Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Anxiety, Gratitude, The Keeblers and Yahtzee

When I finally took the first, trembling steps towards my Healing and Recovery journey, trapped in the throes of agonizing anxiety among other things, "the team" gently began to teach me a little about breathing, gratitude, and grounding techniques. 

A potential problem of its own, (possible process addiction!!) Yahtzee is what I turned to. Phone in hand, chanting “Breathing in…. Breathing out…” inside my mind as I breathed deeply and slowly. I began using Yahtzee to calm me, center me, and ground me in the moment.                                                                                        
After some time, I began using the game as a practice arena for expressing gratitude. Every time I mentally crossed my fingers as the dice “rolled”, and my number came up, I would say thank you. 

And then I became sassy. LOL I UTILIZED my sassiness.

One day, I realized, with a chuckle, that I had created a vision in my mind of these little dudes, in a tiny room, looking at screens, buttons, flashing lights, and cheekily chatting away as they collaborated to run the Yahtzee game smoothly. I imagined them, watching as I reached a tough play, and chitter chattering as they tried to decide how to play next; considering who each player was, and who to reward.

 This little scenario has helped me to personalize the gratitude that I am extending. I picture these adorable, old, elf-like guys, whom I have recently nicknamed “The Keeblers” in detail. I talk to them, “C’mon… pleeeeease!!”, “Ya know ya wannnnaaa..!!”, “Pretty pleeease!!”, “C’mon Keeblers!” which is typically followed either by an “Oh. Ok. That’s ok. Thanks anyways. Maybe next time.”, and  “Eeeee!! Thank you! Thank you! I am so GRATEFUL for your help!!”. Then, I always receive a burst of “feel good” chemicals in my brain as I let out a giggle at the sheer nonsense I have just played through my mind.

Breathing-check. Gratitude-check and check. Grounding-yup. Humor-Check Check. Release of dopamine, endorphins, oxytocin, and serotonin, flowing through my body, aiding in my healing… Totally. Silly? Absolutely.

However wacky, THIS has been, and continues to be, working for me. Don’t knock it til ya try it!! LOL

 On this pathway of Healing and Recovery, there are so many different things, tips and tricks, that can help speed up the process, and make it a little less painful. Humor and laughter are truly healing and transformative, and I have realized they are the perfect prescription for me.

Sometimes we have to just let go, crawl out of our comfort zones and TRY something new and ridiculous to find that one little thing that helps us along. 

Truly, it begins with tiny, little baby steps...                                                                                             

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Release the Toxins!

Years ago, my boss sent me a few doors down in the posh, high end "Village" where we were located to enjoy a full body massage. I remember being so excited, never having experienced a professional massage, and initially, a bit intimidated and a little out of place, but once I relaxed and gave in to the moment, it was pretty fantastic! It was very intense, in totally good way, though I did have to instantly have her stop working on an area in my feet, which is linked with my back and initiated some serious discomfort, but aside from that, it was wonderfully peaceful and relaxing.

Until I left.

I was dizzy, totally nauseated, and just felt completely awful. It was explained to me that this was likely due to the toxins that were released into my body during the massage, and my boss promptly sent me home to rest for the remainder of the afternoon. Needless to say, I’ve never gone for another professional massage!

 It occurred to me today that all of this deep work that I am doing inside of myself is quite similar to that massage.

I’m working muscles I’ve not used before, or not recently, putting strain on them, and then attempting to make repairs and heal those muscles. I’m digging into thoughts and feelings that have been buried far below the surface for a very long time. I’m exposing them, bringing light and truth to them, so that I can find release and healing. (Sounds a lot like the physical aspects of that massage!)

My mind is foggy and I am feeling terrible physically. It’s just like how I felt when I walked out into the sunshine after that massage years ago. I feel drained, sick, physically ill, and just YUCK.

I see similarities in the then and now, which has given me the impression, a vision of sorts, that my process of healing and that massage really are quite alike.

 All this trauma drama that I am sifting through is literally toxic shit that has been stored inside of me for a VERY long time. As I have gently massaged, poked around, unearthed… stuff and thangs… I have opened up several “cans of worms”, emotionally, in the process; I’ve begun releasing the toxic shit. I think right now, what I am feeling, like the aftermath of that massage, is the toxins swimming around inside of me.

This is a good thing. It tells me that the process is fully in motion, and that I am actually healing mentally and physically.

I’m working on the sore spots, bringing some comfort, and easing the pain. This is causing things to relax in there, which is allowing me to begin letting go of the toxic shit. Now I’m currently in that next phase, the “feel the feelings”, walking through the feelings to get to the other side, stage. As expected, it feels really shitty here, like reeaaallly gross, but I know, I am closer than I have ever been in my life to truly accepting and letting go of all the chaos and pain that I have been carrying.

I recognize that this is the time for even more gentle self-care and patience with myself as I walk through this leg of my journey. I have a lot of absorbing and accepting to do inside, and it’s time to comfort, forgive and be truly honest with myself.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Catch and Release

I sit back with new clarity, and I can see the circumstances I have been faced with lately for what they are: more practice and testing of my skills and tools.

The same situations, people, feelings and/or behaviors continue to pop up because I haven’t learned my lessons yet, or still!! Despite the progress I have been making with loading up that cardboard box (from my containment exercise), they keep creeping out, “Hello!! Have you forgotten about me? I am still heeeere!! Pay attention to me!!"

As I type this, I realize that this, right here, is another example of my growth, my healing and recovery!
(And I am PROUD!!)

Awareness. The growing ability to “contain” them when necessary. The expanding proficiency that enables me to look them in the eyes and say “What’s up? What do you WANT? NOPE. I don’t think so! That is not true. It’s no longer allowed. SEE YA!! GET BACK IN THE BOX!!” The increasing prowess that allows me to see them clearly, walk through my feelings, reaching the other side, exhausted and weak, but of course, stronger for it.

Acceptance and letting go. That is a massive struggle. It has been the struggle as far back as I dig; I never seemed to learn to accept and let go of ANYTHING. Only the continual “What if?”, “If only…”, “It’s because they did…”, and “It’s because I did…”. I sit here carrying the tremendous weight of so many unnecessary things that weren’t even mine to carry, and I have done so for years. Things that have no relevance now, in my adult life. These things, people, behaviors were a part of who I was THEN. It doesn’t matter what that looked like, or how difficult as it might be to ACCEPT now, I must. I was who I was then. With or without the healthy skills, tools, self-awareness, acceptance, respect, and/or love, it just WAS. I can’t go back and fix or change any of it.  And that is OK.

I thought that I had already begun to heal those parts of myself. I now realize that I truly had not gotten close. I must deeply accept and own, that that person WAS me, that was my life, THEN. I have reminded myself, repeatedly, reciting Maya Angelou’s quote, “When you know better, you do better.”, and while I truly believe it to be true, my actions and self-talk have not matched up.

I haven’t fully accepted that young girl as she was then. I haven’t faced her, truly forgiven her, or completely disclosed to her any of the actual facts about anything; which would absolutely relieve her from the crushing burden of guilt and shame that she has carried. I haven’t genuinely allowed her to process, heal and move on.

It’s kind of like fishing. You’re sitting out in the boat on a calm and beautiful day, when suddenly you feel the familiar tug on your line. Without a clear vision of what is really on that hook, you begin to reel it, bringing it in for a closer look. You assume it’s going be a big one, what with the effort required as you struggle to bring it to the boat. There it is in the net. With gratitude and admiration, you inspect it, take stock, and maybe you realize that it’s not quite the fish you were hoping for, or perhaps you intended to set it free to begin with, so you then release it.

No tears. No anger. No bargaining. No guilt or shame. You just let it go.

My goal now, is doing the work to heal the Complicated Grief I have in relation to the oh so many events/situations, people, and of course, deaths that have been smothering me. I can begin to muddle through each stage in order to reach acceptance of all these things, where I will then finally let it all go.
I will finally find freedom. I will finally find peace.

The amazing and wonderful part is, I don’t have to look very hard anymore. I can see them. I can feel the cool, airy, weightlessness of liberation and serenity begin to swirl around me, tickling the hairs on my arms, and inciting a ripple of excitement, and relief.

I am doing it. I am well on my way.

It’s not a destination I seek however; the path will not end there. It is merely the doorway. The gateway to my authentic self, where my journey of discovery and growth will continue onto a bright, fresh and uplifting new chapter of opportunities.

My story is far from over.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

GET in the box!!

It has been another exceptionally difficult week. In addition to responding to the obvious stressors that currently exist, and I knowingly and willingly accept, there are a whole lot of other emotions that seem to be surfacing. Old feelings that go waaaay back are catching up with me. Core, irrational, beliefs have been bubbling over, and I am in full attack mode, facing and challenging all the $#!t that is coming up.

Over the weekend, already amidst the storm, and its intensity increasing, I was sent spiraling when my daughter presented me with a few curiosity driven, innocent and serious questions. As the massive wave washed over me, the tears began, the grip in my chest and on my heart tightened, and, in my stomach, the gnashing and gnawing began to swallow me. All the grief, hurt, pain, soooo many feelings and thoughts about situations in my life, past and present, amassed over my life time, came crashing down, sweeping my feet from beneath me, knocking the wind out of me, and slamming me to the ground.

Yesterday, I made it through a fantastic, albeit exhausting, CAB session, was treated to and enjoyed a great lunch with Teeny, and promptly went home, requiring some serious self-care, which came in the form of a planned forty-five minute rest that turned into a much needed, two hour nap.

This morning when I woke up, I knew that I needed a plan to battle back against the suffocating weight that was upon me. I could not carry on in the state that I had been.

I thought back to the containment exercises, specifically "The Container", shared with me during AADP that are used to aid in controlling the anxiety, feelings, and thoughts that accompany memories, thoughts, and triggers that are too chaotic and overwhelming to cope with in the moment. I also recalled a meditation I had tried that involved visualizing being on the shore of a beautiful beach, placing negative triggers, people, words, events, images, etc. in a boat, and sending the load far out into the ocean.

From there, I devised my method of preservation.

I visualized a simple loft like space with many rooms, and saw all the people, images, feelings, STUFF, floating around like they belonged, pretending to be tenants. I identified them instead as squatters, none of whom had paid rent in quite some time. I handed out eviction notices for non-payment of rent and began to clear them all out, tossing everything into cardboard moving boxes.

It’s been a busy day, in my minds eye; I’ve been packing and scrubbing the spaces clean. Every time a "squatter", an unhelpful/unhealthy person, thought or image, tried to make its presence known, I would sternly say “NOPE. GET in the box!!” or “BACK IN THE BOX!!”, and imagine myself tossing whatever it was into a box with a laugh. 

For the most part, I managed to make it work. This little exercise truly helped me to maintain a semblance of sanity, remain in wise mind thinking, and it truly kept me from drowning today. I felt calmer, my eye on the sun shining through the billowing sheers that adorned the open windows, as the now empty rooms begin to fill with the warm and gentle aura of clarity, peace, and hope.

Find what works, and work the $#!t out of it. 

Until? It would seem, until it all becomes second nature.

I’m doing it!! I’m working it!!

I got this.

(The tools that seem to work best for me often involve allowing my rebel side to brightly shine, the use of facetious talk with Insidious and friends, and humor. I didn’t realize until later this evening that I had been performing, in my mind, like Bob Newhart in this video all day; I sounded just like him! LOL)

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

"It's Like Taking Buckley's..."

Last week I hit the eight months mark of this healing and recovery journey of mine. Eight months without a drink, and eight months of finally looking at myself, my thoughts and behaviors, and working to make healthy and positive changes.

I’ve had the usual daily “life” stuff, raising my child, working towards getting back to work, and turning forty to deal with. Beyond that, I have also faced deeper, dysfunctional family issues, three deaths in the family, situations and emotions surrounding my ex-husband, and the break-up of a relationship.

Much to my surprise, I haven’t fallen on (too many! LOL) old behaviors, drank, or done what I previously would have assumed to be the only option; I haven’t crumbled to my knees! Well, its close some days!! LOL But in a vastly different and less threatening manner.

During these eight months, I have found it (knock on wood!!) far less difficult than I imagined it would be to get through it all without a drink. I’ve been feeling the feelings, living life on life’s terms as they say, and so far, I seem to be surviving!

I have become more aware of, focused on, and am working at healing other areas of my life, outside of the alcohol, or maybe because of the alcohol?, where my toxic, unhealthy thoughts and behaviors continue to wreak havoc.

I find myself in moments, where I can laugh (or emit a sound that slightly resembles a laugh, perhaps a snort, or maybe some other sarcastic, pfffft, like sound), recognizing what has truly come up for me, and am easily able to change it around and re-frame it into a healthier thought or action. Other times, the moments prove to be a little more difficult to accept and work through.

I’ve been consumed by the depth of some of what has come up; I have sat absorbing it with tears streaming down my face, feeling raw and worn to the bones.

I've also been filled with pride, and reminded of the strength, courage, and wisdom that already exists within me.
I keep going to my groups, CAB and Smart Recovery, counselling, talking, reading all kinds of books, writing, painting, meditating, working with my crystals, and feeling all that comes up.

I am doing it.

It sucks. It’s hard as shit. It hurts terribly.

But I am doing it.

And I AM healing.

With a smile on my face, I reflect over the words someone spoke in CAB on Friday, “It’s like taking Buckley's, all this work… Tastes and feels like shit, but it works.”

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Single Mama Rant

Despite the growth I have been experiencing on my healing and recovery journey, the hard work that I’ve been doing, digging into myself, my thoughts and behaviors, there is still one area that is kicking my ass. Royally.

The role that I am in, “The Single Mom”.

These days, the role is eating me up inside, it’s overwhelmingly consuming and crushing me.

I remind myself that I am not the only one in this role. I remind myself that there are others with more children than my own, one daughter. I remind myself that while we have experienced hell, there are others who have gone through worse to get here. I remind myself that these others, moms, dads, aunties, uncles, grandparents, friends, etc., are in the same boat as I, and they are succeeding. I remind myself that I am strong. I remind myself that I am capable. I remind myself that it will get easier. I remind myself that I am doing the best that I can.

I am trying.

The struggle is real my friends.

My nights lately, intended for reviewing the personal work I am doing, catching up on homework (I am doing my English 12, and just started 2 online courses to brush up on my skills in the areas of computers and the fundamentals of being an Administrative Assistant), and quiet time to wind down with some self-care, have turned into a war zone, leaving me with little time to catch my breath or get a decent sleep.

I sit on the couch crying, the weight of my responsibilities feeling as though they are crushing me, and, as was the case last night, with the music LOUD, the fan on high, in attempt to drown out my daughters nasty screaming and wailing, and the urge to scream at the top of my lungs while running out of my apartment.

The yelling and friction between us have surpassed anyone’s comfort zone, even beginning to frighten one another, so really, releasing a blood curdling scream is not an option, nor is running away.

I know others can relate to having another parent in the house who really doesn’t contribute to their role in the family, in any physical or emotional manner. But, because you both created this child, you don’t feel completely alone or misunderstood in your hopes, plans, beliefs about the child. Until you are alone. Then, I know others can continue to relate to finding a partner who steps in to take on a parental role, thankfully, and wonderfully, but we still feel alone on the deeper levels of parenting this child who was created by two, then left with one.

And I know there are others who have experienced both of those situations, and then still find themselves where I now am: ONE. SINGLE. PARENT.

The strongest words racing through my mind lately?

(followed by huge tears and sobs, deep breaths, and loneliness)

I recognize the elements of age/stage that are present; the “normal” tough stuff. I am aware of the effects on her from the grief, loss and traumas that she has experienced. I realize that she has seen people treat her mom in unhealthy, unsafe and negative manners. I accept, with a giggle, that she IS my daughter after all; those who know me… LOL But, there is another side that I see too, a darker side that regretfully reminds me of her father, though I would NEVER say that to her. A side that is beginning to resemble a person who bullies her mom, a negative, unaccepting, unwilling, take no responsibility, constantly pointing fingers to blame side.

This “side” of her though, is beginning to feel like it might break this single mama.

Beneath the crushing and suffocating weight, overwhelming tears and need to vent, I continue to maintain vigilance. I continue to reach out to our counsellors, friends and family, I read anything “parenting”, and I just keep trying, one foot in front of the other.

I am determined.

The cycles end here. The healing begins. I will, and AM showing her a better way. I am sharing tools and skills with her. I am conversing about the tough stuff with her, attempting to ensure open communication with her for when the “big” stuff comes along.

One day, I remain hopeful, she will fully understand and appreciate this “role” I currently struggle to fulfill. I hope that she will be proud of me, for kicking ass at BEING a “single mama”.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Scheduling Balance to Create a Balanced Schedule

For quite some time, I have been listing "create routine in my life" as a goal, and for quite some time, I have been working on making that happen. My healing and recovery journey has me destroying old scripts, so that I can create a new and healthy flow; it takes time and effort to unravel a lifetime of chaos.

I have learned more about making SMART (Specific Measurable Achievable Realistic Time-Bound) goals. I have been absorbing all that I can take in surrounding changing unhealthy behaviors and patterns, how the brain works, it's ability to make repairs, and how we can assist in and strengthen that process. I have learned about the repetition that is required, and the time in which it takes for a changed behavior, belief, or a thought to become wired into our brain fully, which is said to be roughly 21 days (although it really takes a little longer). I have also begun to fully understand the importance of having BALANCE in life.

I now understand that routine and scheduling will CREATE the balance that I, we, need in life.

In order for me to FEEL balanced in all aspects of my life, I must plan ahead so that I can fully immerse myself in completing the things required of me. For me to feel whole, there are things I believe(d) that I must include daily, on a personal and self-care level. But, as there are only so many hours in a day (and you cannot function with four hours of sleep nightly, attempting to fit it all into each day, as I recently discovered!), I have come to the realization that if I get serious about identifying and becoming clear about the why and what the benefits that I SEE and FEEL are when I accomplish these "must do" things, I will then feel compelled to MAKE them routine. Despite how I anticipate, or actually am feeling in the moment, I am making a great effort to no longer allow excuses, and I am really working hard to hold myself accountable in my intentions, goals, and actions. 

My current focus and goals revolve around work/school, being a mom, my healing and recovery journey, those things that I am passionate about doing, that fill me with joy and light, which have now grown to include loving myself. Self-care has FINALLY come into my awareness, and the many ways TO take care of me.

Prioritizing balance, by creating routine and schedules that ARE balanced, is the path that will enable me to reach my goal, and get the most out of this crazy and fluid thing we call life.

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.
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