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Sept. 15, 2021

On top of the Ferris Wheel

On top of the Ferris Wheel

Addiction comes in many forms and many of us unwittingly plant the seeds of them in our younger years when we experiment with various substances from food to alcohol to sex and love and other drugs. Sometimes - it seems suddenly -  we find ourselves in the grip of addiction. Our storyteller today is Whitney Walker. In this episode shares her story of not one addiction but many. Whitney is in recovery, a licensed therapist and co-host of this podcast too. She shares her story and insights on addiction and recovery.

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Addiction comes in many forms and many of us unwittingly plant the seeds of them in our younger years when we experiment with various substances from food to alcohol to sex and love and other drugs. Sometimes - it seems suddenly -  we find ourselves in the grip of addiction. Our storyteller today is Whitney Walker. In this episode shares her story of not one addiction but many. Whitney is in recovery, a licensed therapist and co-host of this podcast too. She shares her story and insights on addiction and recovery.

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#addiction #recovery #eatingdisorders #alcoholism #drugaddiction #substanceabuse #recoveringfromaddiction #yesyoucan #youherenow

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Today's episode, top of the Ferris wheel. I'm Amy Adams.


I'm Whitney Walker.


This time, the story is Whitney's. I facilitated a helping her to tell the story, and maybe we can just get a little peek or a preview of what we'll be talking about Whitney.


Yeah, so I'm sharing my story today of recovery. I am a licensed marriage and family therapist, and my specialty is addiction, substance abuse, eating disorders and trauma, all of which I've had my fair share of my own experiences with. I am aware that addiction is something that many people struggle with. And I think the more that people talk about it and the more that they share their stories, the more accessible it is for people to feel comfort and that they're not alone in these experiences. So today on a given, you know, a sneak peek preview, a look into my life, which is one that began with drinking and an eating disorder at about 14 years old and continued for about almost 15 years.


Yeah. And I think a great message with you sharing your story. Is that just because someone has an addiction and it doesn't mean that it's going to be, I mean, it will maybe be in the background of their life at some point, but it doesn't mean they're going to be consumed by it for the rest of their lives, which I think is a beautiful thing.


Yeah, absolutely. And it's so important to hear that when you're in the middle of it, because it truly is, you know, like being in the middle of a tornado when you're at the peak of your addiction and it feels impossible to consider a life without it, that this could resolve that this there's a, a time in life where this won't be such a huge, impactful thing in your life. Even if something doesn't resolve completely because other addictions are more difficult than say, you know, alcoholism to just completely wipe out, right with, with drinking. It's one thing you stopped drinking and that's tough. And that's a huge accomplishment in and of itself yet other addictions or things that you still have to engage in, you know, sex addiction, uh, eating disorders, whatever it might be love and love addiction, all these things you don't want to just go without. So it's, it's about recognizing that it doesn't always have to be so hard and so brutal that there is relief, that there is improvement and reduction in the intensity of addictions with, with treatment with health,


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Like learning how to kind of find some balance because like you have to eat food and we all want to have a love and share an expression of love with our sexual being too. So


Yeah, those are all the best things. Yeah. Great. If you can find a diction with all of those, and it's just a matter of finding that healthy relationship with them, and that's what I love to speak on because it doesn't go away completely, but it's, you know, you learn how to just walk through it in a different way. I still struggle with eating and food stuff all the time. It's a bummer. I wish there was a button I could push and it would just be quote unquote, normal, but you know, talk to anyone who's struggled with food stuff and you never quite feel normal. Maybe some people do like they just don't think about it much. Um, but I would say that's where I'm at. Like I, there was a time where I literally, my thoughts were about 80% consumed with food and eating and weight. We probably more than that. And that's a pretty miserable place to be even, but now it's like 15, 20 at most. And that's such a blessing that is true. You know, bliss. When you go from, when you're able to have your mind back your thoughts back your feelings back that aren't consumed by an addiction. That's where it gets really scary. Cause you don't, that's the whole thing you don't know


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How it can be different when you're in an addiction. It's so hard to picture that you could ever feel any differently because if it becomes your lifestyle, your preoccupation, it's like your own little sort of life drama. That's in a way it protects you from the rest of the world. So it's kind of cause a big part of addiction is always, um, seclusion, right? It's about isolation is with any addiction. Cause you're kind of hiding out in your own little world and, but there's something safe about that. There's something to learn about that because it keeps you from having to feel fully engaged with life.


Okay. So then we'll get started with Whitney's story.




I had started tapering off the pills, uh, in January and everything had been going pretty well. I thought that I was fine. I, I, you know, thought that I would just get off of them and be okay. But what I had been going on is I, I was starting to, I wasn't able to sleep. I was horribly anxious at night. Um, I couldn't get more than, you know, a few like half an hour at a time. I was just up nightmares and that had been going on for a while. But by this point, you know, bringing us back to this day. I remember the night before I had just been tossing and turning in bed all night, at one point, I remember, you know, bringing my dog into the bed with me and just holding her. Cause I just needed something to hold. I was just so restless and so scared.


I was scared I couldn't sleep. I might, you know, your body just feels so out of whack, you don't know what's going on, you know, logically you know that you're having a reaction to withdrawing from the medication, but you also kind of wonder like, is there something else going on? Like, is my, you know, is there more serious things happening to my, you know, my health in danger as my safety and danger. So it was just an awful night. And I was working during that time during my practicum at a elementary school. And so I'd gone to school that day and I had groups I had, um, that was a Wednesday and every Wednesday I had group sessions with, um, first graders and third graders. And I was in such a bad state that I had them do a meditation group with me. And instead of doing a typical sort of sitting around and we'd have a topic, I asked them, why don't we try some meditation?


And of course they also with meditation, you know, they're first graders, they don't know, but they were so sweet and they were really into it and they, you know, they were showing me how good they weren't meditation. And I was, you know, I was like, okay, well let's take some deeper breaths. And of course, you know, it was, it was really a bad cause I didn't know how I was going to get through the day. I was just the feeling that you have is, um, you know, it's, it's like, you're, you're, you're crawling out of your skin. Right? Cause you're anxious. There's, you know, you can't eat cause there's something in your stomach that feels like a big rock. So I was basically just terrified because I didn't really know what was going on. Uh, it just felt my whole body was just haywire. My body, my mind, and my emotions were all just like a bomb had gone off inside me.


All I wanted to do was run. I just couldn't think straight. I couldn't focus. And my body, I was almost feeling sort of the realization, just sort of outside of my body. Just everything felt terrible. And then on top of that was the fear of what have I done? You know, what, what is this? Does this go away? Because I didn't, I didn't have anyone to talk to cause I didn't really let many people know about this. So when I finally got out of school that day, I was so relieved and I felt like I had made it and it was going to be okay. And I got on the freeway and I I've had panic attacks before the history of panic attacks. Um, I haven't had one in a long time, but I used to have them, you know, every so often. And you know, any panic attack really starts with that first thought about, oh, like, what am I getting?


Is my anxiety creeping up? Am I going to have an attack? And then it kind of grows. So I was already at this horrible state that day of feeling, you know, so out of it and anxious and unwell and just awful. And so I started just feeling like, oh gosh, I'm feeling that anxiety build, like I can't have a panic attack here just can't happen. And then just started building and building until it was a full blown panic attack driving on the freeway in traffic. And I felt like my hands were going down. I thought I was having a stroke. That's the thing about anxiety is that it can mimic physical symptoms. So well, um, it, anyone who has had major panic attacks knows, it feels like you're having a heart attack or a stroke where like your organs are shutting down. So I pulled off the freeway and I was off the freeway and it's like tiny, like little, you know, outlet where you're not supposed to park. And I, you know, put my head between my legs and I called my mom and I told her, you know, mom, I think that, you know, I can't breathe and I think that I'm dying and I think I'm losing my mind and you know, I'm getting off the pills and I think it's too much and I'm scared. And I just was in a total panic.


And so while I'm bent over talking to my mom, there's a knock at my window and I scream and it looked over and it's a police officer and I'm like, you know, just shaking and crying. And he's just looking at me so confused and I rolled down my window and he says, ma'am, are you okay? I said, um, yeah, I'm just having a hard time. I'm just kind of having a panic attack. He's like, well, you can't be parked here. It's not safe. And so he was kind enough. He called her, he called a tow truck for me. And he stayed with me until the tow truck driver came and I had to sit in the tow truck while they towed my car off the freeway and talking to the guy, the truck driver was so nice. And because I told him I was having anxiety, he he's like, oh yeah, I used to have that.


And then you'll be fine. And because I didn't think I'd be fine. You know, when you're that deep in a panic attack and also going through all the withdrawals I was going through, I thought I was dying. I thought I was, you know, I thought there was something serious going. I just felt terrible. I felt so terrible. And so he dropped me off at this parking lot, um, like a little business office center place. And I had called my mom and she was on her way cause I was living with my parents at the time and I was still just so anxious. So I started doing circles around the parking lot, just walking and then I was sobbing. I was just sobbing cause I was so emotional. I was an emotional, anxious mess. And I was also just so sad and scared. And you know, this was truly my bottom because, you know, as I walked, I just kept crying and you know, I felt, I felt like my arms were going numb again.


And I thought I was having a stroke and I thought I might die. And so honestly, you know, I, I sat down and if anybody had, I don't know to this day, if anyone did, but I was literally crouched in a Bush in this parking lot just sobbing. And I was probably a sight to see and I just stopped. And I just remember feeling, you know, like I, I, because I hadn't eaten in days, I'd lost so much weight. I just saw this tiny, frail, you know, exposed nerve of a human. And I just realized in that moment down to my core that I just could not accept myself, that I couldn't accept having to be me in this world. And that that's what this was all about.


That I had used all these drugs and all the alcohol and all trying to get attention. All these different means to try to find a way to be with myself and be okay with myself. But when everything felt like it was ripped away and that day I felt like it was just me with my soul. And it was like, I can't, I can't accept myself. I just can't do it. It's too painful. It's too hard. I don't like who I am. I don't like the way, the things that happen to me and things that people said about me, it's all too much to take. And I just, I can't accept myself. And so that was truly my bottom. Cause it just felt like there was nothing else. There wasn't any distraction. There, there was no more options I think is what it was. Because up until that point, you know, I stopped drinking and then I started taking pills and I start, you know, you talk to guys and you try to get a tent, you do all these different things to distract yourself.


But when everything feels like it has broken in terms of your, you know, coping mechanisms, you're left with yourself and just say, I have to do this on my own now. And it was a terrifying, but also, you know, there's something about hitting bottom where you're like, well, right, it's a big thud, right. You're living at the bottom. And you're like, well, I guess this is where I'm at. Like it finally happens. And I finally have to take a look at what's going on and how to move out of this in a way that I've never tried before.


Not enough.


Well, I thought I wasn't lovable. I thought I was ugly. I thought I wasn't intelligent enough. I thought I wasn't interesting enough. I thought I was too selfish that I was, you know, a bad person. I just had all these, you know, thoughts about myself. Um, I felt like nobody cared about me that I wasn't, you know, it wasn't a work. I wasn't a value, you know, and these are all concepts that developed over my whole lifetime. And this happened when I was, you know, this was when I was 29 that I had this event. So it was just accumulating all accelerated in a previous 10 years. Because you know, when you start using substance to manage these feelings, you stop effectively in any way healing or growing. Really. You can do some growth still, but you're not really able to grow as long as you're tampering yourself down, trying to self-medicate and soothe yourself and avoid these, you know, the things that quote unquote are, are bad or you feel gross about yourself.


Not me.


I had to get off Facebook in my mid twenties because I would just, you know, drink and go on Facebook and just look at everyone else's life and just feel like, oh my God, that person like, they're so pretty. And of course they have a boyfriend, of course they have a great relationship. Of course they have all these friends and they get all these likes. And I would just look at everyone else and think like, Ugh, like, of course they'd have that, but I never could. And then, you know, addiction becomes such a thing of, it's like, you're the most insecure person with this huge ego because you kind of use your ego to feel better. Like I would, I would try to post pictures and try to look great and try to, you know, get all these likes and, you know, try to feel important because at my core, I didn't, if that makes sense. And I think that that effort to compensate is very common in addicts where they kind of present this, this fair of, you know, I'm so great. And I, you know, but deep down, it's just this terrible insecure fear that not worthless,


Unseen, unheard.


Well, I mean, at home when I was younger, um, my dad wasn't present. And so I didn't feel seen in that regard. And I think that definitely was the conception point of having this insecurity of maybe I'm not worth being seen. And then I would go to school and I would see other people getting more attention. Well, I would see other girls where it seemed like more people will want to be their friends and the other boys in class wanting to talk to them. And so I would keep making these assumptions that, oh, that means that I'm not, I'm less than there were better and worse. And as I got older, that just kept up where I thought, oh, I, you know, I'm not someone that guys like, and I'm not somebody that people are gonna, I'm worth talking to her, paying attention to. And then once I started drinking, it just magnifies things because I would go out to a bar and I'd go with a friend and somebody would come up, a guy would come up to talk to us. They would only talk to my friend and act like I didn't exist.


And I think that's it. I've had a lot of friends who have that experience and there's something about it that even though, you know, it might just be, you know, they might be more interested in that person or more drawn to them and that's fine, but it feels like a, a, an offensive thing. It feels like, oh, I must not be attractive enough to talk to you. I must not be engaging. And that happened a lot to me. Um, and I always felt very unattractive all through my late teens and early adulthood. And so it was just like a deep, deep insecurity. So whenever that would happen, it just was so painful and just made me so upset because I felt like the way that I showed up in the world is wasn't okay. And it wasn't, I wasn't gonna be able to be loved because of it, the value within think that we're not really, we're not giving much encouragement that the value is within.


We're not really told that the value is our being is, is our a turtle, you know, it's no, no, no. It's, what's on the pay attention to what's on the outside because that's, what's gonna get you immediate gratification, which again, it all comes back to this thing. That's the nature of addiction. It's immediate results right away. You can take some that makes you feel better. Well, the same as with anything superficial, no, I wanted to go to every single bar and to be the, you know, the girl that everyone wanted to talk to. Um, but mind you, I also, it's kind of my personality. Not everyone feels that way, but I, I, you know, I have my moon in Leo, so I'm a very kind of prideful person. I like to be, you know, get attention. It's important to my emotions. My emotion is kind of based on how do people respond to me?


How do you know, how do people engage and see me? And so, you know, I, I would want to be the one, the person everybody want to talk to. And I felt like the one that no one wanted to talk to, and that was my drinking, because I would go out with friends that there would be parties. And I felt like I was never the one that, you know, got hit on or that people have interest in. And so I would just spiraling, you know, just keep drinking and go into that mode of self-pity. And that's a scary part of drinking is, you know, it does become like this very narrow hole where you just, you get an idea in your head, which is, I'm not desirable. I'm not lovable. I need to get stunk in there. You know what I mean? There's many times where I drank where it was just, it ended up being me alone miserable.


And it just makes you, it's such a strange thing because you would think, well, why would you ever want to do that? You drink and you get depressed and feel awful. But then the next day you want to do it all over again, the clearing thing. But it all has to do with the escape, because if, at least feels like something, you know, and you at least feel some relief when you first start drinking, you feel like, oh, I feel good. I feel happy. And you feel disconnected from your emotions and that's until you get like pulled right into them in this depressive


Always takes a left turn.


Oh, it always takes that left turn. And I remember I had so many conversations with my mom and my brother, because, because they would see me and they'd always ask, like, what happened to you? Like, you're, you know, you start out in your drink and you're so much fun and the life of the party. And then you just take this left turn and you're angry and you're sad. And we find you like crying alone in the bathroom. And we don't know what's and I didn't know either, but it would happen every single time. And again, what it is is it's, you, you get to this place where you're, you're S you're with your wounds. You know, whenever you're using a substance you're you're to find, you're kind of dabbling in the darkness and you're gonna find the dark parts, you know, you, you're going to run into any, you know, alcohol is a depressant, you're going to be brought towards those things that make you so sad and hurt, but you're not in a state to address them in an effective manner.


You're, it's like, you're just kind of facing your demons with nothing to affect it. It you're just like at the mercy of your demons, because you're not strong enough to say I'm okay, you're, you're drunk. And you're saying, oh my God, I can't believe that this is all true. And I'm so awful. And everything's terrible. I started drinking and binging and for good, the same time they both came into my life about 14. Um, but I, I didn't see alcohol as a problem. Um, but I did start to see food and eating as a problem, you know, it was with bulemia that I first really saw, you know, sort of a gnarly had addiction because it became something could that, you know, the definition of an addiction is, is an activity that you continue to engage in despite negative repercussion, you know, and I was seeing that, you know, when I, when I binged, I felt out of control that I, you know, felt awful and then I would purge and it wasn't healthy.


It wasn't good for me. And I would say, okay, I'm not going to do this anymore. But I, I did felt like I couldn't stop. I felt like I didn't, I lost control. And that was scary because you it's, uh, you know, with any addiction you begin to say, wow, I feel like I can't trust myself. I don't feel comfortable being in the company of myself because I don't believe what I say. You know, I can say, okay, I'm not gonna engage in this behavior, but then I would do it. And I felt like I couldn't not do it


Entering the hall of mirrors.


I would say my first, you know, when I kind of opened that door, which is basically into like a hall of mirrors with an eating disorder. I mean, once you go through it, it's hard to come back. You know, you start to go into this world of, you know, one skating used to be this natural thing that you just did when you were hungry. And then all of a sudden it's like, you kind of start messing with it and try to be like, well, can I deprive myself? Because, you know, I want to look a little bit different. I don't want to gain weight. I want to lose the weight. So let me just see if I can tamper with us. And then it's like everything this gets so, you know, misconstrued that you don't know how to put it back together. So that point for me was when I was about 15.


Um, and I was feeling really depressed. This was the summer before my sophomore year, and I didn't know why I felt, so I was just so unhappy. I was so depressed and happy. I was dreading going back to school. Cause I, my friend group was shifting. I was so terrified of, you know, not fitting in and not finding my place and missing out on the fun of high school and you know, not getting a boyfriend not going and all those things. I was so scared of. And I remember I was on a trip, my family lives in new Orleans and I went to go, I was staying with my uncle and, um, my cousin had taken you out to, um, the French quarter and we went around and I got this coffee drink. And so I came back to the house and you know, they, all, everybody went to sleep and I was so wired from this coffee that I used to drink methodic.


And I, you know, I'd always liked food, but I remember just like going to their pantry. I was like, well, I'll just have some, I'll get something to eat. And I just started eating and I couldn't stop. It was the first time that it was like, this door is open where it's like eating, just feel so good and soothing. Like I just, I just want to be in this space of eating and not thinking about anything else. And I ended up eating like majority of the stuff they had in their pantry. And I was just like, what did I just do? Like what, what just happened? I'd never done something quite like that. Um, again, I'd always liked food. I'd always tend to be the one that always wanted like a second scoop of ice cream or, you know, second thunder through that. But I'd never done this before.


And it, it kind of scared me. Um, and then that kept happening. I kept, you know, the, of course this is called binge eating and I kept doing that and nothing felt like enough and, and I'd start eating and I just wouldn't want to stop. And I didn't know what to do. And so fast forward to when sophomore year started, I was at a party and I was doing that. I was eating and my friend was like, Whitney, you haven't stopped eating since you got here, like, what are you doing? And I was so embarrassed and so ashamed. And she was like, you need to go make yourself for a lot. Like, you're eating too. And I was like, what, what do you mean? Like, how do I do that? And she was like, just go in the bathroom and do it. So that, then I did that and I discovered it.


And again, it felt like a solution. I was like, okay, perfect. Like, I don't know how to stop this whole bingeing beam, but I, now I have a solution to that. I can just do that. And man, it is bingeing and purging ever addictive, you know? I mean, it's, it's, uh, it feels like a great resource at the time. When you feel like you can't control you eat, when you want to eat to avoid your emotions, just do it yourself to feel better. And then you don't have to have the repercussions of weight gain. It feels like you found like the holy grail. Um, and it just spirals it spirals. You know, I, I spent the rest of high school just, I mean, it's, it's just hell when you like week to week, you know, I'd start every week and be like, okay, I'm not going to do it this week.


I'm not going to do this. I'm going to just eat really well. But of course eating well at that time meant depriving myself because that's typically the cycle of an eating disorder when you're in it that way. And you don't want to want to lose weight. You know, when you're actually eating and ingesting food, you're trying to eat as little as possible or you're bingeing and purging. That's a, we call it eating disorder, unspecified, but it's basically bulemia and anorexia kind of mixed together. And it's just how, you know, it's exhausting because you just, you just don't know how to stop. You don't really know what normal is anymore. And you know, the same thing starts to happen with, with alcohol. You know, it's something that you used to when people become addicted, you used to have such a good time with that. It was your buddy.


You know, you'd go to a party and you'd drink and you'd rely on alcohol to, you know, loosen you up and have a great time to make things exciting. But then all of a sudden your relationship with it changes and you need it more and you need it for different reasons and you don't feel good without it. And you don't know how to drink without abusing it and everything starts to go wrong. So both of those things kind of progressed hand in hand. Um, and for me that the eating was more impactful because you have to eat every day, you know, throughout high school, I was partying every weekend, but it never sort of seeped into a daily thing until later on.




From the first time I drank, I blacked out. So I knew that was a problem. Um, I know it was early on in high school and my friends and I, we, the only way to get alcohol, not young is by, you know, pulling stuff together from your parents' liquor cabinets. And so we just had a bottle of vodka and all I needed to do was to chug it. I figured, you know, I didn't know what a serving was or, you know, what a typical amount was. And, and again, I wasn't real seeker, you know, so much of addiction is, is being, you're seeking the excitement, that thrill. Um, and so whatever I wasn't supposed to do, I wanted to do it. And so I drank a bunch and I blacked out and, you know, got sick. And the next was like, what the heck was that?


But it was really fun. Like I want to do that again. And so that, you know, from then on every, almost every time I drank was blacking out from the get go, cause it kind of always seems like I'm not supposed to do this. So if I get access to it, I have to just go as hard as I can. And it didn't take long to realize that when I drank, you know, you're really putting yourself in danger. Um, you're putting yourself in very precarious situations. I would get in cars with people that I didn't know. Um, I would, you know, engage with people that I, you know, I would hook, I know what the term I should use, but like I would hook up with guys that's when you like, you know, not sort of bounce back. So like you mess around with them, whatever the currently he is, but I would go to parties and just like end up in a closet with some guy and just be like, whatever, this is fun.


This is cool. Um, and for you, you know, for the first few years, it isn't until something bad happened. You know, I remember at a party, my like senior year of high school and I blacked out and cause I'd taken a bunch of shots really quickly in a row. And I woke up and somebody was like trying to pull my shirt off and put their hands down my pants. And I was in on a pouch, am I at a party? And everyone else had looked a little lash and I woke up and in time. And that was the first time that I realized, oh my gosh, you know, th these are the things that can happen when you are reckless about drinking and your activities. Because until then, you know, you kind of feel invincible. You're like, whatever, this is just fun and frivolous and it's just what you're meant to do.


Um, and then you realize that there are consequences to actions, but that wasn't enough. It didn't bring me to my senses. It was just, oh, okay. I'll do better next time. And again, it's just the same thing with like the eating stuff. It's like, oh, I'll just, you know, tamper this a little bit. I'll just cut down my drinking. But then, you know, was that the last time I ever blacked out? No, no. You know, because you've tried, you can't do it because you're addicted. You know, you're using this substance, you have an abusive relationship with the judges, so it's never going to be this healthy coming together, you know? And I think that's what I always thought for so long was I just need to get, get this right. I just need to get the drinking. Isn't a problem. Drinking makes me feel great.


Drinking is fun. I remember like the first few times I got drunk, I thought, wow, like there should be alcohol everywhere. Like we should all just be drunk all the time because you get along with people and you're still honest and open and you have these great talks, but you know, it doesn't take long to realize that there are usually not very sincere talks. We usually don't. They don't skip because it's when you're done, it's done under the influence, if not an actual emotional connection, it's a synthetic connection because you're, you're not truly in your right mind or your right being. So, you know, I started to recognize that maybe I couldn't, uh, drink and still be able to engage and be the person I will engage in the way I wanted to and be the person I wanted to be up until college. I was a weekend warrior.


And then in college, maybe like the first two years, I kept it to the weekends, kind of, you know, let out into the weekdays sometimes. And then my junior year, I studied abroad in Australia and that was just like no holds barred. Like I I've met my best friends that I ever made in college. We had a crazy time, but we, I drank all the time and it kinda, it was just this, it didn't really seem like a problem. It was like, well, we have this opportunity. We got to take it. And we got to have as much fun as possible. Um, and it's, it's truly a self-destruction because, or self-harming because we're engaging in this, despite the repercussions that it's having on us, our bodies, our mind, and our soul, you know, it affects us at an emotional level deeply. And we, I did it anyways.


Cause you think you're, again, you think you're just having fun, but then the fun starts to turn to depressive episodes. When you drink crimes, Bell's getting in dangerous, risky situations, having risky behavior, you know, I became suicidal. Whereas the, and when I would drink, I had many times where I thought about killing myself when I was really drunk. And that was scary because I wouldn't normally feel that way. Not that strongly, but man, when you drink that the tunnel vision gets real narrow and it's people will often make those decisions when they're drunk, because it just feels like you're not looking at the broader picture. You're just in your pain. You're so deeply in your pain and alone with your pain, without any resources that you're like, you don't want to call anybody. You don't really even want to feel better. You just want to sit in that despair and ending it fueled like the viable option, not fate in that dark place.


And so those feelings started coming toward the, you know, the end of my college years. And that's when I, you know, it's just, it's a rough place to be in. I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how I could stop drinking. And that's what I did. That's how I would, everybody around me did. That's how I socialize. That's how I had fun. You know, I didn't know what to do about my eating. I couldn't go a day without, you know, struggling with eating. It was it's, it's just really hard. It's hard for anyone who finds himself in that place where you just feel that you don't know how you could change. You only want to aid came later when I truly was at an emotional bottom, um, I first gave up alcohol when I was 28, just before I turned 29. So that's, you know, that's, that was 10 full years after college.


You can imagine what those 10 years were like. It was a rough 10 years. Um, my eating disorder continued, my alcohol and drug abuse continued and my, you know, my sex addiction and sex, you know, ex whatever you want to call an exploration. Um, and it was a mess and I, you know, just struggled so much cause I couldn't respect myself. I couldn't trust myself. And I didn't like myself in a great degree. I mean, not all the time. Right. I mean, I was functional and sometimes I felt good and sometimes I went to therapy. I did a lot in those years, but it's just so hard to make. It's like, you know, trying to climb up a hill where someone's constantly pouring like water and you're just like slipping in the mud. You're trying to get traction. I had good intentions, but as long as you're in your addiction, it's, it's really hard.


Cause you're it's, you can't really get to true healing as long as you're using. So I finally was tired of it after 10 years. And I finally said, you know, I, I was fortunate that I didn't have that, uh, super gnarly bottom with alcohol in terms of having to be, you know, taken away and put in a treatment center. Cause it just was so bad and I was drinking daily, but it was, it was spiraling towards the end. You know, it was, it was consistent, um, benders, you know, just drinking for days on end and just, you know, really reckless, really irresponsible. Um, I would just in a place, a real despair and I recognized that I had two choices


Top of the Ferris wheel.


So the last night I ever drank, I was going on a date and it was this guy that I had. I had gone to dinner and gotten really drunk with some friends. And I gave this guy who was deejaying at the restaurant. We were at my number and cause I thought he was cute. So he had called me and he lived in Santa Cruz and we met up, this was July 31st, 2014. And you know, we met at a bar, we had a few drinks, he was very flirty and I was loving the attention and I was loving my buzz and I felt great. And then we decided to go to the boardwalk and we're walking through the boardwalk and we're waiting in line for a ride. And he, you know, he's talking and I look at his hand and there's a ring on his hand and I said, Hey, what's that ring?


And he's like, oh, this is my promise ring. And I said, your promise for what? Like, and I was like, are you, and he's like, what? He's like yeah. With my girlfriend. He's like, did you think this was a date? And I said, well, yeah, I gave her my number. He called me, you asked me out, like you've been flirting. Like, I don't know. Yes. He's like, no, I have a girlfriend. Like I would just try and like be nice and take you out. Like, you seem like you wanted to go out or something, but it was just very sort of rude. And I, you know, being in my addiction to attention, I should've just walked away. I should've said, okay, well goodbye. But you know, I said, okay, well, do you still want to hang out? Like, like yeah, no, I want to hang out with you.


This, I just, this isn't a date. I said, okay. So we get, you know, some beers and we keep walking and lo and behold, like it wasn't too long before he was putting his hands on me and, you know, putting his fingers through my hair and you know, kind of steadily trying to get close to me. And, and I was like, I, I thought you had a girlfriend. And he said, well, yeah, but now I'm with you right now. I'm thinking about you and I, and I, so the moment I remember most is we were, we got on a Ferris wheel and we're on this Ferris wheel and there's this guy sitting next to me and he's like, right in that moment, I'm the pinnacle of his world. He's telling me, I'm beautiful. He's telling me that, you know, he just wants me and he doesn't care anymore of his girlfriend.


He just wants to be with me right now. And, and you know, my buzz was really strong. And so I felt great in that regard. And you know, we went up to the top of the Ferris wheel and I just remember like, you know, he was kinda trying to kiss me. And I was, and I was sitting there and I thought, you know, I feel so great. Cause I'm buzzed. And there's this guy here getting to him. And I told myself, I said, remember this feeling because you're not going to feel this way when you wake up tomorrow and tomorrow, when you feel, however you feel ask yourself if it's,


So we got off the Ferris wheel and we had, you know, we go back to his house and he was having some party with his roommates. Of course he was trying to get me to sleep in his bed with him and all of this. And I did it and I ended up, we slept in the bed, but we didn't, I didn't do anything. Cause I was like, listen, like, we're just going to go to bed. Like this is, you have a girlfriend in a promise ring. But if you know, of course up until the very last second, he's kind to course me and flirt with me and all that. And then sure enough alarm goes off at like 7:00 AM. And he was like, you need to leave. You need to get out of here. He was like, I have to go to school. I have to teach.


You need to go. And I collected my things and I walked out to my car and he wouldn't say, bye. He didn't ask right now, nothing. And I sat got in my car and my makeup was all messed up. And I had, you know, like my eyeliner I'll smudge and I just thought, okay, this is it. This is it. It's like Cinderella. Right? When the, she turns back into a pocket, you know, it's like, you're all, you're this pretty princess who feels all great when you're drinking and you're getting attention. And then the next morning comes and that person wants you gone because you don't matter to that person because they just wanted you for that night. Cause you guys were both drinking and high. And I knew in that moment, I said, I can't be this person because if I keep going down this path, it's just going to get worse because I'd already done.


I mean, this is, uh, this is one example, but this story had been played out a hundred times for me since in the 15 years that I was drinking over and over. I just wanted that feeling of feeling good and feeling desired. But when you get it through those means and it's, you know, that instant gratification, a one night thing, it always left me feeling so empty and so horrible about myself. And so I drove home and I, I just do clear it. I said, I need, I'm done. I need to be done. And the moment I thought like, well maybe I'll like, cause I'd taken many breaks from drinking. I'd be like, well, I'm going to do a 30 day cleanse or I'll take three months off. So it was kind of that. But in the back of my mind, I knew you might really need to be done because I don't know if there's any way that you can have alcohol in your life and not have this experience.


So I stepped forward and it was literally just one step at a time because there were times after that, where I said, I'm going to go have a drink. I remember it. So I got sober on July 31st, my birthday, September 12th. And I decided I went to a hotel with my mom because my mom's birthday is the day before mine. So we always celebrate together and it was my birthday. And I said, I'm going to go have a drink. You know, I haven't had one in a few months, I can do this. And I go to the front lobby and I say, where's the bar? And they say, oh, we don't have a bar here. And I said, okay. And so I thought, okay, well then I guess maybe I won't drink tonight. And now it's been, you know, seven years and I still, and that's the thing I always encourage people in recovery is you don't have to think forever. You just take, you know, decide you're not going to drink today. And if you get a challenge, then see if you can say, maybe I don't need to take this. Maybe I don't need to do it this time. Let's just keep, maybe I'll do it next time. And then you just keep going. And obviously not for everyone, but sometimes you end up with seven years sober and you would never go back




Um, because unfortunately that was my end, my, the end of my relationship with alcohol. But of course, um, you know, they, they call it whack-a-mole when people, a lot of people, when they leave one addiction behind, they will seek something. Cause it doesn't, it was never the alcohol, you know, it was never just that it was the addiction. It was the everything underlying. It was the source, my insecurity, my feelings of worthlessness and those still needed to be taken care of. So, um, I switched over to taking pills, um, when I got sober, um, you know, and I would go out with friends or go to a party, I thought, well, I need to do something. And I didn't, I didn't like smoking weed or anything that a lot of people will do if they stopped drinking. And, but I did have access to pills and I thought, well, you know, this is a great thing.


I don't black out. I still feel rational. I still feel coherent. I don't feel like I make poor decisions as much. Um, so I would just like take a pill and I'd feel so good and, you know, euphoric and just relaxed. And I thought that's great. All of this always keeps him pills with me and I'll pop one when I go to a party. Um, but then of course, once you, you know, you're using something, um, to sort of, well, your emotions, you start wanting to use it other times. And other times I had been dabbling in my using, um, prescription meds or, you know, pills was something that I did, um, all, all through my drinking. I had first gotten into pill. I love taking Adderall in cottage college. Um, I'd had surgeries where I'd gotten Vicodin and I loved Vicodin. So I knew I liked all this stuff.


So whenever I can get it, I would keep it and, you know, pop one here or there, if I was having a stressful day or like a really bad period or something, you know, then I would use pills. So I definitely wasn't someone who had some people are very averse to medication, but I wasn't, I loved anything. And also, um, anti-anxiety medication. I would use that. So those three, you know, like the uppers, um, the downers and then, you know, the pain meds for the euphoria. So it was something I always dabbled in. So it was kind of like, you know, if one of your best friends moves away, you start hanging out with your other friends who are still there. So it was like, when, when I gave up alcohol, I was like, well, that friend and I broke up, which I do want to take a second to know.


Cause I always encourage this for people who are getting into recovery is that we have to admit that these things became our best friends, you know? And it, it is hard to like go with them because they are human companion and a very loyal companion, not a very healthy or always very helpful companion, but they were always there for us. You know, you can always get alcohol if you want it almost always. And you begin to rely on that. And when other things don't come through, you know, that that will come through for you. So, you know, it really does feel like it becomes a friend and it is a relationship that you have with these substances. And it's a grief is grieving when you lose them anyways. But that's, you know, once alcohol is out of the picture, I, all I had left was pills.


And so I became more accustomed to that, but that is when I truly experienced the beast of addiction because, you know, I had gnarly, horrible hangovers, but I never had like, you know, through withdrawal from alcohol, I didn't feel, um, yet when I, you know, it escalated with the pills. Because again, if you, if you're taking it once in a while, well, once in a while becomes like, wow, maybe I'll also take it before I go to work today. Cause it makes me a little bit happier. Well maybe I'll take one at the end of the day to relax. And before I knew it, I was taking like five to 10 pills a day and it was like, wow. And I would notice the horrifying thing is when you notice your body reacting, when it's no longer in your system and it gets worse and worse at first, you just kind of noticed you don't feel that good, but then you start to notice that you actually feel bad and then you feel kind of terrible when it's no longer in your body.


And that's really creepy. That's a creepy feeling. And it's one that anybody with a substance abuse problem eventually feels. But that was enough to, for me to say, I don't think I want to keep doing this. You know, cause I've heard of people who were addicted to pills for is 10 years, 20 years. And I was, you know, about five or six months in when I was starting to feel this way, but I couldn't function without them. And that was enough for me to recognize that I needed to get rid of this. And then when I had that big bottoming out, which was when I quit the pills, um, that's when I finally realized that I, I couldn't do anything that I, this was such a bigger problem that I needed to accept myself and that as long as I was going to keep trying to use something outside of myself, to feel better, I was going to be


[inaudible] [inaudible] [inaudible]


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If you want to build lasting habits that will help you to reduce stress and have access to timeless tools and resources you can use to create more peace in your life. Head on over to members dot the mindful soul subscribers get exclusive content, including bonus episodes of you here now, and other downloadable PDFs and other resources. You can subscribe to the all access digital edition of the magazine and get access to past issues for less than $1 per week. Head on over to members dot the mindful soul and subscribe or read a few articles for free. Now let's get back to our episode four part two. Now we're going to actually talk about some of those things that are really key. Like I was curious, um, I've had my own addictions, but not, um, I did not have anywhere. I felt like I was dying. What is that thing called? The post acute withdrawal syndrome.


Pause. Yeah. Tapering off of the medication. Okay. So


Tapering off of the medication and you're feeling like dying. Well, what do you think a person who is experiencing that? What are some things that they should do?


Well, any detox should absolutely be medically supervised. That wasn't something that I did not do. I tried to do it alone and that's not recommended because it is dangerous to get off of any sort of drug, alcohol pills, anything else, any sort of illegal drugs, they're all risky when you're coming off of them. Especially some of the prescribed medication like, um, benzos and pain medication. Those things are dangerous. So I wish that I had sought out help because also it just would have been nice to have. I had a team after my breakdown. I then I had a psychiatrist. I had a therapist, um, I, you know, started working with AA. So I had people who I felt were my support team, but when I first did it, it was just me. And I told my parents about it, but it was, it still felt like I was walking out alone. And it was really because I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't have any assistance. So, and I was scared to death, which is a part of my huge panic because I thought I was dying because you can die from these things. It's not your body doesn't react well to pumping it with opioids for months and then just taking it away. So definitely seeking out medically supervised detox, which most recovery centers have. Most of them will have a medical supervised detox, the part of their program.


Okay. And then, or even a first step, if somebody doesn't even know where to go for that, maybe just even asking for help from a family member or someone that could help them or


With a friend, finding someone who's familiar with addiction and recovery, even a primary care doctor, just to voice and express, this is what I'm going through. I've made the choice to get sober. I have questions about it. I have concerns. I would like some resources and guidance.


Okay. So asking for help is a huge one. Yeah.


Always, but particularly in these situations where it's


In addiction, there are behaviors that people can engage in that they might not feel very happy about afterwards. And a lot of times human beings, we look at our, what we did or what we thought we did or how we behaved. It might not even, or we might not even remember some things, but, um, we can feel very shameful and feel bad and like beat up about things maybe even about like putting ourselves in risky situations or, or whatever it is. How do people deal, deal with that? Because I think that's a huge part of recovery also is dealing with all those emotions now.


Absolutely. And that's shame is a huge part of what we hold, even in sobriety, what we're working to resolve and to heal and shame is a big reason why addiction start in the first place. Uh, you know, there's a wonderful resource called conscious recovery by TJ Woodward that I would absolutely recommend to anyone who's even curious about the nature of addiction, but also if someone's questioning, if they have an addiction, just sort of reading through that, it gives a lot of insight into why these things develop. And a big part is shame. You know, when we hold shame deeply, it's not so much about the event. It's more about what we believe the event says about us. You know, if we did something that was embarrassing or that we feel guilty about, that we feel is bad. We turn those, those labels into personalized labels, which is I did that bad thing.


Therefore I am bad. And that's a huge distinction and that's where shame is built. And we hide that shame away. I think we might've talked about this in the show, but that we hide that shame away, like a dirty secret. We don't want to admit. And then it'll, you know, it'll come back to us and, and, you know, everyone experiences some degree of shame, you know, I mean, we all have certain times where we, you know, kind of put our head down like, oh my gosh, I still can't believe I did that. That one time. I still can't believe I said that still can't believe I lied about that. And I got whatever it is I got fired from a job. Shame is, you know, how deeply, and the only way that we move past it is when we are able to acknowledge that we did the best that we could at that time.


And that if we are willing to forgive and have compassion for others, then it's very critical to be able to forgive and have compassion for ourselves. And that's what the breakthrough is with shame is when you say I can still not feel great about what happened, but I can exercise forgiveness because I want to move on. And that can take a while. And a strong recovery program is so important because just like getting sober, staying sober and working through recovery is really hard to do alone. You know, you can sit down with a workbook and write out your shame stuff and hope that it is resolved, but the power of speaking to others about what you've done and how you feel around it and hearing acceptance and acknowledgement is really powerful and being able to, to move forward and through those things. So it doesn't have to be any specific, you know, a 12 step program or some of the other programs that are offered or residential. There are a lot of different ways. It can be therapy, it can be groups. Um, it can just be people that you found collected friends who are also walking the same path of recovery what's most important is that there's some things that are woven into your life that are related to addressing and healing the shame and the trauma, because both of those are going to be present when you're emerging from addiction.


Yeah. And of course, shame is, uh, it has no, um, well, gosh, what's that expression like? It has no, uh, like it's available to everyone.


Nobody's excluded from there's people who say that we, we develop our, our deepest held, um, wounds and trauma from the first few years of our life. When we first experienced Seamus that first time that we're scolded or the first time that, you know, one of our peers makes fun of us in like preschool, like these little things, because it's the first time that we recognize like, oh my gosh, I'm not okay. Like, just as I am, like, there's things I can do that make me, you know, we all know that feeling that when shame kind of reverberates through your body, like this strike of lightening, we're just like, Hmm. You know, that feeling in your stomach, where you get called out, or you recognize that, you know, you did something that you regret and it's just a terrible feeling and it really sticks with you. And we all can experience that for in so many ways.


So, um, you were saying too, I don't know if you want to talk about this or not, but you did mention, you did mention, um, which people won't necessarily know. So, um, about alcoholics anonymous, about some things that you like, maybe we could talk a little bit about the benefits of it, but also maybe some of the things that you didn't like about it.


Yeah, absolutely. So I, I know AA was so crucial for me in really making progress in my own. Self-awareness my own healing and my spiritual development. That was huge. It was like a major, major progress working that program because it just, it sets out, you know, structured steps and ways to address certain things, to comb through things, to explore ideas. But I think that the key component is the human connection part is going to meetings and being amongst others where you're able to share openly. And, you know, I think that, and this is just for me, you know, some people love that program and it keeps them alive and they want to stay in it the rest of their lives yet, just for me, I felt after a certain point, I felt that I had explored and dug into every facet that I could from that.


And then I felt I had been so much momentum with the spiritual part that I was kind of ready to take flight with that I was ready to kind of take the next step. But I also was really, you know, I w I had a lot of other people in my life who were resistant to 12 step programs, but one had recovery. So I really wanted to say, well, Hey, I'm a professional. And I've also been through addiction. I'd love to kind of seek other shores, you know, kind of sail out and see if maybe I can help develop something that's another offering for people. So that was a big reason that I moved on from that and chose to no longer engage with that. But otherwise it's, I think it's the best option for anybody in early recovery. Um, but I will say though, that the other thing that maybe uncomfortable is that, you know, this program is from the 1930s and it was developed by somebody who had a very strong religious background.


So at first I just soaked it up because all I could hear was, oh my gosh, this is so great to admit where I feel shame. It's so great to speak this to others too. And the biggest thing for me was walking into a room, you know, these rooms at AA, it's so humbling. First of all, because this is a not, it's not a profit thing. They take donations, it's free and you walk in, and these people are from all walks of life. You know, you don't know where they've been through there. And it's always a sort of like dry druggie room and old chairs with stains on that. And, you know, I would show up all dressed up for my work day with high heels and just get to sit there and just really release myself and just listen, because it didn't matter that I came from my background.


Other people came from there and we were all there to share the same sentiments, which were, I'm still learning how to deal with life and to not self-destruct and to not feel bad about who I am as a person. So how do I do that? You know, we were literally all just showing up and asking that question. It didn't matter where we were from. We still all couldn't figure it out. So we were kind of figuring out together. And that was just so beautiful. And, you know, there's something about the sound of truth. When people speak pure truth, it's such a beautiful sound. And unfortunately it's very rare in our world, you know, most of the time, a lot where we're afraid to be honest and truthful. So most, a lot of our words are kind of a little bit, you know, edited or sort of soft softened to keep from being too offensive or too abrasive. But in those rooms, like it's just raw truth coming out. And that's just, my, my heart would just feel so open and it would just feel like such a, and that's where my spirituality spirituality developed because I was never religious. I didn't necessarily believe in God when I first started AA, but it, it became this understanding that it's, you know, there was something about truth that was of a higher level, if that makes sense. Yeah. That's, you know, true honesty full self-expression, and that sort of resonates with me is what a higher idea is.


Okay. Well, let me ask you this then, because let's explore a little bit about your spirituality. So you said you didn't really have this kind of belief and then, uh, and then you came this and what was the thing, like, what was your next step like kind of after AA or even during AA that really got your curiosity on the spiritual path?


Well, so actually I, when I was in AA, it was about a year in, I had moved to Fairfield, which is like, kind of middle of nowhere off the freeway and, you know, the bay area. And, um, I was working with this other woman in the program and it's the, uh, you know, one of the steps is sort of figuring out your higher power, you know, turning things over to a higher power. And I told her, I said, you know, I just, I still don't know what my higher power is. I can't really conceptualize one. I can't, it's still something I'm resistant to. It's still something I'm just don't I don't have this clear idea. And she said, well, I want to send you this book. You know, it's, it's kind of a broader, unique way of looking at the concept of a God or a higher power.


And so she sent me a book and it was called conversations with God by Neale, Donald Walsch. And this was like 2016. And I remember so well, I got it in the mail cause she ordered it from me for me. I got it in the mail and I opened it and I read like one page and I was like, ah, this is weird, this like, what did this dude thinks? He's talking to God, like, that's weird. And how does he know that? And this just sounds like a casual conversation with someone that you think has got. And so I closed it and I put the book away for a year, for a year and then I moved and I remember in 2017, I was putting stuff away in my house. And one morning I woke up and I, that book came to mind and it was like, well, what would God say?


Like if that guy really talked to God, what was God saying? Like, I would, maybe I should just check it out. And I picked it up and I did not put it down for two years. I would just, it's something about it just clicked with me at that point. And it was because what's introduced in that book is a totally different concept of why we're here, who we are and what quote unquote, God really is. You know, that it's not necessarily a human entity, that it's a higher level of consciousness. That's a greater level of consciousness that encompasses all consciousness and something about it. It just made sense. And he has nine books in that series. And I read them does, I mean, back to back to back over and over and over, it just really connected with me. And that's, I, it was about a year after that, that I began or maybe two years that I moved away from AA because I was just so absolved in those concepts that I just felt ready to move more in that direction. So that was a huge turning point for me. And I always recommend that book just for anyone to, you know, anyone who's struggling with spirituality, with their understanding of life and death and who we really are. Um, I'm a huge believer that we are a soul having a human experience. And that book is sort of the essence of that concept.


So, um, all right. So I have another question you, which is, um, let's see, what was it? I swear my brain is like, um, you know, it's funny because I actually, the heat triggers me, that guy, the,


Yeah. Neil. Why, how so? Tell me, I'm curious.




I started drifting away because the more I like read about him, I also just kind of felt this sort of like, huh. Like I don't feel super drawn to him, but I, like,


I think that's what it is. It's not necessarily his book, it's his or books. It's his, it's his presence. And I think one of the problems that I have with it, because I also had, um, you know, I never really felt like the God that I was taught about as a child was the God that, uh, and I actually hated the word God, myself personally. I mean, I really like very, uh, like, yeah, not, not good. So, so I think part of the problem with this kind of idea of, um, is that he actually like, in some videos or pictures that I've seen of him, he had like white hair and a white beard and was like, kind of like the stereotype idea of what children are at least in the west and like Christianity or whatever, kind of, uh, or even in, not in just Korean Christian tradition, kind of like, you know, I know that it's not a realistic thing, but it's like, you, you know, even when you see like these old movies, like, you know, with different like Moses or whatever, they everybody's got like white hair and a beard. So I made kind of, I, for me, I think it was just not really about hid the concepts, but about, uh, like him being the messenger. Yeah.


Yeah. I think that he's, I mean, I think he truly is a messenger. I think he, he channeled, you know, he channeled this information. So it's more about what came through. I mean, he's still a human with flaws, right. I, I hope that he's not in any way, like manipulative or trying to, you know,


It was just, I think the irony of his look, you know what I mean?


And it does really probable get that idea of that guy in the white sheets with the white hair. God, but, you know, what's so funny is like, that's I remember reading a quote that said, um, nobody ever had a problem with God until we invented religion. Right. So I think it's like the, cause its own God is not an offensive thing. It's like, but it's because we've really been forced to think of it in this particular box, in this particular fashion. It's like, well screw that. I'm not gonna, because that's what I always thought. I was like, some dude on the cloud is calling the shots like, Nope, I'm not dumb. I'm not going to fall for that. Like, don't tell me that. But if you think of it as just like now I think of God is just like the ultimate level, ultimate observer. So like if everything is, we all have a level of consciousness, it's just, it's kinda like the greatest bird's eye view. It's the, it's the, the conscious level that is able to see all has a view of everything and is kind of not that it's necessarily running everything. Um, but it just has an understanding of everything.


Well, yeah. And I think some people maybe who are religious might be triggered by even a statement like that. We are God or it's, it's really that concept of thou art that,


Yeah. And that's what I'm all about. I, I think that we all are literal manifestations of God, which is what the book talks about, but that just makes sense to me. Like why would there be a God that how could anything be separate? First of all, that's gonna, it doesn't compute with me. Like I think everything is all interconnected. We know this, like we even know this, like in nature that, you know, all the, the root systems of all the planets, they all work together in cohesion. Everything's connected. There's no one thing that doesn't affect another. And also like we only appear physical because our atoms are slowed down enough so that we appear physical. But reality is that if you take all that away, we're all blended together. Like, I'm sorry, but we're all in one big, giant glob. And let's just call that God, like the whole, the whole thing. I'm it expressing itself. That's just like, I dunno. It just seems so obvious to me.


Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think that idea like the, uh, we are one, I think, I think too when we start to, you know, because we're in a body and we're separate people do kind of get, um, I don't know, maybe we're drifting off a little bit away from healing and addiction. I'm not sure, but um, I think this, I, you don't want to believe. I mean, I think also because like we live in a dual world and we do judge people, whether we think we do or not, we all do it sometimes. So like, you don't want to think that you're the same as somebody that you would consider, like for instance, like a murderer or whatever. Right. So you'll be like, I'm not, I'm not, you know, he, you know, that's bad or whatever, you know, it's like, you don't want to be a part of of that. So it's hard. It's it's can be a hard concept to wrap the head around sometimes for people. Cause you don't want to consider yourself as being the same as, as everyone. Yeah.


Yeah. That's hard. I was talking about non-duality with my podcast yesterday.


I think we spoke about it also in the book. So, um, well, so conscious who is that conscious recovery by? Is that a book or is that a program or,


And a workbook. And he has all kinds of stuff now and he's expanding a lot. It's called conscious recovery by TJ Woodward by


TJ Woodward. I didn't get that earlier. So what would you recommend for other people? I mean, um, we kind of talked about like, let's see, I mean, we're so, uh, getting help by asking a friend to help them if they can't, if they don't know where to go or finding resources on the computer and things like that, but,


And sober definitely want to develop a support team for that. Right.


And, um, and then let's just touch a little bit on why, um, addiction happens besides shame from, you know, trying to run away from things, but maybe let's talk about a little bit if you want, we don't have to, but uh, if you had about, really about kind of like socialization and, uh, institutionalization and things like that, maybe as being part, the, a thing that can, uh, the pressure of falling like you were, I think the reason why I wanted to bring this up is because like you said, in AA that people, um, like didn't, you felt like you were with a bunch of people, like you were trying, like, we don't know what life is. We're trying to figure it out and none of us know, like, right. So, um, and do you, I don't know. I mean, I'm not really sure what the question is, but I think like, I mean, a lot people don't want to be like in a box, you know, they don't want to, or they feel like pressured from their families to be a certain way or from


So w what I would say is an another part of TJ, his work, um, in his book, conscious recovery, he said that it's also, um, uh, a spiritual disconnect is how we develop an addiction. And to me, that sort of resonates with what you're saying. It's the same idea, which is when we're so disconnected from the concept of being a spiritual being, because if you break it down, being a spiritual being just makes you recognize your own essence and your own internal worth and value intrinsic to just being alive, intrinsic to yourself, without any need for anything external. So it's external versus internal yet what we've developed in our society is a complete dependency and focus on the external. So when we've sort of thrown away any creed credence to our soul, our being ourselves, and just say, no, I'm only as good as how much people like me, how successful I am, how much attention I get, how attractive I am, how many compliments I get when we turn to those things, we lose touch with our true selves.


And we flip our acceptance of ourselves into a state of conditionality where it's, well, I'm only as good as my next achievement, or as good as my next, you know, compliment or accolades or acknowledgement, whatever it is, it's a con consistent. And that solve an addiction. Right? Look at it. It's all the same pattern playing out. It's well, I need another hit. I need another hit of recognition. I need another hit of attention from a male. And so, you know, we develop those addictions real early on because from the, again, from the time we're in preschool, it's like, well, why does that kid get so much attention? Everyone likes her so much. Why, why, why do you like her? And not me? What, what does she got that I don't got? And so we, we start feeling that way. And then that makes us, we kind of do look at our sort of essence, like, well, I guess who I am is not that great.


I guess who I am is flawed. And those beliefs, those core false beliefs that we established so early on create this spiritual disconnect where it says, well, you know, I can't just rest on who I am, my intrinsic value. I don't think I have any value. I think I need to seek out value. And that's a really disempowering, a very, you know, tragic place to be where you feel that within yourself as not love is not coolness, that you need to find other things to make you whole. So then you become a seeker. And as long as you're seeking, you're gonna love things like things that are addictive. Cause you're like, Ooh, here's something, here's something outside of me. That makes me feel good. That makes me feel validated. That makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I like that because I, I sure as heck can't do it for myself.


If we had more of an emphasis from the time we're born about spirituality and that we have everything within us that we need, we wouldn't even think about that. You wouldn't even think that we need that attention or that approval. We wouldn't base our work based on that. So it's, it's a very early, you know, shift that happens sort of a crevice that occurs where we just start feeling, we need to fill ourselves up, fill ourselves up with things outside of ourselves. And I can speak to that because man, I mean, when you're struggling with like an eating disorder and sex or love addiction, you lose. It's like, you can't get enough. It's like you have this bottom was fooling you and you're trying to fill it with, you know, food and drugs and sex. And none of it does a thing in terms of making you feel any better because it's a bottomless hole.


I remember a quote, there's a book love warrior by Glennon Doyle, who was also in addiction and struggled with an eating disorder. And she says, you can never get enough of what you don't need. And that's the bottom was cool as you're like, I just need more this attention from men. I just need it. I just need it. And you're like, why isn't this sustaining me? Why isn't this satiating, this undying hunger that I have within for attention. And that's because you don't need that. You don't need it. It's not like you have, you know, this wound that just needs the ointment of a man's attention to be healed. No, what that wound needs is true is love actual law. But, um, you know, uh, a man's ephemeral attention, isn't gonna laugh and neither is food and neither is drugs, but man, could it seem like it in the time when you get that hit, it's like, Ooh, this might be here. This feels good right now. I feel validated. I feel wanted, but then it dissipates and it didn't do anything in the longterm. So all of these, again, go back to a spiritual disconnect where we don't recognize our true value, our true worth, a true sense of who we are. So we're constantly seeking out something that will determine that for us, because we feel like we can't determine that.


Yeah, well, okay. So I think that's a very nice place to leave off for peoples seek, help, ask for help. And, and even if you don't have any like immediate addiction, I have to say, I think that is like a huge lesson for the entire world is that we're not an island and that we all, we don't have to do something to live up to other people's expectations. We can be ourselves, but we can also ask for help and we can help each other when needed. That's my, my thoughts. Anyway, thanks for sharing your story, Whitney. I really appreciate it. And I'm looking forward to continuing our co-hosting with other stories in the future. And so, uh, I won't even be like, thank you goodbye, because will see you next time to


Yeah. See on the flip side,




For facilitating my storytelling.


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Whitney WalkerProfile Photo

Whitney Walker

Therapist, Podcaster and Founder of Women Waken

Whitney, founder of Women Waken and podcaster is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in California. She works as a recovery coach and spiritual guide. Her favorite offering is doing tarot readings for clients and friends and enjoys sharing her ideas about the return of the Divine Feminine to our world and how it can begin to change the experience of life on our planet. She hosts the Women Waken podcast and is the co-host of the You Here Now podcast.