One Mom’s Journey to Overcome Addiction

Katherine Kiernan 1
Credit: Michelle Warren Photography


Important Note: If you are currently struggling with addiction and need immediate help, please contact the FirstLink crisis line at 1-800-273-TALK

In a world full of social media posts of seemingly perfect kids, perfect marriages, perfect bodies, and perfect lives, it becomes difficult to go through the day-to-day of our own lives recognizing that reality is, in fact, messy. 

Hi, I am Katherine, owner and operator of what I call the “hot mess express.” No, really… I sometimes catch my reflection in the mirror and think, “GIRL! Did you seriously go out like that today, triple-book appointments, and forget to pick the dog up from the groomer?!” Guilty as charged.

Dirty Little Secrets

I used to hide the messy parts of my life like dirty little secrets. I feared that if people found out that I wasn’t perfect (and actually horribly flawed) then maybe they wouldn’t accept me.

My worries and insecurities were numerous. I worried, what if other moms in my kids’ classrooms didn’t like me? Would my kids be left out of get-togethers? If my clients knew that I sometimes worked 16-hour days to make sure their transactions go off without a hitch, would they still want to work with me or fear that I might drop a ball? But my biggest fear was this: what if my flaws and imperfections actually do define me? Then would that mean that perhaps even I don’t like me?

When Things Fell Apart

I went through a devastating, very drawn out divorce from 2017 to 2018. My private family dialogue became a public one. I was the center of stories, gossip, and labeling from people who did not have all the information. It was my worst nightmare after trying to keep it all together and appear social media acceptable.

Through the dismantling of the life that I had built (and loved) with my now ex-husband, I found myself in a downward spiral. My business was still thriving. My kids were still healthy. By all intents and purposes, from the outside looking in, I was keeping it all together. But that wasn’t what was happening internally.

My “picture perfect life” was crashing down.

I was in a dark place, but the fear of anybody finding out just what an awful state I was in was keeping me from getting the kind of help that I truly needed. I was prescribed a high dose of medications in an attempt to alleviate my problems. The medications altered how I thought and how I worked. I felt they caused me to focus inward on how awful I was feeling and only made my symptoms worsen. I questioned many times if the medication was the right course of action (as did my therapist). We asked again and again and were reassured that this was the right path and we just had to “give it time to work.” But it wasn’t working, and I was in trouble. After months of struggling and getting to a point where even getting out of bed was exhausting, I hit rock bottom.

Filled with depression, anxiety, and a prescription drug dependency, I eventually got to the point where I wanted to end my life.

Getting Help

I realized I needed help. I had to let go what others would think of me. My kids needed and deserved their mom; I couldn’t abandon them. So I did the scariest thing I have ever done and I checked myself into an addiction treatment center. I can’t say this loud enough or with more conviction; it was the best decision I’ve made in many years. It saved my life and gave my kids their mama back.

Since getting home from treatment, life is still wild. It is still messy. It is still unscripted and downright nuts some days.

And I am loving every second of it.

There is Hope in Recovery

Credit: Michelle Warren Photography

I now have a heightened awareness and compassion for those around me. In the past I have always loved helping people, and this recent circumstance is no different. I am now owning my greatest insecurities in the hope that I can help others. To help anyone who is in a similar tough place to know there is hope in treatment and addiction recovery. It does get better. And now I know that social media posts that always appear perfect, always put together, and always smiling and happy events might be real in that moment; but it isn’t real life or possible to be picture perfect like that everyday.

While I was so busy and so consumed on being who I needed to be to get the approval and acceptance of everybody else, I lost the ability to be who I needed to be to love myself. To be able to truly thrive in the world that only I was responsible for navigating.

As it turned out, all of the things I feared losing the most paled in comparison to all of the wonderment and joy I have been given in my second act of this life. I have learned the people who love you will always love you. They will always welcome you with open arms and support you. And those who don’t – they are not your people.

We are all so incredibly worthy of being loved, liked, and accepted. I am grateful for the beauty of new beginnings found in making the decision to love myself enough to ask for help. 

For more details on my story, see

Addiction Resources in Fargo & Moorhead

If you are in need of immediate help, please contact FirstLink by dialing 2-1-1 or call 701-235-SEEK (7335). 

If you are struggling with addiction, please seek help from one of our local treatment providers:

Adapt, Inc. 

Anchorage Recovery

Benson Psychological Services

Bath’s Place

Clay County (MN) Substance Abuse Services

Community Medical Services

Drake Counseling Services

Face It Together

First Step Recovery

Lost & Found Recovery Center

Resolve Behavioral Health

Prairie St. John’s

Radical Recovery

Red River Recovery Center


Southeast Human Service Center

Willow Tree Counseling

For a guide on finding other counselors in the area, check out our post here

Katherine Kiernan

Katherine relocated with her family to the Fargo/Moorhead area in the summer of 2012 to be closer to family as they anxiously anticipated the arrival of their twin boys.  She is the owner of Aspire Realty and has a diverse background in consumer and business banking and financial management and integration.  

Katherine believes that the purchase of a home, no matter if it is your first home or your retirement home, is one of the greatest financial endeavors of your life and is committed to treating it as such. She firmly believes it is always better to under promise and over deliver and will keep your family’s needs, desires, and budget as the number one priority and bottom line to every interaction.

When not working with her valued clients, Katherine enjoys spending time with her three kids and fiancé, running, baking, and traveling.  


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