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Totally Married Podcast

Episode 147

Welp if you are looking for a podcast that covers porn, poop, and jealousy plus a lot of other terrible and horrible things, look no further! Elizabeth and Andy discuss all of the above plus listener questions about finding a job for your heart as opposed to your bank account, ditching a friend who does shitty stuff and is toxic, and how to deal with jealousy that’s due to an old relationship with a jerk. Enjoy!


Diane says:

I just really want to send my sympathy and empathy to the writer-inner who is looking after her niece. What a horrible trauma for both of you. I know you’re trying hard to be strong for her, but I think you need to let yourself cry, too, and even let her see you cry — it can be worse as a child when people try to pretend they’re OK when they’re not.
I don’t know if you’d consider “alternative” treatments at all, but EMDR has had some good results with PTSD, and there’s a charitable group working with families in Newtown using EFT, which has also been used to help vets and survivors of genocide. The advantage of those approaches as opposed to talking therapy is that you don’t have to relive the trauma to feel some relief; although they can be used with traditional therapy, too.
Most of all, I hope you both find some way through this tragedy to a more peaceful future, I’ll be thinking of you. xo

Nic says:

Guys, worry not – the Bela Karolyi picture you guy were talking about is the first picture that comes up when you google him with gymnasts, BUT those girls are all actresses, not even gymnasts. The girl in black is a 28 year old actress.

Victoria says:

The picture is from a programme called make it or break it. I think all the girls were early twenties in the picture so Andy shouldn’t worry!

Jillian says:

Next time Andy is with the band he should ask to see the phone for a sec and then say he thought he left a contact/note on it that he needed and then just delete the search history himself without anyone being the wiser.

O-Shen Christ says:

I believe this won’t work since they’re already out on tour but he could have them do a soft reset which would erase the browser history but honestly he shouldn’t be worried about it every guy surfs porn it’s natural no guilt ever! No woman could ever understand The sex drive a man has it’s what keeps the race going!

Debi says:

Dear writer-inner with the neice,

You have my sincere sympathy. My heart breaks for what you are going through. My husband and I went through a similar situation years ago, and it seemed very bleak. In our situation, my husband and I took custody of his younger sister (15 at the time) after her mother put her in a mental hospital to keep her away from her father. While my husband’s sister was in the hospital her mother committed suicide. Her father was still alive, but she had been poisoned against him for years. We could not get her out of the hospital prior to her mom’s funeral, and she missed it. She was grieving, felt abandoned, and was inconsolable. She was already in therapy, and that continued . . . but it didn’t seem to be helping. A little background because the next part might seem confusing. My husband and his sister share a biological father, but not mother. My husband was put up for adoption as a newborn, and found his biological parents in his late 20’s. His adoptive father died when he was 19.

There were 2 things that broke through with her: 1. My husband cried with her. He told her about losing his father, and it was something they could share. They grieved together. Your niece might need to hear that you miss your sister too, and how it makes you feel. 2. MOST IMPORTANTLY – We got her into a group therapy program for kids dealing with loss. There were kids her age, and they were all dealing with the same things. She made huge strides after she started attending these group sessions. The program we used was Ele’s Place (in Michigan), but there are many programs across the country. She may need more than a normal therapist can provide, these programs can refer you to therapists that deal specifically with loss. She didn’t participate in the group for quite a while (she would just sit there and stare at the wall), but eventually the other kids broke through in a way that we couldn’t. She is now 19, and still struggles with the loss of her mom . . . but she now has the tools to deal with her feelings.

Kudos to you for taking this on at 23, be gentle with yourself.

Ally says:

One of my friends who lost her mom when she was young is very involved in a camp for children (ages 7-17) who are dealing with the loss of a parent or someone close to them. They have different camps and sessions year-round across the US. You can find out more about Comfort Zone Camp here:

Best of luck!

Kat says:

Lots of love to the writer-inner who is caring for her grieving niece. Your story reminded me of the HBO documentary “One Last Hug,” chronicling a few days at Camp Erin, a grief camp for children with various locations. Maybe grief camp would be a great option for your niece to interact with other children her age who are suffering from horrible loss.

I do hope that you are seeking counseling yourself, both to cope with your grief, and to help you with the identity shift from Aunt to Guardian. If your niece is really unable to eat, bathe, etc., it’s possible that inpatient care could help with her PTSD, but her therapist can help with that difficult decision.

I truly hope that as you both begin to heal and grow together as a new family unit, the bond between you will become something very strong and special. She is so lucky to have a loving aunt who, being closer in age to her, will have a unique ability to guide her through some of the obstacles she will tackle in her coming teenage years and young adulthood.

Maybe the organization Grandparents as Parents could offer some good resources for you? They have support groups and other things to help people raising their relatives’ children.

squashblossom says:

There was a similar letter in to Carolyn Hax’s advice column recently, except with a 13-year-old nephew whose parents had both died and the (uncle/aunt? I forget) had become the guardian. is the article, she gives good advice (as always) and she also points to this resource:

Being responsible for a child (and a 12-year-old is still most definitely a child, even if she has been through things no 12-year-old should) is fucking hard even under best circumstances, especially if it’s something where you have no parenting experience and suddenly you’re responsible for this other person. I have been there too, and I wish I was more kind and gentle with myself while I was learning the ropes (and am still learning!). I think it would absolutely be beneficial for the writer-inner to get some counseling herself, possibly even social services or even friends to help, because it’s even harder to do it on your own.

And for the girl, if the therapy isn’t working she needs a new therapist, and one with a PROVEN record of helping grieving children, and a proven record with PTSD, which is very likely what she has. She’ll get through it. Humans are so resilient, it’s astonishing. And one day, whether it’s soon or whether it’s when she’s in her 20s, she’ll say to herself, “wow, I am lucky I had such a supportive and amazing aunt.”

Lindsey says:

For gifts and managed finances- you can always purchase a prepaid MasterCard or Visa at the grocery store. This way at least he can’t see where the present is from.

If you have an agreed upon gift amount it’s the perfect solution. If you want to buy something big- add a $50 gift card to your groceries each week for a month so you can surprise him.

Reese says:

RE: Removing Pants

I remember as a kid, when I got home from school, the first thing I did was take of my school clothes and putting on a pair of shorts to wear around the house or my “play clothes” for outdoor activities. As an adult, the first thing I do when I get home from work is to take of my pants and just be in underwear or shorts. My partner does the same thing as well as my friends — so I thought it was the norm.

Megan says:

Agreed! I come home and go pantsless, UNLESS it is very cold. But being in just a tshirt and panties is the best.

Shannon says:

sort of RE: the poop talk in this episode:

I just wanted to call back to the episode where you guys talked about your housekeeper walking Ruby and coming back saying “She pooped!” in a way that you guys found yourself repeating it to each other. This cracked me up so much that I repeated it to my boyfriend, and it is still something we say almost daily about our new (rescued) puppy. Just wanted to share that since it makes me smile almost every day. 🙂

Obligatory picture of my dog, Franny

Hannah says:

The writer inner from the midwest who wanted to work for a rescue organization should check out the Animal Rescue League of Iowa. They are an amazing rescue organization and are always expanding and looking to hire new people. Good luck!

Erin says:

Perhaps the company she currently works for does pro-bono work, or she could talk to get boss about doing some design work for free for a rescue charity? That way she could build up some networks/connections before leaving that role.

Also, there is lots of demand for communications professionals in not for profits, so she could augment her design skills with other marketing & communications training.

Sarah says:

About the girl who has the toxic friend who she wants to cut out, I’m with Andy. My best friend from childhood was making horrible decisions with drugs and men and I tried to be supportive to her but after so long it became tiresome and I just quit talking to her. I just quit answering her calls and the friendship just ceased to exist. She has since received help and we talk a little bit and I have seen her once. The thing that made us friends so many years ago disappeared LONG before the friendship was over and it took me a long time to realize it.

The writer-inner has been more supportive than any friend should have to be. She owes this friend nothing. Just cut it off. And also maybe contact social services anonymously for the sake of the kids.

Jack says:

Let’s see. The long time friend is abusive to her kids, knowingly spreads STD’s around to strangers which, since you said she was only recently divorced, I assume means she cheated on her husband, and is currently sleeping with her friends husband for money?
Yeah, I thinks it’s safe to say you can move on from this person – guilt free!

Darcy says:

Dear 23 year old with the niece,

Elizabeth gave you great advice about being gentle with yourself. You have to keep in mind that you shouldn’t expect yourself at 23 to have the tool box to help your niece. You have love and compassion and empathy for her for sure but you don’t have the life experience to figure out the rest!

So I’ll be a 52 year old mom of three and give you a little learned wisdom:

We recently had a 14 year old friend of my daughter’s living with us because her family situation blew up. She had witnessed a lot of domestic violence, drug use, and been emotionally abused her whole life. She developed survival instincts which meant she withdrew to an almost catatonic state or became almost manic as a distraction, so to a MUCH lesser degree we saw similarities to what you have described in your niece.

What I did at home was to love her, hold her when she needed to be held, listen to her if she would talk, give her space if she needed it, and reassure her when I could. I really tried to let her therapist get into the nitty gritty because I wanted to be the soft landing, not the analyzer.

Sit down at your computer and google away. There are lots of mental health resources for children. If she doesn’t have insurance there are lots of free services. I found a great agency near us that takes media-cal patients.

I also agree with what Elizabeth said about possible in-patient. My own daughter has been undergoing treatment for severe depression and has been hospitalized twice. While the inpatient unit at the hospital wasn’t the be all to end all, it was an important place to stabilize her and figure out her medication needs, which I’m going to guess your niece needs. If you call the hospitals that have adolescent psychiatric units (Google that), they have intake counselors that are very helpful with assessing your needs. It might be that hospitalization would add to her trauma, but it is worth exploring. There are also Partial Hospitalization Programs where the child goes for all day therapy but comes home at night. (Google that term to find one in your area). My daughter has been in a PHP for 5 days and is transitiong to an Intensive Outpatient Program where she will go four evenings a week so she can go to school. This will include family counseling. These programs also include consultation with a staff psychiatrist.

You’ll tire of telling your story, but there are many wonderful people to listen.

I know I’ve told you a lot, but I do have recent experience. You have a lot on your plate just maintaining life in your home, so if you can enlist anyone’s help, DO. I’ve learned more than I ever wanted to know about dealing with mental health issues in my family, but please rest assured there is help out there, there is light at the end of the tunnel, and sometimes you just have to accept an awful day and know tomorrow the sun will come up.

Lastly, do cut yourself slack for the stress you are feeling. My daughter made a marked improvement from last week to this week, and I was floored by how much relief I felt. When we’re in the vacuum of stress it’s sometimes hard to see how it’s affecting us. You need help too dear auntie. The two of you will get through this together. She is lucky to have you. I’m sure this path is nothing close to the one you thought you’d be on and getting yourself some help navigating will benefit both of you.

All the best to your and your niece for healing.
xoxo, Darcy

Lauren says:

I wanted to send positive energy to the 23 y/o writer-inner. There are no words for what you and your niece are going through. You’re doing great things and I applaud you for being so strong, selfless, and committed!As Elizabeth and many of the writer-inners have since said, take time to grieve and mourn the loss of a number of things. First and foremost, your sister but also, your previous life. It is okay to miss that and important to mourn it so you can leave it behind and approach the new one, with your niece, with great intentions and a clear mind. You both need closure! Take a trip, make a positive memory, and then start building routines for each other. My thoughts are with you as you navigate this new normal.

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