Rock Your Confidence: Laurie Free
My name is Laurie Free, I currently live in Ontario Canada. I have lived all over the Eastern part of the United States, apart from spending my primary education years in Ohio. I spent the rest of my childhood in Maine, and when I graduated, I longed for shorter winters so I chose a liberal arts near my fabulous Grandmother, in the foothills of the Appalachian.
After graduating from college – I “meandered” between Maine and the Southeast till I met my husband and we settled in the Southeast and started a family. The last two years we have lived in the suburbs of Toronto for his current job.
Currently, we have two pre-teen children, a “teen” dog (he’s actually two but that’s 14 in human years and he sleeps till about 10am every day, so I call him my noodle-bean-teen). We love to travel. As a family, we have been various coastal cities in Florida and Maine coast over a dozen times. We have also been to Arizona, Las Vegas (and mountains of Vegas!) California, Boston, NYC, and many cities in the Southeastern USA. We also went on a family cruise and saw the some of the Western Caribbean. We have also been to Alberta and Quebec while in Canada. I’m incredibly grateful to have experienced these travels with my family. They are some of my favorite memories and I will treasure them forever.
Prior to having a family, I had a colorful past. I don’t like to say I had a troubled childhood because it’s a loaded expression that assumes blame, regret and bitterness – all of which are not healthy ways for me to process life.
Think of all the movies you have seen filled with expressive, opinionated and eccentric characters. Put all of those characters in a Stephen King movie location (he does Maine perfectly). Frost with loads of laughter, heartache, blended families that were relentlessly trying to “find themselves.’ Finally, sprinkle with heavy drinking, talented artists and carefree souls.
The turning point in my life is admitting to myself that I was an alcoholic by the time I was thirty-ish. Through most of my young life, I could not stand the way I felt inside. I discovered at an early age that this magic liquid immediately vaporized all feelings of insecurity, despair, FEAR, and I felt immortal.
It gave me liquid courage. I felt like I could control everything in my life. Even when I was not drinking, I knew that if I put in the effort and got my work done (school/corporate life/running/extreme dieting/anorexia) I could achieve any goal with the motto of “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”
A strangeness happens when you depend on substance to control your feelings. Your life is controlled by inevitable occurrences of despair when you try to control the madness around you by ingesting more of a substance that actually makes you lose control.
You start to devise rules on how much you can drink to capture the magic but not black out and forget what you did. YET, you remember the horror on people’s faces as they hear the words coming out of your mouth, but you can’t remember what awful things you said.
You try to stick to just one type of drink ( but never just one drink that won’t be enough.) You pre-calculate the number of drinks that black out your feelings but don’t black out the night.
You set specific times you can drink. You eat enough pasta to absorb the wine but not enough because carbs make you heavy, literally and figuratively. You become a sorcerer of madness. Your life begins to be controlled by an elixir. You think you are controlling it, yet it’s controlling you.
I never had a break through to get me to recovery. I had A LOT of break downs, until finally it clicked. I could not put alcohol in my body anymore because it turned me into a completely different person who I did not recognize. In trying to change the way I felt inside, I changed into a madwoman on the outside by chasing a paradoxical and spellbinding brew.
Strangely, my decision to get and stay sober came to me when there was no alcohol in my system and I was not hungover. I had already made the decision to stop drinking and I had for quite a while. But until that moment, I hadn’t committed to fixing my insides.
I was sitting outside. It was a beautiful day, but I felt so heavy. I felt like my brain was wrapped inside those heavy x-ray covers. It almost felt like God tapped me on the shoulder and said, “I got you.”
Have you have ever been in church service, temple, synagogues, or any kind of prayer meeting in which you pray for those who are oppressed or suffering or are in pain? It felt like that. Someone shouted something up and God reached back down. He had me and I took the baby steps.
At that moment, I decided to get serious about depression, anxiety and my addiction issues (I had also been diagnosed with anorexia during my alcoholism) so I knew I had an obsessive nature with being addicted to paradoxes to fix life.
I write this to inspire others to get help if you feel like you are mashing your feelings in a blender of disguise and not allowing yourself to emotionally breathe.
My mental illness manifests itself with depression (brains covered in a x ray mat) and anxiety. When I did not feel heavy, I felt like I “woke-up” in the middle of a horse race and if I did not “do something drastic,” I would get trampled. The question is with both anxiety and depression –I did not know what to do. I did not know that I could get help to navigate these feelings without trying to obliterate them.
I want to add, that I know the topic of God can be contentious. I recognize that not everyone reading this may believe in God and I respect the concept of God or a higher being as varied and complex. I truly believe in power greater than myself and I focus on the spiritual aspect, rather that the religious nuances. I find that there are so many ways to meditate and process our feelings, that it is not anyone’s purpose to point out how this should be accomplished. In my humble experience, my life is more fulfilled when I have conversations with a higher being, who I refer to as God.
I am very grateful for the life I have today. I still have days, even weeks were my brain feels broken and stuck or it WON’T TURN OFF! However, I find that if I turn back to were my healing started, the people, angels and powers greater than myself that “got me”, I can move forward without regretting the past.