They were emaciated, homeless, jobless, facing felony charges.
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Hello? Hello. I've got Michelle Weidenbenner here with me today. The author of Moms Letting Go without
Without giving up. Yes. I didn't wanna say that wrong. So welcome Michelle, and some folks here.
Yeah. Thanks for having me. And you said my name, right? Wow. A lot of people don't know how to say it so well done.
It's even harder to spell it. So I, and I've done that so many times because we've worked together in the past and I really appreciate you coming on today into this venture with shout your cause. Thank you.
No, it's totally my pleasure. So I love what you do and that our PAs crossed on, on the whole marketing Facebook marketing arena.
You, you were kind of the person with the flashlight showing me the way in the dark. So
, I like the way that you say that and which reminds me, I wanna talk a little bit about your geocaching books. That was the highlight of what you were doing in these children's books, these middle school type age books, and beyond, uh, that you were writing and publishing. And that's when we met. Tell me, tell me about that.
Yeah, well I think the very first book I ever published, not the first one I wrote, but, um, it was a thriller and it's a geocaching thriller. And in looking at that, um, I love marketing and I always think, well, what's the best way to market something. And I thought, what a great idea I am going to make it trackable so that adults, when they are playing geocaching, um, it will be planted in, um, every state. So I sent it to somebody, one person in every single one of the 50 states and I gave it, um, a mission. And that was to, to go, those books are now in Australia, in UK, in Canada. I don't, uh, they cuz people took 'em overseas and, um, I can actually go into geocaching.com and look at my profile and see a map of where they are, where they all went. It's just phenomenal.
I love it. That's really cool. So how is it so some planted this device? I mean, what, what, or what, what did they,
Oh, I'm sorry, the book, the actual book. So I mailed them a book and it has a, it has a number in the inside of it and it it's, um, it was a, a trackable, they call it and it actually has a code. And so it can be tracked, it's coded and can be tracked so that when people pick it up and plant it, they get online geo cashing.com and they tell me where it's at or they tell other people. And then when they go trying to find it on the haunt, if they find it, then they read it and then they replant it in a new site and everything is documented. So that's the adult, uh, book, but then I also have eclair goes geocaching and that's for like early readers, like first graders. So those would be, that would be the book that, um, kids would wanna find and then read and then pass it along.
And it's a, it's about geocashing and what it is and a little girl's journey. Um, that series is all about E Claire, Emily, Claire, who has to go live with her eccentric grandma with a pink hair in the cowboy boots. And her grandmother's just a hoot. Her name is Stella. And so she has different adventures all the time, but, um, she lives with her grandmother be because her mom and dad are absent in her life. And I never really say why or where they are just that they're sick. And, um, it was inspired by my seven year old granddaughter at the time. She and I, because she was living with me cuz her parents were so sick in addiction. And so we would create these stories and it just kind of started happening. And so she helped me name characters and helped the, uh, name, the horses in, in one of the books. Um, and we just had fun with it and she's, she's gonna be, uh, well, she's a junior in, in high school right now and planning her college. So that's um, that's how long ago that was.
I love it. I remember speaking of living with you, I remember when we first started connecting, I, I had a program and you came into it and, and you were all gung ho, ready to try to build this coaching program and you were gonna be helping, I don't know who at the time and you were trying to figure it out, right. And then boom, life just flipped a complete switch.
The bottom fell out. Yes. Oh my gosh. I totally forgot that. Sally,
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I had written a book, leave a letter, change a life. And it was this whole movement. I wanted to inspire people before they died to write letters. And it, so I was, I was working on that project and helping people with that when, um, my son and daughter-in-law just, I, I mean, I knew they struggled with addiction, but I kept thinking they were better. And this was sorry. My dogs are barking. This was when like the whole bottom fell out and I realized, oh my gosh, they're not getting any better. They are really, um, you know, they're just really sick. And we had to take guardianship of their children again. And at that time I think Addie was in first grade and her sister was in sixth. So, you know, it it's been Rocky. Um, but I, I just, I just couldn't keep going with writing and doing what I was doing because I had to focus on how am I gonna raise these children and how am I gonna get their parents? Well, because I don't wanna be parenting children in all my retirement. Right. But the best case scenario was for their parents to get well, but you can't make that happen. You kind of have to wait. So
I, I remember that and I remember it being such a moment of despair, chaos, and I gotta fix this all at once.
Oh gosh. Yeah.
And I was like, okay, I'm losing Michelle. Michelle's gone. Where's Michelle gone. Michelle is out. Yeah. So you were out and disappeared.
I came back. Then
You came back with vengeance and um, and I love it because you came back with this renewed spirit to change this focus from, you know, helping with the love letters and all this from the, the, you know, what you're talking about with women writing those love letters or, or, or men as well. And I know that we talked about it at the time because my mother-in-law did that. She actually saved all the stories that she would give us a little report on email about what was going on with our kids when they would stay with her. And my husband would print 'em out every Christmas and make a booklet and give it to her for Christmas. And then of course she died in 2018. And so we got all of those back. And what special memories?
She was a wonderful woman. Mm-hmm I think, I think, I thought, always thought that was your mom. I didn't realize it was your mother-in-law. Wow.
That's yeah. My, my mom was, uh, not in that realm. She was different, but, but my, my mother-in-law though. Yeah, very creative in that, um, in that aspect of, of keeping up with those letters and keeping up with, uh, what she was able to do with the kids, cuz she, she was able to do that. Whereas my mom was very sick and not able to take, take care for my kids. Yeah. So then you showed up again and you said, I've got this book, mom's letting go. And it was an ebook and it was this love letter. If you will, to moms to say, look, you can come out of this and be okay, you do not have to be dragged completely down. You have to be the one that's the strong one, the one that's on top of things, because this other person in your life, this adult child, whoever it may be is, is going through this problem. And no matter how much they're dragging on you, you have to be able to, to let go of this and come out on top while still loving your child.
Right. Gosh, you're good. Yeah. And I, it was it's seven steps to self recovery and everybody's like, well, why do those moms need to recover? And by that, I just mean, you know, stop blaming yourself, shaming yourself and get out of the chaos cycle because there is a cycle. But what I do in the book is I take her from a seed to a blooming flower. And so every it's just the seven stages. And um, you know, cuz I thought, I felt like moms and flowers, you know, the metaphor of using that would be something that they would hopefully hopefully remember easy, you know, be easier to remember. But um, yeah, and I just really made it like a journal, like a, like, um, a boundary buddy, like this little buddy that they could take with them wherever in journal in it and, and just use, but it also brought them into the Facebook page, the private group, cuz it says, okay, come into the private group and then declare your, you know, okay, I'm gonna, I'm gonna do this.
I'm gonna recover. Mm-hmm and um, very interactive with other moms in the group and, and it really it's happening. And I, I remember the first time somebody actually did something from the book that I empowered them to do. I just sat there and cried cuz I felt so good about following this calling if you will. Because so often, you know, I was like, well I can't talk about this because it's my son. I love my son. And if I talk about it, he I'm gonna make him sound like he's horrible. And my daughter-in-law, you know, like they were horrible. They were so sick. They were emaciated by the time they went into recovery this last and final time, they're in recovery now for more than three years. But um, they were emaciated homeless, jobless facing felony charges. And it wasn't because they were bad.
It was because they were sick in addiction. Yeah. And they could not, you know, get out of it. It, there was just some really shameful things that they did. And I didn't want people to know, but at the same time it was like I had all this anger and so I needed to heal from that. And so I created this group, oh my gosh, we all get it. Like we understand. And so we could commiserate nobody judges, anybody. And um, you know, it's just safe. It's a safe place. And really like, I always say healing, healing happens in communities. They do it. Does.
I agree with you. There's a lot of things that have, you know, we've had a last two, three years now have been really rough with the pandemic and all of that. But I do feel like all of the chaos that has ensued from it has also helped people find each other out of a desperate need to find each other.
Yeah. Yeah. And I think it's really, um, well I was really nervous when, okay. So I started that private group, but then I, I started a subscription group where people had to pay to get into it, but I had never led a zoom meeting. And you kept saying, Michelle, why don't you do this as a subscription? I was so scared because I didn't, I, I didn't feel like I had all the pieces together yet. I didn't know what I was gonna do and how to mechanically do that because of tech and, and just like, you know, right now, um, if we freeze, I was like, so paranoid that, oh my gosh, I'm gonna be in a meeting. Everything's gonna freeze. And then, you know, oh my gosh, this is a kind of a side note, something that did happen. One of the first meetings I finally did in my subscription, I had, I had blasted it on my Facebook page, but I hadn't protected who it went to.
So it went to everybody and I was hacked in my zoom meeting with pornography with cus words against God and all these moms in there who were faith-filled women. And they were playing like, um, music with like really bad view, like it was, and it was coming from everywhere. Like I couldn't stop. And so I said, I have to shut down this meeting and I shut it down. And then I went back into my Facebook group and I was just sobbing. I felt so violated. And um, and it's like, okay, you know what, I'll be darn, I'm gonna let any the, the enemy like hack me. So, so it just, all it did was make me stronger. Right? So it's like we have to do it to, to overcome it.
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Um, oh my goodness. Talking to, and that's I, I understand. I totally understand because the, the zoom thing it used to be that only people that were already doing this for their businesses were using zoom. But then when the pandemic happened, zoom opened it up to the public, to public schools and said, we're gonna give you this tool for free. Now, granted, they have all the upgrades that people are paying for, et cetera, but we're gonna give you this tool for free. And they didn't have their act together when it came to security and privacy and everything like that. And so I've heard that story many times from different people about these nightmare scenarios. And so that's when everybody started adding the passwords and the, the locked door, the waiting room and all that. So you would let people in. Yeah. But goodness gracious that had to have been horrifying because here you are trying to conduct a meeting with about this very serious topic.
And you're nervous just being there as it is going, who am I the expert on this? Just because I wrote a book. Right, right. But you are an expert because you've lived it, you've analyzed it. You've written about it and you've created steps to come out of it. And that's the thing that I find is so empowering and so wonderful about what you're doing because this season of the shout, your cause podcast, and I'm also doing the exponential marketing bloopers podcast as well. This season is all about finding solutions because we did go through in the first season, I just did raw documentation of what people were doing and thinking and trying to navigate when the pandemic started. The second season was all about the chaos and what was happening here and here and here and here and, and all of the arguing and, and all of the, the misunderstanding in communication that was coming across. And then now this season is all about, let's find ways to help people, because we've got a lot of wonderful angel warriors. If you will, on the ground in this world who are trying to rise up and say, look, there is a message that's missing in our society. It's not just in the us, it's all over the world. And by golly, we've got to stop this machine cuz it's killing us all. Yeah. It really is.
So, and going into that, I'm hoping that you can kind of go back and say, let's kind of start where this started because didn't this addiction start out of legitimate prescriptions or isn't that what's happening to a lot of people.
Yeah. I, I think so well in my, in my subscription group, um, I think several moms in that group, their son started because they had their wisdom teeth out and were put on opioids and um, you know, and then it just went from there for my son. He told us he, um, he used to be in, in, or rooms for hips and knee surgeries and that kind of thing. And, um, work with the orthopedic doctors. Um, and he sold the implants and one day, so they would do a lot of medical education too. And they had to move cadavers and he wasn't supposed to move a cadaver, but he was in a hurry and they wanted to all get home. So he helped move a cadaver and his, um, here at his back and one of the op you know, the doctors gave him a prescription of, um, opioids.
I forgot what it was called now, Oxy oxycodone, maybe or something like that. And um, he said, oh my gosh, I could get so much done. I, I just, I, he was like Superman. And so then, you know, he just kept taking him. Um, but I, his wife, I, I think always struggled, um, with a mental health disorder and they both struggle with the anxiety. And I think, you know, we all just wanna be like normal. And sometimes we, we think that other people have it so together and we don't feel like we do. And so we try to medicate that. And I say, we, I mean, I, I don't, I don't know that I've ever tried to medicate something that I felt like I, I didn't measure up, but I know a lot of people do. Um, but you know, if we don't, if we don't sleep three nights in a row dog on it, I'm taking something to sleep.
So you , it's kind of, you know, you just, um, think that you're helping yourself and before you know, it, you know, you have this full blown addiction. And even my daughter, like daughter-in-law, and I, like we can sit down and have candid conversations about what it was and how is she now? And I'll send her a text. How can I pray for you today? And, you know, she says, she says, well, I still have anxiety. It's just that before I used to self medicate. And so now, you know, when she goes into a new job or a new situation, she has major anxiety. So she, I have to remind her. Yeah. But now you have learned all the coping strategies. So, you know, the meditation, you know, just other things to help her get through it because she knows what'll happen if she tries to medicate something inappropriately.
So I guess, yeah, I'm long winded here, but for, for a lot of, lot of people, it starts out as very innocent. Um, and you know, with alcohol use disorder, a lot of times it was just, oh gosh, we, we would be in college or high school, you know, have a beer or two, and that wow. Factor for people who have the gene or have that ability to, they, they could just drink and drink and drink and not feel poorly early on. They're like, whoa, this is so cool. I came outta my shell. I really I'm. I'm awesome. Now I'm gonna do that again. And then they go back to those friends and those friends are like, dude, man, after two or three, I felt like, crap, I'm not doing that again. Well, then they go and find the people that do have the tolerance that they can party with longer. And they just become a part of that group until, and, and I can't say it's like a switch that turns in them, but it's at that. And there comes a point where then they have to just drink to feel normal. And by that time they're so into the disease that it's, it's really, um, wrecked their brain. And, and now, you know, a lot of times they're in denial. I can stop any time, but they
Can't, you know, I've never heard anybody put it like that, but it makes so much sense. And I'm the same way as far as like, I, you know, two drinks and I'm like done. If I do the third one, I'm just, I I'm like, okay, good night. I'm going to bed. And then I can't sleep all night
And then I,
I'm not sleeping. And it's like, yeah. And the last thing I wanna do is top it off in the morning with a cocktail. I mean, that just sounds so gross, but I get it that if, if that doesn't, if that's not your body's reaction and everybody likes that first drink high, right. That first little bit, it feels, you know, feels nice, but then it's like, wait a second. You just, you, there's a point where you can't turn back. And yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I really
Appreciate that. Yeah. I'm just really thankful that I, I don't have, you know, a, a cool, like, um, substance use disorder. And I know the people that, the thing, the thing with the whole disease thing though, also is, you know, is it a disease or is it a choice? Um, my husband and I still struggle with that. Um, it's a disease at some point, it takes over the brain, but what happens, what you don't want to happen is for the person to use it as a scape go, well, I have a disease, so, oh, well, I'm just gonna do it anyway. Um, because you just have to keep searching for the cure for yourself, even if it's cancer, diabetes, or whatever, you know? Um, and that's what I tell moms. You gotta keep your boundaries, but you, you gotta go help your, even if it's an adult child find the best care for their disease. And what is that
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And oftentimes the child, um, is bully about it. I don't have a problem. I there's nothing wrong with me. It's you, you know, mm-hmm and so you just have to wait till they're ready to change.
Now, do you remember when we started talking about this in more depth and I told you that I already knew there was an opioid crisis way before it was ever brought up in the news. And it was because it was such an ordeal with workers' compensation claims.
Oh, I forgot about that.
Yeah, that was something. And this was, gosh, this was a long time ago, but I used to attend the state of Tennessee insurance meetings every year, because I'm the one in the office who had to gather all of the industry statistics to be able to use in our economic models. When we were evaluating workers' comp costs for companies, there were a lot of different companies that had, you know, injuries like severe injuries, where the occupational doctor that the worker's compensation, you know, uh, would go under, would prescribe opioids for a workplace injury. And so what they would do is then you've got the people at the company and at the insurance company, or some sort of media, you know, mediary or whatever in between that would be helping the employee to get back to work, because that was always what they wanted them to do.
If you were injured and you could come back to work, they wanted to get you back to work as quickly as possible. Totally. So that you don't turn into this permanent disability injury that they're on the hook for financially permanent disability costs more than death and permanent disability. And even temporary, you know, disabilities, they all cost more than small incidences and then more than the deaths. So to get those claims back, those claimants back into work is the, the goal. But what was happening is that they were coming in and then because they were taking opioids or they had gotten off the opioids and then secretly were taking opioids or something worse from the streets, they were coming into work and getting injured a second time. Well, when you get injured a second time, then there's this whole investigation process that opens up, is it truly a second injury through workplace it's, you know, workplace conditions? Or did they get you back to work too soon? You know? Yeah. Or was it an outside? Was there an outside factor that contributed to the second injury? That's when it goes into litigation and all kinds of stuff where they deny it, they fire the employee, all of these things. Well, you start getting into that and you start getting into some really expensive situations.
Oh. So when you know that your second injury type information tracks a certain way for years, and then it starts to track and, and trend upwards,
You see it,
You see it in the data, you see it in the numbers, totally actuaries and the risk managers and the people who are looking at this deeply to figure out what's going on with our costs. They see it. But it comes out later worker's compensation claims take 10 to 20 years for the entire year's worth of claims to pay out yeah. To 20 years. So when you're looking at this stuff and it's happening in the early phases, you don't really know the cause until Start to see the right, because you start to see the effect first, then you go searching for the
Concept. Yeah. You kinda connect the
Dot doesn't happened years ago,
You connect the dots going backward. Yeah. Yeah. I get it. But you were right there. Totally. You were in it. And I, I still think it's going on today. Like, I, I was just citing some statistics and uh, I mean, we are just at an all time high in depth and people who are struggling with substance use disorder, but yeah, it's bad. It's really, Hmm. Sad.
So, but we don't wanna end on a bad note. Yep. We wanna talk about the hopeful future because that's the direction we're headed. So would you give me like some of those steps, like tell me me, oh, what are the names of those steps? Your little flower analogy. I like that.
So now you putting me on the spot.
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I, I actually don't have that book in front of me, but I don't know if you knew this. I am. I don't know if this is backwards. This is my next book that is coming out in a mother's day. And it's called unhackable moms of addicted, loved ones, closing the gap between havoc and hope. Now a hack is when somebody or something gains unauthorized access to us. Right? And so moms are hacked with the addiction, um, things in their life. And what happens is, um, and this so pertains to shout your cause because they get stuck. And so they no longer are living a dream. They no are no longer pursuing anything that matters in their life. It's like they just shut down and they can't cope and they can't even go out there and do anything to stop this epidemic from, you know, from happening. And so moms letting go without giving up it, it was seven steps. Um, and I'm sorry, I don't have that in front
Of me. Oh, that's fine. It doesn't matter. That's fine.
Yeah. But, um, they, it's more of a journal. So this book is a 30 day program and I'm hoping that moms will be inspired by it and then become certified in the program so they can bring it into their communities and can continue. So I have people continuing it all over, right. I mean, that would be a dream because my goal is to empower 1 million moms of addicted, loved ones into recovery by 2025 so that they can go out then and help with this addiction landscape because I can't do it by myself, but I, I thought, well, shoot, if I empower moms. So now even in my subscription membership group, I have moms already, like so many of them are retired teachers. So, so they are like building helping me build, um, oh, just worksheets for the courses. They, they write in the book every day and, um, they are learning how to lead support groups. And so they are now healing so well that they're, they can go on and do something more in their community. So it's a great, great thing to see. But anyway,
You know what? You just inspired me because I don't know if you realize it and I'll have to talk to you about this later. But I created a, a, a community plan called bridge glue.
Oh. And I love that title.
I tried to get a grant from probably from the wrong source, but I tried, there was a lot of money on the line that there was gonna be a grant given, and it was gonna be a project that would get funded. And then you would go and try to implement it. But this was really at the beginning of the pandemic whenever. Well, it was in 2020 when they were granting the money. And honestly, the community, part of it was going to be impossible to implement because we were in such chaos, right. With schools and work and all of the things. And there's no way, no, anyone would've listened to in that moment at the moment. But I wrote this huge plan and I had nonprofit leaders and other people reach over it and give me feedback and all kinds of stuff. Wow. And I'm like, I'm gonna write the book.
Yes. And then people can take that into all of their communities and
Yeah, I don't, you know, you think about it and it's like, well, do you hold this back? Cuz you're waiting for the right moment to launch it. Or how do you give it away without losing its effectiveness? And you know, you just, you just gave me the best idea because putting it and giving it away or to sell online or whatever for communities to use with the program. That's perfect. That's okay. Thank you. I'm done. Yeah.
Like can, yeah. Awesome. I well see these, but again, it's who, you know, like it's connecting with people that can, can kind of sprout these ideas that you didn't have before. And when that happens, it's like a light bulb moment, right? Like again, um, shining the light for each other and giving ideas. It's just great.
Yes. Okay. I am so excited. I did not know about unpackable moms. And so I'm really super excited about you launching that in may for mother's day. I'm definitely gonna be talking about that
And, and I'm doing it around mother's day. I just started pitching my first TV, um, sources because there are millions of moms, um, who are just tortured on mother's day because they either already lost a son or daughter to addiction. Um, or their sons and daughters are alive, but there's, there's no semblance of who they once were. Like, they're just so far into the disease that, you know, they don't even remember to call mom on mother's day cuz they don't even realize it's mother's day. And so there are just so many grieving moms right now, so.
Well good. I'm so glad that that's that's happening. All right. Well let's wrap this up today, but I want to give your information ma how's what's the easiest way for people to get in touch with you?
Well, if you're a mom who would like a free download of the mom's side and go without giving up book, you can go to mom's letting go.com. Mom's letting go.com. And um, if you're, if you're a Facebook person and you need support, you can go to our private group, which is mom's letting go and, um, request to join. And I will see you there and approve of you into the group. I do ask you just a few questions cuz sometimes I get, and sometimes I get dads in the group. It's not that I I'm opposed to dads. It's just, I started with moms cuz I'm a mom. And I do think that we handle our, our children's substance use disorder. It's almost like our DNA like is a, well, our DNA is a part of them, but it's like, we're just so attached. Um, many times differently than a dad, but not always just different.
Yeah, exactly. Well, thank you. This has been, this has been wonderful. And everybody, please go check out Michelle Weidenbenner, go to momslettinggo.com. Get the downloaded book and wait for Unhackable Moms to come out and we'll see you next time.
Great. Thank you so much.
Thank you for listening today. My name is Sally Hendrick. Be sure to visit our website for show notes and more information on how you can inspire others. If you would like to contribute content to our magazine, please apply on our website at shoutyourcause.com.