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049 - Todd Stumbo

Updated: Jul 13

“Do whatever blows your hair back.” Todd Stumbo joins us from Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center to share his story of going from “mama’s little troublemaker” to addiction, incarceration, and psychosis to an executive in recovery. He talks about the ABC’s of recovery, unicorns, and figuring out the stories you are telling yourself. Enjoy.


The Illuminate Recovery Podcast is about Mental Health, Mental Illness, and Addiction Recovery. Shining light on ways to cope, manage, and inspire. Beyond the self care we discuss, you may need the help of a licensed professional. Curt Neider and Shelley Mangum are a part of Illuminate Billing Advocates (illuminatebilling.com). They are committed to helping better the industry and adding value to the lives of listeners by sharing tools, insights, and success stories of those who are working on their mental health.













https://anchor.fm/illuminaterecoverypodcast/episodes/049---Todd-Stumbo-e138ock


Transcript (no grammar): do whatever blows your hair back todd stumbo joins us from blue ridge mountain recovery center to share his story of going from mama's little troublemaker to addiction incarceration and psychosis to an executive in recovery he talks about the abcs of recovery unicorns and figuring out the stories you are telling yourself enjoy welcome to the illuminate recovery podcast we shed light on mental health issues mental illness and addiction recovery ways to cope manage and inspire beyond the self-care we will discuss you may need the help of a licensed professional my name is kurt neider i'm a husband father entrepreneur a handyman and a student of life i avoid conflict i deflect with humor and i'm fascinated by the human experience and i'm shelley maingame i am a clinical mental health counselor and my favorite role of all times is grandma i am a seeker of truth and i feel like life should be approached with tremendous curiosity i ask the dumb questions i fill in the gaps the illuminate recovery podcast is brought to you by illuminate billing advocates make billing and collections simple with leader in substance abuse and mental health billing services verification and analysis of benefits pre-authorizations utilization management accurate claim submission and management denial and appeal management and industry-leading reporting improve your practice's cash flow and your ability to help your clients with eliminate billing advocates today we have todd stumble with us todd is a certified addiction counselor a level two he's a relapse prevention specialist certified anger management specialist and certified non-violent crisis intervention instructor he has over a decade of experience in addiction and currently is the chief executive officer at blue ridge mountain recovery center this is a substance abuse a detoxification for subacute detox and a short-term intensive residential facility in ball ground georgia and they target females and males 18 and older todd thanks so much for taking some time and being with us today absolutely thank you all for having me um it's kind of fun and it sounds like you have a lot of experience in the recovery world maybe give us a little bit of idea how you ended up in recovery um and where you come from well that uh yeah it's a pretty crazy story i'm actually from southeastern kentucky i grew up in a little town called heinman population at the time it's probably like 900 people it's one of those towns that have one stoplight but nobody really paid attention to it much anyway it was a town full of you either did uh you're an attorney you practiced medicine or you worked in the coal mine so there was not a whole lot going on there and you know i love the area i love mountain folks and and whatnot and i i grew up there and i just kind of you know as i grew up in that environment it i always say that uh when i got sober it was one of those i always said i felt like something was missing um all the time you know i didn't feel like i fit in all that but what it really came down to is a lack of a connection uh with with god my family people around me all that kind of stuff when i when i found drugs at a pretty young age and alcohol um i felt connected all of a sudden you know it's a it's kind of almost like drinking super water or something it just made me feel like a whole different person so you know i grew up in this little town and found out quickly there's not a whole lot to do but play sports and and you know party and what better way than to mix those two you know in my head i thought that was a brilliant idea um you know my dad he was a very well known still is a politician in the state of kentucky um he'd ran for governor a couple times he was the head of one of the parties at one point so you know my name i never really grew up with a name it was always hell your grady's son so that was how i was known um growing up and and then i had a brother that is a pilot and an attorney another sister that's a physician another sister that the lobbyist so this bar was super high in my family and then there was me um couldn't quite figure out what i was supposed to do what i found out quick i was really good at causing trouble you know i was a great my mom had this little shirt for me when i grew up called it said mom's little troublemaker and i ended up living up to every bit of that that t-shirt but you know i ran the wheels off of it for about 13 years you know one of the things i say the beauties of my story was you know i didn't drink alcohol for 40 years and then wake up one day and realize oh no my my body's shot i've destroyed my liver or whatever it was i destroyed my life really quick which was a blessing in disguise so um i tried to get sober before and i just couldn't do it and this final time i was just a hot mess i was taking a lot of methadone a lot of antacs and smoking a lot of crack and ended up in jail and in that experience you know growing up my my two biggest fears in life were to lose my physical freedom or my mental health because my dad worked as a physician he would do rounds at a psychiatric hospital and i'd hear some of the stories and whatnot and it just terrified me well what what i say god did for me what i couldn't do for myself is he intervened at this this moment and and sent me to jail and as i sat there i came off of all of this methadone all of this crack you know everything and i slipped into psychosis and you know i mean i i went kind of off the deep end i could shrink myself i can make myself invisible all these kind of crazy things that are super vivid to me to this day like the memories of it um you know it was real to me which later on in my recovery actually benefited me because i worked with some schizophrenics which i could connect with because you can't tell that type of person that their reality what they're experiencing isn't real um because it was real to me in that moment but you know i went through that and i sat in jail and just disintegrated i mean i dropped from about 185 pounds to around 142 by the time i entered treatment and i'd only been in jail roughly nine days uh and my body had just began eating itself like that uh and i'd slipped into this psychosis and it was i would have flashes of of you know reality and i knew i was crazy so i i knew i was locked up and i knew i was crazy so i knew both of my biggest fears were currently happening i mean it terrified me um and my parents i remember i i don't have all the details and i'd be interested to hear their version of how they experienced the story when they picked me up from jail but needless to say i don't think it was a smooth transition i feel like there were some attorneys involved because that was a pretty bad shape and they had to come get me i vaguely remember i didn't want to put on any clothes because i thought that they were going to lace the seams of the clothing with oxycontin or some kind of drugs and then arrest me again and keep me in jail you know so i wanted to be basically nude as i left jail which was awkward to say the least i'm sure for everybody involved at what age what age are you at this point at this point i'm 24. okay um so you know i'd started the first drink i'd ever had i was around six years old i drank moonshine and i didn't know what it was but what i did know was my best friend's dad would come home every day and he was he he seemed to me anyway he may not be in his own belief system or perception but to me he seemed like the most angry human being on the planet most miserable but when he came home he would get this clear jar of stuff out drink it and he'd become the funniest guy i knew so i called it funny juice you know and and me and my buddy took it down one day and thought it'd be smart to try out the funny juice to see if it made us funny and it just made us sick so you know that's when it kind of started for me and it really picked up around 1516 and quickly moved from away from alcohol to heavy drug use just because the alcohol doesn't do it quick enough but at 24 is when it all came kind of crumbling down i'd say my own shadow wouldn't hang out with me at that point i'd been arrested for first degree armed robbery strong armed robbery i mean i was i was a mean human being externally on the inside though that that was not who i was and i knew that so there was this huge conflict with the way i was living but but who i thought i really was on the inside and i i dare not show my authentic self to the world because i'd be judged for that little did i realize i was being judged for the way i was behaving by everybody else i didn't look cool i don't know what age it is it's like 18 to 22 somewhere in there it goes from you're the cool guy to you're the loser you know what i mean and i don't i don't know when that is but it took place at 24 my parents picked me up from jail brought me to a treatment center here in in the atlanta area and it's not open anymore but it was a small 16 bed facility and i've been there about two weeks it felt like and i remember waking up and asking some guys where i was at i had no idea what state i was in or anything and they told me and i was like oh well this is this isn't good you know i'm not gonna get home and i agreed to stay in that treatment center after some uh you know coercing about people i agreed for 90 days and little i know i've been here 17 years now so uh it definitely did its its job but through that experience what was really cool to me is is after i got sober you know is what's the powerful part for me so i in this long-term treatment facility part of one of the things they asked me while i was in it was hey what's something that you haven't done before that you really love to do or something you started that you didn't finish and i and i'd always wanted to follow my brother's footsteps and be a pilot so i told him i said you know i was in school trying to get my pilot's license i just kind of you know failed out of that so part of my treatment plan they actually put me in flight school so little down though they let a drug addict fly an airplane uh which baffled me so i go through this whole process and i actually get my pilot's license while i was in treatment and i'm like well okay maybe this is this dream is going to happen and i go on about the trainings and all that and and as i get into it all of a sudden i go for a uh one of the check rides that you do for add-on to your license and the faa i call them to let them know i'm doing a check ride and they kind of tell me well mr stumbo you're actually grounded we've reviewed your drug and alcohol history and you can't you can't fly as pilot in command anymore which means you can't get any more certifications your only option really is to never fly again or to go through this five year long process which is now called the hens program where they monitor you and you have to go see psychiatrists psychologists all that drug screens so i signed up and i tell them look i know i'm not a commercial pilot but what what would i have to do to even have the opportunity and they told me you're probably not going to ever have a free and clear license but we'll put you in this program you can go down this road so i do that i start down that five-year process during that what god did in my life for my higher power came into my life and shut that door for a reason because all of a sudden now i don't have a direction or a path so i start to volunteer at the treatment center i went through that volunteering to do some sports activities and whatnot leads to me working taking a ten dollar an hour overnight job which was one of the hardest things i ever had to do is go to my dad and say look i know you invested all this money in flight school but i want to take a ten dollar an hour overnight position at this treatment center and i never forget my dad tony said son look do whatever blows your hair back whatever is going to make you you know internally happy do that chase that if it's being a trash man just be the best trash man you can be whatever it is uh go after it with all the energy that you would go after the drugs and alcohol just try that once in your life and see what happens so that's kind of what i started to do and and i i wasn't i didn't really care to go to school or anything like that and as i got into the industry people would tell me well you got to have this and you got to learn this and do this and all that so i started to soak up all the information i could soak up regarding how to run treatment how to do treatment all that kind of stuff and you know i made my way kind of through that process became the operations director of that treatment center i ended up getting my addiction counseling certification and then all of a sudden five years later i get a phone call um from the faa telling me and i've been flying on and off the whole time still kind of keeping my skills up if i get a call from the faa telling me hey you're never going to believe this uh they they've given you a free and clear pallet sauce and so you can resume flying i never flew another day after that i walked away totally from it just so i could say i did it i got that i could go back if i wanted but i it's like god shut that door to open this door i fell in love with the treatment industry i fell in love with residential treatment doing you know seeing people come in so broken like i was uh and completely being able to change their life and achieve dreams that they never thought were possible while i was in treatment and i fell in love with this stuff i even told the lady um you know what i want to i had this dream of running a treatment center she actually said to me one day you're not gonna you're not gonna stay sober six months while you think you're gonna run a treatment center and of course in my still rough state i said a few choice words that followed with i'll run this place one day and two years after i graduated that facility i came back and ran it me and a few others took it over and i ran that facility for a while became the clinical director there and then eventually i left that facility due to some circumstances and you know it's kind of lost again i was like god you know what do you want me to do that was the facility i loved i was raised in that uh why would you have these circumstances present themselves to to basically force me to leave um and do something different and blue ridge came on the scene and they kind of called me and just said hey would you come out run a few groups for us you know and i was very straight up with them and told them i have no desire to run groups or push papers what i want to do is run a treatment facility so of course the the phone went silent again for a couple months they had no desire for that but then i got a call from their division president because blue ridge is owned by acadia healthcare and he called me up and wanted to meet so we meet up and he says look i'm looking for somebody that that can build a culture and and make this treatment center one of the best in the southeast and i you know i still have an edge of arrogance which i probably still do and i said to him so well here's your only issue if you don't hire me you'll be the second best because wherever i do go will be the best treatment center in the southeast which he says is what got me the job he's like i love the attitude um he hired me on i became the clinical director uh you know and god was just doing all this work in my life you know because i hadn't graduated college yeah i mean it took me 20 years to get a four year degree which i finally got but so i'm going through this process i'm just grinding as a clinical director i'm working in a dui school and helping a felony drug court here in cherokee county uh doing all this stuff and all of a sudden you know i thought yeah i'm at the top of top of my game life is just great my wife at the time comes and and basically says hey i want a divorce because you're not happy and i was like wait a second i feel like you're supposed to say you want a divorce because you're not happy you know not because i'm not happy so it it just crushed my entire world because my belief system at 12 years sober roughly it was still sick uh in the in the sense of what i thought was okay if i get a divorce you know i was talking a small town religiously if i get a divorce i'm going to basically lose everything die go to hell you know that was this internal sick thought process so i tried to fight to keep an unhealthy relationship intact little did i know she was using and drinking at the time which was even more humbling because i do this every single day yet in my own home i couldn't spot it you know which is an eye-opener in itself so i go through that process and the whole time i'm going through that process i actually resigned from blue ridge um i'm leaving blue ridge because the ceo at the time was wanting to make some changes that i i just didn't line up with from a philosophy standpoint and i didn't want to stand in his way and as i did that i got a call from acadia's corporate office and they just said hey will you meet us so i did and they wanted to know why i was leaving and what was going on and and everything and they said well look if we make you ceo tomorrow will you stay and of course i was like well uh can i can i have 24 hours to pray about it and they were baffled that i would even ask that question and i have to tell look i didn't get here on my own accord like there's something much greater than me that helped me get here so i have to to kind of talk to that person that being that spirit to make sure i'm doing the right thing because what i knew about ceos at blue ridge is they lasted about eight months and they either got promoted and moved across country or they got fired so i was rolling the dice as a clinical director i was good enough that i could keep that the rest of my life i was pretty confident in that but what i did i finally ended up agreeing to take it and it was this god thing because i was getting ready to take a job two hours away from my kids after have to move away from my daughters which you know at the time this what i was going through was this realization that what i had made the most important thing in my life at that time was my achievements my career and the only reason i made it that i didn't know this at the time was so i could turn around and look at everybody and say i told you so because i got to call my dad in 2015 and say hey dad guess what i still haven't graduated college and i just got promoted to the ceo uh and he told me that would never happen you know so it's things like that that i i have these realizations i ended up having to go to onsite up in tennessee for a leadership three-day leadership event that transformed my life because i got i just sank in the depression was here i'm going through a divorce um you know i'm having all these new revelations of what i've i've given up for my career and and all this kind of stuff uh everything externally is going great for me yet internally i'm i'm 12 years sober and i'm i'm literally in a state of depression where i don't want to be alive anymore because i feel like i'm losing everything so i go to onsite and in a 45-minute experiential session my entire world changes my relationship with god changes everything moves from a punishing god to a very loving god my idea what's important to me now what i put first is is god and my family versus my status and my career which was new to me because as an addict and alcoholic i'd never felt like i measured up so the more achievements i can get the more i measure up the more i can say i'm a success what i look at now is though those two little girls that have a dad that they can count on that they know will show up regardless and not say to them wait a minute honey i got to do this work or i got to do that work or whatnot so you know it's just been this crazy uh ride and constant growth for me over the last 17 years of my sobriety of learning you never make it anywhere if you do make it anywhere and you feel like you've made it somewhere you're slowly starting to die uh so i constantly push myself to figure out okay how can i grow even more than what i've currently grown to and one of the hardest things for me is to let go of old philosophies and perspectives and belief systems because ego takes over and you're worried about what other people will think about you well i've been saying this for years and now all of a sudden i've transcended that and i had this experience and now i believe this and i've had to learn to let that stuff go and and it's not that i don't hear what other people think because i deeply care what other people think um what but i do care more about what god and i think now than what other people think and that was that was new to me so you know that's that's been kind of my story in my ride and it's just been a blessing since you know the whole time but since 2015 to sit here at blue ridge as the ceo i mean i still look at my business cards and can't believe i'm like if they only knew who they put in charge you know it i came from this just lifestyle as a hellion that that wreaked havoc wherever he went to now people trust me with the this company this business that with these lives whether it's the employees uh the clients it's just one of the most beautiful experiences i've ever had and you know it's all the credit goes to god and my higher powers like i couldn't do this on my own and i finally started getting the actual education that you would think a person would have to get to this level that i just never had it was constantly being self-taught the experience of it you know i finally got the four-year degree now i'm working on a master's things like that but now i'm doing it for the right reasons not necessarily to gain anything from it but to grow from it if that makes sense so that's kind of my story i'm sticking to it uh for the most part without all the grimy details of it that's kind of it that's an incredible story and and it sounds like um as i as i listen to you tell your story and talk about how influential your relationship with god has been i'm curious is that has that peace always been a part of your life was that a part of your life growing up or did that come in later on well you know in in the small southern towns you get forced you know per se to here's you're going to go to church and you're going to believe in this and you know what not it literally i view us all as we're computers we get programmed um at an early age by society by our parents by people around us that doesn't always mean that program is the best fit for your spirit if that makes sense so um it i i believed in god most of my life but i i didn't one i didn't like him um two i was terrified of him and three i was very angry at him because i've lost over 30 of my close friends and people i grew up with who had been overdosed or been murdered or something due to this disease or this lifestyle and i begged for death why not me like why do you have to keep taking all these other people i'm a best friend he had a family a kid why did he have to go and not me uh and when i got sober you know i utilized that to my is like hey god my this power out there must have a purpose for me staying alive like i i used harder and more than any of my other friends that have passed away so there has to be a reason and i i can no longer turn my back on that and i can no longer waste time i have to wake up every day and honor brian and fred and josh and all these friends of mine by living the best possible life i can better than the day before and quit focusing on can i be better than others and just focus on can i be better than i was yesterday uh so the relationship with god is it's been one of those love hate things and now though i think after going to on-site at 12 years over the relationship completely shifted to because what i experienced there was they made me eli was my my counselor and what he made me do was so i i as a clinician i had manipulated this whole thing at the the process i wanted to get a different counselor to do my experiential work he's the guy that was very clinical but eli is who i got and eli's a tiny little old man with white hair white beard um and the name eli means my god so i knew when they said okay todd you're going to work with eli i was in trouble already you know i'm like oh this is not good um so i get up and he's asking what i want to work on i start rambling about nonsense of work and and my relationship with uh my fiance and all that and and he goes well tell me a little bit about your dad and i quickly was like oh this is not good at all you know it just starts down he'll talking about dad led me to my relationship with god and he ended up having me sit in a chair and tell god what i really thought about him which you know in the past i would have thought well the minute i say these things i'm gonna incinerate you know um so i got honest with with god that was supposedly sitting in a chair across from me and then he made me switch seats and i had to be god and i had to talk to todd and tell him what i really wanted for him and what i really stood for and what came out of me was not my my words it was some kind of power much gray i mean i literally i know it sounds crazy but i felt a presence come through my back and out the front of my chest as i spoke to myself acro you know it was the weirdest experience and i sobbed for 45 minutes after like a small child i mean all this energy just was released and i think that's when my true relationship with the power of the greater than myself started uh you know it was it's built on a foundation of things but i think that's when it truly started and i truly realized what my higher power was supposed to look like versus the one i've been given or programmed to to believe in at an early age if that makes any sense yeah that makes total sense and i i would imagine and and i know it's an interesting correlation that our relationship with our own father has a tendency to shadow or color the relationship that we may have with whatever that higher power is or that god figure did that change does that shift the relationship with your with your dad oh for sure i mean i so growing up it was uh my one the greatest dad you know i can sit here and and say well you know his demands were high and all which they were but he grew up in such a poor condition i mean he he literally if you heard his story it would blow your mind to what he came from and how he became a physician and you know he watched his dad drown when he was eight years i mean just horrific experience so i understood why he was so hard on me and other kids but it did it did paint the picture of this is what god is you know um and and the relationship i have with my dad now it blows my mind he'll actually call me sometimes and say hey so i got a patient that's struggling with this you know in regards to substance abuse what would you recommend and and my dad he never asked me for advice so it's this cool you know this guy i've been practicing medicine for 50 years and here he is calling me um as the expert on hey what should i do with this patient so it's definitely changed the relationship of how i see him how he sees me and you know it's just a beautiful thing for sure that's incredible and i i would imagine i don't know because just because i've heard enough recovery stories that i would imagine that your parents had to go through some of their own recovery process right as they learn to how to love you and how to accept you and how to be show up for you but for your dad to say you know todd i don't care what you go do go do whatever you want but just be the best at whatever you go and do that to me seems like someone that's done their own work would you you know what's your insight on that no they definitely had to change i mean to kind of give you an example it's like you know you you have these stereotypes or i think people get programmed to have them so when i got server and i still do this they have this like one story i can tell you i go hunting with my dad all the time and we were coming through this small town and i was that guy that when i used to go with it we'd stop at gas stations and i'd i'd mess around the gas station i'd go in the bathroom and use and i'd waste all this time and he gets so angry and tell me i was being disrespectful and all this kind of stuff well here's the first hunting trip going with him sober and i go into the gas station i said to myself i want to be the first one in first one out so i do that well i come out this energy to my right i'll never forget i felt it i turned and it's a homeless guy sitting there with a sign it's in november it's it's cold it's wet out um and i just stopped and i asked him hey man are you hungry and he was like yeah so it was this truck stop with this buffet place so i take him back in um i i tell the lady here's for his buffet all he can eat and just if you would give him a couple boxes or something to go and she agreed as i was turning walking out my dad meets me he doesn't see any of this but he meets me in the middle of the store and gets angry like you not changed a bit you're wasting time you know all this so i get in my car hits in his and i call my sponsor because i'm like livid at this point you know as i could how dare he embarrass me in front of everybody in there and now my sick mind i'm like i'm 230 pounds now i could throw him through the you know all this sick stuff and my sponsor is getting me calm down well all of a sudden he's calling me and i pick it up and he's in tears and i guess his best friend had saw this go down and told him what had happened he said to me son if i can be half the man that you've become and for him to say that it was mind-blowing you know and and so he and my mom to watch them transition away because now they help with other addicts and alcoholics that need help to get in treatment in my hometown all that so before they would shy away from you know helping the addict to the person the dangerous person the homeless person whatever it was and they'd watch me take those people gently into my life and try to help them and it's it's made them change too so it's it definitely i think uh it can i've had to look at it this way if i work on me and i change me then people around me will have no choice but to change if that makes sense true story that is an absolute true story and i think it's something that most people don't understand right they work so hard trying to get other people to change not realizing that their power is in changing themselves because you can't you can't hold the same relationship if you're different right now it's it's an energy thing to you know my thing is if i walk in a room with a certain kind of energy and allow other people to invade that energy and turn it into something else then ultimately they control me but if i can come in with a very different energy one that's accepting content in my circumstance people around you will feel it and over time will slow themselves down to want to line up with that energy or they'll just quit calling you and coming around because they don't like the vibe you give off you know yeah for sure well you've got this huge wealth of information this experience that you've had that's really been life-changing for you talk about how you have applied that to um to blue ridge mountain recovery and the work that you do there so you know one of the biggest things to me when i came into treatment was the experience of being accepted that feeling like you belong and that you're given the skill set to be competent um you know in how you tackle this thing because i knew i had a problem i just had no idea what it was or how to deal with it and you know as i didn't know this at the time but that's what that treatment center made me feel the minute i came into it i felt accepted like i was home and it literally i remember my first visit off-site visit back to my parents house i stayed there three days and i started feeling antsy and i literally went to my mom and said hey can you take me home and she goes you mean back to treatment i go oh yeah you know because it it was my home at this point uh being with with other alcoholics and that's not my home um you know and it's literally helped me bring this culture into blue ridge of making people feel accepted that they belong and if they're going to become competent about the disease reduction the recovery process you can have all the knowledge that you want to have about how to get sober how to help somebody with mental health issues all that kind of stuff but if they do not feel accepted in your environment they will never trust you uh and therefore you're never going to be able to infiltrate that wall and help them change and part of what i did when i was in school was is i've done some research on gangs because they it fascinated me how do these games get people to give their life up for their cause and what these gangs did was they went and hired psychologists psychiatrists that people like that to tell them how did i infiltrate the human mind and what they brought them back was the the abc three things you make them feel accepted they belong if they're competent they will they'll give your life their life for you you know and so that's what we've tried to transform here at blue ridge is the culture you know the disease of addiction lecture is going to be no different in anywhere you go but it's the environment and the culture and the energy in which it's delivered is what makes the difference so our number one thing when you come into the facility is and my bd team hates that i even say this and i don't for no no means do i think we do mediocre treatment but i say all the time to make a point i would i would rather do mediocre treatment than treat people in a mediocre way and so my number one thing is when people come into our cultures to make them feel that acceptance that they belong i hand write letters to every single client that admits into our program i read about them their assessment get to know them and i write a personal letter to each one to make sure and i go introduce myself uh make myself available because that's the kind of culture we want to build and that's kind of the platform we do it off of now we integrate all the the modalities into that embr rapid resolution therapy cv all that good stuff but at the foundation of who we are it's our culture and i don't think you can have a better foundation because as we've you know we've shared this before and other people say and you're saying it in a roundabout way but that the the antidote to addiction is connection right nobody's going to change their behaviors if they can't find that place of acceptance a place where they're where they're valued right where they're at and so that they can embrace the idea of change right you've got to be able to be okay with who you are even even in a difficult situation right i mean it's it's ultimately for the attic val caulk it's it's finding your unicorn you know is what i tell people is like i never thought that i would feel the connection i feel today with not only a power grading myself but recovery uh the people around me who i am myself all that i mean it was not a a realistic goal you know like it that didn't exist for me so you know we're helping we're trying to help people find that unicorn that connects them to everything around them describe for a second i've heard i heard a lot of people use the terminology of the unicorn but and you've talked about it a little bit but go into a little bit more depth how are you using that imagery well it started so i i still joke with my life because of my current wife because it started back i i used to dream of this this girl like in high school and all that you know you have you paint this picture of the person that you you want to meet or be with and all this and i i'm that was for whatever reason never the person i ended up with um when i met her she was became my unicorn and now you know you see it all over social media everywhere unicorns are popular but i swear at the time that i started calling her this this is it got like super super popular i've never even really heard anybody mention it and then i brought it up to her she became my unicorn and to me what it is is this this majestic idea of a life that you think is impossible to get your hands on um yet if you can shift your mindset to believe like hey i can get this life there's just going to be a few things i have to do to go down this road anything's possible so to us it's like when clients hear my story they're like well yeah that's all good for you but i can't do that and i'm able to point out how they can and their circumstances are very similar to mine and all they got to do is start to take the right steps in the right direction and they will one day lasso that unicorn that they've been chasing one that's probably much bigger than what they even anticipated like i never thought that i would be at the level my dream was to run a treatment at a little 16 bed treatment center that was it and here i am the ceo of a 72 bed treatment center owned by acadia healthcare that employs you know 70 80 people that that blows my mind like that was never even on on the table for me my dream was so much smaller than that and allowing god to enter my life has led me to this unicorn of a life that i never thought was possible oh that's incredible todd totally incredible so um with you know with the unicorn that you found so far what's in the future for todd you know i that i i couldn't couldn't tell you what i do know for me is that on a daily basis my my goal is to show love and compassion to anybody and everybody around me and whatever life hands me is exactly what it's supposed to hand me um i look at it this way life doesn't happen to me it happens for me that's the the good and the bad if i can keep that perspective of whatever shows up it's happening for me there is a purpose uh and a reason for this happening uh you know it it it makes it a little bit easier to go through and you know i i don't know what the rest of my life will look like what i do know is that that right now i'm currently so deeply blessed and grateful for what i have that i can fall over dead right now and i would probably do it with a smile on my face you know it's i shouldn't have lived past the age of 24 i'm 42 and living a life that that is not was not meant for me to live if that if that makes any sense yeah that's pretty powerful and and i think that that the statement that you're making the message that you're sending is that being content and grateful for what you have makes everything makes everything different it's a totally different picture than i think when you started recovery and everybody owed you and you were out there to show the world that you weren't a failure and and now you're you're accepting what comes at you that life is a gift and it it gives you the opportunity to grow and and i could hear the emotion in your voice as you talked about your girls and you know your relationship with your kids and how important they are to you um i love that you've sent that message because i think so many of us are chasing we're chasing something and it might be right in front of us and we already have it we're just not quite looking at it the right way oh it's 100 i mean it the stories we tell ourselves create the state or our condition which lead us to some kind of action which gives us a result so before it's my my story was that i wasn't good enough i didn't measure up i had to prove myself so my state was one of in this high energy i've got to accomplish things i got to be determined nobody's going to get in my way all that that led to certain action the result was i made it but i lost a marriage i lost the whole you know all this kind of stuff and i i will not make that same mistake so what i had to do was start to tell myself a very different story because our entire life the way we behave how we look at the world all that is driven by those subconscious stories that we tell ourselves and they put our body in a certain state whether it's anxiety depression content whatever it is so i always tell people the best way to change your life is figure out what stories you're telling yourself what state it puts you in so for example if you are in a constant state of anxiety and you go home and you watch shows like snaps and murder mysteries that's just feeding a story in your mind that's going to create more that same state so you've got to be aware of that stuff and constantly look to work on yourself and this guy named jim quick he one of my favorite quotes of all times he says if an egg is broken by an outside force life ends if an egg is broken by an inside force life begins so it's a constant reminder to me that everything external in my world is not my issue what's my issue is the story i'm telling myself about what the external is so i have to just go internal change what that is and my life will be okay things will be okay no matter what i totally agree with that and and the way you share your story and the journey you've been on is pretty powerful um todd i imagine that there will be people who want to reach out to you what's the best way for them to connect with you uh they can reach me at my emails probably your best way it's todd todd dot stumbo s-t-u-m-b-o at blueridgemountainrecovery.com and they can also call the facility leave a message you can call 678-454-6440 option two for our main facility and they'll be able to take a message get it to me and i can return any calls or anything like that that's fantastic um todd i'm just wondering one more thing before we go today is um what are the things what maybe name one of your top things that you do that's in your toolbox that helps you stay you know stay in your recovery and stay growing every single day i will get into a meditation where i literally work to be grateful for things that i currently have and things that i don't even have but they're on the way um you know and those are those everybody has these private dreams and desires for their life and i encourage people to tap into those things and and literally meditate close your eyes and have some whatever kind of music going what and just envision that life in front of you uh you having the things you want to have uh you being the person that you want to be they're having a relationship like i meditate every single day of the gratitude that i have for my wife the relationship that we're going to have 10 years from now 20 years from now 50 years from now it just makes me fall in love with her every single day so you know my biggest thing is i encourage people if you live in a state of gratitude both present and the future of what you're gonna there is no way that you're gonna you're gonna have this irritable restless and discontent attitude or energy about yourself constantly manifesting your desires in life if that makes sense yeah that makes total sense and super powerful i've talked to people that really struggle to capture to capture the gratitude piece and and it becomes a lot of work it's almost a lifetime journey but i can tell that you work hard at it every day and i love how you talk about the imagination in your mind right how you imagine that and it changes everything in your body your body responds to those imaginations so super powerful i appreciate that and it reminds me that i need to do more of it right because we we may know the tools but we don't always use them and so it's awesome to to get those reminders frequently well i mean you've done so many studies on the brain and the heart and when you can get brain and heart coherence uh and you live in a state of gratitude there are studies done by dr joe dispanzer that show people had a three meter wide energy about them when they practice gratitude on a consistent basis so if you ever walk in a room or have somebody walk in a room and you're like oh man i don't like that person's energy or you just still it's the same way with gratitude you know you can put off this huge uh sphere of influence if you will around yourself by being in brain and heart coherence and practicing true gratitude and no studies even showed the people that experienced true depression and suicidality and all that their circle their hardly even left their their body so it's a very different yet proven technique that if you can live in a state of gratitude you're going to throw off some energy out in the world that's going to be powerful and shift other people around you too that's awesome i love that those words of wisdom todd thank you so much for being with us today and sharing all of your experiences it's been certainly a pleasure well thank you guys for having me thanks todd


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