I was pulled the other day about an opinion I had made recently at work, apparently, it wasn’t appropriate, basically, it wasn’t the right time or place to have shared my opinion. A wave of shame smothered me but being compliant, I took it on the chin and apologised.
But after the meeting, it didn’t sit right and after a lifetime of feeling misunderstood or unheard, the feeling of shame hung around me and I needed more time to process it.
I find it hard sometimes in the workplace, after all, I am well known for my honesty and for the most time, it is welcomed, refreshing even, I am often praised for it, I am normally the one brave enough in room to say what everyone else is thinking because they are too afraid to speak up, but when my opinion goes against the status quo, the party line, I am expected to stay silent.
"Living with integrity means: Not settling for less than what you know you deserve in your relationships. Asking for what you want and need from others. Speaking your truth, even though it might create conflict or tension. Behaving in ways that are in harmony with your personal values. Making choices based on what you believe, and not what others believe.”
― Barbara De Angelis
Whilst I recognise that life is all about compromise and everyone has the right to their own opinions, what I struggle the most with is comprising my voice, or feeling like I have to compromise my true thoughts out of fear of offending someone. Particularly those in authority, or who are on a higher grade than me.
Some people assume that me speaking my truth comes easily, it comes from a place of confidence, self-assurance, at to be fair most of the time it does, but for the other times, it can be scary and daunting.
After a lifetime of feeling misunderstood (mainly because I was unable to articulate how I felt because I didn’t either know or was more concerned about upsetting someone else), I now realise that the feeling of being misunderstood didn’t come from others, but came from a lack of understanding myself.
I have worked hard and I am still working hard on being happy in my own skin and being true to myself. This hasn’t and isn’t easy either, this has required me to work on reversing years of self-doubt, undoing limiting beliefs and assumptions that have held me back from being true to myself.
Asking me to be silent, is like asking me to go back to the person I was years ago, pretending to be a person I no longer recognise or relate too.
Shhhhhhhhh don't say that It will get you into trouble
Don't like what I say?
Then look the other way
Being mindful of what I say
Just in case it is taken the wrong way
I won't conform
To some of societies norms
Don't worry about me
I’ll carry the slack
It’s ok I've got a strong back
I won't change me
I won't give me away
This is me, I am here to stay
Finally happier in my skin
I won't be silenced out of fear of not fitting in
Like me or not
That is your choice
But I will never be silenced
I will always have my voice
Right, thats working on me sen for one day… I have got a life tha knows
It is the run-up to National Recovery Month my favorite month of the year.
All-day yesterday I had the privilege of being in the company of being surrounded by some incredible people all of whom carry their own recovery toolkits, each toolkit different from the next, but all equally they have supported them on their own recovery journey and like the chef and any tradesman or women our trades are worthless without our tools.
Just being able to share and laugh even, about the insane moments in our lives that for someone who has never personally experienced addiction may never understand or relate to is priceless. To talk about what was in our own recovery toolkits, we talked about the times the days when we left home without it? or misplaced it for a while, or even losing and having to replace it with a new one and start again.
Each an everyone of us has found our own recovery, developed our own recovery toolkit, everyones toolkits will look different and contain different things these could be
Conversations from the past when the penny has dropped, the Eureka moments lets say…
A collection of tips and tricks of the trade shared by others who have openly shared some of their own tools from their own toolkits to help us in our own recovery.
New understanding and self awareness of how our own addictive behaviour worked for us
Memories that remind us of how far we have come
Mementos or souvenirs from completed programs or groups
Certificates, our reward for new found knowledge
New foundself esteem and self worth
Memories of volunteering or giving back
Notes to remind us to make time for ourselves
After years of selfishness, a bank of appreciation for our loved ones our communities
coins of compassion
I don’t know about you, but I know that there will always be some new tools that I can take and use in my own toolkit, writing is one of them.
Each and everyone one of us has our own recovery toolkit “What’s in yours?”
We have all wondered or asked ourselves “There has got to be more to life than this?” this generally occurs following either negative or unhealthy period whether that be years of self-abuse, self-doubt, returning to unhealthy relationships, turning to substances or acting out on behaviors that push people away, whatever the reason, I would hazard a guess that you have been there too? You know like one day you can be having a great day then BAM some unexpected Shit happens which can leave us feeling lost, fed up or go into fuck it mode.
I have all run around being the fixer, trying to make everyone happy in an attempt to create some sense of happiness and satisfaction for myself but unfortunately, that instant gratification I get from making someone happy doesn’t last that long and soon fades. Thinking that by doing and giving my all to everyone else, in return for feeling valued, loved, wanted, accepted, quite frankly its just a form of denial in itself.
I believe we can either own our stories (even the messy ones), or we can stand outside of them—denying our vulnerabilities and imperfections, deleting the parts of us that don’t fit in with who/what we think we’re supposed to be, chasing other people’s approval of our worthiness. It is quite frankly fucking exhausting and can feel like its a never-ending performance.
But I can honestly say that giving myself some space and time, just an hour in the morning to download my shit in my diary, (which by the way currently contains over 106,00 words) is really helping me to be able to step back, de-construct, review, think about how that situation is making me feel, ask myself what “what can I do?” Be clear about “what I can’t do or change” but more importantly give myself a fucking break!
Any problem, issue or concern whatever it is will require some thinking, reasoning, testing your theories, but you have to make time for this to #Haveawordwiyasen. Reaching out to others can help (you don’t have to do it all alone) seeking out counselors, sponsors or support groups.
You will need to consider what steps you are going to need to take to fix the problem or issue? what action are you going to take? what resources or support will you need? Some people expect that once they have identified or diagnosed unhealthy behaviors that they will change overnight, which is an unrealistic expectation considering some of our behaviors have been manifesting and growing for years.
Working on yourself before anyone else requires you to be brave and vulnerable all at the same time, there can be darker periods of self-reflection that can create states of self-doubt. I always associate these periods as being akin to pregnancy and giving birth, as a mother you trust that all the pain and discomfort will all be worth it because you are creating something magical, creating a new life and new and happier more contented version of yourself.
A starting point can be asking yourself one or two what appear to be on the surface to be very simple questions… (But they are vital)
What do you want?
What don’t you want?
Talking through your answers with your support network can help you get through this, what can sometimes feel a dark, lonely and isolating period. But we have to remember that, that’s all it is! a period a moment in our life that will pass.
Do a gratitude list – I do this often, it helps remind me about all the things I am truly grateful for and blessed to have in my life, this can also help outweigh or fill the voids
What I am learning to value more and more about my Journey is
We all can take back some control
Shit wont change, unless you are willing to change
Even the smallest changes eventually will make a BIG difference
Dont be afraid to try something new, something different
Its ok to not be ok
Be kind to yourself, no fucker is perfect
Read more – there is a whole universe of words out there, reading can help you realise that you are not alone in your thoughts
Nurture your friendships and relationships with others, but remember the most important relationship that you will ever have is with yourself.
So on that note, i’m off to clean the downstairs of my house, cos it’s loppy and i aint going to clean itself
I only share my knowledge with the intention of helping others. I have often questioned myself “Is it narcissistic to share openly about who I am?” But what I am learning is that if anything I take a risk of being misjudged every time I press the send button and a recent misinterpretation or accusation has just confirmed this.
The post on here is a synopsis of my daily journalling, which for me has helped me understand who I am. Writing has helped me understand myself and if my writing has helped another person, then it s a bonus. But the primary goal is my own personal development.
Sharing about some of my most vulnerable moments have actually turned out to be some of my greatest. I have been researching, reading and reflecting on the shame of late. As a result, I have felt better equip to recognise when I am feeling shame and I have learned how shame can silence us, how it has suffocated me and prevented me from moving forward.
I have carried a lifetime of shame, shameful thoughts and feelings that have restricted me and held me back from being my full potential. In my journaling I able to better question emotional and mental shame moments, I revisit them, dissect them then disregard them and then move on. Researchers suggest that the difference between shame and guilt is the difference between “I am bad” or “I did something bad” so for example
Guilt = I did something bad
Shame = I am bad
Shame for me has been like an invisible disease, shame has in the past consumed my thoughts and feelings and stunted my own emotional growth. Over the past year or so, I have learned more about who I am, but also the more I seem to learn about myself the less I actually know, which can be scary in itself. BUT, I would much rather live with the fear of the unknown, knowing who I am and learning to recognise and accept that “I am good enough”.
When I open up or share some of the invisible fears derived from shame that have consumed me, people are often amazed or confused “how can you think like that?” Or “I would have never known that about you, you always seem so confident “ and that is precisely why I am willing to share my own vulnerabilities, because we live in a society where it isn’t trendy or socially acceptable to show “what might be described as weakness”. My view is that what society labels as being a weakness is actually a strength.
We are all victims of our own emotions, and this isn’t about blame, but if we grew up in an environment where emotions were not acknowledged or talked about? Then how are we supposed to know how or what we are feeling?
I have been through my own shit, affected by my own addiction, my father’s addiction and have worked in the addiction field long enough to know that one of the key factors that keep people locked in a cycle of addiction is using substances or behaviours in order to avoid emotional pain. In, fact physical pain and intense experiences of social rejection hurt in the same way and just as we often struggle to describe or define physical pain the same can be said for emotional pain.
Consider two scenarios. In the first, you spill a hot cup of coffee on your forearm and experience intense pain. In the second, you look at pictures of your former romantic partner, a person with whom you recently experienced an unwanted break- up; as you view each photo you feel rejected and experience another kind of “pain.” On the surface, these two events seem quite distinct. Whereas the former involves a noxious bodily stimulus, the latter involves the termination of a social relationship. However, cultures around the world use the same language—words like “hurt” and “pain”—to describe both experiences raising the question: How similar are social re- jection and physical pain? https://www.pnas.org/content/pnas/108/15/6270.full.pdf
So if we are feeling highly emotional for what might appear for no reason? We need to learn to understand that there is always a reason. It can help to learn to question where this pain is coming from, if we don’t we will try our best to label it or push it to one side, deny the emotion, sometimes using substances to dull the emotional feeling or acting out in other distructivebehaviours.
Thats why you will see people seek out support groups or another professional, like a counsellor to help them navigate life. Many do this with the expectation that someone else can help them heal from what ever is causing the distress at that time, but the bottom line is that the only person that can heal us, is ourselves. There is no denying that we can learn from others, being able to share some of our own pain with others who have experienced similar emotions creates a safe space to explore ourselves. I haven’t got to where I am now, without the support and guidance of others who have walked a similar path and have been willing to freely share their journey with me.
Helping people understand themselves should never be about personal financial gain however I do class myself fortunate to be financially rewarded in my job, because in addition to problem solving I am also able to help people find themselves. I share what’s most personal to me because I fundamentally value the importance of being open and transparent and that’s why I love working in the recovery field, I get to work and meet some of the most vulnerable but also the most courageous people I know and I am learning as much from them, as they are from me.
I will continue to use my position, my platform if you like to fight for the underdogs, for those who have been disregarded because of personal life choices or whose voice isn’t easily heard or ignored and if some people don’t get that, then that’s their problem, its no longer mine and I am slowly learning that it isn’t something to be ashamed about.
Our society is increasingly becoming emotionally phobic – everyone is running around trying to escape their uncomfortable internal feelings, trying to pretend to the outside world that everything is ok, when in fact we are not ok! Using drugs to mask the uncomfortable feelings and emotions, acting out, behaving in such ways that will change how we feel about ourselves. But this is only a temporary fix.
Feeling unable to say how we truly feel out of fear of rejection or shame, only serves to enslave us with our own uncomfortable emotions. We run around like fucking headless chickens trying to measure our self-worth based on praise or disappointment from others, acting out accordingly rather than seeking if from ourselves. I have talked previously about getting the balance right is balancing act in itself, now I am not saying that finding the balance is easy I would go as far to say, it hasn’t, it isn’t and will probably continue to become hard at times.
But then there are the highs, I find that in my moments of clarity, is when I realise and accept that, our feelings, including the lows, self-doubt are a perfectly normal part of being human and that’s ok! Sharing our vulnerability openly and honestly is a courageous trait to have, but to feel courageous we must be prepared to feel fear and those feelings that have been wrapped in a bubble of our perceived perfection.
For me, writing, talking to others and listening to myself helps me to better understand and sit with those uncomfortable and painful emotions, emotions that have been developing for years, emotions that have been reinforced by societies expectations and my own, so to expect these emotions to change overnight, just because I am aware of them, is a big ask or anyone, including ourselves.
So if you are having a sad moment, a bad day, tell yourself “it is ok” this is just part of figuring yourself out and I will get through this and YOU WILL
And to prove this point, you only have to look back at all you have already been through emotionally and physically, to know that if you are reading this, you are already a survivor.
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up OR leave me your email. If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x
I want to share an excert from the book with you a snippet into my time as an addict, I also wanted to share some of my thoughts on what I think recovery is….
It’s been 25+ years since I got sectioned, after weeks of denial and insistence that there was nothing wrong with me I accepted defeat. Drug-induced psychosis was my prognosis, I walked from the reception down the hospital corridor thinking “How the fuck have I ended up here?”. I was led to my bed which was set in the middle of a ward full of strangers, I knew that I wasn’t alone because I could hear noises, some snoring, some groaning, But then I think my arrival had woken one of the other patients and as I climbed under the crisp hospital sheets I could hear her shouting. Afraid to look up, I pretended to be asleep, I must have disturbed her because she was pacing back and forth past the bottom of my hospital bed, demanding to be able to sleep “just like her” referring to me. Little did she know that was all I wanted too, after two days of no sleep, feeling broken, alone, hurt, confused I just wanted to go to sleep and hope that this was just one big fucking BAD dream.
Those first few days are a blur, as I withdrew from the illicit substances, which had become my comfort blanket, my crutch, the buzz I once got was quickly replaced by a cloud of shame, confusion, but most of all fear. I had lost my ability to think, I was numb, detached, a shell of who I used to be. The realisation hit me, the humiliation that as a mother to two children “I should have known better” I had to face the harsh reality that I had not just failed and let down my family and my kids, I had let myself down.
But who was I? I had lost my identity; but then did I ever know who I really was? I questioned “what’s the point? Why am I here?” the only thing that I did feel was my maternal instinct, an ache in my gut that reminded me that I two kids who needed their mom and there was NO FUCKING WAY they would end up care, just because of their mother’s stupid mistakes. But deep down I was scared, shit scared because I didn’t have clue where to start? Accepting I had monumentally fucked up big time was the hardest part, I had been brought up to be tough, not to show weakness and now I was open, exposed and vulnerable. “Was this my rock bottom?”
Blood is Thicker than Alcohol By Tracey Ford
My time and memories from Middlewood Hospital will stay with me until my dying days, the staff at the hospital were great, and the patients even better, they didn’t push or enquire, only after my health or if I wanted a drink? They gave me the space to think, away from the external noise the pressure and pain, they gave me a space to reflect hidden from societies expectations that had just gotten too much. I learned that the patients were, in fact, a lot like me different scenarios or circumstances but the bottom line was they were there because life had become too much. Like them, I had been pushed to my limits and I knew deep down it was time to push back. But I simply didn’t have the emotional or physical strength within me. So I welcomed the sense of nothingness, none of the demands from the outside and embraced the feeling that I was safe (for now) and used the time in the hospital to rest.
When it was my time to leave, I wasn’t ready, I could have quite happily stayed in that place which had become my new comfort blanket. My head was still fucked, I still felt vulnerable and frightened about what lay ahead of me and the prospect of going back to some of the things that had contributed to my breakdown scared the shit out of me. Dealing with expectations from loved ones that everything will somehow go back to normal “whatever the fuck that means!” as in their eyes, it was the drugs that created the fucked up, crazy person I had become, they didn’t have the capacity or insight to even start to comprehend that my recovery journey was only just starting. They didn’t understand that whilst I may have been physically clean, it was going to take a lot longer to become emotionally clean, but then again at the time, I didn’t understand that neither so how could they?
Recovery is about making mistakes, but more importantly, learning from them too, but this doesn’t just mean lapsing by taking substances, the emotional part of recovery is often overlooked but it is essential. I had my complacent moment, a relapse, I recall the day well, I was offered and took what was once my usual dosage and I thought my head would explode, I immediately realised during the height of the high, that I couldn’t touch the shit again.
A large part of our recovery hinges on what we are comfortable doing & what fits with or own personal beliefs and values. The problem I found was I didn’t know what my beliefs and values were anymore; I felt like I was being reborn, and was going back to basics. I started to question everything, if it didn’t feel right, then it probably wasn’t, so much so after two months being back in the family home, I left with the kids to go it alone, I left with no material possessions but reasoned that material possessions could always be replaced and my sanity was worth more.
My personal challenge going forward is to learning to accept and embrace the good with the bad and to be fair it’s not all bad, a lot has changed in the past 25 years and a lot of it is positive, I have a degree, I am employed in a job that I love, I am in a relationship with a guy who accepts me for me and best of all, those two kids of mine have turned out ok, under the circumstances and I am very very proud of them both.
But the point I want to make and share is that I may be 25+ years into recovery from illicit drug use, but I am still learning to come to terms with unwanted & uncomfortable feelings, emotions or the limiting beliefs that can and do come back to haunt me when I least expect it. Only this time I don’t turn to drugs to mask them.
The harsh reality is without a shadow of a doubt some people do drink or take drugs to mask and deal with emotions they would much rather ignore, others don’t! I was one of those who did and despite all of this; I can honestly say I wouldn’t change a single thing because had I not gone through that very painful experience I wouldn’t be who I am today.
I have learned and am still learning just how powerful our thoughts and feelings can influence who we are, I know myself better, I know my default position will always be “I’m not good enough or feeling misunderstood” and that’s ok, I can live with that, because I now understand where they come from, which is the past. I have a lifetime of memories that haunt or even taunt me from time to time, but by knowing myself better than I ever did and I’m realising and coming to accept that I shall be forever learning about myself until I take my last breath.
So what have I learned over the past 25+ years in recovery
Recovery is about being brave,
Even when you feel afraid
Recovery is about learning to trust yourself
When you doubt everyone else
Recovery is about finding good friends
People you trust, who will defend you until the end
Recovery is about recognising our weaknesses are in fact our strengths
And reminding ourselves “That nobody is perfect, they just pretend"
Recovery is about recognising our past’s act as our guide
We have a choice, we can either stand up or hide
Recovery is about recognising we are all creatures of habit
But that habits can be changed
Recovery is exploring the old beliefs and values
And breaking those chains
But most of all Recovery is
About being true to you
Be kind to you
Because that's all you can do
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up OR leave me your email. If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x
The other day I sat in a room full of people who were sharing about how their emotions had taken hold, the emotions had got the better of them and then the inevitable happened “Relapse”. I shared that even though it has been a long time since I have picked up an illicit drug, I still have days when I have what I call an “emotional relapse,” but rather than pick up drugs, I pick up the negative self-talk, the negative thoughts, that like a cyclone take hold and lift me into a depressive and dark emotional place.
There were times my early recovery where I would spend, days or even weeks wrapped up in a negative mindset. This then impacted on my behaviour, how I would react, or overreact my case, I could sit and stew on my emotions for a while before I would realise that it is time to turn down the heat, take a step back, and take the time to reflect and get in touch with what was “really” going on for me. I find I can never move forward or past feeling shit, without addressing or getting to the bottom of what I was thinking to truly understand how this was making me feel.
One of the biggest lessons I have learned and still learning about more recently is to embrace vulnerability when the cloud of vulnerability eclipses me I have been wanting something or someone to remove the vulnerable feelings, I have been treating my feelings as a nuisance or an illness that needs to be cured or removed, especially those negative emotions. The vulnerability I have felt, I now realise has come from seeking validation from others, I have been measuring my self-worth based on someone else’s or organizational conditioning.
I am still coming to terms with the reality that that suffering is inevitable, it is part of being human and to deny this and continuing escape it only keeps me in that hamster wheel, the inescapable cycle of suffering where nothing will change until I address who I am today, why I came to be where I am are, and learning to understand where the emotional grief comes from.
Nobody can understand me better than myself. Being honest about the things I might do wrong, being able to admit to things I need to change, can only come from within me. Willingness to see and change, the decision to change what I don’t like about my life, can only come from me.
Having support from trusted friends is crucial, use them as a sounding board, but to seek out people with the expectation that they can solve your emotional crisis is futile when they have never been through the things you’ve been through, emotionally, they may be able to relate, they may have experienced similar feelings and hurt, but that’s there own and not yours.
I am coming to accept, and I am learning to understand that my emotions are there to guide me, protect me, and in order to help myself I need to learn to listen more to understand them.
Getting to this place, or learning to understand myself to this degree, has taken years of practice and I will probably be still be reflecting and learning about myself until I draw on my last breath. I haven’t done this in isolation though I have listened and learned from others, taken the parts that fit me, life is like a jigsaw puzzle I am slowly building a picture of who I really am.
Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more post, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you didn’t, then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x