What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger

We have all heard about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), well I wanted to talk about something called Post Traumatic Growth (PTG).

Please note I am no psychologist and have no desire to be one. But I am fascinated about personal development so when I came across this term Post Traumatic Growth, I read a little more, I found that there were many parallels and similarities with my own recovery journey, and I wanted to share this with you.

So, what’s the difference between Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) refers to individuals who find no benefit from their trauma only pain and anxiety.

Post-traumatic growth (PTG) refers to the positive life changes that may come about from trauma or traumatic event. PTG is about being able to maintain a sense of hope that not only can a person who has experienced trauma survive but they can also experience positive life changes as a result.

Addiction can be a result of a traumatic event and/or Addiction can cause a traumatic event.

I am a firm believer that for some people the addiction in itself can be a traumatic experience. Now I am not for one-minute excusing the addictive actions and behaviours of addicts. But I do believe that at the core and one of the more often-overlooked consequences of addiction (albeit) self-inflicted is the emotional abuse/trauma on the addict as a result of the lengths they have gone to feed their habits. For example, living on the streets, living in constant fight or flight mode, losing children, being involved in violent relationships, sexual exploitation, Christ the list goes on an on…

What I am trying to say is that sometimes recovering from addiction can be as traumatic as the event that might have triggered the addiction in the first place.

There is a saying “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger” well I don’t know about any of you, but I am personally grateful for all the shit/trauma I have been through because I truly believe that I am a better person for it. And I know for certain had it not been for some of the personal trauma that drove my addiction, I wouldn’t have found the hidden abilities and strengths that existed within me, for me this is Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) in action.

And I am not alone, over the past 20+ years I have supported, worked alongside, and had the privilege to witness others who have successfully been able to walk away from highly addictive substances. I have seen broken men/women morph, from caterpillar, chrysalis, to then transform into a butterfly with colourful exquisite wings that allow them to fly.

Did you know that in order to be able to become a butterfly, the caterpillar has to fall apart completely, decompose down to its very essence, devoid of any shape or consciousness. It literally dies. There is nothing left of it. And from this liquid essence, the butterfly starts to put itself together, from scratch? Now that’s recovery.

 Below are some of the  benefits reported from Post Traumatic Growth;

Feeling stronger and finding hidden abilities and strengths; this changes the person’s self-concept and gives them the confidence to face new challenges “If I can survive this, I can survive anything”

Relationships are strengthened, which is reflected in how people often speak of “finding out who their true friends are” after they have experienced a trauma

Peoples priorities have shifted, and philosophies concerning the present day and other people are altered, e.g. “living for the moment and prioritising yourself and your loved ones

For those of you in recovery reading this, does this sound familiar?

There is a misconception out that people’s recovery journeys start when they stop abusing substances. But in fact, people’s recovery journey’s start when they start doing some self-exploration, when they start to learn about themselves.

Post-traumatic growth it doesn’t mean that there is an absence of distress quite the contrary, sometimes our recovery can feel as risky as some of the risks we took when using. There had been many a time I felt like throwing in the towel and saying, “Fuck it!”. Trust me exposing ourselves to our own truths can be one of the most daunting and scary experiences we will ever go through

Recovery is hard and can be a very traumatic experience for most involved, but it is worth it and with support, recovery can offer us the opportunity not just to resist taking substance, but it can give us opportunities to grow and be a the very best version of ourselves.

Just like the Butterfly, be proud of your recovery transformation and fly

Love Fordy

 

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are, be proud of your recovery and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too 

 

Negotiating Boundaries in Recovery

 

I used to be afraid of setting boundaries, mainly out of fear, but mostly because I was out of practice, or did I ever practice even? I was fearful of hurting, upsetting, disappointing, worried I would come across as being selfish, you name it the list goes on and on.

I did have boundaries but they were in my head or heart, invisible to others because I didn’t let people know what they were. I found myself doing things I don’t want to do, or not saying what I wanted to say. Then I would get resentful and angry at the other person when in all fairness it was my fault, I was allowing myself to be used and hurt, eventually keeping everyone out.

I was essentially just people-pleasing consistently putting other people’s needs before my own, which only contributed to damaging my self-esteem and recovery in the longer run. 

I am fortunate that boundaries are not required in a lot of my relationships nowadays, I am respected and my needs are met, the word boundaries goes unspoken, I don’t need to explain my expectations or ask to asked how I want to be treated. But I have still have relationships where my boundaries are currently to the limit

For me, there are four key boundaries, that I keep in check 

Time – Making time for me and having it

People  – I am clear about the kinda people I want in my life and the ones I don’t

Emotional – having strategies in place that protect my feelings 

Drama – I decided what drama I will engage in and what I won’t 

I know life would be so much easier if people could assume and know what our boundaries were, but people are not mind readers, I know It feels shit and that some boundaries are harder to implement and stick to more than others, but if you are searching for some peace and want to nourish your self-esteem, YOUR recovery you will have to.

So how do you identify your boundaries?

I always advise someone who needs to establish some boundaries, to first negotiate with themselves, asking 5 simple questions, 

  1. What do I want? 
  2. What I can do
  3. What I can’t I do
  4. What I will do
  5. What I won’t do

Answer these questions and will have a clearer idea of what boundaries you will need to set if you are clear about the above answers. 

The next step is communicating it – now this can be the hard part, but you need to remember that our lives are a series of negotiations and we were given a voice for a reason, but to enforce our boundaries we have to voice them.

The truth is that some people won’t like your boundaries (especially if you’ve let them walk all over you in the past). However, many people in your life will adjust to your new boundaries. Some may initially be confused by your new-found assertiveness. Or they may not take it seriously and assume you’ll back down and go back to your old ways if they resit.  Remember this understandable, especially if you haven’t enforced your boundaries in the past. 

Some times I can feel like things get worse before they get better. But most people will adjust to your boundaries and learn to respect them. Some, of course, will continue to resist. It is at this point you have to decide whether or not you will continue to have that person in your life and say GOODBYE 

On a final note 

The boundaries you need to set are unique to you, sadly there are no rule books, so you will need to identify your specific boundaries, (talk to a trusted friend) practice asserting yourself, learn to continuously refine and update your boundaries as your needs and relationships change.

 

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

 

Recovery Wobble

Recovery Wobble

Fuck it! I hear you say

Every reason to use

None to stay clean

“What’s the point” I hear you say

Stuck in between

Torn between right and wrong

I get it…

“The temptation to use is strong!

But before you use

Do ya sen a favour…

Just take five

Step back from the madness

Take a look inside…

Ask yourself this

“What’s causing you pain?”

“If you use what will you gain?”

You have got nothing to lose

But before you choose

Look how far you have come

Remember the challenges

You have overcome

Remember the pride

You glowed from inside

Remember the shame

It nearly drove you insane

You were once stuck in a rut

But then you found a way out

Are you going to throw it all away?

Because of a little doubt?

You’re having a wobble

It’s part of the journey

Go pick up a phone

You are not alone

Share your burden

Offload you’re thoughts

Give yourself a break

Trust me when I say

“You got this mate”

 

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

 

Statistics suggest that someone in addiction can have the best chance of recovery when their families are educated and in recovery too, but be warned there are no guarantees. 

 

When dad came back into my life I could have never foreseen or predicted the journey I was about to take, I thought my addiction took me to dark places within myself, but dads addiction opened a new door to new fucking stratosphere of sadness and pain, but this time the option to turn to substance to help self medicate wasn’t there.

Trying to reason with someone who is permanently intoxicated is near on impossible, sometimes there would be a glimmer of hope, he would be hospitalised which gave him some clean time, I would get drawn into a false sense of security and hope, the promises of stopping drinking and sometimes he would stay clean for a time, but he would soon crave, kick-starting the cycle of madness all over again. – again It wasn’t easy.

Loving an addict is like grieving the loss of someone who is still alive, coming to terms with the hurt when you realize that the drug is more important than you. The sadness can be all-consuming and it used to come in waves, often I would push to one side my needs or the needs of others prioritising the needs of my dads. 

I found I had become addicted to dad, every waking moment, one moment I had hope, the next I would be waiting for the dreaded phone call to arrive. I was on a parallel journey with the addicted side of dad whilst he became obsessed with his drug of choice, I become obsessed with him.

My friends and family became sick of my incessant obsession with dad, I would turn down opportunities to socialise, soon the invites stopped coming. 

I knew first hand when I was entrenched in my addition I couldn’t see or acknowledge the damage I was doing to myself, let alone the damage and pain I caused my loved ones around me, that’s not to say I didn’t care, but I was so self-obsessed with myself I didn’t have the capacity to see. So I would try my dammed best to not take dads refusal of help personally, but the rejection and denial still hurt.

It seems counter-intuitive and is often greeted with confusion when someone suggests to a family member of an addict that they should seek help for themselves, after all its the addict who is ill, their rationale is “if the addict gets clean, then everything will go back to normal.” But the thing is, life will never go back to normal “Whatever the fuck normal means” 

I started to come to terms and to accept that whilst the opportunities to get clean might be there for dad if choice nor will isn’t there then I could never force him into recovery. Accepting he was on his own journey was hard, I had a choice whether or not I walked his journey with him, or walked away. In my case, I stayed, but I accepted I needed support.

Accepting help can take you on a journey, a healthier journey, helping you to become a more resilient version of yourself, you become more self-aware, your mind becomes less consumed with the addict. One of the biggest learning curves was accepting that I wasn’t responsible for dad’s addiction, the same as my mother or father wasn’t responsible for mine. 

The anger I felt, at the time was indescribable, resentments which I had bottled up from the past and anger around dad coming back into my life ate me alive inside. Then came the guilt, I would be ashamed of some of the thoughts that consumed my mind. I couldn’t talk to family, they were sick I hearing about my wows, I could see colleagues eyes roll at the very mention of dad. 

I found talking, and being able to offload the hurt and pain with like-minded people acted like a pressure valve slowly being released, it helped me lighten my thoughts, patterns of thinking, it helped me get back in touch with my own emotions, focusing less on the dad, what he said, what he did, or worse didn’t do

Support gave me a new perspective, the ability to see things differently. 

In my case eventually, dad’s alcoholism did kill him, I still live with regrets, I am not the person I was before dad and his addiction, but I am certainly a stronger version of who I was. Nothing in life is easy, but with the right support and willingness to accept support, it can help ease the burden. 

We only have one shot at this thing we call life but what I learned so far is that above everything that I have been through, is that the most important person in this world is ourselves. 

So for those still living on their wit’s end 

Please don’t forget you 

There is no denying you will still feel like crying 

Addiction is a heavy burden to bear

But try not to despair 

Remember“Deep down they know you care”

Make a pledge to yourself 

Be the best version of you

That’s all you can do

Your life is not over

Make time to mourn 

But be the best version you can

And continue to learn

Appreciate what you have got

We are not here long

Live one day at a time

Continue to be strong

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, please go to https://www.shithappens.me.uk/contact/ and sign up, If you liked the post please share, if you don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too.

Love Fordy x

My Addiction was the best thing that ever happened to me

I knew deep down that my drug use couldn’t go on forever, I just never knew when or what would make it stop, I was praying for someone, something any intervention to make all the pain go away. This period of my life was like being in a real-life nightmare, I knew my drug use was causing me harm, physically, emotionally and spiritually, but still, I felt compelled to use it. 

I can still vividly recall the many time’s I would look at my gear before ingesting it, knowing deep down it wasn’t good for me, I could stare at it for a while but could see no other alternatives so just went into “Fuck it” mode and would down the lot.

My thinking became so distorted I truly believed that the drugs were giving me some relief from life at that time, I had developed a warped sense of reality, I no longer trusted anyone, apart from one person, my dealer. 

We would spend hours talking shit, I felt like he was the only person who knew me, got me, understood me, turns out this was just a part of my delusions, psychosis brought on by my dependency on the drugs. 

I loved my job, It was my only place of sanctuary away from home, I love the customers the camaraderie but I could also sense that, that was also spiraling out of control, people started to treat me differently (or so I thought, I never considered it might be me) I was becoming less reliable and then one day I was given pay packet and asked to not come back. 

I was a walking paradox, I was a fake, everything about me was a lie, to the outside world all was good, life was good, but on the inside, I was screaming and crying to be helped, but the words would never come. 

I tried to hide my raging habit from friends and especially family fearing what might happen if people did find out, Oh god the shame I would bring on the family I couldn’t tell people that my parters job was dealing drugs and I was his joey, but they knew something wasn’t right.

Family and friends questioned my ever decreasing weight loss, I would shrug it off and blame work or being forever busy and always on the go, or worse I would interpret their questioning as being envious for not being able to lose weight themselves.

I became a master manipulator, I could twist people’s concerns and make them about them and not me. My mom had tried to seek help and had me assessed by professionals, on one occasion she even called the police, but would always deny that I had a problem and of course the offers of support.

All this did was isolate me even more which was more soul-destroying. I couldn’t go on like this forever, I knew something had to give and it eventually did, I snapped. 

https://www.shithappens.me.uk/2019/08/09/understanding-my-own-recovery-journey/ 

I gave up, I didn’t care anymore, I had no more fight left me, I realised I didn’t care what my partner said anymore, his words just bounced off me, they no longer perpetrated me as they had done before, I no longer gave a fuck about anything including myself! 

I can look back now and say hand on my heart that my addiction was the best thing that ever happened to me and I wouldn’t change a thing, the lessons learned have been life-changing, and any old or new ambitions I ever had have been realised in my recovery.

My drug addiction took me to dark places within myself I never knew existed, in early recovery I was still in that dark place, but I was brave enough to switch a light on when i did I started to see myself differently. My recovery was and has been slow, painful and many a time has been extremely hard, the struggle was real, but then when I compare it to how I was when using, there is no comparison.

In my early recovery whilst I still felt isolated, physically and mentally, I knew I had to step away from old associates and take a risk on trying to find out who I was. Ironically I started to feel more comfortable with being alone, not depending on or someone being dependant on me offered some light relief, it was a different kind of isolation.

I had always ways been incredibly resourceful, so a large part of my recovery was about honing these skills to better use. This meant focusing on me, putting myself first instead of everyone else, even when at the time this felt selfish and self-indulgent, I knew deep down it was the right thing to do. 

I started to learn and assess the healthy and unhealthy ways that I was using my energy and learned to identify my positive and negative behaviour patterns.

The relationships that count have been restored and the new friendships that I used to desperately seek out are now present and a constant in my life. 

I am now longer afraid of my feelings, including the negative ones, I now realise that this is part of who we all are, we all will experience pain, whether self-inflicted or by another, it one part of being human. 

Before I felt constantly suffocated by my thoughts too afraid to say what I thought, now I will tell you what I think, no longer afraid to share my views out of fear of being laughed at or brushed off.

I am better able to accept that change is inevitable, I come to accept that time and other peoples actions are out of my control, the only thing I have control over is how I respond to change. I am willing to take a risk and have learned to trust that success always out weights the failures.

Life feels less frightening I am less afraid of failure I welcome failure, we all need failure, it helps us learn, failure isn’t a bad thing it is healthy, its character building and improves our sense of resilience.

Rather than bottling up what’s happening for me, I will now confide with people who I trust, people who are able and willing to accept me for who I am and who will tell me the things I might not like to hear.

Hand on my heart I truly believe that had it not been for my brush with addiction, I wouldn’t be who I am today, if you are in dark place, I encourage you to never give up on yourself, you are more than you think or feel you are, find the courage to switch the light on within yourself to find your way out

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 don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x

 

I promise you this, The more you learn about yourself the closer to will get to accepting yourself

 

Every single one of us craves the feeling of being part of something bigger than ourselves. By nature, we are tribal, and back in our caveman days, tribal culture was necessary for survival.

I have always been a daydreamer, as a kid, I would fantasize a lot,  I was trapped in a fantasy world wishing and hoping for something or someone to make me feel loved and content, it became a form of escapism.

Growing up I spent much of my life tiptoeing around my desire to find a group of people among whom I could be accepted, I always felt on the outside, I felt like everyone had someone and I had no one. I would adapt like a chameleon to fit into a group that felt safe and secure from the outside. I was on a continual search but my tribe the people who I belonged to kept on eluding me. 

In my teens I became a young mom, in a new relationship, I was caught up in a new identity and I gave up on my longing to fit in, my new mission was to deal with the cards I had dealt myself and get on with life. But there was always something missing, that longing for something, I still didn’t know what, but it was still there. I turned to drugs to drown out the dull ache, the empty feeling of loss, I would seek out others who I assumed would make me feel perfect, happy or content. – that clearly didn’t work

It wasn’t until I turned (or should I say was forced) to turn the spotlight on myself that I realised that the stories about what was normal and what I thought was perfection I’d been telling myself simply wasn’t true and the tribe or persons I was looking for, didn’t exist. 

I learned that the something I was searching for was already there, in me 

I realised I had been trying to cover the inner void with appearances, acting in ways that were socially acceptable but in doing that I wasn’t actually investing any time or attention on me, I was constantly avoiding me.

According to Byron Katie “We have 20/20 vision about others, but not about ourselves.” I have learned and am still learning a lot about how not to be the victim and started taking personal responsibility for what happens to myself, rather than blaming everybody else.

As a society we have a skewed image of normal, we perceive that normal becomes having the ideal relationship — or a relationship — a solid emotional self, a healthy life, plenty of money, drive and motivation, clear objectives, and an established sense of purpose. The implication is, that without these things, you’re not normal, I realised that normal doesn’t exist and if it does I would much rather be abnormal thank you very much.

We live in a society where individuals don’t know how to be truthful and how to come clean with each other, in a society that worships an idea of perfection and is neither open nor tolerant of difficulty or even difference.

But life is about challenge and doubt. We cannot escape it but we can restore balance when the balance isn’t present but to understand this requires you being connected with yourself to even begin to acknowledge it.

I learned that honesty had become a dirty word and that many people are scared, to tell the truth, out of fear of rejection, myself included.

I learned to realise that instead of trying to be part of a tribe that already existed, I would need to create my own. I now realise that there were people who I had, overlooked on my quest to find my “perfect tribe”. I had missed/overlooked them because they might have looked different to me or didn’t have anything in common with. 

I learned to be more open, take some risks and let people in, turns out that some of those people I let in have become my most unlikely friendships will last a lifetime.

Connection doesn’t necessarily involve knowing all the answers — but at least knowing what the questions helps? It’s ok to have issues, and experience challenges. It is ok to know some things and not know others, to navigate something, or handling a type of experience or feeling. Fear is normal. Anxiety is normal. Insecurity is normal.

I have learned the hard way and that being honest with yourself is not the easiest thing to do. Looking after everyone else, putting their need first, while your needs are put on the back burner doesn’t work. 

The weight of responsibility can feel like a heavy burden at times, it can also feel lonely, but the bottom line is that “this is your life to fix and shape as you see fit.” Healing takes time and distance to pick up the pieces that were broken, there are NO QUICK FIXES. 

We live in a society where it feels like technology is taking over, how we communicate is very different than it used to be, (I”m not saying its all bad) but it will not and cannot replace being able to sit opposite someone in person, look each other in the eyes, and have meaningful, genuine conversations about what truly, deeply matters to you. 

Something or someone can never fix the relationship that we have with ourselves, because the reality is, that the only thing or person that can do that for us, is ourselves. 

Do yourself a favor 

Make time for you, even if it’s 5 minutes a day

Remind yourself that you are enough, even when you might not feel like you are enough

Ask yourself “how are you feeling?” Answer yourself honestly 

Start to get to know who you really are, question everything, including your own thoughts!

And most of all, try not to be afraid 

Take risks

Learn from your mistakes 

I promise this – The more you learn about yourself the closer to will get to accepting yourself.

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 don’t then do nothing and that’s ok too, Love Fordy x

 

Lessons learned from one persons recovery

 

When I entered the mental hospital, I genuinely had nothing left, no feelings, no emotions, I mind was blank, my body completely numb, there was no resilience left in the tank. After a few sessions with the shrinks they concluded that I had had a couple if mini mental breakdowns in the run-up to the finale which saw me running around the streets in a drug-induced psychosis thinking I was John the Baptist who was being stalked by the devil himself, they also concluded that of course the speed wasn’t helping and was a contributing factor. 

Upon being discharged I returned to a toxic relationship that had contributed to my mental health breakdown in the first place.  I assumed after my short respite in the hospital, as did my family that I was fixed and that if I abstained from drugs that life would go back to normal “whatever the fuck that means”. But one afternoon two months of being back in the family home, the penny dropped, something inside of me changed and I decided there and then, that if I stayed there any longer I would be back to square one. That I would get sucked back into all the charade of deceit, manipulation and coercion disguised as a relationship all over again. 

The hardest part of my early recovery journey apart from being a single parent on benefits, with no means of going back to work I had lost sense of my identity I was a shell of the person I used to be, the home I was given was also a shell, no furniture no home comforts,. I recall my sister insisting that I go back to the family home and take what was mine, but I didn’t have the energy to fight over something that was also being used as a bargaining tool to entice me back.   I also knew no amount of materialism could fix what was broken everything that I thought I knew and believed had been sucked out of me, I had to start again. 

I knew that I couldn’t go back to being who I was before, I was no longer good old “Fordy” who would drop everything in return for feeling accepted or for an easy life. Something had changed, I had changed, I was no longer a passenger in this reality we call life, I was now the driver, albeit with L plates. As I look back I was still very vulnerable and still mentally unwell for a while, I had taken myself out of a toxic relationship and environment, but I still had more work to do on myself. 

I learned to distinguish who my real friends were and trust me apart from family there was no one, well no one that was good for me. The people I would once call friends were just actually transactional associates who didn’t have my best interest at heart. 

I learned this the hard way from a relapse, I had been clean for over 4 months, I bumped into an old associate (who was also an old dealer) with the offer of selling some stolen goods to make some quick cash, I agreed and started making a little on the side, one day I was offered some speed, despite this person being fully aware of my past history, and at the time I naively thought, “it won’t hurt” but as the drug started taking a hold, my body shook and I thought that my head might explode, I couldn’t think straight, it was like I had been teleported back to a very dark place. It wasn’t the reaction I was expecting, but then again, I wasn’t the same person, I knew that drugs weren’t the answer. 

The ability to be honest with yourself is not the easiest thing to do knowing that you need to nurture some love for ourselves. Looking after everyone else, putting their needs first, while your needs are put on the back burner doesn’t work. 

The weight of responsibility recovery comes with the knowledge that this is your life to fix and shape as you see fit and it can feel like the loneliest place on earth. Healing takes time and distance to pick up the pieces that were broken, there are NO QUICK FIXES This is one of the main things I learned since walking out of those doors of Middlewood hospital twenty plus years ago, I have also learned…

I have learned that my drug use was a very poor solution for fixing problems within myself, that only I could change. 

I have learned to accept that shit things happen and that not all of it is my fault or within my control – but this takes time a patience. 

I have learned to accept that I cannot change others into someone I want them to be because this is simply impossible – however you do have a choice, you have either accept them, tolerate them or walk away. 

I have learned to become brave, trying new things, meeting new people opening doors to something different.

I have learned to accept that I will fail at something and that failure isn’t a weakness, its part of life. 

I have learned that sometimes in order to gains some perspective, we need to step away and make time for self-reflection – this is a biggy and where peer support can come in handy

I have learned to love myself and put myself first – without feeling selfish or that I am letting others down

I have learned that you can create beautiful amazing things from sadness.

Other lessons learned from a loved one’s addiction

All this learning also helped when my father was catapulted back into my life 10 years later. Dad has always had a woman on his arm, I realised he had a new mistress and I was shocked when I realised his new mistress, was alcohol. Everything I had ever learned about my own addiction took on a whole new twist, I was now on the receiving end of a loved one’s addiction. I was forced into developing a whole new set of coping strategies.

I had to make a decision “did I stay or walk away?” I had every reason to walk away, I mean I didn’t owe this man anything, but knowing what I knew about my own addiction helped me to understand his and over the three years of caring for dad, I was able to see, that dad was no different to me, he shared memories that haunted taunted him, memories he was unable to forgive himself for.

I knew deep down that despite all the help, offers of support not just from the family but from professionals that the only person that could say goodbye and walk away from his relationship with alcohol was himself, sadly he never could and sadly he died from it.

Fast forward

Years ago I had never heard of AA or NA before, but now there is so much more on offer and with over 49 different support groups operating in the city, there is much to chose from. Over the years, as more people speak out, as more peer-led support groups, online forums develop there is more than ever someone out there who can help you find yourself again. But don’t be duped or fooled into thinking that a support group or someone else alone can cure you, but they can help you cure yourself but more importantly love and accept yourself.

As a recovery community, we don’t look down on relapse we see this as being an opportunity to learn and accept that relapse is part of the journey to finding and loving yourself. all we can do is help and guide others, by sharing our own experiences we can demonstrate that using substances to fix something that is or may seem to be broken isn’t a solution and by offering, encouragement, support, and guidance hopefully, we can inspire and show that anything is possible. 

 

Try not to be afraid of who you truly are and remember, if you would like to subscribe to more posts, 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

 

What’s​ in your recovery​ toolkit?

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 found self 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?” 

Love Fordy xx

Understanding and managing shame

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.

Love Fordy x