5 Messages to Take You From Victim to Victory

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I have to be honest. I don’t take criticism well.

It’s been a problem all my life. My second grade teacher once sent a note home to my parents that read, “Beth is a joy to be around. But she becomes withdrawn and quiet whenever she’s criticized or if I suggest she could do better. She takes criticism very personally.”


Then there was the time my boyfriend broke up with me. His mother told me years later that when he came home and she asked how our talk went, he said, “I don’t know, Mom.  She never said a word, just kept looking at the ground.”

Now, as an adult in my sixth decade of living, I’m much better at constructive criticism when it comes to my work. Even my writing, which, along with air and water, sustains me, is open for discussion and dissection. (Just be gentle, please!)

Why are we so hard on ourselves?

There are tons of reasons why we women–particularly women with addiction–beat ourselves up. Some of us pack around the effects of abuse suffered for years or decades. We may have been victims once, but as a therapist said to me a long time ago, by staying hooked into those abusive patterns, we are no longer victims, but rather, we’re hostages held by our own thoughts, beliefs and attitudes.

Occasionally, when an overly full suitcase of stresses is dropped, those self-destructive thoughts, beliefs and attitudes spill out, like dirty underwear all over the ground.

And just like that, I feel insignificant and worthless again.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Listening to new messages, developing new beliefs

No one but you is responsible for your thoughts, which can be both a blessing and a curse. I am the product of what I tell myself, of the messages I tell the world about me. What are those messages?

If you asked me yesterday–the day I was the only invited guest to my pity party–I would have told you that I couldn’t do anything right. I would have explained in great detail why I was selfish and seldom thought of anyone else’s needs before my own.

Yesterday was a victim day.

Today is a victory day. No matter what dropped in front of you yesterday, stirring up your guts like a greasy, inedible stew, it need not affect today.

Say it with me: I alone am responsible for my feelings, thoughts and attitudes.

Tweet: You can choose to drag yesterday into today, but for the love of all that’s holy, why would you want to? @bheretoday

Instead, let’s work on those messages.

Here are five to get you started (Note: please read these as “I” statements.).

1. You are loved and lovable, just as you are in this GUS-inspired moment (that’s God-Universe-Spirit).

2.  Your worth is not tied to what other people think of you; in fact, their thoughts are none of your business.

3.  You are a radiant child of something much bigger than you. You have no reason to belief that GUS is going to drop you on your proverbial arse.

4.  It’s okay to not like yourself sometimes because of something you’ve said or done so long as you always love yourself. Tweet: Remember, you’re a human being hanging out on the E-planet, not Jack and the Beanstalk rising in the sky. @bheretoday

5.  Love is a great equalizer so make sure you’re giving and receiving the elixir of life.

My feeling of insignificance? Oh yeah–it’s gone. Miraculously, once I began to feed myself the right stuff again, the feeling went away. Since, there is no order of difficulty with miracles (A Course in Miracles) that means I’m back to feeling good about me.

What messages do you tell yourself? When you fall off the beam, how do you get back on? What messages resonate with you as true “shifters?”

Please let me know in the comments section below.

Photo courtesy of pippalou

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Recovery Movement Needs a HUGE Megaphone!

file0001719225336 e1410742069167 Recovery Movement Needs a HUGE Megaphone!My sweetie and I are just back from Austin, Texas, site of the Big Texas Rally for Recovery on Saturday preceded by a showing of The Anonymous People at the University of Texas School of Social Work on Friday night.

While chatting with TAP’s filmmaker, Greg Williams, and several other people in recovery, we heard there might be 500 people on the south side of the Capitol building Saturday afternoon. Cool, we thought, the rain will clear out by then and we will rock this place!

Well, the rain didn’t clear and to say there were a few hundred people huddled under umbrellas would be generous. But, as more than one person said, “The rain didn’t stop us when our addictions were active so why would the rain stop us now that we’re in recovery?”

Speaking out for recovery

Standing in the rain, watching the crowd, seeing some celebrities (Yes, I did get a hug from former Miss USA and recovery advocate Tara Conner!), I felt affirmed one more time that I’m in the right place at the right time.

Every time I get a chance to tell someone I’m in long-term recovery from addiction, that I haven’t had any alcohol or marijuana since May of 1991, and then explain specifically why my life in recovery is so good, I’m speaking out for the whole of recovery.

In fact, my sweetie and I had a nice explanatory chat with a photographer from The Austin American Statesman. A nice guy who may think just a bit BsCelebrateRecoveryinTX2014 300x159 Recovery Movement Needs a HUGE Megaphone!differently about addiction and recovery, and who might even pass along a slice of what he learned to his circle of friends.

Speaking out for recovery is everything from our chat with the photog (or with your doctor, insurance agent or neighbor) to Tara’s interview Saturday morning on Austin’s KXAN TV.

Speaking out for recovery means telling your state and federal legislators how addiction deserves the same treatment opportunities as any other disease. It means letting them know that jailing someone with addiction isn’t the answer to helping him or her get well but that a recovery oriented system of care is the most critical option for success.

We honor ourselves when we speak out for recovery. We show the world that recovery matters because it brings hope and peace into the lives of individuals and their loved ones.

The missing megaphone

The rain doused the ability for speakers to use a microphone at Saturday’s rally. Instead, they did their best to shout at the crowd. Sadly, much of the effect was lost except for those standing nearest the steps.

I was struck by the symbolism of standing on the Capitol steps–where laws affecting addiction recovery in Texas are debated–yelling to be heard. In the 15 or so years since the New Recovery Advocacy Movement began, many, many advocates have felt the frustration of not being heard.

We need a megaphone, folks, both literally and figuratively. Too many people–elected and others–don’t hear us. Our messages are not resonating deeply enough to make an overhauling change in the system.

Yes, we’re making progress, but the movement is too slow. One hundred Americans dies of a drug overdose every day, more than double the number in 1999. “Overdosing  is now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, accounting for more deaths than traffic fatalities or gun homicides and suicides,” the Washington Post reported shortly after Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death earlier this year.

I don’t know what it will take for the Recovery Movement to get the attention it deserves, attention that AIDs/HIV, cancer and other causes get. But I do know we have to keep shouting. We have to use our personal megaphones whenever possible.

September is National Recovery Month. Are you using your megaphone?

Photos courtesy of xenia and Jay Janner of The Austin American Statesman

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Don’t Let the Bastards Get You Down

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John Wayne once sent a famous telegram to Barbara Walters when she struggled for acceptance as the first female co-anchor of an evening news program. You guessed it: “Don’t let the bastards get you down.”

I heard those same words from a professor in journalism school in the early 1980s. The implication was that there will always be those who try to get you to fail or quit.

They may harm you, or worse, annihilate everything you hold dear in life.

Today’s 13th anniversary of 9/11

Never let the bastards get you down; stay positive no matter what; follow your heart and know your mission in life–that’s how we become free of the bastards who try to hold us down.

Freedom’s a tough one to wrap into memories of 9/11. It’s hard to grasp on such a large scale. That’s why it’s critical to grant ourselves freedom to be our very best and to give ourselves the very best because, as hard as it is to hear, sometimes we’re the bastard holding ourselves down.

Without freedom to live the life you desire and you deserve, you’re a captive held hostage by old thought patterns, attitudes, beliefs and actions.

But I’m not hear to beat you up, I promise! Rather, I applaud you for taking a stand, for picking your butt off the cement, linoleum or Italian tile floor and proclaiming (chin held high!), I AM WORTHY OF THE BEST IN LIFE.

Because you are.

Give yourself the gift of freedom

Recovery from anything is a progression of acts of surrender. The more we let go, the more we’ll get back in multiples. Try this: Squeeze your hand into a tight fist. Not much space between your squished fingers, is there?

Now, release the fist and slowly open your fingers. Watch closely. See how the space becomes infinitely larger?

That’s your freedom.

What will you do with freedom today, now that you’re released from your too-small container? How will you give and do and be your very best?

While this day is a solemn one for the United States and our friends in other countries, there is something we can each do in personal commemoration.

Let yourself go. Let yourself fly. Your dreams await you.

Eleanor Roosevelt said, “You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'”

Indeed you can. We all can.

Photo courtesy of pippalou

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It’s Great to Let Go; I Should Have Started Sooner

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The post title is a quote from a TED Talk given by Chilean writer Isabel Allende. In her talk, she spoke about passion and how we’re never too old to follow our dreams (she’s 71). Be sure to watch her eight-minute video shown below.

Letting go has been on my mind as 2014 continues to give me ample opportunities to practice what I preach. We all know it’s much easier to preach than practice what we preach, right?

I’m not alone in the quest to let go.

Just yesterday, one of my friend’s posts hit my inbox. Admittedly, I groaned a bit as I read the title: Letting Go for Health and Happiness,” by Sandra Pawula.

Sandra, who writes Always Well Within, bemoans her continual over-push beyond her capacity. I love this part because I think she wrote it for me:

“I think it’s so important to be clear about our addictions, our impulses, and our edges.  So I offer you this question for personal reflection today:

Are you driven to repeatedly engage in a behavior that’s not really good for your health or happiness?  Is there a place in your life where you need to say, ‘I cannot do this anymore?’”

Oh, that’s so me. Right now, I’m in severe over-push mode to make money. You know, pay the bills, put a little back for the rainy days which are coming pretty frequently.

My business is riding a roller coaster of promised work, then wait. Get closer to a decision, then wait some more. Maddening as it is, that’s the nature of client work. Whatever.

Then there’s the possibility of a surprise oral surgery–me, who has no dental insurance. OMG–I need more work!

Sandra’s right. I am addicted to this response that follows virtually all my predicaments, “Okay, let’s figure this out now.” No matter what the “this” is, I’ll lose sleep, patience and serenity in my quest to find the right and perfect answer.

My sweetie reminded me yesterday that if I’m praying, I need not worry and if I’m worrying, there’s no point in praying. That was sort of an ouchie. Once again, I’m not practicing what I preach because worrying is definitely not mindful.

Back to Ms. Allende’s talk about passion

The good news is there is an antidote for not letting go of the things that worry me. Isabel Allende suggests focusing on my passion. After all, enthusiasm for my passion is mine to control.

Two things come to mind. First, I am passionate about writing, so while client work is finding its way to me, I can write my ass off. Then write some more.

Second, I can choose to constantly flip my “oh-my-god-what-am-I-going-to-do” thoughts to something positive. Luckily, my friend Tess Marshall sent me a link the other day to Hannah Marcotti’s website. Hannah is an incredible storyteller, poet and vision-maker who urges me to create a cut-and-paste vision book and then fill it with positive, soul-stirring pictures and words.

I’m doing it! Because one of the tenets of my life is the line from Field of Dreams: “If we build it, they will come.”

So, I’ll keep writing and visioning and believing. THAT is my passion.  What is your passion and how do you use it to overcome compulsive, perhaps addictive, thought patterns?

P.S. The photo accompanying this post reflects my belief in the abundance of life. Just as this tree has a seeming unending number of branches, so too do we have an unending supply of abundance in our lives–if we’re willing to see and believe.

Photo by jemolesky

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The Story of Recovery: Your Story

IMG 5724 1024x682 The Story of Recovery: Your StoryMany of us in recovery often feel like we’ve lived two lives–one as a person with active addiction and the other as a person in recovery.

I’ve had friends who’ve had open heart surgery or beat cancer say something similar. The experience made them a different person.

The commonality among all of us who’ve sent a terminal disease into remission or left an operating table after heart surgery lies in our recovery.

The story of recovery

The month of September–National Recovery Month–is a terrific time to reflect on the gift of recovery. Tens of thousands of people all over the U.S. and Canada will do just that as they gather at Recovery Month events in their home states.

This time next week, my sweetie and I will head to Austin, Texas, for a statewide rally at the capitol building. The following week, on the 20th, thousands will gather in Louisville, KY, for the national “hub” event sponsored by People Advocating Recovery and Faces & Voices of Recovery.

Stories of recovery–from a few days to several decades–will be heard coast-to-coast. There will be media coverage, national celebrities spotlighted and the proverbial horror stories replayed.

September is a grand month to show and tell the story of recovery. There are 23 million of us, after all . . .

Your story of recovery

But I’m interested in your recovery story and how it rocks your world. Who are you as a result of recovery? How have you changed your attitudes and your outlook (outside the obvious!)?

I hear people say, “Oh, recovery is a gift!” I wonder if they realize the weight behind those words? When was the last time you sat and pondered the miraculous nature of your recovery story?

I was reminded today that the story I believe about myself and the story I tell you are sometimes vastly different. I’m often waaaay too hard on myself, expect waaaay too much from myself and even tell myself stories that just aren’t true.

After all, I don’t tell you that I’m stupid or that I suck.

Instead, if I’m honest with you, I’ll tell you that I’m trustworthy, sincere and kind. I’m positive by nature, fairly serene most of the time and compassionate. If I’m spiritually fit, I am balanced and gracious.

And that’s only part of my recovery story!

Miraculous stories of love

So, my friends in recovery, I encourage you to spend some quiet time thinking about the before-recovery you and the in-recovery you. Bet you can’t do without feeling giant waves of gratitude.

I was also reminded today that my recovery story happens right now.

Tweet: My recovery story does NOT include whipping myself over past events or losing sleep over the unknowns of tomorrow.

It’s all here, all now.

Will you share a bit of your recovery story with us?

Photo courtesy of Sgarton

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