VIC 2 | Breaking Your Silence

 

Breaking your silence with an alcoholic spouse can feel almost impossible.

In this episode, Jenn joins KL Wells and shares her story about how her fear and internal emotional turmoil as the spouse of an alcoholic prevented her from asking for help.

How one Sunday going out for a run changed her entire life forever.

Eventually, she discovered that you need to have the fortitude and perseverance to keep going, and learned how to navigate life despite its challenges.

It’s those moments when you fall, and no one’s watching, that you have to stand up and keep going – using all of the burning emotions within you to strengthen your physical and mental resolve.

She encourages us to break our silence using our voice. Take a listen!

Watch the episode here

 

Listen to the podcast here


Breaking Your Silence Using Your Voice With Jenn Stine

I am an amazingly curious person about people anyway. I do have a series of questions I’d like to ask and part of it is where do you identify your journey beginning? I want to know your story. That gives people a window in that matters. I have not heard very many stories that are ours to tell. I’ve heard a lot of addict stories.

What’s funny is that when you say, where did it start? The moment when you realize that Sam was in trouble or something was happening with Sam, at least for me with Tucker, that was a sign that something was wrong, and it continues to go back because you realized what signs to look for. My journey began on an NFL Sunday, the day that he enjoyed drinking. He would start early, and progress throughout the day. We were sitting at a brewery across the street from our house with our children. I could tell it was going to be one of those days.

How I would deal with my pain and fear is I would go running. I had used that as my escape. I became an avid runner. I lost so much weight because I kept working out. That was my medicine and escape from the problem. My jog would usually start at 2 or 3 miles, but this moved on to 5 miles. By the time I got to mile 5, I was running a massive mountain of a hill. I could tell that my feet were starting to be in tremendous pain. I didn’t want to call Tucker because I didn’t want him upset. I kept running.

By mile 8, I was having such severe pain that I knocked on a coffee shop to try and get some help because the last person I wanted to call was Tucker. They were closed. I continued walking and eventually, it went from foot pain to not being able to run to barely able to walk on mile 11. When I was one mile from my house, I was practically crawling.

I ended up breaking both feet in three different places- stress fractures- and crushing my feet. I ended up in two boots and crutches. What I realize looking back was that I needed someone to physically see that I was in pain because I wasn’t able to verbalize the internal and emotional damage pain that was occurring inside of me.

That Christmas, I remember someone saying to me, “I’m not surprised you broke your feet because you’re a Tulis.” Tulis is my maiden name, and we’re known for being clumsy. That crushed me, and made me even quieter. No one could even fathom what was going on inside. My journey started that day when I broke both my feet and that ended up changing my life forever on that day.

How long ago was that, Jenn?

Tucker has been sober for seven years. That was in 2014.

When that took place, did you realize what you were doing in terms of running to help yourself navigate the pain without giving it a voice?

When I continued to keep running and running, I knew that there was no turning back. There was going to be something, whether that was me ending up the way that I ended up, or calling my mother for help and telling her the truth. I didn’t have the courage to tell her yet. I was silenced by the disease. If you’re silenced by an alcoholic, you tell no one. I had lost all my connections to my family and friends. I was in isolation for about a year.

When you broke both feet, what was your next step in terms of taking your power back?

I ended up joining a mastermind group, which was a three-day speaking event. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Bo Eason. It’s a Personal Story Power event. I thought, “The only way I can say my truth is by going into a room with 100 people I don’t know.” I was finally able to unload on 100 people and tell my jogging story. I owned it about myself because I was still in fear that he was going to be upset with me. I did that and ended up getting up on stage like everybody else and recording a two-minute information about what my story was about.

That’s how I started to take my power back, but I was made fun of from people like, “What is she doing?” The other way I took my power back was I began exercising fervently to the point of too much. I would exercise four hours a day. He could take me emotionally and mentally and say those nasty, horrible things, but I was never going to let him take me physically. He never tried to, but you don’t know what’s going to happen. I became so strong that it was never an option that was going to be a choice.

You need to have the fortitude and perseverance to keep going. Click To Tweet

When you went to Bo Eason’s event, what took place after that? I’m super curious. What’s the journey of having an accident that debilitates you, which is the wake-up call and the huge red flag but still confined by the experience of your story?

I remember he had a Q&A. I had been training and exercising for about two years at that point. I had wanted to become a coach and a mentor. I couldn’t do it regarding the personal situation that I was in, but I wanted to help people. Oftentimes, when you go to a gym, 50% of the people are people like us who have families who are part of addiction. I remember saying to Bo Eason, “What if I fail?” He said to me, “What if you succeed?” I was more afraid of succeeding than I was of failing.

The next day, I was called to do a boot camp for my children’s school. I pulled everything out of my butt that I knew and got all this equipment. I ran a boot camp. Six weeks later, I was hired as a job to be a coach at Fitwall in Solana Beach. I became an assistant coach, was coaching classes weekly and moved into client relations, head coach and eventually, manager of the studio. The way I gave back to people was every single day, showing up to a studio, coaching and mentoring people who may be broken in one way or another, whether that’s a physical, mental or emotional need for help.

When did the mindset piece show up for you?

The mindset piece showed up for me when I was by myself, and no one else was watching me. I had to have the fortitude and the perseverance to keep going. I remember a day when I was coming out of the shower. I was naked and cold. I fell to the floor and couldn’t get back up. I remember thinking to myself, “I’ve never been so broken in my entire life.” People would always wonder, “What’s wrong with Jenn? Why isn’t she talking to anybody and socializing with us anymore?”

I was taking that anger, quite frankly, that hurt and all the emotions, empowering it into physicality for myself to make myself stronger and diving into following my dream of becoming a coach to mentor people. In those silent moments when no one else was watching was when I found the ability to move forward.

One of the beliefs that have helped me through this is the belief that when life is falling apart, it’s falling together.

When Tucker was in his first rehab facility, we had to have a one-on-one conversation. It was uncomfortable for me because we had all these people in the room. It’s supposed to be one-on-one time and there’s everybody watching. I said to him, “We had this perfect hallmark of a family.” When I mean hallmark, we looked like a happy-go-lucky family. I said to him, “You took that and shook the puzzle box. It’s gone and ruined. I don’t know how we’re going to get it back.”

I had to allow it to break. You have to allow the nose to break for it to be fixed. It wasn’t until 2020 that I allowed the nose to break and allowed myself, our family, and our marriage to put together a whole new picture puzzle. It’s not what it was before. It’s a different picture. I had to be willing to be open to a new picture that I never thought was going to be.

What was the key that unlocked that door in 2020?

Honestly, it was not knowing if our marriage was going to make it. That’s a very hard thing to say. Without getting on too much of his personal information, they told me in his rehab facility that it usually takes about seven rehab facilities for someone to accept where they are. Tucker went to 3 or 4, but when I was in the rehab facility with him, they told me that the person I was married to had died. I need to learn to love this new person.

They also told me that his brain was mush.  It will take some time for it to develop back correctly. I was trying to be patient year after year, going back to work, working until 8:00 at night, doing a roll-over shift and waking up at 3:30 to be at a studio by 4:30 in the morning with two little children. That’s constant over and over that I could not maintain.

VIC 1 | Breaking Your Silence
Breaking Your Silence: An alcoholic person silences you; you tell no one.

I had put up the patience, but thought his brain should be coming back by now. We’re years into this. What I found was that he would have a Jekyll and Hyde personality, something different with his clients and a different person outside. I simply said, “I can’t be married to somebody who is one way with all these people on the computer, and another way outside the door because he maybe wants a drink. He’s pissed off and frustrated. If he doesn’t get on this medication, this medication is as important as sobriety.” Once he gets on that medication, it’s different for everybody. It’s like he came back piece by piece.

I’ve read some pieces and seen the video. I’m familiar with Dr. Amens’ work relative to brain science. That gave me hope to understand that our brains are so much more capable of neuroplasticity that they can regenerate and heal again. It sounds like you are still in that process of discovering who Tucker is. There’s still an evolution to this in terms of the journey. I imagine that along with his evolution in discovering who he is and becoming the truest representation of the best version of himself, simultaneously, you’re in that same space.

We both had to get an individual therapist and be willing to dedicate ourselves to the therapy. We have a marriage therapist. We had been going to marriage therapy, but we were spinning. It wasn’t until they said, “Enough is enough. Tucker, you go to your therapist and work. Jennifer, you go over here.” With the therapist talking about all the trauma, feel like you’re naked in front of your therapist and be like, “This is what it is,” I said the words, “Please help me.”

When you said, “Please help me,” did that feel free to you?

It did. In his first rehab facility, they told me, “Be careful as the spouse because oftentimes, family members can develop auto-immune diseases from all the stress.” I was like, “I can’t even imagine that.” That’s exactly what happened to me. I was working about 50 hours a week. My body started to shut down again. In 2020, I had two cancer scares. The first was an ovarian cyst cancer scare because cysts would burst all the time. I was in constant pain. I thought I had breast cancer. My body was saying, “You have been through so much trauma for such an extended period. We need you to stop and figure this out.”

I gained weight and then attempted to deal with all my feelings and memories. I was starting to eat and all of that. I was developing all these bad habits. I had to accept that I needed help, too. It wasn’t just the alcoholic. I needed help to deal with all the trauma and start dealing with what I had been through. You can pretend to be super happy and pretty on the outside, but if your inside is broken, nothing is going to work.

I’ve had to spend 2021 doing my work and accepting my role in it. I have to realize he is not the person who hurt years ago. He’s a new person. It’s very easy to fall back into where you hurt me years ago, so you’re going to hurt me again. Break out of that pattern. I have to do a lot of work with that.

Those pattern breaks are a huge piece and a component of all of this. That’s a great conversation. I’m going to put a little placeholder on that one. I’m thinking about the spiritual journey of this.

Thank you for asking that question. I have to thank you because I lost faith in God. It was terrible because we would go to church on Sundays and dress like this beautiful family. He would navigate amongst the crowd and act as one person, then be somebody different right after. I stopped going to church because I couldn’t stomach being with all those people. One of my favorite parts of my journey is that my daughter started singing in the choirs at our church. She goes to a private Catholic school.

I went to go see her after I had left my job because my body was shutting down. I had to stop working and take care of myself. I remember sitting on the side of the church and looking up at my daughter. She was singing as part of the group, and not even in the solo. I started crying. My daughter had brought me back to God and brought my faith back. I remember her friend saying to her, “Your mom’s crying.” I collapsed in that church. I went back every week. Every Friday, I was always there to watch my daughter sing up until COVID. I had told my daughter, “I give you credit. Thank you for bringing my faith back. You’re the one who brought me back to God. And I mean it.”

What went through your heart in terms of the transformation of coming back to God?

Everybody goes through something. This is what I was given. I had felt abandoned by him. I don’t know if I would use the word “blame” him, but I didn’t understand why he would give me this problem. As I sat there, listened to scripture and read Jesus Calling every morning, I realized that life is not meant to be a smooth sailing trip from birth until death. Everybody will have something. This is what God gave me. He knows that I’m a strong person. I call myself durable.

You need help to heal from all the trauma you’ve been through. Click To Tweet

He knows that I have a strong fortitude because I grew up playing football with my brother on the backyard football field. He knows I’m tough. He will only give me what I can handle and so I understand that. Every morning, I wake up and read a passage of Jesus Calling. I sit there, breathe in, listen to the birds and breath in the fresh air. I smell all these smells, whether it’s the flowers or spring. I genuinely take, whether it’s 5 or 15 minutes, sit there and say, “Thank you.”

Did you have a gratitude practice prior to all this?

No. I was just going. I was on this treadmill, so I kept going on the treadmill. My brother would always say, “Jenn, you’re not going to be able to maintain this treadmill.” I was like, “I’m doing fine on this treadmill” Lo and behold, he was right. I’m off that treadmill now. I didn’t even stop to think there was no gratitude in my life beforehand.

In some ways, do you think that Tucker’s journey has been your gift to your journey?

Yes. I feel that way. I’m ready to go back as an aged mother of two teenagers who will not need me in a couple of years. They don’t need me now. What is it that I’m going to do in my next chapter? I’ve prayed about it. I’ve always felt like myself as a mentor and a coach. That’s always what I’d done, but I’m not going to be mentoring people physically in a studio. I want to help mentor people through what I’ve been through. The word storm is exactly what it is. I feel like Tucker, me, and our children are coming out of the storm. It’s time for me to give back.

Before I got on this with you, I told our daughter, “I’m going to go talk about what happened with your dad and my experience.” She says, “You’re going to go do that? Does dad know?” It’s a true testament to the healing that we have because years ago, it was like, “Don’t tell anybody.” He now encouraged me to talk with you, and gave me the platform. What a difference? It’s a blessing to have this opportunity to say my truth and have someone like you who’s authentic, and I could feel comfortable telling what it was like.

To give you a little bit more of a window in, I have married several years ago to Sam’s dad, who was an alcoholic. I didn’t know it until I got married. He was a Vietnam vet, suffered from post-traumatic stress and those things revealed themselves very quickly after we were married. I can completely relate to Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde piece. Steve never got clean and sober. I divorced him after five years because I was not going to live that way. I was afraid for my life and for Sam’s life too.

Years later, I will tell you, Jenn, through Sam’s journey, we did a whole bunch of work together. I forgave him, which was an extraordinarily powerful moment because I can relate to the trauma that you speak to. Mine may look different than yours but trauma is trauma. All the incidents that stack up that we find ourselves in builds. When I forgave him, I physically felt like I was free.

Before Steve passed away, he did get clean and sober. I was very grateful to have had the opportunity to forgive him for all of that and talked to him a month before he died. It was very sweet towards the end. That gave me a window into the longevity and the life cycle of relationships that there still is hope and a possibility that the person that you know them to be, which is not the alcoholic or the addict, is still there. If they choose to wrestle with the devil and choose their life again, you can begin to see that person emerge. It feels to me that it is part of your story. I appreciate that. What do you wish you’d known years ago that you know now?

I would’ve spoken up immediately to the people that I trusted, especially my mother, even though the person, who let’s call Jekyll, told me, “Stay quiet. Tell no one what I’m doing.” I would pick one or two people and unload the truth immediately. The other thing I would have done is pictured in my mind two different lanes. This is his lane. This is my lane, and I stay in my lane.

When he tries to tap on me, knock me down and say all these nasty, horrible words, don’t believe him. This is his lane, and it’s going in a direction that you don’t want to go in. What he’s saying at this particular point isn’t true. The other thing is that I believed everything he told me, all those negative things he said. I called it an emotional pounding. I quite frankly had wished he would have hit me because then somebody would have seen the evidence of what it was.

I would have told someone and would have maintained positive self-talk as much as I possibly could. I’ll be honest with you. I went to a priest who told me that I had to stay. That was in the middle of the emotional and mental trauma. He said, “That’s your duty.” That crushed me. I have two little children who are witnessing all this. I also went to the police. They said that there’s nothing that they could do unless something physically happens. The first two main things that I would have done is to speak up.

VIC 1 | Breaking Your Silence
Breaking Your Silence: Take time to sit and say thank you.

Do you view speaking up, telling your mom and maybe a couple of close friends as asking for help?

Yes and no. Being honest and open is one thing, and I needed to do that. I did ask for help, and was turned away. I told a very close family member of ours that had the power to do something, but they just walked away. When I asked for help from my therapist and said, “Please help me,” that was when someone heard me, took me in, and helped me. You got to go to the right source for help.

Part of the navigation of this is learning who to ask for help from. A lot of what we’re talking about here is a cultural thing. We’re not trained to ask for help or learn how to figure out how do we trust smartly, how we pick great people that we surround ourselves with that we’ll have our back, not have an agenda and be there for us through thick and thin. When I was going through situations with Steve, I did not tell my friends or family either, partly because I didn’t think that they would help me figure out how to navigate it in my way.

I thought they would give me their advice and there would be a judgment that came along with it. I was already going through enough of that as it was. It wasn’t until on the other side of it that I did choose a couple of people whom I was living to talk to but it wasn’t until I was on the other side of it that I shared with my friends and family what had been going on.

That was a learning moment for me to get clear about what help I needed. I didn’t need the judgment. I needed somebody to take my hand and walk with me. I also needed the help of somebody who had healthily navigated this or had been far enough down the road to have gotten into a healthy pattern of life and was still able to navigate.

Early on, our neighbor next door had stage four cancer. Luckily, he survived and is doing okay. I remember seeing people would bring dinners to them over and over. They would have community support for alcoholism and addiction. I raised my children for about a year by myself because I couldn’t find him, or he was doing things he wasn’t supposed to be doing. There were times when I needed help making meals because I was working. No one would bring a hot meal because I didn’t tell anybody. We need to get rid of the stigma of shame, guilt with alcoholism, addiction or whatever it is. It’s a disease.

The other aspect is that when you absorb that this is a disease and we take away the guilt, the shame, and the things that we think about it, myself included before I went through this with Tucker, it would change the way people view society. We would be able to help more people because more people will be speaking up when they need it.

The statistics are staggering in terms of the numbers. The fact that we have 1 in 3 families that are dealing with addiction, alcoholism or any kind of ism because there are so many isms that our culture has created, not just in Western culture but globally at this point, we are ill-prepared to figure out how to deal with this in a sane and healthy, thriving way. In some ways, I have the perspective on this as I’m talking this through with you.

It is very much like the chrysalis. We’re in this cocoon of the life that we’ve been born into. We’re trying to get out and figure out what the outside looks like because we haven’t been given a true picture of what life is. We’ve been sold a bill of goods. We have these notions that people have got it together when they don’t. The vast majority of adults don’t have it together.

Being willing to make way for the new path that you didn’t even consider would be a path that you would need or have to walk down. The willingness to think about redirection in terms of whether you need to make a 180 change or a slight turn. What is it that you need to do? Be willing to move from the path that you so thought that you had to go down.

We are a family of four. We are a lovely family. We love each other. Disaster happens. It was a disaster, quite frankly, for a very long period. There’s no other way to describe it. Also, having two little children there, being willing to make a change, accept it and have the courage to move forward with whatever that might look like, even if you don’t know what it’s going to look like.

The truth of the matter is that life is an unknown experience. We don’t know from day to day what’s going to show up. We’re very much in that place. The speed at which we’ve created this world that we live in eclipses our ability to keep up. That’s an illusion. There are so many of us that are trying to figure out, “What’s my purpose for being here? What is the gift I meant to bring? How do I navigate this amid this crazy world, the chaos that we’ve created and all these things that are happening like addiction, alcoholism, so on and so forth?” Those are massive red flags of the craziness that we have created. That’s what the journey is. Would you frame things in terms of part of your journey is loving yourself through your journey?

You need to go to the right source for help. Click To Tweet

Yes. One thing my therapist said to me is, “You are enough and worthy right now.” Throughout this whole process, everything internally frankly, was torn apart. If someone were to look at my insides when he was at the height of his disease, it was like a bloody war had gone on in there. It was awful. Recovering from that, being able to look at myself in the mirror, and realizing all that my family had been through, myself included, I look different now. There’s a lot more wrinkles up here.

I am feeling like I’m enough and worthy now. Not when I lose 20 pounds, not when our marriage is great because we’re in Hawaii, or not because we hit the year 25-year anniversary. It’s hugely important in loving myself again. Part of the work that I’m doing with my doctor is looking at all my positive qualities. You lose that when you are put down so often.

Has there been a forgiveness part for you with yourself?

When I did the work with Bo Eason, he said, “No one cares when you’re at the top of the mountain. People care when you’re climbing the mountain because they want to know how you’re getting there.” When you sit at the top of the mountain and say, “Look what I did. I’m all done,” it’s not as interesting. If you’re willing to let people see what you’ve experienced going up and down the mountain, that’s a lot more powerful than standing on top and saying, “Look at me.” If I’m being authentic with you, which I feel like I have been, I would say no. I’m still in the process. That’s something that I’ve begun doing but I don’t think I’m there yet.

Being in the process of forgiving yourself, what’s an insight into that would help some of the people that will be reading this to recognize it for themselves?

Sometimes looking in the mirror and thinking, “I’m not enough.” I would be honest with you in saying that quite a few times during the day, I do look at myself and say, “You used to be more of this. You’re not coaching a class of 30 people anymore, 5 classes a day, 60 classes a week. Why aren’t you doing that? You used to do all these things.” I stopped being on the treadmill and put in the work to heal, which takes away the glamour. It’s internal and hard work. It takes patience and love for yourself. Loving yourself is one of the hardest things to do. It’s very easy for me to love my children and Tucker. It’s a lot harder for me to love myself because I see all the scars inside.

Do you see the scars healing?

Yes. If I didn’t see the scars healing, I wouldn’t be here. This is truly the first time that I’ve ever openly discussed what my experience was. As you well know, with your experience, this is a glimpse. If someone were to take a camera and see what you lived through, an ambulance being at your house, the cops arriving, the words he said to your child, coming in when the alarm is on, he’s been kicked out of the house, opening the house and the alarm going off and your two children are running into your room, trauma is still there but it’s healing.

I imagine that will be a breakout moment for you.

It is a huge moment for me. I have you to thank for it. For many years when I would be exercising, people would be like, “She looks angry. She’s taking the crap out of that boxing glove. Why is she’s so aggressive?” I would be screaming inside like, “My husband is an alcoholic.” There’s trauma, emotional and mental abuse and all these things. You want to shout it and vomit all over people but you cannot. It’s not that way it goes.

I’m imagining what that looks like to hold the trauma internally, how it’s wreaking havoc and being trapped in your body, mind and spirit. It shut down.

I was a machine and had hollowed out everything. I had put on this armor and exercised my frustrations and anger. I went there sometimes twice a day, two hours each time. I looked as fit as I could look. My brother said, “You cannot keep this up. What are you going to do on the day when your body says no more and it shuts down?” I was like, “That’s not going to happen to me.” Well that happened to me. The weight came on and I started to look more like a 43-year-old than I did a 28-year-old.

VIC 1 | Breaking Your Silence
Breaking Your Silence: You need to be willing to think about redirection.

I had to accept myself like, “I am human. I’m not Superman. My armor is off and I’m Clark Kent. I got my glasses on.” Clark Kent isn’t as hot as Superman. I saw myself more like Clark Kent, and loved myself for it. To be honest with you, I watch a lot of Rocky movies like Rocky III. It’s the beach scene where he’s running. He tells Adrian that he’s scared and all those things. I watch all these cheesy movies because I identify with someone who’s still in the trenches. Honestly, I don’t think I’m out of the trenches. I’m climbing out, but I’m not out.

Do you have a sense about what’s the next hand up out of the trenches?

I genuinely want to start giving back. When I said to my therapist what my thought was about moving into this field, she said, “Are you healed enough yet?” I said, “I don’t think anybody’s ever healed. Everybody always has bumps and bruises. I don’t want to wait until I’m fully healed because I’ll maybe be 75 or 80 when that’ll happens.” I’ve always mentored people like college students. I was a teacher for many years and taught third grade. I was a studio coach for five years. I’ve always had that in me but my body’s too tired to be that physical studio coach. It’s like, “What am I going to do?”

I realized, “God gave you this, and had this happen to you for a reason. Are you going to be quiet? What about that woman, man or child who’s on the floor of their bathroom crying, cold and naked? You remember being there at that moment. Are you going to have the courage, fortitude, and perseverance to get up and find a way to help them, whatever that looks like?” That’s my new passage in life. How I’m going to get there? I have no idea.

I do think that this show gives you a community to be a part of and to create whatever that looks like for you that serves the best version of who you are and the emergence of this bright, beautiful, joyful and extraordinary woman that’s coming out of the storm, the chaos and the trauma of what you’ve been through. I very much believe that it’s our journey always to serve but we have to do it from a place of mostly wholeness, understanding that we’re still always on the journey. We never arrive. Bo Eason was very instrumental for you. Has there been a book or something that you can point people towards that you would say, “That helped me understand this?”

I wish I had it in front of me. It’s a three-part series. It’s the Beattie series of books. I don’t have the title on me now, but it’s a three-part book. I read all of them. Each time I read it, I said, “That’s me.” Without question, I recommend that. For people who are looking for faith-based things, Jesus Calling is my number one book that I go to because it’s a daily saying. It speaks to me every morning, and starts my day off in faith and hope. When I don’t read it, I can tell my day is off a little bit. Those would be the main ones.

The 5 Love Languages, I’m not sure if you’ve read that. My husband read that while he was at a rehab facility. As a wife of an alcoholic, we realized that’s how you express your love, he expresses it this way. It’s different. I do it through acts of kindness and words because I was starting a new marriage. They told me I had to learn a new dance. Figuring out how each other works and how we communicate is huge, especially for people if it’s a spousal situation.

Communication is such a huge thing. We have to understand ourselves first. Who are we? For me, one of the things that were illuminating was understanding that I only have these windows that I’ve created out of the world that I’ve lived in. There are so many more windows, doors and ways of looking at life and the paradigms that can shift in a heartbeat.

Understanding that we can shift, grow, learn, change our story, evolve and create a new story and life is very exciting. The world that I live in, day in and day out, is the story that we’re telling ourselves serving us or not? If it’s not, who’s responsible for changing that story? Any other words of wisdom that you like to end with?

The big thing I would say is self-care. It was a long period when I wasn’t taking care of myself. It was just the children or Tucker. The depletion of my battery was so significant. The importance of sleep was a huge one for me. My therapist gave me this worksheet called GRAPES. Are you familiar with that?

No.

The G is Gentle with yourself. Every day you need to do one of these things. Gentle with yourself could be reading a Bible passage, Jesus Calling or taking a bath. R is Relax. That could be very similar to meditation, taking a bath, something like that or sitting on the beach. A is Accomplish something. What I found is that I was accomplishing ten different things during the day. I was cleaning the floors, vacuuming, dusting or doing all these different things.

You need to accept yourself, that you’re human. Click To Tweet

 

P is Pleasure. I had none. I wasn’t doing anything pleasurable. That could be simply as watching a funny TV show that you like. I watch Mike & Molly all the time because they’re funny. E is Exercise. I placed my pleasure and exercise. Exercise is different, so I exercise once a day. S is Social. Simply text a friend. Having GRAPES helped me to start from scratch, develop a more balanced body, and focus on self-care. For so long, I was so focused on everybody else. The number one thing is to take the time to do that.

I talk about it in terms of you having to put your oxygen mask on first. Self-care is non-negotiable.

I wasn’t doing that for a long time. It makes a difference.

I’m going to open it up also. Is there anything you want to ask me?

How did you get started with Voices InCourage in terms of making it a platform like having it go live? What does it entail? Specifically, what are you looking to do with it?

I’m looking to have it be a place where people can feel safe, vulnerable and come to through conversations like this. I have a document that I work with and self-care is part of that strategy. It’s the lessons that I’ve learned along the way, the journey that I’m on and the mindset. It’s to create a community for loved ones where I feel like the emphasis has not been on us. I work with executives all day long.

All of them are human beings first and have craps going on in their lives. How do you continue to be successful professionally while you have all this stuff going on in your personal life too? I’m a big proponent. There is no separation between work and personal. A human being walks into work first, not a job title. The short version is that this is a community where people can feel safe, for the spouses, the sons and daughters, the moms and dads and the people that are on the periphery of the disease.

Is it going to be more of an online platform?

Yeah. We’re going to do YouTube, podcasts, PDFs, training, coaching and everything you can think of that will help people take hold of where they are, re-imagine themselves tomorrow and help them create the path towards that realization.

I’m trying to decide. I graduated from Boston College with an Undergraduate in English and a Minor in Business and Education. I was talking with my doctor. There are so many different paths you can take about additional education. Have you done additional classes or courses? Is there an avenue that you suggest that you’ve gone down that you’ve found successful? Are you doing more of your mentoring stuff from your experience? There are two different ways you can go about it.

I got a Master’s degree in Counseling a long time ago, which certainly has helped. There are so many things available outside of the traditional way of learning and so many available people. They did Tony Robbins in the ’90s. I still am a very big Tony Robbins fan, Dean Graziosi, Brendon Burchard, Brené Brown and Mel Robbins. I’m in that tribe where I’m regularly learning but I have put together the things that have served me the most in a way to help people learn how to navigate.

It’s my journey with all these different resources, books, movies and other people that are operating out there that I’ve picked the things that have worked for me. I read one particular book that was geared toward parents of adult children that are dealing with alcoholism or addiction. I’d say 80% of the book resonated with me. The other 20%, not so much. It’s learning to take what resonates and let the rest go. That’s true for everybody.

VIC 1 | Breaking Your Silence
Jesus Calling: Enjoying Peace In His Presence

I’d done the same thing where I did the Bo Eason, his workshops and the mastermind for a year. Are you familiar with Todd Durkin at all? I was an intern for him, and he’s becoming like Brendan Bouchard. He’s moving into that realm. I’ve worked with him. When you go to these things, it’s important to have degrees but the people who’ve lived the moment and the experiences are the people that I gravitate to. I learned the most from them because I can relate to them the most.

This platform that you’re putting together is important. The people who are in this family are approachable and that’s the most important thing with the situation. Is the organization approachable where you feel comfortable saying what’s happened to you, seeking help and being a part of something? Within five minutes of talking to you, I felt I could tell her whatever she wanted to know. Kudos to you. Thank you for that.

I appreciate the feedback too. We all need a safe place. I’m at the point where I don’t think about going back. I think about this as life-led. I have a great sphere of people that I surround myself with and the people that I learned from. I’m very cognizant of the fact that when I pick them, I choose them super wisely. When I choose them, I choose their tribes. I want to make sure that tribe is a good fit for me.

I learned more from people like you that have been in the trenches but have done the work, are on the journey and are willing to share their experiences, the things that worked and didn’t work. What’s the next step that they’re taking? What’s the next thing that they most want to learn? There’s a lot of richness in that sharing.

I also think too- not only do you have the family and the spouse but also, moving forward, the extension like the children. Tucker and I each had to work on ourselves separately and that took years. We had to do the marriage. That’s taken over a year. The children are seeing, “Mom and dad are flirting and teasing each other again. Gross.” You can tell that they’re excited that they see that. There’s healing in the family dynamic. When you start to heal the person, you can start to heal the marriage and the family. It continues forward. There’s so much important work that you’re doing. Congratulations.

Thank you. I hate to wrap this up but I want to be respectful of the time. I do hope that we’re able to have another conversation. Partly because what you’re up to at this point and where your passions are driving you might be a great combination for you. We’re in the creation process with this at this point. I only know what I know now. I do have this sense that once this fire is lit, it’s going to go woosh. I believe that. There’s more of us. You have stepped into this space with me. Who knows what’s the next piece on your journey, my journey and our collective potential journey?

I look forward to talking with you again, whether it’s on a particular topic. Self-care is one thing. You talked about stopping, making a turn and a change. You put a chapter holding that. There are so many different things and pieces that you can talk about or topics whenever you have something going on that I’d love to contribute. If you ever need an additional resource or want to let me know what you are up to, I would love to be a part of helping, honestly. That’s my genuine desire moving forward. Nothing more than that, just to start and be healthy.

How has this been for you?

This is great. This is the first time for me. I said, “Be who I am and practice.” I felt like it was a conversation.

Has the Zoom thing been okay?

It’s wonderful.

Before we close, I’m going to throw this in the little Jenn bucket. There are many more of these kinds of conversations to take place. It’s quite possible that you could be doing some of these conversations. There are a lot of possibilities here. I’m going to close with that and let you think about it. We will connect again for sure. What I also want to be clear about is that there’s no judgment on my part relative to Tucker. I know this journey well. I don’t judge my son. I don’t begin to know what the purpose of his journey is, except for I do believe that on some level in the future, whenever it is meant to serve.

VIC 1 | Breaking Your Silence
Breaking Your Silence: You learn best from those you can relate to the most.

I don’t judge him either. The fact that you don’t judge your son is a huge part of the healing process that took a long time for me. I appreciate you saying that. I know he will, too. I said, “I’m not sure I’m ready to do this.” He said, “You know that you are.” This is a big deal for him, for me and for our marriage. Thank you.

I’m thrilled for both of you at this point and know that there’s so much more to come. I’m very honored and privileged to be on this journey with you.

Thank you. I as well. It was so nice meeting you. Everything they said about you is more than true, so it’s great to meet you. Thank you for taking the time to speak with me.

We’ll be in touch.

Sounds good. You take care.

You, too.

 

Important Links

About the Author Voices InCourage