The task of capturing the raw emotion of a weekend with 500 other women who are all at different points in their own recovery (from a myriad of things including addiction, mental illness, eating disorders, codependency, etc, etc.--many of us, myself included, are recovering from all of these) process seemed way too big a task for me. It feels like one of those events where you don't know what to say except, "you just had to be there."
I think what we want to summon is courage. Courage to be our real selves in our relationships, and courage to trust that it’s enough. And the strength to handle whatever comes our way — rejection or acceptance.
More people are choosing the sober/alcohol-free/dry life to enjoy more vibrant health, to be more conscious in their relationships, to experience life, in all it’s beautiful madness, without a numbing agent. Because-newsflash-we don’t need a numbing agent to experience life. Reality is drug enough.
In simplest terms, codependency is a relationship pattern of losing ourselves in another person and has been called the “disease of the lost self.” More specifically, being codependent involves behavior where there is excessive enabling, controlling, and caretaking within the relationship. It’s worth mentioning here that we all, at one time or another, fall somewhere on the spectrum of codependency.
I heard once that we are the composite of the five people we spend the most time with. When you’re aiming to live a true, extraordinary life, you want those five people to be intentional and be positive, supportive, and humble in their own right. You can't be living your best life if your inner circle is made up of Debbie Downers.
Just as much as the holiday season can bring a sense of cheer and generosity, it can also bring a sense of dread and bitterness as we walk into environments that are highly emotionally charged.
This year will be my 6th sober Thanksgiving and Christmas. There are a few things I’ve learned over these last few years that have allowed me to actually enjoy this special time of year and feel jolly during most of it. Or if nothing else, it just sucks less.
Too hard. This is one I hear often as a lifestyle coach. That the process of self-growth is or is going to be just too damn hard. And maybe they’re not up for the challenge or don’t think they have what it takes. It’s just gonna take too long, and also it probably won’t work, they say.
New story: I am stronger than my struggle and I am worth the work it takes. I’ve survived every hard day of my life so far, and I will survive more. The chasm between surviving and thriving is faith.
Emotions are messengers, carrying to us information that is essential for our bodies, minds, and spirits to process. How convenient is this? Our very own information-carriers working to help us make sense of the world around and within us. Feelings are not necessarily facts, but they are worth being aware of and paying some gentle attention to.
I had a history of picking guys that weren’t the best for me, always falling for the underdogs and the fixer-uppers. The bad boys who take no self-responsibility with lots of problems but lots of potential. The more problems, the better. I loved a challenge. The “tough cases” in the eyes of a therapist are exactly the guys I wanted to date. Emotionally unavailable? Yes please.
Learning about what Gary Chapman has termed "The 5 Love Languages" has revolutionized my life. When I started to understand, truly understand, that there are various ways to speak love, outside of saying "I love you," my relationships felt injected with pure hope. I began to adopt this much broader view of love and all of it's expressions.
Socially anxious sober folk: The brain chatter that usually disappears with a drink is going to actually be there, but you have the power to quiet it down yourself. Arrive to the event as centered as possible by having some time to yourself beforehand (i.e. quick meditation/quiet time, listening to happy music on the drive/walk/ride over or listening to a motivational tape, etc.)
We have an internal drugstore that is stocked with dopamine, adrenaline, norepinephrine, oxytocin, serotonin, and others. Now we all have varying levels of these hormones, which operate like drugs in our body. But when we are accustomed to feeling shitty and our brain chemicals are out of whack from the manufactured highs and lows produced by drugs and alcohol, we have no way to know how spectacular our bodies (and brains) are designed to feel.
After breakfast comes a moment of pause as I am faced with the two diverged roads. I can head right into my workday with a frenzied mentality and get suffocated by my email inbox and my lengthy to-do list. Or—I can take a few minutes to do some deep-breathing & sit quietly, a.k.a. meditation. I refer to meditation as my “adult time-out.”
Because just like a child’s time-out, if I don’t take a breather and carve out some space to be still & breathe, then I am susceptible to being cranky, unruly, and acting on my every emotion under stress.
A single woman in her prime stands out as an outlier and it feels a little alienating. And I think there’s a tendency to wonder why we’ve been single for what seems like centuries, what must be wrong with us?
I’ve learned that I am enough for me. Period. No man decides and determines my worth as a woman. I don't need a man to tell me I'm beautiful because I tell myself that. And I have never felt more empowered or attractive than I do right now, utterly manless and unspoken for.
I've had episodes of depression that I thought would never pass. The majority of times I fell into the rabbit hole, I hated myself for falling. So I added hatred, guilt, and shame on top of the depression, which is not hard to do in a depressed state of mind. But it's oh so unproductive. Who cares though? I didn't. When you're depressed, you just dgaf (don't give a f*ck), about anything.
Our dark parts need just as much love as our light parts. Recognizing the darkness only helps us to appreciate the light even more. We wouldn’t know truth and beauty without falsities and ugliness. One is because of the other. I am grateful for the experience of both, as I only know what each is because of the other.
It frankly sounds a little sugar-coaty to me when we exclusively pay respect to our light and we don't give any attention to the other side of things. There is a place for darkness. Anger, sadness, and fear are all standard human emotions that don't need to be sunshined out.
One of the ways I honor my recovery is by understanding that I cannot underestimate the value of a positive ripple effect. Everything I do and say matters, and is, in effect, a pebble in a pond. I can contribute to society or I can partake in the decline of it.
Being in recovery from addiction does not have to mean your life is over. Actually, it could very well mean your life has just begun.
Perfectionism, attachment to outcome & results, wanting to get it RIGHT, thinking we are defined by our jobs--this is our ego. Our spirit, our soul, doesn't care about results or what we look like on paper. The ego wants to be "good at it," but the spirit could care less and just loves the process. Our spirit craves adventure and new learning experiences. This is why "failure" is good for the soul. These experiences grow us.
If we can reframe all our "failures" as opportunities to learn, well, I deem that a success. Welcome failure as your teacher. It means opportunity is at the door. It means something is about to be learned or about to change. Failure is character-building at it's very finest.
There's that saying, "what we allow is what will continue." It is 100% accurate, in my experience. If I don't want other people to give me their shit, I don't take it. I don't accept shit gifts. I kindly say, no thanks. And walk away. I also try not to give shit gifts to anyone else. I take ownership of my own stuff and let others take ownership of theirs.
Noone has the ability to MAKE YOU FEEL any which way, unless you hand over your rights and let them. This reminds me of another good one-liner, "if you don't want people to drive you crazy, don't give them they keys."
As trendy as yoga has become—with Lululemon symbols peppering any yoga studio room, I really hope I never lose sight of the true gift that this practice has given me. Yoga comes from a Sanskrit word that means “to yoke, unite, or bind” and that it has—yoked my mind, body, and spirit into one.
This is why it is medicine to me. It’s not just a place to sport expensive luon and symbolic body ink, fly into crows and hop into headstands, chant “oms,” and utter “namastes”—it’s my church and my temple. It's a place to come home to me.
I consider my experience with addiction to be one of the best things to ever happen to me. Truly. Because had I not seen how messy and unmanageable my way of living had become, I never would have transformed it. And the transformation process is everything. I think I was only shown my weaknesses so I could overcome and transcend them.
So what I am proposing is a simple alchemical reframe to turn our most negative qualities into our most positive ones. Alchemizing our character liabilities into our greatest assets.
But growing up as sensitive or empathetic, we learn that we are oversensitive, too much, too emotional, cry babies, wimps, too fragile, over-reactors. So what is given to us as a gift—our sensitive nature—is often squashed, repressed, and stifled.
And when we don’t know how to use our superpower sensitivities for good, the weight of the world’s suffering will most definitely crush us. My sensitivity felt like a wicked curse for a long time, before I learned how to treasure it like the blessing it is.
When I realized I had to ‘get out of my own way’, I needed to literally tell myself that it was okay to have fun, feel at ease, and live in peace. I needed to retrain my brain and teach my body to feel comfortable when things were going smoothly.
Our bodies seek homeostasis, which is to keep our internal conditions relatively constant. If we are in constant crisis, our bodies will want more of that.
It's okay to be sad. It's okay to be angry. It's okay to be hurt & cry. It's okay to feel all the feels. The only emotion I believe serves no real purpose is shame.
I just had a really rough day yesterday, and quite frankly, a difficult last week. I cried so many tears my eyeballs were sore and red and I felt exhausted, like a child after they've had such an intense tantrum that they pass out. Not to be dramatic, or anything.