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Stash

My Life in Hiding

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About The Book

“An emotionally absorbing and swiftly paced multisensory experience.” —The New York Times Book Review

Named a Best Memoir of 2023 by Elle

In the vein of Somebody’s Daughter, this wild, vivid addiction memoir from the host of the podcast The Only One in the Room “will inspire, awe, entertain, educate, and help so many readers” (Christie Tate, New York Times bestselling author) with a journey to sobriety and self-love amidst privilege and racism.

After years of hiding her addiction from everyone—stockpiling pills in her Louboutins and elaborately scheduling her withdrawals between PTA meetings, baby showers, and tennis matches—Laura Cathcart Robbins is running out of places to hide.

She has learned the hard way that even her high-profile marriage and Hollywood lifestyle can’t protect her from the pain she’s keeping bottled up inside. Facing divorce, the possibility of a grueling custody battle, and the insistent voice of internalized racism that nags at her as a Black woman in a startlingly white world, Laura wonders just how much more she can take.

Now, with courageous and candid openness, she reveals how she started the long journey towards sobriety, unexpectedly found new love, and dismantled the wall she had built around herself, brick by brick. With its raw, finely crafted, and engaging prose, Stash is “emotionally riveting…usher[ing] in a new way for us to talk and read about the paradoxes of addiction, race, family, class, and gender.” (Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy).

Excerpt

Prologue: Stash PROLOGUE Stash
For years I’ve prided myself on keeping it hidden.

I hide it in decoy pill bottles in our guest bathroom, I hide it in my coat pockets and my makeup bags. I hide it in the toes of my rain boots and two rows behind the vanilla extract in the kitchen cabinet. I keep copious, coded notes in journals and my Filofax, writing down dates and places. I keep the journals hidden in a rusty locked trunk in our attic.

Refill days are like the Fourth of July, or better yet, Christmas. The joy of driving out of the pharmacy parking lot with a full bottle! I sing along with Beyoncé or Gwen Stefani at the top of my lungs as I fly down Ventura Boulevard, smiling back at guys in their cars at stoplights.

Why not? Life is frickin’ dope right about now.

Got me lookin’ so crazy right now, your love’s got me lookin’ so crazy right now…

The moment just before I take the first one is always so sweet. I fish the bottle out of the bag and hold it lovingly in my hand before giving it a little shake.

The weight is good. Thank you, God.

I feel like the fact that I can tell how many pills are in a bottle just by weight is a rare skill set, but I’ve never quite figured out where it would be most useful—a carnival perhaps?

Give me a bottle, any bottle, and I’ll tell you how many pills are contained within.

I brace myself for the endorphin rush that I’ll get just after popping the childproof cap. It’s so instant and powerful that it reminds me of the brain freezes I used to get when eating snow cones too fast. At the same time, I am already fearing the moment my beloved bottle is empty again. And that moment seems to come sooner and sooner every time.

Reading Group Guide

Welcome Book Clubs,

We’re excited to connect with groups who are interested in reading Stash: My Life in Hiding and having deep conversations about addiction, self-evolution, and happiness. Feel free to use the information and questions below and don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or inquiries: lauracathcartrobbins.com.

You can read about the author, Laura Cathcart Robbins, and get an excerpt by checking out the page at Simon & Schuster.

About the Book

“An emotionally absorbing and swiftly paced multisensory experience.” —The New York Times Book Review

Named a Best Memoir of 2023 by Elle

After years of hiding her addiction from everyone—stockpiling pills in her Louboutins and elaborately scheduling her withdrawals between PTA meetings, baby showers, and tennis matches—Laura Cathcart Robbins is running out of places to hide.

She has learned the hard way that even her high-profile marriage and Hollywood lifestyle can’t protect her from the pain she’s keeping bottled up inside. Facing divorce, the possibility of a grueling custody battle, and the insistent voice of internalized racism that nags at her as a Black woman in a startlingly white world, Laura wonders just how much more she can take.

Now, with courageous and candid openness, she reveals how she started the long journey towards sobriety, unexpectedly found new love, and dismantled the wall she had built around herself, brick by brick.

Topics & Questions for Group Discussion

1. If it weren’t for a lot of the notes Laura kept throughout her addiction and her life, she wouldn’t have been able to write such vivid and expressive renderings of some of her most difficult memories. What role does memory play in the book? How does her time and space away from the events play into the storytelling in her memoir? Has there ever been an experience in your own life that you needed space from before you were able to write about it or share your experience with others?

2. Laura doesn’t hold anything back from the reader. The raw emotion is clear from the get- go and you feel closer to her unfiltered thoughts as the memoir unfolds. Was there ever a time you couldn’t explain what you were going through or feeling, but writing it down on paper helped you alleviate the pain and come to peace with your experiences?

3. Where are some places in the book that made you pause, look inward, and ask yourself if you could be more honest with yourself? What truly grounds you? Read the section out loud.

4. Throughout the book, Laura struggles to show the people around her what is really going on in her life behind the scenes. How does this affect the relationships in her life? Have you ever kept something from the people you loved most in an attempt to protect them from hurt or disappointment? How did she begin to show up for herself authentically after having hidden who she was and numbed her true self for so long?

5. The elements outside of Laura’s control are constantly dictating people’s perception of Laura and what society expects of her. What roles do race, gender, class, and individuality play in this book? What role do they play in the pressures you feel in your own life, at home, work, etc.?

6. We see Laura pushed to her absolute limit, doing things she never could have imagined herself doing. How does Laura’s own self-perception control her actions throughout the book?

7. If you were writing a memoir about your life and the struggles you’ve overcome, what would be the hardest part for you to write? Who would be the most difficult person to share the writing with and why?

8. Of all the people/characters Laura meets and befriends during her time in treatment, whose story did you most connect with, and what impact did their journey have on Laura’s healing process? How can the people we surround ourselves with impact and shape our daily lives and habits?

9. Laura finds herself in survival mode, forced to make decisions based on pre-existing standards, fear, and obligation. Why does the introduction of new love, even despite the insurmountable struggles she faces, transcend the suffering and help her on the road towards healing in the end?

10. What emotions did you feel after finishing the book? Did the ending feel like a true ending to you? Are there any overarching themes or questions you would ask Laura if you were with her now?

11. It is easy to look at someone suffering and think oh, that could never be me. How did this memoir shift your perspective or opinion on people going through the recovery process, or someone still struggling with addiction?

12. What is the stigma like in your community surrounding addiction? Discuss any initial bias you may have had about recovering addicts and how implicit biases play a role in our everyday lives.

13. What kind of support group do you lean on in your life? Similar to twelve-step recovery, are there any spaces where you are free to share your deepest, darkest parts without judgment? What did you learn about the recovery process through this book? And what questions do you still have about people who struggle with addiction?

14. Can you describe the power of the characters in Laura’s book remaining anonymous (for the most part)? What effect did this have on your reading, and how does the element of staying anonymous lend itself to the recovery process? Are there any other elements of life or culture that would benefit from people remaining anonymous? Describe and explain why.

15. How did you feel about the relationship between Laura and her divorce lawyer? What was your take on the balance between being understanding vs. harsh? How did the relationship affect Laura throughout her recovery process?

Group Activities

1. Get together with your group and write anonymous letters detailing expectations or emotions you would like to release or let go of in your life. Pass the anonymous writings around the room so everyone has someone else’s to read aloud. Throw the papers into the center, crumple and tear them up, and rid yourself of the words and the expectations as you let go.

2. Take a few minutes to reflect and write down three titles you or society has assigned you (example: Mother, Writer, Black woman, etc.) . Share the titles out loud with the group, and discuss the societal pressures and obligations that go along with each one and how you feel about them.

3. Try keeping a journal where you write down your daily thoughts as they flow. Think of it as a stream of consciousness where you keep daily notes on your state of mind, mental health, and clarity. Once you’ve had a few weeks’ worth of notes, go back and see if you notice any patterns emerging or themes that you want to work on in your life or in your relationships.

About The Author

Photograph by Cooper Urlich

Laura Cathcart Robbins is an author, freelance writer, speaker, and host of the popular podcast The Only One in the Room. She has been active for many years as a speaker and school trustee and is credited for creating The Buckley School’s nationally recognized committee on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice. Her recent articles in HuffPost and The Temper on the subjects of race, recovery, and divorce have garnered her worldwide acclaim. She is a 2022 TEDx Speaker, and an LA Moth StorySlam winner. Currently, she sits on the advisory boards of the San Diego Writer’s Festival and the Outliers HQ Podcast Festival. She lives in California. Follow her on Instagram @LauraCathcartRobbins and find out more at TheOnlyOnePod.com.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Atria Books (March 7, 2023)
  • Length: 288 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781668005330

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Raves and Reviews

“Robbins’s deft narrative is an emotionally absorbing and swiftly paced multisensory experience...[She] courageously wrote the memoir her recovering self craved — the book she knows others need, too.”

New York Times Book Review

“Beyond being emotionally riveting, Stash ushers in a new way for us to talk and read about the paradoxes of addiction, race, family, class, and gender.”

Kiese Laymon, MacArthur Foundation 2022 Fellow and author of HeavyLong Division, and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America

“An irresistibly delicious story you cannot stop feasting on, that will sit in your bones and write over your memory like it happened to you. You have to read this book.”

Holly Whittaker, New York Times bestselling author of Quit Like a Woman

“Robbins writes with unparalleled humor and compassion for everyone in her story, including herself, without glossing over the misdeeds that necessarily accompanied her addiction. Readers will cheer Robbins as she slowly learns to trust others, and most triumphantly, trust the still, small voice inside her, urging her toward sobriety and freedom. Robbins' compelling story will inspire, awe, entertain, educate, and help so many readers.”

Christie Tate, New York Times bestselling author of Group

“The evolving Laura of Stash reveals herself to be at once loving, resentful, soft, spiky, generous, bitchy, big-hearted, petty... I rooted for her throughout. These apparent contradictions capture perfectly the shifting tectonic plates of personality that occur in a recovery done honestly - and done right. Brilliant."

Catherine Gray, bestselling author of The Unexpected Joy of Being Sober

“I couldn’t put this book down! Stash is a page-turning story of secret addiction with equal doses of humor and pathos, taking us on a heart-racing ride towards recovery and redemption. This is memoir-writing at its best – revealing a hidden self with unabashed bravery. As a unicorn Black woman facing her demons against the backdrop of a high-end Hollywood life, Laura Cathcart Robbins has given us an iconic heroine, one we’ve never seen before. Lucky for us she decided to come clean.”

Bridgett M. Davis, author of The World According to Fannie Davis

"Laura perfectly describes both the insatiable disease of addiction and the painful existence of living a lie. This is a book not just about saving your life from addiction but taking charge of your own happiness. Plus, Laura's wit and inner monologue are cleverly placed to connect us to her truth and journey."

Amber Valetta, supermodel, actress, and sustainability editor at Vogue UK

Stash is a marvel. In these pages I laughed, I cried, I fist-pumped in celebration. This debut proves that Laura is both beautifully human and a force. This is a must-read.”

Keah Brown, author of The Pretty One

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