I’ve mostly gotten used to it but there’s still a mental mountain to climb

Photo by Edward Howell on Unsplash

Memorial Day should be a day of somber remembrance, but for many Americans it’s really a drinking holiday, one of many dotted throughout the calendar year. They hit a little different for sober people.

Over the past few years, I’ve gotten used to spending holidays clutching a seltzer, but I still have to steel myself for these periodic days off, socializing with friends who drink. It still feels like a thing, a little mental mountain to be climbed. I no longer resent it, nor does it feel like hard work exactly. Cheesily enough, I often end up appreciating the practice…


More mindf*cks of motherhood

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For a few weeks, one of my best friends is staying with us. She flew here from the east coast with her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, and after a year of semi-isolation, their energy in the house feels like a gift. They’re sleeping in my daughter’s room and my daughter is sleeping in my room. “It’s like we’re having a sleepover every night,” mine told me, as she stuck a bookmark in her copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret the other night. It feels like nature really is healing, as the internet would say.

But with a toddler in…


“I loved your book but my mom didn’t”

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A memoir is not actually an invitation for people to judge the events of your life — it’s a work of literature and memory. But readers don’t always see it that way. They often take reading one as an opportunity to evaluate the author’s life decisions, especially if that person is a woman. Double if she’s a mother.

I knew this going into the process of memoir writing and experienced grave anxiety about it, but I didn’t feel entitled to the worry. Could I really complain about mean girls on Goodreads if I’d put sordid details about my life out…


A tale of two celebrity Instagrams

I don’t often find myself on celebrity Instagram. It’s a bad neighborhood I try to stay away from — I don’t feel safe there. But this weekend I was visiting my 98-year-old grandmother and found myself anxiously scrolling a lot. Maybe it was the stark confrontation with mortality, something I’m not quite used to in this form. …


There is rage, yes, but also endless disappointment

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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. …


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.

“What?”

“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…

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.

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