Two Wellness Affirmation Stories, by Illyipstick of masknolonger, and Brenda Davis Harsham of FriendlyFairyTales

This day we are blessed to share two stories from other bloggers which serve as Wellness Affirmations. I re-blog them here with gratitude for their insight and “centeredness”!

Woman at the sea


posted in Detoxifying the PastLife in Recovery

Dear Joan,

When we first started our sessions 14 months ago, I could not imagine having the freedoms that I do today. I surely would have listened to you had you have said that my life today was something that I could achieve then, but I certainly would not have believed you.

Our relationship, which was my first safe and honest relationship planted a seed. Watering this seed was certainly terrifying, but you allowed me just enough time and space to gradually nourish this safety and trust in our sessions. I mentioned in my last letter to you that you had provided me with a treasure box of healthy living and I had no idea just how accurate I was. You truly have. Today, I not only have you as a guiding force which keeps me on track, but I have allowed many others into my life as well. I have shared secrets which I thought would remain in your office forever and I have shared some of these willingly with groups of strangers even because I want to hold my shame up to the light… I did not know that my shame was in fact evaporating through this process until I started taking moments to reflect on just where I was months ago…

I am sober today which is miraculous. The manner in which you encouraged me to go to treatment for my alcohol addiction was absolutely perfect. There was no pressure. You made it clear that in order for you to help me, I had to consider treatment and I did. You were there to assist me in that planning. You were there to listen to me rant from the pay phone while I was in treatment. But, most importantly, you were there when I came home and you helped me to pick up the pieces of my life that had been cast astray while I was active in my addiction. You never left and in my mind you were supposed to because that is what people have always done.

I stopped relying on others because I was always disappointed, I was always hurt and so by relying solely on myself – I thought in my distorted mind, that I was safe… In all of this self-examination and learning about myself, I realized that this method of self-protection did not keep me safe, it actually made it more dangerous to live be with my thoughts alone and without support.

I cannot think of a single moment in 14 months of weekly sessions where I have felt judged or in a state of oppression. Not once.

You have and continue to help me navigate my 12 step recovery and encourage me to seek counsel outside of the rooms as well, which has helped me to establish healthy boundaries in my recovery and in my everyday life. Not everyone has this opportunity and I am grateful that I do.

All of this said, I was never excited about life. But, I am sometimes nowadays and I am learning to appreciate and be with those moments more and more often. I can’t believe that there was a time when being with my emotions was so unbearable that I wanted to die all of the time. These feelings will undoubtedly re-surface at some point, but I am willing to live today knowing that bad emotions may one day lead me astray for awhile and that is okay.

Has my life changed? Have I changed? Most definitely. Everything has changed!

And, the beauty in this is that so much more will continue to change as we delve deeper and deeper into the trauma of my past…

I recently came across the “Miracle Day!” exercise that we completed at one point during my first 4 months of therapy. I was to describe what a day would look like for me if I could do anything and everything I wanted for that day without anything holding me back… On the photocopied version of your notes, it reads: not to drink/to stay sober, to be honest with everyone I meet, to open-up to another person other than Joan (most probably, my sister) about my alcohol problem, to treat myself to lunch on a patio and not feel guilty about eating, to be able to sleep without having nightmares, to spend time in a park writing, to feel alive. This miracle day, minus the eating portion – has happened to me on many days since I have gotten sober… Even the eating portion has happened, not as often as I would like, but I am getting there slowly, but surely…

Thank you for helping me be with myself in such a fashion which has allowed me to realize that I am not always to blame…

“We may define therapy

as a search for value.”

-Abraham Maslow

******   ******

Centered Haibun, by Brenda Davis Harsham


I learned to pray as a small child by placing my hands flat together, closing my eyes and bowing my head. That ritual helped me focus, set aside distractions and center myself. In yoga, I took quickly to prayer pose, which also uses hands placed together, head bowed and attention focused.

In prayer pose, I hear my breathing, like the waves of the ocean, calming me. I observe the movement of my rib cage, expanding, contracting, and I consciously deepen my breathing, holding it after taking a breath in, for a few seconds of stillness. I learned to focus my intention for that class: to set aside worries, to lay down burdens, and to think only of the needs of my body for those moments.

prayer pose
thoughts echo and grow still
breathe out worries

I haven’t been to a yoga class in years, but I had inspiring teachers, who were generous enough to help me design a home practice. I still practice yoga, and I am so grateful for it.

Prayer pose lets me feel close to the divine, for in the stillness and focusing of my mind I achieve calm. I hear the voice of the universe only in quiet moments, external and internal quiet.

tree pose
branches lifted to the sky
blessed by rain

Copyright 2014 Brenda Davis Harsham ( )


The Importance of Sharing Our Stories, by Illy


I am choosing to create a better ending for myself each and every day by participating in my emotional recovery. It took me many years to let others help support the weight that I had been carrying and accumulating since childhood. My addictions, both with alcohol and eating were symptoms of my inability to manage my emotions. I struggled with the trauma that I had endured as a child most of my life, my addictions masked my fears, yet my fears gradually became my reality. When I entered into treatment, I had no anticipation of a life afterwards. I thought that my misery would manifest itself tenfold. The counselors helped to support the weight that I had been carrying just long enough for me to be able to start managing on my own. I was taught valuable lessons of which I will never forget. Instead of employing tactics to distract myself from the recovery process, I was taught to use all resources at my disposal to outsmart my addictive mind instead. They showed me through their own experiences that life and happiness could coexist.

When I graduated from my treatment program, I was absolutely terrified. I was out of excuses and I had to be my own rescuer once and for all. I could no longer seek rescue in relationships or new cities, I had to start creating home for myself on the inside. I knew that I had all of the tools that I needed, I just had to use them. I had no more energy to escape and I had to start believing that I was worthy of a better ending… My recovery is paramount to me now and with each day, my positive conception of self-worth strengthens. The broken little girl inside of me is finally being listened to and I am becoming more in tune with the woman that is me. I am creating a better ending for myself and am gradually arriving at where my life should be.

My Story:

It was only in junior high school when I began contemplating unleashing the truths about the abuse I had endured. During this time the abuse had ended for me, my abuser was still living with us though, I just felt different from everyone else and thought that talking would help…

Sharing our stories connects us to one another. It enables us to communicate how we want to be treated, what we value, but most importantly, to communicate what is possible. I am so grateful for the people who have communicated to me through their stories that change is in fact a possibility. I have learned that there is always hope if I take the time to listen… To share is to heal yourself, but also to inspire change in someone else.

The Importance of Sharing Our Stories

That year, we got computers in my school. It was 1999 and I remember googling for outside help, yet I had no idea on what it was I was looking for exactly… Susan Kesegich came up in one of my Google searches for she had published a book that same year recounting her story of being abused during childhood. I can’t remember exactly what I wrote to her, but I did write and I did share my truth. It was my first disclosure of the abuse, other than when I had told my mom years before. I couldn’t believe that there was someone else who had been through something similar and had survived to write about it. I thought my life was over, doomed to be the victim for always, but Susan made me realize that I was not alone. She sent me a copy of her book, Twisted Roots of Evil. I read her story again and again… and again. I did some real crying for the first time about my abuse because there was so much that I could identify with in her story. I had bottled up my truths because I thought nobody would understand. Susan’s story gave me hope. It encouraged me to take action. If she could tell and survive, then maybe I could too? Her story made me believe that I could be a survivor too. With Susan’s guidance, support and countless e-mail exchanges in between Montreal and Florida – I eventually managed to share my truth with a counsellor at school.

Sharing my emotions today, let alone the struggles that I have faced throughout my life has never been an action which has come easily for me. I am ridden with fear that in my honest disclosures, I will be misunderstood, judged, made to feel sorry for, rejected, and thought of as broken. Hitting “Publish” on my blog scares me each time, but I do so anyways because my shame tells me not to. Sharing is pivotal for me right now as I re-learn how to live and with each honest disclosure, I am exposing the real me in spite of my fears. If I am not sharing, I am living in the midst of that shame that lurks inside of me and that can be detrimental to the maintenance of my sobriety. Susan’s story reminds me of the importance of sharing. For me, sharing removes the power from that shame allowing me to redirect my fearful energies into healing.

I am eternally grateful to the universal force that brought Susan into my life. Her story changed my story on such a profound level, her story was my story’s catalyst of hope. I truly believe that someone, somewhere needs to hear your story to effect change in their life. Isak Dineson once said, “to be a person is to have a story to tell”. She has seen me through many changes over the years, and vice-versa and that is beautiful for our stories continue to unfold. I am glad to say, that 14 years later, Susan remains a huge support in my life.

Only now, I call her Mum.

Illy is the author of Mask No More,, a blog about personal recovery and sharing our stories. We are grateful for her Better Endings Story of the Week!