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New Year, New Decade

Hi Turningpointct!! 🙂 Happy Holidays to everyone!

As this year and this DECADE comes to an end, I thought I’d give a little update filled with cat pictures 🙂

Before the cat pictures, I must just say that I am really feeling the energy shift of going into a whole new decade. I was reflecting the other day about this past year alone and it was full of bittersweet moments. One thing I’ve realized and finally came to fully believe is that I am worthy of love and respect – and that I am allowed to make better changes for myself, regardless of how it affects others. I am committed to making this next decade be years that I enforce boundaries, advocate for myself, and follow convictions I have in my heart – again, regardless of how it affects others.

 

In 2019, some pretty amazing things happened:

  • I broke free from a religion that was starting to pull me away from God, not closer. I found a church that is safe for me and I feel as if I’m re-learning who God is to me.
  • I moved into an apartment with my best friend. We’ve created a safe place to call home together.
  • Speaking of the apartment, we obviously had to get a critter! Meet Pebbles!
  • Pebbles was sad that Jen and I worked long hours … so then there were two! Meet BamBam!
  • They became best pals after some hissing matches 😉
  • And even partners in crime!


  • This year, I graduated college!! I started with the intention of just simply starting ONE class. Two years later I have a certificate and a degree.
  • I was humbled this year by being recognized for awards, traveling the US for presentations, meeting some of my biggest inspirations, and being included in so many beautiful community events.
  • I started a new job! I’m working for the agency that I received treatment from – Recovery Network of Programs!! I went from client .. to employee !! I can’t explain how much I love working for this agency and how honored I am to be surrounded by such incredible leaders, coworkers, and colleagues. And of course I just had to get involved with anything and everything I can. I joined the book club and the outreach committee!
              
  • This year I had to let go and grieve friendships, relationships, trauma, and much more. I had some deep wounds created and old scars ripped wide open. Although some scars are going to be permanent; I must remember that they are still healed and shift my perception from loss to gain. I gained new friendships, new insight, new healing, and most importantly; I found a new sense of worthiness that I have been yearning for my whole life.
  • On December 2nd 2019 I celebrated FOUR YEARS in recovery!! Four years I haven’t turned to some form of opiate as a solution to whatever I was feeling, thinking, or doing. I don’t have even have the words for the gratitude of my recovery today. Can’t wait to do it another year !
  • I also have been building something special with someone special. Eric, you are such an incredible person and I’m so grateful to be your girlfriend. Every day you teach me something, love a part of me I didn’t expect anyone to, make me laugh, listen to my every word and thought, and allow me to be me unapologetically. You marvel me daily and I’m looking forward to continuing our journey together!

 

So that is my yearly wrap-up! I can’t wait to read about yours and your plans for the next year. Remember to celebrate the small successes – even if that just means waking up today.

Rest in Peace Jonathan

Hi everyone. I am here to give some very sad news.
Jonathan, aka Someoneoddlyfamiliar passed away this Sunday.
Jonathan was a young person in recovery, a poet, and an advocate.
I only knew him through the poetry he shared with us here, but reading his words always felt like a treat and a joy. I often felt the vulnerability in his poems- the raw emotion and it reflected things that I too have felt but never could express in such ways.
It is truly a statement of Jonathan’s ability to connect with people, that even those of us who knew him online, through his poems, feel a deep sadness in the face of this terrible loss.
To our friends and partners at Advocacy Unlimited, and to Jonathan’s friends and family we extend of deepest gratitude for the words Jonathan shared with us here, and we extend our most sincere love and support to you all.

I would like to share some words that Advocacy Unlimited shared about Jonathan and his life:

A Beautiful Soul Remembered

August 9, 1997 – November 17, 2019
Johnathan M.S. McKenzie

YOU ARE INVITED
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
11AM-2PM

Artists Collective
1200 Albany Avenue
Hartford, CT 06112

ALL ARE WELCOME
Free Parking
Community Donations of Food are Welcome

Johnathan McKenzie joined the Advocacy Unlimited family just over a year ago – yet, it felt like he was a brother for lifetimes.

Beginning at an early age, Johnathan’s interest in neuropsychology, philosophy, and socioeconomics stemmed from his personal journey through New York and Connecticut’s psychiatric inpatient and outpatient systems. Upon discovering some of the fundamental flaws that lead to many of our society’s struggles, Johnathan began his pursuit of advocacy while inpatient at Connecticut Valley Hospital.

Alarmed by the inhumane treatment and the disregard of client rights, he transitioned into the community with the support of Char’Donne and Connecticut Legal Rights Project. With is new found freedom, Johnathan began participating in civil protests, mental health awareness campaigns, and LGBTQ pride events.

This led to a growing commitment to change the conditions of society to ensure all people have the opportunity to achieve their dreams free from institutional and systemic discrimination.

Despite experiencing the harshest of circumstances, Johnathan believed in the goodness of people. He was a leader who inspired all those who witnessed his grace, dignity, and charisma. His devotion and passion for protecting civil and individual rights was seen in so many ways.

Through his leadership, the Danbury NAACP Youth and College Division was founded in 2016. He then transitioned to the role of Community Coordinator with the Waterbury chapter where he was recognized this year in Detroit, Michigan for his outstanding efforts and involvement with the NAACP.

While volunteering, Johnathan became more involved with local efforts to reform the mental health service system. He joined the Connecticut Young Adult Services Statewide Advisory Board, and subsequently joined the Join Rise Be team at Advocacy Unlimited as a Training Coordinator and Young Adult Warmline Operator.

As a member of the JRB team, he collaborated directly with the Department of Mental Health of Addiction Services Young Adult Services division. Working alongside his peers to strengthen the voice of young adults and improve the partnerships between those engaged in YAS programming and the staff that work with them.

What a year it has been for Johnathan – a rising star and an agent of change. Along with receiving the youth award through the NAACP, Johnathan was recognized in Torrington as the 2019 recipient of the Fredrick “Ricky” Lagassie III award this past May and as the recipient of the Emerging Adult Voice Award through Keep the Promise Coalition for his testimony at the Appropriations Committee of the Connecticut Legislature.

Beyond the words that describe his achievements – Johnathan was passionate about running, martial arts, meditation, writing, and music. Johnathan is remembered as a quirky, dancing, improving, bowtie wearing, awesome hat rocking, roller blading, martial art doing, music making, writing, kareoking, advocating, brilliance that lit every space he entered with pure heart and presence.

Johnathan’s presence was an embodiment of love, expression, kindness, freedom, and connection.

Johnathan was love, the rarest and most pure love. His expression of kindness gave permission to all people to simply be free just as they were – nothing more was needed. He was committed to connection – wanting people to feel a sense of belonging.

For those of us lucky enough to have worked with Johnathan will remember him sitting in the office for hours, surrounded by paper placed strategically around him, candles lit and music blasting. He was changing the world each moment and breath he took.

Each letter he wrote and word he spoke was with a conviction that came from his soul. He would spend hours talking about the purpose of life, the purpose of our being, and always asking how we can define happiness. When asked, he would define happy as, “sitting right here doing all the things I love with the people I care about.”

Well, Johnathan, you changed the world for many people. Through your love, expression, kindness, freedom, and connection – those who knew are better people because of your presence.

Despite the pain, you found your way through the darkness and you lit a flame that will forever burn in the hearts of us all. You belonged right here, all along. You will never be forgotten.

To read some of Johnathan’s poetry, please go to www.TurningPointCT.org and to connect with Join Rise Be you can either check out our website www.joinrisebe.org or call the Connecticut Young Adult Warmline 7-days a week from 12-9PM
at 1-855-6HopeNow

If you, or someone you know, is navigating the abyss – you can learn more about Alternatives 2 Suicide by going to https://www.westernmassrlc.org/alternatives-to-suicide.

A New Chapter

Hi TurningPointCT  Welcome to the next chapter!

I haven’t been on here in some time, so I think you’re all due for an update! I have some new blogs on the way, so stay tuned for my normal style of writing.

So it was a bit of a bittersweet good-bye to my position at TurningPointCT… I’m still involved, but I’ve ventured onto a new chapter! I am now the Recovery Liaison for Recovery Network of Programs (RNP). RNP has 19 different programs and several levels of care for people seeking recovery for addiction and/or mental health disorders.

What’s really cool about my new job is that I’m the first of this project that I am a part of. RNP partnered with Optimus Health Care to bring more services to their clients and patients. Basically, I’m mainly stationed at one of the Optimus Health Care locations and when a patient comes into the facility to receive general medical care, they are given a set of questions and depending on their answers, I get involved. Once someone indicates that they are in need of either mental health care and/or substance abuse treatment, I engage them and try to get them enrolled in treatment.

It’s really exciting because I have so much flexibility with my job role. RNP supports the involvement I have with CT and local communities, so they are encouraging me to still do public speaking and be on committees and whatnot. One thing I love about RNP is that the leadership are inspirational women that have had a huge impact on my life, as well as members of my family. Sometimes I get to bounce around to other agencies and site locations and spread the news about our new “Primary Integrative Care Team” aka the PIC Team 🙂 So if you see me all around Bridgeport – I promise I’m there for good reasons 🙂

But here’s a little secret: I was once a patient at RNP. I used many of their services throughout my active addiction years and still utilize their services. I went from being a patient to an employee! A blog on that is in the making!

So that’s an update on my professional life. My personal life has had some major changes as well:

1. I moved into an apartment with my best friend Jen earlier this summer!
2. I graduated college – check out the blog on that here
3. I changed churches & am shifting my spirituality pathway- stay tuned for a blog on that
4. I found out I’m not as weak as I thought I was

Wait, can we just go back to number 4 … I found out I’m not as weak as I thought I was.

This summer, I’ve learned that the weak, broken, bruised woman I thought I still was; is not me. Since so many big changes happened in such a short time, my mental health was starting to be neglected. I was becoming so absorbed in everything and I had quickly labeled myself as some awful things. I couldn’t be happy for myself because I was allowing other people, places, and things be the decision-maker of my emotions and thoughts. For someone living with PTSD, having no control is one of the worst feelings and can trigger a spiral in my thinking process.

So long story short, it bubbled to the surface and the only word of defense I was able to come up with was: No.

Little did I realize, this was going to be the beginning of using a word I was afraid to use my entire life.

Once I saw that I CAN say no, it was a ripple effect. I was “no this” and “no that” for everything. E V E R Y T H I N G.

It felt so empowering. I felt in control. I felt peace. It started off with little things, then the big things came. I said no to men. I said no to helping someone when I mentally couldn’t. I said no to pushing myself when I knew it wasn’t safe to keep pushing. I said no to plans that I couldn’t uphold. And ready for this… I said no to things that I simply just DIDN’T FEEL LIKE DOING.

I may seem cold, but it was the best way that I felt I could shake my fears and insecurities and start becoming my own woman.

So anyway, that is some updates for now. I’ll be posting some cute apartment pictures soon! Jen and I living together is literally a constant sleepover with my best friend. Plus, Luca basically lives with us too, so it’s nice always having them with me. There’s never a moment that we aren’t laughing – or eating lol

I love you all and to the one that’s reading this that is struggling at saying ‘no’ — start with small, manageable things and then keep going– you will be surprised how it will create a ripple effect. I hope you all keep watch for my upcoming blogs about: my new spiritual path, becoming an employee at a place I was a patient, more about my PTSD, and lots more!

<3

How to Properly Kick Ass

I can totally relate to this quote, because often times I have found myself wanting to accomplish so many things yet I sit there wondering why I can’t get ANYTHING done. When reflecting back on why I think that was, I can only think of one common factor when this has occurred each time- I had been limiting my own success and achievements. At the end of the day, we are the only ones who are in charge of how far we will go and how hard we will work, but in order to first start the process of seriously kicking ass in life, we must commit to lifting our foot and putting in the proper work! It isn’t easy, and some days will be better than others. With that being said, there will be days that you will want to quit, or may feel like the entire world is against you. What I have learned through my journey is that we don’t ever have to quit, as much as our minds want us to, this is never the answer. We can feel better if we slow our pace, deciding to take things a little slower. Whether it be taking less classes during a semester at school, handling less sports at a time, or anything that you can find relevant to your personal situation, the point is that you can still move forward even if you are moving at a slower pace. Choose to begin the process of lifting your foot today and fight to kick some life ass! 🙂

Stress Awareness Month

Hey guys! April is stress awareness month.
Stress is something we all cope with, some of us cope more effectively than others, and some us us have more manageable amounts of stress than others.
So, lets check in!
On a scale of 1-5 (1 being not stressed and 5 being losing it stressed) how stressed are you?? What’s going on?
And on a scale of 1-5 (1 being coping really badly, and 5 being coping super well) how well are you coping?? What are you doing?

I’ll go first.
On a scale of 1-5, I am teetering between a 4 and a 5. I have a lot of days that feel unmanageable.
My stress levels make sense to me in the context of my life right now. I just moved a few months ago (still not unpacked), I am full time at school (almost done for the summer!!), working 2 part time jobs, and of course, motherhood- which doesn’t stress me out itself, it’s feeling like I am missing out on my child’s life that is stressful. But, then I have amazing days, like yesterday, I took a mental health day and stayed home from school after staying up until 4 am doing homework. Why? Because I needed to. And I didn’t feel bad.
How well am I coping? I would say between a 2 & 3. More days I’m a 2. I’m not falling back into all my old coping skills, but I’m not on top of myself and using coping skills or self care the way I know I should. But, then I have better days and remember it’s not the worst thing I’ve lived through and it’s not forever!

So, after all that, how about you guys?? This is your chance to check in with yourself and let a little steam out if you’re feeling stressed!
Also, I found this really cool site. So, if you are feeling really stressed and are having a hard time, check this out.


Mental Health video by young adults!

Guys, check out this awesome video!

“From award-winning documentary filmmaker Arthur Cauty, comes Faces of Mental Health, a short film which challenges stigma and encourages open conversation around mental illness and suicide in young people.

Students in Bristol were offered a space to open up and share their thoughts and personal experiences of mental illness and suicide, with a view to encouraging people of all ages and backgrounds across the country and around the World to step forward and speak out.”

It’s on vimeo, and definitely worth a watch and a share!!

Check out the video here on vimeo

Disconnecting for a Connection

What is disconnecting? Is it when you detach with love? Terminating a relationship? Isolating yourself? Unplugging an electrical device? Is it rejection? Not having a bond with something or someone?

Many times, people assume that someone who is disconnected find themselves in a difficult and challenging place to be. This can definitely be true, but what if disconnecting can be healthy and form a different connection?

When I have felt disconnected to the people, places, and things that help me stay sane, I start to get pretty down. I start feeling each of my insecurities creep into my mind and heart to convince me that I either don’t deserve the connection, or that it’s lost because of me.

Being disconnected can be very dangerous for my recovery and overall wellness – mentally and physically – however, it can also be extremely helpful, when used the right way; when I disconnect in order to connect.

One way I do this is by going to the beach and I shut out my thoughts and ground myself by using all of my senses to connect with the beach. I’ll disconnect my phone, my racing thoughts, my rapid heart rate, my loved ones, my responsibilities and allow myself to be vulnerable so I can connect to the calmness that the beach brings me. When I do this often, I’m able to balance the other connections in my life and have the strength to mend the disconnections in my life that I’m unhappy about.

Another way I’ve been disconnecting to connect is by getting to a quiet place, getting on my knees, and closing my eyes to start praying. I’m disconnecting any distraction so that I can build my spiritual connection. When I do this, I’m able to stabilize my emotions and welcome healing.

I’ve also been disconnecting electronics. I have been actually for once turning my phone on complete silence – no vibrate, nothing. When I do this, I’m able to enjoy the moment I’m in and be more in that moment. Sometimes, the moment is simply being alone. Sometimes I disconnect with others because I’m taking time for self-care. I’ve been realizing lately how important self-care really is.

This tool that I’ve learned and put into practice has had amazing benefits:
-the symptoms of my anxiety and ptsd have been more manageable
-I am able to take full advantage of EMDR Therapy
-My self-advocacy skills have increased tremendously
-I feel more empowered
-I feel confident in my ability to say no
-tasks are less pressuring and overwhelming

How will you disconnect to build a connection? What does that look like for you?

Long time, no see!

Hi everyone! It’s been a long, long time since I last wrote in this blog.

What’s kept me away?
• I started school and became a full-time student (I made honors last semester!)
• Willow and I left the shelter and moved into our own apartment.
• Willow turned TWO.
• I’ve been taking on more responsibilities at work and I’ve been working hard in school.

There are a lot of days that I’ve been happy and hopeful and staying afloat with a lot going on.

There have also been a lot of days that I’m busy all day. When I wake up early and stay up late and I’m exhausted and stressed. And that has been hard.

But I’m also staying afloat, in fact I’m doing well, too. Not all the time, of course, but still, I’m not giving up. If this were a few years ago, normally in a time like this, I wouldn’t be ok. I’d run at the slightest feeling of defeat, self-destruct then hide away.
At a time like this, I would be doing the worst I’d ever done, again.

But, I’m not. I’ve been doing better than I remember being for a long time. And I’m so grateful for that. I feel like I have found who I always was underneath the things that glued me to the floor.

Every so often though, I feel scared. Scared because I know I have so much at stake, and because I know I have come so far.
I wonder, sometimes, why am I ok? I wonder not if but when I will fail?
Then I remember the same things that scare me also help me be ok. They motivate me, support me and remind me to keep working. I think about the things that make me want to be ok.

I think about Willow, about being able to do more than just function, about being hopeful for our future, about school and my job, and I think about peer support. I think about the things I went through, the journey of shifting between the fine lines of patient and peer. About getting to speak with people who I understand, people who are struggling through high school with depression or anxiety or while fighting with their family every night. I think about how much peer support and the opportunity to use my story to better empathize with others, which have helped me be ok in times like this.

And I even though sometimes I feel scared, anxious, or doubtful – I feel good about continuing to move forward. I don’t feel tempted to stop, or give up, I feel excited to see what comes next; that fills me and keeps me going forward through fear and doubt.

National Eating Disorder Awareness Week!

Today marks the start of National Eating Disorder Awareness Week! From February 25th- March 5th we can try to commit to being happy with ourselves and our bodies the way they are, not the way we think they are supposed to be. Instead of trying to fit into a box, we can appreciate the utility of our bodies, the way they function to keep us living. The amazing strength we have. The unique beauty each of us posses. We are all amazing!

Today, I thank my body. But, I also thank myself. Because for a long time I hated nearly everything about my body. The things I focused on we small details of perceived perfection I wanted so desperately to achieve. Yet, no matter how much I forced my body to change, no matter how unkind I was to myself, using food and weight as my weapon, I did not grow to love my body any more. I grew to hate it more, to see my flaws as being bigger, more unmanageable, more important and glaringly obvious to everyone. How exhausting it was to fight a battle for years against myself and food, a battle I had no idea was impossible to win.
So, I thank my body and myself. Because today I am a person who has recovered from an eating disorder, and it is such an incredible thing to say!

Even if you have never suffered from an eating disorder or known someone who has, this week is important. We all face stigma, shame and “rules” about our bodies, beauty, and standards. Isn’t it an exhausting ride to be stuck on?
So, instead of trying to fit into some arbitrary ideal of beauty, which doesn’t truly exist, lets love ourselves. Lets love our bodies, even the parts we sometimes hide. Because our bodies love us, they are for us, they do everything in their power to take care of us. Lets thank our bodies with some well deserved love, and reap the benefits!

If you are concerned you or someone you care about might be struggling with eating or with their body image in some way, help them out by suggesting they take a screening and offer your support. Help is out there. Recovery exists. Here is the link to a free and confidential screening that you or someone you know can take online, click here.

For even more resources on Eating disorders, check out our map or go to “resources” and click “support by topic”

If you have ever struggled with an eating disorder, how are you doing these days? If you have found recovery, what helped you?
If you have never struggled with an eating disorder, in what ways do you struggle with your body? In what ways do you love your body?

Random Acts of Kindness Day

February 17th is Random Acts of Kindness Day! That’s this Sunday!

In celebration of this day I wanted to share a video and ask a question.

The video is on Youtube, here Random Acts Of Kindness random acts of kindness

And this is my question: what was on time that kindness had a profound affect on you? It could have been something kind you did or something kind someone else did for you.

A couple weeks ago when I was surveying for the Youth Count I walked out of Dunkin Donuts to see an adult man sitting outside asking for change. Having been in his shoes not so long ago my heart ached for him, I wanted him to understand that he was understood and cared about. I wanted him to feel as though the weight of the world was not on his shoulders. That he was important, valuable. Anyways, I ended up going back and fourth in my head about what to do for a few minutes while I was inside. When I went to left I sat down next to him. I told him that I didn’t have any change and that I was sorry, but that I had been in his shoes before and I wanted him to know that I cared about him, even though I didn’t know him. We talked for a few minutes, and I felt so, so connected to him. I felt as though he did not frequently have experiences of being treated humanely by others. He looked deeply into my eyes and said thank you before I left, and it just struck me so much. It made me both happy and sad. But I know that we both had an affect on each other that day. That’s what kindness is to me! An exchange, a moment when caring for another person makes you feel just as loved. It’s a special thing.
So, how about you guys?

Random Acts Of Kindness Day

Remembering Parkland

1 year ago today, in Parkland Florida 17 high students and staff lost their lives in the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting.
In the past year the young people who were affected by the shooting have become fierce advocates for gun control and have made their voices heard across the country.
For students across the country, this event was a terrifying reminder of the dangers U.S. students can face.
How did the Parkland shootings affect you?
To those who lost their lives last year, rest in peace. You are not forgotten.

What are you proud of from 2018?

Hey guys! It’s 2019!
Pretty cool, kinda.

Some people seem to really care about New Years, it signifies a time to reflect and commit to change. Other people think it’s BS. And some don’t really care too much!

However you feel about New Years, it’s always good to reflect on time that’s passed and recognize strides that you have made.
My favorite quote when I was in the midst of a lot of struggles was,

“I may not be where I want to be but thank God I’m not where I used to be”

We don’t have to leap from ditches to mountain tops to recognize our power and strength. And sometimes it’s not even steps that deserve recognition, sometimes it’s staying right where you are, because it can be really hard to not fall backward, and good enough is good enough.

This New Years Eve, I laid in bed next to Willow while she slept and realized the changes that occurred over the past year. I thought about the pain, fear, and excitement I felt, and how hopeless I was at times. I realized how far I have come by looking back for a few moments. And it felt good, and it made me feel proud of myself. And I didn’t feel bad saying that.

So, what are you guys proud of from 2018?

I’m proud of myself for starting school, taking the leap to “real” employment and beginning the process of getting off of disability and SSI, moving, admitting to myself and a few friends that I was depressed, sticking with my path even when it was scary and painful and uncertain, trying every day to be a good mom, working hard, getting certified as a SMART recovery facilitator, Recovery Coach, and a Recovery Support Specialist, starting the path to getting my licence, and beginning to throw away things that I don’t need.

Let’s congratulate each other on our success in being here, even when it’s really hard work.

Best things to do on Winter Break?

Hey guys!
New Years is almost here! Isn’t that crazy?! It’s almost 2019!
That means winter break is coming!! Maybe it’s even started for you already!

So, what’s your favorite thing to do on winter break? What are you looking forward to?

I won’t be back in school until the end of January, so I’m looking forward to SLEEP!! I’m also looking forward to taking some time off with Willow, and doing a few nerdy holiday things before Christmas. Hopefully we get one nice snow day, too!

How about you guys?

WINTER BREAK

Weird food

What weird food do you guys like??
I went to this deli down the street from where I was living for the past 18 months today. Usually the same two people take my order and they are used to my weird sandwich taste! But today it was someone new and I felt the need to prepare her for what I was about to order by saying “this is going to be weird..” haha!!
This is it:
A wrap with lettuce, tomato, olives, avocado, cheese, egg, hash brown, chipotle mayo and hot sauce. And grilled.
She seemed a little horrified.
Then a few weeks ago I ordered a pizza with kalamata olives, caramelized onions, and I wanted artichokes but the waiter told me that was a bad idea haha!! So I just got olives and onions. My brother HATED it!! But I loved it.
I guess I have weird food taste!! Oh well.

What’s your guy’s favorite weird thing to eat???

In Everything Give Thanks

Thanksgiving: A holiday where most families get together and share what they are thankful for while breaking bread. When I was using, Thanksgiving and many other holidays were awful. I would be rushing around trying to meet drug dealers and put myself together enough to show up for my family. They all would know that something was wrong with me, but would just give me a gentle reminder that I am loved and that they hope everything will be ok.

I don’t think the chaos of those holiday mornings are described well enough with the word ‘awful’. I would wake up in deep withdrawal.. vomiting, diarrhea, sweating, chills, aches, and extreme anxiety. Most of the time I would wake up with no money in my pocket because it was spent the day before on bags of dope that I would swear to save for the holiday morning. But once they were in my hand it was, “I can do these now and I’ll figure out the morning”. The morning was NEVER figured out and I knew this, yet I kept doing it.

Out I would go to steal something or rob someone. Scrambling to not get caught, usually outside in the cold, all while still experiencing withdrawal symptoms and only intensifying as minutes pass. Once I would finally score some money, the next mission was to find a drug dealer that was ‘around’ on a holiday. See, drug dealers are not always these guys that just sit in a house all day selling drugs. Many of them have families that need to see them too. I can’t explain the feeling of doom that takes over when all phones are off when you are trying to score. So then you have to go into neighborhoods that you know have people available and hope you score something that isn’t completely fake. All the while, your family members are blowing up your phone asking where you are and you’re already an hour or two late.

Today is the third Thanksgiving in a row that I will be celebrating while in recovery. This morning I have woken up healthy, besides a slight cold. I woke up with my best friend at my house after a sleepover. My mom is cooking and preparing the Thanksgiving meal. My dad is making breakfast and my brother is on his way over. I’m not reaching over for a needle. I have money in my bank account. I know that everyone in my family is in good health. I will be spending the afternoon surrounded by my loved ones and will be arriving on time.

Three years ago today I went upstairs in my bedroom while my entire family was over for Thanksgiving to complete a suicide attempt by a heroin overdose. As raw as that is, it was reality for me. So this morning I wake up with slight panic because it still feels real. I can feel all of the terrible emotions I had felt that day, I can literally feel them. But then I realize.. I’m not there anymore and that day has passed. I can’t believe that it has been three years. I’ve never had this long of recovery before. I’m in awe every day of God’s mercy and grace in my life.

I’m thankful for three years.
I’m thankful for my family.
I’m thankful for my best friends.
I’m thankful for my boyfriend.
I’m thankful for my cats.
I’m thankful for my career.
I’m thankful for my education.
I’m thankful for my co workers.
I’m thankful for my boss.
I’m thankful for my church.

& I’m thankful for so much more.

Today, I am also thankful for me… the courage that sparked inside me to stop that suicide attempt and ask for help. I’m thankful for making the call to treatment centers despite the immense amount of humiliation, fear, and shame that comes along with it. I’m thankful for the counselors that didn’t let me quit.

Little did I know that what I planned to be the end of everything, was the start to a journey of hope I’d never imagine.


In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

What’s in your playlist?

What are your top three favorite songs right now?

Within the last week or so, I’ve become obsessed with a few “new” songs (new to me haha) and so I’ve gone through the ritual of replacing my go-to songs with some new “obsessions”.

Right now I’m listening to…
1. Idle Town by Conan Gray click here
Idle Town
2. Crush by Tessa Violet click here
crush
3. When The Party’s Over by Billie Ellish click here
When The Party's Over

Recovery Month Videos

We want to see your videos for Suicide Prevention and Recovery Month! Check out Eliza’s video of why she fights for recovery and post yours here! We will share them on our facebook and twitter (if you want!)

FREE Recovery Coach Training!

This October through November TurningPointCT.org Project Coordinator Ally will be facilitating a FREE CCAR Recovery Coach Training for young people aged 16-29.
Every Saturday from 10am through 5pm (we will provide lunch) we will gather at the Smilow Life Center in Norwalk and learn skills that will help us support people with their recovery and help us to manage our own lives and recovery as well.
If you are interested in attending and becoming a Recovery Coach, email info@healthymindsct.org and tell us why this matters to you and how you plan to use your certification.
Space is limited, so please apply as soon as possible!
See you in October!
Recovery Coach Flyer JPEG

Seize The Awkward

The beginning of the school year is exciting, stressful, and everything in between. One of the best parts of going back to school is seeing all of your friends.
The fall is also a really hard time for people- especially High School and College students. It’s busy, stressful, and overwhelming. This is a time of year when anxiety and depression peak. Young people turn to things like self harm, substance use, and other risky and harmful behaviors to cope, and suicide attempts peak.
Often times, when we struggle, we don’t know who to turn to. Our friends are our first line of support. Sometimes, they see us struggling before we even decide we want to reach out.
Check out this site, Seize The Awkward.We have to be there for our friends, and even though it might seem awkward- seize the moment and make sure they’re doing ok.


World Breastfeeding Week

This Week is World Breastfeeding Week.

Breastfeeding has been a major part of my life for the last 17 months. Since the day Willow was born, and to this day, I have breastfed her.

Whenever, wherever, and for whatever reason, I have responded to my beautiful child’s wants and needs in the most natural and intuitive way physically possible; by breastfeeding.

This journey has taught me many invaluable lessons about both myself and my relationship with my daughter.
Becoming a mother is a transformation. It’s a journey, and my own transformation is something I have talked about many times on my blog.

Before Willow was born, when asked how I was going to feed her (formula or breastfeeding) I said I would breastfeed, and thinking back I don’t remember why exactly, other than it seemed the only option- at that time primarily for financial reasons.
As I learned more and more about what my journey would entail and about why people breastfeed I began to realize that I was truly making the best decision for both myself and my daughter.

The beginning was hard. It was more than hard.

Willow had a really bad latch. I was tired, depressed, lonely, in an un-supportive and abusive relationship, and essentially alone. Willow wanted to eat over and over again. And for long stretches of time. It seemed as soon as she finished she was hungry all over again.
I was not myself, my body did not belong to me, and I was so so unbelievably exhausted.
I cried a lot.
I fell asleep sitting up at night, holding willow and would wake up terrified but thankful she was still in my arms, nursing.
I left Willow latched even when it hurt (mistake) because I just wanted her to eat and fall asleep.
I made many mistakes, and was confused about so much.

I had so much room to grow and learn but often felt so hopeless and alone, I would just blindly go forward, unknowing of what laid ahead.
But I wasn’t alone.
I joined Facebook groups. I talked to friends of mine who breastfed, or wish they did. People commended me, they validated me, and one person in particular (who was with me from early in my pregnancy, there when my daughter was born, and after) who educated me and supported me consistently and oftentimes when I needed it more than anything else.
And I kept going, even though there were times I felt desperate to stop, perhaps for just a day, or a moment, or a night- to share the vast responsibility of growing, birthing, and feeding this small amazing person who brought me to my knees and changed my life.

Then, incredibly, and like many other aspects of motherhood, it got easier. Not immediately, and not overnight, but slowly and surely and then suddenly. Suddenly, breastfeeding was the easiest part of motherhood.

Suddenly, my confidence in myself and my ability as a woman and a mother was incredibly affirmed and increased. I am amazing, I made it through long enough to reach a place of ease in something I once considered giving up.
I set goals, and wandered through, eyes closed and arms outstretched. Even when I fell into pits, and found my way out. And when giving up was an option I kept going.

I remember, hoping, wishing, to make it, to not give up. Reasoning that I would make it to at least 6 weeks, then at least 3 months.
And then, it was just a part of our life. An amazing, incredible, and valuable part of our life.
Now, at seventeen months strong, I can say with confidence that we are going as long as my daughter finds comfort and need in breastfeeding – even if its years and years from now.
And I will never feel shame for lifting my shirt in public to feed and comfort my child.

And one day, she wont need or want to nurse. But that day is not today, and I hope that it is not tomorrow. But if it is, and when it is, I will be there, holding her hand, and we will forever have the bond that began in my womb and continues to grow every single day.

We stand with you, Demi

I think a lot of you know, early this week Demi was treated for a suspected overdose and brought to a hospital.
Her family has denied that the overdose was caused by heroin.
I have loved Demi Lovato since I was fifteen.
At a time when I stayed up until 5 am on a daily basis, alone, isolated, and battling thoughts and urges that brought me to a place of desperation and fear I found comfort. I realized that Demi Lovato had been struggling with a lot of similar things.
I began to listen to her music, watch videos and felt a sense of companionship by this seemingly happy, funny, and cheerful girl who loved her sister and friends but still continued to fight inner demons, despite how happy she looked.
This was the first time I truly felt like I was not alone.
I wrote her a letter describing what I had been going through, and thanking her for helping me. I drew a picture of her.
I re-read it again and again but never sent it. My shame and fear convinced me it was stupid.
But I never stopped feeling connected by the experience of mental illness and addiction to Demi Lovato. I never stopped listening to her music, watching her videos, and thinking of her and the ways she managed to empathize with me from the other side of the country.

And now, in a time when she is struggling more than she has in recent years, I am here with her.
Perhaps it matters very little, but regardless, I stand with Demi.
I send her love and healing thoughts and hope she knows that she matters so much to so many.

Get, well soon Demi.

How has this affected you guys?

I think, despite the way it may feel, stigma is beginning to slowly melt away. We are speaking more and more openly about mental illness and addiction, thanks to people like Demi Lovato, Lady Gaga, and Logic.
Recent publicized suicides and overdoses make it nearly impossible to turn the other cheek to mental illness and addiction.

Despite how much our demons try to convince us of our isolation- we can never forget, we are not alone

Stress

Stress.

I have been stressed.
Not every day, and not all the time.
If my stress were a rock, I would be small but very dense and very heavy.
Small, rigid, bumpy, sharp, molten lava.
Bouncing around in my pocket all the time.
Some days it feels so heavy that my hips hurt and my gait is off.
Some days I forget it’s there until I bump my leg against something and the rock digs it’s raged corner into my thigh.
And then I feel like falling over.
But I can’t- and so then I become sad- no, angry.
Hot and heavy, scared and tired. My chest gets tight and my breath becomes hot and thick. So that it weighs down my chest, and constricts my lungs.
I feel suddenly as though I am drowning.

And then I lose it.

Maybe for a moment, because someone needs something from me.
But how dare they need me, don’t they know there is molten lava in my pocket?
Of course, they don’t know, it’s too small to see.
Although, maybe they notice it ripping a hole in my pants, and they ask me if I’m ok, with a certain sincerity that rips my heart from my chest and makes my knees heavy. And then I just want to cry.
And then it becomes an ocean.
An ocean with huge waves and I’m stuck in quicksand being pummeled by huge gusts of cold, salty water.
And my eyes are red and burning, and I cannot see.
My lungs are full of salt and water, so I cannot breathe.
My mouth is full of sand and seaweed, so I have no words to say.
And I’m too scared to figure out how to move.
So like a deer in headlights, I let myself get hit by a car.
And I see it coming but cannot move or speak.

I am alone in a crowd.

A crowd of people who feel the same way as me.
But its all a big secret, and so together we all feel alone.
Then one day I find a word- or all the words. And I find someone to tell.
Maybe they are the right person; they give me goggles, so I can see through the waves. And give me a snorkel, so I can breathe. They show me my feet and tell me how to pull myself from the thick, sticky sand.
And they cannot stay with me the whole time, but maybe they can sit with me on the shore while I catch my breath.
And then the sun can begin to rise, and the mist may clear and life begins to feel ok again.

But it always seems to cycle.

And soon again, I’m drowning.
Or maybe not always, but often enough that my knees are bruised and my elbows are scraped from falling again and again.
But I feel ok for just long enough to catch my breath.
And one day, I hope, I will have my goggles and snorkel with me always- and I won’t need someone to bring it to me. My legs will be strong enough to carry my small, heavy rock. My thigh will be calloused enough so that when my molten lava hits it, I do not fall over.
Until then, I feel happy to know there are lifeguards on the shore, and that some days my rock sits quietly in my pocket and I’m able to forget that it’s there.

And there are other things that make me feel strong and steady and very happy.

Like Willow.
And I’m not always perfect, and sometimes she throws my rock in my face and I melt into the ground and grow into a monster. And when the rock shrinks back into my pocket I feel so sad and guilty.
But I can hug her and say sorry.
She always seems to forgive me for being imperfect. And I’m learning how to forgive myself.
She seems to feed me a steady stream of light and love, which gives me strength and makes me feel safe and happy.

And I tell myself again and again,
“I will be ok, I will be ok”.

Willow Moon, my sun my moon  and my stars.

My Humiliation is Finally Over

The other day I took my last drug test for probation.

I know it may sound strange to be proud and happy about this, but I am for so many reasons.

When I take a supervised drug test for probation, this is what happens:

I walk into the facility having to use the bathroom SO bad because I’ve been holding it in so I can actually pee when I get there. I have to sit and wait (about 10-15 minutes) for a female to take the test. But why would a female have to take the test? Because this is a supervised test. Aka a complete stranger is going to watch me pee.

Thankfully I’m not “pee-shy” as they call it, which is probably due to me having to use the restroom literally three feet away from someone’s bed when I was incarcerated. But ladies… if you’re on your menstrual cycle you better believe they watch you when you need to practice hygiene for that. Aka this stranger watched me while I changed my tampon. Awkward.

I’ve been on the other side of this situation; the person supervising. It’s awkward for this role as well, but I’m tired of hearing professionals say, “it’s just as awkward for me, as it is for you.” … Ummm… it’s really not. It’s so much more awkward and humiliating for the person taking the test. The person taking the test is not getting paid to do so. The person taking the test does not have to have their privacy invaded. Oh, and the person taking the test doesn’t get reminded of all of the things they did wrong and why they are there in the first place each time doing this. And then they will turn on the water from the faucet as if that’s supposed to work some magic. Yeah, right. And please don’t have a conversation with me while I humiliate myself because I cannot concentrate on carrying on a conversation with you while you stare at me pee and change my tampon… just saying.

I’m also tired of hearing, “but you know the results are going to be negative, so you have nothing to worry about.” Really?

Every time I take a drug test(negative or not), my past comes into my mind like wildfire. A negative test result does not eliminate the humiliation of the process. I wish people would respect that more, especially providers. It’s not that I’m worried about the test results. Is the anxiety of the whole process increased if I know the results will be positive? Absolutely. But whether it’s negative or not, I’m anxious of the thoughts that come creeping into my mind before, during, and after a test. I’m anxious about the humiliation of the whole process. I’m anxious about the judgement, discrimination, and stigma that comes along with the process. There have been several times I have been looked down upon because I was on probation, there to take a test.

The harsh thoughts that my mental health disorders flood into my mind are awful. I try to shut them out (it’s a daily thing), but they’re there and they are NOT always easy to ignore. Sometimes I’m unable to eat or function the best that day (work, school, social life, home life) because the whole process has an aftermath effect. It really didn’t get easier for me as I continued taking them (weekly for 9 months, every four months for three years).

I try to change my perspective into something positive as I usually do, but it’s definitely difficult. The thoughts still come and the emotions still follow. I try to look at the situation with gratitude. I’m thankful that I’m sober. I’m thankful that I’m not in prison. I’m thankful of where I am in life. I also allow it to be a moment of humility. But there is a difference between being humble and being humiliated. 

Quora defines the difference of humility and humiliation:

Humiliation is the act of being humiliated by something or someone, so in a sense, it’s embarrassment or self loathing. Humility is the understanding or will to accept yourself and to not be egotistical or arrogant, not to mention being accepting.”

So I guess it’s a mixture of both for me.

But now, to end on a positive note, I’M DONE TAKING THESE SUPERVISED PEE SESSIONS!!!

I did three freaking years of them and I can finally close that door. I am still on probation, but the next test would have been scheduled when my probation time had already elapsed. I’m looking forward to being able to post about probation being terminated in July. Until then… I’ll be enjoying shutting the door of every bathroom I go into haha.

humiliation

Anxiety Chart

Hey everyone!

I came across this blog post about how someone living with anxiety who struggles to explain her anxiety to her peers/family/loved ones. She talks about how frustrating it is and how people don’t seem to understand the actual condition. So she decided to make an “anxiety chart” to help explain her anxiety. I looked at it and thought it was AMAZING and described it PERFECTLY. Here’s the article in case you want to read it: https://themighty.com/2018/03/anxiety-chart-help-other-understand-anxiety/

And here is the anxiety chart (let me know what you think and if you think it can be or is helpful!):
anxietychart

Stages of life

This week I have been thinking a lot about the different stages in my life.

Luz posted something on the forum about changing your expectations of yourself, and reaching goals you may have never thought yourself capable of. She talked about what her life used to look like, and how she once did not believe she was capable of achieving “normalcy”.
That made me think a lot about my past; where I’ve come from, where I’ve gone, where I’m at now. And most importantly, how I got there, and here. What did it take to go through each age and stage of my life? Where did I go (both good and bad) that I never imagined myself going? How did it change me?

Then today something else happened that hurled me years and years into my past.

I met someone- well didn’t meet, more met again. When I introduced myself she instantly remembered me- we were roommates and friends in the hospital together when I was 12.

That was over ten years ago, and the first time (of over 15) I was put in a psychiatric hospital.
At that point in my life, it was one of the most profound experiences I’d ever had. So much happened in those 7 months (it was technically 3 separate stays, but with only a few days of being discharged in between) that shaped and transformed me.

I cannot help but find myself entombed in thoughts and memories. Reminiscing about a time in my life that was both incredibly painful, scary, and difficult; but also comfortable, safe, and sometimes even very happy. These memories are similar to falling in a rose bush. I’m surrounded by beautiful flowers, and covered in wounds. I feel a small light in my stomach, but enclosed within a deep pit full of sadness.

And then I begin to think about what happened after I left the hospital.

From there my life fell apart.
From there my journey with mental illness began; and has not ended since.
And from there I grew and changed in many ways- both good and bad.

From memories of my first hospitalization, come painful memories of all that ensued afterward; essentially my entire family falling apart both separately and together over a period of 5 years.
What each tragedy encompassed.
How it felt, and I don’t just remember the feeling, I experience it.

I am once again a 14 year old girl stuffing 200 pills down her throat.

Then, I am 16 years old, saying “no” to a 24 year old man, who was too high to listen.
I am 17 years old and waking up from a coma after a suicide attempt I don’t remember making, because all the seizures that resulted from it damaged my memory.
Again and again I am experiencing the traumas I left behind years ago.

And it’s like being beaten with a bat.
I cannot catch my breath enough to beg for it to stop.

Where am I in time and how do I find my way back here?

How do I accept all that’s happened and the place I’m at now when all I want to do I reject it and bury my mind in a deep pit of sand?

It’s so strange how things continue to change at such a rapid pace. It’s all the time and we have no say as to whether or not it happens. Against our will we are under a constant transformation that will only cease to exist when we do.

How do I swallow the fact that I once wanted to die?
That many times I tried to kill myself?
That I hurt myself every day for years?
How do I move forward knowing at one time in my life I would cry thinking about how much I hated myself?
And that at one time I was a teenager and watching my life crumble before me; terrified and powerless.

I ask how do I do this because really, it wasn’t that long ago. And really, I’m still the same person.

Except now I have a daughter and life and set of responsibilities that I was never supposed to have.  I was never supposed to be here. I don’t think I ever planned on being 22.
Yet against my own will, transformations occurred. And somehow, without my knowledge or consent, I began to get better.

What about the times that that old, familiar dark place seems most comfortable?

It’s funny how small things can begin large, unmanageable spirals. Like hearing a song, or smelling something vaguely familiar. And how simple things, like writing this blog post can begin to bring me back into realignment- even if it’s without my consent or intent.

I come back to a place of normalcy where I remember that sadness is not safety. And that I’m no longer a child, and no longer without control or power.

And most importantly, I am responsible for a little girl. Who needs me and wants me. And it’s my job to be there for her, and be good to her. And I promise to her, and myself, and the entire universe that I will not fail her and I will always try as hard as I can to be what she needs.

Trying to be perfect in an imperfect world

I am a perfectionist.

 

Many people may believe that perfectionism is a good quality to have. Yet those who live with unrealistic standards and crippling anxiety understand the plight of someone who sets standards they cannot possibly reach, and the sorrow of the continuous failure and disappointment they must deal with when they believe everything must always be perfect. This is what it feels like to be a perfectionist…

When I was a little girl, I had so many ideas about what my life was supposed to be like. I thought everything had to be perfect; especially me. I had a carefully arranged and thoroughly thought out plan of what perfect was. When things deviated from that, I fell apart.
As I got older, it became harder and harder to live up to the expectations I had created for myself. People rarely lived up to my ideals. Slowly, this began to break me.
It was strange, the way I fell apart; in many ways, my demise was self-created. Yet, even with a sense of recognition, I could not stop myself. It was a cycle that I had made with my own two hands, stepped in willingly, but could not find the strength to jump out of. My brain had begun to betray me at a young age and has not stopped since.

I remember being in Elementary school, and deciding quite concretely what it took to be ‘successful’, which was synonymous with being ‘good enough’.

I had to get good grades, which meant I had to get all A’s because being good enough wasn’t good enough and in order to succeed, I had to be the best. When I graduated High School with my perfect grades, I had to go to college. But not just college; I had to go to Harvard. I had to follow the expectations I had set, and thrive within the pressure cooker I had built around myself. If I faltered in even small ways, it was a massive, unforgivable failure on my part. And worse than failure was being a disappointment, which was, by all means, the absolute worst thing I could do.

Unfortunately, the world did not follow the standards I expected it to, and I felt powerless to change it. I could not stop my mom from dropping me off to school late every single day, yet I still cried like a baby and yelled that I would never go to college if I couldn’t get to second grade on time. People would put things back in the ‘wrong’ place, and I would crumble. I, like everyone in the world, would lose control constantly. Yet, unlike the rest of my peers, I seemed unable to swallow this and move forward without first falling to the floor in a puddle of tears, or hitting my head against a wall, or screaming and screaming until my little lungs cracked and burned.
As I got older, I began to reason that if things were imperfect, out of my control, or lower than my standards, that rather than accepting the loss of control and disappointment, I would willingly fail. Willingly handing over my power was easier than having it fall from my grip, despite my efforts.

Now, I am no longer a little girl.

I still struggle with the expectation of perfection I unconsciously set for myself. Yet, consciously I fight the notion and try to set new standards.
If I ever spoke to Willow the way I used to speak to myself, my heart would shatter into a million pieces. If she ever spoke to or thought of herself in the way I used to think of myself, I don’t believe I could carry the sadness that would veil my heart. So instead of teaching her to love herself, I will learn how to love myself. She will watch her mom be kind and forgiving to herself, see how she accepts the ebbs and flows of life, and witness her open her palms to the universe to receive what is handed to her. And with time, she too will do the same.

perfectionist

My mom and me in my Great Aunts’ house in Jacksonville, FL.

perfectionist

Me, in my favorite hat

perfectionist

My anxiety due to the high standards I constantly set for myself peaked in my freshman year of High School

perfectionist

My beautiful daughter, who is and will always be perfect simply for being herself

What’s your dream job?

What is your dream job? Remember in elementary school when someone asked what you wanted to be and nothing held you back? Lawyer, astronaut, president, doctor, princess, firefighter; anything seemed possible at that time in our lives.
All throughout middle school and the beginning of high school, I used to dream about being a pediatric oncologist. Then, I slowly but surely stopped believing in myself. I convinced myself that that was not possible. I told myself I wasn’t smart enough, didn’t have enough time or money for school, wasn’t good at school, etc.
So, what is you REAL dream job? Is it still your goal? If not, why?
What’s holding you back from reaching your dreams?

Guilt, Anxiety, and Fear: Motherhood

When I wake up it starts.

I probably didn’t sleep very well- or maybe I did and I wanted to sleep longer.
I probably got woken up a few times last night to nurse you back to sleep. There were probably a few times you were restless and tossed and turned while you tried to get comfortable.

Guilt;
I remember being woken up over and over again, exhaustion, panic because I know I’m tired and need so much more sleep than I will get. Frustrated because I so desperately want to sleep as peacefully as I imagine you do. Anger because I cannot and anticipation of how exhausted I will feel in the morning.

Fear of never being able to sleep again.

Dread;
I dread waking up in this place, putting you in daycare, being alive and monotonously going through the day.

Collapsing into a puddle, I break, I lose my patience. I’m not fully awake and not fully human. Maybe I harshly say,
“stop.”
Or angrily beg you to go back to sleep. Or worse, maybe I just lay there, don’t look at you or talk to you, just sit in a heaping puddle of uncomfortable emotions.

When I wake up, probably a little while before you did, a realization comes to me as I see how beautiful and peaceful you are. I realize the impatience that took over me hours earlier.

I’m a terrible mother- a terrible person, in fact.

I lost my patience. I scared you, upset you, and damaged you. An intense wave of sadness covers me and I feel desperate to go backward in time. A pit grows in my stomach as I know I cannot do that and must only go forwards. I want to hold you, I want to cry, I want to be perfect for you and I want to be happy with you always.

Regret, fear, dread, anger, exhaustion, guilt, sadness.
Over and over again, every day.

I wonder what I am doing wrong. There are many, many things I know; many mistakes. I wonder how much they are damaging you, and in what ways.
I want to fix them all- be perfect and wonderful and exactly what you need and want. But when I try to think of my wrong-doings I cannot pinpoint them all.
It’s looking for hay in a haystack- it’s all there and it’s all the same, and it’s all wrong. I can hardly do anything right for you. Maybe I do what I believe is good, but soon I will find it is, in fact, wrong. I have hurt or damaged you in some unknown, and therefore gigantic, way. Worst of all, I cannot take any of it back.

Paralyzed with fear but continuously pushed forward by the current of life.
I’m stuck in a riptide.

But my love for you grows each day. It’s a painful love that fills me simultaneously with joy, and a deep despair and fear.
I wonder about all the things I must prevent. All the possibilities. So much can go wrong. So many scary, seemingly unpreventable things swirling around us in this world. I want to protect you but fear I cannot.

I feel out of control.

But then a beautiful day happens.
You grab my checks with two soft, warm hands and look into my eyes.
Or you crawl to me, laugh, kiss me.
You let me hold you and hug you and you hold me back.
And for a moment, my fears melt away, so that I’m standing in a deep puddle, soaking wet but dripping dry. We stand alone in the dark for a moment, and my brain gives me time to love you in peace.

I realize that these moments can grow. That if I make myself a farmer and equip myself with fertilizer and pesticides and gain the knowledge to grow a garden that we can be happy. I can rake out sadness and anxiety to make room for big, bright, beautiful happiness.

I will call myself a farmer and you will be my seeds, my water, and my sun.

Faith-it Till You Make It

Time for me to switch up my usual story-writing technique and just give you guys the unfiltered version of Ally today. Not to say I’m not authentic in my other posts, but today it’s time to just tell it like it is. P.s. Why am I defending myself? The struggle of a self-esteem/anxiety issue is real, man. Ugh, anyways…

Have you ever heard of the term, fake-it till you make it?

As much as I feel as if I do that, it doesn’t sit right with me…

I’m not faking. I’m not good at faking. Why do I have to fake anything? Why can’t I just be?

So what is it that I’m feeling? Am I just putting on a good face? Am I simply putting aside my stuff so that I can focus at my task in front of me?

Or am I practicing faith?

Yeah, faith. That’s it.

I’m holding onto the faith that I will get through whatever feeling or situation is at hand. I’m “faithing-it till I make it”

Today is Wednesday and on Saturday, I will have two years in recovery. This is the longest time that I have ever been able to maintain my recovery since experimenting and abusing substances.

YAYYYY, right? Well, yeah, but it hasn’t been so “yay” for me lately.

So as many of you know, The Monkey is my addiction talking. He definitely has a love-hate relationship with anniversaries.

He loves to use them to try to stop them from even existing.
He loves to try to convince me that they are not worth celebrating.
He loves to try to use them as an opportunity to prey on my weaknesses.
He hates when I celebrate them, he hates when I continue in my recovery. And he hates when I don’t fall.

Literally for the past few weeks I have been overwhelmed. Someone had told me that it’s really common around the time for a recovery anniversary to be feeling this way. I’m definitely not some singled-out person, but MAN, it’s been difficult.

Let’s start with school. (pause: I’m already fighting the good fight by staying in school. Ally 1, Monkey 0)

Since I’m studying to be a Drug and Alcohol Recovery Counselor, take a wild guess of what I learn throughout the day: Drugs. People using drugs. How people use drugs (yes, actual videos and images of people getting high).

I can either have the perspective of:
A) Wow I’m so glad that’s not me anymore, I can’t wait to go out there and help people!
B) I could totally do that and no one would know.

You guys all know which perspective came from The Monkey right?

I was able to shake that off. I’m not gunna lie though, it was tough. EVERYTHING HAS BEEN EXTRA DIFFICULT THESE PAST FEW WEEKS. I mean, after watching a video of a young girl shoot up heroin (aka me two years ago), you’d think I would be like eww… but The Monkey, my addiction, wants me to focus on the head nod the girl gets, the way her eyes close as she falls into a world of relaxation and calmness.

Thank God (really, thank you Jesus) I focused more on the other parts of the video: the part where she couldn’t get a vein, the part where she was dripping with sweat and her hand was shaking when trying to inject because she was in deep withdrawal, the part where she sold her body to purchase the dope, the part where she waited hours for the drug dealer. Those parts kept me sober. (Ally 2, Monkey 0)

Work has been fine. Work is always great actually. My supervisor snuck a sweet cheering-me-on message on my calendar for me. My co-worker is encouraging me to celebrate. My colleagues are congratulating me. Speeches have been a bit tough. Standing in front of hundreds of people trying to make recovery look happy is difficult when deep inside you have The Monkey screaming at you saying, “YOU AREN’T SH*T!!!!!”

But remember what I said before, I’m Faithing-it till I make it.

Social life/home life: My family is the best, they really are. My mom was so empathetic towards me when I told her how much pressure I feel like I’m under. My dad is his usual uplifting spiritual self. My friends are great, the few I have (ew, did you hear that passive aggressive complaining I just did, smh!). Not gunna lie, I’ve been a hibernating bear lately. But I like to call it self-care. Cozied up in my super cozy-themed room watching a show with snacks (specifically Smartfood Popcorn falling into my shirt) and my furry son Pete, is literally the best.

But, I’ve definitely been extra cranky. Definitely snappy. Definitely rude.

I’m so sorry to anyone I’ve been cancelling plans with and have been snappy and sassy and just straight up evil towards.

Well, phew, that was quite the venting paragraphs.

If you skipped over a lot, here’s where you want to pick back up.

Those moments I’m feeling: overwhelmed, agitated, hateful, pressured, not good enough, worthless, useless, hopeless, and filled with sorrow…

I have to stop and think, “is this from God?”

It isn’t.

But God, I feel like this because blah blah blah blah blah”

Again, no matter how justified I am in a worldly sense of my feeling, God’s not giving me that.

He may allow it, but, what the enemy meant for evil, God allowed for good. (Genesis 50:20)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)

“But God WHYYYYYY why do I have to feel like this?! It’s overwhelming, I can’t do it, I’m going to break” – said me, billions of times.

Because no matter what, God is always good. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The same “good God” that I claimed He was when He lifted me up, held me tight, grasped my hand to guide me, and blessed me with recovery (and a job, school, family, food, shelter, etc) ….

Is the same “good God” that is allowing me to go through this trial, this temptation, this discouragement. When I am weak, He is strong. “Greater is He in me than in the World” (1 John 4:4)

But how do I see His goodness, when I’m being proud by being selfish and consumed with my own stuff, struggling to get through even just the seconds of the day?

Faith, humility.

(and sometimes mixed with some of my stubbornness because I’m not perfect)

God allows storms in our lives for so many reasons. Some we may never know, but some become known in ways we would never have imagined.

I never thought that my addiction and all the pain that came along with it, was going to happen to me so that I can help someone else.

I have to remember that these feelings that I hold onto don’t need to be stuck on me. I can give them to God and hold onto the faith that He will get me through them.

I thank God that He always, always gets me through every temptation, trial, barrier, and harmful feelings. He’s in the healing business, not hurting.

So as my two year anniversary is a few days away, I’m gunna continue to faith-it till I make it, because that’s truth, that authenticity.

Faking something doesn’t seem right, because you are really doing it, even if it’s just externally or even internally.

No matter how many different ways my addiction tries to stop my anniversary, recovery has a different plan.

Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
Hebrews 11:1

2017 Summer Fest

Hey guys!

I noticed that the YAZBIZ 2017 Summer Fest is this Friday! I won’t be able to join in on the fun because I’ll be attending the 2017 Alternatives Conference in Boston, MA, which I’ll be sure to tell you guys all about that.

For now, I would love to know if any of you are going? If you are, please take some pictures for me and send them over!

I hope everyone has a wonderful time!

summerfest

Woman’s Journey Supporting Her Husband with PTSD

Our newest story comes from a young woman who talks about her journey supporting her husband with PTSD. Learn what it is like to support people through recovery and how she has coped despite the many challenges. This is an important topic for Family Support Month. For many of us, family is the most important element throughout our recovery.

Read her story here:

Helping My Husband to Cope With PTSD

How does your family support you?