The story that changed my opinion on suboxone

Suboxone- a prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction.

The furthest my education on the substance has stretched is from tv shows where people use it to get high.

Wait what?!

They are treating heroin addiction by replacing one high for another?!

When a former heroin addict is using suboxone, are they even really clean?

It all sounds like a pretty dysfunctional system to me.

Or is it…?

I hate heroin.

Heroin took my childhood best friend and changed her into a person who made my skin crawl.

Two years of lies, anxiety, and HELL before I had to close the door on that friendship for good. (Read To the friend that isn’t a friend anymore.)

But it still hurts.

It hurts that a drug can completely change a person like that.

I know it’s an illness but as a former addict myself, there comes a time when you have to look your crap in the face and grow up.

Did you know that less than 10% of heroin addicts achieve remission?

Instead the majority of heroin addicts will die as compulsive liars who wronged you time and time again… “victims to a self inflicted illness”.

Heroin changes people.

My friendship used to be the most natural thing on earth and the new relationship, with the addict, gave me panic attacks.

When you start using heroin your entire vibe changes.

As one of the most loyal friends on the planet, it took so much strength to say goodbye, especially to someone with our history.

But controversially, I had to.

I had to choose me.

And that is why I despise heroin with every bone in my freaking body.

God has a way of putting people in your life at the right time.

Simultaneously to the loss of one friendship, a brand new one began to blossom.

In no time at all, my new friend and I were attached at the hip.

I admire the way she carries herself.

She holds herself to this radiating sense of accountability- she owns her crap!

As a single mom who works full time overnight shifts, WITHOUT A CONSISTENT SCHEDULE, she still schedules play dates multiple times a week.

She’s an incredible mom and amazing person all the way around.

She doesn’t use her situation as an excuse.

The friendship has just been easy.

Our values are so aligned and in no time, God had affirmed my decision.

When she told me that she was a former heroin addict, I was shocked.

“What?! NO WAY!!! But you are so normal?!?!

That is when I learned a powerful lesson about suboxone.

After a long, eye-opening conversation, my stance on suboxone has changed entirely.

Here are some of the points that helped me get there.

1) Generally addicts aren’t the most reliable sources, however, wearing your faults in regards to addiction like clothing is assuring when speaking to your sobriety.

2) Anything has the potential to be abused. Benadryl, dust off, laundry pods. When you use something in a way other than it was intended to be used, it becomes abuse. Just because some people choose to eat laundry pods, doesn’t mean we should stop selling them for the reason in which they are intended– hence why they are still on the shelves.

3) Addicts are obviously more likely to abuse anything, making suboxone treatment a slippery slope. This also plays a large part to this stigma surrounding suboxone- including my own opinion at one time. The 90ish percent of heroin addicts who aren’t able to achieve remission ARE likely abusing their suboxone.

4) Withdrawing from heroin won’t kill you but, it’s not for the faint of souls. Until a person is ready to stand up and start fighting for themselves, nothing is going to change.

5) When you use heroin, the drug triggers dopamine (what the brain receptors ignite as “pleasure”). American addiction centers explaining the effects of heroin use on the brain in simple terms. “Opiates, especially opiates as potent as heroin, activate the brain’s receptors to an incredibly dangerous degree, far greater than anything the brain can produce by itself. For this reason, heroin is abused as a recreational drug. Then, it is consistently abused because there is no other experience that can compare to blast of bliss and subsequent contentment that come with shooting up.”

6) American addiction centers citing, “repeated exposure to heroin is not only habit forming; the constant bombarding of a devastatingly powerful opioid on the brain’s receptors changes the structure of the brain itself, which in turn affects its neuronal and hormonal systems. Heroin erases the brain’s ability to produce dopamine and instead takes over how the user perceives pleasure and satisfaction.” Heroin use literally rewires the way your brain operates.

7) Suboxone, along with a couple of other rx drugs, are available to treat these changes in the brain. Suboxone.com stating, “known as a partial agonist, it (the active ingredient in suboxone) can attach to the same receptors as other opioids and reduce their effects by blocking them from the same receptors.”

8) My friend admitted that if you haven’t used opioids in awhile the initial use or two as directed might give you a little “kick”. After that, it just takes away the feeling of drowning in your new brain chemistry. Clean for just over 6 years when she moved to Colorado. She said that until she was able to find a new prescriber out here, the cravings were ridiculous. She couldn’t focus. All she could think about was heroin.

I held her through tears, realizing that without this prescription drug that I naively put a label on, I wouldn’t have my angel friend right now.

Instead my perfect little friend is functioning like super woman; Fighting to keep her life on track.

If you asked me a couple weeks ago what I thought of suboxone, it wouldn’t have been an enthusiastic answer.

Today I’d tell you that I endorse suboxone treatment because the 9-10% of heroin addicts who decide to choose life MATTER!

This is a lifeline for recovered heroin addicts; a chance to really have a shot at life again after a bad choice that they can’t ever take back.

I’ve seen the complete terror of heroin addiction; Now I’m pleased to see a beautiful success story involving suboxone.

Similar to an antidepressant, suboxone treatment could potentially be a lifelong commitment.

“I don’t care how long I have to be on it if it keeps me clean.”

Touché.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more! ❣️

Who am I aside from “mom”?

Last week my Mother-in-law took both of my kiddos overnight.

As a stay at home mom for almost two years, it was a bittersweet feeling.

There was this ominous blaring of freedom along with an overbearing sense that I was missing a big piece of myself.

Waking up the next morning to a quiet house and calmly walking into the kitchen.

Greeted with a rush of confusing emotions.

How do I start my morning without my kids?!

The moment was surprisingly overwhelming, igniting a stream of tears down my cheek.

‘Who even am I besides Mom…?’

I’m not your average mom.

When I got pregnant the first time it wasn’t mapped out to happen according to my “picture perfect plan”.

I was 19 and a full blown alcoholic when I got my positive pregnancy test.

I didn’t know how to take care of myself at the time… let alone the life of a tiny human.

There wasn’t a house or a husband… it was indeed, very backwards.

January 2012

I posted this photo to announce the news.

The caption stating, “joining the mommy club!”.

The things that people wrote in response to that post were terrible.

In their defense, the thought of that person as a mom was rightfully baffling…

“That baby is going to be so messed up!”

Only God knew what I was capable of.

The pregnancy was a process of growth and change.

August 2012

I was learning how to navigate life sober for the very first time while also juggling the chaos of preparing for a newborn.

For me, pregnancy was the perfect distraction from all of my “crap” though.

Nothing else mattered besides the precious little life that was growing inside of me.

After my sweetie pie arrived everything literally started anew.

No longer was I the broken young adult, searching recklessly for love at the bottom of a bottle.

It’s like that person died and a totally different me was born- equipped with a baby.

My name is Mommy.

And boy, I could go on and on about her.

Happy mom, sad mom, mad mom, rushed mom, stressed mom, excited mom… to name a few.

Alexis on the other hand?

Literally doesn’t know how to start a morning without her kids.

That’s honestly about all I know.

Motherhood has this beautiful way of changing us.

We take on this new role that nothing could ever prepare us for.

It’s the most fulfilling yet consuming title on earth.

In my case, motherhood literally took my old mess of a life and replaced it with a really good one.

Suddenly I had a reason to live…. my kids.

Motherhood gave me purpose in life so I established an identity around that role.

“Mom” was the new me, a foundation I’ve built from over the past 6 years.

But take away my kids for one morning and suddenly I’m completely lost.

There aren’t roles for “Alexis”, “wife”, “self“.

The problem lies in the fact that I can’t be my “best mom” if I don’t ever tend to my needs as an individual.

And what even are my needs?

I don’t know.

How do you even go about learning who you are…?

Baby steps.

Small observations while continuing on with everyday life.

A good starting place might be imagining my “perfect morning” if I lived alone and had nobody else to worry about.

Understanding how I’d prefer to spend my morning doesn’t mean it’s going to change anything, it’s simply establishing preference as an individual.

Personal identity is a vital part of life.

Our identity cannot rely solely on another person as our identity is what is true for us.

At the end of the day, I am the only person that I’m in control of.

Yes, “mom” is a piece of my identity…. a very important piece that I hold high in value.

But I’m more than just “mom”.

My name is Alexis.

I value God, balance, family, and routine.

I dislike chaos, drama, feeling rushed, and over scheduling.

I will do anything for the people that I love.

I thrive on taking care of others.

And someday, when my kids are grown and moved away, I will be okay with who I am as an individual.

Check out my blog PROJECT IDENTITY for more raw inspiration! 💕

Dissociation- “emotional numbing”

This past year has been the most extensive year of self reflection ever.

And with understanding has come more questions- a lot of them!

Like last week when I processed for the very first time that I in fact, leave my physical body, subconsciously, hundreds of times every day.

Don’t get me wrong.

This isn’t some kind of witch craft or wizardry.

It’s a mental illness called depersonalization disorder.

It’s also the only way I can remember ever functioning…. making it that much more confusing.

How would you react if you realized that you’ve spent over half of your life physically “zoned out” while being somewhere else completely mentally…?

“Whenever my PTSD gets triggered I get like, trapped in another world for awhile. I don’t know what happens there because my memory in that time period gets completely wiped. Nothing really gets done while the time is running.

Sometimes I realize I don’t know what’s going on when I’m literally in the middle of a sentence with someone. It’s super stressful being around anyone really, for that reason.

But most of the time I don’t even realize that I’d left. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember and until just recently, I thought that everyone experienced this.

I know that sounds crazy… am I dying?”

My best friend who is studying psychology, responded with this:

“If I’m understanding you right it sounds like dissociation or depersonalization. Which is common for people with PTSD. It sounds terrifying but you are not dying. It is something that many people with PTSD experience.”

Off to the internet I went, in attempt to learn more about this madness, aka my life.

The first thing that stood out to me was “a confusing sense of identity“.

Looking no further than the name of this blog to check that one off the list of qualifying criteria.

As I continued reading, the checks started piling up.

‘Man… I had no clue there was a name for this!’

Dissociation is a mental process of disconnecting from one’s thoughts, feelings, emotions, or sense of identity.

A child is more able than an adult to step outside of themself and observe trauma as though it’s happening to another person.

Children who learn to dissociate in attempt to endure a traumatic experience may use this coping mechanism, even subconsciously, in response to stressful situations throughout life.

The dissociative adult may automatically disconnect in everyday situations, leaving them “spaced out” and unable to protect themselves in the event of real danger.

Dissociative episodes increase in frequency with the severity of trauma and triggers.

Smells, sounds, colors, places…. anything tied to a traumatic memory can send you out from the drivers seat of your body in an instant.

Wow…Just wow!

The research I have done on this disorder in the last week has been redundant.

I am so beyond confident that I battle with extreme depersonalization disorder, it’s like they wrote it all about me.

This understanding has come with the bomb of a realization that I am transitioning in and out of my body hundreds of times every single day.

With this knowledge I’ve made a few reflections.

1) I have depersonalization disorder.

2) I’ve been living this way for so long that the transitions are usually unnoticeable.

3) It would be nice if I could just stay inside my body all the time.

4) How do I make this stop?

Unfortunately, the answer isn’t that simple.

Like the majority of my mental health madness, this is going to take a crap ton of hard work.

“Stuffing” is my most often used defense mechanism.

It’s a process of trying to trick myself that any undesirable emotion or sensation isn’t really happening.

This is a subconscious behavior that happens like clockwork.

Typically for me, the “stuffed” emotion presents itself as high strung anxiety or irritability.

To “cure” the dissociative episodes I’m going to have to talk to my emotions and actually feel themno more “stuffing”. 😳

As someone who has “stuffed” every foreign emotion for as long as I can remember, this feels like an overwhelming task to take on.

Dissociation is kind of like having your body and mind living on two different planets.

The first step will be simply increasing my personal awareness.

Mindfulness, sitting with my emotions… YUCK!

I need to practice the repetitive cycle of acknowledging my emotions as they arise and responding that they are valid for feeling that way.

I’d be absolutely lying if I said I wasn’t scared out of my mind.

This entire situation is freaking terrifying.

I’ve been functioning emotionally numb for far too long and I need to do this for me.

Once I begin allowing my emotions to be a part of me, my body will start relearning how to function as a whole.

It will be an intense process of triumphs and failures.

And after all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Trying and failing until we reach our goal…?

I’m ready to embrace this life for all that it is, the good and the bad.

For now, this book is still being written.

It’s my journey and I’m ready to start living it.

In a perfect world, this pursuit will end in an alignment of my identity.

Who am I helping by continuing to live this way?

Certainly not myself.

Project accepted. ❤️

Check out my blog Project Identity for more!

To the friend that isn’t a friend anymore

I’ve had enough.

While I work on bettering myself, you continue choosing to make all of the wrong choices.

The easy thing and the right thing are hardly ever the same.

You’ve been stringing me along like it’s part of your game.

You were once a friend… that is true.

Not anymore.

Looking back at the childhood memories when we were both on the same page…

The laughter, the love, friends for life without a doubt.

We had our whole lives ahead of us then.

Sadly only one of us would make that life count.

I hate that you just don’t care enough to make a change- I’m tired of rooting for a team that isn’t even playing.

What I want for you is very different than what you want for yourself.

You were once a friend… that is true.

Not anymore.

We are grown now.

Though only one of us has truly grown up.

Sorting out my past mistakes as you refuse to let yours go.

Left standing alone trying to plant a garden with your pile of dirt.

I can’t make you be a garden.

You were once one… that is true.

Not anymore.

So here I stand alive and I’ve decided it’s been overdue.

Friends are the family we choose.

And I’m no longer choosing you.

When you change your mind again and want friends instead of drugs

Remember that I’m praying for you, in the place of hugs.

I won’t be there to wipe your tears.

I won’t be there to share your cheers.

This is the end to the childhood friendship that we could no longer sustain.

Whether you choose to get better or not, gone is where I’ll stay.

I’m living in my garden.

Where you wouldn’t come to play.

The gates have closed, the sunshine glows, I finally can see.

That after all we’ve grown apart, I’m better off just me.

We were once friends… that is true.

Not anymore.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more inspiration! 💕

Through the ears of my eating disorder

My relationship with food will honestly never be normal.

A lifetime without relapse wouldn’t be enough to change the way I hear the words,

“Wow! What a healthy meal you are eating! Good job!!”

Because instead of hearing you compliment me on my discipline I hear,

‘You are fat so you should be eating healthy.’

And from there it spirals into countless unhealthy thoughts.

I knew that many challenges would come with recovery from an eating disorder but I never thought the way that I hear things would be one of them.

Last week I was talking with my best friend who is also in recovery from an eating disorder when this realization hit me like a ton of bricks.

‘I’m not the only one!’

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if every person who has ever had an eating disorder experiences this to some extent.

Having an eating disorder is like playing a constant game of telephone with yourself.

Your mind is so good at feeding you crap by now that it enjoys manipulating the game.

When living with a brain that is constantly obsessing about food and weight, it can feel like everything is a trigger.

Food is a necessity for survival so you can’t “avoid it” as you can with recovery from most other things.

Multiple times a day EVERY SINGLE DAY you are being tested.

Eating in general can become an anxiety provoking situation entirely.

You are at war with yourself.

And like a sick and twisted death sentence… you must eat to live.

If you have a loved one who has an eating disorder, I’m writing this for you.

Life requires learning other people so that we can all better coexist.

An eating disorder is just another one of those REAL LIFE things to navigate.

Below are some examples of life through the ears of an eating disorder.

Take a moment to intercept this as your loved one.

“Gross! She obviously eats cake for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!”

‘My worth is determined by a number on a scale…’

“You were too skinny before I’m glad to see you’ve gained some weight.”

‘You are fat now.’

“Exercise is really good for you!”

‘You should be exercising because you’re fat.’

“I’m doing the #%* diet!”

‘You should be on a diet!’

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for doing your part to better coexist!

Check out my blog Project Identity for more! ❤️

What I didn’t know about addiction

When I got sober it was a fairly unique situation.

The day I quit drinking was also the very first day I wanted to quit drinking.

A couple days of seizures on the bathroom floor was enough to start anew.

It wasn’t until recently that I learned how much my personal experience has clouded my opinion on addicts.

To me, alcohol was an escape from myself.

I hated myself.

I hated my life.

Numb was the only way that I could continue functioning.

Alcohol was that door to checking out from reality and entering a world where I just didn’t care.

With booze, life always seemed less real.

I didn’t annoy myself as much when I was drunk.

The bottle was my ticket to escaping the life I couldn’t bare anymore.

My brother had his own struggles with addiction.

It would be years after my new leaf of living that nightmare with him before things turned around.

The only thing more difficult than addiction itself is watching a loved one throw away their life for it.

Your life becomes a living hell while they are escaping this reality with substance.

“I promise you that life in sobriety is fun T!!! PLEASE just give it a try and find out!!!”

I pleaded, for years on end.

The best word to describe myself in this plea would be naive.

Naive to feeling that every addict is running from reality.

Naive to think that my brother just liked being drunk too much to quit.

A couple weekends ago we were visiting my now 20 MONTH SOBER brother for fall festivities!

It’s MY FAVORITE family tradition we’ve created!

Our life is so normal now.

We get together and do things as siblings and I swear those are some of the best memories of our lives.

Day one we went to the most badass park I’ve ever seen! 👇

Day two we went to a corn maze and pumpkin patch!👇

And day three, during family breakfast, we talked about where we’ve been and how far we’ve come.

“Man T… I can’t believe you made it! I’m so proud of you!!!”

I professed.

“I had to stop or I was going to die. I’d wake up with ridiculous anxiety and start having panic attacks. It would feel like I was having a heart attack and the only way to make it stop was the booze. It was like a 24/7 never ending hangover.”

Tears started streaming down my face as I realized how much I hadn’t understood about his addiction.

Here I am, preaching to my brother about how cool life is when you aren’t confused all the time, and he wasn’t even confused…. he was sick.

He confessed the fine line of “sipping and driving”.

In other words he wasn’t drinking just to drink.

At just 29 years old, his body was beginning to show signs of long term alcohol abuse.

His body was reliant on alcohol and was literally shutting down without it.

Longer drives required greater focus and when he was “under-medicated” the withdrawal symptoms were so intense that he would end up pulling over for hours at a time in attempt to stop his heart from bursting out of his chest.

He wasn’t drinking to be drunk- he was drinking to stay alive.

He had punched the ticket but he no longer wanted to ride the ride.

“I was embarrassed with myself for how bad it had gotten. I would have died trying to detox on my own. There was a lot of shame in what it had become and the reality of those choices. It was like drowning and waiting for somebody to save you.”

The day his second niece was born was the day my brother amounted the courage to chase his lion.

“I need this to stop and I don’t know how.”

He admitted to a buddy of trust.

Thank you for hearing him, Carl.

It took ten days in detox before being medically cleared for inpatient rehab.

Detox from alcohol is a serious thing!

My brother put in some insanely hard work as he fought for his life.

**Did you know- detoxing from heroin isn’t deadly (though it feels like it), but detoxing from alcohol can be?!**

20 months later my brother is still prioritizing his recovery as an AA sponsor.

God gave me my brother back and I am beyond grateful for this.

I’m thankful that I have a sibling to enjoy life with.

I’m thankful I’m not living in a nightmare anymore.

I’m thankful for his journey, and the new understanding it has given me about addicts.

We are all different so it makes sense that no addiction is the same.

Every addict is running- our differences lie in what is chasing us.

Thank you for using your story to help others T.

I love you.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more. ❤️

The “devalued” child

“When I was a kid I remember crying in the mirror and feeling so badly that my parents had to have the ugliest kid in the entire world.”

I expressed to my anxiety therapist.

“What happened to trigger that? At the age of 4 or 5 a child doesn’t just come up with these feelings from nowhere… something must have happened.”

She questioned.

“Nothing happened. I’m just ugly.”

It would be YEARS of therapy before unlocking this can of worms.

Years of wondering if I was raped or abused as a child and just blacked out the entire thing.

Years of silencing that fear with my proclamation of ugliness.

‘At least if you understand that you are ugly you aren’t ugly and in denial…’

Confidence has never been my strong suit.

It wasn’t until my anxiety therapist gave me a list of books to look into that my life started making sense for once.

While she never said it directly, all of the books had a common theme.

Borderline personality disorder.

The second I looked up the definition, I felt my mom’s picture should have been pasted right next to it.

It was her exactly.

My mom has borderline personality disorder.

Borderline personality disorder is characterized by the following behaviors:

  • Intense, highly changeable moods
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones- often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors (spending sprees, substance abuse, binge eating)
  • Extreme emotional swings
  • Hostility
  • Lack of restraint

In my case, “a pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones- often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)”, my brother is the idealized and I am the devalued.

With this newfound knowledge about my mom, it has been an emotional rollercoaster the past few months.

Growing up in a home with a parent who has borderline personality disorder is an extremely traumatic thing to go through.

The fact that I never even understood this piece of myself for the first 26 years of my life completely blows my mind.

There is no denying that all of it makes sense.

Anger, sadness, frustration.

Every emotion showing its colors in myself at this new revelation.

‘Is therapy making me crazier?’

Instead of my mom just removing herself from my life all together, I grew up in an “I love you, go away” environment.

There was a constant push and pull.

Actions that were justified by clothing me in shame and guilt.

Our father, whom I got along with best, was away from home making the money.

The way I internalized my moms behavior as a child was processing it as a personal flaw.

The almost comical “obsession” (idealization) she had for my brother was a stark contrast to the way she treated me.

“Maybe if I was prettier my mom would love me too…”

The constant push and pull from a person in trust is enough to destroy someone entirely.

My feelings were never heard or validated.

I was always wrong, she was always right.

My attempts at having a voice were converted into backlash.

Growing up in the care of a parent who had borderline personality disorder distorted my self worth at a very young age.

The devalued child feels unworthy of love- even from themselves.

You get used to always being the one at fault.

To this day I overuse the word “sorry”.

I am sorry.

Sorry for any way that I may be bothering you with my presence.

It’s been hammered into my head that I’m a nuisance.

My mom loves me and I know that.

I don’t believe that she ever intended to hurt me.

Yet there is still a part of me that hates her.

A part that wants to give a voice to the child who didn’t have one.

A part that wants to say, “F you” and never talk to her again to pay her back for that broken little girl looking in the mirror.

Except I’m not going to go out like that.

Yes, this understanding has been quite the rollercoaster… but it’s one that I’m glad to be riding.

Without understanding myself I would never have the means to fix anything.

I can’t change my mom.

And I will probably never get an apology from her.

But that’s okay.

THERAPY TAKES WORK!

It’s going to get worse before it gets better.

But it’s the only way to obtain justice for myself, for the little girl in the mirror.

I know that someday all of this hard work will pay off.

I will love my mom forever and while I can’t guarantee it’s the end of the outbursts, I can agree to forgive her.

Holding firm in my boundaries while staying true to my values.

I’m choosing to live my life in love instead of hate.

I’m choosing to accept the things I cannot change and changing the things that I can.

Dear little girl in the mirror,

You are beautiful.

Have empathy for your mother even in the times that it’s hard.

You don’t HAVE to do so, but CHOOSE to do so.

Forgive your mom.

Live your life in love.

Learn to love yourself the way God loves you.

Your moms behavior has everything to do with her and nothing to do with you.

Remember that her outbursts are professions of her pain rather than expressions of her feelings towards you.

Don’t forget to be there for yourself.

You are worthy.

Check out my blog Project Identity for more. ❤️

The moment that made me SO distraught I ALMOST put my hands on a child… 💔

*This blog does not condone violence against children or violence period. The following is the raw emotional story being told as a reminder that we are all susceptible to reaching our breaking point.*

The playground- a child’s wonderland.

Of course my five year old was thrilled when our campsite backed up to one this year.

Less than 50 feet away without an obstructed view.

At last, I could relax while simultaneously keeping my child entertained! 😍

Or so I thought…

Karissa is the tiny, little, perfect human who changed my entire world.

Read My untraditional fairy tale for more on my introduction to motherhood.

💕👶🏻👧🏼👱🏽‍♀️🧔🏽💕

My baby will be SIX years old in just over a month!!! 😳

Where has the time gone?!?!

I feel like with my first child I was trying so desperately hard to just keep her ALIVE that I was unable to really ENJOY every minute of it.

When I found out I was pregnant for the first time I was a 20 year old alcoholic.

After eight years of recklessness, my sobriety didn’t come without a price tag.

I’d been branded by the trauma of my past…. now without anything to numb it.

But this baby was ‘the one thing that would never leave me’

She was SO worthy of my sobriety.

I’ll never forget that confusing moment when we closed our car doors to leave the hospital with our firstborn.

We shared the, “Are they really just giving us a human and saying, “Here you go! Good luck!‘?!” face…. ha.

When my Sassy little one year old, Havynn (pronounced Hay-ven) was born, it was the same insanely beautiful moment but one that I was definitely more prepared for.

This time, I’d have the tools…

The experience… to not lock us up in an apartment for almost a year- attempting to ensure that nothing would ever happen to her.

My anxiety and depression became redundant after the delivery of my first.

Not only was I a new Mom, I was also in my first year of sobriety.

My image of the world was that of the life I submitted myself to at my worst.

Sunlight…fresh air…both were contributors to deafening panic attacks.

Some days even opening the blinds would seem like “reckless behavior” to my crazy mind.

If we never went outside then nothing bad could happen…

Hiding so that “the evil in the world” wouldn’t break in and hurt us…as it once had.

Havynn has had a much different upbringing.

I learned a lot in the process of doing it once.

Through trial and error, “navigating the ropes” of motherhood.

It’s a process of constant learning.

Learning which rules are worth the battle and which ones are just plain stupid.

Using that knowledge as you start again with your second.

You trust yourself more…

You know that you’ve done this before and that YOU CAN do it again.

It’s a comforting feeling of success that helped me in seeing life more realistically the second time around.

Proceeding with confidence now.. my kids are experiencing a lot of things for the first time together.

I can make plans, but only God can make them happen.

Back to the camping trip. ⛺️

Havynn didn’t go camping with us this year.

Karissa was playing her heart out at the playground as I began chopping veggies for foil packets on night two.

It was Friday so kids to play with were finally arriving!

Peeking over my shoulder every couple of seconds to check in on her when I overheard the boys at the playground yelling,

“YOU ARE DIRTY!”

Said one of the boys, as he threw a handful of dirt and rocks in another child’s face.

The boys, who appeared to be around ages 5 and 7, were playing distastefully rough for my liking….

I didn’t have a good feeling about them and didn’t really want my child over there.

Taking measure to avoid overreacting, I ran it by my husband.

“Babe I don’t think those boys are playing very nicely….”

And contrary to my assumption he brushed it off… 😳

‘Okay I must be overreacting.’

…right?

As the sun began to set we welcomed our friends who had just arrived.

I excused myself of “security keeping” for a minute to greet them when my mom’s frantic voice struck down on me like lightning.

HEY STOP IT!! THEY ARE HITTING HER!!!”

My baby is in danger

The world went red as reality washed away around me.

My heart shattering like never before as I chased my daughters cries…

How was this happening?!?!!

I peeled my screaming daughter off the ground….

It’s a feeling that no one prepares you for

The pain in her eyes igniting an uncontainable RAGE in me💔

The boys were attempting to flee as I forced them into a halt.

“DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT RUNNING!!!!”

I demanded, in a tone capable of setting off car alarms.

They paused and gazed up at me with sheer terror painted across their faces.

“WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?!?!?!?!”

I was sweating… screaming….shaking.

There was nothing I wanted more in that moment than to make those boys experience the same pain that they had put my child through.

It was a foreign, overbearing outburst of pain that could have ended completely catastrophically.

I thank God for giving me control that I didn’t have in me at that moment.

Control to not KILL two children- something I never dreamed of ever needing control for.

“Take me to your parents, NOW!”

I hissed.

My husband caught up with us as I hysterically caught him up to pace with what was going on.

We were headed for parents who were nowhere in sight, even with all of the commotion going on.

Were these parents even going to care…?!

Their physical lack of presence and the fact that their children are beating other children up didn’t give me a favorable first impression.

Everything about this situation made me angry.

Fifteen seconds into our mission we were intervened upon by a bystander who defended that they were “probably just playing”.

Karissa was too shaken up to verify what I had not seen with my own eyes.

Taking a deep breath as I whispered a prayer.

“I didn’t see what happened so I’m not going to waste any more time on this…

Violence is absolutely unacceptable and it will not be tolerated.

Remember that someone is always watching.”

I declared, as we turned to go back to camp.

Advice I needed to hear myself as well.

Per Karissa’s request, we would wait to discuss the incident until we got home.

If the boys were at the playground, we would go to the river or animal farm instead.

When the time came to have that heart to heart, she confirmed that the boys had punched her multiple timesnot playing but in an effort to hurt her.

That admittance made me break into a million pieces all over again.

Tears poured down my cheeks as I held her tightly, apologizing repeatedly for failing to keep her safe.

Karissa is thankfully doing just fine.❤️

She remains the little “angel in my ear”,

Lord…what do you want me to learn from this?

This was an experience that required some self reflection after.

Inflicting the same pain on those boys would have accomplished nothing aside from creating an even bigger monster inside of them.

I saw a side of myself that I didn’t know was in there.

A side angry enough to almost put my hands on someone’s child.

Please remember that it’s not fair to judge how someone reacts in a situation until you’ve been in that situation yourself.

I’m telling you this because THIS COULD BE ANYONE!

I’ve never really imagined how I would react if this type of thing happened but even if I had, my prediction wouldn’t have been accurate.

Planning lacks emotion.

There is literally no pain worse than when your child is in pain.

When I agreed to bring a life into this world I also agreed to do absolutely everything in my power to keep them safe.

I’ve learned that no matter how hard we try to keep our kids safe, their safety is never guaranteed.

We can make plans, but only God can make those plans happen.

It’s not worth wasting your life trying to avoid all risk…

Your story has already been written and your future is inevitable.

Instead of hiding from your fears, pray about them.

Exercise caution as appropriate but live life FEARLESSLY.

That is something that you ARE in control of.

Amen🙏

Check out my blog Project Identity for more❤️

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Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.

It was my senior year of high school and I was in rehab.

My mom had finally reached her limit of sleepless nights trying to find me.

Give me a curfew? I wouldn’t come home at all.

Ground me? I’d leave anyway.

Age 17 was a rough year to say the least.

I was an absolute mess.

“No you are NOT putting her in a foster home!”

My brother shouted as he barged into my room, hanging up the phone, telling me to hurry and pack my stuff.

I didn’t know what was in store for me but I sure as heck didn’t imagine it would be almost five months until I returned home.

I spent a week at my brothers house while we waited for the news on my fate.

He was instructed to deliver and watch me swallow my Antabuse- as my mom typically did.

Antabuse is a prescription medication for alcoholics.

If you consume any alcohol while taking Antabuse you will get violently ill.

Neither of them knew that I’d swapped the real pills with a lookalike I had found in my Mom’s closet when she forgot to lock her door one day.

Inpatient rehab would eventually be the verdict.

Before I knew it I was stripped of my belongings and sitting in a treatment center.

Everything was out of my control.

Something inside me was burning to act out and the options in doing so were limited.

At mealtimes I would sit at the table in a daze with only a glass of water.

Some days I would feel guilty for drinking the water and purge it back up.

Tell me to eat? I’ll starve myself.

I was 13 years old when I first purged.

My best friend left me… my boyfriend broke up with me.

Life got hard and something in my head told me to go to the bathroom and throw up my food.

The rush it gave me became a staple stress reliever.

Prior to checking into rehab I was already underweight.

In my head writing it off as “not being hungry” or “forgetting to eat”.

Whenever I did consume food, the stressful situation at home would almost always result in purging.

It didn’t really get out of control until everything got out of control.

Subconsciously I was becoming addicted to this relationship with food.

The feeling of my skin tightening around my bones was like a high.

(*actual photo of myself three months after treatment*)

I was alone in rehab while my peers were working on their senior projects and letting out for Christmas break.

That Christmas was hard.

I’ve always loved Christmas but I just felt so unwanted, abandoned, and alone.

I was the only kid in the center that was there without a court order.

“What is going on???” filling the pages of my daily journal.

Life felt like a never ending nightmare.

At the time my brain could never understand that it was my actions that landed me here.

Instead, I spent over a month saturating myself in feelings of worthless shame.

It was a dark time….

Five weeks into rehab and I’d lost a significant amount of weight.

Every day looking more like a skeleton and less like a human.

Tightly fastening my size 0 jeans with a belt so they wouldn’t slide right off of me.

On New Years Eve we were offered a slice of pizza.

This was a real treat and I wanted to participate so badly.

Eventually accepting a piece and racing off to the bathroom immediately after.

This time one of the counselors had followed me.

I’d been caught.

There I sat in the office as the counselor called my mom.

Thankfully it appeared I’d be discharged early and finally able to go home.

Or so I thought…

Instead of my driveway we parked at an office building in the heart of Denver.

“Where are we?!?!”

I asked perplexed.

“You need to talk to someone about this food thing.”

The Eating Recovery Center would be my new home.

At intake the feelings of abandonment began to drown me.

“I don’t have an eating disorder!!!”

I pleaded.

“My mom just doesn’t want me so she’s trying to put me places!! Please!!”

It was time for my “moment of truth” on the scale.

My 5’11” frame weighed in at a whopping 102 pounds.

Considering how tall I am this put me at a BMI (body mass index) of 14.2.

If you are unfamiliar with BMI, 18.4 or lower is considered underweight.

In diagnosing anorexia nervosa they follow this chart:

Mild: A BMI of >17

Moderate: A BMI of 16-16.99

Severe: A BMI of 15-15.99

Extreme: A BMI >15

Nothing I could say or do could get me out of this situation with a BMI of 14.2.

Extreme like everything in my life seemed to be by that point.

At my height, I’d have to weigh in at a minimum of 133 pounds to make the lowest possible “healthy weight”.

That meant I’d have to gain at least 31 pounds before going home.

Suddenly out of every sense of control.

Mealtimes were spent with hands above the table.

The food was fairly good but there was A LOT of it.

Three massive meals AND three snacks a day.

If you didn’t finish every piece of your meal (including butter) in the time allotted then you had to drink a Boost nutritional drink.

Bathrooms remained locked and you needed to be accompanied by a staff member to use them.

On the bright side though, this center was a huge upgrade from the last.

We were able to keep the majority of our belongings.

Meals were prepared by chefs and served on silver platters.

We got to go outside for fresh air multiple times a day.

We could even turn off the lights at night.

I knew that if I didn’t cooperate, I was never going home.

The gig was up (at least for the time being).

Three and a half months later I completed treatment.

Today marks just over nine years since checking out of recovery.

In this time I’ve had more slip ups than I could possibly count, including an excessive exercise phase that deceived me for months.

(Exercise anorexia post coming soon❤️).

BUT I’ve had way more successes than failures and that is something that I’m extremely proud of.

CONTROL played a major role in my eating disorder.

Which is actually sort of crazy to think about because when I’m active in my eating disorder I am not in controlmy eating disorder is.

It’s so easy to forget this.

Recovery from an eating disorder is a lifelong process that requires daily maintenance.

It’s a process that I’m willing to work at!

My life is worth so much more than a number on a scale.❤️

If you are battling an eating disorder I encourage you to read this post ➡️ Meet Nikki, my eating disorder ❤️

Understanding Bulimia sheds a unique light on the complicated illness.

For more on addiction read Running 😊

Check out my blog for much, much more!❤️

⬇️😊⬇️

Project Identity

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Why everyone should do “family breakfast” on Sundays

Happy Thursday everybody!

I hope you’ve all been enjoying your week!

❤️😊❤️

You guys,

I have to tell you about this thing my family does…

it’s amazing!!!

Actually it’s somewhat of a new tradition for us BUT after the very first one… we were hooked!

Family breakfast

So what is family breakfast?

Just as simple as it sounds actually!

Family ➕ breakfast = family breakfast

One day my five year old was sitting at the table eating breakfast and as I ran by to shovel another scoop of cereal down my throat she said,

“Mommy are you eating breakfast with me?”

I’m sorry…what!?

You mean actually sit my butt on a chair while I eat instead of running around like a crazy person trying to get stuff done?!

It felt pretty absurd at first to be completely honest.

If I’m not running around, how will everything get done???

Skeptically lowering myself into a chair.

That morning was one of the best mornings I’d had in a long time.

❤️

When the next Sunday rolled around there I was again… eating my breakfast sitting down.

This time we invited Daddy and baby sister to join us!

Andddd… the rest is history!

Now EVERY Sunday we look forward to “family breakfast”.

We attend a Saturday evening church service, so “snazzing” up our favorite breakfast foods after sleeping in on Sunday morning is what we call “family breakfast”.

Bacon, eggs, hash browns, fruit, COFFEE, plus a sweet entree are what our Sunday mornings entail.

Wonder no more what to do with the 20 butter braids taking up all of your freezer room.

My mouth is watering as I write this.

I’m a sucker for breakfast food you guys…

Now I get it to eat the best of them once a week!

Yes please!!!

Not convinced yet?

Here’s a little more:

  • Family breakfast is the one time a week when I get to start the day with my entire family all sitting down together.

Many of us do family dinner but not family breakfast.

It’s a different type of bonding.

In the morning we are rested and our emotional capacity is full.

Mornings are the only time all day that I function with a “normal” level of anxiety.

It’s the only time I’m emotionally able to give my full self to my family.

There is literally nothing quite like family breakfast.❤️

  • It’s a great meeting place to discuss upcoming plans for the week.

Soccer? Doctors appointments? No school on Friday?

What is on the schedule for the upcoming week?

Family breakfast gets everyone on the same page 👍❤️👍

  • We learn more about each other every single week.

We have one of those question card games that we received in a chick-fil-a happy meal.

Questions are like, “If you could go anywhere where would you go”.

It’s a great conversation starter and you are always learning new things about each other!

  • It includes my favorite foods and my favorite people.

Breakfast fans rejoice! 🙌

I do in fact, each bacon once a week…. 🥓🥓🥓😳

  • Family breakfast opens the door for more structured family activities!

Last Sunday during family breakfast my five year old goes,

“We should go with Daddy to his haircut then go to the park after!”

Ummmmmm…

How will the house get cleaned?!

News flash…

The weekend is only TWO DAYS.

I need to stop treating Sundays like Mondays!

Anyone else guilty of that?!

I was very skeptical at first but family breakfast turned into family DAY and…

We had a freaking blast.

So be it if my Monday workload just doubled.

Monday’s are Monday’s.

The kids had an absolute blast and I must admit I enjoyed the dose of vitamin D as well.

  • If your Sunday morning schedule is hectic👇

Do family breakfast in the way it works for you.

Bagels and coffee after church?!

Conversation instead of music in the car while enjoying a snack on the way to stop one of twenty for the day?

Family breakfast is whatever you make it.

  • If Sunday is just a plain old terrible day for you👇

Choose the day that works for you!

You need to have family breakfast once a week I’m seriously telling you…

  • Not a breakfast person? 👇

First off I’m not sure if we can be friends…. 😳 just kidding!

But breakfast is good for you.

DO FAMILY BREAKFAST!

  • No family? 👇

Have family breakfast with your boyfriend/girlfriend.

Invite Betty next door over for coffee and bagels…

I promise you after the first few times it won’t feel so awkward.

You may even decide you like Betty so much you want her at family everything.

You and your dog?

Fine!

If that’s literally all you can manage then do it!

Just remember to put away your cell phone in a safe place 👌

Spike needs your undivided attention!

Family breakfast is all about starting your day with intentionality.

I’ve seen the benefits of this and they keep on coming.

So please, try family breakfast this weekend.

Don’t forget to leave me a comment and let me know how much you loved it ❤️

Normal I am not!

How did I turn into this high energy family breakfast enthusiast?

Probably not how you’re thinking…

Check out my blog for inspirational goodness!

👇❤️😊❤️👇

Project Identity

An inspirational blog about overcoming adversity.

Mental health. Addiction. Eating disorders. Broken homes. Trauma. HOPE! ❤️

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Have a beautiful day 💝


Life sentenced to medication

“The doctor says I have depression.”

My eight year old friend stared at me perplexed as I gulped down a handful of pills at our sleepover.

It was rather confusing to me as well.

After my dad “disappeared” one day, things changed.

My mom had to go back to work.

She was terrified that the end of her marriage would somehow destroy the lives of my brother and I.

But I wasn’t the first and wouldn’t be the last eight year old dealing with a broken home.

One day my mom loaded us into the car.

Even my wildest dreams couldn’t imagine the importance of this day.

It was a day that would affect the rest of my life.

Following a long drive we arrived in front of a quaint little office building tucked neatly behind trees.

The interior was decorated like a cabin home.

It was quiet.

I sat innocently in the waiting room and began flipping through a magazine.

Eventually a man emerged from the large oak doors and after speaking with my mother, it was my turn.

“So… How are you?”

He offered.

“Good.”

I said quietly.

“What brings you in today?”

An odd question for my eight year old self.

“Ummm. I’m not really sure…”

He continued,

“Your mom informed about the situation at home. I can only imagine how hard that must be.”

“Ummm. Yeah I guess.”

“What are your thoughts on your Father’s drinking behaviors?”

He solicited.

“It can be scary at times. But he’s gone now.”

“Yes. Can you explain to me what’s happening…?”

“Ummm. I don’t know. My parents don’t love each other. They never did really. I was sleeping over at my friends house and when I came home my Dad was gone.”

“Mhmm. Yes. And how does that make you feel?”

At last he had poked me hard enough to unleash the stream of tears he’d been seeking all along.

“It’s fine.”

Responding as he handed me a box of tissues,

“It sounds like you have depression. You can manage your symptoms with medication. I am writing you a prescription for some today.

And that was it.

Looking out the window on the drive home- completely oblivious to how that prescription would change the way I lived my life forever.

These trips to the doctor became routine.

Every visit resulting in a new handful of medications intended to “fix” me.

In a matter of months I was “diagnosed” with three more “conditions”.

The doctor was constantly adding medications and never replacing them.

Each visit solidifying “I am crazy” and “I am broken” in my little head.

Eventually it reached a point when I was taking thirteen prescription medications.

If I wasn’t broken to begin with, I surely would be now.

I was a pharmaceutical guinea pig.

Maybe that’s the reason that to this day I have this deep seeded belief that I’m not normal.

That I’m defective.

That I need to swallow pills to function like other people.

18 years later I still take medication.

I have a handful of mental health conditions which vary based on the doctor you ask.

Currently I take 4 different medications which keep me right at the edge of sanity.

I’ve established as much of a “freedom” from medication as possible.

My body has been relying on meds for so long that I need them to just feel “okay” now.

I don’t know who I am without medication.

There are times I still wish I could get the chance to meet myself.

My real self.

Times I feel that I’ve been robbed of my true identity.

How would my life would be different if my adversity was categorized as “life” instead of a “flaw that needs fixing”?

Maybe I would end up with the exact same prescription cocktail after all, even if I’d never become dependent on meds as a child.

The problem is that I’ll never know.

Parents- If your child is going through a rough time PLEASE weigh ALL of your options before jumping into a treatment plan.

Don’t commit to a permanent solution for a temporary problem.

I’m not disagreeing with medication.

I’m not blaming anyone.

I’m simply giving a voice to my eight year old self who didn’t have one.

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