Neurochemistry what the heck does that have to do with addiction?

This is my third blog post on addiction and completes this series.

Disclaimer: I am not a scientist, I have studied the subject of neurochemistry in relationship to addiction, but these are my own conclusions and opinions coming from that studying and my experience.
Do your own homework, remember you are your own best teacher!
I am not the font of all knowledge or the oracle (Yet! lol, I need a few hundred years, crap do I have to become a vampire …. damn, well it might not be so bad!) I’m a mere mortal with some life experience which once healed, ended up with a touch of wisdom. (Well I like to think so anyway.) Neurochemistry of addiction

I’ve mentioned being ‘at choice’ in my previous posts. Within the context of addiction this means how much will power do I have at my disposal in this moment in order to apply my sobriety strategies successfully.

Here’s an exert from my previous blog post:
“Another huge piece of unwrapping the puzzle for me anyway was with a biofeedback machine, from the HeartMath institute. With a simple program on the computer I was to get the program into ‘coherence’, the sweet spot where I was happy. So once I had that down, I started to play with my thoughts to see where some of my triggers were. I got the machine into coherence and thought one word ‘Cocaine’, my coherence vanished into the toilet, that didn’t surprise me, to this day 11 years later, I get butterflies in the stomach thinking the word.
What did surprise me, was that even though I got right back to thinking the thoughts that got me into coherence the first time, it took 3X as long to get me back to my happy place. This was shocking and illuminating to me. No wonder when we use ‘whatever’, the ability to stop gets harder and harder. We are less and less ‘at choice’, and this brings us to neurochemistry. ”

So to explain we need to get a bit sciencey which I actually love.

We need to start at the very beginning of your life, which starts in utero.
There used to be a belief that our neurochemistry was set at birth and that was that. Now we know better, we know about the brain’s plasticity. The brain can change and heal, yes you heard me. Now that doesn’t give you a free pass to go and drink yourself into oblivion thinking that all the cells your are killing will heal. (Yes I know some of you went there, don’t bullshit an ex-bullshiter).

From the time we are fully formed in utero to approx. 6 yrs old all experiences from the child’s perspective create a reaction in the brain’s neurochemistry. Perceived positive experiences make it rise and perceived negative experiences make it drop. (I’m sure it’s far more complicated that that, but in simple terms ….). Then around 6 yrs old the neurochemistry sets to the average of all those experiences.

Now the word perceived is very important as these experiences are from the child’s perspective, not necessarily the truth (whatever that means, and I will not go down that particular rabbit hole!). So a child that is ill and ends up in the hospital for days, may experience abandonment due to their parents not being able to stay with them the whole time. They are actually not abandoned, but we come from our perspective of reality even when little. I imagine many parents when playing hide and seek with their little child had the experience of their child being totally shocked when you found them easily. You found them easily because you could see a part of their body. When the child is very young, if they can’t see you they think you can’t see them, and are astounded when you find them because even though part of their body was clearly visible to you, they cannot yet imagine that. “How did you find me mommy?” I loved those moments with my child, absolutely precious.

So your neurochemistry is now set, but where did it set? I have a hypothesis that addicts that prefer booze and pot, (downers, they chill you out) have their neurochemistry set higher than non-addicts, and addicts who prefer stimulants like cocaine, (They ramp you up) have their neurochemistry set too low. This is purely speculation but I like my theory, would that someone does a research paper on this, I’d love to find out. If I am correct it would also help create better pharmaceuticals that target more accurately, rather than the hit or miss that seems to be the norm at the moment. Not that I’m advocate for the pharmaceutical industry far from it, but some medication is good, it’s not all black and white in life.

So regardless of where your neurochemistry is set, the more you use your addiction of choice, the more it affects your neurochemistry. As illuminated with the HeartMath biofeedback machine even the word, of my favourite substance affected my neurochemistry, imagine what actually using if for hours did. Then (I’ll use cocaine as it is what I most familiar with), you crash once you stop using it. In particular your dopamine crashes, as cocaine is a dopamine reuptake inhibitor which is why it makes you feel so damn good. It jacks your dopamine up and then stops it from coming down. Now you awake with a cocaine hangover, which means your dopamine is in the proverbial toilet, which means you are severely depressed neurochemically and otherwise. Which lasts from my experience 3 days with day 2 being the worst. Now think back to the first blog post about my experience as an addict, add to that this information …… and shitballs if you have no compassion now you are the spawn of Voldemort and do not have a heart!

To illuminate the ‘at choice’ concept I’m going to use a neurochemistry set point scale of 1 – 20, 10 being the average for non-addicts. Say before I started using cocaine my neurochemistry was generally (yes it does fluctuate) set at 8. Then I use cocaine, it skyrockets to 16, then I stop and it plummets to 4. Then once I’ve gone through the depression stage after not using, it goes back up but only to 7 not my usual setting of 8. Then I use cocaine, it skyrockets to 16, then I stop and it plummets to 3. Then once I’ve gone through the depression stage after not using, it goes back up but only to 6 not my usual setting of 8. Then I use cocaine, it skyrockets to 16, then I stop and it plummets to 3. Then once I’ve gone through the depression stage after not using, it goes back up but only to 5 not my usual setting of 8. Getting the idea, I’m making the numbers up to show a cycle, do not take these numbers as factual they are not. I tried to make a fancy ass diagram to illuminate this, but once I started all the other factors made things much too complicated for me to draw out. As one needs to add to that the knowledge that it takes longer and longer to get back to normal, that the drugs effects wane and more and more is needed, depression increases, that stresses play a role, on and on. Well that’s one rolling ball than never mind ‘gathering no moss’, will just explode at some point. The proverbial ‘bottoming out’, straw that broke the camels back, etc. happens.

So no matter what strategies I use for sobriety, at each stage I have less and less chance that my strategies will be successful, no matter how much I intellectually want to not use, physically my neurochemistry is handicapping me. I am less ‘at choice’.

So …… yes I take full responsibility for choosing to use cocaine, and yes I chose addiction as a way to numb my pain, the pain that I had before I started using addiction as a self medicating strategy. I started numbing pain when I was very little, with food. Then came cigarettes at 13, then pot at 18. I fought them all successfully on and off throughout my life. It wasn’t until I was 40 that I tried cocaine and knew with the very first line that I was well and truly screwed. I had found the substance that hit my sweet spot of numbing that pain, and having battled addiction for as long as I could remember, I didn’t think I would win this one. Thankfully I was wrong.

Hopefully now you have learnt something new about addiction and why it is so hard to overcome it. Addicts need our help and support when they ask for it. They have to recreate their world from scratch with a neurochemical imbalance, depression and choosing to stop using the thing that made life tolerable. They have to face and feel a lifetime of pain and heal.

Do not try and rescue an addict or force them into treatment, it will not work in the long term, addicts need to make that choice themselves. If you feel that you have to rescue or force them into treatment, take a big look in the mirror, because you are not actually doing it for them, even if you think you are. You are doing it for you. That might be hard to hear, you may be calling ‘bullshit’, but underlying everything we do, is a motivation that leads right back to us.

For my part, my motivation for this series on addiction I knew wasn’t to just to help addicts and non-addicts alike. I knew because when that person talked about addicts with disgust and loathing (see 1st blog post on addiction) I had an uncomfortable reaction. That was my red flag. If I had completely healed my issues around addiction the disgust and loathing would not have created a reaction in me. I would have know it was just their stuff without any emotional reaction other than compassion. I know this to be true from all the healing work I have done.

It has been through writing these posts that what lurked beneath …. has become clear. What I now know, is underneath my desire to write these posts, I was hoping for forgiveness, hoping for acceptance from outside myself. (Do not give it to me, you will not be helping!) Trying once again to dislodge feelings of inadequacy, judgement, shame and blame through others acceptance. It was exactly this dance that I did with my parents as a young child, changing who I was, in order to be loved. That was how I wounded myself, so much so, that I needed to numb the pain of my own betrayal.

I did not realize this when I started this series, I thought that layer of the proverbial onion was healed, but alas it was lurking in my subconscious, I did not want to see it. However …. hello, bonjour there it was.

Now I once again have done my healing work around my shit, healing a little more, and become a more balanced human. Grateful for the person who unknowingly pushed my buttons. They brought the next piece in my healing journey front and centre, and I am grateful to myself for seeing it.

 

HEALING through CEREMONY, healing, ceremony, healing ceremony, shamanism, past history, past relationship, pain, past relationship pain be gone, Michele fire-river heart, medicine woman, Gabriola island, British Columbia, Canada, focus, perspective, attention, addiction, sobriety, feelings, hope

Addicts are warriors in their own right!

So in my previous blog post I said I would tell you how I got successfully sober, I did everything listed below and more. My ‘story’ of that time is really not important, and I have told it before. Right now I do not need to revisit that whole story to share the juice of sobriety.

Suffice as to say ….
I was in deep addiction, I manifested dropping the bottom out of all my basic needs support systems, couldn’t pay the rent, nowhere to go, disillusioned with even considering I could get sober again for the umpteenth time, thought I had tried everything, year long addiction program, self help, healing ceremonies and rituals, leaving my addictive mate over and over again, and going back to him over and over again, I was hope free. However …. I had an amazing compassionate supportive circle of people in my life. My closest shamanic sister said the magic words I probably couldn’t have heard from anyone else.
“You can’t get sober and hold it staying in your life!” So I asked for help from my shamanic teachers, which led to a ‘Yes be out in BC on our land in 3 weeks, leave your car, I know you can do it, goodbye’ (I lived in Ottawa at the time). So, I closed up 3 business, sold, recycled and stored the balance of my possessions in about 3 different friends places, got gifted money from clients and my mom, broke up with my mate, kissed my adult daughter and family goodbye, and landed in BC 3 weeks later. Not quite sure how the heck I’d pulled it off. Ever seen ‘Galaxy Quest’ when the main character get’s shot from the spaceship to earth in the ‘jelly capsule’? Remember his reactions when he landed ….. same!
AND then the healing in sobriety began.

I have a lot of information below. Beware the dreaded overwhelm. If you feel so inclined pick one thing to try initially, do not set yourself up for failure by putting unrealistic expectations on yourself. Getting to sobriety is a journey that you start in addiction. Slowly, slowly you gain wisdom, knowledge and enough experience to get to successful sobriety. Remember you are always doing the best you can in each moment, even when it doesn’t look pretty!     Sometimes it helps to see the little innocent child you were, help her/him/they to heal, get a photo, stick it somewhere to tap into that energy. Be gentle with yourself, as often as you can, and if you can’t perhaps that can be a goal?

Addiction is a way to numb pain
It is not in the substance or behaviour it’s in the brain

Do not ask: Why am I an addict?
Ask: What is causing me pain!

Dr. Gabor Maté, the preeminent authority on addiction today: a quick 3:25 mins. video on addiction

There is one underlying principle to sobriety, it is the ability to feel your pain and heal the traumas that have/are creating the pain.

Which if you could’ve done it alone you would have.
How many times have you tried ….. lots I am betting
You are not weak, it is not a matter of self control
You are brave, you are strong, you do battle every day in order to survive
You are warrior even if you do not feel that way right now

So you want to get sober ….
Are you doing it for you?

Getting sober for others, or because you think/feel you ‘should’ is a waste of time and energy, and just layers more guilt, shame and blame on top of that huge pile you’ve already accumulated each time you do not succeed.

Set yourself up for success:
~ Go for sobriety when you desire it with all your heart for yourself
~ Ensure your have un-judgemental compassionate support in place from day one of sobriety
~ Know that you are willing to make the radical changes necessary to support your sobriety
~ Know that you are willing to start the process of healing the pain and trauma of your past
~ Make sure you know where to get medical help if you need it.

So …..
Heal the pain and trauma = Sobriety
Sounds simple, well it’s not …..

The missing link to sobriety for many, is having a person or people who will hold a space for you with compassion for you to heal your trauma.

Which is why AA, NA, etc. are so popular, but in the end you need to stop telling your stories about addiction, it will not help you stay sober. It will keep you locked into your past, always afraid that you might go back into addiction. You will be a dry addict, not actively using in that moment, but holding your breath waiting for the next excuse that will validate going back into addition.

Sobriety takes
~ Healing while in addiction
~ Self awareness of your patterns, buttons, back doors. Not all at once, just start watching yourself, get to know how you tick.
~ A willingness to take responsibility for your actions
~ Understanding that stress is one of your biggest challenges. The more stressed you are the greater the risk that you will use. First stress of the day: you breathe deeply, 2nd stress you’re swearing, 3rd stress you kick something, 4th stress you’re yelling, 5th stress you’re white knuckling it, you’re overwhelmed, you cave and use. I’m not saying this is your pattern just an example of stress escalation.

Sobriety takes
~ Strategies, strategies lots of them, strategies are your friend.
No one strategy works all the time, so have lots

~ Knowing your ‘sweet spot’ as within that ‘sweet spot’ lies your greatest chance of success. It is those moments when you are so tired of the addiction dance you crave sobriety for you, as well as having practical matters aligned. i.e. a support system, a sober place to stay, medical support if needed and strategies. By extension know when you are most at risk. Where are you, how do you feel, what stresses you out. (This is a strategy)

~ Practice, patience and persistence – the 3 ‘P’s’ I used to call it and would use it as a mantra as well (This is a strategy)
If you think you don’t have those skills ……. Surprise! …. Yes you do.
Think of your determination when needing to score, the skills you used…. practice, patience and persistence. How often did you not score when you wanted to ……. yeh exactly, you got this!
Use those skills for your sobriety, it’s the exact same skill set just with a different goal.

Sobriety takes
~ Acknowledging your successes – Think of all those times you didn’t use when you wanted to, I promise you those moments far outweigh the moments you cave and use. Carry around a wee notebook and pen, every time you want to use and don’t mark it down, do not mark down when you cave, this is an acknowledging success piece (This is a strategy)

~ Mark each day of sobriety some how, whatever works for you. Make it visual. For 5 years I put a bead every day sober onto a string, and hung the strings around the room I lived in the most. (This is a strategy)

Sobriety takes
~ A willingness to keep fighting for yourself by doing your healing of past trauma(s)
~ It takes erasing your past history, not sitting in a circle rehashing your war stories, all that does is take your right back to those moments and keeps those memories alive.

Sobriety takes
~ Many attempts at sobriety, before you have a totally successful sobriety, sobriety that sticks. I have never heard of someone who tried first time and succeeded, I’m not saying it can’t happen it’s just not the norm.
If you were learning a new skill, trail and error would be expected,
so cut yourself some slack, at this point sobriety is a new skill.
You have found a way to numb your pain, forget your trauma for a little while, and now you’re asking yourself to take away the proverbial net.
That is no easy decision ….. it takes courage ….. you are a warrior!
Oh yes, I hear that negative internal dialogue, judging yourself, heaping guilt, shame and blame on yourself, ‘I’m not a warrior, what shit is she spewing,?” Blah, blah, blah. A lot of that may have been heaped on you from friends, family and/or society at large …. Guess what F_ _K them, they do not know your pain, your trauma, your battle, if they did they would have compassion, not judgement.
Compassion for yourself will be a huge turning point in your ability to attain and/or maintain sobriety, and increase your ability to do the courageous stuff, to heal.

My turning point as far as compassion for myself was about 3 months into my successful sobriety. As part of my healing journey the woman who was facilitating it gave me some homework. I was to read Gabor Maté’s ‘In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts – Close encounters with addiction’. I got the pieces I personally needed to have compassion for myself, and it rocked my world, it changed how I felt about myself dramatically.

Sobriety takes
~ The courage to get back on the horse if you go back into addiction
~ Learning what shakes you out of balance, your triggers, mirrors of self-reflection, your energy patterns.
Sobriety takes
~ Changing your life.
~ Cutting out anyone in your life that is an addict or linked to that world. That back door needs to be closed.
~ Closing all back doors to excuses to use, which means cutting out anyone in your life that uses substances or behaviours that were your addictions, IF they will not abstain when you’re around. This bit isn’t for life, but it takes many years in my experience before it’s not a trigger.
Now this then means quite often that to get sober you will have to leave a lot of people that you love/like behind. If you do not, your odds of being successful are unlikely. It can be a lonely road, but you have a choice doing all the work needed to become sober and leaving back doors open so you can fail with a convenient excuse, or getting ruthless and closing them all. You are a warrior you can take the path that leads to you winning the war not just one battle.

Sobriety takes
~ Forgiveness, you have to forgive yourself, you’re doing the best you can, and you keep trying
~ Cleaning up any messes you made while in addiction, owning your shit and apologizing for it, without expectation of forgiveness. You do it to clean up your emotional slate, regardless of their reaction. This is a friggin’ hard one, but really important. Make sure you have compassionate support when doing these pieces. You know that huge shit pile of shame, blame, guilt and self judgement, these are the additional pieces you added to the pile over and above the initial traumas that led to you choosing addiction as a means to survive your pain.

Another huge piece of unwrapping the puzzle for me anyway was with a biofeedback machine, from the HeartMath institute. With a simple program on the computer I was to get the program into ‘coherence’, the sweet spot where I was happy. So once I had that down, I started to play with my thoughts to see where some of my triggers were. I got the machine into coherence and thought one word ‘Cocaine’, my coherence vanished into the toilet, that didn’t surprise me, to this day 11 years later, I get butterflies in the stomach thinking the word.
What did surprise me, was that even though I got right back to thinking the thoughts that got me into coherence the first time, it took 3X as long to get me back to my happy place. This was shocking and illuminating to me. No wonder when we use ‘whatever’, the ability to stop gets harder and harder. We are less and less ‘at choice’, and this brings us to neurochemistry.

Which I know I said I’d deal with in this blog post, but I’m done for today. I’ll put it in my next one.

RESOURCES
Dr. Gabor Maté videos – How Addiction Works –  (There are many videos on YouTube, I’ve just picked one)
Dr. Gabor Maté books
HeartMath Institute

HEALING through CEREMONY, healing, ceremony, healing ceremony, shamanism, past history, past relationship, pain, past relationship pain be gone, Michele fire-river heart, medicine woman, Gabriola island, British Columbia, Canada, focus, perspective, attention, addiction, sobriety, feelings, hope

Addiction is an adaptation to survive

This is a touchy subject that creates strong reactions. If you think I’m full of shit that’s okay, your truth is your own, all I can do is share my truth at this particular moment in time.

You are always doing the best you can even if it doesn’t look pretty.

I was recently in a group where someone mentioned an addict with disgust and contempt. This attitude is quite common in my experience. I intellectually know it is about them, whether a mirror for themselves, or having been in relationship with an addict, or just general ignorance. Whatever it is it pisses me off, and yes pissing me off is ‘my’ stuff as I was once an addict for many, many years. That also gives me a unique perspective into addiction. Which is the reason for this blog post and at least one more to come. I don’t talk about my experience with addiction much anymore, as telling the story takes me right back there, rekindling those memory pathways of an old story that does not serve me. However my intuition has nudged me, letting me know it was important to tell it today.

Addiction is a disease …. oh bite me. Even if you believe that, it’s a disease that can be cured. Not everyone succeeds, but that is true of a lot of diseases. You are not fated to carry around the “I am an addict banner”, once successfully sober. More on the “successfully sober” bit in later posts.

So how I define addiction: any behaviour that you do repetitively to deflect your attention from your reality and your pain, that negatively affects you and by extension your life. That creates imbalance even if it is a means to an end. Addiction is not in the substance, addiction is in the behaviour.

We are an addictive culture, it is common for people to use addiction as a way to survive the stress of daily life, past trauma (acknowledged or not), fear of the unknown and many other things that make us uncomfortable. What is uncommon is people realizing and/or admitting it, especially before it is affecting their lives in extreme ways.

We learn to adapt to our environment starting from birth, adapting at all costs to survive. We are at the mercy of our caregivers whether they are nice or not and society at large. So we change who we are to fit in, to be loved, to be taken care of, and once we grow up we’ve often forgotten or indeed have no awareness at all of those bit by bit changes we made in order to make ourselves feel safe.

In order to feel safe, self-soothe or escape the pain of our reality, some of us retreat within ourselves, becoming meek and quiet. Others of us fight for ourselves and our childhood is peppered with discord within our relationships, or become people pleasers always helping everyone. Some of us become over-controlling as a way to feel ok, and others becoming mean or a bully to reduce the feeling of helplessness. Some start with addictive behaviours to self-sooth, often with food as the first addiction. Other’s become pompous asses to hide feelings of inadequacy.  No one is better or worse than another, they are all a way to stop the feelings of pain that comes with betraying ourselves (remembered or not), the anger at unjust treatment, lies, deceptions, not being given unconditional love, and for some not even having their daily basic needs met, and having nowhere to go or no-one that believes you or in you. It is a way for some of us to stop wanting to blow our brains out, escape this reality and not feel or hurt again.

…….. So now you’re an adult.

If you are an addict it is okay,
congratulations you found a way to survive,
not everyone does.

I encourage you, to not to go into judgement, shame and blame, or if you do, forgive yourself as often as is necessary and carry on doing the best you can. This blog and the one(s) to come are meant to give you hope that sobriety is possible. If you’re an addict you are on a journey which is giving you skills and abilities that you can cross-train to attain sobriety. If you are not an addict well, here’s a window into the world of a woman who once was.

Shame, blame and judgement are damaging emotions, and counterproductive to sobriety. In fact they kept me locked into addiction like a vice.

A week in the head of the addict I used to be.
An average addictive week starting on a Monday …

– Off to work feeling depressed, overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted physically, mentally and emotionally
– I got high Friday and Saturday night, not Sunday as I had to work today, so that was something
– I vowed to not use again when I woke up on Sunday morning

Now the weekly game is afoot, because the first thing I want to do to not feel my emotional pain, is to use again.
– My infernal internal dialogue is off and running, all day long as usual…..
Judgement, judgement, judgement “How could you use again, why can’t you be stronger, why can’t you just say no, look at the money you spent, see how bad you feel now, but I want to use, you can’t use, I want to use, you can’t use, I know I vowed I wouldn’t but ……. I want to.” Rinse repeat, rinse repeat, rinse repeat.

– I need to escape from myself and my continuous judgement and internal dialogue. I cannot I am trapped in my own head.
– I need to escape the push and pull of wanting to use and saying no, over and over and over again.
– I can’t make my head shut up, my Itty Bitty Shitty Committee is working overtime
– I feel awful, physically, mentally, emotionally I am a basket case
– My neurochemistry is now so low my ability to even fight my desires are at a really low ebb.
– “It’s only Monday you can hang on until Friday Michele, you cannot work hungover you know that, okay, push through it, perhaps by Friday you’ll feel better and not want to use”

But nothing changes, I fight with my overwhelming desire to use all week long.

I have made it to Friday. I have accomplished sobriety for 5 days in a row. Hooray for me. Unfortunately I still want to use, and now I have been doing battle with myself for approx. 130 hrs straight I am exhausted. I don’t have to work tomorrow, I’m sooo tired of the battle, I hate myself, I am disgusted by my inability to not want to use, disgusted by my previous behaviour, what is wrong with me, why can’t I just say no.
I cannot hold the pain and stay present anymore.

– It’s Friday, I’ll just get high tonight, no work tomorrow
– F..k it I’m going to score
– Then I have to go about acquiring it, and seeing as booze isn’t my thing, I can’t just go to the store, so…. (Just imagine the stress of acquiring an illegal substance, that you may or may not even be able to get and now that you’ve said yes to yourself, you are let’s say … very determined. Anxious to be able to get or not get, anxious to not get busted. I was lucky I never got busted, and if you think getting busted would have stopped me from using as soon as I got out back then, you are wrong.)

And so I score and I use again,
– Oh sweet holy h_ll, I feel good and I feel happy for the first time all week.
– No more pain, emotional, physical or mental.
– Zippidy do da zippidy day, my oh my what a wonderful day!
– I am out of my body, out of my head, my internal dialogue is gone. I get to focus on anything other than wanting to use.
– But of course once it’s gone, then begins the slow slide back to the hell of the reality I have created
– I wake up sober in absolute horror over having used yet again and what I did when I used. When we mind alter with anything, it changes how we act and behave.
– My constant companions judgement, shame and blame show up as usual, creating a new layer of emotional pain. Addicts are really really good at beating themselves up, we don’t need any help really, we got this!
– Hungover and now feeling so bad about my behaviours on top of depressed, overwhelmed and stressed …….

– It’s Saturday – using last night has tipped the scales on my ability to fight. I don’t have to work tomorrow.
– I’m going to use ….. I’m done!
– I’ll stop tomorrow, I’ve got work on Monday …….

“Just Say NO!”  ………   What a load of crap!
Now there was a campaign that wiggled its way into the hearts and minds of many.

What a lovely thought ‘Just say No”. Why didn’t I think of that……

All be it perhaps well intentioned, that campaign has done soooo much harm to addicts I can’t even tell you. That ridiculous campaign,  became embedded in the beliefs of  western culture.

Addicts say ‘No’ to themselves all day long, constantly fighting to not cave to their addiction, fighting their overwhelming sense of disgust with themselves, fighting the pain, fighting the judgement, shame and blame they heap on themselves.

I no longer dance with addiction, but admittedly I still on occasion eat too much sugar and indulge in zoning out with movies and tv. The difference is now I have so many years of sobriety and a mountain of healing work behind me. I have the advantage of neurochemistry that is not in the toilet, and the wisdom to know myself well and what strategies I need to implement, so that I do not allow those those behaviours to go unchecked for very long.

I now consider myself healed from addiction, with a predisposition for addictive tendencies. I do not fear falling back into the need to mind alter to get away from the life I have and am creating. I also now know that where my neurochemistry is at, which dramatically changes how I am feeling, and by default how ‘at risk’ I might be to depression. Depression for me was what was underlying my addiction in the past, and is probably underlying almost everybody’s addictive behaviours.

My next post will deal with how I got sober and some sciency stuff, to help explain our neurochemistry a bit more.

Q & A with a hand full of bullshit thrown in for good measure
We only react to things that we have ‘stuff’ with.
So why do you need that glass of wine/joint/codeine/etc. every day?
Imagine that you will never be able to get alcohol/joint/codeine/etc. of any sort again?
How do you feel now?
Is there a wee bit of panic rising, discomfort?

What is that glass of wine/joint/codeine/etc. doing for you? What’s the gain, there’s always a gain?

“Well I only have one glass of wine everyday, I’m not an addict”
“I only drink/toke socially”
“I toke, but doesn’t everyone and it’s legal now, doesn’t make me an addict”
“Exercising 3 hrs every day is good for me, not addiction”
“My doctor prescribed these”
“I only shop all the time to get the deals, and the shipping is free! I’ve got Amazon Prime”
“I’m just having a challenging time right now”
“I’m not an addict, I can stop whenever I want” (This is my favourite piece of bullshit)
“I only get high on the weekends” – This was my bullshit and my control mechanism, most of the time

Blah blah blah …… At a certain point we own our truth and things get better from there

HEALING through CEREMONY, healing, ceremony, healing ceremony, shamanism, past history, past relationship, pain, past relationship pain be gone, Michele fire-river heart, medicine woman, Gabriola island, British Columbia, Canada, spring

Spring is Sprung, the Grass is Riz, I wonder where my Healing Ceremony Is?

I love puns, corny poetry, so welcome to my world.

Happy Spring one and all. I have a ceremony for any who would like it and a free consult session to go with it. Start your spring by releasing and rebirthing into a new you.

REFLECTION BOWL CEREMONY
1.5 – 2 hrs
Can be done indoors or outdoors

INTENT
Creating ‘me time’ and a sacred space in which to reflect, release and emerge into the new you. The new you shining, envigorated, bursting, budding like nature at this time of year.

YOU WILL NEED:
1 large sheet of paper or poster board
3 pieces of paper or cardboard approx. 3” x 5”
Pen, marker, or coloured felt pens
Smudge
Compass (Unless you know the directions of the area you will work within)
4 rocks or crystals willing to hold the energies of the 4 cardinal directions* (See below)
Reflection Bowl: Container with water, not a lot. It will be used as your reflection focus. If you have a beautiful bowl and it’s feasible to bring it with you, well yaay, beauty is good.

Are ya game? Contact me and I will send it to you, then we can set up a call to discuss.

The Interconnection of Honesty & the Sacred Dream of Life ~ Today’s Daykeeper is Manik

Your interpretation and experience of these energies is your own. I can only share my personal understanding, I invite you to explore what they mean to you and their relevance in your life. This is really important. We gain nothing by ‘taking on’ others life experiences and beliefs. The juice and healing comes from within your own understanding, it is pivotal for your healing journey.

This cycle I am looking at the interconnection between The Twenty Great Teachers of Life and The Earth Count. Let’s see what their interconnection has to teach us. The relevant daily information on each energy is below todays musings.

The Interconnection of Honesty and your Sacred Dream of Life ~ Why is honesty important? How do you feel when you are dishonest, and when you are dishonest (face it we all are at some point) what bothers you the most? For me it is dishonesty to myself, for when I am dishonest with another, …………….. I am actually not being myself!  So hang in there don’t go to shame and blame, it is what it is, you’re doing the best in each moment even if it doesn’t look pretty.

When you are dishonest with yourself it impacts your dream of life. The dream of life is what you are creating in this lifetime. Think about who your closest friends are. What is different about your relationship with them? Often it is the fact that they know more about who you are and still want to be your friend, warts and all. The fact that you can be present in the relationship and not be dishonest, changes dramatically how you experience the relationship, and that feeling affects all aspects of your life. Now one addendum, if honesty is going to put you at risk, e.g. you have an abusive partner and need to escape. Being honest about leaving is not your safest course of action, so some discernment is required in my opinion.

So you may be thinking ‘Okay big deal honesty makes me feel better, but how does that actually change my dream of life?’ Everything is about energy, when you are dishonest you carry more baggage, which slows down your energy, keeps your mind busy with internal dialogue, distracts you from what you can do to increase the strength of your dream of life. Simply put, honesty with yourself brings freedom and allows for more time to create what you want.

great teachers, honesty, mayan, daykeeper, manik, evolution, growth, future, powerful, potential, accomplishment, healingthroughceremony.com, michele fire-River Heart, death, rebirth, past lifetimes

7 – The Seventh Great Teacher is Honesty
Honesty teaches us about the integrity of the dream and respect for the dreamtime

So the ‘Dream and Dreamtime’ is not referring to your sleeping dreams, but rather our dream of life. What we are creating as a life in this lifetime. How honest we are with ourselves directly affects what we are creating.

I remember when I realized that I had the ability to deceive myself. It was a pivotal moment in my healing, also not a very nice one. I was horrified, how could I trust myself, knowing that I could deceive myself and not be aware of it. I have come to realize that deceiving myself was a strategy for survival at the time, not one I need now (I think……, perhaps I have a surprise in store….) What I do find useful is to use it consciously as a strategy to accomplish something I still have fear around. So if something is too big right now, I pretend there is only the present moment ……..hahahaha I just stopped and had a really good laugh, tricked again. There IS only the present moment, my fear is about smoke and mirrors, vapours, the what if, might be, could be, futurizing thoughts. A lesson my teacher gave me 8 years ago …..’Stop futurizing!’ Alright changing gears, let’s see what pearls of wisdom I have now that the illusion just blew up.

Honesty ….. has brought me freedom, yes, freedom, freedom she’s droning on again about freedom. My past history was such, that to have the freedom that has come with my healing is such a huge gift, it is drone worthy. An addicts’ first need to be met, is their addiction, everything else is secondary, a fact that still makes me uncomfortable. With
that comes deceit, manipulation, dishonesty, shame and blame, and most of that, the addict rains on themselves. So being free of that kind of weight is amazing. Honesty frees up so much energy, it’s no wonder we feel lighter, better, when we’re honest than when we’re not. All those secrets you carry have a trail of energy sucking emotions, dragging along behind them like many, many balls and chains.

I invite you to make a stick figure graphic of yourself and add a ball and chain for every secret you are carrying. What does that look like? Is there one that are you ready to let go of, and is it safe to do so? Now I’m not referring to secrets that are keeping you safe from harm, unfortunately, sometimes it is appropriate to keep a secret. I’m talking about the other ones, the ones that can be let go and your life will get infinitely better. If you choose to let go of a secret, ensure you have the appropriate supports in place. Be it a friend, teacher, coach, counsellor, doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, well you get the idea. May your secrets diminish, may your freedom increase.

7 – The Seven ~ The SEVEN is the Number of the DREAM OF LIFE
The SEVEN is the Number of the DREAM OF LIFE, for all things that are made within Beauty, or that are Broken and thrown away. We look into our Past and learn of what we have built.
Come, Children, and Build your World Dance.
(Hyemeyohsts Storm’s Earth Count)

7 – Mayan Daykeeper Manik ~ Manik’s essence is the connections between actions in the now affecting the future. The evolution & growth towards something greater.

Manik’s presence may be experienced as a connection to the future.
You may feel that what you are involved in
is leading to something bigger and better.

Manik’s day is good for preparing and being ready for what is still to come.
You may need to trust the process and wait a while longer
before realizing the outcome of your involvement and contribution.

Those born on a Manik day may experience
a sense of being important for the future,
being ahead of their time
or carrying something for future generations.

This is an exerpt from
Mayan Calendar Voice of the Galaxy by Raymond Mardyks and Stacia Alana-Leah

Should you wish to know your Birth Daykeeper, please contact me and send me your Birthday.

Previous Manik days this year Jan 10th, 30th, Feb 19th, March 11th, 31st, April 20th, May 10th, 30th, June 19th, July 9th, 29th, August 18th

Honesty as a Teacher ~ Sacred Dream of Life ~ Mayan Daykeeper Manik

Your interpretation and experience of this teacher is your own. I can only share my personal understanding, I invite you to explore what this teacher means to you and the lessons it has brought you thus far. This is really important. We gain nothing by ‘taking on’ others life experiences. The juice and healing comes from within your own paradigm, it is pivotal for your healing journey.

7 – The Seventh Great Teacher is Honesty
Honesty teaches us about the integrity of the dream and respect for the dreamtime

So the ‘Dream and Dreamtime’ is not referring to your sleeping dreams, but rather your dream of life. What you are creating as a life in this lifetime. How honest you are with yourself directly affects what you are creating.

How honest are you with yourself?
How honest are you with others?
How does this affect your life?
Looking at past history how has honesty or dishonesty with yourself or others, shaped what you manifested in the future?
How important do you think honesty with yourself is, in creating your life?

Great Teachers, Honesty, mayan, daykeeper, manik, evolution, growth, future, powerful, potential, accomplishment, healingthroughceremony.com, michele fire-River Heart, death, rebirth, past lifetimes

7 – The Seven ~ The SEVEN is the Number of the DREAM OF LIFE
The SEVEN is the Number of the DREAM OF LIFE, for all things that are made within Beauty, or that are Broken and thrown away. We look into our Past and learn of what we have built.
Come, Children, and Build your World Dance.
(Hyemeyohsts Storm’s Earth Count)

7 – Mayan Daykeeper Manik ~ Manik’s essence is the connections between actions in the now affecting the future. The evolution & growth towards something greater.

Manik’s presence may be experienced as a connection to the future.
You may feel that what you are involved in
is leading to something bigger and better.

Manik’s day is good for preparing and being ready for what is still to come.
You may need to trust the process and wait a while longer
before realizing the outcome of your involvement and contribution.

Those born on a Manik day may experience
a sense of being important for the future,
being ahead of their time
or carrying something for future generations.

This is an exerpt from
Mayan Calendar Voice of the Galaxy by Raymond Mardyks and Stacia Alana-Leah

Should you wish to know your Birth Daykeeper, please contact me and send me your Birthday.

Previous Manik days this year Jan 10th, 30th, Feb 19th, March 11th, 31st, April 20th, May 10th, 30th, June 19th, July 9th, 29th

The Teacher of Honesty ~ Sacred Dream of Life ~ Mayan Daykeeper Manik

Your interpretation and experience of this teacher is your own. I can only share my personal understanding, I invite you to explore what this teacher means to you and the lessons it has brought you thus far. This is really important. We gain nothing by ‘taking on’ others life experiences. The juice and healing comes from within your own paradigm, it is pivotal for your healing journey.

7 – The Seventh Great Teacher is Honesty
Honesty teaches us about the integrity of the dream and respect for the dreamtime

So the ‘Dream and Dreamtime’ is not referring to your sleeping dreams, but rather our dream of life. What we are creating as a life in this lifetime. How honest we are with ourselves directly affects what we are creating.

I remember when I realized that I had the ability to deceive myself. It was a pivotal moment in my healing, also not a very nice one. I was horrified, how could I trust myself, knowing that I could deceive myself and not be aware of it. I have come to realize that deceiving myself was a strategy for survival at the time, not one I need now (I think……, perhaps I have a surprise in store….) What I do find useful is to use it consciously as a strategy to accomplish something I still have fear around. So if something is too big right now, I pretend there is only the present moment ……..hahahaha I just stopped and had a really good laugh, tricked again. There IS only the present moment, my fear is about smoke and mirrors, vapours, the what if, might be, could be, futurizing thoughts. A lesson my teacher gave me 8 years ago …..’Stop futurizing!’ Alright changing gears, let’s see what pearls of wisdom I have now that the illusion just blew up.

Honesty ….. has brought me freedom, yes, freedom, freedom she’s droning on again about freedom. My past history was such, that to have the freedom that has come with my healing is such a huge gift, it is drone worthy. An addicts’ first need to be met, is their addiction, everything else is secondary, a fact that still makes me uncomfortable. With great teachers, honesty, mayan, daykeeper, manik, evolution, growth, future, powerful, potential, accomplishment, healingthroughceremony.com, michele fire-River Heart, death, rebirth, past lifetimesthat comes deceit, manipulation, dishonesty, shame and blame, and most of that, the addict rains on themselves. So being free of that kind of weight is amazing. Honesty frees up so much energy, it’s no wonder we feel lighter, better, when we’re honest than when we’re not. All those secrets you carry have a trail of energy sucking emotions, dragging along behind them like many, many balls and chains.

I invite you to make a stick figure graphic of yourself and add a ball and chain for every secret you are carrying. What does that look like? Is there one that are you ready to let go of, and is it safe to do so? Now I’m not referring to secrets that are keeping you safe from harm, unfortunately, sometimes it is appropriate to keep a secret. I’m talking about the other ones, the ones that can be let go and your life will get infinitely better. If you choose to let go of a secret, ensure you have the appropriate supports in place. Be it a friend, teacher, coach, counsellor, doctor, psychiatrist, therapist, well you get the idea. May your secrets diminish, may your freedom increase.

Great Teachers, Honesty, mayan, daykeeper, manik, evolution, growth, future, powerful, potential, accomplishment, healingthroughceremony.com, michele fire-River Heart, death, rebirth, past lifetimes

7 – The Seven ~ The SEVEN is the Number of the DREAM OF LIFE
The SEVEN is the Number of the DREAM OF LIFE, for all things that are made within Beauty, or that are Broken and thrown away. We look into our Past and learn of what we have built.
Come, Children, and Build your World Dance.
(Hyemeyohsts Storm’s Earth Count)

7 – Mayan Daykeeper Manik ~ Manik’s essence is the connections between actions in the now affecting the future. The evolution & growth towards something greater.

Manik’s presence may be experienced as a connection to the future.
You may feel that what you are involved in
is leading to something bigger and better.

Manik’s day is good for preparing and being ready for what is still to come.
You may need to trust the process and wait a while longer
before realizing the outcome of your involvement and contribution.

Those born on a Manik day may experience
a sense of being important for the future,
being ahead of their time
or carrying something for future generations.

This is an exerpt from
Mayan Calendar Voice of the Galaxy by Raymond Mardyks and Stacia Alana-Leah

Should you wish to know your Birth Daykeeper, please contact me and send me your Birthday.

Previous Manik days this year Jan 10th, 30th, Feb 19th, March 11th, 31st, April 20th, May 10th, 30th, June 19th, July 9th