I was born and raised on acreage just outside of Qualicum Beach, on Vancouver Island, BC.
I loved to sing, dance, and write as a kid, was inherently funny, and quite obviously the comedian in my family. I loved to make people laugh, and they seemed to like me more when I did, so it became something I tried to keep up.
But around the age of 12, being funny became harder to pull off. I slipped into a heavy depression and began experiencing severe social anxiety. I started self-medicating at 14 when I realized drugs and alcohol could temporarily stop me from feeling terrible about myself. I’d get wasted as often as I could and kept it up until my mid-30s.
I heard James Taylor say on Oprah’s Masterclass that if you fall in love with drugs or alcohol the first time you try them, you should run like hell in the opposite direction. I loved them both instantly but never ran. I saturated myself in them, putting them before most everything and everyone in my life to varying degrees for close to 20 years.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but PTSD was a catalyst for my desire to escape.
I experienced a lot of trauma growing up, and drinking and doing drugs was my attempt to outrun the resulting fear and sadness. In the absence of family members who were capable of helping me process the debilitating depression and anxiety symptoms I experienced, getting wasted became all the more desirable.
Unfortunately, getting wasted wasn’t a good fit for me. There were loads of embarrassing scenarios over the years, and I used the memories of them to remind me that I didn’t deserve kindness.
As harsh as it sounds, I spent close to 20 years thinking I was a piece of shit, and that belief helped fuel addictions to all sorts of toxic substances, beliefs, and behaviors.
In my 20s, new trauma compounded with trauma from my youth and things started to visibly fall apart. The issues carried on into my 30s when I began to live in a constant state of internal chaos and panic. Anxiety, depression, and self-hatred ruled my life and manifested into all sorts of projection methods. I didn’t know how to be nice to people, because I didn’t know how to be nice to myself.
At the time, I hated myself. I had zero self-love and didn’t think it was acceptable or possible to try to.
I felt resentful of the traumatic episodes from my past I couldn’t seem to let go of. There was so much anger bubbling within me, particularly towards the people who had physically and emotionally violated me. I trusted no one.
I couldn’t hold down a 9 to 5 job (the thought of being trapped doing something I hated all day terrified me) and my relationships were imploding. I was drawn to people who were equally as troubled as I was, had zero belief in my worth as a female, and felt terrified to face how deeply and thoroughly I hated myself.
My preferred state of being was full of faux self-esteem through drugs and alcohol. I’d have been drunk and high every day of my life if my bank account could have managed it.
There’s only so far you can go with that kind of lifestyle before you hit a brick wall, and thankfully, I hit one before I ended up dead.
It was six am after a night of partying. The coke and wine were gone. I had nothing to use to run from how I felt. A terrifying yet powerful catalyst for change began to bubble towards the surface:
I not only felt I had done something wrong, but that I was something wrong. Slumped against the shower wall, I cried 2 decades worth of tears.
I cried for the violations I couldn’t seem to heal from, the abandonment that ripped my heart in two as a child, and the fear that ruled my life and told me to keep attempting suicide by trying to escape my pain through drugs.
I wanted to fight with the truth – that I had been defeated and there were no more ways to run – but something inside said No More!
Even in my sleep-deprived and stimulant-altered state, it was obvious that the days of incessantly trying to outrun my feelings were over.
I didn’t want to die anymore. I wanted to live. Not just breathe in and out, but step beyond living in survival mode.
I wanted to do something with my life I could be proud of. I wanted to heal myself, and help other people in the process.
It would make for a great story, to be able to say I quit drinking and doing drugs right then, but that’s rarely the case with addictions. Steps back accompanied every step forward for a long time.
This is life, This is what it is to be human.
Throughout the back and forth I read a lot of books, which helped convince me there were ways to see myself other than inherently flawed. This was key to my recovery, as was moving away from the city my drug dealers lived and delivered in (Yep, that’s how easy it is to get drugs. Shocking right?)
I worked hard at getting healthy. I ate less meat, more plants, and started meditating. I started getting to know myself and figuring out who I was underneath all the layers of addiction, trauma, and self-hatred: what I liked and didn’t like.
Over time I realized I’d been putting on an act most of my life, trying to play a role I wasn’t born to play, and I was sick of it.
I was tired of trying to get people I didn’t feel comfortable or safe around to like me. So I made a commitment to stop trying so hard, particularly when it came to unhealthy friendships.
Though it felt really lonely at first, it also felt incredibly freeing.
As I settled into a new way of living, I began to realize the deficiencies I’d berated myself for throughout my life were actually gifts.
I had just been actively seeking approval from people who didn’t see the value in me being me, and realized there was no way they were going to be able to help me comprehend my worth.
The more I began to understand my role in my own suffering, and believed and affirmed positive things about myself, the more I warmed up to the value of me being me.
I began to understand that I didn’t need the approval of others to be happy, a mind-blowing concept for a girl who’d spent her life attaching her self-worth to outside approval.
Then I decided to give myself permission to do what I loved again after a 15-year hiatus: Write.
I wrote and wrote and wrote, some sub-par stuff, some stuff that belonged in a journal, not on the internet (Insight: never press post on something written with a closed heart), and some pretty freaking spectacular stuff.
I got published in a magazine, invited to become a Huffington Post blogger, and featured in a book.
I kept doing things differently than I’d always done them, and lot’s of changes began to take place.
I started to feel OK about putting my mental and physical health at the forefront of everything I did, in spite of the people in my life who believed it was selfish. (Insight: Perpetual self-sacrifice is NOT your birthright.)
I gave myself permission to be assertive with those who tested my boundaries and I used my newly formed sense of self to stand by my right to be well.
It was challenging to say the least. People really don’t like it when you don’t do what they want you to do. But I let myself feel the discomfort of people not being pleased with me and stood my ground.
I started to examine my life goals and realized a lot of them had to do with the acquirement of stuff. Self-reflection told me that underneath those desires lived a drive to feel accepted and loved. Case in point, if I have this kind of car, that kind of make-up, or those kinds of clothes, people might accept and approve of me more readily.
So I started examining my drive to acquire things. Whenever it started tugging at my sleeve, I sought out the catalyst – the feeling fuelling it. This helped me open my mind to the truth: Sure, I liked nice things, but pining over what I didn’t have and using stuff to fill a void wouldn’t help me be happy.
With my drive to acquire still alive and well, I opened my heart to the fact that if I wanted to be healthy and happy I needed to accept that I was human, and prone to the issues that came with being one.
I needed to not only own the pretty but the ugly; the fuck-ups and the fuck-yeahs; the shitty and the holy shit am I ever grateful’s.
I couldn’t discriminate and only choose to accept one or the other. I had to accept all of it.
When I stopped fighting with my humanness, life became way easier.
Job wise, I convinced myself I wasn’t a terrible person because I didn’t like working for other people. Self-reflection uncovered a common theme in the gigs I had worked: they were not a good fit for my personality, were way outside my skill set, and my employers were very often misogynists.
After quitting my final job working for a dude who was a clone of all the ones before him (Insight: Lessons keep coming until you learn them) and then quickly quitting the next position over the way she treated me (Insight: Women can be misogynists, too), I went through the shocking process of realizing and accepting that my employers weren’t the only ones who weren’t treating me with kindness: I wasn’t being kind to myself, either.
So I began practicing Maitri; Loving-kindness; Self-Compassion.
Amidst all the backstepping and blunders and screw-ups, and in the company of people who couldn’t offer me kindness, I took the time to breathe and be loving to myself.
More healing began when I started actively seeking out the lesson in every “Are you kidding me?!” moment I experienced and wrote about it.
With every fight with my hubby; every less-than-stellar interaction with a family member, employer, or client; every moment of impatience that prodded me to freak the fuck out about something or at someone, I sifted out the lesson and wrote.
I wanted to learn from the painful moments, so I could get better, not just feel better.
Over time, I stopped letting the disappointments consume me and started seeing them as necessary to my emotional evolvement. Instead of making a home in my mistakes with a bottle of cheap Merlot, smokes, some coke, and a pile of pity and complaints, I rose up when I fell down.
Without the fog of escape, I was able to notice fear when it came about instead of letting it make decisions for me, and life got lighter still.
I became aware of the person I’d always been beneath the layers of trauma, addiction, and self-hatred: A deeply empathetic human being driven to be of service.
I’m grateful you’ve taken the time to visit and learn a bit more about my story, and I look forward to connecting with you!
That said, I’m in my happier place when I don’t make social media a top priority. I prefer to communicate with my readers through twice a month-ish emails.
I share insights, self-care resources I’m loving, and new content.
Thank you again for taking the time to learn more about me. I’m really happy you’re here, and I hope to connect with you soon.