Sunday, October 21, 2018

Digging into the Why?'s, and Finding AMAZING

A while back, I had a particularly difficult day, following the break-up of my recent relationship, and I was re-playing all the old tapes, from the way back past, in my mind.

“Why does this always happen?”,“Why do they always hurt me?”, "Why do I deserve this?”,“What is wrong with me?”

I quickly caught myself.


I decided I was going to do some work. (I think I’m starting to get good at this!!) I decided that I was going to dig into this one. I was going to question my thoughts.

“1. What is wrong with THEM?! What happened to them to hurt so bad?   (I quickly scribbled THAT out!)
      Fuck you. You don’t deserve ME!!
 2. Why do I allow this treatment and give so many chances?
 3. What am I so afraid of? Why?
 4. Look at my history, patterns, etc. Question, question. Why? Why did I feel…? Who said…? Why?        Why?

Fuck, it’s not even about “THEM”. Maybe, it never has been…? I have wanted to feel…wanted, loved, appreciated, respected, “known/popular/heard of”, connected… Comforted and protected, comfortable… Before my marriage ended, it was all about the projected image. The illusion. I wanted to appear “normal”, and, following societal norms, I figured that meant that I needed a husband, children, perfect career, perfect family, perfect life, perfUCK IT!! LOL

I always thought I “NEEDED” someone else, a man, a protector, a fixer, just to be there, unconditionally…

But, that’s not truly what I’ve wanted, certainly not what I’ve “NEEDED”. I’ve stayed in these situations, friendships, relationships, and repeatedly put up with bullshit and lies, full well KNOWING truth, and still I would tell myself: “Well, I do deserve better, but…”, and of course, the rollercoaster of irrational thoughts/beliefs… “Tomorrow I’ll do something…”, “If it happens again, THEN I will…”, “He was drunk.”, “We were drunk.”, “Nobody would want me if they knew…”, “Maybe if I look/act/do/allow…”. It becomes “normal and comfortable”. SO NOT HEALTHY. (What I really "NEEDED", was to love, honor, protect, and respect myself.)

Losing track of myself here, rein it in girl!! Question. WHY? DIG! PEEL BACK THE LAYERS! WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?

I haven’t trusted myself, and I was scared. I thought I was weak and not “smart”. I told myself I wasn’t “strong enough, smart enough, able at all.” I didn’t “know how”.

WHY? WHY? ↓ ↓ WHY? ↓ WHY? ↓ WHY? ↓↓ WHY? ↓ WHY? ↓ WHY? ↓ ↓ WHY? WHY? ↓

I was always afraid. I was told it was because they were “drunk, and don’t remember”, but they would “never again”… I was told I was weak and stupid. I was told I could never, would never… I was told that I didn’t “deserve”… I was told I was bad, crazy, psycho, a whore, a cunt, a slut… fuck… it all became ingrained, burning so hot and deep, I was convinced that everyone could see it in my eyes. 

Maybe there was a sign on my forehead, or the “Scarlett A” on my breast… So, I would pull my famous move, the “Nothing Like a Simple Ostrich”: head buried in the sand, but hearing and feeling the rustling, shifting vibrations… They would consume me, but, still I would squeeze my eyes shut, cover my ears to muffle the sound of “THEM”, and wait… full of fear, shaken and worn, I would welcome the darkness, comforted and numbed, again in the company of INSIDIOUS.


It was always these message that I heard and felt, either at home, or from older siblings and extended family, “friends”, boyfriends, husband… People that I have trusted, and felt “safe and protected” by, “THEY” said so, for as far back as I can remember.


Just because “THEY” said it, doesn’t make it true or factual. Q.T.I.P. (Quit Taking It Personally) Chances are highly likely that these things, behaviors, actions were a reflection of their own pain and lack of self-confidence. They were trying to fill their own voids. They were attempting to make themselves feel better in the moment.


I’ve got my own back. I don’t NEED anyone. I’VE DECIDED THAT I MUST, I WILL, I AM GOING TO do myself right. I AM doing myself right. Why keep wasting my time, energy, and love in all the wrong places? Why waste time thinking that I am anything less than deserving and perfect just the way I am?"

And so, in answer to my typical, dramatic questions: “Why does this always happen?”,“Why do they always hurt me?”, "Why do I deserve this?”,“What is wrong with me?”, I say this: it doesn't, and WON'T happen again, and they won't EVER hurt me again. 

There is nothing at all wrong with me, and I didn't deserve any of that. 

I am amazing. It is time for me to start treating myself that way. I deserve the best, and I am going for it. 

I've been really working hard to move through my past and finally heal. I feel valuable. I'm allowing vulnerability to open me up to the real stuff. I've been learning, and practicing, forgiveness, letting go/moving forward, and acceptance, of whatever is, or is not.

I am enjoying my journey these days. Some days are grand, others tougher than tough, and some days just are. I am learning to feel, and I am starting to really get things!

I have likened this ebb and flow, the up and down, good and bad, living life on life's terms, aspects of life to the seasons. Sometimes it's spectacular and bright in our world, (like summer and spring) and we feel wonderful and warm. Other days (fall and winter), it's dark, gloomy, and pissing on our parade, but we survive. We do what it takes to stay warm, safe, and dry, because we know that the darkness, the storm, won't last forever; it might carry on longer than we would like, but we will see the light again.

It's getting better and brighter every day...

Thursday, October 11, 2018

"Mighty Mouse!" Takes on "Insidious"

I mentioned Insidious during check in at my last CAB session, and the facilitators, already familiar with him and his relentless and seductive ways, gently pressed for more detail. One of the lead facilitators sat, visibly formulating his strategy with each response I provided. He, who I shall name “Mighty Mouse!”, sat, rubbing his palms together in front of him, ominously, like an evil and menacing villain preparing to reveal his destructive master plan. He eventually turned back to me and asked if he might “try something” with “Insidious”. Eager to jump in and “do the work”, I instantly agreed. Before he went to work, dramatically setting the stage though, “Mighty Mouse!” had one final question for me, “Does “Insidious” have arms or legs?” The obvious answer? “No.”

“Mighty Mouse!” identified that he planned to use a Smart Recovery tool, DISARM (Destructive Images and Self-Talk Awareness and Refusal Method), which, in my opinion, is basically working with shadows. He said, “the point in using this method, basically, is to incite a riot between self and inner addict/demon/gremlin/etc.”

The moment I said “Yes!” to being under the spotlight, in the hot seat, panic took my breath away, anticipation about what would/could happen, and anxiety coursed through my body. And then I caught myself; I am determined to do this work. I immediately sensed a shift of vibration and energy in the room, and myself; a dark cloud descended upon the room. Amid cleverly placed pauses, loaded with deafening silence and suspense, “Mighty Mouse!”  had someone pull an empty chair up to the table across from me, at which point my fear peaked as I imagined myself facing “Insidious”. Slowly, like a painfully drawn out plot twist, he invoked a clear vision of ME sitting in that chair, with “Insidious” where I sat; I was going to be answering AS “Insidious”.

First came introductions, “So, you’re “Insidious”? Do you know Laurinda, over there? Oh, well, I am a friend of hers…so and so… Do you mind if I ask you some questions?”. Then came the very well-played interrogation, and the answers “Insidious” arrogantly and deftly provided, with a bloodthirsty smirk. “What do you think of Laurinda?”, “What do you plan to do to her? How do you manipulate and seduce her? What do you plan/desire to do to her goals/future? What HAVE you done/taken from Laurinda? What are your plans for her daughter?”. “Mighty Mouse!” unloaded an arsenal of deep questions, and the joy “Insidious” finds in torturing me, his beloved prisoner, was evident in every response. He wants to crush me, every one of my hopes, dreams, opportunities, and relationships; he wants to destroy my life. He happily acknowledged all that he has already taken from me, in the form of hope, time, peace, love, success, etc., and calmly admitted plans to lure my daughter into the same darkness of his lair. As was expected, “Insidious” had a lot of cruel and nasty things to say about me, and of his dark intentions for our future together.

The intensity of what I was hearing/saying became like a weighted blanket on top of me. I remember fully immersing myself, letting go of the fears around being vulnerable in front of mere strangers, and feeling the blanket fall on me like a heavy snowfall… Everything and everyone around me seemed to melt away, fade to nothing. There was only my awareness of “Mighty Mouse!” and “Insidious”, and the tears that slowly washed over my cheeks.

Next, “Insidious” was asked when he came into my life, and we both blankly pondered the “always” that flashed before us. (That’s a whole ‘nother journey!) He admittedly enjoyed how easily he did manage to take control of me though, “before she (I) even had a chance”. He wants to destroy me, simply because he can.

“Mighty Mouse!” further probed on how exactly it is that “Insidious” maintains his control over me, having “no arms or legs and all”. “So, the power that you have over Laurinda is based on what?” It’s based on the straightforward fact that I have believed his harsh and deceptive words and trusted his whispered promises of solace. I just do what he tells me. Then, “Insidious” was asked what one thing he did not want ME to know would be. The answer? “That she DOES have a choice, free-will, a mind and power of her own.”

“Insidious” thinks he’s keeping a secret from me. A secret that he knows, once I realize the truth, his game will be over. He is afraid that I will take back MY POWER.

His fear? His weak spot? Losing his control over me.

My triumph? My vow? His losing control over me.

The process was killer, and I dropped a lot of “F@$%” and “holy $#it” bombs during that session. I remember “worrying” a few times during the interrogation, certain that I would have to stop, but “Mighty Mouse!” led so well, it was almost easy to “stay in character” as the internal tension within me increased.

It was such a highly intense and volatile experience, and yet deeply cleansing and powerfully motivating.

“Insidious” has been a predator, a monster, in my life, but truly he is a weak and desperate NOTHING. I am not done with him yet. I have some table turning to do with him, and a couple more “letters” to address; each step I take, he falls a little further into the fire.

I will remain diligent and aware. His power over me does, and will continue to diminish every day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Death of "Insidious" : His Return

Insidious: “Alluring but harmful” 

That is one of three definitions found on Word Hippo, and a very good way of describing this particular “Insidious” problem of mine. MY personal definition: when something IS insidious, it is like a hidden system of veins, as it stealthily seeps its way in, and around its target. It begins as a mere trickle, but given the opportunity, it’s flow surges, gaining power, and it becomes a debilitating force in the end.

I introduced the monster on my back, "Insidious", in my previous post, Vulnerability, Values, and "Insidious". That day I (we) worked to truly put a face to him (our inner demons) in Day Program was, undoubtedly, an extremely difficult and draining process to get through, and thankfully, the second part to the work, was held off until the following day.

The writing meditation (we utilized different types of meditations each day, to expose us to something new, and to start firing some new connections in our brains, speed up some of our healing, by utilizing the creativity inside of us) that we did the next morning was prompted with “Write a Letter to your Gremlin/Demon”.

I gladly, and proudly share with you the letter that wildly erupted on paper (and YES, it is highly vulgar). 
(I am working on “vulnerability”, being open and authentic, true to myself, and, I also believe/feel that in sharing our stories, in the raw, we extend opportunities to inspire healing in another. We have the power to help someone, without having any knowledge of that fact, with our words.) 
I called him out, and announced his fate!!

Clearly, expending that kind of energy was an incredible procession through hell, and I desperately needed to have some type of closure to the process itself. I suggested, wheedled, and then successfully encouraged the others to join me in my request: I felt it would be extremely healing, and supportive of one another in case of overwhelming emotions, to burn our letters; to have a ceremony around the release of these gremlins.

We went outside, with a garbage can, and we each took a turn tossing our letters and pictures into the fire, uttering whatever words we needed in our own moment above the flames.

I felt so empowered in that moment. I felt lighter. I finally felt free.

Having identified “Insidious”, addressed him, and given him his walking papers, I still knew that these demons are relentless, and they really don’t like to be denied or ignored. I knew that I would have to remain vigilant in keeping "Insidious" away. I continued on with the daily grind of my recovery and healing, learning new tools, trying to continually be mindful and AWARE of my thoughts and behaviors, and tried to catch myself whenever I could sense his presence.

I really worked hard at being cognizant of, and catching my thoughts, AND busting "Insidious". I began to, have fun with it; proudly laughing at him, throwing him the finger over my shoulder and telling him: “Ha Ha Ha!! Nice try!! But, F@#% OFF!!” I enjoy it. I find it quite satisfying.

Recently though, in addition to simply having to deal with life on life’s terms, and “feel the feelings” (oh the joys!!), I just really began to feel off. Balance, self-trust, and self-care/self-soothing have all been a lot of work in trying to establish, and I’ve been practicing being kinder and gentler to myself. I really do have a very powerful propensity towards, an often twisted, sense of “perfection”, and I “have a tendency to be”, AM “extremely hard” on myself, but I really began to feel like I was being too gentle with myself. I found myself easily making excuses and avoiding little things; all of which begin/began to slowly pile up, with a little red flag sticking out the top.

I began to wonder, and paid a little more attention to what I was feeling vs. what I was doing, loudly questioning myself, my decisions and thoughts… I felt that Insidious had begun to move back in. Like a spider, he had spun his intricate, detailed, and well-planned web, again, and I, like a little bug, was becoming sticky, almost stuck.

“He’s trying to weaken me, keeping me home, feeling low, b/c “it’s ok to be gentle with myself right now”. He’s really done his homework, and he’s trying to use my new knowledge and skills against me. I say “Fu@% YOU!!” each time I catch him lurking, but he’s pretty sneaky these days. He’s messing with my motivations and sleep, he’s urging me into lazy and smoking a lot, he’s not wanting me to eat, and especially not healthily. He’s got me procrastinating, putting off, avoiding, making excuses, and rationalizing. Shit! He’s making a real go at trying to bring me down again! COMBAT! I beat him before, and I will AGAIN and AGAIN if I have to!! So, given what I know, I now need to make a plan! I need a safety, action plan to bury him!! I’m not playing with you INSIDIOUS!! I AM STRONGER AND SMARTER!!”

I wrote that last week, after the last, very powerful, Smart Recovery session.

The next day, at CAB, I had the opportunity to REALLY work with "Insidious". It turned out to be the most intense, eye-opening, WOW., experience that I have had so far in this journey of mine. (and it happened in a room full of mere strangers!! Talk about allowing myself to be vulnerable!!)

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Vulnerability, Values, and "Insidious"

To say that it has been a long week, is, well, FEELS redundant.

There have definitely been some "themes" that have been arising around me, calling for my attention, and so I have been doing a ton of writing, pondering, thinking, questioning, digging, deleting, letting go, forgiving, surrendering; a lot of work happening during this personal renovation!!

Here's a snippet of some thoughts I had on Vulnerability:

"Tonight, as I wound down, I found myself coming back to “vulnerability”, and I felt compelled to watch Brene Brown’s TED Talk, The Power of Vulnerability (which I absolutely LOVE, and I urge you to watch!!). I have now seen it several times, but with this increasing clarity and awareness I've got going on, I felt it resonate even deeper this time. I admire her wisdom, sense of compassion, and her strength. Her message is valuable, if not life-saving.

I am beginning to see how my lack of vulnerability has been the block in my moving forward, in anything, throughout my entire life. I have rarely, if ever, fully allowed myself to be vulnerable, in any relationship or situation. Fear of the ramifications to be found in "exposing" myself were felt too scary. Fear of the unknown. Fear of myself. Fear of others. Fear of judgment. Fear of failure; real or perceived. 

I didn't know how to be authentic, and really, that's probably because I myself have never known the "real me"."

The things I value in life is another area where I am learning, growing, and "getting it":

"Last night at Smart Recovery, we had our first closed group (smaller, more efficient and effective), and we are starting at the beginning! Point 1 – Building and Maintaining Motivation, which introduces the tool Hierarchy of Values (HOV). Many of us have made these kind of lists throughout our lives, and I'm sure some of you can appreciate how difficult they can sometimes be to do!! I have never enjoyed making them myself, and had a very hard time with it. In this past year, I've done SEVERAL different worksheets, and HOV's, and while they have gotten easier, it has typically still been a source of discomfort.

This time was different!

For the first time in my life, I joyfully realized, my list was EASY to compile, AND prioritize. On top of that, I proudly WANTED to identify MYSELF as something (of) I value. (The facilitators were also blown away, because in their experience thus far, I was the first person to think of including myself as a value while doing an HOV!) My perceptions and beliefs about myself have been growing substantially stronger in the face of different events recently, and I am truly beginning to allow myself to recognize and honor those things that are important to me, and in me. I am finally allowing myself to recognize how valuable, precious, and amazing I am!

This healing and recovery journey of mine, as I refer to it, has definitely been at the top of the list in recent months, but I had to re-examine where my "addiction’s” ranked on my list of values. It’s a struggle to accept that one as even belonging on my list of values, as I (anyone) don’t WANT to give any sense of significance or power to this negative monster in my life, and am working at moving past it. But, I/we have to realize and accept that, every time we CHOOSE our "addiction"(behavior, DOC, thinking, etc.), by default, we ARE choosing it, making it a top priority, over anything and everything else that is most important to us."

I had a lot of productivity, growth and progress, AH HA!! moments, curiosities and discoveries going on, and I enrolled to complete my Grade 12 English; which it turns out is now the only thing between me and my Adult Dogwood!! I also turned 40. (!!) So, yes, the week has been draining, in all the right ways. 

Underlying all of this good stuff though, I have felt a current of something dark flowing.

Which brings me to give you a brief introduction to my "Inner Demon", and the end of this post.


Back around February, I was working with my daughters counselor; she was DEFINITELY an amazing member of The Team. During one of our typical, empowering, and creative sessions, she prompted me to think about that mean and nasty inner voice, my inner demon; to identify it with detail, and give it a name. She opened the doors to shelves full of art supplies, and left me to create a representation. I immediately went to work, furiously forming various colors of clay, producing something dark, ugly and menacing. As we discussed this, thing, and I thought, described, and reviewed my negative thoughts and behaviors, the word “insidious” kept coming to me.

 And so became the name of the monster within; Insidious.

While in Day Program, one day we were given a stack of assorted coloring pages, from which we were instructed to choose one that represented our personal villain(s), demons, addictions; color it and name it. I had begun work on this guy already, Insidious, and so I knew exactly what I felt he looked like, and instantly found his picture.

(His appearance, paired with my description of him, and imitation of his voice and demeanor, seriously triggered some of my “group peeps”; he is insanely creepy, scary, and has a strangely strong sense of familiarity to others)

My apologies for the scary guy as an end, or start, to your day!!

Don't worry!! I have his number, his jig is up!!

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Q-Tips, Expectations and Letting Go

This morning I came across, yet another of Jay Shetty’s inspiring video’s, -If You’ve Been Rejected
and it truly provoked an abundance of curiosity and thought surrounding the topic throughout the day. I thought about how it related to work (or job search), relationships, our negative behaviors or our “stinking thinking”, among many other areas… I thought about how we have a tendency, in the face of “rejection”, to cling desperately to the, wait for it…. EXPECTATION, the vision we created, the story that we made up and told ourselves. We are EXPECTING the job interview, or relationship, or whatever it is, to go our way, to fit into our “plan”, and when it doesn’t, we crumble.

We then allow our minds to become clouded, and we become paralyzed by a perceived sense of failure.

We forget that familiar adage about one door closing, and another opening. It also applies to that gate that just won’t budge, no matter how hard we push; it won’t open because it just isn’t our path. But, we take the rejection personally, like a slap in the face.

(Upon graduation from the Day Program, in our "safety/reminder kit", they added a Q-Tip as a visual reminder to QUIT TAKING IT PERSONALLY!!)

The rejection isn’t about us and it absolutely does not define us. If we can learn to let go, of the perceived internal and external EXPECTATIONS, it will genuinely free us.

Here are some more tidbits that presented themselves to me, and resonated with me today… Jay Shetty as he speaks, wisely, in his video, Learn to Let Go, and Jill Sherer Murray shares her story about the freedom and growth she found in letting go, in her TEDx Wilmington Women talk, The Unstoppable Power of Letting Go.

There were parts of today's daily meditation found in Melody Beattie's book The Language of Letting Go that also spoke to me:

October 3, 2018 Getting Through the Discomfort

“Surrender to the pain. Then learn to surrender to the good. It’s there and more is on the way.”from Beyond Codependency by Melody Beattie

“Our goal in recovery is to make ourselves feel comfortable, peaceful, content. Happy. We want to be at peace with ourselves and our environment. Sometimes, to do that, we need to be willing to face, feel, and get through discomfort.”

“When we do the kind of work we are facing in recovery, we are doing an emotional, mental, and spiritual surgery on ourselves. We’re removing parts of us that are infected and inflamed.
Sometimes the process hurts.”

I found this poem in A Sin Such as This by Ellen Hopkins quite powerful:

“Why Look for Meaning

In little things:
The murmur of a sparrow’s
Wings, questions
Asked of wind and seed
Lost in autumn grass;

The stubborn reach
Of surf, intent on whittling
Beach and arranging
Curls of seaweed
On driftwood statuary;

The copper scent
Of rain on prairies shoulders,
Bent by drought,
Slivers of creation, wet
In shallow reflection.

Why look for meaning
In little things
When monoliths stand
Square in your way
Area easier, by far,

To topple?”

And, lastly (because I found it empowering, and the book is just damn good, start to finish!!):

“Women must maneuver this world thoughtfully. Look pretty. Act sexy. Be a good mommy, a hell-raiser in bed. But don’t dare demand your place at the table. And should be offered a seat, expect less money and an uninvited hand up your skirt, and be grateful you were invited at all. It is heartening to see women step up, push forward, gather momentum, and earn the respect they so deserve. And we must honor those who paved the way-women like my mother who survived neglect, abuse, poverty, and war, and emerged kind, creative, and full of heart. Thank you, Mama, for gifting me with words, faith, and abundant love. I miss you every day.” 
Acknowledgements written by Ellen Hopkins in A Sin Such As This.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Links, Books, Quotes, and AADP

Even in the harshest of conditions...
In March, I began feeling stronger about working on my healing and recovery.

The team, knowing my thirst for knowledge, talked about Co-Dependency, Boundaries, using Affirmations (I begin my day writing a positive affirmation about myself),  and Grounding, among other topics. As I searched for their recommendations, I began to delve deep into the shelves at the library, soaking in the many words and comfort I found in the plethora of books I found there.

There were many, of course, but the ones that really stand out as being an immense help were: 
The Secret by Rhonda Byrne. I LOVED and was totally inspired by Mackenzie Phillips 2nd book, Hopeful Healing, and then read her 1st, High on Arrival. Rewired by Eerica Spiegelman stirred me so much, that for the first time EVER, I veritably got serious about what I was taking in, and genuinely did the work, dug into the questions I needed to ask myself, and proudly had some small epiphanies. As with Rewired, Recover by Stanton Peele, PhD, put me to work. It was fucking hard!! Yet, I persisted, and began to make some progress in understanding myself.

I began taking notes in CAB, learning about REBT (Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy), and working through the ABC and CBA worksheets they had available from the SMART Recovery program. We spoke a lot about IB’s (Irrational Beliefs), Dealing with Urges and Cravings, and Early Recovery among MANY topics each week.

I began to hear phrases, words, and quotes that stuck with me, and I repeatedly wrote them out in the notebook I carried to group: “It takes 21 Days to create a new habit”, “healing at a cellular level”, “feelings aren’t facts”, “If life doesn’t go right, go left”, and Mama Facilitator’s favorite, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”, which was her segue to pull out the Safety Cards. At first, I carelessly wrote them out, and carried them close as suggested. It took some time before I truly found the value in them, and I continue to use the many I have now created. I highly recommend creating your own!

I began dipping my toes into the actual SMART  Recovery meeting with my new friend Teeny in April. Though I knew no one else, I felt instantly at ease and comfortable when I walked in for the first time. The group topic often, coincidentally, aligned with what we had worked on in CAB, which I found incredibly helpful. I was able to really cement the ideas inside myself, making it easier to re-wire some parts of my brain and create new thought patterns and beliefs!

I was starting to get so excited about getting healthy and changing my life!

I was doing a lot of intense, hard-work, as I continued to drink. Until, I made a CHOICE not to. I had finally attended the Orientation for AADP, placed myself on the wait-list, and got ready to WAIT. And WAIT.

As I mentioned in my last post, “The feedback I received around me was, of course, over the moon positive and proud. I, however, was doing some tricky thinking in the background. One of the requirements of attending AADP is to be clean during the 8 weeks of the program. That little voice inside taunted me, telling me that no one would ever know what I did upon leaving group each day. With a laugh, I, finally, caught and corrected that thought. I would know. The joke, and the consequences, would only be on me. I announced that I would be easing off until I got the call, and then I would quit."

“Whatever games are played with us, we must play no games with ourselves, but deal in our privacy with the last honesty and truth.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Thankully, my drive to get healthy was activated BEFORE I got that call, and so I had become intentional in my daily activities, preparing myself for what lay ahead. I quit drinking.
I  worked hard with my books, engaged in learning and healing, identified and enforced boundaries (for the first time EVER), and whatever else I thought might be helpful!

I was at 18 days without a drink when I finally did get the call that I would be starting AADP, and I was STOKED!! I was becoming more clear and positive in my thinking, and was trying quite hard to quit the "stinking thinking" voice that was attempting to intimidate me.

Finally I made it!! My first day, I was early (as usual), and my apprehension instantly eased when I discovered a familiar face who I'd met in CAB a while back. That first day was everything I'd hoped for and more. The immediate connection I felt to the 3 others who began that day (another beautiful friendly face from CAB), the seniors that were so accepting and helpful, and the 3 kick-ass facilitators blew me away. 

I knew that I was finally where I needed to be, and I was raring to get started!

(I wanted to share what's been working for me, and so I gave you some of my favorite info! I hope you find it helpful/useful. I hope that you feel inspired while you forge your own path, remembering that you are never alone)
(And don't worry, I'll have a ton more links to share with you as I go along!! The interesting stuff, the surprising, the helpful and useful, the funny...)

See you soon!! ;)

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Seeds Planted in the "Rabbit Hole", Fertilizer, and Other $hit

2018 began deep inside the “Rabbit Hole”, blanketed beneath the familiar fog of bleakness. All things (behaviors) considered, I had survived the holiday season.

I was fully immersed in isolation. I still hadn’t found the drive to clean and organize my home; not specifically the dirty, gross messy, but there was stuff and things and paper and more STUFF everywhere. That vicious cycle was in motion; shame around the mess, which led to feelings of weakness and defeat, which circled back around to shame. I did only what was necessary; whatever was needed in terms of taking care of my daughter, but I easily cancelled my own appointments and plans, and certainly didn’t take care of myself.

The team did their best to bring me back around, but even they began to wonder if I needed more help. And so, I began hearing MCFD (Ministry of Children and Family Development) referenced as a possible, “helpful” option. Of course, that scared the shit out of me. I already had issues with authority, was working on healing from abuse (CONTROL), and the Mama Bear inside roared protectively. We had already been through so much, I could not and would not allow any kind of “intervention” like that into our life. I couldn’t do that to my girl.

Yet, I was relentless and reckless in my drinking.

February came around, and a few of the many seeds the team had planted began to germinate.

I soon began going to CAB again. Inside, I was ashamed, and was sure that I would be judged when I walked back through the door. Of course, my anxiety was irrational. There were a couple of familiar faces that were pleased to see me back, and I quickly realized/remembered that these were my people, and I was happy to see them too. We were in the same boat, different positions of course, but the empathy and understanding instantly put me at ease. It had taken about 5 months, but I felt close enough to comfortable with one of the girls that had initially started CAB shortly after me. We were both content in our isolation at that point, though we knew we would need to expand if we hoped to stay the path to health and happiness. We would need support. One day, I reluctantly asked if we might exchange numbers, specifically noting that I was not ready for meeting for coffee, having phone chats, or making a new friend. This would be a strictly texting relationship, with the purpose of supporting one another, “just in case”. We had both let out a HUGE sigh of relief upon noting this, for she felt the same way! LOL That was the first of many GIANT steps I began to take.

The seeds continued to germinate, but the conditions were still not quite right.

I was really enjoying the Smart Recovery tools that were being presented in CAB. It was so freeing and inspiring, to be part of open and honest conversation about all of “our shit”, and actually feel heard AND understood.

(My new friend seems to come up with THE BEST anecdotes in our groups. (perhaps I’ll call them Teeny’s Words of Wisdom!) What we call “our shit”, she suggests we consider “fertilizer” instead. Makes sense to me! Yeah, there was a lot of dirty, mucky stuff, but it helped me GROW!!)

There was also a lot of conversation about AADP (Adult Addictions Day Program). It was an outpatient program, that took place over 8 weeks, full days, teaching coping and (what I consider LIFE SKILLS) recovery information and tools. There was a ton of positive feedback about it, and I was seriously intrigued (it sounded similar to the pre-employment program I had completed the previous Fall, with an obvious different focus) by it. I was also very intimidated by it. As was with CAB, I was agonizing over the stigma, real or not, that I would face were I to take part. Besides, as I looked at my list of excuses, there was just no way it was an option for ME.

I had another appointment with a member of the team in which MCFD was brought up, and then another suggestion: REHAB/DETOX. Had I ever considered it? No! No I had not! I didn’t need REHAB or DETOX. That was for other people. THEM. Not someone like ME! I wasn’t THAT bad!

I left that appointment to attend CAB. My mind left twisting and twirling, I drove there completely awash in tears. I immediately located one of the group facilitators. She quickly reassured me that I was ok, and certainly didn’t appear, from what she knew of me, and what she was seeing in that moment, to be in need of Rehab or Detox. The sense was that it was more of a suggestion to aid in giving me that solid couple of days without alcohol in my system, as well as a safe place away from all triggers, with an intent to, hopefully, possibly, finally, gain some clarity.

It wasn’t long afterwards that I began to seriously consider signing up for the AADP. And then, I found my way to the required orientation, and placed myself on the wait list in March.

The feedback I received around me was, of course, over the moon positive and proud. I, however, was doing some tricky thinking in the background. One of the requirements of attending AADP is to be clean during the 8 weeks of the program. That little voice inside taunted me, telling me that no one would ever know what I did upon leaving group each day. With a laugh, I, finally, caught and corrected that thought. I would know. The joke, and the consequences, would only be on me. I announced that I would be easing off until I got the call, and then I would quit.

I carried on as usual.

Easter and Spring Break came, and my daughter went South (BC, not Mexico!!) with Grandma and Grandpa for vacation. I planned to use the time to myself, perhaps “wisely”. I requested space from my boyfriend during that time, to work on me. For the first time in my life, I spent time being closer than ever to myself.

The seeds were growing!

The day before I had to travel to pick my daughter up, I decided I was done. I decided that I didn't want to drink that night, and attempted to stop myself from making plans to drink while I was away. Although that was a major accomplishment of it’s own, I don’t think that I really took myself seriously.

A couple of days later, while I was away, a semi-estranged friend contacted me out of the blue. We had met during the extremely unstable time leading up to the end of my marriage. While we became close quickly, it was a very unhealthy and toxic friendship, so we eventually stopped seeing each other. We rarely socialized without alcohol, and a LOT of it, and she was also doing a bit more than dabbling with various drugs.

When she announced that she was coming up on 6 months clean, I was blown away. In my state of judgmental and assuming beliefs about others, I had NEVER envisioned her as someone with the strength and courage to stop using. She genuinely sounded different. Good different. Positive for the first time since I’d known her. She was even encouraging as I told her that I was approaching the path to recovery myself. I was inspired, reassured, validated, and grateful beyond words after that conversation; though it took me a few months to thank her!

It was as though our conversation cemented everything I knew I NEEDED to do. I had finally given myself permission to do the healing I deserved and needed.

I started the Day Program about 2 weeks after that conversation, and finally crawled out of that damn rabbit hole.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Change?! MY?! Addictive?! Behaviors?!

Last year at this time, I was beginning to see the validity in the suggestions I had been hearing from my team and others. I realized that, I had to fully focus on my healing and recovery, which I desperately needed to do; for myself, and for my daughter. Which meant that I had to stop homeschooling my girl. I finally, and reluctantly, decided to enroll her in school. I felt like I was giving up, as though I was weak because I couldn’t get it all under control. But, big surprise, I AM NOT SUPERWOMAN! (That was a hard one to accept! LOL) Amid the feelings of grief and loss that I had over this transition though, I also began to give up the twisted sense of control that I thought I had, and the many excuses that I was desperately clinging to.

With my daughter in school, I now had the time and opportunity to attend this CAB (Changing Addictive Behaviors) group the team had been encouraging me to try. I was beyond nervous, and my anxiety was through the roof again as I prepared myself to go.  Many irrational thoughts bounced around my mind, excuses and reasons as to why I shouldn’t and couldn't go. I mean seriously? Me? Attend a GROUP?! People? Strangers? Talking about my feelers? HOW was this going to be good for me?! I had many fears surrounding the stigmas held about Mental Health and Addictions, the people I might see, specifically and generally. I was also full of my own expected and perceived unreasonable judgments about others.

The group was small, consisting typically of 2 facilitators, and about 4 or 5 of us clients. I immediately felt comfortable with both of the facilitators, one a comically serious, chatterbox, and the other a down to earth, peaceful, wise mama figure. Despite the intimacy found in a smaller group, I felt very uncomfortable. Each session began with a brief check in, which I consistently glossed over, only sharing how I currently felt that morning, and occasionally suggesting a topic. I totally avoided acknowledging where I was in my “clean time”, because I didn’t have any; though I was certainly not alone in that. I typically showed up hungover. I began to have a sense of relief in the comfort of being among people who not only GOT my fucked up ways of being, they too HAD these thoughts, patterns, behaviors! I listened avidly, absorbing bits of the Smart Recovery tools that they shared, even taking a few worksheets home to "work on". Still, I shared very little about my own journey and struggles. I was too afraid, and fully immersed in shame and guilt. I felt like a fraud.

While I always felt a sense of peace and acceptance after attending CAB, I still easily, and readily succumbed to the many excuses I was able to create in order to NOT attend. The team continued to gently push and encourage me to go, but I still wasn’t ready to commit to myself, to dive into my healing and recovery.

I needed to get honest with MYSELF before I could begin to share my truth with anyone else.

The months grew darker, literally and internally, as we came in to November and December and the holiday season. My motivation lessened, the Rabbit Hole became a dangerous place of comfort, and there I set up camp, prepared for, and anticipating the warm blanket of numbness. 

I stopped going to CAB and fully immersed myself in dangerous behavior, depression and drunkenness.

I Finally Joined The Team

I have had an amazing and dedicated team of Nurse Practitioner's and a counselor (along with a few other wonderful clinicians and supporters in the clinic) working with me for about 4 years. I am so full of gratitude for their commitment and belief in me, even when I couldn't find it within myself. 

I initially began seeing the team after the volatile separation from my husband, for health and safety concerns and issues, and I believed I was ready for counselling support. I knew that nothing I’d been doing thus far had been working for me; my life was out of control, and I didn’t know what to do anymore. I needed to do something different. I had little faith in counselling and zero interest in anti-depressants, but as I sought Ativan for my anxiety, the team convinced me to give anti-depressants another shot as well.

Again, nothing stuck, and I quickly fell back into my usual methods of “coping”, irrational thoughts and behaviors. I created a new “normal”, immersed myself in others, drinking, and working enough to cover my ass. I, somehow, managed to home school my daughter, successfully. We were rarely home, as I preferred the company of my “little village”, the quiet of the country, the lack of perceived
 expectations and demands, the complete distraction from my life, and all the things that desperately needed healing inside of me.

The anxiety began to creep out of control shortly in the month before my friends heart attack, and afterwards, I instantly fell apart. I had a desperate “need” to be helping and taking care of others, to have some sense of control, and to distract myself from my thoughts and feelings. I completely sacrificed myself, my life, my role as mama, the relationship with my daughter,my physical and mental health… I used up all of my resources and fuel, everything I had in me.

And then there was nothing left to give.

I couldn’t function. I couldn't sleep, but when I did, I suffered from violent and horrific nightmares revolving around my ex-husband. I had anxiety and panic attacks so intense I believed, truly, that my heart was going to fail me. There was no medication that was helping the intense pain, pounding, and racing in my heart. I was sure that my heart was going to explode. I was paranoid about dying, and stopped taking Tylenol, Advil, and anything for colds or sinuses, convinced they would give me a heart attack. I started having trouble going anywhere because the panic and anxiety attacks were too severe. The tears wouldn’t stop. I couldn’t breathe. My skin crawled, from the inside out. I trembled like a leaf. I couldn’t stop my mind from frantically racing. And I just couldn’t be around people; which, of course, added more stress to the already unhealthy dynamics within my relationship with “the boyfriend”.

I had no idea what to, I knew there was no way I could continue the way that I had been. I needed help.

I went back to the clinic, my team, begging for help. I was “finally ready” to do whatever it took, "arms wide open", to deal with everything I needed to. Anything to get “healthy and happy”. I got on board with finding an anti-depressant, all of the heart tests, breathing tests, all kinds of tests, beginning to learn about grounding and mindfulness, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and I explored my marijuana use. Whatever they began to throw at me, I was willing to try.

Except for one thing.

I was resisting any conversation about my relationship with the booze. I had endless excuses and stories to offer instead: “I quit before, I can do it again”. I was just in a “rut”; I could and would eventually pull myself out.  I just got stuck in the “routine” of it sometimes. It was a “bad habit”. I'd say I was "aware" that it was an unhealthy relationship. I was just on the roller coaster while I slowed down. I'd get the drinking back under control “soon”. “I’ll think about it.” It was always later, tomorrow, next week, next month; never RIGHT NOW.

After receiving much prompting from my team, that Summer I started (and graduated) a 
Pre-Employment program for women through the Elizabeth Fry Society. I learned new skills, tested myself strongly while earning several certifications, and took in a whole lot of, I guess, personal growth?, classes.  I was feeling good about myself, remembering my strengths, and confident that I was finally making some bit of progress.

It had taken about 6 months, but my anxiety began to come down to a manageable level, and I was feeling proud of myself while in the program, but the unhealthy thoughts/behaviors and dependency on alcohol continued to slip further out of control. 

The boyfriend and I struggled, and continued our tug o’ war dance; but he was also a huge support in many ways. He helped with my daughter, cooking, other parts of daily life I struggled with, he was a positive influence regarding my irrational thoughts, getting me out to nature, out to do things, he often suggested that we have a "tea night", or plans for a night with no alcohol... But, I became resentful, wanting a partner in crime, not another person to hinder and question my ways. I began to feel like the rebel again, pushing back at the perceived sense of authority. I rarely wanted to do any of the healthy things he suggested, aside from fishing (but, of course, we usually took a few beers for that) and if he suggested a sober night, I would laugh and head straight to the liquor store.

The program ended, and aside from the team and my daughter’s counselor, the only people I saw were my daughter, the boyfriend, my brother and his girlfriend. I was losing momentum, shutting off and stepping towards isolation again. As Summer wound down, I became increasingly nervous, aware of the tendencies I have towards deep depression in the Fall and Winter. 

I started to consider my relationship with alcohol; remembering the times I had stopped, how I felt, the positive effects, so desperately needed, that would come if I cleaned up... I began to slow down, even going a week or so without a drink. Each time I drank again, I fell deeper into darkness, finding it harder to reach the light. Yet, I was still not willing to consider or discuss QUITTING forever.

But, my curiosity began to pique when my team gave me information about a group that they thought would be helpful. It wasn't specifically for alcohol, drugs, or gambling, it was for ANY type of addictive, destructive behavior or thought patterns. In my need to keep alcohol out of the scope, I COULD recognize the many other addictive behaviors and patterns that were a problem for me. I was very unsure and afraid. All sorts of crazy thoughts raced through my mind.

The team had successfully planted a seed.

I finally agreed to go to CAB (Changing Addictive Behaviors).

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