Recovery Ramblings of Family, Loss, Childhood, Choices, and Some Other Stuff. By Advocate Catherine Townsend-Lyon.

Recovery Ramblings of Family, Loss, Childhood, Choices, and Some Other Stuff. By Advocate Catherine Townsend-Lyon.


It has been quite some time since my last honest personal share about my recovery journey. It has been too long since sharing my thoughts, feelings, and what has been lying in my heart. What I mean is some real random recovery ramblings of living life while maintaining my recovery. 

Maybe it is because the holiday season and a new year are approaching, and looking back over this last year, not realizing what and how much I dealt with some life events that I felt I handled ok, but there always seems to be some lingering feelings left. Thoughts constantly swirl in my mind and tug on my heart. Just when I think I have processed them and tried to move forward, here they come. 

See, I lost my father on Jan. 29th, 2021, as COVID took his life, and many who know me or my story had a very up-and-down relationship. He had not spoken to me in almost 15 1/2-years. My nephew informed me of his passing and told me that he died alone at the hospital in Southern Calif., where he had been amitted. Kaiser Hospital would not let anyone go in his room to be with him due to COVID rules, nor they didn’t bother to tell me until five weeks after his passing.

Then more drama over who was getting what that I didn’t care about any of that. I wasn’t going to get stuck in all the drama, especially since I had not talked to any of my family for years. I knew this day would come soon. Was this cruel or Karma that my father ended up passing away all alone? Just because he chose not to speak to me or have a relationship with one of his daughters? I hope not. Family, we don’t get to choose them. And my siblings?

Well, that’s my siblings for you. Need I say more?

My feelings were/are that they were the ones missing out. All the years I and my husband had lived in Oregon and through the years’ most of the family would come to visit, spend time with us, we’d have so much fun. Even after my mom passed in 2003, my dad came the following summer and we had a blast! We would also take my dad and nephews rafting, many 4th of July’s and Labor days, trips to the coast, Jetboat dinner rides on the Rogue River, and again many fantastic rafting trips. So many good memories.

And for all of it to end up like this?
 
It still breaks my heart today…
I choose to remember ALL the good memories!

Also, after my mom passed in 2003, we all could have stayed together and in each other’s lives. That didn’t last very long. There are four of us—my only older brother, my older sister, then me, and then my younger sister. So when we laid my mom to eternal rest, that was the last time all four of us siblings had been together. I have often said we don’t get to pick or choose the family we are born into; however, we can choose to have healthy boundaries and have done so when I began my recovery journey.

So those are some of the points I wanted to share. Recovery makes that possible. It gives us the freedom to start making better choices in our lives. I will add in their defense, when I was young, I became very hyper-sensitive to teasing and ridicule, but they had no clue what I had been through from the sexual trauma until I finally disclosed it to my parents at age 32. Then, the teasing got worse in adulthood when they learned I had been diagnosed with PTSD and a few other mental health disorders.

When we get to a point where we try to make amends with those, we may have hurt while being sick and deep within addiction; not everyone may be willing to accept it or willing to forgive. They might even take it, forgive you, but still not want a relationship. And that is truly their choice. We, then, need to accept that choice, as I had to take and honor my father’s choice some 15-years ago. So yes, it stung, but I moved on from it. 

There are times when we need to look back to connect what was to see how far we have grown within our recovery. For example, when I spent a year or so writing and journaling in early recovery, that was what ended up as a book—my memoirs of what gambling had taken from me. My fault for becoming an addict? YES, but more critical is the WHY and HOW I became addicted. (Available on Amazon Kindle)

Addicted to Dimes (Confessions of a LIAR & a CHEAT)

by Catherine Townsend-Lyon
“A heart-wrenching read that ends with a great light of hope. Read “Addicted to Dimes” now.” 

Written By Advocate Catherine Lyon


That is some of what those memoirs are and what my book truly is. It is not how to recover. That is what I’m working on now. The writing was healing for me, but it also helped me start to connect different events, the childhood trauma and abuse that happened as a little girl, and how it affected me going into adulthood. So I began to question my worth, my self-sabotage as if I wasn’t worth being loved, others being kind or treated well by others, including men. 

Today I chose life. I live each day to the best of my abilities. I use self-care and self-love. I continue to mentor others who reach out needing support, help, and some hope from this insidious addiction. It is my passion and honor to do so. I’ll close by saying to those who never give gambling a thought, but those who have a problem with it will understand this. Gambling is all about Risk and Chance. And those who gamble a lot as I did or become addicted and gamble all the time will know what I mean. So the more you bet, the higher your odds are of losing.

So, where do you think the catchphrase came from of “The House Always Wins?” 

And is why gambling addiction is so devastating…  

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Writers Note –This year, I have signed up with ‘The National Council on Problem Gambling’ for the new ‘Gift Responsible’ Lottery Campaign as a social media assistant and blogger for the council through the holiday season and share Awareness of Not Gifting Lottery Products to Children and Minors. I hope you will join me by using this image on all your social media platforms in support!

Lottery Campaign Image 2021 ~ National Council on Problem Gambling


Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

Featured Guest Articles – ‘Do We Ever Give Up On An Addict?’ ‘Why Some People Become Addicts and Some Don’t?’

I have been busy buzzing around some of my recovery sites and online mags I enjoy reading, including the ones I receive news by email. TWO interesting articles I read this past week were “Note Worthy” of re-shares by SoberRecovery as the articles are not only interesting but very informative about two topics that many of my recovery friends and parents who visit me want to know more about.

FIRST: Why do some people become an addict and others don’t?

SECOND: Do we ever give up on helping an addict?

So, here are two articles I found that share some insights and answers to these questions with some amazing advice. Even those of us maintaining recovery always need to learn more and read all that we can to be able to be aware and gain knowledge about all addictions. Learning can powerful and helpful tools for maintaining recovery …
Catherine 🙂

 

Why Do Some People Become Addicts and Others Don’t?

Courtesy of SoberRecovery  Mag, Staff

 

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There are many factors that can point towards a future addiction problem, but all in all, the nature of addiction is a mystery. Science may have a set of markers indicating future addictive patterns, but there is really no formula. Nor is there a set way to avoid addiction if these markers appear in a person.

Some people are born into families with long histories of addiction, but they will not use drugs or alcohol until much later in life. However, the behavior patterns of an addict may be present and noticeable from an early age.

Even more, not all addicts will drink alcohol or use drugs, further adding to the mystery of addiction.

Spotting Addictive Traits

Genetic traits may point to addictive behaviors in the future, but not everyone in an “addictive” gene pool will become an addict, and some addicts may have no family history of the disease. Those predisposed may work to control addiction by not participating in drinking or drug behaviors. They may show other personality traits similar to an addict’s, just not the use of addictive substances. They are also likely to become emotionally attached to the personality traits of an addict.

Some science focuses on early childhood patterns of behavior that may indicate addictive traits. These are most often characterized as risk-taking behaviors, a need for attention that goes beyond a normal level and sometimes early childhood trauma.

 

  • Risk-taking behaviors: These traits may be recognized in young children who are more active than their peers. They tend to repeatedly do things that place them in danger of being harmed. Very seldom do they know why they take these risks or why they are punished for behaviors that are not the norm.
  • Need for attention: This pattern may combine with risky behaviors. Some children will do things primarily because their need for attention is so great that they look at negative attention (punishment) as better than no attention. Many of them may develop this chronic need as a result of early childhood abandonment or abuse.
  • Early childhood trauma: A pattern of seeking safety can be developed around trauma. When children are exposed to a traumatic event(s), they may begin to seek a safe place. If none is available, they will learn to protect themselves in inappropriate ways. This can become addictive if food, gambling, drugs or sex become their tools for feeling safe. They can use these tools to dull their emotional pain. Since these tools offer only short-term relief and no resolution to the situation, addiction may ensue. 

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Some of these tendencies may be learned when children are raised in an environment that focuses on escape from all emotional development. This means that the family is not emotionally present for one another. There is no process for feelings that come up in the course of day-to-day living. No one is speaking about their feelings of pain, anger, sadness or grief.

This is a socially-imposed condition that has existed for many years. When parents do not teach children to talk about their feelings, there is no structure for healthy emotional venting. As we learn more about the importance of expressing feelings, this can change.

In a home where mom and dad are not emotionally connected to feelings, children learn to avoid those feelings that are termed “negative”.  These feelings become problems as they go unexpressed. As time goes on, pain becomes trauma, anger becomes rage and sadness or grief becomes depression.

Finding relief for these emotions can become addictive. If alcohol or drugs bring a feeling of relief, the addict will return again and again to this solution, which then becomes a problem.

Trauma and Addiction

Traumatic events in later life can also bring a person into addictive patterns. A person may have genetic traits that are channeled in positive ways, such as careers, education and attaining financial success, but a single event or crisis may tip the scales and patterns that were controlled in the past can start to become a problem.

  • Example 1: This may look like a young man who comes from a high-risk environment, but gets an education, develops a successful career, has a family and looks like a normal, healthy citizen. During this period, he may drink socially, even heavily at times, but is able to function and maintain a relatively good picture of success. Relationships are strained, but the family keeps up a good face, despite functional breaks such as poor health and other symptoms of addiction. At a later age in life, the children may leave home or another big change occurs; or the man may retire and find that what kept him going is removed. The fabric of the structure is under stress. One or more of the family may begin to practice addiction.
  • Example 2: A young man or woman may have relatively normal upbringing and behaviors when young. They may be involved in a traumatic event, such as a terrible accident or military combat. This can then leave them without coping skills to overcome the emotional impact of the event. They may turn for relief to drugs and alcohol. If this becomes a pattern, an addiction may become manifest for this person. Tendencies may have been present for many years that suddenly expose themselves to the person and those around them.

Seeing the Signs

Recognizing traits and patterns of behavior is the first step out of denial. Getting help at this point can look like this:

  • Learning new coping skills for stress, anger, and emotional regulation
  • Learning healthy relationship tools
  • Beginning a conversation with loved ones who are showing signs of addictive personality traits
  • Opening your mind to new options for dealing with life
  • Becoming willing to change what isn’t working for you

There are therapies and treatment available for everyone involved in addiction. When a family system has been impacted by addiction and behaviors leading to addiction, everyone needs to learn how to be supportive of changes needed to break the patterns. Everyone may need to learn new skills and how to communicate and support each other in healthier ways.

Opening the door to recognizing a problem is only the first step. Change must occur to break the patterns of behavior and poor thinking that create and support an addiction.

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When to Stop Trying to Save an Addict


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If you have a loved one suffering from gambling, drug or alcohol addiction, you’ve likely experienced one or more of the following heartbreaking scenarios:

  • Staying up late worrying about whether or not they’ll get home safely tonight
  • Waiting anxiously in the hospital waiting room for the doctor to break the good news that they’re going to pull through an overdose
  • Hearing the guilt-inducing demands for more money or variations of the “if you love me, you’ll let me be” comment?
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There are countless other painful day-to-day experiences one encounters when living with or loving a drug addict. Most of the time, you’re scared for them, you want to help them and you want them to change their ways but you don’t know how to get them to do so. And because you love them, you don’t want to increase the already-growing distance between the two of you—so you end up covering their tracks. Time and time again.

You give them the five more dollars that they’re begging for; you clean up the vomit in the bathroom from the night before; you tuck them into bed to sleep off an episode; you sign them out of the hospital early because they’re miserable and begging you to let them out. When does it ever stop?

 

The Conundrum

First of all, it is important to know that nobody is blaming you. Addiction is complicated and painful and we often believe that we can love those around us into sobriety. However, sadly, that is never the case. As difficult as it is to hear, behaviors, like giving your friend that measly five dollars or signing your son out of the hospital for early release, are actually enabling your loved one to continue down his or her self-destructive path. The addicted part of their brain remembers that they can always get money from Mom with guilt-tripping tactics or that they can always rely on their best friend to pick them up no matter what hour of the night.

As part of the disease, an addict will go to any means to get what they crave—even at the emotional expense of those they love. Although they often will exhibit guilt and sorrow for their behaviors the next morning, once the cravings kick in, they’ll be doing everything all over again. Addiction is a vicious cycle and drugs will continue to fuel that one-track thinking pattern of doing whatever is necessary to get that next high.
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It may be one of the toughest things you’ll ever have to do, but friends and families of addicts need to let go of the notion that they can save their loved one in order for there to be any chance at real change. By doing so, you can begin to explore your personal limits and define your boundaries.

Time to Pull Away

As much as it hurts, sometimes pulling away from the addict’s vicious cycle may call for ultimatums. This can include ending a romantic relationship, cutting off the addict financially, forcing him or her to move out of the house, or taking away their child custody rights, just to name a few.

By simply telling the individual to “stop doing drugs” or that “things need to change soon,” you’re just giving the addict either too broad an obstacle to conquer or too much wiggle room in which they can find ways to manipulate the situation (which they’re very good at doing). Therefore, the key is to be specific and unclenching with your boundaries. By implementing exact, time-sensitive consequences for their repeated bad behavior, the addict will then be forced to make a choice.
It is also important to keep in made that this choice is for your loved one to make alone and, as frustrating as it to watch, they may not want to choose recovery—even with all your inflicted consequences. He or she may need more time for the reality of the consequences to sink in before they take any action towards sobriety and, ultimately, it is only he or she who can decide to get out of the dark pit that has swallowed him or her up.

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Finally, in the midst of caring for your loved one, remember that you are also responsible for taking care of yourself. You can’t allow your loved one to fuel their addiction at the expense of depriving you of all your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Your health is of equal importance and by doing what is best for you—even if that includes walking away from the toxic situation—you are coincidentally also doing the best thing you can do for your addicted loved one.

 

If you or someone you know is seeking professional support, please visit SoberRecovery and their directory of counseling and therapy centers or call 866-606-0182 to start the path to recovery today.

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Guest Recovery Article – Making Amends Within Our Recovery and How It Is Done.

Guest Recovery Article – Making Amends Within Our Recovery and How It Is Done.

When it’s time for an addict maintaining recovery to make amends to those loved ones they have caused pain and may have hurt from the wreckage of our addiction, where does one begin? What if you can not remember all those who may have been hurt? I ask this because if we are high, drunk, or zoned out, we may not recall everyone we may have touched within our “selfishness” and is a part of the disease of addiction.

I know I couldn’t remember everyone I may have owed money to when I was thick into my gambling addiction. Our choices made within the sickness of pills or fog and haze of alcohol, many addicts don’t recall and those left in pain may not understand this really can happen. I’m a firm believer that our past should not dictate our future.

So how to begin the process of “amends.” When we have done the hard work needed within recovery and we have completed the “inner work” of self and are ready to move on to apologize to those we offended, which includes criminally, how to get started?

This featured article is shared by the fine folks of Betty Ford – Hazelden Org, can help all of us who have come to this fork in the road within our recovery journey. Making amends is an important part of our work and has to be done right …
Catherine

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“Making Amends is More Than an Apology” ~ By John MacDougall, D.Min. ~ Restoring justice as much as possible.

Addiction creates moral wreckage. People who become addicted to alcohol or other drugs might lie, cheat, or steal in order to get and use their drug of choice. Often what’s left behind is a trail of shattered relationships.

In this situation, apologies won’t do. Alcoholics Anonymous calls for making amends instead. These are mentioned specifically in several of The Twelve Steps, including:

  • Step Eight: Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.
  • Step Nine: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

Carrying out these two steps is a delicate process that calls for guidance from a sponsor or counselor. In an interview, John MacDougall, D.Min., a Dan Anderson Renewal Center presenter, answered questions about making amends.

How do amends differ from apologies?

An amend has to do with restoring justice as much as possible. The idea is to restore in a direct way that which we have broken or damaged—or to make restoration in a symbolic way if we can’t do it directly.

Say, for example, that I borrowed 20 dollars from you and never paid you back. If I go up to you and say, “Gee, I’m sorry I borrowed your 20 dollars and spent it on drugs,” that would be an apology. Making amends is giving your money back to you.

Why does Step Nine suggest that people avoid direct amends in certain cases?

For instance, you don’t run home and say to your spouse, “Gee honey, I had a wonderful time in addiction treatment. I learned all about rigorous honesty, so I want to apologize to you for an affair I had five years ago.” That’s clearing your conscience at the expense of someone else who’s going to feel terrible. In this case, your amend can be an indirect one. Stop having affairs and bring your heart, your energy, and your attention back home where it belongs.

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Are direct amends simply impossible at times?

Yes. Say, for example, that someone gets drunk, drives, and kills somebody in a traffic accident. You can’t go back and “unkill” the person who died. Instead, you can fill out an organ donor card. This is an indirect amend that can give life back to someone in the future. Remember that with crimes such as drunk driving, people might need to go to court and take a punishment. That’s part of making amends as well.

You’ve mentioned direct and indirect amends. Are there other kinds?

Sometimes people talk about “living” amends. This simply means that we live differently. Amends are about a genuine change in our behavior instead of the patchwork of an apology. We take on a whole new way of life. We stop accumulating fresh insults to our selves and others.

What are the benefits of making amends?

If we’ve continually harmed people and haven’t made any effort toward amends, then we’ve got a lot of people, places, and things to avoid. Large areas of life become closed off to us. When you’re willing to make amends, those areas open up again. You don’t have to avoid people anymore. This is true not only for people in recovery but for all of us.

The book of AA mentions the promises of recovery. They come right after the explanation of Step Nine. “If we are painstaking about this phase of our development,” it says, “we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace.”

That’s what happens when we bring justice back into our lives by making amends.



John MacDougall, Dan Anderson Renewal Center presenter

John MacDougall is the spiritual care coordinator at The Retreat in Wayzata, Minnesota. He was previously at the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation for 20 years and is the author of  Being Sober and Becoming Happy.

 

 

So, A New Year and A New You In 2018? How Was Your Holiday Season In Recovery? Mine Was AMAZING!

So, A New Year and A New You In 2018? How Was Your Holiday Season In Recovery? Mine Was AMAZING!

HAPPY NEW YEAR Recovery Friends and Visitors! 

 

 

 

So, how was your “Holiday Season?” Let me gush and ramble a little about how mine was… As many of us who maintain recovery, sometimes we lose touch with family and relationships due to many reasons. Not all family members understand the healing and change one goes through when we enter recovery and reclaim our lives back from gambling addiction. And, again, the reasons are countless.

What I do know is, there are some family members who do understand and may reconnect as I got to experience this first hand this holiday season! Sad as it seems, I have several members of my side of the family I have not spoken to in years’ like my own father, younger and older sister. I have come to terms with that and moved on many years ago. But my three nephews from my older sister reached out and called me on Christmas Day evening. There is something about the “Christmas Holiday” that touches all of us when it comes to our family.

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My other 2 Nephews Matt & Mike!


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“My older sister Rose my nephew’s mom & Christina”

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And especially at holiday time. This Christmas I got calls from my nephews to wish us a Merry Christmas and to catch up. My middle nephew Mark has 4 children and we talked for 2 hours. He and I have stayed in touch through the years, but with him having a family and me busy with my work and advocacy, time gets past us.  So Mark and I talked for 2 hours and have talked again several times. He even sent me photos! I had not seen my great niece and nephew, his twin babies, since right after they were born and when we moved from Oregon to here in Glendale, AZ…3 1/2-years ago.

And HERE THEY ARE with Daddy (Mark), Mark Jr. and Bella!

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They are beautiful, right? They just turned 4. We are making plans to hopefully go see them in So. California this Spring and can not wait. We are now only 4 hours from Cali, closer than when we lived in Oregon. God works in funny ways, doesn’t he? Mark had shared and we talked of when HIS Dad was still alive, and when he and his two brothers were little, how Mike and my own dad used to go up on the roof of the house when the boys went to sleep on Christmas Eve and walk around up there as I and everyone would tell them it was Santa and the hoofs of the reindeer! LOL. The boys got so excited, so Mark did it this year, but then he rented a Santa suit and surprised his kids.

He said he was a big hit! Oh, those old Christmas memories when Mark, Michael, and Matthew were little kids. It seems that is what the holiday season does. We look back at happier times and when our family used to be stuck together like glue, and before the world around us got in the mix, growing into adults and all that life brings into it. Sad that we are all tore apart. That is a long story for another blog post. Those who have read my book know that story…

So many people tell me how can I have a “faith” in someone I can see? How do you know there really is a supreme creator or higher power known as “God?” Where are these miracles believers talk about?

Well, I know and believe in God and his son Jesus Christ. And GOD performs “Miracles” like my ‘Holiday Miracle’ this year every single day…YOU just have to believe and look around you!

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Author/Advocate, Catherine Townsend-Lyon ~ Happy New Year!

Gambling Addiction and Recovery Around The Web… Quit to WIN!

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“Do you or know someone who has a problem with GAMBLING? Is it slowly taking them away from family and friends? DID YOU KNOW THERE IS HELP?”


Many of my friends and visitors know I have been here Advocating about Problem Gambling and Gambling Addiction Recovery for for over 4 years now. Never do I get tired when someone reaches out or emails me seeking information or help for a loved one from this cunning addiction. The only regret I HAVE is feeling I have not helped many more I know are out there suffering and who are sucked into THIS Insane Cycle of this Deadly Addiction. 

And through my years of advocacy work, I have had the honor to many fantastic people in various forms and areas of helping others recover. So I wanted to share a little today from them and let the public know that there IS MUCH HELP and Resources for those who are afflicted with this disease. AND? That IT IS Possible to Recover! If I can make it 10 1/2 years away from “A BET” then I know others can too! Having support and encouragement from family and others is important when we surrender from our addiction and start to reclaim our lives. I’m here to do just THAT!


A Message From My Friends of Know The Odds 

THE HIDDEN ADDICTION

You can smell cigarette smoke in the air and on the clothes of people who frequently smoke. You can smell alcohol on the breath of individuals who frequently drink. Problem gambling doesn’t exhibit these tell-tale signs, and at first, it can be easy to hide. But this addiction can have serious, life-altering consequences.

It can seem as innocent as wasting a few hours on a gaming website, or as serious as a high-stakes poker game. For those affected by problem gambling, both can lead to devastation as bets are placed and debt accrues.

Gambling happens all around us, whether we see it or not. It can happen from the couch, in our schools, our workplaces, restaurants, community centers, casinos and many other locations. Individuals struggling with a gambling disorder have many options to place bets unnoticed, from gambling online from their desks at work to routine visits to the grocery store to purchase scratch-offs.

Often, gambling goes on for months – or longer – before unpaid bills and financial issues surface, indicating a problem to family and loved ones. Friends and family members often struggle with guilt because they did not prevent, notice or stop the addiction before its consequences add up.

Problem gambling affects millions of people – men and women, old and young, employed and unemployed, and people of all ethnicities. In our ebook, “The Hidden Addiction,” we explain why the problem gambling of so many individuals goes unnoticed and discuss many of the demographic segments who suffer in silence. Women, seniors, children, adolescents and armed service members are often overlooked for being at-risk for gambling addiction, but the numbers tell a different story. We explore some of the reasons that individuals develop a gambling addiction, and how they can seek help and recovery.

 

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Now A Message From The Addiction Blog

Trying To Stop Gambling? There Are Many Paths To Recovery!

Help for problem gambling comes in many forms. These can include:

  • Self-help methods
  • Step-based programs like Gambler’s Anonymous
  • Professional counseling including motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral therapy.

In fact, you might need to try a variety of methods to determine which works best for you. If you’re looking to connect with a trained counselor, you can call the NY HOPELINE at 1-877-8-HOPENY or you can visit the KnowTheOdds Support Directory to find help in your local area.

In the meantime, it can be expected that some days your recovery may seem easy, and other days the urge to gamble will seem irresistible. There are a number of lifestyle changes you can make to help avoid gambling situations and provide you with healthy alternatives for spending your time and money and for reacting in times of both stress and celebration. Some tips for getting started and actively quitting gambling follow.

6 Tips To Begin A Recovery From Gambling


1.
 Write a goal statement.

Consider why you decided to quit gambling. Do you want to be healthier? Do you want to spend more time with your family? Do you want to learn how to effectively deal with your emotions, instead of using gambling to escape? Be specific with your goal statement so that you know when you are on the right track to success. When you are writing your goal statement, think about the things you would lose if you continue to gamble, and also the benefits you will gain from quitting. When you are feeling the urge to return to gambling, revisit your goal statement in order to remember why you decided to stop gambling in the first place.

2. Identify your triggers.

Think back to the times you gambled, and ask yourself, “Why/when did I gamble?” Did you gamble in times of stress, or in times of celebration? Was it when you were bored, or when you needed money? Understanding the reasons for your gambling will help you to identify ways to cope with those situations before you encounter them in your recovery.

3. Talk to your friends and family.

Recovery is a time of healing. A time to repair the relationships that have been damaged or lost during your addiction. Talking to your family about your addiction and recovery can be difficult, but it is essential to have a strong system of support throughout your recovery. So, what do you say to your family members? Some topics might include gambling disorder as a disease and explaining to them what you need from them (support, not to enable, etc.). It’s important to remember, if your gambling disorder has damaged relationships, it will take work and time to repair those bonds. Your friends and family may not be ready to talk immediately. Just like you need to spend time and work on your recovery, so do your friends and family.

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4. Take financial responsibility.

Gambling disorder can take a toll on a number of areas in your life (relationships, physical and mental health, employment), but we would be remiss to remember one of the obvious consequences: damage to your financial situation. Your first step is to assess your finances by listing all of the debts you owe and all of your income. After you have a good picture of where you stand, you can start to create a budget for yourself. Dealing with finances is often especially difficult for those in recovery from a gambling disorder.

Your friends and family members might be able to help you stay on track, but remember, the most important thing to your recovery and finances, is that you keep yourself from spending any more money on any form of gambling. A resource you might want to take a look at with your family/friends, is “Personal Financial Strategies for the Loved Ones of Problem Gamblers“.

5. Steer clear of other addictions.

According to the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) of pathological gamblers:

  • 73.2% had an alcohol use disorder
  • 38.1% had a drug use disorder
  • 60.4% had a nicotine dependence

It is crucial that during your recovery from gambling disorder, you deal with any other addictions you have experienced in the past, and you stay clear of any behaviors and/or substances that have the potential to become addictive.

6. Reach out for support.

The road to recovery for gambling disorder is a long, tough road, and you need to prepared to make the best decisions for yourself and your recovery. You’ve made the first, and most important, by committing not to gamble. Your next step is to assess your recovery and to decide what’s best for you.

For More Information On Quitting Gambling

Help is available every step of the way. Visit Know The Odds for facts about gambling disorder, tips to overcome addiction, and contact information for organizations across New York State who can help you overcome your gambling addiction.  As always, the NYS HOPEline is also available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for support and referral services: 1-877-8-HOPENY (1-866-846-7369).

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                   The Addiction Blog

Welcome Recovery Guest Author Christine Hill and ‘Relationships In Recovery.’

Welcome Recovery Guest Author Christine Hill and ‘Relationships In Recovery.’

Rebuilding Family Relationships in Recovery
By Christine Hill

Addiction recovery can be a trying experience that will test a person’s willpower, but it it is also an incredibly fulfilling experience that builds us up as people. During addiction, many people have lost so much, whether it be their jobs, children, or family. Addiction thrives on the alienation that is created when these ties are severed. An important part of addiction recovery is rebuilding these bridges and regaining the connectedness that makes us whole. However, this isn’t always easy. Addiction frequently leads people to do things that hurt the people they love, and this can make it a tricky experience to build these relationships back up. However, it is certainly possible if you take the lessons of recovery seriously. Here are some tips on how to rebuild family relationships in recovery…

 

Ask for forgiveness and Amends

 

Addiction is a behavioral disease that operates by cutting you off from those who care about you. This alienation is what has allowed addiction to thrive and claim the lives of so many people in this generation. However, while addiction is a behavioral disease that is often out of an addict’s control, the actions that they take because of that addiction still hurt and affect their family, and this isn’t something that can just be simply forgotten. Just because an addict is in recovery and doing well, it doesn’t always mitigate what has happened. Always ask for forgiveness with the utmost sincerity, but don’t assume that they will always offer it, immediately.

 

Demonstrate real change
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Rebuilding Family pic 2

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Usually, addiction is a disease that operates in cycles. Before getting a professionals help that can assist in reaching lasting recovery, many addicts have tried to get better on their own to no avail. During this time, family members may have felt hurt by the constant push and pull of actions that were taken and promises that were broken. Because of this, it’s important to show how this time is different. Before worrying too much about repairing these relationships, focus on rebuilding yourself and making the changes that you need to make, so that you can demonstrate that this change is real and lasting.

 

Take family therapy

 

Most addiction treatment centers have a family therapy program. This is usually one of the most powerful programs that rehabs and treatment providers have to offer. Being able to speak honestly and openly with your family members, and have them speak openly and honestly to you in a setting that is devoid of judgment and mediated by a trained counselor, enables the possibility of communication that might have otherwise never happened. Talk to your family about joining you in the family therapy program, and make the most of the experiences that you have there. Here is an informative article about what to expect from family therapy.

 

Understand if they need time

 

People get hurt in the throes of addiction. That is the nature of how it operates. Pain and harm are the defaults that addiction goes back to. Because of this, some family members may need time to get over what has happened. This isn’t because they don’t love you, but because they need to protect themselves against the possibility of another heartbreak. Understand that this time is important, and focus on doing right by you. Eventually, this bridge will mend itself, and you may find that the relationship can grow even stronger than it once was.

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Use and Abuse 3

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Listen and show empathy

 

When communicating with your family members, always take the time to listen to how they feel. Trying to get out from under the hold of addiction is a confusing experience, but they are also dealing with a great deal of confusion. Sometimes, families blame themselves for another family member getting caught up in addiction. Allow them to work through these feelings. It is unproductive to only talk about yourself and your feelings without taking the time to understand how your actions have affected them. This may hurt and be a difficult process, but it is an important one, nonetheless. Family therapy is a great setting to explore this process, but it’s important to keep it up in all your interactions.

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About The Author:

Christine is a professional writer and an avid reader who’s passionate about storytelling in all its forms. At any given moment, she’s in the middle of at least three books on anything from human psychology to ninjas. Although she’s a marathon swimmer and enjoys camping in the mountains, she believes there’s nothing better than a carton of ice cream and a Dawson’s Creek marathon.

Gambling Addiction is NOT a Poor Person’s Addiction. Meet Melinda L., An RN…

imageedit_1_6172885164 Courtesy of InRecovery Magazine

“My name is Melinda and I saved lives for a living.”

I was an ICU nurse and a nursing supervisor at a hospital where I had been employed for 27 years. I had earned respect, accolades and a good degree of success in my career. There are people alive today because of actions I took and decisions I made, often in a split second, to save their lives. With all of this success, I could not for the life of me stop gambling or think I could stop any more than changing the tides of the ocean.

Believe me, I tried.  In the local bookstore, I found rows and rows of books on alcoholism, drug addiction, overeating, overspending, over-sexing, over this, over that. There were entire sections dedicated to the innocent enablers who unwillingly allowed the “overs” to continue their destructive behavior. There were no manuals for the hapless gambler.

I would sit in my car, slam the steering wheel, lower my head and sob. My gas gauge was on empty, and that familiar nauseating feeling of disgust and terror would return. Then, as always, I would form a momentary sense of resolution and regurgitate the lines of an old sermon filled with rallying cries: “I can’t do this anymore . . . this is not me . . . I’m not a caged animal on a treadmill . . . I am better than this!” Each time I spoke these words, I had the feeling that this time I would stop gambling.

Less than 24 hours later, my car was back in the casino parking lot. It was as if I had no control; I realize now that I didn’t. This continued for close to five years until my life came crashing down. Due to choices I’d made to feed my addiction, I lost my job of 27 years, damaged relationships with friends and family, forfeited an insane amount of money and nearly lost my life. I also lost perhaps the most precious thing of all; time. Time I can never get back wasted in front of slot machines.

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Slot machines were designed with one goal: to make an addict out of everyone. The longer a person plays, the more money they lose, until it is all gone. In the midst of my gambling addiction, my sensible way of thinking about money all but vanished. I would drive an extra four miles to save $2 on paper towels, and yet drop $500 in a slot machine. I kept 50 cents in the console of my car for enough gas to get home. It was often the only money I had left at the end of a day of gambling.

One time when I was so engrossed in my machine, I failed to hear a man’s call for help when his mother passed out. I had performed several Good Samaritan acts in public, but I had a good thing going that particular Sunday afternoon; I was winning. That should have been the time I faced reality, but it wasn’t. I had two more years of self-destruction, convoluted thinking, and unhinged behavior ahead of me.  I was just as impaired by gambling as a bar patron who has had too much to drink. After about eight drinks, a bartender would no doubt cut them off; after all, they might hurt themselves, or worse, kill someone. When a patron’s judgment is impaired, the responsible thing would be to cut them off.

No such limits exist at the casino. Every time I went gambling, it was as though I was walking into the Cheers bar. The greeters knew my name when I usually gambled and the machine I liked; I’m sure they were also aware of how often I lost. No one ever came over and suggested, “Take a break, go home, take care of your kids.” There were no safety nets in place; just a few signs with a number to call if you thought you had a gambling problem.

I hit rock bottom and stopped gambling on April 29, 2012. My hard work was just beginning. My life was in shambles. I had no job, no money and no direction. Nursing was all I had ever known and loved, and I had jeopardized my license. There is a reason why gambling addiction has the highest rate of suicide of any addiction. One in five addicts attempt suicide, and many succeed. There is only so much cocaine, heroin or alcohol you can put into your body before ending up in a morgue. Gambling has no such constraints; when it gets bad, suicide seems to be the only answer.

Fortunately, I knew I had to live. I had to be a mother to my children.

Pain medication 3

As I slowly emerged from a cloud of profound shame and despair, I began going to Gamblers Anonymous meetings and reached out to organizations I had avoided in the past. One of those organizations was a nonprofit in Washington, DC, called Stop Predatory Gambling. Their mission is to stop the injustice and inequality created by government-sponsored gambling. I became their official National Victim’s Advocate, a voice for those who remain silent and in the shadows due to social stigma and discrimination. I began speaking all over the country and joined in the fight against gambling expansion. The underlying message was simple: Gambling addiction is a beast that destroys families and individuals; it is fundamentally wrong for our government to prey upon the vulnerable to fill their coffers. My goal was to bring advocacy, raise awareness and reform for this highly misunderstood addiction.

“I once had a one-on-one conversation with a senator from Illinois. “You don’t look like a gambler,” he said. “What do you think one looks like?” I replied. “We look like who we are: your neighbor, sister, father, spiritual leader, co-worker. The slot machine didn’t look back at me and say, ‘Gee, you are a bit too put together, I’m not going to make you an addict.”

Gambling operates on the Pareto Principle: 90% of profits come from 10% of the gamblers. These are not your casual weekend night-on-the-town gamblers, they are the most vulnerable: the elderly, poor, women and minorities. “Casino Cafes” located every few miles in strip malls with cutesy names like Stella’s and Dolly’s are blatantly predatory to women. Many states and municipalities view gambling as an economic panacea, yet they miss the hidden costs: child neglect, crime and ultimately the need for state assistance. Gambling addiction tears families apart and ruins lives.

Gambling addiction is now recognized as a disease and may be covered by insurance and have benefits that cover treatment. That’s the good news. Unfortunately, the number of gambling addicts is rising at an alarming rate. In Illinois alone, there are nearly 12,000 people on the voluntary self-exclusion list – just an estimated 10% of the state’s problem gamblers.  Gambling nearly killed me, and I never saw it coming.  Things need to change. We have far to go before the problem of compulsive gambling is resolved.

Change begins when even one addicted gambler finds recovery.

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Melynda Litchfield has been a registered nurse for over 30 years, working in ICU, nursing administration and now home care. She is the National Victim’s Advocate for Stop Predatory Gambling, mans the GA hotline twice a week and speaks on the predatory effects of gambling and the nature of the gambling industry. Melynda is the proud mother of three children and is active in community organizations, including her church council.
www.stoppredatorygambling.org

**I have known and worked with Melinda and Les Bernal Founder of Stop Predatory Gambling about the expansion and impact of the growing offerings of gambling sponsored by the Oregon State Lottery and when I lived in Oregon until late 2013. Please visit there website by the link above and see how gambling has a negative impact on your State and Community today…

Catherine Lyon

“Problem Gambling Awareness Month” My Guest Is Vegas Judy. “What If You Live In Las Vegas?”


WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A RECOVERING GAMBLER LIVING IN LAS VEGAS.
by JUDY G.

MEET, VEGAS JUDY!

 

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This is about two aspects of me – my evolution as a compulsive and then recovering gambler – and my growing fascination and compulsion to be in Las Vegas. Intertwined?Yes. But also distinct and separate. What I mean by that is: If gambling didn’t exist in Las Vegas, would I still want to live here? Yes.

However, since gambling does exist here, would I want to live anywhere else? No.

Now, back to the beginnings:

My childhood years certainly didn’t include this yearning to be in Las Vegas. But I guess I always had yearnings – and in those days, it was to live in the Golden State – California. I  spent the first 8 years of my life exclusively in California – mainly Lodi and Woodland. But when I was 9, my father “re-upped” and went back into the Air Force, and shortly after that, he was sent to Korea.

In Fifth Grade, I went to four different schools, including one in Texas and one in Virginia. This was the beginning of my Air Force brat experiences, and at the same time, I began thinking that “everything would be perfect” if I could just be with my friends in California. So I always had that propensity to think the “grass was greener” somewhere else.

I started living in a sort of “escape fantasy land” whenever real life got too rough. Since most of our relatives lived in California, no matter where we were stationed in the U.S., we usually made a road trip back to the Golden State at least once – usually during the summer. Quite often, these trips would take us through Las Vegas, where often we’d stop and spend the night. During those early years, I never thought about gambling, of course. It was strictly an adult playland then.

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I was mostly aware of the celebrities who might be lounging around the pools or perhaps wandering in the casinos. I remember once being in a casino with my parents and hearing “Paging Mr. Belafonte, Mr. Harry Belafonte.” This was heady stuff for a movie-star-struck young girl. If my parents went to see a show at night, my sister and I didn’t mind. We’d stay at our motel, go swimming in the pool that was usually opened all night, and have fun on our own. I do remember seeing the “fantasyland” aspects of the Strip, such as it was, back in those days; such as the camels in front of the Sahara, the Sultan in front of the Dunes. But that’s all Las Vegas was to me then – a convenient stop on our way to my “mecca”, California.

As far as gambling, I had literally no experience or feeling about it one way or the other. Ironically, we were stationed in Wiesbaden Germany when I was 17, and my first “job” was giving out change for the small bank of slot machines in the Officer’s Club (the General Von Steuben). This was a pretty boring job. Hardly anyone spent much time in that little space.

I do, however, remember one woman who was pretty much a “regular,”  She started out feeding quarters into one particular machine and would stand there for hours, having drinks and hitting several jackpots, but by the end of the evening, there she was, slightly weaving, by now barefoot (there were no stools for the gamblers then, and those high heels got too tricky to stand in after awhile and after a few drinks) and her winnings had long gone back into the machine. I remember thinking how stupid and boring the whole thing was. (Little did I know that I was to become that woman one day).

My next exposure to gambling was back in Las Vegas. My first husband and I had (not surprisingly) gone to Vegas for our honeymoon.  In those days, there were no video poker machines, and I didn’t know how to play any “table games of chance”, so I just put a few quarters in the single reel slot machine and I might get lucky and win the “jackpot” – $25.

My second husband and I also went to Las Vegas on our honeymoon. He has the dubious honor of being the one who taught me how to play 21.  After winning a small jackpot on a machine, he suggested taking my winnings and playing blackjack. Of course, we had our Beginners’ Luck there, and that became my new favorite game, and a reason to escape to Vegas whenever I could talk him into it…

By the end of our marriage, we were two full-blown alcoholics, but he was happy to do his drinking every night in front of the TV set.  I, on the other hand, wanted the action and excitement and fantasy of Las Vegas!

 

LasVegas-MGMgrand

One night I got into an argument with him and ended up taking off in my car.  I was picked up by the police somewhere near Ontario, California, heading to L.A., yet I told the police I was driving to Vegas.  The fact that I had my housedress on and was drunk might have alerted the police to the veracity of my statement, and I spent that night in jail.  Toward the end of my second marriage, I had met my third husband-to-be, who was temporarily my “escape companion”.  Why not? He had no job, no ties.  Why wouldn’t he hook up with this crazy alcoholic who had a car, and all she asked of him was to drive her to Vegas.

When we’d first arrive, I would hit the tables and eventually pass out– sometimes in the casino (where I had to be carried to the room) – and sometimes waited til I was in the room. Inevitably, the next day I’d be suffering a mighty hangover and severe pangs of regret and guilt, and we’d morosely head back to the disapproving situation at home. Sometime in 1986, I had stopped drinking (after it quit working for me, and I had become suicidal).

Everyone predicted that I would want to leave my “companion” who was 14 years younger than I, a drug addict and unemployed. But I insisted that we were “in love” and it didn’t matter if he continued to use and I had stopped; love would conquer all. We probably WOULD have split up, if it hadn’t been that I got pregnant (surprise!) at age 45, so now we had to stay together, and do the right thing.

So, here I was, a new mother (again), supporting my baby and my (by then) husband.  My only escape was the periodic trips to Vegas.  I wasn’t drinking anymore, so that was good, but that hadn’t stopped my desire to go to Vegas; in fact, it was stronger than ever. You see, I didn’t realize it, but my quitting drinking was possible because I simply substituted the one addiction for another – gambling.  A couple of years later, I decided “enough with these 12 trips a year to Vegas; let’s move there.”  Again, my husband had no reason to deny the request.  I was able to retire from my county job, after 22 years of service and have a small retirement stipend, and made sure I had a new job waiting for me in Las Vegas before we moved here.

Showgirls at the Welcome Sign - 8-15-07

Sometime after we moved here, my husband brought home one of those hand held video poker machines.  I had never played poker before – only once, during a neighborhood friendly game, in which I had surprisingly won, with beginners’ luck, not having any idea what I was doing.  But with this hand-held amazing little thing, I learned to hone my skills quite sharply. Each time I went to a casino, it seemed that there were new and varied video poker games double bonus, triple bonus, bonus deluxe, etc., etc. In the last couple of years they added the three reels at a time, and now they even have 50 or 100 games you can play at a time. It’s mind-boggling!!

Now I had found the perfect answer to my female gambler’s dream. I didn’t have to sit and make chit chat with the other players at the 21 table. It could be just me and my machine –my lover–for hours at a time. No one to disturb us. The cocktail waitress would come around and occasionally I’d have a grapefruit juice (liquor was out, of course). This is a little personal, but I have to say that but sometimes I’d actually feel a mini-orgasm when I hit a jackpot. Meanwhile, at home, my libido was practically non-existent.

Sometimes the other players’ cigarette smoke would bother me, but usually, I could even ignore that – especially if I had a “hot” machine. I also loved it if they were playing the “right” music –usually some sultry and sensual, Marvin Gaye songs (“Let’s Get it On”), etc., or hits from further back –at a time when I was young and innocent.  The atmosphere in the casino appealed to me too –dark, soft neon lights flashing here and there, beckoning “come, play me”. No sense of time, no windows.  The tinkling of ice cubes in glasses, people laughing in the background. It was party time!

There has been a lot said and written about the commonalities of men and women gamblers and their differences.  For many men, it’s about being the “big shot”, showing off, taking a chance and winning big in some cases.  For many women, it’s more about escape and isolation. There’s one aspect, however, where this invisible dividing line blurs.  When I say I didn’t want to be a “big shot”, why then was it so important to me to use my “player’s card” at various casinos, and earn points so I could have the so-called “freebies” – like free room nights, free meals, free shows?  But more often than not, there’s no such thing as a “freebie.”

I remember about a year ago when I lost my whole paycheck at a locals casino.  A couple of days later I had no money, so my son and I went to the same casino and used some of my “points” to get a pizza in their Italian deli.  As we left, my son shouted out: “Thanks for the f____ing $1,000 pizza!” (Out of the mouths of slightly jaded babes!).

A funny thing about my style of playing is I didn’t want anyone to know if I hit a jackpot.  I wanted to just keep on playing – no congratulations or anything like that.  I was dead serious about this thing, and I didn’t want anything to interfere with my play.

Many times I sat there for 7 or 8 hours straight, without even taking a bathroom break. When I did, it was nearly impossible to make it without having an accident. So far I’ve concentrated on what I liked about being in the casinos.  What didn’t I like? Well, I didn’t like losing, and “chasing” my losses – or winning and yet not being able to quit until I’d put it all back. I didn’t like trying to get money out of a bank ATM machine, and being told “Unable to complete transaction”.

I didn’t like looking at myself in the bathroom mirror and seeing this strange, wild-eyed, with mussed up hair, confused and scared looking. Can you believe that even looking like this, some men actually “hit on me”?  I guess it was a matter of recognizing what they thought was “easy prey.” But I never resorted to that.  That was one of those “not yets.”  Not saying that it couldn’t have happened – just that it didn’t.

Worst of all, I hated coming home to anger and sadness, disappointment –my husband and my child looking forlorn and lost. What happened, Mommy?  Where was the pizza you said you’d bring home? Even when I had won, they usually weren’t that happy –unless I gave my husband some money so he could do what he wanted (gamble – or buy drugs), and get my son a new Play Station game or something like that, or say, “It’s OK, you don’t need to go to school today.”  He learned manipulation from the best teachers – me and his father.

I’ve managed to hit two milestones here while living in Las Vegas – of over a year “bet free”, but I never got much further than that. Looking back, I think it was because I thought I didn’t deserve any kind of success.  I was worthless. For the most part, I hadn’t really applied the 12 steps to my life –I just went on with it, usually as the martyr, until the pressure got so great and life looked so hopeless, that I had to go out and release my escape valve. All the pain and remorse of the past temporarily disappeared, in my pursuit of the fantasyland escape – the immediate fix, not thinking about the long-term effects.

The worst thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that the gambling is so accessible – you don’t even have to think twice about it – just hop in your car and go. Even the 7-11 around the corner has a few machines (although I liked to stick to the casino atmosphere as I mentioned above).  The best thing about living in Las Vegas and being a compulsive gambler is that there is ALL kinds of help – if you want it.

There are 24 hour GA (Gamblers Anonymous) meetings and people who know exactly what you’re going through.  I choose right now to stay in Las Vegas because I happen to love so many things about life here.  I especially am drawn to its history (yes, Las Vegas does have a history!) and I write about it at every opportunity.  I was excited in 2005 when this city celebrated its 100th anniversary.  It was Fantastic!

Is it stupid for me to remain here? Maybe so. Maybe not. One of my arguments is that gambling is available in just about any state now, and certainly in Europe. But the facts are, it isn’t as attractive to me anywhere else –not even “Reno or Laughlin” –certainly not “Atlantic City.” Something about being here in this jewel in the middle of the desert has me totally mesmerized and hypnotized. I look at the new games the casinos are offering – anything from ‘Betty Boop’ to ‘Austin Powers’ to the ‘Addams Family,’  and now ‘Popeye’ – and I wonder where it’s all leading.

It’s definitely luring kids, and I understand teenagers are being swept up by gambling – as much as drugs or alcohol. What’s the answer?

Blow up the casinos?

Make a new kind of prohibition? Probably not.

People will always seek their pleasures –in one form or another. They will be errant children. And some can get their pleasures in “safe” measures –not gambling more than they can afford, not becoming suicidal.

I don’t have anything really against gambling or drinking per say – I just know I can’t do it. Can I stay here in Las Vegas and fight my demons? Only time will tell, but I’m willing to give it another try.

(Judy wrote this in 2003 – “More has happened since then, but I’ll save that for another time.”)

Please visit and Purchase her Book Here on Las Vegas: The Fabulous First Century (NV) (Making of America) …. Author, Judy Dixon Gabaldon ~ aka: VEGAS JUDY

 

“This One is for The Ladies of Recovery” . . .

Female group is doing yoga exercises in a fitness club

Female group is doing yoga exercises in a fitness club


I  welcome all here to my recovery blog & journey!
I have been graced by another featured article by a wonderful recovery writer, Alyssa Craig. I enjoy having her on my blog. She is an exceptional writer that has her pulse on the heart of writing about recovery way better than I.

I’m always happy to share recovery writers and authors anytime here on my blog. You can send me requests anytime to my Email at: LyonMedia@aol.com  and when I have openings, I’d be happy to featured yours.

 

    What Women in Recovery Really Need
  Author: Alyssa Craig

For a long time, individuals in addiction recovery received the same treatment regardless of gender. Studies and programs were eventually developed to fit the needs of men and while women also benefited from these programs, there were certainly missing pieces to their own treatment. Gender specific addiction recovery treatment now helps to address problems women uniquely face in order to give them the best chance of a successful recovery. It is important to understand these benefits and what women require in recovery when deciding between treatment options.

The reasons abuse begins varies between women and men. Women are greatly influenced by the relationships they have with others. This means if they have a family member or a significant other participating in the addictive behavior, they are more likely to begin use.  As mentioned here, women are also more likely to self-medicate when faced with emotional and mental health issues such as anxiety, depression, eating disorders, and PTSD following trauma (both current or earlier). Women are also more likely than men to become addicted, and the introduction of addictive substances and behaviors puts them in quick danger of dependence.
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Once women do enter a recovery program, addressing these initial struggles can best be done when surrounded by others facing the same problems. It has been found, for both genders, individuals in recovery are more likely to engage in open communication in group therapy sessions when they are only with their own gender. For women, this can be especially important, because many women in recovery have a history of trauma, making the removal of men an important part of the recovery equation.

Betsy Firth, a clinical psychologist at an addiction recovery center says, “Women tend to be hyper-focused on external issues while in treatment, the number one being focused on men and how they view the women, how they can get their attention/approval. Removing the men from the mix allows the women to focus inward on what they need for their recovery. At the same time, many women have been in abusive or violent relationships and can get easily triggered by exposure to men while we are asking them to be open and vulnerable.”

Allowing women to attend recovery solely with other women allows them to feel safe from harmful situations they may have faced and find healing, without facing potential triggers. As women have a greater chance of relapse than men, it is of the utmost importance to put them in a position where they will be more likely to succeed. It is recommended when an individual (male or female) leaves recovery, they avoid forming new romantic relationships for at least one year. This gives the individual, especially a woman, the chance to recover without the pressures described by Firth.

 

Women who suffer from emotional or mental disorders, as described above, also have the need to overcome personal barriers of shame, address the stigma of addiction, and acknowledge fears they may be experiencing – such as loss of child custody, loss of employment, or an inability to fulfill their responsibilities. Relapse is much more likely when a woman has not developed sufficient coping mechanisms for these struggles and other issues such as lack of self-worth. Attending a gender specific treatment center ensures these issues specific to women are addressed and the women leave with the coping skills and support they need.

Because women do put so much weight on their relationships, a treatment center should encourage the removal of toxic associations and help each woman surround herself with a positive support system. In addition to the support given both during treatment and in after-care, a woman needs to have family and friends who will be supportive of the changes she is making. Often continuing to attend group meetings provided in after-care helps to provide some of this support, as each woman can continue to receive support from peers who can truly empathize.

Gender specific treatment has proven to be very successful for those women who participate in it. Drugabuse.gov reported in December 2014 that women are more likely to be employed 12 months after treatment admission if they attended a gender specific treatment center. With the focus on addressing triggers and the initial reasons for use, along with providing the support system women need to rely on, gender specific recovery is a top choice for women striving for recovery.

 


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 Lets Celebrate ALL Women In Recovery!

God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author of “Addicted To Dimes”. . .
*Article Courtesy of Author, Alyssa Craig*

A Special Blog Share To Raise Awareness Of Autism. Meet My BFF DeBorah Palmer & Her Wonderful Brother Stephen Palmer.

Hello Friends, Readers, and Visitors,

It is not often that a good friend makes the ‘New York Time,’  but when they do? It sure is worth sharing! And my BFF, DeBorah Palmer and her sweet brother Stephen Palmer made the New York Times this month. The Times did a wonderful article on them both to hopefully raise awareness of autism which Stephen was diagnosed with, and how there seems to never be enough time for DeBorah, who takes such good care of Stephen, as she works and tries to care for him, so Stephen lives a fun,  fulfilling life.  And I know that can be a challenge at times. I battle with a few mental health issues myself, and my loving husband is such a help to me. So I know it can be difficult for the family members.
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But I don’t think I can recall a time ever that DeBorah has had any complaints about making sure Stephen lives a well-rounded life with autism. That girl is always on the go, and making sure Stephen has many wonderful life experiences. That takes a very special and caring person, which my friend DeBorah is and more! So let me share this wonderful article with all of you.
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And, if you get some time, please take a visit to Deborah’s blog. http://dancingpalmtrees.wordpress.com  She shares some so many amazing stories of her life, and shares many important articles from other blogs as well. Just wanted to say: “Congrats DeBorah & Stephen” for a fantastic article. Sometimes life can be challenging. “Keep The Faith” .. .. ..

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Happy Reading Friends!


{Stephen Palmer at his home in Queens. Mr. Palmer “lights up” when he sees his sister, said Iya Thomas, a supervisor at the Queens Center for Progress, which runs his group home. Credit Victor J. Blue for The New York Times}.

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Every workday morning, DeBorah Palmer pulls on her navy blazer and starts her rounds. She is a security guard who patrols the galleries of a Manhattan museum and assists the visitors streaming through its doors. But as she points the sightseers to this exhibit or that one, an urgent question inevitably pops into her mind: How is Stevie?

She means Stevie, who loves Iron Man, plain M&Ms and Popeye’s fried chicken. Stevie, who has a sweet inside basketball shot and a passion for dinosaurs. Stevie, who is a 54-year-old man with autism who cannot read a book or cross a street on his own.

Stevie Palmer is her beloved brother, her closest relative. He is intellectually disabled and counts on her to oversee his care at his group home in Queens. It is her personal mission to ensure that he has everything he needs. Finding a way to do that — while holding onto a $16-an-hour job that offers little in the way of flexibility — is her biggest challenge.

“He’s my No. 1 priority,” said Ms. Palmer, who is 56, single and stressed. “Sometimes I feel guilty. I think to myself, ‘Am I doing enough?’ I think I could be doing better.”

Can My Past Childhood Trauma Cause Mental Health Problems? Or is it, “Tag Your It!”

Hello Recovery Friends, and Welcome New Friends,

 

 

I was wondering over the weekend if my mental health issue’s could be caused by a genetic predisposition, or was my childhood trauma and abuse the main cause? The trauma of being sexually abused as a little girl. So I started doing some research, and of course some crazy thinking of my own, and started journaling more about what I could remember, as far back as I could of my childhood.

Thought I would write a little about what I came up with. Being therapy again for problems with PTSD again, I have uncovered a few things of my own. Some are memories of my past, and some is information I came across to get a few more answers as to why, because out of all of my siblings, I’m the only one that suffers from mental illness and disorders. And how confusing it is at times when my psychiatrist says that many conditions I suffer are “just labels.”

WHAT?

Now that just confuses the hell out me! She tells me that doctors use labels to help explain what my mental conditions, but I tell her, “what about the symptoms?” When I “get labeled,” I go look up what the disorder or condition they tell me I am suffering from, and BINGO! They description fits exactly to my symptoms. So what am I to call them?
I get very frustrated at this. So here is a little piece I came across from a medial journal that explains if mental health is generic.

“Scientists have long recognized that many psychiatric disorders tend to run in families, suggesting potential genetic roots. Such disorders include autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder, major depression and schizophrenia. Symptoms can overlap and so distinguishing among these 5 major psychiatric syndromes can be difficult. Their shared symptoms suggest they may also share similarities at the biological level. In fact, recent studies have turned up limited evidence of shared genetic risk factors, such as for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, autism and schizophrenia, and depression and bipolar disorder.”

Now later in life, I found out my mother was having trouble with depression. So I wonder if I just happened to be the lucky one to have it passed on to me. I don’t know if either of my two sisters, or my one brother has any mental health problems because we all have not spoken to one another since my mothers passing in summer of 2003.
Yes, it is very sad to write that. Even my father has not spoken to me since 2004. Have no clue why, but I have forgiven and moved on in my life. Like we say in recovery, “we have no control over people, places, and things.”

So back to memories. I’m not saying that my childhood was all bad. There were many wonderful family memories, but some would get over looked due to alcohol abuse, or family drama of sort. Maybe I was more hyper sensitive to words my parents used to describe me at times. But after going through sex abuse, I do feel that made me more prone to look at everyone around me differently as I got older. In JR. High School my dad would see me hanging with my girlfriends outside the school, and he would call me a hooker or pill popper just because a few of my friends smoked. Or he didn’t like the way they were dressed, so he said they dress like hookers, and so did I. He had no idea how hurtful that was.

To judge your daughter by the clothes I was wearing? So I did anything I could to be out of the house. I hated being home. I would isolate in my bedroom a lot. Feeling sad and depressed a lot. But then my parents would turn around and let me go on a date at 14? OK, now I’m confused. My mom would constantly tell me I never tell her the truth about anything. That I would never amount to nothing when she got mad at me. When we were a bit younger, she would tell us kids that if we didn’t do what we were told, she would have my father drop us off at juvenile hall and leave us there.
Who threatens their kids that way? For me? I took the things she said to heart I suppose.
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I never felt like I could talk to my parents about anything going on in my life due to the nasty verbal abuse, which continued into my late teens and 20’s. And this did follow me into adulthood with my father. We have always had a strained relationship.  I feel my mother caused this, as she made us kids afraid of my father. That he would be the one to beat us with a belt, buckle and all if she could not get through to us kids. We where not ‘hellish’ kids either. Well, in the last year of high school my brother did give them a little run for their money until he went into the Army. LOL.
This is one area I tell many parents about, to please talk to your kids. They only want to be heard. They want validation and unconditional love from their parents. They want to know they have a voice. You can still tell them, ‘no,’  of what ever they are asking for, but at least they feel they have been heard.

I do feel from being sexually abused, had a lot of bearing on the way I viewed things and others in life. Other people, men, relationships. And not getting that unconditional love from my parents, I spent years trying to prove my worth to them, and trying to find that love in many bad relationships. So my conclusion is NO, I don’t think mental health problems are directly genetic, or passed down from your parents. I feel the environment you grow up in can play a large roll. I remember from a young age, I had to be on the go, or moving all the time. I guess they call it high anxiety, or mild mania. Even just riding in the car, I would have to rock back and forth in my seat. I felt nervous and anxious all the time. Even to this day I have to shake my foot to fall asleep. So later in life when I was first diagnosed with bipolar ll disorder with severe depression & anxiety, I thought, how can you be depressed and have anxiety at the same time?

Well you can. I would find this out later in live when I got tangled into a severe gambling addiction with alcohol abuse at times. The gambling was the ‘excitement and movement’ I was using to feel ‘pleasure and reward’ in my life. I also was feeling entitlement to do the destructive things I was doing with gambling. Even today, one of my med’s I take is because I depleted this from my brain chemicals is what I was told from my psychiatrist. Being in a constant state of  impulsiveness and obsession, and on edge all the time with my gambling addiction. But I also used it as a form of escape and running from my past pain of my abuse and childhood haunts. As far as my treatment, I needed more than just cognitive behavior therapy and treatment. I had to get through all the crap I was stuffing away for years from my past as well.

And that is now where I am today. I have been in recovery now from gambling addiction 8 1/2 years. And yes, I did have many relapse’s along the way until I got a foot hold on long-term recovery. What I deal with most today is my mental/emotional health. It still is not where I did like it to be. I have and have challenges with depression with pain, agoraphobia with panic disorder, PTSD has reared its ugly head again, and adult attention deficit disorder. I’m still working through a behavioral center, and with a psychiatrist, and therapist. Two of my medications have just been increased. I take each day as it comes. And I try my best to not let all of this stop me from doing the things I love. The agoraphobia is the hardest to deal with right now. It makes me feel so isolated. Like watching life go past your window without YOU in it. But I’m working it.  I refuse to give up. I know there are many who have it even worse than I.

So I share what I am going through, so those who may not have ever had to deal with mental illness can see what it is like for those who do suffer. We need to change the Stigma and how people view others who do have mental and emotional illness. We need to continue to talk about it. I plan I doing so for a long time. . . .

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Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author and Advocate

Addiction + Mental Illness Can = SUICIDE …

(This Post Not Suitable for Young Children ~ Warning)

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I felt so dark, sad, hollow and alone. Even though there were people all around me, talking about all these knives around me in my living-room, how I wasn’t responding. Cuts on my wrists, but DAMN, they got there in time.”

That is all I think I heard before I blacked out again. Next thing I know, I wake up in a strange room, and people could look at me through dark glass window & camera’s. My head hurt, and I had tunnel vision, fuzzy blackness I could see around the sides of my eyes. A pain and heaviness I can not fully describe. Scared, alone, and wanted to go home! But I couldn’t, as I found in the next few days. That was November 2002, right before my 40th birthday,

I Attempted SUICIDE! …
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I feel many of us who have tried suicide think this way, (the above quote). I know at the time, I did. I didn’t have an ounce of self-worth in me. I think I was even beyond hating myself if that is possible. All I could feel is this blackness all around me. Just in limbo of nothingness. No sound, no sight, just black and fuzzy. As  I always say, “the lord sometimes takes us down a path, even a bad path, to help us learn from our mistakes, our bad choices, or just about life. And did he have me learn something from it.” He wanted me to learn that my life was worth way more than suicide. That I meant something to someone, I just couldn’t see or feel it at that time.

This past week and a half, I’ve been transported back to that frightening place, that black, hollow, empty place. But not by my hand, by my husband’s nephew, Ricky. He had attempted suicide for the second time in just under two months. I knew exactly how he felt. He had taken all his psych meds again, all at once a week ago. He just moved back here to Arizona 3 weeks ago from South Carolina. I did that my 2nd attempt in 2006.

He’s been in the Air Force for 8 years. Then got out a year ago August, and he has gone  mentally and emotionally down hill since. It just breaks my heart, and it gets worse.
Again, the lord is teaching me what it looks like to attempt suicide, to see what I DID to my loved ones around me at the time of my own. How I scared the hell out of my husband. I now know what it looks like, the hurt and worry I caused many. Yes, the lord is still teaching me.

Ricky lives with my husbands siblings in their parents home. Mom & dad have been passed for sometime now, but the kids all live in the home. And as we all know what happened to me when my husband, Tom and I moved here a year ago. We’d only lived with them for only 2 months, and had to get the hell out of that house! Tom’s 2 brothers are very verbally abusive.
I was having 4-7 panic attacks a month, and cried myself to sleep many nights.There were 7 of us in one house. There is no communication skills that go on in that home. Everything is an argument about who is right or wrong. So I’m sure for Ricky, it’s not the best place to be, even though he is more of family then I was, it’s not a healthy environment for him.

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What was more gut wrenching for me, after we they got him to the ER, then he was in ICU, things calmed down a little. They came home and went through Ricky’s car and room to find recent credit cards opened, and many receipts for withdrawals at a couple of gambling casinos here. You have no idea how hard that was for me to hear. And a hard pill to swallow that I couldn’t help one of my own family members. See, my husband’s side of the family love to go gamble. I already new Ricky’s brother Dustin was a problem gambler as he told me so when we first moved me. So then I really knew the truth of the whole problem. It was exactly like me back in 2002.

Also, it seems the only places Tom’s siblings go when they want to get away is to Las Vegas, or Laughlin, NV. And every time Ricky came to visit from South Carolina, they all went there for a mini vacation. I also knew, when Ricky & Dustin’s dad passed 2 years ago, and Tom’s sister, Janis told us he had done a 2nd mortgage on their home 8 months before he passed. She didn’t find out until he died. He had forged her name some how, and took a loan on the house for $150,000.00. So the boys grew up knowing their dad was an addicted gambler.

Then, the following year we lost Janis to intentional suicide by taking all her psych meds and overdosed. So these 2 men have had nothing but heartache for the past 2 years. Mental/Emotional illness runs in their family. We all tried to help save Janis, but she just never recovered after her husband, the boys dad passed. The house was going into foreclosure, and she could not afford to pay both the 1st and 2nd mortgages, and they had built that house many years before when the boys were little. Now a year later, and these boys just haven’t been able to recover the loss. Dustin for now is stable and doing well on his bipolar meds.

But Ricky has had a struggle for about 9 months now. He did get on with Boeing for 6 months after he got of the Air Force, but he said the work was very stressful. Classic signs for someone with bipolar, severe depression, and suffers PTSD, but he was working through it. But about 4 months ago he started having some problems with his meds, and he started going down hill. So after the 1st suicide attempt, he quite his job at Boeing, and was going to use his GI Bill  money to go back to college. Then he started going down hill fast.

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Just talking to him on the phone, we could hear the depression when he was still in the hospital in South Carolina. I called and talked to Tom’s oldest sister Pat, ( the only sane one in the family besides my hubby), I told her, we refuse to lose another family member to suicide. He needs help, more help then the VA was giving him. Ricky had went to the VA while still in South Carolina, and they started messing around with his meds, and that just plunged him down deeper into depression. That’s when he then took all his psych meds and heart pills all at once. He was in the hospital for almost 3 weeks. That’s when I told my husband, someone needs to fly back there to move him here or going to lose him.

So Tom’s youngest brother flew back, moved Ricky here to Arizona. He seemed to be doing Ok the first couple weeks here. But, as usual, the first thing they all did when Ricky got here? Was go to F_ _ king Laughlin, Nevada!!  WTF?
You don’t take a mentally unstable kid on a gambling vacation! But, as usual, no one listened to me, not until we found all the receipts in Ricky’s car. Even his own brother could have told us, as him and Ricky now share a bedroom. I was so angry!! So, after they got back from Laughlin is when Ricky’s depression took a bad turn. We did have set in place medical and mental health appointments for him before he got here. But, it didn’t stop him from taking all his meds again, and have his 2nd suicide attempt. And this time the ER doctors almost weren’t able to bring him back and breathing again.

He was on life & breathing support for 4 days before he awoken from a coma. We were able to get medical directives done, but we still need to get a ‘Power of Attorney’ in place to help him since he is an adult. I told Tom’s sister, if need be, will take it to the court if we have to and save his life!
We were able to get him OUT of the VA’s care and into private behavioral crisis care. He was released medically on this past Wed, and we found him a bed in a place called Oasis Behavioral Crisis Center. For now he is in good hands. But for me? That is another long story.

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For me however, it was really hard on me. It transported me back to 2002 when I had my own 1st attempted suicide. I knew exactly how Ricky felt, and that place of darkness and hopelessness he was feeling. And I didn’t know how much it was bothering me until I went to my own mental health appointment this week. I had an hour & 1/2 long session that was very uncomfortable. For those of you who know a little of my back story, you know the journey I have been on this past year or so. Being uprooted in a short period of time, packing our life away in box’s to put into storage. and had to move from Southern Oregon to here in Arizona was a very traumatic experience for me. I’m still not over it. I keep pretending to myself that if I go nowhere while here in Arizona, then I will have no memories of ever being here.

Yes, I know how crazy and unhealthy that sounds, but when you also have Agoraphobia with panic, it is real easy to do. With all this drama going on, it has hit me hard with my own depression, and the old feelings of my past. It’s why I practice , and why I keep a recovery plan in place for these type of life events. Because it could make me slip. My own appointment was very emotional, and I will be going for therapy once a week now. It is also due to having problems with PTSD now as well. For some reason, some of my childhood trauma, the hurt and pain has come back, and the nightmares, and I can not figure out why? So for my mental and emotional stability, my psychiatrist is having me back in therapy for a while.

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I bawled my eyes out in my therapy session, as I needed the release. I was trying to keep it all together as best I could, and really didn’t know how deep all this drama going on had gotten inside me. It was using the old ‘mask my feelings with a smile’ kind of thing. It bothered me in my session of how easy it was for me to mask my feelings from all around me. Because in recovery, that is a No, No! It bothered me that I was just not that in tune to my feelings building up around all this trauma. And that’s what it was, more tragic trauma for me. So I guess I have more work to do in balancing my feelings in recovery, and with my mental and emotional challenges when life crisis happens. And it will. Are you prepared?

These are some of the important issues I want you to take away from my sharing and venting.
Be prepared in recovery, and with your behavioral & mental health. If and when outside events or trauma happen around you, you need to be prepared for how it may affect you. I won’t lie, the thought of a few hours of gambling did go through my mind a few times. But I chose not to act on making that devastating choice. Don’t hold all your feelings inside. Talk them out with someone. And learn how easy it can be for us to feel others pain and hurt, and tend to make it our own. I did that in early recovery and it caused me to relapse.

We can be of recovery help and service to others that are having a difficult time, but there is a fine line of helping others in recovery, and others who maybe in crisis. We are not trained, nor is it our job to manage someone’s crisis. Get the proper people to do that. Be it first responders, calling the police, a hospital or even a crisis hot-line. What I try to do is keep myself from being part of the family crisis in person. I gave advice, looked things up on the Internet for Tom’s sister, but I didn’t go to the house. I spoke to her on the phone. Even though I didn’t know how deep my feelings were around Ricky’s set back and suicide attempt, I knew it was bothering me a bit, so I kept my distance. His sister understood. So I ask all my recovery friends and all who visit, please keep us in your prayers.

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I know Ricky is in the best possible place he can be right now. And he will get the help he needs for his mental and emotional health. It seems loss and life events doors just won’t close! The boys parents, a good blogger friend of mine took her life some few months back.
It makes me feel uneasy as I’m also now in the process of doing med changes next month myself. I’ve been on a meds draw down since last month.

But all this stuff, this drama going on makes me nervous. The meds I’ve been on for to long now are causing my liver count & cholesterol to get to high, so we need to change me to new ones. And I’m scared! It’s time to be honest, I’m afraid I’m going to get unstable, or something happening like what Ricky is going through. So again, I’m going to therapy once a week now until I get regulated when I start the new meds. But I still feel apprehensive.

Just keeping it real. So I’m back to journaling everyday so I can share more of this med change experience. So will see what the next few months bring. I shall keep you all posted! I know I sound like another broken record, … but Thank You to all my friends and visitors for all your prayers and encouragement. I see many of you on other social media sites, and your caring means so much to Tom and myself. Much Luv!

So until next time friends, be Well, Blessed, and Healthy!

If you or someone you know is in suicide crisis, please call the ~

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number

1-800-273-8255

 

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485

 

 

“Yes it’s Recovery Ramblings Time As I Need To Purge Some Important Feelings About Gambling and Suicide”

Hello and Thank You for Visiting Recovery Friends and Visitors,

 

I can tell you I’m not surprised at all that another major casino is closing down, are YOU?

Looks like the expansion of Indian casinos and State Lotteries, and Online offshore gambling is finally changing the Gambling Game!

– Another Atlantic City Casino goes Bust, Trump Casino is Closing …

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino closed its doors early Tuesday, the fourth Atlantic City casino to go belly up so far this year.
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Image: Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ (© Mel Evans/AP)
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I think they call it, ‘Karma” as the growing expansion of Indian Casinos and State Lotteries seems from my point of view, catching up with all the big ‘Mega-Casinos’ in Atlantic City, Las Vegas, Laughlin, and even Reno & Riverboat Casinos in the south. As a compulsive addicted gambler in long-term recovery, why fly to Vegas or drive to the Indian Casino 35 miles away, when I can just go across the street to my local bar and play the Oregon Lottery Video & Slot style machines? Or now, living in Arizona, to a local Indian casino just a few miles away. It won’t also surprise me if more Vegas casinos become the next in line to suffer a lot more closures.
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It’s why they keep change their marketing and business plans to keep enticing people to come for a visit.
Here is a current list courtesy of CasinoCity.com of how many States have casinos in them.
States with Gambling ~ Order by: State

Alabama (8)
Alaska (7)
Arizona (35)
Arkansas (2)
California (172)
Colorado (41)
Connecticut (3)
Delaware (3)
Florida (133)
Georgia (2)
Idaho (18)
Illinois (18)
Indiana (13)
Iowa (21)
Kansas (8)
Kentucky (8)
Louisiana (50)
Maine (14)
Maryland (11)
Massachusetts (3)
Michigan (31)
Minnesota (41)
Mississippi (32)
Missouri (13)
Montana (142)
Nebraska (9)
Nevada (383)
New Hampshire (10)
New Jersey (13)
New Mexico (29)
New York (23)
North Carolina (2)
North Dakota (35)
Ohio (11)
Oklahoma (121)
Oregon (27)
Pennsylvania (12)
Rhode Island (2)
South Carolina (3)
South Dakota (51)
Texas (9)
Virginia (1)
Washington (141)
West Virginia (5)
Wisconsin (31)
Wyoming (6)
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And we need to keep in mind, this doesn’t take in all the states that offer State Lottery gambling too.
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Photo: #RecoveryMonth #Inspiration
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So you can understand that for those of us who try to be successful in recovery from addicted compulsive gambling, it can be very challenging. I happened to be talking to my nephew last night, and here in Arizona, there are many casinos around us. We talked a bit about “Self-Banning” yourself from casinos, and he said he tried to do this a couple of times here at the casinos, but he would eventually go gamble anyway, and it took the casino months before they caught him.
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Part of it he says, is you have to be careful not to win a big jackpot, but what he did to get around this little problem is take a friend with him to the casino, and if he did win a big jackpot over $1,500.00, he would just let his friend switch places with him, he would go to the restroom, and let his buddy collect the money. Then my nephew would calculate what the amount of State & Federal tax would be on the amount, and just give it to his buddy. Sad thing is, my hubby’s nephew is a problem gambler and he would most likely play most all the money he won back in the damn machines! AGAIN, that’s called a problem or addicted gambler. And as the article I’m in currently, a study and research done by Columbia University, and The Dept. of Public Health & Epidemiology, Elaine Meyer mentioned that gambling addiction has currently the highest Suicide rate then any other addiction.
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Which brings me to my next topic of ramblings. As you see, I changed my blog background & profile photo to advocate Suicide Prevention. Even though this month I’m Celebrating with many other organizations, September is The 25th Anniversary of Recovery Month, these past few weeks I have been touched by others attempting, and one was successful of Suicide!
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It started with a good friend and fellow author, advocate, and blogger, Rhonda Sellers Elkins, who took he life on August 29th, 2014. I have an earlier blog post here as a “Tribute” to her, and all the parents she helped with her new book, and her experiences of the loss of her own daughter, yes, to suicide. This happened right after Actor, Robin Williams. She blogged tirelessly about the how she was trying to cope, and helping other parents was helping her stay the course a little.

A couple of days after Rhonda’s passing, my next door neighbor Sean attempted suicide. He is still in a crisis center, via the hospital. Then just this past weekend, my other friend and neighbor across the way did THE SAME!! She and Sean suffer like me with bipolar ll with manic depression, sometimes severe, as they too are in recovery from drugs & alcohol. Brittany is a mom of 4 kids, and only 28 years old. Sean is single, doing a 28 day program, so he is not home yet. Brittany just came home yesterday. For Sean it must be hard to not have anyone to be accountable to. I have my husband to be accountable to, to stay in recovery, and many times it does make a difference. Support is dire in recovery.
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THEN, we got a call from my hubby’s sister on Sunday, and his other nephew Ricky was also in the hospital in South Carolina due to attempted Suicide!! He also suffers Bipolar severe depression and PTSD. He took the whole bottles of 2 psych meds. He was just transferred to a Mental/Behavioral crisis center as well, and will be there for 30 days. So I’m thinking to myself, WTF??!! Is there something in the water or something? Is something in the air that people are having such a hard time with LIFE? And with managing their Mental Health issues? This all really hits me very hard. It’s why I need to write and share my own feelings around all of this. It really, really bothers me. WHY? I myself will be going through psych med changes early next month because 2 of my psych meds I take now, which I have been on to long, are now effecting my liver and cholesterol levels. So this means it’s going to be guinea pig time again.
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It really makes me sad, and just breaks my heart when others, and especially those of us who have dual diagnosis of Mental health issues and live in recovery from addictions are having a rough patch. Just like both my neighbors who are both in recovery from drug & alcohol use, many like them with mental illness can misuse and self-medicate with their psych meds. My husband’s nephew almost succeeded in his suicide attempt, as he took a whole bottle of his Cymbalta and another psych drug. He was very lucky EMT’s got to him in time and to the hospital to pump his stomach. And so again, this so hurts and bothers me in the way of understanding the level of Hopelessness & Darkness a person can get to when you feel like a burden to others, or feeling tired of life and just want to go away forever, not feel pain or hurt anymore, and deep depression. Just to have SILENCE …
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He, (Ricky) is still having a hard time, like all of us in my husband’s family from the death of his oldest sister, Ricky’s mother who also committed intentional Suicide by taking all her psych meds. She didn’t cope well after her husband suddenly passed of a heart attack at 54 years old. So, Ricky is trying to still overcome, as we all are, loosing not only his father 2 years ago next month, but also his mother a year ago next month.
One thing I can add to this is I’m very blessed in having been through all the recovery treatment, therapy, and currently still being under a psychiatrist’s care. I also have the life skills and tools learned to help cope when life throws those nasty rough patches in our lives.
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BUT, we have to take those tools out of the toolbox and use them! It’s why I do, because I REFUSE to be another Statistic of Suicide from Addictions and/or Mental Illness!! Two failed suicide attempts were enough for me to choose LIFE over any addiction or mental illness challenges and disabilities. I’m very aware many people may find these kind of ramblings of mine hard to read.
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But look, if I or others like me don’t share our feelings and personal experiences about Addiction, Suicide, and our Mental Health challenges, and innermost thoughts, then how can we promote and advocate for change, inform, raise awareness, and educate the public? If I, and others don’t Speak-up and Speak-out about Suicide, and these other issues, then who will?
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Yes, there are many fantastic, helpful, and informative organizations out here who do a great job in giving the public help, information, facts and Resources, but I also feel a Personal perspective is just as important to share to help shatter Stigma around these very important topics.| It shows others who are feeling overwhelmed, hopeless, and suffer mental health challenges that they are not alone! That there is NO SHAME with having Mental or Emotional health problems, or live life in recovery from any addiction, and to let them know they have a voice and are heard!
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I still feel very lucky, (no pun intended) that my gambling actually brought out my own mental and emotional health problems, as I was suffering and didn’t know I was. I used gambling to escape, become numb to all feelings and emotions, and just zone out because I wasn’t able to stuff all my garbage in life, all the hurt and pain through the years, starting as a little girl anymore.
Eventually, all this unhealthy stuff can only be stuffed, hidden, and tucked away behind a HAPPY MASK for so long. It’s not healthy or good for you. Eventually you’ll have to process it, walk through all the fear, and learn from it. Because if you don’t get the help, and don’t push through all that pain, hurt, and your fears? That is when unhealthy things begin to invade your life.
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It’s when addictions will come knocking and teach you to self medicate with drugs, alcohol, and many other addictions out there. My life was also effected in the relationships I had with men. From the sex abuse I endured seemed to give me a false impression when I got into adulthood, and made me think if I had sex in a relationship? Then I would get that unconditional love from men that I chased to get from my parents for years. Yes, I was a pretty screwed up girl.
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WHY, because most of the relationships and marriages never worked because I was being co-dependent in many of those relationships.
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If someone in your family has a mental illness, you may be feeling frustration, anger, resentment and more. What can you do to help yourself, and by doing so your loved one as well”?
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Mental illness brings doubt, confusion and chaos to a family. But a family can heal when it moves beyond their loved one’s illness—not away from their loved one” …


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I used these relationships as trying to fix or change others. Or I relied on the man to make my happiness, and be the center of my world. Smothering them away. Looking back, I was SO needy. Because I never got any of that from my parents. so I chased it in all my relationships with men. I didn’t have barely an ounce of self-worth, because I was always demeaned, verbally abused, and accused of things by my parents that I never was or DID! Then in adulthood, I wasted years of trying to prove and to show my parents that I was a good person, that I was successful,  happy, and took care of myself, but they didn’t care or bother see it. Was I to dumb, or so uneducated in life lessons because of the way I was raised, to even know what a normal and healthy relationship is? What a healthy relationship looks like? Because looking back my own family was so dysfunctional. You don’t see or grasp that until your out of the dynamic. Which is what happened to me as I was the only one in the family that moved out-of-state, and far from my family for many of those reasons. And of course I became the the black sheep of the family for that.
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So all that really affected the way I seen and looked at relationships. And the GOOD relationships I did have with a man? The more they treated me like a queen? I would end up sabotaging the relationship some how, because I felt I was not worthy of there love, gifts, compliments. I felt that way when I was using gambling addiction to cope and try to navigate through life. When I became an addicted gambler, and feeling shame and guilt, it didn’t matter, because I was hurting all of them BACK for all the pain I went through, for all the times they had hurt me deeply.
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The diseased thoughts gave me a sense of entitlement to do what I did within my gambling addiction, because I felt I became a victim because of the way my parents had treated us kids, plus then the sex abuse and trauma on top of that, believe me, I did a lot of damage, but I was only hurting myself and others around me, especially what I put my husband through. That is why you must have good people around you who will support you no matter what. And I had to learn the hard way that gambling wasn’t hurting anyone but ME. It wasn’t going to change my past, and it was destroying my FUTURE! See I never got that from my family. Even to this day.
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I think they are in the mind-set that if I’m not around, then there is no problem. They don’t have to acknowledge that our family was and still is dysfunctional. Is it ignorance? Or is it continuing the unhealthy habits and behaviors we seen from our parents? My mom was one of a kind in this aspect of the family dynamic that went on in our house. And when she passed, my youngest sister continued the poor behaviors my mom passed on to us all those years. So was I doomed? Maybe, but I think I’m the only one in our family that tried to interrupt and stop this cycle. I surely didn’t want the same things repeating down to my nieces and nephews. I’m think I’m also the only one who has been in therapy, in recovery, and have taken control of my mental disabilities by seeking professional help. But I guess I won’t really know since I haven’t talked to any of them for over 8 years.
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So, family sometimes may not understand if no else is suffering from mental health issues. Which was my experience with my side of the family after they saw me take my psych meds one time when my mom passed, and we were down for the funeral. That’s when they started treating me different. Even though my older sister was still an alcoholic, my other sister was still EVIL and had anger issues, my dad was oblivious to all it, and my brother is still estranged from the rest of the family like I am.
So, just because we may share the same family blood? Doesn’t give them the right to mistreat you. No family should.
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Having boundaries sure is a beautiful thing …
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God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon, Author
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485/

“Once Upon A Time There Were 3 Sisters, Then Life,Trauma And Addictions Got In The Way”

Hello Recovery Friends, Seeker’s and Welcome New Friends,
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*Memories Of Rose, Catherine, and Angela ~Three Sisters*
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Once upon a time there were 3 Sisters, and life seemed to get in their way. That’s ME of course the “crazy” looking kitty, and my older & my younger sisters. Gee, where to begin?
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When I still lived at home in So. California, where the 3 sisters were raised, via New Jersey, due to our dad was career Air Force, we moved to CA in 1970. We were like many other sisters, except my younger sister wasn’t born until a few years after we got to CA. She happened to be that OOPS,  when dad got fixed, but never went back to see if the fix worked,…LOL.
As we began to grow and get older, we were like other sisters who played, fought, begged to follow “Big Sister” where ever, all those sorts of things sisters do until I went through some traumatic events as a young girl.
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I became different and more withdrawn. I became the true “black-sheep” of our family. My parents, nor my sisters never noticed, and when they did they made jokes, or made fun of me, along with my older brother. But of course we were all younger and they all had no idea what was happening to me. As I got into my teens, I started to feel more different. This can happen when one is sexually abused. I was threatened by my abusers not to say a word because my parents would say I was making it up, and wouldn’t believe me. That my parents would beat me, punish me for telling lies about them. Then the “Reward” after each inappropriate encounter,…candy, or ice cream, the arcade, then again more lies & threats. So I kept to myself, a lot, and my parents had no idea what was happening to me. I was a monster as a child. I remember my mom telling me this and other things about my childhood the few weeks we spoke in the hospital before she passed. Those and the good childhood memories, and the peace my mom & I made are what I carry in my heart today. When we learn to forgive in recovery? It can sometimes void out most of the “Bad,” but for me, childhood scars remained…
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So as grew up, my older sister was also “picked on” at times, as she had a difficult time keeping weight off, and I remember our neighbor kids calling her fat, or Crisco in a can, even my dad and brother. Many need to understand that these verbal words can leave scars. She was always the shy one of the three us. She was more a home body, quite, and only had a couple close girl friends. She never dated much through High School, and when she did meet the love of her life, she was married at 17, right out of High School. She began her life as a mom, wife, and worked part-time. I spent a lot of time with her and my brother-in-law Mike,  because I hated to be home. My mom was a heavy-handed disciplinarian, so I stayed with them a lot on the weekends. My younger sister was more a mama’s girl, and that went on into her adulthood, and seemed when my mom passed she took over the role of “Bad Behaviors” my mom had.  She lived with my parents on and off, mostly on, until she finally got married and moved to Long Beach with her husband in 2003, right before my mom passed.
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But in 1992 it seemed everything changed. My older sisters husband Mike was diagnosed with cancer. It was May, 1992 and he was gone by November, 1992.  It was really the first time we lost someone close in our family. My older sister would never be the same. Since then, it seemed our family declined from there. By then I had been through 2 short marriages and divorced, and had moved and been living in So. Oregon by then for a few years. My brother was also on his 3rd marriage, as my mom seemed to medal in all of them, and 2 of his ended in divorce, and a 3rd on the way after, and due to a huge argument after my moms wake at my brother’s house.  One thing that seemed to change was my relationship with my older sister.  See, when I flew home for her husbands funeral. I got there a few hours before the viewing that evening at the chapel. My brother-in-law had been in the hospital early the month before, so I drove down to spend time with him, knowing it most likely would be the last time I’d see him before he passed. Before going home after my visit, which I had a 931 mile drive ahead of me to Oregon, I went to the hospital the evening before and spent an hour or so with him. I loved him like my brother. We had a lot of wonderful times together.
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So we had a long talk that night before I went back to my sisters. I didn’t want to do it before I got on the road to head home, and be too emotional to drive.  So when I got to my sisters for the funeral, she was upstairs getting ready to go to the viewing. She says to me, “how come you didn’t go to see Mike at the hospital before you got on the freeway to go home”? he was asking for you.” I tried to explain to her that I had a long drive and didn’t want to get on the road all emotional and sad. And we all knew that he was on so much morphine, he may not of remembered right away that I had been there.
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She proceeded to chastise me about it, and laid a guilt trip on me that I should have stopped by. She really hurt my feelings, and proceeded to ignore me the rest of the night, and most my stay.  In that moment, I felt a “shift” between us. Our relationship has never been the same after that. She began to abuse “alcohol,”  and continued while my parents enabled her. My parents took on the “caregiver” role because she had 3 boys now to raise on her own. The problem with this was they didn’t understand that the more they helped her with everything,  the more they enabled her drinking behavior at the same time, as she racked up 5 DUI’s along the way. Today, she now lives with my dad, and continues to drink, and my dad thinks he’s helping her by not letting her go out to drink and drive.  My younger sister watching all this didn’t learn any lessons, and my mom also spoiled her, as did everything for her as well. Mistake!
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My younger sister also drinks too much, has an “anger” problem, and just seems mad at the world. She enjoys stirring the pot, gossiping,  and seems to have some kind of “drama” going on to function as a normal person. She accused me of not being around to help when my mom was sick those years before she passed, so I didn’t understand how stressful it was for her.
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Well, I did feel guilt about that but,…..was that not her CHOICE to be a constant caregiver? I lived 931 miles away? My older sister didn’t go over everyday to help, and she only lived 11 miles away. And by this time, no one was even talking to my brother either, so he was gossiped about, and blamed also. It was a real strange and uncomfortable feeling when I did go down to visit, it was like I was standing outside a clear bubble, and my family was on the inside with all this hurt, drama, and dysfunction going on inside that bubble, and I didn’t want any part of it. And when I didn’t take part in all the unhealthy habits and behaviors going on inside there, I was accused and told, “I thought I was better than them! YES, they really said that to me…WHAT?
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No, I wasn’t better than anyone, I just was learning in recovery treatment about setting “boundaries” because all that dysfunction had added fuel to my addictions when I was still active in them! HEY, someone had to try to STOP THE MADNESS, as I didn’t want all this to be passed down to the next generation of our family. My older sister had 3 boys, and my brother a young son as well, and they should not have to learn that “Grandma’s” behaviors were OK. No, no, no.
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So we fast forward to today. Not much has changed as far as I know. The last time I had spoken to my dad and two sisters was back in 2004. I did go home for Christmas 2003. Us girls and husbands tried to help my dad through the first holidays without mom, but after we got back to Oregon, I found my father, and my 2 sisters not only didn’t give my brother anything of my mom’s from all her jewelry to remember her by, or to pass down to his son, but my dad also put the remaining insurance policies he didn’t need of my moms into my sisters and I names, and nothing to my brother or his son. I spoke up about it, and the next thing I know, no one is calling me back or talking to me? That was April of 2004.
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So now 10 years have gone by since I have spoken to my father or older sister. The last time I spoke to my younger sister was when my book first came out. I have no idea how they found out about my book, but as nasty as my younger sister is, she called and left nasty, profane messages on my answering machine about me and how my book was a way to family bash them because they cut me out of the family. WOW! It had nothing to do with that or them! It was about how all the childhood stuff, the scars, and abuse effected my life. How my parents not believing the sex abuse, and how I felt betrayed by them when I did finally speak about what happened to me, which in turn influenced some of the poor choice’s I had made by using addictions to cope, hide, and escape all the hurt. And because we were not raised to know there was help by form of counseling or therapy. We were raised to NOT SPEAK of things like that outside the family. It would make our family “Look Bad.”
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And did I say yet that my younger sister has a potty mouth like a sailor? She then went to my recovery blog and tried to leave nasty comments there, but the joke was on her because I had to approve all comments before they are displayed. I honestly would have been happy to leave her “thoughts & feelings” in my comments as I always welcome all feedback about my book good or bad, so I know what area’s as a writer my readers want me to write about. But the comments were laced with so much profanity, I couldn’t. Not only does she drink a bit too much, she is hurtful and mean to others. I feel she is holding in so much hurt and pain from something, that she has anger issues.
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It’s really sad to me that my younger sister took those bad behaviors of my moms, and felt the only way to communicate with others was dripping lies,  causing drama, and all the use of profanity to feel like a normal person. I just don’t get that. My family also never got the “recovery concept” that people can heal and recover from addictions, and change to do better things in this world for others and ourselves. They also didn’t know how to handle me being diagnosed with “Mental illness” either in 2002, nor did my dad, again, not believe me about the childhood sexual abuse that happened to me by his friends. And we wonder why all of us kids acted out within addictions? My brother did the drug thing, then it became too much alcohol and anger issues as well. So I guess it’s easier for them to “pretend” I don’t exist then for them to have a little understanding, or a bit of compassion. I feel that’s on them not me, and they are the one’s missing out, not me. I had never been a bother or hurt any of them when I was addicted to gambling and alcohol. Again, I was in a whole other State away. So no amends needed there. I did however make amends to my mom for the years of our “rocky” relationship. But again, most of that my mom brought on because I didn’t “side” with her, so she would just cut you out and not talk to you.
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Does it hurt to have to see and think of your family this way? Yes, of course, even after all the abuse, hurt, pain,scars and being cut off from my family, I do still forgive them to be able to leave the past in the past. I have a beautiful life in recovery today, along with a wonderful husband who never gave up on me.  He accepts all of me just the way I am. He has always believed that the “girl” he married those 25+ years ago was still inside me somewhere. To me? That’s all that matters, and his love is good enough for me! That’s really all the family I need! And besides, my friends & recovery supporters too are my extended family and friends now. “LIFE IS VERY GOOD TODAY”….
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“Once Upon A Time,….There Were 3 Sisters….


*Something I Pray For Everyday*…
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God Bless All,
Catherine Townsend-Lyon
Author Of “Addicted To Dimes” (Confessions of a liar and a Cheat)
http://www.amazon.com/dp/0984478485

*Thanksgiving In Recovery Is All About “Gratitude & Gratefulness”

Happy Thanksgiving Recovery Friends, Seekers, & Newbies!….

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As many gather around festive tables this Thanksgiving Day, I wanted to take sometime to think about those in recovery who may not have *FAMILY* to celebrate this day with. I also want to “Share” what I’m “THANKFUL” for in recovery, and in LIFE.

See, I am one of those people who have family who doesn’t care, or understand about addiction, recovery, or about mental illness that I suffer from. No, I’m not having a “Pity Party,” as I have MORE to be grateful for. I have beautiful relationships with my older brother and his son, and all 3 of my nephews have reached out to me, and we now have had relationships for over a year now!

Of course, being in long-term recovery, I have long ago forgiven my father & 2 sisters. We have to come to accept their choice and move on. I’ve always said, “It’s their loss, not mine. They are missing out, not me.” But around the holidays, it still stings a little as I’m only human after all. Instead of dwelling on it, or have it cause any harm in my recovery, I focus on all the positive things I’m “Grateful” for. Here are just of few of the “Blessings” I’ve received in RECOVERY, and learned in 12-Step readings to know there is a “Power Greater than ourselves” who helps guide us to a better way of life!

*MY GRATITUDE LIST*

1) Thankful for my husband TOM of 24 years, as he never gave up on me, even through the worst of my gambling addiction.
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2) I’m THANKFUL to GOD each day that he saved me from myself as I attempted suicide twice! He has shown me my “TRUE Purpose” in life!
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3) I know this one is a weird….LOL…But I’m “Grateful” for MY past addiction, for without it, I’d still be undiagnosed with Bipolar, and the other emotional disorders I suffer. My addiction brought the “symptoms” out in order for me to be treated properly.
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4) I’m also grateful for the experiences I had with my compulsive gambling addiction, as it was part of “Gods” plan for me to “Learn” so I can be of recovery help & service to others now.
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5) And last, I’m “Thankful” for all the past “Family Thanksgivings,” for those memories will be “Forever” in my heart, and can never be taken away!
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These are just a few of the things I give “THANKS” for today. I’m  sad that my father chose to not “talk” or to not have a relationship with me, going on 8 years now, and even though he has a relationship with both my sisters, I have “Let Go and Let God” of this situation.

YES,…… I have SO MUCH MORE to be grateful, and happy for in my life. I do however know there are many of you out there who may have strained family relationships, but we need to remember what we learn in recovery, that we have, “NO Control over PEOPLE, Places, or things. I suggest to make your own “Holiday Memories”…… Maybe go out and be of service to others on this Thanksgiving Day, or any day…….
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This time of year, there are many organizations who could use your help. Be it at a soup kitchen for the homeless, a church, help at your local senior meals on wheels. This is one I do volunteer work at, our senior meals on wheels. We get food to home bound seniors. GUESS HOW I came to learn about this organization?
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I learned from having to do satisfy my “Criminal Sentence” from being arrested and charged with forgery, all for the love of my “Gambling Addiction”! It’s how I worked off my “Community Service” hours, at our local Senior Meals on Wheels. SEE,…. something that was a “Negative” was turned into a “Positive” & a Lesson learned. I truly believe God had me go down this path to learn from it.


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“For he so loved the World’, and he loves me as well. Another thing I am thankful for, is through all the “BAD” there has been so much “Good” in my life & recovery. It’s also where I found my “Passion” for writing! I didn’t say I was good at it,….but it has brought ME here to all of you, being an Author, Writer, and Blogger. It’s a way for me to connect with others in recovery. For if it wasn’t for my past addiction, I’d have never met all the “Beautiful” friends and supporters that I have in my LIFE Today!
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I’m truly AMAZED how so many caring people, who I’ve never met face to face, who I have met here through my blog here, and visiting other blogs and websites, and recovery sites, “GIVE” of themselves to help others! I was just on Twitter last night, on #Addictionchat, where we had a Q & A discussion about “GRATITUDE” in our recovery. It was interesting to say the least, as how SO many recovery folks have pulled themselves out of the “Darkness” of this thing we call “ADDICTION. Doesn’t matter the type, it’s all about the “MIRACLE”………

 

So, we may live life in recovery, but always remember that we can still have a LIFE WORTH LIVING within our Recovery!

So, as we gather around our “Thanksgiving” tables today, let’s think about those in recovery who may not have it so good.

Who may not have a family to gather with. Lets think and pray for those who are struggle, who may still be stuck on that never-ending “CYCLE” of addiction. The ones who wander the streets not knowing there are people out in the world who “CARE” if they live or die,  and those who may not have a hot meal today…….
Those are the people we need to seek out, and to give them *HOPE* for a “New Tomorrow In RECOVERY”……….


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MAY GOD BLESS YOU & YOURS THIS THANKSGIVING DAY, AND EVERYDAY!……..

Author, Catherine Townsend-Lyon XoXo