Tag Archives: Addictions

My story.

Girl

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. 😉

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. ❤

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.
16th
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. 🙂

Value Your Survival Skills

Value

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.  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!!!

Paint how you feel, not how you think.

Earlier today, a fellow artist friend posted on Facebook about how she just couldn’t seem to lift herself out of a funk caused my her SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) which many people suffer from to different degrees. My reply to her was based on something that you, my blog followers have taught me over the past 2 years. I will edit my post here only to remove her name.

I know I already said a lot but you touched my heart with this post and as I sat here writing, I thought of something else. I write a mental health blog and almost all of my articles are about how to improve your life, take care of yourself better, get through hard times, grieving, positive thoughts and kindness. Then every once in awhile I am just so out of sorts that my blog ends up being about me and a rough time that I am having. I just end up throwing my guts on the page and paying I lose all my followers for it.
You know something though… those are the blogs that get the most response and are so often met with “I thought I was alone.”, “It is so nice to know someone else understands.”, “You have no idea how much I needed to hear this.”, I’ve even had some say that I saved their life because I showed that someone who looks like they have it all together can really fall apart.
It is in our most vulnerable that we touch someones heart. Perhaps you need to paint how you feel rather than paint what others expect. Maybe your paint needs to have a foggy, rainy, shitty day. Perhaps there are dark clouds and menacing looking skies. The houses might not look so bright and the boats may be nearly toppling over in stormy seas. Paint how you FEEL and not how you THINK.
I bet that you would really strike others in the heart and you could open a whole new style of painting.
Some days ARE beautiful, bright, green and gorgeous. Others aren’t. Why not do and sell both?
Love you bunches my friend and I am here for you. I’ve lived in those dark places for many years and I understand the struggles. I give you this advice based on what has worked in my own life.
Go ahead and paint how you feel. I’ll buy it.

It is YOU, my blog readers whom have taught me this lesson and I felt it was good not only to share this post with you but to also talk about the concept a wee bit more.

It is not only artists and writers that have these days. Red, orange, bright blue and green paint can symbolize any of our lives. There are days when everything is so beautiful and bright and then there are days when the blacks, browns and deep greys take over. That happy sunny yellow can suddenly turn to a gross murky baby poop green and our good mood is gone.
There are times in our lives where it may be much more than a day or a week, I had dark days for almost 2 decades before the sun shone on me again.
Very few people knew that about me though. I had the brightest smile and there was colour everywhere. Bright, cheerful, happy, fun colour. I used it to paint over the darkness that I felt and in the process, I found myself very alone because I did not allow others to see my struggle. I know many people that pull off an equally trustworthy and convincing ruse.

Who do we hurt when we hide our darkness? Ourselves? Well certainly ourselves but we hurt others as well. By not allowing our true colours to show, we do not often allow them to show their true colours either.
It is only when we allow others to see that our brightly painted and cheerful exterior actually has darkness behind it that we allow them to show their darkness too.

You’d think this would be depressing right? Actually is not.
Allowing others to see the real you and the real colours in your life at that time allows for others to feel heard and understood. This only benefits everyone around you. In my opinion, the ones that hush you and do not want to see your true colours are the ones that are still afraid of their own darkness.

It does not make you strong to be perfect or happy all the time. It takes far more strength to show others that you are not that way all the time. Rather than saying you are fine every single time someone asks, maybe a little truth wouldn’t hurt? I mean really, who is fine ALL the time?
And by being fine all the time? Who do you think will ever want to share their true feelings with you? They assume you could never understand a bad day. I rarely share anything real or under the surface with people whom never share with me.

So my friends…
Paint with yellows, bright blues, greens, reds and oranges on those bright, beautiful clear sky days and paint with those dark blues, deep purples, heavier shades of otherwise “perky” colours when the yucky days show themselves. Having both is not only human but it is what makes you real to others. It is also what turns you and your life in to a splendid rainbow for all of those around you to enjoy.

real-rainbow-rain-dark-clouds-wallpaper

The Trauma Tree

Childhood trauma is often overlooked, greatly misunderstood and one of the most damaging things that can happen to a child. The effects will last a lifetime.

This is the issue that I want to bring up today. I believe this view needs to change in society. Not only for children now but for those of us that were children when we were affected by trauma. I believe that understanding this interrupted brain growth process will help us all be more compassionate to others and most importantly to ourselves.

One of the most maddening things I hear is that I was was too young to really remember the traumas that I experienced as an infant and toddler, therefore I should be fine. While on one hand, this is true. I can not accurately recall the exact details of the abuse, this view is still completely and utterly wrong, in fact it is the complete opposite. This tree is a great graphic to help me explain what I mean.

trauma-tree-4

The roots represent the prenatal stage of growth.
Where the tree touches the ground is birth.
The trunk is infancy and early childhood.
The lower branches are childhood.
The upper branches are your teen years.
Adulthood is at the top branches.

If trauma occurs at any stage, the rest of the tree’s growth (which represents your forming brain) beyond that point is negatively affected. The older you are, the more life experiences and knowledge you have to cope and the brain is not actively forming as quickly. (ie. Abusing a toddler affects the entire tree from the trunk up. You end up with a tree build on a very insecure base. If the abuse happens as an adult, you have a good base and strong branches so you have some ability to cope better than a child would.)
Side note: I said cope “better”, not easier. ❤

Childhood trauma is often complex and can be catastrophic, leaving a lifetime of struggles in almost all facets of life. This is significantly true of trauma exposure during the prenatal and infancy stages (roots and trunk) when the brain is at its most critical and active phases of development. The younger a person is when exposed to trauma, the higher their risk of developing trauma related disorders including learning disorders, developmental disorders, cognitive deficits, attention issues, attachment disorders, and so much more.

Prenatal trauma is hard to understand so I have found some examples of how trauma can happen even while in the womb.

  • a toxic or unwelcoming womb
  • divorce or a bereaved parent
  • a considered or attempted abortion
  • being unwanted
  • adoption (deep abandonment)
  • a lack of resources
  • twin loss
  • drugs, alcohol and nicotine taken during pregnancy
  • violence and other ongoing stresses.

A developing brain needs a healthy chemistry to develop properly. A brain that is developing while flooded with trauma induced chemicals (such as cortisol and adrenaline) fails to form healthy, strong connections.
Trauma at this stage will affect the formation of  the tree (your brain) at the roots. Every single part of that tree with be affected.

Birth trauma examples:

  • life/death situations
  • being born unusually quickly
  • a very long labor
  • adoption
  • the cord around the neck or getting stuck
  • being unwanted
  • c-sections

I want to point out that these are examples of birth trauma but it is more about how these events were handled. Having a c-section that was planned will not be a trauma but a mother far in to her labour when an emergency arises and she is whisked off to have an emergency c-section can be if she does not have enough support through this process.
This trauma is like taking the new roots and putting them in unhealthy soil.

There are numerous ways a young child can be affected by trauma. Several examples include:

  • sexual or physical abuse
  • natural disaster (hurricane, earthquake, flood)
  • car or plane crashes
  • war
  • witnessing a death, murder or suicide
  • kidnapping
  • rape
  • shootings
  • incest
  • fires
  • severe neglect
  • violence in the home

This trauma is usually where some memory comes in to play. It is better understood by society how these events can be traumatic but often people will assume that the child is too young to remember. This is absolutely incorrect. The child may not recall details (who, what, when, where, why) but they will forever feel the trauma within their bodies and their minds even if they can not accurately place exactly what happened to them. Details are not needed to have proof of abuse.

I think abuse of teens and adults is more easily understood so I will skip on to the effects of trauma keeping in mind that the earlier the trauma began, the shakier the tree. Abuse of an adult may produce any of these symptoms but the treatment is based on a firmer base which can make it easier to treat or deal with. Having support around you is also incredibly important. An adult woman who is is violated can have no support or lots of support. This usually affects the outcome and persistent symptoms greatly.

Symptoms of trauma can include:

  • Anxiety, terror
  • Withdrawing from others
  • Constantly being alert
  • Re-enactment of situation with various objects
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Lack of energy
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Amnesia
  • Poor self-image
  • Bedwetting (not only a childhood thing)
  • Guilty feelings
  • Showing signs of obsessive or compulsive behaviors
  • Panic attacks
  • Recurrent nightmares, flashbacks
  • Shyness
  • Avoidance of situations similar to the traumatic event
  • Pain with or without an obvious cause
  • Inability to give or receive proper love and affection
  • Trust issues that vary from wariness to an absolute disbelief in anyone or anything

Sadly the list can be much longer but I felt those were the major touching points.

In the end, I hope this blog helps you be a bit more compassionate with yourself and/or with others who have been traumatized. Quite often trauma can stunt/slow/stop a persons emotional maturity at the point where the trauma took place. You might be 35-45-55-65+but trauma can leave you emotionally much younger. One therapist told me that I am about 400 years old intellectually but about 4 emotionally. I am still just learning the ropes. I agree and I do not see this as a putdown. With my background, it is great that I’ve reached 4.

With good therapy, a supportive environment, medications or supplements as needed and a boatload of self compassion, we can continue to find ways to build a more supportive tree. I like to picture building a beautiful stone wall around mine. Stone by stone, it gets taller and stronger. Yours can too.

My tree had DID so the rock wall takes a little longer to encompass my tree but it’s a process/project worth working for.Rockwork around trees

Recovery

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 contemplate  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. 🙂

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.  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.

Hope

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….. 😉

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? ❤

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.

Blessings