057 - Jeffrey Jensen
Updated: Aug 26, 2021
“How did I get here?” Jeffrey Jensen joins us from Lakeview Health to talk about his sobriety story and helping people understand their “Hero’s Journey.” He helps individuals get to a safe place and this importance of understanding, “We are powerless over our addiction. Everyone else is too.” He talks about having reservations in sobriety versus being all in. 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.
Transcript (no grammar): how did i get here jeffrey jensen joins us from lakeview health to talk about his sobriety story and helping people understand their hero's journey he helps individuals get to a safe place and this importance of understanding we are powerless over our addiction everyone else is too he talks about having reservations in sobriety versus being all in 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 am shelley mangum 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 kurt and i have the privilege and um pleasure of talking with jeffrey jensen jeff is a client services associate at lakeview lakeview health that's in the miami florid lauderdale area um just jeff has his own unique recovery story and he absolutely believes that everybody is the hero of their own story jeff thanks for being with us today and taking some time to to share and and to share your experiences and your wisdom well thank you so much shelly so um let's just let's just kind of let the listeners get a little bit of a peek as to who you are and maybe how you ended up working at lakeview health cool um so real quick a little bit about myself uh and how i got introduced to this line of work so you know i'm in recovery myself and i went to a treatment facility when i was 18 this was 2006 and this was a adolescent program in nashville tennessee so this particular program uh you know when i went in a lot like most people in recovery can probably identify with you know i went in terrified um you know when i was a kid the dream was never hey i want to you know suffer from drug addiction or alcoholism i want to go to treatment when i'm 18. those weren't any thoughts i had and you know going in there it was it was kind of one of those moments where you know you wake up in treatment and you're just kind of like reflecting and like how did i get here you know that that was kind of the questions like dude how did i end up in a spot like this and you know i was there were some some key staff members at the facility i went to that had a a profound uh impact on on me and my attitude and kind of you know reshaping the direction that i was going to go in my life and i remember you know about halfway through my stay i thought to myself this is what i want to do i want to help people i want to have that same type of impact i want to help redirect i want to shoulder up with with people that are struggling like i am and see if i can't make a difference so this particular program i went to had a role and it was you know you can't work here therapeutically until you have two years clean so i'm telling all the staff members i'm walking around i'm like hey i'm gonna you know i'm gonna work here one day you just you wait uh and sure enough i think i had about two and a half years clean i was 20 years old and i decided you know i put in the application it was the first for me like really big job i had a recovery of like right out of treatment i worked at a place called cheeseburger charlie's i was flipping cheeseburgers and i worked at target and um walgreens and there were a lot of these jobs that were more of a means to an end for me that lacked purpose and they were more just kind of like i you know my purpose at that point was really internal and like building a foundation for myself and so you know two and a half years clean i'm like okay now's the time i'm gonna go back and work for this facility and you know i remember filling the application out online and i was like super nervous it was like the you know the biggest job i ever applied for in my life and mind you it was it was uh for prn uh for a behavioral health technician so i was gonna be uh you know clinical associate at the time and uh basically be on the front lines with adolescents you know helping them you know getting them from group to school help making sure the schedule was good all that kind of stuff so uh have the interview get the job and i'm work you know i started working there loved it and i ended up working at this facility off and on you know helping me get through college and then after i graduated college became a full-time employee and i was in charge of what they called the extended care program for the adolescent so the extended care program was more 12-step focused so i got to do the stuff i was really passionate about helping the kids get through a four-step you know teaching them about service work taking them to meetings all these really exciting things that are really impactful in recovery and you know i was there for the better part of seven years um and then you know kind of got introduced to i got a job offer in south florida so i moved to south florida from tennessee and through that kind of got introduced to working uh for lakeview health down the road and the specific job i do now is a little different than working in direct care so i'm not at our facility and you know so lakeview health is located in jacksonville florida and i work in the south florida area my main job description would be basically being a um you know bridging the gap between families and individuals that are struggling with addiction and getting them to a safe place whether that's at you know lakeview health or another facility that we trust and is able to provide services that might be more needed for that client my main job is is on the front end you know treatment working with families when they're in crisis mode helping them get to a safe place so you know a lot of the skill sets i acquired with with working with adolescents are very useful in crisis intervention and um you know dealing with families and helping families and clients be on the same page but ultimately the work's a little different you know you don't see the light come on for these clients like you did when you work you know with them while you're in treatment but you always have the families that will reach out six months later a year later and still stay in contact with you and that's kind of for me the the why we do it you know when you talk about like why do you do this it's because you know when when my mom and dad were looking for treatment for me when i was 18 they had someone on the other end of the phone when they needed him the most on the front end of treatment and i get to be that for other people now and you know it's a great honor to be able to work with these families that which might be one of the most difficult days weeks months of their year of their life uh they call you and they trust you and i think that that's a great honor and a lot of times you know if you've been doing it for a little while it's easy to take that for granted so trying to keep a um perspective of how important that moment is for the family and you know so that that's the short of kind of how i got to lakeview but yeah love the work love working in this industry i think it's a high calling um you know kurt was kind of saying earlier i think before we started that you know this we don't just kind of like as a kid when you know you have your career day you're not going up to your teacher in high school and being like yeah i want to you know i want to work with people who struggle with addiction and alcoholism you know it's not a career choice as much as it is a calling um and that's kind of what i feel to be true for me for sure you also have like this really pivotal time to be getting involved with those clients right because we always talk about the stigma right in the industry people who are unfamiliar with it there's there's a ton of lack of knowledge you know just in general society but the time when you start to talk to these a kids but be families right they're like their wits end they don't know what to do right they're bringing some broken soul to you hoping that you're just gonna mend the world when the reality is is it is it's so helpful to just say no no this is a huge this is a big world everybody deals with these problems and these are the people you know this industry is not for broken children right or humans this is this is the self-help world for people who want to get better right there's there's this is a world of opportunity you know and coming it seems like it'd be fun to be at the place where you are where you know you're kind of the hand out right you're the hand up or whatever and and the front end of that the tip of the sword which seems like it'd be super rewarding right and i think there's you know when i was working with adolescents and the population i work with now is typically adults but when i was working with adolescents and was kind of on the front line and in the milieu so to speak right the the skill like the probably the most powerful skill that i ever like acquired was figuring out how to just shoulder up with the kid you know and as soon as you know and i would tell people when you know i worked with adolescents they would say wow there needs to be more people like you in this world they're like i don't know how you do it and i'm like honestly adolescents are probably the easiest population to work with and as soon as they understand one thing and that's that you're on their team when they know that you are on their team you're on team client or whatever it is there's not a thing in the world that they won't trust you with and you know i've had the opportunity also to work with some adults and what's funny about that is i almost had the exact opposite experience with adults whereas they've been around long enough to kind of get stuck in their ways and like know some fans like they gotta figure it out and the kids are just like hey if you say this is the way i'll try it and i can i can respect that and and i just say all that to say that with these families kurt and kind of what you were speaking to is at the tip of the spear on the front end of this helping families find help the the best thing any of us can do is kind of like stand side to side with them and hold the light because at the end of the day um you know these families are going to have to make their decisions these clients are going to have to make their decisions and we can't make them form unfortunately but what we can do is is sit next to them instead of in front of them shine a light on the path and and help them navigate getting to that and once they get to the path it's one of those um you know leave it up to the higher power trust the process kind of scenarios where hey you know on the front end like we're here for you we love you we appreciate you all these things but there's got to be some buy-in from the other party um you know nobody's gonna gonna fix my life situation for me but they can show me some tools they can show me some direction they can sit next to me and help me when i make mistakes and i think that that's a lot of what our role is is kind of shouldering up and being this uh lighthouse so so to speak and illuminating some you know illuminating some of the darkness that might cause confusion or um you know ambiguity or you know whatever the choice word is there yeah and i know the other thing that seems like you're kind of uniquely experienced on is if you went to treatment at 18 in an adolescent facility you kind of were in a limbo age there anyways right you're probably one of the older kids at 18 you probably have the option to just go through an adult in a program you're in a situation where you're probably still relatively dependent on your family and your family structure but in a place where you're really ready to get away from that in some ways anyways right so how does out of that experience kind of help you to be able to relate and see as these clients are transitioning help help them make that path for themselves sure it's a good question and it's true it was like a unique situation where um so the back story there is that was the second time i went to that program the first time i went i was 16 turned 17 in treatment my family was from missouri so i was living in southwest missouri uh so if for the record in southwest missouri there's like three things you can do you can go to like bath grow shop you can go to branson or you can get high and so for me i was you know obviously the latter of those three but so it was like you know time for me to get treatment i had you know two stents of alcohol poisoning i was 16 my mom was just kind of like hey what what are we going to do with this kid and so they sent me treatment for the first time from springfield to nashville when i got to treatment the first time i made a decision because i was 17 then to stay in nashville by myself so at 17 years old basically moved out of my my parents house moved into a halfway house and this was 05 so this was a few years before i ended up getting clean for the last time and you know an 05 in nashville that there was super solid recovery was not a ton of young people if you notice now like in these recovery communities i know in south florida it's like this i know in tennessee it's like this there's a pretty significant movement of like younger adults sticking around which is like the coolest thing ever but back then there wasn't a lot of it but in nashville they had a few and what they also had in nashville at the time was a recovery high school so there was a high school for kids in 12-step recovery which is why i moved there so i ended up graduating you know i stayed clean for about a year lived in this halfway house graduated from a high school called community high school and after that when it was time to to do the college step i had had reservations in my program and you know they talk about these reservations you know for those like early in recovery or who have been clean for a little while being spots in your recovery you reserve for like i don't know if i want to stay clean through this whether it's the death of a loved one for me it was going back to college so you know getting clean in high school i had this idea of what i wanted college to look like and for for my age group like a lot of if you guys are in your mid-30s or whatever you'll remember like the american pie movies where like they had these type of like party mentality college situations and i wanted that i wanted to go to like parties in college and like cake parties so i never talked about it and i stayed clean for you know a year and a few months and went back to college and ended up relapsing and what i found out in like this six month relapse that i had was college parties are nothing like that you know it was a whole lot of loneliness it was a whole lot of late nights by myself there was nothing fun about it you know it it wasn't movie material you know it was just like a lot of dark depression and i i think the interesting thing for me was i had experienced the light of recovery and then i went back to the darkness of addiction and it was so much more dark than before right like once we had been kind of exposed to this light and you go back to this dark it's you know your eyes aren't adjusted so to speak your metaphorical eyes your spiritual eyes or whatever and it was it was rough um you know i remember in that time that i that i was in my relapse it was about a six month period uh four or five months into it my my family staged an intervention for me so my mom you know she has since passed away she passed away when i had about a year and a half clean and she was one of the most interesting people in the world super caring loving compassionate and she just had this mentality about life where she would just get something done you know and it was like the you know just like we're powerless over our own addiction everybody else is powerless over it too you know and that was a hard thing for her to grasp so she had staged this intervention for me um you know like i said i moved to nashville and i went back to college in missouri where i originally used and my dad says he's in town for work and he wants to meet me at this hot at this hotel just to catch up you know i didn't think anything of it my dad's a professor there's no reason he should be in town for work right he teaches people about writing english so i didn't think anything of it i go to this this hotel and i kind of like knock on the door i peek my head in i see like my mom sitting down my brother there's an empty chair my dad and i'm like we've all seen the show on a e this is an intervention like welcome to your intervention jeff and so i left obviously i didn't stay i left the intervention um they called me i ended up basically going back and uh heard him out in what i kind of told them i said hey i'm not ready yet but what that did for me and i think it's important for like maybe families listening or anybody else is a lot of times i believe we're in the business of planting seeds and you know we don't water them we don't make them grow but but we we plan them and for me what that intervention did is it planted the seed that when i was ready help would be fast and readily available and it wasn't you know it tops a month after that intervention that i finally called my parents and i said okay uh let's do this you know i'm ready i don't want to do this anymore i'm tapped out i figured it out uh just life is not for me and so that was kind of when i ended up going back to this facility in nashville the second time so i was at 18 and i could either go back to the adolescent program where i knew everybody i knew the staff i knew the program or i could go to the adult program where i didn't know anyone and i wanted to go to the facility i was more comfortable with accustomed to and so that was a really long version of why i ended up going back to the same place the second time i think there was another question in there kurt but i honestly forgot what it was no it makes sense for why you were there and and the question i think was you know how seeing both sides of that you know helps you as you're dealing it sounds like you're dealing mostly with adults now anyways so adolescent part isn't probably as big of a deal but the part there that i think is is uniform for both adolescents and adults is there's always a family element which can be tricky to navigate you know i think we talked to somebody last week where their facility they will not accept a client that doesn't have a family member they have to have someone who's willing to kind of come and learn a couple of things along the way to be supportive which i think is interesting so that was that was the real question was how that's helped you that the thing i think that you said was super interesting and i think can be a hard thing to teach is your comment about how we're powerless over our addiction obviously that's everybody knows that but everyone else is too right and it seems like that would be a really tricky principle to kind of get through a family member's head is hey there's some skills you know that you need to learn right there's issues that you need to figure out here that can help and you can't have any expectation of helping right right like how do you how do you be there how do you be support but you don't have control you've got to let go of control right you know how do you kind of teach those things as someone's coming in well i think that's so like the extraneous variable in the work we do always is the willingness of the person needing help right choice we're there like the person that needs help their willingness is the extraneous variable you can't account for it you don't know how to measure it it can change in the you know the flash of you know the flash of light the snap of a finger it changes and i'll tell you know there's a few things here any time i'm working with the family and the iron top we got a strike you know sitting around kind of trying to we get everything lined up beforehand um you got to have the plan in place you got to be ready to execute because the second iron top is when you got a strike but the other thing i kind of like to talk about when i'm talking to families specifically so if you know if i'm if i'm talking to the person that needs help uh it's kind of a different conversation than if i'm talking to the family of the person who needs help and what i what i like to do a lot of the times with with these families that the first question i'll always ask is you know have you guys ever heard of aleman have you heard of naranon um some of the time they'll say yes i've heard of it and i go to these meetings religiously and almost every time you hear that you can tell the difference in the boundaries that are set with their loved one and and they're very more often than not not all the time but more often than not they're these very healthy boundaries and it is not a form of control it is very much uh almost a a level of acceptance with with their powerlessness over the the disease of addiction and as a result of that what it does is it puts the ball in the person who needs help it puts it in their court so hey we love you we're going to support you this is how we can support you right now if you continue to use and this is how we can support you if you want to get help either way we're going to be there the support's going to look a little bit different based off of your willingness and what what i think is super effective about that is especially for people like myself maybe you guys too that that um have addiction addiction alcoholism is you're almost always more willing when you think you have control almost always and so when it's like hey uh if you choose this this is what you get if you choose that this is what you get you're like oh wow i get a choice and it's almost you know it just makes things easier for everyone and i don't know if that answers your question or not but one of the things that i think is super impactful and important for families is this you know a lot of you hear a lot of people talk about how this is a family disease and the meaning of that is more than anything is it affects everyone in the family the dynamic of the relationships
everything shifts um you know it is in that sense a very uh destructive force a lot of times and what we find out is when members of the family start to get help and go to avalon or maybe it's individual counseling and they start to learn these uh boundaries to protect themselves when they start to get better the process starts to get better as well and if nothing more it gets easier i think uh i don't think easier i think simple is the right word it gets more simple it doesn't mean it's easier it's just a more simple process so you know when there's nothing left to do i think a lot of times that the best thing we can do is focus on how we can take care of ourselves as family members uh or even you know individuals who maybe don't have a lot of families you know so there you know i think there are people who struggle with addiction that don't have a lot of family support and those people i think too need to have a place where maybe they have a family of choice that's not a family of origin those people are important to bring into the process as well and so figuring out kind of what that looks like from a treatment perspective from a recovery perspective or even on on my instance helping somebody get into treatment sometimes we're talking to their significant other their boyfriend their girlfriend their friend that cares about them i think anybody that's family of choice or origin is important to bring into that process that's profound and and you know i guess i'm curious jeff how often when you interact with families do you do you um do you come across people family members that are like you know the person the addict is the one who's sick that you know the person who's using is the one who's sick and if you will just take them and fix them everything else is better how often do you come across that as opposed to a family who maybe has done some al-anon or maybe has a little bit of recover behind them and and gets that that is not really true more often than i would like so uh and i only say that because you know there was you know there was a word we talked about earlier stigma and i think that there is a specific well there's a lot of stigmas but with addiction and alcoholism there's this stigma that um you know the addict is choosing um to live this lifestyle and in some circumstances i can see that like logically i can understand why people believe that from personal experience i can also understand that um you know toward you know when it became chemical dependency for me so it was like the three quick stages for me of addiction was you know first thing i was experimenting second thing was kind of recreational use i was doing it with my friends and once it progressed to chemical dependency i kind of forfeited my choice um i had got to the spot where i was using against my will i was i was in the middle of using telling myself i want to do this but i'm doing it anyway so from personal experience i can understand how that's not the case and from a third party trend to be understanding of people i can understand why their thought press process would be uh addiction is a choice in this kind of idea or mentality and i think the frustrating thing is knowing the other side of it from personal experience how shame has never helped anybody get anywhere good in their life and when we have that type of mentality it's a very shame driven conversation it's a shame driven form of help with somebody and you you really can kind of get down to like the core of when we help people if if they got a family member trying to help somebody out of shame while they're shaming them you can understand how that's not going to work very well right like they may get to where they need to go but in that family system there's a lot of work that needs to be done um and i think too when if i'm looking at a case um and i'm working with the family and i'm working with the individual that you know the number one thing i remember right off the bat is that you know the first thing we do is no harm right the first thing we do always is no harm the second thing we do is we got to get an individual whoever whoever needs the treatment we got to get them to a safe place before we can start to really dig into some of those you know unhealthy belief systems unhealthy family systems can't do that while the person's still using and at risk so everything i do and that's you know in that first kind of initial talk with the family talk with the client is is always geared toward getting them somewhere safe and doing no harm if i can accomplish those two things it's a success for me and then once we have kind of bought ourselves some time we can start digging into clinically when they get to the facility when they get to where they need to go i trust you know the clinicians either you know that we have at lakeview or another facility we work with uh that they are going to get what they need from the clinical side of things um often kind of along these lines that you're talking about often you know addiction is misunderstood right it's not you know once the brain you know has those neural pathways that are concreted you don't get the choice anymore you may have your your ability to choose is extremely limited at that point and and that's hard for us to grab hold of because all you have to do is just stop using right and it's like well if i could have done that i would have done that a long time ago it just doesn't ever thought of that thank you right right and that idea that it actually rewires the brain and says that this drug is more important than my life it's more important than living it's more important than having a house over you know a shelter over my head or having food the drug is more important and and it takes a bit for people to really wrap their head around that um there's also this idea that addiction is a symptom of more core issues can you talk a little bit about some of the core issues that you have seen or some of them that that pertain to you as you were in in your recovery sure um so that's a really good question point especially when you're talking about kind of the the brain and wire together fire together and these type of like neurological things are well out of my like intellectual capacity you know there's so many scientists if it's just absolute wizards with this stuff but um in terms of addiction being a symptom of other things going on i'm you know that's my belief is you know i'm more of a believer that you know i was kind of born with this gene um and that cert whatever set of scenarios lined up in my life for this uh for that to kind of come to life or come to fruition kind of happen and i kind of like think about like a chicken egg scenario you know kind of what comes first and i don't know the necessary uh or necessarily what that is but what i do know is you know early on in life there were certain things and traumas that i had so you know one of those traumas was uh my mom she is there was she suffered from crohn's disease and she had a very bad um she had a real bad type of crohn's disease i think there was different intensities and for her she was in and out of the hospital two three times a week uh couldn't get you know couldn't get a doctor to figure out kind of what was wrong so there were times where you know in my head as a kid was kind of like you know when is my mom gonna die right there was a certain level of um emotional instability i had from that type of always on edge wondering when this catastrophic event was gonna happen in my life um you know around the time she also was in recovery so she went to treatment when i was five or six years old and had this this life of recovery as well and it became a very interesting balance for her because a lot of these medications that she needed to treat crohn's disease and make her life not painful were also some medications that if unchecked could you know kill her or make the addiction worse feed the addiction so it was a really tough boundary and balance for her to find but i say all that to say that you know some of those type of traumas for me were you know situations i had to face in recovery and and what i found out and this this was a really interesting thing is i i feel like early on in recovery i dealt with the trauma like the action and kind of talked about it came to peace with it um didn't have these type of trauma responses to those specific situations what i didn't deal with until my later years in recovery i'm talking 10 11 12 years clean was the belief system i created as a result of the trauma does that make sense so so i had this trauma you know a handful of different things that happened and i dealt with that situation but when that happened i cultivated these belief systems about trusting you know females about my self-worth about different things that were very deep and important to figure out and never dealt with the belief system because i thought the trauma was handled so i would keep running into these situations in my recovery that would kind of like bump in my head against the wall scenarios uh just the life stuff that if i had a healthier belief system i would have been able to avoid but it takes what it takes and eventually we we figure out how to manage it and i say all that to say like in my later years in recovery i finally started to address some of these belief systems i had and it was interesting to see how the rest of my life started to get easier and better because i had you know i had been operating with these faulty belief systems for the first 28 years of my life you know so uh i don't know if that necessarily speaks to kind of what we were talking about but for me there was you know those things that had to get dealt with but first things first like i had to get clean i had to get a sense of security in my life before those things could really start to get dealt with and i think that when we talk about helping people who have trauma which in my opinion is almost everyone um the first thing that that people need is to be safe right if they don't feel safe and they're not in a safe environment we can't start to work on that stuff you know we got to get somebody safe we got to teach them tools that help them feel grounded that help get back to the moment and when when they kind of have this tool belt and they're in the atmosphere where they feel safe that's when it's a good time to start kind of going to work on some of those you know the traumas and the belief systems and those type of things it's interesting that you bring that up and you know the way i look at i've talked to people and they'll say you know they'll say look i've dealt with the trauma the trauma is good i just need to figure out the addiction and i'm like all right okay but you know like you know trauma doesn't go away like there's layers it's like that onion that shrek talks about right there's layers and you're just gonna you're gonna keep those layers you're gonna keep coming depending on you know your relationship changes and life changes it triggers that stuff up and it's like you said you dealt with the trauma but not the belief system around the trauma there's so many layers to trauma that like if we're not working on it our whole life it's gonna it's gonna pop up right it's gonna come out sideways um and so i love that you talk about it like that i imagine that losing your mom even though you had done the trauma work and you had a little bit of sobriety underneath of you would have been a huge trigger because it's the very thing as a child that you feared all the time what was that like for you so it was actually it's that's this is kind of a good story so you're right there was uh you know so um you know the member the 12-step program i'm a member of we have kind of a workbook and in that workbook you get to write a bunch of questions and a bunch of answers it's super self-revealing it's insightful it's really good and powerful stuff so in my step work in the first step like i was talking about earlier it has a section for reservations and the second so this time when i got clean 15 years ago that was my reservation everything else had been figured out i knew i didn't want to do the whole american pie college thing all that other like i'd figured all the other stuff out that was my reservation i was like when she dies i don't know if i'll be able to make it right so you fast forward first year recovery nothing catastrophic happened you know there was like minor things like you'd be at the halfway house someone would eat your ramen noodles you'd get pissed off about it call your sponsor that type of stuff that felt like the end of the world but was really just simple life stuff you have to practice some spiritual principles on and it's good so you fast forward a little bit and you know my mom's in and out of of the hospital and i kind of you know i know something at some point it's going to happen but you know i had about 14 months clean and at the time my mom and dad were living in little rock arkansas i was living back in nashville so my dad was teaching at a university there uh he was teaching rhetoric and writing and she was you know she didn't work and you know i'm going to visit my mom's big thing for me for whatever reason she's like super it was super important to her that i was in recovery obviously but for some reason it was really important or they got an education i don't know if it's because she's you know so her upbringing is you know she's jewish she's big she was a big fan of education for whatever reason i never was um you know and in high school i got diagnosed with being dyslexic i used it as a crutch took advantage of like the extra help i would get took advantage of the the whole whatever school system but so i'm in college and i'm going to visit my mom and dad about a five hour drive from nashville to little rock when i get there you know she's in the hospital i get the information that she's got some sort of heart condition on top of crohn's disease something in my gut didn't feel right about it um and you think that you know if your mom's in the hospital two or three times a week it begins to feel normal that she's in the hospital it becomes a normal part of your life and for whatever reason this part felt different she was in i called my sponsor i'm like hey man something doesn't feel right about this we went through it um at the time i think i'm on a seventh and eighth step and he was like look um you might now is the time for you to go do your amends with your mom so i went to this noon meeting in little rock i got to share about it and you know close mouth doesn't get fed shared what was going on and then it just so happened that at this meeting um you know there was 10 15 people with 20 plus years of recovery and they all just started sharing their experience strength and hope on doing a meds with their parents and it was like this really magical god-centered situation you can just tell sometimes when the setup is spiritual you know like you didn't plan this everything is just kind of conspired to help you in this situation and i heard everybody's experience strength and hope i got to talk to people after the meeting went to the hospital to do my meds with my mom and so i set her down and you know i'm a big believer like we make amends uh not excuses and you know so so the harm a lot of the harm i did toward my mom was you know robbing her a night of sleep um you know she would be up at night wondering if she was gonna get a call from the cops wondering if she was gonna call from the hospital um and so those are the things i was making amends for and so kind of like toward the end of i said hey like what can i do to make this right i want to make this right and she she said two things she was like i want you to stay clean and i want you to graduate college oh my god you had to throw the second one in there they could just be in recovery but now i got you know four more years of college i got to figure out so i said don you know i can handle that i can do that and go back to nat go back to nashville starting you know my second semester or something like that um things are going well like at that point in our life what had happened and i believe this to be one of the um you know divine kind of interventions was like i had gotten to a spot in my recovery where my mom trusted didn't just trust me she trusted that i was gonna be okay and there was a big difference there you know so you can trust somebody and not not quite sure if they're gonna be all right or not you know i got a few friends like that that i trust a lot and like yeah i don't know like i don't know if they're gonna be okay but she trusted i was gonna be okay and i think for her that that was the spot where she could kind of like relax a little bit she knew her baby boy was gonna be okay i got a big brother dude to brainiac um you know by the book about as you know tight as they come i was a little i was kind of a loose cannon growing up so you know she wasn't so sure and she got to the spot where i think she trusted that and there was a you know fast forward maybe two or three months she's back in the hospital um i'm i decided i was gonna go surprise her it was the weekend before summer school started and so i drive to drive to little rock i get there it's midnight i stop at kroger and i buy some flowers this is something i've never done before i never bought her flowers while she was in the hospital because it was it happened so often it wasn't something i really kind of put together that i was supposed to do so bought her like these pink roses took him to the hospital at midnight um surprised her and you know she you could tell that at that moment when i showed up with these these flowers she was i'd become an asset to my family that was like the defining spot where i realized finally that i was no longer a liability that she was she was proud she you know i was i was a benefit um she walked around showed the nurses she felt elated um and i remember when i picked her up the next day from the hospital i took her home it was around mother's day gave her a card and then i think the next day i drove back to nashville because i had summer school starting so summer school started on monday and i left there on a sunday and then i got a call monday morning that she had passed away and for me it was it was one of those things where it's like like i tell people early in recovery like you know practice these tools long before you need them so when you do need them it becomes like this muscle memory um and so i got the call from my brother first thing i did call my sponsor uh showed up in my house there was you know five or six men in recovery that were my friends beat me there you know and for me i think the the best part about all that was when i realized that like the best amends i gave her was the fact that she could like rest in peace and not be worried that her you know youngest son the loose cannon wasn't gonna figure it out right so she she had trusted got to the spot where she trusted that i was gonna be okay and she knew that at that point she didn't have to keep fighting so the the beautiful thing there was i know how fortunate i am to be able to have the opportunity to make those amends and leave on a good note you know i don't think you know at some point we're going to lose our parents hopefully and i say hopefully because the all the alternative to that is is probably the worst thing in the world anytime a parent has to bury a child so you know at some point they're probably going to pass away and me having the fortune to be able to kind of make that right before it happened uh was a huge blessing and i know a lot of people weren't that fortunate so you know that that was emotional but it was good you know like those two things coexist a lot more often than than people care to talk about but toughest thing i ever went through but it was and i hope this doesn't sound weird but it was like amazing and it was divine and it was i was able to walk through it because i had put the work in and there were you know relationships i had in recovery and the fellowship that carried me through it um you know it's one of those things like she is maybe 12 13 years ago it's been it feels like a lifetime um and it's not easy all the time but it's also one of those things i have the ability to look back at and be really grateful for how it went down grateful that you know we had the time we did together we share a lot of the same passions uh fishing being one of those so she was actually a fishing guide at table rock lake in missouri and that was like her favorite thing in the world to do is fish so i live in south florida there's you can drive three blocks in in your direction and catch a fish down here so for me like that's when i want to connect with with her or anybody that i've lost that i try to do the things that were really important to them and for my mom it's easy i can i can go fish any of those kinds of things so i don't know that was uh it was one of those things where it happens and like thank goodness i had the right people in my life to guide me through it you know wow that's very powerful story i love that you've shared that and um and and the way that you've set it up right jeff because you had to do a lot of work to be able to move through that um and and the things that you're sharing are evidence of the work that you've done because you can see the behavioral changes right it shows up in the way that you show up with relationships so super powerful story i love that you were willing to come on today and share that with us and and really be vulnerable with with the audience and uh with kurt and i um i mean i think the stories are really powerful and i think you know something we talked about a little earlier that that maybe we can end on today is that uh that everybody is the hero of their own story right we talked about um i was talking with somebody earlier today they they listened to our very first podcast where we talked about imposter syndrome and they like yeah i'm feeling a little imposter-ish right but that we all feel little and small but we are all heroes and maybe just touch base on that for just a little bit your perspective around that sure sure so um and thanks thanks for saying that shelley um so when we were talking earlier we were talking a little bit about the hero's journey and i was introduced to the hero's journey through dr brad reedy who is an absolute stud but you know he basically had given me this dvd and it was called finding joe and it was about joseph campbell who had uh done a lot of research about uh different archetypes one of which being the hero an archetype is kind of like a stereotypical character in any kind of storyline so i think the easiest way for me to always kind of explain it if i'm talking to somebody is looking at movies a lot of people are familiar with so if you look at star wars you have
you know luke skywalker if you're talking about lord of the rings there's you know frodo and whatever so these are you know the stereotypical hero in uh different movies and you know joseph campbell would talk about that each one of these heroes has um the same type of journey that they start in this really familiar place and you know something happens whether you know even harry potter he was living under you know this magical wizard living under uh a staircase right it's like very this is his reality and then he gets this call to adventure where uh you know something somebody basically comes in and gives you this invitation to do something more special than you've been doing and they talk about accepting the call to adventure and if you look at you know my own personal story a lot of that was for me was when i was using that was me living under the stairwell um at some point it it i got the call to adventure to basically get introduced to recovery go to treatment and then it started my kind of heroes journey where there were um you know i guess to stick with the metaphor they're dragons to slay thresholds to overstep um i have certain people that are my helping hands right that help me figure these different things out in my life and you know he would say that the point of the journey is always to come back and share the story right the point of the journey is you go back and you share your trials and your tribulations with other people and they are able to use these they are able to get these inspirations uh they were able to get help from your journey and so when you were talking earlier shelly about having people come on and kind of share their stories share their journey i was like man that's like the hero's journey because we all are the main character in our life but hopefully um and not in an arrogant way or an egotistical way but um you know if we can go through this life and and like start to like chase some goals and enjoy this like life and chasing dreams and then we're able to come back and share with other people and help them do that it becomes purposeful you know this this journey it adds purpose to what we're doing um but yeah any if anybody wants to check out that that movie um super good it's called finding joe and it kind of like helps you see the metaphor between like your life and like the journey of it of a hero and like a stereotypical kind of movie very cool i will be watching that movie i promise very soon so i love you sharing that and love sharing your story um for me story stories are super healing and i'll get more out of a story than anybody lecturing to me any day so i love the stories they're so powerful and and your your journey um is very unique and and and very heroic in and of itself so thank you for coming on today thank you shelly and thank you kurt for uh for having me i appreciate you guys taking the time and inviting me out to the podcast of course thanks for coming i i love the analogy of the hero's journey and i'm kind of just sitting in that thinking a little bit more about it it'll be fun to think about more and and i'd like to watch the show it's interesting because you you mentioned that they don't mean hero in like an ego way and it's interesting to think about how no hero thinks about themselves in that way right any any true hero really ends up being you know a servant or someone who does good for others it's impossible to be a narcissistic hero right that's always the villain right so it's interesting it's interesting to think that being the hero of your own story is kind of a righteous valid pursuit you know it's not it's not self-serving in the wrong ways it's self-serving in the right way so that's cool that's interesting thanks for bringing that yeah of course it's funny you say that too you think about these other like if you look at these movies with when you think about it like a hero it's always almost like they're being a hero that it's like they don't want it they don't want to be that there's this apprehension there's this drawback then i'm like no no if you don't do this people are going to get hurt they're like well if you put it like that i guess i have to you know it's almost always this like selfless pursuit which i think is really cool i never even thought about it like that yeah it's kind of the true the true source of leadership the the best source for for leadership or or not just of others but of yourself which is cool that's awesome thanks for that thanks for being here i appreciate you guys