Sometimes We Need To Look Back To See Where We Are Today In Recovery. . .

“So Thanksgiving Day was my birthday and it just happen to fall on a day we gather with “family and friends to “give thanks” for the many blessings we have received. To share good food, good company and have a heart of gratitude, but I am very aware on this day, and always around the Christmas and New Year season, it can be a difficult time for many in recovery.  As my birthday comes each year,  I have to pause and take a look back to when I turned 40. It was also Thanksgiving week and in November of 2002, I was in an addiction/mental crisis center after my first suicide attempt. What a way to celebrate ones birthday”  . . . .

 

See, our addiction comes with many negative outcomes, habits and behaviors. We find we have burned many bridges, lost many friends and some of our family members along the way. We didn’t realize at the time how we were hurting the people around us that we cared about, and those who have loved us when we are in the middle of our disease. But lets face it, a person can only watch another person destroy themselves before they have to walk away and stop watching as we hit “rock bottom.”
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And yes, we can learn to work through this and much more when we finally choose and enter recovery.

Is it hard? Yes. But it is worth it.

Now since my friends and readers of my book who visit me here already know a little of my story of my gambling addiction and alcohol abuse, but for the new friends who may visit, I wanted to share that “part” of my addiction and recovery story as it will show just how addicted I was and how my life at the time was spinning out of control, and how hopeless and dark one can get when you are an addict.

My 40th birthday in Nov. 2002 was filled with some unexpected “life events” that was happening, and we can become very week when we have no relapse plan in place when these “life events.”
Now of course these are NOT excuses for relapsing in any way. I was having a rough time staying in recovery at that time for a couple of years. That damn light bulb moment didn’t happen for me until my second failed suicide attempt in April of 2006, as I took all my bipolar meds.
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I was feeling so hopeless as I wasn’t even gambling at that time. But that is another blog post for another day.
In 2002, my mom began a year-long decent in an out of the hospital before her passing in 2003. But my dear friend Sue H, I called her my ‘adopted mom’ was being ravished by cancer, and passed away a week before our birthdays. Mine the 26th and hers the 27th November 2002.

I watched her at her home take her last breath, and I can tell you that it hit me very, very hard. The coming Saturday was her Memorial as her family had her cremated, and later they were going to go to her favorite beach to spread her ash’s in the ocean of the Oregon Coast in Bandon, OR.
So I was to go to her memorial that Saturday, but still don’t remember to this day driving to an Indian Casino that early morning and gambled my ASS off all day.

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Needless to say, I missed Sue’s memorial that morning and didn’t get home until early evening. I was so out of control and crap spinning in my head, as I think I spent all our mortgage payment money and more! I freaked! I also won about 2,100 while I was there on top of what I gambled away and gambling until every penny was gone! It was liked I was zoned out, was shackled to that slot machine and I couldn’t get free. I was running and trying to escape from my past hurts and pain in my life.

I was a HOSTAGE! I was a hostage of addicted, compulsive, uncontrolled gambling!

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So when I got home, I called my gambling councilor and told her I had a bad relapse and I didn’t want to live anymore because I just couldn’t STOP Gambling! I muttered some other things about cutting myself, which she told me later as my anxiety was so high and I was so distraught that I has blacked out. So she called the police. The rest I don’t remember as I was told later on all that happened.

And that was that police came into my home, I had cut my wrists, and was cutting on myself I guess to try to release some of the stress and anxiety I was feeling, but I kept blacking out, there were kitchen and butcher knives all around living room when the police got to my home. All I remember was waking up in the hospital briefly, then as I found they had given me shots of morphine to calm me down. I then woke up hours later in a Mental/Addiction crisis center on suicide watch and my wrists wrapped.

How the hell did I get here, and where was I? I was out of it a few days to say the least. When I had my bearings is when my councilor told me all that happened. Then I thought, oh damn, my husband must be so upset with me. And all this was the week of Thanksgiving and my 40th birthday was spent in a f _ _ king crisis center.

What a way to spend a birthday and Thanksgiving!

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And if all that wasn’t enough? While in the crisis center, the centers psychiatrist and my primary doctor found I was suffering from undiagnosed bipolar disorder with severe depression, anxiety with mania.
I was floored. So not only am I having to start my recovery over again, I’m now a frigging mental case. (Yes, that is how I felt about mental illness because of Stigma) . . .

Both doctors believed I had been suffering for many years but never diagnosed. That my gambling addiction caused the symptoms to come to the surface. So now I have labels too? I just couldn’t wrap my mind around all that was happening to me! I felt like my world was crashing all around me in total darkness. A blackness I had never experienced before. They say that is when your suicidal and at the end of hopelessness. Never want to be there again!

And wow, what a difference 13 years can make, and what my life is today.
When I look back at all that, to all that I have been through with this awful addiction, gambling addiction, I really am blessed to even still be here living a whole different life today in recovery. We sometimes have to look back at the worst of ourselves to appreciate where we are now. And yes, since 2002 and when the light bulb went off finally went off and I left the crisis center again in late April of 2006, is when I finally started my road to long-term recovery.

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Yes, freedom from gambling addiction with alcohol abuse is truly a beautiful thing! No more preoccupation with urges and triggers, spinning thoughts constantly in my head of when and when and where I was going to gamble again. No more feelings of being a hostage to this insidious disease. I am free. It took a lot of hard work through treatment, therapy and many gamblers anonymous meetings, but I DID IT! And so can you!

Gambling addiction does not have to rule your life any longer. Life is ward way to short for any addiction. Yes, I did learn this the hard way, but I learned so much to along the way. If we don’t learn from a relapse or from any addiction? Then we remain stuck within its cycle and you never can break free. We must do the recovery work to get here.

Having a relapse plan is also a must. So my next blog post is going to be a 3 part series on just how to use a “Relapse Prevention Guide” I was given, and it helped me be prepared for any life event that may come my way. The holidays are upon us, and that to is a great time to have a prevention plan in place. Because the holiday season is the time when we may not have the support from family and friends that we need.

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Know I will be here blogging and answering questions on my blog through this holiday season.

WHY?

Because it is MY way of giving back to others in or reaching out for help from Gambling Addiction or any Addiction. And addiction doesn’t take the holidays off . . . .

God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Recovery Advocate XOXO

 

I Welcome Recovery Guest Author, Darci Maxwell ~ Letting Go Of The Victim Mentality – Finding Strength in You.

young woman  woman leaned against glass wall in crisis moment

It is easy to recognize the victim mentality in our friends or family, but it is hard to recognize it in ourselves. When we feel powerless in our situations, we try to place the blame on something else to protect ourselves. Even those who seem healthy and well-adjusted can be suffering silently with a victim mentality.

Having a victim mentality can prevent us from growing as we don’t learn from our experiences, rather we separate ourselves from them and point fingers. It also can hold us hostage and keep us from changing our situations, because we fail to recognize that we have the power to change our situations. The victim mentality is very seductive; it offers affirmation, sympathy, a comfortable and quiet lifestyle, and removes responsibility from our lives. However, it doesn’t offer peace, power, or progression. So how do you know if you have a victim mentality?

female hands with pen writing on notebook

Take the time to carefully consider the questions below. . .

When something goes wrong, do you blame someone else?

Are you still angry about something someone did to you in your past?

Do you feel powerless to change your life?

Do you believe that things will never change for you?

Do you feel unhappy?

Can you blame your unhappiness on others in your life?

Do you feel that if someone else changed something, then you would be happy?

Do you have a hard time forgiving others, including yourself?

Do you believe that your future holds mostly pain and sorrow?

Are you afraid to take risks?

Do you frequently find excuses for your lifestyle (age, size, sex, education, background, etc.)?

Do you review your failures, mistakes, and shortcomings often?

Are you frustrated when friends offer you suggestions for how you can change?

Do you often begin phrases with “I cant..” or “I’m not got at…”

Are you thinking of someone else as you read these questions?

IF YOU answered yes to 8 or more of these questions, you may be trapped in a victim mentality.

How to Free Yourself

Recognize Where You Are

Most people who are trapped in a victim mentality do not even realize that they are. They often turn to people who take advantage of them because they do not think they have a choice. You need to recognize that the common denominator in your circumstances is you. Only you have the ability to change your life, and you need to allow yourself to change. Take the time to decide that you can let go of your victim mentality. Stop thinking about how you have been wronged and start thinking about how you can move forward.

Forgive

C.R. Strahan said “Forgiveness has nothing to do with absolving a criminal of his crime. It has everything to do with relieving oneself of the burden of being a victim–letting go of the pain and transforming oneself from victim to survivor.” Forgiveness is not excusing or forgetting what happened, it is giving yourself the tools and ability to move forward. Forgiveness is giving yourself permission to be ok even after you have experienced terrible suffering.  The person who has wronged you doesn’t ever need to say sorry in order for you to forgive them, as forgiveness is not for them, but for you.  It is ok if forgiveness does not come immediately.  It takes time. Be patient with yourself; emotional wounds take far longer to heal than physical ones.  For more help on learning to forgive, check out this blog.

Take Responsibility

One of the key indicators of a person with a victim mentality is that they constantly blame everyone around them when things go wrong. You need to take responsibility for your life. Stop blaming others and making excuses.  Start finding opportunities for growth. You are in control of your life.  Instead of saying “I have to” or “I need to” (blaming situations for your actions) start saying “I’m choosing to”.

Be Grateful and Serve

Be grateful for your circumstances, as someone always does have it worse.  There is always an opportunity to be found even in the hardest of trials and instead of asking “Why?” ask “What can I learn from this?” Then, turn your focus outwards and find someone that you can help.  Volunteer in a soup kitchen, volunteer at an animal shelter, or simply write a heartfelt note to a friend.  Your life will feel more fulfilling and valuable as you dedicate your time in the service of others.

Gambling Recovery Starts Here! Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author & Recovery Advocate
Written By, Author Darci Maxwell

“Lets Talk War Stories of Addiction and The Criminal Consequences”

Hello and Welcome all Recovery Friends,

 

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I wanted to write and share a little about the damages and consequences many of face when we were deep within our addictions. One of those can be losing your freedom due to jail, criminal records or doing jail or prison time. I had visited a friend’s blog this morning, and he had just been released from prison five days ago. I have followed some of his journey on his blog while he was there. And I can tell you, there is nothing worse than having your freedoms of life taken away from you.

See I know this first hand as I had this happen myself, just no prison time. Back in 2006,  I made the poor choice to steal from someone due to financial problems of my own. This person filed charges, by which she had every right to do so. I was arrested at my home, taken to jail, booked, and then released. Talk about shame and embarrassment. It was the lowest point in my life besides my two failed suicide attempts. I was living in Oregon at the time, in a small community, so everyone of course read about it in our local newspaper.

I had spent over 20 years in the banking field, so I knew many people and business people in my town. So it was again pretty embarrassing to know they all may have read about my downfall.

FREEDOM,  Are YOU HEARING ME? GET YOUR FREEDOM BACK.

He was talking about how he was becoming addicted to his tech stuff. His cell phone, the internet and social media, and how much had changed just in the seven years that he was away in prison. I SO understood what my friend, fresh out of prison was feeling and going through. I’m addicted to the same, but? I have chosen to be addicted to social media and the internet for two excellent reasons, and these reasons are blessings of my hard work in recovery and given from my higher power.

I use them for my recovery to help others, share hope in recovery, inform and educate others about gambling, alcohol, and other addictions, as I blog my recovery journey. I also use it for a ‘Home Business.’  Again, as you may know, I promote other authors with a small ‘Book & Social Media Promotions’ job for extra income. And here is why, which I know you all in recovery will understand.

In 2006, I chose to steal from someone while I cleaned her home. It is all in my book. I was arrested, charged, given two years probation, and loads of community service. I’m still paying my fees and the little balance left of my restitution to this day. So with having a criminal record, no one would hire me. So I had to think outside the box and figure a way to make money from home. I also suffer severe depression and agoraphobia, so I don’t work outside my home anymore.

BAM! Book promoting and authoring more recovery books came to mind! I’m not rich yet, but I have made enough to pay our rent some months, and that not only feels good/ but are blessings in recovery.  It also raises your self-worth, confidence and gives you freedom from addiction!


 

We need to learn while in recovery to take ownership and accountability of the choices we had made within our addictions. No matter how long it takes to work through them? It can be done, or you will never feel that full sense of freedom from your past if you don’t. And boy did I have a lot to process and overcome of my past starting as a hurt, traumatized little girl. That holds true for the other obstacles that come from just life trials and storms besides addiction.

There are many ways to accomplish this. Many choose treatment or rehab, depending on the type of addiction you are recovering from. Many turn to 12 step programs, or even to their church. Doesn’t matter what route you choose, just do it. We can change those bad habits and behaviors we tend to learn within addiction/ and replace them with awesome ones. It’s what I told my friend in his blog comment section. He feels he is becoming addicted to his cell, the internet, and social media sites.

So I told him to change his priority of why he is using them. I use them to help others in recovery, and that is what helps ME stay in recovery. Sharing my story, sharing my hope to others so they too can help others. Same with my book promotions. I enjoy helping other authors promote their books. And I work just as hard for them as I do when I help others in recovery.

I never dreamed how my life could take such a positive turn from the damage and devastation of gambling addiction and alcohol abuse I battled. Never dreamed I’d be a published author in my lifetime. But when we are in addiction, we just don’t see anything but the addiction. What a life legacy I get to leave behind for others who come to recovery after I’m gone. Awesome! Just don’t give up on those dreams.

So go ahead and take your freedom Back from Addiction Today!!
You are worth it!

May God Bless You Abundantly Friends,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon XOXO
Author and Recovery Advocate