Thursday, August 6, 2015

Make Your Own Healing A Priority

"Humility is taking child's pose, the resting pose, in the practice of yoga. It isn't an indignity. It's a necessity if you really want to grow. If you don't take small, organic steps, you can hurt yourself and set yourself back a thousand years. Taking a pose that isn't flashy, doesn't mean you're weak. It means you're patient and resolved. It means you respect the journey and yourself, and you trust you will arrive when it's your time to arrive."  Tama Kieves: Floundering Towards Grace 

A few years ago my life was so stressful that I developed heart palpitations. The Cardiologist told me that I must give up caffeine, chocolate, and alcohol.  I remember thinking,"oh great now what am I going to do to relax!”  (He didn’t mention shopping therapy but since my husband’s small business was going under, that was out too, yikes!)

 Friends suggested yoga.  It just so happened that a new yoga studio  opened nearby featuring a 4 week beginner class. The only concern I had when I signed up was the classes were in the evenings.  As anyMom knows, evenings are crazy, but I was desperate so I took the plunge.

Things were going smoothly, my husband was supportive and I really enjoyed the classes. I especially loved the philosophy of self forgiveness and acceptance. Then a crisis struck my husband had a severe leg injury which required surgery, rehab and someone to be his personal chauffeur for a few months. Normally, I would have dropped everything, become a martyr and savior. I thought that’s just what Mom’s do. I always sacrificed my well being thinking that I was helping everyone else. Wrong!!!

 Something had begun to shift in my subconscious. Instead, I said to my husband, "I will do anything for you but I cannot miss my yoga classes." Now that may seem insignificant to most of you, but for a me it was a revelation. I put my needs ahead of my families.

During this time I called a friend after taking a class. I was on such a “yoga high” that I said, “I think that my husband's injury was the best thing that’s happened to me! " How sad and wonderful that statement is. My entire adult life was about self sacrifice, not because anyone asked me to but because I thought that is what was required of me.

Aha moment: If I put my well-being as a priority everyone benefits.

Further down the road when bigger, life altering crises occurred and my life really seemed to be falling apart, the lessons of yoga have helped carry me through.

Aha moment :I can survive and actually flourish in crisis. Be the anchor for those around me, if I take the time to take care of myself.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


My daughter remained sober for almost 9 months following a 30 day inpatient stay at Caron. We were so proud of her. We fell into the belief that it was smooth sailing from here on out. Then, we received a call from the Vice Principal at her high school, my daughter was caught in the restroom with a friend acting suspicious. (Drug snorting sounds coming from a stall.) I of course defended my daughter saying that there was no way she would be using drugs again.

Two weeks later she came home totally drunk.

That night I wrote the following journal entry:

All of a mother's love and strength will not be enough if your child won't accept that there is a problem and want to change. How do I feel? Frustrated, sad, guilty, angry. Once again, I put myself on the line, standing up for my daughter and she was lying. I was clinging to the hope that she was "cured." I forgot that recovery is a process. I am finally ready to be here. I can accept my co-dependency, my enabling. My daughter has to do this on her own or she won't survive. I get it. I must "withhold everything but the love."

The lyrics to the song below bring me back to the moment when I wrote this journal entry. Every time I listen to it I am reminded to let go. (To listen click on the link below.)

Monday, December 29, 2014


On a car trip this weekend I was  reading Living Your Yoga by Judith Lassiter. In the chapter called Perspective she tells the following story:

"A villager lived in a small house with his wife, mother-in-law, six children, a cow and some chickens. It was driving him crazy. So we went to the village rabbi and asked for help. The rabbi said that he could solve the problem. He advised the man to buy a goat. Overjoyed, the man immediately went out and bought a goat. Now he had a wife, a mother-in-law, six children, a cow, some chickens and a goat. The house was even more chaotic than before. The villager returned to the rabbi and described the increased chaos. Once again, the rabbi said that he could solve the problem. He told the man to sell the goat. Obediently, the villager went home and sold his goat. Suddenly, all he had in the small house were his wife, his mother-in-law, his six kids, a cow and some chickens. Things were positively peaceful without the goat."

She continues:

"Borrowing from this story, I decided to make a mantra for daily living..... when you find yourself in a situation that could be made better if you were to step back to gain perspective, inhale gently and on your next exhalation, say to yourself "Sell the goat."

I promptly read the story to my husband. Later that weekend my daughter had an accident that made us both anxious, but my Husband's anxiety kept escalating. After a few minutes of increased tension I whispered to him "sell the goat" he instantly began to relax.  Later that same day, I was freaking out at my other daughter over something out of her control and I didn't seem to be able to let it go. David said to me "kill the goat" I burst out laughing and said "it's sell the goat." Regardless , the expression did it's work!

Give it a try!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Healing Power of Music

When my daughter was admitted to Caron for inpatient treatment, the only electronic device she was allowed to bring was a cd player.  For a teen used to having the constant distraction of texting, Facebook, the iPOD, etc. this caused quite an anxiety attack. Further, the music she was allowed to listen to was prescreened for "appropriate content." As we said goodbye she begged us to write and send cds. 

The first playlist I sent to her was called, "What's a Mom to do." It contained songs she requested, lullabies and other songs that related to the circumstances.

I also began to make playlists for myself and listening to them became an obsession. These playlists became a way to turn off the guilt and inner critic that was constantly assaulting me.  As I began to study yoga, meditation, and addiction I realized that listening to my playlists became a way to practice moving meditation and mindfulness.

Now, when I am in crisis, feeling down, or I can't turn off that evil voice in my head I take a deep breadth, grab my IPOD and go for a walk to escape the madness.

The song that became my impetus to open up, share my story and enter the world of Twitter, Facebook and blogging is by a performer I discovered when she opened for a concert I was attending  YouTube - Out Loud - Mindy Smith - Long Island Shores 

The 2 opening sentences in particular resonated with me.

Hey friend why do we always hide? 
It's no wonder that we're sinking down.
Why should we stand in lonely shadows, 
when there’s so much light around?

We are all interconnected. If sharing my story can help one family not feel the pain and isolation that comes with their child's struggle, then it is all worth it.  If I can help them find the "angels" sooner, limiting the trauma, pain, suffering and isolation that addiction/codependency brings, then it's worth it.


"I have made many mistakes in my life and no doubt will make more before I die. When I have seen pain, when I have found my ineptness has caused displeasure, I have learned to accept my responsibility and to forgive myself first, then to apologize to anyone injured by my misreckoning. Since I cannot un-live history, repentance is all I have to offer, I have hopes that my sincere apologies were accepted. You may not control all the events that happen to you, but you can decide not to be reduced by them. Try to be a rainbow in someone's cloud. Do not complain. Make every effort to change things you do not like. If you cannot make a change, change the way you are thinking. You might find a new solution. Never whine. Whining lets a brute know that a victim is in the neighborhood. Be certain that you do not die without having done something wonderful for humanity.”
Letter to My Daughter

Hi, I am an imperfect mom willing to share my story. Starting in middle school my oldest daughter  struggled with addiction. Through supporting her healing process, I found that I had my own issues that  needed to be addressed in order to be able to heal our family. By telling my story, I hope to inspire others to find comfort reaching out for help, ways to deal with codependency and connect them with tools and resources that have supported me in this journey. Who knows, by sharing and caring, we might even save a life.

The diagnosis of addiction often "overlaps" with other mental illnesses like depression, ADD, etc. This makes it very complicated for a parent to deal with. One of the results of our society's emphasis towards perfectionism, materialism and success is that we feel we must hide our vulnerabilities at all costs. As a result, we become isolated from each other and use finger pointing or blame as a way to deflect so that we don't have to admit that we are not perfect. This also isolates the child (addict) and their parents. This has to stop! We as parents (and human beings) need to promote and share information and experiences in order to help and learn from each other.  Although we can't prevent bad things from happening to us, change our genetic history, or our children; we can help others see the warning signs, shorten the learning curve and limit trauma. Once again, this can't happen if the traumatized family feels fear of judgement.