500 Days

500 Days

Two days ago, it was our youngest daughters 1st birthday.

She is a blessing in so many ways and everyone loves her so much especially her sisters. This Baby has been the easiest by far, as a great sleeper with a calm disposition and easy-going nature. I am blessed, grateful and thankful for all of my babies. It’s because of their presence and unconditional love that I’m still standing, sober 500 days, today.

One year ago however, everything was completely different. I believed my marriage had been saved because I went away like I said I would and got sober. When I had given birth to our 3rd beautiful baby girl in less than 5 years – so much of the fear I held about her arrival was gone.

This was something I stressed about intensely during treatment because I knew she would require a 5 day observation period in her first week of life. I was terrified. It was not going to be easy staying at the hospital for a week as we had 2 small children but after I had been away for 11 weeks – we could tackle anything. We had become an ultimate team over the years.

What the Doctors were concerned about was the fact I had been taking Suboxone during my Pregnancy, which is prescribed as a first-line pharmaceutical treatment for Opiate detox. Medicated, Assisted Opiate Withdrawal while pregnant is the standard form of treatment. It’s not a direct replacement like Methadone but an Opiate Blocker. Quite simply; if I decided to relapse, taking an Opiate would do nothing to me. I would have to purposely stop taking Suboxone for at least 3 days and put myself into severe withdrawal.

That alone would essentially put my entire Recovery at risk because withdrawal is quite Emotionally, Psychologically and Physically painful.

After my daughters birth in November 2018, I made serious attempts to taper off this medication completely

During my pregnancy, I was prescribed a high dose to accommodate for extra blood flow pregnancy provides. Anyone taking Opiates during Pregnancy: prescribed or not – runs the risk of Fetal Harm and/or Death if they abruptly stop taking the medication as this will cause withdrawal for the fetus.

If medication was consumed for the entire Pregnancy, there is always a risk that the Baby will experience Physical Withdrawal; called Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome. That did not happen and my baby was released after being observed for 5 days.

Once I gave birth however, it was no longer necessary to remain on this dosage. In February 2019, I tapered off by a significant amount but then all the turmoil surrounding my marriage took centre stage. Although I was doing really well with the tapering, I had to stop midway through because of the stress and the risk associated with that.

As my body processed less medication, I went through a barely noticeable withdrawal.

What I experienced was mainly insomnia, restlessness, higher levels of anxiety, sweating, lack of an appetite. When shit began to hit the fan at home however and my anxiety levels skyrocketed, combined with little to no sleep, my body began mimicking severe symptoms of Opiate Withdrawal which aren’t even real which is crazy. Basically, the high levels of Cortisol caused by the increased stress and anxiety trigger a condition called PAWS: Post Acute Withdrawal Syndrome.

By April, I decided to give up on tapering and actually start going back into the Pharmacy every day for “Witness Doses.”

I felt it was necessary once my former Husband, his Family and my Mother found out that I asked Children’s Aid to remain involved to help me Separate. Again, this was done to ensure our safety but to also establish transparent communication between myself, my doctors and the agency that protects our children while supporting their Mother in her Recovery. I did this to prepare for moving out of the home with my Children so I could continue functioning as their Primary Caregiver; as a separate person.

November 2019 – Mama’s Girls

November 2018 – Ready to Pop

Once my Husband and his Family found out about their continued involvement, they used it as an opportunity to make false and elaborate accusations about me and my Cannabis consumption. The entire time they knew I abused Prescription Opiates; they never once told anyone anything but the minute I asked for a Separation; it became a sudden concern about my 20-year Cannabis use. They claimed my consumption was excessive, that I used in front of my kids or put them at risk by consuming high-dose edibles – none of which is true.

If they were willing to make new claims about me and Cannabis; I felt they were willing to do anything. It was recommended that I had to protect myself and my Recovery. I chose to relinquish my “carries;” which are essentially take-home doses of Suboxone which had been earned over a 6 month period of clean urine screens and consistency. This would mean I’d have to go into the Pharmacy everyday, have the Pharmacist witness me taking the medication and sign off. They would also take note of how I was that day; emotionally, physically and psychologically.

Obviously if I was at all a “concern,” they would report that and intervene.

If I had not done this, it would have just been a matter of time before I had been accused of mismanaging or re-directing the medication prescribed to assist in my Recovery. It is a controlled substance worth something on the Black Market. Suboxone is in high demand due to the rigid program one must follow if they want to proceed with treatment. I felt if I didn’t take necessary precautions, that would’ve been the next thing they’d go after and believe me, they tried.

In Court Documents submitted by my Former Husband and his Lawyer; they accuse me of “distributing Naloxone” like it’s an illegal substance:
Naloxone/Narcan is a free, Opiate Overdose Antidote

Thankfully, I had aligned every aspect of my treatment for transparency with the Agency that protects our children. Being honest about my Cannabis use and giving up my “carries” were all “harm reduction measures” for several risk factors when trying to leave this marriage. Again, if I hadn’t had this awareness for other people my whole life I don’t think it would’ve worked out this way. I would have naively continued accepting carries and carried on my way.

My Doctors appreciated my insight on why I needed to go back on Witness Doses for awhile.

I wasn’t always this open and honest – for awhile I hid behind a hard exterior of a career, motherhood and being married.

November 2017: “I’m Fine!”

No one ever suspected I had a problem and that was the problem. I became too good at pretending everything was fine on the outside, the way everyone around me wanted. Seriously though – on the inside, and while completely living another, double life – I was dying. No one really cared about my situation or what I was doing as long as it didn’t create a “problem.” My happiness, well-being and emotional health did not register as a concern for anyone so I felt I was doing a good job as a high-functioning Addict.

My depression was so thick, like a Fog along with an intense fear of the future but with good reason. The secrets I was keeping from my loved ones, Friends and Co-Workers kept piling up. The lies I had to tell to continue hiding my Addiction, which by now had created financial consequences for myself – would also become a big, separate pile of its own. The fear of my Husband finding out became a panic inducing, insanity but I couldn’t stop taking pills.

By April of 2018 when I found out I was expecting for a 3rd time, I didn’t want to proceed with the pregnancy because of how severe my Addiction had been at the time. Thankfully, I came to a different decision after careful thought but I knew I needed help. I couldn’t handle another Baby, let alone a Pregnancy while struggling this seriously. I made the hardest decision of my life at the time and resigned from my Banking Career.

This was to officially mark the beginning of my Recovery from Opiate Addiction and stay at home with the kids – on an indefinite basis. My husband told me I’d never have to work again, that he wanted me to be with our kids. Being a stay-at-home Mother was the last thing I wanted to do when I had my first child back in 2014. It took me a long time to give up my self-imposed “Career-driven” no matter what identity.

All of these factors fuelled my Addiction as I began to “burn out.” For 4 years, rounds of pregnancies, babies, pills, detoxes, relapses and working full-time fuelled me but like any good high, you must come down.

December 2017: Fully back into my Addiction

Read: “Mommy Burn-Out is Real and Scary”

Now as 2019 comes to a close, it’s a completely different story:

Today, I realize how vital raising my children is for my Recovery and I’m encouraged to continue this path.

The structure from their routine keeps me on my own path; completely focused on them while developing my strength as a Parent.

Growing up as a Child, I did not have routine and stability. We didn’t know what would happen next, ever and as Children, we faced constant chaos. Whether it be from our Dads tragic early death, our Grandmothers illness/death, finding out by accident that my Mother was adopted, and my Grandfather beginning another life with his new Wife – all before I entered high school. These may not seem to be life altering events for some but as a Kid, who had already lost a Parent and did not have a strong bond with the Surviving one, it was nerve inducing hell.

As Children, we rely on routine and an innate expectation of stability which contributes to developing healthy attachments in personal relationships. I wish I could say I had consistency with that growing up but I did not. I started having regular Panic Attacks at 12 and by 15 I was Bulimic, making myself throw up. There were many times I had compassion and stability; especially from my Mother – which made it all the more devastating and traumatic when things would blow up and she wasn’t emotionally reliable.

Growing up, I literally had to tiptoe around my Primary Caregiver’s emotional reactions to Adult situations on a regular basis. This became normal to me and I carried that until I became painfully aware as a Teenager that most families didn’t operate like mine. My former Husband even took notice when we first started to date that my Mother just didn’t seem to care about me or what I was up to in life.

Now that I have my own kids, sometimes I have to remember to have more fun because I operate my household on a schedule with a routine. I just also protect them by shielding them from any Adult/Marital conflict as much as possible, hence why we moved out as soon as it was feasible. This is also a big factor in why I decided to set aside a few toxic relationships right now as it’s not the ideal time to focus on them. My children need the strongest, emotionally stable Mother possible right now.

My former Husband had it even worse in regard to chaos in Childhood. He really cannot handle quick changes to a schedule or off-the-cuff events. He often spoke to me about the lack of routine, parental attention and stability growing up. There were always lots of Family Members around due to regular large gatherings but he said as a kid; he was often told that he was “annoying” or “to go away.” He was neglected in many ways which resulted in him being overweight as a Child and bullied for it. He is a child of Divorce and never had an opportunity to make amends with that trauma.

We often talked about memories of his Parents and that they were too busy with their own reactions and emotions pertaining to their Divorce, a new Partner, demanding Work commitments, etc. to really focus on their kids. I learned so much about the damage these events can cause during Childhood which lead into our Adulthood, marriages, Parenting Styles, etc. during my time away at Treatment – so it was hard to ignore the signs when I came home.

It’s a deeply instilled fear inside me now of falling back to my own dark place, my own personal chaos. I can’t worry too much into the future about this as it causes extreme anxiety but it’s something I am required to focus on every day as part of Recovery.

This is why working the 12 Step Program – Narcotics Anonymous is essential to Recovery, not just Medicated Assisted Therapy or Rehab stays.

Actually learning how to break these cycles of Family Dysfunction and Enmeshment is vital to success in any Recovery. Recovery can be for serious Mental Health issues like Depression as well.

Ultimately, I have made peace from the childhood I had to recover from and accept that my Primary Caregiver was not emotionally reliable or stable but did the best they could.

Being a strong role model for my girls, by showing them how to be strong individuals – provides me with direction and purpose.

I’m not ready to be thrown into a busy, new routine with 3 small Children (and their expensive daycare bills). It doesn’t need to be that way anyway if certain “Agreements” put in place long ago were acknowledged now, making this process entirely easier and less expensive. I had worked for 20 years when I “retired” from Banking so I have a bit of a nest egg once the Marital property is divided. My career in Banking was extremely stressful and high-pressured Sales. Right now; hungry, eager money-making does not align with my Recovery to even consider a full-time Corporate role.

Sometimes I do wish things had been different with my marriage. I so badly wanted it to be working out last year, after everything – for the sake of our 3 children. Right now our oldest daughter so badly wants us to be back together. That unfortunately seems to be the wish for most children of divorced parents and it’s something I’ve had to navigate with my oldest daughter now and the other 2 later.

Our oldest child is a very smart, aware girl who has unfortunately had to deal with her fair share of adult situations in the past few years. Most of that is on my shoulders because of my Opiate Addiction which causes me intense shame and guilt. I’ve learned through regular therapy the only way to mend that with my Daughter is with time, unconditional love, empathy and validating her feelings by listening to her. She just wants to be heard most of the time.

Right now she is enrolled with a program that provides counselling to children going through Divorce. Neither my Husband nor I had Counselling of any kind to deal with my Dad dying when I was 7 or how his Parents ended their tumultuous marriage when he was a small child. I know it was different times 30 years ago but I do believe we were failed as Children which played a part in our failed marriage. Breaking the cycle matters to me the most and I want to protect our girls from whatever I can.

Neither one of us was equipped to deal with times of sorrow in our Marriage, which are completely normal. We did not really have any times of sorrow other than what I brought to the table with Depression and Addiction. He wanted out almost the minute he found out I was abusing Opiate medication again in November 2017. I feel like our marriage really ended that Christmas but either way – things were never the same after that. I was at my worst in 2017 and there are so many things that happened. It will take years to work through it all.

That’s what life is about though – working through stuff so you can actually live.

I was not born to live in a Hive and just talk to the same 3 people every day. When you continuously go to the same people, talking about the same old bullshit – you get the same result every time. Why? Because then we are just churning shit – we are not actually growing from new ideas, insights and experiences. People are naturally story tellers and if we are told as Children that we can’t trust the World – we become isolated, stunted.

If the person you grow up with naturally promotes holding grudges and making retribution on your resentments, you are being setup for failure in life.

For years I lived a very isolated life built in shame, guilt and Addiction. I stayed within my “role,” continued working and having kids while living a lie. The lie was the one I told myself every day: that I am fine.

That I have things under control.
That I will stop using Pills after I run out this last time.
That I will choose Sobriety one day.
That I can stop if I had to.

September 2017; Days away from my final 9 month long End-Stage Relapse

I also told myself if everyone knew, that they would hate me. Not entirely true, but somewhat accurate. There was always a knowing, a “understanding” that if my Husband “caught me again” – he did in the Summer of 2015, during which time he told me “he would leave me if he ever did catch me again”. Through it all, every single day of active addiction – I knew my marriage would not survive this. There wasn’t enough love, closeness and connection to bring us back together and I medicated that unraveling for its entirety.

I don’t hate him for this nor do I entirely blame him. Yes, he is a well-educated man from this Country who should have taken the time for his marriage to learn about what actually causes Addiction. Yet I cannot fault him for not wanting to do that because he was not raised to take pity on Drug Users. He was raised to never trust them, to take caution and of course, that we are morally inept creatures of habit who can never change.

Unfortunately he has not been taught how to love a person unconditionally. You can end an intimate relationship with someone but still feel love, empathy and compassion towards them. If someone has not been taught this, their relationships will always feel hallow and one-sided. The other person will always feel like they’ve done something wrong or they are not good enough. Happiness is only achieved when the person who cannot love authentically feels like they are content – which rarely happens.

The old adage; “if you don’t love someone at their worst, you can’t love them at their best” reigns true in this situation.

As someone with a high awareness for other people’s behaviour and emotions, I felt the decline in every aspect of our relationship and it haunted me. The judgement, the whispers, the gossip – that hurt too but after November 2017, it wasn’t just the two of us any more. Every time I saw his Family, or mine – things were just different. My options on things, especially our Children – didn’t matter any more compared to the advice of his Family.

I was on the very bottom of the totem pole, if you can even believe there is one but there was/is.

As a Drug Addict who abused medication while Pregnant, I was considered by them to be “scum of the earth”.

Or: “Feccia Della Terra!”

My life was becoming not mine any more and I was losing a battle, absolutely no self-control. That’s why as I went down a death spiral – I knew rock bottom had to come eventually. It came in the form of a positive pregnancy test in April 2018. You would think that should have been enough for me to finally “surrender” to my Addiction but no – that would take another 1.5 months.

My 3rd daughter represents a 2nd chance for me as a Mother and I mean this in the best way possible. She was conceived during a moment of genuine love that hadn’t happened in so long. Our marriage was definitely at its breaking point by Winter 2017/2018 but Baby 3 happened by the Grace of God. She happened for a reason.

When we found out about her arrival, meaningful help finally came and people swept into action. My Family Doctor immediately ordered weekly urine screens which I passed for a few weeks until I ultimately relapsed again at the end of May 2018 until June 24 2018.

She also notified people to help support me and to ensure I got into treatment. Under no circumstance would I had been able to stay sober if I hadn’t registered myself for In-Patient care. It was finally time to deal with everything and you would think that would have been enough to make me well but my life was still unraveling. I could not stop using Opiates during the month of June 2018, just before I went away. My whole life was crumbling and terrible events kept happening because I kept inviting it into our lives. I needed to be stopped and on June 24, 2018, something inside of me just clicked and I began changing.

The chaos, hurt and anger finally stopped in July 2018 when I went away for 11 weeks, at 4.5 months pregnant. I needed to detach from my “People, Places and Things” and take care of myself and my baby. By the time she arrived in November 2018, I was 6 months sober and fully emotionally ready for her. Finally by the 3rd baby; I was in the best possible state I’d ever been in to receive a baby and nurture her. We spent those 5 days in observation together and she never experienced a day of withdrawal.

It was emotionally draining, intense at times because I wanted us to go home by Day 3 but we did it.

Today I am 500 days sober from the Opiate Addiction that almost took my life.

My Addiction to Opiates almost took my life in more than one way. I could have died yes but at that time; I was already almost dead inside. All I cared about was that drug and getting it towards the end. The vicious cycle of having to use once I began using in order to avoid withdrawal was deadly in many ways; specially psychological, physical, financial and emotional. The burden it placed upon my Children and Family was also extremely taxing.

Thankfully we are far removed from those days now and I’ve been sober for 17 months, 500 days. The clock keeps on ticking for an offer of reasonable settlement so we can move on with our lives. What I’m asking for so we can settle is not unreasonable but it’s been pretty much ignored up to this point. Last week we had an unproductive Case Conference Court Date which resulted in several hours wasted in Mediation. One should only mediate if they are willing to compromise and well, mediate.

The Case Conference had to be rescheduled to November 18 which means another day in Court, another cost. It’s not really a huge cost for me as I am now representing myself but for the day itself, I have to arrange a full-day of Childcare. Putting our Family through this when the actual issues could be dealt with quickly causes unnecessary upset. I have spent the last 7 months making my plans and arrangements for myself and the Children to live in the same community as we have for the last 5 years.

By focusing on my kids and my self I’ve been able to achieve quite a bit on my own in a short period of time. This is what a lot of people in Recovery aim for which is a return to independence and autonomy. We strive to live past the stigma attached to us. I’m not striving for perfection, just progress and I’ve come a long way.

For now it’s just a waiting game until our next Court Date. It’s been a very long, expensive wait to settle this whole thing and I hope something will be accomplished by Christmas. For now I will just enjoy the time I have with my girls and relish in the fact that I have achieved another milestone. At 18 months I can get another medallion from Narcotics Anonymous as they mark 18 months as well.

Thank you Baby JJ for being the sunshine with your sisters through a stormy year. I am grateful that my youngest daughter had a happy, healthy first year and that she has ever known her Mother to be sober.

The Domino Effect

The Domino Effect

What if you had been taught your whole life that anyone outside your “Family” can’t be trusted?

Most likely you would generally end up feeling doubtful of others and stay close to the ones who tell you these things. It would especially become an issue as you age, make friends and/or begin dating someone. The barriers to a meaningful, loving relationship include the level of acceptance from “the Family.”

But what happens if you didn’t grow up this way?

What if you didn’t grow up in a Hive of a Family where you are required to win constant Approval?

From the very beginning, I was expected to attend every Family function, party, get-together, Wedding, etc and there was one almost every weekend. Back then, 12 years ago now; I worked every Saturday and late evenings at the Bank. I did this to accelerate my Book of Business and it’s growth by attracting the Clients who worked during the week. Truly successful people don’t have time on the Weekdays to go into the Bank, they go in last minute or on the weekend. I am that type of person who is always busy so it appears as if I’m procrastinating.

To some degree I am, I do make up excuses to put off menial tasks but I try to put something else more important ahead. For example; I am super busy with my 3 small children who demand my attention almost every minute of the 14 hours they require it for. I pull over-time hours with them as well because there is always a 1 in 3 chance one of them will wake up during the night for whatever reason. All in all; Mothers of my privilege are expected to work full-time, raise the kids and look as good as we did in our 20’s.

The bar for me was raised slightly every few months or so. If I wasn’t pregnant or recovering from one; I was in fight or flight mode. The repercussions from my Opiate Addiction, at the time it was at its worst; felt staggering and severe to say the least. This was before I went to Treatment, while pregnant but I thought my life was really over.

I constantly thought to myself; “Um, wow – all that work for nothing just to end up a Drug Addict with 3 kids.”

After that, I literally signed my life away to other people and allowed them full control. I simply didn’t even feel worthy of anything other than being a Mother to my girls. Thank god I held onto that for dear life and used it as a motivator every single day I was away from them at Treatment last Summer.

However looking back, I was being constantly conditioned by the people I thought loved me, to think so lowly of myself because of my inability to stop using Opiates.

All my life, I had really ever known living with someone who constantly put me down.

If I hadn’t been using Opiates and feeling guilty, I doubt I would have stayed in my Marriage as long as I did. I also doubt I would have had 3 kids within 4.5 years while functioning as a Banker full-time while using Opiates every day. If I had been sober during that time, I surely would have made it to the Doctor Appointments I kept making and cancelling. People who are using addictive substances; especially Women, are notorious for ignoring their Reproductive Health.

Even someone who has the best intentions to NOT get pregnant, eventually does if they focus so much attention on their addiction. I also ignored regular Dentist appointments, Oil Changes and eventually, even filing my taxes late. My stuff was all over the place and disorganized. Of course, it took 7 years to get to this state and it wasn’t always like this. That’s why when I came out and admitted my Addiction; it actually ended Friendships I had for years because they couldn’t handle the fact I hid it so well.

Fair enough – it’s a part of Addiction, Recovery and making amends.

You can really only try to make amends and if that person does not accept it; you have to move on. Forcing the issue will only cause more harm. It will not solve the problem but rather widen its scope. Unfortunately, I went into making Amends with the naivety that everyone would forgive me. When I realized after the fact this wasn’t the case, I quickly moved forward because the former me would have built an entirely new resentment about the rejection. Having a bunch of resentment about people, places and things that don’t really affect your day-to-day life can actually ruin your life in the long run.

I’ve realized that the hard way by becoming an Addict myself. Throughout my life I felt resentful about my Dad dying, my Mother and I’s lack of emotional connection, the constant dysfunction and chaos within my Family and of course; my own self and my insecurities. It all grew throughout my life, picking up new resentments along the way as I grew into a Wife and Mother myself. Finally when I had my own Children; namely my first – I expected to hate being a Mother as that’s all I knew growing up.

When that didn’t happen and I actually experienced real, unconditional love for the first time – I felt guilty.


Because it was not enough to keep me sober. Something had to change.

Something; something deep inside under many layers made me so depressed that I continued to use. Sometimes, I would abruptly stop and it would unleash mental and physical hell throughout my body. This would last for at least 2 weeks. This was before the 7 year mark when my Opiate Addiction overtook my life and it was impossible to stop. After the 2 weeks of hell; life would slowly start to improve and I’d feel like myself again. Physically I’d always be craving Opiates but emotionally I felt like it was always better to be sober.

This would last for awhile; a few weeks or months but I’d always go back.

Why would I always go back?

I’ve been on a mission, trying to figure all that out for exactly 2 years now.

What in my life had changed so much in 7 years that it would make me want to kill myself slowly?

It’s been 2 years of intense treatment and recovery with multiple Ayahuasca Ceremonies, 11 weeks away in Rehab, Suboxone treatments, weekly Doctor Visits with Urine Screening and multiple Counsellors with various Agencies. It was not achieved by any one thing or by any other person other than myself and my own strength. It was my determination to gain my true place as the Mother of 3 beautiful girls. It’s the realization that so many people were above me and had power greater than mine when I was an Addict. They had the ability to control so much because I gave them that power.

When you hide an Addiction like mine; the way I did – it catches up with you eventually. You don’t even realize it’s happening at first but as an Addiction progresses, you slowly start to handover your life to the people who hold Emotional Power over you. A co-dependency begins to build where that persons life revolves around you and your behaviour. If you are upset, so are they. If you are happy, they are happy too. However, if you are an addict and a slave to a Pill; that person eventually learns how to manipulate you.

Slowly that person realizes how malleable someone is when they are addicted to drugs.

It became painfully obvious what was really happening when I asked for an official Separation in April 2019. My suspicion that my own Mother and Mother-In Law were priming themselves with the help of my Husband and his Family to take my role in Motherhood away from me. If I continued to put up Boundaries and call people out; I’d be severely restricted on my Access had my Husband been successful in his plot.

November 2018: a few hours after my 3rd was born

From the month after my 3rd daughter was born in November 2018 until I moved out of the house with our kids October 1st this month: the “problem” has always been solely placed on me as the maker. It’s easier that way for all of them because this way, the Women involved who are trying so hard to absolve themselves from being less than stellar parents already, can rally beside my Husband as his saviours. Somehow they gain self-esteem and gratification the more he responds to their attention.

The relationship, or “Triangle” between my Husband, his Mother and my own is essentially a replacement for the former focus – me and my Addiction. My husband and his Mother use their Relationship as a replacement for an Emotional Connection with a Spouse – mutually. Neither of them have Spouses whereas my Mother does.

The narrative to the story would be that I couldn’t hack it as a Mother of 3 because now my “Addiction to Cannabis” was out of control.

That way, my Husband could take the properties he stole from me and the kids while having the support to do it. All because I couldn’t put up with the Dysfunction and Enmeshment of the Family so I asked for Boundaries.

As the shame from Using increases; that person will isolate themselves from their own Family and Friends making it easier for further domination. This doesn’t stop the other person from making sure your Family and Friends know their version of events however.

If that happens and you catch this; run.

Or at the very least, consult Professional Help/Support and start planning your exit. This is one of the VERY early warning signs that I would have paid more attention to, hadn’t some of the stuff being said wasn’t true. The shame and guilt over my inability to stop using was used against me but since I couldn’t stop; I didn’t even try to defend myself. Quite simply, I let my Husband and his Family dominate the narrative about me for several years because my brain wanted to protect my Addiction at all costs.

That’s how severe the disease of Addiction progresses to.

For years I let people I loved and cared about walk all over me and I tiptoed on eggshells around them. In all honesty I just did not feel worthy of their respect in many regards but now that I’m sober and have explained myself personally to each and every one of them; I deserve some compassion. I understand not everyone can have compassion towards an Addict, which is fine but don’t try and destroy them either. In my situation, so many people have been looped in and used to triangulate against me so I feel isolated.

It’s been a long 7 months but an even longer 2 years. I was stripped down to my studs and built back up again so I could gain my place as a Single Mother of 3. If I hadn’t entered a “Recovery” and sought the help I did; I would be dead or still using. By now if I had stayed using, I would surely be on the Streets and graduated to something harder. Drug Addiction does not “fix” itself nor is it ever cured. It is managed by focusing on its triggers and traumas to avoid the human condition that caused us to use in the first place.

The simplicity of “Easy Does It” or even “Keep It Simple” is that Life need not be exhaustive.

In my marriage, I was often driven to my breaking point because I was considered to be “Selfish” if I needed rest. If I needed Self-Care, it had to be done on someone else’s terms. The hobbies I wanted to take up had to match someone else’s expectation of approval. There wasn’t much I could do with autonomy. A simple trip to the Grocery Store alone would trigger a conflict. Moreover, I lacked complete autonomy and independence when it came to how to raise my girls.

Every decision I made was discussed with several of my Husbands Family members so of course different opinions all over. This created conflict on a regular basis because every Mother needs to feel like they are valued, loved and in-control of their Parenting. If I did things differently or not to their approval, there would be a “correction” or unsolicited advice. The desire for everything on the outside to appear normal, perfect and successful exceeded everything else of emotional or sentimental value.

Right now, I am enjoying the freedom and independence separation provides. The need for this in my Recovery has not been validated or respected by the ones I thought loved me the most. However that love came with conditions and if I wanted to exit my place within the “Family;” I could only do so on their terms: significantly – signing over my custodial rights and handing over the bulk of my life savings.

A very significant Court Date is happening next week and I hope to provide an update. I am confident my situation will be assessed fairly, quickly and reasonably. I did not come this far to lose it all; not by a long shot.

My efforts will be recognized for what they are and my actions speak louder than words.

As I neared the end of my stay at House of Friendship in Kitchener last September; the message I received was loud and clear:

The first year of Recovery will be the most difficult; especially if you really work the 12 steps.

Especially if you must deal with your “People, Places and Things.”

The risk for me was heightened because I was pregnant with my 3rd baby, already a Mother of 2, with a very serious Recovery from a very serious Addiction to Prescription Opiates.

To come this far without a Relapse; without even an attempt to manipulate my Recovery so I could use Opiates again – while under going this insane Marital Breakdown is nothing short of a miracle. I was not inclined ever to “go back,” in fact I ran in the total opposite direction and it has saved my life.

It has broken the cycle of Addiction for now, for my daughters and I as long as I work it every day.

Settle Down

Settle Down

I must say Divorce; especially a drawn-out, Acrimonious one – sucks.

I had to take a break from Blogging for a few weeks. I had a lot of real life stuff to deal with this month but, I’ve never been so focused, so energized as I have these last few weeks. This phase of Separation and Year 2 of Recovery; has been the ultimate test for me as I move forward. Thankfully, the move into my own Home with my children has been a saving grace.

While in Treatment for Opiate Addiction last Summer; I had the most incredible Counsellor for the entire 10 Week Program.

She taught me how to handle this situation with grace somehow. During my first 2 weeks there however, I still wasn’t myself. Deeply traumatized and ashamed, I remained in a Fog. I wasn’t really talking about anything other than how grateful I was to not be thinking about Pills every minute of every day. Most days I acted as if I was fine, similar to how I acted while using. I was encouraged to go deeper and talk about what led to my Addiction issues.

For the first time in years, I followed a regiment of Self-Care, Love and Trust that was seamlessly built into my Daily Schedule. I thought that would be enough to keep me Sober. Little did I know at the time that Sobriety from Opiates was just the minimal – to actually get through Addiction; I’d have to face everything and Recover.

As the weeks wore on, things kept coming up so it was hard to ignore the perpetual Conflict and Chaos coming at me from home.

At the time I didn’t realize what was actually happening. The rampant phone calls from my Family back home including my Husband was not out of concern for my wellbeing. I was counselled by 5 Female, Registered Social Workers at the House of Friendship in Kitchener that this behaviour needed to stop. In every single one of my daily planners; one of my goals during Treatment was to set healthy boundaries with them. This could mean only one phone call a week if I wanted although it happened naturally by the end. In my last month away, my Mother said we should stop talking and we did.

To enact Boundaries while away; I wouldn’t call them or I would wait until a certain time to turn on my cell phone (we had cell phone privileges after a 2 week Assessment Period, at night and weekends.) The Counsellors actually extended my Assessment Period out of concern so I wasn’t able to get my cell phone until a few days after the initial date.

They did this because I was clearly exhibiting co-dependant/Enmeshment behaviour that concerned them and I wasn’t focusing on myself and Recovery. I was too worried about everything else; calls from my Husband about Money or my Mother about herself and my Siblings or talking about my own Husband, his Family and my Children. It felt frustrating yet I couldn’t stop myself from the communication during those first few weeks because I worried about my children. The worlds had seemingly collided while I was away and my Mother had replaced me back at home.

Unfortunately, now that I was in Treatment and receiving professional help that I desperately needed my whole life – I started realizing and learning things. For so long, the pills I took allowed me to ignore feelings I needed to deal with in regards to our Relationship. She was constantly crossing Boundaries and doing things that upset me but I didn’t have a choice then. When you are pregnant for a 3rd time and in Treatment for Drug Addiction; you have to keep things easy and simple. It wasn’t the time to work on our Relationship.

I had spent so many years visibly tired, stressed, unhappy, whatever you want to call it as an Outsider but truthfully I was either struggling with Opiate Addiction or a self-imposed, painful Cold-Turkey withdrawal when my Addiction allowed that. Or I was Pregnant, recovering from a pregnancy with a newborn or Pregnant again without recovering from the previous pregnancy. It became a vicious cycle on repeat where I’d desperately try to avoid the drastic lows I’d experience post-baby; that made me want to use in the first place.

It wasn’t my children themselves; nor was it Motherhood. It just felt lonely. At the time; so many of my friends were having kids of their own and the Emotional, Physical and Psychological Support they had from their Families was just different. It felt normal to me however because all my life; I was used to having a Parent not be as emotionally involved as my Friends Parents were. As this was all I’ve ever known, that’s why it felt so normal yet troubling.

That’s all my bullshit though that I’ve had to own, forgive myself for and move forward from because if I don’t; 3 little girls will pay the price and suffer.

If someone like myself lives in the Shame of my mistakes, I may ultimately relapse and go back to using because how else do you move forward?

If I allow people close to me; who constantly use what Emotional Power they had over me to control my life; that too perpetuates the Cycle of Addiction. This is an unfortunate, well-known Cycle, post-Active Addiction. Like I said before; it infects an entire Family. The people who were closest to you during that time, who know every horrible thing you ever did – does not like, does not believe, and does not want to accept the change.

They were so used to dealing with someone else that it’s hard to let go. It really is like a death in some ways – if you don’t accept the Reality in front of you.

I’ve said this before; “you cannot make amends with someone who does not accept its sincerity or if they want to cause you harm.”

Essentially you cannot fix a problem with a problem. You must separate yourself from the situation if it causes further harm and trauma. The Reality of Addiction; especially Substance Abuse is it is a symptom of a greater problem within the psyche.

My homeostasis was so fucked up from the constant highs and lows of Pills, Detox’s, Depression, Anxiety and of course multiple Pregnancies (that were all consensual between 2 people by the way, although I was clearly unwell) in less than 5 years. I also worked full-time in a High Stress Career (also my choice!) which provided our Family with Assets, Net-Worth and Cash Flow for over a Decade. All that while battling with Mental Health issues which ultimately led to an obscene drug habit at the end of 7 years.

Today, I have been Sober for 16 months and feel grateful for the almost life-ending experience my Addiction and Recovery has provided.

What can I say? I was due for a good kick down the ladder because I lived my life recklessly until June 24, 2018. I will never be perfect, I will never say it cannot happen to me again nor do I want to. I just want to live my life with my beautiful daughters and move on respectfully from those I’ve harmed. Those who don’t respect what I’ve been through to get to this point; never respected me in the first place.

They will never see how they have harmed me either and that’s ok. It’s not my job to make them see that but it is my job to protect my Recovery and my Daughters from these Toxic Relationships and Cycles. No one can possibly heal when they have several Family Members chirping more hate that’s reasonable.

My situation has crossed the line from “rightfully upset because of Addiction” to “We are going to rally together and we are going to destroy her.”

The constant plotting and conniving has got to stop. Until you have experienced this type of Abuse and Coercion where your children are at the centre while using your Mental Health and disease against you – you could never know it’s impact.

If I did not tell my story; no one would know how common this happens in Families. Enmeshment within Families can create some of the worst, high-conflict situations especially during Separation and Divorce. One of the questions I am commonly asked; “How did your Husband not know you were an Addict?” is a perfect example of that Enmeshment.

Back then, I was living as a Woman, as a Mother of a “certain expectation” in a “certain Cultural Background” where I took a back seat behind my Husband. He needed to look good, make the money, climb the Corporate Ladder while I bore the children and worked a full-time job. His family was not there to support me in my role as his wife and Mother to the Children in any meaningful way. They would only step in for him and this became obvious 2 years ago when they all became aware I was in trouble.

“Just don’t cause problems.”

– My Father-In Law would often say to me in regards to my Drug Addiction.

But Opiate Addiction is a big fucking problem and I just kept trying to hide, fix or abuse my problem until I couldn’t any more. I put myself in Treatment, I stayed there and I finished. I’m the one who sought Alternative Medicines which has contributed to my 16 months of Sobriety. I’m also the one who continues Structured Care from a Medical Doctor which includes Weekly Urine Screens.

485 days ago, I was a 4 months pregnant, Mother of 2 with a raging, expensive Addiction to Pharmaceutical Opiates which had been prescribed to me at age 27 for Dental Surgery.

I did what I said I’d do – I got better and I “fixed my problem.” Then I went above and beyond to subject myself to further scrutiny so I could be on my own with my Children.

I just did not fix my problems to a certain expectation of the “Family.”

Then I began to put up Boundaries to the people I loved the most and thought they loved me too. It wasn’t long before I slowly started to unravel an almost 2 year campaign on behalf of my Husband, his Family and my own Mother to basically strip me of my children and my assets if I ever tried to leave my marriage. There is no other explanation and I am about to prove my case in Court.

This is the scariest thing I’ve ever had to face but it brings me back to some of the best Counselling I ever received back in March of 2018 before Recovery:

“You need to deal with your Addiction FIRST before anything else.”

Then she looked at my Husband and said; “You are in denial. Know your part and do not involve Family and Friends by gossiping.” I was so deep into my Addiction by then; so my identity was already being promoted (or demoted) to that of a worthless, drug addict backed by her own Mother. My Husband would never protect me as his Wife but rather work towards finding a way to leave the Marriage and leave me with nothing.

While in Treatment, I learned about Boundaries and what needed to be done in order to stay this way. I’d have to deal with my Marriage, Family Enmeshment issues and of course; the decades long conflict I’ve had with my Mother since I was a small child. It has taken me a full year to comprehend the betrayal, coercion and emotional control these people held over me. Now that I’ve asked for a Separation, their behaviour now extends to Financial Abuse. Financial abuse inflicted upon me just for wanting to split Assets that I worked 12 years contributing to.

In April 2019; I invited my Mother to sit down with me and a Social Worker from Children’s Aid so I could officially document a Boundary.

If my Mother did not agree to Counselling provided by Children’s Aid between her and I; there would be no unsupervised visits (meaning without me or a trusted third-party) with my Children.

She could not accept this and continued talking to my Husband on a regular basis.

She encouraged him to steal my phone and send her my messages. He did just that in earnest.

Almost every day, for the past 2 years – they have continued a relationship based upon mutual disappointment, dissatisfaction and contempt for me as a human being. Back at the end of June 2019; My Mother and her Husband (who has never had children of his own so he could never understand) then successfully triangulated my Husband.

They talked him into lying to me about the whereabouts of our children for an entire weekend despite being told by me, no. When I confronted her about this; her excuse was she had invited me to go but because I said “No, my kids and I aren’t coming, and you’ve been told Why several times.” it only made sense to my Mother to just invite my Ex-Husband – who is trying to take everything from me, up to the Cottage with my kids.

By then, the relationship between all of us had broken down beyond repair and my Mother still refused Counselling with me. I respected that but my Husband was also told to end his relationship with them and stop trying to force one with the Kids as it should not be his focus right now. How they all thought it would be a good idea to lie about all of this; blows my mind. If I had made such a “unilateral decision” and done those things; I would have faced consequences no doubt.

My Mother’s impulsive, reckless disregard for me as a person, never mind as her own daughter – is why I have gone “no-contact.

I did everything I could to find a middle ground until that happened. What’s even more fucked is not only did my Mother collude with my Husband to lie and manipulate my children’s whereabouts to me; so did his own Mother. This form of bullying and isolation was to make me feel like I had no one, that I was the problem.

When I suspected something was wrong the day before my Husband left for a “Weekend with the Girls and his Dad” in another location – his own Mother ganged up on me with him, called me “Paranoid” and saying she knew “what would happen in Court and with Children’s Aid.” She was essentially alluding to the eventual Court battle my Husband has launched against me. I later found out she called into Children’s Aid to lodge a new accusation about me, about Cannabis 3 months prior to this incident.

My Mother-In Law recorded me during this incident a day before my Husband admitted the truth. She recorded me so she could use my Reaction against me which is so wrong. His entire Family has actively participated in various tactics to upset, intimidate and harm me. Again, they are doing these things to cause an Emotional Reaction from me so they can say I am not emotionally stable.

By calling me Paranoid because she knows I use Cannabis; she’s trying to make me doubt myself to hide the truth she is covering up.

My Husband and our Children were supposed to leave on the Canada Day weekend Friday. On that day, I was going to be driving home a Pregnant Woman in Recovery after her Graduation from Treatment. Around 11 am; my Husband called me to tell me he had lied about everything and that they were going with my Mother and Step-Father to the Cottage.

I almost drove my car into a fucking concrete guardrail on the 401. The betrayal and emotional trauma from this event still shakes me. The Woman I was driving home still remembers my state of shock, disbelief and of course, hurt and anger. During our 5 hour car ride; I cried and shook my head “No” constantly. I could not believe they’d do this and then turn it around to place blame on me.


A perfect example of “Gaslighting:” When someone who has Emotional Power over you; for instance calls you “Paranoid” while they are actually lying, colluding and covering up the very Truth you are speaking of.

Well, that is Emotional & Psychological abuse.

This is Family Enmeshment at its prime; and my Mother In Law participates because she wants her Son to “Win.” She participates because she has to, everyone else in the Family is, so she has to fall in line. Ironically, she detached from her own Parents so my Husband and his Siblings grew up not knowing their Maternal Grandparents.

What they don’t realize is that when someone emotionally abuses the Mother of the very Children they say they are “concerned for” and “trying to protect” – they are abusing the kids too.

Despite all of this, I am still advocating for Joint Custody as I believe our Children deserve their Father in their lives. As I’ve said before; I believe he is a victim in his own right and requires meaningful help away from his Family. If he does not find a way to detach from the Bullshit; the behaviour will continue. It’s very close to how a Drug Addict hits rock bottom and has to go away to Treatment.

You must detach from the People, Places and Things contributing to the situation in order to Recover.

READ: Enmeshment: How To Unmesh From Your Dysfunctional Family

People think because of their Education, Professional Background and “Prominence,” that they are immune to Addiction, Drug Abuse, Mental Illness, etc. not realizing not one person is immune to any of those things. They have their own issues and problems that need focus. People have their own Children to worry about; and Partners too.

My Boundary to them (and my own Mother) was to back-off and let us deal with the end of our marriage without 5-8 toxic opinions.

Let’s just say the exact opposite happened but thankfully; I prepared for that well in advance.

But by far, the biggest disappointment for me: A complete denial of my Sobriety and Recovery in Court papers sworn by my Husband and his lawyer despite concrete proof to the contrary. There have been so many instances of their bullshit; I could never write just one post about it and I don’t know if I ever will. I just want it to end.

I just want us to move on with our lives and for everyone to stop using 3 little girls as Pawns in a Game where no one wins.

In 6.5 months, I have achieved what I set out to accomplish:

End my marriage and get out of it as a whole, Sober Woman to become a Single Mother of 3.
  • Find safe, affordable housing in the Community so my Daughters and I can continue to thrive.
  • Run a legitimate, legal Cannabis company utilizing all of my experience, skill and ability while creating a 2nd career and financial independence for myself.
  • Protect my right to use Cannabis legally, medicinally and safely while remaining in Recovery from Opiate Addiction.
  • Become a role model for Women who have endured the same hardships, trauma and shame I have, so we can be stronger together.
  • Last but not least; spend every day making amends to my daughters for the ways I may have harmed them, that may not even be known. They may not have been harmed at all, who knows – but I will live every day for them.

  • At this rate; by the time I’m legally divorced; I will be almost 2 years sober from Opiates. There are things to be grateful for in all of this. For me; the gift of more time; more recovery, more urine tests and most of all; the gift of Motherhood and giving it all away. There is more work to be done.

    To the Women who are reading this; who are in the Early Stages of their own Journey – I am here for you and thank you for sharing your stories with me. Love you all. #stayliftedd

    15 days.

    15 days.

    15 days ago, I realized if I didn’t change my situation drastically and leave the Matrimonial Home – I’d probably end up losing it all. The amount of Stress from the situation I’m in wasn’t going to get better. I didn’t Relapse, I didn’t do anything atypical of a stereotypical “Recovering Addict” – I didn’t run away.

    Yesterday, my 3 kids and I moved us out of the only home they have ever known into a new house 3 blocks away. I did this to ensure my Children remain in their Community; at their School/Daycare with their Friends. I lost my Dad as a Kid and feel that loss every day. I could never take away my Kids from their Father or their Father away from my kids.

    Despite my Husbands behaviour; I do not want my Children to experience further Trauma from Divorce. Ripping them out of their home, Community, School, etc. just so I can escape – is not a solution. I am still advocating for Joint Custody (which is Education, Medical & Religious decision making rights) despite everything because Children deserve two parents involved.

    I am telling this part of my story now because people need to be aware of the warning signs.

    6 Months ago, I asked for a Separation with the hope we could find a way to Co-Parent our young children jointly while keeping them in their current home.

    I went to my Husband explaining that I felt our marriage should end or we should at least try a Separation. Have you ever seen the movie “When a Man Loves a Women?With Meg Ryan as an Alcoholic? I was thinking it would happen along those lines as it sometimes does after Active Addiction and Recovery.

    However, I was sadly mistaken to think this would ever work. The articles about New-Age Co-Parenting and Amicable approaches did not apply to my situation.

    He wanted a Divorce. He wanted to move the kids 45 minutes away with Sole Custody so he could live with his Mother – despite them being with me 24/7. It would not matter how many “Professional Opinions” were given in regards to the situation. He continually says that they belong with him. It’s an all or nothing approach and it’s caused so much harm already.

    Financially, I stayed (which I’m embarrassed to admit) because last Summer I did something so dumb. Worse than spending thousands on Opiate Pills actually because I lost my life’s savings in this decision. It’s incredibly hard to admit this because I should have known better.

    After working on many files during my Career as a Banker, I was trained to look for signs of Financial Abuse and Duress.

    Typically, we only saw this type of Abuse when we dealt with Seniors. Many had fallen prey to one of their Family Members (usually one of their own kids) who convinces them to sign over Power of Attorney or make accounts Joint. Then that person starts to deplete assets or move them into Sole Ownership.

    Last Summer, just before I entered In-Patient Treatment; my Mother began telling me my Husband did not love me any more. This I feel was done on purpose (they had been talking on a regular, Daily basis about me by this point) to make me want to do anything to please him.

    My Mother is not able to see how this behaviour would create this situation. That is unfortunate because many people do and it took me 5 months; 4 professional opinions to realize that’s the reality.

    Summer 2018; 2 kids already, pregnant with a 3rd and about to go to Treatment – I felt scared and willing to do just about anything to make this horrible situation go away.

    I don’t remember how exactly it came about but we started to discuss taking my name off the two houses we owned together. Everything we had ever done together was done 50/50 and he promised it was to protect the Family only. What this meant was my name would come off of $1.1 million worth of Real Estate; effectively transferring full ownership to him.

    Over the course of 5 months, I signed over my assets to my Husband. The first house was in September 2018 and our Matrimonial Home in December 2018. When we had first began discussing this, my Addiction and the consequences seemed quite severe. During that Summer of 2018, I had been admitting to some pretty powerful Emotional stuff that dominated my ability to Recover for years.

    Our finances had always been separate which in retrospect; protected my Family from the harm my Addiction was causing financially. Towards the last 6 months of my Addiction, the cost per day had skyrocketed. I couldn’t believe it had evolved into what it did but it never would have if I had had the love and support in the first place.

    The only time I had real love and support from my Husband, his Family and my Mother was when I was in Treatment. It was also during this time that he was strategically convincing me that signing over these houses was what needed to happen to satisfy any doubts he had about staying married to me. I truly felt at the time if I didn’t do it, he would never trust me and leave me.

    My Husband throughout those 5 months; promised he would never take our Assets from me unless I relapsed back to Opiate Addiction. Even then; it would have had to be an actual Relapse where the Family was at risk.

    He had me sign over the properties under the guise that he was “saving the Family from my Addiction” just in case I ever relapsed. For someone who has never experienced Addiction before; they automatically assume you’ve been spending as much on your drug of choice throughout than you did during the end. For the non-Addict; they would never understand it’s an actual Cycle of Abuse all on its own with ebbs and flows.

    When I asked for a Separation, I wanted to acknowledge any Emotional, Financial harm I had caused him in the past by refusing Spousal Support, or splitting any of his personal assets. I’ve worked since the age of 15 and feel confident in my ability to support myself. This seemed logical to me and of course, fair.

    I had no idea there were already plans in place in case I tried to leave and I now realize signing over my Assets provided an Insurance Policy sort of. I naively believed my husband and his Family wouldn’t use my children as pawns despite telling Social Workers I believed this to be the case in March 2019. Whenever I made a suggestion about how to amicably split the assets; he would say I owed him for all the money I spent on my Addiction that could have gone to our Family. I had always covered 50 percent of our household expenses including the Mortgage and Daycare. I put myself into debt to finance my Addiction and I worked throughout. This did not add up whatsoever and it occurred to me he took the assets so he could effectively keep me from my half because he felt owed.

    Something about the entire situation didn’t feel right and that’s because it wasn’t. My husband was always going to persue Full Custody so he could move our kids far away and retain full control. His Family and my Mother all called in new Accusations about me (this time for smoking Cannabis) to Children’s Aid despite me asking them to stay involved. Children’s Aid has to take all of these things seriously and they did. That’s why I ended up staying longer than anticipated because I wanted to make sure I met all of their bottom-lines.

    When I went above and beyond their bottom-lines and got my Medicinal Cannabis Prescription; my husband made new accusations saying I take edibles and other addictive substances despite weekly urine Tests. I am being constantly harassed, called a “Drug Addict” in front of my Kids and of course; the cost of trying to prove my case has exceeded any of my financial resources available. He sold one of our properties and has been able to fully finance a Lawyer.

    A typical Court case can run any where from $50-60k and that’s just for 3 days of Court. I’ve already spent $11,000 and there is no Court Date yet.

    Finally in September 2019, I was given the go ahead to move out with the kids. Children’s Aid fully supports me as a Mother in Recovery. They got me a new crib for the Baby. I asked them to provide Counselling for my Oldest Daughter. They have helped me in ways that I never expected and it makes me sad I didn’t ask for help earlier on but I feel this all happened for a reason.

    The day I told my Children’s Father we would be moving out; I was threatened by his Lawyer with an Emergency Custody Order with a $15,000 advance from Property I legally owned until I signed over ownership. There is no emergency order because there isn’t an emergency for him. There is an emergency for me however as I can no longer afford to retain a Lawyer, I am supporting 3 kids and I’m on my own. I studied Family Law for several years to become an Accredited Financial Planner so I feel equipped to navigate my situation as far as I can.

    I started running “Original Product” in May 2019 which helped me pay for $11,000 in Legal Fees already; just to get no where. Legal Abuse is common in these situations just as much as Financial Abuse occurs. I was cut off financially by my Husband in April. He works from home, has a company car, gas card and free Cell Phone.

    He had been taking all of my government benefits up until then so I literally had nothing. From June 2018-May 2019, he controlled the finances and I had no access to a Bank account. He kept a joint account with my name on it just so the payments could be deposited. Almost everything and anything I have done to change this situation for myself and my Children has been “used against me” somehow throughout the past 6 months. What’s troubling about this entire situation is that certain things don’t add up.

    The years I lived as an Addict were personal, private and well; confined to a Separate life I chose to live.

    That’s on me. That’s my fault. I should have known better, I should have asked for help some time during the first 5 years but I couldn’t. I knew this would always happen, deep down. I always knew what he and his Family were capable of because they have done it before. So, I did what a lot of Women do: I played a part for so many years until I couldn’t play it any more. However, people still wanted me in the role “designated” for my place within the “Family.”

    For the last 2 years of my Active Addiction to Opiates; everyone sat back and watched me destroy myself. Any love, support, encouragement or compassion was reserved for my Husband. It is so incredibly confusing because it was during those years that my Husband seemed the happiest in our marriage. He certainly played his part. We always exchanged handwritten cards every Christmas, Birthday, Valentines Day and that was the only time he ever apologized to me for his behaviour along with words of love, compassion and appreciation.

    We had 3 kids after all; I maintained my Banking career until April 2018. I financed most of my Addiction on my own. When I needed his help and found courage to tell him I was in trouble; he called me a “fucking bitch” and that he would financially help me as long as I never left him. This became terrifying because I was pregnant, had two young kids and now I’ve just admitted my deepest, darkest shame to another person.

    I truly believe my Husband stopped loving me long ago and has been so fearful of Divorce and judgement that he stayed in his role too. I truly believe he is a victim of his own Parents; who are encouraging this acrimonious behaviour.

    On the day I told him we were moving out; that night around 9:30 pm I walked into my house, into my Kitchen. His Mother, his oldest Sister and her 16 year old daughter were all there while my oldest played downstairs. I felt like I was walking into a Lions Den. I had been warned about things that could happen once I had communicated we were leaving and it was happening before my eyes.

    This was incredibly unusual to have them in my house this late on a Week night. This had never happened in the past and during our Seperation, he never invited his Family over without giving me a heads up.

    They were there to intimidate me and start a conflict in an attempt to cause harm. They do not see their behaviour whatsoever which was evident when I walked in as his oldest sister (who is the most confrontational of them all) began her plan of attack when I said “what’s going on?” as I walked into my house.

    I have not seen his Sisters in 6 months and chose to block his Family from all Social Media in May 2019. When I walked into my house, not expecting them and of course; being talked to like a piece of shit on the day I tell my Husband I’m moving out – it just felt like a set-up to cause me distress.

    My husband has been actively recording and documenting me this entire time despite being told not to by Professionals and Children’s Aid. Please don’t do this in a Divorce. It causes so much bullshit.

    Walking into my own home that night, I was painfully aware that his Mother was probably recording me. She will only join in on an attack if she has one of her kids behind her. This scenario was set just like another situation that had occurred months before which I will write about some other time. They don’t see this behaviour as anything but normal. It’s not.

    I went downstairs and grabbed my oldest daughter. We left and went to our neighbours house. He followed me there despite this person being listed as a Support for the girls and I with Children’s Aid. Luckily he didn’t come to her door but still, the incident scared me.

    When people are more concerned about promoting a Person over amicable co-parenting and the Children; there is a problem.
    When someone does everything in their power to redeem themselves but it’s never enough; there is a problem.
    When someone uses the Emotional Power they have over you to manipulate Financial Assets; there is a problem.
    When an entire Family will lie, collude, connive and gossip about someone in an attempt to ruin their life; there is a problem.

    If the duration of my Addiction had been one-long running episode of “Intervention” – I could understand the concern but it was not. I have made serious attempts at making amends to those I’ve harmed but no one can live their lives trying to right a wrong.

    Drug Addiction is one of the most common symptoms of Depression, Anxiety and Emotional Abuse:

    Spousal abuse has been identified as a predictor of developing a substance abuse problem and/or addiction. American Society for Addiction Medicine

    Either we evolve past “blaming the Drug Addict” by truly learning to understand how it’s caused, and prevented or people need to part ways. No one benefits from living in the past, building up resentment.

    It is abuse if one continues to sabotage someone’s Recovery. It is called “Front-Loading” in Family Law where a Spouse fills a Court Application with all the misdeeds committed against them that has no relation to how you parent your children today.

    Law professor Cynthia Godsoe observed that findings of child abuse or neglect often focus on “parental conduct that, while perhaps undesirable, does not cause proven harm to children.” 
    A study in Washington, DC, found that 75% of children removed from their parents did not meet the necessary standard of risk. Instead, children are routinely removed in part for “dirty houses” or parental marijuana use so minimal that the amounts do not merit a misdemeanor criminal charge.

    READ: Legal Applications of the “Best Interest of the Child” Standard: Judicial Rationalization or a Measure of Institutional Competence?

    I hope my story helps someone reading today. I’ve had so many incredible messages of love and support throughout the last 6 months. The unintended aspect of my story is that it has helped several Women already.

    Thank you to everyone who has helped me these last 6 months. It really does take a Village. You hurt the Mother, you hurt the kids too.

    This post is dedicated to another AW for she broke out of the Cycle too. Thank you for being the only other one to understand.

    Rinse, Wash, Repeat.

    Rinse, Wash, Repeat.

    It was a year ago – September 14th, 2018, that I came home to rejoin my Family after spending 11 Weeks away at In-Patient Treatment for an Addiction to Prescription Opiates.

    I could have lost everything; my life, my children and my freedom. I was running at such a dangerous pace as a User in Active Addiction that it was going to catch up to me eventually. It is scary to comprehend what could have happened hadn’t I surrendered to my Addiction to Prescription Opiates on June 24, 2018.

    Since then, I have thrived (450 days almost!) and began “peeling back the onion” so I can properly deal with everything that has happened. Although I asked for a Divorce in April and have been dealing with that for 6 months, it pales in comparison to what has really happened to me.

    Thankfully now, I am no longer in a Fog; traumatized beyond belief but properly dealing with what has happened.

    Throughout this past year, I started learning more details, truths and omissions that ultimately could have led me right back into Addiction. The severity of my situation is scary – my own Mother has been colluding against me since last Summer when she abruptly told me she didn’t want to talk to me any more and that we had no relationship.

    Up to that point, she had called Daily while I was in Treatment and had seemed supportive throughout until I started to really absorb the Program and begin to recognize the Dysfunction. I also began to see how all of these behaviours affected me Emotionally.

    My Husband and Mother called excessively while I was away. At one point, they told my Husband to stop calling because I needed to focus on getting better. Every step of the way, during my 11 weeks away; I had a Counsellor by my side. They were quietly observing and gently guiding me through a very serious situation that occurred while I was away.

    No one or nothing could have prepared me for what I eventually discovered but my Recovery Supports began dropping little breadcrumbs along the way. One of the most significant moments would have to be when I was handed the “Red Book” and asked if my Mother had been raised in an Alcoholic Household.

    I told my Counsellor I wasn’t sure and it would have to wait.

    My biological Grandmother lost custody of her 3 daughters back in the early 1960’s due to Addiction and probable Mental Illness. Two of those daughters were a set of Twins which ironically, I had “Irish Twins” last year.

    My Mother was born to her after this happened and unfortunately, she had to give her up for Adoption four months later. I know no other details in regards to what happened after this.

    However, one must ask – how bad were things during that Generation; where a Woman could lose Custody of her Children in a time when that didn’t happen as often?

    Addiction issues were not as prominent then as they are now; especially Alcohol. It was a different time for sure but because I don’t know the whole story, I only know these details – I may never know the answer.

    All I know is that the Cycle of my Biological Grandmother and her situation could have very well been my fate. It could absolutely be my fate one day if I do not focus every day on Recovery.

    Addiction is considered to be Hereditary but our Genetic Makeup does not necessarily guarantee Addiction.
    Within any Family that is undergoing the Cycle, there are individuals who recognize dysfunction and ultimately decide to Detach.

    My Grandma and I – 1992

    I’ve always been that person; my whole life. When I was growing up, it was so awful between my Mother and I that I called my Grandma almost every day. I was 7 years old when my Dad died and my whole life changed. My Mother changed with it and so, any perceived slight or criticism would launch an epic war.

    My best friend from Grade 1 still remembers a time when I could not stop crying and I was such an angry kid. One time, around 12/13 years of age – I hit my little brother with a fire poker which left a scar. For years, whenever there was a conflict, my brothers would remember this trauma I inflicted but this is a learned behaviour from a Parent known as “Reactive Abuse.

    In order to get the love, affection and validation from this type of Parent; the siblings must often compete against each other for it. A concept called “Flying Monkey Syndromeexists. If the siblings do not all conform and follow the lead of attack on the now Black Sheep; they too will be cast out.

    I later learned how my Grandmother was manipulating me to get information about my Mother to probably Manipulate her with. This is called Triangulation. Over time, my Grandma conditioned me to go to her for Emotional Support and resent my Mother. My Grandmother used me for her own gratification.

    @blacksheepsurvives Instagram

    My Mother, not knowing any better as she grew up with the same Cycle, began hating her own Child and still has a lifelong resentment towards me. That is the only explanation for her behaviour in the last two years that has been explained by a Professional to me, that I can accept. However, it was when I started having my own Children that I really realized something was wrong in the Relationship.

    READ: Five Things an Unloving Mother Never Does

    Having my first child made me depressed because I knew even a Granddaughter would not change this situation. Going to Treatment finally provided me with answers I desperately needed all of my life. I had been convinced by her and then of course now; my Husband after she successfully Triangulated him; that I was “bad” and not worthy of love, compassion or support.

    Essentially this was done to cut me out of the picture. My Mother knew I absorbed what I had learned at Treatment, along with the 80 books I read on the subject while away. Deep down, she knew a big change was coming otherwise I would not be participating in the Dysfunction any more.

    To protect her only link to her Grandchildren; an Emotional Relationship based upon Mutual Dissatisfaction and contempt for me as a person was made between her and my former Spouse. Those feelings for her are not new. My Mother admitted to me frustrating her beyond measure and difficult to love but she has felt that way since I was little.

    1988 – 4 years old

    It was so confusing to me while growing up because sometimes she could be incredible. I had Dance Lessons paid for by her growing up but as soon as I turned 15, I was told to get a job and I’ve been financially independent almost ever since. I worked all throughout my teenage years, put myself through School and bought my own house at 24. I did not do anything to deserve this hate and I have finally been able to accept that. For a long time, I felt absolutely worthless.

    Under no circumstances should your Partner (or you for that matter)and your Parents or their Parent(s) be conversing on a regular, intimate level above what relationship you have with them.

    This is Emotional Incest where a Parent has a literal Emotional Based Relationship based on Co-Dependancy, Dissatisfaction and Dislike for a Person, Place or Thing. This may also include their own Parents. It is common for Mothers of Sons for example; to not be able to accept their new place in their Son’s Emotional Hierarchy.

    READ: What is “Covert Incest?”

    An Emotional Hierarchy is where someone ranks in someone’s life in terms of Emotional Power. When you get married, your Partner should be at the top of this role along with your Children.

    Have you ever asked yourself:

    Why does my Mother seemingly “hate” me?

    Why does it feel like my Siblings and I were constantly pitted against each other our whole lives to compete for her love and affection?

    Why is it so different with other Mother’s? Why do they seem to love their daughters no matter what?

    Why does my Mother tell my secrets? How can she be so nice and compassionate one minute but hateful the next?

    Of course because of this lifelong treatment from my Primary Parent; obvious negative outcomes of my Personality were created. I was only made aware of all this last year during Treatment.

    It is one of the most common symptoms of being Emotionally and Psychologically abused during Childhood – you are always wanting to run. You seek excitement and fulfillment because you don’t have it at home.

    Here are some other examples of behaviour Trauma can create in your Personality:

    I cannot do any running away now as I am a Mother of 3 – and I don’t want to. The last 6 months have been dedicated to rebuilding my life so I can begin as a Single Mother, who works, is in Recovery with a Medical Cannabis Prescription.

    In the past year, I made a few attempts (in the right way, from a place of love) to reconcile with my Mother but unless it’s on her terms; she will not. I personally asked her to go to Counselling for the first time in my life. For now, our non-existent relationship is on my terms and I respectfully put up healthy boundaries only for them to be torn down, disrespected and manipulated.

    Everything I had been warned about in the past year or told; happened. I have had to grieve the loss of my Mother who is still very much alive. My daughters will not fall victim to this vicious cycle of Triangulation. Your children cannot have healthy relationships with anyone who hates you or does not respect you.

    This past year, not only have I been in Recovery but I’ve also had to mourn the loss of having a Mother in my life but I needed to find out the truth in regards to everything else. The pieces began falling together and it all just started to make sense.

    There is a saying; “What is done in the Dark, must come out into the Light.” I find so much peace in that as it is true. I only found happiness, peace and health once I detached from my Mother and became even stronger once I detached from my Toxic Marriage. I no longer felt the overpowering Fog or emptiness inside I had felt for as long as I could remember.

    The emptiness I carried from not having Parents raise me on an Emotional, Physical or Spiritual Level seemingly went away and I attribute that to Recovery and the love I feel for my Girls; who are my complete focus.

    @blacksheepsurvives Instagram

    About 8 months after I Graduated and about a month after I asked for a Separation; I made contact with my Maternal Aunt. She became a “Black Sheep” about 30 years ago when she was undergoing her own Marital Breakdown.

    My Aunt is an amazing Woman. She is independent, articulate, smart and incredibly sassy. Reconnecting with her after all this time made such an impact in my life because we are similar in so many ways. We are both the oldest Daughter, oldest child. She raised her son on her own while balancing her Career in Professional Education. She is now a Principal of a School.

    My Maternal Aunt as a Kid

    She never enjoyed a closeness with her Mother and had almost the exact relationship with her that I have with mine. My Mother would often tell me “You are just like my Sister” as if it were an insult.

    My Aunt successfully broke the Cycle of severe Triangulation and Dysfunction for herself but not without pain. Her entire Family turned against her as she repeatedly asked for more space. She had written her Parents a private letter which became Family knowledge. She had never received unconditional love and emotional support from her Parents in the past so going through a painful Divorce- she asked for space.

    It didn’t play out that way and it ended up in a 30 year Estrangement. My Aunt and her Mother never reconciled and my Grandma died in 1998. Growing up, I was told so many terrible things about her and heard things no child should know. I’ve always had a mind of my own and prefer to get to know people before deciding to hate them.

    I couldn’t hate her. She had been in my life for 6 years and I only remembered her to be a loving, enjoyable person. Eventually she reconciled with her Father and has enjoyed almost 8 years of that but my Mother considered my relationship with her to be a Betrayal.

    @blacksheepsurvives Instagram

    It is this type of DYSFUNCTION that creates endless Cycles of Trauma and Despair. People think their kids fighting here and there or being bad is Dysfunctional. It can be if not properly managed but there is a wide gap between regular Family Bullshit and full-blown Psychological warfare within the Family Unit.

    Grandparents can learn from their mistakes and go on to make amends, create an understanding once they have personally evaluated themselves. However, if they choose to absolve themselves from being less than stellar Parents during your Childhood and functioned as the main source of the Family Dysfunction by trying to ruin your life – you have a problem.

    We cannot continuously live our lives how our Parents did. If we do, we will continue to churn the same old ideals, experiences and bullshit that creates these cycles to begin with.

    Right now, my Mother is living out something that happened 30 years ago yet the situation is completely different. Now there is an Emotional Relationship between my Husband and Mother, similar to what my Aunt experienced 30 years ago when her Parents did the same thing.

    They Triangulated with her Husband as well and tried to take her to Court. The Trauma from that ended any chance of reconciling with her Parents because she had clearly communicated what she needed during her time of despair.

    She needed the personal space and boundaries for her Emotional Well-being. If she did not have that, it can cause Depression, Anxiety, Addiction, etc which are all symptoms of Trauma.

    She was given full-custody and successfully went no-contact. We didn’t see her son again until he turned 18, when I sought him out online. Throughout my life; I had been told by my Maternal Family members that her son would “see how his Mother really is and realize it.” Well I can tell you it did not happen that way whatsoever and they have a loving, healthy relationship.

    Just because she did things differently and voiced her displeasure along with asking for space – she was catapulted into oblivion as a Scapegoat/Black-sheep for decades.

    Now, I am in this situation myself and believe me; it is scary – but I have support, knowledge and strength.

    People understand this cycle much better today than they did 30 years ago. If they didn’t, I would not have learned all about it during my time at Treatment.

    The Counsellors I have been involved with, my Doctors at the Clinic I attend each Friday for my Urine Screens, all recognize these Cycles and have held my hand through this to ensure I stay healthy.

    I continue to focus on my future and the future of my Daughters rather than trying to repair relationships that are Toxic. When you repeatedly try to do something and you consistently achieve the same negative outcome every time – that is addictive behaviour.

    People and Relationships can be addicting and are responsible for much of the Drug Addiction issues we are seeing now. New experiences, outcomes and philosophies are the only way we can grow. Without love, support and compassion; people die.

    My daughters will hopefully never have to experience the pain of losing a Parent as a Child – Physically, Emotionally or Spiritually. I’ve been on my own for a long time and followed my own heart and intuition to get to this point.

    I think I’m doing pretty well all things considered.

    Have a great week.

    Let Her Go

    Let Her Go
    If someone or something had told me 442 days ago I’d be in this place versus the Hell I was living through – I would have probably just taken another Pill.

    I would not have believed it and would have instead tried to convince you that these Pills helped me. That they made me “Better” and that I could function on just as high of a level while taking them than I could if I did not.

    How crazy is that shit?

    To actually believe that abusing hundreds of dollars worth of Pills a day; could actually be making ME better? Well it’s a reality for so many Women and Men and it does not matter if it’s prescribed or not. People become Addicted to whatever makes the pain go away.

    Addictive behaviours can include: Shopping, Smoking, Drinking, Eating, Relationships, Porn, Sex, Control.

    Obsessive Compulsive Disorders can resemble Addictive Behaviours as the persons brain literally goes haywire because they cannot achieve the Chemical Reward in the Brain that will satisfy that persons craving or urge. We all have compulsions and Addictive behaviours because we are all Human.

    However, our Personality Type, Human Condition and other factors dictate the severity. Over time, the satisfaction and self-soothing effect resulting from an Addiction becomes too strong to just stop. You will require more and more of your “drug of choice” before the negative behaviours result in negative consequences.

    Take for example a person who decides to have an Affair. It does not matter How or Why this happens because it is just the one time necessary in order to determine if it’s going to become Addictive or not. If the Sex is killer or the conversation enlightening; you may find yourself going back for more. Your Ego and Self-Esteem initially inflate because you are achieving a “High.”

    The Risk of being caught.
    The Thrill of someone new.
    The Ego Boost of Attention and Lust.

    The Emotional & Physical Rewards of the Hunt, the Chase and eventual nail down of your “drug” becomes overwhelming as you realize you haven’t felt this good in years. More and more, you must have your drug in order to achieve the same Chemical Rewards in your Brain; the same chemical released when someone abuses Heroin for example.

    Without the constant stimulation and release; one would start to feel a Withdrawal Effect. It is just like that of a Substance being Detoxes from the body. It can mimic Physical symptoms of fatigue, pain along with Emotional ones like Anger, Depression and Anxiety. If you are an Empathetic Person; you would probably feel guilt and sadness too.

    READ: The Brain’s Risk/Reward System Makes Our Choices, Not Us

    Dopamine and Serotonin are released when we feel rewarded for something. This happens naturally, every day without us even doing anything other than living. Just smelling the top of your newborn Baby’s head can trigger a rush of these Chemicals.

    These chemicals are responsible for the feelings of Love and Lust hence why they are so often confused with another.

    Anyway; back to the Hot Affair:

    So maybe by now, you have been having your hot love Affair with your new Partner for awhile. You have a false sense of security that no one knows you are having an affair because you haven’t told anyone but your behaviour will state otherwise. Just because it’s become easy to justify your bad behaviour doesn’t mean someone isn’t noticing.

    This is where we start to form our false identity around our Addictive Behaviours and start to justify our choices:

    “My wife is a controlling bitch and I’m not attracted to her any more.”

    “I’m in love. I cannot help who I want or love.”

    “You make me feel Awful about myself whereas She makes me feel Good.”

    “He just “gets me.” I’ve never felt this way before about anyone.”

    “If they don’t know, it won’t hurt them. I’ll tell them when I’m ready to leave.”

    Over time, the Cheating Partner will begin to tell massive Lies or Omissions in an effort to cover their tracks. Similarity; drug users will hide their drugs, lie about the money spent and become Emotionally distant. On an Emotional Level; the person being cheated on starts to wonder what they have done. Their partner is acting distant; physically and emotionally.

    In a desperate attempt to fix the situation, the person being cheated on will either excessively “People-Please” or they will become Emotionally Tortured by the confusion, rejection and intuition that something is wrong. They don’t know what exactly yet; but something is definitely up.

    We will start to blame other factors for our increasingly shitty behaviour: Work, Stress, Kids, etc. but really we are just in Self-Preservation mode and we will act hostile if anyone tries to break down the walls we put up to protect our Addiction. This is when people start to act insane, hostile or angry because they don’t want you to know the truth about them or what they have done.

    Whenever my Husband would ask me if I was using; I would go nuts. “Oh my god, of course not! How could you say that!” Not only was I in complete denial about my illness, as it would greatly impact my life if people knew the truth; I was also protecting it because it was the only thing that made me “feel normal.” I only felt normal as an Addict because my false sense of Identity allowed me to.

    As long as no one knew, as long as I kept working as a Banker, having kids, paying the bills. As long as everything on the outside looked “normal” – I was too. Obviously now there is nothing normal about what I had been doing but while in the grips of a serious drug Addiction – crazy, insane behaviour is justified as normal so you can get your drug. It’s that simple and relatable.

    Finally, there is a difference between explaining your actions and behaviour, outcomes versus Justification or abusing to Absolve. In some situations, if a Narcissistic Personality Type is involved; you will actually see them go to great lengths to completely absolve themselves from their actions by blaming someone else.

    This destructive version of Self-Preservation can create the most damage as the person is not aware of their behaviour – still, as they try to cover up what they have done by destroying someone else. This is very popular behaviour observed in the Animal Kingdom.

    They have no issues destroying their Family by leaving for the other person, or inflicting serious Trauma and Emotional Pain to their loved ones. No, this Personality Type will continue their Addiction, justify it and defend without ever making amends. These types of Addicts are the ones who create the falsehood of what Drug Addiction is really like.

    Now, people make mistakes and forgiveness is warranted to anyone willing to make amends. When you discover someone has cheated; their reaction should dictate what type of person they are within the first hour of finding out:
    1. If they are capable of Empathy, Love and Compassion: they will cry with you, beg for forgiveness, break down and try to figure out how to fix it. It would be a defining moment in the relationship and it would either make or break one.
    2. If they are NOT capable of Empathy, Love and Compassion: their Affair becomes your fault. You did this. It’s your fault because you gained “weight after pregnancy or because you are lazy.” If you show any emotion; anger or sadness – you are pathetic and overly Emotional.

    The reactions of each person when dealing with Conflict will determine the outcome. If two, very different Personality Types enter conflict together or inflict it upon each other; further trauma and conflict will result. It is almost impossible to reason with someone who has a Narcissistic Personality Type and an Addiction to boot.

    When it came time to actually deal with my Addiction; I responded well to treatment because my Personality Type allows me to. I am able to recognize how my behaviour and subsequent consequences impacted my Life and that of my Family.

    After 10 weeks of intensive, In-Patient Treatment; I was given the information I had wanted to know forever. I was validated as an Empathetic, Compassionate person with a Type-A Personality. They also confirmed there is no way I’d be able to convince them otherwise. By the end of my time there, all of the Counsellors who had been by my side were telling me how things really were.

    It was a relief to finally hear and know exactly the type of person I am. Being properly assessed and treated was a vital aspect to my successful remission and Recovery. You can take Personality Quiz’s online but to actually have a determination made based on third-party, non-Emotionally biased opinions allowed me to let go of the incorrect identifiers the people who held Emotional Power over me has made over the last few years.

    It’s important to know exactly what kind of person you are and how your Personality Type impacts your day-to-day life.

    I had to let go of so much pain surrounding my Addiction, Recovery, Divorce, etc. that effected my sense of self. The biggest one would have to be Work as the people who hold Emotional Power over me like to refer to this as being another Addiction of mine. I can tell you it’s not, it may have been before when I didn’t know better but now my Career interests come 3rd to Recovery and my Children.

    Recovery has to come first, always, because without it – I am not in Recovery. I cannot be a happy, healthy Parent/Mother without it. My children will never come second to anything or anyone but Recovery is an Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual thing. It does not hold Power over me in a negative way; it motivates me to be a better person, Woman, Mother and Friend.

    READ: Meyer Friedman

    In his 1996 book dealing with extreme Type A behavior, Type A Behavior: Its Diagnosis and Treatment, Friedman suggests that dangerous Type A behavior is expressed through three major symptoms: (1) free-floating hostility, which can be triggered by even minor incidents; (2) time urgency and impatience, which causes irritation and exasperation usually described as being “short-fused”; and (3) a competitive drive, which causes stress and an achievement-driven mentality. The first of these symptoms is believed to be covert and therefore less observable, while the other two are more overt.[12] -Wikipedia

    Family Enmeshment Disney-fied:

    Most Disney movies show Cycles of Family Enmeshment as we expect Girls to marry a Prince.
    The movie “Frozen” is a wonderful example of how two sisters escape the roles planned for them based on Family Enmeshment and Cycles.

    The two Sisters are left Orphaned but the repetitive Morals, Values and Protocols of their Family dictate how these Sisters shall live. The one with the “condition;” which would clearly be the sister who needs to wear gloves to control her out of this world Anger/Freezing problem – is the “Golden Child,” put on this Earth to continue her Parent’s legacy.

    The “Spare” aka: the other sister; she is just there and she is expected to support whatever her sister does because she is the Golden Child, the Special One. Unfortunately, you cannot have any independence or autonomy because everything you do is a reflection of your Parents, the “Family” and of course, your Sister.

    Should your Golden Sister get herself into trouble – self-inflicted or not; the Spare (now a “Rescuer”) shall drop everything, fly up the mountain and deal with the situation to everyone’s mutual satisfaction.

    Sound familiar?

    Do you see how easy it was for Anna to fall into a Relationship with that Con-Artist/Fake Prince at the beginning of the movie?

    She didn’t know any better as she had no identity separate from her Family. She was just doing exactly what her parents had told her she should do – get married to someone of Royal Blood and breed.

    I look forward to the Sequel. Have a great day.

    Divide and Conquer

    Divide and Conquer

    Thank you to everyone for the encouraging feedback and support. I truly am writing about my experiences and sharing my knowledge for everyone’s benefit. It’s been 3 months since I began Blogging again and I love it.

    I’ve already had a couple Women (and a few Men!) reach out to me about their own stories about their Family Dynamics, Mental Health, Addiction, Trauma and Abuse.

    Graphic © Angela Westelaken

    It’s unreal how many people can fall into these insidious cycles but believe me; we are conditioned our whole lives for it. It’s no mistake. We will live out the familiar cycles we are used to in future relationships if we do not recognize our contributions to them or if we refuse to change.

    Most of the time, it’s all we have ever known therefore it happens right under our noses, without our consent. Living in these types of situations has become commonplace these days as we virtually live to maintain an illusion for someone else. Maybe it’s our Parents, or our Spouse. It could be both. It can even be for yourself to maintain your own false identity and reality.

    When I came home from Treatment, I shut down my Blog because like I said; I wasn’t ready to face all that had happened. I had been taught and told in Treatment about my situation and what needed to happen in order to stay in Recovery. It just was not the right time as my focus was on acute Recovery (up to a year post-Detox) and then of course – giving birth to my 3rd Daughter in November.

    READ: Parenting Exposed: Divide and Conquer

    When your life revolves around recurring Trauma, negative emotional triggers around Family Relationships; it’s easy to believe what you are experiencing is normal.

    Quite often, I was praised by my Spouse for being extremely easy-going, relaxed and patient. I know these qualities of mine along with my intense free-will, impulsiveness and anxiety-driven behaviours can end up bringing either the best or the worst out in me. Either you love me or you hate me, either you get it or you don’t. The ones who do have been in my life for most of it and have become Lifelong, chosen Family.

    Recovery; on an Emotional, Spiritual and Physical level – it is now something I must now focus on every day in 24 hour increments. I do not live in the past nor do I live in the future. Rather than worrying about the limitless, worst-case scenario possibilities in life like I used to (also known as “Fight or Flight” mode), I’ve used the knowledge and tools gained from my time as a Opiate Addict, in treatment, in Recovery to cultivate this real change.

    That’s why phrases like: “Keep It Simple” and “Easy Does It” exist – you need to focus on Recovery and be allowed to do it; with love and support.
    Anything less than that and you are being setup for failure. That’s when you need to start evaluating your “People, Places and Things.”

    It’s been such a dramatic turnaround since I took full control of my life back in April. For some people, it could be that they possibly don’t believe its real.

    However, at what point; is the complete denial of Recovery being used as a tool to Emotionally and Psychologically abuse you in an effort to control the relationship?
    This is a well-known, common after-effect of Addiction.

    It literally infects the whole Family however there is usually a “centre of it all” at the core. In most cases, there are “People, Places & Things” that keep individuals in their condition because it allows whomever to continue controlling that person with Emotional Power.

    In reality, Individuals are actually more at risk to develop a new Addiction than someone who is in a Structured Recovery plan, are to Relapse. This means someone who has never been prescribed an Opiate before stands more of a chance of becoming addicted than I do of relapsing 1 year post-Detox.

    This is very important because when someone in Recovery “comes back,” they require a lot of love, compassion, patience, etc.

    Graphic © Angela Westelaken

    Notably this is difficult to do because emotional harm may have been caused. In my case, I have children and I am their primary caregiver, so my decision to lead a semi-public life in Addiction/Cannabis Activism was based upon setting the standards for what that looks like.

    This was NOT supported by any of my In-Laws or my Mother but my plan was announced well before I decided to Separate. One by one, they all started to turn against me. I realize now it’s not so much what I was planning to do but how it would allow me to be less isolated. Isolation is key for those who Emotionally Abuse their Partners, Children, etc. as it allows them to control what information is being shared.

    When I did decide to ask for a Separation, I asked my Mother to go into Counselling to discuss what I had learned about myself in Treatment. Even though so much had happened and she stopped talking to me when I was a few weeks ahead of leaving treatment.

    To this day, I don’t know why but I offered full forgiveness for pretty much everything and anything that had happened at that point. I so badly wanted to prove what I had been told about my situation was untrue. I did not want to believe that these people could actually be behaving in a way that would be used to make me “behave.”

    Counselling would never happen because my Mother refused to go. I held my boundaries and position but my Husband refused to support me. I realized then that the situation had turned dire as my suspicion of Triangulation was confirmed.

    I realized then, that over a course of a year, the goal had been to protect my Family not in case I relapsed, but in case I tried to leave if things stayed the same. If I caused a “problem,” I would essentially be a Black Sheep.

    Graphic © Angela Westelaken

    At that time, I knew things were going downhill and that I was getting stronger but I still had total faith that everyone had my emotional well-being and best interest at heart. As time went on and I realized what was really happening; I experienced intense Betrayal Trauma.

    READ: The Trauma of Betrayal

    Everything I had been counselled about at Treatment as a precaution for my return home, was coming to fruition. It was devastating to learn the truth and over time, I will share that story but I am still working through it.

    At what point do we stop treating those who suffer from Addiction as morality issues/problems? When do we stop punishing them for their transgressions, especially when they have subjected themselves to every standard set upon them?

    How can one set Boundaries within their personal relationships to ensure Emotional Safety, Autonomy and Independence without causing massive conflict or punishment?

    READ: 20+ Signs of Toxic Family Relationships and What You Could Do About Them

    To the person in Recovery – how are you able to determine the difference yourself between a Toxic Relationship and People, Places and Things aside from your own contribution to the situation?
    1. You cannot make amends with people who lack autonomy in their Family unit to exclusively forgive another Family member without approval.
    1. You cannot make amends with anyone who doesn’t want to or is set on harming you with the Emotional Power you have just given them by admitting your bullshit.
    2. You cannot make amends with someone who seeks Revenge, Restitution or Respite.
    3. You CANNOT fix a problem with a problem.
    4. You have to detach once you’ve identified the cycle and you must separate if you are in a Relationship.

    Graphic © Angela Westelaken

    It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, it doesn’t mean the other person is “bad” or “not good.” It simply means we have been taught to react and respond a certain way to Trauma and it is actually the Individual that is in Recovery whose own Emotional reaction can create more of it or continue the Cycle.

    Individuals with certain Personality Types do not appreciate Boundaries. When given them, they will find whatever method possible to break them down. They also enjoy inciting Reactive Abuse where you actually respond to the Psychological Abuse being inflicted upon you. Often times, Reactive Abuse involves crying, screaming, yelling so that the person inflicting it can call you “crazy.”

    In very serious situations: they will try to record you and start to build a file against you. They will share this with other people who hold Emotional Power over you so that a literal mob will involve themselves to absolve the Abuser and further abuse the person in Recovery.

    A Minority Report on the person in Recovery will start to build, consisting of all their secrets, mistakes, trauma and weaknesses. The point of this is to control the message being presented along with keeping the person within the confines of that message.

    Add in the Isolation, Shame and Control; that person has completely lost their identity, voice and self-worth under the Fog of this type of Abuse. If one is not aware or prepared, you can quite frankly end up losing everything including your kids, assets, reputation, safety, etc.

    The final step of the process is Elimination and Discard. If the Individual tries to leave, the one exerting Power and Control will try to stop them somehow. They are not doing this out of love and if they are enmeshed into their Family, you can expect a Team approach.

    The final attack on you is when you do try to leave; they will try to destroy your character, credibility, sobriety, recovery, whatever it is – to stop you from gaining any traction.

    If you try to be amicable, they will threaten Court, Custody Battles, new accusations and threats. The whole Family that’s on their side of course, will come after you in a way you never thought possible. Your reality is completely changed because for the first time in a long time, if ever – everyone is actually being themselves completely yet they are all motivated by Fear and Anger. You are motivated because they will never understand the hell that is Addiction.

    The Individuals within the Opposition against the one in Recovery either join forces or face isolation. Of course, the top m-tier within the Unit are set on vengeance, proving a point and getting even. Their goal is to destroy the Individual in Recovery without any second thought or rationale thinking. They aren’t thinking about their contribution to the situation.

    You are the one who became abused Addictive drugs yet the Emotional Abuse Cycle is very similar to the Addiction Cycle. They are positively correlated meaning they are related to each other as a cause and effect.

    The goal now is to introduce confusion; also known as “Cognitive Dissonance:

    Now what should just be two Adults parting ways after realizing their relationship is Toxic; has now become a full-scale, expensive, trauma-inducing battle that should not exist. Neither person is in any condition to fight; they are both victims of circumstance and they are about to repeat the cycle for their children.

    Parents that are emotionally healthy and equipped would never suggest this for their Children. They wouldn’t encourage it. They would be heartbroken, sad and fearful for everyone involved and would do whatever it took to minimize damage. Ideally, no one would manipulate any weaknesses or fractures in what’s supposed to be a loving relationship.

    Otherwise – we continue to repeat the cycles of Emotional Abuse and Trauma, Addiction and Relapse.

    Graphic © Angela Westelaken

    If the person in Recovery does not realize this is happening (usually if they feel “safe” and drop their guard) well, an even more serious situation will arise. Paranoia sets in, as does fear and anger. If the Individual in Recovery does not seek help and support, they will ultimately relapse and either go back to the People, Places and Things that are keeping them down.

    Worse – if they relapse or start to feel worthless, crazy, etc. – we lose them. They either go back to their drug of choice, the cycle of Addiction and Abuse. Their children ultimately suffer and the cycle continues.

    Graphic © Angela Westelaken

    Everybody has character defects.
    Everybody lies.
    Everybody makes mistakes.
    Everybody deserves compassion, love and forgiveness.
    Everybody deserves two loving parents even if those parents do not love each other.
    Everybody needs to look at themselves and their part within any Mental Health crisis especially if you are in a Relationship or a close Family unit.
    Everybody needs to focus on being the best they can be without hurting other people.

    My daughters will be taught how to be strong, happy, healthy Women who hold love, compassion and empathy for others. They will learn to be respectful, honest and independent.

    They will be taught to forgive but to always hold their own Boundaries. They will be taught to respect themselves. They will be taught self/care, self-love, self-trust, self-acceptance.

    They will be taught to make decisions based on their own strength, intuition and experiences but led with love and support by their parents. I will not parent them with shame or guilt, projection or fear.

    They will be taught to love themselves as much as their parents do but to be loved for who they are, not for what they will do one day, how much money they will make or what they will give.

    They will always know they can trust their Mother to do what’s right for them and not just what’s right for her. They already do.

    Welcome to the Family

    Welcome to the Family
    What was it really like to be pregnant for 30 out of 52 months?
    2018, 2017, 2014

    That was 3 babies in 4.5 years – without any real help aside from their Dad and his Mother for a few hours a week. I really did not have much emotional support either. It’s funny how a few occasions in time can add up to a one-sided relationship for some. Two months after my first daughter was born, my Mother left for a 4 month trip.

    I ended up only taking a 4 month maternity leave and my husband took the next 4 months. At the time, that worked really well for us until everything seemed to catch up to me. Going back to work that soon was probably a mistake.

    It was exciting having babies but also very scary. I had 3 insane, fast Births which caused its own set of complications. Two of those were incredible experiences as they were unmedicated and easy. My daughters are beautiful, smart, happy and healthy.

    However, after my 1st and 2nd babies, around 4 months later, the depression and anxiety fog became so thick. I almost lost my life to Addiction resulting from severe, untreated postpartum Depression that probably began 6 months after my 1st baby. I don’t think it ended until June 24, 2018.

    Medicating that pain and trauma; along with extreme loneliness and exhaustion – became a necessity.

    My past experience with pharmaceutical anti-depressants/anti-anxiety medications had always failed miserably. Recently, I obtained my legal ACMPR Status which is essentially a medical prescription for Cannabis. This was a choice I made to ensure I am accountable to my children but also the people who help protect them.

    Motherhood without Emotional, Loving Support:

    There is a huge burden placed upon any Woman and her body when she becomes pregnant:
    Consider the changes you go through on an emotional, physical and spiritual level:

    The energy, patience and love required to raise 3 under 5 can be extremely taxing. Without adequate support, self-care, time alone and of course – a loving relationship; it can become disastrous real quick. It was interesting as time went on because although our families were not involved in our daily lives physically, somehow their opinions were always front and centre.

    I was encouraged to ignore my intuition on a regular basis in exchange for Old Wives Tales, Unsolicited Advice and 30-year Outdated recommendations for sleep, daily routines, feeding and proper Attachment building.

    READ: Family Cohesion and Enmeshment Moderate Associations between Maternal Relationship Instability and Children’s Externalizing Problems

    I’ve been practicing Attachment Parenting for pretty much my entire duration of Motherhood. I wore my kids and co-slept, breastfed and snuggled. We don’t spank or yell – I’ve had my moments believe me. I get frustrated like any parent and my kids know when this happens so of course they will react accordingly.

    Thankfully, my daughters are extremely emotionally connected to me despite my Health challenges and Recovery. I know this bond is different than anyone else’s, I am their Mother. They are patient with me because they know I love them and have been there for them every single day of their lives in some way or they have been in the safety of their Father.

    All of their needs are met, they are nurtured and feel happy, healthy and safe with either parent.

    My 3 Girls – November 2018

    It can be overwhelming and if a Mother does not seek treatment, she can absolutely burn-out. If the people around you rally for the other parent; supporting him as if he is the one suffering (no doubt he could’ve been in his own way) – well over time, it creates a Toxic Environment for any Woman.

    Compiling all these stressors, obligations and burdens; you are now facing a serious situation. Everyone involved now plays a part in this even if they don’t feel they do. Resentment begins to build and no matter how many attempts one in Recovery makes amends – it will never be enough.

    What was interesting about my period of Depression; is that so many people noticed my unhappiness but I kept saying “I’m fine.” It was obvious for so long I wasn’t but for many years; as long as my kids were fed, happy and healthy – all was well.

    My needs really didn’t matter because in this life; with these people – the Mother is to be 100 percent selfless. That’s not entirely anyone’s fault – the cycle of our Family Dynamics will allow these things to continue if no one tries to change it. In this Family Hive, any sign of weakness is a sign of a problem.

    The kids come first no doubt but no one can keep dredging a bottomless well. Eventually you fall in forever as you try to dig yourself free. Someone has to care about the Mother and her well-being especially if everyone is aware she does not have her own Parents to help her the way her Spouse’s parents can/do.

    We often hear on the news of Women who escape extremely controlling, isolating Family situations. Often times, there is a complete lack of Boundaries in place therefore everyone knows everyone’s shit because no one has anything else to talk about. They are fully enmeshed in each other’s lives and lack a separate identity.

    Schedules and Self-Care:

    As long as I was physically present, with the same set of people, resolute in my role; not causing “trouble” and ultimately listening to direction – things were “fine.”

    Self-Care became a thing of the past and I don’t just mean getting my hair or nails done or something. Just to have a shower took rigid planning and asking for the time/permission from my Spouse. I did not put those restrictions ever on anyone nor did I expect much. Even now, I am with my children on average between 18-21 hours a day.

    Once I became a hardcore user, hygienic rituals went completely out the window. There was simply no energy left to expense.

    This is very common during end-stage Active Addiction. One of the ablutions I picked up during my time at Treatment involved a self-care window/ritual however that quickly went out the window despite Aftercare Planning for weeks leading up to my return home. No one was interested in that unless it fit someone else’s schedule or Agenda.

    Daily Planner from In-Patient Treatment – July 2018

    For 10 weeks, every day in the morning we had to complete a Daily Planner. I truly enjoyed doing this as it allows the person in Recovery to focus on 3 simple tasks. “Keep it Simple” is a regular theme throughout Recovery. As one can imagine, I led a very busy life as a Working Mom as well. Keeping it simple after managing millions of dollars for people was Recovery all on its own. I’ll elaborate on that for a future post.

    Consequently, when my waiting spot for two-hour, once a week Aftercare came up post-treatment, I was told in December I could not attend because it was “too much.” It was my only opportunity to attend any Support that I was clearly responding to. I was held back from seeking treatment before and after my acute stage because it did not fit with someone else’s expectations or plans.

    Mommy In Recovery:

    I’ve been asked so many times how this all happened and how my children were affected. Quite simply, I medicated myself with so much crap I became numb. I did not speak. People ended up speaking for me in the end because I could not relate to anyone. The pills allowed me to pause the pain inside.

    During this time, I did not really know anyone else in my situation therefore I kept to myself. As no one else had experienced this, the signs were not as easily recognized. I functioned at a high-level for years until my body and mind gave out.

    Second, my kids always had their needs met by me so it became easy to fly under the radar for so long. No one could’ve imagined the trouble I faced but I don’t think anyone realizes how unsafe it is to Detox from Opiates while Pregnant or with kids around. Now that I have 433 days under my belt, I recognize the extreme risks involved with Opiate abuse and Parenting.

    It’s impossible almost and extremely dangerous to even consider a Detox while pregnant or while in a Primary Caregiving role. Do not even attempt this without suppport. The risk to the fetus while pregnant if the Mother stops taking Opiates can result in pre-term Labour or even Death.

    Early Recovery Goals

    If I wasn’t pregnant during the last 4.5 years – I was recovering from Birth and taking care of a Newborn along with another child. The constant up and down of hormones and lack of sleep, self-care will catch up to you. If your partner has no regard for your happiness or emotional well-being, it becomes easy to slip into a depressive state.

    A Woman’s Self-Esteem and Self-Worth becomes impacted just from the physical changes alone. Now imagine the shame, guilt and traumas associated from having children born while you are battling an Opiate Addiction. The cycle of Abuse continues regardless if you are Pregnant or not once you hit a certain point in your Addictive state.

    Gossip in Families:

    Private Events between Spouses occur and the same people provide the same reactions.

    Despite being told by Professionals do not Gossip, you now believe everyone in your immediate Family; or particular people around you, hate you because everyone is talking shit.

    It is easier to talk shit about you than it is to evaluate themselves and their roles within the situation.

    © Angela Westelaken

    They cannot fathom how you can abuse pills while pregnant, or as a Mother. If you are married to someone who never loved you unconditionally and based your worth upon appearance; the pressure to get back down to pre-pregnancy size becomes intense. Ultimately you are not treated the same by anyone until you do.

    Outside Family members, who were never on your side to begin with; either became heavily involved or they begin to Gossip.

    Individuals rooting for the other side ultimately protect that person regardless if that person has done the right thing. In my case, my problem was essentially ignored until the glaring consequences began piling up.

    In my case, every one became distant towards me and even hostile at times however they rallied around my Husband to ensure his safety, protection and future. I never lost custody of my children. I always came home. I suffered in complete, absolute silence until the last year when everyone knew but no one did a thing other than Gossip.

    READ: Can a Family be too Close?
    You can usually tell from the outside looking in it Enmeshed Family relationships have replaced normal, outside ones. If a decision or plan was made that someone did not agree with; of course drama would ensue. I actually hate confrontation and will usually shut down or hide. I learned later this is a common trauma response.

    It’s very rare I will yell back but once a Cycle or Pattern has been identified between me and a person like that; I usually go no-contact. I’ve only had to do this in extreme situations that involve emotionally triggering people.

    This is the type of relationship I’ve had with my Mother for almost my entire life which dramatically changed last Summer. She actually stopped talking to me when we disagreed on something but we never really made amends from that point.

    It became vital to my Emotional Wellbeing that these boundaries be put in place but unfortunately; it was too late to prevent any permanent damage to my marriage or any relationship I’d ever have with my Mother. My Addiction Doctor has been adamant: once this cycle is identified, you must detach.

    The Aftermath of Accountability:

    © Angela Westelaken

    It was right after my Husband and his Family, along with my Mother; without a shadow of a doubt – began setting the stage to make it appear no matter what I did, no matter what bottom-line I met or how many Urine Tests I took (every Friday!), I would just always be a fuck-up but I was never a fuck-up to begin with.

    Healthy boundaries between my Mother and I had to be put in place but also between her and my husband. It’s an unfortunate consequence of Addiction where a Triangulation occurs due to a Trauma Bond created by the Addict and those involved. There is a difference however between Co-Dependancy and Triangulation which I will cover off in another post.

    The projection of my real identity has been lost because for so many years, I did not speak. I had no voice.
    They spoke for me and they don’t even know the real me.

    I was unsupported from meaningful help for so long that horrible, ugly things kept happening as a consequence from drug-seeking behaviour. The guilt, shame, embarrassment, etc. along with a serious physical, emotional dependency to the Opiates led to negative behaviour that was actually completely out of character for me.

    Throughout my Recovery, making amends became my obsession. I’ve found who my real people are no doubt and many of them have been there all along. I’m ready to become THIS Woman, THIS Mother.

    I’ve been born ready to take this on by myself, ultimately preparing for this role my whole life. I do hope one day things will heal as time passes on but everyone reaches a point in their lives where hard decisions must be made.

    Despite a few minority opinions – I have tried everything. This group refuses to acknowledge my Sobriety and Recovery because I use Cannabis (prescribed). Every day I do my very best as a Mother. I tried my best to make sincere amends. I put myself out there to receive every level of scrutiny my extreme honesty and transparency could provide. I have a strong, Female-led Community behind me. I have met the bottom-lines put up to me by every Agency involved.

    I did not go through all of this for nothing. I am ready and waiting.

    Silver Lining

    Dear You;

    We were so close to entering this journey together but fate had other plans. Recovery is a long process especially when you have a Childhood to recover from. Being told “get over it” our entire lives doesn’t quite cut it.

    Forgive yourself for what you have done. It does not matter if not everyone forgives you. Forgive yourself and know why you did it. You have been failed your whole life and kept this way on purpose.

    Remind yourself how you were failed. How you didn’t ask for any of it but you had to survive. How anyone says they understand the pain but how could they?

    They can all think whatever they want but they are the minority, not the majority. It is different out here, on this side. You never had a chance otherwise so it’s ok to run, just don’t hide.

    You didn’t kill anyone. You didn’t cause irreparable harm. It’s only money. Make amends to the ones you’ve harmed and hurt. The ones who are meant to be there will be there.

    You can have a life filled with happiness. Everyone deserves love, compassion, validation, honesty and acceptance.

    You have always had it – you have just been looking in the wrong spots. We were lost. Left. Lied to. All the time.

    Addiction is a Family Disease and it does not start with Substances.

    We deserved better.


    Up on the mountain
    Caught on the rail line
    Up on the mountain
    Caught on the rail line

    My brother, let the heart just beat
    Drink your wine, smoke your weed
    My brother, let the heart still beat
    And wear your silver lining
    Wear it close to your skin
    But if it’s the drugs, the women, the wine, the weed
    The love that took everything I own
    Just take it oh oh oh
    And tell the ones you love you love them
    Teach only what you know, and oh
    You better know it well
    We drove from coast to coast
    Down in New Orleans
    Where the levees broke
    You were tripping
    I was driving
    You were running
    I was hiding
    And you know I know how that feels
    Don’t get cheated, kid
    Just sweep from your heels
    And if you get carried away
    Let the music play you through the pain
    And wear that silver lining
    Wear it close to your skin
    But if it’s the drugs, the women, the wine, the weed
    The love that took everything I own
    Just take it oh oh oh
    And tell the ones you love you love them
    Teach only what you know, and oh
    You better know it well
    Up on the mountain
    Caught on the red light
    Up on the mountain
    Caught on the rail line

    29 Years

    29 Years

    Today I am releasing 29 years of pain. For the first time in 29 years, I didn’t weep at his grave like a baby or fall to my knees in despair.

    When I was a child, my mother would constantly tell us that she didn’t believe my Dad was there so she didn’t like going to the Grave. We never took care of it as a Family (we grew Weed together, but did not tend to a loved ones plot; go figure) but I started to go on my own once I began to drive.

    My Oma is 96 cannot drive so she can no longer tend to it so today; my 4 Aunts and I along with my 3 daughters took her. My Aunts lovingly took care of my girls and included them every step of the way.

    Today I was given a gift: the realization that I may have lost my Dad but I always had his sisters. It was not easy for them when he died; few of them were actually working at the hospital when he was brought in DOA.

    He had died instantly. He was 37 years old and had been suffering for almost a year from severe Depression and Anxiety. He left behind my brothers and I who were 7, 5 and 2.

    The year I turn 37 on 2021; I’ll have a 7, 5 and 2 year old.

    My Dad and I had almost everything in common: our strong work ethic, dedication to our Family and how that always seemed to clash or never be enough. It was hard to put into words before I went to Treatment last Summer exactly what I had been experiencing these last few years. It was like a impenetrable fog that wouldn’t lift.

    Nothing was ever good enough and I suffered in silence for 5 out of the 7 years I abused Opiates off and on for until the final, bitter 2 years when everyone knew. It wouldn’t be until April 2018 that everyone seemed to care and do something but by then I had almost lost everything.

    Right now as I navigate the end of my marriage and subsequent Court battle that was recently launched against me – I am still grateful every day I wake up.

    428 days ago, I was a literal Prescription Pill Junkie. I could not stop using, I was pregnant and suicidal. I was a slave to it after fighting the battle for almost 7 years. To be freed from this, is incredible and nothing could ever compare to the deadness I felt inside during this time.

    Last Summer, My own Mother was telling me she knew my Husband did not love me any more. She told me this a few times and it was always from a place of anger, frustration and disgust. It was my fault in her eyes that I was losing the Battle of Addiction and I deserved most of the consequences.

    I felt the Universe gave me just enough love from him between June 24, 2018 and January 2019 before it became obvious she was right.

    He was seemingly plotting along with his family and my Mother to make it seem I was worse in Recovery than I was as a User. In the eyes of my Husband and his Family; I am not deserving of making decisions or having custody of my children because of Cannabis, Addiction and to end my marriage.

    It was just enough time to have a baby, build up some strength and for me to begin thinking about my future. However, I could not stop processing the past and it became obvious my Dad’s death was not in vain. There was a lesson to be learned, a cycle to be broken.

    It was too teach me that life is too short and I was on a dire path. Money; which had NEVER been my real life “Currency” was all I could think about because I felt I had to make amends for not working and for the cost of my Addiction. In December 2018, I had been willing to commit the final act of Addiction which is Demoralization: eventual Bankruptcy, Benefits, etc. but my Father’s soul inside me luckily stopped me from doing that.

    Why would I even consider that when I had worked from age 15 and had so much left in me to give? Insanity, people-pleasing possibly? No – I was just reacting to how worthless and traumatized I still felt. I felt I deserved demoralizing myself further to makeup to others what I had done. I almost did it to win back the people who by now; were using my Mental Health issues on a regular basis to further their Agenda.

    I woke up from a dream one night in which I had the answer – finally as to what had been keeping me up at night for as long as I can remember. How did he die? How did it happen? What was he thinking?

    His Death had been investigated for suicide for a few months when it happened. It was devastating to find this out at 34 years old however, it was something I had always suspected. I knew my Dad had been severely depressed and hadn’t been sleeping.

    I also knew there had been serious Marital problems and my Dad was close to burning out from stress.

    Something had sent him over the edge in the last 24 hours before he had died. He drove his Work Truck into a Concrete Guardrail during Morning rush hour traffic. No one else was involved. No one seemed to see what had exactly happened.

    I’ve felt that pain and hopelessness. Where you have literally drained yourself dry from all of your own bullshit but also because the emotional and psychological traumas we experience to create our Human Condition. If I hadn’t surrendered, become sober, found myself and get out of my situation – I would have surely succumbed and my girls would not have a Mother.

    By April of this year, I had finally broken my way out and asked for a Separation. Everything continued to happen as it always had only now I was finally clean and clear-headed from Opiates. My Ambition, Motivation and Drive was back and everyone who has every known me is happy to have their friend back. It was happening as it should and my foray into Addiction Activism and the Cannabis Community have helped saved my life.

    It was the people who rallied behind and beside me to help me walk this mile. They are still by my side and I am so grateful. Almost everyone I associate is aware of my Addiction Recovery. Brutal honesty has always seemed to serve me well in the past. I lost sight of that trait as an Addict. I went against every fibre in my being to become to total opposite of who I wanted to be.

    Now that I have been on the other side for almost a year and a half – there is a small group trying to remind me of all the horrible things I’ve done, the harm and trauma I’ve caused my kids and obviously – taking every thing from me as a punishment because I refuse to go back to the way things were/are.

    The Cycle of Addiction involves People, Places and Things. If you go back to what caused you to become so depressed, anxious in the first place which caused the need the Medicate – you will never claw your way out. You will either go back to using or run like Hell.

    The point of all this is that people literally need Love to function. We need love, nurture, compassion, understanding, validation, etc. It’s not easy to get believe me and so over time, it can become even harder to give.

    If you do not love someone, you let them go. You do not try to destroy them. Especially if they have tried to make every effort possible to change.

    I have no challenges giving these emotions fully to my Daughters and to my friends, some Family but it’s actually really hard for me to fall in love with someone and have a relationship. I have an unusual attachment style and I am considered an “Avoidant Attacher“.

    I’ll probably never have one again after getting Divorced but ultimately – I am staying within the “Traditional” opinion on Relationships in Recovery which is usually a big “Nope” for years. It’s also a big NO when you have 3 kids so really – I am looking at a long future of self-love, self-care.

    I have surrounded myself with amazing Women from my Community; along with my Maternal and 4 Paternal Aunts to assist me through this Journey. Without their love and support; I could have very well relapsed back to Opiates by now.

    I’ll be writing more on various topics to do with Separation & Divorce in Recovery soon but I will not be talking shit. That does not help anyone. It is important to tell our stories but in a progressive way.

    There is no progress without pain.

    Recovery Project, Part 2: #420AM

    Recovery Project, Part 2: #420AM

    Mental Health & Addiction Awareness & Activism are essential Values to Original Product Cannabis + Concentrates Inc.

    As so many of the people involved with the Company have experienced their own version or know someone close to them suffering, either way, the epidemic of Addiction and a Mental Health afflictions can decimate the Patrimony of any Family.

    Naloxone Kits and Maintenance Assisted Therapy are two useful Harm Reduction tools available for free in Hamilton, Ontario. The work done by the amazing people at ACT BARTON & New Day IDA in terms of Medical/Emotional Support and Addiction care is invaluable. This Clinic supports Cannabis Assisted Harm Reduction for Qualified Patients and makes referrals on site for ACMPR Status Applications.

    ACT/New Day IDA – Barton St., Hamilton Pictured: Owner, George Daoud

    The Harm Reduction Approach:

    Cannabis as a Social Connector and a Plant-Based Medicine

    #420AM was conceived after living my own Life as a Opiate user and seeker.

    Look up the Hashtag #420AM and you will find many interesting interpretations:

    Instagram #420AM Hashtag

    Rolling a traditional Flower Joint provides stress-relief, excitement and comfort for many of its users.

    As with many pleasurable activities, even if they are not good for you – they involve some sort of Ritual that will provide physical and emotional soothing for us. This is why binge eating Sugar can be so addictive for some because the foods we eat release chemicals which then trigger our Dopamine Receptors.

    Some may even experience a “Placebo Effect” in anticipation of receiving their “drug.” This can happen to Opiate Addicts who when they are waiting for their drug to be delivered and they know with 100% certainty it is coming – their Withdrawal symptoms may actually go away for a short while as they wait with excitement and relief.

    Craft Cannabis: About to Roll Black Dog Indica – @Stayliftedd1.0

    Copyright: Canna-Base.Com

    Although I thankfully never had to walk the streets at 4 am; I would often wake up around that time with the usual burning stomach ache. It is a ache of Anxiety, dread and slight Withdrawal from the Opiate drug I relied on.

    Opiate Withdrawal is incredibly painful both Mentally and Physically. Hardly anyone can bow-out of an Addiction by going Cold-Turkey. Quite frankly, there is a small percent who may need Methadone Maintenance treatment forever and that’s OK – It keeps people alive, off the Streets, no longer wandering around for their drug.

    One would hope they could come off one day but Harm Reduction is the key for some people’s survival.

    If I hadn’t been Enabled for so long, and of course incredibly motivated to stay Addicted; I could have easily ended up on those streets selling my soul to the Devil (as if I hadn’t already but new lows can always be achieved). It’s a sad reality for most suffering from Active Addiction – you will do almost anything to get your fix.

    When I finally got clean from Opiates (396 days ago today), and realized I wanted to do something proactive about this Epidemic – I chose a Harm Reduction approach on the Streets with an initiative called #420AM.

    © Angela Westelaken

    Mindful Activity:

    The Ritual of Rolling

    When I see Someone on the Street seeking money, I will hand them some papers and enough Weed to roll a Joint. This encourages them to stop and sit down awhile; break up the Weed and roll it. The Ritual of Rolling forces them to concentrate on what they are doing which can discourage the obsessive drug-seeking and ruminating that comes along with Opiate abuse.

    Cannabis should ease their Withdrawal symptoms (if THC content is high enough), relieve their nausea and cramping along with slowing down their Heart Rate and sky-high blood pressure rates due to Stress, Anxiety and other drugs. Over time, they may learn to embrace Cannabis as a Harm Reduction method.

    The biggest challenge of enacting this approach in the past is that there wasn’t enough THC in Flower (Weed) to really make an impact.

    Now that we are able to give out Candies that are Lab-Tested and properly packaged with Nutritional Content; the person taking it knows they are getting enough of the Medicinal Ingredients that can reduce symptoms of Withdrawal. It can also help reduce Cravings over time once the person is stable.

    Stability and Maintenance only comes once someone has completely surrendered to their Addiction. Full Remission comes rarely on its own and it may take several attempts but individuals always require a lot of love and support.

    The #420 Project provides that compassion and acceptance based upon the #Cannagirl Community.


    If you drive down Barton St. any time between Midnight and 6 am – you will see quite a lively Community. One of my first stops is the Hamilton Public Library on the Corner of Barton. I bring Naloxone Kits with me for my #420AM efforts just in case I need to use one.

    I don’t typically leave my car as it isn’t safe to do that alone and I quite often am. I try to go down there around 12:30 am most times but I’ve gone out at 4-5 am as this is when the need is the greatest.

    I’ll hand out some 140 mg pack Mary’s Medibles Gummies Indica and one of the girls will hand them out to everyone. There is always a risk the ladies could just trade these for Drugs but usually they consume some of the package.

    Mary’s “Westcoast Teddies”

    Basically, I tell them they are for “if the night doesn’t work out.” Which is code for not being able to earn enough cash to buy drugs or sell themselves for trade. I do not want to come off sounding shameful towards them for what they need to do to Survive.

    If these girls actually consume a Gummy; which is 35 mg of THC per candy – within an hour they will feel the effects on their system.

    Indica should make them feel tired (maybe not if they use Amphetamines) so hopefully they will feel less inclined to walk the streets and more inclined to sleep. It’s a big trade off for someone used to repeating the same insane patterns every night despite the negative consequences but I am hopeful.

    In bags, I have also included Feminine Hygiene Products, travel size Tooth Paste, Soap and Shampoo. Practicing a Self-Care Ritual usually goes out the Window when you are in Active Addiction as one’s Financial resources are limited.

    Self-Care is fostered by giving them something to practice this with – like Soap; will in turn encourage them to actually practice self-care.

    Harm Reduction and Overdose Prevention in Hamilton, Ontario is a huge aspect of running a business within the Cannabis Community:
    Donation In-Kind: Cannabis Product for HOPE Project, Hamilton

    The HOPE Project is run by an amazing group of People here in Hamilton, Ontario. They are dedicated to the cause of ending Opiate Abuse and Addiction in the City of Hamilton.

    They were actually raided at one point and had their Donations seized. If you could only imagine the pollution of Needles, Waste and other in the Streets of Hamilton because of the intense impact Opiates have had in this City.

    Cannabis has become a huge Economic driver for the City in terms of New Business Development and Investment Opportunities. Gentrification is happening everywhere and there is a steady pace of Growth and Expansion throughout the City.


    Canadian Cannabiz:

    “Jack of All Trades, Master of None”

    By the end of June, OPCC Inc. had been running for 5 months and I was now running my own Cannabiz within my Cannabiz.

    Sounds confusing right?

    Basically I was running OPCC Inc. administration and Social Media, PR but I had to actually find my own Clients to build my own Client Relationship Model for my version of a Cannabiz run by a Cannamom.

    There is a perception that exists of some Men and Women who own and run a “Cannabiz” that they are pushing product before the person which encourages Drug Use and Intoxication.

    That notion is unfortunate and dangerous as it really comes down to People wanting to help others, producing a top-notch Cannabis Product or Distributing one known for its high quality THC Content. The reduced cost helps maintain the relationship as well. Can’t help that part; we are all naturally inclined to follow the best deals.

    If we look at Costco for comparison; people will pay more for something even if they don’t have to – or need to. People willingly buy more of something if it’s a good deal and the feeling of Exclusivity is present. Triple that inclination if it’s a Brand people actually want to buy 4 boxes of.

    Don’t forget the joy of Free Samples either.

    In Costco’s case, the best incentive to shop there would be their 3-Tier Membership Packages and Annual Cash Back Rewards incentive.

    Costco has been very successful in building their Brand without Advertising, PR or gimmicky promotions. They do things differently than most Retail Big-Box Stores do in that they beat to their own Drum. They don’t Price Match, nor do they care if you found it cheaper Online. They have a loyal following that builds on their Goodwill and Customers.

    One of my goals for OPCC Inc. was to build a business model that closely resembled the Social-Cultural Following that DoTerra had enjoyed. DoTerra has been very successful in building a Community of Oil Followers and turning it in a Lifestyle.

    Multi-Level Marketing for CBD Oil in the USA is a $22 billion dollar Industry. It has been successful in all parts of the States and it appeals to a large, diverse demographic of Women and Men, of all ages and Ethnicities.

    Their version of CBD Oil doesn’t even have any CBD in it.

    People are still buying it…

    DoTerra Copaiba Oil

    They don’t need to charge insane markups on Essential Oils because the Rep’s do most of the legwork and so there is hardly any overhead. They represent a shift back to the Basics of Business where you connected with your Customers and built relationships based upon Trust, Mutual Respect and Understanding.

    Mobility may have been a factor back when Women sold Avon door-to-door but that challenge had be reduced greatly now that we ship stuff across the World on a daily basis. Most of these Women utilize their Social Media to attack the Low Hanging Fruit first but ultimately; only those with true self-enterprising abilities survive once the easy part runs out.

    How do we bring the Goodwill of the Black Market into the White Legal One?

    In bottom-up investing, we typically focus the most attention on specific Companies or Brands, and their fundamentals instead of focusing on the Cannabis industry or within the greater economy as a whole.

    READ: Canada’s new cannabis licensing favors richer companies, experts say

    Bottom-up approach’s assume Individual Companies’ can do well even in an industry that is not performing, at least on a corresponding rationale (the rationale in this situation is that you should always have a Buyer for Cannabis) – but at what Cost?, Who is the Customer? What Product Do They Want?

    Bottom-up investing forces Cannabis investors to consider Micro-Economic factors (demand, quality, price, etc.) first and foremost. 

    Obviously Cannabis is subject to Risk: Political, Regulatory, Market, etc.

    Cannabis is indeed a Commodity on which a Futures Contract can be placed upon its Growth. This can further intensify Portfolio Risk because there are NO guarantees your Cannabis will grow and be suitable for Harvest and Sale.

    When Diversifying your Investment Portfolio, especially in Cannabis – you should look beyond the scale of public Companies and Stock Markets for expansive, long-term Growth. Think creatively and long-term but also consider the Opportunity Cost: the Risk of investing money in one investment class over another, involved.

    Farm-based, private Canadian-controlled Corporations have many Tax advantages which increases your ROI. For example; Shares owned in a Farm qualify for a special Capital-Gain Exemption.


    Qualified farm or fishing property

    Qualified small business corporation shares

    Recovery Project, Part 3: #Cannabiz coming Next Week.
    My amazing Friend and #WorkWife, Olivia and I touring Forest Farms in Breslau, Ontario

    Have an amazing Weekend everyone. Cannacrawl is happening tomorrow in Hamilton, Ontario. I am looking forward to that.

    Recovery Project – Part One: #CannaGirls

    Recovery Project – Part One: #CannaGirls

    It’s been my experience in life with a lot of Women; there are some who love me and some who don’t. I have had the same friends in my life for 30-20 years. No matter what happens or how much time passes in between, they have always been there for me.

    There is a common stereotype that Woman can’t always get along and often end up in “cat-fights” over stupid stuff. I cannot totally deny this because after working in the Bank for over a decade, I can confirm some Women definitely do bring the drama.

    What if we totally misunderstand how this happens?

    Sadly, Women are known for having our challenges when it comes to getting along with each other as much as we are for our Mental Health conditions. We are often shamed for struggling with Post-Partum Anxiety and Depression which is something most Women don’t even realize they are suffering from until it seriously progresses.

    Then a stigma is attached to us and it becomes hard to shed. Our Families, Spouse/Partners often don’t understand what is happening and why you can’t pull up the slack. The conflict eventually implodes and often times; it causes trauma for the family involved.

    In more serious cases; especially if one has already experienced a Mental Health Crisis or Active Addiction, the person suffering would eventually find comfort in something. That something is often an addictive substance which causes hell all on its own.

    This epidemic of suffering causes great harm to everyone involved, especially to children. The Economic impact is great; just think of a great big hole in your backyard that you keep digging. Every household in Canada knows someone who has been through a serious addiction.

    There has always been a Silver Lining in an industry that supports Entrepreneurial Women and Men who face adversity – Cannabis.

    Part of the Market Research for my Canadian Cannabis Startup: Original Product Cannabis & Concentrates Inc. involved running a Direct Sales/ Distribution Network for Cannagirl’s out of Hamilton, Ontario.

    I was inspired by the retail operations performed by the Black Market during the height of the illegal storefronts here in Hamilton. Ontario. At its peak, there were some 90 stores or so operating right out in the open.

    My experiment in the Black Market Dispensaries took place between December 2018 until April 2019.

    Below are two of the illegal Dispensaries I frequented during my Retail Experiments. Stores were spread across the City; often open from 10 am until 10 pm. They employed hundreds of people and obviously created a ton of opportunity for the Black and Silver Market Cannabis Producers and Products.

    Canadian Cannabis – Queenston Rd. Hamilton
    24/7 THC Medical – Kenilworth Ave. Hamilton

    My objective was to find out how the Black Market and the Legal Market would come together, or remain apart. The profitability of these stores was so insane, I wondered how the Legal Dispensaries would ever compete.

    There is obviously a considerable amount of Financial Crime involved when running something of this caliber. However, the front-line workers and bottom players were compensated quite well considering they risked their freedom everyday.

    Black Market Pre-Roll – 2.0 Grams

    Unfortunately I was unable to take pictures inside because they did not allow you to use your phone. Often times, many locations wold employ their own Security to work the main entrance.

    Inside everyone was hustling and bustling and on average, 200 people a day bought their Weed and other products through these stores alone. One particular store; Canada Cannabis had two locations and offered amazing deals like $99 Half-Ounces and 5 pre-rolls for $20. The staff were knowledgeable, friendly and warm.

    Sure, the lineups were long and sometimes only shitty product remained at the end of the day but everyone was happy to be able to buy their Cannabis like this. It was easy, fast and fun – the way Weed intended.

    Recovery Project:

    I knew around March the Dispensaries would be closing soon and the access to product would become difficult. The Brands I discovered in those Dispensaries would need people like myself to invest otherwise they would lose Market Share before October 2019 legalization.

    I was also concerned about the flood of Counterfeit products in the Market. Tinctures made from CBD Oil are the most commonly counterfeited. The risk of harm to the Public is great and so I wanted to ensure the Companies I chose would support a path to Legal Market Distribution.

    Over a 4 month period, I sought Women out over Facebook by way of the Cannagirl – 4/20 groups which are everywhere especially in Ontario. They are easy to find and are an excellent resource for any Cannabis-related question one may have.

    The Recovery Project was my code-name for my Multi-Level Marketing/Direct Sales venture in Cannabis with products like Baked-Goods, Gummies, Tinctures, Extracts, Vapes and Distillate products.

    I hypothesized I could teach and motivate Women based on my 20 years experience in Retail Sales and 14 years as a Banker to build their own mini Cannabiz. Once established, their new business would be working towards their own Personal Recovery, financial security, new Professional relationships and Life Goals.

    They were all extremely passionate about Cannabis and I thought if I could motivate them to be that passionate about their own Cannabiz – we would be successful as a whole.

    Of course I was essentially my own experiment because part of my role was to grow my own Brand locally. It was my goal to do this solely based on my own strength of skill. I did not take any Investor money. This was done with my own money which was $600 initially.

    My title of Hybrid Manager/Director included tasks of Sales Planning, Mentoring and building up their basic business building skills. Relationship management, Product Knowledge, PR, Advertising and Recruitment for new Directors online was also part of my role.

    My first brand was discovered by accident through the BM Dispensaries. Vapemount makes a Vape Pen Starter Kit which comes with a 500 mg Pineapple Express Rosin Vape Cap.

    Vapemount Starter Kit

    My former Husband got me one for Christmas and I loved it. This Brand was so popular in Hamilton’s local Black Market Dispensary stores that they would be sold out within days.

    The Refills were all I was initially seeking by contacting Vapemount for a Bulk Order. I realized the spread between Wholesale and Retail was impressive enough to run the Network with this product alone but I needed more variety in order to appeal to other demographics.

    Harm Reduction is a huge aspect of Original Product as we promote #Microdosing with Vape instruments as a way to decrease the potential intoxication of Cannabis. Many who rely on the medicinal benefits find Microdosing to be a beneficial way to Dose throughly throughout the day while minimizing the risk of Smoking Leaf/Flower Joints.

    Vapemount is based out of Niagara Falls/Welland, Ontario. They make their own Rosin with a Press and fill the Capsules. The Vape Refills come in a variety of Flavours but only in a Hybrid Strain of Rosin Oil.

    Within weeks, I had established a relationship with another Vendor who is distributed Nationally across Canada. For this part of the experiment, I needed someone extremely reputable and recognizable. I also needed a Vendor that produces high-content THC Tinctures and Capsules as part of my harm reduction initiative which I’ll explain later in Part 2.

    Marys Medibles “Mary’s Canada” are based out of British Columbia. They were quickly added to the mix as their wide range of selection, recognizable Product/Brand Identifiers and existing Sales Marketing allowed me to Rep this product fairly easily in comparison to a smaller, local Brand.

    My first order was $2200 and this was split between myself and the three women I had found, working under me in North Bay & Timmons, Ontario and Manitoba. A few of my friends got in on the first order as well so we sold out fairly quick.

    OPCC Inc. chose to use the Mary’s brand as it is Lab-Tested for Quality and Strength along with meeting sealed packaging, labeling and dosing requirements. Their strong Social Media Marketing and Branding strategy had already been established therefore it was cost-effective to use theirs instead of having to create our own.

    On the OPCC Inc. Instagram however I did create a few Posts promoting Mary’s product benefits and it led to several new Client relationships that were of “Influential” nature to build the #Cannagirl Alliance.

    It was also helpful Marys Medibles.com existed to show their Product Lineup as we could not sell off a Website or use Facebook/IG to sell. At least not directly. We had to sell the stock based on products we designed Social Media Ads around promoting the benefit rather than coming right out with a Marketplace online.

    As I wanted this to be similar to DoTerra which is a Multi-Level Marketing for Essential Oils; I encouraged the ladies to attract their leads by direct contact and Public Relations/Marketing over Instagram/Facebook. Each Social Media platform has its own set of rules pertaining to Cannabis-related posts. Sales are restricted so you would have to be cautious but creative.

    Actual Order preparation and fulfillment took place in my kitchen late at night. I would spend some time talking to each lady, planning their product orders and sales strategies. The product would then be delivered for the ladies to do their own disbursements.

    Each Woman had their own geographical area to cover therefore each order contained a variety of different products. Every area seemed to want a different thing; Southern Ontario for example is big with the Tinctures however Manitoba likes Gummies.

    We would discuss our lives and days online using Facebook Messenger as our own Group Chat titled “Recovery Project.” We did this ritualistically every day. The Women were connecting on a whole new level and now using each other as motivators and mentors.

    By May, all of the illegal dispensaries in Hamilton had been shut down. There were a few operating underground at Houses and Storefronts but for the most part, The Legal Market took hold.

    The demand for Concentrates and Extracts became apparent quickly so I needed to choose a Vendor who produced Shatter, High-Grade Distillates and “Sauce” which is a fancy name for smokeable Resin; a pressed Cannabis-extract.

    Sovrin Extracts in Alberta, Canada was chosen for its Premium product, packaging and Brand following. Sovrin’s Strain and Flavour selection is vast and memorable. People recognize the superior quality especially in terms of their Vape Pens and Distillate Tips.

    What is unique about Sovrin is that they produce flavoured CBD-only tips for their vape pens which are hard to find and in demand. Vaping CBD has many advantages especially if you are looking for a higher return on the active ingredients.

    In terms of Strain Selection; their Menu includes Indica, Sativa and Hybrid options which is uncommon for Shatter, Sauce and Tips. They even carry popular, hard to find Strains such as Jack Herer and AC/DC.

    The investment in their Packaging and Public Relations made Sovrin Extracts an easy choice for whom to do business with. They were a pleasure to deal with and look for Companies who support a legitimate, long-term relationship within Distribution.

    Distillate seems to be favoured over a Rosin Oil tip in terms of taste, return and impact. Buyers are able to choose from a variety of strains but also have the choice of pure THC, 1:1 or CBD only tips.

    Sovrin also produces CBD Tinctures and Distillate Oil Pens.

    By May, OPCC Inc. had grown in size significantly and we brought on more ladies. We would add one of my good childhood friends from British Columbia and a few more to the Southern Ontario Region.

    We also had two other ladies working out of Midland and Barrie, Ontario to round out the North.

    It was suggested by one of the ladies in Midland to contact Herbivores (Exotica Farms) to obtain a Wholesale Price List with them. This is where things started to become overwhelming for myself because there was a lot of work involved managing these relationships on my own.

    By now we had 7 Women actively running their own Cannabiz and I couldn’t keep up with the demand. Adding another product line meant another relationship to manage, more orders to process and ship.

    I decided to proceed with an order but I did not add Herbivores to my regular product line-up. I wanted to encourage the ladies to obtain their own Wholesale Agreements/Relationships to meet the demand of their customers. I also wanted to encourage them to setup Cannabar’s (think of a regular Bar only with Edibles) at Events.

    Herbivores makes Candy like Fuzzy Peaches and Cherry Blasters, Cotton Candy, etc – people want this specifically for Candy Bars, Piñatas, etc. as Cannabar’s grow in popularity. However one of the challenges in providing these bars would be finding a trusted, reliable Vendor. Thankfully, Herbivores has the Brand recognition necessary for such an undertaking and so far, quite useful.

    Finally around mid-May, it was time to contact a local Hamilton Vendor who specializes in Craft Cannabis and Products. I wanted to gauge the demand for packaged Quads that contained Craft Cannabis from the Legacy Market.

    The passion and dedication that goes into the StayLiftedd brand blows my mind to this day. The Owner is dedicated to the Legacy/Craft Cannabis Market and loves what she does. She is the ultimate Cannagirl.

    For our first order, I bought 1 of everything similar to my first Mary’s order in which I bought 2 of everything. I really had no idea what product would be sold and what wouldn’t but luckily; that wasn’t a challenge.

    The Legacy Market is a term coined to describe the former Black Market participants who are Legal Producers trying to function legally.

    They are licensed to grow their own Cannabis and can produce products that meet the requirements and standards of the Cannabis Act if selected to do so.

    What appealed me to StayLiftedd was the amazing Woman who owns and runs it; Danielle. She is a visionary with her product and specializes in producing Extracts, Flower and personal products like Cannabalms, Foot Scrubs and Lip Chaps.

    Since StayLiftedd is local to Hamilton, it now became easier to meet the demand of orders. Around here, it is easily recognizable therefore I had a lot of success promoting it here.

    By now I was running my own little Sales operation and making money to run my business and cover my expenses. By now the cost of Gas, Shipping and Extras was adding up not to mention Lawyer Fees involved for Incorporating in May.

    My total investment into Original Product by May was $6500.

    #CannaGirls & #CannaMoms:

    SofaKingGood Bakery – Hamilton Market
    StayLiftedd – Hamilton Market

    In April, there was a Craft/Artisan Cannabis Market behind a Head Shop here in Hamilton. These Market’s and Events happen quite frequently around Hamilton along with Strain Swaps. I was introduced to a few people who produce their own products which inspired me to continue building my network of Craft Producers.

    Danielle from StayLiftedd has an amazing background story herself so I wanted to promote her Cannagirl and Cannabiz profiles collectively by sending samples of her product out to Cannamom Influencers.

    I decided to send a gift bag out to Moms Who Toke Are Dope @moms.who.toke.are.dope over on Instagram.

    Her name is also Danielle and she does a lot of awareness around Cannabis being a medicine for Mother’s suffering from a variety of chronic conditions specifically anxiety, depression and pain.


    By June, OPCC Inc. had 9 Women across Canada running their own Cannabiz.

    Most ran their operation locally and within their own Communities; mainly by word of mouth and their existing Social Media networks. However, many began building their business and sales up by answering questions over the Facebook Cannamom and 4/20 Groups.

    These communities are built upon trust, acceptance and appreciation for Cannabis as a Medicine, a Recreational pleasure and of course a connector.

    The Black Market itself is based upon mutual respect, adhering to a standard of principles where consumers can expect quick access to Cannabis, a quality product and exceptional service.

    Profit wise; all the proceeds from any sale were invested right back into the business. A self-rewarding enticement was built into every order. I would reward the Ladies with additional product to help grow their business and as a motivational tool to self-enterprise.

    Cannagirl’s and their Cannabiz

    Part of growing their own Cannabiz required building their own Customer/Direct Sales networks. Social Media profiles became an integral part of the business building strategy. I encouraged each lady to identify themselves independently online by registering a Sole Proprietorship legitimately.

    Each lady was responsible for Order Management, Ad creation and Sales strategizing. Many of the Women have backgrounds in Sales and Service but many are full-time Employed or Stay at Home Mom’s. Their ages ranged from 28-38 years old.

    Most of the Cannabis 2.0 companies require anyone wishing to represent their Brand to have an Online presence and legal business profile. They will not just give out their Wholesale/Bulk Price List to anyone which is important in maintaining the integrity of the Brand.

    The ladies began building their stockpiles and actually generating pre-paid orders enough to begin increasing their business beyond the initial investment. This Network of Cannagirl’s was starting to become quite profitable.

    The ladies also increased their Marketing and Advertising Skills by creating “Starter Pack’s” and “Stash Piles.” More importantly, everyone was adamant about promoting lockable Stash Bags to prevent Kids from accessing Weed.

    Pictured below are a few examples of one of the Girls in Ontario running her business in Midland:

    Later this week, I will post Recovery Project Part Two: #420AM

    Love Can Be Cruel

    Love Can Be Cruel

    Sometimes it can take awhile before we realize how much of ourselves we have given to our partners.

    If we factor in how involved they are with their Family Hive; it can become overwhelming.

    © Angela Westelaken 2019

    It seems over time, we fall into these traps or hives; where we lose our identities as we immerse ourselves into a certain role.

    How does that happen? We simply don’t give ourselves the love and attention we need. Or maybe we just aren’t meant to live in a fucking Hive?

    If you are a “People-Pleaser” like I am along with being extremely sensitive, emotionally aware and passionate – it can easily become a problem. I need to People Please, not Partner Please.

    The same goes for the metaphorical Hive where we worship a Queen (or King) or both. No one should be worshiping anyone. Typically we are taught to please our Parents, make our Families proud but for some; that means never flying outside the perimeter of your Hive.

    Even when the Hive of our Familial People, Places and Things doesn’t feel right or good – we often feel like we have to honour them even if it means going against what feels right for us.

    A “Holistic” approach can fair much better. I need to spread my love (especially to my children and myself) around in order to get it back and reciprocate.

    Some Personality Types sense these qualities we possess and if they lack anything; they want it. They want to take it away or at least “share” it by seemingly getting behind or beside us.

    Then we begin to overcompensate with how we give back because we think we need to “earn” the love back. Over time; this will wear anyone down and emotional fulfillment is never to be found.

    READ: Pleasers and Controllers

    However; if real unconditional love, acceptance and trust never evolves past surface level and you’ve already made big life choices like marriage, babies, etc. – you start to feel depressed and sad.

    Everyone needs alone time. We all need self-care and time to recharge. No one is above you nor are their needs and wants. It should be equal and reciprocal.

    You may not even realize it at first. Many will attribute depression to new Parenthood/Motherhood, boredom or stress but real clinical depression is actually one of the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions.

    It is also one of the most highly medicated ones.

    © Angela Westelaken 2019

    Great people have explained Depression as the disease of “living in the past.”

    I feel this translates into living with pain and trauma but it can also involve the feelings of wanting to feel that first “high” of love.

    When it felt like a bomb went off in your life and you easily took cover under the shield of your Partner. Nothing; no emotional stress or day-to-day minuteness could make an impact on that shield – your love was unshakeable.

    No one should ever put more trust into another person than themselves. Over time; lust naturally wanes and we fall into routines but love doesn’t just go away.


    • Your partner should never make conditions on you nor should they hold Emotional Power over you by weaponizing your moments of weakness, pain or problems.

    • Your partner shouldn’t start telling you that you should go to the Gym or get a “hobby” they approve of.

    • Your partner should never cut down your appearance, weight or clothing.

    • Your partner shouldn’t control every meal you eat or make comments about what food you choose.

    • Your partner shouldn’t shame or retaliate on you (especially in front of the kids) for opposite parenting styles or reward/reinforcement decisions.

    • Your partner should never share secrets or gossip about you to anyone – but especially not their friends, families or co-workers (or yours for that matter).

    • Your partner should never join in on a Family Shame session. They should stick up for you; even if you aren’t exactly right. This can be done gracefully if you try.

    • Your partner should never weaponize any Childhood, Teenage, Adult Trauma or fractured relationships with ANYONE.

    • Your partner should never use Affection and Sex as a means of control. We often believe our most passionate sexual experiences come in the form of “Makeup Sex.” This is not correct.

    • Your partner should never put you down in front of anyone but especially in front of your Children.

    • Your partner should never make you feel guilty for needing more rest, self-care or alone time. If you reciprocate; so should they.

    • Your partner should never try to diagnose you with ANY physical or mental health condition. They shouldn’t try to convince you either.

    • Your partner should never have all the control of the Family finances. You both need to have an active hand in management and access.

    • Your partner should never stop you from getting help for anything. They should be supportive in helping you make the time and effort.

    • Your partner should never prioritize their Families, Friends, whomever above you and your children.

    • Your partner should never impose double standards and unachievable expectations.

    • Your partner should be able to communicate openly and not go silent in the middle. This is called Stonewalling. Not acknowledging or validating anything ever; is wrong.

    • Your partner should never try to convince you of being “Paranoid, Depressed, Different, etc.” – this is called Gaslighting.

    Your partner should not blame addictive behaviours as a reason for bad behaviour without acknowledging and validating the harm it has caused.

    Love can be really cruel sometimes and it’s enough to make a good person go “Crazy.”

    Love needs to be nurtured. We are all born with the same capacity to love – it’s how we stay alive after all. We need to build these connections with our parents to Thrive and Survive. However if we are just given the basics of survival but no emotional trust and connection – we can die.

    It seems there is a population of thinkers who idealize Individuals with Mental Health concerns to being weak, morally inept or worthless. Thankfully – the opposing population is growing and we are now able to recognize inequality, emotional and psychological abuse in relationships.

    We have to do better and be better. It is important to recognize the signs and patterns of a relationship that isn’t healthy. Not recognizing this leads to extreme emotional outbursts and of course; this traumatizes Children.

    We continue the cycle because we think it’s normal.

    Let’s stop thinking this way and do better.

    Original Product

    Original Product

    It’s not a secret I consume Cannabis on a regular basis to alleviate various mental health conditions. For 20 years, I have smoked Cannabis aside while being pregnant.

    What is interesting about that fact?

    I could quit Cannabis while pregnant but I could not stop taking Opiates. Every day for 4.5 months while pregnant, I either sought, used or craved Opiates. Whereas – the minute I found out I was pregnant; I put the Weed away.

    There is something to be said about this and I am the one to say it: There is an Epidemic of Addiction and Pharmaceutical drugs cause harm. Cannabis is a useful exit-drug and plant-based medicinal alternative for many conditions and ailments.

    I have always been Entrepreneurial. It began at a young age but the earliest memory was age 11 when I made my brothers pick wild daffodils that grew on our 1 acre property to sell for a Mother’s Day gift.

    We trekked a huge bucket of them up our ginormous driveway and sold them over a weekend. We made $50 which was actually impressive for a kid-run enterprise.

    Later on in my teens; I would host Keg Parties where I would buy 6 kegs for my birthday or something and charge $20 a head so I could buy stuff (weed) and have fun.

    Then of course there was the two-years my ex-boyfriend, my brother and I actually grew our own outdoor supply on my Mother’s property. She loves to Garden and this quickly became a Family activity. We used this to buy better stuff which we mostly consumed.

    To top it all off; my former Wedding Anniversary is on 4/20. That wasn’t a mistake. It was literally the last day left in the year available and I had to have it. Obviously it was a Cannabis-friendly Wedding later on in the evening.

    My history with Weed goes long and far but it is my connection with the people who I’ve smoked with that defines my passion for it.

    My company; Original Product Cannabis + Concentrates Inc. came to be after my dog died and I experienced my first Spiritual Awakening in 11 years. It was inspired by the Women I met while in treatment.

    As I’ve mentioned before; 9 women (including myself) all attend programs together and we begin to open up, communicate and get better. We graduate and go home but we all go back to the “People, Places and Things” that triggered us to use.

    Unfortunately I mourn the loss of those Women whose friendships I valued so much. I genuinely felt a love for each of them and felt compassionately sorry when I lost them back to Addiction.

    Last Summer, two friends of mine passed away from overdosing on prescription medication. They were both 33 years old.

    Today I am excited to share my first Podcast Interview which talks about how my business started and how it operates in the Canadian Cannabis industry.

    LISTEN NOW: Opening Pandora’s Box: Episode 5

    I met Matt and Al a few months back when we did our first session at Abi Roach’s Hotbox Potio in Toronto, Ontario. They have been amazing to work with and share my story; little by little.

    Jason, Al and Matt run Jam Productions which produces Cannabis-related Podcasts in Southern Ontario. It’s been a new experience learning how Podcasts are created; one I enjoy for sure.

    The products I mentioned in my Podcast are all amazing companies who have dedicated themselves to our cause. If you could only understand each person and their passion; you would understand how powerful this movement is.

    We need to start accepting Cannabis as a plant-based medicine that should be affordable, safe and of the highest quality.

    The Black Market is a beast and it won’t be tamed any time soon.

    People like myself are taking a harm reduction approach by promoting the best Brands. They comply with adequate labeling, packaging and ingredients. Their goal is to produce a top-quality product that’s been lab tested.

    If we don’t implement a strategy; the black market will continue to run freely and lucratively.

    The current Legal Market should adopt some of the Silver/Legacy Market’s best practice and principles when it comes to business. We are seeing over-inflated Stock valuations, pump-and-dump’s and sell-offs after one bad announcement after another.

    READ: The Growth Op: Living legacy: Is it time to get with it and get rid of the term “black market”?

    Churning is something of a concern when we place a Black Market product into a Legal space. People get overly excited and it can have drastic consequence. The 2008-2009 Credit Crisis taught me this when Real Estate became a cash-cow but came crashing down.

    Nothing, not even a Commodity like Cannabis, is a sure bet and everyone has to educate themselves. Large monopolies exist on the actual product itself which compromises quality and medicinal content.

    StayLiftedd Craft Cannabis IG: @stayliftedd1.0
    Example: Right now it is $50 for a half-quarter of the best Indica Kush (Pink Kush) while you can buy a Craft Cannabis product in the Legacy Market for $35; same strain, similar name, etc.

    This creates a big price differential as your quantities move up, increasing your savings.

    My main goal is to educate the public about Mental Health and the Cycle Of Addiction, Recovery while promoting Cannabis as a potential medicinal alternative for treatment.

    It can be used for someone struggling with Addiction and a harm reduction measure for anyone who wants to stop using but cannot.

    Cannabis is a first-line treatment choice for many who suffer from Cancer, Chronic Pain and Conditions like Fibromyalgia, Epilepsy, Depression and Anxiety. Most of these sufferers would have to rely on a steady supply of intoxicating Opiates, Benzodiazepines and SSRI’s to help them.

    Cannabis allows them to live an active, normal life without the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs and the potential physical & psychological withdrawal effects afterwards.

    IG/Facebook/ @originalproductcc

    My business revolves around preventing harm to the Public; who will consume illegal products anyway but now have a channel to buy safely from. We need to build secondary market channels to accommodate the intensity of how many products exist.

    Without any action; the market will continue producing and distributing illegally.

    I am so thankful to everyone who has supported me in the last 6 months. You know who you are and I wouldn’t be here today without your love, compassion, forgiveness and humility.

    The passion I have in my beliefs have contributed to a complete breakdown in my marriage and that extended family but I cannot stop doing what I’m doing. All of it provides way too much by way of self-trust and healing; it is my Recovery Project. My 3 beautiful daughters who need to grow up with a happy, healthy Mother.

    The “Canna-Parents” I’ve encountered share the sentiment that we should educate our children about Cannabis rather than demonizing it like the Generations before.

    Our children also deserve to live in a world where plant-based medicine is accepted; especially when we consider the devastating impact of pharmaceutical alternatives.

    The Epidemic of Addiction is a larger problem than anyone could ever realize; especially if you haven’t lived through one but if anyone can help solve it; it is the Community I’ve met through Cannabis. The empathy, acceptance and insight has been overwhelmingly positive and well-received.

    I encourage everyone to educate themselves thoroughly before consuming Cannabis.

    Sobriety vs. Recovery

    Sobriety vs. Recovery
    What’s the difference between Sobriety and Recovery?
    It depends on who you ask:

    Traditional programs such as Narcotics & Alcoholics Anonymous promote an abstinence-based, Spiritually-focused approach.

    In this world, relapse is a part of Recovery but you must keep coming back. The general idea is that over time as you abstain, you will continue to attend meetings. This builds up your self-esteem, relationships and trust in the process.

    The treatment centre I attended is also Abstinence-based. They do not promote harm reduction while attending in-patient treatment because it is not conducive to their process. Addictive substances need to be eliminated completely in order to deal with the addiction.

    If someone is going through acute detox/withdrawal during treatment; they will not be able to focus on their recovery. This is one of the reasons I achieved two weeks of sobriety before entering treatment – I had to.

    Typically; you are required to detox and abstain from substances for 48-72 hours before entering. There are Detox/Withdrawal management centres in every major Municipality throughout Canada.

    Recovery is a process in which the individual begins healing while re-wiring the Risk vs. Reward balance. Abstaining from the “Drug of Choice” that brought the person down to their bottom is crucial.

    As noted by the harm reduction specialist Andrew Tatarsky:

    The essence of this model is the pragmatic recognition that treatment must meet active substance users ‘‘where they are’’ in terms of their needs and personal goals. Thus, harm reduction approaches embrace the full range of harm-reducing goals including, but not limited to, abstinence.[5

    Our addictive behaviours are evident when we are under the most stress. Everyone has a “poison pill” – or a drug of particular choice. It can be shopping, eating, smoking, coffee, etc.

    After I came home and had my 3rd baby in November; I definitely began going down again but this time I caught myself. I was self-medicating in a variety of ways but over-eating became a comfort mechanism for sure.

    I’ve been able to maintain Sobriety from Opiates for 385 days and in Recovery for almost 2 years this November. I’ve had some real hardballs swing my way; my dog died, my marriage is ending, I am 8 months postpartum, etc.


    However my true Spiritual Recovery did not begin until I let myself enjoy my life again. Harm reduction plays a huge role in that.

    People for one; I had to change my people, places and things.

    I’ve met some amazing people in my life; thankfully so because I needed their love and support to guide me somehow. Everyone who enters your life is there for a purpose.

    However – There is a natural conclusion to every relationship when you think about it.

    I’ve had to reach down into my self and admit the most horrible, shameful secrets one can have – to just about everyone I know. I also had to make amends to quite a few as well. This took a span of almost a year.

    In Treatment, NA/AA – It is said you make amends and admit whom you have harmed as long as it is not harmful to yourself or others:

    STEP 9: We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    READ: How to Avoid Shaming Your Kids

    Shame As An Emotional Weapon:

    When you open up yourself to someone; you are giving that person Emotional Power over you. The Power is quadrupled when it’s a Spouse, Parent, Child, etc. where the bond is supposed to be extraordinarily solid.

    Such exists for everyone: a person who holds so much power over you in the form of emotional trust and trauma bonding; it can create a toxic sludge that only a complete gut job can solve.

    If that trusted person decides to listen to their Ego aside from their heart; disaster will certainly follow. They will seek out validation from others in order to absolve themselves from any personal contribution to one’s addictive stages.

    It’s not blaming, it’s just explaining.

    Book Link: Ego is the Enemy

    What happens when introducing ego into a situation often prevents us from being rational, objective and clear headed.[8]

    It is extremely common for this to happen in our direct and immediate relationships as Addiction infects the Family.
    This is a known problem with how Addiction becomes passed down through each Generation:

    Shaming to Control others is an extremely popular Addictive Behaviour as it can directly relate to how powerful you feel within your Ego.

    Example: If your ego is extremely large; you aren’t going to start abusing Opiates or Alcohol. That would require a deep decline in one’s self-esteem.

    People are going to start doing things to retain their dominance and control; especially over how people perceive you – such as your Family. Usually it is to absolve themselves from their own Guilt or to make themselves look better.

    Places and Things come on the latter side of the spectrum because without the People; you probably don’t have the same problems with Places and Things.

    Unless of course, if addictive behaviour revolves around things like Shopping or Eating:

    We require these activities to survive so obviously you need to examine your behaviours as these cause the same outcomes financially, personally and emotionally over time.

    Physical and mental effects like anxiety, stress and depression as a result are similar.

    Shame & Guilt YouTube

    Our parents, grandparents and even ourselves often parent our Children by shaming them to create guilt.

    If our two older children fight over a toy; we reprimand the oldest for not being a better big sister who shares with the youngest. This response from the Parent will create a resentment over time. This implodes if the child does not receive validation for feeling upset over non-shared toy.

    We aren’t exploring the cause and discussing how to avoid the effect:
    In the face of an Active Addiction; those who are using are shamed for being unable to stop or Recover “Properly.”
    This often happens within a Family which creates a perceived notion about the Addict; one they are unable to escape.

    If the person being Gossiped about is not doing well Emotionally, Physically or Spiritually – it is common for anyone who feels guilt for their weak state to start defending themselves.

    That is a natural human condition; we all want ourselves to be seen in the best light. No one wants to feel worthless or feel insecure.

    Only problem is it can become very dark and negative, really quick if there are bad intentions coming from unsupportive people.

    This is why we often have “Black Sheep” of the Family or the “Outcasts.”

    These are the ones who usually wanted to completely detach from their toxic People, Places and Things.

    Gaslighting is a means of applying Shame to create Guilt without directly doing so. This is done to psychologically weaken someone and their emotional strength.

    It is emotional and psychological abuse inflicted upon someone by one, or two (or entire families) to exert power and control:

    This person is called “Crazy, Paranoid and Unstable.”

    • “You are causing problems again.”

    Labelled as “Bi-Polar, Overly Emotional, Manic.”

    Instagram @sitwithwit

    Who the hell wants to live in a life where your worst mistakes and shame are used to control the decisions and life you want to live now?

    You cannot move on, or grow – if everything and everyone around you pulls you back to where you felt the worst about yourself.

    Everyone churns the same bullshit about you to guilt you into changing but not realizing it keeps us stagnant. If we do not grow and learn from our behaviours; we plateau.

    Over time; this will erode your self-confidence, love and trust for yourself; eventually trickling down to your immediate people, places and things.

    Quote by Carl Jung

    I’ll leave it at that tonight.

    Confirmation Bias

    Confirmation Bias

    Confirmation Bias: When we seek out to prove something we already believe to be true.

    @revelatori Instagram

    Deep down inside I always knew the truth. I knew there would come a time I would have to face my past and deal with the bullshit.

    The only way I imagined doing so was by utilizing my 3 greatest personal strengths: Writing, Reading and Talking.
    Who Didn’t Read BSC Little Sister Books?

    I began reading at a very young age. In Grade 2, I started reading Babysitter Club Little Sister books and became hooked. Thankfully my mother loved reading so I was able to connect with her on that level.

    My middle brother is a prolific researcher and can literally tell you all about a subject minutes after reading a simple Wikipedia article. Our ability to retain and compute information, process it and communicate is actually quite strong because we become hyper-focused.

    Reading books became my escape. I discovered early on that I loved laying in my bed, alone obviously – reading. It gave me quiet from the chaos and it helped soothe my mind.

    Reading was actually one of the ways I controlled my crippling Anxiety before they would lead to full-blown Panic Attacks. Once I became lost in a book, my nerves would settle down.

    Dear, close friends of mine will tell you when it’s time for me to go have my alone time. It becomes obvious from the look on my face and body language – it’s time for Angela to go.

    For the rest of my childhood I would rely on reading Books as an escape from the insanity of my Homelife – where things would be said and done over and over again; despite the negative outcomes.

    Writing naturally followed; which if encouraged, can become quite useful for ones future.

    I realize now that my attempts to document my life throughout the years also became a coping mechanism. It felt necessary to write about my day, week or even life up to a point to ensure I had it all right; that my facts were straight in case I ever came to challenge.

    Almost 3 decades later, I see this as my way of building up a defence. That if I had to recall something from a certain point in time, I would have it written down somewhere.

    I’ve been Blogging (it wasn’t called this back then!) and playing around with websites, profiles and Social Media since 1998.

    Read: The History Of Blogging

    I almost went to College for Multimedia and Design but decided last minute to pursue Public Relations. Thank god I did because it taught me more than I could’ve ever imagined but I did not pursue PR as a career.

    Instead, I stayed in Retail Banking because I got a job as a part-time Teller and I loved it.

    I loved dealing with people and hearing about their lives.

    I loved feeling connected to the Community and helping it.

    I loved the fast-paced atmosphere and Corporate setting.

    I knew it would be the perfect opportunity for me to take the 5 years of Retail experience I already had from working at Winners in High School and my College education in Public Relations.

    I never looked back and within 6 years; I had become a Financial Planner within the Wealth Management division of a major Bank. Reading was an essential aspect of my role because you needed to be informed.

    For example; During the 2008 Recession, information was popping off at the speed of light and people were flipping; rightfully so!

    During that time, people were making investment decisions based on fear and emotion. Somehow I had to show them how to think opportunistically in the long-term vs. Right Now.

    My ability to find the best source of information and communicate it quickly and accurately led to building a book of business well beyond my years and a Goodwill worth millions.

    At this point in my life where my relationships outside of my marriage and Family have lasted 30, 20, 10 years – it only felt right to be as honest as possible.

    Sharing this part of my life is part of a healing process like no other. My story may sound intimidating at first but the bigger message is that this problem of our Human Condition is happening everywhere. It can happen to anyone.

    We are so disconnected from our hearts because there is so much coming at us. For those who feel extreme amounts of empathy and emotion, oppression and depression wears us down.

    If we don’t drive a nice car like our Co-Worker does or own a big house like our parents did – we don’t feel as worthy. If we are not perceived to be ahead – we are shamed until we are.

    My confirmation bias is that we need love and nurture to grow and that doesn’t stop in Adulthood. We are often shamed into believing we have to do things the way our parents and their generation before did.

    That way of thinking is harmful and dangerous.

    Do we really want to treat a Women the way Male Society did 30 years ago? When Women didn’t feel validated or worthy enough unless she got married and had kids while her husband built his empire?

    Should we really follow the advice of those who did not have successful marriages themselves in our marriages today?

    Is it really that important that we have more stuff; more “decor,” or tangible goods than our parents did just so they can pat themselves on the back, saying “Good Job!”

    We must remind ourselves who we take direction from. If we solely listen to our parents and follow this tunnel vision that more is better – we will lose.

    If we raise our children the way they did, we are just Churning the same problems, repetitions and theories that don’t work in the first place.

    If we continue to believe Addiction is a moral failing based upon weakness – we will just continue to create more addiction.

    It is my Confirmation Bias that we need to continue nurturing ourselves through self-love, personal growth, emotional trust and balance. Maintaining balance and strong values, beliefs and morals requires a bit more strength in what you preach in terms of the work at hand – but it is worth it.

    I hope everyone will take the time this weekend to practice more self-care and appreciation. Reading, journaling, whatever – if it makes you happy; do it.

    Salvation- The Strumbellas

    Learn to Fly

    Learn to Fly
    Baby Geese are super cute but also extremely vulnerable.
    If you have ever come across a Canadian Goose that’s nesting: watch out!

    The Mother and Father usually stick together quite close and they will come at you if you go near their nest. The parents of these goslings will share the burden of warmth, comfort and encouragement while awaiting their babies.

    If you actually watch; you will see how instinctively protective and nurturing these birds are. You just know not to fuck with their babies. If you do, you will certainly face the wrath of Mama Bird and Papa as well.

    My Paternal Aunt began “re-mothering” me almost 2 years ago. It happened by accident but almost intentionally. Her Mother had been in the hospital after a Heart Attack so we had been spending more time together.

    One of those evenings, I asked her something I had waited my whole life to ask: “How did you raise 3 kids on your own but they turned out happy and healthy?”

    By this point, it was obvious to me and my Family something in my life wasn’t right. I had relapsed after the birth of my 2nd child, 6 months after she was born and I had relapsed hard.

    We began talking on a regular basis and I started telling her more and more about myself, my childhood and my struggles. In turn, she did the same and through her I was able to finally get to know the side of my Dad I always wanted to know.

    My Dad and my Aunt as Kids

    The stories I had craved to hear when I was a child; what was he was like as a kid, teenager? Did he have girlfriends? What did he like to do for fun? What was he like as a Father and how much did he love us? Finally came flowing out on a regular basis.

    I started to realize how much I really connected to him; but also how important those short 7 years of love and nurture from him were. It was a powerful experience to finally appreciate how much of him is in me.

    The process was not always easy. In fact, I know there were times I let her down and made her feel disappointed. She never made me feel that way though; at least not in the way I had always been treated and taught.

    During this time, my life was ruled by Opiate Addiction so I know it wasn’t always easy for her. Active Addiction can be incredibly frustrating and confusing for someone who has never dealt with it.

    Her unconditional love and commitment towards my children and my well-being never wavered.

    For the last 2 years, my Aunt has guided me through Recovery, helping me to heal from childhood trauma and teaching me how to be the best Mother and Woman I can be.

    She has done more for me emotionally, spiritually and physically than any Woman in my life has done before. She was instinctively protective of me, my children and my success as a Mother for their lives.

    What made this experience special for us was the resulting bond that followed. She has a part of her Brother in her life and I have a part of my Dad.

    Our family has experienced repeating Trauma from the deaths of her husband and my Dad. They both died in tragic car accidents, 7 years apart. Both men left 3 kids each without Father’s.

    @themindgeek Instagram

    She spent her life working as a Nurse and raising her 3 kids; who are amazing people by the way. Each have genuine, individual personalities and qualities but the bond they share with each other and their Mother is what inspired me to reach out to her.

    I simply asked her for help and without any hesitation; the journey began.

    My Mother had been friends with my Aunt while in High School and then they worked together. If my Aunt hadn’t met my Mom and introduced her to my Father, I wouldn’t be here.

    However, for almost 2 decades – they shared no relationship or friendship. So that meant we didn’t either. Typically in that type of situation, where you are raised to believe this person hates your Mother; you believe it.

    I never believed it. I always knew my Dad’s sisters loved me despite the barriers to access and connection. I could tell by the way my Aunt’s treated their own children and us; plus they are all Nurses. There is a natural inclination to nurture in all of them; and in myself.

    It is by sheer fate and determination that my Aunt and I were brought together to help each other heal from the Trauma of losing central figures in our lives.

    What is “Re-Mothering?”

    “To remother, to heal ourselves from this deep and penetrating wound is an ongoing practice. But first, we have to acknowledge the damage caused by the absence of this emotional foundation, and grieve the loss this empty hole has created.” – Asia Morgenthaler

    READ: 10 Ways To Re-Mother Yourself

    I required the support and assistance of someone who has always loved me unconditionally, although I just didn’t know how powerful it was.

    When I started my Recovery Journey 2 years ago, I was in no condition to do this on my own. I had done so much on my own already – it was time for some help.

    My Husband, his family and my Mother all knew I was in serious trouble but I was left to my own devices. When you leave someone in Active Addiction to deal with themselves, it gets worse.

    It was getting worse on a daily, monthly basis but my Aunt was the only one who took me under her wing to ensure I had a chance at Recovery.

    It wasn’t the first time I had been Mothered by someone else; that has been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember.

    However, it was the first time someone I was related to actually took to task and made good on their word. She never let me down, never made me feel inadequate or worthless.

    My Aunt would spend hours listening to me and it felt insanely fulfilling to talk to her. Having my feelings validated for the first time helped me heal so much of the pain, doubt and disappointment around my Childhood.

    This process taught me how to embrace the love I have for my children and confidently lead by my own example and experiences of Trauma by flipping the cycle.

    The last thing I ever want is for my children to feel the pain and anxiety I felt as a child. A healthy, happy Mother is vital to the success of raising a happy, healthy child.

    I hope everyone has an amazing, safe Weekend!

    Lana Delray – Young and Beautiful

    Trauma and Triggers

    Trauma and Triggers
    My life has been filled with unresolved traumas up until I began my Recovery from Opiate Addiction last year.

    I won’t go into too much detail about each event but it really began in 1991 at the age of 7. My Dad drove his Work Truck into a Concrete Guardrail on a Monday morning, 8 am – August 26.

    My sense of awareness around people and their behaviours, emotions became increasingly high as I aged. This is typical of someone who has endured trauma, including childhood emotional abuse.

    As a child, I was always extremely outgoing, eager to please, helpful and charismatic. I was also ““Spirited”, impulsive and dramatic.

    At age 8, I channeled that energy into dancing ballet and jazz recreationally which led into 4 years of Competing in Ballet, Jazz, and Acrobatics.

    I felt from an early age that I had a job to do and that was to be the best big sister and daughter I could be. I felt this way because it was really the only thing I could control in my chaotic life.

    There seemed to be an impossible double standard, demands and expectations in our home life that I couldn’t relate to other families.

    At home, there was never any consistency and it was always volatile. I could go into great detail for sure but a constant cycle emerged and it never added up with what I felt in my heart and my head. The extremes between love and anger were too intense.

    After my dad died, my mother gave me the opportunity to have some bereavement therapy but it did not last long. A permanent emptiness began forming and anger replaced sadness over the years.

    I had been raised with good values and morals. In my first 7 years of life, I felt loved. My father and my paternal side instilled a strong work ethic inside of me and I always had an energy for excitement.

    I developed a skill of always staying one step ahead and having a precision awareness towards situations. I became an intense strategic thinker and always had a plan. In my world, I could think of various risks and worst case scenarios.

    This became useful when I became a Banker because I used it as an advantage however as a child, it was too confusing and chaotic to assume responsibility for an Adult’s behaviour, especially your own Mother.

    My first extreme case of anxiety developed over a 2 week period at Summer Camp. It would last for almost 2 years. At 13, I had convinced myself I must be dying because it certainly felt that way. My anxiety would trigger nightly panic attacks which led to throwing up.

    The traumatic events at that time included finding out (by accident) that my Mother was adopted and her Adoptive mother; the only maternal grandmother I knew, had been diagnosed with Breast Cancer.

    Finding out my Mother had been adopted happened out of nowhere. I was so confused because I didn’t understand why I hadn’t been told. There didn’t seem to be a logical reason to keep this information secret.

    By this point in my life, I had several friends and spent a lot of time at their houses.

    Their mothers became mothers to me and fathers adopted me as their own. This would ultimately be a saving grace for me; most of these friends and their families are a big part of my life today.

    What I noticed was that the relationship my friends had with their parents seemed different. There was an openness and trust; a mutual respect and feeling of unconditional love.

    The omission of my Mother’s Adoption would eventually lead to a major relationship breakdown between myself and my Grandparents who had been there for me emotionally, physically and spiritually for 14 years.

    My Grandmother died the following year in 1997. My Grandfather remarried within a year and I lost one of the only male role models I ever had. This led to permanent feelings of distrust and abandonment from my caregivers.

    That year; I retired from competitive dance. Now, my creative outlet for anxiety and stress was depleted and I became isolated. The intensity of high-impact dancing had delayed puberty substantially so when I quit; I gained 30lbs on a 5’2 frame and changed overnight.

    It was a shock to my self-esteem; one I was not prepared for. I’m not sure what happened next or how it happened but I developed a severe eating disorder which would last for almost 15 years.

    The symptoms of a more serious underlying condition would not be dealt with by anyone other than myself and my own will from the age of 15 until 34.

    The common denominator in all of the ups and downs have been a severe traumatic event and a post-traumatic effect.

    No real reconciliation or attempts to validate our feelings or fears were made.

    For 27 years; I would remain undiagnosed and untreated for severe post-traumatic stress that began when my Father died. I would half-commit to therapy, and doctor-written prescriptions for anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medications but I always found a way to pull through.

    Typically, I did not have support from anyone aside from my chosen family which are my life long friends and their families. I would often be shamed for any mistake I made as it far exceeded any positive contribution made.

    When I returned to a strong mind and balance, I would often feel like I wasn’t appreciated, loved or respected because I’d often be reminded of what had happened before.

    Compounding mistake after mistake; with no real guidance to fix it, I started to feel worthless and suffer from low self confidence.

    This would propel my anxiety and my Addictive behaviours but something would always happen to connect me back to myself.

    I would go through low periods that could last a few months to a year but I always worked through it somehow. A new opportunity would always arise and I’d have my passion for life and motivation back.

    I relied on Cannabis throughout for symptoms of Anxiety and Insomnia; sometimes more often than not, but it never dominated my life to the point of incapacity.

    Had I followed my own heart and instincts from the start; maybe I wouldn’t have ended up a recovering Opiate Addict but fate has a funny way of working out.

    The various connections between the trauma and it’s post-traumatic triggers have proven to be similar to peeling an onion back; layer by layer.

    There had been an identifiable pattern from a very young age that I had been aware of but couldn’t quite believe it to be true.

    I believed I could maybe be crazy or severely mentally ill myself.

    I believed I was over reacting; or I was too emotional.

    I believed for so long I was over-dramatic or just stubborn.

    I would always stand up for what I believed in and it would cause great strain between my mother and I. As a child, I would constantly call my Grandmother crying about these fights not realizing the cycle of this abuse came directly from her.

    A standard observation of emotional abuse by a parent with multiple children is that they often pit two of those kids (often the oldest and the middle) against one another to compete for love and attention.

    READ: What Happens To The Children Of Extreme Narcissists?

    I wanted to always believe it was the trauma of my Father dying and the stress of becoming a Single Mother of 3 kids at 30 years old.

    I needed to believe she loved me unconditionally, that she would always put us first and would never want to harm us in any way.

    Then I had my own children and that’s when I realized I had been right all along but by now I was trapped by my addiction to Opiates.

    What I feel for my children; instinctively, maternally and animalistic-ally was beyond any level of unconditional love I had ever experienced in my life.

    Rather than embracing Motherhood and all its pleasures, I did not trust myself.

    I had been told for so many years I was reckless, dramatic and spiteful. Even though I did everything I could to prove her wrong, I could never succeed. There would always be something I could’ve done better or different.

    Summer 2015 – Baby # 1

    I navigated new motherhood alone, without the help from my mother. She left on a 4 month vacation shortly after my daughter was born. I had help from my mother-in-law; but it’s not the same.

    A daughter craves that connection with her Mother and Father. I was deprived of both for most of my life but still had a living parent. It was so incredibly confusing to have a hot cold relationship with someone who was supposed to protect you.

    The anger inside of me rose to a new level but I could not show it. I had too much to lose at this point – a career in Banking, beautiful daughters, a husband and a reputation.

    Things kept happening and I kept medicating. Emotions would reach boiling points between my spouse and I, but we would never fight. I had no fight left. I just kept medicating the pain and frustration; anger and sorrow.

    My feelings would never be validated. There would never be a real apology nor would there be an authentic connection based on unconditional love and trust.

    Trust was destroyed on my part through my addiction to Opiates but emotional trust is equally important. It is common for both husband and wife to repeat these cycles in their own marriage if not properly counselled.

    When you are raised to walk on eggshells and literally tiptoe around every potential catalyst for a fight; you become exhausted and worn out.

    People-pleasing and over-achieving becomes second nature as you will literally do anything to be accepted and loved but to also avoid further emotional torment. Of course, it never lasts.

    READ: Waking Up to Narcissistic Abuse: ‘Our Parents Are the Last People We Can Trust’

    If you don’t do something – you burn the fuck out. That’s what ultimately happened to me after 3 kids in 4.5 years, a demanding career and a nasty Addiction to Opiates.

    My Spirit and Strength made a reappearance on June 24, 2018 when I surrendered to my Addiction. The fight to protect my addiction had lasted way too long, with way too much trauma to ever really describe. A lot of the Trauma that I caused by the way throughout my years of Active Addiction.

    It’s my ability to finally recognize the patterns, triggers and traumas that can lead to my addictive behaviours and states that keeps me in Recovery.

    I have much more to share on this topic as my Blog progresses. This is an extremely important topic pertaining to Addiction and Mental Health, not just for ourselves but for our children.

    I look forward to educating and building awareness; not destroying character or telling war stories as that is not always productive.

    If you have your own story to share, please comment below.

    Surrounded – Chantal Kreviazuk

    Summer Reading List: Non-Fiction

    Summer Reading List: Non-Fiction

    Last Summer, I read about 75 books while away at In-Patient Treatment.

    These are some Non-Fiction books that made an impact on my Recovery:

    Pilgrim’s Wilderness: The True Story of Faith & Madness on the Alaskan Frontier by Tom Kizzia


    This true story about a large family led by an abusive, paranoid Father; self-creating himself as Papa Pilgrim, will shock you.

    I’ll warn you – some of the content will absolutely devastate you as the Author tells their story of survival, sexual and physical abuse and brainwashing of a Family isolated in the Alaskan Wilderness.

    It is so sad and crazy that these events actually happened but there is a happy ending (sort of). Whenever I think I’ve seen and heard it all, I’ll remember the people from this book.

    Educated by Tara Westover


    If you liked “The Glass Castle,” you will probably like this book too.

    The book chronicles one woman who grew up in a hyper-religious, Survivalist family; barred from seeking any outside influence in terms of Education.

    Some of her recollections are entertaining but the story tends to drag on in some sections. Towards the middle though, it picks up and I ended up enjoying it although it wasn’t one of my all time favourites.

    Evicted: Poverty & Profit in the American City by Matthew Desmond


    This book was so incredible as it describes various racial stereotypes and subcultures of poverty in America.

    It documented the lives of several individuals living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin as they navigated the low-income rental market and the Welfare system.

    Evictions were second nature to them and this book highlighted their plights beautifully while making me realize how lucky I am to be living with a roof over my head.

    It features the one thing we all take for granted: Shelter.

    Dope Sick by Beth Macy


    If you have ever wondered how the Read: Opiate Epidemic came to be what it is today: read this book. I finished it within a day, it was that good.

    The book takes you through the history of Opiates; starting in the early 1900’s when Bayer marketed “Heroin” as a cure-all to just about anyone, including infants for a colic remedy.

    As the book progresses, you will learn how Read: OxyContin’s introduction in 1996 changed the pain management landscape for decades to come as our pain became Read: “The Fifth Vital Sign.

    They Left Us Everything by Plum Johnson


    This one was amazing. It was especially endearing to me as I actually know the people in this book from my Banking days in Downtown Oakville which brought the book to life.

    I couldn’t believe how well the author depicted people, places and things so accurately.

    She transpired the events from her Family’s history like a true story teller and this book will have you laughing and crying at the same time.

    Random Family by Adrian Nicole LeBlanc


    Now this is a book I’ll re-read again in a few years, along with some of my other favourites. This book breaks down the triumphs and tragedies for those living in the Bronx during the NYC Crack Epidemic in the 1990’s until the 2000’s.

    Although there are several characters in here and it can be difficult to keep track at times, the author does an amazing job as a biographer.

    The dynamic stories of these characters will break your heart and expose you to a way of living that is hidden from the general population. I couldn’t put this one down either.

    With or Without You by Domenica Ruta


    One woman’s memoir about her life growing up with a Mother who is struggling with Addiction.

    Although the author is extremely self aware and educated, she too falls victim to the disease of addiction and alcoholism.

    The author recalls her life with her mother, father and half siblings with much humour but she also emphasizes the devastation addiction leaves in its path.

    Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction by David Sheff


    A memoir written by a father about his son, Nic Sheff (who wrote his own version of events: Tweak) who is struggling with an addiction to Crystal Meth.

    This book traces the rise and fall of Nic during the course of his teenage years into adulthood; the relapses and recoveries, the agony and the ecstasy.

    Reading about active addiction from a parents point of view was hard for me but ultimately healing. This book could be triggering for anyone in recovery however so use caution.

    Beautiful Boy – 2018 Trailer:



    Scar Tissue by Anthony Kiedis

    By far one of my favourites.

    The honesty and humility Mr. Kiedis demonstrates around his Addiction and Recovery is inspiring. His preference for “anything goes” led him on a death spiral.

    He will take you throughout his childhood all the way through his rehabilitation attempts, cold-turkey detoxes and addictive relationships.

    Shamanic Healing

    Shamanic Healing

    Shamanic Healing has played an important role in my Recovery since November 2017.

    The brew is an ancient, indigenous medicine made from a vine and a plant to create DMT. The medicine itself alters your state of consciousness however this is done in a controlled setting.

    Two Shamans guide the Ceremony night. Like any medicine; it comes with it’s own set of risks and rewards therefore I recommend doing your own research.

    It is most commonly referred to as “ten years of therapy in one night” however I walked out of my first Ceremony thinking: “This is bullshit.”

    To be honest, I expected a quick fix for all of my problems including my Addiction to Opiates. I had no idea the ancient medicine I drank would catapult me into something life changing.

    Shortly after my first Ceremony, all of the secrets surrounding my Addiction started dribbling out. I couldn’t deny any longer my use of pills; or should I say my reliance on them.

    I had used these pills to cover up the pain and trauma from decades prior. It was becoming obvious to everyone that I couldn’t hold my own any more.

    Things in my life had spiralled so far out of my control. My secret life as an addict started to collide with my public life. By Christmas, my husband was going through my phone and began sharing details of my struggle with people.

    I had no choice but to come clean to my closest friends. Everything kept getting worse and worse. Finally on Boxing Day, I checked myself into a 48 hour Detox Facility

    Unfortunately my time there only lasted 24 hours. It was a Cold-Turkey approach there and it was much too painful. I began spinning and ended up staying away from home for a few days.

    I had an opportunity over the Christmas Holidays to do another Ceremony, so I did. By this point, I was in severe Acute Opiate withdrawal.

    My body was hating itself for medicating with such strong Opiates. It comes on like the worst flu, cold, depression you’ve ever encountered. It can last for days, weeks, months.

    The medicine itself tastes disgusting. It is absolutely putrid – like rank Red Wine. I can never do the full shot in one fell swoop. I often have to take breaks and chew candy to get through it.

    This particular Ceremony came at the perfect time. For a night, my withdrawal went away completely and I probably could’ve continued this streak. However, life had other plans and my inability to change my ways continued.

    Ceremony itself is very interesting. Ceremonial Tobacco is used and it is shot up your nose to do an entire cleanse of your sinuses. It burns but once that subsides; you feel amazing.

    After my first two ceremonies, everything went to shit.

    I most definitely expected a quick fix to my problems after the first Ceremony. In fact, I felt bitter that I had spent all that money just to sleep on a floor and throw up into a bucket with 20 people.

    Little did I know, the Medicine was indeed working. It was working it’s way through my life in its own magical way.

    I had to beg for mercy because life would become harder before it got better. The pain and trauma from my childhood ran so deep, it took about a year and a half to really make progress.

    Nothing changed me like this experience because it gave new insight into respecting powerful medicine. I had abused medication intended for Cancer patients. My body needed a powerful detox. It also needed a rest.

    Each time I did a Ceremony, I slept. I slept in a deep REM sleep even though there was so much going on around me. I’ve had a sleeping sickness for as long as I can remember.

    It’s hard for me to fall asleep and stay asleep. For two decades, I wake up in the morning feeling so anxious that I need to throw up. Usually there is a feeling of intense relief when I do.

    In April 2019, I had my 5/6th Ceremony.

    My intention to continue this Recovery was well received. Things in my life have continued to change at a rapid pace but I am coping with the emotional intensity.

    Being accepted into a community that heals with love and compassion has provided safety and security throughout this journey. There are so many people just like me who have literally “tried everything.”

    Trying everything means everything your Doctor prescribed or Talk Therapy. Some of these work well for people so we cannot ignore their value however it is important to get to the root cause.

    I am not perfect. I never will be perfect and I will always struggle with Mental Illness. It has been something I’ve had to accept.

    Untreated and unaddressed trauma creates so many emotional issues inside of each and every one of us. Intense healing was what I needed to be well.

    My last Ceremony on June 28th was an interesting one. For the first time, I didn’t throw up which is status quo when accepting the medicine.

    You can always expect to throw up because that’s what the medicine is about – powerful detox.

    Continuing with this alternative healing and the standard with our Healthcare system has saved my life from Opiate Addiction.

    There has not been just one thing that gave me this freedom from active addiction but my experience with this type of healing has played a pivotal role.


    Long Time Running

    Long Time Running

    Tragically Hip – Long Time Running

    Thank you to everyone who reached out to me after my last/first post for “Angie Up In a Smoke.”

    The decision to come out publicly about my struggle with Addiction was made a long time ago. Executing this with complete transparency is what I hope to achieve so I can bring light to Recovery alternatives.

    As I mentioned before; I had reached a phase in my recovery, after a long postpartum abstinence – where I began smoking Cannabis again.

    I do so in the company of others because that’s what I have always preferred. I have severe anxiety which revolves around the trauma of losing a parent. Now it also revolves around the normal stresses of raising three kids and separation.

    I found a large Community of Women who embraced me in Hamilton. The world of Plant-Based medicine has given me such courage to speak out.

    The love and support I received changed my life, making me feel whole for the very first time. I have found my place in the world; which is helping Women during the epidemic of Addiction to Opiates.

    Around March; I created an Alter-Ego Instagram account. By doing so; I wanted to research how positively/negatively correlated Addiction, Women and Cannabis are related.

    From my research; I can tell you it was negatively correlated on Instagram. This meaning Women did not become Addicts because they consume Cannabis.

    We have been taught that substances cause Addiction however; this has been disproven.

    Addiction is a symptom of a bigger Mental Health Crisis. It is the poor state of the Human Condition in which we repeat behaviours over and over to numb our pain. People do this by shopping, eating, drinking, exercising, working, etc.

    Dr. Gabor Mate; one of the most distinguished Doctors in Vancouver explains:

    “I think normalcy is a myth. The idea that some people have pathology and the rest of us are normal is crude.

    There’s nothing about any mentally ill person—and it doesn’t matter what their diagnosis is—that I couldn’t recognize in myself. The reality is that, in every case, mental illness is an outcome of traumatic events.

    And by trauma I don’t mean dramatic Events. There’s a difference.”

    Dr.Gabor Mate

    Trauma-causing Events in Your Life:

    1. Death of a loved one; specifically a parent, child, etc.
    2. Divorce/Separation
    3. Addiction/Co-Dependancy
    4. Emotional and Verbally abusive relationships Caregiver
    5. Injury, illness
    Without proper treatment, traumatized children may grow into traumatized Adults.

    As we grow, we experiment with substances at will however, we usually do this with friends. No one sets out to become an Addict.

    We often recall these experiences as being enjoyable. When the substance use becomes repeated because it does feel good, the body builds a tolerance.

    Substances such as Opiates and Alcohol cause a dramatic withdrawal effect on the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental well-being and fitness.

    Over time, it becomes harder and harder to break the cycle. We medicate the guilt and shame but our bodies reject detox. It is painful and emotionally taxing.

    Introduce Motherhood, Careers, more trauma from shame and guilt – you have a toxic cocktail.

    My ask is that we accept harm reduction – not perfection.
    We accept plant-based medicinal alternatives for those who ask for it.
    We stop shaming those for their mental illnesses, addiction issues and lapses.

    The Costa Rican News

    This weekend I will be attending my 6th Ceremony. I’ll write about my experience over the weekend.

    Shamanic Medicine and healing has played a significant role in my Recovery and I highly recommend everyone do their own research.

    I recommend googling Dr. Gabor Mate for sure.