I’m excited today to welcome Andrea Seydel, podcaster, life coach, and author who has written a book to help families with addiction.
Welcome, Andrea. I’m glad you’re here!
Could you share some of your background and what led you to do this work with loved ones struggling with addiction?
My training is in positive psychology and I have postgraduate studies in positive psychology and resilience training, and nothing prepared me for the turmoil and the struggle that comes from loving someone with an addiction. It was the hardest thing that I’ve ever gone through in my entire life.
I was in a nine-year relationship with someone who had an active addiction. I only knew about it for the last two years and he just couldn’t hide it anymore. And in my case, I did lose him. I lost him to addiction. He disappeared from our life and abandoned me and the kids. So that’s what I mean by I lost him.
It’s really sad, it is like mourning the loss of somebody that you love. That’s still alive. In my case, it was my spouse, and it’s just devastating, but I am all about turning pain into purpose. So I knew that I needed to create the book, the podcast, the platform, in order to support those that love someone with an addiction, because, and I’d often say, saving you is killing me.
And that’s how I came up with the title of my book and the podcast and everything because that’s literally what I would be saying on a regular basis. Like, I’m losing me here. I’m not in a good place. And it was a big struggle.
What did you struggle with most, do you think when you were in the middle of it, what was the hardest thing for you?
People feel like you’re alone in this and you don’t realize when you’re in it, but there’s so much shame around it. And you’re trying to navigate it. You’re trying to keep your life together. But you’re dealing with this bizarre behavior. You don’t know how to love the person anymore because you’re reading up, loving from a distance, creating boundaries.
It’s like suddenly you feel shame, you feel very much alone, and you’re confused. The biggest struggle for me was that I loved this person so much and I wanted so badly for him to seek recovery, seek treatment, and come back to being the person that I fell in love with.
I saw his potential and I would see glimmers of hope. I had to accept the fact that the person that was standing before me was no longer the person that I fell in love with. I’m not going to get him back. I had to realize that I was putting up with so much abuse and turmoil. The hardest part was that I was putting his needs above my own. I was doing everything a compassionate, loving person would do to care for someone that they love.
I know you work with other family members, so what do you see them going through? What are some issues that come up for them?
The general pattern is a cycle of abuse. And then feeling almost like, how could I be so stupid, we’re so hard on ourselves that we’ve allowed it to happen again. The biggest struggle is to practice self-compassion and to recognize that you might be drowning and that you sometimes neglect yourself because you’re so mentally and physically exhausted, and consumed with this person. A common struggle that I’m seeing is that people lose their power. They lose their sparkle. They have the realization that they’ve neglected themselves because they’re putting someone else’s needs above their own.
This self-compassion piece is also about not feeling alone. I always emphasize that you’re not alone. There are so many people touched by addiction and recognizing the common humanity in that is exhausting. It is hard. It is devastating. It’s sad. We can be in despair at times.
You are human and those emotions are very real. They’re communicating, telling you things, communicating with you to keep you safe.
The biggest thing a lot of my clients are working through is to take back their own power and shift that spotlight onto themselves again.
What are some key pieces from your book, Saving You Is Killing Me that helped you along the way?
One of the key takeaways is the idea that we can struggle. I love that terminology because it’s not about just sweeping something under the carpet or pretending it doesn’t exist or setting boundaries.
The reality is that there is a way we can struggle well, and science has shown that we can’t put on blinders and pretend those bad things don’t happen. Struggling well is all about building your resiliency, building up yourself so that when the wind does blow, you’re not going to fall over.
Like a tree with strong roots, it’s building resilience. In positive psychology, this idea of bouncing back is really what resilience is all about. It’s recognizing that you will get knocked down. There are so many things that we can actually do to help build our resilience and resources of self-compassion, self-efficacy, confidence and self-worth. We can also build our resource of emotional agility so we can honor our emotions. We can manage our stress and those strong emotions such as anger and sadness. Building resilience is all about tapping into our ability to bounce back, to be strong, even amongst the challenges, and build hope.
The common thread through the book is it does take courage to focus on yourself and to take back your power. It’s this idea that we can struggle. We can’t pretend this isn’t happening. But what we can do is we can shift the focus back onto us, honor our emotions, tap into our self-worth, our worthiness, and tap into self-care.
That’s beyond just bubble baths and soaking in the tub. It’s self-care on all levels such as connecting to the community and connecting with friends and sources of support. There’s a lot we could do.
What were some things you put in place to try to get yourself to this point?
When you’re in that place, you feel hopeless. There’s despair. You just feel exhausted. I remember saying, I can’t do this anymore. When I was in that place, I did recognize that, okay, I need to focus on Andrea. It started with a simple ritual.
I would say to myself, what am I needing, feeling, wanting? I would tap into what I needed. You forget because you’re so consumed.
It’s like tapping back in. I feel angry. I feel devastated. I feel disappointed. I feel frustrated, like recognizing all those feelings. It’s like, okay, what am I needing? At first it might be, oh my gosh, what am I needing?
I might need just a little walk in nature. I might just need a bit of space away from this. I need to just catch my breath because the way that you treated me yesterday was crazy. It’s just tapping in. And then what do I want? What does Andrea want? I want to feel good again. I want to feel like I’m fit.
Maybe you go join that yoga class or maybe sit and quiet your mind and become self-aware of what it is that you’re needing. That was a simple ritual that I started.
The other one is the idea of mindfulness. I would go on a mindfulness walk. I’d be completely in the present moment. If I was thinking about the what-ifs in the future and the worry, I would push all that away and come right into that present moment, you can find peace there. That is one of the real-time resilience strategies that I use over and over and over again. What do I smell? What am I feeling? All those things are connecting you to your senses. It’s so beautiful because it brings you calmness.
When you love someone with an addiction, you are constantly in that stress response. So calming and regulating your nervous system becomes essential.
Those are a couple of things that really helped me when I was in the muck.
I do want to add that you don’t have to do this alone. That is my main message. I did reach out to my own life coaches, my own therapists, and also my closest friends. You need to know that you’re not alone because it can feel very isolating. Isolation is not a great thing.
We want to make sure that even if it’s really hard to reach out, to make sure you do so because reaching out to other people will help you also have a sounding board about what is going on.
It’s nice to have someone to talk to about it so you know you’re not going crazy as it can feel like that sometimes.
Support groups are fantastic too with people that have been through what you’re going through because they will understand with so much compassion and empathy. They’ll know many of the feelings and thoughts that you are experiencing. Also what’s great about support groups is the fact that you will be offering support to others as well.
One of the best ways to struggle well is to be of service to others because it makes you feel like you’re exercising this practice of kindness and also compassion towards others. And recognizing that you’re not alone. That common humanity makes you really feel a sense of self-compassion as well.
How can people learn more about what you have to offer?
Thank you, Cathy. We’ve got the podcast, the support group, and the book, Saving You Is Killing Me: Loving Someone with an Addiction. I also have a whole SYKM resilience program and community. We do meetups every Tuesday where our community comes together in a Zoom meeting so that we don’t feel alone.
If anyone wants a free resource, on my website Saving You Is Killing Me, I have those real-time resilience tips as well. So if you need something urgently, you know, to help boost that resilience there’s a nice freebie there for your listeners.
By: Cathy Taughinbaugh
Title: How to Save Yourself: Meet Andrea Seydel
Sourced From: cathytaughinbaugh.com/andrea-seydel/
Published Date: Thu, 30 Jun 2022 14:26:21 +0000