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 Co-dependency

There is an obvious link between sensitivity and resentment. All of my life,  I have been very sensitive to other people's behavior and energy and it has caused me a great deal of pain and joy.

When other people hurt, I hurt. When other people celebrate, I celebrate. When either people are negative and hurtful, I absorb their negativity. 

I have taken my inventory over and over again for years and I am clear on my sensitive nature and how it operates and affects me.

On the one hand, I am very grateful for this ability to tune to other people, relate to their feelings and care for them. On the other hand, I praying t be relieved of the co-dependent-need-for-validation side of me.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Like every type of addiction, tornadoes devastate. They rip through the lives of unexpecting individuals and destroy everything in their path.  Neither is planned, neither is easy to deal with, both are terrifying to witness and both leave a ton of collateral damage, including the death of loved ones.

My heart goes out to the victims of each of the aforementioned disasters. Interestingly, what works to rebuild a devastated community is what also works to rebuild a devastated life and a family.

First, the damage needs to be acknowledged. Next, the damage is assessed either alone or by a team of clean up experts. Prayer for healing sets the ball in motion, as does physical and mental exertion to clear away the wreckage and building on a new foundation.

Community support and unconditional love makes the slow, day by day recovery bearable. Time is required, as is patience and tolerance.  No one can claim to understand why some are chosen to endure either type of hardship and in both situations, individuals are never guaranteed immunity from another storm.

Just like any hardship in life, acceptance, good works and faith give us the strength to survive and see a brighter day. If we at Addictionland can help you clean up your wreckage or give you hope the sun will shine again, we hope you will share your story with us and take that first step.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

What do I value?

Where am I unfulfilled?

What are my regrets and can I take action on any of them now?

How do I connect with my inner answers?

If money was no object, how would I spend my time?

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I lay on a metal gurney inside an emergency room. A hospital gown covers my pale, thin skin. My mother is driving over to meet me at the hospital. Until now, the severity of my drug addiction has been a secret to her and the rest of my family. They were aware I suffered from bulimia in college but they believed I overcame it.

The on-call cardiologist is about to break my denial and my mother’s denial regarding my addictions.  He enters the dark cave housing my metal gurney and announces the results of my blood test.

“It shows here you were admitted to the emergency room with a toxic amount of cocaine in your system,” he says.

 “I went at a party. I tried cocaine for the first time. I didn’t realize how much it would affect me. I did too much,” I replied.

 “So, you want me to believe that this was your first time using cocaine?” the physician asked. He took a good look at my 5’8”, 115 pound frame and rejected my lame excuse. 

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

My first addiction in my youth was co-dependency.  I didn't realize it but the healthy boundaries that should exist between parent and child did not exist in my home.  My parents weren't bad people. Quite the contrary, they were productive, involved and good people.  Unfortunately, they married young with wounds they never healed from their own childhood and very poor communication skills. 

As a result, I became my mother's sounding board for her negativity, pain and secrets and I became my father's distraction for the lack of intimacy in his marriage. He came to me for affection and attention, not sexual needs.

Needless to say, I was a breeding ground for all sorts of uncomfortable feelings ranging from rage, sadness, guilt, shame, fear and panic.  I further developed an unhealthy dependence on my best friend and later, my boyfriend. I lived in fear of being abandoned if I didn't meet other people's needs. If my best friend was bitchy, I tried to be nicer so she would be kind. If my Dad disapproved of my boyfriend and pulled away from me, I broke up with boyfriend to get his love.

With all that untreated internal chaos, I became bulimic at sixteen. Increase At eighteen, I started to drink, snort lines,  take an occasional ecstasy, cheat on my boyfriend and smoke cigarettes.  By twenty one, I was a hot mess.  I was active in all of my addictions with my eating disorder being the major cause of my distress.

I told my parents and boyfriend I had a problem and my parents sent me to see a family friend who also happened to be a therapist.  Unfortunately, I was so afraid of what my parents would think about my lack of control, I lied to the therapist and pretended it was just a phase.

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Posted by on in Co-dependency

There is nothing fun or enjoyable about breaking a pattern like codependency.  People become accustomed to a dance and when one person fails to participate in the sick dance any longer, other people become angry.  That is what happened when I let my father and mother know I was no longer willing to sit by while they speak bitterly to one another.

Thankfully, I had a talk with my therapist two days ago and was prepared for this backlash.  In fact, before I hung up the phone with him, he said "Just be prepared.  They may react in a poor fashion and take care of yourself."  My mom seemed to take my honest expression of my upset fine.  My dad, on the other hand, sent me an email that basically made it sound like I betrayed him in the worst fashion possible.

He wanted to make me responsible for my mother's actions.  He was irate and indignant that I left the house and said nothing to defend him after he spent three weeks at the hospital serving my mother with love and attention.  He told me he won't forgive me.  The anger and pain that rose up inside me as I read his words was palpable.

I thought to myself, "Really, Dad???  You won't forgive me for not getting in the middle of you guys shit any longer after I was put in the middle of it since I was a little kid and its cost me my own happiness.  You won't forgive me??? That's funny." I didn't say that to him but I wanted to.  I also wanted to tell him to go throw his pity party on another block. 

Yes, my mom can be ungrateful and bossy and cruel toward him.  And, no, I don't approve of her behavior either and I don't like it.  However, they shouldn't even put me in the middle of it as if I was their referree.  How sick is that?  On top of that, I showed my mother as much attention and love as he did while she was in the hospital and I don't expect a metal.  I did it because I love her and I want to support her.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

My sponsor's husband died from esophogeal cancer.  During his treatment, she told me "Cancer is like alcoholism.  In fact, I call it cancerism.  IncreaseAt it's root, is resentment."

I believe it.  I can see my mom's cancer as untreated anger that converted into bitterness.  It has destroyed her insides and is like that rapacious creditor they mention in the Big Book that eats the person from the inside out.  Unfortunately for her, there is not a 12 step program called Cancer Anonymous or Anger Anonymous.  Lucky for us alcoholics, we learn about resentment and how to treat the number one killer.

My mom doesn't know she is not a victim of her circumstances today like she was as a child.  Her wounded, inner child has never been healed.  In fact, she probably doesn't even know she has a wounded inner child.  The poor, frightened child in her is buried so deep under her walls of pain, my mom can't hear her screaming.  But, boy does this cancer let her know something is terribly wrong on the inside.

I would be the perfect candidate for cancer if it wasn't for the 12 step program, my awareness of my resentments and my honest seeking to get better a day at a time.  After a lifetime of witnessing and brewing in my parents' resentment, I have trouble being happy in my romantic relationships. I need to release that pain in order to fully own my own happiness.

The 12 step program has enabled me to see and surrender many thoughts and habits that don't serve me or others. Yet, I am still surrendering my anger over the way they treat eachother. My wall protects me from being vulnerable.  I am allowed to say no to them.  I am allowed to be less than perfect.  I am allowed to have needs.  I am allowed to let other people be responsible for themselves. I am allowed to be immune to their personal problems.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

I created Addictionland.com for many reasons. One reason was to have an outlet to express myself in writing, which I enjoy and need.  Writing helps me purge my emotions, become aware of my thoughts and feelingsIncrease and, ultimately, guides me to what needs doing.

Right now, I am feeling a full range of emotions due to my powerlessness over my mother's chemotherapy gone wrong, ongoing ordeal.  I have felt angry, sad, irritable, grateful, hopeless, hopeful, desparate, guilty, and relieved.  Today, I feel a combination of tired, sad, strong, healthy, powerless and scared.  I am grateful recovery has put me in touch with this range of emotions.  When I was active in my addiction, all I felt was frightened, angry, depressed and bewildered.

My mom is having trouble breathing due to  her lung cancer, chemotherapy, medications, emotional trauma and COPD.  I don't know of many situations worse than that, excluding the loss of the life of a child or something of that nature.  I know what it is like to not be able to catch your breath.  When I used to use cocaine, I sometimes had full fledged anxiety attacks where my heart would pound and my breathing was rapid and I thought I might die.  When I see my mom breathe hard like that, it takes me back to those moments and I feel tremendous pain for her.

This morning, my mom said she felt depressed and wanted to be alone today to sort through her options and thoughts.  When I spoke to my dad, he couldn't handle her wanting to be alone.  It brought up tremendous waves of pain and fear in him.  Feeling safe with me as he should, he let his grief out and I caught it.  My dad's inability to cope combined with my mom's coming to terms with her situation left me in some agony myself.

Quite naturally, I felt inspired to call my sponsor.  She said exactly what I needed to hear.  She reminded me that on my birthday (which is today), it would help my parents if I enjoyed my birthday.  She reminded me that anytime I start projecting into the future, I need to stop myself and get back in the day.  She reminded me that no one ever benefitted from worrying and she suggested I take care of myself so I could care for them.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

The past ten days have been some of the most difficult days of my life.  It started with a call to my father, a board certified physician, to check on my mom after her first dose of hard core chemotherapy. "I didn't want to wake her," he says. "But she needs to be hydrated, Dad. Wake her up."

Several minutes later he calls back.  "Can you come over now," he says nearly crying. "I need your help.  Mom is non-responsive."

I arrived at the house along with the paramedics.  They forced her to wake up and she was unable to speak.  She had a look of terror in her eyes as she did all she could to spit out a single word. "What?" she asked in a gurgled, distorted voice. "What? What?"

I knew what she was asking me.  What am I doing here?  What is going on?  What are these people doing in my room in the middle of the night?  What happened to me?

Immediately, I tapped into the Power from my 12 step program and prayed. Increase God help me get through this and be a source of comfort and help to both of my parents.  I looked into my mother's eyes and did my best to reassure her.  "They need to be here, Mom.  You've been sleeping all day and wouldn't wake up.  Your oxygen level was dangerously low.  They are here to help you and keep you safe.  Dad and I are with you and will go to the hospital with you.  It's okay."

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Posted by on in Co-dependency

One of the most valuable lessons I learned in recovery is that there is no shame in asking for help.Increase In fact, asking for help shows a person's humility, sincerity, commitment and interest in getting better.

Until I went to admitted to myself I had a problem and asked my first sponsor to guide me through the 12 steps, I was trapped in a cycle of seeing my problem, beating myself up internally for my problem and then acting out again due to my shame and guilt over my problem.

Today, no matter what the problem I face ranging from lack of fulfillment to career trajectory to parenting, the first step I make is admitting my powerlessness in tackling the issue if I attempt to do it alone.

I ask for help in a multitude of ways.  I ask my husband, my family, my friends, my co-workers, my mentors, my therapist, my sponsor or anyone who may have experience facing and tackling the same issues I face.  Asking for help opens my mind and life to the myriad of possibilities available to overcome my issues.

My latest issue is how to best support my mother as she faces her diagnosis of lung cancer and ensuing therapy (chemo and radiation).  In the past, and as I regress in the present, I relied on playing the role of peacemaker to reduce tension and chaos in my family.  Whenever I felt powerless, I could easily throw on my superwoman cape and feel a sense of control as I sought to save my family from their feelings.

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