Greetings after quite some time, my fellow Choose Courage Foundation supporters! I am writing after something of a hiatus; I took a good amount of time recently and made some big changes in my life, and all of it has been possible because of the intensive healing work I’ve done. Here’s a quick cap: my kids are doing well, I am in a relationship that is healthy and healing, I have not had a drink in 17 months, and I started working full-time, in-office for the first time in my life. I said in my interview that this was the first time that I was doing something for myself that will also benefit everyone in my adult life, and I think that really sums everything up nicely. 

So I am going to share, not the journey so much, but the actual tools I use. First, I was in intensive outpatient therapy for 8 months last year, so therapy and medical help will always be the right first choice. Before I talk about visualization and self-communication, I want to talk about shadow work. Shadow work, our shadow-selves, is a Carl Jungian term that basically means you can’t truly come into touch with yourself until you face the parts that most of us don’t really want to see. Battling your ego. Diving down into your darkest depths to rise with your brightest light. 

I think you have to be very ready to change to embark on this journey. Addiction is complex, and it has taken a lot of work to begin to break the cycle. I’d love to say I’ve broken it, but the truth is, it is never broken and requires constant vigilance. However, by taking a good look at the darker parts of it, I was able to come to terms with my pattern. It is tied to how I allow people to treat me and deeply affect me, which is always followed by a period of self-destruction. I decided the best way to tackle this would be to get out and around the people of the world. So despite my significant physical challenges (secondary progressive multiple sclerosis and Chron’s disease), I am getting out of my house and working hard each day to keep this darkness at bay.

Loneliness can become toxic and self-serving, and I believe I have been lonely for a very long time. I am also a quiet person, so I had to confront major insecurities to get out and hustle and find a job. And I got a kidney infection right before my start date; I firmly believe that was the last of the darkness attempting to cloud the way, and I said, “nope,” and went to work sick. Working with the group of women I do has been a tremendous boon. And it is funny how maybe we all were looking for friendship, and I cultivated an open, fun, supportive space for us to bond. One of the first things I asked my boss was for permission for us to socialize, and so I decorated our space, and here we are.. (But this is what I visualized).

The darkest question I encountered over and again would be this: what did I do so wrong to have two IPV relationships back to back? Well. That would be nothing. And in looking in these dark places, I discovered that my very best qualities were what those two men could not handle. I don’t know any other way but to walk in my truth, be it shameful or not. I am fiercely independent. And I speak my mind. AND I’m never apologizing for those things again. Which is all a beautiful thing. 

I read Anne Lamott’s words daily: “​I decided that the single most subversive, revolutionary thing I could do was to show up for my life and not be ashamed.”