Healing

This piece I came across inspired me to write this post.

They asked her,

“What is the key to saving the world?”

She answered,

“You. You are they key. Heal yourself, know yourself, make yourself whole and free. Release all limits so that your love can flow unconditionally for yourself, and the world, this will open the heaven of your heart completely and it will guide you without fail.” Yung Pueblo, you are the answer

I feel as though I have been on this path for a while now. I am challenged by loving myself. I have an auto immune disorder because I am so hard on myself and my body is literally attacking itself. That simple statement makes me sad.

Your thoughts have tremendous power. They cause feelings which can cause health or dis ease. It’s important to be mindful.

I teach positive psychology for a reason, because it’s what I most need to learn and apply to my own life.

I tell my clients I am no goddess on a mountain top and have it all figured out. I am a work in progress. Imperfectly perfect. Human. I do believe we are spiritual beings living a human existence and it is our paths that makes the difference.

I grew up in a family with addiction. My father has a disease. My family is sick as well. All of us have been affected by the family disease of alcoholism which goes back generations.

My brother is an addict. My father is an alcoholic. My mother is a co dependent. I am an adult child of an alcoholic and a co dependent in recovery.

My family denies there is a problem and I am the only one in recovery.

My drugs of choice since I have been a kid have been numbing and escaping.

I did this through many things good and not so great: reading, school, sport, the military, relationships, alcohol, spending and sex.

Now being full bent on succeeding in school, sport and life are great, however, there is a shadow side to everything, especially when it comes to addiction.

After I was raped in the military and my career ended it took me a year to reintegrate back into civilian life. When you have a lot done for you, coming back to the real world takes time.

My addictive behaviors came out in the form of sex. You see, I wanted to have power over men after it was taken from me without my consent. They could have my body for a brief amount of time but they couldn’t have my heart or my mind. I played Russian roulette with my life. I didn’t care. Maybe it was being in my twenties that made me feel invincible or stupid.

When I share my story in the rooms of program, I share this part because it shows the presence of a Higher Power watching over me. The situations I put myself in, consumed with a need to fill the void, should have left me for dead.

I had an abortion because of my actions. I was a married man’s mistress for four years. Yet I never, not once, picked up a sexually transmitted infection or was sexually assaulted again. In my self-harm, to a certain degree, I was kept safe.

The damage I did to myself, however, is another story.

I abandoned myself over and over again to countless people. I felt abandoned as a child. I grew up in a family not feeling loved. Love was conditional in my house on being the perfect daughter. A hero child. I thought if I was a good enough, excelled in school and in ski racing then I’d be told I was loved. That never happened.

I’ve come to understand through recovery and therapy that my parents are human and the way they show me love is through acts of service. Seldom words of praise, touch, gifts or quality time.

As a kid I felt abandoned and questioned my worth.

That little girl is still there inside me. She’s growing up through program.

I am an adult child which means I grew up uber responsible only to become incredibly irresponsible. The disease of alcoholism is a progressive one which means that I need to keep coming back to meetings, working my program, connecting with my sponsor and helping others. Otherwise I get worse. Fast.

The 12 step program I belong to is the key to my freedom and my life.

Freedom from self seeking, self sabotaging and self hatred.

My program makes me a better human. Make no mistake, I am a good person regardless of what I did to myself and others, however, I can safely say I am a better one now.

The program gives me tools to live my life on a day to day basis. It’s the cheapest therapy in town.

My program is an anonymous one. It’s that way so we can feel safe sharing our experience, strength and hope and lifting one another up.

My sponsor keeps me real. I want what she has and I am willing to do the work it takes to get it. She tells me I have grown so much in the past year.  I believe her.

A newcomer to our program asked me to be her sponsor this week.

That’s huge. What an honor. She wants what I have. I’m blown away.

Our program teaches us that to keep it we have to give it away. I guess my time has come to play a bigger role and in so doing I know I’ll grow too.

Let the healing continue and with it, let more love and more freedom come.

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Recovery

Where to begin?

This is the most honest, soul bearing post I have yet to write.

My parents have come and gone on their annual visit. For most, this is likely a happy event. Not so much for me.

You see I grew up in alcoholism.

In a high functioning family, very driven and accomplished. From the outside everything looked good. On the inside, not so much.

I knew from a very young age that something was very wrong.

I won’t go into details here but suffice it to say that it’s a miracle I’m still here. What I have been through and then later in life, done to myself is horrific, painful and sad.

I’m a grateful member of Al-Anon. It’s a 12 step program for families and friends of alcoholics. I’ll be in recovery for the rest of my life because I know how dangerous it is to stray away from the fold, my program and my sponsor.

I had a slip this winter. I went back to old coping mechanisms and come spring realized the power of my self-destruction. I rarely do things in half measures. It’s a hallmark of this dis-ease.

I’m picking up the pieces now yet again.

I thought when I had walked through the doors of Al-Anon three years ago that I had hit rock bottom. Little did I know that I would be hitting several more rock bottoms. The fellowship and my program saw me through all these moments.

I’m there once again. I’m slowly coming out of it.

I’m heading off to a treatment program for codependency and family of origin issues. I’ve been in therapy in some shape or form for a large part of my life and from a very young age.

I believe in the healing power of therapy and especially group therapy. There’s something magical that happens when strangers come together and listen to each other’s stories and pain. There’s validation that I’m not crazy. That I’m simply a spiritual being living a human existence. As we all are.

There’s a letting go. A normalization happens. Secrets come out. Monsters fade away. Light is shed on the most painful topics of this very human existence we all share.

There is laughter and tears. Joy and pain. Exhilaration and suffering.

This is a great big gift and a reminder to place the focus on me and my healing.

I’d like to say that the visit I had with my parents was a good one. Unfortunately, that’s not the case. There were a lot of good parts, however, there were some truly awful pieces that have left me gutted and gasping for air.

The level of denial, manipulation, control and abuse in my family is staggering.

I feel like a martian because I’m the only one in recovery.

I have yet to find the gratitude that others in the fellowship have for the disease of alcoholism because all I can see is what it’s taken from my family and my life.

I hate the disease. I’ve been ripped open again by it and I despise it. I hate the toll it’s taken on my parents, my brother and our estranged family.

My friends see courage and strength when they look at me. Right now I’m a mess as I type these words. All I can do is breathe.

All I can do is go back to basics and practice self-care. Sleep has been elusive again and I know that doesn’t help whatsoever. It makes things so much worse.

I’m trying really hard not to isolate and hide. I’m bumping up my meetings, making sure I get exercise, eat well and get out. I connect with my sponsors and touch stones and I am working the snot out of my program right now.

It’s all I can do until this heaviness lifts and lightness comes back.

I was reminded in readings today to act as if, to stick to a routine until it becomes more comfortable and normal again. Whatever normal is.

It’s huge to share this piece of me so publicly. This dis-ease has impacted every facet of my life and my business.

It is my greatest hope that as I progress through the step work that things somehow become easier. That there are less roller coaster rides, huge highs and devastating lows. Less darkness and much, much more light.

In sharing this story, I hope to impact others’ lives in some small way.

I hesitate to push the publish button.

Please be kind.

Thank you.

 

 

Turbulence

My blog has been quiet for the past couple of weeks.  My silence can be explained by the arrival of the rentals, rents or in plain english, the parents.  They have been bobbing on the ocean for the past few months, the life of retirees who have planned their retirement every step of the way.  You see I live at home, I’m not sure I’ve ever shared that little detail with you dear readers.  My parents are gone for most of the year, sharing their time between the boat, the cottage and Whistler.  Hard life hunh?

So every 4 to 6 months I experience turbulence when they come home.  Our relationship is a challenging one, I’m the only member of my family who has done any work around my father’s alcoholism.  The rest are in denial.  It’s like everyone is blind but I’m the only one who chooses to see things a certain way.  Trust me when I say that it makes for crazy holidays, tense visits and arguments.  So I’ve chosen instead to detach, no holidays with family and the less time spent together the better.  In fact, I prefer email and msn to phone conversations.  Keeps it simple, neutral and devoid of emotion which is really for the best.

The turbulence usually occurs one week leading up to their arrival, during our time together and about a week after their departure to settle.  I’ve noticed I can’t write when turbulence occurs, I can’t paint or create either.  When they are around I wall up and go to ground, protecting.  Sad isn’t it?  After all this is my primary bond, you’d hope it would be fulfilling somehow.  Instead with every visit I become more and more aware and come to some pretty important realizations.  For example, I’ve come to realize that I don’t like my mother very much as a person.  There I’ve said it, a horrible thing for a daughter to admit but it’s true.  She’s a mean, unhappy and spiteful person and tries to make herself feel better by putting down others around her.  Sad.

I try and avoid my mother as much as possible when she’s around, it just makes my life easier.  The relationship with my father, despite the alcoholism is an easier one.  We get along fairly well, despite there being a communication gap.  Before and during the work I did around my family my mother and I would have legendary fights that would end in tears, screaming and anger.  Now, things have changed, there is less emotion but still lots of pain in our ‘discussions’.

We got into one during her recent visit.  It never ceases to amaze me how people are mirrors for us.  My mother was annoying me by being ungrateful, petulant and childish.  I realized after a friend prompted me that I learned those very same behaviours which I am less than proud of from her.  Amazing.  I had never realized this pattern until the moment when the light came on.  I now tend to walk away from fights because what my mother says about me is always an attack on my character.  She makes it highly personal and painful.  Her words stay with me for days no matter how much I try and exorcize them.

A friend of mine who has done group work with me pointed out that I must be getting something out of staying in my parents’ house.  After thinking about it, I’ve come to understand that maybe by staying I get to heal my relationship with them by having these awarenesses, realizations and learning to do things differently.  Let’s hope so because the process is enough to make anyone question their sanity.