A conversation with Kirkland Hamill, the author of Filthy Beasts: A Memoir (July, 2020) that gives an insiders view of life in a dysfunctional family and trying to find your way in the world.
Telling your story, you develop a sense of who you were and your values. The story of you, and how you interact in the world conveys who you are.
How are you telling your story?
My guest today Kirkland Hamill, acts purposefully, he's been telling his story through humorous ways. The heart of the matter at times is inspiring and courageous, other times dark.
About the Guest
Kirkland Hamill author of Filthy Beasts: A Memoir, has written for Salon and The Advocate, and was formerly the chief development and marketing officer at the National Center for Family Philanthropy. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, with his husband and a dog named Blue.
About the Show
Podcast Host: Life & Leadership: A Conscious Journey with Michelle St Jane
A podcast for Global and Re-Emerging Leadership creating community/tribe, a circle of influence, transcendency of compassionate leadership in the world and wider universe. A unique destination for learning about Leadership + Conscious Stewardship + Legacy.
Resources & Links
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Social media accounts.
You're listening to Life and Leadership, A Conscious Journey: the podcast that shares wisdom and strength. Join your host, Dr. Michelle St Jane's weekly conversation on how to have a positive impact for people planet and the wider world. If you want to live a life with intention, be proactive with your time and bring your vision for the future to life, one day at a time, you are in the right place at the right time. Let's get started.
Michelle St Jane 00:39
Telling your story, you develop a sense of who you were and your values. The story of you, and how you interact in the world conveys who you are. How are you telling your story? My guest today Kirkland Hamill, ex purposefully, he's been telling his story through humorous ways. The heart of the matter at times is inspiring and courageous, other times dark. My story, your story, good, bad and ugly, there's a place to tell it. And you are in your conversations and how you show up. The author of Filthy Beasts: A Memoir, that came out in July last year is compelling and vivid. It's a view of life and a dysfunctional family and trying to find your way in the world, known as de Klerk, I stand in reference for who you are, and what you have done. And I bow to the divine light in you that can access with the universe.
Kirkland Hamill 01:36
Oh, thank you.
Michelle St Jane 01:37
So Kirk, what did you want to be when you're growing up? I would imagine like me, there wasn't always a lot of space for thinking about the future, because the present could be quite, you know, stay on top of everything. But did you have any dreams?
Kirkland Hamill 01:50
Oh, I wanted to be an actor. And, and, you know, I'm not a very good actor, as it turns out. But I think that probably came from a space of where a lot of people are at that point, which is, you know, I'd like to be heard, I like to be seen, I'd like to be independent and famous and all of those things. And, you know, there was a part of me that thought maybe I had something to say or give or, or something. I'm sure that's where it probably came from. But as it turned out, when I tried out for plays and things and it became clear pretty quickly that I was more interested in being myself and and being other people. So that, that died fairly quickly. But I kind of knew, I think from that, that somewhere in the creative space is where I was going to end up somehow.
Michelle St Jane 02:41
Boy, did you make a big splash. Life is a way of being beautiful, and often were forced to grapple with life full on, tell me about some of the inevitable challenges you faced growing up?
Kirkland Hamill 02:53
Oh, well, you know, you've read my book, so you know all of them. But you know, the primary one, my parents divorced when I was eight, and we moved to Bermuda, we had grown up in a very wealthy family and environment. And when you're that age, you sort of assume that's the way it is for everybody. We got to Bermuda, and we didn't have any money. So we've lived on very little, and tell a story in the book about my mother used to go to the grocery store and get a half gallon of filled metal, you couldn't even get real milk because that was too expensive. And between me and my two brothers, that would have to last us for the week. So you know, when you're eight, that doesn't feel necessarily like a hardship to you personally, but I certainly could sense the anxiety that created for my mother. And my mother drank a lot when my parents were together. But when she was alone and raising three boys on her own, the drinking became a lot worse. So again, that was a lot of what I view as challenging about growing up. I didn't have a conscious understanding of until I got older, because when you're in the middle of it, you don't see it for what it is it's only in the comparisons to other things or in the context of learning more about how other people live and what's normal and what's healthy, and what's not that you may, that I started to get an understanding of just how challenging it actually was.
Michelle St Jane 04:22
Yeah, great point. In fact, we parallel. My parents separated when I was eight and I think I'm in a different, earlier decades than you. And I found myself parenting the parent in my, in house parent was not the alcoholic, but was the rage-a-holic. So I'll speak a bit later to being externally addicted to drugs and alcohol, or substance of choice might be people are being internally addicted to the chemicals of adrenaline and things like that. But for me, I ended up parenting the parent when my father left, who I was very close to. My mother just imploded, she imploded. She was in bed, we had no food. Well, you know, we had a church dropping off groceries, neighbor and fighting us for dinner. It was a real shocker. But again, when I was much older, I looked at my, I did a family genogram and looked at how addiction came down through the male side of the families. And domestic violence was another huge stream that came down, you know, having a deeper understanding of ancestral trauma, which lives in our body and our cells, you know, there's a great book the body knows, or the body remembers. Do people know about being intensely addicted and dosing your body with adrenaline and cortisol, which can be a substitute for one addictive behavior or an addictive attitude? None of it give you serenity, or safety or security? Yeah, but what I did learn that, you know, dosing, internal dosing was something I had to look at, because I wasn't a drinker or drug-er, or that was what my younger sibling did.
Kirkland Hamill 06:01
Well, isn't it funny how I think a lot of people misunderstand that when we talk about an alcoholic home, a lot of times, necessarily, the alcoholic can cause the most damage. The process of trying to navigate around alcoholic behavior really works. People in so many different ways, including children, even if you've never taken a drop of alcohol. I think when I talked to people about this journey, and how, you know, I had my own recovery to go through, even though I wasn't the addict. I think that's still difficult for people to really wrap their brains around. You know, I have a friend recently who I've been speaking to, they have a child who they think has it has addiction problems, and the parents are just at loggerheads with each other. There's one who wants to go out at full force, and, you know, lay down the law and the other one who's saying, you know, you just have to step back and let them be who they are. And, you know, I pointed out to her, I was like, you know, you do realize that you are part of this. You are actually, you are now orbiting the star. And it's impacting your behavior and your relationship with your husband and your children, and all of those things. And, but it's funny how, again, when you're in the middle of it, you just think you're acting like any normal person would.
Michelle St Jane 07:18
Absolutely and what is normal, I mean, I grew up in this household, and I did not realize as a child, that this was not normal, until my father left. And this is my secret shame. My father, who I was extremely close to, who was the alcoholic, and both my parents were domestic violence, abusers. They both were heavily involved and as bad as one another. When my father left, to be in a broken home, labeled me as a potential pregnant teenager, and my brother as a delinquent. He lived into his label, I was not going to, but my secret shame was I found in primary school, I was eight years old. That if I want to have friends, I needed to say my dad was dead. That the ultimate childhood back trail, saying that your dearly beloved dad was dead. If I didn't do that, children would stay away from me because I was tainted from a broken home. You know, or and being divorced, when I was eight years old ,was like a terrible thing. That was just terrible as clearly, you know, my mother and her children were not good. So that was one of the things that I had to really unravel as an adult with this deep shame, about saying my dad was dead. But society, I was welcomed into homes that were wonderfully peaceful and had afternoon tea after school. And mothers had to be a kids and we're happy to see them and didn't suddenly morph into something else. And I think you're exactly right. Every participant in the family has a part to play, I became a hero. I was cooking meals at eight years old. Doing household chores, and I was babysitting my five year old brother. I was his full time parent and I was parenting my mother. So you know I was already at eight years old, primed to be there and turn up. But in the outer world, outside of our neighborhood, I would tell that lie and I'm someone who finds lies very offensive but that was one I had to unravel. That was really crushing my soul because you know the -isms, be it alcoholism or other there in the in the 12 step programs, we say that cutting powerful bethel baffling definitely cutting and powerful anyway, I never get them right but those are the three words. So I think you hit
Kirkland Hamill 09:42
on there a lot of slogans. So it's understandable that.
Michelle St Jane 09:44
Yeah, but I think people don't realize that how cutting that was, that stayed with me through my adulthood. And I had to unravel that one because it was a survival tactic in a childhood trap that didn't belong in my adult life. Do you know what I mean? Absolutely. What about unexpected events from growing up in this? Any come to mind that you'd like to share and how you navigated?
Kirkland Hamill 10:08
Unexpected. I'm not sure about unexpected again, because when you are in the middle of it, there are no expectations as to what is normal and what isn't. So I think there's a moment when the seed was planted that something wasn't quite right. And that was around, was Christmas Eve, one year, I was probably nine or ten. And my mother had put a roast in the oven, and I smelled it burning, and she wasn't anywhere to be found. And I eventually found her in bed asleep, I guess passed out. I didn't think about it that way at the time, you know, all I could think to tell her was the food was burning. And all she said to me was, well then take it out of the oven. And then she went back to sleep. Even in the midst of not having a full understanding of what a healthy Christmas Eve would look like. I did then sort of get the inkling remember telling my older brother is like, this is not right. I mean, this thing's burned, we don't have anything to eat, and she's asleep in the bedroom. That doesn't add up to, you know, what's supposed to be happening on Christmas Eve. So those were probably the little seeds that started in my head anyway, helped me to realize that something was amiss. And, you know, over time, that was dawning on me that it had to do with her drinking and the behavior around her drinking.
Michelle St Jane 11:37
Yeah, good point. For me, I was 16. And I had, you know, doing a levels and a levels across that time period. And my experience of that was I was in such a rage for house, I don't know how I passed so many levels. And I only scraped through. But when it came to a divorce, I wanted to go to university, but I didn't know that in my family, people like us didn't go to university. I thought I could, I certainly was bright enough not that my grades supported that. And I ended up saying to my mom, take my summer job because I was doing a lot more than she was. And she took my summer job, she had a new partner. And as I'm getting the week from getting ready to go back to school, she says, you have to move out now. So I'm suddenly without a job, without a home and without no idea how to even live in the real world. But fortunately for me, there were some angels that I didn't really know that covered my path, who gave me ways out. And later life, I came to realize that was a gift, I was better out of that household. And fortunately, because I've been running a household from eight, and you had a run a household, and people turned up to guide me into, you know, apartment sharing situations. And that's a whole other story. But that was, I did not see that coming. But because I hit dreams above myself. And my mother had a new partner and a 16 year old daughter, we just had a parting of the ways that I did not see coming. And she had no remorse, just like you need to be gone by the weekend.
Kirkland Hamill 13:07
It's not funny.
Michelle St Jane 13:08
I know! And I'm godsmack because my mother is a wonderful person. I love her dearly. But there were so many underlying issues, you know, the stickers, the secret and the fun secrets in the family that I knew nothing about. But the trigger was my wanting to go to university, a being a 16 year old female, and a few other things that I won't get into. But basically, I didn't even see it coming. I did not realize that could happen to any of my friends. But suddenly, and yeah.
Kirkland Hamill 13:37
Well, it's interesting. My, I don't know if it's unexpected, but I went away to boarding school at 16 from Bermuda. And I guess it was somewhat unexpected that I would want to go. But I think internally, I had an idea that I needed to get out of this environment. I didn't again consciously think about it that way. And in contrast, my mother was very supportive of that idea. Because I think on some level, she knew I needed to get out too. And that's, I think, an interesting component of my mother's alcoholism. But I think she was somewhat aware of how damaging she was on one level where she realized that what she was doing was not good for us. And a lot of the pushing away, I think had something to do with that. But it could be a lot of things. But I do believe that that's one component of it. Yeah. So I applied to a very competitive boarding school and got in, we didn't have any money to pay for it. And I asked my mother how we're going to pay for it, and she said, don't worry about it. And the sort of caveat to this story is that when I graduated from boarding school, I think I was second year in college when I got my first bill from the boarding school saying that I owed tuition. And I called my mother and I said, Do you have any idea what this is about? She's like, Well, yeah, we had Did you think you went to school? We took out loans to do it. And I said, Well, you didn't tell me about that part. She said, Well, you've got a great education now, so figure it out. And she pretty much hung up the phone, I'm in my second year of college, which I had to take loans out to go to college. You know, it was, again, that kind of the giving and the taking away, which is a really big part of a lot of alcoholic situations as well, which keeps us somewhat roiling in the environment for a long time, for a lot of people. They're always sort of little signs of hope and little signs of progress, and then the rug gets pulled out again. And I think that's what makes alcoholism such an insidious disease is because hope you normally associated with being a good thing. And you know, the expectation that people will evolve. And that sort of comes from a generosity of spirit, one would say, is a good thing. But at some point with an alcoholic, that doesn't work. And you need to shut that off and move in a different direction of just detaching and moving away. And it's very counter to how generous, affectionate people want to be. And I think this bleeds nicely into the spiritual part of why, the spiritual part of recovery is so important, because in the giving up of the hope that things are different than they are, and there needs to be something else to look towards. And so, you know, we've talked just a little bit by email about sort of the spiritual awakening and the journey and how, and why that's such a big part of recovery. Because without it, it's very difficult to navigate. So there was a moment for me where I really understood that and kind of use that as a structure on which to build the rest of my life.
Michelle St Jane 16:42
Well see, Kirk, you just brought up so many amazing things. And to come back to the spiritual connection, you know, when I grew up, God was a very scary, angry man. Well, you know, I had a whole diagram of those. And so I moved very much into nature. And it wasn't until it was actually that so I found my sort of higher power, my divine grace and nature. And in 2016, it moved from the outside to the inside. And it was this click ride, no longer felt alone, or not alone, a lonely like I had this connection to a power higher than myself. And I've been ever so grateful for the last four years, because there's been some tough stuff to navigate. But, you know, I always had an inner faith and a connection, but it was that moving inwards? I think I'd hit this barrier of like, Oh, hell, no, you know, you're not getting that close. But that was such a blessing. And, you know, I now very much, am willing to listen to my soul and the quieter voices, and realize that, you know, that's my call to action, not the drama lammas and the chaos and the crisis.
Kirkland Hamill 17:46
Well, God is such a polluted word and that's not God's fault. The word God has been polluted in many different ways, by people who for manipulative purposes, to get what they want, I mean, all sorts of things. So I think it's very tricky. When people hear spiritual, they instantly think religion which was very important for me to get past. And that's still an evolution, there's still a trigger associated with the word, especially because I'm gay. And growing up, the message that you got from the religious world was that being who I was, was not only wrong, it was the means by which your whole spirit was damned for eternity. I mean, it was very dramatic. So I think, especially for a lot of gay people, that word is, is loaded with difficulty, but it's really important. And I am responsible for getting over that and moving into an understanding of what spirituality really is. I think the phrase higher power actually is a good one, as I've struggled with how to define it. The only thing that makes sense to me is, I don't know necessarily what specifically to believe in. But I believe very strongly in the power of belief. And I believe in that, which is how I've come to understand a lot of things is watching the people around me and watching the people sort of in the public eye, the ones who have been the most successful, the ones who've seen the happiest, the ones who are the most grounded, the ones who I'm the most drawn to have this belief system. And whether they use the word God or any other religious term for the word God, or it's more of a natural spiritual thing. It seems to be in the believing that the power comes. So I like the generic higher power piece because as I was told in one of my first Al-Anon meetings, if for you, that's the door knob, then just focus on the door knob, believe in the power of the door knob, and things are going to get better. And let it go to that, whatever that thing is, the thing that you're struggling with, the thing that you can't figure out, the thing that's breaking your heart, focus on that and the power of that make it better and just in the process of believing things, start to get better. And so that's basically my spiritual face, not the doorknob, necessarily. But that idea.
Michelle St Jane 20:07
Great place to start for me and my first meeting. I was holding on to that one cup of tea, and I've been able to drink it and peace. Thank you for bringing Ellen on up. What was the trigger to get you through the doctor? Oh, how did you find out? And how did you get through the door? Both of those things are pretty big.
Kirkland Hamill 20:25
Yeah. So I, like a lot of people with an alcoholic in their life, decided at one point that I was going to fix my mother. So I was in Bermuda, I looked in the Yellow Pages under alcoholism. And I found this free counseling service. And I went and sat down, and spoke with somebody who very quickly told me that I can't fix my mother. But that was not an option. And after I described some of what was happening, she's like, you know, you should prepare yourself, she's probably going to die soon. I mean, she was pretty, no-nonsense about the whole thing, which in in retrospect, I understand now. I don't think she'd been doing it for very long. But the overall message that I left with is that you need to go to Al- Anon. If you want help, or yourself, Al- Anon is the place where you need to go. So because I was so motivated, and I was thinking pretty fast internally, and I've talked about this a lot. There's also an ambition, like, I didn't want to sink. I wanted my life to be successful. So getting me through the door, I, at that point, I was thinking, I'm going to do anything that I need to do. Even if I don't understand it, even if I can't reactively wrap my brain around it, I'm going to, I'm going to follow any path that people are laying out for me to get help, because I want to be okay. And I thought my being okay was dependent on my mother being okay. So, like a lot of people, I went into those meetings, first of all thinking, Okay, what do I need to learn in order to fix this? And very quickly, I came to understand that that's not what Al- Anon was about. It was all about, you know, them telling me, you're the one with a problem. And you need to fix yourself, and you can't do anything about your mother. Once I really understood that there was an enormous amount of freedom, in that.
Michelle St Jane 22:17
Well done you and clearly a fast learner. I went into Al- Anon, last decade, spent 10 years trying to fix a significant person in my life. Ten years, I kid you not. And I think this people have done a longer time than I have. And I live because I thought, but funnily enough, when I first heard about Al- Anon, it was a friend of mine, and she said, exactly like you, you need to go to Al- Anon, am I? What will it do? Will it fix this person? It's just like, no, but I'll fix you. Well, I only heard six and thought, be there, we'll do it. I didn't do it right at all, for 10 years, I had to come back and try again.
Kirkland Hamill 22:59
Part of that I was 19. And I was very receptive, I can absolutely see if I had spent the next 20 years being resistant, and then started to go down on it probably would have to break through a whole bunch of layers that just hadn't settled for me yet. So I consider myself very fortunate to have tanked pretty early, and to have had that sort of inner understanding. And this is one of the things about being an observer by nature, which is, if you're a writer, you generally tend to be, I could see the evidence around me of people who are leading successful lives. And I tell the story in the book of my friend who I met my freshman year of college, who was like Superman, and I was bizarre, I don't know, obscure comics reference, but it's like the, the alter ego of Superman, like he was everything that I thought I could be as a person. I mean, there was admiration there. And there is a little bit of adoration. And it turns out, I was probably in love with him, which I didn't understand at the time. But that energy, that kind of me looking at him and going, how is he able to be so confident? How was he able to navigate these things so much more easily than I can because he and I sort of are so similar in other ways. He was a real inspiration for me to kind of go, okay well there's something that's not working for me here. And in order, and not this is not the healthiest, necessarily the healthiest way to get healthy. But in order for me, for him to love me, I need to become a better person. And, you know, luckily, over time, I realized that even though it was an amazing motivation, it wasn't necessarily the destination. And it didn't turn out to be the destination, of course. He's great and married, and very happy. And probably, you know, we weren't a good match in that regard anyway, but it was certainly a motivation for me. And that's what I needed right at that moment. And a lot of what recovery is and Al- Anon, if you're sort of open to the spiritual journey of it, is you get what you need the moment that you need it, and you just need to have your eyes open enough to be able to see it and accept it.
Michelle St Jane 25:06
Sort of leap ahead in the journey, and you've become a published author with your memoir. And I would love for you to share what leads you into doing the memoir. And it would be fabulous if you can read an excerpt as well.
Kirkland Hamill 25:20
Yes, so I started out, I was always writing, but my writing was, I would write these very long emails to friends of mine. And even before that letters, I was a letter writer. And I would just pour my heart out and have observations and, you know, go on for pages and pages, and then the email, get back with the Oh, great to hear from you, I'm glad things are going well. And, you know, I went to the store yesterday, talk to you later. And then I'd write back another two or three pages. So clearly, there was something internally about me that wanted to express myself in that way. But the first time I actually wrote the story was probably 13 years ago. I had been having this, this story in my mind, and I went to bed thinking, Okay, well, I'll just fall asleep and forget about it. And my, my brain wouldn't let me so I had to get up and I started typing it out, I just had to get it out of me. So that was the first one. And then similar to the story you told about not knowing what a podcast was, at first, I really wanted to tell all these family stories that my brothers and I had been sharing for a long time, and I've been sharing with my friends. And a lot of them were, you know, hilarious and horrifying at the same time, which a lot of alcoholic stuff can be it can be objectively funny, and it could be objectively horrible at the same time. And I love that combination of the two things. So I started to write those down. And at the end of the week, I had five stories. I found a blog site, salon.com is a pretty well known website here. And they had a blog section, posted it to the blog section. And by the end of the day, the editors of that blog had chosen all of my stories to put on the homepage of the open salon homepage. So and then people started reading them and started commenting on them. And they would be saying things like, well, what happens next. I mean, you can't just leave us here, what what happened to this person, what happened after this event. So I decided that I needed to write a book. And at the time, I had no idea what that meant. But when you go out into the world, and you tell people, you're going to write a book, and then the next time you see them, they ask you how the books going, it can also be very motivating to make sure that you actually follow through and get it done. So yada, yada, yada. 10 years later, there was a book. And I wanted to write the whole thing before I tried to get it published, because I was aware that if I was lucky enough to get somebody interested, but they would give me a deadline in order to finish. And I didn't know a lot of the the best stuff that came out of the book came in its own time. So I wanted to make sure it was pretty much done before I found first an agent, which is what you do. And that took a few months. And then the agent sent out a proposal. And within a week I had the book deal, which I think is a little bit unusual. I think the process is supposed to, or usually it takes longer than that. But I was very lucky to have found the right people who resonated with my story.
Michelle St Jane 28:17
Wow, could you share an excerpt from your fabulous book and do hold up the cover first, because I think it's, you know, it's a great picture.
Kirkland Hamill 28:24
So that's a picture of my older brother, Robin and me, I'm the blonde one. We're on my grandfather's yacht in Bermuda, and the house in the background is their house. So a lot of this, part of the story is coming from this very wealthy, aristocratic New York City world into Bermuda without having any money. And of course, the addiction and all of this stuff sort of follows from that. But the excerpt I'm going to read is from my first Al- Anon meeting, and I'm going to start right when a woman, Dorothy, is telling her story. Hi, I'm Dorothy, the woman said. Hi, Dorothy, the room repeated in unison like a monastic chant. The movie Children of the Corn flashed through my head. Dorothy went on. I've been struggling with letting go lately. I have sat in this room every week for over five years now. And I still can't get this one quite right. She chuckled and shook her head. Last night I got home from playing bridge, the group of friends, and when I got to the front door of the house, I could tell something was wrong. I just knew it. Heads nodded around the circle. I walked in expecting to see Jim lying facedown on the carpet with an empty bottle of gin by his side, but nobody was home. She smiled slightly to herself. When Jim was drinking, I get some dream of coming home to an empty house. I used to pray for him to be picked up by the police in front of the jail just so that I can have one night alone without us going through the routine of me yelling at him, him calling me a nagging harpy and both of us falling into bed exhausted. Jim has been sober for over three years now, and here I was walking into that empty house. And all I could think was that it was so quiet because he started drinking again. So I called my oldest daughter and asked if she hadn't heard from her father because he was missing. The group laughed. And then she said, Maybe he's out. And her voice was so sweet and I'm concerned, and I was thinking, I've raised a moron. I was getting increasingly outraged because she doesn't know her father like I do. And then I remembered, of course, she thinks he's fine, because I never told her about the 10,000 times I had to carry him to bed, or how I spent the last hour of almost every night of her childhood, cleaning everything to get the smell of liquor out of the goddamn upholstery in the floorboards and the window sills. And then the next morning, she and her father would tease me about my late night cleaning ditches. And I would yell at her to get her book back together, and she would cut her eyes at me and hug her smelly, hungover father and walk right past me as if I didn't exist. I thought back to those school mornings, when my mother and brothers would laugh together as if nothing had happened. While I would be a paralyzed mixture of furious and sad, and they would look at each other behind my back, shrug and smile, that condescending smile that they didn't think I could see, Dorothy side. Anyway, so I yelled at her that she didn't know what she was talking about. She hung up on me. And then after an hour of calling the hospital, police stations and everyone he knows, he walked into the house perfectly fine and said, Hey, sweetie, to me, like nothing had happened. And I yelled, Where the hell have you been? And he said he had dinner with his a sponsor and asked what's wrong? And I told him, I didn't know her where he was. And I was so fucking angry. That was yelling about how worried I'd been and realize how crazy I was acting. But by then it was too late not to be crazy. So I stormed out of the room and slammed our bedroom door while he was stammering and looking at me like I'd lost my goddamn mind. And I had, I had lost my damn mind. Dorothy was laughing, like she had been at the beginning of the meeting, and the rest of the group was laughing with her. You'd think I would have apologized to him after all of that. Dorothy shook her head looking, regretful. But I didn't. I'm not ready. He's been sober for three years, and I'm not ready to apologize to him for anything. She looked up with the nodding heads around the room. And the worst part is, I could have had one whole hour to myself in my own house. I could have read a book, watch TV, called a friend or just sat and stared out the window. And the group was nodding again and chuckling. How are they finding the story, funny? We're glad you're here, Dorothy. Another middle aged woman said keep coming back, said another. The people around the circle, all women aged from 30 to 70 spoke one by one about their struggles. All relating to the theme of Dorothy introduced the ambiguous topic of letting go. And one woman spoke about how she drove by her boyfriend's house late at night to see if he was cheating on her. Another talk about how her teenage son wasn't speaking to her because she stopped calling the school to say that he was sick, when he was really hung over. Almost everyone spoke about higher power and how they were trying hard to let go and let things be and not control outcomes. How is that going to help anyone stop drinking, I slipped out the back after the meeting started to break up more confused than when I had arrived. The last thing they said before the end of the meeting was to keep coming back. And that new people should attend at least six meetings before giving up. I assumed this message was directed at me. But besides a random smile here or there, nobody focused on me. I didn't get the feeling that they cared one way or the other if I came back again. But I did keep going back. The only 19 year old man and a gaggle of disappointed yet inspiring older women. Their laughter was off putting in the sweet as each woman told the story more horrifying than the last. But with each anecdotes in the group laughter that followed. The nature of alcoholism changed for me, I started to see myself as separate, I started to identify choices that could be made.
Michelle St Jane 33:52
Powerful. Kirk, just so powerful. So I'm going to put a link in the show notes where to get your book because I think it is an inspiring read. What's next, what you're working on?
Kirkland Hamill 34:04
I'm working on a novel based on another sort of traumatic event in my life related to my friend group. And I'm really interested in the idea of we talk a lot in Al- Anon in recovery circles about family of choice and family of origin. So I had, I discovered my family of choice and they were very nurturing and sort of life saving for me at a certain time. But every family has its issues. And certainly, I was drawn to a lot of these folks because we shared a lot of similar histories, which created a situation where there was sort of an epic explosion at the center of the group. And the novel really sort of follows. And it's highly fictionalized, first of all, it's not another memoir, I decided after the first memoir, I can't do another one. I thought writing a novel would be so much easier, which you know, was ridiculous in and of itself because it's just a different set of challenges. But I was really interested in what happens to a group of friends when there's sort of cataclysmic event in the center of it. And how people individually react? How couples within the group react to each other? And how they either navigate that transition, or they don't. So that's basically what it's about.
Michelle St Jane 35:21
Fascinating. That's definitely going to be a book to look out for. Definitely let me know, when you're close to the launch date. A couple of personal questions, what do you like listening to?
Kirkland Hamill 35:32
You mean, music? Or podcasts? Or Oh, it's all open? Okay. You know, I think I'm kind of like you. The podcast thing, I haven't really don't know a lot about. It's funny, when I talked to friends of mine, they always mentioned a podcast, or like, oh, if you haven't heard of this one, you need to check it out. So I am tiptoeing into that space a little bit, but it doesn't sort of evolve into the, what I like to listen to power yet. But you know, my husband and I, we come home, we cook dinner, we have music going. In every night, we sort of pick a different genre, whether it's some sort of indie chill thing or, you know, some throwback to 80s new wave or something, we just kind of decide what our mood is at the time, and put it on for the night. So that's probably, what we ought to.
Michelle St Jane 36:25
Be your current emotion, because you've just shared your current imagination with the next book.
Kirkland Hamill 36:30
My current emotion for the boo.
Michelle St Jane 36:33
How do you feel today?
Kirkland Hamill 36:38
Maybe settled, I mean, not completely settled. You know, this is something that we also kind of noveled a little bit about, I don't believe in destination, necessarily. I'm, you know, I talk with friends a lot. It's been interesting about the evolution of how I look at what I'm doing in my life. And right now, I'm focused a lot about what I'm eating, and how that makes me feel. How well I'm sleeping, and what I need to do to. So a lot of it is like the logistics of leading a healthy life, while also, I was just having this conversation with a friend of mine about being responsible for the energy that you bring into the room. And we started talking about it, because, you know, Dave, and I, in pre-COVID times would see people for and have people over to our place. And I started to realize that after four or five days, I became pretty cranky. And that would have an impact on the people who were there, which wasn't their fault. And I started to realize that I need to be responsible for the energy that I bring into the room. And I also need to be responsible for the energy I keep out of my life. You know, a few friends of mine and I are talking a lot about what that means in terms of relationships with people and exposure to certain things. And so I'm becoming very just aware of the energy and how I'm feeling on that level. And what's influencing whether that's good or bad, and a lot of the logistics on just leading a healthier life. And I'm 52, that's right, 'm 52. Almost 53, so I've been thinking a lot about that. And maybe just that's the time of life that you start thinking about that more.
Michelle St Jane 38:10
Yeah. And it's a new decade as well.
Kirkland Hamill 38:14
New era in so many ways, which is part of the reason I was up way too late last night, watching the election pieces, but yeah, it feels like it's the beginning of something better.
Michelle St Jane 38:25
Do you have a current meditation, I'm a big step, a living fan. And I like the fact that you can connect with your higher power just because you're willing, do you meditate?
Kirkland Hamill 38:37
I don't meditate, I do yoga. So I guess that's meditating in its own way, sort of focusing on the breath, and just being really present in the space and I find the online yoga people who are, you know, are guides in that sense. But I do, because I'm trying to be very aware of when my anxiety level starts to rise, I almost have this instant kind of reaction to it, which is okay, you need to settle down, you need to sit and breathe. And you need to put in perspective, what's actually happening to you. So I do that a lot throughout the day or the week. I don't have one specific moment where I go, okay, it's two o'clock, so I'm going to be meditating for 15 minutes. I don't think it's a bad idea. I think it might actually be a pretty good idea. I just haven't gotten there yet.
Michelle St Jane 39:26
Well, I may share with you my current meditation, which is called The 6 Phase Guided Meditation by Vishen Lakhiani, he does mind valley and some amazing stuff that might interest you. Wow, this has been just one powerful conversation, Kirk. So thank you for sharing how you face the trials of life with grace and gifting the world with your memoir. Any last thoughts before we.
Kirkland Hamill 39:51
Just thank you so much for having the conversation, I so appreciate it. And if people are interested, they'll be basis for sale everywhere. You just google it, google my name and place will pop up. Buy from your local bookseller, if you have the option to because they need our support right now. But I just really appreciate the conversation, I love in the age of the pandemic, not being able to get out and speak about the book in the way that I wanted to publicly. This is a really nice other way to do it. So I appreciate the invitation and it was so nice to talk to you and to learn more about you in your life.
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