Drug Addiction is a Horrible Monster

When I was 21 I was addicted to methamphetamine. I had already been married and divorced. I was living with my parents because I was unable to take care of myself. Methamphetamine is a horrible drug. They all are I suppose. I did a lot of them but none of them took hold of me like meth did. I lived in a community where meth was rampant and so many people were addicted. The thing is, when I first started doing it, the people I knew who introduced me to it seemed pretty normal. They had jobs and houses and lives. Until they didn’t. I had a job when I first started too. I think we all crashed and burned at the same time. I worked third shift and meth helped me stay awake all night. My habit also cost me most of my paycheck. I sure wasn’t using my money to pay my bills or buy groceries. I would come home to my apartment after work and use all day. I rarely slept. I had a friend who came over and used with me a lot. On one particular day, he was there for hours, smoking meth, like usual.  That afternoon he left to sleep it off before work that night. I managed to fall asleep and woke up to tons of missed calls and a voicemail telling me that my friend had gone home, went to sleep and never woke up. The rest of the message said “I hope you aren’t using that shit.” I didn’t go to work that night and as best as I can remember, I stopped going altogether. I locked myself up in my apartment, stopped answering my phone, stopped answering my door and hid from the world. For days? Weeks? I really have no idea. Until my mother showed up with my ex husband. I can’t imagine what I must have looked like. I’m thinking death is a close description. There was no food in the apartment and there were no lights. I had used every single light bulb as a makeshift pipe to smoke meth. I was terrified of the dark. My TV was the only light I had. My mother talked me into going to a treatment center in Nashville, TN.  Not far from where we lived. I went. For 28 days. I began to feel human again. Eating and sleeping and learning all about addiction and recovery. I went to meetings and I think I thought I would be fine when I left. I was not fine when I left. I left on the weekend of July 4th. I moved in with my parents after I left the treatment center. Within two days of being out, I told them I was going to a meeting and instead of doing that, I went and bought meth. And just like that, it was on again. I used to stay out for days on end, not sleeping and not eating, until I was absolutely insane and extremely paranoid. I hung out with people I hated and did things I hated even more. That’s how it is when you are addicted. I had to be where the drugs were. I would come home and crash at my parents house. They were kind enough to keep their house available to me so I had a place to go when I needed it. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for them to witness this time in my life. The reality is that their memories of this time are probably more accurate and more horrifying than mine. I would roll in while I knew they would be at work, shower (maybe), eat (maybe), and sleep for days. This went on for a long time. My mother researched treatment centers. She would leave information around the house for me to look at. It wasn’t a secret that I was a drug addict. I had accepted that this was my life. When you reach that place of no longer denying, hiding, or lying about being a drug addict and you just accept that this is your life, it’s a special kind of Hell. I knew it was going to kill me and I had accepted that too. I assumed it would happen in my sleep. I remember coming home one day and trying to sleep. I had the worst headache and every time I got still, my body would go into convulsions.  I called my mom at work and asked her to come home to be with me. She did. I didn’t want her to take me to the hospital so she just laid down beside me and kept a cold washcloth on my head. Eventually I fell asleep. I’m sure when I woke up I went right back out and stayed as long as I could. And this was my life. I hated it so much but I also couldn’t see a way out. My drug using friends and I even had a nickname for meth. We called it “Hate/Kill” because it was that fucking awful. I remember my last big binge. After being awake, smoking meth for days and days, a “friend” showed up with some mushrooms. I decided it would be a perfcet time to try them. I was wrong. I was already halucinating from the amount of drugs in my system and it was intensified by not sleeping. The mushrooms pushed me over the edge. I ended up outside of someones house walking around lost in the driveway and sobbing. I begged my “friends’ to take me home. In my memory the door was locked that day and I climbed onto the roof over the porch and busted our a window to get into the house. It’s also possible that was a halucination, but it’s very clear to me either way.  I went in the house and went to bed. My parents were planning to go to South Carolina to visit family that weekend. Instead, they stayed home because my mother was certain this was the weekend I was going to die. They saved my life that weekend. They talked me into getting into my Dad’s truck and going to Oklahoma. They had found a treatment center far, far away from everyone and everything I knew. A long term treatment facility that could last anywhere from 4 to 6 months. It was a miserable trip for all of us. I was in the back seat eating, snorting and trying to figure out how to smoke the meth I brought with me. When we finally got there, I gave what was left of it to my dad, told him not to smoke it, and never touched that shit again. I was done. I went into their detox facility and slept for days, waking only to eat and then going right back to sleep.  I was terrified to come out of my room, but on my 23rd birthday, I surfaced because the people in charge wouldn’t let me hide any longer. They escorted me around the property and into the main cafeteria. I was physically ill and emotionally broken. I was angry, sad and miserable. I knew going there was a mistake and I wanted to leave. I sat in the cafeteria, alone and crying my eyes out. I couldn’t believe I had ever thought this place would be a good idea. At that moment, an angel walked into my life. He was carrying a small gift bag when he approached me. He said my parents had left a birthday gift for me. It was the cutest handmade ceramic frog. The frog had the most ridiculous smile with giant white teeth. I loved that frog. At that moment, I knew I would be ok. I had no idea how much my life was about to change.  On every level. That angel with the gift bag became my best friend.  I finished the treatment program and stayed in Oklahoma to work at the treatment center. My best friend was already working there.  He was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met in my life.  Sweet. Kind. Generous. Brilliant. I eventually married him.  I loved him with my whole heart.  I still love him. I will always love him.  “They” say that two addicts in a relationship is never a good idea.  I can understand that logic. He gave me two beautiful children and so much more.  It hurts to share about him, but the long and short of it is that he relapsed.  I didn’t. I knew my children needed a mother and I couldn’t be that if I picked up drugs. I survived and he didn’t.  Drug addiction is a horrible monster and there’s not always a happy ending.  I see him every day. He’s alive in my children. They inherited so many of the things I love about him.  I just wish he could be here to see it. 💔

My Voice

Warning. I fully intend to talk about monster phlegm today. If you are tired of hearing about my monster phlegm or have an aversion to the term, this post might not be for you. Here we go. Last week I hosted a moon circle. Like I do. It was fabulous as they all are in their own way. During the circle I was leading a guided meditation. I don’t practice or have a script, I just lead from my heart. I let spirit flow through me. Sometimes it’s smoother than others. This particular evening was extremely smooth. I was connected and divinely guided. I led everyone out of their heads and into their hearts. I asked them to drop the protective walls that we put in place and just allow themselves to FEEL whatever is in their hearts. For the first time, maybe ever, I felt my wall drop and I sat in that circle feeling wide open and vulnerable. It felt really good and as I noticed it, my throat suddenly closed up and I had an attack of “monster phlegm.” This is never a good thing when leading meditation because the next few seconds are spent clearing my throat loudly. It sucks, but I’m human. I was well aware that there was a connection to what I was feeling and that sudden attack to my throat, but the circle wasn’t the place to figure all of that out.  Or maybe it was and I just didn’t. And then I kind of let it go and moved on. Then, on Wednesday, it happened again. This time I was with my therapist who I trust completely. She said something I didn’t necessarily want to hear and my heart got hurt a little. Immediately, my throat was attacked by monster phlegm. This woman is smart.  She asked me what I wasn’t saying. Because she knew. I acted like a 5 year old and said “nothing.’ She asked me to go into my body and feel what was there. Again, I acted like a 5 year old and said “nothing is there, and there’s nothing I’m not saying.” I hate that I did that. The reality is that there was something I wasn’t saying and I knew my heart hurt. I wasn’t ready to talk about it and she completely respected that and gave me the space I needed.  I was so aggravated with myself on the drive home and for the rest of the evening for not being better at expressing myself.  I am my own worst critic and I can still be harsh with myself at times.  I did send her a text to tell her the thing I wouldn’t say while I was on her couch, which made me feel better, but the whole choking in the moment episode really bothered me. I was determined to love myself a little harder the next day. I called a friend who is an amazing healer and told her about the two instances of monster phlegm. She completely understood and explained it to me so simply. Simple if you are into chakras that is. I happen to be into chakras. Our Sacral Chakra is our center for emotions. When I supress emotions (which is always), it manifests in my throat. The two chakras are connected. I am blocked from speaking my truth because somewhere along the way, I received the message that it’s not safe for me to express my emotions. This is why I suppress my emotions in the first place. Makes perfect sense. I took my new knowledge and went to my Artist’s Way group. I shared this knowledge with them and when I had a monster phlegm attack and couldn’t share some of the triggering things I had written for the course, they understood and loved me just the same. The beauty of this Artist’s Way course is that it’s connecting me to my happy inner child.  Almost everything that comes up as I remember her is the joyful stuff.  This particular exercise that triggered me was a letter from my 8 year old self to my today self. My 8 year old had a lot to say, but the one thing she really wanted me to hear was “Find our voice.” With all the trouble I have had with that this week, it broke my heart. After the group I went to lunch with two friends. I dissociated a few times during lunch and they kept bringing me back. That’s the awesome thing about hanging out with people in recovery. They never even batted an eye or acted like it was a big deal at all. I guess it wasn’t really a big deal, but I did think I was past that. I was hoping so anyway. It bothered me to be in that space and to have people notice it.  I taught yoga after lunch and it put me right back in my body. Always a good place to be. Friday I got over myself and decided to love myself even harder. I accepted that this is just where I am right now and it’s REALLY not that big of a deal. I spent the day with a friend doing awesome things and spent the evening ecstatic dancing in my studio with people I love. So much fun and such a healthy way for me to move emotions through my body.  Saturday morning I taught an 8 am class. I had everyone in class pull an oracle card. My card hit me right in the feels. “As I express my thoughts, feelings and ideas, they are welcomed and easily comprehended by others.” BOOM. And just because I am not constantly “working on myself,” I rested like a boss the rest of the day.  This morning I went to yoga church and an amazing thing happened. I found my voice. I was able to speak up and speak my truth when I knew I needed to. Confidently. With no monster phlegm. Wouldn’t it be nice if this was all behind me now and everyday for the rest of my life I could easily express my emotions. The reality is that I have this beautiful new awareness and something to practice. It will get easier and I WILL find my voice. It might not happen this week, but it will happen. Awareness is everything.  It IS safe for me to experience AND express my emotions.

Dancing is my favorite thing. This week.

With all the inner child work I have been doing, I forget that child wants to play. This week I let her do just that. On Sunday, I met up with friends and danced at the Buddhist temple. At least for a bit. On Tuesday I played on the beach, chanting, singing and not giving a fuck what anyone thought. I’ve been busy levitating everywhere. That’s really fun to do. Wednesday I locked the studio and had the BEST solo dance party ever. That’s really what I came here to write about. Who knew dance could be so healing? Except, my dance teacher friends and therapist friends. I know they knew. I always did love to dance. When I was drinking. I stopped dancing when I stopped drinking. The dancing stopped because the going out to bars and clubs stopped. The parties on my top deck stopped. It never occurred to me to have a sober dance party in my living room. Until recently. Living room dance parties have been a thing for me all summer long. And the singing! LOL My husband told me last week that all I do is sing and dance these days. How freaking awesome is that? Of course, he’s wrong, but I do A LOT of singing and dancing. Pure joy. That’s my inner child at play. I told the Universe (and my friends) that I wanted to dance and guess what happened? All the dancing. All the time. The Rebel Soul schedule is FULL of all kinds of dancing! Ecstatic Dance. Belly Dancing. Dancing Mindfulness. Qoya. I’m guessing you’ve never heard of Qoya, because I hadn’t either. Let me tell you, I love it already and I haven’t even tried it. Tonight I am leading a moon circle and you can bet your ass that we will be dancing. I have always known that movement heals. It wasn’t until I took a trauma informed yoga training in January that I understood why. Then I read “The Body Keeps the Score” and just WOW. Mind Blown. Really. Then, because I am who I am, I read everything I could find on healing trauma through movement. I struggled to get sober and I’ve known since day one that I needed more than just a 12 step program. 12 Step programs are great and I am in no way knocking them. 12 step programs do a great job addressing the mind and spirit piece, but they don’t address the body. We are whole beings. Mind, body and spirit. To truly heal, we have to address these all. My yoga journey began in a treatment center. Most of you know how much I hated yoga in the beginning. Maybe for the first year. Nobody explained to me why it made me cry, and if they did, I wasn’t listening. I just know that I hated crying in front of people and I felt like such a freak. I thought something was truly wrong with me. Today I understand that I was releasing years of trauma and emotions that were locked in my body. It all came flooding out in tears and anger and sadness and even rage that I didn’t know what to do with. So I sat with it. Holy shit did I sit with it. In reading an old blog post, I realized that this was the beginning of repressed memories resurfacing for me. Only I wasn’t ready to deal with them back then, so I filed them away and completely forgot they were there. Aren’t humans fascinating? I live in my head way more than I probably “should.” My therapist reminds me every week to try to feel my way through things. You might assume I would be good at that by now as much as I practice and TEACH yoga and meditation, but it’s not my natural state. I am forever trying to figure everything out in my mind. And honestly, sometimes I get busy and forget to get on my mat and drop into my body. Dancing has been a great way to do just that and it’s a nice compliment to all of my other practices. Plus, it’s FUN. When I said I had a dance party on Wednesday, what I really mean is that I experienced myself from the inside out through movement and music. A personal Dancing Mindfulness practice. I closed my eyes and connected to my breath. I witnessed my mind and let go of judgement. You feel me meditators? Then I began to move to the music. The intention was to stay focused on my breath and my body and for the most part I was able to do that. Emotions came up and I was able to move them through my body by feeling them rather than thinking about them. It was very similar to the way yoga works for me, but it was dance. No alignment. No sequence. I danced for two hours with a few breaks when I needed to rest. In no way did I solve all the worlds problems, but I had peace, clarity and serenity when I was through. So beautiful.

Also, hair flipping and booty shaking fucking rocks.

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It’s always about the inner child.

This week in the “I went to a healer and this is what happened” saga. I have been seeing an Integrative Energy Medicine Therapist for a while now. I find it’s a nice compliment to therapy. I call her an energy healer, but she’s all the things. She’s very loving and sweet. She’s also a Shaman. She’s one of the few healers in my community that I didn’t really know before I started sessions with her. Which is exactly why I picked her. It has taken me a while to get comfortable with her. I’m mostly there. As open as I am when I am writing, or even in a circle (if I am leading), I am actually quite guarded one on one. I even notice it with my therapist when we talk about uncomfortable things and I trust her completely. This week I had a Soul Retrieval session. I was online reading all the cool things that Shamans do, looking for the next new thing that is going to heal me when I came upon an article about Soul Retrieval. What I read wasn’t exactly what I experienced, but what I experienced was incredible. I was expecting to lie on the table while this healer did all of her woo-woo magic and brought back every little piece of my soul that escaped each and every time I dissociated throughout my life. Again I was surprised that it really wasn’t woo-woo at all. Maybe slightly, depending on the world you live in and how open you are. I’m wide open. Rather than her doing a bunch of magic while I relaxed, we started with a seated, guided meditation. She spent a long time guiding me through each of my chakras. This particular woman has an amazing ability to guide me into that sweet space between sleep and consciousness. I love it there. It feels like sleeping while I’m awake. Maybe that’s her woo woo magic! After that I did get onto the table where I am sure she put some crystals on and around me. Then the magic happened. Not really, but kind of. She guided me back to the memory of little girl me. The inner child that I have always felt so disconnected from. The little girl who was full of joy and light. The little girl who was whole. From there we moved on to the moment things changed and that little girl became “broken.” I was there with that little girl in that first moment she gave her power away. I was able to connect with her, hold her, love her and nurture her. I was able to tell her that she was not broken. I was able to be there for her and give her what she needed in that moment. It was quite powerful. I was able to do all of this without being verbal throughout the process. She held the space and guided me while I did what I needed to do. The whole experience was beautiful. I went to an inner child healing workshop two weeks ago hoping for an experience like this, but it didn’t happen for me. Funny that I wasn’t expecting to connect with my inner child during this experience and the entire session was just that. Two and a half hours of just that. We get what we need exactly when we need it and I guess two weeks ago wasn’t my time. Ultimately what I got from my Soul Retrieval session is the understanding that whether or not I picked the specific circumstances to learn the lessons I’ve learned in this life, they are the lessons I needed to learn. I am here to share and teach and I have always had everything I need right inside of me. I am a seeker and a searcher and I have been looking for the person who would wave that magic wand to make me what I already am. WHOLE. I keep getting directed back to this again and again. I teach this regularly. I KNOW it in my head and just maybe it is starting to sink in to my heart.
One more little tidbit of information that I want to share, because I find it fascinating. Most of you know that I am facilitating an Artist’s Way group. I am doing this because I need the accountability of a group to finish it. Never have I ever made it past week nine on my own. A friend recently asked me what week nine is about. Why do I jump ship at week nine? I honestly had no idea, nor had it ever occurred to me that there might be a reason I couldn’t get past that week. Each week has a theme. I peeked ahead in the book. Week 9 “We will undertake healing the shame of past failures. We will gain compasssion as we reparent the frightened artist child.” Mind. Blown. Everything keeps coming back to the inner child.

Wait for it…

That moment when you have been doing “the work” so big and so deep that you can see it not only paying off in your own life, but having an impact in the world around you. Ahhhhhhhhh. That is powerful stuff. I have really learned in the past few months how important it is for me to speak my truth, or maybe, write my truth. I have been digging deep and leaning into the most uncomfortable of truths. And THIS is where I am finding my freedom. I stepped into my moon circle last night feeling powerful and ready for this next chapter. It is an honor to witness other women in circle. To watch them heal. To watch them grow more comfortable in their own skin. To watch them step into their power. To watch them be there for the next woman. I saw the FULL CIRCLE of that last night and it was beautiful. Soul Explosion Beautiful. A little secret…..I had never been to a moon circle when I decided I needed to lead one. One morning I was sitting in meditation and it occurred to me that I needed to gather women in circle. I had no idea how or why I needed to do this, but it was clearly a nudge from the Universe. I have learned to “follow the nudges.” I did a little research and learned that moon circles were a thing that existed and a lot of women were participating. I was already a Moon Goddess so this seemed like the natural step to take. Then, I did a little more research and found tons of people willing to train me to facilitate a circle. So I paid $500 and signed up for the one that spoke to me. An online training. I was so excited to learn ALL the things! I sat through the first two sessions and quickly realized that not only did I already know all the things that were being taught, I was already doing all the things. I didn’t really need the training. It’s a moon circle, not rocket science. On that second week I went ahead and planned my circle without the certificate of completion. The certificate would have taken 6 weeks and the new moon was coming. I didn’t have time for that.  I hosted my first circle at Hearts and Sol Wellness. I stood at the top of the stairs greeting, smudging and hugging every woman before she entered the circle. They poured in. Seriously. The women just kept coming and coming. 21 to be exact. A HUGE circle for our small community. And I was blown away. I was also terrified. I had notes, but I forgot to bring them. So I stumbled and stuttered through all the things I thought I was supposed to say. And these women didn’t care one bit because they were not there to judge me. They were there to love and support me. We were all there to love and support one another. There was no way for me to say or do anything “wrong.” I have obviously grown so much since that first circle, but I still feel nervous before every one. I think that’s natural.
And then it happened again. I was sitting in meditation and it occurred to me that I needed to lead a group of women on a different journey. I had been kicking around the idea of The Artist’s Way for a while. I had been trying to get through the book myself since November. I decided this was it. This would be a good way for me to get through the book and I could support a lot of women in the process. Once again I was blown away by the amount of women who showed up for this. These women didn’t just show up, they are pouring their hearts and soul into the process and it is such an honor to be able to hold space for them in this process. There are 33 women in the two groups I am running. 33. My Angel Number people will know this is powerful. I’ll share with those of you who are unfamiliar. “33 signifies the Holy Trinity, which means at any given moment one has divine protection, help, and guidance from angel hands.” The message I get from that is that I am Divinely Guided. I keep getting that message loud and clear. I have a gift. I am starting to fully understand that. People relate to me. People are comfortable around me. People open up to me. I am sure this comes from my ability to be vulnerable and honest with the people around me. This, in itself, is a gift.  I am beginning to feel as if I am being Divinely Guided to my next chapter. I feel it in my soul. The stirring. Because the world needs my light and I KNOW there is something MORE I am supposed to be doing. Not necessarily “busy” more, but “deeper” more. “Meaningful” more.  I felt the nudge last week. I’m still waiting for the push. Sometimes I’m stubborn. When it comes I will know and it will have my whole heart and it will be amazing. Just wait. 😊

Honoring ME

I saw a Facebook status yesterday that read “Living in process opens you up to constantly seeing connections.” I loved that so much and it resonated with me in the biggest way. My therapist recently said to me that she “loves how I continue to process hours after our session.”  That statement made me laugh so hard, because my life is a constant state of processing. I live there.  It’s the air I breathe.  I love it. I am my favorite project. I spent so much of my life asleep and numb and if I’m honest, blacked out that I love being awake and living with awareness. I love learning about myself and how I work. That’s why I spend so much time “working on myself.’ Not because I am so fucked up. Because I’m not. Most of the time, I am pretty happy with myself. This week I had three separate healing sessions. Because if one is good, three is better. I am wired to be ALL in or ALL out. I know that about me and I’m good with it.  There are others out there. I am NOT the only one. As always, I had a therapy session. My therapist is a spiritual gangster. I got my weekly dose of “where spirituality meets psychology.” My favorite. On Friday, I had a “practice” LifeLine session with a friend of mine who is studying to be a practitioner. I know a few LifeLine practitioners and I LOVE them ALL. But, I wasn’t sure it would be for me. I am always resistant to the unknown. It seemed a little too Woo Woo for me and I had my doubts. But, since I love and trust my friend, I went in with an open mind and an open heart. I didn’t investigate it at all before I went and I had absolutely no idea what to expect. Which isn’t like me at all, because I am all about doing the research. I was a complete LifeLine virgin. And I loved it! She hit on some things that blew my mind. And, she did it through kinesiology which is science, not Woo Woo. Who knew?  LifeLine also focuses on aspects of Chinese Medicine, aromatherapy, epigenetics, EMDR, which we all know I’m the best at 😉 and tons of other really cool techniques. I’m guessing most of you are also unfamiliar with the process. You can check it out here.  I also went to an inner child healing workshop this weekend. Inner child healing is something I’ve been working on for a while now and it’s another thing I don’t seem to be the “best” at. Yet. Probably because I disconnected from that child. All of those little children. I went to this workshop on the down low, without telling people and kept it a “super secret” so I could have that space for myself without anyone I know being a part of the group. Wouldn’t you know when I pulled into that parking lot and stepped one foot out of my car, I heard my name being called. There are no super secrets in the healing community. And I hope this woman got what she needed out of this group. My jury is still out. But, I did spend the last two nights with some serious dreaming going on. Or, processing in my sleep, because that’s what it really was. So, maybe I got something from the group. This week I am going to take that child to play. Because she needs that. I had a mini melt down last week. It could have been the full moon/eclipse energy combined with all the celestial happenings. It could have been the PMS I was experiencing. It could have been that I was tired from the bazillion things I do. OR, it could have been that they all hit at once and I was just DONE. Only I wasn’t done because I had things to do. I know we have all been there. We push ourselves and we go and go. At least I do. Until I don’t. Which is exactly where I am. I took a day off to look at my schedule and made a few changes. I am cancelling my Monday and Wednesday 8 am classes so I can have those mornings for myself.  I’ve been on the fence about that for a while now, and I realize it was my soul telling me to let them go. Only I wasn’t listening. If you practice in the studio with me, be on the lookout for those schedule changes. I am down to 6 classes a week and I feel so good about that. I feel good about knowing what I need and honoring that. I have plenty of classes on the schedule and amazing teachers who love being there as much as I do. It’s a great feeling to know what I need and to be able to give that to myself. That comes from a lot of practice and doing the work. That comes from being mindful and intentional. Maybe next time I won’t even have to have the mini meltdown and eventually I will just listen to my soul as soon as I hear the whisper.  Before it yells at me. Practice!

Owning It

I have no intention of spending my entire adult life healing from my past, but I do have every intention of doing the work as thoroughly and deeply as I can for as long as it takes because I AM worth it. In the rooms of AA I have often heard it said that at 5 years the “real work” starts. I have to assume that means 5 years is around the time people start figuring out what the Hell happened in their lives to cause them to seek solace in a substance to begin with. There are those who strictly feel that nothing happened and they were born with the gene. That may be true for them. I am certain I was born with that gene. My family is full of alcoholics and addicts. Throw some “complex trauma” into the mix and I really didn’t stand a chance. Gene or no gene. As many times as I have been in therapy in my life, never have I ever addressed that complex trauma. Until recently. The complex trauma I am referring to is ongoing childhood sexual abuse. Things that were never my fault, but affected me for a lifetime. I’ve eluded to it here before but never came right out with the words. Because they are hard words to write about. I know the statistics, and I know that I am NOT the only one. Not even close. I am not writing about it for sympathy, I am writing about it because sharing my truth with the world is the best thing I can do for ME. I won’t go into details, but I will say that it seemed to me like I grew up with a stamp on my head indicating that I was the one to be used in this way. I was the one. It was OK to do these things to me. And I always wondered why. I thought something was wrong with me. I KNEW something was wrong with me. Today I know that this is just the way it goes with a child who has been sexually abused. We are either stuck in the vibration of being a victim or our body language changes in such a way that we are an easy target. And it happens again and again. To so many children. I’ve always been resistant to processing it in therapy, because I am an adult and these were things from my childhood. It seemed silly for me to go back and dig shit up. Especially since I didn’t necessarily think it was still affecting me. But, then those repressed memories started flooding back and I really had no choice. I have talked about EMDR therapy before and the fact that I suck at it. I wish I could process that way, because it seems like a quicker solution to me. I always say I suck at EMDR, but the reality is that I don’t suck at it, I just don’t seem to process that way. I happen to be really good at psychodynamic therapy. Maybe I’m even the best at it. Because that’s important. 😉 Two weeks ago my therapist and I were talking about some things that were “heavy.” That’s the only way I can describe how it feels to process those events. It feels like heavy energy weighing down on me. It’s shame. I know that today. I still have a lot of shame associated with that abuse. Intellectually, I KNOW that it’s not mine to carry and that I didn’t do anything wrong, but emotionally, it’s still there. Sometimes more so than others. This was one of those days. I left her office feeling bad about myself. I didn’t share that with her at the time. I drove myself straight to the tattoo shop. I just knew I needed a new tattoo right then and there. I was so disappointed when the tattoo shop was closed. This ended up being a blessing in disguise. I didn’t see it at that moment. It gave me an opportunity to figure out exactly what that need was about. At first I thought it meant I felt the need to hurt myself. But, now I realize that I just wanted to feel something different than what I was feeling. I have spent a lifetime wanting to feel something different than I was feeling. I am in no way against getting more tattoos, but I do realize impulsivity is something I need to be aware of. I really thought I was past that need to escape and I was good to go with “sitting with my feelings.” That experience was an eye opener for me and a reminder of what recovery is all about. It’s about healing on every level. It’s about being with uncomfortable experiences and staying present. I am not sure when those feelings of shame go away. I have read every Brené Brown book. I have read John Bradshaw’s books. I have a full understanding of how shame works. I just haven’t quite figured out how to completely move past it. I do all the reading, writing, meditating, energy work, therapy and body work. It isn’t a feeling that’s constantly there. But, when it hits, it hits hard as feelings of unworthiness. That’s a feeling that’s hard to sit with. I’ve heard the phrase “feelings aren’t facts” and it rings true here. I am worthy, simply because I AM. My hope is that sharing my truth is a step toward letting go of shame and a step toward empowerment. Empowerment is where it’s at.

1,700 Days

Guess who woke up 1,700 days sober today? This girl right here! I am not really a day counter so much anymore, but occasionally I check my sobriety app and yesterday I happened to hit it at 1,699.    Last night before I fell asleep, I was thinking about my first AA meeting. Not really my first, because honestly, my first meeting was after a 28 day stay in a treatment center when I was 21 years old. I was battling an addiction to methamphetamine then, and not an alcoholic (in my mind), so I really couldn’t relate and didn’t feel like those meetings were the place for me. (I’ll share more on meth addiction another day) My first meeting on my journey to getting sober was here on Oak Island. I think it was early fall. September or October, but I could be totally wrong about that. Because I was drunk. I woke up that morning to find that my husband had hidden my car keys and wallet. A sure sign that the day before had not been a good one. He had also hidden my bottle of bourbon. Or poured it out. But, he didn’t hide the Mike’s Hard Lemonade (which I typically mixed with vodka). So, at 8 am, I started drinking Mike’s Hard Lemonade because that’s what I had.  I was very much drinking it to piss my husband off. I was drinking AT him. That was something I did regularly. Like a child. I called a friend to start a bitch session about what an asshole he was to hide all of my stuff.  She stopped me short to ask WHY I was drinking at 8 o’clock in the morning. She couldn’t wrap her head around it and proceeded to tell me that I was drinking way too early and it was happening way too often. She told me that I might have a problem with alcohol and that I should go to an AA meeting.  She offered to take me to a meeting that was starting at 9 am.  I got off the phone and got ready to go, still drunk from the previous day and working toward a new day’s drunk. A few minutes later she called me back because her car wasn’t in her driveway. She had forgotten that she got a ride home the previous night and didn’t have her car. Immediately, I felt it was shady that I needed a meeting but she didn’t? For whatever reason, I was ready to go and kind of set on it, so I called another friend who came to my house, picked me up and took me to the church where the meeting was. She recognized the blue AA sign in the window, told me this was the place for me and dropped me off with my Mike’s Hard Lemonade. What a freaking mess I must have been. And really, her too, for recognizing the AA sign from her own attempts at getting sober and for letting me into and out of her car with that drink. But, Whatever, I was the one who was drunk at 8 am.  I got out of her car, took a big drink or the Mike’s, and poured the rest out. I walked into the meeting late and disruptive. As soon as someone tried to speak to me, I immediately became angry. Really, really angry.   I had nothing in common with these people. As far as I could tell they were a bunch of miserable old men who were forced to go to these meetings every day for the rest of their lives and that was it for them.   A miserable existence that I wanted no part of.  It terrified me.  I acted like a complete asshole in hopes that everyone would hate me and I would never be invited back. Imagine my surprise when they told me to “keep coming back.” And I did. As it turned out, everyone I knew was incredibly happy that I was going to meetings. In their minds it meant I was not drinking. In reality, it meant I was hiding my drinking and drinking even more because nobody knew. Let me tell you, once a person starts hiding their drinking, it goes downhill quickly. Since nobody knew, I could drink at 6 am. And I did. I just had to keep the ice quiet as I was filling my glass. I drank all day. Everyday.  I even woke up in the middle of the night and drank myself back to sleep.  The next year and a half was horrible. I was never not drinking, and therefore always making poor choices.  My therapist was treating me for Borderline Personality Disorder. Since nobody knew how much I drank, there MUST have been some real mental health issues going on with me. And I went with it. I took that Borderline Personality Disorder and owned it.  I even had the shirt. Seriously.  A shirt with the diagnosis code on it.   It was easier to go to therapy and work towards living a good life with Borderline Personality Disorder than it was to not drink.  I joined a Dialectal Behavior Therapy (DBT) group and went every week. I sat in that group and judged all of those people in my head. They had real problems. I obviously did not. My life was a constant attempt to be drunk, without appearing drunk. My entire life was a lie. And it was hard. The reality is that I wasn’t really fooling anyone but myself, and at some point I stopped hiding. I landed in the ER countless times. On one occasion, because I no longer cared about anything at all, I went to bed in the middle of the afternoon with a half gallon of vodka. I proceeded to drink the majority of it straight out of the bottle and what I didn’t get in my mouth, I spilled all over myself and the bed. My husband decided I was probably going to die that day and he wasn’t having it. He called 911 and I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. All of those trips to the hospital run together for me and I don’t have a clear memory of exactly what happened next. Some of those trips ended with me locked in the psych hospital. Sometimes they ended in detox or a treatment center. Never was it a happy place for me and never was it where I wanted to be. All through this process I was attending AA meetings and resisting the program because I didn’t believe I was powerless over alcohol and that my life was unmanageable. Can you imagine? THAT was a miserable existence. That miserable existence is one I never want to go back to.  Every day I am grateful for the moment of clarity that hit me on day 5 of my final treatment center.  The day I chose to live.

That’s why I do the work. I choose me. I choose to live. Some days I think it takes a lot to be me. Some days I slack, but there are so many things in my repertoire, that I am hitting on at least two or three of them daily. Meditation. Yoga. Journaling. Meetings. Energy Healing. Therapy.  I’m adding Kirtan and Dancing to that mix because they feel so good to me. There’s healing in all of it. In the past 1,700 days I have built a life that I absolutely love. It is through my recovery that I discovered my gifts, my passion and my purpose. I am FULL of joy today. I know what it’s like to live in the dark, and I am grateful when even the tiniest light shines my way.   Today, the whole sun is shining on me.

Comfortable in My Own Skin.

The best gift sobriety has given me is the ability to be ME. Whatever that is at the moment. And it is ALWAYS changing as I live, learn and grow. A daily process. A few weeks ago, I was looking at my “professional” bio online and it made me laugh so hard. I’ll spare you the complete bio, but the sentence “Shannon started her yoga journey in 2013 and instantly fell in love with the way it nurtured her body, mind and spirit” really jumped out at me. Anyone who knows anything about me KNOWS that I did NOT instantly fall in love with yoga. I hated it so much. Every time I got on my mat I cried. I had no idea why and I didn’t know what was wrong with me. In the beginning, there were often times when I stayed in child’s pose for the entire class. Because yoga sucked so bad. I was sure everyone thought I was a freak as much as I thought that about myself. I hated yoga for a long time. The only reason I kept going back was because it was a wholesome way to spend an hour that kept me from drinking and because I had that therapist who was sure it would be good for me. Slowly I began to come around and hate yoga less and less. “Instantly fell in love with yoga” is just not true. I am sure I thought that’s what the world wanted to hear and who I thought I was supposed to be. I’ll eventually get around to changing that part. I doubt I’ll edit the bio to say that I fucking hated yoga, but you never know.

I am getting quite comfortable in my skin as of late and it’s something that is still new to me. I’m not always there, but it feels amazing when I am. Opening Rebel Soul Yoga and creating a space that is exactly what I need for my own healing has been a HUGE part of that process. I am constantly amazed by the amount of people who show up on their own journeys with their hearts open every day. People who are getting exactly what they need and pouring their love into the place. That space is FULL of love and healing energy for sure. I am comfortable being myself in that space. I don’t worry if people like me. It’s OK if they don’t. I am not for everyone. I get to show up, every day and be exactly who I am. Awkward. Hilarious. Overly excited about things. Unfiltered. Weird. Whatever.  It’s all good because it’s all ME.

This little blog right here has quite possibly been the BIGGEST catalyst in making me comfortable in my skin. I started writing here as a way to share my recovery journey. That recovery journey has turned into a journey of healing and to wholeness. I had no idea how much my words would touch people and how many people would relate to me. I live in a small town and it seems that everyone knows me. It always blows my mind when someone stops and introduces themselves to me and tells me they read everything I write. I probably shouldn’t be surprised since I do share everything on social media, but I still am. And every time it happens, it feels as if I am standing in front of said stranger completely naked and completely vulnerable. Because this person knows so much about me. WOW. It’s very humbling and overwhelming. I struggle for a moment and then I find my breath. I say thank you because I appreciate every single person who takes the time to read my words. I appreciate every single person who goes out of their way to tell me how they can relate to my words or how my words have helped them in some way. Being vulnerable is a beautiful thing.  I am learning to embrace vulnerability and allow it to strengthen me. Blogging has helped me to find my voice in so many ways.

Recently I have found something else that is helping me find my voice. Kirtan! I was first introduced to this during my yoga teacher training and just like everything that is new to me, I resisted it and thought it was weird. Today I am in love with this beautiful form of Bhakti Yoga. Chanting. Singing. Praying. It’s absolutely beautiful and I have turned into the girl who rides around in her car singing all the sacred songs. Loudly.  It fills my soul.  (I doubt the days of gangster rap are completely behind me.)  Sunday morning I went to the beach for my morning meditation practice. I sat in silence for 30 minutes. I had my blue tooth speaker with me and thought it would be nice to sing a little while I was there. So I did. People walked by while I sat on the beach singing in Sanskrit swaying and moving to the music. I might have looked (and sounded) weird to the people on the beach, but I honestly did not care. Nobody stopped to talk to me, which I absolutely loved. I might have discovered the best way ever to keep the creepers away AND I enjoyed every minute of my time. Completely comfortable in my skin and also completely aware that it’s still a very new way for me to feel. It felt like joy. It felt like freedom. One day, maybe I’ll be there all the time. For now, I’ll take the moments as they come with a heart full of gratitude. Little by little, all of the pieces are falling into place. And by “falling into place” I really mean coming together for me because I’ve been working my ass off, on myself, for myself.

Heal the Child

The moment when you realize you named your business after your inner 16 year old rebel girl. Yeah. That moment happened for me a few months ago.  I have always been aware that there was a part of me that was eager to jump out in front and handle things for me. An angry girl that is reactive and maybe more than slightly pissed. A Rebel Soul. She needs love. Now I know WHY she is there. I am going to take this back a bit. In the last blog I mentioned how I don’t like to talk about the REAL things with my therapist. I prefer to share my joy and happiness. You can read it here.  After I wrote that, I knew I had things that I needed to share. I began having terrible dreams, all involving some kind of trauma to my throat. A clear indication that I needed to communicate, but either couldn’t or wouldn’t. I emailed that blog to my therapist. Wouldn’t you know that the next time I walked in she wasn’t so quick to let me breeze through. Which is great, because I needed that push. Almost as soon as our session started, she asked me to close my eyes and then focus on my breath as I entered a meditative state. She took me through a guided meditation where we invited my own inner children into a conference room. I invited them all to sit at a table with me. It seemed weird and I felt vulnerable, but I kept an open mind and went with it. A few little Shannons came into the room and just wanted to play. They didn’t want to talk and they were genuinely happy and playful little children. Then an older child came into the room. A 12 year old me. She stood near the wall, barely inside the room. She didn’t want to be there. She was fearful and didn’t want to come to the table. My therapist asked if there was someone I could invite in that would make the little girl more comfortable. This is where shit got real. I wasn’t prepared for any of this. Little 12 year old me asked an older version to come join us. She was about 16. A rebel girl who came right in and sat down at the table. She was pissed and didn’t want to be there. She didn’t want to talk to the 12 year old and she didn’t feel like she should even have to be there. If you have never done any inner child healing work, this is probably extremely weird for you. I get it. I am doing the work and it was weird for me too. In the space of that conference room, where I was supposed to be the adult talking to those children, I got pulled into the role of 12 year old me. It sucked so bad. She was in a lot of pain. A lot of things happened to her that should never happen to a child. Sitting on that couch that day EVERY BIT of it came back and my entire body hurt. Physically. Some memories came up and came pouring out of me. Things that I have never said out loud or written about. It was the most uncomfortable experience I have had on that couch.   But, we made it through. Over the next few days, I began to make sense of it all. My process is slow, but oh so thorough. That 12 year old me wanted the older child in the room because she is her voice and her protector. That rebel girl who will tell anyone to fuck right on off is the voice that the younger girl didn’t have. She can say no to anyone at anytime. The rebel girl is pissed that she even has to be there because she thinks none of this should have ever happened to the younger girl in the first place. She’s absolutely right, but here we are anyway. WOW. Mind Blown. Really. I was 12 years old when I started getting high. I smoked pot, huffed cleaning products and took any pill I could get my hands on. Escaping my reality. I completely ignored that little girl. I pushed her to the side and pushed through. My heart hurts for her. She needs love and compassion. She feels very broken and unlovable. She is terrified of everything, but my God is she tough. Every unhealthy coping mechanism she ever picked up was a survival tool and not only did she survive, she is thriving today. It took her a long time, but she grew up and she is figuring all of this out. She is not unlovable and she is not broken. She has a voice now. She is healing. My therapist and I talked about how I can work with these “inner children” and get to know their wants and needs. She believes that once I connect to them and learn how to nurture them and meet their needs, that feeling of “something is missing” will start to dissolve and I will feel whole. I spent a lot of time disconnecting from and ignoring these parts.  Reconnecting takes time. I’m getting there. It’s a process like everything else. I am loving myself through the process because that’s what ALL the parts of me need.