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Have you ever heard of Addiction Fiction? If not, no worries—neither had I. Will Thatcher, the author of’ Killing Hurt, ‘ is my next guest on the Embrace Family Recovery Podcast. Today, we will begin with Will’s story and how he found recovery, and then we will learn more about his novel. Please meet Will Thatcher.

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See full transcript below.


00:01

You’re listening to the Embrace Family Recovery Podcast a place for real conversations with people who love someone with the disease of addiction. Now here is your host, Margaret Swift Thompson.

Intro:  Welcome back. Today I’m excited to introduce you to Will Thatcher. Will is an addiction fiction author and in this episode, he will discuss the power of sharing stories within recovery whether that’s in a book or at a meeting. We’ll discusses the reality of trying and failing but also the wonderful transformation he has witnessed in his family now that he is working his recovery program.

Meet Will Thatcher!

01:10

The Embrace Family Recovery Podcast.

Margaret  01:13

So welcome back! We are today going to have a fantastic and interesting conversation I have no doubt with Will Thatcher, the author of Killing Hurt. So, I don’t remember Will how we connected. I think you sent me a message and suggested the book. And I’m very grateful you did because I finished it. Read it, enjoyed it. So welcome to the podcast. And why don’t you introduce yourself and what got you into writing literature that includes recovery, because that’s really what came across. 

Will Thatcher  01:58

Thank you. Yeah, I appreciate you having me on, obviously. And it sounds very likely that I was the one that sent you a book. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately, obviously.

Margaret  02:07

I think that’s great, though, because how would we know otherwise? So, keep doing it.

Will Thatcher  02:10

Exactly. Exactly. Thank you. And this is my first addiction fiction novel.

Margaret  02:16

Say that three times fast huh? 

Will Thatcher  02:18

Yeah. 

Margaret  02:19

Addiction Fiction.

Will Thatcher  02:20

Exactly. And I’m kind of geeked up about the whole genre, I really enjoyed writing this first one, Killing Hurt. And the response has been really positive. Really excited about that I’m getting really great messages back from people who have not just enjoyed the book, but have found it, you know, personally meaningful to them. And that’s been really rewarding to me. And I’m working on a follow up book now. Kind of the final stages of that. I’m hoping that’ll be out in the fourth quarter of this year. Yeah, and the path to me being an author was a long one. I’ll spare you a lot of the details. But just kind of like high level. I wrote a couple of books, one for like a senior project in college. And then one like in my early 20s, and these are not publishable.

Margaret  03:11

These were your attempts before you succeeded. Is that what we’ll say?

03:14

Will Thatcher:  Exactly. Exactly. The young stuff, you know, we’ll call it. I’ve actually read one of them recently. It was a little cringy.

Margaret  03:22

I would guess it’s kind of like going back and reading the journals I kept when I was going through the crazy times I was going through maybe not. But that’s what I imagine.

Will Thatcher  03:28

Totally. Yeah, it was it was just like that, actually. And you know, it’s funny that you mentioned your journals, because even though I stopped writing long form fiction, my career went another direction for a few decades. I always journaled and I found it an amazing outlet my whole life. And then in sobriety. It’s been core to me, it’s basically how I do my 10 Step work every day. And so, I have this what I consider as a writer to be a treasure trove of ideas and resentments and fears and, you know, different themes. And I just start sort of thinking about a person who’d be going through that issue and another person who’s going through that issue and smashing them together and what would happen, and the stories just sort of develop in my mind that way.

Margaret  04:17

So where along the journey because I read your synopsis that you sent me, which is really lovely, because it talks about your personal and your professional a little bit in a very neat, warm way. Recovery came along the journey of writing, recovery came, you know, like how do you timeline that? 

Will Thatcher  04:36

Yeah, so my recovery came about four years before I started writing properly. 

Margaret:  Okay. 

Will Thatcher:  So, I’m about five, five and a half years sober at this point.  Yeah, and so obviously if I was an active alcoholic, I would not be doing anything like this my life would look very different in a lot of ways include during this one.

Margaret  04:49

Wonderful.  Yeah. And so, you’ve had I would assume an interest or a desire to write on some level, if you did it back in college, your career took you in a different path. Was it involving writing at all? 

Will Thatcher  05:13

Not really, I mean, everybody’s career involves writing a little bit, because you have, obviously written communication is a part of any profession, but really only to that extent.

Margaret  05:21

But in the back of the mind, you still want it to do more writing. 

Will Thatcher  05:26

Absolutely! And I came into Alcoholics Anonymous, about five years ago. And as a writer, you know, as somebody who also loves fiction, I’ve been an avid reader my whole life. One of the things that really blew me away when I first stepped into the rooms, were the stories that I heard. It’s just the best. I mean, it’s really to be honest with you before, there was steps before there was fellowship, for really any of that took hold. I got sober on the stories that I heard in AA, and you just have the most interesting people telling the most honest for the most part, stories, and it’s just like reading a great book where I identified with those people, even if their circumstances were different from mine, one way or another. All of them were telling my story. So, it really appealed to me. And I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it saved my life that I got kind of hooked in that way.

Margaret  06:26

So, talk about that a little well. So, I think that’s an interesting concept. I agree with you. I think the power of story makes connection possible. Makes hope possible. Makes a lots of things possible. But what about that helped you before you even embarked on the steps? And did it keep you coming back? Like, what was it for you?

Will Thatcher  06:44

Yeah, absolutely. So, it was identification. It was saying that I belong here, which for somebody sitting in my seat is not a common feeling. I didn’t belong anywhere. 

Margaret  06:57

Okay. 

Will Thatcher  06:58

And so, when those stories were resonating with me, and I’m looking around, and I’m saying, okay, this worked for these people. 

Margaret  07:08

Yeah.

Will Thatcher  07:08

 I got a shot. 

Margaret:  Right. 

Will Thatcher:  You know, like, I feel like maybe I’m in the right place. Maybe I didn’t believe in God at that point. But maybe God kind of got me in the right seat. Things are starting to fall my way a little bit. I think I might have found myself in the right spot here. Yeah, so that was really the beginning of it.

Margaret  07:24

It’s beautiful. I totally relate to that. For me, it was they got it. But I don’t think they can fix me. That was my first thought. And then as I sat in the seat was like, Hmm, why couldn’t I get this? If they got it? The question I would have before that, because I think a lot of my listeners being family members would be curious. Did you get any other help before you landed in AA? Were you in a treatment type setting? Were you able to explore options before AA? And what helped you find AA?

Will Thatcher  07:55

Yeah, I mean, I didn’t do any of that. I probably should have; I think it would have been amazing. I’m often jealous when I hear people’s stories that they have, you know, really positive rehab stories. And I feel like that can be an amazing jumpstart to your program, I did not have that experience. I was on a family vacation. It was my in law’s 50th wedding anniversary. And they took us away and found myself exposed, because I couldn’t sort of hide and function in the way that my life had become dependent on, you know, at that point.

Margaret  08:35

Right. 

Will Thatcher  08:37

It was terrifying and embarrassing for me. And it was all of that for my family also. And so at the end of that I just said to my wife, I need to get help. You know, when we get home, I need to get help. I didn’t know what form that was going to take. But I did have a couple of cousins who were in Alcoholics Anonymous, a decade ahead of me. 

Margaret  08:57

Okay. 

Will Thatcher  08:57

And both of them were tremendous success stories. And so that was in the back of my head. And I said, Okay, well, let me just find a meeting, go to a meeting. And I thought that maybe that would be a resource for me where those people would tell me where to go to rehab where to whatever, but I just kept going. My career was, I guess, not surprisingly, in the garbage at that point. So I had lots of time on my hands. And so, I started going to two or three meetings a day, thankfully, my area, there’s tons and tons of meetings. And that just became my program. You know, that just became like what I did, and I latched on with a really good group of guys who took me under their wing. And you’re gonna get me emotionally and they took good care of me, you know, they like handed me off to each other when one wasn’t going to be at a meeting. Go with this guy go with that and it was really amazing. I probably skipped a couple of important steps, but whatever it worked.

Margaret  09:56

You know what it’s interesting you say that I often felt envious when people had good read. have experiences because there’s a lot of people who’ve been through the rehab cycle spin and feels so envious of those of you who found the meetings, found the recovery community, and were able to work the program. So, it’s always what others experience is compared to ours. What I hear in your story is true 12 Step, back to basics, work the program, people guiding you, supporting you, giving you the tools till you took them on yourself to find your recovery, which is quite beautiful. It’s the way that it was originally intended to happen. You found your way that way.

Will Thatcher  10:32

It’s so funny, because I never do anything the right way. Like, I’m the guy who works 10 times harder to not do the thing he’s supposed to do my whole life. And they say in the Big Book, I was beaten into a state of reasonableness, where I just showed up, saying, what do you got?  You got suggestions. I’ll take them. This has to go get better.

Margaret  10:49

Yeah.  Well, that’s the story, right? I don’t think any of us get to whether it’s rehab to AA to AA to Smart Recovery to whatever it is, unless we’ve been beat up by the disease. I mean, the reality is, most of us are rebellious at nature, self-sufficient to the max think we can do it ourselves and don’t take direction. Well, so something happened in those seats, which allowed you to surrender to wow, whether it was the cruise and the consequence, and whatever happened there into the rooms, but something happened that allowed you to surrender, which is beautiful.

Will Thatcher  11:24

Yeah, I mean, Margaret, I did it myself 100 times, you know, those mornings where I woke up, and I said, No way today. No way. It’s not happening today. And the story, I mean, it just all failed over and over again. It’s so humiliating, and it’s so disheartening.

Margaret  11:40

It’s brutal. It’s a brutal cycle. And the thing that I found is that it progressed down like it would not happen today. Okay, well, that didn’t work. It won’t happen till noon. And then that stopped working, right. Like it was like this natural progression downward to less and less of an ability to deny the reality that I couldn’t do this myself.

Will Thatcher  12:02

Totally. And, you know, I now understand that I needed all of that, 

Margaret  12:07

Yeah, 

Will Thatcher  12:07

that I needed every one of those shrinks to get me to where I was supposed to be. At the time, I would not have accepted that as a valid idea. But I see that now. 

Margaret  12:18

Awesome.

12:20

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13:19

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Margaret  13:29

So, you get into recovery, you find your tribe, you find the people who will gently and firmly take you through the steps and give you the tools which you then take on and use. And somewhere along this path, you start saying okay, I’m going to start writing because there’s something here that I think would be a great story. 

Will Thatcher  13:50

Exactly. And, you know, like I said, I’m a lover of these stories. And so early on, I fell in love with the YouTube, the qualifications, all this stuff on there. Th a treasure trove of just amazing talks on YouTube. And I have my greatest hits and my like six or seven people while listen to all of their stories and so valuable. And I don’t think it’s inappropriate to say entertaining, because it resonates with me and moves me. 

Margaret  14:23

So, I’m going to interrupt well, because I think that’s one of the things families really struggle with. And I certainly did when I started working in the whole rehab world. I first of all came from the place addiction was not a disease land in a treatment center, where I’m working with people with the disease, I better get an understanding or I’m in trouble. And it was very quick to realize Holy crap, Margaret, you were so wrong about that. But I remember hearing the laughter. And I remember being a little indignant because I was coming in on the family side, having been through the wreckage of a person’s disease, who was a partner, and I remember being like almost incensed. Like I secretly see for a while and like, who do you think you are sitting here laughing, what is wrong with you, which was so judgmental and wrong? Because I didn’t appreciate that when I went to my meetings with the Al-Anon side of it, that we did some of the same things, it took a little longer. So we weren’t in this compressed environment. But it was unbelievably needed to realize how out of control I had gotten, and how I wasn’t unique when I heard someone say something they did. And I’m like, You did that too. And then we could like, oh, my gosh, I can’t believe we both did that. And we could have a laugh. So I think families don’t appreciate the connection. The similarities, even if there’s differences and the humor, and the fact that most of us haven’t laughed, and belly laughed in decades, and the healing that brings. When it worked.

Will Thatcher  15:49

Oh, my gosh, it’s so correct, am I experienced, you know, if you walk into, I go to a Thursday night man’s meeting now that’s like a staple of my sobriety. At the moment, I’m the chairman of the meeting. But obviously, it changes hands all the time. If you walk into the kitchen, before that meeting, every Thursday night, you have 15 to 25 guys who are just laughing their asses off and having a great time and it occurred to me that is very much kind of a substitute for what people had kind of earlier in their drinking, when they would go to the bar, and meet up with their friends after work. And when drinking wasn’t a nightmare, exactly when they could connect with people and release the tension from the day and tell funny stories. You know, and now you have to have that somewhere, you have to get that somewhere in life. And when I got into the rooms, I found people who were nothing like me in terms of my circumstances and their circumstances, their lives look very different. But we had so much in common. And when you start talking to them, and they start telling their stories, you have to laugh, because you’re like, oh, my God, like you said, I did that too, my friend did that and I and you trade stories. And it’s like it’s very healthy. And a big book, it says we’re not a glum lot. We can’t be, number one who would want to come back, nobody’s looking to get sober so they can be miserable for the rest of their lives. Right. And number two, I think it’s just important to live that way.

Margaret  17:19

I think you’re speaking to a very real piece of it that I think that a lot of people think it’s very serious and you have to be serious. And I was completely naive and ignorant about that. I think people who push it away feel that way too. Like I’m not going there. How do you have fun in sobriety, right, some of the excuses the disease makes. So, I think that is important. But I also think it’s important to say that it’s also one of the places that people are the most vulnerable and real that I’ve ever witnessed. It’s a balancing act. It’s everything in that room. 

Will Thatcher  17:48

Absolutely. And it is serious. It’s literally deadly serious. Let’s not gloss over that fact. 

Margaret  17:54

Yeah. 

Will Thatcher  17:55

But there are also human beings there. And human beings need to connect with each other. It’s a requirement for us, we’re social animals. And a lot of us, myself included, spent years isolating and drinking by myself and getting high by myself. And that part of me died a little bit. And so, when it became available to me, I grabbed onto it. 

Margaret  18:19

Yeah. So, I have to ask this for our family listeners, and then we’ll get more into your book. Is there anything a family member could have done to stop you, to change you, to make you not use? You look back on your journey, because I heard the intervention kind of happened with consequences with the family. But prior to that, is there anything that could have been done by family because family are always thinking, I’ve got to be able to reach them, I’ve got to be able to be the one to change them.

Will Thatcher  18:55

Here’s my answer to that. I think that there are things that could have been said and done, that would have changed the path of it. You know, slowed it down at certain points redirected at another point. But ultimately, it was going to go where it was going. It’s a very powerful disease. And like a lot of us I’m extremely close to my kids. So, when my daughter looks at me and cries and says I don’t want to father who’s an alcoholic, that’s very powerful to me. That’s a real problem for me. But I have another problem that’s much louder for the whole rest of the day and every day after that. You know, and so, you know as much as I would love for my daughter’s words to be able to kill all that right? Just doesn’t work like that. I wish it did. I really did. That will be amazing for everybody, myself included. But I had to hit my bottom the way I had to hit my bottom.

Margaret  19:56

I appreciate you saying that. I hear many times I will do anything for my children, you know, the children are often used. And I don’t mean that in the negative way, but as a catalyst in someone’s thinking when they’re in the disease, but the reality is the disease is that much stronger than even the child who you adore and would do anything for.

Will Thatcher  20:15

And the amazing thing about that, to me is that a person is probably telling the truth when they say that, they would pass a lie detector test, I know I would. When I would say I would do anything for my kids. Unfortunately, there are some things that are outside of my control in this world, actually, most of the things in this world are outside of my control, it turns out.

Margaret  20:35

Yeah, and I think that if we look at it from a disease model, a child is hurt when a parent has God forbid cancer, and no matter how much they love that child, the disease takes the path that takes and so I think that it’s important to recognize that it isn’t anything to do with love. And I say this a lot on this podcast, because I know a lot of families listen. That it’s not that your parent is or your partner, whomever is lying, for the sake of lying. They truly believe what they’re saying in the moment. And then equally or more powerfully believe the lies the disease tells them in the next moment.

Will Thatcher  21:10

100% agree. Absolutely.

Margaret  21:13

So ,your children now have a sober father, which is amazing. Have you noticed change in recovery for your family? 

Will Thatcher  21:20

Oh my God. Yeah, of course. Amazing. I mean, my relationship with my, with all three of my kids and with my wife have, I can honestly say never been better. My wife didn’t want to tell my kids initially that I was going to meetings, because I don’t know, I guess she was concerned that it might not work. And she didn’t want to. I don’t know what her exact rationale was. So, when I would go out to meetings every night, you know, kids would say, where’s daddy going? And she would say, he’s going to his meditation meeting. So like, I think it was like three months into AA my son turned around to my wife and said, he was like, 12 at the time, or 11. And he said, you know, Mom, I think those meditation meetings are really helping Dad. She said, he doesn’t seem angry anymore. And that just about killed me, you know, when she told me that.

Margaret  22:14

But that’s the beauty. Right? 

Will Thatcher  22:16

Oh, my God, it was the greatest thing I’ve ever heard in my life, you know, to this day. So yeah, yeah, my family’s doing much, much better now. And you know, having a sober husband and a sober father, not just because of taking away that all the negatives of having a drunk father, but to having somebody who’s living a program.  Yes.  In the house. It’s medicine for everything. It’s great. I mean, they don’t have a program and that’s fine.  Okay.  But having one person in the house that’s running a program is just good for business. It really is. It’s good for everything.

Margaret  22:53

Mm hmm. Can I ask how old they are now? 

Will Thatcher  22:56

Yeah so, my son just finished his sophomore year of college. 

Margaret  22:59

Okay. 

Will Thatcher  23:01

And my middle daughter is 16. And my little ones 14.

Margaret  23:06

What a great age to have a parent in recovery.

Will Thatcher  23:08

Oh my gosh, it’s unbelievable. My daughter calls me now on Saturday nights when she’s out and she needs a ride because she knows I’m, I’m sober, and I’m home and I’ll jump in the car and I can go grab her wherever she needs. It’s a real gift.

Margaret  23:23

It’s great. Thank you for sharing about your family. 

Will Thatcher  23:26

My pleasure. 

Margaret  23:27

It is a pleasure to hear, right. I think the hope of recovery is always so valuable to share and hear because I think that we always unfortunately hear in the media and in the world, the negatives, the terrible losses, the tragedies, which are all real, but we don’t, and the crimes, but we don’t hear the hope we don’t hear the messages that people do get well and provide healing for the family through their own healing. So, it’s very important. 

Outro:  Thank you for listening! If you’re finding value in these podcasts, please go to wherever you listen to the podcast and write a review. 

Come back next week when we continue our conversation and Will takes us on the journey of how he wrote his first addiction fiction novel entitled, ‘Killing Hurt’.

I want to thank my guest for their courage and vulnerability and sharing parts of their story. Please find resources on my website. 

embracefamilyrecovery.com

This is Margaret Swift Thompson. Until next time, please take care of you!