The Transition Game: Week 12

Welcome back!

Communication, that’s a word that has caused me an unbelievable amount of grief. Although it’s not so much the word as it is my lack of skills and numerous bad habits. Conditioning from unhealthy cultures, trauma from relationships, depression, and lack of education are a few of the contributing factors to my struggles with communication. What did my lack of skills and bad habits bring me? Wasted opportunities, low self-esteem, and a whole lot of trouble. That isn’t a pattern I’d like to continue, so I was excited to dive into this section of the program.

I knew I had issues with my communication, it was made abundantly clear in romantic relationships. However, once I began to pull on that string, I realized how much it had impacted other areas of my life without me even noticing. I never communicated with my coaches, it was only ever “yes coach!” no matter how much I disagreed. I can only imagine where I would be if I had practiced better communication skills and been able to find a better understanding with my coaches. I never spoke my mind with coaches or told them where I thought I fit. I had a coach that we didn’t agree with as a team, we were frustrated as hell and jealous of the other teams in our association. Some guys spoke their mind and sat on the bench, I chose to “smile and nod”, never say anything besides “yes coach”, even though I never listened or did anything that the coach asked of me, I played a ridiculous amount of minutes that year and was named a captain. All of which further reinforced some poor communication habits.

Something that struck me was the lesson on arguments, “You can’t win an argument. You can’t because if you lose it, you lose it, and if you win it you’ve lost some respect.” I have never been one to argue, nonetheless, I had never viewed arguments from that perspective. It is 100% true. I have been on both sides of it many times. I’ll bet that you have too. Unfortunately, in my struggles since graduation, it has happened much more frequently. Excited to get back to my old self (with many improvements of course) would be an understatement. Of course, the listening portion of this section caught me red-handed. I have a few terrible listening habits. I’m always thinking about what I’m going to say next instead of giving my full attention. If someone is talking about something I don’t find interesting, I’ll be daydreaming in about 10 seconds. I’d go on but, I already sound like a horrible human being. These are some of the things I have been practicing a lot. I’m happy with my progress, I’m much more patient with my communication and it’s paying off. This will be another section I revisit frequently.

Esty

The Transition Game: Week 11

Welcome back!

 

 

I have been doing a lot of work with my goal setting and now since completing the imagination section of my workbook, I’m seeing how much the sections tie together. It’s exciting, but I find it intimidating too, I know I’ll have to use everything I have learned thus far to get to the places I imagine myself in the future. I have been a bit run down and unmotivated again lately but I know a lot of that comes from letting some of my new habits slide as well as some uncertainty in my life. Even just getting back to practicing gratitude daily, just writing down three things I’m grateful for once a day has a huge impact on my mindset. Another realization I have had is that I still need to lean into my support system more, with all the great people around me it’s ridiculous to try and do everything on my own and then be frustrated when I get lost.

 

 

One of the first things asked of me in this section was to imagine my ideal life in 5 years.

Here’s what I have so far:

  • Making $100,000 per year
  • Ton’s of freedom/flexibility, never missing out on family or friends because of work
  • house with a yard
  • steady job/jobs that I enjoy
  • Two dogs
  • home gym
  • I’m in great shape with healthy and consistent routines
  • love myself and feel pride in where I am and who I am
  • Consistently eating time into my hobbies (dirtbikes/motorcycles, working out, guns, beer league, etc.)
  • I’d like to be living in Cochrane or Canmore and working at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

 

Looking at what I wrote made me realize that I need to focus and set goals around discovering what path I might like to walk in order to get to that place, from firefighting, personal training, marketing, working at the Wolfdog Sanctuary, or who knows what else! I need to bite this off in small chunks and just chip away until I’m there. Staying positive and grateful is going to be a sizeable challenge but I know it’ll make the journey immensely more enjoyable and rewarding. 

 

 

Another exercise in this section that helped settle me down and feel less stressed was answering these four questions:

  1. What is your dream? “To be free”
  2. What holds you back from pursuing your dream? “My fears and doubts”
  3. How can you grow the optimism and courage to make your dream become a reality? “Practice! Practice everything in this book consistently, practice positive self-talk and gratitude, envision my dream every day, and use those SMART goals!”
  4. What will your life look like when your dream is achieved? “Peaceful and bright, fulfilling and free”

 

The pictures in my head created by this little exercise lift a weight off my shoulders and provide extra motivation to get to that place I see so clearly in my mind. It’s little things like this I need to do a better job of remembering when things get hard. I have always had a great imagination and I used to let it guide me a lot more, time to get back to that.

 

 

Write you next week,

 

 

Esty

The Transition Game: Week 9

Welcome back!

I just completed the workbook section titled “A Goal is the Goal: Determining your Direction”. I was excited for this section as I have recognized my lack of direction and goals since hanging up my skates and the issues it has caused me. The times in my life when I had goals, direction, and a plan are the times I felt the happiest, I often felt invincible. I haven’t had much of any of that in the past year and as you can guess, I have been miserable and never felt weaker. The book asks a couple of questions to get you thinking before eventually leading you to create your bucket list. 

Here is what I have so far:

  • A long motorcycle trip with friends (W)
  • Complete the Lava Man with my buddy Tupps (W)
  • Get the sleeve tattoo I have been talking about for years (W)
  • Build a small house in the forest (W)
  • Travel (Iceland, Europe, Canada) (D)
  • More hikes and adventures with Mando (my puppy) (D)
  • Always have two rescued dogs for the rest of my life (starting when I have a yard) (W)
  • Live comfortably while working minimally (D)
  • Learn Muay Thai (D)
  • Dirtbike again (D)
  • Own small gun collection and practice consistently (D)
  • Own a Dodge Challenger Hellcat (W)

I look forward to what my facilitator has to say about my bucket list so far especially, the “D’s and W’s” or Desires and Wants. The next step after writing my list was placing either a D or a W after each item to help focus my attention. This allows me to start building an action plan for those items labelled with a D for desire. Once I finished labelling my list I was tasked with sharing it with someone I trust and they had to ask me why I labelled items as desires. I was able to clearly explain why they were desires and the person I shared with was incredibly supportive and excited for me. I felt on top of the world after writing it all out and sharing it. Being as competitive and willful as I am it helps to share things like this, goals, aspirations, and dreams. Once I tell someone I am going to do something it is easier for me to find a way to make it happen than it is to back down.

This has been a really interesting section for me, I haven’t really thought about anything like this since finishing school and hockey. Even before, my list was only: get a scholarship, play pro, have a family. Sitting down and really thinking about what I want to do with my life after going through all these changes was refreshing, revitalizing, and energizing. My next step is to start setting out five things I can do every day that will get me closer to the desires I listed. Looking at my desires, my five things for today could be: 1) Message Muay Thai trainer about prices/availability 2) spend 10 min online gun shopping 3) spend 10 min looking at hikes/adventures to go on with Mando and choose a weekend 4) Ask Dad if he would want to split costs of a Dirtbike and keep it at our acreage 5) Spend 20 min looking at travel costs and options for bringing Mando along.

I’m nervous but excited to share this list with you because now I can’t back down! 

Write you next week,

Esty

Addiction: Community, Compassion, and Healing

“Addiction is not a choice that anybody makes; it’s not a moral failure; it’s not an ethical lapse; it’s not a weakness of character; it’s not a failure of will, which is how our society depicts addiction. Nor is it an inherited brain disease, which is how our medical tendency is to see it. What it actually is: it’s a response to human suffering, and all these people that I worked with had been serially traumatized as children. All the women had been sexually abused. All the men had been traumatized, some of them sexually, physically, emotionally neglected. And not only is that my perspective, it’s also what the scientific and research literature show. So, addiction then, rather than being a disease as such or a human choice, it’s an attempt to escape suffering temporarily.”
           – Dr. Gabor Mate 

I want to shine a floodlight on addiction, I want to stand on the rooftops and shout with a megaphone so everyone can hear me, maybe just maybe what I have to say will change one person and give them a clearer understanding of what addiction is and who it can affect. Society paints a dark and dirty picture of addiction, and this perspective is one filled with stereotypes and stigma. It is an ugly perspective that portrays the drug addict in a dark alley with other street people injecting heroin, streets lined with drug addicts overdosing and living in tents, its a casino with someone pouring their mortgage payments into a slot machine, its sex, strippers and internet porn, its bags filled with expensive designer shopping bags purchased online in secret. The ugliest dirtiest stigmatized perspective of addiction is the LIE we are fed that people become addicted by their own free will. The idea that we are addicted because that is the life we chose and we chose not to stop the behaviour, versus the side that states it’s a disease and with treatment and detox we can be a valuable member of the community. I agree that with treatment addictions are manageable for those that find themselves in that position. However, we need to address and clearly understand what starts people on the path to becoming addicted so we can take a more preventative approach.

Addictions are side effects and characteristics we develop as a result of chasing new ways to cope with issues we are struggling with. They allow us to escape for a short period so we may keep living with the burdens of trauma. Society views addiction in black and white and not enough is being done to slow the epidemic at this moment in time. Addicts are stigmatized as people who society can throw away and they are viewed by the public as people that have less value in our communities. We are seeing more and more of the stigma-based approach of “not in my back yard”. Many people seem to want to empathize with addiction as long as it stays out of their neighbourhoods. Addiction affects everyone and everyone is worthy of acceptance, compassion, housing, and love no matter what they are struggling with.

Addiction is not a disease to fear nor something we should shun people for struggling with. Addiction is a reprieve and a coping mechanism to allow a person an escape temporarily from the suffering they are experiencing, often it stems from a place of unresolved trauma. Addiction provides a place of distance and numbing from problems to allow a person to cope and live to fight another day. It allows them to shut off the pain, forget the trauma and other problems, the escape is a safe place, the quieting of the mind that allows a person to get through another day.

So where do we begin when we are trying to assist someone with an addiction? We as a culture need to start being more trauma-informed, we need to be willing to openly have conversations that allow a safe space to be heard without bringing judgement and condemning the choices that others have made in an attempt to cope. We need to meet people where they are, not where we think they should be. We need to be able to provide tools that allow addicts to engage in their own wellness and allow the person to undertake their recovery plan at a pace they are comfortable with. Getting to the root of the issues that led to the path of addiction will be a lengthy process and must be self-guided to allow for true healing.

When we begin to take our blinders off we will see that everyone is suffering from pain that we have no idea about. Everyone could be dealing with something that is negatively impacting who they are and how they are managing their lives. Having an open mind and educating yourself on topics like addiction and mental health makes it much easier to feel compassion toward all beings, including yourself.

The more time we take to understand our struggles and learn techniques for successfully managing these struggles the greater our capacity for compassion becomes. Firstly with ourselves and then for others. Our world can transform into a kinder more empathetic and compassionate one by starting with self-love and compassion for ourselves. Once we learn that we are worthy of acceptance and love with all our flaws we will begin to recognize a world of wounded human beings, not a world of dehumanized monsters. We now have tapped into a new degree of love and understanding with an ability to be empathetic human beings in a world lacking just that. The path toward ever greater healing and wholeness may well be never-ending, so in the meantime, perhaps we can all be less judgmental and more compassionate toward those who are using various addictions to cope with their pain. If we can remember that addiction is more than just substance and alcohol abuse, that it could be anything that is a distraction or an escape from pain, we will become aware that this affects almost every person we know. When we are lying in the judgement of someone else, we are often seeing something we recognize in ourselves but do not want to see.

More statistics and articles on addiction in men:

How Addiction Affects Men Differently

Addiction Among Males

Hurt People Hurt People. Healed People Heal People.