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.

 

 

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Words, words, words

Have you ever paid attention to your language?

The words that come out of your mouth? They are a direct reflection of your state of mind.

When I work with clients I notice the patterns of language. Is the chatter negative or positive?

If it’s negative, I often ask would you speak to your best friend the way you talk to yourself?

The answer universally is a soft no of realization.

Awareness, acceptance, action. It’s a three step process to change isn’t it?

Speak with integrity. I often hear the words killing me used all over the place. Really? Is it really killing you? Or I hate this or that. Hmm how about softening your approach?

Everything is energy. The words we speak to ourselves, to others, all of it matters.

Dr Masaru Emoto studied the effect of thoughts on water. Look him up, his work is amazing and life changing.

Essentially, love, prayer, and meditation can change the crystals of water, however, the reverse is also true.

What does that mean for us?

As humans we are composed of 70% water.

Ultimately it means that what we think creates our reality, not just emotionally but physically. Period.

Chose your thoughts wisely, speak with integrity. Set positive intentions and watch your world change.

Courage

Courage. What does it mean to you?

I’ve been told lately that I’m courageous. I take risks by opening up, being honest and expressing my feelings.

It takes courage to change. Courage to walk a path that requires surrender, faith, and work, with the hope that I’ll shift. That life will unfold differently for me.

I’ve often had the courage to change. I’m curious about the world and people. I enjoy personal development and growth. I believe in the best in people and in change. I also know you have to be ready and willing.

I’ve been dealing with a lot of profound change recently and along with it, grief. I’m grieving many endings and have faith acceptance will come in its own time. If there’s one thing I know, my will won’t make it happen faster and I cannot control when the process is complete. It’s a journey and I trust things will fall into place and all will be well.

When the emotions come, I allow them to surface and release them. I don’t stuff them, overanalyze them or deny them. They are part of the process. Tears are healing.

I was crying uncontrollably the other day. A dam had burst and with it the floodgates opened. I allowed myself to cry, to feel and to let go.

Not knowing what to do with myself after a while, I decided to go for a hike. To use my body to process my emotions, release them and reconnect to my self through nature.

The hike was intense. Up an escarpment. At the beginning of the trail I jogged down the steps and up the hill and quickly found myself out of breath. I came to a first set of falls. I took a moment to stop, take a picture and catch my breath.

I continued along the path and was soon stepping from rock to rock. My heart pumping and my lungs acting like a bellows. I took breaks admiring the beauty around me.

I arrived at the first lookout and kept going to the second lookout. I could see far over the fields to the river and beyond. The view was breathtakingly beautiful.

As I continued I came to the stream that fed the falls, I was able to stop for a drink. I pushed on and climbed some more. More rocky steps and signage indicating I was less than halfway.

Still I climbed until I felt I had achieved what I came to do. Due to time limitations I turned back. The descent even sweeter than the climb. Taking the time to get a drink of water, to take pictures and breathe in the beauty surrounding me.

At the end of the trail I felt triumphant. I had the courage to take on a really hard climb. I did not try to make it all the way to the top, instead I enjoyed my journey. Rested, drank and appreciated the beauty around me.

Very much like a metaphor for life isn’t it?

Lessons learned

I found this post saved in my drafts from the end of January and thought it was worth hauling out, dusting off and publishing with a new ending.

I spent a week during the holidays teaching sports psychology to ski racers from U10s to U18s.  It was a great week; I really enjoy imparting knowledge to young people.

There were definite highlights.

Such as when I asked the younger groups what their happy place was.  I got varied responses such as candyland, my bed, and most endearingly in my mom’s arms.  Awww.

I was also asked the question in return from my under 12 group which I thought really endearing and replied being there with them teaching them some important mental tools.

On a sad note, I’ve just found out my achilles is torn and I’m out for the ski season.  I had a nasty skiing injury at the end of December.  I don’t often fall but when I do, I go down in spectacular fasion. This time I hit a nasty compression I never saw and face planted, bending my partner’s skis and knocking the wind out of myself.  I knew I was in trouble when I couldn’t walk and my leg really hurt.

So I saw my doctor when I got back from holidays and started physiotherapy.  Within a week the physiotherapist sent me to see a doctor to get an ultrasound and a referral to see an orthopedic surgeon.  So here I am now, diagnosis in hand, with a very heavy heart.

Words cannot describe the loss of my ski season.  I don’t expect those who didn’t grow up immersed in skiing to understand.  To me the loss is crushing. 

I’ve written here before about how profound my attachment to skiing is.  How being on the hill is one of the few things that makes my heart sing.  Skiing allows me to get grounded and come back to myself.  I have healed broken hearts and bad days simply by putting my skis on and doing what I love most.

So here I sit 4 months later and I cannot begin to tell you the impact this injury has had on my life.  A friend of mine who sustained an injury that kept her for immobilized for a year shared some wisdom with me.  Injuries have a way of shaking up our lives and highlighting things in a unique way.

There are moments I still feel shell shocked and days were I feel hope.  This injury has literally and figuratively forced me to stand on my own two feet. It has left no part of my life unaffected. I am in the midst of massive change, one which I hope leaves me feeling a little more whole, peaceful and happy on the other end.

Stay tuned.

Remembering

I lost a best friend 2 years ago, this post is in his honor.

James I want you to know I spent the day you died doing what I love.  I worked in the morning on my burgeoning business and had a great afternoon running in the woods.  I also went back to painting in studio that night after a year long hiatus.

My partner gave me an idea to remember you by.  I think I’m going to plant a tree.  I know you’d like that, we spent lots of time together surrounded by them and the peace they brought.  We now have a home and I can do this to honor your memory.

I miss you.  I talk to you on my walks sometimes.  I cry, share and inevitably smile. You had that effect on me and still do.  I know you’d want me to be happy and to remember to play. 

I try and remember to play.  It’s easy with an eight year old.  My partner and I are doing a better job of playing too.  Date nights, laughing and playing with his daughter.  Life is good.

I want you to know I carry your spirit wherever I go. I know you’re looking out for me and laughing at me up there.  I need to do a better job of laughing at myself.

Thank you my friend for your love, the lessons you taught me and the impact you still have on my life.

You may be gone but most definitely not forgotten.

I love you.

 

A change is in the air

It’s been 5 months since I last wrote.  A lot has happened since.  My partner and I took the next step and bought a home together.

Anyone who knows us knows we’ve had our challenges.  By the summer, I had been living with him for almost a year and a half.  The house was the next step.

Prior to meeting my partner I had been single or dating for 5 years. I got used to living alone.  Moving in with someone is big.  I remember when I moved in all I had was a bag.  I was always ready to go.  Over time I started bringing more and more of me over. In fact, when we moved I was surprised how much I had brought over.

I have commitment issues. I did contract work prior to starting my business for a reason.  There was an end in sight and I could leave at any time.  I did the same in relationships before I met my partner. In the first year of our relationship we both had one foot out the door.  There was no commitment and a lot of drama.

It wasn’t until we got back together for what seemed like the nth time and I moved in that things started to shift.  I started putting down roots.  Sure I still had one foot out the door, my toiletry bag was always packed. When we fought we both threatened to leave.  Scared, protecting, knowing the old ways were not working for us.  In fact, they only made things worse. 

We worked on ourselves individually and came together to do some counseling. We came up with some common values after identifying our own.  I learned that respect was important.  Communication and compromise had to follow.  It was no longer going to be my way or the highway.

We were in a really good space in the spring.  Having come off the high of yet another great ski season and a busy first quarter in my business.  I knew my parents were waiting for me to get my ducks in a row and wanted to sell the house.  Preferably to me.

That’s when the storm hit. 3 months of fighting and struggle ensued.  What should have been a happy time became a nightmare instead. All the issues I thought I had resolved came to the surface.  Fear was a major driver.  Is this the man I want to buy a house with? How am I going to manage financially while in startup as a home owner? It was time to grow up.

We almost didn’t make it. I shake my head when I think back to how much I tested my partner’s resolve.  I threw everything I had at him.  I guess I was pushing him to see whether he’d stay.

The reason I do positive psychology is obvious.  I teach what I most need to learn.  Sometimes I can’t see the forest through the trees yet I can show up for my clients.  To teach, support and guide them in their lives through sport. 

So here we are.  Homeowners. We’ve been in the house 3 weeks and went away on vacation.  Now we are back.  Putting down roots, making this house our home.  It’s a new step forward.

Change

It’s been a few weeks since I last wrote.  I’m pleased to say the energy I have put into moving forward into a career of my choice is starting to finally pay off.  I’ve had two incredible opportunities come up in the past few days and I get the sense there are still more to come.

It’s  funny what happens when you start shedding what holds you back.  When you overcome fears, obstacles and put energy into moving forward.  I have elected to make some big changes.  Again I give my dear friend James’ death partial credit for giving me a huge celestial kick in the ass.  Thanks James. 

This week I let go of something pretty big that I have invested a lot of energy in for almost two years and despite change and progress still isn’t what I want.  It was by no means easy.  I’ve noticed I’ve built critical mass before and been on the cusp, ready and then slid back into old patterns.  This time when the door shut, literally the following day these amazing opportunities came my way.  Coincidence?  I think not.

So even though I am processing all the feelings around this huge change and my thoughts drift back to the comfort of the old pattern I keep reaffirming that I need to move forward, to happier, healthier and better.  I know the energy around this shift is going to manifest even bigger and better opportunities in my life.  I say bring it.