CHAPTER 7 – STRENGTH FROM WITHIN AND LOVE ALL AROUND
“During these years of my recovery, I have met with many challenges. These experiences so often challenged my physical, emotional, and spiritual strength. I was armed with many tools to assist me in navigating in a healthy way using natural and organic solutions. This included a professional therapist who I met with on and off along the way, as well as Sheila, my loving friend/coach/mentor who has also counseled me from the beginning of my recovery, my best friend and “sister from another mother” of thirty years, Miriam Moccio, who was my “unpaid” therapist and usually has the best and most meaningful insight whom I called frequently for a loving ear, and advice, knowing that she always had my best interest at heart, my best friends of forty years, Bill and Vicky Kelder, my “brother and sister from another mother,” who were also always there for me with loving insight, advice, and an empathetic ear, all of whom surrounded me with their insight, light, and love. Of course, my greatest and most loving Guide, was that of God/Spirit/Universe, whom I speak to daily.
I have faced losing my beloved grandmother, the one person who I knew, beyond any doubt, loved me unconditionally and with whom I had the strongest and most loving connection. I summoned all of my inner strength, using all of my holistic health tools to keep myself in a healthy, positive mindset as I felt my sadness escalating and causing anxiety. I could feel my heart race though it literally felt heavy in my chest. I was experiencing a profound sadness at her passing. I cried for most of the day, my stomach was tied up in knots, my throat was tight, and I felt an overall feeling of being unwell. Despair at losing my “person.” I felt so alone in the world. My grandmother was really my only “person.” After a few days, I found my resiliency underneath my pain. I made a mindful choice to stay present, to ask for support from my life-transitions coach/therapist, to get outside every day (sometimes multiple times a day) for a walk, for fresh air, and to stay connected to others. I know from my own experience that isolating is extremely dangerous and unhealthy for anyone, and most especially for those of us living with substance use disorder and mental health disorders. Writing a blog and memorializing my feelings and emotions daily was cathartic, and was the catalyst (along with my Spiritual practice) that brought me back to wellness, not to mention the onset of writing this book.
I faced bankruptcy shortly after I began my recovery, directly following my divorce. I felt humiliated. I felt so broken and terrified of the future. What would happen to me now, with nobody but me to rely on and no money. It was an uncertainty, moment to moment, that frightened me. My attorney at the time, Desiree DeMoya, a kind and empathetic soul for my journey, suggested that I go out and buy as many non-perishable supplies as I could store in my two-bedroom apartment, because I might not have the money to buy what I needed once bankruptcy was declared. I WAS TERRIFIED at the possibility of this becoming a reality.
Seems funny now, but I was so scared that I would not be able to afford toilet paper! I went to the supermarket and stockpiled toilet paper in order to give myself peace of mind.
Straight out of recovery, I had nowhere to live. I went to my hometown after returning from rehab in California, so I would be in familiar surroundings in Nanuet, NY, and found a motel with a tiny little kitchenette to live in for two months until I found a condo I was able to rent.
I actually began my blog back then, in July of 2013, with my son being my “editor.” He kept me on a strict schedule of writing and getting the material to him a certain number of days per week and always by midnight of those chosen days. I kept to the integrity of that schedule as the structure gave me great peace and a deep sense of predictability and accomplishment.
I would blog about my addiction recovery, as well as new recipes that I was trying. I would take pictures of my experiences and new creations, and post them on my website at that time. My son said to me one day, after sending him one of my new blogs, “Just think, Mom, years from now, you can tell the story of how it all began again for you, and how you started this new business in a small motel room that you had to live in at the beginning of your recovery. It will be so inspiring!” And then, my son gave me the best piece of advice I’d received in a while: “Slow and steady wins the race.”
Slowly, I built my credit back to good standing. I prayed every single day. I remained certain, calm, and determined to succeed, always having faith in my ability, and in the Universe to provide for me. Whenever I would have a fleeting thought that I might be homeless, I reminded myself that God had not brought me this far to let me fall now. I knew He had saved my life for a very high purpose. He was just providing me with the enlightening experiences that I would need to serve others. After all, it is my lived experience, and thriving recovery, that gets those I serve excited about recovery, and about working with me.
I am not a coach/counselor/consultant with only “book experience.”
I have lived it all, navigated it all, survived it all, and I am thriving.
I had been living paycheck to paycheck for quite a number of years when I began my recovery, after having a life where I was financially sound and free to spend without ever looking at a price tag for anything, and I mean anything, in my twenty-four-year marriage. Clothes, jewelry, cars, trips, you name it. However, it was mostly my husband’s earnings that provided for our family. I was too ill and drug-addicted to work or contribute to our financial health.
I was being “awakened” in many areas, shown options as I began my new life, and recovery, now solo. These were “sobering” experiences. No pun intended.
Throughout my recovery, I sometimes had as little as $30 left at the end of the month. I had no savings, and worried every day about how I would pay my bills and what I would do if an emergency should present itself. Yet, I got up every day, went to work, showed up (body, mind, and spirit) fully present, and did a wonderful job as I served my community as a mental health professional, recovery specialist, mental health community educator, and the client/family advocate in mental health and substance use disorder for our county.
I took care of myself, ate healthy, exercised, got enough sleep, and stood firmly in my prayer and meditation practice, which was my foundation. I used holistic means of relaxation to manage my anxiety, such as essential oils, music, writing, exercise, and talk therapy with my life-transitions coach and therapist.
Very recently, after years of hard work, diligence, discipline, and determination, I found a new job that affords me financial stability, a little bit more freedom to have that weekly dinner out, or to buy a new shirt, and my business as a mental health and wellness coach/consultant/educator has begun to grow. I am now being asked to do podcasts and to speak on radio shows, globally, to share my message.
During the very challenging times, I would become extremely anxious and sometimes very sad, crying every day, frustrated and angry at myself, yet I prayed for solutions and never gave up. Truthfully, I knew that I was doing the best I could, and that these circumstances were residual from my unhealthy lifestyle during my addiction. I knew that it was, in fact, just temporary. I never thought about ending my life as I had during my active addiction, and I never, ever thought about using drugs to self-medicate. Just spiritual solutions and self-care. I was, and still am, learning as I go along.
I faced a re-diagnosis of Lupus after being in remission for six and a half years, as well as a serious spine/back/leg injury that culminated in my being unable to walk, sit, stand, or lay down without pain. I had to modify my lifestyle and my exercise regimen, and I even had to stop wearing fashionable shoes, as I sometimes experience chronic pain in my left leg and back. However, I had a feeling that much of the deeply repressed trauma and current stressors were adding to my physical pain. The body/mind connection is so powerful.
I became so tired of autoimmune flares and prayed for Spirit to show me how to heal, and to send me an authentic healer who would guide me safely, and strategically, and offer me a long-term solution.
I was being bounced around from one specialist to another, with no long-term wellness results. As the Universe always provides for me—and for you if you are open to Divine communication—I happened to be on my Instagram feed, and the first post was for a free evaluation with a place called “Phoenix Physio,” which happened to be in the county where I am from. I was lying in bed in so much pain, which had been going on for weeks and occurred every couple of months. My entire body was swollen with inflammation, and I was unable to walk without pain or use my hands/wrists due to gross swelling. I decided to click on the “Bio” of this post to see what it was all about. I was desperate for a new perspective, and an alternative type of healing that was married to traditional medicine, coupled by a medical professional. Dr. Zazu, Cioce, DPT, SFMA, CAPP-OB, was both. We immediately clicked. She listened. She heard me. She encouraged me. And after listening to my story, my concerns, and my challenges, she used a phrase that I now know is one she uses often when she is totally certain of an outcome. I asked her if she thought she could help me to heal on a cellular level. She said, “One hundred percent.”
Today, in 2021, I am working with my awesome physical therapist Zazu (Arantzazu Garate Cioce), founder of Phoenix Physical Therapy, a brilliant woman who is actually a DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy) with a background in Biomedical Sciences and a Functional Movement Specialist. She treats the body, mind, and spirit simultaneously, and specializes in bowel disorders, which have been a lifelong challenge for me. We recently spent over an hour just talking about my most recent bowel challenges, and how my physiology has been hijacked by ongoing stress, and even my abuse as a child, which is still “stuck” in my cellular structure.
She speaks my language.
Zazu tells me that, if I do the work (You know I do it!), I will not only heal but also rid my body, once and for all, of disease and challenges and steer the trajectory of my mind and spirit to a higher level of wellness. She tells me that the work I have done thus far is outstanding, and that I have come such a long way. Inherently, I knew there was still so much more beneath the surface that I had to release, and to heal, and Zazu has given me my life back, in full. Her deep knowledge of how the body works, and her practice of holistic healing, as well her gorgeous smile, animated personality, and eagerness, which meet me at every session, are just a few of her wonderful attributes. I truly appreciate the patience she displays in listening to me, as well as the variety of “options as solutions” she offers, from which I can choose whatever will work for me. Knowing that I will heal “one hundred percent” promotes my wellness on a cellular level. She even tells me that I will be able to dance again, and that which I absolutely did on Labor Day Weekend, 2021 while out enjoying the weekend with my dear friends, Jason and Annie. It was magical! My body was freed, and I felt so light. Singing every word to every song, and my body moving in ways that it hadn’t moved in many years.
Zazu is one of my many earth angels.”
To read more about my Wellness Approach to Recovery, please check back for updates on the release of my book coming in December, 2021, and for a pre-order link shortly prior!
Love and blessings,