to a place of forgiveness.

I could easily still be mad at him since he has no involvement with my kids.

I could look at him and get wrapped up in anger and say, “Where the hell are you? It’s our son’s birthday. This is your child. Why aren’t you here celebrating? Why don’t you at least call, or send a card? Or at the very minimum, a text message? Why aren’t you even acknowledging?” For one of our kids, at least, he was in the room at the hospital.

In the beginning, it would’ve been a super easy trap to get stuck in because you don’t want your kids to feel rejected. But the way that I got to the place of forgiveness and the tools that I’m teaching my children, so they don’t get wrapped up in the resentment, is to say, “Listen, you’re dealing with an incredibly sick person. And I don’t mean sick as in twisted. I mean sick as in very sick. This has nothing to do with you. It’s a disease that takes down the ones that we love.

Therefore, if your father were sober and rejecting your birthdays, or forgetting about you, that would be very difficult on a whole other level. But you’re not dealing with your father. You’re dealing with a third party whose entire purpose is to rob that body of any character traits that are kind and generous and loving. And replaces those with evilness, manipulation, and lies. Sometimes even things that are breaking the law; theft, rape, hurting, or hitting.

So, knowing that I can teach that to my kids, and they’ve used that over the years helps you lower your expectations. That way, when it comes to birthdays, you’re not even waiting for the call anymore. Nobody even thinks about it anymore. But also, they can look at him and think, “that’s not really him anymore. He’s gone and been replaced by darkness.” You hope that eventually, they’ll fight their way back from that darkness.

Leanne: You commented earlier about how today, you’re looking at the ghost that your parents left in you. Their parenting mistakes, things that they did wrong, or that left you with an impression. Do you worry about that with your kids with him not being in the picture? That even though you’re reassuring them, do you think that they’re hearing things that relate to him not being there?

Michelle: That’s a great question. I ask them that all the time, “How does this affect you?”

Leanne: Right, so just checking in with him?

Michelle: Exactly. You know me – I check in with my kids to the point of being amazingly obnoxious, in a good way. I think it’s fabulous. But they don’t think it’s so fabulous.

Leanne: They do, and don’t know it.

Michelle: They will. I’m banking on the fact that there will be a day where they’ll be like, “My mom was brilliant.” I don’t know if it will happen, but…

Leanne: I think so…it’s like being able to talk through it.

Michelle: Exactly. Giving them the ability to have a safe place to be able to vent. Knowing that I’m not going to join them, I’m going to receive it. That’s the thing with kids that are dealing with trauma; you don’t jump in the pool with them. You sit in the shallow end, and say, “Okay, keep telling me more.” And you receive it. You hold it on yourself. That’s why I always say, I’ve never said anything bad about their father, and I never alluded to anything bad about him because that’s poison to them. Because then I’m getting on the bandwagon. They don’t need two parents that are angry. They don’t need two messed up parents.

You’ve got to be the rock. You don’t have a choice in that. You have to be the steady, stable, sober rock. That’s the place you put them in when you agreed to have them. Do you know what I mean? I look at it as, “I had three kids, knowing full well that I was in love and married to a man who suffered from this disease. I brought them into this world. I have to figure it out.”

You have to be the steady, stable, sober rock that your children need.

Leanne: Okay, what about what society says whenever you chose to take your children away from their natural father?

Michelle: You mean like, leave?

Leanne: Yes. Like when I went through my divorce. Staying married was what I was doing for my children, as much as I was doing it for myself.

So when you chose to leap from one state to another, did what society says is best for your children ever play a role in it? Or not?

Michelle: No.

Leanne: I think for a lot of people, it does.

Even when I met you and told me your story, I knew it was best for your children to leave. Almost like saying you would never take your children to visit an AA meeting or put them in that environment of being with an addict. Yet, there’s that feeling of, “that’s their father.”

I knew it was best for your children to leave.

Michelle: Right. Isn’t that funny?

Leanne: To me it’s not logical because their father is sick. Again, I’m using the word sick in the kindest way.

Michelle: I was afraid to leave for different reasons, but definitely not because of what other people thought.

Leanne: Were your parents supportive of you? You said that you look back now at what your parents were saying to you during that time period.

Michelle: My parents were telling me to stay.

Leanne: I figured because society says to stay.

Michelle: They were saying, “Look, what the heck are you going to do? You’ve been a stay-at-home mom for seven years. You don’t have a college degree; you have three kids under the age of six. Where are you going to go? How are you going to provide for yourself? This doesn’t even logically make sense.”

Leanne: So what brought you from helpless to hopeful?

Michelle: I said, “I don’t care, I’m leaving.”

The moments where I saw my kids directly being affected by this disease and that motherly instinct that said, “No ma’am, I’ll fight to the grave.”

“I’ll live in a homeless shelter. I’ll live in a trailer park.” I was literally driving by trailer parks thinking, “There’s my future home. That’s going to be safer, and better than the very beautiful home in the shi-shi la neighborhood that I lived in.” It looked beautiful on the outside, but was a living hell on the inside when he was drinking, or doing drugs, or screaming, or fighting.

That’s the tricky part because we did have wonderfully loving moments when he was regretful, or he was finally honest about what was really going on. Those were tender moments, and they kept me hanging on for ten years. I’d think, “Okay, I can wait just a little bit longer, and there will be a moment soon. Maybe that moment when he tells me that he’s not going to drink and he’s going to get sober. That’s going to be the moment it’s going to work. Then we can all be this happily wonderful family that I tried so hard to build and create. I think I got to the point where I said, “I can’t wait for those moments anymore. I don’t care about the consequences of leaving.”

Leanne: I know for me when I went through my divorce, one of the things that helped me the most is whenever I told myself, “I can always remarry him and make this family whole again. It doesn’t have to be forever.”

Michelle: Oh, that’s interesting.

Leanne: Yeah, I don’t know if that’s helpful for anybody, or if it was helpful to think that way for you, but it made me feel like then it wasn’t forever. I think I waited too long for that because I kept wondering, “What if, what if, what if. This isn’t forever; this is for today.”

What was the hardest part once you left? Did you ever have any regrets about leaving?

Michelle: No, never. Well, let me rephrase that. When I decided to leave, I think it was such a conviction; it was to the core. It was different. I tried to leave for 10 years. I embarrassingly grabbed my keys with my jammies on and threw a couple of things in a bag and drove around the block for 15 minutes and thought, “Where the heck am I going to go?”

I always came back. There was that internal conflict, “Should I leave, should I go?” There was a moment for me where it was clear. I don’t have the choice to stay. Staying is not an option. After I made that choice, I fell out of love with him, immediately. It was like all that hope was gone, and I didn’t even care to have hope anymore. It was like, “I’m done.”

Leanne: It’s brilliant because what you’re saying is, in the beginning when you left, you grabbed your keys even though probably at that moment, you didn’t have a plan yet. So how long did it take you to get in a position where you weren’t hearing the voices that were saying, “you don’t have what you need.”

Michelle: I heard that the whole time.

Those addiction voices went into my second marriage. They stayed with me for years. You can’t rush those.

Leanne: Were they addiction voices, or were they just your natural voices?

Michelle: Absolutely addiction voices. Hands down, I could trace it all the way back to addiction voices. They were terrible names that he had called me in fights when we were arguing. They were things I had made up because he didn’t come home on time. That I wasn’t worth coming home to. They were voices saying, “if I was a better housekeeper, or a better mother and had the kids behave better, or if I were prettier.” I gained a ton of weight, and I was like, “Maybe if I’m skinnier.”

I remember one day even looking at myself in the mirror, and I was so tired and worn out, but I wanted to look pretty for him coming home. So I put on red lipstick. But the red was too red, and I remember taking a glance in the mirror passing by on the way to the front door, and looking at myself thinking, “Who are you? Who have you become? You are not you. This is a sad attempt at something.”

Leanne: Did he notice the red lipstick?

Michelle: Of course not. But, what was interesting is that he also had an amazing radar to know when I was about to drift off.

Leanne: Right. So addiction clued him in on that too?

Michelle: Yes. So, whenever I was getting closer to being an independent person, addiction always knew, “Okay, I need to reign her back in because I’m losing control over her, and she’s a direct threat to me. So I’ve got to say the right stuff. I’ve got to do the right things. Maybe I need to be sober for a couple of days. I need to come home with some flowers from the grocery store, or I need to make some empty promises that I have no intention of keeping to bring you back in.” And it worked many times. He tried to do it when I said, “I’m leaving.”

He went out and bought me pearl earrings, and gave me the speech for weeks. That’s when I knew it was different because I didn’t even care. I would have loved for him to say the things that he was saying to me. He was doing all the right stuff, but it didn’t matter anymore. I was done. I was gone, and I knew it. There was something, a force greater than myself pushing my kids and me out that door. I really believe that.

Leanne: You said today that he believes that as well. Did you hear that from him? That he thinks leaving was the best thing you could do for the kids and you?

He thanks me all the time for leaving.

Michelle: He thanks me all the time for leaving. I mean, just the other week he called, and it was so nice to hear. I was driving home, and he accused me of something, which is very unlike him because we’ve been getting along for years. I don’t even remember what it was.

Leanne: It was about having a strong personality.

Michelle: Yes, he said, “My issue is, I’m attracted to strong women. Strong, powerful women, that’s my issue. You blindsided me, taking those kids away.” Well, I’ll be darned if I was going to lay down and take that. Which is weird because I normally don’t care, but there was something about that comment.

Maybe it was my mood, but for years I’ve let him do his dance. I no longer have an emotional investment in it. It felt like it was an attack on my motherhood. Or maybe it was the fact that it was an attempt for addiction’s voice to make its way back into my head. I’ve come so far that I’m like, “Oh, no you don’t! Let me shut that down. You’re not going to get into my head.”

I shut it down hard. I saved those kids and gave it right back.

The great thing that happened, as a result, was not a huge fight. He backed down. Do you know when you sometimes talk from that place in your throat or gut where it’s deep? It’s like a well of wisdom. It comes from the strongest core of your being. That’s what I was saying back.

Leanne: Wasn’t he refuting it?

Michelle: No. He shut down and said, “You know what, you’re exactly right. I’m very grateful; you did the right thing.” The blessing was when he said, “I was a terrible husband to you. I was a terrible father. I cheated on you throughout our marriage.” That was the first time he’s ever admitted that to me. I started crying like a baby.

Leanne: Do you think even though you knew, did you not want to believe it, or do you think it was just acknowledgment from him, that it gave you validation?

Michelle: Do you want to know something weird? It was tears of joy. When I found out about his cheating, I had already fallen out of love with him, so it never was a battle for me.

Leanne: It wasn’t a self-esteem thing for you?

Michelle: It didn’t bother me at all. Maybe that sounds nuts, but it didn’t bother me. I was okay. It was just one more feather in the hat and confirmation I made the right choice by leaving.

Do you have any theories about that?

Leanne: My theory is he was the love of your life. I think that sometimes gets lost because he had been the villain in the story. I think you needed to hear it from him.

I think that you had that love story. That great, grand, beautiful love story. Even though you can separate it with addiction, you can remove it from him. To have him be on your side to tell you that, it confirms everything that you said.

Michelle: You know what it was? I think you’re exactly right; you hit the nail on the head. It was coming from his core. It was two cores matching each other. Addiction had no part of that conversation anymore. It was his core talking to my core saying, “I acknowledge your pain.” It was like apologizing, and me getting the validation for leaving. That’s what it was.

Leanne: Even though all those things have happened, he still holds a very important part in your heart. He was the greatest love of your life. So I think that’s the reason why it took ten years. Whereas, knowing you, I would have thought six months. I hear ten years, and think, “10 years?” I think it was because it was this magical, epic love story.

Michelle: Yeah, I haven’t really talked about that.

Leanne: I think that’s important though. I think some people might listen and think, “Yeah, but.” The yeah but was that she didn’t have this, or it wasn’t this. You had that well to draw from. You had a beautiful love story with this man.

So, jumping subjects. Do you think this was how he was able to allow another man to adopt his children? Because I would think addiction wouldn’t have any part of that. Or ego. That would be very hard for me, I would think, as a man.

Michelle: That’s a good question. To have somebody adopt your children? Absolutely.

Leanne: Some people would look at it may be financially and say, “Oh yeah. That’s one less thing he has to worry about.” I think that’s probably true of every man out there who’s succumbed to addiction.

Michelle: You know what? I wonder that too. I wonder if every man is a good man?

Leanne: I’d like to believe that. If you asked that question to most people, I think they’d say, “No” because they’ve been exposed to people who haven’t been good.

But something has to take over you. You and I both have birthed children, it’s hard for me to believe that.

Some child is born that something gets ahold of them somewhere along the way.

Michelle: I agree with you.

Leanne: I like to believe that addiction or something gets ahold of them, some evil force.

Michelle: I think the adoption was absolutely a miracle.

Leanne: A miracle is right. You worked hard for that.

Michelle: Can you tell the story about that? Because I remember walking with you, coming back from that weekend, and you cried.

Leanne: Oh, yes. I could probably even cry today about it. I don’t know him, and I’ve never met him.

I don’t know how much of it is societal norms, but I think the whole identity of a man and what they stand for is being the husband and the role of the father.

I think a big part is you prayed a lot over that, and you worked really hard. It wasn’t your first attempt.

Michelle: It was an arm wrestle.

Leanne: It was an arm wrestle, and it was a leap of faith throughout the whole process. There was a lot that went into it. Not only did you orchestrate it perfectly, but along the way, there was a knowing that now was the time. You just felt so strong, and so powerful about it, that nothing was going to get in your way.

That’s how you secured that with him. You weren’t trying to pull anything out from under him or to trick him into it. Nor were you trying to threaten him into it. Even though those were easy tools you could’ve used since he wasn’t paying child support. He wasn’t doing all the things he was supposed to be doing. It would’ve been really easy for you, but you didn’t. I think it was you got him to a place where he was able to see what was best for his children.

Michelle: Yes. Very well said.

Leanne: Were you able to maintain a relationship with his family through all of this?

Michelle: That was tricky too. I also had to tell my parents who didn’t have any idea how bad it was when I was leaving. They knew he had drinking issues, but did not know to the extent because I always wanted to protect him. I wanted them to love him and because I had planned on staying with him.

Leanne: That’s what everybody wants though: the happily ever after. That’s the goal, right?

Michelle: Yes, it is. When I said to them, “Look, I’m leaving. You can support me or not, but I’m taking my babies and going. I’m doing it now, not when they graduate high school.” That’s what everyone was telling me to do – wait until the kids are out of the house. It was the same with my in-laws. I still love them. His family is the best. I’m so glad we’re still friends. They love Brian, the kids, and they’re good people. They could’ve been terrible about it.

Leanne: That’s what I was going to say. Speaking to that, do you feel like that’s not luck, that’s not just the way it turned out. Do you think it’s because that when you were working on leaving your relationship, you never spoke poorly about your ex-husband to his family or your children?

Michelle: I did let them know what was going on. I thought, “Okay, I’m panning him back to you now.” It was my way of saying, “Look, here he is, back to you. This is his condition. I’ve tried my best, and I know you’ve witnessed me trying my best. I’m not going to take your grandkids away from you, even though I’m leaving the state. I still want to maintain that relationship, and I’ll make an effort to do that.

Leanne: Which you have.

Michelle: Yes.

Leanne: I’ve watched you make many trips in that direction.

Michelle: Thank you for saying that. Yes, I have. Was it always wonderful? No. There was definitely tension at the beginning.

Leanne: Because of loyalty to him?

Michelle: Yes, and I don’t mean any disrespect at all, but I think some parents have a level of denial, you know? It’s so much easier to believe that the other person isn’t telling the truth rather than your own son.

Leanne: Of course.

Michelle: I don’t blame any mom for this, because I know I would have a difficult time if it was one of my kids. My loyalty will always be towards my kids. I understood that and that this was going to take some time.

I’m going to give everybody some space, and most importantly, I’m going to give myself some space here because I’ve been in this drama mess for a long time now.

That was actually why I moved out of state. I didn’t particularly love Florida. I didn’t really want to move here. But I knew addiction. When you have to get a restraining order for your physical safety, and the safety of the kids, I needed to create as much distance as I possibly could. Physically, mentally, spiritually, it was in everybody’s best interest. I had to fight as much for that move as I did for the adoption.

There were many pivotal moments where addiction was a bully. It pushed me up against a wall in the hallway of the high school when nobody was looking. It put it’s finger in my face and said, “Listen here, who the hell do you think you are? I’m running the show; this is my school, these are my halls. You’re just a lonely little girl who’s worthless and unemployed. You’re a stay at home mom, and you know nothing. You know, blah, blah, blah.

I let addiction do that to me for too many years. When I decided to leave was the first time where I literally pushed back and said, “No. That message isn’t going to work on me anymore. I’m not falling for that, because who the hell are you? You’re some sick, dark thing. Why did I ever listen to you?” That’s a scary moment. I had three major moments when I had to tell him I was leaving: when I had to get my restraining order, when I was fighting to leave the state, because he didn’t want me to, and my lawyers advised me not to, and then the adoption.

Leanne: Do you credit all of those to determination, and just knowing in your heart and soul?

Michelle: Yes, absolutely.

Leanne: You can’t look back and say, “Well, it kind of came easy for me because…”

Michelle:

Nothing came easy. Here’s the deal — every time that I looked addiction in the eye, I said, “No more. Go pick on somebody else; it’s not going to be me anymore. That’s not even going to work.”

I grew as a woman in a way that not only was I standing up to addiction; I was standing up to my parents. I was standing up to my teachers. I was standing up to all the other bad relationships I had been in prior, all the ex-boyfriends. It was so big for me.

Leanne: It went beyond the addiction. Then again, to some extent, maybe you can thank addiction for some of the things.

Michelle: That’s what I was going to say. I wouldn’t take addiction away. I won’t take it away from my kids, and I won’t take it away for me. Let me rephrase that. Of course, the man that I was in love with, I wouldn’t wish this upon him. But I’m so incredibly grateful, and I see why addiction came into my life. I see how great it was for me, and my kids.

I see why addiction came into my life. I see how great it was for me, and my kids.

Leanne: Do you think you were vulnerable to addiction? That’s why it came into your life?

Michelle: Absolutely. It’s like two magnets that are destined.

Looking back now at my childhood and my ex-boyfriends, how did I not end up with an addict sooner? I attracted the wrong boys, all the time.

Leanne: Do you believe that the root cause of addiction is self-esteem issues?

Michelle: Do you mean the women who love them? I don’t know; I don’t like to diagnose.

Leanne: Okay, that’s fair.

Michelle: For the women who are attracted to the addicts, maybe. Part of it is self-esteem, but I think everybody deals with self-esteem, right?

Leanne: I think so too.

Michelle: So why isn’t everybody attracted to an addict? I think the reason why women are addicted to addicts or alcoholics is that, by nature, we’re helpers, we are menders, and we’re givers. We will give and give in such an unhealthy way until it hurts, and addicts love that. They will take because they’re takers. So they’ll find a giver. When the taker takes from us, we feel needed, appreciated, and validated. We think, “Oh my gosh, there’s somebody who actually likes what we’re giving. There’s somebody who wants what we have to offer. Somebody is appreciating our cooking, or taking our advice, or putting us on a pedestal in some sort of way.

The part that you have to work through is all of those traits are good, so you don’t want to throw the baby out with the bath water. You don’t want to become this woman that’s a taker now. That’s not healthy either. You need to learn when to give, and who to give to and to use those traits when it’s reciprocated in relationships that are reciprocated. Not somebody who’s taking advantage of that.

Leanne: I feel like for me, I go by my instinct, but that’s not always good, especially when they’re so suave and slick.

Michelle: Because addiction’s slick. This is another gift with addiction: I think you get a radar. I’ve said this before, but I can tell a drunk person from miles away.

Leanne: You can.

Michelle: I can tell if somebody’s high in four seconds. You get this internal alarm that goes off, that tells you something isn’t right. You just have to pay attention to it. Addiction will tell you not to pay attention to that, or you don’t know what you’re talking about. You’re not smart enough to listen to that. That’s a lie. The more you start to get in touch with your thoughts and feelings, and addiction’s voice gets fainter, the more that warning becomes more present and louder. Then you learn to rely on that which is essentially relying on your wisdom instead of somebody else’s.

Leanne: I know that you’re not a proponent for people using circumstances to defend what they’ve been through. For example, I’m a giver, and in a relationship and this guy, and something terrible is happening to me. I think because you’ve lived through it, you have a low threshold for that.

Let’s say that as your friend, if I came to you and said that, you would’ve had nothing to do with that. You would be like, “you’ve got to shake it.”

This goes back to self-esteem. In other words, don’t continue doing things that are wrong because of what you were dealt. Don’t continue to make foolish decisions such as staying with a man who’s an addict.

Michelle: Don’t use your past as an excuse to dictate your unhealthy future decisions.

Leanne: I guess the next question is, what do you use to catapult in the next direction? Even though I know you’ve said today, all the things that brought you strength. Is there anything you could say other than just being a mother, that you would say was able to take you from 10 years of going repetitively through the same cycle?

Michelle: Yes, thank you for asking that. That’s a good question. I did about 12 months of personal work before leaving.

Leanne: You mean serious work.

Michelle: Yes. Towards the end of our marriage, I think he was out more than he was in. It used to be like weekends or once a month he wouldn’t come home, but towards the end of our relationship, he was gone constantly. I don’t even know where. I took that opportunity to say, “Okay, you’re gone, I’m going to take that energy and instead of worrying where you are and obsessively calling you, leaving you 18,000 voicemails threatening you, or begging you to come home, I’m going to use this evening in the quiet stillness to get reacquainted with my kids because I was a crap mom.” I looked like a great mom on the outside, though.

Leanne: You weren’t there, you weren’t present.

Michelle: Not at all. I was always worried about where my husband was, and how I’m going to keep this family glued together. So I got to know my kids better. We went to the museums, and hiking in the parks. I sat on the couch and watched TV with them. Of course, I made them talk lots about their feelings.

When I put them to bed, even just reading them bedtime stories was different. I wasn’t reading them stories out of anxiety; I was reading them stories because I enjoyed being around them. When they were asleep, it was like, “Okay, time to work on me.”

Leanne: And again, you credit part of that for working on you because it came hand in hand.

Michelle: Yes, and I learned. I did exactly what I outline in the Love Over Addiction program. That’s the formula. That whole program was developed, and I took notes. So I would write down everything I was learning because I had gone to meetings and read the books. I was like, “None of this is working. I need something different.” So, I would wake up early in the morning, get myself a cup of coffee, sit in the comfiest chair, grabbed a pen and paper and notepad, and just started asking, “what did I want?” Imagining a new life. Daring to think outside of the prison. Thinking, “There’s a community outside of these prison walls that I might be able to live in if I could figure it out. How do I get out of here? I don’t know yet.” But I’m going to.

Leanne: Daring to dream.

Michelle: Yes, daring to dream which is actually the name of a module inside the program.

Leanne: Is it?

Michelle: Yes, that I wrote over 10 years. It was the dare because it’s daring. It’s so scary to think, to consider a future that looks different than the present.

Leanne: It’s so funny that the simplest things are even daring. I don’t know, daring is an interesting thing. To go outside the norms.

Michelle: You know I’m a huge Brene Brown fan. But I didn’t grab that from her. I actually grabbed that from addiction.

Leanne: How simple is that? Aren’t we all entitled to our happiness? It’s interesting how whenever we get wrapped up in so many other things, we leave behind the simple things of what we want our future to be. Or deciding I can have that.

Michelle: Okay, but let’s go back. Because it circles back to your question about is there a type of person that’s attracted to addiction or that addiction is attracted to. Not everybody dares to dream. Some people walk around this earth that feel like it’s their entitlement. Those women will never be with addicts. They are the women that say, “Listen, dude. I’m not putting up with that because you’re getting in the way.”

Leanne: How do we become that woman?

Michelle: I don’t think we ever are that woman and I wouldn’t even consider myself that woman now, but in a good way. These women are great, and we need those types of women, but their battle is different, right? Their battle is, “How do I consider other people?” That’s the battle of their life. Whereas, what makes us wonderful friends and partners to be with, could kind of be our sword. To be like, “I’m small, I don’t want to think about me. Who am I to be entitled to a happy life?”

Leanne: Especially as women, I would think.

Michelle: Yes. Like the whole, “I’m going to take care of myself before I take care of others.” For me it’s like, “Okay, Michelle, you teach this, you have to follow through.” It’s still a conscious decision. It doesn’t come naturally.

Leanne: I don’t think self-care comes naturally. For me, self-care is difficult. It takes time to do the self-care, even though we’ve been really good about it as far as putting it on a calendar. It’s reminding yourself. To me, it’s something that we all should do.

Whether it’s positive, or negative, you’re programmed to hear these things, or think these things. And it’s not fair to parents, or society because of something that’s happened to you in your life. Those tapes that are going on in your head. We should make our own tapes, you know? Our own little Sound of Music songs.

Michelle: That’s the best thing you’ve said.

Leanne: Self-care takes time. But talking to yourself, you’re already doing it anyway. Just change what you’re saying.

Michelle: Totally. I’ve tried. Just this morning, I wrote myself a note.

Leanne: I know. You used to have Post-It notes everywhere.

Michelle: I still have Post-It notes everywhere.

But there’s something so healing and empowering as a woman to be like, “You look great today. Michelle, you really outdid yourself.”

Or, if I’m exercising. I struggle with my body; I definitely have body issues. The other day I was exercising, and I thought, “Michelle, you are so strong. Look at you, you’re really pulling your weight here.” I was like, “I’m strong. I am strong. I’m a strong person.” It just kind of went on and on. So now, I identify as a strong person. Maybe my husband has told me that. I don’t remember, but it didn’t work. It only worked when I said it to myself.

If other people have said that, that’s wonderful, but I don’t take stock in that. It worked for me when I finally recognized it in myself, genuinely. That’s the thing, right? Can we talk about fakeness for a second? Which is a whole other podcast. I hate the theory that says, “Tell yourself you’re beautiful.” And you feel like crap. You’re like, “I’m just going to keep telling myself I’m beautiful?” No, it has to be when you feel beautiful. Does that make sense?

Leanne: It does, but sometimes I think I’m a believer in ‘fake it til you make it.’

Michelle: Okay, let’s talk.

Leanne: So you’re not a ‘fake it til you make it’ person?

Michelle: I don’t know if I am. Let’s talk through it. Tell me an instance where that has worked for you. Give me a real example.

Leanne: Maybe I’m crazy, but I talk to myself a lot.

Michelle: I know you do. I’ve been with you when you’ve been talking to yourself. I talk to myself in the grocery store all the time.

Leanne: Oh, I sing in the grocery store.

Michelle: I love the music in the grocery store. I want their playlist. It’s like Billy Joel and Elton John. I’m like, “Where are the songs of yesteryear?”

Leanne: I catch myself singing. I’m like, “Okay, people are looking, I should probably stop.”

Michelle: I think it’s great. I dance in the car all the time.

Okay, let’s back it up. If you think ‘fake it til you make it’ is a thing, and you think it works, give me an example.

Leanne: I’m going to use what we were using before, about self-talk for ourselves. For example, when I walked in the door today, did I not say to you, “Are my legs a little bow-legged?” It’s general nature to be critical of ourselves.

The reason that I can find good things about myself is that I started to fake it until you make it. I’d say, “You do have thin legs. They might be bow-legged, but they’re thin.

Michelle: You’re not bow-legged.

Leanne: Fake it until you make it works for me because I’m saying it so many times. After you say it for a while, you’re like, “Wait a minute; this feels good.” Kind of like trying it on and saying, “Wait a minute, after I’ve said it a couple of times, I like the way I feel about myself better when I say ‘you’re kind, you are curious, you’re generous.”

Once you do it over and over again, you are now accustomed to taking the time to start changing what you’re saying to yourself. It never occurred to me to say to myself, “You’re beautiful, you are this,” unless someone told me to do it. It would’ve never occurred to me. I think it builds a muscle that’s lifelong.

I would never really think about those things until I started faking it until I made it.

Michelle: Okay, we’re saying the same thing, we’re just saying it differently. I’m saying self-talk works. Positive self-talk is life-changing for me.

Leanne: And if it feels awkward in the beginning, keep doing it, even if it doesn’t feel genuine in the beginning.

I think what you’re saying is true, but you’re not used to saying it. I think there’s something to be said for that platform of fake it until you make it. You’re faking something that’s true. Something that brings you joy, or something that you need to hear.

Michelle: I’m saying that I agree with you, wholeheartedly. What I’m saying is more to the point of your supermodel comment. Which is, there are people out there that subscribe to the theory that can fall into the ‘fake it until you make it,’ which will never make it. I guess I’m taking your theory and putting a spin on it which is saying positive self-talk is important as long as the self-talk is actually based on fundamental truth.

For example, your whole beautiful comment. If I come downstairs and I’ve done my hair and makeup, and I’ve put thought into my clothes, and I catch myself in a mirror, and I look pretty, I can say to myself, “Michelle, you really are beautiful.” I’m not necessarily saying it takes all that effort. There have been times where I’ll wear my hair naturally curly, with no makeup and I’ll look naturally pretty. My skin is glowing, and there’s just something very radiant about me. I will tell myself in those moments, “Michelle, you look beautiful.”

Listen, here’s what I’m saying. I do not believe, nor do I subscribe to the fact that today in Pilates class, I didn’t look like crap, even though I genuinely did. I was late, my outfit was ridiculous, my hair was peacockish, and I just felt haggard. I didn’t get good sleep last night. For me, it’s not going to work in my mirror while I’m doing Pilates telling myself, “Michelle, you’re beautiful.”

Leanne: You could say you were strong.

Michelle: Which I did. I’m saying in general; I do think that I’m working on recognizing myself as a beautiful human being, but there are going to be moments in my life where I’m struggling, and that’s okay too. Does that make sense?

Leanne: It does, but I also think what I’ve noticed raising two girls is what’s your definition of beautiful? That’s another thing that I think is important too.

Michelle: That’s true.

Leanne: There are so many beautiful people in the world, but they may not think they’re beautiful in their own eyes.

Michelle: That’s true too because I’ve looked rough and felt beautiful in those rough moments also. So you bring up a good point.

Leanne: Starting the practice is what’s important.

Michelle: Being your biggest advocate.

Leanne: Building that muscle. I think we’re all beautiful, which I think is very important.

Michelle: Absolutely. Like the woman that’s living in Uganda, that’s been in the dirt for hours. She’s as much, or more beautiful, than me coming downstairs in my fancy outfit.

Leanne: Maybe that’s why I don’t struggle as much with comparison on social media. Because I don’t look and think one person’s more beautiful than the other. Isn’t that silly?

Michelle: I don’t think that’s silly, I think that’s great.

Leanne: I think, as a result, you’re not making any comparisons. What’s important is that you’re your best you. But this is from somebody who’s wrote too many self-help books. Do you know what I mean?

Michelle: Yes, Oprah, I do.

Leanne: You keep mentioning 41, and maybe it’s the 51-year-old in me. It’s like, you get to the point where this is it.

Michelle: I hear those ’50s are fantastic.

Leanne: You kind of look and say, “This is it.” The things about yourself that you don’t like. They aren’t going to change. You can hate them all you want, or you can finally decide that they’re okay.

Michelle: Isn’t that sad that it takes us half our life?

Leanne: I think it is. My parents, who are 30 years older than me, always say to take their wisdom. They want to give it to all their grandkids.

Michelle: Why did it take us this long to get here?

Leanne: Because they will make all those stupid, foolish decisions that we make. It’s what builds your muscle to get you to where you’re at. Again, I think because I spent so much time self-loathing, I’m finally at a point in my life where I’m like, “I’m good.”

Michelle: And you really are at that point.

Leanne: I am.

Michelle: I will validate that. You’re beautiful Leanne.

Leanne: I know this sounds silly, but worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair. We’re sitting in the chair rocking back and forth, but there’s no point in that, so why don’t we go on to something that’s more important with our time or our lives?

Which goes back to being happy in general, or daring to be happy.

Michelle: Yes, and recognizing what you want. This can change, by the way, with age. What I thought I wanted when I was 35, is not what I want now.

You know about my dream boards and me?

Leanne: Yes.

Michelle: I mean, come on now. I have four of them going right now.

Leanne: Do you prioritize them? Is one more important than the other?

Michelle: No. One’s for the community, and one’s for my personal life. They’re organized, but they evolve.

Leanne: They all four have their purposes.

Michelle: So what I thought I wanted, even last year, was to live in a certain place. I posted all these pictures of that, and this is the location, and this is the lifestyle that comes with that location. This would be so healthy for me. It changed recently as I started unpacking and figuring out more of who I was. Which I also think is evolving.

Leanne: Do you think you’re done?

Michelle: No. I’m so far from done. But I’m excited. What I’m discovering now are things that I love. It’s like digging for treasure, and I’m just finding the treasures. That feels really good and empowering.

As opposed to living with the negative space. In the place of self-defeat. Or less than.

Leanne: There’s a difference in having a bad day, and having a bad every day. Or feeling that way every day. Do you know what I mean?

Michelle: That’s called depression.

Leanne: You’re right, and being in the wrong place puts you in a depression.

I know yesterday I was hunting for victories. Everywhere I turned, I was hunting for a victory.

Michelle: Did you find one?

Leanne: In the end, very little.

Michelle: You had a bad day yesterday. You were tired and exhausted.

Leanne: Yes. Whereas today, I’m running around, victory here, victory there. You know, I’m finding them everywhere.

So I think what I’m saying, is it goes beyond. I don’t think this is an every day, every moment kind of a thing. Some days are better than others.

Michelle: Which is where we have grace. Grace for ourselves. If we give ourselves grace first, then we can give other people grace. I find I’m the most critical with people that I love when I’m the most critical of myself. When I am hard on myself, that is when I am hard on other people. It’s an ugly sight.

Leanne: It’s ugly, and it’s damaging.

Michelle: So freaking damaging.

Leanne: We’ve all been there.

Michelle: It’s the worst. I hear myself say, “Michelle, you need to go find a hole and bury yourself in it because that’s horrible.” That’s when I’m like, “Okay, I need some alone time.” Just lock myself out, remove myself from my family and go.

You know what’s so funny about the quiet time? I used to think, “With my quiet time, I’m going to go pray, or self-reflect or read a self-help book.”

But instead, it’s Netflix. I need something delicious and non-thinking. I don’t want to reflect and improve.

Leanne: You’re not anti-meditation, you just find your groove?

Michelle: Yes. I’m pro-meditation for the other 80 hours of the day. In those times where I’m empty, which is usually when I’m critical, or yucky, I’m empty.

Leanne: And Netflix can fill you up.

Michelle: It really does. So can the Real Housewives, which I’m so embarrassed to admit. It’s like I turn my brain off.

Leanne: Do you know what’s so funny though? Your Golden Girls.
Your Golden Girls got you through those years.

Michelle: My Golden Girls – those were my BFFs. They were my women.

Leanne: They were your tribe.

Michelle: They really were. The Golden Girls, and Oprah. We can’t leave out Oprah. Oprah at 4:00 every day.

I don’t even know what was on Oprah; it didn’t matter. She was talking to me. We’re BFFs; she just doesn’t know it yet.

Leanne: That’s the joy of Oprah…she’s everyone’s BFF.

Michelle: She is, but she’s really particularly my BFF.

Leanne: I won’t take that away from you.

Michelle: Well, thank you for interviewing me, and asking questions.

Leanne: Yeah, I hope it was helpful to the community.


Next week you’ll hear one of the most powerful and shocking stories we’ve ever done. I will be interviewing Desiree, one of our Love Over Addiction sisters, who has children with a man that drinks too much. If you’ve ever wanted your loved one to attend rehab, if you’ve ever wondered when is enough going to be enough, or if you’ve ever doubted your ability to make tough choices that you knew could cost you your marriage, you were meant to listen to Desiree’s story next week.

Explore the Love Over Addiction program

Computer, phone and worksheets of Love Over Addiction program

Remember being fun? Laughing? Feeling giddy? Being carefree? Addiction can take all those things away from you and replace them with worry, anxiety, fear, and anger. It doesn’t have to be that way. Discover how to change your life and your relationship today.

Explore the Love Over Addiction: Stay or Go program

Have you ever wondered? Or maybe you know… but you don’t know how. Staying or leaving your relationship is a huge decision. There are questions you need to ask yourself, and ways to prepare no matter what you decide. Find out how to make this decision, even if you’re not ready to make it today.

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