K E Garland
On October 24, 2023, I had the privilege of reading parts of In Search of a Salve and conversing with Dr. Andrea Dinardo and St. Clair College’s students, staff, and faculty in Windsor-Ontario, Canada. It was an amazing experience, one where the emotional connection was palpable. However, as with many readings, there was not enough time at the end for questions. Consequently, I promised the audience that I would answer here on the blog. Hopefully, the questions and answers can help a broader audience:
What is your advice to facing the fear of being vulnerable in front of others?
“Do it scared” is a quote that comes to mind. Once you determine that what you have to say is important, and I guarantee it is, then I suggest doing whatever you have to do to do it scared, even if that means taking baby steps toward your overall goal.
What legacy has your mother (adoptive) left behind or instilled in you? How are you honouring or keeping that legacy alive?
My adoptive mother was big on doing your best, no matter what the task; therefore, no matter what I do, I put my best foot forward, and I encourage those with whom I collaborate to do the same.
How do you forgive someone that you do not feel is sorry?
One strategy I’ve used is to create a specific type of meditation solely for forgiveness. I imagine myself sitting with the person and telling them whatever I thought was offensive. Then, I see them apologizing to me, saying actual detailed apologetic words. After that, we hug and make amends.
What advice would you have to offer someone in their mid-20s that you wish you knew at that age?
I would advise anyone in their 20s to think often about how to be their authentic self. What does it mean to be yourself, and how can you do that in small ways, until it’s a part of your everyday life?
How did you forgive yourself? You said that you stayed silent when you should’ve protested. How did you forgive yourself for letting your child self get hurt?
I thought deeply about my upbringing and how it shaped me. I realized that I (like a lot of us) was the product of my environment. I was reared in a way that didn’t value children expressing themselves emotionally. I know that wasn’t my fault, but rather, the way adults saw as appropriate for raising a girl in the 1970s-90s.
How were you moving forward knowing your dad was okay with starting a new life like nothing happened?
Knowing my father was able to begin a new life with a new family (twice) hurt me deeply, but I suppressed those emotions well into adulthood, which is what contributed to my addiction.
Do you believe being “ready” is a decision? When did you determine you were ready to forgive your father?
“Ready” is a decision. I knew I was ready after I had my rock bottom moment. I knew that forgiving my father was one of the things I absolutely had to do to heal.
How would you advise an addict with little understanding of where the root cause is from, and how to dig deep in order to figure it out and break free?
I would suggest thinking about what you already know about yourself. For example, I knew I was “sad” because my adoptive mother died, but I didn’t know how much that contributed to my overall condition. Begin with what you absolutely know to be true for yourself. Then, research and read books that can help you overcome that one thing. For example, Mother Hunger helped me understand how mother-daughter bonding can affect a child and the woman she becomes.
How do you care for someone who is an addict?
I’m not quite sure how to answer this question, other than to say begin with love and grace. Everyone can benefit from love and grace.
How to help someone who I think is experiencing sadness?
I would let that person know that you’ve noticed they are sad. A lot of times, we notice things about people we are in relationship with, but we never say anything. Start with verbalizing what you’ve noticed and then ask, “How can I help?”
Do you consider the opposite of addiction to be connection? How do you feel connection now?
The opposite of addiction, in my opinion, is unresolved trauma. Gabor Maté talks a lot about how unresolved childhood trauma can lead to addiction. So, I’d suggest anyone with unresolved childhood trauma to seek therapy for that.
I’ve never not felt connection. Instead, I was connected to many people in unhealthy ways. Today, I know how to enact boundaries, have healthy conversations, and walk away from relationships that no longer serve me.
What are your thoughts on Canada set to legalize doctor assisted euthanasia for drug addicts in March 2024?
I hadn’t heard about this, but it sounds awful. I don’t feel I’m qualified to answer this question, but here’s an article that explains it, in case people in another part of the world are unfamiliar: Canada will Legalize Medically Assisted Dying for Eligible People Addicted to Drugs.
Forgiveness for being right and you’re treated wrong (without going into a victim) How to heal (e.g., their actions caused a reaction)?
Viewing a situation as someone being treated “wrong” or another person being “right” is a bit binary. The only way I was able to forgive anyone in my life is to think of them as a human being who has a background that causes them to interact in specific ways; that way, there is little blame. Also, you can forgive someone without remaining in relationship with the person (if that’s the desire).
Have you ever thought your life could be different?
Absolutely. That’s why I’m able to do the things I do today 😉