I Don't Know How You Do It

How to Be Brave with Kristina Driscoll

July 04, 2023 Jessica Fein Season 1 Episode 24
How to Be Brave with Kristina Driscoll
I Don't Know How You Do It
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I Don't Know How You Do It
How to Be Brave with Kristina Driscoll
Jul 04, 2023 Season 1 Episode 24
Jessica Fein

What happens when you're faced over and over again with choices where the decision that feels right to you isn't the "conventional" one? How do you find the courage to follow your conviction when others are likely to judge your choices?

Meet Kristina Driscoll, a woman defined by her fierce determination and unique life journey. Venturing off the conventional path, Kristina married a man 24 years her senior. Her unwavering convictions served as her north star as she navigated the challenges that followed - from becoming the caregiver to her husband with early onset Alzheimer's while raising their young son, to deciding whether to date as her husband's illness progressed. She's learned patience and resilience in the face of adversity and now shares these lessons as the host of her own podcast, She's Brave.

In this episode, you'll:

  • Discover empowering ways to care for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's.
  • Learn to navigate the daunting world of complex  decision making, finding the middle ground between instincts and expert advice.
  • Understand the vital role of self-care in caregiving, and realize the importance of involving professionals in this journey.
  • Explore the realm of unconventional choices in caregiving, learn about the courage it takes and the difference it can make.
  • Get insights on how to balance personal desires, such as love and companionship, with dedication to your role as a caregiver.

Connect with Kristina:
Facebook
Instagram
Website

Rate, Review, & Follow on Apple Podcasts

"This is my go-to podcast for inspiration and to discover new approaches to embrace the challenges in my life." If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me reach more people -- just like you -- find strategies and insights to do the things that feel undoable. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, follow the podcast. Follow now!

Sign up for my newsletter and learn more about these remarkable stories at www.jessicafeinstories.com

Order Jessica's memoir, Breath Taking: A Memoir of Family, Dreams, and Broken Genes

Music credit: Limitless by Bells

Show Notes Transcript

What happens when you're faced over and over again with choices where the decision that feels right to you isn't the "conventional" one? How do you find the courage to follow your conviction when others are likely to judge your choices?

Meet Kristina Driscoll, a woman defined by her fierce determination and unique life journey. Venturing off the conventional path, Kristina married a man 24 years her senior. Her unwavering convictions served as her north star as she navigated the challenges that followed - from becoming the caregiver to her husband with early onset Alzheimer's while raising their young son, to deciding whether to date as her husband's illness progressed. She's learned patience and resilience in the face of adversity and now shares these lessons as the host of her own podcast, She's Brave.

In this episode, you'll:

  • Discover empowering ways to care for a loved one suffering from Alzheimer's.
  • Learn to navigate the daunting world of complex  decision making, finding the middle ground between instincts and expert advice.
  • Understand the vital role of self-care in caregiving, and realize the importance of involving professionals in this journey.
  • Explore the realm of unconventional choices in caregiving, learn about the courage it takes and the difference it can make.
  • Get insights on how to balance personal desires, such as love and companionship, with dedication to your role as a caregiver.

Connect with Kristina:
Facebook
Instagram
Website

Rate, Review, & Follow on Apple Podcasts

"This is my go-to podcast for inspiration and to discover new approaches to embrace the challenges in my life." If that sounds like you, please consider rating and reviewing my show! This helps me reach more people -- just like you -- find strategies and insights to do the things that feel undoable. Click here, scroll to the bottom, tap to rate with five stars, and select “Write a Review.” Then be sure to let me know what you loved most about the episode!

Also, if you haven’t done so already, follow the podcast. Follow now!

Sign up for my newsletter and learn more about these remarkable stories at www.jessicafeinstories.com

Order Jessica's memoir, Breath Taking: A Memoir of Family, Dreams, and Broken Genes

Music credit: Limitless by Bells

Transcript

Jessica Fein: Welcome. I'm Jessica Fein and this is the I Don’t Know How You Do It, podcast where we talk to people whose lives seem unimaginable from the outside and dive into how they're able to do things that look undoable. I'm so glad you're joining me on this journey, and I hope you enjoy the conversation.

Welcome back to the show. My guest today, Kristina Driscoll has navigated the ups and downs of an incredibly unconventional life. Previously a financial advisor. Kristina found herself as a full-time caregiver to her husband and five-year-old son when her husband was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease.

Kristina’s caregiving journey lasted 12 years. During that time, [00:01:00] she had some tough decisions to make things like whether or not to allow her son to move to another state to live with his best friend, or whether to start dating as her husband's illness progressed. Along the way, Kristina leaned on the strength of her own convictions to guide her and didn't let conventions stand in her way.

Kristina’s the host of her own podcast. She's Brave, which is an appropriate title for the way she's chosen to live her life. 

Hi, Kristina. Thank you so much for joining us on this podcast. I think you have an incredible story of courage and tough decision making. And as you say, unconventional choices that I think people will really relate to.

Kristina Driscoll: Thank you so much for having me. 

Jessica Fein: So Kristina, let's just get right into it. You talk a lot about having a life that has been punctuated, if you will, by [00:02:00] these unconventional choices you've made.

Kristina Driscoll: Yes. The first very unconventional choice that I made was I married a man who was 24 years older than I was. I was in my early thirties, he was in his fifties, and that was going against the grain in a lot of ways, but it felt really aligned and right.

I had really done a lot of work on myself in my mid to late twenties on who am I and what do I believe and what's important, and so I think I had really gotten to a place where I could hear that voice. Inside of me, that intuition or whatever you wanna call it, and I was able to listen to it really well, and I was able to come from a place of not worrying about what other people thought about my decisions. 

Jessica Fein: What did they think when you told people, your best friend or your family, or whoever's in your inner circle, Hey, I met this guy and I think he's the one and yeah, he's 24 years older.

How did they react? 

Kristina Driscoll: Everybody was super supportive. If they had any doubts, they didn't verbalize them to [00:03:00] me because I think that I was coming from a very strong place of conviction. My parents met him and my mother was just like, oh my gosh, I get it. I get it. Tia's perfect for you. You're perfect for him.

Jessica Fein: First of all, it does not sound like you were needing her blessing. You knew what you wanted and what was right for you, but how great that she was able to support you through that decision. Take us through the next few years because seems like there were some really great honeymoon years, if you will, and then things got tough.

Kristina Driscoll: Yeah, for sure. So we got married and we really wanted children and that did not happen. So we ended up eventually getting into a fertility program, going through extensive fertility treatments, and eventually I did get pregnant. That was such a blessing. We were over the moon and we had our son. But then he was in his early sixties and our son was about five.

I started noticing [00:04:00] that he would ask questions multiple times sometimes. And my parents came down from Canada to visit and my mother said, you know, he, he keeps asking where you are, like when you go out and. Our son's name is Wills. Where iss Wills. So he got a diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's, which does run on one side of his family.

He got that diagnosis when our son was five. 

Jessica Fein: Did you have any idea when that diagnosis came, what it meant? Were you familiar with Alzheimer's? Had you gone through it with anybody? How much of it was an unknown? I imagine it must just be so scary to get that kind of decree 

Kristina Driscoll: terrifying. Absolutely terrifying because I think pretty much everybody in this country knows somebody who has that disease, so we're all at least familiar with it to some extent, and even just a little bit of familiarity is terrifying.

But once again, it's one of those things that if you haven't gone through the journey yourself, I don't think that [00:05:00] you are ever gonna a hundred percent understand that journey. 

Jessica Fein: Yeah, and I mean, isn't that true for everything, right? So how did it progress? 

Kristina Driscoll: yeah, for sure. I did kind of panic and I wanted to be closer to my family.

So we were living in Oregon at the time, and so the first step we did was we moved up to a little town right near the Canadian border. I did love living there. It was great, but it was interesting because my husband really declined quite quickly there, and so he wasn't able to establish any friendships.

Because he just, he had declined too much. It was interesting. He was very graceful about what was going on. He would thank me for helping him at the times that he had more cognitive awareness. I remember the day that he handed me his car keys and said, I think it's better if you do all the driving. 

Jessica Fein: What a blessing I've been through with parents and several of my [00:06:00] friends have, where you have to have that tough conversation and taking away somebody's independence through driving is such a hard, hard hit.

And so the fact that he came to you with that is really actually a gift. 

Kristina Driscoll: But the problem was he really didn't have anybody except for me in this little town near the Canadian border. It was great for me to have the support of my family right across the border in Canada, but he didn't. And so he started to say to me, I wanna be near my people.

Jessica Fein: And where were his people? 

Kristina Driscoll: They were just outside of Seattle, so we ended up moving to a suburb of Seattle, and that's where we've been ever since. Well, he, he passed away almost two years ago, but he was right. He's the oldest of four. A large loving, wonderful family. His family was very, very good to me.

And when he did go under care, they did really, really step up and they visited him. I did have one family member who became very, very angry at me [00:07:00] on his side of the family when I had to put Bill in a care home. That is kind of a normal reaction, especially with Alzheimer's. The caregiver comes to a point where, you know, he had been wandering at night.

I had tried to bring caregivers. Into my home. He was combative with them and he fell. He hit his head, he went unconscious. The doctor said to me, you know what? You can't do this anymore. He needs to go under care. And of course, everybody's grieving. Siblings are grieving and family members are, and so where, where do they put that anger?

They're very angry. And where does it go? Well, there may be some people in this scenario where their anger gets structured at you.

Jessica Fein: Sure. And probably you're the one who had to sign the papers and it was ultimately your decision, right? It was either gonna be you caring for him in a situation that no longer felt safe.

So of course you become the receiver of their anger and yet another layer of difficulty that is then thrust on you. But let's back up to before he went into care, You're at home and he's wandering at night and [00:08:00] having memory issues that are to be expected. And I'm wondering two things because you know a lot of our listeners have experienced intense caregiving for their children like I have. And then a lot of listeners, Have experienced intense caregiving for parents, which is more of the natural order of things. But this intense caregiving that you experienced so early on in your relationship for your husband is a different kind of relationship. The impact's different. Here you are with your spouse, kind of like a newlywed For sure. New parents. And now you are having to adjust quickly to the fact that your future, as you had imagined it isn't going to happen. So how did you deal with that? And also part two of that question is how did you help your son come to terms with that?

Kristina Driscoll: Yeah, they're two different things. How I dealt with it to just be really honest and blunt, was I was in therapy the whole time. I don't know [00:09:00] how I could do it without going to therapy, and I got medical help. I was put on medicine.

Jessica Fein: Kudos to you because taking care of yourself, both physically and emotionally with professionals is so huge when you're a caregiver.


Kristina Driscoll: Yeah. There's so much power in collaboration and getting help. Reach out to your MD, reach out to a psychologist, reach out, get help from anybody and everybody. And my friends were my, my pillars as well, and I still am so close with so many people who went through that journey with me. 

Jessica Fein: Were the people who supported you through that journey, were they people who you met who were in similar situations, or were they people you knew from before?

Kristina Driscoll: That's a great question. 

I didn't join a support group because I felt like an odd duck. Like if I join an Alzheimer's caregiver support group, I'm gonna be 20 years younger than everybody. And maybe that was a mistake because I do think that get as much support as you can, but I ironically, one of my dearest friends, Her husband developed Lou Gehrig's [00:10:00] disease.

When their son was three, he was one year younger than my son, so we were a hundred percent each other's rocks. We would call each other sobbing on the phone. One day it would be her next, it would be me. Also, what really, really helped me so much was. Getting out with my girlfriends and or doing things where I could just be a different person.

Like I was no longer a caregiver. I was just a woman out with her girlfriends for dinner, having a good time. So I compartmentalized it a lot. 

Jessica Fein: I am the queen of compartmentalization because compartmentalizing was key for me because how do you go to work? How do you have friends? How do you have any kind of life separate from caregiving?

You need to be able to compartmentalize. 

Kristina Driscoll: Yeah, I'm glad to hear you say that too, cuz sometimes I think to myself, maybe that wasn't good or maybe that wasn't normal. I really don't know. All I know is that it worked for me and I have a friend whose husband just had to go into a care home for Alzheimer's, and throughout the last few [00:11:00] years she's been coming to me a lot.

She says that I'm the most helpful person of anyone you know, whether it be a therapist or anybody, it's me because I actually walked the journey. 

Jessica Fein: Do you feel now that it's in the past that you wanna talk about it more or that you're more able to talk about it? 

Kristina Driscoll: Yes, definitely. And that's really why I started my podcast.

She's Brave because I feel so strongly that so many people kind of look at me and they say, I don't know how you do it, the name of your podcast, and they kind of think, oh, I can't do this. I. But let me tell you, Jessica, I have a diagnosed anxiety disorder. So if I can do it, you can do it. And I feel like anybody can do anything.

You do need to ask for help. You need to get help and connect, get your connections, get your friendships, get your relationships. But with all of those things, you can do anything. And that's why I started. She's brave [00:12:00] because I want women's stories, because I think so many of us just are like, oh, I could never do that.

Jessica Fein: We don't think we can because we haven't had to. Right? And so the question is when the situation comes to light and you have to do it, how do you do it? Right? So in your case, you compartmentalized, you sought help, you took time out. And these are all really valuable tools because these are things other people can do when they find themselves in this situation that they're like, oh my God, there's no way I can't do it.

And being able to look to people and to hear stories. Let's say the stories of the people on your podcast, the people on this podcast, nobody thinks they can do it because these things are kind of unimaginable. Right. But if we really push our imagination and we think it through, yeah, these kinds of things can happen.

They do happen. And whatever the challenge is, whatever the bump is, it's gonna happen. Right? And so what are you gonna do? And so your podcast, it's interesting, it's called She's Brave, and you had a lot of bravery. And I look at your story, and I think you had bravery in different ways, right? Because you had bravery that got you [00:13:00] through these trying situations, but you also had bravery along the way.

And we haven't even spoken yet about all the choices you made that people may have judged you for. So it was kind of bravery for making the choices and then bravery that was needed once you were living the impact of those decisions. Where did your bravery come from?

Kristina Driscoll: I'm gonna go back because in answering that, I can also answer a question that you asked previously, which was, how did my son handle it all?

And with children, they're so accepting, they're so resilient. They really are. I think that my son looked to me because, I just accepted my husband. I don't know where, where it came from, but I did have patience. Like, you know, if he asked me a question six times, it's not his fault. He's not doing it to be mean.

So he's not coming from a place of meanness. So why should I yell back at him? You, you said that six times. He doesn't know that. So I was very patient with him. For our son. I told him from the beginning, dad has something called Alzheimer's and he just can't remember things, you know? So he'll repeat questions and his [00:14:00] memory is not very good.

So, you know, for many years, My son, that was all he knew. And, and my son just went along with it. He would assist dad to heat up lunch in the microwave. Dad, let me help you. Dad was struggling with the microwave and he just,

Jessica Fein: but he must've gotten angry. 

Kristina Driscoll: No. 

Jessica Fein: Didn't he get frustrated? 

Kristina Driscoll: No. My husband or my son?

Jessica Fein: Your son. Your son, you know, he, he's taking care of at such young age, taking care of his father

Kristina Driscoll: No, no, no. Mm-hmm. It's his dad. It's his father. He loved his father. Bill was an amazing dad. He'd waited his whole life to be a dad. No, my son didn't get angry. I mean, he did get angry. When my husband went under care, I was advised that I couldn't tell my son in advance because if I had told my son, dad's going to a care home tomorrow, don't tell dad, then he feels like he's betraying dad.

Then if he tells dad, mom's putting you in a care home tomorrow. Then he betrays me. So either way, he would be betraying one or the other parent. So I did what this psychologist recommended. My [00:15:00] father, an amazing man, was born in a little country called Estonia, and lived in four countries, went to four different schools, were in four different languages.

Ended up in Canada when he was 18. But for all, pretty much all throughout his childhood, he didn't know where his father was. Cause his father was high up in the military, world War II was going on. So he basically grew up without a father. So his father came back into his life around age 15. You know, they didn't have cell phones, they didn't have all the communication.

So people would just be gone for years and you wouldn't know, are they dead? Are they alive? Who knows? So my father came down. And helped me take Bill to the care home. And Bill was already so far out of it that he didn't mind. He just was happy doing a craft and sitting there. Wow. So we left. That part went.

Okay. And then my son came home from school and I had to tell my son I had to put Dad in a care home for safety reasons. This is why. And my son just burst into tears and I, yes, I think he was, they were angry tears too. [00:16:00] Yeah. But my father wrapped his arms around my son and said, I grew up without a father During World War ii, there was chaos everywhere.

Grandpa was here or there he was. He was literally fighting on different sides at different times. I mean, Estonia was just a mess. My father said, I grew up without a father and I'm fine cuz my father, he moved to Canada at age 17, graduated high school, got a degree in chemical engineering, and he said, I did just fine and you are gonna do just fine too.

You're gonna be just fine. If I can do it, you can do it. And to this day my son still says, I think I'm the most like grandpa cuz my dad's almost 90 now. You know, my son really identifies with my dad. 

Jessica Fein: That's beautiful that those two generations could be there for each other. And you know, it's interesting because when I think about that generational relationship and I think about your story, a lot of people at our age, Or in the sandwich generation, or even maybe, you know, a bit younger than us in the sandwich generation.

Where they're caring both for [00:17:00] their kids and for their parents at the same time. But you were in a different kind of sandwich because you were caring for your son and your spouse at the same time. Yeah. That's like, I don't know. We need to come up with a different word for that. That's like a totally different sandwich.

First of all, what a stroke of good fortune that you weren’t also at that point caring for your parents, cuz that would be a lot as if you didn't already have a lot. But caring for your son and your husband, what was that dynamic? 

Kristina Driscoll: Incredibly hard because I wanted to be strong and I needed to be a good mom.

But you know, I, like you in your situation, realized that life is short. You gotta just get out there and do stuff. So even when my husband had Alzheimer's, we. Took trips to Disneyland, and yes, he stuck to me like glue. He knew that if he lost me, he wouldn't know where he was or who to talk to. But we did stuff.

We went to Costa Rica for crying out loud. Wow. You know, we did stuff and I tried to keep life as normal as possible. I mean, I'm [00:18:00] thankful in that I didn't have a crazy. Stressful full-time job. I basically had been a financial advisor and I was able to just manage our investments and that to me was, was something that I always enjoyed.

So it wasn't, it didn't feel like a job so much, but it was a job I had that, and then I think I almost tried to overcompensate, you know, like doing really cool things, you know? I mean, when we lived in. Bellingham, small town near the Canadian border. There were 14 children in the cul-de-sac that we lived, and they were all over at my house all the time.

Jessica Fein: Okay, so you were the camp counselor and I can relate to that for sure. 

Kristina Driscoll: Yeah. I think when you're dealing with something like this, and my girlfriend whose husband passed away of Lou Gehrigs, And also you with your daughter Dalia, we come to realize that you know what? We don't have all the time in the world.

We don't know how much time we have, so you better get out there and live it to the fullest extent, and that is what I have always done. 

Jessica Fein: Yeah, so then things [00:19:00] take another turn this time with your son. Can you tell us about that? 

Kristina Driscoll: Yeah. He had really spent the first six years in, he was born and raised in Eugene, Oregon.

And those people, friends, they were his. Best friends and my best friends and women I met in baby class who are to this day still my closest dearest friends. We had a cul-de-sac full of kids and everything was great, but then when we made that final move to a suburb of Seattle, it was just a very different culture.

You know, my son was really unhappy for a long time, and finally when he was. 13. He asked me, mom, I really wanna move back to Eugene. And he wanted all of us to move back to Eugene, but I Right, right. I said, I honey, it's not a good idea to, to move dad back to Eugene because there's no one else to visit him other than me.

That's it. And his family was incredibly great about visiting him. He had a lot of visitors. I had a lot of support. It was all great. So I didn't, I didn't feel like that was in my husband's best interest. That's tough because then my son [00:20:00] says to me, mom, there's a lot of depressed kids here and I'm trying to help them.

I ended up finding out that he has four suicidal friends, four, oh my gosh, at age 13, and he, and he is trying to counsel them. He's trying to help them. You know, and it scared me and it broke my heart. I went to bed that night and I literally, I had never done anything like this in my life, but I believe in a higher power, and I just, I, I prayed, I, I, I demanded, I demanded, I said, God, I need to sign because this is really unconventional me thinking about sending my kid.

To live in another city. I mean, I can be down there part-time. I can get a little apartment, but I can't be down there full-time. I can't, and I don't know what to do with this situation and I need a very, very clear answer. And I had never done that. I went to sleep, I went to bed.

Jessica Fein: But I love that you are just telling what you need. There was no asking.

Kristina Driscoll: I was not asking. I was demanding. Yes. So I got up the next morning, went out to the mailbox, met my next door neighbor. He was at the mailbox and I said, well, how are you [00:21:00] doing today? He said, not good. I said, what's going on? He said, well, my daughter, she has been hospitalized for a week with anxiety and depression, and she was two years older than my son.

She was a brilliant, brilliant girl. Absolutely like top, top, top of the class. But she cracked from all of the pressure, the academic pressure that is. Really a part of the culture in this suburb where we lived, 

Jessica Fein: and we should say in so many places, right? 

Kristina Driscoll: so many, yeah. Yeah. No, yeah, I agree. It's not just there, but this particular place was one of those pockets that was really the culture of the area.

And so I got on the phone with my best friend, who's Brazilian, who lives in Eugene, Oregon, and I told her the whole story and I said, I need to somehow figure out a way to get him in school in Eugene. And she's like, Not a problem. 

Jessica Fein: We all need that best friend, right?

Kristina Driscoll: She's like, she's like, well, in Brazil, like she actually grew up with different friends and family because.

She grew up in a poor town and she became a, a dentist in [00:22:00] Brazil. She had lived with friends and family throughout her childhood and she said, we do this in Brazil all the time. You know, everybody's family. She's like, just have 'em come down and live with me. 

Jessica Fein: Oh my God, I love her.

Kristina Driscoll: Isn't that crazy? Yeah.

She was just my maid of honor and my wedding, cause I got remarried this last summer. But yeah, she was my best friend or she is my best friend. We met in baby class. When the boys were a few months old. And then my son's best friend is her son. So I mean, for him, for my son, he was kind of living the dream because he always wanted siblings and Oh, right.

Jessica Fein: Instant sibling, who's already your best friend. 

Kristina Driscoll: instant sibling that you live with, who's your best friend. And then there's a younger brother, and then my friend, her boyfriend, ended up moving in with his son who was. A couple years older than our boys. So there were four boys in the house and I, I did worry a little bit like, oh no, what if he starts fighting with his best friend?

But it never happened. They're still best friends, 

Jessica Fein: which is so great and so, and you know, so awesome to have that support in your friend. But I'm [00:23:00] wondering, when he came to you and you, and you had to make this decision, did you feel like I am being asked to choose between my son and my husband? 

Kristina Driscoll: Absolutely.

A hundred percent. Also me. And that was something I had learned a survival skill along the way, was that if I don't take care of me, then everything falls apart. Everything falls apart, right? So I, I had to sit him down and say, honey, you're asking me to move to Eugene for you and move dad. I said, but you have to give some also, So there has to be some give and take in this decision because I wanna stay up here, I wanna stay up close to my husband's family at least part-time.

And I don't wanna move your dad. I don't think it's in his best interest. So I said you have to give a little bit for me and your dad, and then I'm giving a little bit for you because you get to go to high school down in Eugene. He got it. It's like, I love you dearly, but it's not a hundred percent about you.

Jessica Fein: Which is actually a pretty powerful lesson for kids to learn because so [00:24:00] many, especially these days, grow up thinking it is always a hundred percent about them. Okay, so now you've got your son going to Oregon, and yet again you're, you've made this decision that maybe people are gonna be, you know, raising an eyebrow.

Where did you come up with the courage, the strength to say, think what you want, but this is what's right for me and my family because I feel like so many people, even if their gut is telling them something's the right thing for them, if they don't think that society is going to look well on it, they hesitate.

You know? And it's so courageous to make these decisions that, you know, to use your word are unconventional, but that you know are right for you. How did you find the courage to do that? 

Kristina Driscoll: I actually remember the thoughts going through my head. The one thought was saying, this could make me look like a bad mom.

You know, people could really judge me as, wow, she's sending her kid to go six hours away. Like that looks like a bad mom. But something else in me said, this is the right decision. It was [00:25:00] just like a deep, intuitive conviction. And then I got that really strong sign from. God, or whatever you wanna call God,

Jessica Fein: the entity that you were demanding an answer from 

Kristina Driscoll: Yeah. So that was the first time I had the thought of, but if I don't send him, then I'm basically. Letting other people have power over me. Yeah. And it was just this power, it was a strong thought that, okay, how are you gonna live your life?

Like, are you gonna let other people have power over you? And if I was selfish Jessica, guess what? I would've said, too bad kid. You're staying here because I need to look like a good mom. And I said, screw it. I don't care if I look like a bad mom. I am doing what's right for our family. 

Jessica Fein: And that is what I think is the true bravery there.

Kristina Driscoll: Right. I still think also Jessica, that people sense when you have a strong conviction about something, they sense it. Sometimes you don't even have to say it, they don't even challenge you [00:26:00] on it because I just would tell people the facts.

Jessica Fein: I think when we get into that place of like, I need to ask 15 of my best friends what they think about this, and then I'm gonna analyze and make a color coded spreadsheet of all of their answers, that gets us nowhere.

Right? And yet we do tend to have this. Need to get people to weigh in, and it's almost a way of making us feel like it. What we're deciding is okay, because you know, Susie over there said it was okay. That's backwards, right? Because the more people we ask, the more different answers we're going to get, and who really cares when you come to them from that place of true conviction, as you say.

Then it's not for anybody to weigh in. They can support you or not support you. That's their decision, end of story. Right, right. And if they don't support you, then really that tells you something about what that friendship was worth in the first place. Okay. So now we have to get to chapter three of this story.

I think about your story as like in these three sections. And [00:27:00] chapter three is The New Love of Your Life. So tell us about how that came to be. 

Kristina Driscoll: Going backwards again in time after my husband went under care, we went and visited some of his family that was living in Wisconsin at the time. It was about a month after Bill went into a care home and I thought, this is a really good time for us to spend time with people in my husband's family.

So we were there visiting them and my sister-in-law sat me down and said, you're a lot younger than Bill. If you wanna start dating, go for it. And I have to tell you, I was shocked. 

Jessica Fein: Were you offended? 

Kristina Driscoll: I was a little offended. Yeah. My brain was not ready to go there. Yeah. Thank goodness I didn't say anything.

I just kind of nodded and smiled and moved on. But then after I let it process a little while, I, I said to myself, yeah, you know, that's really, that's really a kind. Offer for her to say, move forward with your life when you're ready. Like even if, or even if that's now. And I was just like, oh my gosh, that's [00:28:00] not now.

But then like two years later, more people from his family came to me and said, we see that you're really sad, you're really lonely. Like you've been on this journey a long time, a long time, and you've been sad and lonely throughout this. Journey, we can see it. We really, really want you to try to find a companion.

And so then something in me changed and I was ready. So I set up a match profile and I just spelled it all out because I was like, this is ridiculous. Like I think people should know my full story because oh my God, I don't wanna waste people's time.

Jessica Fein: What kind of response did you get? 

Kristina Driscoll: Plenty of responses. You know, and I mean, I really said, you know, I, my husband is a lot older than me.

He has early onset Alzheimer's. He's in a care home. I visit him every day. I'm not getting a divorce because I think at first I didn't put that in there, and I had a lot of men say to me, oh, so you're going through a divorce? And I was like, no, I'm not. You know, I had to really spell it out and just put it all out there [00:29:00] unapologetically.

And honestly, I just thought I might not get anybody, every man on match might be saying, I'm not touching that with a 10 foot pole. You know? 

Jessica Fein: On the other hand, they're saying, here's, here's a woman who knows herself. Who's honest. 

Kristina Driscoll: Ironically, yeah, that was really the case. I connected with a lot of of interesting men and it was surprising to me.

But ultimately I met Blake and it's funny cuz I never had asked him, I literally, like a two weeks ago, I asked him, what did you think when you looked at my profile? Cuz Blake is actually a quite a strong Christian and I, I just said like, why did you pick me? Or why did you choose to go out with me? And he said, you know, There's something about people being a hundred percent honest.

You just laid it out there. 

Jessica Fein: You know, I love that I met my husband in college, but I know from so many people that there's a facade they put on in the online dating space, right? So, you know, it might be a picture that was old or might be, you know, you're spinning trying to present your best self and here you were presenting the truth [00:30:00] and he responded.

He could feel that and he responded. And so then you brought him into the fold and he, he met Bill. 

Kristina Driscoll: He did, yeah. Blake was just a rockstar. He would come with me a lot to visit my husband, bill and Bill didn't know who we were. He had no idea. But one day Bill did look at us both and said, You two. Good. Together. That's what he said.

Jessica Fein: And I guess congratulations, because you said you're somewhat newly married, right? Congratulations on that, Kristina. How do people find you? People who wanna hear more about your story and hear your voice and tell us where do people find more Kristina?

Kristina Driscoll: So you can find me on Instagram, you can find me on Facebook.

My webpage is shesbravepodcast.com, and my podcast is called She’s Brave. 

Jessica Fein: Well, Kristina, you're brave, and thank you so much for being here and sharing your story with us. Thank 

Kristina Driscoll: you so much, 

Jessica Fein: Jessica. Here are my takeaways from my [00:31:00] conversation with Kristina. Number one, listen to yourself. If you know something's right for you, don't poll everybody you know about the decision.

Stick to your conviction. Number two, find help, support friends, whatever you need, but don't try to travel the tough paths alone. 

And number three, Compartmentalization if it works for you, can be a great survival technique. If this episode speaks to you, share it with a friend and you can catch up on all the past episodes of the show at www.idontknowhowyoudoit.com

Have a great day. Talk to you next time.