Alumni Blog

To all the mothers of an addict

My daughter is an addict and it has been hell for many Mother’s Days. I want to share my experience with my addiction to my daughter, and her addiction to drugs and alcohol.
Loving her and wanting to give my life for her, to take her pain, and end mine.
Denial, Hope Springs Eternal, upsurge my love and enabling her addiction, try one more method, read one more article, one more counselor.
 
I know I can finally SAY ONE MORE EXAMPLE OR WORDS OF ADVICE THAT WILL MAKE THE DIFFERENCE, take her eyes and see the light!
 
I knew I could do it for her. Denial seeps back into my corroded mind to save MY sanity. Yes, I had to convince her to change friends, go to college, find a passion.
I didn’t realize she had a passion; drugs.
 
I could not give up on her, instead, I gave up on myself. Good mothers continue to give away themselves to save their precious child. But, said child does not have her mother’s goal or needs.
 
Mother continues to fall prey to unrelenting conniving and manipulation from
her. Money, threats, kindness, love, promises, surveillance, rehabs and more words.
I became gutted and empty. I had to stop my selflessness to save her for me and save myself.
I had to really love her and LET GO. That is when I realized how much intervention I needed. Addiction is a family disease. REPEAT: Addiction is a family disease.
 
With the help of God and so many people my daughter made the choice to begin recovery at Genesis House. I had nothing to do with her decision. My amazing daughter has been in recovery for over 10 years and works arduously to maintain it.
 
I thought my part was complete even though she always said to me “Mom, think about doing the 12 steps in al-anon or nar-anon.” I did not need them, only addicts do.
 
Oh, the ego. Just recently, I went to a Nar-anon meeting to support a friend whose has been struggling with her daughter’s addiction. I thought I never needed such a group. LOL. My first daily reading in the SESH Book spoke of a parent who was still suffering for 35 years after his daughter had stopped using. He was still suffering because he had never gone to a Twelve Step Program.
 
Eureka! God has a sense of humor and now I celebrate this Mother's Day rejoicing that I have found myself on the path of recovery and beginning the Twelve Steps.
 
My Mother’s Day gift from my daughter, when I revealed my enlightenment of needing the Twelve Steps, was “well Mom, that is refreshing. I have been thinking that for years.
 
To all Mothers of Addicts, there is always a way to find yourself. My prayers are with you.
 
 
-Gene D.
Mother of a 2008 alumnae Skyler N.

Genesis House would like to wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day!

Dear Mom,
 
As a kid, I did not know what life had in store for me. And although you always believed in me, you did not know the life I had in store for YOU!
 
I would like to say I started off life hopeful for my future but that is not my story. My life started in a house of chaos, yelling, fear and distress of your marriage. Many time I felt I was to blame for you and daddy fighting and other times I just blamed you. I wanted to be daddy’s little girl so badly and spent a lifetime chasing that dream. My perspective of a man’s love for me has always been grounded in fear of being abandoned and a belief chasing a person or doing back flips for their love is “normal.” The toxic interactions I saw as a child, became the same interactions in my relationships. You can say you did the right thing eventually and were able to separate yourself from the marriage. Today, I can agree that is commendable for a mother to show her children but it is also the reason I began a resentment as a kid. There were times as a child, I thought my dad left because of me- I was unlovable. But mostly I blamed him leaving on you since you stopped chasing and fighting for his love the way I did. With a child mentality, I did not understand the situation. I only knew that I wanted a family, like all the other kids. I wish I knew then what I know now, to see you were not to blame and most importantly- neither was I.
 
In time, I grew to be a teenager- still full of resentment for what I lacked and trying to fill a big void inside of myself. No matter how many problems I threw at you or how difficult I could be, you always loved me and did your best to deal with my anger. But unfortunately, your life took a sharp turn when I found a solution, or way to fill the void, down a spiraling path of drugs and alcohol. Once this lifestyle began, many years went by of behavior that cause you and the family a great deal of harm. There were many sleepless nights for you when I would not call or come home. The lies, manipulation, broken promises, disrespect, stealing, and everything else I had to do to maintain the lifestyle. When I was using, it was never that I did not care about you or consciously chose drugs over you- it was survival. There came a point that I did not have a choice to use or not use drugs- it controlled me.
 
Any family that has experienced addiction understand how dangerous the lifestyle can be. What many families do not always understand is that addiction is a disease and going to treatment for a short period does not always “fix” the problem. You understand addiction, at times it felt like too well! The manipulation became harder and the spiraling walls grew narrow. At the time, I was very angry you started to see the addiction for what it really was- not your daughter as a victim. You knew I did have a choice and kept pushing me to see that. The disease of addiction wanted me to believe I could never get clean and at the time, it honestly felt like the easier path. Boy was I wrong and looking back I am grateful you learned enough to help me to see I could get clean.
 
Not long after I was at crisis twice in one week for suicidal idealizations, I got on a plane to Florida and checked into Genesis House. The time I was there I began to see what life could be- without drugs and it did not look like anything my addiction said it would be like. There were times it was hard but having you in my corner is always a blessing. You may not always be where I can see you, but you are always right on time when I need you. 
 
In recovery, I have learned so much, and we have been able to work on our relationship. Please find comfort today hearing me explain there was nothing could have done for me to avoid it, it was my journey. I thank you for never giving up on me and still believing in me at my worst. Our story may not be perfect, but we are able to say we went through a lot- made it to the other side and are stronger because of it! Today, I know anything is possible and see hope in my life. I am not perfect, I make mistakes and fall short some days but if I stay vigilant in my recovery, things always work out.
 
Happy Mother’s Day!
 
-Skyler N.

Karen’s Kula March 2019

March - WOW the third month of the year already! The third theme to add to our daily practice..... The Luck of the Irish - Blind Faith - believing that The Seeds of our Desires that we planted in January, The kindness and Love we practiced in February are helping those precious seeds sprout out of their shells, encouraging them to grow and blossom into beautiful flowers! Not always easy because as humans we want to see with our eyes. We want proof. But we are learning to believe in something BIGGER! Something we can not see. Something we feel. I know many of you are not in Sunny Florida and there is a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. Under that snow there are bulbs that were planted long ago and the Sun continue to shine down and melt the snow, warm the frozen earth and with each day those bulbs will reach for the light! They will slowly stretch and grow until they peak through to feel the amazing sun, and then they will continue their journey 🙂 
 
Our yoga practice is helping us do the same! We have created a hard outer layer! A thick Armour! We thought it was Protection from life's challenges, obstacles and traumas. BUT it actually is keeping us away from the beautiful, amazing life we have been praying for. Soooooo, we practice on the mat so when we step off the mat we learn to trust again. To feel our bodies again. To move mindfully through our poses and our life, conscious and aware of our feet and how we choose to move them. Modifying when needed. Resting when needed. Aware now that we learned so much from the past, that we have changed, and we pause, breathe, notice, feel...... then decide what we need in this very moment! Then we go on with our day, and then we pause, breathe, notice, feel..... then decide what we need in this very moment! And so on and so on and so on. Yoga begins now! It is a practice! We are never done! As long as there is breath in our lungs we keep on keeping on XOXOXO I love you!!!!
 
I believe in you!!!! Sending so much love and support to each of you today, tomorrow and always!
 
PS: I received the email I have copied below today 🙂 a little proof, the Universe winking at me that I am right where I need to be 🙂 life is amazing when you allow it to be....
Your mind will always believe everything you tell it. Feed it faith. Feed it truth. Feed it love!
 
"Dearest Karen,
I am the glowing sun under layers and layers of that which is not me. Getting to know the real ME is like peeling the layers of an onion. No sooner do you shed one whole layer that another layer is revealed.
Don’t be discouraged by this, my love! There’s no rush to peeling back all these layers. Remember, it’s the journey, not the destination that matters.
After all, if all those layers just fell off in one fell swoop, you might be flooded with an almost intolerable nuclear blast of all my radiant light!
Cherish the journey, letting those layers slowly peel away to reveal more and more of the fire within. Appreciate each layer as it sheds away, bringing you one step closer to freedom. Don’t rush! There’s no hurry, love.
Just feel the glow of me within and nourish yourself with what is already right here, inside your own heart.
With loads of love (and a few delicious onion rings),
Your Inner Pilot Light"

Karen’s Kula February 2019

Hi Everyone,
As many of you know Genesis offers a Monthly Alumni gathering and I had the awesome pleasure of attending Saturday January 26th's event! I absolutely loved, loved, loved every minute! Seeing familiar faces, meeting new friends and Yes the blessing of meeting one of our alumni's parents! This is exactly what I believe deep in my heart will make a difference - staying connected! Lifting up one another, sharing what is working and what is challenging. NOT feeling alone. For a few of our present clients that attended this event, it gave them the opportunity to sit in a familiar, comfy, safe, welcoming circle and hear how life is for alumni one week after leaving Genesis, almost 2 years after leaving Genesis and others with many more years of successful sobriety. Our circle of chairs were filled, our hearts were over flowing and I know it will grow and grow and grow. Thank you, Skyler for all your effort, love and support to create such a wonderful event - hope to see more of you next month!!!!!!
 
January ...... a recap for those of you who have been practicing Planting the Seeds of our Desires this month - 
 
New Years Day we kicked off our first practice of the year and month with Be at Ease, Be Gentle, Breathe in Ease and let it go. Plant seeds and let them go, love and nourish yourself, and they will grow! When we release things that no longer are working we learn that Letting Go is teaching me that I'm not loosing but receiving. I'm gaining knowledge, resilience and room in my heart for something greater!
 
Next we added Curiosity - What does today hold for me? No matter what shows up today off my mat, in my life.... How will I respond to it? 
 
We sprinkled in the idea of Awakening - as we plant the seeds of our desires we become more curious about what we want now, how we show up each day, and then we awaken from the pain and the illusion that we were broken, to the understanding that we were cracked open so our light can come thru. Here I am! All of me! All my yesterdays - completely Me!!!! We are forever growing, learning, changing with each breath and every life experience!!!!!!
 
As we awaken we realize Kindness Matters! "There is no way to give kindness to another without knowing it in ourselves (especially on our tough days when we are feeling the most hurt or irritated): Is this the kindest thought I could have? Is this the kindest thing I could say? Is this the kindest action I could take in this situation? To achieve a kinder world, we must approach kindness with ambition and dedication. We must practice it in every moment of our lives. Kindness is that important." Heart Talk by Cleo Wade
 
Practice - Yoga is a practice. Being Me is a practice. I will end this months recap with a prayer I read in class 
 
"Honoring Practice
Thank you for this day of ritual devotion.
 
Guide me to the mat, the trail, the teapot, the canvas and the confrontation table today, so that I may test my flexibility and stay true to my form all the way to my edge. Be my mirror, my educator in matters of discipline and rhythm. Open the shelter of my mind to constructive, caring feedback.
 
Let all that comes to me be my teachers. Move my form and feelings with dedicated habit. Help me to rehearse for growing stronger and more resilient. Stand me up like a mountain: spread my arms wide, expanding and clearing the valves of my heart to help me to move from it. Point my fingers skyward and widen my stance. Wrap enormous wings around my legs to strengthen my rooted position.
 
Train me for the battle which takes place within me in the form of fear and resistance. Help me to create spaciousness inside of my container to make steady progress with my breath, my invocations, and the attitudes that initiate my day. Lead air into my lungs which comforts the grief held there. Enhance my supportive routines with the golden light of your encouragement which shines through repetition. Let my body be a living ceremony.
 
Bring me back to presence when I wander. Help me to refocus without shame when I lose my way. Make me brave to notice where my balance falters and I compromise my integrity. Rededicate me when I discover what I'm holding and protecting. Get me back on conscious feet when I fall.  Let my wingspan be the bridge between my spirit and my body. Ignite the fire of my willingness during times of challenge and overcoming obstacles.
 
Put in front of me those who will help me persevere in my attempts to effectively resolve inner and outer conflict. Remind me of my tools for perceiving what prevents my flow. Help me be attentive to my part of maintaining the quality of relationship I am called to cultivate. Help me pussle together my healing form with the help of Earth's electricity moving upward through the soles of my feet.
 
Let me know I am not alone, and that I never need to do it perfectly."
-Prayers of Honoring Voice by Pixie Lighthorse
 
 
Genesis House Yoga Instructor
-Karen Vanneck 

Karen’s Kula January 2019

Dear Alumni,
 
Happy New Year to alumni I had the amazing pleasure of meeting at Genesis, and also to those I did not get to meet. Happy 2019 & Happy January!
 
How are you? I think of alumni often, I surround you all with love and encouragement. After leaving Genesis, I hope you all are finding your Kula (your tribe, your support system) and continue to Practice, even without me there... 
 
I am always eager to hear from our Alumni - the good, the bad, and the in between of life unfolding. I am here for support while you are at Genesis and even when you leave to spread your wings out in this amazing world. 
 
So, this morning I had an idea.... what if I add a little Karen's Corner or blog to the Genesis News Letter? When I reached out to Skyler, she was excited and answered with such a Happy Yes! 
 
Ask, and you shall receive!!!
 
My hope in these newsletters are to share with you what I am practicing both on and off my mat at Genesis and in my own life, to be with you along the way! More tools to add to your tool box of coping skills such as new books, foods, quotes, poses, teachers... and to inspire you to continue this daily journey and choice of a Happier, Healthier Life of Ease - because a Body at Ease can NOT have dis-ease! And, it is a PRACTICE! One breath at a time, One day at a time, One thought at a time! It is never done as long as there is breath in our lungs! So, I hope you seeing my little addition to the newsletter today puts a smile on your face! I hope it reminds you to Pause, Breathe, Notice, Feel........ I hope if you are having a good day this moment, reading my words makes it an even better day! And, if you were having a rough day, this moment, reading my words may have helped you shift into having a happier moment!!!
 
What you focus on grows so, it is powerful to have these small reminders that you are doing
OK, that you have a support system here for you, encouraging you each and every day!!!!
 
Many of you know I set intentions daily and each month has a theme-
 
January's message is to - Plant the Seeds of My Desire! So for the next 31 days join me, find a quiet moment each day and ask...
 
What do I want to add to My Life?
What am I curious about?
What would make my day a little brighter?
 
Not what you don't like! Not what you want to let go of or loose (weight, job, stress) But what would add joy to your life? When we add new, inspiring, enjoyable things to our life.... the things that do not serve us any more fall away! They make space for the things that will brighten our life! Spark a new interest! Breathe new possibilities into our experience! 
 
For me, I made time to ask Skyler about my Karen's Corner idea! I hung a new bird feeder in my yard, and I am now enjoying Cardinals, Blue Jays, Doves, a Woodpecker and many sweet, little birds in my yard. I ordered a new book Heart Talk Poetic Wisdom for a better life by Cleo Wade! 3 new days in January and 3 new ways to enjoy my life! I also made time for a bike ride! I get up 15 minutes earlier to see these birds and sip coffee! I created a new binder of inspirational quotes! I am researching my Karen Van..... stay tuned to hear what that Desire is (FYI planted by a Genesis Alumni who sparked the idea with me) some of these seeds sprout instantly, some take a little longer like the amazon book order and some take months like the Karen Van and some years to align and fall into place like my Y12SR - Yoga of 12 step Recovery Desire 2 years ago! But each and every seed will blossom in its own time <3
 
Starts with one seed of desire.... then let it go and let it grow!
 
I love you all! Until our next newsletter if you have any questions you can email me kbvanneck@aol.com and check out Y12SR.com and put in your zip code to see if there is a Yoga of 12 Step Recovery near you! This is a relapse prevention movement! It is AMAZING! A safe place to come together and practice the 12 steps and gentle yoga. Y12SR is for anyone affected by addiction so you can bring your wife/husband/child/parent/friend....... every one of us needs a little EASE! 
 
So much love to each and every one of you - Karen

My New Thanksgiving Tradition- Just For Me!

Last year I did my very first 5k run on Thanksgiving morning- a Turkey Trot!
 
Over the years in recovery, I have done step work, participated in a 12-step fellowship, seen therapists, learned healthier eating habits, got in service, sponsored other women, went back to college and many amazing things that kept me vigilant in my recovery. I continue to try different things to find what works and what does not work for me. I was taught the journey keeps going and life always shows up.
 
My brother, in the picture with me, asked me to do the race with him and oddly enough, I agreed. I figured why not try something new! And, an activity with my brother that he enjoys, considering he has sat with me in many 12-step meetings. I was excited but also nervous. He reassured me and encouraged me to try it- actually similar to how he got me to go to Genesis House for treatment a decade ago! They say some things never change, right?
 
The race was very hard since I didn't train enough, and I was so nervous. It was freezing outside! My brother had finished the race and actually came back and found me...very far in the back! I wanted to just walk the rest, I was so tired! I remember him saying, "I got good news and bad news. There is still about a mile left, but we will pass my car where I have water for you." I kept going, and he ran alongside of me, which was realistically more him not letting me quit. I can't say it didn't annoy me but looking back that was a direct example of those in our life, that care enough to not let us give up and believe in us when we can't or don't.
 
What did I learn from the experience?? I learned that running on Thanksgiving morning in New Jersey is freezing! And, running is more of an independent activity, I wasn't with my brother the entire time! I still had a great time and was very proud of myself for finishing AND not finishing last! Most importantly, I learned how that time to myself, in my thoughts and breathing the fresh (freezing) air felt amazing. I experienced reduced stress and high levels of positive feelings, some refer to it as the "runner's high."
 
I may be in recovery but I still have an addict's mind. Whatever makes me feel good, I want more. Like most things in life, running should be done in moderation, which I did not do. I learned the hard way after a few minor injuries, bad running sneakers and many Epsom salt baths. I never gave up! The times I was unable to run, I missed it so much and how good it made me feel.
 
Running is good for my health but it works best for my mental health! My thoughts are always going but when I run, I focus on my breathing and body movement so much that my thoughts stop. For however long I run, I am free from worry, stress, over-thinking, fear, sadness or anything else I am going through. It does not take away my problems or cure them, it allows me to take a break from them.
 
This year, I am doing the Turkey Trot, and I am doing it for me! However, the weather is predicted to be 29 degrees! My tradition started with taking a chance to try something new and having someone (my brother Cainan) that believed in me.... Do you have a tradition??
 
I am grateful! Happy Thanksgiving!
 
-S.N.

Campfire Blog

"You get guys around a campfire, and they start telling their stories. That's the fellowship that they want to be in."  - John Eldredge
 
As the season changes, my favorite fall activity is having a campfire! There is something beautiful and serene about sitting outside, in the fresh air- around a fire. It doesn't matter if it is quiet around the fire, gazing into the embers having a moment of reflection or quieting our thoughts to just be still. Or it can be enjoyed sitting with friends talking and telling stories as the night passes by. The way people gather around the fire is a different type of communication and intimacy that we do not find in a text message. Some of my favorite memories and adventures, started by simply sitting around a campfire.
What happens at the campfire, stays at the campfire!
 
In early recovery, I was scared to be around a campfire. This was a false belief I had that I wouldn't have fun unless I was under the influence. How could I do this clean and sober? It was later explained how the disease of addiction wants me to think that, so I relapse. From the 12-step fellowship, I had recovery friends that walked through the fear with me. We bought s'mores and a 12-pack of soda, not alcohol! We sat there for hours just talking and enjoying the night. The next day, I remembered the night and was grateful I did not let fear hold me back from a great time. I realized that my love for campfires started in my childhood long before my addiction and my disease was playing tricks on me!
-S.N.

This Mother’s day, I have some truth I want to share

I love my mother very much and words could never express my gratitude for the countless times she tried to help me get clean and sober. And, sadly the countless nights I kept her up worrying. I can say this now, with over nine years in recovery, but it was not always that easy for me to recognize how much I love her and how grateful I am to have her. Having genuine appreciation for the woman she is, took this recovering addict time to see.
 
I spent a great deal of time doing step work and going to therapy, trying to place blame on her or resent her for my addiction. Many problems I had in my life always came back to being my mom’s fault and I was the victim. The work I did with my sponsor for clarity on my part, letting go of resentment and forgiveness did help. The therapy sessions helped as well. However, nothing gave me the transparency I needed until I became a mother myself. 
 
I became a mother in 2011, and what an experience it has been! Being a mother is the greatest blessing I have ever received but it is NOT easy! I will be the first to admit, I do not know what I am doing half the time and I keep learning as I go! I am blessed to have a mother and friend’s that are mother’s to ask, “how did you handle this?!” It is a great experience of learning about my child and also myself but, I am doing it clean and sober! How FABULOUS is that?! 
 
I know each day I do my best and always what is best for my son. With that being said, I still make mistakes and my son sees me fall short at times. I have to understand that I am not perfect, and learn from my mistakes in order to do it differently next time. I have to reach out to my mother, my friend’s with children, my network and my sponsor to ask questions or admit I am struggling. Through these trial and tribulations, I realized my mother traveled the same road and made mistakes when I was a child. So, this got me thinking that despite the many issues and resentments I had toward my mother, she was always doing her best. Becoming a mom helped me to understand my mother’s parenting decisions, enough to let go of anger I had and empathize with her regarding the hard decisions we are faced with as a parent sometimes. I was put in her shoes and was given clarity I never understood in the past. Experience is the greatest way to learn or understand things- at least in my case.
 
My son may get upset with me and may even resent me one day for the things I do. However, the hope is that he will one day see and realize I did the best I could, and that I stayed active in my recovery while raising him. The fact that he may resent me is not scary because that may be his process and I would never want to rob him of that learning experience. 
 
My mother stepped back and allowed me to learn on my own. There is no way I could ever repay her for all the amazing things she did as a mother- but I can show her that I understand what it takes to be a mother, as well as forgive her for anything I held on to. I can continue to make my mom proud by staying active in my 12-step fellowship and be a great mother like she is!
 
Happy Mother’s Day!

No More Excuses!

Excuses, Excuses!
 
There are so many beneficial reasons we go to meetings in recovery, and the journey can start there! For many, we meet sober friends, we identify with others, we do not feel so alone, we feel relief after and we want to keep coming back. However, there are others that do not agree. I have heard so many excuses through the years of why addicts can’t go to meetings or why the fellowship will NOT work for them.  Excuses like; I do not have a car, people make me feel uncomfortable, I do not need meetings anymore, I will get addicted to meetings, meetings are depressing, I’m too busy, I do not believe in God, I’m too embarrassed, I do not have child care, and so on. 
 
Now, some of these excuses may be relevant or make sense to us but, when it comes to substance abuse- we must take it serious; it is life or death. Also, addicts are creative and can typically find a way to overcome obstacles the same way we found drugs and alcohol. We went to extreme measures in active addiction, so let’s go to extreme measures to save our lives! Doesn’t that make more sense? We can get to a meeting if we want to. It all starts there. You don’t build your new foundation in isolation. Meeting makers- make meetings and it is the beginning of the road to recovery, and finding a sponsor to do the work suggested to stay clean and sober will save your life.
 
We are some of the most resilient souls on earth and capable of anything! Many find when they stop using what amazing people they have the potential to be!
 
If you think nobody believes in you and you feel hopeless, know that I, Skyler Noon, believe in you! I am only one phone call away and would love to remind you of the opportunities recovery can offer, we can’t do this alone.
 
Don't Forget- You are worth it.
Call, text or email me anytime!
 
Skyler Noon
Alumni Coordinator
(856)397-7647

Bloom where you are planted

Welcome Spring!

Today is a new day and a great day to be sober! Every day that we get through without picking up a drink or drug it is a BIG DEAL. Each day we learn how this is an amazing accomplishment when considering where we came from. Can you remember the first day trying to stay sober? Did you constantly looking at the clock thinking a minute that passed by felt like an hour? Time went by so slow in the beginning. However, as we stuck around and continued to do the work as we went to meetings, got a home group, worked with our sponsor and gave back to others in service work, time did not go by so sluggish. There was a point I felt I didn’t have enough time to do everything I wanted to get done!
 
At times in our active addiction we became so isolated we could not even go to the supermarket without being under the influence and now there is hope for us! We used to not be able to do anything such as go to a family function or a social gathering without being drunk or high and now we are able to actually enjoy them without the crutches of a substance. We start to love our new life and embrace the style of living in a positive way.
 
Recovery becomes enjoyable, we gain deep and meaningful relationships, and start to gain our families trust back. Suddenly the NA/AA dances we found “stupid” -we are now in attendance at with our fellowship friends. We learn to live life again and on life’s terms at that! Embracing the journey feels wonderful and I am grateful! 
 
-S.N.