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Two sides of the Good Time Charlie By Annie Highwater

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Good Time Charlies, Codependency and Shame; a Conversation with Award Winning Journalist Rob Koebel

Award winning Journalist, writer, actor and producer Rob Koebel has been one of my most lighthearted, fun and interesting conversations since I began writing work in the Recovery realm.

Rob has quite an inspiring story, as much as he has led an interesting life (bio below).

After experiencing a very public downward spiral, Rob has been making a climb upward and onward, helping others to see what is behind the face of the “Good Time Charlie” drinkers.   He gives sharp insight for those who know and love (or might be) someone known as the life of the party.

One thing you catch quickly is Rob’s ease in conversation, which puts others at ease themselves.  It did not surprise me that our conversation led to the pitfalls of being likeable when it comes to drugs and alcohol misuse.

Rob opened with a very honest stroll through his early years, from common middle school insecurities, wanting to blend in, win over the girls and “be the fun.”  Like many of us, he joined in on underage social drinking to feel confident and included.  Yet for some that becomes more of a pattern than for others.

Rob’s journey led him through high school and college antics that were overlooked due to the “boys will be boys” attitude of those in authority who gave him somewhat of a pass.   He went onto become a television news reporter/anchor, taking his drinking habit, which didn’t appear to be a problem, with him.

There were however, warning signs and red flags along the way that drinking was becoming a go to friend for Rob.  Spending late nights blowing off steam at the bar had developed into a coping skill, impacting his relationships with his wife and family.

Good Time Charlie drinkers are usually different when the lights go down.  After the last call for alcohol, they have to go home and wake up to reality. Many times there is someone who has been home waiting, feeling the pain from the other side of the night.

Those who love a charmer know the pain of life alongside them and that the reality at home is different once the party ends. Likeable alcoholics may not look like they’re in trouble or their lives are being affected, because the truth behind the scenes doesn’t rise to meet the eye.

It can be easier to excuse substance abusive behavior if it seems funny, wild and crazy.  Or when the one in question is friendly, fun and easy to like.  Yet eventually it catches up in relationships, if not other areas of life.

“It’s very hard to have relationships when you’re doing drugs and drinking, I find, for me personally…you become closed off, unreceptive, insensitive” ~David Bowie

***

As much fun as an excessive drinking lifestyle can initially be, I posed a question to several folks who also opted out of the binge drinking cycle:

“What did it eventually lead to?”

Their answers were extremely realistic:

Alcohol abuse led to: relationships we couldn’t see the truth about, a marriage that fell apart.  Friendships that were surface only and sometimes very toxic. A drunk driving charge. Arguments.  Conflicts. Hangovers.  Job loss or attendance issues.  Harder drugs.  Embarrassment.  Health issues. Weight gain.  Lack of goals outside of the next social gathering. And so on.

The truth is, eventually habitual and excessive alcohol use catches up.  Even if you are the life of the party, eventually the party ends and someone gets hurt.  The party tends to destroy a family.

The habitual lifestyle of excessive drinking caught up to Rob with a tidal wave of consequences, as it does for most.  After a series of events; a divorce, a tell all book and country song written about his marriage, drama within the workplace etc., Rob had an embarrassing encounter with an Apple Store that served as his wakeup call.

Harsh consequences may not be the outcome for every person who engages in a lifestyle of frequent drinking, but one or more of the above has certainly occurred for most. Alcoholism is as damaging, deadly and dangerous as drug abuse.

While drug abuse is viewed as shameful, criminal and deadly, excessive drinking is just as dangerous yet is still largely viewed (and advertised) as socially acceptable.

But what is excessive drinking? There are two types:

  • Heavy drinking – For men under age 65, heavy drinking means having four drinks a day or more than 14 drinks in a week. For women and men over age 65, heavy drinking is more than three drinks a day or more than seven drinks in a week.
  • Binge drinking – Binge drinking is drinking a large amount of alcohol at one time. For men, it’s defined as five or more drinks within two hours. For women, it’s four or more drinks in that same time frame.

Signs of alcohol abuse and alcoholism

Heavy drinking or binge drinking once in a blue moon might not be a problem for you. But some behaviors are indicators that things are getting serious. Signs to look out for include:

Neglecting responsibilities

This might look like low performance at work or in school, not paying attention to your kids, or skipping commitments because you’re drunk or hung over.

Taking risks and encountering legal problems

Driving while intoxicated, mixing alcohol with medication, and putting your life and others’ lives in danger is a sign that something is seriously wrong.

Drinking to de-stress

American culture makes it seem normal to drink after a long workday or after an argument with a loved one. But this can turn alcohol into a need.

Drinking in spite of relationship problems

If you find yourself drinking even though you know it upsets your spouse, or if you find yourself fighting with family who criticize your drinking habits, there may be a bigger problem at hand.

***

Alcohol related divorce rates and statistics don’t lie.  An estimated 88,000 people (approximately 62,000 men and 26,000 women) die from alcohol-related causes annually, making alcohol the fourth leading preventable cause of death in the United States. In 2014, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities accounted for 9,967 deaths (31 percent of overall driving fatalities).

***

“Codependency is driven by the agreement that I will work harder on your problems and your life than you do. This is not love.” ~Danny Silk

The flip side of this issue is the family and loved ones at home. Many are deeply affected and codependent to alcoholic behavior issues. Yet as painful and often unfair as the cycle becomes, affected Loved Ones also play a part.  Just because the one with the substance related behavior is presenting the loudest, doesn’t mean those close to them are healthy and well.  Or right.

If not managed, everyone around the issue becomes deadlocked in arguments and patterns.

In times of crisis with a Loved One who is actively in use, significant others (along with by standing friends and family) get looped into bottomless, tug of war arguments;

“Why can’t you just stop!”

“Why can’t you understand?”

Back and forth, push and pull.  New issue, same argument, stuck on repeat.

We become fearful, nagging, self-righteous and unglued.  

They become insensitive, inconsiderate and hurtful.  And eventually deceptive and brash.

We often think “F*** this!”

They often think “F*** it.”

We hear with our fears, they speak with their frustration. 

We lash out of pain, they react with shame. 

Funny how we all have our survival techniques when in crisis. Each becomes dead locked in their position and the back and forth ensues, neither able to breakthrough or hear, much less understand the other.  Fear, pain and shame are terrible communicators. Life seems to unravel and relationships are damaged.

It’s a sickening cycle.  Someone drinks (or gets high), someone shames, no one copes.

I personally come from a background of religious dysfunction and condemnation (detailed in my book Unhooked).  Shaming was a constant in my life for many years.   Along with having been through the rollercoaster of prescription drug dependency with very close family members, I have been on both the giver and the taker sides of shame.

I know this to be fact; shaming someone into anything, let alone sobriety, does not workIt doesn’t even help.

Questions posed to anyone whose life has been affected by someone’s drinking or substance abuse is “Does shaming them work? Did the person get better?  Has life improved?”

We have to stop and ask, does it work?  The answer is no, it does not work.  It doesn’t even help.

There is a world of difference between shame and accountability.

Accountability and consequences alongside a healthy, loving plan to manage the issues (such as professional direction from a family substance abuse counselor, Al Anon support groups and literature and the CRAFT method) are profoundly better, much more effective methods.

I also strongly encourage research.  There is a mountain of knowledge to discover when it comes to the disease of dependency. The more you read, search online, attend a class or support meeting, search your local library or bookstores for literature or meet with a professional specializing in family dynamics of dependency; the better chance you have of working through the madness, confusion and pain of it.  And possibly restoring peace to relationships that are worn down.

There’s a need for all involved with someone struggling with drugs or alcohol issues to become educated on facts and positive methods of coping and contributing.

We all have a perspective and play a role in the family when it comes to SUD.  The more willing we are to understand the struggle in the mind of one who is dependent (and vice versa), the better.

Alcoholism and addiction are family illnesses, we all play a part. The healthier family and friends become, the more chance there is to move our impacted relationships forward toward healing and wellness with our struggling Loved One.

But first, let’s drop the shame. Shaming is part of the cycle of sickness.  We need to realize it’s also a toxic part of the problem. When we learn and work together, people recover, relationships mend and families heal. Knowledge is power.  Safe, honest communication leads to peace.

Recovery works!

There’s always hope, but we all have work to do to get there.

Thank you Rob, for being open, honest, likeable and for doing the work to inspire others to make a comeback,

Annie 

(Recovering Codependent)

***

These days Rob Koebel can be found writing, acting and producing documentaries including Story Junkie and Chasing Evel; Official Selection of the Nashville Film Festival and Big Sky Film Festival, based on the life and career of Evel Knievel’s son Robbie Knievel who was the most celebrated daredevil in the 80s and 90s.

Rob Koebel is an award-winning journalist, actor, writer, host and voice over artist. His journalism work has earned him Emmy’s, Associated Press and an Edward R Murrow award. His career as a journalist spans nearly two decades. Rob covered Presidential elections from the campaign trail; tracked one of the FBI’s most-wanted killers in a huge manhunt through rural Arizona; exposed corruption in the government at state, local and federal levels; and busted a nationwide sports memorabilia company selling fake autographs in stadium team shops across the country.

***

Book link for: Unhooked

For Support, information and comfort:

Allies in Recovery

Al Anon

Nar Anon 

AA

NA

Jay Bill and Matt Part 4 – Recovered 834

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Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

Check out this episode!

Jay Bill and Matt Part 2 – Recovered 832

150 150 Mark S

Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

Check out this episode!

Mocktails and Other Non-alcoholic Drinks – Recovered 832

150 150 Mark S

Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

Summer is almost here, which means warmer weather, longer days and the season of BBQs, pool parties and dining al fresco. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, it can also mean the added stress of sweating out social events where frosty margaritas, colorful pitchers of sangria, tubs of ice-cold beer and other alcoholic beverages are center stage. “For an alcoholic, life is a temptation to drink,”. “But the summer setting may bring on more of a temptation than winter, simply because there are more outdoor parties in the heat, begging for a cool drink.”

But there may be a way to navigate this tempting season.

Quoting the article:
Mocktail drinks can, for some, be a slippery slope into using again. “For some people, continuing to act as though you’re having a drink can lead to the eventual addition of a ‘little’ alcohol and then more, leading to relapse,”

Thoughts on giving up the using life style/culture?

Quoting the article
Whether it’s the clink of ice cubes, the weight or shape of the glass or the look and smell of a beverage, “any cues associated with your favorite drink are going to elicit all kinds of changes in the brain that initially mimic the changes that elicit cravings in the first place,”
Your thoughts on knowing your triggers?

Quote:
research has shown that sugar can become as addictive as cocaine or morphine, she adds, noting a PLOS One study. “This is especially true of alcoholics and people who are addicted to stimulants,”
Thoughts?

What do you drink for fun?
What are your recipes?
Most unusual?
What do you avoid?

WE HAVE CALLS

…from Ohio
https://www.google.com/voice/fm/00557165274674955804/AHwOX_AtYOF2jYwXOa0xTCOrHvHAP8ym2KudKHBfed1imV5mmA47wRvrkyGGquNUweq47H3ZwtBd0aFNXnH75qnccVesrpQMFpkApXnNPUuf1XGuONKFa6ZdfETZhDkXQzM4DnPap6N0q0_qZoUm5HQiu19uBixZ1g

Mike from FLA
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Jonna
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Clyde from Shelby Township
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Valerie from San Juan Capistrano
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Nick
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Check out this episode!

Call Recovered About Mocktails and Other Non-alcoholic Drinks

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MONDAY night, the Recovery Topic is “Mocktails and other Non-alcoholic Drinks”
 
Summer is almost here, which means warmer weather, longer days and the season of BBQs, pool parties and dining al fresco. If you’re a recovering alcoholic, it can also mean the added stress of sweating out social events where frosty margaritas, colorful pitchers of sangria, tubs of ice-cold beer and other alcoholic beverages are center stage. “For an alcoholic, life is a temptation to drink,” says Kelly Fitzgerald, a blogger at The Sober Señorita and Addiction.com. “But the summer setting may bring on more of a temptation than winter, simply because there are more outdoor parties in the heat, begging for a cool drink.”
Let’s talk about this solution.  Tap Speakpipe (preferred because the sound quality is excellent.  Use this method especially if you are outside the Unites States) or call 1-734-288-7510 and answer the following question(s):
What do you drink for fun? What are your recipes? Most unusual? What do you avoid?
Recovered Podcast is live online every Tuesday at 6:30 pm EST as we record the show.  Join the fun and be part of the show.
If you would like to listen to the live stream of the show, just tap Recovered Chat and Live Stream.  We give away an Amazon gift card each week, you could win if you join us on Tuesdays.  
 
Click on our Show Notes we will use Monday night.

Jay, Bill, and Matt Part 2

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Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

Check out this episode!

Service Work – Recovered 830

150 150 Mark S

Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions.  If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

  1. Episode Sponsorship  We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode.  Any amount will qualify.
  2. Premium Membership  This is the single most effective way to support the show.  Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium

The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot.  They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear.  The new guy needs to hear your story.  So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life.  There are two ways to add to the show:

  1. Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message.  This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
  2. 1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

One of the famous sayings used by Twelve Step groups is that,
you have to give it away in order to keep it.
What this is referring to is
the idea that service in recovery can help
the giver as much as the receiver.
This giving should not be done
in the hope of a reward or praise.
Instead the individual does it
because they know that it is helping to keep
them clean and sober too.
Numerous studies have provided evidence that
helping others in recovery provides
great benefit to the helper.

Service in recovery refers to
work carried out for no financial reward or compensation.
This may involve directly helping somebody else, or
indirectly helping them by providing services.

Let’s talk about our experience, strength, and hope as it relates to Service Work.

Let’s go to you first Dave

What does service work mean to you?
How has it helped your program?
What kinds of service have you done?

Has your sponsor ever volunteered you for something?
Have you ever suggested service for your sponsee?
Why do you think service work helps you feel better?
What is the most unique service you ever did?

What are you doing now?
Why do you think some people think of service work as a spiritual exercise?
How has your understanding of service work changed since you were new?

WE HAVE CALLS

Mike W from Celebration FLA
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Chris L.
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

Alex
https://www.speakpipe.com/messages

 

Check out this episode!

Holly D. – Recovered 829

150 150 Mark S

Our generous Recovered Podcast Community allows us to be self supporting and not rely on outside contributions. If you would like to join us, there are two ways.

Episode Sponsorship We will recognize you by first name only at the top, mid, and end of the episode. Any amount will qualify.
Premium Membership This is the single most effective way to support the show. Watch the video in its entirety and learn how to become Premium
The Recovered Podcast Community is not a glum lot. They contribute to the show and what they share is exactly what someone else needs to hear. The new guy needs to hear your story. So honor your 12th step obligation by calling in and help the guy who has not yet gone to his first meeting, you may make the difference in his life. There are two ways to add to the show:

Speakpipe Use your mobile or computer and leave a message. This is the preferred method because the sound quality is excellent.
1-734-288-7510 is our voice message line.

Check out this episode!

Stress Level: 10 by Annie Highwater

150 150 Mark S

For more information about Annie Highwater, http://anniehighwater.com

Stress Level: 10!!!

There once was a time when stress for me had two settings only; the needle sat on 0 or it jumped straight to Level 10. An unsettling phone call from a loved one could send adrenaline shooting through me as rapidly as if you were to step on the gas and take your car from 0 to 100 mph in 0.3 seconds. I was often hurled into panic. Getting pulled into chaos and the craziness of family conflicts, or addiction related crisis was almost a daily event. I know by heart what that’s like (as detailed in my book “Unhooked, a Mother’s Story of Unhitching from the Rollercoaster of her son’s addiction”).

In those days, I was easily snared by gut-wrenching arguments with family members who were enmeshed in our situation. Sometimes I’d even get pulled in by strangers brought randomly into our life by virtue of the circumstances.

Like a speeding pinball game, I would be catapulted from those moments back to my constant wrestling match fear and the heartache that tormented me night and day. I had no peace.

Returning to 0 after an episode of chaos wasn’t really that peaceful. Sadness resided in the quiet times, along with fear and dread as I waited for the next wave to crash or for bad news to come.

Back then my emotions could become ferocious alongside the stress. Have you ever tried to wrap your hands around a raging thunder storm, or attempted to calm a hurricane?

Internally, that’s pretty much how it felt for me. The pressure was unbearable, sickening, overwhelming. And yet I had to function through my daily routine.

I remember reading the German saying: denn wir haben eine Krise der Verzweiflung erreicht mentioned in the SESH book for Nar Anon families. It translates as: “For we have reached a crisis of desperation.”

Before my son entered recovery 4 years ago (and I began to work on recovering my own wellbeing from the long term effects of the chronic stress), I reached a crisis of desperation often. In fact, I did constantly. Stress and desperation ruled my life. The red line, panic zone, miserable kind of stressed out desperation that rises up with the madness that addiction brings with it. When addiction enters your life it feels as though a freight train comes roaring through the house and keeps coming back! Many times my mind would race wildly and my heart would beat so fast that I would feel my pulse in different places all over my body, throbbing in my temples and neck. Level 10 stress becomes par for the course for a mother, daughter, father, brother, wife etc. who are closely involved with someone in active addiction.

At least it is at first.

Once you begin seeking recovery, support and healing you do begin to level out. Somehow once recovery and support enter your life, the wave crashing moments don’t come as often, hit as hard, or last as long.

Since telling our family’s story, I now frequently receive emails and calls from frantic parents, relatives and others who are absolutely wracking their brain to figure out how to manage a life adjacent to active addiction. These are everyday people who are pulled into profoundly difficult circumstances.

One recent conversation was with a shell shocked mom in a crisis of desperation herself. Only the night before, her son had shaken her awake, whispering and gesturing madly over her, “Mom, wake up!” He ranted frantically. “I need $200, they’re waiting outside! Mom, they’re going to kill me if I don’t pay them! They even said they’ll kill you!”

This desperate and scared mom once again pulled a handful of cash from a locked safe she’d recently felt the need to purchase for cash and valuables that often went missing.

“This threat is becoming common now!” She told me. “Do I believe it every time?” I noticed she sounded as tired as she did worried. “Am I truly to be afraid for his life? Should I fear for my own? Or…do you think maybe he’s manipulating me?”

Unfortunately, these insidious situations also sometimes become par for the course for those living with a loved one battling the disease of addiction. These are the moments that send a parent reeling. It feels like you’re falling off the world, unable to land. I’ve been through those intense situations and felt as though fuses were blowing in my brain. It was at times like an out of body experience. Sometimes I would get so stressed that I felt like I might start levitating! My brain felt like it was steaming and was about to explode. Life became powerfully overwhelming. The combination of terror, exhaustion, worry and sorrow are like a herd of elephants standing on your chest.

So how does one respond? And more than that, how do we go on about normal life in the midst of the madness? How do we go in and face a demanding work day when dealing with something so horrendous at home? How can we go to bed and have a fitful night of sleep for the next day? How do we go to the grocery store, fold the laundry, or ever have a normal, lighthearted conversation with anyone when nothing about life is normal? How can we accomplish a thing while going through this?

Truth be told, it was almost impossible for me at first and it didn’t get better overnight. It takes time, it’s a process.

While I certainly don’t want to minimize a threat that could lead to a tragedy, I have learned myself that most of the time in scenarios where money is needed to avoid physical harm, manipulation absolutely was involved.

Beyond than that, I also began to learn that we don’t have to jump into the madness and surge along with it. I have to be okay and level headed to maintain a sane, peaceful, safe environment. Therefore, I had to develop the ability to not get pulled into the chaos or conflict. I learned that it’s actually wise not to.

Living with chronic stress has lasting effects.

Chronic, long term stress does damage. Brain damage to be precise. Chronic stress actually changes the brain. Long term stress changes the functions, structure and size of the brain. I am fascinated by the study of stress effects on the brain, by Madhumita Murgia, an educator for the Telegraph who compiled a report for Ted X.

Chronic stress literally changes who we are.

Medical research shows that stress begins in the Hypothalamus Pituitary Adrenal Axis (HPA Axis which interacts between the brain and the kidneys). When a stressor occurs, the HPA Axis immediately signals the kidneys to release the stress hormone cortisol, signaling the body to instant action. This is helpful in moments when we need a boost, like exercise, moments of danger etc. However, a long term releasing of cortisol caused by chronic stress wreaks havoc on the body and brain. Areas of the brain inevitably become weakened and so then becomes our ability to deal with stress.

The prefrontal cortex is especially affected. This is the control center for concentration, decision making, judgment and social interaction. As a result, fewer brain cells are made, making it more difficult to learn and remember things.

The long term stress caused me to become very forgetful, hasty in my decisions, confused and socially awkward. Even more than usual! I also noticed that during that time of my life I became very clumsy.

At the time it became obvious to me that I was heading for a crash if I didn’t get ahead of my stress. I knew I had to develop different responses for the ambush, crazy making moments of chaos. There are solutions. There are ways to handle those stressful moments when cortisol becomes activated. There are also ways to reverse the effects.

What I found to be helpful for me in chaos moments was stepping back, maybe going into another room and closing the door even if demands were still being aggressively made. Stepping away gives you a moment to collect yourself and not jump into the chaos. I would then take a moment to silently lift the burden off of myself and place it onto my Higher Power. Turning it over to my faith, praying “Please God, help us. Show me what to do. I believe you make all things possible, please make peace possible in the midst of what right now feels like insanity.”

I felt quiet relief in those moments.

Another method I still use when plunged into urgency is to allow myself four deep, full breaths. Deep breathing floods oxygen to our extremities and calms us enough to think about what the options are. This breathing technique never fails to calm my mind.

If I had a longer break from the situation, I would go for a quick walk, bike ride or run.

If the situation was still spiking, I knew I need help and support. This is when I called upon a trusted friend. If it continued to escalate and I felt it necessary, I contacted law enforcement. I did whatever I felt was helpful to restore sanity, peace and safety to my environment.

One thing I stopped doing was allowing those moments to force me into a quick decision.

When I started to respond this way instead of accelerating with the situation, I began to actually sense myself calming down in the midst of them. I found then that the atmosphere around me would grow more calm as well and then over time, life became more calm and manageable. Addiction, terror and chaos were no longer calling the shots.

From my work to recover I have learned that eventually thicker skin and calmer responses do prevail.

Again, this wasn’t easy. It took time and effort. It is definitely a process. Sometimes I’d fail, but stronger I got. I was determined to have a peaceful, sane life; I would therefore keep working toward it. I agree with Napoleon Hill that “Effort fully releases its reward only after a person refuses to quit.”

As far as undoing the damage, it was noted in the study that exercise and meditation are two of the most effective ways of reversing cortisol damage, as they involve deep breathing and mindfulness. It doesn’t mean we have to start spending hours in the gym or meditating the morning away! However, these truly are great forms of self-care. I personally try to exercise at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. I also meditate 10-20 minutes every morning to prepare myself for facing the day.

For me, these rituals have been strength boosting and life-changing. We have to make ourselves a priority. We all can find 20 minutes here and there for a brisk walk or some other activity to get the blood flowing. And even if it’s for only 90 seconds in a quiet room or hallway, pulling away to breathe, meditate and release pressure will produce great results over time.

It’s a process.

These days, we have come so far in that area that I barely remember what those moments were like. That is how permeating peace can be. Not only does life begin to settle down and stabilize, but peace can soothe even the memories of traumatic days gone by.

The process of recovery leads not only to peace, but the deepest of relief.

Jay, Bill, and Matt Part 1 – Recovered 828

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