Welcome to our ACT NW blog! Written by Cairo Levias (me, hi hello.) This blog is made to be a series of thoughts and information curated by me for you all. I’ve been in recovery for almost four years and have always been in love with writing, it’s always been the way I like to process information and feelings in a conclusive way. With this first blog post I’d like to both introduce myself to you all as well as write about some things that have been on my mind as we navigate both the world of recovery from substance abuse and mental health, and a global pandemic. Hopefully being able to bridge the two a bit.
My story is parallel to a lot of people that suffer from substance abuse. I once heard someone in a meeting share “Hi, here’s my story: I was born, my feelings got hurt, and then I got drunk.” and I think about this a lot because that is a good summary although the details in between look different on all of us. I grew up here in Portland and spent some time growing up in Bend, OR which was not my favorite place on earth, we’ll just say that. Going into my teenage years I always felt lonely (only child) and different from the people I was surrounded by. Struggling with these things that seemed so isolated, disordered eating, drugs, and all different forms of self-harm. This was part truth and part of the disease of addiction, to believe I was apart from others helped me isolate myself from my friends and people who I wanted to connect with as a defense mechanism for protecting myself from anything/anyone I feared.
Earlier this week I was listening to a Podcast with Brene Brown as a guest, she talked about a supervisor she had who had told her that as people in the recovery field we “can’t guilt people into changing”. This statement had me thinking about a lot, not only recovery. It’s easy to be frustrated with our friends and close loved ones when they’re trying to get sober or make dramatic changes in their lives. Ultimately, I know for myself that all I want to do is somehow magically transport all my own personal experiences into their brain to help them see the freedom of making these decisions for ourselves. The beauty that comes from choosing to act on high self-esteem even if you don’t exactly believe the truth yet, that you yourself are enough. Although guilt is a complex emotion that we as humans have the privilege of feeling, we also get the privilege of healing which doesn’t start with guilt. I couldn’t tell you any healing process that starts with guilt. It might just be a part of the darkness and isolation, but to come out on the other side, to work though this guilt and excuse it from the atmosphere…that’s where the healing starts. That’s where we begin. It almost feels like a secondary emotion, or somehow more unnatural. Maybe as if its taught.
As ACT NW has formed our team values and agreements, this thought didn’t leave my mind. As a person that has struggled with substance abuse it has been just about my whole life that people around me tried to guilt me into changing or getting clean. Unfortunately, it took a lot more for me to see a different path, and easier softer way in the end. As I’m putting this thought into practice, it motivates me to do this job as if my own life depends on it, just as it does for you all that we serve. Life is far too short for cutting corners and making these decisions harder for others, when we can just be a helping hand of empathy and unapologetic love. I might be working for a non-profit organization writing a blog, being of service to our community; but I am parallel with you and I’m so glad you’re here.