You might have heard the saying, "We can only be as happy as our least happy child." Ann Batchelder disagrees. How much is our suffering intertwined with our child's suffering? How can we help our children without layering our own fear and regret on them? And what does it mean that we're all on the addiction spectrum?
In her debut memoir, "Craving Spring: A Mother's Quest, a Daughter's Depression, and the Greek Myth That Brought Them Together," Ann shares her powerful journey as a mother navigating her daughter's struggles with depression and addiction. Drawing inspiration from the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone, Ann weaves the myth into her narrative, finding solace and guidance in its lessons of transformation and resilience. Through therapy, the Twelve Steps, and Buddhist teachings, Ann discovered the strength to rebuild her relationship with her daughter and herself. Ann is a passionate advocate for recognizing women's wisdom and reducing the stigma surrounding depression and addiction. Her book offers a heartfelt and empowering perspective on motherhood, addiction, and mental health, inspiring others to find understanding and resilience in the face of difficult circumstances.
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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. I am so happy you're here for today's episode. Let's talk for a minute about parenthood. Before I became a mother, I always assumed that parenting, like so many other things, would be something that got easier with time as I started to figure out what I was doing and my kids required less hands on parenting.
Let's just say I was a little naive. It's true that what's demanded of us changes as our kids get older, but in so many ways [00:01:00] things get more complicated, not less. That's what happened for today's guest, Ann Batchelder. Ann was convinced she was a good mother until her teenage daughter admitted to an eating disorder and suicidal thoughts.
Ann's world seemed to come to a stop as she desperately tried to rescue her daughter from bulimia and later drug addiction. Ann gathered wisdom from therapy, the Twelve Steps, and Buddhist teachings. But she was surprised to find her greatest solace from an unlikely source, the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone.
Ultimately, Ann turned to writing to cope with her emotions, and her debut memoir, Craving Spring, which is out today, is about her journey as a traumatized mother and how the Greek myth helped her rebuild her relationship with her daughter and with herself. Ann advocates for recognizing women's wisdom and is passionate about reducing the stigma surrounding depression and addiction.
I got so much out of Ann's book. I was highlighting sentence after sentence and flagging pages, and I know you'll get a lot out of the conversation [00:02:00] today. Without further ado, here's Ann.
Welcome, Ann. I'm so excited to have you on the show. I've been waiting for some time for this conversation. So welcome.
I'm so glad that time is finally here.
Ann Batchelder: Well, thank you so much for having me. It's a thrill to be here.
Jessica Fein: This is a big day for you. Congratulations. Your book is out in the world, “Craving Spring, A Mother's Quest, A Daughter's Depression and the Greek Myth That Brought Them Together.” What a name. So I want to start by hearing a bit about the book.
Ann Batchelder: The book is a story about my desperate attempt to rescue my daughter who was suffering from depression and addiction. And how a Greek myth helped me transition from being the mother of a troubled child to the mother of a young adult.
Jessica Fein: I love how you weave the myth into the narrative and the plot of what is happening.
Two questions. Why did you choose that [00:03:00] format, which is so unusual? And why this myth?
Ann Batchelder: I really started journaling about this book about 10 years ago, and the journals eventually became essays and the essays kind of became chapters. And then during the pandemic, I sort of binged wrote the book and decided to make it into a book.
And I had always been fascinated with the Greek myth of Demeter and her daughter Persephone, and I wanted to use that. I wanted to include that because that myth was very important to me in this process for my growth. But I wasn't sure how to do that. And then I realized when I was talking to some friends.
They may have heard of the myth, but they didn't really know the story. So I thought, well, I want to tell the story somehow, but I want it to come from my perspective. So that's when I started thinking about, well, what if I just had chapters about the myth itself that were interspersed and woven into my story?
And once I started studying Homer's myth that he wrote about Demeter, I recognized the story arc of the [00:04:00] myth actually paralleled my story. And that's when I decided to weave them together.
Jessica Fein: Is it possible for people who aren't familiar with the myth to give a quick overview summary so we might begin to understand why it was so compelling to you?
Ann Batchelder: Sure. Well, I'll tell you what happened was my daughter was struggling with depression in high school, and I went to a therapist and was moaning about what should I do, all the anxiety, everything. And the therapist sat back and said, you know, you're just like Demeter. And I said, what? And she said, you know, the myth about Demeter and Persephone.
And I said, you know, I don't really remember. What is that about? She said, well, basically Demeter is the goddess of the harvest in Greek mythology. And she has this precious teenage daughter who decides to go looking for flowers on a hillside and gets captured by Hades and taken to the underworld. And Demeter's daughter all of a sudden disappears from the world, and she is frantic, and she loses it, and she's a mess, and she goes [00:05:00] running around trying to rescue her daughter.
And I said, well, I totally relate to that. Then what happens? And she said, well, you have to go read the myth yourself, which I didn't do for a long time. But when I finally did read it, I realized that not only did it validate me as a mother of a child who was in trouble, having to be an advocate and help her because she wasn't able to help herself at that point, it made me feel somewhat vindicated.
Here was an Ancient Greek helicopter mom, if you will, and nobody was blaming and shaming her. So I identified with her in a lot of ways, but then I looked closer into the myth and I realized that she had to evolve as a mother as her daughter grew and became her own person. in the underworld. And so she learned how to compromise, and she learned how to let go, and then she learned eventually how to return to herself.
And so all of a sudden I had this blueprint of what it was to transition as a mother as your child grows, especially as a daughter grows. And as Demeter learns [00:06:00] about her relationship with her daughter, and she gets Zeus to agree to let her daughter come back to Earth, but Zeus says as long as she goes back to the underworld three months a year.
And when she goes to the underworld every year, Demeter is sad and she forgets about the crops again and everything sort of dies down and that's our winter. And then when Demeter returns, she is joyous again about her daughter's return and lets all the flowers bloom and everything blossom. So in a way, what she learns is that letting go really isn't about a final letting go. It's a transformation, and that spring will follow winter, and winter will follow spring, and that's one of the truths of life that she imparts to the mortals, to not give up hope. So it's a beautiful story, and it's a beautiful story for mother daughter relationship, to finally see that your child is capable of handling their life on their own, and that at the end Demeter turns her focus from her daughter to helping the [00:07:00] people learn about the seasons and about hope.
There's a lot in there.
Jessica Fein: It's so beautiful. And what's interesting is, as you say, it's about transformation, but I feel like in your book, we've got two transformations happening, right? We've got the story of your daughter and we care passionately about what's happening to her as she struggles with depression and then addiction.
But the thing I related to was your story and your transformation. You said a moment ago that there's a lot to learn about letting go as your child becomes a young adult. But I wonder how do we do that when our child is struggling so profoundly? How can you let go and say they've got to live their life when you know that they're really in trouble?
Ann Batchelder: That is an excellent question because I totally misunderstood what it meant to let go. I was raised, my mother and her mother and that generation basically said your child's success or failure is all dependent on you as a mother and if [00:08:00] you're a good mother or not. So here I had a daughter who was really struggling with depression and with addiction and I'm thinking, Um, Yeah.
Oh my gosh, I'm at fault here. I must be a bad mother to let this happen. And what I realized was I really didn't need to let go of my child. I needed to let go of my fear. I could still be there for her in multiple ways. I didn't have to enable her, but I also didn't have to abandon her. And I could help her in multiple ways.
But what I had to let go of was my fear because I became a junkie for regret. You know, I was so wrapped up in my desire to help her that I figured, well, if this is my fault, then I must be powerful enough to rescue her. Once I let go of that fear and that regret and that worrying about the past and worrying about the future, and I could stay in the present moment, that was the letting go that I had to do.
And that's when I became a more effective parent for my child. That's when I could help her on a different level, to be a role model, to be supportive. Not to do things for her, but to [00:09:00] empower her to do things for herself by standing with her.
Jessica Fein: Well, it's interesting because what I heard in that answer was really twofold.
You said you needed to let go of your fear and I want to explore that, but you also said you believed that if you quote unquote caused this, right, and you had regrets about that, that you were powerful enough to fix it. So it sounds like it's not only fear you had to let go of, but also this idea that you had control.
Ann Batchelder: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely.
Jessica Fein: How did you let go of this idea that you could fix it? And how also, by the way, did you let go of the fear when you're watching your daughter in so much trouble? Because you did. And I know there are a lot of parents whose kids may be in profound crisis or may just be in the everyday stuff.
And all of us have fear and all of us want to control. So how did you do that?
Ann Batchelder: Well, I think there are a couple of things that happen. One is when you're in the midst of a crisis, you're not going to be able to let go right away. I mean, there's just an [00:10:00] emotional, natural response that especially mothers have of wanting to help their kids.
That's just normal. And so once I gave myself permission to say, Oh, what I'm feeling, what I'm thinking, what I'm anxious about is normal. Look, Demeter did it centuries ago, whatever, you know, I mean, this is normal stuff. Then I stopped punishing myself for that, first of all. And then I think you have to allow Sometimes, to see that a child is kind of heading in the right direction.
Maybe not all the way there, but maybe you got some guidance or got some therapy for the child or got, you know, got some help or got a tutor or maybe had some deep discussions or something. You sort of see that they're making some progress. And that's when you, little by little, step back. and let them go ahead with that.
So one, I had to realize that I was conditioned to think that I was in control by my mother and my grandmother and my generations of people, women, who said I had to be in charge of my children's happiness or their [00:11:00] success. So once I realized that that was a myth that I didn't need. I had to let go of that.
And then what did I replace that with? I replaced that with being in the present moment. So the practice for me was mindfulness. And that's the only way I got through this, is by journaling, by writing this book, by practicing meditation and practicing mindfulness. And every time I started to feel anxious and slip away from that, I would try to redirect myself back to taking a deep breath, giving myself 24 hours before I reacted, asking myself, what is my true intention versus what does my ego need right now?
So if my true intention is to be a guide for my child, and my ego need is to not feel her pain and try to fix it, which one will I choose to guide me? My intention or my ego's need? And that's what I had to start differentiating. What is going to be the most helpful thing for her? So I had to learn new skills as a mother to stay in the present moment and to transition as she [00:12:00] transitioned.
Recovery on all levels doesn't happen in a linear way. Things start getting better and then they get worse and then they get better and then they get worse. And so you have to be able to pivot as a mother.
Jessica Fein: Sometimes, as a parent, I feel like there's this truck and it's barreling down the highway and it's kind of falling apart and it's turning and it's swerving and it's going uphill and it's going downhill and there's a rope and I'm holding on to the back of the rope and I'm just being pulled along with that truck and that's not good for the...
truck driver because they don't even know I'm back there and it's certainly not good for me, right? And so I kind of feel like I need to let go of that rope. I need to go over to the side of the road and say, okay, driver, which is my kid in case we forgot. I'm here. I'm on the side of the road.
I'm waiting. But I'm not going to be pulled along in that ups and downs and swerves. And as you just said, it's not linear. It is a roller coaster. So how do you not get on that ride?
Ann Batchelder: First of all, you cannot not [00:13:00] get on that ride every time. You're going to get on the ride. I cannot perfectly let go or step aside.
There are going to be times when I'm pulled in and, you know, in my book, I mentioned a couple of times that I thought I had it all figured out and then got sucked back in again. It's like relapse, you know, but when you do that, the more you recognize it, the more you can catch yourself, the sooner you can, ah, I'm doing that again, I'm stopping back.
You basically have to give yourself compassion. and permission to not be perfect and to instead practice the skill of returning to a centered place. I find methods and everybody has a different method. You can take a walk in the woods, you don't have to meditate, but the idea is to be conscious and mindful of when that's happening and to give yourself compassion and say, Oh, of course you're going to respond.
You're going to overreact. Of course. But let's see how quickly you can get back to center.
Jessica Fein: I love that. And that really was a transformation for you over the course of the book. And we watched you and we were with you as you transformed as a [00:14:00] mother and as a human. And if I may, one of the things you said that struck me was you said, and this is a quote, “It's easy for a mother to miss signals when her obsessive worrying becomes a daily habit.
Fear creates chaos in her mind until she becomes immobilized. To combat feeling overwhelmed, she focuses on staying in control rather than using her maternal instincts to clearly assess a situation. Add society's emphasis on blaming and shaming mothers for not being perfect, and all she's left with is her anxiety about being a failure.”
It's so interesting because what you're saying here is you're obsessively worrying and that worry is causing you to miss really important clues, right? And you're so afraid you become immobilized. How did you get through that?
Ann Batchelder: One of the things that really helped me, one of the gifts, if you will, and I would never wish this on anyone, but because my daughter went through addiction, she also went through the 12 Steps, and she went through rehab and [00:15:00] learning how to take care of herself.
And I didn't want her to feel like she was the sick one in the family or the only person who had work to do, so I also did the 12 Steps, and I went through AlAnon, and I read a lot of Buddhist books and went to therapy. I did everything I could to sort of help me figure out a path out of my own addiction.
I feel like everybody is on the spectrum of addiction or attachment. We all want things to work out the way we want them to work out. And when that doesn't happen and we're in pain about that, we often find ways to numb ourselves. And for mothers, I think using that anxiety is one way to not look at the fact that here's the reality.
This is what's really going on. We're still trying to control things. So I think for me, writing this book really helped me unravel, why was I stuck in this? Why was I not able to let go of my fear? What about my past? Or what about society? Or what about the situation has kept me stuck? And part of the process of writing this book was getting us stuck.
I [00:16:00] didn't necessarily plan on publishing it. I was just writing it for myself first. Once I wrote it, I thought, well, I'll let my daughter see it and leave it for my family, that type of thing. And then when she read it and she said, you know, mom, this is really a love story to me. And if you want to publish it, it's okay.
And then I thought, you know, I felt so much isolation and fear and confusion that I wanted to offer it to other people who wouldn't feel so alone. And also to help reduce the stigma around the shame and blame that goes on with mental illness or any kind of disabilities or chronic illness, that kind of thing, that mothers somehow aren't doing it perfectly.
I wanted to give support to that.
Jessica Fein: The idea of shame is really powerful because I feel like mental health issues in particular, and when we're talking about our children, it's not something we necessarily feel comfortable sharing. We do feel like we're going to be judged. Right. We feel like it's a reflection on us, and sometimes we feel like it's [00:17:00] my kid's story, so it's not on me to share it, but the upshot is a lot of isolation, and so that's why a book like this can be helpful.
Ann Batchelder: Huge. Yeah, that's a really important point, because when my children were younger, there were a lot of how to books. You want to have successful children do these four things. You want to have resilient kids do these five things. And that was all fine until you had a kid who was really in trouble. It just doesn't work all the time.
There's nothing wrong with the how to book, but when you're a mother who's struggling with a kid who's in trouble for one reason or the other, especially with mental health issues, you need an authentic story from another mother who's gone through this and come out the other side of it to give you the hope and the guidance.
And I think that's one of the reasons why I wrote the book, but it's also one of the reasons why I chose the Demeter myth and included that because I think we can find our role models and our guides and our teachers in lots of different ways. [00:18:00] It could be myth, it could be legends, it could be memoir.
Memoir is extremely popular right now because people want an authentic story to identify with on some levels. And this gets back to what I talked about before in terms of women's wisdom. I think that we have a lot of wisdom to share with each other instead of just blaming and shaming each other, we can give compassion and wisdom and help each other through sharing our stories.
And these stories are very powerful.
Jessica Fein: And it's interesting, you know, we're pretty good at that when the kids are young and the problems are like, I can't get my kid to sleep through the night, and potty training, and you know, my kid's not feeding, and where do we learn the most and where do we find the most support?
Other moms, right? Right, exactly. And as our kids get older and those problems become more complex, we turn inward. And those very people that were our support system and our guides when we were dealing with, you know, boo boos, now we're almost embarrassed. It's like, I don't want to say what's going on with my kid, because look, your kid's perfect and your kid's winning this [00:19:00] championship and getting this straight A and whatever and look what I'm dealing with.
And so we turn inward.
Ann Batchelder: Yeah, absolutely. I quickly learned with my daughter's experience what was important in life and where she was going to college or what kind of grades she was getting or what kind of team she was on became so unimportant because I was dealing in a life and death situation. Right.
And also I was dealing with wanting to strengthen. my relationship with her, not weaken it. Those were the important things for me. I also feel that there's a lot of fear that other people have about families that are having problems. It's almost as if they think it's contagious, like you have COVID or something.
They don't want to be around that. It's scary. Especially with mental health issues, if you have a kid breaks a leg or something, or you break a leg, you know, people come over with a food chain and casseroles and all that kind of stuff. You don't get that when your kid goes to rehab. You don't get that when there's an addiction problem or a depression problem.
You get [00:20:00] isolated and it's hard. It's really hard.
Jessica Fein: In one part of the book, you, in fact, talk about having a conversation years earlier with somebody whose kid was struggling. And it seems like you kind of left that situation feeling like, Oh, God, thank God, you know, I'm not in that situation. And you talk about, I wish I had been more supportive.
Knowing what you know now, and having been through what you've been through, how would you have responded differently when the other person confided what they were struggling with?
Ann Batchelder: Well, there's no doubt that I suffered from the same problem of thinking that my family was fine. And anybody else who had a problem was, Oh, gee, that's too bad.
I'll talk to you later kind of thing. There was fear also on my part, and I own that. Now, I think whenever you go through a tough time with your family, it's hard not to have compassion for other people who are going through tough times. It just broke us wide open. There was just no hesitation if [00:21:00] somebody else was struggling with a mental health issue or with addiction or something else.
The compassion is just there. You don't need to solve anything. You don't need to say anything in particular. I mean, just a recognition, a hug, a, I'm so sorry, or what can I do, or any of that kind of stuff. That must be hard. Those kind of things. Go a long way. You don't have to solve somebody's problem for them.
You just have to show up and say, I get it. I'm here. I may not have the exact problem you're having, but I've had other problems and I get it. It's really, really hard. And you're not alone.
Jessica Fein: And I don't think we can even ever fully appreciate how much that means to somebody, right? Because I think, you know, we've talked about this a lot on the show.
For many of us, our natural inclination is to want to solve it, to want to fix it. Your kid's not sleeping. Okay, here's the six step program that I used in this. Works for me, you know, and there are a lot of things that we deal with that can't be fixed, but We can sit with our friend, and we can be there, and we can support them.
There are many ways to support without fixing or [00:22:00] solving.
Ann Batchelder: Well, I think if you recognize that where your reaction is coming from is fear, you can give yourself compassion about that and say, Okay, well, I don't want to be that way anymore. It's not a judgment about, oh, I wasn't there for my friend or whatever.
You know, can we just, everybody have a little compassion for everything that everyone's going through and let go of that fear?
Jessica Fein: It's not only fear that it's gonna be contagious, but I think a lot of the fear is I'm gonna say the wrong thing. Therefore, because I'm afraid of saying the wrong thing, I'm going to say nothing.
Ann Batchelder: Right. And you don't really have to say anything in particular. You just need to not walk away, not ignore, smile when somebody walks in the room, offer them a seat next to you if you're at a parent teacher conference. I mean, those little things go a long way.
Jessica Fein: I was really taken about your insights about how you were suffering because of your daughter's suffering, which again is something that all parents can relate to.
How do you separate the two? [00:23:00] How can we be in a situation where we're not always suffering if our child is? I mean, of course, we've all heard the thing that says you can only be as happy as your least happy child.
Ann Batchelder: I hate that. I really hate that.
Jessica Fein: Excellent. Plus why? Because that's not a prescription for success.
Ann Batchelder: Because I, you know, that just puts you right back into the position of having to make sure your kid is happy so you can be happy. I think the more we can separate ourselves a little bit and Trust that our child is going through what they're going through and it doesn't have to mean that you have to go through the exact same thing at the exact same time.
That you can have compassion for them and feel for them and of course you're going to feel sad and you're going to be worried and you're going to be wanting to help and everything else but you don't have to be so identified with their pain that it becomes your pain in a similar way. Your pain can be your pain.
A therapist told me one time, pain isn't always bad. Lots of times pain is what motivates us to get to the next [00:24:00] step. So if you can sometimes see that your child is struggling for whatever reason, maybe that's okay. Maybe that's something they need to do. Maybe they will get to the other side and learn something profound about themselves.
I feel like my daughter, because of her experience, has more self understanding than most 50 year old women I know. So, in a way, not that I would, again, wish this on anyone, but we've all really blossomed as a result of having to suffer on some level. We've all learned a lot.
Jessica Fein: The idea that you don't have to suffer in it with your kid, that you can be on the sidelines and guiding them is such an important one.
And part of that is really understanding how to take care of yourself in these kinds of situations. So you mentioned a few things, the journaling, the meditating, what self care, if you will, some of us like that word, some of us cringe at that term, whatever, but how did you take care of yourself? How did you get to that point where you were able to not just be [00:25:00] so in it?
Ann Batchelder: I think that's a lot where I studied Buddhist teachings. I read a lot of Pema Chodron. I read Tara Brach. I had read those things before, but I went back to look at them again. I studied mindfulness for 10 years. I was doing that ongoing before all this happened. So I think I had some tools to begin with to really help me focus on being aware of my reactions and my emotions and trying to understand how to get centered again.
And when I would feel that overreaction, let's say, emotionally, I would take it. to my study and write, or I would meditate, or I would read something that was inspirational, or I would read somebody else's memoir. How did they get through that? I would try to take myself out of the experience that was causing or triggering me to overreact, and just tell myself to wait for 24 hours before I respond.
Little things like that, or take a walk, or go have coffee with a friend or something, those things [00:26:00] really help me to not just have a knee jerk reaction every time something upset me with my child. It wouldn't help her if I had that knee jerk reaction, and that's when I realized if I wanted to be effective and more helpful, I needed to take care of myself in however I could do that.
Jessica Fein: And it sounds like you had a nice head start, if you will, in that you said you had already read the Buddhist teachings, you had been practicing mindfulness. For people who that's all foreign concept to, how would you suggest somebody might start?
Ann Batchelder: I think it really depends on your orientation. Some people may be, for example, leaning toward some, a religion or a philosophy or a way of thinking.
Mine tended to be more along the road of Buddhist thinking, but it could be Christian or Jewish or whatever. Contemplative studies come in all different shapes and sizes. So reading some books that appeal to you about mindfulness or about contemplative work, I think is maybe one step. For me, it was [00:27:00] reading Pema Chodron to begin with.
Her book, When Things Fall Apart, for example, is an excellent place to start. But also, breathing, breath work, meditation, sitting down and just taking a deep breath and writing in my journal about, okay, what am I feeling right now? Why am I feeling that? What's that about? How can I turn that around? Is there a different way to think about this?
Can I wait 24 hours? Little things like that. It's sounding like how to, and I don't mean to do that.
Jessica Fein: No, but sometimes when we're in it, you know, a little bit of how to isn't a bad thing. Just give me some ideas, you know? I just want to be able to breathe, be able to establish some boundaries, be able to take care of myself, but I don't know where to begin.
And so, it's not necessarily a prescription, but I think that ideas are very useful.
Ann Batchelder: The first thing I would suggest is what is it you're anxious about is that have anything to do with the future because we can't control the future. So I would lie in my bed and worry about my daughter overdosing or I'd worry about her having a car [00:28:00] accident or something that hadn't happened yet.
And I would get myself into such a tizzy about it that I would just be beside myself and then I'd rush out and tell her she had to stop whatever she was doing. I mean, that was kind of not helpful. But I think recognizing are these concerns that I'm having something to do with the future or regrets about the past and what can I do to stay right in the present moment?
Right now, what is the situation? What are the good things? What are the tough things? And how can I stay centered in that? And take a deep breath and just sort of say, okay, what is happening right now? And do I really need to go to the future and worry about all that stuff or can I stay in the present? I think that's the first step, really.
Jessica Fein: That's like the first, second, and third, and it's hard. The more you practice it, right?
Ann Batchelder: Yeah. Also, waiting 24 hours is huge. Yeah. That's really helpful because lots of times things can change or shift or you can shift. Right. And you can come from a different place and not just a knee jerk reaction.
Jessica Fein: How can you go [00:29:00] through trauma like this, and this was really traumatic. And as you say, there were so many ups and downs. It wasn't linear. How do you go through that without giving up hope?
Ann Batchelder: I think stories really help. Having heard or read or listened to someone else who's gone through something similar and who's been able to manage to get to the other side of it, there are plenty of people who don't have happy endings in troubled situations. You know, many, many parents, their kids. do overdose.
There is that. But I've also read stories of parents who've gone through even that kind of situation and still come out with hope and with trust and they're inspired to help other people. Having mentors, having guides, having teachers, hearing authentic stories about people who've gone through something, gathering women's wisdom, all those things I think is what gives us hope.
Jessica Fein: What have you learned along the way about addiction that [00:30:00] you wish you knew earlier?
Ann Batchelder: I didn't realize that when somebody is abusing substances like alcohol or drugs that their mind is altered. Their brain chemistry changes and it's very hard to make executive decisions. It's very hard to use logic.
Their brains are hijacked and they're not thinking clearly. I looked at my daughter and kept thinking. I didn't raise you to make these decisions. Why are you doing this? What's going on? I also didn't understand that the desire to continue using overrides anything you hope you would do otherwise. So in other words, it just is not a question of willpower.
It's not a question of morality. You are really in the Such as of whatever substance you're abusing. And it's very difficult to get out of that without help. I kept trying to talk logically to my kid. And I realized after a while that she wasn't there. She had been captured and taken to hell [00:31:00] and I couldn't reach her.
Which is what Demeter was experiencing too. She had to heal herself and get better before she could start thinking clearly again. And I had to provide her with that clear thinking until she could do that. I had to show her that what I saw in her was worthy and healthy and positive, even if she didn't see that herself or if she couldn't get there herself.
Those are all the things that I learned along the way. It's a very, very difficult process for anyone to go through. And you have to have a lot of patience and a lot of compassion. As a mother, you just have to trust that that child that you know is in there somewhere and to not let go. That's where you don't let go.
Jessica Fein: My last question, if somebody's just at the beginning of this, if they're where you were in the kitchen when your daughter came home and started to tell you about what she was dealing with, there they are. This is just unfolding in front of them. If you were there with them, what piece of advice would you give them?
Ann Batchelder: I did take a deep breath. It's a long [00:32:00] journey, and you're gonna be okay. And just to trust that this is hard, but you can handle it.
Jessica Fein: Ann, thank you so much for writing this book and for sharing this wisdom with us today. I'm so grateful for your bravery, for your courage, and for your compassion.
Ann Batchelder: Well, thank you so much for having me.
This has been delightful.
Jessica Fein: Here are my takeaways from my conversation with Ann. Number one, it's easy to become a junkie for regret. But when we can let go of our regret and our worry about the past and our fears about the future, we can stay in the present moment. And that's important because number two, we can be helpful on a different level when we're tuned into what is, not what was or what might be.
Number three, we can choose whether we're guided by our intention or by our ego's need to fix things. We can find role models, guides, and teachers in unexpected places, like a Greek myth, for example. You can have compassion for what your child is going through without being on the roller coaster ride [00:33:00] with them.
Waiting 24 hours before responding makes a huge difference. Our knee jerk reaction may do more harm than good. Other people's stories can inspire us and give us hope, which is actually one of the things that I'm doing with this podcast. So if you're enjoying it, please take a minute to leave me a review, rate the show, share it with a friend.
Thanks so much for listening. Talk to you next time.