Mental Health

Asking for help……

I read a book recently wrote by Elizabeth Vargas off 20/20, Between Breaths. Well written and so honest. Such a triumphant thing for her to do as she bares all in the real life off camera totally exposed self. Great job Elizabeth!

First let me say what a battle she went through to become sober. Something she tried so hard to do for so long. The grips of alcoholism had her and was not letting go. The mind, the anxiety and fear she felt every waking day. To ease her anxiety and fears she, like many of us, found alcohol to ease the pain and fears of a traumatic childhood or experience.

One of my favourite parts of the book was when she was in her 3rd stint of rehab, a horrible jail like place where you were basically cut off from the outside world.

It was her 2nd time at this facility and it was not going well. It wasn’t working for her.

A fellow facility worker and friend introduced her to a companion coach who brought Elizabeth back to life. Before leaving the facility, the patients and family members had a game let’s say, where they had to be blindfolded and follow a rope to find their way out of the maze and to home base. They were told to raise their hands if they had questions or needed something. Along the way Elizabeth kept hearing people come through the finish line and welcomed home. She was getting frustrated and angry that she kept bumping into walls and could not find the exit when everyone else seemed too, so easily.

Finally after hitting her 15th wall she raised her hand. Teddy, the facilitator came to her and asked what she needed. “I need help!” she cried. He took off her blindfold and welcomed her home. That was the way out of the maze, asking for help.

That is the way out of any addiction or anything you need help with in life. Ask for help. It is such a hard thing for us to do. Why? Does it make us look bad or weak? Is it because we have to let people in to see the real person you think you are?

Quote. “We all need help. We can’t think our way out of addiction. We can not will our way out. The first step to recovery is raising your hand and asking for help” end quote.

Isn’t that the truth. So many times I tried to convince myself that I never had a problem, I could control the consumption and I would do and be better.

Our intentions are there and we really do not want to live a life like this but we have gotten lost along the way and did things that we thought were helping us, not killing us. It works for only a short time until it doesn’t work anymore and you and everyone that loves you are begging for help.

I would highly recommend this book and would like to congratulate Elizabeth on her honesty and sharing her way through addiction and the consequences she has to deal with as a result. Not all bad but, some we can never forgive ourselves for.

With that I say, forgive yourselves for the past. It wasn’t you who made those bad decisions and choices, it’s the disease that had a hold of us until we had the strength and support we needed to come out on top and ask for help.

Make each and every day better than the last…..sober.

This is, Being Me Sober

Mental Health

Understanding……

Let’s face it, we, the addicted, have a hard time understanding our addiction in the early stages, so how can we expect our family member, friend, or anyone for that matter, understand what it is we feel inside when we make the choice to stop drinking or using. They don’t feel what we do, they don’t have the sudden urges or triggers we do. If you’ve never had cancer, how could you relate to the chemo treatments that debilitate them or understand the extreme sickness they go through.

How do we help them understand or feel what is going on in our bodies and mind.

Every one of us here on earth is addicted to something, coffee, exercise, cigarettes, etc. There are numerous things that we think we need to do too help us get through the day.

When I made the choice to remove alcohol from my life, I was the only one feeling the pains of emotional and physical changes in my mind and body. No one else in my family or my friends knew what I was going through. So, here is how I put it to my husband the other day when talking about letting something go that you have become so used to, such a part of your life and having to make a new life without it.

I said, “Imagine the doctor told you you could not run anymore, but he was going to get you up everyday and sit you in a chair beside the path where you used to run and make you watch them as they gloriously run by.” “Oh, he said with a painful look, “I couldn’t imagine that, that would be torture!”

When you can no longer live a life your accustomed to, you become suddenly at a lose with what your life will look like, how will I fit in, how will I cope, what will I do without it in my life? It’s so easy for people to tell you to just get over it or come on, it can’t be that bad, because they don’t understand.

As time progresses we fill that space with new healthier ways of living. We adjust to the way things have to be for us to live a long happy life. We start to understand why we can not do the things we did and accept a life without it.

Getting people who are close to you to understand what we go through is a bit challenging. It’s hard to fully understand but with communication and expression or examples they can get a better idea of the feelings we have to deal with along our journey which makes it a little easier for us to get by.

So if your wife, husband, friend, child etc has an addiction, please try to understand what they are going through inside. Once you do the whole progress gets a bit easier.

With just a little more understanding, together we can beat this!

This is, Being Me Sober

Mental Health

Change through Sobriety…..

It is hard to think about what will life be like to us when we think of a life without alcohol. I mean it’s all around us, how will we ever get through?

Whats so good about living alcohol free?

Well, I would like to share with you some of the things that changed for me when I was brought to my knees due to alcohol ruining my life and the ones around me.
In order to succeed I had to give up the alcohol and deal with emotional issues I had through life and finally put it behind me.

It did not happen over night, but gradually, I started to feel the amazing changes in my mind, body and spirit. About 5 months into my sobriety I felt this huge excitement running through my whole body, I felt so good I would say to my kids and husband, I feel like screaming I feel so good! I was actually starting to feel resilient and full of love and happiness, real happiness.

I’ve always had an optimistic, happy look on life even though I had suffered emotionally for so long, but when I surrendered it became more profound. In ways that I could see and feel. The feelings became stronger, I, became stronger in all areas of my life. My priorities changed for what I wanted to be or do with the rest of my/our time on earth. I was stuck in a rut, in the past, and when I drank it surfaced. My self esteem was at it’s lowest and I had no faith in anything I did. There was always a voice that said I was a failure, I was worthless to anyone, my children were better without me. I truly believed that until I felt and began to see the changes I was making without alcohol being my main priority or a part of my life.

Although, I did have a very successful cleaning company for over 10 years, it wasn’t what I saw doing in the years to come. I felt ashamed of my job, even though it was my own company, I still felt like nothing. I wanted to venture into Real Estate but kept failing my first phase. So I told myself I was a failure and I would be doing what I hated for the rest of my working years. I was living, just living and acting happy and content when I was dying inside and couldn’t wait til I was dead and gone. Wow, so much has changed today.

I was 3 months sober when I told my girlfriend that I failed my exams for real estate and I was going to give up. She looked at me and said, “Don’t give up, keep trying, you will get it, you’ve come so far, keep trying.” Well, she, who has been one of my biggest supporters, was the first person I told when I passed, not one phase and exam but all 3! We celebrated and I felt for the first time that I was not actually a failure, I could change.

What else changed?

My focus was more on my family and rebuilding the family I had longed for.

My priority was no longer surrounded around the weekends so I could get blasted.

I had no more night terrors, no more waking up screaming or crying.

Less anxiety, depression and complete motivation, I was up for anything.

I believed people when they told me I could do anything I put my mind too because I became stronger and more confident in everything I did. I was on a natural high and nothing could bring me down or turn me too a drink. I became fierce and determined to beat this illness.

My mind became clear, like that song, “I can see clearly now.” I could see the manipulation and deceit from people that were so close to me. I was able to let go of toxic relationships and build ones that were true and made me and my family feel good. I didn’t need or depend on others for my own happiness. I became in control of my emotions and how I dealt with what came at me.

One of the most important things that changed is the amazing relationship I now have with my children and step children. I have the most amazing man on earth to share my life with who stood by me through it all. I really don’t know where I would be without him. He could see what was under all the layers I wore. He could see that I was a good person who needed help and love, real love.

I am so glad for what I had been through so I can pay it forward now, to tell and share with people the amazing things that you will feel and what happens to your entire life when you make the choice to cut alcohol from your life.

Let’s start sharing the triumphs we experience with each other so it doesn’t look so bleak when you start your journey. I want people to look forward to living without alcohol, to feel what we feel and be here, in the moment every single day!

YOU, are so worth it!

This is, Being Me Sober

Mental Health

Recovery Coach, and why I became one….

After a year or so on my  sobriety journey, I started to have this urge to show and help people who’s life has gone array due to alcohol. I started to research job opportunities. What I wanted to be doing in life and although I have done many jobs throughout my years, not one thing I have done thus far has been more rewarding then helping and sharing with people from around the world what a great life it is to be without alcohol.  Abstaining from alcohol and being able to live a life that is filled with so much happiness and endless rewards. 

A few years back when I first heard of Coaching, I though it was/is a great concept and new way of helping those struggling in life. It’s a new alternative to “therapy”, which can be difficult for some people to accept that they need therapy to help them and some never go because of the shame they feel is associated with “therapy”. “Something is wrong with me” type attitude. I believe everyone would benefit having a Coach or Therapist to guide their way when things are not going so well.

My life had been tainted by alcohol at an early age, directly and indirectly, and with it brought traumas not only to me but, to my family, friends and strangers that had the unfortunate exposure to see me at my worst.

When I reflect on my past, I don’t feel sorry for myself nor do I expect pity from others, I will use what I went through to help others. My archetype is the Caregiver, so true! My mission now is to get the message out and help those struggling with addiction or co-dependency.

I am excited about this new adventure and the opportunities being a Recovery Life Coach will have and looking forward to helping people be their best self.

This is, Being Me Sober

State of Mind Coaching

Mental Health

A year in review…..

2018 was a year of change, new beginnings and new family members.

My husband and I became grandparents to a beautiful baby boy and became a Great Aunt and Uncle to not only one, but two babies. New lives to embrace and love. More family to have around the table at gatherings and holidays.

Our children are flourishing and heading down the path of success. It is an exciting time heading into 2019.

I finally accomplished one of my long time goals this past summer, which was becoming an Addictions Recovery Coach. Wanting too expand my learning and Coaching Career, in November I enrolled in a course to become a Life Coach. With everything life has thrown my way and my ability too come out a little scared but not broken, I will have the knowledge and expertise to help people in life, to show them they have what it takes to lead a life they desire and deserve to lead. My philosophy is this, what I have been through has given me the experience to help and support those with similar situations looking to be better, get better, and do better not only for themselves but for their families who love them and don’t want them to suffer anymore.

As I embark on my 10th year of sobriety, I look back not only at last year but from where I started my sobriety journey in 2009 to where I am now, mentally and physically. Where my family is now. Who is apart of my life and who have gone their own ways. I’ve learned that I no longer need what I thought I did or what I clung to before because I was so scared to let go. I didn’t know any different and had been so insecure and lost that I would settle for whoever and whatever love I could get.

Every year of sobriety brings new beginnings. Your eyes open wider, you see more clearly. Your circle get’s smaller because your no longer willing to accept what used to be okay. You become stronger and wiser. You love and become happier, you develop more respect for yourself year after year and are proud of yourself because of what you have accomplished that you couldn’t ever see happening in the past.

No matter what you are struggling with carried over from 2018, reach out and ask for help. Make a change for the better in 2019. It may seem like it is a battle you may not win but you’d be surprised at how strong you truly are. Enjoy the little things in life, take time for you, make changes you are afraid to make, take chances that you are considering to take, be determined, be strong and fight. Be the best you you know is in there. Most importantly, surround yourself with people who make you a better person and help you flourish in every avenue of life.

Wishing everyone a Happy 2019!

This is, Being Me Sober

Mental Health

Betrayal and Trust…..

I’m sure once in your life you have been betrayed by someone close to you. 

If you haven’t, consider yourself lucky. Lucky to have the security and trust in those close to you. 

I’ve been betrayed and insecure for 40 years of my life because of this.  Some have apologized and we have rebuilt our relationship and moved on from the mistakes that were made. 

My father once told me he envied me for my ability to  forgive and accept  apologies and move on from them.  Their/your actions going forward are proof that they/your truly  sorry.  When someone says sorry, you expect them to not let it happen again, right? Right! 

I wrote a blog about toxic people in your life, whether they are family members or friends and how they affect not only your life but the people around you and most importantly, your sober journey and mental health. When you are betrayed by someone you thought you could trust and held them close to your heart, it’s the worst kind. Someone you looked up to when you were a young child and throughout your life. People make mistakes, I get that, but when it happens again and again it’s time to analyze the real relationship you have or their motives and where their loyalties really lay!

Family is a big part of who I am as a person.  Families are suppose to have your back no matter what. Families are suppose to be your anchor. Families are suppose to make everything alright. I’m talking your mother, father, step-parents, sisters, brothers, and children. We all go through things with our families and mend fences and work through issues when someone makes a mistake. Sometimes we take a time out because of their behavior or actions they have committed. 

Is it right to have someone, someone you once looked at as a mother, ask you what is wrong and you share the issue with them, and they run back to the person you were upset about, and tell them what you said? This person has been apart of my family for 40 years and played the part of a mother because I had been estranged from my bio-mother at the age of 8. So my step mother became the mom I didn’t have while she was with my father and then after they separated. 

Yesterday she, (former step mother) asked me to come for coffee. We did that and a little shopping. Things seemed fine, no agenda. So I thought. She said she was concerned about mine and my siblings relationship, (her and my father have a daughter together). She asked what was wrong. She asked why I was being distant towards my sibling. I have been hurt many times in the past by my sibling. Like I said earlier, I forgive and try to move on and hope to repair any damage towards a healthy relationship, but, when it happens more than once I tend to put a wall up and protect myself from harsh words being thrown at me again for reasons unknown to me. I go back to them because they are my family and that is important to me and important for my children. If you don’t have family, what do you have? All I’ve ever longed for is a family that I can be proud of, to share all the good, the bad and triumphant milestones together. To be happy and feel connected and secure. Isn’t that what family is?

Due to this betrayal my sibling no longer wants me in her life or around her family. It’s not the first time she has done this and done it with venomous words. The wall I built between us was up for this very reason, but just a few bricks fell that’s all. 

I waited 36 years, to meet my future husband and  to have a family that I could trust and feel secure about. Family, that was there for me and my children , who’s there at the lowest points and high points, instead of walking away over and over like the rest of them. I’m tired of forgiving those who hurt me to my very core and allowing them in my life when they don’t have the/my best interests at heart. I’m tired of pulling the wool over my eyes, I’m tired of pretending they are someone they are not, I’m tired of the chaos. 

My husband has shown me what family is. They love, they trust and they surround me and our children with happy, good feelings and security. They don’t judge or betray. I am so thankful for him and his family. They were the ones with me and my children, at my worst and stuck by us and healed us inside and out. 

It is not as easy for me, as it seems to be for those who have walked away, to walk away from people that are suppose to be family, but there has to be a cut off when I say, “NO MORE”! In the end if I allow this to happen to us, I say us, because it doesn’t effect just me, it effects my family, my husband and our children. The damage done towards you effects everyone around you when things go crazy again. It also effects my sobriety and state of mind. It fills my mind with everything from the past and all those who have walked out on me and hurt me so deeply. I don’t want to feel these feelings. I let them rest when I laid the bottle to rest. 

I’m so thankful that I have the right people in my life now, I made my own family, ones who have made me stronger. Stronger to keep going. Stronger to let things and  people go on their own path and live their own chaos. I have a strong relationship with my bio-mom and she makes me stronger. We are closer than we have ever been in my 48 years.

Please don’t be sorry for me as I explain what I have in this blog today. I do not wish for pity. I wish for someone to be able to relate to the deception that could be in your own living room and to allow yourself the courage to say, “NO MORE”. 

People wear many hats and of all they wear, betrayal and untrustworthy is not one that I would put on my head. I am the maker of my own path and journey through “life” and what happens along the way, if I keep allowing this to happen then really, who is to blame? 

With this, I say to you loud and clear, get rid of the toxins in your life and be strong. Be strong and surround yourself with people and things that bring you joy.  Just because they call themselves mom, dad, uncle, aunt, brother, sister etc, doesn’t give them the right to bring you down, betray you, break the trust or tarnish any relationship you have or are trying to repair. YOU and the family and friends you make are what matters, no one else.

This is, Being Me Sober

Mental Health

Truth and Freedom……

They say, “The truth will set you free.” Yes, it does but, not all people get that.

By admitting the truth about yourself, or what people have done to you, it opens up a part of you and releases the truth that has been holding you back. The truth, no matter what it is. Even some mass murders can’t go to their grave without confessing their sins. Once you admit and be honest with yourself and others new feelings start to emerge. You feel relief, you feel light, that heavy lead coat you’ve been dragging around is gone.

It took me a long time to speak up and confront the person/people with the truth. To be honest about what they had made me feel or what I had been subjected to.  To admit my wrongs and make them right. To be truthful.

When I would confront someone about their truth, I was told that I fabricated stories because they refused to be honest about the situations.  They refuse to accept and come to peace with what they had done or said. Sometimes not realizing how much their words or actions hurt, even when the actions they do are not inflicted on you, but towards someone you love, it is as they are doing it to you.

The first thing I did when I began my sobriety journey was be truthful with those closest to me. I admitted to my children and husband that I regret deeply the damage I had done to them by my actions during  my drinking days. I apologized for not being there for them as I should have, for having them see the chaos that I and their father (my ex) had subjected them too when we were together. I was truthful with them about how I felt and how I imagined, I made them feel. I know all too well what the alcohol infused words and actions can do to a family and to yourself. I was subjected to that kind of world too for many years.

Holding on to the truth or denying it will eat you up inside and make you a very angry person. It will not allow you to move forward in whatever journey you are on. Having admitted and been truthful with those I love and most importantly, myself, I am now free to live the life I have always dreamed of.

This is, Being Me Sober

Mental Health

Tis’ the Season……

Well, now that both Canadian and American Thanksgivings are over we move on to Christmas and get ready for a New Year.

I hope you all had a triumphant Thanksgiving and got through any obstacles you encountered. The next festivity, Christmas and New Years Eve! It’s the  best time of year for most, but, it is also the most depressing time of the year for some. Christmas is about family gatherings, great friends getting together and so on. With all those parties and gatherings, also comes alcohol. How can I do this? Is the question we ask ourselves. 

I’ve put some suggestions below that I practiced in the beginning of my journey and still utilize today, 9.5 years later to get me through such times. 

Getting through those parties and gatherings:

First and foremost, PLEASE don’t worry about what people are going to say. You would be surprised at the responses you get when you tell people you are not drinking. It’s utter amazement that your strong enough to do so. 

Tip OneThe questions: If your not comfortable telling people yet that you are trying out sobriety, then be prepared to have an answer such as, you are the DD, you are taking a break, you need to be up early etc. 

Tip TwoWhat to drink:  I personally enjoy sparkling water with some fruit in it, or  mixed with pomegranate juice, coffee, but make it a good one, get a specialty coffee, get it on your way to the party and that will be an excuse for not accepting a drink, and of course tea, herbals are the best and most relaxing. When I started out on my sobriety journey I put my choice of drink (water, juice etc) in a wine glass or a fancy glass. It saved the questions of why I wasn’t drinking. Nobody knew there was no alcohol in it! 

Tip ThreeEscape plan: Have an exit plan ready before you go. It may be a little overwhelming once you get there and you may be filled with anxiety. Have a code word with your date and make sure he/she is prepared to leave the party if you need to get out. If you are alone, have an excuse as to why you need to leave. Like a work meeting, meeting someone or you are not feeling well. Plan before you go!

Tip FourBuddy system: Bring a friend with you that understands what you are going through and can offer you support and stay sober with you at the events or gatherings. 

Tip Five Dress it up: One of my other passions is fashion. In the beginning of my journey I found that going to buy something new to wear for the event made me feel ready to go and I felt really good in my new digs! You look good you feel good right! It helped a lot. If you can’t afford to shop then ask a friend to borrow something that you’ve had your eye on. 

Tip SixBreathe: Be mindful of your breathing and anticipation for the event. Practice breathing exercises before and during. Take a bathroom break and sit, relax and breathe.  5 times in through your nose and out through your mouth. It does work. Don’t listen to those voices in your head that tell you you can’t do this. Breathe.

Now, let’s make a plan to have a great Holiday…Sober….

Don’t think about what’s ahead, we only have today.

This is, Being Me Sober

Mental Health

The Meeting…..

The first thing I did when I was home from the hospital and back with my family was find the first AA meeting and actually go this time. It was the most frightening thought. I still hadn’t accepted really that I was/am an alcoholic. I needed proof, proof that I was not an alcoholic. Not like those people. The ones we create in our minds. Whatever image we create in our minds of what an alcoholic looks like. Still denying. I had to try at least, to prove to my family that I was serious this time, and the only way I could have done that was attending/doing every option there was to help me get sober. I knew I needed help and had come to terms with that…..but really, an alcoholic? I walked into AA and was greeted by a very pleasant lady who noticed my tears and anxiety, she just smiled, gave me a hug and welcomed me in saying, “Everything will be okay, you are here.”  I felt at home at that very moment. She gave me the literature to go home with, The 12 steps, and The Big Book, sat me in a seat with ladies who also welcomed me and made me feel so comfortable.  I sat and listened to the openings and stories of who had been sober for years and ones sober just that day. I received my 24 hr coin and held it so tight. I talked with people, I watched, stared at people and thought, wow, this is nothing like I had imagined it to be. These people don’t look like what I thought them to look like. There were doctors, lawyers, nurses etc. People just like me. People coming together to share their journey and help those wanting a better life.  I worked the steps, read The Big Book and related to almost every story in there. I was amazed at the amount of professional well known people who also shared the same “disease” as I do. It gave me perspective and insight of this sickness, weakness.

I stayed on with AA for 9 months until I felt I could do it on my own with the support of my friends and family. I’m heading into my 10th year of sobriety. I did come to terms with being an alcoholic and I am okay with that. It doesn’t change the person I am by acknowledging the medical term or name for it. It doesn’t mean I am tarnished goods, or not worthy of anyone or anything, it just means I can’t drink. It doesn’t do anything positive for me or anyone around me. I’m okay with that too.

AA may not work or be the answer for all who are suffering with an addiction but it did open my eyes to see that, no matter what we look like or do for a living, we/I suffer like the rest. All you have to do is try. Try it out, don’t dismiss something you are afraid of or unknown too. You could be pleasantly surprised at the new you that comes out.

Remember, the only thing that maters is you want to get and be better and this is only one of the options that are out there for you. Doing it alone doesn’t work. Sharing and togetherness, no matter where or when, that’s really the only option.

 

This is Being Me Sober