This week, I am speaking with a grandmother who was called back into full-time parenting duty to care for her two granddaughters after their parents both became addicted to drugs and were unable to care for themselves and their children.
Michelle Weidenbenner had two biological children, a boy and a girl. When her children were in their teens, Michelle and her husband, Dave, adopted another child who had been orphaned in Russia. In order to care for the toddler, Michelle gave up her interior design work to become a stay-at-home mom.
Closing in on 50 and still raising a young child, Michelle took up writing to keep her mind sharp. She took writing courses and attended conferences to meet other writers.
When Michelle was nearly 60, she and her husband became guardians of their two elementary-age granddaughters when their parents became homeless as an addiction took a tremendous toll on their lives. Michelle’s son and daughter-in-law advanced from drinking to opioids to heroin and finally to methamphetamines. They became emaciated and Michelle thought they would die.
Fortunately, the parents were able to overcome the addiction and achieve sobriety so the family could be reunited. But the experience was eye-opening for Michelle, who took to writing about the situation to help others who are going through similar problems.
She has written non-fiction books, serious novels and even children’s stories. In fact, Michelle co-authored a book with her 7-year-old granddaughter. That book is designed to address the problem of children being separated from their parents, but in a kid-friendly format.
One of the biggest contributions Michelle has made was in founding the All Mighty Moms group to create a support community for people who are dealing with a family addiction problem. She also developed a program for moms of addicted loved ones who want to heal from the shame, blame and chaos, so they are in a better position to help their children and others.
It took a lot of courage for Michelle Weidenbenner to share her deeply-personal story with others. Addiction is a problem that many people don’t like to talk about. It’s often embarrassing and painful.
But, Michelle’s story is remarkable because it shows how someone’s personal experiences, combined with their natural talent and developed skills, help to put him or her in a very unique position to help other people.
Michelle and her husband wanted to be foster parents, so they took training to become certified. That training helped them several years later in dealing with an adoptive daughter who suffered from detachment syndrome. But, it also helped prepare them for the difficulties of raising their grandchildren who were separated from their own parents.
The training helped Michelle learn to help parents better communicate with their own children and grandchildren while contending with someone in addiction.
She joined a mastermind group just to surround herself with people of passion and purpose. However, the members opened Michelle’s eyes to ways she could turn her pain into profit, not only to pay for expenses, but to give her money to build a bigger platform.
The experience of having to contend with an addicted child opened Michelle’s eyes to early warning signs about other serious problems addicts must address before they can get treatment for the illness and begin working their way out of a hole they dug.
The situation required Michelle to learn new skills, like leading Zoom meetings, and using technology to manage a membership community.
“It’s often the fear of doing something new that holds people back,” Michelle explained. “You might ask yourself, ‘Am I good enough?’ But when Michelle realized it wasn’t about her and that other people needed the information and services she offered, then everything changed.
Today, she is motivated to take her message to 1 million other mothers who need empowerment to overcome a situation similar to one Michelle’s family endured for several years. I know she has the tenacity to reach that impressive goal.
That’s all I have for this week’s show. If you’d like help in identifying a purpose for your life or to get help planning your next steps, I’m offering a complimentary brainstorming session to members of the Forward From 50 Facebook community. For details, connect with me on Facebook or visit www.forwardfrom50.com.
Next week, I will be speaking with a former tech industry executive who found a renewed sense of purpose after turning 50 by teaching martial arts to adults and children. He also started a business to help seasoned citizens live forever young. I’ll have that interview on the next episode of the Passionate Purpose podcast. Thanks for listening. If you like this show, please consider leaving a review wherever you download the episodes.
After closing his business and enduring several painful years of uncertainty regarding what to do with his life, Greg founded Forward From 50 to help men and women over 50 to live more purposeful lives by pursuing things they are passionate about. A Wisconsin native, Greg currently lives in Arizona.