We had really been on a miraculous turn around of our lives, and on an incredible trajectory. Everything we set out to accomplish we crushed. It’s really interesting too, because prior to all of this new found success, we were both really struggling independently in our own rights. But together we seemed to really kick some ass.
I would say that now we are right around our third year in the Kinsey House. I had previously been with two different intervention companies and was now working for a third. Each time that I had made a decision to move on, it worked out and proved to be the best decision for our family. Tiffany and I had been talking about me leaving the agency I was at at the time, and starting our own company. We believed that this would just be all around the smartest, and most logical move to make at that point. I had hours totaling close to 7,000 by this point, and had long since been pretty well established, educated, and experienced in the field. We had done countless interventions in all 50 states several times over.
We would talk about it, and then “put a pin in it”, talk about it again, and then “put a pin in it” again. I knew that deep down inside it was what I really wanted to do, but I was scared. Like terrified. I said “put a pin in it”, but looking back what I really did was procrastinate on it. Kick the can down the street. I think that in retrospect, this is when the fear began creeping back in. It was paralyzing at times. But eventually, the time came when I just knew that I had to do what I had to do- and that was take the leap of faith, take a risk, and trust that this is what I was supposed to be doing. My wife and I set a deadline for when I was to tell my current company that I was going to be leaving. It came and went. Ugh! I just couldn’t seem to pull the trigger on it. I was completely gripped in the fear. So I did all of the “behind the scenes stuff” first. I went ahead and began building the company, unofficially, so that it would be a smooth transition once I finally did part ways with my current employer.
We started by filing with the Secretary of States office and all of the paperwork that came along with that. We hired an attorney to be with us throughout the development of the company, who is still with us today. We built a website. We created logos and cards and fliers and got ourselves ready to launch the second the severance was official. All of the ground work had been done, and there was nothing else to grasp at in the way of excuses not to finally just take the leap. I was so stressed out. What if it all failed? What if it all fell apart? What would we do if this was the wrong move? This is definitely when the fear returned into my mind. I couldn’t sleep most nights. When I did sleep, I had awful dreams. I had dreams about all of the worst case scenarios that were undoubtedly heading our way once we did this. I ruminated on this decision for weeks.
Finally, I just couldn’t take the stress of it any longer. I knew it was passed time to get on with it. So I made the phone call and let the company know that I was resigning. To my surprise it went a lot better than I thought it would. I suppose the fear of a situation is often times worse than the situation itself. I was quite relieved indeed. But the fear was still there, it had just morphed into other ruminations.
It wasn’t that I doubted my own abilities, it was that I had never been fully and totally self sufficient before. It was time to man up, we were now small business owners and the success or failure of this company was going to be 100% on our shoulders. It was liberating and terrifying at the same time. My wife was so supportive and encouraging through the whole process. She would always remind me that God didn’t bring us this far to only bring us this far. And it always sounded good, and briefly made me feel better, but it didn’t seem to take the pressure off. The amount of pressure that I now felt on a daily basis was unlike anything I had ever experienced before.
I can imagine that everyone wants to work from home, myself included but, working from home brought about a whole new day to day, and list of difficulties for me. I could tell right off the bat that this new way of life was going to require a tremendous amount of discipline and self made structure. I went from working 40+ hours weekly in an office with several other humans, to working from home completely alone and isolated from human interaction for 40 hours a week. This was a major shock to my system, especially since I am such an outgoing and sociable person. My little joke, when talking to people about the new venture was “everyone wants to work from home, until they work from home”. And I believe that. I have now been working from home for about five years, and it is not as easy as one might think. But anyways, back to then. At first, I seemed to adjust alright I guess. Or so I thought at the time. I spent many hours each week, marketing and “banging the drum” so to speak. The first few months were not easy. It wasn’t long into this, that I began to doubt that this was the right decision to make. The phone didn’t ring. No matter what I seemed to do, it had become eerily quiet. The fear began to build.
I think it was about three solid months that we didn’t generate any business. Nothing. I spent the days sending emails, following up, dropping into various places throughout the region doing my best to stay visible and available if someone needed us to help. Nothing seemed to make a difference. I was becoming more and more stressed out by the day. The pressure was building and building. Fear followed me around like a long black shadow. It had really started to take over my mind. I was so hyper focused on growing the company. I was obsessed. Obsessed, full of fear, overwhelmed with pressure, stressed out nearly all the time, I felt like I was chasing my tail. Perhaps I needed to just swallow my pride, and ask my former employer for my job back. Maybe this was all a mistake.
It’s very strange though, the duality of the mind, I knew and could feel that this is what I was supposed to be doing but, nothing was working. The only thing that was happening was, we were falling further and further into debt, and I may have been developing an ulcer. The fear grew. The pressure built up. The rumination continued. I found myself pacing the floor of the house to the tune of miles a day I would guess. I talked to Reba as if she were a person. Think Ace Ventura telling Spike the monkey that he couldn’t feed him until he found Snowflake the Dolphin. When we got Luna, our little Gremlin ass Boston Terrier I talked to her too. I don’t think those dogs know or understand how much they have done for me. My mental health was declining.
Recently, I have learned that for those of us with PTSD and Borderline Personality Disorder, immense amounts of stress is an absolute destroyer. Plus, keep in mind, I was at that point in time 100% untreated. Yes, I was clean, I was sober, I had been so for quite some time. I had done CD&A (Chemical Dependency & Addictions) Program in the Porter County Jail a couple years prior, I had spent a year at the halfway house, and I had been to thousands of meetings and worked the steps. I had been through the Great Banquet, so my Faith had recently been reignited and I had a working knowledge of recovery and of staying the course. But I was still very much untreated. I had never been to an actual treatment program. For those of you who have read my first book you know that. I couldn’t get into one. I didn’t have insurance and I was poor. So I didn’t matter to treatment centers. I was a have not. It was always, “We will put you on the list and call you.” They never called. So I utilized what I had, whatever the State of Indiana mandated that I do.
Looking back on things, this is when the “Kerplunk Sticks” began to be pulled, one by one. Fear and stress became my way of life. I was able to finally get the company going and we were getting busy. But here is a very interesting point about me at this time: I was unhealed from an entire life time of trauma and drug addiction. My mind had not ever been able to fully process everything that had transpired, and I certainly hadn’t had any kind of real professional help. When the fear, stress, rumination and etc returned to my brains pathways they stuck. It was like I had reverted right back into that old chaos and trauma repetition. Even though the company had begun to take off, and my family life had been going really well, it didn’t matter. The fear, paranoia, stress, and rumination had already gotten in on a deep level and were not leaving. My entire mindset had changed and was changing still, going in the opposite direction it was supposed to be going. And what’s crazy about all of this, is I couldn’t see it. I thought that stress, and all that I was experiencing is a normal part of owning a small business, and it is. But I had yet to be fully diagnosed, and I had no idea what was going on inside my mind. I couldn’t see it. I thought that all of this was just part of the deal. I think, looking back I have a couple ideas about this: 1- I was still disassociated from childhood the whole time, to some degree. And 2- this is when I began splitting. I am not entirely sure on this, but either/both would make sense. But I just held on. White knuckles and all.
I know how this may sound to some, “First world problems”, and “must be a tough life” are a couple phrases that come to mind. I am not complaining. I never was. I am just trying to express what was going on at the time. What’s more though, what’s even more important and more impactful than all of the pressure, and stress and etc., is that I had stopped taking care of myself.
Life is a shifty and intricate dance of balance and circumstances. It’s really easy to lose sight of certain things sometimes. You see, The Devil, the Negative Forces of this world, they come disguised as everything you ever wanted. And as my friend said to me in the car that night “Everything my recovery was blessing me with, indeed my addiction was using against me.” My therapist and I went over this in treatment. She called it “Dealing with Immediates.” It is also known as being “task oriented”. I became enamored with the grinds of life. I became preoccupied with rebuilding my life, which is a good thing. But balance is so very important, and I had no concept of balance at the time. Part of the trauma brain is all or nothing thinking, black/white thinking, handle tasks, stay busy.
“Our addictions always resurfaced or continued to progress” (taking on many different forms) “until, in desperation we sought help.” It’s true. I had essentially relapsed on work, on chasing the American Dream, on building credit. I know that may sound crazy, but think about this, isn’t addiction all about escape? It is. And I was losing myself in my work, I was losing myself in the “Task,task,task” and didn’t even know it. I was not losing myself to escape my current life at the time, my life was going awesome! I was immersing myself in work, I was escaping into the tasks, I was dealing with the immediates to escape my unhealed parts of my past. Unknowingly to me. Subconsciously, I was right back into the patterns of “losing self”. And even though we were succeeding and doing all kinds of good things, and we were helping a lot of people, all of those “right now tasks” or “Immediates” took my focus off of what I should have been doing all along. Which was healing.
Now, there I was; a workaholic, under immense amounts of pressure (mostly self inflicted), fear driven and unhealed mind, escaping my untreated traumas the way I always had- by losing myself in something, only this time not chemicals, but work and dealing with the immediate tasks that life brought about, AND receiving all kinds of accolades, acknowledgements, and adulation for my efforts, which reinforced that I was on the right track. And here came the ego. The mind is truly the most fascinating place in the entire known universe to me.
The ego can be a defense mechanism for so many of us, especially those of us with troubled pasts, and low self esteem. It certainly is for me. It seems like the lower my self esteem, the bigger my ego. It also seems like the tougher the circumstances, the more difficult things become around me, and inside my head, the more my ego tries to shield me from harm. My mental health was declining. I was stressed out all the time, I was fear based in my thoughts, I ruminated often. I was isolated. I was overwhelmed and very much “in the weeds” as many of my restaurant people may relate. But life, on the outside of things was full of accomplished goals, and of outward successes. So my ego continued to inflate with every pat on the back. And with every new upcoming obligation, bills that were due, birthdays on the horizon, and all of the stuff that life brought to our door, my sense of self and mental well being continued to deflate. My mental health was in rapid decline, but the circumstances of my life, of our life were in rapid incline. How in the fuck does that work? It was so confusing and overwhelming for me.
You see, I didn’t go about my days thinking about my past life, and all of my past traumas. I had spent decades learning how not to think about that stuff. But it lives in side of us. It is a noun. A thing. My brain, mind, spirit, and heart were wired and tattooed with it. It touched and affected everything I did. What we resist, persists. And it was all still festering inside my mind. Because I had never actually and fully confronted it. I was unintentionally and unknowingly still relying on my broken and traumatized mind to handle my new life and all of the shit it was bringing my way. I was still utilizing the same mind and the same tools and mechanisms I once did; the ones I used that turned me into a heroin addict. Stuff it down, brush it aside, work-work-work, ruminate, white knuckles, lose myself in dealing with tasks, Instant gratification, Ego, external validation, etc. I thought I was recovered? Why was I still feeling like this? Why was I still detaching? Am I back in the space shuttle, or am I still in the space shuttle? I began slipping away.
The credit scores went up, my mental health went down. Ego did it’s best to protect me, but my self worth and esteem declined. I was falling back into my default mechanisms. My trauma brain, my addict brain was taking the controls again. People didn’t even know or notice until much later, because I was performing in life so well. For all intents and purposes, I was killing the game. But I was dying inside my mind. I was totally blown and overwhelmed now. Totally robotic. Autopilot. But I was supposed to be this awesome success story, how is this happening? So I stuffed it down. I swallowed the pain. I trudged on. I compartmentalized. I disassociated. My ego grew, and my self esteem shrunk.
Matter of fact, pour me up one of those.
Everything my life and recovery had blessed me with, had been used against me.
“Recovery gives us a life that takes us away from recovery.”
Pour me another one.