Who Are You Really?

 Over the last two months I have been learning some hard lessons.  Through it all, the theme of “be yourself” keeps coming up.  I know I’m not alone when it comes to struggling with saying what you mean, doing what you love, or relaxing around certain people, right?  I usually blame it on the MS and brain fog but the truth is some days I am not feeling confident and comfortable with being me.  I have been digging  a little deeper lately.  I have even gone back to working my steps from NA.  A chance to uncover another layer of authenticity, and free myself to be unapologetically me..

Not being you is exhausting!   Did you ever consider the amount of energy it takes to keep up appearances, attempting to be perfect (like it will happen), pleasing other people (is it possible?), and trying to make yourself fit into situations which simply aren’t you? When we say “be yourself”, some of us even wonder what it means.

Here are three practical strategies to help you maximize your best you:

1. Say what you need to say.

Do you beat around the bush figuring people will know what you mean when you say something?  Are you too afraid to speak up afraid of what others with think? Have you found yourself telling a little lie to avoid the embarrassment of telling the truth?  These are clear signs you are not being true to yourself.  This hit me like a brick – SMACK!  Try this simple exercise:  Identify one situation when you have not said what you need to say.   You know, you beat around the bush in the hopes someone understood.  Got the situation?  I want to you go to the person and just say it flat out.  If you can’t do it right now, mark it on your calendar to do it.  There was a time when I had no filters.  I said what I needed to say and didn’t worry about what people thought.  Early in my recovery, I was eager to say what I was thinking and I didn’t worry about what people thought.  Over the years, things started changing.  Those old habits came back and I started the “people pleasing game again”.  We are as sick as our lies, no matter how small those lies are.  Authenticity means being forthright. Don’t waste your precious energy pretending all is well when it isn’t.  Take the word “FINE” out of your vocabulary.  Don’t let FEAR keep you in hiding!

2. Do what you know is right.

There is nothing more authentic than living your values. When your actions don’t line up with your beliefs, inner turmoil is sure to follow.  Do you actually know what your core values are? 

3. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.

Okay, this is a tough one for me!  The truth is when we are uncomfortable in our own skin, it is usually because we haven’t given ourselves permission to be human.  In other words, we haven’t given ourselves permission to be imperfect.  We always want things to be perfect.  The perfect weight, the perfect size, the perfect family, the perfect house… it is all part of the “I will be happy when” syndrome.  When you relax, you enjoy yourself more. It is time we value the journey as much, if not more than, the destination.  There will be bumps along the road – embrace them.  Climb over them and keep moving forward, they don’t have to keep you from reaching your purpose (or your goals).

What situations cause you to not be yourself?  What are you afraid will happen if you show people the real you?

I am stomping out the inner gremlins and being true to me…. what about you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Addiction & Recovery

YEAH!  It is the weekend….Today is about a time in my life that was both a trial and a blessing.  In October, 1990 my drug addiction took me down a road that I never thought would be possible.  I mean, I was from a middle class family, a college graduate (Dean’s list in pre-law),  had a great job and was a mom of an AMAZING daughter – Belinda.  Life was good – so I thought.  My addiction caused me to lie, cheat and manipulate family, friends, and employers.  It was not a pretty sight.  On the outside, I was looking good (or so I thought) but on the inside I was an emotional and spiritual train wreck.

A bout with the law and a judge who saw the person inside, gave me a chance to get my life together.  It was a difficult time for my family – the perfect world that I had created had just shattered.  Off to detox for 10 days where a wonderful doc knew that if I was going to make it in recovery, heading home after detox was NOT an option.  So, off to Riverside in PA for 30 days of rehab.  Talk about life changing.  It took about that long for me to give myself a break.  See, as the counselors said – I didn’t need any help breaking down what I had done because I carried my own bat to beat myself up.  The hardest part was being away from Belinda.  At the age of 2, I left her for about 6 weeks.  There were NO visits at the detox and only twice did I see Belinda when I was in rehab.  She was with family but I feared that I would never be able to repair the damage by my leaving her.   My key motivation to get it together – to get home to my daughter.   When I did, life was not the same.  First, we were locked out of our home due to my drug using antics.  We were blessed with a site manager who practiced tough love.  For 6 weeks, we lived with Elsie (my aunt) and worked on getting our home back.  It wasn’t easy but I was determined to make things better for my daughter.  The people in Narcotics Anonymous became my second family.  Not only did I do 90 meetings in 90 days but I became active in using my talents at meeting planning to help organize the regional NA conference.  Belinda proudly wore her “NA Rocks” shirt whenever she could but I am sure that she didn’t understand it, but mom was home!  Life now consisted of meeting people and having fun.

Community service was also part of the agreement with the courts.  Now to find something that I could do and enjoy.  I mean, aren’t you supposed to enjoy community service?  I began to volunteer at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City.  My work with this agency and the clients that walked through the door would change me FOREVER.  Doors opened to a new field of interest – Social Work.  This was during the early days of HIV/AIDS and I quickly realized how blessed I was to have survived my drug addiction and my risky antics.

God has a plan for me and though I don’t always know what it is, he finds a way to get me back on the right path.  I detoured through my 8 years of drug use but a bout with the law brought me to my knees.  See, I always wanted to help people but I got caught up in the fast lane – drugs, alcohol, partying but my community service brought me back to God’s heart – helping others and serving him.

Today, I continue to help women to see their potential and do what I can to help them reach their personal goals.  At times I forget that sharing my strengths, hopes and experiences of my recovery can help others.  I still have doubts and fears but I figure if I was blessed to come through my past trials, I can accomplish anything with God’s help.  Life’s struggles make us stronger – what struggles have you endured or are you working on that will make you stronger?  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

serentiy prayer

Weight Loss – Recovery or Journey

Sitting in my Thursday morning Weight Watcher‘s meeting when a friend, Annamarie, made a statement that got me to thinking….”I thought my weight loss was like recovery but it is a forever journey”.  WOW!

Having been through recovery TWICE – once for bulimia and then again for drugs, this statement really was an “AHA” moment for me.  If I am honest with myself, I would have to say that I probably thought the same thing.  It has been a long tough journey to loose 105 pounds – with only about 15 more to go to my goal weight but I thought the end was near.  I will celebrate the loss of 120 pounds despite the time it took me but unlike like bulimia and drugs – you can’t STAY away from food forever.    

Bulimia was a little bit easier for me to kick but the drugs were a process.. 7 days in detox, 30 days in a residential program and then 2 years of a Narcotics Anonymous meeting EVERY DAY!  Protecting my weight loss will need the same vigilance that I had in my early recovery.  Instead of celebrating the weekly weight loss, I will need to celebrate the “protection” of that weight loss for 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, 1 year.  My weight loss journey has been a process too.  Just as I quietly celebrate my years of being clean (23 in October), I will celebrate every year that I am able to maintain goal weight.  I will use the tools that I used on my JOURNEY to goal in my weight loss RECOVERY – tracking, healthy guidelines, exercise (UGH!) and weekly meetings.  Unlike the rooms of NA, I don’t know if I will ever be able to walk away from my Weight Watcher family for it is with their help, encouragement and support that I have been successful on this journey.

Are you on a weight loss recovery program so that when you reach your goal you will go back to old habits?  Or, is your weight loss recovery only a part of your journey to be healthy and at goal weight?  Maybe it is semantics but it can effect your whole outlook on the road ahead.  As for me, I am in recovery from my food addiction and unhealthy eating which continues to take me on a journey that includes meeting new people, trying new recipes and helping others to know that they are not alone in their journey to a healthy way of life.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.