Name: Susan Ja...
From: TUCSON, AZ
School: Arizona State University
Love is the way out of darkness. Self love is the road to recovery
Susan Jane Grant
We are living in a fear-driven, shame-based culture. With every newscast on television and radio we are bombarded with the messages of scarcity and lack. Stressors and obstacles in daily living push people beyond their capacity to be present, love and respond kindly and with respect to themselves and others in adverse circumstances. We have raised generations of people fraught with addictive behaviors; alcohol, illicit substances, gaming, internet pornography, sexual addiction, overspending, the list goes on and on.
As children we are impacted by fear and shame. We learn messages that “I am bad,” rather than messages of guilt, “I did a bad thing.” There is not enough time and attention. Children learn to act by becoming perfectionists or acting out with rebellion. Adults learn to cope by socially isolating or acting out to escape the pressures of reality or the fear that they are irretrievably worthless and inadequate. Many were raised in homes where addiction and abuse were rampant and learned no other way to live. For healing our public discourse needs to change to that of self-respect and respect of others.
I know the heartbreak of the consequences of addiction. Lives are lost, finances are in ruin. The scars of trauma affect people’s daily life. Untreated trauma continues the cycle of abusing prescription medications, illicit substances, or continuing the cycle of addiction, just to escape the feeling that “I am not enough,” or, “I can’t do this.”
My family history has generations of members who suffered from alcoholism. Grandfather, father, uncle, my aunt’s daughter, brother-in-law, niece all suffered from alcoholism. I continued the trend when I duplicated the dynamics of my dysfunctional childhood in my adult relationships and slid into an abusive relationship and the stealth of addiction. Numbing my thoughts, feelings and instincts for self-preservation to stay engaged with a fellow alcoholic and physical and emotional perpetrator.
Now sober for 8 years, I make progress on my own healthy path. My family relationships have improved. I love them from afar; they in Boston and I am in Tucson, Arizona. I participate in the programs of Al Anon and Alcoholics Anonymous. The love and belonging I have learned through the programs have transformed my life.
The remedy to addiction is one-to-one, hand-to-hand combat with the disease. Through my work for CODAC Health, Recovery and Wellness, I love my patients. I treat them with dignity and respect and loan them my love for their broken parts, until they gently learn how to love themselves.
I remind my patient that mis-steps along the way are expected. Getting back up, brushing oneself off and getting busy learning and growing learning healthy relationships skills is what counts. You can fall down and it is okay for a gentle helping hand when it is needed to get back up. My patients work in various Individual Outpatient Programs through a variety of modalities (SMART Recovery, Rational Recovery, Celebrate Recovery, and Alcoholics Anonymous, and developing one’s own personal path), continued progress is the way to making steady changes.
I believe that respectful public discourse and demonstrated self-love needs to come from public and community leaders. Words rather than fists. Martin Luther King taught us that. We need to see constructive, respectful communication and interaction in our political leaders, teachers, and in the mirror. We need good boundaries and we need to stop accepting unacceptable behavior as a society. Let the change begin with me.
My journey through addiction has made me a very strong person. It was a very painful gift. It is one I would not exchange for anything. My addiction is my purpose in life. My purpose is as a steady guide and healer. If given this scholarship, I will use the funds so I can obtain a post-Master’s Degree as a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. I work in Community Mental Health (General Mental Health) as a Family Nurse Practitioner now, but need the additional level of certification to work with those suffering from addiction.