My Ignite Talk! Hacking the Phrase ‘They Did the Best They Could’

This was, by far, the scariest thing I have ever done. I practiced my talk nearly twenty times. I had only 5 minutes to convey my story and the slides auto-advanced every 15 seconds (fifteen seconds!) It was scary not only because it was public speaking and it was being video taped, but because I wasn’t speaking to “my people” (ACoAs), I was speaking to the general public, because many of my colleagues were in the audience, and because it was the first time I was telling the story of my mother’s overdose and death.

What was remarkable was that after speaking, I got to talk to people in the audience (I got hugs!) and I got to see faces, hear voices, and hear the stories of others — after so many years of writing behind the screen of this blog, the human contact was just an incredible experience.

Feel free to share this. The talk is also on my Guess What Normal is Facebook page. This talk is dedicated to all of you. Thank you for your support!


  1. Michele says:

    Well done Amy. I enjoyed listening to your talk. For only 5 minutes you really conveyed alot and in a empowering way.

  2. Fay Champoux says:

    I absolutely loved your talk Amy. I am hoping to connect with you perhaps through the coaching you provide. I am finishing up my certification in Brene Brown’s “Daring Greatly” and my focus/passion is on ACOA. I hope to order your new book and make it and your you tube video a part of my resources. I will stay in touch with you and as soon as my Certification process is complete (7 more consulting sessions) I would love to speak with you about coaching. I will keep in touch. Thank you so much for what you do….Fay

    • Amy Eden says:

      Thank you so much, Fay!

      I didn’t know that there was a Daring Greatly certification…that is seriously exciting. I’ll have to research that. I have her book, love her work, her talks, etc. Thank you for mentioning that.

      I’d be happy to talk with you anytime about coaching and working together. Feel free to reach out to me for a free 15 minute chat when it’s a good time for you. Email is good, too – amyeden(at)

      :-) Amy

  3. Derek Canavan says:

    Dear Amy,

    I come from what Kritsberg calls the “type 1″ family. Booze and drugs have harvested many many members of my family criss crossing generations. My father was the alcoholic. I thought everybody grew up like I did and was about 36 when due to some events that occurred, I finally realized that my dad was an alcoholic and that what happened to me is NOT acceptable, and certainly not “normal”. My dad’s sister sent me Kritsberg 155 page biography of my family and with each sentence, the curtain with which I had unknowingly cloaked my childhood was pulled back and brought my memories back. Problem is… have memories I resent. I can’t put them down. Nobody will clear a spot for me to put them. They are heavy and they hurt every day. When I bring them up my extended family says ” they did the best they could” or worse, “he loved you”. But nobody helps me drop the weight. I know my dad loved me. And he had a disease. Nobody chooses to be an alcoholic. I get that. But why won’t anybody accept that none of those phrases changes what I experienced? And why do I need (crave!) Such validation? In short, why won’t they stop excusing the behavior and take some of this weight?

    • Amy Eden says:

      The Kritsberg book is timeless and so helpful – similarly, I remember the “AH HA” feeling I had when reading about the family types, and gaining a lens through which to view something I didn’t understand – my family system. I knew it was “off,” but not quite why.

      If you’re seeking a compassionate witness with whom you can rant, rage, and FEEL about what happened and have the hurt and heavy feelings that are wholly valid to have, a counselor might be a good step to take. A good counselor will bear witness to your story. ACoA or ACA 12-step groups can also be a healing forum for that. I wish that our friends and family could provide that, but they don’t know how to. They’re not trained in bearing witness to hard stories or the therapeutic process of sharing stories to release pain. But you can seek support in places that are more likely to give you what you’re seeking.

      If nobody will clear a spot for you to put the heavy weight, can you clear that spot for yourself? Can you draw that hurt child (you) close to you, hug him, and commit to helping him down this road of healing? Can you listen to him?? Can you carve out space for him to be heard by you? Writing could be a way to facilitate that…writing sure saved my life.

      What do you think? :-)

  4. [...] My mother died of an alcohol overdose at age 53. That takes a lot of sustained self-loating. I talked about her death in this video. My father stopped drinking and has lived thirty years and counting sober. Their addictions took [...]

  5. [...] I came across an outstanding blog called Guess What Normal Is by Amy Eden (short video clip via link). She [...]

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