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tv   Erica Barnett Quitter  CSPAN  July 19, 2020 4:55pm-6:01pm EDT

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you today by your television provider. >> booktv on c-span2 has taught nonfiction books and authors every weekend. coming up this weekend, tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on "after words", wired magazine editor and large stephen leavy discusses his book "facebook: the inside story" interview by author and financial times global business columnist at 10:00 p.m. eastern time former speaker of the house newt gingrich offers his thoughts on why president trump should be reelected with his book "trump and the american future: solving the great problems of our time". watch booktv on c-span2 tonight. >> we thank you all for tuning in. what we can describe as ãb grateful for the opportunity to
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invite virtual audiences together in dialogue even were not exactly together in space. i would especially like to thank erica and claire for helping ups keep ideas and community aloft here. the presentation will likely run 40 minutes. you can view the event on facebook or youtube to participate in q&a, directly using the app or question button on croquettes. you can enable close captions by clicking the cc button at the bottom corner. nicole anna jones with ã discussing race and journalism. congresswoman purnell it ãand naomi offering a blueprint to political actions to the next generation of women and people of color and a special live stream recording of our first podcast residency, life on the margins, this week featuring
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also make sure to visit the media library for the recent and pre-covered path. what's made possible through your support and support of your sponsors. supported by the real network foundation, true brown foundation, and ãbmost of you know townhall is a member supported organization first and foremost and i want to thank all of our members tonight. on that note hit pretty hard for the economic impacts of the pandemic. tonight's event is free to maximize access but we hope you will consider making a donation by clicking on the button at the bottom of chromecast using urls by becoming a member one final point on the economy let's be honest, if we were all gathered together in the great hall many of you would visit the signing table. local author, local bookshop,
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keep it local and maybe some of the things we loved about the city pre-epidemic might make it to the other side. i can see ãbbeginning her career as a texas observer cofounded by molly ivan. she went on to work as a reporter and news editor for the austin chronicle, seattle weekly and the stranger. she's written for a variety of local and national publications including the huffington post, seattle magazine and grits and cofounding editor of the beloved and spicy political ãb sorry for the air quotes. she helped out with addiction, housing, poverty committed end of every other medic in the gut. she is a regular guest on ko w friday's news roundup the weekend with you.
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ãb she's also an educator and university of washington specific south pacific university and other universities across the country. erica barnett's first book is called "quitter" a memoir of drinking, relapse and recovery at the subject of tonight's talk. please join me in welcoming ãb and erica c barnett. >> hello! >> hello. >> i'm so excited to be here with you. >> you ãme too. >> i will jump in and say congratulation, the book is an incredibly impressive achievement, it reads like a house on fire. as a reader, longtime fan of your work and sober person, i'm so glad this book exists. i'm honored to be here as part of your launch.
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[audio lost] >> hello everyone, dices joshua townhall, we are running into some technical issues. we will try to get the show back on track as soon as we can. give us one second. claire, are you still there? >> registry arrived. >> erica?>> i think i'm here. great. >> already, go ahead. >> erica, i'm going to kick it over to you for reading. >> thank you claire. it's such an honor that you agreed to do this and that you're going to be my interlocutor tonight. i'm such a big fan of yours as well. this is a reading from my first book "quitter" a memoir of
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drinking, relapse and recovery". let me tell you what it's like to be sober. really sober for the first time in years. it feels like seeing color for the first feels like you been looking at the world through someone else's glasses and suddenly you can make out every individual blade of grass. it feels like you have a secret superpower that nobody can see. the clarity of mind that allows you to preach insights out of the most phenomenal moments your body feel stronger than it's ever been food tastes better, desire returns at the same time, everything has an intensity that scares you a little. when you have a feeling, oh my god, how am i ever going to start paying back my debt you just have to sit with it. figure it out, wait for it to pass. when you dampen every experience with the white noise of alcohol for a decade or more, expensing world at full blast can be overwhelming. who do i need to apologize to first?how my ever going to make time for nine hours of outpatient treatment every
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week? do i really have to go to an aa meeting every slow day? why is my boss looking at me like that? did she think i've been drinking? it's been less than a month since i graduated from resident 12 sober and hopeful and excited to get back to work. my stay at rest well felt like a wake up call an important pause in a life that had been hurtling forward with no steering and faulty brakes. when i ran to that gauntlet of i'm praised arms i felt the way at a badge and born-again christians field when they emerge from the baptismal waters not just that my life was new but that it was finally mine. almost everyone had high hopes. mom, who'd been so worried when she showed up at rest 12 two weeks into my stay and told me afterwards, i'm proud of you, i know you can do this. my coworkers melissa and emily both also in recovery, initiated me into their secret lunchtime ritual of driving across town to attend a new meeting once a week. it felt almost as good as being invited to the secret after
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party. friends asked me out for seltzer waters and coffee and sent cards telling ellsbury. when we talk about sobriety or even recovery, the words are often shorthand for not drinking or not using drugs but the really overwhelming part of staying sober is it saying no to drugs or learning to avoid the proverbial people, places, and situations that induced temptation, it's figuring out how to live an unfiltered life. that's hard enough when things are going pretty much okay, how many times have you said, i need a drink, when you really mean is this day was moderately annoying. it can be damned near impossible and there's wreckage stretching out to the horizon in every direction. to recap, over the past few years of drinking i broken my mom's heart, driven away my best friends, alienated all my other friends with my erratic behavior and constant sob stories, nearly lost my job, and accumulated tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt through emergency rooms and detoxes. i was ashamed to show my face at work, overwhelmed by all the amends i felt i needed to make
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right away, to ãband scared to death that josh would continue to doubt my commitments to sobriety. or that he would be watching over my shoulder every minute ready to pounce on any sign i was locking up. i wasted so much time. i had to fix everything right away but i had absolutely no idea how to start. so i froze. i worked and went to the gym, lifted weights, worked the phones and before long i was too exhausted to keep going to outpatient therapy three next week. too exhausted to make it every ãbaa every day. aa meetings, which i attended sporadically for the past seven years, bummed me out. everybody seemed so relentlessly ãall the time. i thought found a three hour intensive intensive patients i agree to do depressing. if you sadsack losers gathered
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on couches and a dreary downtown office building watching vhs videos about relapse prevention and pitching about how much sobriety sucked before blowing into their ignition interlock devices and driving home. not more than a month went by before i fell back into drinking, not to excel the way you fall into bed with the ex-lover because you know everything been going that are going on. more like an imperceptible slide from not drinking to drinking. from militancy to self-pity to indifference to bottoms up. i was a nondrinker than i was a drinker again. simple as that. i passed the liquor aisle in the grocery store, double back, dropped a bottle of smirnov in my basket may casually, like a vegetarian pop in a tray of ground beef on top the granola bars. i wish i had a better story to tell you, one that made sense, maybe if a close relative had died or lost my job or been evicted, my relapse would have been justified. some alcoholics refer to events like this as reservations.
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if my mom dies that i will drink, if my husband leaves me, if i go eternal illness but i don't have a good reason or any reason at all. normal people with alcoholics relapse the way i did and wonder, what made you take that first drink? for me the answer was always, nothing in particular. one minute you're a sober person in recovery, the next you are telling yourself everybody else does it, why can't i? i learned so much, i will manage at this time. maybe you don't even think about it all. the selected amnesia of the chronic relapse or is a force of nature no matter how many bad things happen or how many times we say never again and mean it. we forget all of it the instant we have a new lookup as we walked past the liquor store. relapse is never a conscious decision.more of an active not deciding. if it's true as many addiction researchers have argued that people who suffer from addiction and rest emotionally when they first began to using substances. ãb
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i left rehab with the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old and a sense of vulnerability. not that i didn't remember what happened the last time i drank, or hear the warning i learned to repeat in rehab, the before you take the first drink, play the tape forward. i did, it's just that there was a louder voice in my head saying, you know how to handle it, it will be different this time. rehab equips you with mantras but they can't force you to hear them. isn't it astonished ãbi woke up with my hands shaking and raced for the bathroom to retch into the toilet bowl. right away a magical thinking set income on the way to work i grabbed another bottle to get rid of the tremors, i thought, by 3:00 p.m. i was peering over the edge of the same familiar pit. in meetings old-timers say you don't have to drink, even if you want to come up but the
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fact is, most of us do drink again. our brains take relapse practically inevitable. even after physical withdrawal and the fuzzy thinking of early sobriety cited her brain wouldn't stop whispering. wouldn't this be better with a drink? dependents doesn't just make you know how it person's brain less capable of experiencing pleasure or even maintaining equilibrium without a steady supply of spirits. it also supplies long-lasting pathways between neurons that cause the brain to strongly associate certain mental states, depression, loneliness, excitement, guilt, or experiences, with an overwhelming urge to drink. every time i relapsed and went to withdrawal the links got stronger and stronger, making it more likely out relapse again. we don't talk about the high failure rates of residential treatments. failure in this case meaning that people don't stay sober after they leave but that rate is important and something people should be armed with before they decide to spend
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tens of thousands of dollars on what may be a little more than a 28 day dry out. here are the numbers, for in six alcoholics who enter residential treatment stick it out until the end and of those about half will relapse within the first year of leaving treatment. over four years, 90% of people who go to treatment will start tricking again although many will eventually quit. yet treatment centers focus on is entirely on prevention and nothing to do about relapse when it occurs. they teach you to halt when you feel like drinking, harmonica sense for hungry, angry, lonely or tired. conditions that can proceed relapse. they teach you to practice dreams was sent diet, rest, exercise, acceptance, meditation and schedule. they teach you the tools of rational and emotive therapy, which itself a subset of cognitive behavioral therapy or cbc. to having trouble keeping track of all these acronyms, imagine how hard it is for fuzz brained alcoholic in early sobriety. i created a card in my wallet i carried a card in my wallet for
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months to keep them all straight. in early sobriety your brain is still putting itself back together during a process called ãbbetter known by its own cute acronym, pause. it can last for more than two years. the first few weeks of sobriety when i could barely remember the brush my teeth twice a day in my brain was a soft pliable sponge full of holes large enough to stick a finger through. i never found out how long it would take me to get through this phase, before i could get there he went back through the revolving door.>> thank you. that should give people some idea of the nature of the book. the quality of clarity, honesty, immediacy, and the way that erica weaves recording and research in with her own personal story. it's really quite astonishing. she makes it seem easy thank you. i wanted to start by asking if
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you could give the people in the audience, since the book is not out yet and will be out on july 7 and you can buy preorder from elliott bay. since the book is not out yet i was wondering if you could give the audience an overview, a macro idea of your drinking story, what that looked like, what the timeframe was. >> sure. i started drinking pretty young, like i think a lot of people who become heavy drinkers later in life do. but i didn't really drink much when i was in college. i was a good kid ". i didn't drink in early adulthood. the bearded talk about in the book is a period of about 10 years or so from basically my early 30s to my late 30s. i was here in seattle, i was
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working and described a lot of the places i worked, it was sort of my work with a stranger through public cola. i didn't mention this in that particular expert because it was about the first time i went to rehab but i got fired from my job at public cola and got sober shortly after that so that was about 5.5 years ago. we are talking about a decade of the time. >> got it. that's helpful to have that out there about what happened. one of the things astonishing about the book and we talked about this a little bit before is that it's a so-called ugly drunk story. these are some tough stories in here. i feel like that's really an
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contrast with most recovery stories we see from women. women's memoirs of alcoholism tend to forefront the whole idea of, i'm high functioning, and keeping it together but i'm a drunk. i can only think of a couple exceptions to this rule. notable one being ãbif you read her. my questions are to start with, why do you think that is? why do you think those are the stories that get told and/or published? >> i think there is such a taboo still about admitting that you are a messy drunk or ugly drunk or problematic person or just like a piece of crap. i thought of myself, even when i was still drinking, maybe especially then, as kind of a dirt bag drunk because there were some early discussion of the book cover being a glass of
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wine and my reaction to that was like, i never drink from a glass.a drink from the bottle. that's the kind of drinker i am. as a woman i think it's very uncomfortable for people to think about women being that way. we can think of all kinds of examples of men being that way. the guy on the bus drinking from a paper bag. all the stereotypes. even like the ones that we actually like thompson somebody i worship you as a kid. that's also a messy drinker and drug user. i think women are supposed to be tidy and we are supposed to be careful and i think chris was to keep our problems secret and small. my problem was not small and it certainly by the end was not secret either. >> i think one thing that's happening, we will talk more about this later, in the dialogue around women and
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drinking right now, is this idea, i'm going off what you just said.this idea that we need to push against the stereotype of the wino with the brown paper bag. because alcoholism can look a lot of different ways. it can look like the bottle of wine you drink after putting your kids to bed. it's important to tell those stories but that's not every woman's story. the fact that that is getting represented as the base of female alcoholism, your book pushes against that. this is where addiction can end up. and it's scary and raw and real. you think that's fair? >> i think it's not just this is where it can end up but that this is where it can end up for women too. i think there is a very upper-middle-class white aesthetic to the new acceptance of certain kind of woman drinker. this is not a book about drinking per se but ãbwhen
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you mentioned wrote a wonderful book about being an absolute mess not in like a hot fun way. i didn't read her book and think, i did think she was cool because she had so much cooler than me but i also was just like, wow, i relate to this in the habit related to many addiction memoirs because they do tell a story that takes an arc and then everything is okay. my story is like arc after arc after arc. >> this is an aside popping into my head as i think about especially good or well-known books about drinking and women. including some people like sarah have a lot or carolyn matt. one thing that's really unusual about your book is that you stay with it at every step. what often happens with drinking ã >> calling it relentless.
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in fact, let's jump ahead. the book not only do you stay with it, you stay with it in scene. you don't start to generalize about what's happening, you take us through moment after moment after moment, which is just from a writing point of view pretty astonishing and we will talk more about the content of the book that i want to acknowledge the structure and the writing of the book. it's completist, exhaustive, and at times exhausting. i mean that in a good way.we feel your weariness and inability to escape. we can't escape with you you hold us in the story in a way that's quite unusual. can you talk about the decisions you made about how to structure the book? especially the length of the book, it's quite big. >> it's funny you say that because the original manuscript i turned in, i don't know what we eventually got to but i think it's under 100,000 now. i think the manuscript i turned and was under 20 ãb125ä35.
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we cut so much from this book. i have this amazing editor that was able to get to the heart of like when i was being repetitive and when i was being a little too relentless and needed to let the reader take a breath. i wanted to be very thorough about telling the various points when i had what you would consider to be in a traditional narrative, rock-bottom. the book kind of starts with one of those and then comes back to it later. there are many in between. it happens over and over again. that's what it was like. it was like there is no such thing as a wake-up call. maybe there is for some people, but for me it was important to tell that story of, look, you don't just hit rock bottom and then get it. it's not like, there is no cause and effect you can find
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in any alcoholic who stays sober. if you want to tell that story after the fact and say, i quit and therefore the worst thing that happened before i quit was my walk ãrock-bottom. that's fine, you do you. i think it's an x defect of justification or way of like creating narrative and explaining why, how you were able to get sober. for me this is my exit fecteau way of explaining i didn't get it until i just did. >> that's really helpful. i think first i want to acknowledge on the writing part of it i want to acknowledge what you said about repetition. i think this is something really interesting in writing life stories, writing memoir. when you really get at honestly lived experience. repetition is kind of both bug and feature. when we make bad decisions it
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doesn't matter if you make one bad decision, what matters if you make bad decisions starting at 14 and going to 44, whatever it is. that to me is what's creates a narrative problem because how do you represent that honestly and yet not make it inert for the reader. which i feel like you really achieved. >> thank you. [laughter] >> since you brought up rock-bottom, i want to talk about's kind of at the heart of what's going on in this book content wise. you are pushing against certain received narratives in drinking stories like rock-bottom, how the rehabilitation industry works and what it means to relapse. these are all ideas you are working with. a lot of what you are dealing with is this narrative that rock-bottom needs to be
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interrogated. can you talk about that and how you seen it work for other people as well? >> i think that when you think of yourself as having hit rock bottom and you think of yourself as having learned a lesson from that. it makes it really really impossible to then relapse ãb i'm not saying you should feel okay about relapsing but it makes it impossible to look at that experience and fit it into the story you told yourself about what the alcoholic or the drug addict is. so if i got fired from my job and evicted from my house, i would probably think, and my husband left me, i don't have a husband, this is hypothetical. there's all these terrible milestones we think of, if all that happened and then i got sober and then relapse, what is my problem? it must be a me problem. it must be something that i'm
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failing to fit into the story as the story doesn't fit. i think that actually does damage to people and i think that because relapse is so incredibly common, as i was describing an expert, it just sets us up for disappointment but also sets us up for failure because we don't have the tools we need because we don't think we need the tools. i thought that when i left rehab for the first time. i thought, none of these people are going to get it but i am. that could not have been further from the truth. >> so many questions. what's interesting is i just open the book and was leafing through and we are having the technical issues. i happen to opened it to this page which is germane to what you just said. you're talking about our friend
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josh. >> hi josh. >> hi josh. he said, he knew something about me i still wasn't willing to acknowledge about myself. i will turn anything into an intellectual exercise even my own wife. do you think your intellectualism and intelligence kept you stuck in your loop? he thought he had it figured out. >> i think one of the things, one of the characteristics ãb i don't want to talk about myself on that front i'm trying to deflect a little bit to say this is kind of universal truth i found with people who relapse a lot is like they over intellectualize everything. for me i thought, especially when i was in treatment and doing outpatient kimonos doing all these different things and going to therapy, i thought i could talk myself through it and i thought like, if i just fully and thoroughly understand every aspect of this, i can do the things that are required,
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choose the things according to me are not required because i'm smarter and better than that and then it would work. the funny thing is, the thing that ended up working, a combination of everything i had done up to this point. the last thing i tried was aa. it's not a dumb system but it's a system that literally anybody can just do. you just plug yourself in and decide not to reject things. it could've been something other than aa that did it but i just decided to stop rejecting things and stop making intellectual arguments for why you didn't need to do things. >> i feel like that's a theme that's touched on at length in the leslie jamison book that
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recovering is this idea of a certain kind of alcoholic who's very special.preoccupied with their own specialness and that aa with its really structured approach brings you to your own ordinary. >> i think one of the things that when i was in treatment i got basically my entire medical file after the fact as part of the reporting process for writing the book and one of the things that just capping up over and over again was intellectualizing, intellectualizing. i think that's just like, it was almost like to check the box it so common i think that intellectualizing, unfortunately, because i love it and i want to do it to everything i want to construct an argument around everything but it doesn't work for sobriety. it just doesn't. i've never seen anybody get sober by talking themselves out of drinking. [laughter]
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>> was aa part of your life now? >> to an extent. to a much lesser extent than it was at first. aa is like, it was really like a lifeboat for me. as you ãbas i got a little more sobriety under my belt and did it need that kind of day today, going to a meeting every day. that's the thing i did at first. i will say, even when i'm not doing things like going to meetings and working the steps of aa, there's so much of it i just integrated into my life. just kind of pausing and being grateful and doing all of that tv stuff ãbi was told we could swear. [laughter] sorry if my parents are watching. all the cheesy stuff they tell
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you to do. i integrated into my life in a way that's really organic. i had a completely different attitude and outlook on life now than i did even when i was first getting sober. >> and going to take it down to basics for a second because i don't know how many questions we are going to end up getting and i feel like there's a couple of important things to say. there's 100 people people feel ãbthose 150 people listening to this now if some might think they might be trying to quit drinking or relapsing are considering it. i guess just on a basic human level, is there anything you can say to people in early sobriety? i know i clung to any word i could get i think the thing that helped me was just knowing, of course like a
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million aa things are coming to me, one is one day at a time that's one of the things i clung to very early in it. the other thing is, what i found over time is that this is not universal necessarily for everyone. things got very different very fast. your life isn't going to get better is just getting it different. if you wait a little bit and say, i'm going to make it to this point and i'm not going to drink until this point and see what happens. and keep seeing what happens. i think what you'll find is that in addition to all the health benefits of not drinking especially if you are a heavy drinker like i was, your brain will come back.
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that is such a gift. for me i talked about pause. it's totally true. it took my brain a good year to really like men do it self and recuperate to the four point i felt like i was back at baseline. it such a gift to see that happening. if you don't stick with it, you're robbing yourself of that experience. that's early sobriety. early sobriety is getting through the first 60 days and feeling a little better every day. i couldn't do it for a long time.the other thing is, if you relapse, i do think that counting days as pernicious and makes a lot of people feel like failures. you feel the compulsion to crawl back into whatever program you are in and say, i
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messed up, i was that 37 days and i'm at zero. i think it's a really problematic and toxic way of thinking about that because you didn't lose that time. you had whatever experiences you had during that time and learn something from it. whether you realize it or not, you absolutely learned from however many days you were able to make it and you can just start over it's a new day. >> thank you for speaking to that. while we are talking about things pernicious and problematic can you talk a little bit about your thoughts about the rehab industry? i think you call it the alcoholism industry. >> as a treatment industrial complex. i went to treatment tryce, i went to detox a couple times. ......
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erica : and health insurance so again from that ended up being like less than thousand dollars which is a large. but it wasn't ultimately the end of the world. i paid it off. but the thing is, what they teach you. just going in for a treatment. one of the things that they treat you and everything will aspect of it is that you don't know how to manage her own life. that you essentially are need to remain help was preventing or your phone, the way to communicate with the outside world pretty can have a computer. our outside reading materials. they make you do chores. and with the tell you about that is that you don't know how to be responsible for anything. i don't think that is fair.
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and especially don't think it is fair to tell women that because women no matter how screwed up we are or how little were taken care of. we ten to fill for other people. and a tremendous weight of guilt and shame when we are not able to be there for other people. i don't have kids. so i can imagine with that kind of burden feels like when you feel like you're failing. i definitely felt like i went into rehab with this amazing shame. and all they did was compounded. like i didn't know how to do anything. and also i think if you to rehab more than twice. it is giving the money. it did in one case, saved my life rated because of its detox
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there. alcohol withdrawal can be deadly. and detox is incredibly important. so is very important to me. i don't know taking you out of the world for 28 days and then just dropping you back in the world is very effective. and i'm teaching you anything about relapse. i didn't learn any events. i don't think that it's an effective way to deal with a deadly brain disease. host: you brought up the idea of shame. that's a compounding guilt and shame that created and rehab, something that you experienced. and when we were speaking on the phone earlier this week. your talk about the experience of putting what you had called ugliness out in the world. and you said you don't feel shame that you do feel guilt about your story.
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can you talk about shame and putting shame behind you. in your relationship that were to guess. erica : i think i wanted the differences between guilt and shame. because shame is something, will guilt is something that you feel because of other people. because you feel an obligation to make things right. and i think guilt is a healthy emotion. it causes us to behave better read where shame is something that you do to yourself read it is all inside of your own head. by the time i wrote this book, i think it had gotten beyond a lot of the shame. some of the questions i heard a lot is was a really hard to talk about this without episode. it was and it wasn't. it was not as hard as you would think. because i had already talked about so much with my sponsor and others in my life.
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i had time to a parents. i apologize. for that i was able to not feel shame about a lot of the stuff. some of the stuff was a really public a well-known foot level probably led to the senate that it was pretty because i just thought that i would be very to shame for the rest of my life. it was terrifying and horrible at the time when things would become public about my behavior. now i feel absolutely unafraid of talking about the experiences i went through. because first of all, have a disease. in a deadly addiction is a type of disease. i have made my peace in my amends for people that i of the two.
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it is an ongoing process for your whole life. it because you're always throwing up. everybody is always having to's grow up and saying you're sorry. the storm i can't walk into a talk about what i have done. and say yes, that was me i did that. and i think it is very freeing. you talk about early sobriety. for three - four years and start doing some of that internal work that you need to do you'll feel great. like i can be angry and i can get over it. but shame, gets into your dreams, your relationships with people. it is so toxic. part of writing this book was to sort of say, look. all of this happened and is what happened to you this bad. no, will guess what. you can get over it.
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[laughter]. i got past all of this and i didn't have to leave seattle and go live in antarctica. i'm not buried. people are horrible to me on a line with my experiences with addiction even now. i think that is very sad. i don't take it personally anymore. host: let's open this up to questions here just a minute. betsy mary have a question. go ahead and type in your question of the bottom of the screen and i will go through them on your behalf. once we gather a few more. it's really interesting that people recognizing your struggles of an action against you at this moment. if you do a lot of are politically adjacent. insane people using that against you. it is too bad but it's
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definitely more about than the new. my question is that i wanted to ask was you have been doing such incredible work. you are always doing great department this month has been really visible. can you talk about what changed in your work when to stop drinking. erica : everything changed. it immediately when i stopped drinking. i do not have a job so i have a lot of time kinda think about what i wanted to do next. that's not exactly the question you asked me and i will get to that. one other great gift having a really bad addiction and an experience without. is that if you can get through it and if you can stay sober, increase you in a way that i think that is totally unexpected for me.
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because i had worked at this job, essentially the same job from the time i was 19 years old. until i was 37 or whenever it was that i got fired. and that's all i ever wanted to do the most important thing in the world was reporting. i was my job and my job was me. so when i lost my job, i felt like i lost everything. i don't know who i am anymore. and i have no identity read so there's that . money got past that, i realized that i could do absolutely anything i wanted. and that was incredibly freeing rated so started my blog rated and now it is like a self-sustaining things that i do full time. so what i'm picking subject to cover, it is partly, well it's definitely reader interest. if i had no interest at all but it would be sustainable. but i cover addiction a lot.
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i cover homelessness a lot. and issues that affect people that are vulnerable. and for reasons that may not be immediately perceptible. particularly with people experiencing homelessness. i think people have a lot of theories about what causes it. a lot of them are partially right and a lot of them are stupid or did suffer me, when you are talking about people who really bagel mental health struggles and struggles with addiction which is very prevalent amongst people who are homeless. i feel that it could've been me. but for a lot of privilege. and another thing that run through my story. there's experiences on the book about driving down the freeway for something like 30 minutes.
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in a complete blackout. and waking up in a parking lot. i was on the other side of town and i was heading to the airport. i had no idea where i was. it was they arrive before smart phones. and i was thinking why am i alive. so when i look at somebody who is living in tents. it is addicted to say alcohol and heroin. i think that if i hadn't been lucky. and i didn't have a certain number of privileges that absolutely could be me. though i feel empathy for homeless people. but i think a lot of reporters health of the four reporters that i think i feel it in a different way because i truly feel like i have been there in that tent. host: yes sobriety have different totally changed my
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with a level as well. and about how great i am. it just happened it to me. because i have that experience of imagining myself in the other positions so much more freedom going to move on to audience questions. peggy asked of the opposite of what my question was. how do you feel your writing was affected by your drinking when you are drinking. what was it they were held back from. it. erica : well first of all this is something that i talk about in another chapter about writing a column. in thinking it was like the greatest thing in the world. and then waking up in the morning and looking at it. for this isn't accurate. so there is that baselevel of, and is not as good of writing is not great journalism to be
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drunk. you cannot write as well. i think i really limited my ambition. i think the idea of writing a book would've been absolutely impossible. i told myself a story that i can't really write more than 500 words because i do not have the kind of attention span. or i'm not literary. register to have these capabilities freedom just not smart enough. just don't have the focus. there were so many stories that were partly true. didn't have the focus. but i also have the capability inside me somewhere. i just thought that i was a piece of crap. the no one wants to read anything on these little items for me. i really believed that. host: it's interesting because you do come from an industry with alcohol. so do you think it that journalists are maybe operating with some of that.
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[laughter]. erica : is a really interesting question. i've never asked that question of other journalists. that would be, little evasive. but it wouldn't surprise me. because i think that alone journalists, will and you know that you tell stories about yourself based on what industry are and what you've done. i also think that if you are somebody who's barely hanging on because you drinking every night because you're hung over in the morning and liked just trying to get the facts straight in your story. and make it make sense. i know, and maybe the genworth breakdown. i'm speaking as a woman. but maybe guys, i can write the next american novel. perhaps that happens among people who just kind of think of themselves differently. but i can totally see that. it just because that was so much my experience. just feeling like i am not good at this.
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these people are all. if they think that i know what i am doing. it is what it believed. everybody has imposter syndrome. a bit of something else. host: jump to the next question. what are some tools you used to get over the regret over the time you lost when you're drinking rated. erica : i don't feel like they lost time because this is perhaps a positive spin on what those views were like. those were terrible but the fact is i would not be where i am now. it had not gone that way. so don't have any way of knowing what it would've been like had i not buses ten years or so. i find that regret, my team is very toxic emotion.
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but it's harder to explain in the way because it is true, look at that time anything, god. i could've done this and this. an example i have heard rated although i never wanted to have kids. i could've had kids. or people who have lost their kids. they did not get the time with them growing up. i think you have to will the best way to get to that regret is the same way that you get to shame. regarding addiction. i think it is talking about it. and if there is a way to make amends to the people that you have hurt. like means saying like, is there anything i can do now that would be helpful to you. and not dictating what you think that you could do for them but just asking. for me but help with the regret. and i have this really strong relief that you are who you are
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because of everything you've been through. so i don't know what i would've been like read but i do know that i probably would've spent a lot longer than i would've just told myself stories that were true. for example, unless my job as i mentioned. i thought it was the worst thing that could about actually happen to me. but it was actually one of the best things never happen to be. given the way that i felt when it happened. i was crushed. it also just takes time and perspective. host: it's interesting that the answer to these emotions i don't know printer shame and regret. that your answers to both is the same. which has to do with amends. it takes the emphasis off of the self as well.
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erica : i think a lot of recovery and a lot of recovery work and talk is about taking the emphasis off of yourself and figure out what you can do for others. which is honestly, great way to recover from all kinds of things not just addiction. host: i think it's a big theme for all of us. it's really interesting in that context. do you feel like taking one more question. let's do that. the state to martin wrap it up. another great question. what are your thoughts about the alcohol industries influence on our culture. in other issues. erica : that is right question. i think that part of the reason we do not talk about relapse and the reason we don't talk about alcohol addiction is because of the industry is just an every
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single aspect of life. like i have a pile of magazines over here. everyone is just full of ads. in rescues for breaks and things of god. here walking to the grocery store. it is like screaming interface. policy wise, i would like to see more regulation on alcohol advertisements and higher taxes because it does in fact reduce the amount of people with a break. i don't know that will ever get to the point. it's funny because we have like these drugs it would make legal. like heroin. i don't think that should be legal. and we have drugs that would make extra extralegal like you're really supposed to be expensive bring them and if you don't, something wrong with you. like alcohol. it used to be cigarettes as well. i think we can make a cultural shift.
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it is possible. but were not headed in that direction right now especially florentine for the messages have happy hour with your friends at 4:00 o'clock somewhere. people feel this tremendous pressure to drink. this is one way you can have fun at least when you're stuck inside. host: i did want to bring that up. he mentioned earlier this idea of reservations like people having certain reasons that they could to relapse. i feel like in this moment in covid-19 there's constantly people coming up with justified relapse with sort of surrounded with people talking on social media about how people need to be again. can you talk a little bit about how we use situations to justify
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our drinking. erica : while i certainly did. i do think there is a sense in which i was reading on my phone the other day. i did treat about this. the lead question was somebody is having a dry wedding. and how i feel. the answer was bring a blast. it just so everywhere. i wish i could make it stop. the fact is the only reasons that we think the drinking is to get the way gift with three things and couple things. some running . or weed or whatever. because it is just constantly push darkness.
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host: back to jean's question right. this idea that you are freely drinking. that is their own choice. of course you are. those are choices you're making. but there's this trillion dollar industry making sure that you are doing this. and that you are, a capitalist force. choosing to bring . speech of whenever twos are choices in a capitalistic way. i give think you have free will all you want. but there's this capitalism over the head at all times. host: nowhere more than your glass of wine. host: one more question from deanne. this has to do with the question of what you would like very open ended. how long have you been playing. did you use other drugs. erica : i thought.
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[silence]. >> this is josh. i can still hear you erica. hopefully we can have clarity. but go right ahead. host: josh can you hear me. >> yes you will still coming through fine. but erica will go ahead and respond. erica : while the rate for claire, i started drinking when it's about 13. i was using other drugs then. in high school, i did a lot of acid and i did weed. pretty minor stuff. in a scale of things . i didn't really drink until i was in my 30s, heavily. and i didn't really do a lot of other drugs either. drinking was really my main
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thing once i really started. i have been sober for five and half years. my sobriety date is february 4th, 2015. and i have been writing basically forever. i started writing professionally when i was about 18 or 19 years old in college. i did internships back in the days when internships were thing. but you did not get technically paid for. i've been doing it ever since. as an intern, i started writing there. and menon 2009 camp without completely online platforms. and then more than 20 years.
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host: in and out. technology, is dipping out. >> erica, any final words . speech of just thank you so much for hosting this. i'm really glad we can get past our technical difficulties, sort of. thank you for everybody who is tweeting in on youtube and the podcasts. and facebook. >> thank you everybody. my apologies for starting latent thank you for bearing with us. thank you again for tuning in this evening. anna thanks to erica and claire for being here. if you enjoyed this meant, you can find many more like this in a website. called seattle .org pretty and we hope that you'll consider making a donation. your support will allow us to continue to having events just like this one. if you're interested in pre- ordering a copy.
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and it will be out july 7th, you can use the link on this lifetime to purchase three friends at the company. and finally, thank you again for being here and we hope you have a great evening read. >> here are some of the best selling audiobooks according to audible. topping blesses president trump's niece mary trump's critical look at the president and the trump family. too much and never enough. that is followed by journalist james nester's examination of the science behind how we rate. and the expiration of the challenges of discussing race in america. then the argue of americans must choose to be antiracist and work towards building a more equitable society and how to be an anti- racist . and wrapping up our look at some of the best selling nonfiction audiobooks, cording to audible, activist number contained.
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some of these authors have appeared on book tv and you can watch them online, during another program hosted by haymarket books, city university of new york professor luke wilson gilmore offered her thoughts on ending mass incarceration in the u.s. here's a portion of her talk. >> in los angeles county, decades ago the acl you brought it conditions of confinement case against the county for the horrendous conditions in the jail. over the years, the aclu was in charge of taking care and keeping an eye and with the county did to remedy the horrific conditions. about 18 years ago, the acl view
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invited a few abolitionists to talk to them about something that they had never imagined which was perhaps the way of the remedy of the problem was with the la county jail was not to have a jail vessel. other than to build better jail. slowly but surely this way of understanding became essential to the struggle in los angeles county over those jails. sixteen years later, abolitionists who join forces with the forces of reform managed to persuade the los angeles county board of supervisors. one of the biggest governments by number of people in the united states, not to build new jails. rather to put the millions of dollars that would've gone into
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that into housing healthcare and other projects. so abolitionists is present. it is how we connect with form, from and multiply organizations that have the capacity to lift the movement. i learned many years ago that artwork, we who are the talking heads sometimes and skype, our main work is to lift the movement. not to leave it but to lift it. by showing how anti- domestic violence people, are central to the formation of evolution. as a movement the mutual aid organizations which are now flourishing everywhere because of the emergency of covid-19.
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the unions, food and healthcare, the nurses, building trades, all of these organizations have become in one way or another connected with the movement in this direction of evolution because evolution is about abolishing the conditions under which prison became the solution to problems rather than abolishing the building that we call prisons. >> to watch the rest of this program, visit search ruth wilson gilmore. starting out with art summer series that features programs for well-known authors from our archives. tonight will listen to problems with the author of seven books, almost 30 years, journalist in the washington post. in 2006, he discusses his biography of the late congressman adam clayton


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