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Insecurities!

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Totally Married Podcast

Episode 131

It’s the first hour long episode of Totally Married! Elizabeth and Andy check in about how her NY’s resolutions have already taken a hit, as well as discuss other insecurities before giving their unqualified advice to listener questions about whether or not to suggest to a long time friend/hook up buddy to take things to the next level, what to do when your boyfriend shows signs of an alcohol problem, and how to deal with a spouse who showed up empty handed at Christmas. Enjoy!

26 Comments!

Jon says:

Best of luck on the Wed drop of your new podcasts. I’m feel for you when you explain your fear of not reaching people, but — keep this in mind: your podcasts, as you are creating new ones, are getting to be more and more specific target audiences.

TotallyLaime is a far-reaching broad audience show.
TotallyMarried MIGHT be interesting to only those who are married or interested.
TotallyMoms might be even further reduced to mostly moms.

If you go next to TotallyMomsWithOnlyOneNostril, then you will — more than likely create a show that has the potential to “reach and engage” even fewer.

Katie says:

Even though the target audience for Totally Mommy is technically “reduced”, it is still huge, huge demographic. Additionally, there just aren’t many *good* podcasts for mums (and parents in general!).

Totally Mommy is seizing on a huge opportunity. There are tons of great comedy podcasts, but not at all for parenting. And it’s a hugely important (and fascinating!) topic, to many, many people! So don’t be discouraged!

erika says:

Actually, I think there is potential to reach so many new people with Totally Mommy. Moms who would probably never stumble upon Totally Laime will likely be more inclined to listen to this. Yes, within her current audience, the listenership is going to reduce, but that doesn’t mean she will have fewer listeners overall…. good luck E!

Lauren says:

I’m not a parent, and I’m excited to listen to Totally Mommy to better understand my friends and family members who are, and also to give me a better idea of what being a parent is like since my husband and I are not sure yet if we want kids! :)

Ashlee says:

Not that I’m complaining about having more of your awesome voices, but the hour long podcast means I have an unfinished episode. The 40-ish minutes was perfect for my commute, but the hour long episode means I have no idea what you advised the possibly alcoholic boyfriend… the suspense!

Good luck with the Totally Mommy launch! I’ll be there :)

Patty says:

E&A: I really appreciated your in-depth discussion in response to the email from the writer inner with the boyfriend who comes home black-out drunk. It reminded me a lot of my last relationship, so I thought I’d chime in.

When I was 22 and just starting my first 9 to 5 job, I started dating someone who was a couple years into his career in the restaurant industry. My ex had initially intended to pursue a graduate degree after completing undergrad, but when he moved to the big city, he got very drawn into the restaurant industry lifestyle: partying, sleeping late, indulgent consumption, meeting lots of young people making lots of cash, and the coolness of the scene in general. I thought this was really fun & exciting at first and went along with a lot of it, making loads of physically, emotionally, and financially unhealthy choices (which is kind of normal for early/mid-20s, right?). Trying to get my ex to calm down later in our relationship was an uphill battle, so I was kind of living one foot in my normal life (grad school, building my career, maintaining relationships with family), and the other in his (going out hard, rough hangovers, irregular sleep, lavish meals). During the week when I wasn’t going out with him, I would sometimes wake up in the morning to find he still hadn’t come home from the night before.

When I brought it up, he did not acknowledge a problem and was not open to cutting back on the drinking & recreational drugs. I never suspected infidelity, but I had practically no trust in his judgment. I eventually broke up with him after we’d been living together for several years, which was a very sad thing because I did still care about him and I did think that I could help him get “better,” but I am so much happier & healthier now and wish I had done it sooner.

To the writer inner: it is hard to know whether your boyfriend (or my ex) will outgrow the drinking, but do you want to risk it? I think Andy nailed it when he said “Do you need to sign up for this kind of burden?”

In my relationship, I was betting that he was going to grow out of it, and he didn’t, so I spent years waiting and being pretty miserable a lot of the time.

Most people in the restaurant industry have to constantly deal with temptations related to freely flowing alcohol alcohol and leaving work with a big wad of cash at midnight when the only places open are bars, so I think it can be a really tough career path for people susceptible to substance abuse.

Good luck to you, writer inner! I’m feeling for you in this tough spot.

Mic says:

Hi guys!

Feedback for the gf of the possible-problem-drinker. Here goes –

First of all, I come from a family with several alcoholics. I am absolutely predisposed to spot traits in other people. That said, I dated a man for two years prior to moving in with him. Upon moving in with him I quickly saw that the amount/extent to which he was drinking was more than I was comfortable with. At first, I tried to ignore this and assume that I was just being overly cautious. Even so, I finally became so concerned that I spoke up and told him I was worried. He was very defensive, so much so that he wouldn’t even talk about it.
That was all I needed to know. We had one giant fight after that, that was directly caused by his drinking, and it was so scary that I finally moved out.

I tell this story because I made the decision that this wonderful, loving person had a problem. And frankly, I didn’t want to that life. Now, I obviously cannot say if the writer-inner’s bf is an alcoholic, but from what was stated – it doesn’t look good. That said, even if he is an alcoholic, that of course doesn’t mean that she has to leave him.

Some important questions for the writer-inner: How does he react when you bring it up? Have you brought it up? How does he change when he drinks? (This is very important, often more important than the quantity one drinks. You can drink once a month and be an alcoholic.)

Aside from a drinking problem, do you want a boyfriend that comes home at 6 am four nights a week? As you said, he is about to have two masters degrees, and will likely soon be in a career that doesn’t allow for this lifestyle any more. Maybe take the approach of watchful waiting and see how that goes? If he goes out of his way to stay in an industry that lets him drink to excess, when really he should be moving on with his life, I would take that as a not great sign.

As an aside, I really appreciated what Andy said about the fact that just because Andy himself was able to ‘kick’ problem-ish drinking, doesn’t mean he wont have a problem in the future. That is absolutely true and something to be very aware of. I hope that doesn’t sound harsh – but people that are predisposed, especially genetically, to alcoholism are very prone to going back to it at different stages of life.

I’m actually not one for AA culture – but I do not believe that one can have a ‘real problem’ (however that’s defined) and then go back to having the occasional glass of wine. I’m sorry to say, but I just think that that is a very dangerous falsehood.

ANYWAY I obviously had to brain dump on this one. Love you guys and best of luck to the writer-inner.

Mims says:

You guys, be confident God Damn It. A lot of mom shows attract a large audience in single dudes. (One Bad Mother for example.) I’m new to your show, and I love it. I’d rather (you) be podcasting. You’re funny and great and I’m excited for you to be parents.

camilla says:

Hello!

I just listened to the latest podcast and went down a really interesting cultural rabbit hole with the drinking question. I’m from the UK (lately known as the binge drinking capital of the world), and the north at that, where it’s considerably cheaper (though nothing like as cheap as stateside).

Maybe it’s because of the LA-centric podcasts I listen to, but I’m always surprised at how quickly and easily a person can be labelled as/label themselves as alcoholics in the US. To me, and I think generally in the UK, there is a very clear distinction between heavy or irresponsible drinking, and alcoholism; one is excess and the other is dependency. It’s seems like the two get confused because they’re distinct but not mutually exclusive; an alcoholic might never put anyone in danger but their own health, and maybe never get black out drunk but are totally dependent on drinking every single day at all costs; whereas a person who is not, has never been and never becomes an alcoholic could easily have a year (or 5 if they’ve gone to college) of lost weekends, but if someone took the booze away they’d just carry on without blinking an eyelid; and vice versa. When it comes to things like Alcoholism I feel like it’s just as dangerous to be over-sensitive as it is to be desensitised to such things, as it makes it very hard to work out what’s a genuine problem, and what’s just overreacting (often due to societal pressure).

This kind of mix up could also perhaps go a long way towards diminishing the seriousness of the diagnosable disorder – if you ascribe the same title to someone (maybe) slowly and (definitely) uncontrollably debilitating themselves and destroying their family with alcohol, and some drunken, inconsiderate toe-rag who often gets carried away and overestimates how much and how fast he/she can put away of an evening, the title really ceases to mean anything.

I’ve also heard about how sometimes the victims of alcoholism, as in friends, family, loved ones, often aren’t able to access/or are unaware of their own need for support, and therefore can be very sensitive to periods of heavy drinking in their loved ones . Their relationship with the issue of substance abuse can (understandably) also become toxic, so that the spectre of their experience taints their own relationships, thereby potentially creating more victims. A similar situation played out in my immediate family but set in a context of domestic abuse, I’ve seen how even when the victim is no longer in the grips of the abuser, the poison of that one terrible relationship leaks into those of the friends and families who helped get them out. It’s good to hear resources like that do exist more abundantly in the case of alcohol abuse.

As a suggestion for the writer-inner, I wonder if a similar, but slightly alternative way to deal with this is that she *should* go to AlAnon, but not so much because of her partner’s drinking, but to understand her fears and reactions in relation to it. I feel like maybe by taking that approach to it, she can be more open and honest with him about if BEFORE she goes, explaining that her experiences with alcoholism means that she struggles to gauge her sensitivity to his heavy drinking, which in turn has made her realise she needs to seek some support and guidance for it. Then, having done everything she can to solve the problem from her own point of view, she can see whether this prompts a change in him over time. If nothing changes she can then decide if this is a deal breaker for her, and lay everything out on the line for him – the Al Anon would probably prepare her for that process if it came to it as well.

The only reason I wanted to suggest this approach is that I imagined the scenario if I came home to my husband and said that I had been to a support group about something he does that worries me, rather than telling him I’m going first – and why. I think he would be well within his rights to be seriously pissed off with me whether he had a problem or not. Even when it’s done with the best of intentions, unless there is transparency, an action like that it can really easily be (mis)interpreted as passive-aggressive controlling behaviour, and could create a trust problem where there wasn’t one before. What’s worse is that it’s impossible to prove that the initial intention was good. On the other hand, if I told him before going, even if it took a little time, he at least has a chance to process my worries and fears, He knows that I’m also trying to work it out, I’m confiding in him and seeking outside support; in short, I give him a chance to be the good guy first. I also trust that he would have the good sense and courtesy to treat me with the same respect, because there’s a good chance I would be furious if the shoe was on the other foot – possibly more so if there was no actual problem at the core – other than the fact he’d gone over my head, diagnosed me and visited a support group on how to fix me.

Does that sound helpful? I hope so, I’m just thinking out loud. I’ve meant to comment lots of times but usually just waffle > delete. I hope I haven’t accidentally offended anyone – I’d be interested to hear perspectives on this, as it pops up in my mind quite often when the topic of drinking comes up on American podcasts…

Ps. Elizabeth; I think I’ve chuntered for long enough, but I want to tell you about the conversation my husband Graham and I had about you and Andy after he listened to Totally Married for the first time yesterday. I think it’ll cheer you up – re your insecurities on the episode! Not that our opinion means much, but it’s nice to hear good feedback sometimes. Should I post it here or email? Graham wants to ask Andy about music stuff as well.

Writer-Inner says:

Thank you to Elizabeth and Andy for addressing my question about my boyfriend’s drinking. It’s been a difficult few months trying to sort this out. I did want to clarify one thing, which is that we are 26 and 27 years old. I know the fact that I’m still in college may have thrown off your estimation. We are young but we’re not THAT young. A few things have changed since I wrote in. Luckily, he is not defensive (to answer Mic’s question) when I confront him about it. He has a strong sense that what he is doing is not good or healthy. I think Andy and Elizabeth pretty much nailed it on the head when you began to talk about being unsatisfied in your current life station and using alcohol as a coping mechanism. Even though he has multiple degrees he still has no clue what he’s going to do with them. The sommelier thing was something that was offered to him and he decided he would explore it but, especially considering recent circumstances, he is not necessarily set on doing that long term. Basically, we both have a lot of figuring out to do.

I still haven’t made the decision to end the relationship. Mostly because he’s shown genuine remorse and has been actively taking steps to correct the behavior such as seeing a regular therapist. He’s even been to a few AA meetings recently but he’s not sure that they’re right for him. He has also been applying to non-restaurant jobs, which will hopefully work out for him. I’m still uneasy about things because these revelations are still fairly recent and there is always the possibility of this happening again. It more than likely will but in the meantime we’re just taking it one day at a time… see what I did there?

Anyway, it was so nice to hear what you guys had to say. It felt very honest and considerate. I don’t know quite how to express it without it sounding super corny but it just felt really nice to be heard by someone and then get to listen to a genuine, thoughtful reaction. I just really appreciated it. And, I guess, for now I’m going to “sign up for it” as long as he’s serious about getting this behavior under control.

Thanks again,

B

PS-Elizabeth I’m not at all offended by what you said about overreacting to alcohol because of my family’s issues. I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s OVERreacting but it is absolutely true that I have a lot of hang ups when it comes to that sort of stuff… I just wanted to put that out there for your peace of mind.

Jason says:

Hey hey.
I am an alcoholic. Over three years sober at this point. Woot woot!I was an alcoholic who always kinda wanted to be one and knew I was one one I crossed the line. Anyway.
The girls bf might not have a problem now but it doesn’t take long before you need that drink every morning just to feel right. I would say to the young lady have a talk with the bloke. It won’t hurt and it shows you care.
I am not in any kind of program. I don’t like the idea of sitting around and talking about booze for an hour, I just had enough and stopped. That said I know those programs can work and I believe the lady should check out an al anon meeting or talk to a drug and alcohol counselor. Again it doesn’t take long for the change to happen. Best of luck to the young lady.
I’m only 30 and spent more than half of my twenties drunk. It was not a way to live and would have killed me. I would rather no one else live like that. At the very least talk it out.

Love the shows you two. Can’t wait for the next one!

Liz says:

Elizabeth,
I’m searching for how to click on the Amazon link and give you guys some free money, but I can’t find it! Please advise us all on where to click to get you the dough. I buy a buttload of stuff on Amazon, so Baby Oprah will probably go to college on just your kickbacks from me alone (jk, but not by a lot).
Love from Iowa!

Amie says:

I am not a mom, but I can’t wait for totally mommy because I like hearing what you have to say about all kinds of topics! Best of luck, you’ll do great!!! :)

christine says:

Elizabeth & Andy: I thought your discussion of alcohol use was really interesting, nuanced, and sensitive to people’s different experiences. That’s exactly the reason I love this show.

I don’t have much to add to the discussion. B– glad to hear the update. Whatever happens, I’m rooting for good things for you!

Mic says:

p.s. – I don’t have kids and I’m really excited for Totally Baby! Love love love the pregnancy/parenting conversation and looking forward to that period in my life.

Also – some of the insecurity of possibly lower downloads and less comments on here could have been because of the holidays! lots of people don’t listen to their regular podcasts on vacation or when they are out of their regular routine. Just a thought! You guys are awesome. : )

Beth P says:

Elizabeth,

Don’t stress about your new podcasts and the “best of” lists. I listen to a LOT of podcasts and many of them are not on the lists. I think the reason for this is that I prefer podcasts from people in similar life circumstances as I have. So, I love podcasts done by professional women, moms, and female comedians. I think though that a lot of the podcast listeners are probably men and they are the ones who are being heard when the “best of” lists come out. However, you are going to reach a different market. There are a lot of women out there who would love all three of your podcasts but they don’t necessarily listen to podcasts yet. So instead of worrying about getting a market share of the podcast listeners, go after your demographic in general and get them listening! (PS, not sure how you would do this since my marketing experience is limited but I believe in your ability to figure it out. Moms are always online shopping so maybe you could partner with an online retailer (even on etsy) and do some mutual advertising??)

Ashlee says:

Great ideas! There are also a bunch of popular mom-blogs, like Bleubird for example, that I think would be great for Elizabeth to hook up with!

If you don’t mind me asking, what professional women podcasts do you listen to? Your podcast interests sound right up my alley.

Megan says:

I totally relate to how you feel Elizabeth about how inconsiderate people are to pregnant women. I would ride the train too and from work every day. The train would be packed every day when I would get on. I would stand in prefect view of everyone very pregnant and only women would stand for me.

B says:

Regarding the couple working in restaurants and the guy who may or may not have a drinking problem:

A few major notes that need addressing are (1) the fact that the girl comes from an alcoholic father predisposes her to choosing an alcoholic mate (2) in the email she stated that the guy has issues with anxiety and it seems that he is partially self medicating using alcohol. He would be better served through professional help and adjusting his mental health treatment protocol

A questions to ask to determine whether or not someone is an addict include:
(1) Are they able to stop for a long period of time without regularly wanting to start again
(2) Is it having a negative impact on other areas of their life I.e. Relationships, job, mental and physical health (seems to be in this case)

IMO this girl has every right to state her feelings that staying out until 6 makes her feel uneasy and that she’d like him to stop this behavior and seek counseling, especially if she intends on sticking with him. Her feelings are valid, regardless of her background with alcoholism.

Mandy says:

Elizabeth,
The book you reference during your feedback for the woman that got snubbed this Christmas is ‘The 5 Love Languages’, and there is a quiz on their website (http://www.5lovelanguages.com/) you can take to find out how you prefer to receive love. My sister-in-law and I tried it, and it was quite interesting. We both thought we would have a high Physical Touch score, but apparently hearing how awesome we are is most important because our Words of Affirmation were very high. Interesting stuff, but admittedly I haven’t read the book.

JC says:

Re: Jehovah’s witness gift giver. While I agree the man needs to step up, the way in which the wife should address the situation is be handled slightly differently and with care. Does this man show affection in other ways, when it is not Christmas? If so, cut him some slack. And maybe for next Christmas, take him shopping or show him exactly what you want for Christmas. Tell him that’s what you want and to buy it for you for Christmas. It may take the surprise out of openeing the present, but it sure beats not opening a gift or getting a crappy gift. Warm him up to the idea of gift giving and sometime down the road he just might surprise you.

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