My Author Interview By Terry of Author Shout. All About What I do and All About My Passions of Helping Others…

My Author Interview By Terry of Author Shout. All About What I do and All About My Passions of Helping Others…

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It’s not every day I happen to get invited for an Author Interview. I’m a wee bit shy since I do battle agoraphobia and I get a little nervous doing interviews. But since I have had so many new blog friends come to visit and follow along on both my recovery and my book blog, I thought I would take up the offer from Terry who owns Author Shout which is an amazing large reader site as Terry connects authors and readers together so readers can find many awesome new books.

The interview has been updated as my journey all began with one little book I published and grew from there! I hope all my new friends and followers will enjoy learning about “All The Hats I Wear” on my recovery and literary journey! And if you didn’t know?

My at-home business is promoting many fine authors and their books and can be seen on my other WordPress Book Blog of “Cat Lyon’s Reading & Writing Den” and home of “Lyon Media Services”…
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Catherine Townsend-Lyon is a Best-Selling Author of The Kodel Publishing Group with her shocking debut memoir titled; “Addicted to Dimes: Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.”

Catherine’s Memoir is both an in-depth and raw look as she takes readers on a journey of many important topics that ‘touched’ her life, starting as a little girl into adulthood. Not a book on how to recover but an in-depth look of how events in one’s life, or past trauma and abuse, or even the ways of parental discipline can be some of the underlying factors to why some people may turn to an addiction later in adulthood as form of escape, numb hurt feelings, or just trying to cope with everyday life when not emotionally strong and haunting memories of it come calling…

She had taken a dark path, trying to elude that past childhood pain and traumatic events. She began using gambling as a coping skill and escapism into a “dream world” to forget, if only for a few hours the haunting memories of her childhood sexual abuse, parental verbal and physical abuse, and lived with undiagnosed mental/emotional illness for years. Shaping the “perfect storm, she became addicted to gambling with alcohol abuse right before entering treatment. So, something like gambling to be for fun and entertainment became her worst nightmare and almost took her life, twice!

Now maintaining recovery nearly thirteen years, Catherine has become well known in the addiction/recovery communities and is a loud advocate of gambling addiction, mental health, and why the expansion of Indian Casinos and State Lottery offerings needs to stop across America. Catherine’s featured in many mainstream media and recovery publications like Columbia University’s Media Release through the 2×2 Project “Gambling with America’s Health. Also was interviewed for “NAUTILUS & Time Magazine online article in September 2016.

She is a former writer and columnist for “In Recovery Magazine’s-The Author’s Cafe”  and after it’s sale was hired as a freelance writer and columnist for Keys To Recovery newspaper. She is also an “Expert Gambling Recovery Blogger” for “Addictionland”   of Founder/Author, Cate Stevens along with other recovery experts like the late Christopher Kennedy Lawford, Tommy Rosen, and Arnie Wexler. She recently handled all the media and social media manager for “Big Jim’s Bike Ride Around America” until Jim Downs was forced off the ride due to serious medical issues after 4 months of biking over 5,000+ miles.

Catherine, aka., CAT lives just outside Phoenix, Arizona and So. Oregon. She is married to her husband for 29-years. She is a ‘Cat Lover’ and has three, Ms. Princess, Mr. Boots, and Simon-Peter. She has no choice but to be an avid reader for her business, but she loves cooking, gardening, swimming, and rafting. She owns and runs an online marketing business called: “Lyon Book & Social Media Promotions.
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“Best Day EVER Meeting This Former NFL Pro ‘Randy Grimes’ of the Tampa Buccaneers now Recovery Advocate. #NFLCares Program

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Author Interview With Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

Q. What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book(s), but nobody has? Write it out here, and then answer it.

Why did you write and disclose personal family experiences? Were you afraid of backlash or judgment from family and others?

A.  I feel that is what writing a memoir is all about. Since my book is about my life of many topics including gambling addiction and recovery and not a book of HOW to RECOVER, I wanted readers to have an inside view of how our family life growing up can later become some of the reason some may turn to addiction in the first place.

I, nor many people do not grow up in an “angelic” family dynamic. Some grow up in a dysfunctional or abusive situation. That was my experience, and later became added “fuel” to my gambling addiction. I wanted to “set the back story” so to speak so readers had an understanding of how many of us turn to addictions instead of knowing there are places we can get help like counseling or therapy when your “past comes back later in life haunting you.”

As far as any backlash, my family needs to understand this memoir is not about them, it about how I was affected by how I was raised and disciplined. I was also sexually abused as a little girl, and I stuffed that away for years without my parents knowing until adulthood. You will have to read my book to learn how all that turned out. So, you have to brave enough to share the good, the bad, and all the ugly if you are going to write a memoir without the worry of backlash. I am trying to help others through my book. For me, that is what I focused on and help others know they are not alone if this happened to them.

Q. What is your writing process? Do you follow a regular routine or do you have any weird, funny, or unusual habits while writing and what are they?

A. Not really. My first book came very easy to me. And believe or not I hand wrote the memoir in 6 spiral notebooks. At that time, I was not writing a book, I was writing for myself to heal and to see all that gambling addiction and alcohol abuse had taken from my life. The book part and becoming published happened a year later as “divine intervention” I say.

I then was invited to be part of a compilation book which published in December of 2017 titled “Ten The Hard Way.” And I have been working on my next book for a long while and will be about HOW to begin recovery and what to expect. The only weird thing? I love writing when it’s raining. But I am not an outline or draft type of writer. I just let the words flow out of me onto paper. More of a freelancer.

Q. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

A. I can thankfully say no to this question. One of the best pieces of advice I had received from another writer was, “write what you know.”

Unfortunately, I know much about gambling addiction, recovery, mental health challenges, and childhood trauma. All these topics have ‘touched’ my life and I advocate about passionately …

Q.  What is the single most important piece of advice for aspiring authors?

A.  I would have to pass on what was told to me in the above answer “write what you know or I feel what you are passionate about.” If you love animals? Write an animal children’s book. If you have an open imagination? Write a thriller or mystery. An action or adventure story.

I am a writer and author “by accident,” Lol. So I feel funny giving other aspiring authors advice. I am a book promoter/marketer for many fine authors of all genres as well, so one piece of advice I can give to first-time authors?

Your book takes many hours, days, and months to promote. Book sales and book reviews will not happen overnight, so don’t give up or get discouraged. KEEP Writing and Promoting your books!


Q.  What are your current/future projects?

A.  I do have a couple of projects on am working on. My second book is almost complete and will be a follow up to my memoir and a helpful resource for starting recovery from gambling addiction on how to make their first year in recovery.

Another I have been working along time will be a stab at fiction! It is about a woman who is being chased by her “addiction demons” in recovery and takes a Lighthouse Keepers job on the North Oregon coast looking to start life over and for some solitude and serenity in her life. But her past comes calling! The rest you’ll have to read if I ever get it done! Lol.

Q.  Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?

A.  I actually added in my current book with the reasons “how and why” I came to start writing in the first place. It was about the suicide of a woman at a hotel and casino 41 miles North of my home in So. Oregon. I read about in our local newspaper. Reading it lit a fire in me to see all that my gambling addiction took from me. But, no spoilers here. LOL. You need to read my book titled; ‘Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat,’ which is now listed here on Author Shout, and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-a-Million.

Again, I write what I know ….Lol.
Balance is a challenge for me to fit my own writing time in as I promote for other authors. It is why it has taken me two years to get my next books done and published. So except for the compilation book, I am still a “one book wonder” at this point. Again, I sure do write a lot for several recovery publications and my own blogs.

Q.  What do you think is the future for independent authors and do you think it will continue to be easy for anyone to be a published author?

A.  I think we all know indie and self-published authors are changing the landscape of the “traditional” way authors get published these days. You no longer have to look to or be with a big publishing house anymore. Now, that is not to say they’re most likely are some self-published or indie books that may not be very appealing. (No offense to authors). As I have read a few myself and the authors are not writers, LOL.

However, there are awesome writers and authors producing some fantastic works and it is refreshing to see that all authors can now be noticed and praised for work well done! That is part of the change with being able to self-publish. I have promoted authors that were picked up and offered publishing contracts. So the traditional publishing houses are finding many good writers and authors. That is a great thing.

Q.  Are you traditional or self-published, and what process did you go through to get your book published?

A.  My current book was picked up by a publishing firm in So. Oregon where I used to live. But my publisher is a smaller independent publisher. I did, however, receive an awesome offer when it came to my royalty share. the Kodel Group are more like a “self-publish” helper. I had an editor and designer for my current book already, so they just did my format, typesetting, and upload through Amazon’s KDP Direct Publishing of my paperback and for my e-book.

Going this route was a more inexpensive way to publish. Nowadays most publishers won’t do any book promoting for authors unless you buy a publishing package, except they may send out a press release about the new book, so authors Beware …Be ready to set a budget to promote your books on your own. I do all my own book promoting throughout social media and PR releases through several PR services. Authors can promote for free at many book sites. There are many low-cost options to gain exposure, sales, and reviews. Just like doing advertising on “Author Shout” and others like awesomegang.com or bookgoodies.net …

Q.  Have you ever changed a title, book cover, or even the content of your book after it was published? What was that process like?

A.  No. The only change or difference that I made was to my book cover. I have two different covers that are the same, but my e-book cover has different colors. I wanted my e-book cover to have more vibrant Las Vegas catching colors. That was about the only change.

Q.  What opportunities have been presented to as an author you in sharing those memories? (i.e. travel, friends, events, speaking, etc..)

A.  Being a person of long-term recovery from gambling addiction and alcohol for almost 13- years now, publishing my book was my way of helping others with the problems as I had and was the only way I knew how to help others. By sharing my story in many ways like media, radio, and podcasts shares to others HOPE that they can recover from this cunning and devastating illness.

Many blessings and doors have opened for me to share my voice and writing and to have a platform to help inform, educate, and raise awareness of addicted and problem gambling. I want those who have never been touched by this addiction have more understanding and empathy for those who suffer. The opportunities that have come from people seeing and reading my book are have been many!

Being a former recovery columnist for a premier magazine called; “In Recovery Magazine.” I did many amazing interviews and articles of many high profile people who share their recovery as well and many have become friends and supporters of mine. I am now a writer for a premiere recovery newspaper out of So. California called; “Keys To Recovery Newspaper” and I am still an expert gambling addiction and recovery blogger “Addictionland” a platform to raise awareness and educate the public about problem gambling. I have a few more, but I am ‘humbled and thankful’ for all the opportunities that have come my way. These offerings help keep me in recovery as well.

Q.  What are your marketing, advertising, promotion strategies and which one(s) have worked the best for you? If you had to share your most valuable promotion tip, what would that be?

A.  Now this question is an easy answer! Lol.
Since I market, promote, and advertise books for many authors and my own book for living, authors can hire me for “done for you” set-up of social media places to be and a full-service plan that won’t break the bank here at “Lyon Media & Literary Services.”

I’ve been doing book promoting and marketing a long time and it doesn’t have to be costly. I do research often and keep up on the latest low-cost options and new media places too! I want to be able to help new authors learn ‘how and where’ to promote their books. Many of the sites to place book ads are free or you can do low-cost book ads or book promotions and giveaways.

There is no shortage of authors needing help as they continue to write more books, and why among other reasons why they hire me to promote their books.

My number one valuable tip? Layer your book ads when your book first releases. That way you will find and it will help build your readership through many book promo sites like Awesomegang.com or Bookgoodies.net . . . And Author Shout! Just a couple of my “go-to places.”

Q.  What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?

A.  My current book is a Memoir of my life with many topics discussed throughout which I mentioned above.

Q.  What do you do if inspiration strikes in an inconvenient place like (car, restaurant, bathroom/shower, etc..) and how do you capture that moment before it gets away from you?

A.  I carry a spiral notebook or my laptop with me everywhere I go!

Q.  Do you have a target amount of words/pages for each of your books or do you just know when enough is enough?

A.
  Now that I am working on books two and three, I am trying to keep both within 300 to under 500 pages. I also let my editor worry about that! Lol.

Q.  How do you think you have evolved as a person/author because of your writing and do you believe your writing has helped others, how/why?

A.  Yes. My writing has evolved so much since I wrote my first book. I feel the more you write, the better you get. Now that I am writing more as a profession as well, I have taken some webinars and use writing software to make sure I continue to become a more seasoned writer.

I would hope to think writing my book and my recovery blog for my book and where I continue to write my recovery journey in many publications helps others. We just never know who our story will touch or help. I wanted others who still suffer or are stuck in the “cycle” of gambling addiction that ‘Suicide Is Not An Option to Stop Gambling Addiction.’

Again, like the woman I had read about in my local newspaper. And like my own two failed suicide attempts when I was deep in my addiction. Suicide is never the answer.

Q.  Do you believe there is value in a Press Release, have you used any press release service, and what have your experiences been?

A.  Yes, I do feel a press release is very important and has value. Many first time authors can not afford mainstream advertising or hire a PR firm. So a press release sent out through PR websites is a stellar way to let people and literary media places know about your book and it’s release. I do them for my book promoting clients as some PR websites let you send a couple out for free.

A few I like and use are NPR, WEBPR.com, and NewswireToday.com are some good ones. I get some good results in books sales and book reviews.

Q.  Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are underrated, overrated, or don’t matter at all?

A.  Of course, there is value to book reviews for many reasons. Readers who shop for books, let us say on Amazon, they look and read reviews before they buy a book. I know as I do and I am an avid reader! Amazon emails me when someone reads a review I have placed and tells me it helped them decide to purchase.

Reviews on Amazon also helps your book’s rankings among other books in that genre. My book is still in the Top 100 in Paid Kindle E-books at #83 for Gambling Addiction Books. Rankings and tell us as authors how our books sell and compare to other books sold on Amazon. When a reader takes the time to write a review after they read my memoir, I use that as well if they leave suggestions to improve my craft as a writer.

Q.  What is your biggest fear about having a book published?

A.  This question goes back to how I answered your very First Question. I sat on my manuscript for almost a year because of fear. It is more difficult being afraid of how readers would react to my memoir as it is based on truth and is a real story and facts. I also had some fear about what my family would think even though I have been estranged from them for years. But I decided it wasn’t for or about them. My book was about healing and forgiveness for me and insight for readers.

Q.  What is the intended audience for your book?

A.  People in or reaching out to recover from gambling addiction, awareness of mental health, and those who had been sexually or physically abused, went through childhood trauma. Also for readers who want more understanding about these issues.

Q.  Do you find it easier to connect with your readers with the advances in technology we have today like social media? What platform do you prefer, and why?

A.  The Internet has changed not only the landscape of how authors can easily promote their books throughout social media, but the Internet has also changed how people can find information to get help from addiction and recovery support.

As a book promoter as my in-home business, the Internet has allowed me to work from home and make an income as I still have mental health challenges with Agoraphobia, Depression, and Mood Disorder, the internet has changed the way we do many things for school, work, and not just the bookselling and publishing industry.

Q.  What are some events you have attended or participated in that has been a positive experience/influence on/for your writing?

A.  Taking on paid writing jobs has boosted my self-confidence as a writer. That also helped me get the offer to be a columnist at “In Recovery Magazine.” And why I write for several other addiction/recovery publications. For me, it is two-fold. I become a better writer and I have great platforms to showcase my writing while helping others recover.

Q.  What are the most important elements of good writing? According to you, what tools are must-haves for writers?

A.  I really can’t answer this directly as my book was written very unconventionally. When I was writing at the time, I wasn’t writing a book. That all happened later on.
I do however recommend using some form of writing aide software which I do use.

Q.  Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby, creative outlet, therapy, or something else?

A.  All of the above. Especially for therapy and a recovery outlet.

Q.  Were there any challenges (research, literary, psychological, or logistical) in bringing your book to life?

A.  None. Seriously. I had none as it all poured out and I just kept writing it all in my notebooks!

Q.  Do you proofread/edit your own books or do you send them off to an editor? If you send them off to an editor, who/what have you had the best experience with?

A.
  God created editors for a reason. Lol. My editor was Julie Hall. She works for our local newspaper in Grants Pass, Oregon. She isn’t an editor by profession. But she edits and proofreads for the newspaper. She had taken my six notebooks and performed “magic.” Then she sent the first 50 pages to a publisher friend of hers, and that is how my book made it to being published as Steve from The Kodel Group kept hounding me to publish as to help others!

Q.  What motivates you to write and where does your inspiration come from?

A.  For my recovery and helping others is what inspires me to write. If I can help others by sharing my story and experiences through words? That makes me happy. And what a living legacy to leave behind.

Q.  What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?

A.  Since I do write a lot and for several publications, coming up with new topics to write about can be a challenge. Writing is very freeing to me. I enjoy it and hopefully continue writing and publishing more books to help others and for readers to also enjoy.

Q. Now lastly, If you had the chance to get one message out there to reach readers all over the world, what would that message be?

A.  A message of HOPE to others who suffer from addiction of any kind. We can recover no matter how bad or how far addiction has taken you. We all have that tiny sliver of light given by our Higher Power within us to turn our lives around if we want it bad enough. I have learned that recovery is possible and it works if you are willing to work for it. I will be a “work in progress” until my last breath, but the life lessons learned and wisdom gained has been well worth the RIDE!

 

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Books by Catherine Townsend-Lyon

 

      Ten the Hard Way: True Stories of Addiction and Recovery (Ten the Hard Way; True

Connect with more from Catherine Townsend-Lyon …

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A Living Master Shares About The Road From Addiction Into Recovery. Special Featured Post By Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi …

A Living Master Shares About The Road From Addiction Into Recovery. Special Featured Post By Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi …

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I am honored to share a special recovery post written especially for my recovery blog, my recovery friends and visitors to enjoy. Some true wisdom shared from a very special mentor. It is not everyday one meets and has the honor of being friends with a Real Living Master of our generation and time.

I also have the pleasure of helping him promote and market his amazing book as well titled; “Find The Seeker! The Pathless Path to Fulfillment and Happiness.” Truly a must-read and has enhanced my own recovery path! And with their E-book on sale on Amazon for .99 cents? You have nothing to lose and spiritual freedom from addiction to gain.

It is co-authored by another dear friend and Genro’s pupil Clifford Stevens. They both reside in Austria and together have produced a very powerful and authentic practical guide that all who maintain recovery can surely learn a true path to authentic living, serenity, and feel at peace in “self.”

I hope you gain some wisdom by reading this special post. I highly recommend you visit and read Clifford Stevens blog posts of his “Weekly Wisdom.” It is uplifting and inspiring.

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Addiction and Zen
By Zen Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi

Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi is one of the few living Zen Masters and co-author of the recent highly-acclaimed spiritual self-help book “Find the Seeker!” He shares interesting and unique wisdom when those are looking for their way out of addictions and into a peace-filled life of serenity and happiness once again. Learning to reconnect and find our true “self” is just part of the recovery work needed to find the authentic person before addiction made life unbearable …

Why do people get addicted (for example to drugs)? What can a spiritual teaching such as Zen – which some people wrongly consider to be unworldly and distant – do to reduce consumption or even get people off their addiction?

The orientation of people to lead strong ego-centered lives is certainly one reason for addiction. So many of the political, economic and religious activities going on end up inflating people’s egos until they are blown up out of proportion.

This is aggravated by tendencies such as nationalistic and egocentric tendencies in many countries such as “America First” (to name just one example), the mania to do and achieve and the idea that “everything is possible” if only we apply ourselves and the stress to compress as many friends, experiences, successes, achievements into our lives as we can. And of course, we are constantly confronted with examples of supposedly high-performance, “successful” and “happy” individuals.

Thanks to these and many other trends, and also to the misconceptions forced upon us by our own egos, many people see themselves as small, inadequate, insignificant, weak, poor and needing support.

The moment a person attaches too much importance to his own “self,” he degrades what he really is. Without spiritual support, without engaging in a spiritual search and the insights gained from meditation, it is difficult to clearly see and understand that any “chemical” support (e.g. from alcohol, drugs, smoking etc.) actually ends up perpetuating, propping up and enhancing a person’s own ego and is thus a dead end or will lead to one.

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Image result for free images of booze drugs….

The addict tries to transform himself from the hero which he or she is not into a kind of “avatar” by chemical means like the Druids used to do with their concoction to instill the courage to fight and the idea of invincibility in their soldiers. Miraculix (from the Asterix series) is a good and funny example of this – but addiction to drugs or alcohol or whatever is not funny at all.

Hardly anyone at all can improve his or her situation on the basis of the addiction. On the contrary, the high costs which are sometimes involved may lead people to commit criminal deeds, or they end up in prison or in rehabilitation. The addicts may see their lives in this relative world as being obstructed and their paths as being obscured. Addiction is a burdensome illness which robs people of energy and may make it harder for people to find their way on a path leading them to be clean.

Spiritually oriented people – or those who are desperate enough or are tired of suffering – can turn to spirituality as a path, a guide, a tough way out which they must ultimately go through. However, it is clear that unfortunately, there are some addicts who do not manage to kick the habit in this life and lead a normal life – which is also an incredible burden on their relatives.

A spiritual path such as Zen – or others – will throw people back onto themselves and onto the bottom-line “cause” of their addiction. And in meditation, you will be fully confronted with yourself and your “self.” And in the search for your “self”, you will not find it. There is nothing to be found here, and the “results” of the meditation – which nobody, no Master or teacher, can adequately put into words – could prevent someone from continuing to fall prey to the addiction or be victimized by it or to become addicted in the first place.

The deep-seated realizations gained through meditation can help you – with a lightness of being – to kick the habit of addiction and begin a new life. Your “old” life is present, seemingly overwhelming due to all the adversity and hindrances, but the “new” one can mean redemption, salvation, as the Christians say, or “enlightenment” as the Buddhists say, and other spiritual paths have their own terms for this.

There is no way around meditation – unless you have the sudden insight – which does not happen often – in which everything suddenly becomes clear thanks to grace, and you are set right thanks to the goodness of the Universe. For this reason, we teach people in Zen to practice the natural and simple method of counting your breath in meditation – which you can learn and do without the need for any addiction.

Namaste
~Master Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi

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ABOUT ZEN MASTER GENRO:

Gert Beirer, who was born in Austria in 1945, studied Zen, meditation, Kung-Fu, Qi Gong and acupuncture in Asia. He was given the name Genro (“Origin of Joy”) Xuan Lou, Laoshi (Laoshi = “Spiritual Master”) by Zen Master Tetsuo Kiichi Nagaya Roshi. Genro Xuan Lou, Laoshi was named Zen (Chan) Master by the Abbot and Grand Master Kun Kong at the Lingyin Temple (Shakyamuni Buddhism) in Hangzhou, with whom he studied 11 years, by Abbot and Zen Master Shi Chan Ming in Wuhan, Province Hubei, China, and was also named Shifu or “Spiritual Teacher” in 2009 by Shi Xue Feng, Abbot of the Ding Shan Temple in Germany.

After returning to Europe, Genro spent decades as a therapist and business consultant and has been heading the Qi Gong Master School in Austria for many years, practicing in accordance with the Wuhan-Yangsheng style. Genro Laoshi has lectured at universities, appeared on TV, held seminars on a variety of spiritual and self-help topics, taught Qi Gong courses and published articles and books on meditation, Zen, motivation and communication, storytelling, body-reading, sexual Kung-Fu, autohypnosis, and many more topics.

Visit his Q&A on his Official Website and Page.


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Guest Article Share by Amy Dresner ~ Writer for The Fix. Getting Through Life Events ~ Taking Care of a Parent and Staying Sober Through It.

Guest Article Share by Amy Dresner ~ Writer for The Fix. Getting Through Life Events ~ Taking Care of a Parent and Staying Sober Through It.

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How to Stay Sober Through a Parent’s Illness – By Amy Dresner 08/05/19


I won’t lie, the urge to fix from the outside is constant. The helplessness is overwhelming, the grief indescribable.

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I think it was about a year a half ago when my mother became wheelchair-bound and was diagnosed with dementia. The two trips to visit her in Santa Fe were so stressful that my bestie, also a recovering addict, started vaping for the first time and she still hasn’t stopped. We had five days to clear out her apartment, find her a board and care, break her lease, put her stuff in storage, forward her mail, and much more. I cried most of that trip but it all got handled.

My life is different now. My mother can’t hear well and she’s confused. She can’t walk or use the computer anymore. People bathe her. She calls me multiple times a day about the same thing. On top of that, I was suddenly given the “power of attorney and appointed Social Security payee.” I was in charge of all her bills, speaking to her nurse, speaking to her chaplain, and speaking to her social worker.

Role Reversal

If there’s one thing addicts don’t seek out, it’s responsibility. As an only child, I alone had to handle all of it. Sure I was sober but mature? Hardly.

I recently had to sign a form to approve the use of Narcan should my mother overdose on her Oxycontin. When the nursing staff assistant tried to explain opiates and Narcan to me, I stopped her.

“I’m …um…well-versed in Narcan. I’m an ex-junkie.”

I heard her mutter an “Oh” followed by an uncomfortable silence.

I’ve never had children for a sundry of reasons: my genes, my fertility, my financial situation, my shitty relationships. Suddenly I had a child and it was my mother. The role reversal was sudden and jarring and I recall rocking and crying and whimpering, “I don’t want this.” But it was all mine, like it or not.

My relationship with my mother was always difficult. I was resentful for her physical absence during my childhood and her emotional absence always. But suddenly all that resentment melted away. Resentment is a luxury, I realized, and as her caretaker, there was no room for it anymore.

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (2)

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Almost 50, with Zero Life Skills

Having spent 30 years of my life mentally ill and struggling with addiction, having to “adult” suddenly felt premature and impossible. It was like coming out of a time warp. I was almost 50 but I had zero life skills: No idea how to pay taxes or when to rotate your tires or how to hold down a “real” job, let alone handle all my mother’s shit. Sure I had other life skills: making a crack bong out of a Mountain Dew bottle or how to hit a rolling vein or manipulating people into taking care of me. But these weren’t so helpful now.

I was a grown woman but I still felt and honestly acted like a child most of the time. I still needed my mom but now she wasn’t available. I’d never felt like she “heard” me and now she really couldn’t hear me. I never felt she “understood” me and now she really couldn’t grasp what I was saying. I hate to use the “t” word but yeah it was triggering.

We had grown closer during this sobriety but now, suddenly, she wasn’t somebody I could bring things to. She became somebody who brought things to me and they were all “emergency” needs: Afrin, salted nuts, Nars concealer. My mother had always been particular, snobby, and demanding. That didn’t change. I quickly accepted all of these things and began to lean much more heavily on my father.

Gutted

Then, about a week ago, my father was diagnosed with cancer. I was gutted. He and I are impossibly close; he is my mentor, my hero, my best friend.

“You can’t go. You’re my person,” I wept pathetically into the phone. Everything good about me comes from him: my humor, my intelligence, my writing ability. And now he’s ill. Really ill. My first reaction and I’m not proud of this at 6.5 years sober, was to kill myself or get loaded. My brain screamed, “GET OUT.”

We all have those things: if “this” happens, I’ll get loaded. My dad’s death was always that: my hold out, my exemption. When I told him that a few years ago he said, “Too fucking bad, Ames. It’s in my will if you get loaded, you get nothing.” Fuck.

It’s all so selfish. Fuck his cancer, I’m hurting and I need to attend to that. Suddenly I was making it about me. I try not to cry on every phone call but am rarely successful. I feel weak and small.

I started to spiral, lumping all the bad on top of each other as we do: I’m single, I’m broke, I’m getting old. My parents are dying. But if I know one thing, it’s that a relapse would kill both of them faster than the diseases they were battling. It just isn’t an option.

Still, every day I have the urge to escape my body, numb the pain, check out. Not because I don’t have a strong program or I’m not connected to my higher power or any of that bullshit, but because I’m an addict and we don’t like feelings and we get high to avoid them. Six and a half years of sobriety doesn’t negate a lifetime of drugs and suicide attempts as my top and most successful coping mechanisms.

But if I’ve finally learned anything, it’s that it doesn’t matter what I feel like doing, it matters what I do. I can’t control my feelings or thoughts but I can control my actions.

When I’m Not Crying, I’m Angry

When I’m not crying, I’m angry. I’m so fucking angry. Fuck you, God. God never gives you more than you can handle?! Well, this feels like more than I can handle. And fuck me. Fuck me for having been a complete wreck for most of my adult life.

And then in between the tears and the rage, there’s numbness, where I feel nothing because it’s all just too much. I catch myself just staring into space, zoning out on the multitude of Pyrex dishes at Target. Not lost in thought, lost in nothingness.

I don’t think anything prepares you for the death of your parents. I don’t care how old you are or spiritually fit (insert eye roll). Sure, they’re in their 80’s; it’s bound to happen, it’s part of life, blah, blah, blah.

But you still never think it will happen. And when it does, you are suddenly faced with an aloneness that is inconceivable, an unending void that will never be filled.

I look back now at me mourning a break-up for over two years. What a fucking joke. You can get a new boyfriend. You can’t get a new mother or father.

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I've been through a lot of tough times, more than my fair share and these words are very true.

How I’m Staying Clean

I won’t lie, the urge to fix from the outside is constant. The helplessness is overwhelming, the grief indescribable. So how am I staying clean? Well, I started vaping again (judge away, fuckers). I’m talking to my sponsor every single day, I’m talking to my friends, I’m working with my sponsees.

I’m crying. I’m trying to be kind to myself. I’m trying to be of service to my parents and process my grief elsewhere. I’m calling friends and asking for support. Sure I don’t always answer the phone, but don’t take it personally. Sometimes I’m just too shut down to talk. I sleep and nap …a lot. Depression or escape? Does it really matter? It beats the alternatives.

When I asked other people in recovery how they made it through a parent’s illness and death, almost all of them said the same thing: They didn’t. They drank and used during the whole process to escape the pain and it was the biggest regret of their lives.

Whether the parent had known or not was immaterial. They were haunted by the guilt they felt and if they could do it all over again, they’d stay sober, give their parent the gift of being completely present, and not run from the feelings. I can and will do that, as ungraceful as it might be.

I said to one of my sponsees: “You are about to witness a magic trick. You are about to watch your sponsor go through one of the most painful times ever and not get loaded.” I think I was telling myself as much as her.

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amy-dresner.jpg


Amy Dresner
is a recovering drug addict and all-around fuck up. She’s been regularly writing for The Fix since 2012.

When she isn’t humorously chronicling her epic ups and downs for us, she’s freelancing for Refinery 29AlternetAfter Party ChatSalonThe FriskyCosmo LatinaUnbound BoxAddiction.com and Psychology Today.

Her first book, My Fair Junkie: A Memoir of Getting Dirty and Staying Clean was published in September 2017 by Hachette Books. Follow her on Twitter @amydresner.

 

Urges, Triggers, and Cravings OH MY! Sharing How Hard Early Recovery Is Dealing With UTC…

Urges, Triggers, and Cravings OH MY! Sharing How Hard Early Recovery Is Dealing With UTC…

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Hello and Welcome Everyone,

You are here to visit for a reason. You may have a gambling problem, someone you know may have a problem with gambling, or you are looking to be educated and informed about this disease and cunning addiction. Whatever the reason?

I am happy you are here! I visit many recovery blogs and sites and wanted to share a little as to HOW HARD it can be to stop gambling and oh those cravings and urges that may cause triggers to go out again regardless of the consequences.

I know, I’ve been there …Here are a few posts I’ve seen around the web to show just how hard it is from real people from Feed Spot and REDDIT. COM


Day 21 = 3 Weeks!!

The urges are still there, but the feeling of relief and desire to work through recovery are more powerful right now.

Actually feeling like I have some pride and dignity again.

Thank you to everyone on this Reddit site for your insights and stories. I’m staying on board here. We’re all in this fight together with the same desire… to be free of gambling. With you, working it one day at a time.

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“_ uck Gambling!

That’s my mantra. Day 6. My downfall was always complacency. I’d gamble, go broke. Swear I’d never gamble again then relapse after a month and go broke again.

Think of all the vacations you could take with your significant other, or family and friends. Think of all the people you could help in your life with that money instead of throwing it away. Think of all the new skills you can acquire with the time and energy put into gambling.

Saying this to myself as much as anyone else. Don’t be complacent in your recovery. Stay serious, stay steadfast and strong.

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Weekends are the hardest

But fuck gambling! I hope everyone is staying strong, keeping busy, and not gambling this weekend…


A Comment to this post:

Weekends are definitely harder for me as well, but just accumulating clean weekends and experiences without gaming has helped a ton. Looking back on the first few weeks, I was just trying to get through each hour on the weekend. I’m glad to have finally started to develop a routine outside of gambling and will need to continue to lean on that routine as football season approaches.

Thanks for sharing. Enjoy your weekend my friend.

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W5JSWKULEQI6TA6IZZZ5GUGJF4

 

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HOW TO DEAL WITH THE Craving and Urges To GAMBLE:
Courtesy of Help Guide Org – Gambling Addiction Facts.

Feeling the urge to gamble is normal, but as you build healthier choices and a strong support network, resisting cravings will become easier.

When gambling cravings strike:


Avoid isolation.
 Call a trusted family member, meet a friend for coffee, or go to a Gamblers Anonymous meeting.

Postpone gambling. Tell yourself that you’ll wait 5 minutes, fifteen minutes, or an hour. As you wait, the urge to gamble may pass or become weak enough to resist.

Visualize what will happen if you give in to the urge to gamble. Think about how you’ll feel after all your money is gone and you’ve disappointed yourself and your family again.

Distract yourself with another activity, such as going to the gym, watching a movie, or practicing a relaxation exercise for gambling cravings.

Coping with lapses:  If you aren’t able to resist the gambling craving, don’t be too hard on yourself or use it as an excuse to give up. Overcoming a gambling addiction is a tough process. You may slip from time to time; the important thing is to learn from your mistakes and continue working towards recovery.


Self-help for gambling problems:  
The biggest step to overcoming a gambling addiction is realizing that you have a problem. It takes tremendous strength and courage to own up to this, especially if you have lost a lot of money and strained or broken relationships along the way. Don’t despair, and don’t try to go it alone. Many others have been in your shoes and have been able to break the habit and rebuild their lives. You can, too.

Learn to relieve unpleasant feelings in healthier ways:  Do you gamble when you’re lonely or bored? Or after a stressful day at work or following an argument with your spouse? Gambling may be a way to self-soothe unpleasant emotions, unwind, or socialize.

But there are healthier and more effective ways of managing your moods and relieving boredom, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble, taking up new hobbies, or practicing relaxation techniques.

Strengthen your support network:  It’s tough to battle any addiction without support, so reach out to friends and family. If your support network is limited, there are ways to make new friends without relying on visiting casinos or gambling online. Try reaching out to colleagues at work, joining a sports team or book club, enrolling in an education class, or volunteering for a good cause.

Join a peer support group:  Gamblers Anonymous, for example, is a twelve-step recovery program patterned after Alcoholics Anonymous. A key part of the program is finding a sponsor, a former gambler who has experience remaining free from addiction and can provide you invaluable guidance and support.

Seek help for underlying mood disorders. Depressionstresssubstance abuse, or anxiety can both trigger gambling problems and be made worse by compulsive gambling. Even when gambling is no longer a part of your life, these problems will still remain, so it’s important to address them.

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression (2)
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How to stop gambling for good:  For many problem gamblers, it’s not quitting gambling that’s the biggest challenge, but rather staying in recovery—making a permanent commitment to stay away from gambling. The Internet has made gambling far more accessible and, therefore, harder for recovering addicts to avoid relapse.

Online casinos and bookmakers are open all day, every day for anyone with a smartphone or access to a computer. But maintaining recovery from gambling addiction or problem gambling is still possible if you surround yourself with people to whom you’re accountable, avoid tempting environments and websites, give up control of your finances (at least at first), and find healthier activities to replace gambling in your life.

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LASTLY:

 

Finding alternatives to gambling:

Maintaining recovery from gambling addiction depends a lot on finding alternative behaviors you can substitute for gambling.

Some examples include:

Reason for gambling Sample substitute behaviors
To provide excitement, get a rush of adrenaline Sport or a challenging hobby, such as mountain biking, rock climbing, or Go Kart racing
To be more social, overcome shyness or isolation Counseling, enroll in a public speaking class, join a social group, connect with family and friends, volunteer, find new friends
To numb unpleasant feelings, not think about problems Try therapy or use HelpGuide’s free Emotional Intelligence toolkit
Boredom or loneliness Find something you’re passionate about such as art, music, sports, or books and then find others with the same interests
To relax after a stressful day As little as 15 minutes of daily exercise can relieve stress. Or deep breathing, meditation, or massage
To solve money problems The odds are always stacked against you so it’s far better to seek help with debts from a credit counselor

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I truly hope this information will help many who may be in early recovery, thinking you may have a gambling problem, or to help someone you know who may struggle with gambling. Know you can always support resources page for more services or even email me at lyonmedia@aol.com support. I am always here to help others from this addiction, so do not hesitate to email me!

~Catherine

I Welcome Recovery and Wellness Writer, Patrick Bailey. Guest Article About ‘How to Spot a Gambling Addiction’…

I Welcome Recovery and Wellness Writer, Patrick Bailey. Guest Article About ‘How to Spot a Gambling Addiction’…

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Spotting Gambling Addiction and Determining Its Causes. By Patrick Bailey 

Gambling can be considered as a very dangerous kind of vice. To the person engaged in gambling, money is very easy to risk. He is living in an illusion that whatever he gambles now, he can easily get back. In the long run, this mindset can lead to a person’s financial downfall. The truth of the matter is, odds will never be in the gambler’s favor even if its blackjack or poker he’s playing. Gambling is thriving continuously because it’s the house that’s always taking the wins. 

What are the different kinds of gambling? 

Gambling is composed of many different kinds of activities, so this means that there are also many different kinds of addiction-related
 to gambling. The only challenge with gambling is that it’s not evident when a person gets addicted to it. And as opposed to traditional belief, gambling doesn’t end with casinos, cards, or slot machines. It also doesn’t end with gambling or alcohol rehab centersJoining a raffle, betting with friends, or buying lottery tickets are all considered different kinds of gambling.  


Addiction
 happens when the individual already believes that they’re in deep financial mess and that this problem can only be solved by risking that they possess in hopes of getting a bigger sum of money in exchange. Regrettably, this only sends the person into a vicious cycle of wanting to win back what they lost. This dangerous and damaging cycle continues to occur until the person is forced to enter rehab to break the habit.

Another kind of addiction to gambling happens when the individual joins the game and offers to make risky bets just to get that emotional high resulting from placing big and risky bets. These kinds of bets only pay off occasionally. In both circumstances, the individual bearing this kind of addiction should have that innate desire to stop risking and gambling for himself and not merely to appease friends or family members. 


So what
’s causing gambling addiction and when does it become a problem?

There are many contributory factors when it comes to addiction to gambling. One factor here is the desperate need for money. Another factor would be the need to feel high and thrill. Also, it could be because the individual wants the social status attached to the names of successful gamblers or he simply clamors for the entertaining and fun atmosphere of most gambling places.

The sad thing is that the moment the person gets addicted to gambling, the cycle can’t be broken easily. What’s even sadder is the fact that the severe kind of addiction can set at the moment the person feels financially desperate and commits to taking back the entirety of what he had lost in gambling.

And while he can gather 
massive amount of wealth from winning, more often than not, it won’t equal to the amount of money he already lost along the way.  More often than not, gamblers don’t even come close to break even.

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Dispelling Common Myths About Depression

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How do we know if a loved one is getting addicted to gambling?

The red flags and signs that an individual is having gambling problems are pretty similar to the signs of other kinds of addiction that require admittance to treatment facilities. These signs may be one of the following: 

  • The urge to keep his gambling habit  a secret 
  • Experiencing difficulties in managing his gambling habits 
  • Continuously gambling even if he can’t afford it 
  • One’s family and friends express their concern over his gambling habits 


And just like any kind of addiction, the trademark of gambling addiction is the feeling that you can’t stop even if you want to. If an individual feels like he 
needs to gamble one more time, if he is anxious over the thought of stopping, or if he is hiding this from his loved ones, there is a very high chance that that person is struggling with gambling addiction. 

Excessive Gambling and its Emotional Symptoms

Too much gambling usually leads to a plethora of emotional red signs and symptoms. Among these signs are suicidal tendencies, depression, and anxiety. In severe cases, these depressive and suicidal thoughts can actually make the gambler end his life. Losing all you have to gambling can be a very devastating situation and it can easily lead the person to feel totally hopeless. 

Excessive Gambling and its Physical Symptoms  

Since gambling can lead to self-harm, anxiety, and depression, physical manifestations should be seriously looked into. Anxiety and depression usually lead to being sleep deprives, resulting in dark eye circles, acne, weight loss, weight gain, or pale skin. 

Gambling Addiction and its Long-Term and Short-Term Effects  

Gambling can lead to numerous long-term and short-term effects. Addiction to gambling also leads to other kinds of addiction as coping mechanisms especially for people who get easily anxious and stressed out by the act of gambling. As a result, these gamblers can also turn to alcohol, drugs, and other activities to lessen the anxiety accompanying their lifestyle. In these cases, they might need to be admitted to rehab centers.

Apart from the financial, physical, emotional, and psychological damages brought by gambling addiction, it can also cause damage to relationships.
 

If you or a loved one is struggling with gambling addiction or any kind of addiction, don’t hesitate to seek professional help. Who knows, one phone call or a rehab visit can save your life, property, and financial future.

<><><><><><>

About Patrick Bailey 
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Patrick Bailey

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Patrick Bailey is a professional writer mainly in the fields of mental health, addiction, and living in recovery. He attempts to stay on top of the latest news in the addiction and the mental health world and enjoy writing about these topics to break the stigma associated with them. He attended the University of Michigan – Stephen M. Ross School of Business and hold a Bachelor’s Degree and resides in the state of Michigan. He writes for several publications and on his Official Website – Patrick Bailey.

Connect With Patrick on Social Media!
On Facebook 
Twitter
LinkedIn

Self-Ban At Casinos, Stop Online Gambling, & Is It Becoming a Problem or Addiction? Help Yourself Now.

Self-Ban At Casinos, Stop Online Gambling, & Is It Becoming a Problem or Addiction? Help Yourself Now.

 

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We all know that old saying; “If want something bad enough you will find a way to get” and that is certainly true when you are talking gambling addiction.

You have decided you are going to try and “BAN” yourself from Casinos to hopefully stop you from GAMBLING. Well, does this really work? My Experiences? NO. Not from some of the personal and hearing others ridiculous experiences . . . You need to help yourself in many areas and just at casinos. When an urge hits? Be banned and blocked from Online Gambling too!

Now About Self-Banning or Self Exclusion: What Is This?

Now keep in mind, each STATE in the US may have their own rules and policies about this option to help someone stop gambling and harm. So for an example, I currently live in the State of Arizona so I will share this STATE’S options as there as Indian Tribe Casinos all over this state, so people have many options and ACCESS to GAMBLE.

Here is what my friends at Arizona Dept. of Problem Gambling say about  Self Ban:

Self-Exclusion or Self-Ban is a process that allows a person to request to be banned from all Indian Gaming Facilities within the State of Arizona and to be prohibited from collecting any winnings, recovering any losses, and the use of any of the services or privileges of the facility.  You can choose either a one-year, five-year, or ten-year exclusion.  This exclusion is irrevocable and cannot be altered or rescinded for any reason during the selected time period on the form.

How Do I Exclude Myself?

There are a number of ways you can go about excluding yourself. You can download the exclusion form found on this site, fill it out, have it notarized and mail it to the Department of Gaming along with a current photo of yourself. Please note: The self-exclusion will not be processed without proper notarization and a current photo. We can accept the photo electronically via email but we must have the original, notarized self-exclusion form sent to this office.

You may also come to the office to complete the entire self-exclusion process which includes meeting with the self-exclusion administrator who will discuss the program, notarize the form and take your photo as well as give you additional resources for problem gambling.

Please click on the FAQ link to the right for more information.  Questions & Answers on Self Ban  . . . .

Many casinos and states are also trying to help by offering these additional Ban Services as well:

The self-exclusion procedures and the self-exclusion forms are in a PDF format. To obtain a free copy of Adobe Reader, click here.

Download a copy ofSelf-Exclusion ProceduresSelf-Exclusion Form

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BAN YOURSELF FROM USING ATMS AT MANY CASINOS
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The Everi STeP program allows you to exclude yourself from using ATMs at over 1000 gambling locations.

Automated Systems America, Inc. (ASAI) can also assist in blocking ATM transactions in some Arizona casinos.

BAN YOURSELF FROM INTERNET GAMBLING

Gamblock prevents access to internet gambling sites.

Please make sure you visit their Q&A Facts page about more questions of Self Ban and Exclusion, you will find it Helpful….

BUT GAMBAN WORKS ON ALL ONLINE Gambling Sites IN OR OUT AMERICA ONLINE GAMBLING


YOU need to go visit them here at GAMBAN check this out! I hear it is More Protection and an added layer to Stop Online Gambling if you already use GAMBLOCK …

gamban® is a software product that blocks access to online gambling. It offers users a secure, reliable, and affordable option to stay away from gambling sites and apps, helping those with a gambling problem to fight the urge. Check out their Informative Blog with updates and new features like this post of a new mobile app “gamban Taking a step Forward.”https://gamban.com/gamban/taking-a-step-forward/

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The Interesting and Comical Side of Gambling and Self-Ban:

Now, of course, I will KEEP in perspective that gambling is something many people do from time to time. But for others, it becomes an obsession, and they risk losing their livelihoods and much more because of the affliction, THAT IS NOT Funny.

I’d been sitting in the rooms of AA and Gamblers Anonymous a long time, and when I was in treatment in our weekly group meetings. I heard all sorts of stories about others who did try the self-ban from casinos. Now I never had the nerve to self-ban from the only Indian Casino 41 miles North of my home in So. Oregon where I lived at the time and deep within my gambling addiction. But I have heard many stories from other women and men who did.

Needless to say, many told of them disguising themselves with make-up, wigs, sunglasses and the like, all to hide their identity from the guards and video cameras and praying they didn’t hit a BIG jackpot for an attendant to have to come and PAY them out or they would be Kicked Out and NO money paid. To me? That is living on the far off the edge! BUT? “If you want something bad enough?” ….

Heard many stories through the years of good and bad about self-banning, but here is a place and website I came across with stories that are both Postive and Negatives of gamblers who self-banned and gambled anyway on Psych Forums-Gamblers Banned I think you need to read. Here is one person’s experience:

“In the US it doesn’t work well. My wife signed the self-exclusion in all local casinos but she is able to play in all of them. One time she was playing, I told security that how come they let her plays when she signed self-exclusion, they immediately kicked her out. But casinos are businesses, and none of them will say no to FREE money. There is no real penalty for letting people who self-excluded play so why should they enforce it? I was considering suing them but all lawyers I contacted said that I can’t win.”

________________________

I hope you have found this all to be helpful information and informative. I know I have never written and shared much on Self-Banning and find it interesting. I think for my own recovery, it most likely would NOT have helped me as I am a type of person that would find another way to “Get What I Want.” I have heard of self-ban stories that backfired as some horror stories in the rooms as well.

Having access to NO MONEY to a gambler can make them turn to criminal acts after the pawning all that was valuable and CRIME came next as I heard some stories about this as well.

I DO have my own personal experience form crime as I wrote about it in my current book, “Addicted To Dimes, Confessions of a Liar and a Cheat.” And part of the title of my Memoir: “Confessions” was my way of taking accountability and ownership of the poor choice I made and the people I had hurt when I was gambling and deep within my disease.

We are only “as sick as our SECRETS” –so I wrote and shared almost all of what I’d DONE in a public forum within my book to hopefully help others, may they learn just how far this cunning, sick and progressive addiction will take you!

Here are some signs to look for if you suspect a loved one may have a gambling problem. Visit my friend’s page at  Addictions.com for more information and helpful treatment and support options …

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Any addiction causes highs and lows in a person, and gambling addiction is no exception. According to the NLM, here are some psychological signs of gambling addiction:

  • “Feeling bad after you gamble, but not quitting”
  • Feeling guilty for spending time away from your family or hurting them, but not quitting
  • “Always thinking about gambling”
  • Believing that gambling is not a problem for you, or avoiding thinking about how much time and money you actually spend on gambling

Gambling addiction does become a compulsion, and it is easier not to think about it than it is to soberly consider the repercussions of gambling on your life. Addictions.com



~Catherine Lyon

Childhood Abuse and Trauma Happens. It Happened To Me and It Is My Roots To Addiction … Special Guest Article.

Childhood Abuse and Trauma Happens. It Happened To Me and It Is My Roots To Addiction … Special Guest Article.

Baking Cookies; Confronting Abuse ~ by Amanda Ladwig…
{first published on October 2, 2018} ~ Delight In Disorder
Courtesy of  “Tony Roberts Blog”

 

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One of the many amazing things about truly working through childhood sexual abuse is the act of taking every single thought, and terrible memory captive and watching Christ redeem them. Facing them. Feeling them. Without making excuses. Without placing or taking the blame. The abuse and abuser no longer linger in the darkest parts of your mind controlling or tainting the memories you have.

They are front and center. Begging to be defeated. Every day, and sometimes minute-by-minute, there are battles fought to reclaim simple things, innocent objects, smells, and sounds. Things that may seem trivial to others represent a great victory. That being said, today I fought a battle and won. Today, I reclaimed what should have been a pleasant childhood memory. Today, I ate an Italian wedding cookie and enjoyed it. That won’t mean much to you, but to me, it is a significant victory.

As a little girl, trips to my aunt’s house happened only a couple of times per year. She always prepared special things to eat for our visits. However, we didn’t get to eat until I had spent some time with her brother. It was only then, after being a good girl and “spending time with my boyfriend,” as he referred to himself, that I would have access to my favorite cookies.  It didn’t take long before those cookies became like poison. For the mere smell of almond or amaretto to make me physically ill.

However, after 30 years of hiding all of the sordid details of my childhood. I believe the Holy Spirit, moving, convinced me it was time. Time to bury old demons and the only way I could do that was to reclaim the territory my enemy had taken so many years ago. Cookies.

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Loved One Depression 2

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My daughter and I baked them together. The house filled with the very familiar and slightly terrifying scent. As I paused before taking a bite, I reminded myself of where I was and the person I was with. I watched my daughter dance around singing about how good it was. I took in that very moment, and I took a bite.

It was wonderful. Not only did it taste good, but I felt strong. As if I was declaring to my abuser “No!  You may not have these cookies!  You defiled my innocence, but you may not steal my ability to enjoy a cookie!” My life is full of moments like that. Every day there is a battle fought and sometimes won. They often go unnoticed by the people closest to me. However, they are mighty victories.

My children will never know that this was an important day for me. That there was a time I considered Italian wedding cookies toxic and terrifying.  They will always enjoy the smell and taste, and hopefully, it will stir wonderful memories.

There are often things we carry from our childhood that restrain our ability to enjoy simple things. It destroys our ability to accept and receive the good things God intended for us to have. Love and intimacy are one of those things. Just as the smell of a particular type of cookie triggered a reaction of fear and shame, the idea of love can seem meant for destruction. Therefore, the very idea that God “loves” us terrifies us. Love to an abuse survivor often means manipulation and pain.

The first, time I heard the verse, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” my reaction was not joy or amazement. My reaction was suspicion. I wanted to know what He wanted from me. Surely, I now owed Him something, or it was a trick.

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It took me years to begin to understand that Christ chose me; He loves me not because He needs me for anything. He did not send His son to die for me in an attempt to guilt me into trusting Him or doing things for Him. He chose me and loves me because He is God. He is all sufficient.

I cannot reclaim my childhood. I still battle with depression and flashbacks. However, I can now, through Christ, reclaim how I react to things. I can choose feeling pleasure over feeling fear, and I can choose love over hate. I can choose these things because Christ has given me the power and ability. This is part of the freedom found in Christ.

Freedom to love.

Freedom to forgive.

Freedom to rejoice.

Freedom to enjoy a cookie.