The Cycle Ends with Me: Part One, On Paper

*I have wanted to share on this topic for a looooong time and realized in finally starting this piece that it has grown substantially from when I initially began making notes a couple of years ago, so l feel it will probably come across better in a couple sections rather than one giant post. ūüėČ

“Here’s the best news for you all here today: This cycle of unhealthy behavior ends now. The cycle is over with you. By being here you are choosing to learn, grow, change, and do better for yourself, your children, and future generations of your family.”

I heard that statement almost five years ago at a family weekend in Florida (get the deets on that fun time here) and it was a truly pivotal moment in my life. I sat there, dumbfounded at first, then feeling like I had a major job to do and that I had complete it all immediately so as not to screw up my not-even-a-thought-at-that-time, un-conceived, unborn child. The hurricane in my head was approaching a Category 5; it was up to CHAD and ME to stop all this madness?! Sweet Jesus, we could barely function as independent adults at this point in time let alone save all future generations from mental chaos, addiction, and crazy train behaviors. Yet I couldn’t erase those words from my brain, they were etched, and I knew I was forever not the same person I had grown into over the past 29 years. I understood there was a daunting, massive task at hand, one  I had no clue how to start tackling., yet more importantly, I finally felt shitty enough and was definitely ready for a self-overhaul, so I was prepared to dive right in. I also vowed to myself then and there that I wouldn’t pass by shit baggage onto my child or continue spewing it out into the world in general.

Fast-forward a few months to when I started really looking at my behaviors, desires, motivations, intentions, and so forth; what is referred to by many program peeps as, “Taking My 4th Step Inventory” (searchingly and fearlessly done of course). This was weird, uncomfortable, embarrassing, and eye-opening all at the same time. In a nutshell, I looked at myself from a variety of angles to see what events made me the way I was, additionally to start figuring out reasons behind those areas I felt stuck or gross about.  It gave me fairly clear insight, and  I quickly realized most of “me” beyond my curls and booty came from my parents’ own personalities and behaviors. Definitely not a bad thing, just never really occurred to me prior to this self inquisition.

*Now, let me state before I continue that my parents are awesome. I am incredibly lucky to have them in my life and to have had them raise me, I absolutely never did or will ever take them for granted. There were simply  aspects of myself I didn’t honestly like, therefore chose to change well into adulthood. This is NOT some whiny a-hole, ungrateful child rant about how my parents messed me all up and now poor me has to un-f*ck herself (the empath I am needed my parents to know that).

This was not an overnight process. It took months of intense questioning, honest answering, and getting real about my not great behaviors such as, “Why do I always make fun of others for a laugh?” or “Where does this fiery rage come from out of nowhere?!” I mainly used Blueprint for Progress: 4th Step Inventory (with my sponsor) along with Love is a Choice  + the workbook to help guide me and make sure ALL the wonderfully intimate and painful questions were asked and addressed. There was a plethora of reading, writing, and discussion (with actual people and myself) involved and I honestly am still working on it til this day, especially since becoming a mom and being hyper-aware of my interactions with and my direct influence on Andy (that’s part two).  Now, I don’t want to paint this black picture of  self-loathing doom, it’s not about, “Damn, I really hate myself, I need to change,” more of, “This behavior just doesn’t feel cool with me anymore, let me see ‘the why’ and how to not do it anymore”. If you haven’t done a 4th step and are curious, just Google “4th Step Inventory” and try some of the worksheets that pop up, then you’ll get a better feel for what I am trying to put into words.

Although it would be juicy and entertainingly humiliating, I am not going to publish my 4th Step journals for all to see. I am all about being open and sharing for the greater good, however some things simply need to be kept sacred in my world. What I will share is that I was angry for a minute at my parents because they “made me” anxious, scared, cynical, an insecure-egoist, angry, and jealous-to name a few. I could see clear as day ongoing events or repeated behaviors that passed those negative traits onto me as a child, and recall thinking, “Wow, I will never, ever do/be like that!” then Bam!, there I was repeating the cycle of behavior as a young adult. I then heard something that shifted my perspective, “My parents did the best they knew how to do, they didn’t know any better.” Well damn. Guilt washed away the anger, which eventually gave way to understanding and a type of forgiveness, then finally circled back to gratitude which is where I am today. My parents did what they knew and thought was best for Chad and I, that is something I now respect rather than resent. I can still see those traits I changed in myself  in my parents, but today I can appreciate even the negative ones (albeit at times I get annoyed and frustrated) along with the amazing ones such as kindness, empathy, selflessness, strong work ethic, and humor.

My mum has come a long way on her own journey of understanding and self change over the past few years, which has been great to witness from a grown child’s point of view, and that I get to see her put into practice with not only Chad and I, but Andy as well. It is cool discussing books and sharing articles of common interest along with some meditation techniques or whatever it may be; we have that common ground of being our best us and sharing that with others. Which is where I will end off on for today. All my “self discovery” and transformations appear really fab on paper and I know long-time, close friends see a difference, but now to implement this “Cycle Ending” in real life aka entering motherhood and taking plan into practice aka not messing up my son…

Be Good, Do Good.

~Chelsea

 

 

 

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Posted in addiction, family addiction, family recovery, mental health, recovery, self discovery, self help, self improvement, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Can’t Hope Him Sober

Hope is strong. It has the power to push a lost person onward to face another day, bring a broken soul back from the cusp of death, or be that life raft when it feels like things are at the absolute worst. Hope is magical and powerful, yet hope alone cannot change the world. I can hope all day long for everyone I love, but in the end my hope cannot cure a disease; it cannot fix all that is fractured inside someone’s mind and soul. But if I get frustrated or angry and let go of hope, then what do I have left? My answer is simple: not a whole lot.

Chad has not been great for the past few months. He is at a crossroads in his life, one I can only understand to a certain degree, but that I can feel down into the pit of my stomach. So many lies. So many excuses. So much chaos and confusion. It is a battle of his own making, a storm of his own creation. It is frustrating to watch, but as I’ve mentioned before I cannot and will not give up on him.

I text him almost everyday: Hope today was alright. ‚̧

And I really do mean it. I am not trying to be sneaky and use it as a bait text to see if he responds, guilty of that many times in the past, but to truly let him know I am here and I am not going anywhere. I mention him every morning and night in my talks with my HP, and not the old: Dear God, please make Chad get sober like for real this time! I’ll go to church and be good. Thanks, Chelsea.

It is just more sending energy his way, letting him know people are still pulling for him no matter how much he may act like an a-hole when he is using. This is also a way for me to keep my Hope Muscle swole. If I give up optimism in his sobriety, I give up on his life in my eyes. He turned 29 last week which is far more years than too many of these young kids get to see who are losing their life on the daily to drugs. I do honestly feel, and he knows it too, that his purpose is to be of service to young people in recovery. He shines his absolute brightest when he is sponsoring and walking the walk of his program. He is happy, joyous, and free. I choose to keep that Chad in my mind, with a promise to see that person resurface once more in the near future, and stay that way for his life.

My hope is also something which is constantly challenged. By everyday people and events, to the real, raw, major issues facing our country and the world as a whole. I sincerely cannot watch the local news because it makes my head spin off the track, that was simply a choice I made for myself awhile back. It doesn’t mean I bury my head in the sand; reading the news gives me far less anxiety, so I travel that route instead. Yet I digress, so bringing it back down to my tiny life bubble, Chad challenges my hope all the time. My brain has a far easier time seeing me speak his eulogy than celebrating at his wedding. That kills me. I hate it with absolute conviction. However, I also know that is not my true belief, rather that f*cker fear trying to cripple me and snatch my positive mindset.

So what to do when my hope thread is threatened? I used to cry some, maybe leave my hope by the side of the road for a bit, get a ‘lil angry. Sometimes that is still the tempting behavior, but mostly these days I just take a few deep breaths, close my eyes, and picture Chad the way I wish he will find himself again. That big smile, bright eyes, and a heart bigger than the Grinch’s on Christmas Day. So full of life and (you guessed it!) HOPE. Plus, my mum finishing up every discussion/text we share about him with, “I just am going to keep hope.” which helps to keep its place it in the front of my mind.

I know my mum and I’s hope is not enough to keep him sober, nothing is except himself wanting to live that way, but I’ve also lived and learned that existing in hope far exceeds being hopeless. That is a sad, black hole feeling of endless despair. Plus, I would be crying so much it would be totally draining, it’s absolute misery. A life I cannot lead, especially now being a role model for Andy.

I always liked this quote by Richard Paul Evens, “It is often in the darkest skies that we see the brightest stars.” That little optimist in me agrees and also prefers that sparkly light at the end of the tunnel, and understand without the darkness of the surrounding underpass, guess there would be no light to see. I have told Chad, “I have seen you turn your entire life around in less than two weeks, you know exactly what to do if you choose to do it.” Today at least, I choose to not let the darkness of addiction rob me of my dream for Chad living a happy life.

I will keep hope for you, brother, because at this point there is nothing else I can do. Know that you are loved, regardless of what you do or have done, and that I am cheering from your corner of the ring. You just have to want to continue the fight for yourself. Whether it be celebrating your life if this disease does end up taking you, or toasting you at your wedding (clearly with sparkling cider) I will forever credit you with showing me how to live in hope, the true power it holds, and how to muster up the courage to find it again if I let it go. You’ve done more for me than you may ever know, even if you are a giant turd at times, I am incredibly grateful for the gift of eternal optimism and promise.

To anyone else struggling: keep ahold of that hope, even if it is only by the tiniest thread left. Days will get better, believe that, work for it, and see that light at the end of the proverbial tunnel. We are all worth it.

Be Good, Do Good.

-Chelsea

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Piss Off, Perfect

Perfect. Perfection. Perfectionism. Perfectionist. What do these words conjure up in your head? For me, it is mainly peoples’ faces, going waaay back to First Grade. The “perfect” work was the only student work hung on the bulletin board, and it was almost always the same three kids receiving the honors. I wanted to rip their papers to shreds because my content was awesome, but my coloring, notsomuch. Isn’t it crazy that I can remember not feeling “perfect” enough at the age of six?! I can still see jaded Little Chelsea, “Well damn, guess my mom has to do my work for me too so it can get on the board!” I hated “perfect”. It pissed me off because it just felt so concocted, even from that early age I strongly associated perfection with being fake. And yet, I strived for it in every area of my life, every damn day. I wanted to be an elite, one of the untouchables; followed and admired by all. One of the Perfects.

So I am not going to drudge you through my entire timeline of perfection, that would definitely be a novella, albeit an interesting one, rather I want to jump straight to the recent past and how my quest ended up being nothing short of exhausting, deflating, and a serious waste of days (also how it took me almost 30 years to finally figure that out).

My latest adventure in life has been becoming a mom. I shared awhile back that I was diagnosed with Adjustment Disorder about six months after Andy was born. I seriously could not get my shit together no matter how hard I tried. But guess what, if you didn’t know, you never would have because I kept up that persona of perfection until I damn near went nuts. I was not ok some days. I resigned from teaching. ¬†I was still chubby a year after Andy was born. I ate a lot of McDonald’s those first six months, and it was glorious. I didn’t connect to Andy until he was a few months old. He didn’t do enough Tummy Time every day. And the list could go on and on and on, but you get my point. I had literally worn myself down to the point of ¬†tears and anxiety because I failed at being perfect in my eyes (keep in mind not a single person ever said anything negative to me). Then, a ¬†pivotal moment with my perfection demon came back in December at a place where magic moments always happen…Target.

Andy and I were in the holiday decor section, we were strolling around picking out his yearly ornament (that’s the best, amiright?!). I was holding up animals, colorful shapes to all of which he replied, “No!” I am looking over at the next display when I hear, “Fries!” Sweet Jesus. My year and a half old son just correctly identified an ornament that looked like a box of fries from McD’s. I seriously just stood there, then started laughing ridiculously loud. I knew that moment came straight from my HP as a way of saying, “Yo, chill the eff out. You make things way too hard on yourself. Ease up, crazypants.” So of course I grabbed the red fry box off the tree display and gave it to him, after which he immediately proceeded to stick the felt fries to his mouth and pantomimed eating them *insert face palm emoji here*. ¬†I knew I had a choice in that moment: continue on chasing “perfect” (read: phony and drained) or accept that sometimes, yep, my kid eats fries and guess what, we’re still all in one piece.

I then started to share more the actual realness of my life. That some days Andy does indeed eat breakfast with the cats, some weeks my floors do not get wiped down until a weird smell starts filling the air (same goes for my hair), and that, yes, when we occasionally go through the McD’s drive-thru (got that under control at least) he excitedly screams, “Fries!” from the back seat. This goes for real life and on social media. I post lots of cute pics, but I also post Andy eating said cat breakfast, or getting his second fat lip of the day, or me having carpet cleaners over and not realizing until they’ve left that I had stark white Purify mask on my zit. I also know that Andy will drink a damn juice box at a birthday party, that some days he probably watches waaay too much Daniel Tiger, and that I have indeed gotten short with him some days if I am too tired, or hungry, or distracted worrying about my brother (have to remember to put me first). ¬†But I know accepting things and loosening up my control (perception of perfection) has been beyond beneficial for everyone in my house. I don’t feel obligated to something so unattainable anymore (seriously what is perfection anyway?!) and I am not setting myself up for failure and self-disappointment which triggers that entire cycle of anxiety and depression allll over again. It was no way for me to continue living and I had been doing it for almost 30 years without ever really realizing it.¬†It was such a freeing change for me.

I love the slogan, “Progress not Perfection.” I heard that in Al-Anon from day one and use it almost every day. And who knows, maybe those kids in First Grade had to sit at their kitchen table and color those pages while they were yelled at by their parents, while ¬†I rode my bike carefree around the neighborhood with my friends. It’s all about perception and priorities and the end of my day. ¬†The great part is I get to choose if I want to put on a bogus production daily so people will think I am amazing and want to be me, or I can be relaxed and real. And just freaking be. Love me for who I am and not really give a hoot about what anyone thinks about me or the things I do. Don’t get me wrong, I still have days when I feel less than spectacular and it is tempting to beat myself up or let that little voice say, “You suck.” But I look at how far I’ve come and remember that to Andy and Dan (and my pets lol) ¬†I am more than enough even on my shittiest of days. Becoming a parent has been such a gift in so many painfully beautiful ways. Andy is one of the best teachers I have ever had and I can’t wait to see what else he has in store for me.

-Be Good, Do Good

Chelsea

 

 

 

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2nd Annual Recovery Gift Guide: Still Don’t Give Me Cash

Happy Joyful December! The holidays are officially in full swing, and of course I am still shopping for my friends and family, unlike some of you who were done in July (no, seriously, these people really do exist!).  And can you believe it, I actually have stuck something out long enough to have a 2nd Annual of it, pop the sparkling cider, woopwoop! My tiny world celebration aside, gift giving is something I take very seriously. I absolutely adore showering friends and family with random present nuggets throughout the year, but really do try to step out of my gift card zone and give something extra-special at the holidays.

There is also a bit of different gifting etiquette for people in recovery, if you’ve attended any sort of family day/weekend you already know what I am talking about! But for those of you who missed last year’s gift guide with some tips for gifting your loved ones in recovery, you can take a peek here, and without further adieu I present the 2016 Recovery Gift Guide (it’s the 2nd Annual one, did I mention that?!). Please remember, gifting for yourself as you’re shopping for others is highly encouraged, and has been shown to decrease stress and improve overall happiness during the holidays. I absolutely made those stats up, enjoy!

* I follow all of these small businesses on Instagram because I think they have  great products and personal stories, however I am NOT getting any sort of kick back from their being featured; the books are just some personal favorites that have shone some good light for me.

A Little of This, a Little of That

This category is made up of a few online stores that carry a variety of items from rhinestone medallions to tees and everything in between. You can really find anything for anyone on these sites, and probably a lot of stuff for yourself as well #guilty.

Mindful Gifts carries a lovely collection of items inspired by the beauty and tranquility of the Buddhist religion. Anyone who is heavily meditated will appreciate the simple designs, soft colors, and flow of the clothing, jewelry, and home decor. They also have some great bowls, meditation seats, and statues to complete any Zen Den. Their book selection is focused on the awesome, life-changing art of being present from some of the masters themselves.

Aster Market¬†offers delightful pre-made gift boxes as well as the ability to “curate a custom box” of your own theme. I’d actually like to create a box for myself with all the ala carte items! They are way my style with vintage-inspired designs, lots of gold, beauty products, and a few sweet treats. It’s not all girly and flowery, however there are a handful of items that could make a more masculine or less pink creation. They make it look all pretty too, bonus, you don’t have to!

The Latest Thing¬†you’ll be greeted on this page by brilliantly colored rhinestone encrusted medallions, yes I spent 20 minutes perusing the medallions alone, along with tons of categories filled with recovery-themed goodness. God boxes, and books, and mugs-oh my! Seriously, give yourself at least an hour to peruse this fun store. This one is definitely a one-stop recovery gift shop you can patron (legally) in only your underwear!

All That Glitters

Clearly, this needed to be a category on a gift guide created by your truly, but don’t fret, I do attend SA meetings regularly for my addiction. These shops offer pretty much anything for the sparkle lover in your life.

The Crystal Fairies is pure magic. I could scroll through their stones all day, I also love their manicures, but I digress! Many people believe in the powerful properties associated with stones and crystals and use them for protection, to attract desires, health, and so forth. I admit my attraction has always been for their sheer beauty (I even grew my own crystals once), but I have become more interested in using stones in my daily life more recently. On their Instagram account they post videos of the stones so you can really see their stunning colors and textures as well as post stones up for auction that are not on their website. Plus, if you need to reach out to customer service you email The Crystal Fairy. How fun is that?! These delights are a must for the crystal fairies in your life!

Bracelets by Linda is full of super-cool, hand-stamped copper and aluminum designs including much more than bracelets alone. She creates pendants, money clips, bookmarks and more. I think my favorite item is the stamped collar stays; such a unique way to keep something special close to you without wearing jewelry. You can choose one of her pre-made pieces from her shop, or message the artist to customize. This is just one of MANY fantastic small businesses offering recovery items on Etsy, there are tons of them to browse.

Exaltation¬†is another awesome Etsy gem chock-full of spiritual goodies! The owner does all the work herself, love her description, “Designs to uplift, express, inspire, & empower.” When you look, you’ll feel all of those feels I am pretty certain! Her designs have a very water color feel, lots of vibrant hues on stark white canvas; I am a huge fan! She creates jewelry, yoga leggings, mugs, pillows, and more. The molecule necklaces are one of the most interesting, creative items I have seen in a long time!

Get Gifts, Give Back 

Shopping and giving are fun, but donating to a worthy cause with your purchases is true win-win in my book. There are a multitude of these movement-based options out there, these three just caught my attention recently so wanted to share. Love how something so simple can help so many!

The Shine Project¬†will more than likely¬†bring tears of humanity joy to your lovely eyes. My eyes and heart most definitely swelled reading about this spectacular non-prof’s journey and success over the past few years. I won’t share the entire story here, it’s on the site, but it was basically a single human wanting more for her fellow humans and doing something about it. What started out as seeing a need, then putting a plan into action has snowballed into a huge mound of education and opportunity for many special young people; what a movement! A selection of simple, delicate jewelry pieces all made by hand by the students, along with a few super cute tees is what you can purchase to support; the kids work in all aspects of the business from customer service to design as well. Simply phenomenal.

Link of Hearts¬†is on a mission to connect people and let everyone suffering from mental illness know they are loved and valued. There are only 35 products in total, but the idea behind this movement is very powerful; hope. You can choose from very simple word tag jewelry, a few gem bracelets, and non-toxic candles aptly named “jars of goodness”. Your purchase will then spark the giving of an inspirational word tag piece to someone who suffers letting them know they are not alone. The story behind this movement is fantastic as well; the creator suffered, fought the good fight, then decided to pass the message of hope onto others showing once again no act is too small and that there are many like-minded people out there who want to come together for a common cause.

Little Gems USA¬†is the spot to go if you like a little more bling with your giving back. Their pieces feature gorgeous stones in an array of hues along with a few sterling and stone pieces. 50% of your purchase will go back to a charity focusing specifically on the safety and well-being of women and children; some are U.S. based and some are in other countries, and all are worthy causes (they break down the donations for you in their “How it Works” section). Total side note, shop now because they have a crazy killer sale on!

Recover Out Loud

Terminally Unique Apparel¬†is a graphic tee-shirt purveyor, dedicated to the idea that humor is essential in recovery! Based in Southern California, run by a handful of nuts, we invite you to join our less-than-glum lot!” ¬†I couldn’t have said it any better or with more wit, so why reinvent the wheel! I discovered this company via Instagram and have lost track of the amount of times I have tagged Chad on one of their new designs. These cheeky tees are for your recoveree who is not afraid to let his/her AA/NA flag fly, also who is more than likely a pretty fantastic smart ass. I appreciate the creativity and humor behind the designs, additionally that they keep their designs black/white without 500 options to confuse my brain.

New Lyfe Clothing  Co.  also offers tops for your favorite recoveree, some of these could also go for any type of recovery (Fear is a Liar had my attention) not exclusive to AA/NA. They have graphic design with pops of bright color, and some celebrity influence on a few (the plays on Bill W. cracked me up and pretty sure I needs that Jackie O. one!), also the more simple black/white statement tees. Also be sure to scoll down on the Home Page where they feature people in recovery making a difference in the world. Read their stories, get inspired, go forth and do good. #winning.

Colello Creations (Artist Jacqueline Colello)¬†are brilliantly colored, super unique, and created on sheer, raw talent. Jacqueline Colello “smeared” and “bejeweled” her first piece a mere three years ago, without even realizing her buried artistic talent until she was gifted with sobriety. I love, love her story, even more the glorious works she creates. The exaggerated characters and images are just so damn cool, lol, ¬†I am clearly not an art critic so I can’t put into words what I am trying to express! Take a read of her blog as well, it’s cool to watch her story unfold. You can also wear the artwork via tees and hoodies, Andy totes needs that Biggie Smalls one! She offers a fantastic price point for her prints and clothing, I can’t wait until I get my own home office to adorn with the badassness of ¬†Jacqueline’s work and other like-minded artists.

A Few Good Readzzzzz

Reading is good for you, mmmkay. Seriously though, there is nothing quite like a mind-opening/enriching read to make life that much better.

The Conscious Parent by Dr.Shefali has been my only parenting book to have read thus far. Admittedly, it was also my first, but was so incredibly powerful and eye-opening that I haven’t felt the need to pick up another (yet). My super zen, practitioner-of-the-present dental hygienist actually recommended it to me when I was still pregnant, I had never heard anyone mention it before. Mind. Blown. I don’t want to go into much detail, but if you are a parent, about to become one, or are planning to ever raise a tiny human, I HIGHLY suggest reading this book. Dr. Shefali is overall a spiritual/psychological genius, so I plan to read more of her work.¬†Oprah¬†is also a fan and proponent of Dr. Shefali’s work. So there you go.

Watch My Rising: A Recovery Anthology is actually extra-special to me as it includes my first published work. I submitted a piece (scary), it was accepted (yay!), and then promptly had my ass handed to me in editing (totally a good thing). It turned out to be a pretty dang good piece I must say (thank you, Lynn!). This anthology incluces 37 stories and poems touching on all angles of recovery; we joined as one voice to end the sigma associated with addiction and recovery. I am proud to say proceeds of this project go directly back to Recover Wyoming, an outstanding Recovery Community Organization (RCO) in my home state. They are doing wonderful things for the recovery community in Cheyenne, WY.

The Complete Conversations with God¬†¬†by Neale Donald Walsch has been suggested to me multiple times (hmmmm) yet I haven’t ordered it. It is on my Gifts to Me list as soon as I finish a few (yes, I read more than one at a time, terrible!) that are currently on my night stand. The women who have told me this is a must-read absolutely praise it’s existence; one I know from Al-Anon, the other is an active member of AA. Grab it for yourself, then we can read it together in the New Year! This is not new at all, by the way, it is 10 years old and apparently has even been made into a movie.

Nutrition Sheila¬†has been featured here many times as Sheila consistently produces extremely informative pieces on relevant topics all with her unique sense of humor and signature Stallone references. This link will take your to her 2016 Wellness Gift Guide Spectacular, which is freaking awesome! Told her I’ll take one of each item pleaseandthankyou. Also scroll down the page to find her 2016 Holiday Guide and fab eCourses to help you live healthy, as well all know the importance of nutrition’s part in overall wellness.

 

Hope you can find something to treat your near and dear ones (and yourself) this holiday season and throughout the year. I’d also be remiss not to mention taking care of your spiritual and physical health as a priceless gift to yourself and others; we like you and want you to stick around.¬†Alright, friends, that’s all she wrote (literally, I am tired)!

Be Good, Do Good

~Chelsea

 

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Bitch Won’t Kill My Vibe

I’ve worked pretty damn hard over the past four-ish years to get down with my Zen self. I used to be loud, rude, and mean because it was “funny” I guess; got me attention. Now that behavior makes me cringe, and I really have zero desire to spend time around anyone who acts that way. Most of the people not on the same path as me kind of fell off on their own, I didn’t have to do the proverbial “cleaning house” I notice on people’s facebook feeds. Then a new challenge moved to town a couple months ago…

*I first have to say I am not putting this out there to commiserate about annoying people in our lives, I just feel like I need to vent here a little in one of my safe spots.

Ever since I started chilling out and getting on the positive express, i.e. working out that list of character flaws: judgmental, arrogant, firey temper, and so on…I have noticed here and there that “old mes” pop up just to piss me off (totally not the purpose btw). It’s like they encompass all those negative traits and display them constantly. If it’s just some random person or acquaintance, there’s an easy solution: Bye. But what if it’s someone (ok, this a family member) that I can’t simply ignore or brush off? What’s a tranquility damsel to do as to not have her hard sought serenity snatched away by the cray?

Well, I have had to majorly start to tone and flex my “spiritual muscle” these past few months. I admit, it was something I wasn’t working as hard on as I didn’t have anyone in my life really that was stressing me out much (I have gotten dang good at eliminating the nutso!). I will also confess I was distressed months before this person actually arrived here, she is that bats in the belfry status. Which, as a prior insane woman I can understand and empathize with, however I made changes because I was A. sick of being psycho and B. needed to be better for Dan, then Andy. I’ve learned fast that being around it when you’ve left it is incredibly tough in and of itself, but add to that exposing Andy to the behaviors and my stress-o-meter had been hitting far too high for my comfort. We’re talking major anxiety in the guts when I know we’re seeing her, having mean/resentful thoughts, and being a shit to Dan because he’s my punching bag when I am on one. Sorry. I amends again, Dan. Basically, it’s been miserable, so I had a long, hard talk with myself on Saturday, and ultimately came to some conclusions.

1. I have to allow my Serenity to be taken.

Nobody, and I mean nobody can take anything from me if I don’t allow it. This person will not storm in and ravage my peaceful life unless I allow her to do so. I have already quickly learned that I am a delicate, peace-loving dewdrop who is easily thrown into a tailspin by certain harsh personalities, but I will not give them power. I will weather the family time storm and come out alive on the other end.

2. Dan and I are Andy’s biggest role models.

My mum actually told this to me multiple times during my mini freak-outs. She pointed out that a couple hours (at best) a week around this person is not going to mold Andy’s personality. Dan and I are the one he watches day in and day out, so we demonstrate how to be a good person. He will see and understand the difference between calm, nice behavior and erratic,¬†mean behavior. Kids are smart like that. I have to trust us more.

3. If I want something to change, I can change it.

This, where I am now, is not permanent, it will not be forever. I know and accept that right now, right here is where I am supposed to be. I can’t seen the purpose of being somewhere I do not love, but that is why I have to focus on the end result and have faith it will happen exactly as I desire. That’s #thesecret my friends, and I do see to believe. ¬†I will ¬†yank my focus back to what I want to happen rather than get stuck on hating what is currently happening.

4. I  MUST practice Gratitude.

I sincerely think most people aren’t bad or irritating because they want to be. They do all they know, how they were taught, and sometimes will never change. I have to allow gratitude to come in more often and focus on the positive aspects of people who bug me, rather than focus on all the crap they did that day to chap my ass (probably wasn’t even done “to me” in reality). At the end of the day, I get to choose if I am going to feel harmonious or horrid; my thoughts determine those feelings.

5. Just breath and hold my ground.

I do have to do some major breathing, even walking away, and that is a-ok. I also know that when I make a request as a parent and it’s blatantly disregarded that I can get firm and stand my ground. I will not be a doormat, that’s some Al-Anon sneaking in, because being a doormat sucks ass. My child, my call. Period. I have to keep some hope that eventually things will sink in, or else I’ll be a broken record and that’s annoying, but alright I suppose. I discovered another character defect is that I generally won’t stand up for myself (or I will by yelling), so silver lining is this is an excellent way to practice holding my own in a calm, respectful way.

6. Bitch Won’t Kill My Vibe.

I have a lot of really lovely, soothing mantras in my sanity Rolodex (lol, nobody uses those anymore so Idk where that came from), but sometimes shit has to get real. I doubt Kendrick and I are talking about the same things, but I think it’s in the neighborhood-ish that nobody is going to bust in and ruin our state of mind. So maybe that song will be my Game Time theme from now on, my locker room prep jam for when I need to chill out and not let anyone take my vibe.

Now, will every day be an awesome rainbow of calm? No. Will I still want to throw a throat punch at times? Probably. Most importantly, do I have to hate my life and waste it wishing away for something else and complaining? Hells no. Life is far too grand for that bad behavior, I am, “Too blessed to be stressed,” as the saying goes. I have to own that and live it despite any annoyances that come my way. That is my intention, now you all know too, so hold me accountable. ūüėČ

Be Good, Do Good

-Chelsea

 

 

 

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Love is the Answer

The morning of September 11, 2001 I was awoken by my T.V. alarm which happened to be tuned to CNN. I sat up and stared in disbelief at video footage of the first plane hitting the World Trade Center. I remember thinking it wasn’t real, there was no way, but my doubts were turned to brutal truths when I trekked down to campus and discovered my fellow students all glued to the closest T.V. screen watching in horror the news coverage of the unfolding events. I was still a naive, self-absorbed kid at that point in my life. I felt sad, a little scared, yet elated at the same time that classes were cancelled for the day.

As the years go by, the magnitude of that devastating day in our history weighs heavier on my heart. Spending 9/11 with my students over the past few years has made it more real. Watching the feelers like myself breaking into tears during the memorial videos on the school announcements, hearing their beautiful free writes in response to the 9/11 poem I use as a warm-up every year on this day, taking the entire block of class time to share, be sad, connect as humans, and not give a damn about whatever lesson I was “supposed” to teach that day. Having Andy, knowing he’ll learn about 9/11 in his Freshman History class, then come home and ask questions of Dan and me. Thinking our tiny world could come crashing down in a split second because of a hate-fueled act. Yet remembering the bravery displayed that day and the beautiful scenes of people binding together in a time of utter tragedy.

I feel the pain of the world when I watch the news and see violence, hatred, and disgusting behavior among the human race. When I see people ranting about some trivial shit, chastising other’s choices, getting worked up about stuff that doesn’t even matter in comparison to the core issues destroying our country it makes me want to scream (totally get it, Janet and Michael), “Quit fucking bitching, get off your ass, and DO SOMETHING!”. I know that I cannot and will not add to the drama, the nonsense, because that does nothing to help make any type of difference. I don’t write the knee-jerk responses that pop into my head, or post my opinions and outrage all over social media, rather I do something. It may be small acts in the grand scheme of things, but I feel good knowing I am at least trying to be a better person and maybe reach someone else along the way. It works for me.

There has just been so much going on lately where it seems we have lost site of this day fifteen years ago, of the war and atrocities that followed, of the social injustices and violence continuing to take place every day all across this country. I know I am a total do-gooder who simply wants people to freaking be nice, every day, not only when it’s trendy or in the face of tragedy. Who wants people to go out and educate themselves on the issues facing our country, then figure out a plan, and fight passionately to make some change rather than whine about it on Facebook (sorry, it’s been killing me lately!).

I know a lot of people brush me off as a dreamer, as some dumb girl who doesn’t know anything with totally unrealistic hopes of peace and unity. I also know there are just as many of you who have the same optimism, who get out there every damn day and do small things that make a huge difference. Who will keep going, continue to focus on the positive, and will make the country a place where we all feel safe, respected, and even loved by our fellow human. I honor you, always.

And I will remember everyday, not solely today, and have promise maybe you can do the same.

Be Good, Do Good

-Chelsea

 

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Seven Thieves of Joy

Happiness. Something that seems incredibly simple to attain, yet most people fail miserably on their contentment quests. I have found in analyzing my character traits and behavior over the past few years, that I have many road blocks on my highway to bliss. They are in the forefront of my mind everyday. Some days,¬†it’s a simple “Proceed with Caution Zone”, others require an entire detour from the original route. I have learned that I first have to identify which joy thief is blocking my merriment path that particular day, ¬†then take the necessary steps to promptly kick its ass out of my way. Does this take a lot of effort? Yes. Is it worth it to not be a miserable cow? In my opinion, yes.

1.Fear AKA Biggest Dream Crusher I Know

I have lived damn-near my entire life in fear and did not have that epiphany¬†until about four years ago. I have let it keep me from trying new things, taking on new challenges, and following dreams. I used to let it literally crush me on a daily basis, tell me I’m not good enough for years, and keep me in a prison of my own making. Well, gratefully I read some really awesome books and heard some really awesome people speak then realized my actions were dread-based, sucked, and needed to kick rocks. I told fear where to go, and it no longer has a seat at my table. It has been liberating and frightening at the same time, yet fear is always lurking around the corner waiting for a vulnerable moment to pounce and scare me back into submission. Well, I have to keep my dukes up, take a breath, have a self pep-talk, and continue on my way. Bye, Fear.

2.Comparison AKA The Root of All Misery

We are told and learn from a young age we have to be better than the next person in order to matter and have success. I hated this bulletin board in 1st grade because the same girl was always gloated upon for her amazing work, which was proudly displayed center stage week after week. The fastest, strongest kids were celebrated in sports, and later in high school the most attractive rose to the top of the popularity charts and made everyone else’s life a living hell. Am I saying outstanding shouldn’t be recognized and rewarded? No, I am saying it is hard not to compare yourself to others when our parents start doing it for us long before we can even speak for ourselves. I am a competitive person and like being “good” at the things I do, but have always compared myself to others far too much. I will never be tall and skinny. I will never be that super outgoing person who loves commanding the entire room (I’m an anti-socialite, thank you). One nugget I heard at a meeting made me recognize the difference between comparison and being realistic with my own life and goals: Don’t compare your insides to another person’s outsides. I set goals against myself these days and give myself time to learn and progress rather than get all mopey because I didn’t “win” right out of the gates. It’s a process, but helps keep me from spiraling down into that dangerous self-pity thinking that I’m never going to be “enough”. I compare me today to me yesterday, note my progress/weaknesses, and prepare for another day of hard work ahead in all arenas of my life.

3. Anger AKA Wasn’t That Supposed to Hurt You Not Me?

Oh, anger. We had a long run, but I am such a better person now that we’ve broken up. I used to have outbursts of anger, spew horrible words at others, break stuff, then feel like an ass for my dreadful behavior. I couldn’t stop Mt. Chelsuvius a few years ago. I would feel the rage boil up, then let it explode an incinerate whoever was in my path (sorry, still sorry). I found myself miserable a lot and wishing I had other ways to handle disappointments. I luckily found the art of practicing pause. If I feel the lava begin to flow I now stop and think of a better way to express myself, or wait awhile and say anything at all. Sometimes I take a walk or watch some Roseanne, whatever just to chill out and not make a lamentable scene of chaos. It not only feels much better, there are no broken pieces of glass or heart lying around to sweep up in the aftermath-you know, that whole “can’t take it back” business is pretty damn true. Plus, being angry was giving me wrinkles which is definitely unacceptable.

4. Resentment AKA Yea, Don’t Drink the Poison

There are many renditions of the line, “Hanging onto resentment is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. This is a damn deep philosophy. I am such a jerk when it comes to creating then holding onto resentments, I can literally feel my blood start to boil thinking of certain people and situations which still piss me off even though they’ve long since passed from my life. It makes me feel gross and kind of silly that I just can’t move on fully, some things just really chap my ass I suppose. And I am working on that. Everyday. I use gratitude A LOT when I feel irritation trying to creep in, I honestly cannot feel anything but good when I practice genuine gratitude (it’s that powerful, for real). I also have to remember those people were doing the best they knew at that time, also that it was something I was supposed to experience to further my growth. I also heard to move on because the other person damn sure has, and probably did so five minutes later. All without a second thought about me (I’m not that important, remember?).

5. Ego AKA Only Acceptable On My Slow Jams Playlist

I have this weird Jekyll and Hyde ego situation in my head. Here’s the deal: one part is a huge egomaniac, the other is an insecure girl. It’s like I’m the most conceited yet insecure person at the exact same time. I have heard other people describe this, so I know I am not the only odd duck in the room. ¬†What I came to realize is the pompous side definitely gets me in more trouble than the demure; its feelings get bruised far easier. I have had to retrain my brain to have a healthy balance of self-confidence and humility, and it’s been vigorous work! I have to quiet that ego when it tries to take over, ground myself, and talk through the situation (all in my head, mind you). For timid me, I have to give a solid self-pep and remember I am good enough. Ego will keep me chasing after unimportants I may never attain all while being a grumpy poop because I don’t have them faster. And I don’t got time for that.

6. Control AKA Leave That One to Ms. Jackson, If You’re Nasty

I do not consider myself a Type A person. I am not super organized, not a planner, do not have to know exactly what is coming next. I am generally last-minute, adrenaline-fueled, and chaotically organized. However. There are certain instances where this nutty control freak comes out to take over, and I ¬†am horrified by my own behavior. The control generally rears its batty head when I am afraid of something bad happening to a loved one. It is much less these days, but previous behaviors would include manipulating situations, panicking, and becoming highly emotional and irritable. ¬†Super not fun. To live that way, or to be around. I have been enlightened to the fact that I control nobody except myself, and trying to force people is a futile act because they do what they damn-well want. Alas, I now “turn over” situations that make me uncomfortable and ask for guidance handling those instances rather than try to make it go my way. It’s a helluva lot less work watching the show than it is trying to orchestrate the entire circus.

7. Expectations AKA Well, What Did You Expect?

Expectations are a-holes. They just are. All shiny and bright on the outside, then inside is a giant, stinky turd. I have shed gallons of tears over my high (dang, sometimes even low) hopes. People, places, things- you name it, they’ve all let me down at multiple points throughout life. I speculate a large part of my former dismay was that I always had grand plans play out in my imagination, only to be crushed by someone not following through or a situation going awry thus letting me down. So there I would be, all feeling sorry for poor me while flinging venom at whoever/whatever ruined my party. Onto the lesson, and one of my favorites I may add: Expect Nothing, Enjoy Everything. I do not expect much these days; it has been rewarding and uplifting. It’s also really not fair to hinge my happiness upon other people, places, and things because, well, shit happens. I much prefer being excited and thankful for small surprises rather than being let down by my grand ideals.

 

I have a feeling my zen blockers are pretty similar to yours, so hopefully we can all work on our jubilation Ninjitsu and become ninjas of peace and contentment. Because in my mind, the world is in desperate need of jolly people instead of angry a-holes; we need to fight the good fight for love and unity over rage and violence.

“You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one. I hope someday you’ll join us, and the world will be as one.”-John Lennon

Be Good, Do Good

-Chelsea

 

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Life Changes are a B*tch

I know at 32 I haven’t had as many major life changes as lots of people older and even younger than myself, but I have still had a few, all of which have kicked my ass. I watch some people glide gracefully through whatever life throws their way, while I’m over here taking on the feels of the entire world then wondering why I’m emotionally and physically drained. Before really digging into my hows and whys (aka 4th step), I always considered myself a strong person who could handle anything. But when I started looking at my patterns of depression and anxiety, the worst of times always centered around some type of life change. Anything from changing of friendships as a kid, to going away for college, to the more major ones such as having Andy. I guess I had to put it down on paper, then out there to the world: I do not handle change well, although I understand and deeply value change. That’s a silly conundrum, no wonder why it’s been so rough all these years.

This past year ¬†has really opened my eyes to the fact that change is a real struggle for me, and an area where I still have loads of work to do. The ironic part is the changes I experienced this past year are positive, glorious events for many people. The two main ones to which I am referring are the birth of Andy and resigning as a teacher so I can stay home with him. I can see the eye rolls through the screen…and believe me, the rational side of my brain wants to bitch slap me too! I was sad, stressed, angry, and pretty much every emotion in between for the past 12 months. ¬†I felt so guilty that I was not happy despite all this greatness in my life. Long story short, I ended up going to a therapist who diagnosed me with ¬†Adjustment Disorder. Wtf. I laughed, because that sounded to me like a big, fat ass excuse as to why I couldn’t just suck it up and handle life. But at that point I felt pretty shitty, so I went with it. And later, upon reading on it and looking back at past behaviors, I think there is some merit to the label. I didn’t buy it 100% though because there was something deeper inside off, something that wasn’t on the symptoms list.

I need to now mention that I allowed myself fall away from my Al-Anon program after Andy was born. The fact that the symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety reappeared within six months of my disconnection cannot be a coincidence. I did take into account there was some major hormonal shifts occurring during this time too, but I think the combination of the everything inside my head and new responsibilities was more than I could handle. I was back to the old me: irritable, restless, and discontent (AA got that one on point), despite radiant joy all over in my life.

My poor, patient husband said to me one evening, “I miss the old Chelsea, I want her to come back.” I replied with, “That Chelsea is gone, I don’t think she’ll ever be back.” That sentence still haunts me because at that time, I really could not see the light at the end of the tunnel of sadness. I was happy, but only on the surface. I did not want to die or anything, it was more that the light inside me that I worked so hard to light and stoke had diminished down to a faint glimmer. I was to the point of hitting up my dealer (aka any doctor, sorry, little bitterness there) to get a script for some meds so I could at least get the blues to go away. I knew better for myself, that was the old “band-aide on a bullet wound” route, so I rejoined the gym and guess what else…dragged my ass back to Al-Anon.

That was about three months ago now and I am finally starting to feel like myself again. Praise all the Gods (don’t want to offend anyone)! But seriously, I knew the little voice in the back of my head was right all along. It kept saying, “Go back to Al-Anon”, and that voice was my HP doing the damn thing like he always do. I can see now all the changes happened as part of my path in life. Having Andy felt so overwhelming because it made me realize I want to do something great in life, something different than what I was doing. Resigning from teaching did not make me a quitter or weak, nobody was judging or making fun of me for it. I got back to genuine praying, intense listening, and paying attention to what I am supposed to be doing in life; to what is really important. Basically, got myself almost back to where I was before the changes of the past year.

Looking forward, I know life has a plethora of changes in store for me. Some of them good, some bad, but all for a reason. I shared tonight at my home group meeting that, “Slacking off from Al-Anon is simply not an option for me.” I truly credit the strength and shares of others, also forcing myself to openly listen and share my story as the best medicine I could have taken to get me well again. I suppose Al-Anon is akin to one of my best friends: We can go for months without talking, but pick right back up where we left off. And for that I am eternally grateful and fully intend to “Keep Coming Back.”

Be Good, Do Good

-Chelsea

 

 

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My Story Definitely Isn’t Over

As you¬†surfed social media today, you probably noticed a plethora of postings featuring people proudly displaying their super-cool semicolon tats while making the declaration, “My Story Is Not Over” #SemicolonProject416. Well, I am not hip and cool enough to actually get a semicolon inked into my dermis, however this is a cause and movement near and dear to me and my crazy brain.

In case you do not know, Project Semicolon was created¬†in 2013 out of a young woman’s pain and suffering at the loss of her father to suicide. She decided to keep going (hence the symbolism of my beloved semicolon), and forged a movement millions have joined to bring awareness not only to suicide, but all walks of mental illness and those living with it.

My ¬†Grammie took her own life when I was five, which nobody told me until I was in my mid-20s. I guess my parents decided it wasn’t appropriate to tell their young child her adored grandmother shot herself in the head because she suffered from chronic pain (inferring from stories there was some severe mental illness along with some opiate abuse in that mix). That knowledge made a lot of puzzle pieces fall into place concerning my estranged grandpa’s spiral into alcoholism and major behavioral shift after her death. ¬†One of those tidbits of info that make the therapists perform the old head tilt, audible,”Ahhhh”, along with a quickly jotted addition to”what’s wrong with this girl” onto the notepad (sometimes even a sympathetic face and nod-please don’t! ).

On the other side, my Grannie had a major depressive bout when I was young. I have no recollection of this, but my mum finally shared the story with me after we came into Al-Anon and I was working on my inventory. Grannie was severely depressed, to the point of not leaving the house for an extended length of time. My mum took me out to visit to try and get her “better”, but apparently meds was the route she ended up needing to get living again. I was on vacation at her house last week, and commented on the bottle of Prozac I noticed while she was organizing grandpa’s weekly pill intake. Told her if it went missing, not to look in my¬†¬†suitcase…(kidding, sort of.) She told me, “I’ve taken that forever, and the doctor says to just keep taking it.” Well. Ok then.

I share those brief family histories with nerves in my belly, while also hoping not to embarrass or piss anyone off . It’s a bit scary and daring even to discuss mental illness out in the open. Yet is extremely enlightening and empowering to understand my family’s mental past, why I am the way I am, and work to change the things that are a huge struggle for me. I also have Andy (son extraordinaire) to think about now, and to me, his mental health is a huge part of his well-being.

I have had anxiety for as long as I can remember. I was terrified of everything (EVERYTHING) as a kid. My most vivid memories are of being scared and anxious; anything from doctor visits to the weather. I am serious about the weather. I used to get up to watch the weather report to see if there were storm warnings for the afternoon in the summer because, you guessed it, I was terrified of storms. Stomach aches, wild worries gone awry in my child brain, chewed nails and cuticles; I was a wee ball of frantic energy pretty much all the time.

Depression decided to join the party early on in college. I slept basically my entire Sophomore year, got fat, got skinny again by eating like a mouse and working out three hours a day. I seriously have no idea how I passed classes because I never went, I think it was my hand written thank you notes to each professor (lol). I chalked it up to hating my lame little college and being jealous of my outgoing, track-star boyfriend. I was certain if I had gone to busy school in a big city (or ran off to LA to be famous), I wouldn’t feel so sad. Well, I ran off and did a semester exchange at University of New Orleans Senior year, was even a bartender at the famous Coyote Ugly, and yea…that whole, “Wherever you go, there you are,” is a verrrry wise saying.

Throughout college and into my late 20s, my anxiety and depression liked to take turns torturing me and those around me. I seriously have no idea how Dan (husband extraordinaire, former track-star) stayed with me all those years, I had some ridiculous behavior at times! I had no tools in my sanity toolkit,¬†and¬†was too embarrassed to tell anyone for fear of judgement (plus, I had no feelings), so I just used my incredible acting skills to pretend happy my way through life. I met a few people along the way with similar struggles, took some of their meds here and there to see if they worked for me, but for the most part I simply went about being a whirlwind of chemical imbalance and thinking that was it for me. I’d never truly be happy. I would always worry about everything.

It was when I really became cuckoo co-dependent on Chad that I had to face the reality of my own mental state and health. I turned to therapy when I literally felt like I was going to jump out of my own skin, couldn’t eat or sleep, and truly thought it would be alright not wake up tomorrow because then I wouldn’t have to worry anymore. I secretly wanted her to declare me nuts, write me a script for some happy pills, and zombie out. But damn her. She made me share my shit, gave me strategies, had me read up on mental health, even made me come back every few weeks to talk some more.(Side note: ¬†My favorite strategy was to say, “Stop”, every time an irrational thought came along. I still do it to this day. Actually, the other day I accidentally did it out loud in line at Target. Super loud. Then I laughed at myself. Andy laughed too, he gets it.)

I did end up taking medication for about a year, it made me mostly numb to the world. I seriously gave zero f*#ks. I functioned, but it robbed me of my imaginative mind (good when teaching and dancing), took away my alertness, and made me so “normal”. It also made me feel it was acceptable to eat a ton of cheeseburgers and gain 15 pounds. In the end, it was more physical ego that made me stop taking it. I also felt determined I could use the tools I had learned to keep myself in check better than some pill. It has worked out fairly well for me that way. It’s a daily process, I have learned much, and it is worth every bit of the struggle and work.

This entry has ended up being far longer than I intended, so I think I will let it end here. Just for today. I have chosen to keep writing, as my story definitely is not over yet. My wish is that you will choose to keep writing with me, keep hope, and reach out for help rather than end your story.

Be Good, Do Good

-Chelsea

 

 

 

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Finding Passion and Purpose Through Pain and Confusion

Today is Black Balloon Day 2016¬†. A day that was created to remember those who passed from drug overdose deaths this past year, as well as to bring awareness to the drug epidemic. I am grateful as of this day, I have not lost any loved ones to a drug overdose, however I have many friends who have lost children, spouses, family members, and friends to overdose. My heart goes out to them not only today, but every day they have to live with that hole in their lives. My brother Chad stated it simply, “I’m going to way too many funerals lately.”

I do agree that far too many people, 47,055 in 2014, are dieing from drug overdoses. It is a huge issue, and one that can no longer get swept under the rug. I have honestly found the more open I have become about addiction and recovery, the more people have come to me asking questions, showing support, and offering their stories. We have bonded over our common thread, one that for so long was a shameful secret, hidden away in some musty, cobweb-infested cellar. In the news story I linked above, Lauren Hurley (the woman who initiated Black Balloon Day) makes a comment to the effect of: if everyone who has been affected by addiction put out a black balloon today, we would be shocked at how many we would see. I wonder how many I would see on my street…

For me, I have taken small steps. Started this blog, a Facebook page, and an Instagram profile all of which are dedicated to addiction awareness and advocacy. I reached out to a local non-profit, There’s No Hero In Heroin, after seeing them featured on the news. I met with the president of the organization a few days ago, and excitedly joined their effort to bring a sober high school here to Vegas. I also contacted The Yoga of 12-Step Recovery,¬†Y12SR, to hold a training here in the near future. I am doing this work because I feel my city needs more outlets, more voices, and greater power to those in recovery and their families. I simply cannot sit by, wish, and talk about how I could do something. I had to start involving myself.

By the way, all of that reaching out and stepping up terrified me. I am a fairly introverted Cancerian, one who wants to make a change, but has a hard time taking the leap.¬† I get major stomach butterflies each time I hit send on an email, publish a blog post, dial the phone, or walk into a meeting. However, what I have learned in doing all this, is that every person I reached out to was thrilled to have another join in the movement. I have been pleasantly surprised at the passion and determination I have encountered; the humility of people I didn’t even expect respond to my email or unexpectedly share my blog post. I have to remember they are all people too, and are successful on the path because of their good hearts and humble nature. I have also learned patience is a virtue, nothing is going to take off like gangbusters overnight (well, maybe cat videos, those have major viral power). It has been eye-opening and deeply rewarding so far; bonus, it’s only the beginning of my advocacy journey!

I will leave you on this Sunday with a quote I came across a few months ago at a time when I was having an extremely hard time with my purpose and direction in life: “Find what breaks your heart. That is your passion.” (I cannot find who said this, if you do, please let me know!) It may not have anything to do with addiction and recovery, but I urge you to go with that little uncomfortable nudge in your gut and try to make a difference in whatever arena you find heartache and passion. If you have a black balloon on your doorstep today, I wish you peace and some comfort knowing there are thousands of people trying their best to make sure that number of balloons dwindle with each passing year.

Be Good, Do Good

-Chelsea

 

 

 

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