Most of my life I had been uncomfortable.  I didn’t know this when I was 7, I just thought everyone felt that way.
I was a very smart child.  I was also polite, driven and uncomfortable.  I didn’t know what to do with all the stuff that I felt and the thoughts that I had.  So, I withdrew, I hid, I stuffed my feelings, I pretended that things were okay, I “tried on” other people’s personalities and how they dressed and talked and wrote their name.Things happened when I was a kid.  A neighborhood kid chased me around his house trying to rub his penis on me, a boy from my 5th grade class chased me home nearly every day for a year.  If he caught me, he would pinch my butt so hard, it would leave a bruise.  I was a tomboy and played sports, but so wanted to fit in with the “popular” girls.  I got braces and was incessantly made fun of.  My last name was a constant source of negative rhyming and teasing. There were three girls that were absolutely hell-bent on making my life miserable.  And I just stuffed all this down and kept it to myself, pretending everything was ok.  Looking back, I felt utterly powerless and this was all before I was 12!

RyanJen

When I was 15, I found alcohol.  And all of sudden, I found my personality.  

I was ALL those things that I wasn’t when I was just plain Jennie.  I was loud and funny and everyone wanted to hang out with me.  I was even voted “most fun to be with” my senior year in high school.  I felt so sad when they voted me that.  There was a part of me that knew that they only liked this person that I had CREATED when I drank. The true me, the REAL me, was rejected.

My drinking and dabbling in drugs, to escape, ebbed and flowed.  When I was in college, it was such a big place, I could get lost and hide without a substance. But that ugly feeling of not fitting in still remained.  And again, I tried to fit in by looking like others, talking like others, taking on personality traits of others.  The problem was the same, I was just older.

The irony was that I was playing a sport, on a full ride scholarship to a Division One school. I had lots of “friends”.  People thought that I had it together; but I never felt I did.    I ran up credit cards trying to “fit in.”  I moved in to a sorority to “fit in.” Living in a sorority there was a daily invitation to drink.   So, I participated, with fervor. When I drank, I felt like I belonged.  I felt included and liked and as a good friend said,“Pretty, Titty and Witty!”.  {ugh}

download (17)

 

By the time I was 29, the morning hangovers were no longer just physical. The toll that my drinking took on my soul was tremendous.  I’d wake up and have to try to piece together what happened the night before.  What did I say?  Who did I see?  Check my receipts, check the garage for the car, check the phone for texts or for numbers that I’d dialed.  This behavior was so crippling that I’d drink again to help me forget and dismiss all the self-hate.  My internal moral code and my actions were so far apart it was nearly impossible to reconcile.  It was like living with two people in my head.

My pattern of self-destruction, self-loathing and being uncomfortable continued through two marriages, through two domestic violence incidences, through many mornings of waking up and wishing that I had not.

In early 2009, I ran in to an old friend {Dustin}.  We started to talk and I remember thinking:

  • 1. Why is this guy so freaking happy?
  • 2. Why doesn’t he have a drink in his hand?
  • 3.  He has to be on something because NO ONE is EVER this content without being on SOMETHING.

In March of 2009, I was sobbing in the parking lot of a church.  I was really at the end of my rope and just didn’t know how I got where I was, why I hated myself so much, and had just resigned myself to a life of misery. (Quick side note:  I had a great job that I was very good at.  I looked REALLY good; hair done, nails done and fit.  I drove a nice car and owned a home. So, on the outside, it looked really super.)

So, back to the church parking lot. I called Dustin and I asked him if he would go to church with me that Sunday. I told him that I needed to find something, that I was so miserable.  He said that he’d prefer to go to his church, that night.  So, I went back to work, went home, fed the dog, had two glasses of wine and then drove to meet Dustin at his church… which was a 12 step meeting. (Oh, the irony.)

Two days later, I phoned Dustin to confess that I thought I had a problem.  His response was, “What kind of problem?” He was always a smart ass but I know that his response contributed to me getting sober. He didn’t push, he didn’t say I had to, he didn’t tell me there was something wrong with me or I was a failure.

I got sober that same month, March of 2009.  I haven’t had a drink since.  But if you have ever recovered from addiction, you already know that it’s not necessarily about the substance you were abusing.  So, there has been a LOT of personal work done over the last seven years.

Life is not unicorns and puppies and rainbows.  LIFE. IS. IN. SESSION.  It is a continual learning process that I get to discover, uncover and discard.  I get to feel my feelings today and own each and every one of them.  THIS is not always easy but I have been on the other side and I KNOW that THAT was definitely not easy.

Those first few months, I didn’t think I was going to make it.  The swath of destruction that my drinking/using caused, left a path of debris that was going to take 2 years to clean up.  Credit cards, legal matters, amends to make, bridges to burn.  I had no idea which end was up.  I shook in meetings like the temperature was below zero.  I wore a black baseball cap, pulled it low and sat behind the only pillar in the room (I can laugh at this now but I was a hot mess).  I was afraid to make ANY decisions.  My day consisted of getting up and taking a run with my dog, shower, go to a meeting, go to work, take my dog for another run, dinner and watch HGTV.  I was so hyper-aware of how uncomfortable I was, how afraid of EVERYTHING I was.  At one point, my Mom called to check on me.  Things were not going well and I told her so… I was crying all the time, I had no idea what the HELL I was doing.  She said (so kindly and really trying to help) that I should go do something that I really liked to do.  And I remember, vividly, YELLING “I have NO IDEA WHAT I LIKE TO DO!  I know my name, I know where I live and I know where I work, I DON’T KNOW anything else.”

I made big mistakes early on in sobriety.  I sneaked around in sobriety.  I got back together with my abuser…I lied to my parents, my brother, Dustin, and to my sponsor.  I went to Europe with the ex and as soon as I got there, I knew that I had to do anything to get home.  It was absolutely awful.  The verbal abuse, the attack on my sobriety, the tearing down of my soul, started at the first hotel.  It was brutal.  When I got home, I called everyone and told the truth.  I thought Dustin’s head was going to pop off.  And my sponsor, not happy either.  Lesson learned.
Weeks turned in to months turned in to years.  I got better at making decisions, I started to trust myself, listen to myself.  I made friends. Real ones.  Authentic ones.  The kind that you need no mask, no pretense. Just yourself.  I made WOMEN friends…  this was a big deal.  I never had women friends.  I hated women, they were just so petty and the DRAMA… Ha!

Fast forward to today.  I have had hardship, devastating loss, unbridled joy and heartache in those 7 years.  But I have chosen, with a LOT of work and with the help of a LOT of people, research, introspection, a higher power (God, Buddha, Rumi, you name it) to not “check out” or numb or hide or run.  I have chosen to SHOW UP.

I have a son, a husband, a home, three rescue dogs and a LIFE.  A life that is built on the foundation of love and trust and authenticity. The drama, the self-loathing, the incomprehensible demoralization is gone.

In 2015, I started to feel a shift.  I really couldn’t put my finger on it but I was starting to feel dispirited when leaving 12 Step meetings and when I had to identify as an alcoholic.  This bothered me.  I loved my friends there SO MUCH.  So, I decided to “take a commitment”.  Meaning, I led a meeting (it was a meditation meeting) for a period of months, every Sunday.  I thought maybe my disconnection was just that…disconnection.  That didn’t work.  Something was stirring and I knew better than to ignore it.   I mentioned it to my husband and my friend Chris.  At the same time, there was a shift in my work life.  I had started a Web Design Company while home with my son, Lucas… the isolation and hours at a desk were not working either.

 

So, I went back to my roots; GOLF and  I started taking yoga classes.  I loved my meditation classes and so I was encouraged by my friend Chris to practice yoga.  Then, Life/God/The Universe started to align and the puzzle pieces started rapidly fitting together.  I emailed an old acquaintance and Founder of Yoga For Golfers, Katherine Roberts.  I took two of her trainings and started teaching but I wanted something more. So, I looked in to a training in my area and found the perfect one… and then it changed dates and times {No longer perfect}. And then, I found a Yoga Teacher Training near my parent’s home. To this day, I have NO idea how that  training showed up in my Facebook feed, but so grateful that it did.  I found Tommy Rosen and Recovery 2.0 and a wealth of knowledge about my Mind, Heart, Body and Soul.  The gaps and the questions and the dispirited feeling has been replaced with joy and peace and feeling of “Home”.

I get asked if I would change anything.  What would I do differently? What would you tell the “Younger You?”   The truth is that I love my life so much that if one part of my story were altered, I would never have ended up here.

Today, I am a Mom, a Wife, a Dog Mom, a friend, a daughter, a sister, a confidante.  I am a Yoga Teacher, a Master Life/ Recovery Coach and blogger. I am a Woman on a mission to be the best version of myself AND to help others do the same.  I KNOW that this is possible regardless of your past, regardless of what is happening at this moment.  You have more SUPER POWERS than you know.