There is rage, yes, but also endless disappointment

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

Before I even got out of bed this morning, I read this long piece in Slate about Blake Bailey, the author of the recent Philip Roth biography whose publication has been frozen amid allegations of rape and sexual assault, as well as grooming young students. I can’t stop reading about it. There are more stories, memories, allegations surfacing from his former students, and it’s bringing up feelings. I was fortunate to talk to a couple friends who are also women writers about this over Zoom the other night. …

Read everything from Nina Renata Aron — and more.

Upgrade to Medium membership to directly support independent writers and get unlimited access to everything on Medium.

Become a member

Already a member?Sign In

Yes, motherhood can be a private cataclysm, but I know you’ll be okay

Photo by Dakota Corbin on Unsplash

I tried to get you a gift today but everything was too stupid. I wanted to buy you something that would embarrass you and playfully tie you to the motherhood-industrial complex — an association I know you dread — while also conveying the unwieldy tenderness I already feel toward your embryo. I ended up in an Etsy slum, poring over page after page of tragicomic trifles: mugs that say “Bumpin’ ain’t easy” in that awful curlicue mom font, the one that adorns tote bags and oversized planners. A mug with a picture of an avocado that reads “Don’t worry, you’re…

Lived Through This

It took healthy love to appreciate the abuse I had excused

Photo: David Wall / Getty Images

“Just a heads up, I might write about our relationship,” I recently said to my boyfriend. “But I promise I won’t do it without your permission.”

“Consent,” he said.


“Without my consent,” he repeated. “You don’t need my permission to do anything.”

“Oh. Right,” I said, laughing a little, and we exchanged the knowing look — a tender, amused wince — that has become commonplace in our relationship. The look is a mutual acknowledgment that I am really fucked up. Or, to be kinder to myself (which is on my self-care list!), …

A conversation about growing up in an alcoholic home with Andrea Ashley, host of the Adult Child podcast

Photo by Thomas Picauly on Unsplash

Addiction is a family disease. That’s a line you’ve surely heard if someone in your life suffers from substance use disorder. In my experience it’s true. The chemically dependent person may be the primary symptom bearer, but the entire family system becomes sick and everything becomes organized — in many cases warped — around addiction. For children growing up with an alcoholic parent, the damage is particularly deep. The term “adult child” is used to describe adults who grew up in alcoholic or dysfunctional homes and who exhibit identifiable traits that reveal past abuse or neglect.

In 1978, Adult Children…

Past Is Prologue

The term went mainstream in the ’80s and ’90s, and it’s carried a stigma ever since

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

By the time I attended my first Al-Anon meetings as a teenager in the ’90s, I had heard the word “codependency” many times. Where? No one in my house talked about it, nor did friends, but it was ambient in the culture at the time. While researching the genesis of this term and its conceptual underpinnings for a memoir about my own disastrous relationship patterns, I realized I’d probably heard it on the daytime talk shows I sometimes mindlessly watched after school.

Codependency had a moment in the late ’80s and early ’90s. But, sadly, when the term went mainstream…

And why ‘The Love Story of the Century’ is one of the best I’ve read

The Finnish writers Märta and Henrik Tikkanen and their children, 1966.

This week, I picked up a book that has languished in my towering to-be-read stack for a year. It’s called The Love Story of the Century and it was written in 1978 by Finnish-Swedish author Märta Tikkanen, translated by Stina Katchadourian, and republished in 2020 by Deep Vellum. The book is a novel-in-verse about living with an alcoholic, based on the author’s experiences with her writer husband, Henrik Tikkanen, and I read it in one gulp, until two in the morning.

How I love reading about love. Not thirty pages in, I took to the internet to see a photo…

This Is Us

When I revealed deeply personal details of my life in my memoir, my friendships changed in ways I never expected

Closeup of a woman’s face with a pensive expression.
Closeup of a woman’s face with a pensive expression.
Photo: Shane Gorski via Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0

I was already a bit of a mess a year ago, just as the world changed forever. I bit my nails, pulled out strands of hair. I stared at the ceiling some nights, convinced I could hear a faint, constant ringing. “Aren’t you nervous for your book to come out?!” people asked. “Not really,” I answered. I don’t know why it felt right to lie. Not right — essential, as though only by performing cool-girl calm could I show my panic who was boss, shove it back into its hole.

I have struggled with anxiety throughout my life, but this…

The radical women behind the original “dump him” discourse

A gathering of members of the Women’s Christian Temperance Union, 1924.

A couple years ago, while researching my memoir about a love affair with a man addicted to heroin, I got lost in the testimonies of temperance women. I was trying to understand the deleterious effects of men’s addictions on women’s lives throughout history; still, it was a somewhat surprising place to find myself. The temperance movement, as I learned about it in middle school, was part of a puritanical Christian bid for the total prohibition of alcohol. I was led to imagine angry, humorless middle-aged white women pouring out crystal decanters of brandy or smashing barrels of rum in dark…

These principles are about so much more than sobriety

Photo: MundusImages/Getty Images

Recovering alcoholics often say they’re lucky. To a newcomer hearing this uttered in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, it can sound ridiculous. “Lucky to be here,” one might scoff, sipping weak coffee in a bleak church basement, surrounded by disconcertingly cheerful drunks? “Ha.”

But if you follow the suggestion to keep coming back, it starts to make sense after a while. That’s because 12-step recovery doesn’t just help people to quit drinking. It offers a “blueprint for living,” a set of tools and strategies that, when practiced daily, slowly transform our lives from feeling unmanageable to something we can deal with…

This is the sober-curiosity canon — created almost entirely by women

Recently, when a friend asked me why I thought so many people we knew had stopped drinking, I responded with, “Um, maybe because the pandemic is one of the biggest challenges humans have ever faced, and it’s the only way we can exert a modicum of control over our existence?”

That’s all true, but there’s also the fact that once we’ve quit, many of us discover a new vitality. Even if it’s not a full-on lifestyle change, getting a little dry time under our belts seems to catalyze creativity.

For adherents of 12-step recovery programs like me, there is no…

Nina Renata Aron

Author of Good Morning, Destroyer of Men’s Souls: A Memoir of Women, Addiction, and Love. Work in NYT, New Republic, the Guardian, Jezebel, and more.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store