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The Black Bag

The bag.

That blasted black bag.

It sits there in all its lonely glory, awaiting to be carried, slung, moved & re-arranged. Hoping for a final home that seems only a dream.

The bag has been drug around for months. Every holiday – in fact- for the last 10 months. Transplanted from it’s temporary base in a cold garage only to be reduced to the seat of a car, then many a cold tile hotel floor.

It’s contents of candy & shoes sit willingly and patiently awaiting their owner to adore them with greatfulness.

Doesn’t seem like much. But it makes this momma feel better. That is, if it’s ever delivered. I haven’t seen my boy for 10 months.

The future recipient of this bag, is a little boy who once spent days digging a moar- a canal really- to bypass the spring flooding that, in his mind, threatened his childhood home.

In reality, it was just mild spring run-off from the small fishing pond above our house.

He would rush through the back door of the house like a whirlwind, a muddy wind-of -whirl that is; looking for a treat or a drink or another tool to make his project more efficient. He would leave as fast as he came, leaving you perplexed but with a certain envy at his vigor and vivaciousness & curiosity at what drives them both.

The future recipient of this bag, once as a 23 year old hard-working construction foreman was driving home through a dark deep canyon over a rural mountain range. The work week of 60 hours was complete and he had a wad of cash in the front seat with him. He then rolled his huge $50k truck into a ravine where he had no service. He actually walked away from it without a scratch, up to the road where miraculously his electric personality drew in a morsel of service long enough to make a call to get help.

This would be the first of many appointments his guardian angels would make with him. And the first of many “wads of cash” that tumbled over the dark edge in his grasp.

This boy-turned-man-turned entrepreneur-turned-dad-turned substance use dependant; now owns no truck, no cash, no home and hasn’t seen his kids in over a year. The deals he once maneuvered with crane companies, inspectors, pipelines, & electricians are now replaced with deals for hits or points or whatever else will fulfill his audacious cravings that this monster has made him a slave of.

My little boy is lost.

I’m bringing him his favorite candy. The candy he always asks for when he detoxes or is clean. I want weight on him. I want the big brawny son I remember being proud of. I can’t even look at the pictures of him now. The ravages of drugs are not just some picture in a Don’t Do Drugs pamphlet. These ravages are visible front and center on the sunken-in skin and pale eyes of my beautiful first born son.

My strong, funny, determined warrior of a son.

My son who loves fully & completely. My son who feels deep shame. My son who is so embarrassed of the mess he made of his life that he stays locked in this self- determined prison. The ligitimity of his devotion to this disease is evidenced by the rough corrosive steel chains that bind him to the day to day depravity of that lifestyle.

Hence the black bag.

The bag that this mom hopes will breathe a wisp of life back into a boy who has lost his sense of everything good and healthy.

This cloth & leatherish vinyl bag, stitched together with my last threads of life strung with hope for my boy.

In it, some simple candy to remind him of the sheer taste of joy & pleasure of life outside of drugs.

A new pair of shoes for him to remember the privilege of a regular life and where those shoes can take him if only he leads the way to honor and
integrity again.

Also in the bag is a pair of gloves. New, stiff faux leather. The droopy finger spaces longing for human hands to fill up space and mold them to what they were designed to do. To remind him of his incredible talent. Of how his hands have not lost that talent and how they can make his dreams come true again.

I will find my boy. I dream of him running to the bag. His face full of adventure like that muddy little boy running in the house looking for treats.

My dream is he will accept the gifts offered as a hope that he is still worthy of a life of joy and respect again. That he will go back out into the world and take that shovel back. Take it and dig his way out of this darkness into the light of true joy and happiness.

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Ever Given

EVER GIVEN

Guest post by Gary Lewis

“I awoke in the early hours of the morning to the news that the quarter-mile long container ship, the Ever Given, was being freed. It had entered the Suez canal, confident it could traverse the narrow passage, but vision was obscured and it’s bow thrust upon the muddy bank.

For six days, an overpowering suction held it fast. Puny tug boats pulled, to no avail. All human effort was futile. It’s progress seemed permanently blocked, as was that of hundreds of other vessels likewise impeded.

A higher power than man’s was required, and indeed one
came to the rescue. A Spring Tide, highest of the year, lifted the ship and broke the bow from the sticky mire. Now the pull of the tug boats can have potent effect, and there is hope.

I recognize an analogy in the progress of our lives. We enter the passage of our years seeking to float to our eternal destiny. Pride and selfishness obscures our view, and sin mires us down. Our unaided efforts are futile to effectuate our escape..

Our Savior’s atoning sacrifice comes to our rescue, if we choose to accept it. Like a rising tide, the blood of His sacrifice lifts our ponderous weight and breaks us free from the quicksand that binds us. We are damned in our progress no more.

Piloted by The Holy Ghost, we continue our path, relying upon the Lord’s redemption through subsequent straits until we come out successfully at the other side.

As we approach Easter this week, we can rely on the hope of Our Savior’s redemption from sin, made possible through the gospel of repentance and forgiveness”.

Whatever your spiritual views; may you receive and accept your own Spring Tide to lift up your mucky vision to unobstructed clarity, that you may see the joy and freedom that redemption brings. 🌸

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Why Don’t They Just Quit?

Aww yes, the million dollar question.

Many many studies and opinions around this question of course.

One of the most long standing resources with the same name is from Joe Herzanek of The changing lives foundation.

Here’s some other Interesting facts that help us to understand why they don’t want to quit.

I didn’t write this but I actually have my son on audio saying this exact same premise.

It’s one of many audio recordings I have of him, that I put in my upcoming book 1000 Last Goodbyes.

“If you can think of the happiest days of your life, i.e. wedding day, birth of your firstborn, landing your dream job, etc. your dopamine level rises to about 200 units.
Methamphetamine’s powerful effects come from its impact on the brain’s reward, or pleasure, center. Meth does not directly release dopamine. It attaches itself to dopamine receptor sites and fools neurons into releasing large quantities of dopamine. This accounts for the intense rush a user experiences from meth.

“In addition, meth prevents dopamine from being recycled. Instead, dopamine is active in the body for much longer, explaining the extra long duration of the meth high. The drug does this by blocking (inhibiting) the dopamine transporter involved in its reabsorption (reuptake) into the original neuron that sent it. Transporters are places on neurons that reabsorb the dopamine after it has completed its job. As a result, more dopamine becomes available to the brain. This extra dopamine, in turn, activates an even greater number of dopamine receptors. This increased release of dopamine is primarily responsible for the intensity and duration of meth-amphetamine’s effects.

“In lab animal experiments conducted by UCLA’s Integrated Substance Abuse Program, sex caused dopamine levels to increase to 200 units and cocaine caused levels to rise to 350 units. With meth-amphetamine, dopamine levels jumped to about 1,250 units. Overall, this study showed that meth causes about 12 times as much feelings of pleasure as sex, food, and other activities, including the use of other illegal stimulant drugs. All illegal drugs of abuse release dopamine, but that methamphetamine “produces the mother of all dopamine releases.” So, when an addict stops using nothing seems right, life seems dull and gray. Meth is a beast but I do know addicts who fought hard and got free of it”.

I wrote about Dopamine in This post last year and The tempest explains it well in this article.

Until they are ready to get help, we also have to be open to new thoughts of saving their life, such a harm reduction.Believe me, I never thought I would be saying those words until the last 6 months when I was met with the immensely stubborn, deeply hijacked version of my brilliant, driven entrepreneur son.

This is a great video on Harm reduction with Dee Dee Stout who wrote a book Coming to Harm Reduction Kicking and Screaming- which I can relate! She also writes a blog for Families for Sensible Drug Policies an organization with tons of resources.

Harm reduction is an entire blog in itself so I’ll save that for later but the important thing is it BUYS TIME until they can decide to seek recovery. My bottom line that helped me see harm reduction as a necessity is when I witnessed my son in full withdrawals thrashing around in the back seat of my car. He was begging me to take him to get drugs just to stop him from this torture. I said ( yelled) to him “Good hell xxxx, is this not enough to get you to stop? How can you be this sick & not want to ever experience it again?”. He told me, “Mom, this is nothing- try lying in a drug house so sick you can’t move or walk and begging people there to help you- either with drugs or take you to the hospital while they laugh saying -no way dude, we’re not getting arrested”……

I realized in that moment that if he had a needle covered in swamp water or ‘anything’ it would NOT HAVE STOPPED him from plunging it into his arm for relief.

An addict is NOT going to suddenly stop using because they don’t have clean needles. Clean needles WILL however prevent further pain & suffering by avoiding the added disease of hepatitis and Aids.

We have to keep pointing them to recovery! A whole new life is right there waiting for them”.

I have a large collection of recovery quotes (over 200) on my Facebook profile under photos- We Do Recover album . I love to share.

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Deep Learning versus Disease?

I despise the argument of addiction being a disease or a choice. For the simple fact that I’m a nurse. If a child has a sliver in their finger, it really doesn’t matter how it happened; we just have to get it out. Even while the child is fighting us trying to get it out.

With addiction, I just don’t see the relevance to what it matters after the fact. If it’s a choice then are we really going to use that as a punishment?

Someone is writhing in pain from excruciating nausea and chills and shaking uncontrollably and we are going to tell them you made this choice? Really?

Or the unconscious patient, as we stand there holding the narcan saying, “I don’t know dude, I don’t know if this was accidental or your choice so I’ll just stand here and play God for a minute until I decide if you’re worth saving”.

Remember the tainted Tylenol episode from year’s ago? Someone put stuff in bottles of Tylenol then put them back on the shelf. Customers took them for pain or discomfort and a few died.

Well -I make the argument that Addicts are in pain and discomfort and they take something to make themselves feel better too. And some of what they take is deadly. Just because we don’t agree with what they took doesn’t make their life less valuable.

I’m all about finding better ways to get them to not want to take the “tainted” Tylenol.

So it was interesting to read this article from the National Drug and Alcohol Centre in Sydney; stating that addiction may be more the result of Deep Learning. Rather than a disease. …or basically Habits as I wrote earlier.

The article states that:

“Addiction still is ‘probably’ triggered by stress or alienation. It can duly be unlearned by forging stronger synaptic pathways via better habits”.

This gives me alot more hope for recovery for my son, than being chained to 12 step meetings the rest of their life and forever facing “triggers” that will surely cause relapse.

I feel that way because that seems to be my son’s attitude too, and a main reason why he doesn’t seek recovery. He just doesn’t believe in the current advertised recovery model. He sees the statistics and sees the relapses and he feels like the stigma perpetuates that it’s a lifelong battle and only makes addicts feel hopeless that they can’t achieve that.

Some of this attitude is definitely his hijacked brain talking, trying its damndest to extend the addiction as long as it can, to keep my son it’s slave in misery.

My son also doesn’t trust the medical prefessionals who he feels perpetuated his early addiction. ( Again, this IS his hijacked brain talking- BUT The proof has also come out that this is true. )

The article agrees:

“The implication for the $35 billion-dollar treatment industry in the US is that tackling addiction as a medical issue should be only a small element of a more holistic approach. The problem is, there’s a lot of vested interest – and financial investment – in perpetuating the disease model”.

Professor Allison Ritter expresses fatigue with the brain disease model.

“It has not produced any new technologies for treatment nor necessarily decreased stigma or improved the lot of people who experience dependence problems”.

Matthews Hope Foundation is one model that’s trying to change the landscape of recovery with remapping the brain to imbed different pathways which result in better habits. It’s called Iasis technology.

On their website they have Nicole Labors’ Neuroscience of Addiction video. She is one of my favorite advocates for explaining addiction and this video hits it all.

Regardless, the cause isn’t nearly as important as the solution. As this Mother who has lost a child stated: What does it matter? The pain of loss is heartbreaking.

As I sit here in the early morning hours finishing this article, awaiting my nurse shift to begin; I’m overwhelmed with a sadness that I even have to defend my son’s recovery. So much energy spent on some sort of moral aspect of addiction, when people are suffering and dying. It’s heartbreaking. My entire family has a big hole in it from this journey, just as we would if my son had a debilitating, progressively deadly disease such as Lou Gehrig’s. Some diseases do affect the mind eventually yet that doesn’t lessen our compassion for them.

Addiction is a complex insidious, torturing disease of the brain and all I’m asking for is some compassion that will move people toward more action- less judgement.

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Beligerence

bel·lig·er·ent/bəˈlijərənt/adjective

Hostile and aggressive.”a bull-necked, belligerent old man”

He (or she) doesn’t have to be old though. Or Green. Or Lou Ferrigno.

It can be anyone who verbally attacks us. Those of us who love a person with a substance use problem, know all too well the turmoil and drama of an angry, frustrated person.

If you’ve ever been the recipient of anger AND you are over 40, you will understand this meme.

The Incredible Hulk

Chris Snoe on Quora, explained the Hulk’s anger like this:

“Essentially the state of rage the Hulk requires at first initializes his transformation. But as he’s in combat or a situation of sorts rather than thinking of ‘anger’ as a quantity think of it as a psychological by-product.

So to dumb it down Hulk MAD!! Anger is turned on and the engine is running.

So the limit to a beings/persons/creatures rage are in fact the ‘reasons’ they are angry… The causes of your emotional turmoil or pain. Think of these reasons as multipliers magnifying the Hulks anger. So consider his power is constantly produced naturally but these sparks or rage simply ramp up the speed in which this energy is produced.

So again he’s angry -the engines on Hulks ready to fight

  • someone shot Banner x2 multiplier
  • monster punched hulk ×1.5
  • army blew up hulk with missiles that hurt! x3
  • monster wont DIE and keeps punching back! x4

“As you can see these reasons keep adding up even if they’re minor annoyances they keep adding up. And Hulks anger grows as long as these reasons remain and the more of them there are the more quickly his rage grows
It’s like playing a video game. All the little things that go wrong aren’t so bad but as more happen slowly but surely you rage out at the game and you either walk away or throw your controller through a wall. Your choice, no judgment.

But think Hulk can’t just walk away. He has only one way to go, “Punch it until its gone.” And most of those things that cause Hulk to rage out don’t go away easily and the mere tact that “IT JUST WONT DIE!!” is anger inducing.

Hulk doesnt have the luxury of walking away and practicing mindul breathing. He must deal with it.”

Quora– in answer to the question “Does the Incredible Hulk get stronger with more anger?”

We can think The Incredible Hulk’s reasons for getting angry are silly, just as the addicts reasons seem ridiculous; but they are still stressors & traumas inflicted on a ‘human’ causing an emotion resulting in anger.

We all get frustrated of course. Usually it’s temporary and we can re-set ourselves fairly quickly.

Photo by author-Look closely inside their faces. People are made up of their experiences that cause their actions…..

Have you ever been in a hurry, stressed out to get somewhere, or hungry and tired, like when trying to catch a plane? Out of the blue, someone tries to get you to stop and care about something such as signing a petition and you say “no thank you” and hurry away. They follow you and plead with you telling you how good it would be for the environment, and how you. REALLY. SHOULD. CARE. and that it will only take a minute.

But you just CAN’T CARE because your soo thirsty and tired and nauseated yet sooo hungry! They persist until finally, you snap at them and tell them to leave you the hell alone!

Now imagine being like that 24 /7 while you search out your “water” just to feel better for a minute, and that search becomes your life day after day, same habits, the same people.

That’s how powerful these drugs are on the brain.
N.o.t.h.i.n.g. else matters. Anything that gets in the way of this intense drive, is argued with, lied to, manipulated, pushed aside- sometimes literally.

When our addicted loved ones get feisty and sometimes belligerent with us, we are deeply hurt and feel it’s unjustified.

We, with our mostly healthy brains just can’t imagine it, because we’ve learned to self-regulate and we’ve learned to balance our lives between stress and healthy coping skills as I listed in this article.

Lorelie Rozzano stated in this Facebook post:

“So why do people struggling with addiction have such a difficult time with emotional pain? One theory is that addiction is genetic. Although it can skip a generation, it runs in families the same way blue eyes do. This is why it’s called an ‘environmental’ (meaning home) illness. When you grow up in an addicted home, you learn to walk on eggshells and stuff your feelings (expressing feelings in addicted families can create division and hostility). Keeping the peace means avoiding confrontation, resulting in emotional immaturity. Although your physical body ages, you feel like a child on the inside and may struggle with feelings of inferiority. When you lack self-worth, you don’t ask for what you want or need. Instead, you suffer in silence or resentment. To compensate, you look to people/places and things to bridge the gap. The first time you get high or rescue someone who does, you fall in love with the feeling. No more pain. No more anxiety. No more inferiority. Getting high and enabling are Band-Aids for emotional distress. Although they numb the sting temporarily, they create deeper wounds. So the cycle begins. Pain, numb, pain, numb… soon, your disordered brain is looking for things to feel pain over, to reward its pleasure circuit. It tricks you by telling you there’s hurt where there is none”.

One thing they don’t learn to cover up is anger. ANY frustration, perceived pain, loss, problem-too-big-to-fix, or even reminders of their life “before drugs” can set them off on a tangent of rage.

It’s their coping skill until they can numb it. And ANYTHING getting between them and the source to numb it, is going to be a casualty. As Brandon Novak started in his video:

It’s not personal, it’s just business.

How to protect yourself from their rage?

Boundaries.

You are not their counselor or mentor or even their parole officer. Your job is to LOVE with boundaries and show what (& how) normal healthy people face challenges. That means not stooping to their level of anger with screeching or rude comments attacking their character.

The following list isn’t specifically geared toward addiction but it is a general overview of boundaries.

With our loved ones in addiction it’s easy to say “If Only they would get better”, then surely all of our problems would be solved. No more anger, fear, rollercoaster emotions etc. But we all know that’s not true. Problems, emotions, tough situations come and go- addiction or not. The best way to combat them is to get ourselves stronger in order to facilitate a better reaction from us when someone pushes our buttons.

With addicted loved ones it’s easy to offer the advice to stay in your lane in regards to telling them how to live their life. That’s often difficult when we see a complete shizzshow unfolding before us.

A more realistic approach, is to stay in our lane but with compassion to their struggles. Having compassion to their frustrations yet holding the line with our boundaries is a delicate balance. It is heartbreaking to see them “go without” when we have so much, but by “giving them what they need” we are robbing them the dignity- if you can call it that- of experiencing pain & discomfort in order to motivate change.

We have to be their hope. Not their enemy. Instead of being drawn into their anger and pain, we can hold the space for them to bridge the gap between their chaotic life and and a life of joy and without substances.

I understand that’s the theory behind “rock bottom” but to most addicts, rock bottom is death, because they become so acclimated to living that life. The suffering and scavenging becomes their identity in order to feed their disease.

The list below can help you start deciding your boundaries and expectations. And remember, keep expectations LOW. It’s un -realistic to ask a person with a hijacked brain to suddenly become responsible and honest when their choices and actions have been completely opposite of that for months or even years.

Most of all, treat them like a human, with respect.

When they are in their anger, say calmly:

“I understand you have unresolved emotions that you are in the midst of, so I’m going to back away and give you space so that I’m not the target of your experience”.

This shows them respect and acknowledgement for what they’re going through but keeps the door open for future conversation and healing.

And that’s what we all want…. Connection. Healing connection.

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Take What You Need

My job gives me the opportunity to intimately see into a person’s life…..in fact I see pretty much the whole spectrum from birth to death.

I’ve had the opportunity to watch 100’s of births and maybe half as many deaths.

After an emotional week at work which resulted in several awakenings, tonight my heart is full. Full of a sense of the struggles people face…
Sometimes silently… Sometimes in the public eye.

The sudden appearance of disease in your life; wrenching heartache & turmoil that you never dreamed of; or the pain of looking into the eyes of a lost soul, seeing the remnants of broken dreams shattered.

My personal awakenings included memories of my parent’s deaths mingled with twinges of regret; also the suicide of my brother 15 years before; who was my hero..my protector…my wizard.🤺

I’ve witnessed fame and the fall; anger and outright apathy. I’ve seen firsthand that disease, addiction and death have NO favorites. No one is immune. It doesn’t matter how famous, how rich, how respected you are, you can’t prevent  tragedy and strife from invading your sacred space.

Although our challenges are different, the one thing that we all have in common is human bodies & souls 💫 that need connection. Gabor Mate explains it well Here in this easy cartoon drawing.

What it comes down to is …..that ALL of us  eventually struggle with the same issues.

To think our time will never come or that our kids will never have to experience that deep pain is being very naive.

We all experience feelings of loss, regret, sadness, and guilt.

When those times arrive, almost everyone craves understanding & compassion without expectation;

A hand placed over theirs;

A gentle touch that says: “I’m not scared of your disease”.

Eyes that hold no judgement…. Just simple silence that says “I’m here”. A parting hug that says, “everything will work out”.

And most of all – A heart that says

L❤️VE

💜❣️💛❣️💚❣️💙

©Samantha Waters RN

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The Mother Love

The Mother Love

Love is not found in the Hallmark aisle.

Love is not found in boxed chocolates tied up with a silk bow.

Love is not found in a Facebook post with lovey-dovey pictures.

Love IS found in the quick breathe of a Mom who looks at her phone and sees the number of her child calling.

Love IS found with the expelled breathe of relief when the door to the treatment center or bus door closes with her child behind it.

Love IS found in the fallen tears on the pillow, alone, in the dark.

Love is seen when a mom looks into her hurting childs eyes as he lashes out at anyone who dares get between him and his master.

This life, this journey. We didn’t request to be in the club. But when we first laid eyes on the child, along with all the hopes and dreams to come; we unknowingly accepted the disappointments and pain that would surely come also.

The first time our child came home crying because someone was mean to them, we felt the fierceness rise inside us.

We knew instantly we would fight for our child’s heart. We knew we would do anything to soothe their pain.

Now they seem so far away.
We can’t save them.
We can’t bridge that gap to cauterize their bleeding heart. If we could, we would.

God knows we try.
We try bandaid after bandaid.

It doesn’t work.
The hemorrhage continues.
It filters through loved one’s lives and relationships like hot lava flowing from a huge volcano.

We wonder when it will stop. How deep is that hole?

No one truly knows.
So we forge through the pain.

Thinking we can’t go on.

But we will.

Because of that momma bond. Unbroken. Unseared.
We will go on.
And even if we can’t fix this boo boo.
We can still love.

We love DESPITE the pain.
We love THROUGH the pain.
We love because we are Mother’s.

We carry love from the pre-mortal existence before earth and we carry it through the galaxies into the afterlife.

Not time, nor space can douse a Mother’s Love.

Throughout centuries and worlds of hardships- nothing has stopped a Mother’s Love.

Beware, of the Mother’s Love.

It can crush unimaginable barricades.
Move mountains to plains.
Change hearts to Gold.
Make a meal out of nothing.
Sew a complete fictional character out of strips of cloth.

This war might think it has been won. The victory flag being raised by the devil himself.

But he doesn’t and never will…..
Know the strength of a Mother’s Love.

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Habits & Healing

While spending some time with my grand kids this weekend, the two eldest, 9 and 10; were playing in the sand on top of a mountain no less! (we live in an amazing place). As they were raking it and molding it, they kept saying “This is so satisfying!”

Our life is comprised of thousands of daily habits which we do without even thinking about them.  It’s these daily habits that determine where we end up- sometimes without us even knowing it. These ingrained daily habits keep us feeling safe and secure and somewhat connected or grounded to battle the things outside which we can’t control.

Being so ‘human’ requires us to constantly reach for a state of well-being that feels good to us in order to achieve that safety.  It is sometimes difficult to get out of the negative patterns that we developed just to feel ok.

There are many programs or rituals that keep us in sync to being in our healthiest state. Mel Robbins became famous with the 5 seconds in the morning routine seen here in my previous post.

I recently received this email from her that goes along the same concept as Tacos!

“Life Hack I’m Using 

Here’s a super cool life hack backed by science that will help you make your new habits stick — and it involves TACOS 🌮! Yes, you read that right. Forget willpower and pass the guacamole. To make a new habit stick you need a reward. 

Here’s why this works…every habit has three parts: a trigger, the pattern you repeat, and a reward. The reward is the MOST important part of changing a habit.

My reward for exercising is a breakfast taco. Once you have the reward in place, here’s the freaky part: Your brain won’t even think about what you need to do (exercise), instead tacos will just pop into your head randomly. 

Here’s how I’ve been using this hack: when the alarm rings at 5:30am (trigger “it’s time to exercise”) — tacos immediately pop into my mind. When I head to the gym to work out (new habit) — tacos.

When I am dripping in sweat and hyperventilating during squats (new habit) — my mind is all about the tacos. And when class is over, I walk down the block and get that reward — a King David Taco. BOOM 💥 the exercise habit is locked and loaded. 

Pick a reward and give it a try. Tag me on social when you do. It’s weird how well it works”.- Mel Robbins

Dr Judson Brewer has a seemingly simple solution to breaking a habit in this Ted Talk. He says it’s all about triggers and rewards:

Seeing what we get from our habits helps us understand them at a deeper level — to know it in our bones so we don’t have to force ourselves to hold back or restrain ourselves from behavior. We’re just less interested in doing it in the first place.

As we move past the daily mundane habits and onto more fulfilling things.  Think of the benefits and satisfaction of cleaning out your fridge, or going to the car wash.

The feeling that ‘s͙o͙m͙e͙t͙h͙i͙n͙g͙ i͙s͙ g͙e͙t͙t͙i͙n͙g͙ d͙o͙n͙e͙ a͙n͙d͙
y͙o͙u͙ a͙r͙e͙ a͙c͙t͙u͙a͙l͙l͙y͙ b͙e͙i͙n͙g͙ p͙r͙o͙d͙u͙c͙t͙i͙v͙e͙’ is so rewarding- temporarily. Until we need something else to fulfill us.

It’s all part of purpose, motivation and the reward system of the midbrain as shown here:

The reward pathway (deep orange) is activated when a
person receives positive reinforcement for certain behaviors (“reward”). This area is hijacked with massive amounts of dopamine when a person takes an addictive drug.

Setting new habits requires discipline and persistence. Therapist aide has a Worksheet to help achieve that. It basically follows the taco imagery from Mel:

  • Start with small changes.
  • Tie habits to other activities.
  • Celebrate your successes.

Hɛǟʟɨռɢ ǟռɖ ƈʟɛǟռsɨռɢ

If you want to go a little deeper than tacos and perhaps clear your brain body first then add tacos, here’s a great exercise from my friend Mirna Trpkova.

“The techniques for Cleansing the Energy around the Physical Mind (Body) is to this day the most Powerful Self-Perseverance Method existing. Intuitively, we all know where the Stuck (Blocked) Energy in our Body is.

A simple scan/check-in via standing or lying flat on the floor will do it.

Giving one’s Conscious Mind attention to the place in our Body which needs it most is the First and most important Move.

Not much needs be done afterwards if one wishes to proceed Passive.

What can be done, though, is borrowing from the rest of our body, and giving unconditional support to the spot which needs it most.

Doesn’t this sound {like} the Analogy of the more Blessed giving to the more Unfortunate thus balancing out the scale of the Yin and the Yang… Not that we are to easily tell which one is the Blessed and which to be the Unfortunate one(!).

Much of life’s fulfilment lies within the Struggle. Until one gets addicted to it.

Not an easy Addiction to let go of.

Perhaps the hardest one of all.

Going back to the initial thought which should help tie it all in a knot…

Registering the Blocked Energetic Points in our Physical Body (Mind) will allow us to have more Free-Flow Creativity which is vital for giving one’s purpose to be awaken each and every day.

And, to overcome addictions such as “living a Struggle” and feeling “Unworthy” in order to tune in to Life’s Genuine and Beyond Good and Evil ways of balancing that sacred scale we all stand on…”- Mirna Trpkova

Ah, the old “upper limit theory” from Gay Hendricks. I love that stuff. Thinking (unconsciously) that we belong in a certain situation because we don’t deserve anything better.

Matt Licata has an excellent video on how to cope when life didn’t quite go as planned as far as Health, relationships, and career. He explains how healing from these traumas will push you toward better things. If that video doesn’t work you may need to enter your email address here.

The important thing is that we are constantly refreshing and cleansing out all areas of our life, like shaking our rugs out at home. This process of cleaning and creating space is so important if we want to receive inspiration and ideas to move forward in our lives.

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Home Base

Pain- Unexpressed

Photo by author

Unresolved pain or trauma isn’t an “excuse” for addiction. It’s an attempt to understand the WHY’s.

Why did they start?

Why can’t they just quit?

What can I do to support them without enabling?

There is no one size fits all answers but I’m convinced that if we can have some compassion with that they are getting out of the addiction; we can better help them recover. (Because if negative consequences cured addiction, there would be no addicts).

This very short video by CMC Foundation for Change, explains how families can help by just acknowledging, not treating or diagnosing the pain.

From Lorelie Rozzano’s Facebook Post:

“Is Pain Feeding Your Addiction?

Gabor Maté asks, “Not why the addiction, but why the pain?”
Let’s face it, we all experience emotional pain. Life doesn’t always go as planned. But for the most part, we dust ourselves off, pick ourselves up, and carry on. In the process, we learn that pain is our teacher. It tells us when changes are needed. From pain emerges growth, and from growth, wisdom.

Pain can be a beautiful thing.

But not everyone will learn from it. Addicted individuals don’t cope well with pain due to disordered brain chemistry. Instead of feeling their pain, they react to it. People who abuse substances don’t acknowledge pain through healthy communication. Instead, they act out through unhealthy behavioral styles such as avoidance or silent treatment, or on the opposite spectrum, yelling, swearing, slamming doors, punching holes in walls, and throwing things. They may become verbally abusive, and some even physically abusive.

If you hang out with someone struggling with addiction long enough, you will observe that their problems and feelings seem more prominent than the rest of us. You’ve experienced uncomfortable emotions, too, but you don’t react the way your addicted loved one does.

So why do people struggling with addiction have such a difficult time with emotional pain?

One theory is that addiction is genetic. Although it can skip a generation, it runs in families the same way blue eyes do. This is why it’s called an ‘environmental’ (meaning home) illness. When you grow up in an addicted home, you learn to walk on eggshells and stuff your feelings (expressing feelings in addicted families can create division and hostility). Keeping the peace means avoiding confrontation, resulting in emotional immaturity. Although your physical body ages, you feel like a child on the inside and may struggle with feelings of inferiority. When you lack self-worth, you don’t ask for what you want or need. Instead, you suffer in silence or resentment. To compensate, you look to people/places and things to bridge the gap. The first time you get high or rescue someone who does, you fall in love with the feeling. No more pain. No more anxiety. No more inferiority. Getting high and enabling are Band-Aids for emotional distress. Although they numb the sting temporarily, they create deeper wounds. So the cycle begins. Pain, numb, pain, numb… soon, your disordered brain is looking for things to feel pain over, to reward its pleasure circuit. It tricks you by telling you there’s hurt where there is none.

When you’re predisposed to addiction, avoiding emotions can cost you your life, as addiction distorts emotional pain into a lethal brew of self-pity, blame, and resentment. This triplicate is a deadly combo, allowing the addicted person to feel justified in using.

When I went to treatment, I learned addiction used my pain against me. It fed on my emotional pain, twisted it, corrupted it, exaggerated it, and made me gravely ill.

Long before entering treatment, I needed help but couldn’t ask for it. I thought people who admitted their problems were weak. But I was wrong. People who find the courage to acknowledge and overcome challenges are warriors! It turns out real courage isn’t the lack of fear, but facing your fear and doing it anyway.

When you struggle with addiction, your mind will tell you it’s too hard to get clean and sober. Here’s the hard part, and it’s a BIG one. You can’t trust what you think. When your best thinking is destroying you, it’s time to accept help.

But there is GREAT news!!!

Addiction is treatable! You can get well!

Substance use disorder isn’t really about drugs and alcohol. It’s the absence of self. This void is described as a hole in your soul, and you can’t love others when you’re empty inside. Therapy peels back the painful layers and heals that void through connection, honesty, and hard work. To love oneself is the beginning of lifelong recovery.

If you’re contemplating rehab, know this. It’s the best decision you’ll ever make for yourself and your family. Reach out for help and find out what 23 million North Americans have already discovered… We do recover!”

Lorelie Rozzano
http://www.jaggedlittleedges.com

Categories
Home Base

Pegs

Guest post by Foster Chambers

I’ve always looked at my life as a peg board. I have a board full of pegs, with one empty space. These pegs are people, events, experiences (good or bad), places, and any other thing that’s affected me life.
Whenever a traumatic event happened, for that event a peg was pulled, thus leaving an empty space. If I lost someone from a death, a peg was pulled leaving more empty spaces. Am I making sense?

Whenever something positive happened, such as falling in love, a wonderful event, or anything that truly made me happy; that would fill an empty space on my board.
The issue with the happy moment pegs, taking place of the traumatic pegs, was my board was getting empty of pegs from trauma, without any happy moments to fill those spaces with.

So I, in my addiction decided to fill my board myself. Drugs, lifestyle choices, organizations, people, etc.. I was filling my board so fast. It was fun, exciting, and the trauma pegs were being yanked away, and filled with my favorite peg of all…drugs.
Then I noticed my board was filling up with the majority of drug labeled pegs. Trauma pegs were leaving, but so were all the other pegs that I wanted to hold onto. All my pegs were changing, as drugs took over my life.

If you remember I said “with one empty space.” I couldn’t figure out what that one empty space could be? How can I fill it? Doesn’t an empty space mean I’m incomplete?
The moment I asked myself that question, I knew the answer. I bet if you stopped reading right now, you would know it too.
Exactly; my Higher power (whom I choose to be God) is the one empty space. Why is it that it’s empty in the beginning? I decided to let Him in my life to complete my board. He gives me a choice to to serve Him, or not. When I pick my Higherpower to lead me, guide me, and direct my path, my life is complete. Notice I didn’t say my peg board is full. Why? The loss of loved ones, things that I loved that are gone, those holes shouldn’t be filled. I need to feel that loss. Not for the pain, but so I never forget them. Those holes, also bring back memories of happy times with them people. Joyful memories, that fill other empty spaces from life’s hurts.

My extreme traumatic event holes; I personally never want those holes filled either. I want them holes to remain open, in hopes that writing about them, sharing them, and using them to help others wont fill them, but lightly blanketed by the love of the most important hole I chose to fill with the peg that matters most, God.

Am I complete; I don’t know? Am I content with my board the way it is; never? Will I trust my higher power to blanket those certain holes with love, and guidance, until I know what goes in that spot?… ABSOLUTELY.