Addictionland Blog with Cate Stevens

A Cutting Edge Addiction Recovery Blog about one woman's journey to recovery from multiple, life threatening addictions to reclaim her happiness and life.

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Cate

Cate

Cate Stevens. Founder of Addictionland.com, has over fifteen years of recovery from food, drug, alcohol, cigarette and unhealthy relationship addiction. Cate’s approach to recovery is based on the 12 steps, as well the practice of spiritual principles, exercise, good nutrition, and meditation. Cate’s personal, ongoing recovery process has benefited tremendously from the free sponsorship of other women.

Cate has successfully coached hundreds of women to develop specific, daily action plans to support their personal and professional goals. Cate majored in journalism and communications and is the author of "Addictionland: Key Lessons from My Rollercoaster Ride to Freedom from Food, Drug, Alcohol, Cigarette and Unhealthy Relationship Addiction", a series of powerful vignettes.

As a motivational speaker, educator and coach, Cate is highly effective and inspirational. Cate leverages her experience from premier sales, management and leadership training programs to teach her clients how to be sober, productive and fulfilled.

Posted by on in Alcoholism

To say three is only one rock bottom in the recovery process is like saying there is only one awakening.  Thankfully, there have been many more moments of enligtenment than moments of complete despair and hopelessless.  However, I came into the 12 step program full of ism's and sickness and defects and it has taken years to uncover the many layers and their impact on my life and the lives of those around me.

First came my rock bottom with alcohol and cocaine.  It happened in November of 1999, nearly two years after consistant alcohol and drug poisoning and darkness, and landed me in an emergency room with a Cardiologist who sternly suggested I get my rear end to the nearest 12 step meeting.  Almost four years later, I hit another bottom with my bulimia.  Sliding down a bathroom wall staring myself in the face full of anguish, hopelessness and pain, I cried out to G-d asking how I had failed?  Wasn't I working my 12 step program diligently enough?  Wasn't I doing everything a good little girl should do?  I had to become willing to let other girls know I suffered from bulimia and help them in order to find my way out.  Up unti lthat time, I wanted G-d to help me but I wasn't interested in what he needed from me in exchange.  Small oversight but big impact once I became entirely ready to have that defect removed.

And still other bottoms in areas like sex and co-dependency.  Like the one I face now-parents with failing health.  Mom with stage 4 lung cancer.  Father with internal abscess and unresolved illness.  "Worries" about their comfort, their support, their feelings on mortality and G-d, their passing all contribute to my defect of overwhelming loss of control and fear.  The rapacious creditor, alcohol, must have a brother called fear who, left unattended will eat at the walls of the lining of your stomach like h. pylori, like is happening to me.  I have worried myself sick or, in taking short cuts with green powder drinks that can do more harm than good and are not regulated by the FDA, altered my reality by taking short cuts to nutrition.

I like to be in the drivers seat but somehow that always leads me into dark sections of town where my car is being surrounded by threatening characters.  I intend to find a beautiful waterfall next to a serene lake with lilys floating on top but that never happens.  When I let go, ask G-d and my sponsor for direction, get quiet, take my inventory, ask for direction and help and sincerely become ready to have G-d remove whatever defect stands in the way of my peace, G-d can restore me to sanity and transport me to the exact spot/peace of mind I seek.  I can't control what is happening to my parents just like I couldn't control many things as a child or in early recovery.  What I can control is my understanding of the Power in my life that can solve all my problems and if I am clear on how unlimited, loving, intelligent, interested, knowing all Power truly is, I can allow myself to be where I am, feel what I feel, take positiive action and expect Good orderly results.

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

As I approach 17 years of sobriety, I am careful to take stock of my daily plan of recovery.  I attended a meeting last night where four people with 12-21 years of recovery all made the choice to pick up a drink again.  I only know they did this because they had luckily made it back to the program and were sharing what went wrong.  Each of them said their lives got full, they stopped going to meetings, let go of their sponsor and being a sponsor and got the feeling they were "cured".  I listened intently because my program has changed and I am careful to make sure I am spiritually fit under my new plan.

 

In my first few years of recovery, I went to 3-4 meetings a day!  I was single, excited about my new life and eager to learn and connect.  I was riding a tremendous pink cloud and it was great.  I have never lost interest in recovery because of the spiritual focus and how great my life has become.  However, there is that notorious however-life has gotten extremely full and perimenopause has moved onto my street and all of sudden I am feeling a full range of emotions again that are easy to misinterpret as relapse mode.  Irritable, restless and discontent! 

Old tendencies make me want to blame something or someone outside myself for my lackluster attitude.  Al-Anon meetings quickly put that idea to bed.  I am addicted to making other people or situtations my problem and that is never the truth.  People and things like my job might cause me stress but stress is a relative term.  Stress is the result of the stories I tell myself in my head.  And, my head, I have learned is the dangerous street where my addiction hangs out.  I need to continue a daily program of recovery to maintain my spiritual fitness or I am powerless over the gangsters that hide in the recesses of my mind.

This year, I have learned the tremendous effects menopause has on a woman's mind, body and spirit.  My lack of desire for sex, my foggy brain, my quick shift to anger, dread, etc all have their roots in my shifting Estrogen.  The great news is that being sober allows me to do the necessary mental and spiritual footwork to uncover and resolve the true root of my problem.  I can treat my hormones with an educated physician and I can treat my mind with the truth about aging gracefully.  I can affirm that as I age, I become more beautiful rather than listening to my addiction that wants to find every flaw and every wrinkle.

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Posted by on in Co-dependency

On my run this morning, I was thinking about the "waves" of life and how to stay afloat when the going gets rough.  Perfectly calm water can only exist in a vacuum.  Because other elements exist, like earth, air and fire, the water is affected and waves arise.  On a perfect day, when I have practiced many of my spiritual disciplines such as acceptance, exercise, breathing, service to others or meditation, my inner self is calm and I have a better chance of responding to life.  On other days, when I rush out my front door to work without reading a positive passage or taking time to get centered, I am more easily disturbed by the blowing of the wind, shifting of the earth and heat of the fire.

I am extremely grateful for my recovery lifestyle which shifted me away from constantly being a victim into a life of empowerment.  I face many circumstances today which have the potential to completely paralyze me with fear or pain and, instead, I CHOOSE recovery.  I am able to choose it because I am not on drugs.  When I use drugs/alcohol or any mind/mood altering substance, I lose my choice.  I work a program one day at a time, year after year, for close to 17 years now, because the risidual effect of doing so is what helps me face and flow with life's waves.

Today, I expect waves.  Today, I do my best to not close my eyes and turn my back on the waves.  Today, I believe I can turn into the wave and ride it in the direction intended for me and end of up exactly where I am meant to be for the moment.  Circumstances, like my mom's terminal illness, certainly weigh on my heart and mind greatly.  I choose to be there for her.  I choose to feel my feelings, share with my loved ones, cry my eyes out and then get up and go see my mom as often as I can.  Changes at work impact me.  My territory had two representatives working it for eight years.  Now, it's just me.  I could tell myself I can't do the work and complain or I can sit with my manager and strategize how to best spend my attention/effort and take responsibility for my efforts.  Recovery teaches me to give every outcome to my higher power.  I am only in charge of my attitude and my effort.

People misbehave all the time.  I believe hurting people hurt people.  I believe people show you who they are and their behaviors are about their wounds, not anyone elses.  What the world needs now is a whole hell of lot more love, compassion and tolerance.  Anger and resentment don't take effort.   Rising above the wave does.  For me, that begins with self-care.  By attending to my mind, body and spirit each day, I calm the waters and can be of use to others instead of a hardship

All my best,
Cate Stevens

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Posted by on in Co-dependency

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I began the practice of hot yoga six months prior to my mom's lung cancer diagnosis.  It may sound odd to some, but I did this at the instruction of Angel Healing cards my aunt sent me which kept suggesting I do more yoga and meditation.  The deck of cards has over 60 cards and no matter how many times I shuffled them, the same two cards appeared about yoga and meditation.  In hindsight, I can clearly see that I was being guided to a practice that would help we weather some of life's roughest seas. 

I remember sitting bedside to my mother in the emergency room after she was rushed to the hospital post chemotherapy for her cancer.  She developed a rare condition called Rhabdomyolysis which is a breakdown of muscle tissue releasing damaging protein in the blood.  She could barely speak and I could see the fear and confusion in her eyes.  My mother is a very strong woman and seeing this in her brought me to my knees.

If it wasn’t for the yoga, I think I might just collapse right now.  My core was already strengthened from daily participation in my recovery program and now, the yoga strengthened me further.  Some might look at hot yoga merely as a form of great exercise.  For me, it is a teacher given to me at exactly the right time to teach me how to suit up and show up when I would normally collapse and fall down.  The messages of yoga, spoken by my teacher in class, are always exactly what I need to hear and remember.

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Posted by on in Co-dependency

As time goes by and my life experience increases and deepens, I realize more what it means to let go and let God.  Before now, I was unaware of all the silent demands I placed on people, places and things to behave and exist in a way I deemed acceptable.  Discomfort and pain are my signals today that something is misaligned in my thinking, rather than in my life.  I understand that rather than expecting outside conditions to change, I just might need to adjust my attitude and expectations.

It is a blessing to have that understanding.  This understanding enables me to loosen my grip on what I prefer things to be and, instead, embrace what my Higher Power offers me. When I want others to act a way that will provide me more comfort, delight, security, etc -and they can't or won't act that way- I now accept things as they are, trust there is an opportunity to grow and look to adjust my perspective of God's goodness in my life.  I ask myself questions like "How might this person, place or thing be a teacher for me? What lessons can I learn from this experience? What is this person, place or thing forcing me to address that I hoped to ignore or avoid?"

Recovery has taught me that when I am placing demands I am acting like a toddler having a tantrum.  More than likely, God knows exactly what I need and when I stop pounding my closed fists on the table, he can gently place his goodness in my lap.

 

 

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

My husband and son are asleep after a fantastic night in the neighborhood trick or treating. I love anything, including a holiday, which accentuates innocence and imagination.  I love the amazing costumes.  I love the taste of banana chews.  I love the chill in the airl.  I love coming home after the long evening and having a bowl of cereal, instead of a line of cocaine.

Halloween was one of those big party nights for me when I was still out there using cocaine and alcohol.  I loved to dress up and pretend to be someone else. I loved the strange vibe in the air and the parties.  I thought I was having such a good time until I realized addiction tricked me.

I don't miss hiding the baggies in my costume and snorting lines in a bathroom stall.  I don't miss smoking packs of cigarettes because I couldn't stop.  I don't miss grinding my jaw and making a fool out of myself.  I don't miss blackouts and not remembering where i went or how I got home.  I don't miss the wretching from too much booze, the hangovers or the spent money.

Recovery has treated me with the ability to walk my son by the hand around the neighborhood with my head held up high.  No one today would imagine or believe the hell I  experienced.  For a moment tonight I thought, boy it would be nice to be having a glass of wine and a little blow.  Then, my recovery voice laughed and replied, "What glass of wine? You would have chugged the whole bottle if you were using cocaine. You wouldn't be at a party. You would be delusional, paranoid, wired and wacked out. You would be miserable, alone and desperate. You ended up in an emergency room from your last party for goodness sake! What do you miss?"

Like I said, recovery is a treat and addiction is full of tricks.  Luckily, I don't fall for those tricks anymore.

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

I am feeling a little heavy hearted.  My mom just called me to vent and it seems her home is far from peaceful.  My dad suffers terrible cluster headaches in the summer months and my mom can't travel with ease because she is on oxygen and just a year in recovery from hard core lung cancer treatment.  My mom's sister just had a tumor removed from her stomach and one of my dad's cousin's is dying from stage 4 lung cancer. There may be more to this story, but who am I to say other people would benefit from a 12 step program?

While there is a lot of darkness and pain to endure, I feel so grateful I am embedded in my recovery life style because I can still appreciate all the beauty of life.  It seems others, without a daily program of dumping, sharing, action, prayer, meditation, exercise and the like, have a very difficult time staying afloat when the rough waves pound the shore.  It is a time of amends for me.  A time to give back the time, love and support everyone freely gave me as a child.  A time to make up for the worry, pain and angst I caused others when they weren't sure what was wrong with me, but felt certain I needed help.

I don't know how much longer I will be blessed with my parents and I like to slow down enough to realize it is more important I stop in and see them each week then work an extra hour.  I get so caught up with my job and family (and even though I do see them weekly and call often), I feel and want to do more.  I know I will never regret being there for them in their time of need-regardless of whether anything gets fixed. I learned in recovery that, more than anything, people want to be heard and understood.  No fixing required, just loving ears and hugs.

I dislike knowing that my parents and other family members are suffering.  I also know that suffering, unlike pain, can be a choice.  Pain, whether it be of the head, lung or stomach, must run its course until real healing has occurred. Suffering, on the other hand, is a matter of perspective.  Am I only seeing and staring at the dark side of life or, in the midst of such darkness, am I looking for a way to channel (and become) the Light?

I don't want to spend today worrying about tomorrow.  I pray I get a tomorrow and will deal with that day then.  For now, I just want to be as available as I can be so that the Power can work through me to aide those around me in such great need of Love.  They don't know all the Love they need is inside and all they have to do is keep concentrating on letting it out.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

I have suffered from the need for validation from a young age.  Wanting a person's approval, I often acquiesce in situations where I might actually disagree.  Recovery has taught me that I can be triggered by domineering personality types and that I can handle any situation as long as I stay calm and practice spiritual principles. 

Physiologically, I am no different than any other person who reacts in a high stress environment.  Like a man confronted by a sabre tooth tiger, I will either fight or flight (run) when faced with this stressor.  Same goes for conversations with difficult, overbearing people.  In early recovery, I first had to learn how not to drink in the face of such triggers.  Many years later, I am working how to remain calm and access my faculties in such situations. I don't want to just not drink, I want to grow up.

I can see my progress.  I used to automatically shut down when a bullying type of person raised his or her voice and made demands.  My silence said I could be pushed into submission.  My submission led to shame and more fear.  Even though I didn't drink, I still felt bad about myself for accepting unacceptable treatment and not speaking up for myself.

Just today, a never satisfied physician from my biggest account at work let me know that unless I found a solution to his insurance contracting dilemma, he was going to stop using my company's incredible product. His account amounts to 13% of my total territory volume.  I was driving a car and could feel myself become agitated.  A small voice within said, "Stay calm, assure him that you are hearing him and let him know you will take his problem seriously.". 

After I hung up with the doctor, I shared my reaction with my business partner at work. She said you did well, but maybe next  time someone puts the pressure on while I am driving, simply ask the person if I can meet with them in person to discuss the matter further.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I tried hot yoga a few years before I came into recovery.  It does not surprise me, looking back, that I couldn't handle the heat.  My body was very unhealthy due to my multiple addictions and my breath (which is yoga) was being poisoned with cigarettes.

About ten years into recovery, I relaised that my practice of jogging was taking its toll on my body and I wasn't enjoying it as I once had.  I longed for a suitable replacement.  During that time, my Aunt sent me some angel cards and told me to use them when I had questions about my life path.  I asked the angels for messages from time to time and on each occasion cards relating to mediation and yoga appeared.

I finally decided to reignite my meditation and mantra practice, and signed up for a month of unlimited hot yoga classes.  After a few Sundays, I was hooked.  Yoga eliminated stress from my body, offered me greater immunity, strengthened my bones and lefft me feeling fantastic. After five months of practicing regularly on Sundays, I got the terrible news my mother had lung cancer.

To this day, I feel that yoga and meditation were critical in my ability to endure the pain and turmoil that followed the diagnosis.  Thankfully, I still had my circle of recovery friends, the twelve steps and my family to turn to during this time.  Still, it was the Yoga that offered me the deeper messages I needed to hear to persevere.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I am a sober mom in recovery. I got sober in 1999, seven years before my son was born. I do not take that fact for granted. I got sober because I had to save my life and it greatly benefited all of my family. I know what addiction does to the person afflicted with it and I also know how it destroys families.

I am extremely grateful that my son does not know how I appear, think or act under the influence of drugs and or alcohol. Yes, he sees me mentally challanged on days, but he has never seen me drunk or high. Even if that is the best I can do as his mother, it is better than what happens to the many children who are neglected, abused, beaten and abandoned.

My heart also goes out to the mothers who struggle with addiction and to still other women who had addicted mothers who didn't know how to nurture them. No child asks to be born in a family of pain, chaos and uncertainty. When mothers in early recovery wonder whether they are doing the right thing by being away from their children for extended periods of time (treatment centers are often away from home), I gladly assure them that they have to help themselves before they can help their children.

I have seen many mothers give up on recovery because they can't handle being away from their children. When they don't take the time they need to build a foundation for themselves, they usually falter, return to drugs and their children suffer over and over again. On Mother's Day, or any day for that matter, there is no greater gift an addict can offer than a commitment to self-love.

If it wasn't for my recovery program, which includes a program of action, a fellowship, service, prayer and gratitude, I couldn't be the mother or daughter I am today. Sobriety has given me the ability to get out of my own way and enjoy all the gifts in my life. Sobriety has enabled me to see the gifts and sobriety has enabled me to be a gift to others.

I know many a wonderful woman who has shared nightmarish stories about the way they failed as mothers due to their addiction. Before recovery, these women lived to drink and cared little if they left their kids alone, neglected, abused or harmed. After recovery, these women had the courage to face the truth, change their actions and demonstate to their children they care to live better. Their families welcome them back and often these same women become pillars of society. Those unfamiliar with their addicted histories would be utterly surprised to learn that the same awful woman in the newspaper who drove her kids drunk is the same woman running their PTA!

It can and does happen! If you are a mother with addiciton, don't give up before the miracle. There is a way out and we are here to help you. Your life depends on it and so do your children.

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