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I turn 60 this year and the list of things I no longer am is long. But so is the list of things I am now that I wasn’t at 20, 30, 40, even 50. And to that list I will add all the things I will be, one of which is just witchy enough to spark concern in small children but not so much so as to scare them off.

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THIS!

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Mar 13, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

Holly - I’m sure you know this at times but perhaps the occasional reminder is not out of order. Your honest expositions of your struggles are immensely impactful to so many, myself included. Gratitude and mad respect to you my as yet not personally known but soulfully known friend.

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This is a GREAT comment ❤️❤️

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deletedMar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker
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Sending support through the interwebs from one former dean, also overworked and underpaid, to another.

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Thank you, Kim. I receive that and send support back your way! (Heart-sourced exclamations!)

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Honestly, this post couldn't have come at a more perfect time for me. I'm only sober 11 days (I know, I know) but your book has been a tremendous help and a great sense of comfort. There are several sentences in this post that rang dang true to me but this one, "A drinking me fit within the expectations I had for myself", hit me over the head like a mallet.

As we approach St. Patrick's Day (which is like Christmas in Chico, CA [where I live]), I'm feeling extra anxious and apprehensive about it because St. Patrick's Day last year is when I ended 9 months of sobriety.

I don't know what point I'm getting at but simply put, thank you for this timely post. And thank you for being you.

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You are so supported! 11 days is a big deal! Waving at you from Eugene.

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Sarah, sending love and I hear you XOLibby

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

This: "I subverted a perceived attack into a compliment, and it occurred to me, however briefly, that I cannot fail at being who I am, or being where I am. That this as much as anything else is the point of being a human: how we change into unrecognizable things, our multitudes, our complexities, our capacity to be so many different things." I cannot overstate what a profound impact you and your messy, vulnerable, kaleidoscopic perspective on life and the everything that is sobriety have had for me. Thanks from the bottom of my heart and please keep it coming.

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

Thank you for putting words to this nagging feeling I'm experiencing which is like trying to balance on shifting ground. I am a just a sneak over a year sober (after 35 years of "not so much sober") and am finally experiencing the biggest, most joyful, even peaceful, life-buffet ever. Yet I've felt like I "should" be going back..."now that I've fixed the problem, celebrated a year, I'm done with the hard bit, I can go back to the way it was supposed to be and live the life I denied myself." When I've tried to "return," it's often felt like I lost my car in the parking lot. Anyway, you said it best and provided lots of food for thought. So, thank you for writing the first book I read when I left recovery/rehab (SO helpful!) and for mentoring the BADASS in my new life! It's really lovely to know there are kindred women out there...

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We're here, kindred Badass! ❤️

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Dear Holly

Thank you forever for who you have been and who you are now and, in advance, who you will become next. As an artist and buddhist of nearly 40 years practice, I am always conscious of the truth that nothing is constant all is change including our selves and our sense of self. As someone who was always made to feel, and told that she was, wrong, I had an epiphany once whilst trying to help a friend of mine make sense of a ‘ New Scientist’ article she had been assigned to illustrate, on The Protean Mind. Proteus was a greek god who constantly changed form and so people who have minds that function like a roulette wheel ( as mine does) are people with protean minds. When I tried to explain this concept to my talented friend I was somewhat incapacitated by the fact that I was laughing so hard that the tears were streaming down my cheeks. It was as if science was validating my very nature, I wasn’t wrong after all I was just different and a necessary part of humanity. It was such an enormous sense of relief to be so vindicated in my essential being. I sense that you are transitioning from a logicician ( if such a word exists) to a creative, an artist, maybe a protean thinker? Maybe you just need to walk out naked into the darkness and fall until you sprout wings and fly?

With love Suzanne

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

A pithy response to your shitposting reader: I appreciate everything you write regardless of mirth

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

Holly. I saw your Instagram post and innately knew you were thinking all of this. I think you do understand what’s happening to you in that what you were and what you are now don’t jive in the way you perceive it should. First, I have to say that your program, and your approach allowed me to check out sobriety in a non-threatening way ;I will never forget IT or YOU . second, maybe there was something in that hip sobriety/Tempest journey that still was that driven part of you. And I think you have acknowledged that.

Don’t despair, we all have so much undoing to do... I’m not as good at it as you at finding the words to make you feel better, but I am forever. Grateful to you as I am now sober.

Lisa

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I just finished revisions on my book, which is about having worked as a wildland firefighter for seven years. In the book I write about a conversation I had often with my (femme, woman) co-worker. We were the only two femme ppl on the crew and we always talked about this terrible expectation that the men we worked with had: we needed to be joyful. We needed to smile and laugh and how dare we take anything seriously. This is something that’s been expected of femme(ish) (I am nonbinary) ppl for fucking ever. And honestly, it’s a compliment to be called mirthless. You’re taking something seriously. Sometimes things are serious and we have NO obligation to pretend otherwise. I can guarantee that for that one shitty comment there were tens off ppl who loved what you had to say.

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

Mirthless. Fifteen years ago, the people who at the time I called my friends used to call me “professor poopy pants.” I was in grad school, spending my days reading Marx and Crenshaw, and when talking about capitalism and intersectionality over beers, they attached this character from a children’s book to me. Just one of the many places where I was being socialized to believe that being smart or that exploring injustice and challenging hegemony was a “buzzkill.” So often, women, queer people, and people of color, are silenced by being told we are “taking things too seriously” or that we “can’t take a joke.” This complicates both sobriety and social justice, two things that you astutely connect in your writing. It’s like being told to smile more, or to lighten up and have a drink. No to that, but yes to embracing the multitudes: “That this as much as anything else is the point of being a human: how we change into unrecognizable things, our multitudes, our complexities, our capacity to be so many different things.” Thanks for your writing.

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Mar 10, 2023·edited Mar 10, 2023Author

The podcast I mentioned, on Emil Cioron, I loved for many reasons, but there was this sense that his darkness, taken as nihilism, was in fact his joy; I'm probably doing it injustice but essentially, that he found the world meaningless, was what gave him a fullness; if nothing matters then there is so much potential, etc.I think my own capacity for joy and amusement comes from being able to navigate the darkness, that terrain provides this expanse and capacity. Anyway, if there were a lineup of people and one was identified as professor poopy pants, I'd choose them for sure. That's my person lol. This was a joy to read. Thank you.

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Cioran's philosophy helps to illuminate why "Gender Queer" and "The Bluest Eye" are banned books and why it's our instinct to jump in and validate or fix others when they admit to deeper--darker--truths. It reminds me of "Joyful Girl" by Ani DiFranco--a song about joy that is sung in the key of "bittersweet."

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It has been a motto of my life, even before sobriety, that my people are "the dark and damaged ones". Anyone labeled professor poopy pants is my people. Not to be glib, because your comment is serious and beautiful and true.

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

Here’s to being bad at Instagram 🌟 Here’s to not trending 🌟

Here’s to not sharing on Instagram🌟

Here’s to finding another way 🌟

Here’s to us 🌟

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YES

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Here's to being mirthless!!

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🌟👏🙂

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

I have lost a career I worked very hard for this year . I am caught in the moving forward and balancing fear (and my delusion I am charge). I am willing to be grateful but wish I could get a peek at the other side . It is like u know what I need to hear and when I need to hear it. Thank you. Oh and a couple of other things :

1. You are not mirthless - frankly I find u funny as hell

2. Your Instagram reel was fine and heartfelt

3. Pema is always right

Love u and keep it up ! B

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If only we could peak ♥️ and Pema is, indeed, always right

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Thank you. Waiting to hear who won the book contest !

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Thank you Holly, this post made me become a paid subscriber. I would never call you mirthless, more brutally honest.

I’m a terminally sick woman of sixty one years old and there are a lot of things I cannot do anymore, but other things I can and will. It’s weird to not be able to watch crime, detectives and light horror as entertainment anymore, because I’ve lost the filter to see it as entertaining. For instance. Growing and changing are so difficult and so rewarding. Love

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I’m really glad you’re here, Josh

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

Holly your book changed my life and I love your posts. The perfect and imperfect ones, the mirthful and mirthless ones. You words have reached me. I am not only sober but also using my own words and writing sober. It is a dream come true and I wish it wouldn't have taken me so damn long. I am very grateful for you.

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I used to be so good at being nice to people...not anymore..

Another mirrhless moment from me

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Mar 10, 2023Liked by Holly Whitaker

Mirthless?? No. For me, every time I read your thoughts they feel like mine and more than once I’ve thought I’d like to go have coffee with Holly and just be her friend and assure her she is exactly where she’s meant to be. I’m certain I’m not alone in thinking this or feeling incredibly grateful that I read your book and it changed the complete trajectory of my own journey with sobriety and my life. We never remain who we are and I wish that was a lesson I learned much earlier on.

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