Category Archives: Addictions

Being human…

I started 2016 with high hopes. I was feeling good and felt strong. Then I spent over 2 months fighting off infections one after the next. I am normally quite healthy so to have 7 infections of various sorts in a row was very shocking. It finally ended and now I am back to my usual self. ๐Ÿ™‚

Once I finally got better and stayed well, I decided it would be a good time to my art studio and a spare room painted. This endeavour is the only thing that really turned out since the beginning of 2016. Thank goodness for this!!!

And then April arrived.
My husband works seasonally at the only workplace available to people in our area. We live on the east coast of Newfoundland Canada and the only business here on the “north shore” is fishing. My husband worked on the wharf and the months that he spends at work are the ones that get us through the whole year. Of his 5 siblings that live here, 2 couples are retired and the other 3 all depend on the plant for their yearly income.
We were all ready to get back in to the swing of things and the crab plant was ready to run at full tilt… until it burnt down the day before everything was to really go wild for the summer. This means no work (or scrounging up a few hours wherever he can). It will devastate us financially until the plant is rebuilt in a year (best) or two (reasonable).

That alone was enough but then I found out that my hubby was sneaking smokes. I will not say a lot except to say that he has severe health issues that will only see him deteriorate with the smoking coming back in to his life. This causes me a great deal of stress because I love him and do not want to watch him to decline as he did before he quit. He almost died twice last year… it is scary.

Due to my therapist becoming a grandmother again, I did not see her for what should have been 3 weeks. It is now 4 weeks because the car broke down while trying to go see her this past Tuesday. IF next week works out, I will see her then. A full month of no therapy… seriously not at all good for my head space. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

The biggest issue this past week was even bigger to me because I was already so depleted and psychologically tired but that aside, I had a HUGE trigger this week that has just knocked me right over.
You may recall me speaking about my son Marcus and his death. I have not given a ton of details regarding his actual last moments except to say that they were horrific and caused by someone who should have loved him.
This week in my area (very rural – everyone knows everyone). A 5 year old girl was murdered by her father and then he set his house on fire to cover the crime. It is damn close to exactly what happened to Marcus and I have found this whole week triggering in a way that I have rarely been tested before.
The father had been charged with domestic violence 3 times yet the court dismissed the charges each time. Due to the fact that he had no record, he was given shared custody.
The mom did what she could to be heard but no one would listen.
And now her child is dead.
Trigger, trigger, trigger…

To add to those triggers, I was privately discussing the loss of Marcus when one of my Monster/mother’s friends interrupted to call me a liar. That just pi$$ed me right off and being seen as a liar is probably my biggest trigger. I know she is misinformed but it still sent me spiralling downhill at an even quicker speed.

These are the reasons why I was so quiet last week. I was just feeling so anxious, depressed, and triggered. I wanted to drink or just be done with this world and although I did neither one, the thoughts alone scare me plenty. I do not like it when these options begin to look like reasonable responses to the issues in my life.

I have also been feeling so very alone. In reality, I am not alone. I have my blog which is always a source of comfort in hard times, I have wonderful friends, I know good coping strategies now and life when I am more stable, looks really good.
Sadly none of this seems to be enough when things get really bad. I just feel terribly alone. I feel unlikable, unlovable, unworthy, and untrustworthy. I feel terribly unimportant. I do realize that my mind is playing tricks on me but it doesn’t seem to really matter in the moment.

Now the rebuilding begins. Self care, self-care and more self-care.ย  I have the skills to find my way out of this and I have supports to turn to but it is the actual action of doing it when my energy is so depleted.

I don’t write this to make you worry or feel badly for me. I write it because I can so often come across like I have everything together, that I am calm, capable and have my biggest storms behind me.
The truth? I have weathered many storms, I have managed to make huge changes in my life and I am proud of my accomplishments.
Some days really just “bite the big one” though and I am quickly reminded that I am human. Fallible, occasionally weak, messed up, and confused. So totally human.

Dissociative Identity Disorder

I thought it might be wise to go back to a topic I covered almost 2 years ago. The basics of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). I have a lot more readers now (YAY!) and new friends whom don’t really understand DID. No criticism here at all. Before I was diagnosed with it, I knew as close to nothing as one could get.

Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is portrayed in the media as some sort of wacky, wild, really cool to watch phenomenon. If that isn’t their angle? They are usually discussing the controversy of the diagnoses. I hope that if I share what it means to me, it will take some of the confusion out of it and hopefully inspire some understanding.

Everyone has multiple personalities/identities. Even you.
If you stop to think about it, you are not really the same person when you are out with your friends as you would be if you were out with your children. You are different with your spouse than you would be with your parents. You can become the professional at work then transform to a carefree spirit when you go out for an evening with your best buddy. Even your pets get a different side of you.

If you think of your own life thus far, I am sure that who you were as a child is quite different from who you became as a teenager and then that teen became a young adult. Eventually you grew past the age of being a young adult and perhaps started making some more adult decisions like getting married or having children. You continue even now to mature and change with each passing year. Ask someone who’s in their 60’s and they will tell you that they are very different from who they were at 30 and few 50 somethings that I know are still acting as though they are 20.

The difference between you and all your sides/personalities are that they know each other. Each part knows what the other was up to and went through. Who you are right now knows what you have done good or bad over the course of your lifetime. Not perfect memories of every little thing but you have the big picture. At 40, you can recall being a teenager especially as your own teenagers are now giving you the same hassles you once gave to your parents. There is an easy flow of communication between these parts of you.

When you have Dissociative Identity Disorder, this ability to easily communicate is severed or severely affected. It is like growing up and the 4-year-old you doesn’t know the 5-year-old you. Each one is compartmentalized in a separate box and each box is locked. Usually this is caused when there is trauma so severe and so constant that the host could not have survived psychologically without creating a very handy coping tool. Rather than being totally overwhelmed by what is going on and absorbing all that trauma by oneself, some children unknowingly begin to dissociate. This is a very clever secret door that a traumatized mind is able to create to help survive the fear and pain.

Sadly, if dissociations happen regularly and a total “split” occurs, the child will have very few memories of this age. Good or bad. If the trauma continues for many years, these splits can happen over and over. The biggest difference between a dissociative mind and one that has not needed to develop this skill to survive is the ability to recall life in an orderly fashion.

This issue of segregated memories is used to help diagnose cases of DID. When I am asked to give a family history or a history of even my past week, it can be very confusing for me. I don’t always recall who came in to our lives or who went and and when. I have years of missing time scattered throughout my life so I can occasionally recall moving to a new home but not recall leaving it or I could suddenly be in a new home and not recall leaving the last one. People with DID need to constantly juggle what they know with what they can’t recall.

People with DID, myself included often have very large chunks of their life missing. One dissociative part of me from when I was 4 might not even know about me or any other parts. For 43 years I did not consciously know about any of my other parts but most of them knew me. They did not all know about each other though. Some did, some didn’t, some parts formed groups, some stayed isolated, some even thought that they were the only one. They seemed to not even realize that there was me.

These parts and pieces of my life have a very chaotic order to them and they almost all are still the ages that they were when they came to being. This is where it gets really hard for me. That silent 3-year-old that needs to be held and hugged is always 3 and always needs to be held and hugged long after it is “appropriate” to want this from those around her. I can and I do try to take time to fill those needs if I can but I have a LOT of Helpers and taking care of each one would be 3 full-time jobs at this point.

I really like this graphic as a way to explain what I am trying to share here.Excellent

For me this happened 34 times. For a long time I only heard 3 but that was when I was still assuming I was psychotic or just truly bat shit crazy. In time, with a great deal of support and compassion, I allowed myself to begin to hear others and there are 34 in total that have made their presence known. I don’t know them all yet and I don’t have all of their memories.

I work daily on hearing them, finding out what their needs are and trying my best to fulfill those needs. I feel as though when parts of me feel heard and hopefully healed as much as possible, they can get a well deserved break from needing to protect me from what they deem as dangers. This will reduce the “need” for dissociations.

I am not a professional with all this nor do I have all the answers. I am learning day by day and sometimes I get it all very wrong. I’ve been able to help my Helpers at times while hurting them at others. I am working at it though. Every day.
One day I hope that my 4-year-old will know my 6-year-old. My teenagers will know the adults and the adults can allow me to take care of my daily needs without whisking me away. I will not integrate them, I just want us all to communicate more easily with each other rather than living in all these separate locked boxes. My goal is to find peace.DID0

My story.


It was suggested to me by a long time reader that allowing my story to be told might help reach others. I have hesitated doing this is the past because I just felt the details were not really important. That said? I do agree with this reader and have decided to share some of my story (minus the nitty-gritty) with you today. I do hope it helps you understand me better and I hope it reaches some of you so that you know that you are not alone in this fight for your survival.
I am going to leave my siblings out of this story because I do not feel it is fair to assume how they felt or what they went through personally. If there is a day that the ones still living wish to share with you? I’d happily post it.

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, there was a princess.
Scratch that. This is no fairy tale. ๐Ÿ˜‰

I was born at the beginning of 1970 in a winter storm. A fitting beginning for the life that would follow. A winter storm of sorts that lasted decades.
I was born to a family that was quite wealthy and had every available support to raise a child as easily as possible. From other family members, I have been told about how my father was thrilled by my birth but my mother hated me from day one. Probably long before day one in reality. I am sure she viewed her pregnancy as a real inconvenience.

My beginning could have been a good one but right from the very start of my life here on this earth, my mother would begin making choices that would seal my fate and my father would not do anything to stop her.
Their first decision? My name.
Heather was the name of a girl whom my father and mother hated. She’d chased my father around and my mother hated her for it. This is the person whom I was named after. Someone they hated.

I have a few memories of my early childhood but none are good. From 0-4, all I recall is being afraid. Many years ago my grandmothers both told me stories of how I was left in filth and ignored while my father was at work. I was also told that I would scream and beg others to take me with them as they left our house or begged babysitters to keep me. That is just not normal behaviour for a young child. Wanting to leave with anyone rather than staying home with their mother.

Starting at age 4, I was given a gift of new underwear for my birthday. Not the best gift for a 4-year-old but they were a tiny hint as to what that birthday would mean. I would be sold to men who liked little girls and my hair was cut so short that I also looked like a boy and could satisfy men who liked boys as well. This was not a rare occurrence. It was done as often as there was demand and there was ALWAYS a demand.

It was also around this time that I learned to mistrust what people said vs. what they actually did. My mother could be the sweetest, kindest, most gregarious person to anyone on the outside but then a monster behind closed doors. It was her perfect “outside face” that allowed others to believe that she was trying her best but that I was a child with some real issues. She convinced therapists, social workers, a child psychiatrist, doctors, teachers and strangers that the problem was set squarely on my own shoulders. I was the one who hurt myself and then lied with crazy stories to cover it all up. This lasted for my entire life with her. It still goes on to this day! She is perfect while I have mental illnesses.

There was a lot of sexual and physical abuse but even worse than that was the sadistic nature of the emotional abuse. I was made to believe that I was only sold to men (and some women) because I liked it and caused it to happen. If there were bruises or broken bones? I had obviously done something to deserve that. If I got ill. that was my fault too. That woman (my mother) made sure that my self-esteem was now only low but non-existent. I felt less than human and not truly worthy of any kindness. This is the part of her abuse that is the hardest to get over or heal from. I feel like I am worthy and then someone talks about me or doesn’t like me and I am plunged deeply right back in to feeling absolutely worthless. My brain knows that I am a good person, that I give a lot of myself to helping others, that I am smart, and have a lot going for me but my heart still says “You don’t deserve any of it and you are just as worthless as you always were”.

I did try to speak out and I tried to reach for help but these efforts were always met with my mothers wrath. I recall being made to eat a “poop” hot-dog in a bun. If I was going to spread “filthy lies”, I was going to eat filth as well. After a certain number of times where I reached out to ask for help and having that come back at me with a vengeance, I gave up. I still find it hard today to speak up about it because my automatic feeling that accompanies this openness is fear.

There are so many details and situations that I could discuss but I am sure you get the idea by now? It wasn’t just a hard life. It was a life filled with monsters that never hid under my bed. They just stayed out in the open and did as they wished with me as often as they wished it. I many ways this abuse started before I was born and still continues today. 46 years of situations and stories that would make your blood curdle.
If you read my list of Helpers from last week, there are a few more details of which Helpers came in to being and when/why.

I wish I could say that I grew up, moved away and never had to deal with my mother again but I moved 3,500kms to get away from her and 2 months later, she was living 1km down the street from me in her newly purchased home.
I have not spoken to her in over 11 years yet she still speaks about me in public to anyone who will lend her an ear. She tells them lies and makes me look horrible. We live in a very small community and there are many people who have never even met me whom hate me with passion. I’ve been called a liar, a bitch, a whore, a selfish daughter and worse by these people who just believe the words my mother shares. Supposed grownups and mostly “church friends” of my mothers. I really try hard not to let it bother me but she has even gotten to my own children and 2 of my husbands extended family members. The words said under hushed breaths make me want to just run away again and never look back… or just give up and leave this world altogether. It is hard not to taint the good that I have created in my life with that poison. I am only human. It is hard to be hated and even harder to be hated for something you never were.

Sadly it is not only my monster/mother that drags me down like this. My father takes part as well. He is quieter about it but when discussions of how my brother abused me surfaced, it was his voice on the other end of the phone calling me a sociopath. In my heart I know that he believes every word and knows the truth but he is unwilling to face it and it seems that hurting me instead is acceptable to him. I recently cut off all contact with him and I know it was necessary for my future mental health but I feel like a 46 years old orphan who never knew what it was like to have a mom or dad.

I’ve felt very lonely lately. I miss those whom have loved and seen die by suicide due to their PTSD. I ache for my murdered son. My heart has cement poured all over it while my living children find their way home. I really miss the nurse I felt close to while in hospital and the doctor whom I got to know before his sabbatical. Now my current therapist is retiring in a couple of months and I must say goodbye to her as well. I know these supports are not meant to be lifelong friendships and I am good with that but it doesn’t make missing them any easier. These people got me, they understood me, They believed me and truly heard me. They made me a better person. I am just tired and I am trying to find and keep my spark. I will find it again. I have faith in that.

I’ve had some comments about how I do not share negative stories on my blog but I feel that my intentions are perhaps a bit misunderstood. I do not keep things positive because I want people to think life is just all great and I am flying high. I keep it positive because I have dealt with and still deal with more negative in the run of a day that some people experience in a lifetime. By remaining positive myself, I feel like I am adding to the good in the world and that somehow negates some of the bad. It takes a lot of effort on a daily basis to live a good and positive life but I almost always feel that it is worth the effort.

This blog is very important to me. YOU are important to me. When someone says that they heard what they needed to hear or got what they needed to get because of a blog I wrote, it helps me add to the balance of positive in my life. Thank you for that.

If there is more you wish to know, just ask. If it is too personal to be on the blog, I will respond with a private email.
All the best to each of you. โค

Kind Words CopyHand drawn by Heather. For sale. $20
Buy an 8×10 “Be Gentle”

Hard work.

As you all saw a few weeks ago, I have a new puppy. He is growing like a weed and eating like a horse, yet he has found his way straight in to my heart.
That said, puppies are hard work. A LOT of hard work. For every minute of cute, there are at least 9 minutes of hard work.
I’ve seen a lot of ads lately on a “Snowdog” site that I am a part of where they are offering their slightly older puppies up for a new adoption at a greatly reduced price. These are not bad people with bad intentions, they are people who saw the cute puppy and assumed that sweet little face wouldn’t be as much trouble as they are. I am NOT making a judgment here. Not at all. It has made me think though…

First of all, here are my 2 favourite fur babies in the world.
They are both beautiful, cute, sweet as can be… and a LOT of hard work.
We are up with the puppy twice each night to let him outside in to the cold for a pee. We are out in the cold too and it is not fun at 4am!
We must keep an eye on him at every second because with each new day of growth, he hits a new height of treasures he could not reach before. This week it was the 3 recycle bins, the garbage in my office, my husbands neatly stacked wood splits for the fire and the edge of almost every table we own. Tonka will soon believe his name is “Tonka-No”
His food is super expensive because a puppy that grows as fast as he is (he’s gained 8 pounds in the past 3 weeks) needs excellent nutrition.
We can not just leave him alone for hours and go off to do whatever we wish to do. His bladder is not strong enough yet and we do not wish to stall his house-training.
And poop duty… oh gross.
And he bites. HOLY CRAP those little razor-sharp puppy teeth want to sink in to everything. Hands, ankles, earlobes, my hair and head… it is all fair game. He is not a bad dog or a “biter”, he is a puppy and puppies need to learn that human beings are not chew toys. Until he learns that? We are.
He’s earned a second nickname besides “Tonka-No”, he is also known as “Jaws”.

I do not list all that to complain. He is not our first puppy. We knew what we were getting in to and we did so willingly because we know that as he grows and learns, he will become a very well-behaved and treasured part of our lives. I just feel that some people do not really know the reality of puppies when they get one. It really is 1 part cuteness and cuddles vs. 9 parts hard work.

The same can be said for almost anything that is really worthwhile. How many months does it take to get those tomato seeds to go from where you are making a huge mess planting tomatoes in your home (if you are Canadian you have to start them inside LOL), remembering to water, fertilize, split, replant and weed on a regular basis before you get to pick even one tomato off of your plant?
It is like a puppy. 1 part yummy and beautiful vs. 9 parts hard work.

Your job (ANY JOB) is often the same. How many days do you work before someone says something nice to you or you complete a project? How many snotty noses until an “I love you mommy/daddy”? 1 part “pat on the back” vs. 9 parts of no one giving you a glance.

Does this mean that we shouldn’t bother with puppies, fresh tomatoes, children or jobs? Of course not!!! The end, no matter how hard the work, is often so worth it.

This is one place where I think we can often lose motivation when it comes to ourselves though. Mental or physical well-being takes a lot of hard work. Recovery can be such a huge uphill climb and like these other examples, we might manage to raise ourselves up one notch then fall back 3, or 6, or 9 times…
We might get so fed up with all the hard work that we feel like giving up. This is why I wanted to write today’s blog about my pain in the arse yet really cute puppy. He is just a really good example of well-being. It is hard work. We get him on the lawn for his business then turn around to clean a mess he did in the house. Our own skills are much the same. You will get it right and you will get it wrong. You might get it wrong a lot at first and right only now and then. BUT!!!! If you stick with whatever you are working on? You will eventually master your goal.

Hard work doesn’t mean it is not worthwhile.
Hard work often means that it is.

Now back to that 1 part cute and not the picture of the poop I cleaned up out of the house an hour ago, the clump of fluff he pulled out from the box-spring mattress this morning, the mess he made with the bit of oatmeal and fruit he had for breakfast (that I am still removing from his fur), or the scratch marks on my husbands face from an early morning wake up call…
He is such a lot of hard work but look at him right now asleep with his sister.
So cute… and so worth it all.
TonkaHave a great week and work hard. It’ll be worth it in the end. ๐Ÿ™‚

Value Your Survival Skills


It can be really tough to look at the symptoms that are caused by whichever disorder we’ve been burdened with and feel thankful. Who would feel thankful for dissociations, unexplained body pain that never ceases yet a mind that feels nothing? Anger, depressions, anxiety, feeling absolutely crazy, and afraid to make friends or trust anyone at all. There are so many different symptoms that I just can not cover them all but you know what you deal with and it really sucks doesn’t it?

So let’s look back a bit to the time when those behaviors were not symptoms yet.
Back to a time when they are what helped us survive.
They were not symptoms then, they were SKILLS.
We needed them. Quite often they saved our lives.

Any good therapist or doctor will tell you that although these skills were useful in the past, they are not helping us now. We know that but we need to be taught how to cope without using them.

It is in that in-between time that we often feel very critical of ourselves.
Why can’t we feel things?
Why can’t we trust someone who we know is trustworthy?
Why do I struggle with addiction? (Food, alcohol, drugs, sex…)
Why do I hurt myself to feel better?
Why do we feel such anger that it is more like a venomous rage?
Why do we then feel nothing?
Why do we eat so much or so little?
Why can’t we stop zoning out?
Why are we depressed when everything seems to be going well?
Why are we so anxious that it can be hard to leave home?
Why do we say or do things to cause distance with others?
We can often feel dead inside. Why can’t we feel?
Why do we want to be alone yet feel shunned?
What the heck is wrong with us?
Why can’t we just be “normal”?

Those questions haunt so many of us and I am sure you can relate to at least a few. It feels awful to be stuck where we do not want to be. It is very easy to be unhappy with ourselves and we want to do better but it takes a lot of hard work and a lot of time to change.

Maybe we can do something a little different when we feel like being hard on ourselves for our now dysfunctional coping.
Perhaps we can look at these “symptoms” and see that they were not born out of weakness but rather born our of the will to survive. We are not weak or frigged up because of them. These symptoms just show how incredibly resilient we were.ย  We made it through all that we dealt with thanks to those skills.

We also know that we need to work towards healthier coping skills in our lives now but I find that making steps forward is a lot easier when we stop putting ourselves down for who we are at that moment.
Accept yourself for who you are and where you are. You are a survivor. Nothing less. You are strong and good and kind. The people who’ve been hurt the most almost always are.

You will change in time. You will make healthier choices and move forward in positive ways. Allow yourself to accept who you are right now and that change will happen faster.

I learned to value my skills and it changed my life. I had more compassion for myself. I was no longer sorry for how I acted or felt. I had every good reason to be exactly where I was. Any person who lived through my life would do no better.
Maya Angelou said “When you know better, you do better.”
Wherever you are right now is the best you can do. As you learn? You can do more.
Maya Angelou also said “When you learn. Teach.”
One day you will be in a place where others will look at you and learn from your climb.

You survived. However you achieved that? Good for you!!!


Recovery is an excellent word and it is what most people with mental health or addiction issues really want. I believe we can also add goals such as weight loss to this area as well. What does recovery really mean though? And what doesn’t it mean?

For someone standing outside of a recovery looking in at the person “in recovery”, it is often a wish that recovery will make the person all better. It is an assumption by many that recovery has a start date and an end date. I am sorry to say this but it really doesn’t.

The beginning of recovery can begin days, months or even years before help is sought. This contemplation stage is a big one. It is that space in your mind where you begin to consider what you really want from your life and what you are truly willing to do to get there. If your issue is an addiction to alcohol, drugs, food, shopping, sex, internet porn, smoking, or any number of things that you use to cope with daily life and its stresses, you will need to contemplateย  all the changes you will need to make to make recovery possible.
For a moment, I will use my own addiction to alcohol as an example but the same can be said about any addiction.
When I began thinking about giving up drinking, it was a very overwhelming idea and would mean making a lot of changes in my life. It was used to help me cope with my PTSD symptoms, it helped me sleep, it helped my numb myself from triggers, it helped me fit in with a certain group of friends, and it just made being alive bearable. Giving it up was a huge undertaking and looking back? I really wished that I had even known that I had PTSD and had been able to seek help for that first. That said? I did not know so I gave alcohol up first.

Recovery from an addiction is a crazy ride and there really are two distinct groups here that I feel are important to mention. Those without trauma can give their addiction up with a huge amount of effort and dedication but they usually start feeling really great once the initial withdrawals have left them. They become just thrilled with themselves and their lives. They still have a horribly difficult road and sticking to their decision is not at all easy. They just tend to feel better about themselves emotionally.
Trauma survivors on the other hand, go through the same withdrawals but rather than becoming happier emotionally, we tend to crash. All the symptoms that we covered up and coped with by using our addiction suddenly become more and more clear. This makes wanting to restart the addiction even more of a great idea.
When I gave up drinking? I became depressed, anxious, I could not fall asleep and if I did? My nightmares went in to overdrive. My focus that was fuzzy while drinking went right out the window and concentrating on anything was nearly impossible. Quite frankly? Life became unlivable.
So if you have suffered trauma? Please do contemplate giving up your addiction while also setting up extra therapeutic supports for yourself. Leaving the world of addiction is so very worth it when you are also being taught how to take better care of yourself and finding positive ways to deal with your emotional needs.

Back to recovery…
So you finally decide to give up your addiction. This may have taken you a day, a month or more than a year but here you are. Ready to really make some changes in your life. You’ve set up the supports you feel you will need and your heart is in the right place. Hopefully your mind is too. ๐Ÿ™‚

You may fail many times before getting it right. Don’t allow those failures to dissuade you. Each failure is only teaching a lesson to you that you didn’t realize you needed to learn first.ย  Failures can help you decide to look for more support, realize you can’t do it alone, ask friends or positive family relations to help you. Maybe you need a doctors help or a program. You might need to make some additional changes in your life before becoming successful as well. A sober set of new friends perhaps. A new hobby to keep you busy. In the end, a failure is only giving you an extra step to climb that you did not know was there before. Keep using those newly learnt steps and climb them to become free.

So now you’ve finally beaten it. You have stopped drinking, lost weight, stopped smoking or conquered any number of other issues out there that are just as important.
Why did you do it? Perhaps now you have a better peace of mind, your family is happier with you and you with them, you may feel happier and discover new opportunities and ways to grow.

If your recovery is from a mental illness, there are many similarities. It is difficultly, you need supports, you will feel as though you’ve failed more often than you thought you would, it is a long journey. It is worth it but that does NOT make it easy.

So what is recovery not? When you are “recovered” or “in recovery”, what does that really mean?

Are we cured? No we are not. We will deal with these issues for the rest of our lives. There will be times where it is very simple for us. Moments in time where we feel as though we can stand up, plant a flag and say “CURED!” only to have a small setback and suddenly feel like we’ve gotten no where at all. This is normal. Try not to let it freak you out too much.

We will never relapse. Right? Recovery does not mean that either. We will try to never relapse but without carefully monitoring ourselves at all times, it is possible to relapse at times. In mental health this is acceptable. People (everyone except ourselves) is usually patient and understands it is not all smooth sailing. With an addiction it is different. Fall off even once and pretty much no one is understanding towards us about it. Don’t allow that attitude to defeat you. It is only another step to help you climb to healing. Just jump back in to your recovery as fast as you can and move on.

We will be symptom free right? Sorry folks. This is not what recovery means either. I am definitely and very happily in recovery. I’ve been alcohol free for 17 years now with the exception of on slip up. I am doing very well on the mental health front too. I definitely need to deal with my food addiction still but I am still in contemplation about that one. I am often asked if therapy will get rid of my PTSD. Sadly no, it won’t. It will help me cope better. It will help me learn ways to take better care of myself and feel a lot better than I did before but there is no cure-all pill for mental illness or addiction. We can improve, we can feel better, we can enjoy life A LOT more, we can do a lot of things including being in somewhat of a remission if we are lucky but we can not ever really let our guard down or stop taking good care of ourselves. Illness and addiction can return .

Recovery will be the end to challenges right? Losing weight will make our life so much better. Treating mental illness will allow us to do everything we always wanted to do. Leaving addiction behind will mean better relationships. These things can happen to a certain degree but assuming life will be perfect when I ______ is unrealistic.

Recovery is hard work and recovery is worth ever minute spent on it. Having a realistic view of what to expect only makes that achievement even better.


Blessings and Curses

Welcome to 2016 everyone! I know I wrote a 2016 post but I also took a week off from blogging. It was really nice and it helped me just think about some new topics and allow myself to just be creative. Since starting this blog, I’ve never taken a week off and considering how often I tell you all to take time for yourselves….. ๐Ÿ˜‰

First may I say how happy I am that Christmas is over? I know from all the emails, shares and comments to my “Trauma and Christmas” post that I am absolutely not alone. It is nice to feel less alone but also sad to know so many of us find Christmas as well as many other holidays very difficult.
Are you okay now?
Did you manage to find ways to take care of yourself?
Please just know that you were all in my mind.

This was a really weird Christmas and New Years for me. I was struck how my thoughts and feelings were pointed one way and yet the other way all at the same time. If there is a way to go north AND south in the same moment? I did it over the past 2 weeks.
One situation that came up over and over in my mind was how often the very things that I counted as my blessings were also my curses. Isn’t it strange how the same thing that makes you happy in one moment is also what makes you sad in the next? Do you find that at times?

One example for me this year (and it was a big one)… my kids.
On one side it was so much easier to plan for Christmas. I was able to give my husband a nice gift which never used to happen because we were always so tight to the wire with 3 children. We travelled locally when we felt like it and didn’t need to worry about rushing home to make supper or taking a child to a friend’s house. It was a much cheaper, easier, and for the lack of money only, less stressful.
On the other hand? Not having them around was so hard. There were more tears than I could count and a moment of pure happiness was often followed by incredible grief.

My own biological family is another example. My mother does not like me and never loved me (her exact words) so that counts her out. My father knows about and admitted to ignoring the abuse I suffered only to phone me 3 hours later calling me a sociopath and telling me that calling the cops would be a terrible idea for me. My siblings are either gone to the other side or to a life so filled with alcohol and drugs that they in any way that matters, are really gone too.
I am happy that I found the courage to leave all that behind and begin a life that is so much more positive. The life I have now is a healthy one. That makes me so very happy. I love the life that I have now and I am happier in my own skin than I have been in a long, long time. Probably ever. This is such a HUGE blessing…
… and a curse because even though I KNOW they are not good for me, that they are sick in many ways and I am better off without them in my life? I miss having my own family at Christmas more than any other time of year. Christmas is all about families, memories made now and chatting about memories from years ago. It just makes me really sad.
This year I really grieved too, I just wanted (in all honesty, still want) a mom and dad that loved me. Not MY real parents but I just wonder what it feels like to be taken in to a mothers or fathers arms and know that you are loved and that you are safe without condition. What does it feel like to know that you have parents that love you? It must feel really good. Do people ever adopt 45 year olds? โค

Then there is my past. What a bang up job people did to make my life hell. My mother was the ringleader but there were hundreds upon hundreds of others that were right in there with her.
I spoke about this a bit in my post “A Beautiful Disaster” but it is worth saying again in my opinion…
Without all that abuse and those memories plus being diagnosed with DID and being treated for PTSD? I wouldn’t have this blog. I wouldn’t have the same compassion for others that I do now. I really “get it” when someone tells me that they had a hard life. I wouldn’t be running a support group and I wouldn’t have my art. All 3 began as a direct result of my past. For as much as my abuse took from me, it also made me who I am now and it is responsible for my livelihood.
I know I’d have a different, maybe better life if it all had not happened but would I appreciate it as much as I do now? I doubt it.

In the end it all goes back to my belief that a situation is rarely what you think it is. Your perception can cloud even the smallest issue and make it feel huge. It can work the other way too. I know when bad things happen, I usually don’t react at all. My perception due to my past is that there are FAR worse things in life.
My issues lately can be seen in a good light, a bad light or both. It is all about the perception that I have that day or that moment.
Maybe that is how life is really supposed to be in the first place?
Good AND bad.
Happy AND sad.
Up, down, AND all around.

We never really need to label events in our life at all because our curses can also be our blessings.


Your suitcase.

tumblr_inline_mp3nxasSBZ1qz4rgpA few years ago, I had a friend that struggled greatly with letting things go. I am happy to say that she’s worked VERY hard ever since and gotten very good at it.
In our conversation, I was trying to find a way to explain the concept of how we choose what we carry around with us. I came up with a suitcase.

Each of us has a suitcase. You can look at it as being your body, your mind, or visualize a real suitcase. Pink leopard skin print, Elvis, Def Leopard, whateverย  you wish. ๐Ÿ˜‰
We all have a suitcase and we take it along no matter where we go each day. We even take it to bed.

What you choose to pack in your suitcase will be the deciding factor for how your life will go. You can choose to fill it with other people’s crap, you can fill it with booze or junk food, you can pack insidious negativity in every tiny space you have left over. Many of us come with a suitcase that is already half filled with the words and actions of others. Half of that crap is labelled with words like “Loser”, “Idiot”, “Liar”, “Fat Cow”, “Useless”… Yuck!

I suggest that we all unpack our suitcases on a regular basis and make choices about what we choose to put back in. The rest of the stuff can sit on a closet shelf and when you are ready, you can trash it.

So what do we put in?
Pictures of our supporters. Whether that be family, friends, teachers, social workers… whomever you feel has a positive impact on your life.
Don’t forget your dogs, cats, birds, lizards, ant farms or pet rocks. If you love them? Add them.
Start listening to the nice things people say to you. We so often blow off the nice things as though they never existed then Crazy Glue the negative stuff to our foreheads. Take those nice little comments and pack those too. They don’t take up a lot of room so add as many as you can and keep adding!
I suggest a beautiful hand-carved box that can hold all your accomplishments. They do not always need to be big things to others but if they are big to you? Add them in. ๐Ÿ™‚ There have been times when taking a shower was a monumental task and accomplishing that was big. There are other times when my accomplishments have been far bigger and brighter but they ALL count. Pay attention to what you do right and add that stuff to your beautiful box.
And beauty… you’ve got to add beauty. It is different for each one of us. Beauty to me is almost always nature. Spider webs christened with raindrops, incredible landscapes and tiny flowers. People’s eyes and their smiles are definitely photo worthy and would land in my suitcase as well. There is nothing more beautiful than a kind and loving set of eyes. Beauty to you may be race cars, vintage radios, rainbows, teacups or anything that just makes you happy to look at. Add lots of that.
Add some healthy snacks too. You’ll want to be able to stop and refuel your body at a moments notice. Choose something you love.
By the time that you are done, your suitcase should be absolutely packed to the brim with beauty, light and love. Thankfully all of these things are also very light. They are almost airy and you don’t even notice yourself dragging the suitcase around. It just sort of floats along behind you.

Sadly there is one caveat.
Similar to taking a child to a candy store and arriving at the checkout with many items you never chose, your suitcase will begin to feel heavier as time passes. When you plunk it on your bed and open it up, you will find that there are things in there you did not add and do not want. Fresh hurts, past demons, anger, resentment, fears, ugliness… you’ll find it hiding amongst all the beauty that you packed. Do not fret though. Suitcases can be unpacked and packed up again as many times as you need to. Every time you notice it getting a wee bit heavy, stop, unpack and repack.
It is 100% up to you what you choose to carry with you.

One of my favourite items to pack in all the side pockets to help prevent the negative from getting back in is kindness. It is as light as a feather and very, very small. Almost like glitter but far less messy. ๐Ÿ˜‰
Kindness is a tricky little bugger though.
When you give kindness away you’d expect that you are losing something or going out of your way but kindness is so weird. For as much as you can give away, you get twice the amount back. It just feels so great so sprinkle that stuff everywhere!

Pick the suitcase of your choice and start packing. It is absolutely up to you each and every day what you want, wish and choose to bring with you. You hold all the power. Take advantage of that to the very best of your ability and have a beautiful week. โคSteamline-Luggage-4

The child within.

Child within.

I found this graphic to be so meaningful. It truly expresses how I often feel. I have this adult sized body but inside there is this little girl. She has so many needs that require attention yet those sorts of needs are not easily met.
To be held, cared for… mothered…
To be protected, worthy of consideration… fathered…

I am at a loss of what to say now.

Just saying what I have already said admits far more than I ever allow others to see in me. It shows that I am needy. Not totally whole. Like there are parts of me missing… and there are.
There is nothing inherently wrong with me. There never was.
I should feel needy. My needs were not met.
I am not whole. I was not given the chance to become whole before I was shattered to pieces. I was whole when I was born but that was taken away from me.

Many months ago, a therapist tried to reassure me that my world is safe now. That it is “very unlikely” that I will ever be the victim of a crime again.
He was/is right but why can’t I accept that?
It is because my life was constantly filled with unlikely.

When I came home from the hospital as a full term, good weight, healthy baby girl born to well-to-do parents in a safe place, who would have ever imagined the life I would lead would be so filled with unlikely events?
Wasn’t it unlikely that my mother wouldn’t care one tad about me?
Wasn’t it unlikely that my father would prefer to stick his head in the sand rather than admit that I needed help. That I needed a way out?
Was it likely that teachers, social workers, the police, doctors and surgeons would be so easily convinced that the only one doing any harm to me was me?

Is it likely that today at the age of 45, I can still be brought down by my mothers lies?
No one can even begin to understand how soul-destroying that is.
Is it likely that my father would choose to finally accept that he knew what was going on and was sorry only to turn around 3 hours later and brand me as a sociopath to protect his own arse?

None of my life has been likely. There has never been a time where things were just “normal”.
And yeah… its been horrible.

You know what else was unlikely?
Me surviving… but I did.

Is it likely that I’d be able to write a blog that very rarely wallows in self-pity?

Is it likely that I’d run my own support group and actually have enough healing under my belt to be able to offer ideas and insight to others?

Is it likely that I’d be creative in a way that seems to reach somewhere deep inside people?

Is it likely that I’d be married? Have successful children? Have an amazing group pf in-laws who’ve shown me what a family really is. The good, the bad, the ugly and the hilarious?

Is it likely that I’d be blessed with good friends and people who truly care?

Is it likely that I would ever truly begin to heal even though what was done to me would render most people impossible to save?

You know what? My unlikely life can stay that way.
I want to see what unlikely thing I can find to do next.

The words I never want to say again.

I was just watching a video and near the end of the video a man said “I never want to go through life saying I should have. If you want to do it? Do it! If you fail? So what? At least you tried.”
I tried to find his name to offer proper credit but no names were ever listed. I just had to share it anyways.

This attitude is one that I am learning to adopt and I do a bit better at it as time goes on but I felt a huge jolt of positivity when I heard this said and it just narrowed my focused a bit more in a very meaningful way. ๐Ÿ™‚

I don’t know about you but the things I regret the most when I look backwards are the things that I feel I should have done but didn’t. I remember having an idea once about having an online grocery store where people would order online and I would go get it for them and make money by doing that. I was repeatedly told that no one would ever pay someone to do that and I allowed myself to just drop the idea. About 2 years later, “Grocery Gateway” came along doing that exact thing and now they are a multi-million dollar company.
That is only one example and all of my ideas are certainly not worth a million dollars but when I look backwards, it is the “I should have” moments that bother me the most.

My first marriage. – I should have known better.
My kids.ย  – I should have said “no” more.
My weight. – I should have been more careful.
My diagnoses. – I should have seen it for myself.
My writing. – I should have started sooner.
My medical training. – I should have stuck with it.
The list is truly endless.

I can not go backwards and change any of those things but I can choose to change how I live now. When I look back at my life 10 or 20 years from now, I do not want to have many (if any) “I should have” thoughts in there.

When you have an idea and choose to ignore it, what holds you back?
When you think of calling a friend to go out and do something and then choose not to, why do you do that?
If you want to try something new, what is it that prevents you from trying it?
Fear? Apathy?

The fear of failure has often gripped me.
I put off writing a blog for YEARS because I was afraid of negative responses.
I never said “no” to my children often enough because I feared that they would leave me or not like me.
I kept my story a secret due to the fear that I would not be believed.
My monster (mother) bought my silence very cheaply because I felt so guilty and ashamed of all I had done. If people really knew me, they’d hate me.
Apathy has held me back too.
Statements like “Why bother?”. “No one will care.” or “I won’t be believed anyways.” held me back from even trying.

I’ve learned some very important lessons over the past 3 years.
People do care. I was just choosing the wrong people to trust.
Writing is my passion and although not everyone agrees with what I say, that is okay. This world would be terribly dull if we all just mimicked each other.
Shockingly I have been believed. Sadly not by the people who should have been there to support me but it has been proven now that I was looking for acceptance from people who don’t have that to offer. I’ve left them behind now and strengthened my relationships with people who truly care.
All that guilt and shame that I had was badly placed. I blamed myself for things that I had absolutely no control over. I felt ashamed for the actions of others. I was not the one making the choices. I was only the one being used. All that guilt and shame should lay solidly on my monsters shoulders. She was the ringleader so she can divvy it out to the others who took part as well.
My apathy was depression speaking. I didn’t really “feel” depressed but when I look back to how I felt and what I said to myself, I most definitely was. I’ve since realized that I am not a good judge of my own mental health. This is not a bad thing. It is just how mental illness works for me personally. I do not tend to see myself declining. I need people who know me well to point it out and thankfully they do.

Do you have many “I should have…” moments in your life?
Can you let yourself off the hook for the ones in the past so you can move on now and give yourself a fresh start?
Can you think of something you would do if there was no fear there to stop you?
Do you think maybe you can just go for it and take that risk?
Are you able to forgive the mistakes you will make and allow yourself to try again?

I want to make a real effort to live by the words of that unknown man. I wish I could thank him for them. Perhaps one day I will get the chance. ๐Ÿ™‚
“I never want to go through life saying I should have. If you want to do it? Do it! If you fail? So what? At least you tried.”