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

My health. My son's health.  My husband's health.  A husband who accepts and adores me.  My job. My home. My recovery program.  My friends and supports.  Waking up another day.  Waking up without a hangover.  Waking up without coming to.  Remembering last night.  Pretending to be Santa Claus and putting presents in my son's room knowing he expects a visit.  Eating the cookie by my son's bed that was left for Santa.  Looking at my son's innocent face while he sleeps. 

Choosing the cheeriest wrapping paper I could find and wrapping matchbox toys.  Eating nova on my bagel this morning with a fresh, red tomato.  Helping a friend in recovery by phone.  Doing my own inventory and calling my sponsor to wish her a merry christmas.  Making plans for lunch with my sponsor.  Polishing my toenails metallic grey.  Praying for the families of the children in Connecticut.

My spiritual awakening.  The world not ending on December 21.  Going to Toys R Us with my family and watching my husband buy strangers toys. Donating clothes/toys to kids in need.  Bringing chocolate kisses to the woman down the block who is doing chemotherapy for breast cancer.  Celebrating my son's uniqueness.  Witnessing my son make a homemade thank you note for Santa Claus.  Building a car museum with magnatiles with my son.

13 years of sobriety on Dec. 20.  Staying sober through difficult times, feelings and memories.  Working my program and writing a gratitude list to lift me out of my hormonal funk.  Getting back to the basics of my program to reconnect with the JOY of G-d right now.  Focusing on G-d's love to refresh my sour interior.  Not asking why I am sour but accepting it and moving into a solution.  The ability to search and see all of my blessings instead of focusing on what is missing or wrong. Being at peace.

The gratitude list can go on ad finitum.  When is the last time you made your list?

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

I stopped doing a tenth step on paper many years ago.  My justification has been that recovery is a daily process that has put me in the habit of checking my thoughts, motives and actions and correcting them (promptly) when I am off course.  I say it is my justification because I have to wonder if my rollercoaster ride in and out of joy this year isn't at least, in part, due to my lack of consciousness in each moment.

The only way I will answer that question is by starting to do my 10th step on paper again.  Holy moly!  Isnt that just profound as heck? Not really.  If I want a different result, I need to inspect my program and ask myself "What have I stopped doing that seemed to help me before?" Alternatively, I can ask myself "What have I started doing that makes me suffer?"  Either of those two answers are bound to conjure up images of certain behaviors or thought patterns during the day that can be embraced or surrendered to augment one's sanity and contentment.

For instance, I have stopped doing a 10th step on paper, meditating on a daily basis, working out on a daily basis and hanging out with my friends as often as the past.  Of course I am married now with a six year old son which presents challanges to me in terms of how much time I have, however I feel pretty certain if I did some of these things just a bit more often I would feel relief.

I've stopped judging why or how something works a long time ago.   I just care whether it passes the acid test and helps me and others enjoy a better life experience.  Hope this helps you too.

Best,

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

I want to throw a word out to you.  I made it up.  It is called entitlitis.  The definition is an inflammation or exagerration of entitlement.  King Baby may be a term you are familiar with if you are in a 12 step fellowship.  Tantrum is another word you might know if you have a toddler or you catch yourself in a mirror on an off day. "Boo-hoo, I am not getting what I demand!" And, lastlly, dependent is another catch phrase I like which describes the person who denies the existance of All Power in their own life and prefers to wait for other people to do things to improve their life.

What is more insane than denying the existance of All-Power?  The answer to that would be failing to apply the principle of All-Power in your life.  Who might do that?  Well, for one thing, me when I didn't know that All-Power existed.  Before I came into a 12 step fellowing ship, I knew of only one power and that power was will power.  I was taught that if I wanted something to happen in my life, I needed to make it happen.  In addition, I could and should use any tactic available to me, including manipulation and force, when things didn't seem to move in the direction I wanted.

Sure, I was able to make all sorts of things happen but the acid test of how it was working for me was the feeling of anxiety, despair, emptiness and pain I felt inside. If cheating on a test to get a perfect score was good, why did the A leave me feeling empty?  If cheating on my boyfriend to get double the attention was positive, why did it make me feel less attractive?   If my methods were right, why didn't they lead me to a positive sense of self worth?

I've always been a little scientist testing hypotheses to find the merit.  When I came into the 12 step fellowship, I decided to do the same thing with the "suggestions." I would find people who appeared to have the life I hoped for, ask them what they did to get that life, and follow in their footsteps in my own life.  When I was told to get to a meeting a day, I did.  When I was told not to use alcohol or drugs for a 24 hour period, I did.  When I was told to reach out and find a sponsor and get phone numbers and use them, I did. When I was told to work the 12 steps, I worked all twelve of them.

It didn't take but a few days before I noticed an amazing change INSIDE of me. Increase I started to feel hopeful.  I felt less afraid.  I felt less alone.  I felt understood.  In order to connect with real joy in life, I had to earn it and not expect it.  I had to stop waiting for the Prince on the White Horse to gallup in and save me.  I had to stop waiting to win the lottery.  I had to stop waiting for other people to change in order for me to be happy.

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

Someone I love dearly is deteriorating before my eyes due to her addiction.  She quit smoking, but has severe COPD as a result of the years she did smoke.  Because she can't smoke, her addiction has morphed into food addiction.  Her small frame is crumbling under the additional weight and burden of damaged lungs.  She takes a few steps and has to sit down to catch her breath.  She is forced to accept an oxygen tank.

I break down and cry and tell her I am extremely worried about her.  I tell her there is nothing morally wrong with her.  I tell her she suffers from the same addiction I suffer from.  I remind her I once couldnt stop throwing up my food.  I remind her I once couldnt stop doing cocaine and smoking cigarettes.  I remind her that treatment and therapy and 12 step programs work and they will work for her if she accepts some help.

I tell her she is worth it. I urge her to put herself first.  I let her know everyone will be fine if she goes away and concentrates on getting the support she deserves.  I take a deep breath and pray to G-d she is hearing me. I pray to G-d she will be open.  She worries that I am worried and she tries to assure me she is taking steps to help herself.  Unfortunately, I sense that without a Higher Power (namely, a community of liked minded people who can understand and support her), she will have no defense against the first whatever.  She will make a million commitments to "being better this time" and fail. She will swear against the hamburger and fries and wonder how they ended up in her mouth again.

I am not a pessimist. I have faith in G-d, but I also believe a person has to accept the Good in order for it to work in his or her life.  All too often we block our own Good with Ego and negativity.  We say "it won't work for me" or "I am different" or "I should be able to do this on my own."  I hate the fact that I am powerless over the addiction in someone I adore.  I hate the fact that with all the knowledge and resources I have at my disposal and all the connections I can make for her, it is not enough to change her.

I have to let go and let G-d.  I can work my own program so I can show up for her to understand her and support her.  When I think about what other people could have done to help me turn my own addiction around, I think love and compassion are always a great help.

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Posted by on in Drug Addiction

Halloween was once a miserable holiday for me. I never worried what lurked in the shadows because the demons and goblins lived inside my head. Increase I was filled with fear and dread and anxiety. Addiction will do that to a person.

Addiction is all trick and no treat. It lures you in with the promise of peace of mind and strangles you when you begin to realize it has your neck in its grip. I recall one Halloween night that was my own vivid Fright Night. My friend and I started celebrating the event the evening before at a bar and ended up at an apartment with another girl who did more cocaine in one sitting han I ever saw before.

Together, we consumed an eight bàll which led to a giant panic attack in my friend and a psychotic episode with this new acquaintance.  I am very sad to say I drove my friend and myself home in this dangerous state at 5am (thankfully no one but addicts like us were on the road) and ended the night crying while leaning over a toilet bowl while the contents of my stomach and my hope left my body.

I like to remember how hollow I felt in my addiction. It keeps my memory green. It gives me gratitude for Halloween celebrations like this one when I can dress up for the sheer fun of it and not because I have something to hide. I can experience the joy in watching my son believe that, just for one night, he really is Captain America! Children raised in a 12 step environment are truly some of most fortunate children of all. The 12 steps lead you down the road to your true potential and what morsel is sweeter than that?

 

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

We are like cell phones that need to charge up via meditation each day in order to operate SMART (Spiritual, Mindful, Accepting, Reasonable, Trusting).

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Posted by on in Other Addictions

I had maybe a few months of abstinance under my belt when a man with twenty years of sobriety said something in a meeting that stuck with me to this day.  He said,"Alcoholics don't get angry, Increasethey are angry."

I left the meeting wondering what he was talking about. I thought to myself I am not angry.  I am not angry at all.  Why would he accuse me of being angry?  Not only was I in denial about my anger, I was also convinced he was talking about me!

It took many years of recovery and doing all twelve steps to begin to understand what he meant.  The Big Book warned me that the number one reason people quit the program of recovery is resentment.  It continued to say that as an alcoholic, I did not have the luxury of being angry.

When I did my fourth step and then continued on with my tenth step, I began to see my anger.  I was angry I wasn't smarter, prettier, thinner or wealthier.  I was angry my friends seemd to get what my parents wouldnt give me.  I was angry I wasn't married with children when I thought I should be. The list went on.

Nearly thirteen years later, I can see and accept my ongoing resentments.  I am angry I am not decisive.  I am angry I wasted so much time in my addictioin.  I am angry my son won't behave. I am angry I have to work. I am angry my husband asks too many questions when I am exhausted.

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Posted by on in Co-dependency

My sponsor told me that my negativity is my addiction personified. Increase In other words, what I believe is wrong in me and the world will be outwardly projected into my life.  If I believe I can't get sober, I won't.  If I believe I can't succeed, I won't.  If I believe the world is against me, it will be.

Conversely, recovery teaches me that the positive beliefs I form will manifest in my life.  The emphasis switches from negative projection to positive projection.  I believe I can be sober and I am.  I believe I can recover from multiple forms of addiction and I did.  I believe I can be successful at work and a great mother and I am.

I notice lately that there is an area of my life where I don't feel the peace and joy I want to feel and that is my marriage.  In doing my tenth step and talking over my feelings both with a sponsor and a professional (therapist), I learned about the term "introjection."  This is when you digest a part of your envirnonment (namely your original caregivers like your parents) whole.

These are some of the beliefs I digested by growing up in my home:

I should marry well (Rich, smart, Jewish, my own age, no baggage)

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Posted by on in Alcoholism

My son is entering Kindergarten tomorrow. Increase I am forty four years old.  I am a late bloomer and, yes, I am blooming right along side my little guy!  It's hard to think about the experience he is going to have at school without reflecting back on my own experience growing up.

Recovery has given me so many tools.  Despite the fact that both he and I are nervous about his first day because we don't know what to expect, I can be present for my son in a way I could not be present for myself as a young girl. I remember laying awake at night before the first night of school and having a hard time falling asleep.  I had knots in my stomach from the anticipation of who would be in my class, if I would like my teacher, and whether my outfit was cute enough.

As smart and capable as I was, I think I always felt a bit more self-conscious than most.  I was ultra sensitive.  I never felt I was good enough.  I was a chameleon who could fit into any crowd.  I notice a lot of similarities between my son and I and I am so thankful I have my spiritual set of tools to help him in his journey. 

Without projecting, I am prepared to acknowledge and understand his feelings and meet him where he is.  I am prepared to pray for his good and trust that all will be well.  I am prepared to weather any storm, without drinking or drugging, and be a power of example to him day by day. I am prepared to be his cheerleader, shoulder to cry on, inspiration and Truth.

I may not be the most involved or knowledgable mom about school etiquette, but I am certain there is not a parent out there who is more equipped than me to teach my son the joy in learning, the gift in giving and the abundance of miracles in every experience.  AA has taught me how to suit up and show up and expect good things to happen as long as I stay sober.  Back to school is something I experience everytime I wake up to life and I hope my son always enjoys learning as much as I do.

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Posted by on in Co-dependency

Step eight of the twelve steps entails making a list Increaseof all people I harmed and becoming willing to make amends to them all.  When I first entered sobriety, the only people I believed I had harmed were either boyfriends I cheated on, family I stole from or friends I lied to.  I thought the only person hurt by my addiction was me. 

I knew it was not good for my body to use cocaine, drown in alcohol, smoke cigarettes or purge food. Still, I had little ability to see how my actions harmed the people around me. Even after my first fourth step, I still focused on the more obvious harms like stealing money or missing work. 

It was only after several years of doing my inventory on a daily basis, in addition to writing my memoir, that I faced and accepted the subtle ways I harmed my fellows.  These harms included my defects of character including dishonesty, envy, manipulation, blaming, shaming, condemning, judging, gossiping, and even withdrawing.

What my friend from college said when I made an amends to her for locking myself in my room when I did cocaine awakened me to the truth about my harms.  She said, "Wow, I didnt realize you had that kind of a problem.  I alway thought you just didnt want to be around me.  I just thought you closed the door so you didnt have to be with me."

Since then, it is clear to me that when I isolate, I harm people. When I raise my voice, I harm people.  I harm people by being impatient.  I harm people by telling them what they want to hear. I harm people by telling them what they don't need to hear.  I harm people by talking behind their backs.  The list goes on and on. 

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