Losing My Patience With The People Around Me While I’m In Recovery and They’re Not and Dealing With Change

Sometimes recovery can feel overwhelming. There are so many changes to make in the life of someone in recovery, myself included. There’s a physical shift, a mental shift, relationship shift, mindset shift, behavior changes. So. Many. Changes. While change is amazing, sometimes it can be overwhelming. With all of these changes in my life, sometimes I feel resentful as to why I have to change and the people around me left over in my old life don’t have to change. My husband. My parents. My grandmother. My in-laws. Why did they all get to stay the same, and I had to be the one to change?

Maybe this is one of my faults since I identify as having a striver mentality. I always like to dig deep and know why things are the way they are. This is both a strength and a weakness, this striver mentality.

One of the things you’ll begin to see in recovery is that you have to change, but the people around you don’t have to change. If they aren’t sick to begin with or don’t identify as being sick, then maybe they don’t need to change. But what if them not changing holds you back? Should they have to change? Should you always be the one changing? These are really tough questions to answer. I put them out there for you to ponder on and for more of a discussion rather than me seeking a direct answer and that is because the answer will be different for everyone.

Recovery is a personal journey. It doesn’t look the same way for any one person. Everyone’s recovery is unique no matter how many commonalities there may be in two different peoples’ stories. 

These questions and frustrations come up for me constantly and so does the resentment that comes up for me as a I ponder these questions. Last year I had a back injury. Yesterday, I chopped back two years worth of growth on our landscaping on the front and one of the sides of our house. It didn’t get done last year because I couldn’t have held the weight of the pruners and shears without intense pain running down my lower back and right side of my leg. Yesterday, I was fine. Sure, I was stiff afterwards, but overall I have been ok today. I’m tired and feeling a little run down, but I also did 5 hours of yard work between cutting down landscaping to raking leaves to the curb. These are things I didn’t get done last year, and, as a result, they didn’t get done. I’ve had to overcome many challenges to build myself back up to the woman I am right now. It’s been a lot of physical challenges, mental challenges, lots of tears, anger, pain, you name it. You’d think my spouse would’ve been there for me last year and taken care of it, right? Nope. I live in this world of if I don’t do it, nothing gets done. I have to change, but he gets to stay the same. This creates a lot of resentment. Yesterday, the resentment of having to cut down two years of overgrowth was too much, and today I cracked and got angry with my husband. 

This frustration of mine runs deep. We’ve always had this argument. In a way, I wish he would make changes, but I also know I can’t make him change. So, now, being the one who has changed, I can see that waiting for him to change is fruitless. My anger at him is fruitless. What’s the point in even getting mad at a person who will likely never change? That’s where me changing and him not doing any work makes a difference for the person in recovery. I see things differently now, from a new lens. I also see him for who he is and not for who I wish he was. Yet, I’m human and I still get mad. I will say that with recovery tools and skills, I don’t get as mad as I used to and I don’t let the anger fester. If I’m mad at him, I usually tell him within 24 hours. These are huge changes for a woman who would let things fester for months and not say anything. 

So, I told my husband, “I’m mad at you for letting this go last year and not bothering to take care of it. Why didn’t you take care of it?” He tells me I’m asking a rhetorical question that he can’t answer. He’s right. It is a passive aggressive question. Another question in our household is, “What did you gain from fighting me for so long on XYZ thing?” It’s not a direct question that has a direct answer. It’s a very passive aggressive question. I’m not really looking for an answer unless it starts with, “I was wrong. I’m sorry.” I’m looking for an apology, but at the same time, he’s hurt me so much and so many times that an apology won’t work anymore. I want more. I want him to change. And if he doesn’t, then what? Because he’s not likely going to change. 

The answer is that I’ll have to change yet again. This involves leaving him behind, and choosing not to keep struggling with him by my side. That’s likely the only solution. It’s not a step I’m ready to make yet, but it is a necessary one for both of us. Like I said, the changes I’ve had to make in my life while I’ve been in recovery have been life altering and great. Whenever I think I’m done changing, or that I get to finally stop changing, I find out that I have to make another change because if I don’t, everything will stay the same. 

The people around you likely aren’t going to change. You’ll be the one who has to create the change you want to see in the world. Remember, like I need to remember, you are responsible for your own true happiness. Nothing external and no person can make you truly happy. Sometimes the answer is the one we don’t want to hear, no matter how much someone has hurt us or how much pain we’ve been through. Sometimes the only way out is through. For me, getting to the end of my marriage and being on my own will be the solution to happiness: me own my own not waiting for another person to change.

Scarcity Mindset, Movement, Addiction and Recovery

One of my greatest addictions is also a place where I find so much flow, and that place is movement. Movement by any name always smelled sweet to me, until it didn’t. Call it dance. Call it exercise. Call it cycling. Call it swimming. Call it watering plants. Call it weight lifting. Call it walking. Call it running. Call it yoga. Call it boxing. Call it ballroom dancing. Call it ballet. It doesn’t matter what you call it. I LOVE to move. 

Until I didn’t love to move.

I suffered from a painful lower back injury on the right side of my body in February 2021. I think I was the cause of my injury. I’m very sure that I caused my own injury because of my addiction to movement. The flow I get, the anxiety release, the dopamine hit, the mental clarity and calmness I get from moving is amazing. I haven’t suffered that many injuries in my movement history. I’ve always been very balanced in doing both aerobic and anaerobic exercise. I enjoy weight lifting, stretching and many forms of cardio. 

This injury caused me to have to ask for help in my plant business, The Rare Plant Haus. It was absolutely awful, both being in so much pain and having to ask for help. Yikes! 

The pain came in the form of shooting pains down the right side of my leg. No matter how much time I took off and rested from this injury, did physical therapy for it, got two steroid shots for it, nothing really helped truly heal the pain. Instead, a lot of little things helped relieve the pain, but my body still remembers the pain and it’s still there.

The pain was so bad that I stopped moving for a year. My husband watered all of my plants in my plant shop for a year. I didn’t move at all for a year. I was miserable because this was a place I found great flow, and also a place where I got relief for my anxiety and a place where I could work out my problems. For a year, movement was gone. The final time I saw a doctor was in March 2022. My PCP told me to get a second opinion for my condition, which has had many diagnoses from many different medical professionals over the last year, now closing in on two years. The final doctor I saw was a spine surgeon who told me that I would need a spinal fusion. He told me I needed to lose weight and move more. After a year of intentionally not moving, this doctor told me to move and lose weight. The surgeon said to lose 20 pounds of weight so that when he did the surgery, it would be easier for him.

I gained a LOT of weight over the last year. I was practicing regular emotional eating. I was addicted to any hit I could get from sugary foods. Another area exercise has always saved me was from having to watch my diet. I’d never had to worry about what I ate in the past because I was always able to work out enough and intensely enough to where weight gain due to diet wasn’t an issue for me. That is, until I couldn’t move anymore and the pain from moving became to great to continue and I stopped. Yikes!


So, the addiction I had to exercise and movement was removed for a year. I was miserable. I was tired of being in pain. Now, in March 2022, I had a doctor telling me I needed to move again. I didn’t want to go back to moving because it caused me so much pain.

What were the results? I landed myself in recovery and a 12 step program called Adult Children of Alcoholics and Dysfunctional Families. I had to change my entire life in order to start healing from this injury that caused me so much pain.

You see, I was in great pain in many areas of my life. I was very out-of-balance in my approach to my entire life, not just the exercise component of my life. 

So, now we are at the end of  October 2022. What’s changed for me since March 2022?

I started moving again. I started walking and filming videos in the park. Habit stacking: filming videos outside and movement attached to it meant that I didn’t notice the pain as much. I was in nature and that made me feel better. I started getting stronger. When I landed myself in 12 step in June 2022, I started to change how I lived my life. I did a complete 180 degree pivot on diet and movement. I was able to stop emotional eating and my attachment to sugar and how I saw food by seeing it as fuel. I started doing intermittent fasting and eating one meal a day. I started adding in other forms of exercise I used to enjoy beyond walking. I started doing yoga, then cycling, then weight lifting. I progressed to high intensity interval training. I was able to hike farther and further. I found myself working out less and eating less and I was gaining muscle, losing weight and my back pain started to lessen greatly. I changed other aspects of my life, as well. I started going to recovery coaching once a week. I worked my way through the ACA 12 steps. 

I had to make great changes in my life in order to get any sort of relief for my back pain.

I believe the mind and body are linked. I don’t think you can detach one from the other. It’s how I wound up with a painful injury in the first place, in that, I was out-of-whack in my life. I felt awful. I was acting awful. I wasn’t happy. Yet, I couldn’t identify why I was so unhappy.

And so, once you’re in recovery from any kind of addiction, for me that was seeking emotional sobriety, there’s always the fear of relapse. That’s where scarcity mindset comes into play. Fear of relapsing. Fear of going back to old ways of being. Fear of going back to my old life, old pain and wanting to avoid old emotions.

If it’s true that the only way out is through, then I had to deal with a lot of old stuff to move forward. 

Truth: you will relapse. Sometimes, I feel like I relapse daily. However, the time I spend in relapse is less.

I noticed this most recently with pain. I do NOT want to experience pain. No one does. Specifically, I want to avoid that pain I felt the first day and the days that followed of not being able to find any relief. Over time, I’ve been healing, but the pain is still there which tells me I’m still a little out of balance in my life. I’m no where near the level of pain I was at, but I still feel pain. 

My latest relapse came from overexercising. I thought I was in control and that I had my exercise addiction under control. The irony of this statement is not lost on me. One of the pillars that ACA is based around is to notice control, criticism, perfectionism, and all-or-nothing/black-and-white thinking. I struggle daily with these four pillars. In a sense, I relapse every day. 

Movement is so easy for me to talk about, so I’ll use it as the example. I noticed I was very irritable, crabby, sore, was having trouble sleeping, and I didn’t know why. Work outs were good. Diet was good. Things in my life and business were good. I was happy and things are going well for me. Still, I noticed the feeling. My husband noticed the irritability and crankiness as well and commented on it to me. He asked me why I was so irritable. I was overtrained. I knew the feeling because I’d experienced it many times before. I didn’t want to believe, at first, that I’d gotten out of balance with exercise. I thought that because I wasn’t working out for 3 hours  a day at maximum intensity and doing super hard workouts for so long that I meant that I wouldn’t overtrain. I thought I was in control. I thought I had my addiction under control, and that I was in a health place with it.

Part of recovery, for me, has meant going back to things that used to serve me well, but at the same time didn’t always serve me well, like exercise. I needed to face my fear of overworking out. Just when I thought I had the problem solved and my addiction was “cured”, it wasn’t. 

I did what no one wants to do: I pulled back for a week. I’m taking a week off with no exercise and rest to see how I feel. I’m listening to my body this time. I’ve changed. I respect myself and my body, and I know that I matter. I’m not a pound on the scale or my latest workout. I’m a person with feelings. I’m a human being, fallible for sure, and I needed a break. Anyone who finds flow in movement will tell you it’s the hardest thing to do: pull back and rest. To know I  am enough without exercise and that it doesn’t define me has been a hard lesson to learn for me, and, yet, it’s brought me the greatest sense of relief.

I’m always battling with scarcity mindset with myself internally and externally. I battle my self-worth daily with this question: Am I enough? The answer is always yes, 100% yes! However, knowing and believing I’m enough are extremely hard things for me to come to terms with. Why? Because of what happened to me in my past, how I was raised and what I believed to be true about myself based on the past. I learned from the people closest to me that I was NEVER enough. Now, I know that’s not true. But the scarcity mindset I have has been a great struggle for me, and it’s driven my for such a long time and has affected my relationship with everything in my life, including exercise.

It took going in to 12 step and recovery and so many other changes to heal my life, which is what has helped me heal my back. Reckoning with my self-esteem, self-value and self-worth. I have to constantly tell myself that I’m enough, to the point where sometimes it feels like it’s moment-to-moment. 

I’m getting better and healing every day. Sometimes, I need to take a break. I know I’m enough now. I didn’t know that for a very long time. It’s been a difficult behavior to change, and it’s kept me stuck for such a long time. 

The antidote for healing my back was healing my life. 

The antidote for curing scarcity mindset is knowing you are enough. Knowing that you matter. Knowing that you are valued. And living in alignment with that knowledge and applying it to every area of your life. 

YOU MATTER! I MATTER! There’s so much relief in knowing that I matter.

People Who Inspire Me and The Voices That I Don’t Hear

I’m a strong, independent woman. I absolutely love seeing other women thrive in roles that are traditionally considered to be male roles: entrepreneurs, business-owners, leaders in the business and creative world, sports, etc. Oddly though, my role models are mostly men.

Sure, the list changes, but the gender roles are always the same in that it’s mostly men I listen to via podcasts or watch on YouTube.

Current list of people who inspire me: Rich Roll, Peter McKinnon, The Minimalists, Brenè Brown, Dr. Gabor Mate, Arthur C. Brooks, Mel Robbins, and the list goes on and has one thing in common: It’s mostly male voices. There are only TWO females on my list. This is pretty typical for me, unfortunately.

I want to follow more women, but I always wind up following men instead. This baffles me. Where are the other women like me in the world?

It bothers me so much that I feel like I need to make my own voice heard, and be the change I wish to see in the world. I want to be heard. I want other women to be heard. I want to watch and listen to other strong women like me, and, yet, I don’t.

I admire the men I listen to because they are having beautiful, vulnerable, moving conversations with others, but they are mostly men who interview mostly other men. There’s something beautiful about hearing a man communicate emotion to another man because it’s a pretty rare thing to observe. Yet this rarity is something that women are very good at. If this is a skill that women are most notably known for innately having, then I cannot figure out why I don’t follow more women.

Why are women’s voices present on all of the platforms, yet, I don’t follow that many women? Why am I finding mens’ stories more relatable than other women? Is it because I’m not a normal woman? Is it because I often feel more masculine than feminine? Could it be because I don’t have children, and don’t feel particularly female because of that intentional decision I’ve made in my life?

I realize that things are changing in the world, and that the role genders play in society is changing. I would’ve said gender roles are chaining, but that ’s been true for a long time. Now, gender itself is changing.I’ve been educating myself on transgenderism and gender in genearl. I find it fascinating that science proves that gender is fluid. It’s made me question my own gender at times, and I’ve wondered if maybe that’s why I follow mostly men. Is there some part of me that is more masculine than feminie? My pronouns are she/hers and I don’t see that changing; however, that doesn’t mean that I am or have to be feminine all of the time. I am also able to look back and I can see how questioning gender in childhood could’ve helped me a lot. I wonder if I would feel differently about the gender I am now if I’d gotten the chance to explore it more 30 years ago. I always felt more masculine and feminine.  Maybe the more masculine aspects inside me as a person or in my DNA is why I follow men more than women. 

It’s something I’ve been wondering about as I listen to men have more and more vulnerable, feminine-like, deep conversations. I don’t think of these men as women, but I think it’s a really interesting time to be alive and be able to hear these vulnerable conversations. At the same time, it makes me question myself-what is it that is drawing me to follow men over women. There is representation of both genders on platforms like YouTube or podcasts. So, if I say I want to follow women and the messages they spread, then why don’t I follow more women?

Thoughts?

Wanting a Not-So-Normal Life Wrong In a Sea of Normal

Sometimes I feel like I got a reset in my life. Other times I feel like I deserve a break because I was so traumatized and worked so hard for so little in my life. Occasionally I feel enraged over the past and what happened to me and how my life has turned out so far. More often than not, I feel happy, grateful for my life and like I’ve been reborn…or like a got a second chance…a reset.

It often feels too good to be true. My new life. My life in recovery. 

Is it bad that I feel guilty for having my own business and that I can work less and enjoy my life more now as a result? I’d say yes, it is bad that I feel guilty; however, no one should feel bad for wanting to work less, wanting more out of life and wanting to enjoy life. Oftentimes on podcasts I listen to or YouTube channels I watch, I hear business owners who in similar positions to mine apologize for enjoying their work and their life. Who wants to feel guilty for having fun in their life? No one. Yet, it happens. 

Why?

Because that’s what MOST people do. The majority of people do the normal thing. Doing normal things leads to normal results. Typical, right? For most people, TYPICAL is enough. For others, it’s restricting, restraining, induces a gag and choke reflex. I found myself in this typical life experience in August 2021: full time job working 32-40 hours a week at a job that caused me severe anxiety and stress, didn’t value me or my skills, grossly underpaid me and didn’t care about ME as a human being. I was another cog in a machine with no feelings working at large company with a steady salary, 4 weeks of vacation time, a steady paycheck and access to health benefits (that sucked). I was absolutely miserable. I left my 9-5 in August 2021. 

Some would say I had no plan. 

But I had to have had a plan otherwise I wouldn’t have left. That’s not me. Right? What if it was really me? Yikes!

I left my job without a plan? Oh, the wayward shame of it all.

Ok, I kind of had a plan, but mostly a deep knowing that if I stayed in this soul-sucking job, that I would waste away, in a sense, in the mundane and malaise of misery. I couldn’t stand it anymore. I am not a cog in a machine. I’m so much more than that. I’m a brilliant human being who wanted something else: something beyond what most normal people want: the chance to take risks and chances and try and fail and eventually succeed on my own terms doing what I wanted to do. I wanted to enjoy my life and 4 weeks of paid vacation, a steady paycheck (in the spring, summer and fall), paid holidays off just wasn’t enticing. It never really enticed me in the first place.

I went to college and my parents said, “Major in something that’ll make you a lot of money.” I wanted to dance. I wanted to be a professional ballroom dancer and teacher: not a profession that can make you a lot of money as a female professional dancer. If you add in the fact that my body was built so wrong for dancing, any kind of dance I’d ever tried like ballet, jazz, even ballroom, then the odds weren’t exactly stacked in my favor. So, I tried doing both for a long time. I tried having that corporate career that (NEVER) made me a lot of money, and teaching part time on the side. I learned a lot. I worked a LOT. I grew tired of it and quit.

Dance was my only interest for a long time. When I lost it, I had a corporate job. I was miserable and bored. That was the story of my life for 18 years out of college. In 2021, I started a plant shop. I started my own business. It didn’t succeed, but it didn’t really fail either. I got sales over that summer. I kept the shop open, and that was my plan when I left my corporate job in August 2021 that I couldn’t take anymore: run a plant shop. It was better than nothing. 

I made a promise to myself the day I quit: I’d never have an office job again because it doesn’t align with me. Mostly, at the time, I told myself I would never have an office job again. The alignment part of the story didn’t come until later, until this summer of 2022, when I worked myself into the ground for very little financial gain and landed myself in recovery.

Recovery from what? If I’ve never been addicted to substances, what could I possibly need recovery for? I needed recovery from what had been my life for 36 years of misery and 4 years of happiness. The 36 years was life in two suitcases: the first 18 years with my family of origin and the second 18 years with my husband and in-laws. I identify as an adult child of a dysfunctional family. It’s a real term. I’m married to an adult child of two alcoholics.  The results are the same: sobriety. Since I don’t have substance abuse in my past, I was seeking emotional sobriety, and oh, did I ever find it!

The only part of my life I ever felt happy and comfortable in was the four years I spent at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. My college years were anything but normal. I was an introverted young adult who loved ballroom dancing and the arts and culture. I didn’t enjoy partying or drinking. I enjoyed hanging out with people in the ballroom dance club and competition team. I loved practicing with my college dance partner on the weekends. I loved learning new things every day. I have the same traits today. I don’t dance now, but I love movement. I’ve grown up in many ways. In other ways, I’ve stayed similar to who I was in college: that quiet, introverted girl who had a lust for art, culture, movement and liked learning new things and enjoyed spending time on her own. I went to my first opera when I was 18 years old. I saw For The Love Of Three Oranges, and it didn’t deter me. It was a really bad opera to see as your first opera. It was long and boring, but I enjoyed the experience of it because it challenged me. I love a challenge.

So, the lesson I learned this summer seeking emotional sobriety and relearning to live my life and what life looks like now in recovery is this: I get more than 4 years of happiness in my life. Nothing magical happened I turned 41. The past stayed the same: the two suitcases of family drama and chaos split equally in time with one suitcase per family and this 4 year gap where I was sublimely happy and on my own and living my OWN life. That’s right: living my life on my terms. I can’t say that I’ve really had that in the past 36 years. The 4 years I was in college, and this current year: my 41st year, I feel like I’m learning how to live life on my own terms. I’m living my life for me.

We all deserve more than 4 years of happiness. That’s not a lot of time to be happy, and 36 years of misery and feeling sad and depressed is way too long.

I’ve always known I wasn’t “normal” and that “normal” things just didn’t work for me the way they did and do for other people, normal people: the average Jane or Joe. I’m not bashing “normal”. I believe we need “normal” in society. But we also need dreamers and doers. We need creativity, culture, art and movement. We need passionate people who can dig deep, who are quirky, quiet and introverted and shy. We need people do don’t feel like they fit into their own life. 

I got so stuck trying to fit into the mold of normal.

Now? I don’t bother with normal because I know I’ll never fit there. What normal is for someone else, is torture for me because I’ve always known that I defy what is considered “normal”.

It’s easy, now, in recovery, to see why I never fit in. I have the experience of life and the great gift that is perspective on my life and the ability to synthesize what happened to me in addition to being able to know myself really well and to recognize (finally) that normal doesn’t work for me.

Life in recovery has taught me that I matter. That I am enough. It’s enough to work 10 hours a week, and that can be enough. Will it be enough forever? No, I’ll want to grow and move on. Working 10 hours or less a week is great for me. Would it be great for everyone? No, because we are all different. 

Like the book title by Dr. Gabor Mate states: The Myth of Normal. Once I embraced that piece of information that I wasn’t normal, my life started to make sense. I didn’t feel like I was going crazy for not wanting to work two jobs. I was tired of feeling guilty for wanting to enjoy my life, and for how I looked at and experienced life as it was happening to me.

Recovery saved my life. It kept me from wanting to die. Plants saved my life. Knowing that I’m prone to just wanting to be on the move and love being active saved my life. Having my own business and seeing that I work better for myself than I did for other people saved my life. I saved my own life when I found recovery.

Recovery means the world to me, and it’s something I’m very passionate about. I’m passionate about a great many things, and that’s alright. Some people will tell you to focus on one thing. I did that for a long time, and it landed me in a place where I was lost when it was gone. Now? I do many things. Not just one thing. Somethings about me have changed since college, and some are still the same.

I still love opera. I love to go to the ballet and plays in Chicago. Hearing a symphony played live calms me down. I don’t dance anymore, but I’m still here moving. I am a passionate life-long learner. I’m an amazing teacher and coach of dance, life, art, and movement. 

I know I’m not normal. I’ve tried so hard to find others like me, find my tribe, and they are hard to locate. The strivers and overachievers who love to move and love art, dance, opera, theatre, symphonic music who are passionate, life-long learners who love to do many things, reject what is normal and who like to go against the grain in life. These other people, people like me, are hard to find in the sea of normal. But we have a lot in common if we can find one another.

That’s my mission now: to find the other people like me. I want to build a community of strivers and overachievers who are also addicts and in recovery in their lives. We matter. We are passionate. We are unique. 

If you’re reading this and you identify as anything but normal, please reach out and let me know if there’s anything I can help you with. I’m passionate about movement, dance, fitness, health, diet, mental health, art, culture, music, endurance sports, recovering from physical injury, being an addict and recovering. I go deep with the things I know, and I’m willing to spend time learning about things I don’t know. Some of my other passions include YouTube anything, writing, inspirational and public speaking, photography, videography, and plants.

Recent passions that I am nurturing: learning a new language (Italian), ultra endurance sports, recovery for the ultra passionate and ultra endurance, not-so-normal human being (people just like me), finding friends, connecting with people again and building a community of like-minded beings.