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#156: How to Write About Difficult Topics in Your Blog

Learn how to write about difficult topics in your blog. It is possible, and can be healing for you and helpful to others.

I’m excited to share my newest podcast interview with Cheryl Garove, from the blog, Grounded by Grace. In her blog, Cheryl doesn’t hold anything back. She discusses her food addiction and her family’s addictions to drugs and alcohol. She does this with bravery, clarity, and of huge dose of grace.

Many people would feel uncomfortable writing so deeply about their struggles. But what Cheryl has done is shed the light on what going through difficulty is really like. And the response to her writing has been overwhelming positive.

In these challenging times, Cheryl feels a need to help, as people suffer in shame and silence.

Recording this podcast touched me in a way that was very deep. I know it will touch you too.

Learn how to write about difficult topics in your blog by listening to this new episode of The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie. This is brought to you by the MiloTree app.

Show Notes:

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Intro 0:04
Welcome to The Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.

Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello friends. Welcome back to the show. This is Jillian Leslie, founder of the MiloTree app. Founder of Catch My Party, host of this podcast, business coach and business translator.

I take what’s working in blogging and online business today. Break it down so you can use these tips and strategies in your own business. Before I get started, I wanted to read a review somebody left of this podcast, The Blogger Genius Podcast in iTunes.

So, it’s a woman named Mrs. Dolly Mama and she wrote, “I’m so happy I discovered this podcast from using MiloTree. Jillian has such a calming and kind presence and her podcasts are filled with insightful and actionable advice any business owner can take immediately. Thank you, Jillian, for the value you bring to the business community.”

Well, I am super touched. Thank you, Mrs. Dolly Mama. And please, if you are enjoying the podcast, head to iTunes, and leave a review and hopefully five stars. It helps other people find the podcast.

It helps it grow so that I can continue to bring you awesome guests.

For today’s episode, I have Cheryl Garove on the podcast. And she blogs at Grounded by Grace. If you’ve ever wondered how much of yourself to share, in your blog, how personal to get.

I think you’ll find today’s interview really interesting, because Cheryl blogs all about her food addictions and her family’s addictions to drugs and alcohol. It didn’t start this way for Cheryl. But over time, she felt braver, her audience responded so positively.

And I think she felt an obligation to put her truth out there so others who are struggling, don’t feel so alone. And I think that is so important. Especially during this time when we’re so isolated.

I found this interview so uplifting, so inspiring. I’m so proud of what Cheryl is putting out there. So, without further delay, here is my interview with Cheryl Garove.

Cheryl, welcome to the show.

Cheryl Garove 2:39
Hi, Jillian, thank you for having me.

Jillian Leslie 2:41
It’s so great to have you. What I think is so interesting is how I found you. I posted in my Facebook Group, the MiloTree Mastermind Blogger Genius Group.

Sharing About Weight Loss on Your Blog

And I wrote something about like, what transformation has happened to you during Coronavirus? And you’ve replied that you lost, gosh, how much weight?

Cheryl Garove 3:08
40 pounds.

Jillian Leslie 3:09
40 pounds. So, I went and looked you up because I said, “Congratulations.” And I went and looked at your blog.

And not only were you sharing about your weight loss, but you were also sharing personal struggles that your family has been going through about addiction.

And I reached out to you to say, “Would you come on my podcast?” Because I think there’s always this balance between, what I teach, which is serve your audience find a solution to a problem that they’re having.

And it’s usually something like, I want to redecorate my house. How do I do that? Or something like maybe even I need activities for my kid.

Especially during this time, and you were going so deep, and I was so impressed with that, that I really wanted to explore your journey and what it’s been like for you to put your truth out there.

Cheryl Garove 4:07
Oh, well, yeah, this has been a long time coming. I have always known for quite some time that I would use my experiences in some way to help others. And that would come in the form of writing, but I just always assumed it would be in a book.

When Your Life is Shrouded in Addiction

And so, for years, I would write non-stop for weeks or months and then life would get in the way and it would just sit there. And all this time I was just shrouded in this life of addiction.

So, my father had been an alcoholic and had passed away and then my son who had started experimenting with drugs in middle school, a decade went by and his drug use had escalated to heroin and fentanyl usage.

And then my husband who had issues with some pills and some alcohol had gotten sober and he had relapsed after for eight years, and it was this whole world that was all consuming for me.

And I felt like I was only able to focus on what they were doing wrong and how I needed to fix them. And everything was just about getting them to the next day and getting through.

And I realized that I was physically and emotionally broken, and that I really just needed to start working on the one thing that I can control, which was me.

And so, in August of 2019, I actually purchased the domain with the intention of let’s just put a blog out there and get started. That didn’t seem as overwhelming to me as a book.

And I wrote a few posts and left them in draft mode, never hit publish, I was just too scared. And so, an entire year, very long year went by.

And in August 2020, my son had gone back to rehab, he had celebrated 12 months of being sober, which was the longest he had been in 10 years, my husband was back in a recovery program and doing really well.

And we had been sent home from work, because of COVID. And I’m like, what am I waiting for? It is time for me to do something with this blog.

And things are on the upswing in that aspect of my life, let me use this passion that I have, let me teach other people what I’ve learned. Let me just put it all out there, and let’s just see what happens.

So, I hit publish, and then I hit publish again. And then that’s just how the blog started.

Jillian Leslie 6:33
Wow. Are you the kind of person who is comfortable sharing your truth with others? Or has this been a journey? Because again, when it comes to addiction and things like that? Usually, there’s a lot of shame around it.

Cheryl Garove 6:50
Absolutely. There is still such a stigma and there is still so much shame surrounding it. No, I am a huge introvert. I was a Facebook lurker; I was never a poster. I never put anything out there for anybody. Everything I did, I internalized everything.

But as I started really working on myself, which was really started in May of 2020, where I was focusing on my health, my overall health.

So, I’m losing the weight and getting mentally, emotionally. Like, why am I turning to food, as a way to calm my fears and for my emotions? It really just opened up a whole other level of why I am the way I am.

And I thought it was so freeing to be able to just see, “Oh, this is why I’m reacting in this way.” And I was so reactionary. And I didn’t have the ability to step back and process things.

And so, what I did, in August, at that point, I had not quite hit 30 pounds of weight loss. But I thought this is all really tying in together the addiction to drugs, the addiction to food, the addiction to anything you have.

I’m just going to put it out there. I feel like I have just come so far. My confidence has grown. Let’s just hit publish on the blog, let’s put it out there on Facebook. Maybe I can help somebody.

Ready to get vulnerable? Learn how to write about challenging topics in your blog. Listening to this new episode of The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie to hear one woman's story talking about food addiction and alcohol and drug addiction. This is brought to you by the MiloTree app.

Helping Others by Sharing About Hard Topics

Because that’s really been my whole intention this whole time. I had the extra time. I’m not commuting to work. I have no excuses left. So, I thought that hour that I used driving into work, the hour home, let’s concentrate on sharing this journey.

And if I’m going to do it, I’m going to be honest about it. I’m going to be fully transparent; I’m going to be vulnerable. And let’s just see what happens. And it was terrifying.

Jillian Leslie 8:42
Okay. So, let’s just go back to when you decided, what was it? Whether it be faith, whether it be joining a group, whether it be reading on Facebook, what was it that made you start this transformation?

Because my hunch is again, I don’t know. But you were addicted to food for a while. And that addiction has been part of your, experience kind of like I always say like the water you swim in.

Cheryl Garove 9:05

Jillian Leslie 9:12
So, to be able to step back and go, oh, wow. Like, the realization that you just said is so powerful, like you can’t fix everybody else. But the one thing you can do is work on yourself.

Cheryl Garove 9:25

Jillian Leslie 9:25
One thing you can change, what was it? Was it Covid? Was it being home from work and having more time, like what was the thing that switched in you?

Cheryl Garove 9:41
I lived in a state of resentment and fear for my whole life. I was mad that I kept finding myself in these situations where I was loving somebody that was suffering from addiction.

And I didn’t have a choice with my father. You’re born into where you’re born into, but I felt like I was so strategic in picking the perfect partner that would not be that way. And it was funny because he is a fantastic guy.

He is not my father, the only characteristic they share is addiction. But he is a great guy. He’s a great father. And so, I was like, very angry when I found out that he, needed to go to rehab the first time.

And so, I sat in that resentment, I took control to a whole next level at that point. I was always the one who just tell me which way to go, and I’ll follow. And at that point in my life, a trigger went off. And I was like, Oh, I can’t trust him. I can’t trust anybody.

I’ve got to do all this by myself. And then when my son started showing the same thing and was starting to get in trouble in middle school and high school, and his drug use was escalating. I thought, well, I have to fix it. I can’t have this happen again, to me.

The way I dealt with it with my father, and my husband, and my son was completely different. And with my son, I just wanted to take care of it and make it all better.

With my husband, I wanted him to just go away, figure it out. Really, it started in May, yes, we’d been home for two months with Covid. I thought that I was doing really well with my weight because I was being more active.

Dealing with Food Issues

And I got on the scale, and I had gained nine pounds. And I was just like sick, in two months, I had gained nine pounds. And I thought if I don’t do something and get a grip on myself, I’m going to be 300 pounds when I go back to work.

And at that point, I thought it might be July, August, we didn’t know. So, I really started focusing on me, I started focusing on what am I eating.

Why am I turning to food, I reached out to friends that I found that had been really successful with their weight loss journeys. And as I started digging deeper, I realized food was no different.

That was what I was going to numb my pain. And once I started digging into that, I realized I can’t fix them, it’s their responsibility to fix them.

Jillian Leslie 12:06
Usually, when we’ve gained 20 pounds, we think to ourselves, all I have to do is lose these 20 pounds, and I’ll be happy and the focus is on the weight. That’s at least in my experience, how I felt about it.

For you. It’s like you recognize that it wasn’t just the weight. And how did that realization come to you?

Cheryl Garove 12:29
So, I’ve been a yo-yo dieter my entire life, and I’ve tried every program out there, I could lose weight, and then I would gain it right back, because I never dealt with the emotional and mental aspects of why I turned to food.

So, this time, after just reading so much, and really investing in what is triggering me, and really getting to the point of realizing I am addicted to food as they are to a drug.

I am no better just because my drug of choice is food. And theirs is a controlled substance.

Cheryl Garove

I came to that realization and it really was an epiphany. And once I realized, oh my gosh, it’s no different. I had to start looking at what did I need to change about me. So, as I continued losing the weight, the weight was just part of it.

I started shedding years and years of emotional trauma. I started shedding years and years of resentment that I had against other people. And I realized that they are all human, we are all fallible, we all make mistakes.

And really just stopped looking outside of myself. And I stopped trying to blame them for where they are in their lives and realizing that I am no different. It’s just a different tool that I’m turning to numb my pain.

Jillian Leslie 14:06
Was there a book? You were saying you were reading books. Was there like one book that you could recommend that you went whoa, this really opened my eyes to what was going on within me?

Cheryl Garove 14:16
Yes. So, it’s a weight loss program that’s called Optavia. But what it is, it is the first thing I’ve ever done that focuses on your mental aspects of it. It’s not just like take carbs away. It’s like yes, take the carbs away, look for balance in your life.

But what do you need to do emotionally and mentally, so that you don’t go back to this place in six months when you’ve lost all of this weight. And the great thing about the program is that you do have this whole community.

I’m so big about a community aspect and that’s one of the reasons that I’m putting all of this out there. Because if I didn’t have a community to rely on to share with other people.

I am really struggling today; I really want a bag of potato chips. Somebody to go to and say, “Girl, hang on. Tomorrow is another day you’re fueling your emotion, just look at fueling your body don’t fuel your emotions like that.” And that has been life changing.

And I have a coach, and I can call her at any time. And I can say, I’m really having a bad day work was terrible today.

And she’d be like, “Just go outside and walk the dog a little bit, get your mind off of it. Don’t turn to the one thing that you know, is really not going to serve you well.” And so, through all of that, I continue to dig deeper.

And yes, it is hard, and it is painful sometimes. Like I said earlier, focus on what I can control, I can’t control anything outside of me. I can control what I put in my mouth, I can control what I put into my brain with what I’m watching on TV or anything like that.

And I need to just fill myself with positive things. And the amazing thing that happened is as I changed, everybody around me changed,

Jillian Leslie 16:07
That was going to be my next question. It’s kind of the idea of like, be the change. Like that idea when we’re focused on other people.

It’s usually self-defeating, and when you are the embodiment of the evolution. It’s like you give space to other people to think to dig deep and figure it out for themselves.

Letting Go of the Need to Micromanage

Cheryl Garove 16:35
Yes, and my husband and my son had already been doing really well in their recovery again. But I stopped feeling the need to micromanage all of it for them. I don’t need to be saying, “Oh, are you going to a meeting tonight.” That’s their journey.

I need to work on my journey. And as I stepped back and let them take accountability for when they went in when they didn’t. And I took that burden off of me. At first, it was very disruptive to them. And it’s a little unsettling to them.

Because here, I’ve been this control freak for the last 10 years. And then I’m kind of like, “Well, if you choose not to go that’s on you.” So, they’re kind of stepping back and saying, “What’s going on?”

But they can’t turn to me now and get mad at me because I am trying to tell them what to do. If they don’t go, they don’t go and that’s on them. I can only do what I can do. And I’ve got to work on me.

And things have just gotten so much better all the way around. Yes, there are still hills and valleys, there are still times when we struggle. There are still times I want to revert back to old habits and tell them what to do.

But I’ve learned that I need to stop, I need to think about what I’m doing. Don’t be so reactionary. Take a pause and respond with respect because they’re struggling just like I am.

And I think that now when we’re all in this era of Covid, we’ve never had this experience before. There is such great isolation going on, people are struggling even who aren’t in the recovery process.

So, I can’t imagine what they are going through is 10 times worse than what I’m doing right now. So, I think really having some compassion and showing some grace is really being a big part of this.

And one of the things I’m trying to share with my blog is not just oh, yeah, they’re all in recovery now and things are rosy. It’s not how it is, there are still times that I am failing miserably as a wife and as a mother.

There are still times that they’re not doing a great job. But we’re all a work in progress. And I think that by putting this out there being transparent, being extremely vulnerable. Other people are able to say I can see myself in that story.

Creating Hope and Connection Through Blogging

Or maybe there’s some hope. Or maybe I need to look at what I can do differently, that will help my loved one by not enabling them so much.

So, really just sharing all of my successes and my failures over the last 10 years. That is what I feel is really the purpose behind all the pain that I’ve been through thus far.

Jillian Leslie 19:12
Now, when you have shared on your blog and on Facebook, what has the response been?

Cheryl Garove 19:20
Overwhelmingly supportive. For people that I’ve known, through high school and college that I’ve known for years, most of the response has been I never knew, like you just held it together.

That’s what we do, right? On Facebook and social media, we only post the pretty pictures. We only post the family vacations where everybody is smiling, we edit everything out. That’s not something that we want everybody to know about.

So, now that they’re seeing this, I had people coming forward and saying my husband’s dealing with the same thing. My father’s dealing with the same thing, my son. So, I feel like that is so fantastic to be able to open up that dialogue with people that I know.

But what is even better, is being able to reach out to people that I don’t know. So, I started really just creating a Facebook page and kind of sharing some of my posts. Experimenting with some very small $20 promoted posts on Facebook.

And I targeted it just to the Southeast because that’s where I live. And I thought, let’s just start here. I was very specific with some of the keywords and the age groups that I used.

I didn’t want it to be to 18-year-olds, I wanted it to be to parents, or to spouses and things like that. And what I have been so excited to see is the number of shares that the posts are getting. And now it’s being shared to Pennsylvania to Indiana.

To Northern States that I wasn’t targeting. And again, the comments are, “This was exactly me; this is what I was doing.” And so, I’m making a really conscious effort to go in and anytime somebody likes the post or comments on it.

I’m inviting them to like the page. And then I’m just trying to be really strategic in how I’m posting it. So, what I’ve noticed is I’ve only done three promoted posts at this point.

The first two were extremely vulnerable and extremely deep dives into what was going on with my husband and with my son and with my journey.

And then the other one was kind of just a generic. Kind of like the overall exploration of enabling and things like that. And it’s the one where I am deep diving into the mistakes I made, and the things I did incorrectly that are really resonating with people.

So, that just told me keep doing what you’re doing in that aspect. They can go anywhere; they want to find out what does it mean to be an enabler. You can Google that and get thousands of responses.

But I can share my journey, that’s personal. I can show where I failed, I can show where I saw successes. I can show what fostered change in somebody else that didn’t. So, maybe they can start flipping the narrative a little bit.

If they’re just furious and in the depths of resentment. They can flip it and try to look at being a little more compassionate and showing a little more empathy for their loved one that is struggling.

Jillian Leslie 22:29
And I do think that social media is a blessing and a curse because of just what you said, you see the happy photos like, “Hey, we’re on a bike, look, we’re biking around the neighborhood during COVID. We’ve solved this.”

And I have a 13-year-old daughter, which is, again, a very interesting, vulnerable age. And I can say it for her. She’s kind of going, “But everybody looks like they’re doing so well during this time.”

And I say, “I know they do. But you’re only seeing part of the story.” And at 13, I don’t think she has the experience to really know that’s true, because she believes what she sees.

And so, she’s seeing all these girls on TikTok, and they’re not sharing the darkness. They’re sharing, like, here’s my cute dance. And when you are feeling the darkness, it’s like a disconnect.

Because the world’s telling you like we’re all great, there’s something really deeply wrong with you. If you’re feeling this. And then you’re reading stuff like oh, people are really suffering during this time. But it’s like abstract.

And so, you putting it out with specifics going, “Hey, I’m a person.” And again, you don’t have great days, but that you are also suffering. I think there’s something where people go, “Oh.”

And in fact, what I want to point out is, notice that you just posted randomly about your weight loss in my Facebook group. And I reach out and when somebody does things, I’ll go, “Good for you.”

But notice, it was enough that it got me to reach out to you more specifically. And I think I said something like, how did you do it or send me your blog? And then I saw your blog.

And I immediately reached out to you and said, “Would you come on my podcast?” And I love what you said, which is does she say this to everybody? And you went and you looked at my comments.

Which were things like congrats or good for you or wow, that’s amazing. And I only reached out to you to go, “Hey, would this be interesting?”

How do you write blog posts about challenging topics? Listen to this episode of The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie to hear one woman's brave story. | MiloTree.com

The Power of Attraction in Blogging

So, it shows the power of what you’re putting out into the world that you attracted me to say I want to share your story.

Cheryl Garove 24:45
You’re absolutely right. And I think just knowing we have an obligation when you know better you do better. And I feel like I know so much more now than I did two years ago.

And I truly feel like, the reason that my blog or my book didn’t start a decade ago was because I didn’t have the life experience that I needed at that point.

I needed to go through all of this before I could get to that point where I can actually be ready to share with a level of confidence and authority. And just hope that, yes, this is possible. There are still people that are dying every day from drug overdoses.

And I know that I have friends and family that are dealing with it that have lost loved ones in the past four weeks.

But we have to have that spirit of hope. We have to have that spirit of compassion and community. We have to get out of our own way, and start sharing what is really going on inside because we can help other people.

Especially during COVID, when we’re all feeling so disconnected, let’s do what is right to do as a human. Let’s reach out let’s give each other virtual hugs.

And if you have any ability to write a blog, or to write and share your story in that way, or to share it in an Instagram story. Do it. It’s scary, but now is the time is kind of now or never.

And people are so desperate to have a connection right now that this is the time. If you’re looking to grow something, get it out there. But be authentic, and be genuine and be honest. And people know when you’re not being that way.

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Advice: Show Up Authentically Today on Social Media

Jillian Leslie 27:25
It’s funny, I would say that the feedback that I’m getting over and over again, when I talk to let’s say social media expert. And they say on Instagram, the more authentically you can show up.

So, without makeup without it looking beautiful. But being human, the better because people are so starved right now for connection. And I shared this story with you about a friend of mine daughter who just started ninth grade.

And she doesn’t know anybody at school. And I texted my friend and go like, “How was it?” This should be so great, because we started to go back to school in person every other day.

And expecting my friend to go oh my god, she loves it. It’s so nice. And she said, “It’s awful.” And I said, “What?” And she said, “She went back to school.” They’ve been online virtual for a while.

And now it was like, yes, we’re going back and she can now meet people and make friends. And what my friend shared with me is that because everybody’s wearing masks at school, she can’t read people’s facial expressions.

She’s 14, she’s creating stories in her head that people don’t like her.

And just say to a 14-year-old, “Oh, no, it’s because we’re all wearing masks. And we can’t read cues that these girls are probably smiling at you but you’re not picking it up in the same way that we normally do.”

My friend’s daughter’s coming home and going everybody hates me. And it’s so painful. And I know in my own life by the way, I’m weirdly happier showing up say with you Cheryl on Zoom because I can see your whole face.

And times when I’ve shown up with friends socially distant with masks on. It starts to feel uncomfortable for me that there have been times where I’ve met up with a friend and felt so scared.

And I can’t read their cues and they can’t read mine and I can’t hug them and I can’t be close to them all the things we normally do. You recognize how important nonverbal cues are non-verbal communication.

And because all of that has been thrown out the window. I weirdly have found myself getting in the car after meeting up with a friend and feeling so much anxiety about this.

Whereas, I’m supposed to be loving the fact that I’m finally getting together with a friend and I’m leaving feeling starved. And feeling weird and wanting to go back home to my house, so that I can kind of isolate.

And then though the times when I’m really liking it is when I can show up on Zoom, or you and I got on a phone call, and I got off the phone with you. And I said to you, “You made my day.” Like you lightened my load for the day.

And so, it’s because my normal interactions are so strange that we need this. Even if it can be virtual, we need this like I’m starving for it.

Cheryl Garove 30:34
Absolutely, absolutely. And it breaks my heart for your daughter’s friend, because it took me 53 years to be able to process all of this. So, imagine what it’s like as somebody that’s that young.

And like you said they don’t have the experience or they don’t have the emotional intelligence yet to be able to say, I don’t know, if you’re smiling. So, I do think that it’s incumbent upon us all to go that extra step.

And make sure that when we are some communicating with somebody, via phone or via Zoom that we are going above and beyond to say, yes, use your voice.

Use the tone of your voice to make sure that you’re conveying that you’re enjoying this conversation and things like that. Like you said, we can’t reach out, we can’t do handshakes, we can’t do hugs. So, we have to be more conscientious of that.

And those non-verbal cues that we’re putting out there. So, that’s absolutely right. And it makes me think about, wouldn’t that be a beautiful post for your daughter’s friend to say, I’m really struggling right now.

I don’t know if you’re happy with me or sad with me. Getting through life, as a middle schooler and a high schooler, it’s difficult enough on a good day. Let alone, all of them, the mask and the online education.

And all of that is going on, I just can’t even imagine. And so, I have a 26-year-old daughter. And she doesn’t post a lot on Facebook, either. But dating right now is pretty much impossible for somebody that’s 26 and working from home.

And so, she actually got on Facebook, and she said, “Okay, I’ve been inspired by everything you’re writing and your transparency.” And she just whipped out a post that said, “I’m tired. I’m tired of not finding a guy.”

Just this whole list of things that she is tired of, and you would not believe the responses that she got. Everything was like, “You go girl, yes.” And she was like, “Wow, maybe I need to start doing that more often.”

Get out of your own way. Don’t let fear stop you from putting something out there. Because everybody else is probably feeling it too.

Cherly Garove

They’re just too scared to do it. So, maybe you need to be that catalyst to start the conversation.

Jillian Leslie 32:57
Now, when you post it, I’m thinking about how I would weirdly think like, I don’t want my friends from high school to know that I’m struggling like this. So, what was it like?

I would be much more okay with like the random world knowing but it’s kind of like, I don’t want my Aunt Peggy to know. Or I don’t want those specific people, my old boss to know. And what was that like? Again, you work in a job?

And how did you feel about if people you knew, who weren’t the people that you go, “Oh, they love me. I know that they’re cool with this. And they would be proud of me.”

But the people who would be like, “Oh, Cheryl, we didn’t know that this was happening.’ How did you deal with those specific people you could identify in your mind?

When Friends and Family Read Your Personal Blog Posts

Cheryl Garove 33:51
Mm hmm. So, I was really worried about aunts and cousins that live up north that are related to my father about putting like, for instance, the post about him out there. I didn’t know what their reaction would be. And I thought about sharing it with them first.

And I said no, because they’re going to want to change something that I’ve written. And I’ve written this from my heart, and I didn’t want their input on it. And I posted it. And the two people I was most concerned about, were the first ones to comment.

And to text me and say, “Wow, that was so powerful.” And it just let me know that this is okay. I am still trying to be very respectful of my husband and my son’s journey. Because yes, this is their journey.

My blog is really through my lens of how I’m dealing with it as a daughter and a wife and a mother. But I’m not going to put things out there that they don’t want out there because there are things that they need to share.

And I’ve invited them to share them on my blog, and they will do that at some point, when they’re ready to do that to give their perspective. But they too have both been so unbelievably supportive.

My son has been like, just put it out there. And my husband at first, he was like, “I don’t know about work, my work, people seeing this.” And things like that.

And now he’s the first one to comment when I have a post about how proud he is for me to share this journey. And so, I think it’s really important with something like addiction, it is a family disease, it is not about one person.

It is wide ranging effects on the others. And so, there was one promoted Facebook post that I put out there, and I had a gentleman that responded, “Get this crap off Facebook.” And that was the only negative response I ever had.

And I always wondered how I would react, and I laughed, because I thought, there’s a guy that’s probably relapsed in the throngs of active addiction. And that’s why he doesn’t want to see this.

Because nobody else has ever done one thing that was even remotely negative. Everything has been, “I’ve been there or I know somebody.” And with a subject like addiction, it is so far reaching, I mean, it’s global.

I don’t believe for a second that there’s somebody that’s not impacted by it. So, even if you don’t have somebody in your immediate family, that’s suffering. If you are an employer, if you hire people, and you have people under you.

There’s a very good chance that they have somebody in their life that’s suffering from addiction if they’re not by themselves, and they’re just hiding it.

And I can guarantee that it has affected their job performance more than one time or another, they just hide it well, like I did. So, I just think, again, I can’t live my life, worried about what everybody else thinks anymore.

I’ve done that for too long. And it has gotten me nowhere, it has made me sick, it has made me overweight, it has put me on medications that I don’t want to be on. And I’m not going to do it anymore.

Jillian Leslie 36:55
Do you write something and then ask your husband or your son to read it first to make sure they’re okay with it or do you just post it?

How to Write About Your Family in Your Blog

Cheryl Garove 37:06
If it’s directly about them, I’ve shared it with them first, and they’ve never had an edit. So, that’ll tell you something about how brave they are too. But most of them, I just post.

I feel like if I’m dealing something which is very specific to them, I feel like I need to share it with them first, just to give them a heads up. Not necessarily to change what I’ve written because this is how I felt, and I’m going to share how I felt.

But if there’s something wrong, like, if I got a date wrong, or something like that, then I want that feedback. But again, the rest of it, I’m just putting it out there. And one thing that I am really trying to do is not overthink it.

I am an over thinker; I will prove something 10 million times and it’ll never get published. Because I never feel like it’s good enough. So, whether it’s a Facebook post or a blog post. I’m reviewing it for, grammar and punctuation.

And I might share it with my daughter or my sister to get her to review it to make sure that it reads well. But I’m not overthinking it. I’m hitting post, and those are the ones that I seem to get the greatest reaction is from

Jillian Leslie 38:19
Now, are you sharing predominantly your past experience or your present experience?

Cheryl Garove 38:28
Both. I felt like it was important to share my past experience to set the foundation for where I was, because I was not in a healthy place. So, I feel like that’s really important to know how I got there.

What did I go through in my life that got me in that situation in the first place? Now, I am showing things that are happening daily.

I have a post that’s about to go right now about how I was really struggling. Am I trying to micro-manage somebody else’s recovery that isn’t mine to manage?

Like I talked about earlier, I was saying, oh, he hasn’t been to a meeting this week, and what’s going on and things like that. And I’m talking about how I really need to step back and say, “That’s not my journey. This is my journey.”

I can only focus on what Cheryl can control. So, let’s talk about that. Now I will wave in why I was feeling like that. But I also tried to wrap it up with, “No that was wrong. This is what I need to be doing. And this is what I’m changing and here’s been the outcome.”

So, I do think it’s important to set that foundation for how I ended up that way. But now I need to talk about every day what is working well, where have I fallen off my own wagon. And what do I need to do to move forward from this?

How to Build a Business Out of a Confessional Blog

Jillian Leslie 39:47
Now, as you think about your blog, do you think about it as building a business? Do you feel like you are providing a service? Do you feel like this is for your own self-healing?

Cheryl Garove 40:00
I would say all three, I feel like in the beginning, this was for self-healing. And this was because I knew that I couldn’t have gone through all of this with my father and my husband and my son, for no reason. And just to keep this inside.

I knew that I had an obligation to put this out there and to share it to possibly help just one person I knew that. Now, I’m looking at it, as a business opportunity. I really am. I feel like, yes, there are lots of other podcasts.

And there are blogs, and there are books all about addiction. But when I needed help, and I needed somebody to provide guidance and hope for me, I couldn’t find that out there from the perspective of a daughter and from a wife and from a mother.

That’s why I feel like I need to write it. And that’s why I need to put this out there. And that’s why I need to grow it and invest in it. I need to start planning my posts and not just do them randomly.

I started out writing one blog post a week, and now I’m trying to really build a full library. So, on January 1, I’m posting two to three times a week.

So, that I can really make sure that I am not just looking at this as some type of a side hustle or something I’ll do when I have time. But I’m being strategic about the growth.

Because I do know that one, there is an opportunity to monetize it, but two there’s a greater opportunity to serve a bigger purpose and to help people.

Jillian Leslie 41:26
When you think you look out into the future? Are you thinking in terms of, wow, I’d like to create a coaching group or I’d like to lean into more one-on-one type stuff?

Or are you thinking I want to write a book, or I want to create a course, are you being strategic in that respect?

Cheryl Garove 41:45
So, I’m fleshing out all of those ideas that I’ve learned from you, quite frankly. Yes, I definitely want to start a group. I’m doing health coaching right now one on one.

And I feel like that has really helped to hold me accountable for one thing, but then mostly dealing on the weight loss aspects and getting mentally right there. But I think there’s so much opportunity for this to grow beyond that.

I feel like there are definitely courses that people need. I feel like, videos and things like that, even if it’s short, one minute, two minutes, snippets just to say, “Hang in there. Tomorrow is a new day, get some sleep, you need to take care of you.” Things like that.

Because when I was consumed, and when my husband and my son were in the depths of their active addiction, I did nothing healthy, I was a mess. I didn’t sleep I didn’t eat, I was just a complete basket case, that doesn’t help anyone.

That doesn’t help them. And that certainly doesn’t help me. So, I really do think there’s a way for me, even if it’s creating ad space on my blog for area rehab facilities and things like that.

Or allowing them to do a guest post where they can come on, and they can share about how they can help, from an actual clinical and professional perspective, because I’m only giving my opinion and my views from my personal experience.

And I am not a professional. So, I think there’s so much room for growth here.

Jillian Leslie 43:26
Do you worry about backsliding in your own life, like all of a sudden, your eating starts to get a little out of control?

And here you are putting yourself out as somebody who is actively, I don’t want to use the word conquering, but who’s actively dealing with this and actively having this positive outcome.

What if all of a sudden, you slip up and now all of a sudden, you’ve gained 10 pounds?

How Blogging Holds You Accountable

Cheryl Garove 43:54
Right. First of all, absolutely. And that’s definitely quite possible. The reason that I’m putting this all out there is to hold myself, it’s another level of accountability for me. And so,I don’t.

But I am going to slip up, I am fallible, I’m human, I am going to make mistakes, I’m probably going to eat a piece of birthday cake or a piece of wedding cake at a wedding, I may gain a few pounds.

And I have to be responsible enough to put that out there and say I messed up, because we’re all going to mess up. And it’s not right for me to only put out I’m not going to go back into the depths of only showing the pretty pictures on Facebook.

I have to be real. I have already gone too far out there and put this out there into the world. I can’t go backwards now.

Jillian Leslie 44:40
Right. I don’t know if you know who Dax Shepard is? He has a podcast.

Cheryl Garove 44:44

Jillian Leslie 44:45
And I don’t know if you know that he had been sober for something like 18 years and he just relapsed. And he shared it publicly. And I find that to be so brave. You know people held him up as this person. Who’s had so much sobriety.

And he works the steps. And he’s a sponsor, and it’s really been kind of like his brand.

Cheryl Garove 45:11

Jillian Leslie 45:11
And so, to have this relapse, so publicly. I just have so much admiration for him that he was kind of now celebrating like, “I’m 30 days sober.” After having been sober for so long.

And again, I don’t think it’s an accident that it’s been during Coronavirus, where we’re all so vulnerable. And we don’t know how to deal with this. We’re all kind of, like failing our way through it in ways.

The fact that he was able to do this. I’m like, whoa, blown away. And so, it shows that we’re all human.

Cheryl Garove 45:58
Absolutely. And I agree with you, I listened to his podcast where he discussed his relapse, and it just broke my heart.

But at the same time, I thought, this is going to help so many people that are either on the verge of a relapse, or who have relapsed, to be able to get back into a recovery program.

It’s going to show that if somebody like him who was so public, can come out with this or can have a slip and then get back into recovery can do it. I can too. And people that are so new into recovery, too.

And he’s not new into recovery, and he still had a relapse. But think about the people that are so new, who now can’t do face to face meetings. How are they dealing with this? They’ve got to have that sense of community somewhere.

And the Zoom meetings, oftentimes just don’t cut it. They’ve got to have a one-on-one connection. So, it is so important. And I absolutely agree, I was blown away by that podcast, and him putting it out there.

But it’s only by being that transparent and putting your truth out there, that you’re really going to be able to make an impact on somebody else. And I really do think that we owe it to each other.

Finding Balance in Your Life as a Blogger

Jillian Leslie 47:08
My mom is a therapist, and I actually had her on the podcast when Covid started just to talk about how to deal with family tension. And she always says this thing that I think is really wise. And she always says, “We are always looking for balance.”

And balance is momentary, meaning if balance is kind of right in the middle, you’re moving through balance into imbalance, and then you course correct. And again, you move through balance back into imbalance again.

And it’s like how quickly can you course correct. Because you have to assume that imbalance is a big part of your existence. I think that I have always felt in my life, I’m going to get my ducks in a row, and then everything’s going to work.

And then I’m going to be happy. And then we’re going to be firing on all cylinders. And then I’m always disappointed, because for a moment, it might be like, wow, I got my life together. And then something inevitably kind of falls apart.

I used to think about this with my daughter with sleep, like she was not a good sleeper. And whenever we would get something like sleep together, and then I would think I knew something.

And I would tell another mother, my secrets to how to get your baby to sleep, invariably, it would fall apart. And I used to always think, wow, this is so humbling, there would be the karmic banana peel, and I would slip on it and like crash and burn.

So, it’s just this idea, especially when you have young children, you know this, you get something together. And then all of a sudden, they’re teething, or all of a sudden, they are crawling and getting into things.

Or all of a sudden, like, it never is that you get it together, you get it together momentarily, and then it all falls apart.

Cheryl Garove 49:00
Right. And the hope is that while you are in that state of balance, that you can be working on the tools. So, that when you aren’t there, you don’t revert back to your old way.

Jillian Leslie 49:10
Right. You can get back faster.

Cheryl Garove 49:13
Yes, yes. And just being conscious about, oh, I’m not really upset about the fact that he didn’t put the dishes away. I’m really upset about this. And really just fine tuning what is going on in your brain.

And learning that you can’t go back to your old ways of dealing with things whether it is relying on food or relying on substances. And you’re so right, none of us know how to travel this path that we’re on right now.

We don’t know how long it’s going to last; we don’t know. It’s just the great unknown is so scary. And I always said the worst four letter ‘F’ word in my vocabulary is fear and I have got to figure out a way to not be dominated by that.

And just remember there’s a greater good, by putting out everything that you’re scared of. Put it out there, you’re going to help somebody else.

And when you start helping somebody else, it becomes less and less about you, and more and more about your greater purpose in life.

Jillian Leslie 50:22
We do coaching, and we have an ongoing membership. And I’ve gotten very close to the people in our group. And I said to them, when we were talking, I think last week, I said, “Thank you guys so much.”

And they’re like, “No. Thank you.” Because I’m hopefully guiding them on their business journeys. And I said, “No, because you guys make me show up and focus on you get out of myself and be of service.”

And I can’t tell you what a gift that is to me, because you get me off of reading the news off of being in those kind of negative tapes in my own head. And I get to show up and see your faces.

And guide and support and just like shine the light on somebody else. And I find that to be so powerful for me and my mental health.

We are here on earth to give back to others, and to teach them what we’ve learned. And just to remember that we are all on the same struggle bus.

Cheryl Garove

And we’re just trying to get through the day, just because your journey is a little different than mine doesn’t mean that we’re all feeling the same thing.

And there is so much negativity in the world right now, from the election to just the pandemic, to just everything that is going on. Any opportunity that we can find to give back to one another, I think is going to be well received.

And we just need to start looking for a little bit of joy anywhere that we can find it. And even if it’s just momentary, let’s find some gratitude in all of this.

Finding Gratitude in Our Lives

I’m very grateful that I’m not having to commute back and forth to work, twice a day anymore an hour each way in traffic. But what am I going to do with that extra two hours, let’s start being about it.

And if it’s, a blog that you want to do, just do it. If it’s a podcast you want to do or a course you want to do. If you want to run a marathon next year, you’ve got the extra time now to do it.

So, let’s start looking for things that we can implement in our daily schedules that we wouldn’t have been able to do when we were commuting back and forth to work.

Jillian Leslie 52:46
Now, what would you say are your top three strategies that you use now to replace food?

Cheryl Garove 52:59
That’s a great question. Because odd as this is going to sound, I don’t even think about going to ice cream or chips anymore. It’s like a foreign thing to me right now.

Honestly, the blog, in the Facebook posts, I feel like I have such an obligation to uphold my end of the bargain with this, that I don’t even think about reverting to that. When I get stressed out, I walk the dogs or I play with the dogs.

I do something like that, that’s going to get me out of my headspace. Sometimes it may be that I turn on an episode of The Office or Schitt’s Creek or something like that, that I can just watch and laugh and it’s totally mindless.

But I honestly have reached a point where it’s just like, I’m not thinking about food every day. I just am thinking of it as a way to fuel my body and not a way to fuel my emotions. And once I start doing that, the struggle is just less and less.

I read an article last week about how so many people are starting to drink that first glass of wine at four o’clock in the afternoon now, as opposed to six o’clock in the evening.

And that that one glass is now turning into two and then three. And then, “Oh, let me just finish off the bottle because it’s not worth keeping.” And eventually, we’re going to be going back to work probably maybe in a different way than we are now.

But that’s not really serving any of us by doing that. Because you’re not going to sleep well. You’re going to feel the effects the next day, add up the monetary cost of how much that is, adding to your budget and little things like that.

And then you realize, maybe I should just go for a walk around the block instead of starting that glass of wine at four o’clock. But like I said, being intentional and thinking about it.

Because it is really easy to uncork that bottle earlier, because you don’t have to drive now.

Jillian Leslie 54:57
Exactly. Exactly. I just think this has been so, good for my soul to show up with you with so much honesty. And I so, admire your ability to share your truth. The word that comes to mind is “brave.”

Cheryl Garove 55:21

Jillian Leslie 55:22
Really, I just want you to know how special and unique I think what you’re doing is. Especially during this time, and it’s not an accident that I’ve reached out to you.

Meaning you’re putting this energy out into the world, and you’re attracting people to you. Like me, I didn’t know I was going to uncover what I uncovered by looking at your blog, when you just put out like, oh, I’ve lost 40 pounds.

And yet, I found this blog where I went, “Oh my gosh, I don’t see this every day. There is something very unique about this.” And especially while we are suffering, it’s even more unique.

So, I just wanted to say thank you for being so transparent, so authentic, and really, wanting to help others through your painful journey.

Cheryl Garove 56:22
Well, thank you so much for saying that. Because of course, there’s always that doubt and you have to push through it. And I think we all have a story to tell. We all have an obligation to tell it.

Courage Is not Present in the Absence of Fear

And I think that we just need to remember that courage is not present in the absence of fear. There’s going to be fear, just push through it. Your comfort needs to be taken down with a big freight train, push through it.

Jillian Leslie 56:47
Okay. Cheryl, if people want to reach out to because I have a feeling people will, what is the best way to do it?

Cheryl Garove 56:56
So, visit my blog, which is groundedbygrace.com. And there is an email link there that you can email me anytime.

I also have a Facebook page called Grounded by Grace that you can go to and you can comment or you can follow. And I will definitely message you back.

Jillian Leslie 57:15
I love that. Well, Cheryl truly, it’s a rainy day here today in Austin. And you have just brightened it up for me. So, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Cheryl Garove 57:27
Oh, thank you so much, Jillian.

Jillian Leslie 57:29
Wow, I love Cheryl’s bravery. I love her honesty. And I hope this gives you insight if you’re thinking about putting more of your truth out there.

I honestly think our audiences respond when we show up authentically, warts and all, with vulnerability and are there to help others. I think there’s something so powerful about that. And I hope this gave you courage to try it.

And if you are enjoying the podcast, please head to iTunes, leave a review, hopefully leave five stars. I would be so grateful. Maybe I will read your review in my next episode. And I will see you here again next week.

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