Gina Tabrizy’s KOCI 101.5 Radio Spotlight

New Directions for Women’s Chief Clinical Officer KOCI 101.5 Radio Interview

New Directions for Women’s Chief Clinical Officer KOCI 101.5 Radio Interview

New Directions for Women’s Chief Clinical Officer was recently interviewed by Steen on KOCI 101.5 based out of Newport Beach, California. This transcription is from the Recovery Show, and they talked about topics including codependency, celebrities and addiction, the “bottom”, perfectionism, and family dynamics. A transcription is included below.

Good evening, friends. Welcome to the Recovery Show with Steen, here on KOCI 101.5 KOCI here in Newport Beach, California. We come to you every Thursday night 8:00 to 9:00 PM, live and local, as they say.

Sean

The Recovery Show, what do we talk about? If you’re the first-time listener out there, hopefully you’re listening, because we talk about recovery. We talk about addiction. That’s a pretty hard subject. I just learned today there’s over 600 addictions out there and I bet that’s a number that’s not even touched yet. I think there’s probably more.

I also learned the other day that we spend over $820 billion on addiction-related issues in this country every year. So when we talk about addiction, we’re talking about many more things than just being addicted. There’s many more things going on there than just you being addicted to a substance or a behavior or a fill-in-the blank. You’re sitting out there.

In addition to hard talk about addiction, we talk about the positive things called recovery, because you can’t have one without the other, and there is recovery out there. There is hope. Because once you get down to that bottom of that barrel and the only place you can look is up, you know there is up. And there is always hope. There’s always a hand looking out to reach down, reach back, reach to you, because they’ve been through it before or they know what it’s like or they identify or they’re empathetic or they’re service-minded and they want to help.

If you are listening out there and you know someone who’s addicted – and statistics show that everybody out there probably knows someone going through some form of addiction. And, if they’re going through addiction, then there’s more things going on than with just the addiction. So we talk about addiction. We talk about recovery. That’s a positive thing. And we talk about what I think is the best part, is the fellowship or the community we build as we recover, because we really don’t have to go through any of this alone.

And right now it’s the hub of the holidays, meaning this is the pinnacle of the holidays, right? We have how many holidays going on. Celebrate what you celebrate and have a great time. I celebrate you, my friends. We celebrate you. We celebrate we. Because we can’t do it would each, and we shouldn’t have to and we don’t have to. You’re not walking this journey alone. Never leave this program feeling like you’re walking alone.

And we have wonderful guests. Welcome to the show, Gina. You have a story too. Now, why are you here talking to me about the Recovery Show? You were here before.

Gina Tabrizy

Yes. I’m a therapist by trade, so I’m a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Steen

Cool.

Gina Tabrizy

I’ve been in the field 33, almost 34, years now.

Steen

God bless you.

Gina Tabrizy

I know. And I started working early in the field with a lot of trauma. And I had my own story. And my own story revolved around co-dependency.

Steen

I love that word.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, co-dependency is such a beautiful catch phrase now, but originally it meant you’re dependent on someone who’s dependent on a substance. So you’re addicted to the addict who’s addicted to the substance. And unbeknownst to me, my first spouse was what we call a dry addict, or alcoholic. He gave it up for me, quote unquote, because I said I’m not going to be –

Steen

That doesn’t sound healthy.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, no, it’s not healthy.

Steen

It’s amazing how addictions manifest itself.

Gina Tabrizy

Well, yeah. And for me, I’m young, I’m 20-something, I’m in college, I’m crossing the T’s, dotting the I’s, fairly successful at that time. And he’s smoking pot and drinking.

Steen

Wait, wait, I’m sorry. He gave it up for you, but yet he’s smoking pot and drinking?

Gina Tabrizy

Oh, yeah. No, this is when I meet him.

Steen

Oh, okay, okay.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, but for me, it was that attraction of being rebellious and you’re gonna go against the family and that’s how you’re gonna get your power. And so I’m gonna go with the bad boy, right? But as soon as it starts getting serious, I’m like, well, this isn’t gonna go anywhere if you’re gonna be using substances. So he stops, cold turkey.

And so I’m young. I haven’t gone through any kind of program yet in psychology around addiction services. I’m learning a lot about Jung and Freud and the family systems. I hadn’t learned anything about addiction yet. So years later, I’m like, oh, my God, he’s a dry drunk. He’s a person who gave up a substance and looked for no program of support to look at what happened, what caused the symptoms.

Steen

He was white knuckling it.

Gina Tabrizy

Just white knuckling it.

Steen

Just grasping on.

Gina Tabrizy

So he was angry and irritable.

Steen

Angry.

Gina Tabrizy

Discontented.

Steen

Yeah, miserable, discontent.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, it’s my fault. { Laughs } I mean, I’m the target.

Steen

It’s part of the process.

Gina Tabrizy

Right.

Steen

It can’t be a fault of anybody, right?

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah

Steen

It’s part of the process.

Gina Tabrizy

But symbolically, he looks at me and it’s like you’re the reminder, you’re the reason I stopped using, and I’m so miserable with myself. All I can think about is I want to use, but I’m not using.

Steen

Right, he hasn’t addressed the reason why he’s using or wants to use.

Gina Tabrizy

He’s not even close. So it was fascinating to me to go through that journey. And I found that I had developed these symptoms of co-dependency, which is basically you kind of just annihilate yourself. You come last. I always say you’re at the back of the bus. You’re never first in line. Everything else and everyone else becomes much more important than you, so you deny a lot of your feelings, a lot of your reality to make sure that that other person’s needs are being met. And it looks like someone’s being altruistic or be “Oh, my God, she’s so loving.” And it’s not. It’s a real sick form of control.

And I can say that today and I can look at it today and say that was my way of trying to control you from leaving me. And a lot of co-dependents don’t get to that understanding and understanding. They’ve got these deep-seated issues of abandonment, of being alone and fear of being alone. Fear of not being enough. So they attach themselves to someone. And if that someone’s a project they can fix and that makes them feel powerful and they’re getting their self-esteem from that. So it’s very twisted in that way. But when you’re doing it, you can convince yourself that I’m just being a good person, I’m just helping someone who needs to be helped, who needs to be loved.

Steen

And there’s a ton of people out there right now listening who probably identify with that wholeheartedly. They know and love someone desperately.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, desperately, while that person is self-destructing in some way and watching it, and you thinking I can love them enough into stopping, especially when you’re talking about substances.

Steen

Oh, there’s the phrase right now. “I can love them enough into stopping.”

And that’s not possible.

Gina Tabrizy

No.

Steen

That’s the definition of insanity.

Gina Tabrizy

Total definition of insanity. And for a family member, there is no stop button. In a parent’s mind, it’s like stopping is contrary to everything a parent is supposed to do. And yet they can’t save that person.

Steen

It’s almost as hard as watching someone giving up a substance, even harder probably, because you’re so emotionally attached.

Gina Tabrizy

You’re so emotionally attached.

Steen

You’re not physically imbibing in something that is physically addictive, but it is physically addictive, because you hurt so much, right?

Gina Tabrizy

Right.

Steen

Good topic. Just gives you the shivers.

Gina Tabrizy

It’s so hard to sit in that powerlessness.

Steen

When we can admit our powerlessness, things get better. Right?

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, absolutely.

Steen

Things get better.

Gina Tabrizy

But you got to do the work.

Steen

So you got into this relationship. Now you’re in this co-dependency. And what’s the solution?

Gina Tabrizy

So for me, it was just recognizing the sicker I got and the unhappier it got, the more I was able to see that I had a problem. It wasn’t now his problem. It was “I had a problem”. And then I was willing to do the work. I was willing to go into therapy. I was willing to go into CoDA, which is basically the 12 steps for co-dependents. I went to co-dependency groups and got support and figured out my own patterns. Why did you choose this? Why did you think this was okay? Why do you let people treat you this way? This is unhealthy and this is sick. And I had to grieve. I had to grieve that relationship and let go, recognize my powerlessness and recognize that my self-esteem was basically in the toilet, that I had let my self-esteem go to the point where it didn’t really exist anymore. Recognizing that, I remember one of the first people that came in to therapy to see me. And she, like me, was a Latina who had been raised in a very Catholic family. And divorce was –

Steen

We don’t do that.

Gina Tabrizy

No.

Steen

I’m Catholic. I marry Catholic. Yeah, we don’t get divorced.

Gina Tabrizy

It’s such a sin, right? And I was the first divorce ever in any generation of any of my family. So I broke that mold wide open.

And there was many that followed. It was like, oh, I’m leading a parade. I didn’t know at the time. But doing that, it took so much work for me to stand in my own recovery and then the own knowledge that what I’m doing is basically saving myself, instead of allowing myself to drown in the disease with the other person. I’ve got to save me. I call this a credo: if I’m okay with me, I have no need to make you wrong. And if I’m okay with me, I have no need to make you wrong.

Steen

Ooh, I like that.

Gina Tabrizy

Isn’t that cool?

Steen

Someone should write that down.

Gina Tabrizy

Somebody write it down. I’ve never forgotten it.

Steen

Okay, write that down.

Gina Tabrizy

I saw it somewhere, maybe it was a Hallmark card or a CoDA meeting. I don’t know where I was, but that never left me. And I realized that I wasn’t okay with me. So my focus is all on you and fixing you or judging you and criticizing you, because I wasn’t okay. And once I started to recognize that, then I could grieve. And as I started to grieve and recognize that I had tied myself to something that was so unhealthy, I was willing to untangle myself.

Steen

So there’s so much more to an addictive partnership or relationship than just someone physically being addicted to a pill or a substance or a behavior.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, 100 percent. I mean, we’re addicted to validation.

Steen

Right.

Gina Tabrizy

We’re addicted to being seen and being heard.

Steen

Well, and the person who is going through the addiction is so not in their correct brain anyway, right?

Gina Tabrizy

Right. They’re truly not present.

Steen

So you’re trying to talk to the problem about the problem.

Gina Tabrizy

Exactly.

Steen

And you’re now creating a problem within your own problem.

Gina Tabrizy

Because you’re using substances and you’re trying to bring sanity into an insane situation. You’re talking to the disease. You’re talking to the addiction.

Steen

Yeah, the problem, can’t talk to the problem about the problem.

Gina Tabrizy

How are you going to get resolution there? You never are.

Steen

No. There’s too much involved in the person who is addicted is not present. They’re not there until they get rid of the physical addiction. Till they get rid of that addictive part and they move into a form of recovery, they can’t think in their right mind.

Gina Tabrizy

And they can’t love you.

Steen

I hate the word “right mind.” They can’t love anybody until they love themselves.

Gina Tabrizy

Right. They’ve convinced themselves “I love you, because I do need a person to attach to,” Part of trying to feel normal is to be in relationship and do the things –

Steen

Oh, let’s do the stereotypical “I love you.”

Gina Tabrizy

Right, “Please don’t leave me.”

Steen

“Don’t leave me.”

Gina Tabrizy

Right, “You’re taking care of me.” And needs are being met by that co-dependent.

Steen

Listen, I’m the addict here. I’m the alcoholic, right? So you have separation anxiety, you’re gonna leave me, all that. And we hadn’t talked about self-esteem, none, right?

Gina Tabrizy

Zero.

Steen

‘Cause we’ve baked it all off, we’ve taken it away, we’ve stripped it away. There is none. And then we’re the doormats talking to the doormat.

Gina Tabrizy

Absolutely.

Steen

And we’re willing to wipe our feet on a fellow doormat when we – how dare I look down at you from my place in the gutter?

Gina Tabrizy

Right, but that’s that if I’m okay with me, I have no need to make you wrong thing again, right?

Steen

Yeah, I love that. Because that’s the viewpoint of people who love people who are in addiction.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, and it’s ‘cause you feel so – I mean, there’s so much shame that goes along with being the addict, of feeling like I am so out of control and I’m doing this thing that makes me and everybody else around me miserable. And so one of the ways that they’ll deal with or cope with their shame is to bring you down to their level. A lot of the emotional abuse that happens is: I need you to feel bad, ‘cause I know I feel bad. I feel very, very badly about myself and I can’t be in a relationship with someone who’s got their self-esteem intact. I need to bring you down here with me so that I can feel okay. It’s an even playing field at that point. It’s unconscious. It’s not done deliberately.

Steen

Right, but then if you think about the manifestation of addiction in this world, there are some – I mean, there’s addiction in every society across the planet.

Gina Tabrizy

Absolutely. We’re always trying to fix something within ourselves and something that we think I broken.

Steen

Right, rather than the lens of being beautiful the way you are. I would say that if people just accepted the way they were that the clothing and the beauty industry would go completely bankrupt.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, because a lot of that is feeding self-esteem. A lot of that was selling self-esteem.

Steen

I’m wrapping myself up as a gift.

Gina Tabrizy

Right.

Steen

Listen, we’re talking about not just addiction, but we’re talking about how people intertwine in addiction. And this is a bit of what people go through who love people who are addicted. We’re at KOCI 101.5 here in Newport Beach if you want to call in. I dare you. ‘Cause you can ask Gina. Maybe coming to a theater near you. 949-650-1015.

So now, obviously you are not married to this person anymore.

Gina Tabrizy

No, that was the first spouse, very short lived.

Steen

Short lived. It didn’t take you long?

Gina Tabrizy

It didn’t take me long.

Steen

Good.

Gina Tabrizy

About two years. That was plenty. It was four years total, two dating and two married, and I was out. I was like, what are you doing, kid? You need to get out of this thing.

Steen

My wife has suffered through with me for 30 years, God bless her. Apparently she’s getting a medal of honor from the President, but she’ll deny it, I’m sure.

Gina Tabrizy

I’m always willing when the person that I’m with is growing.

Steen

Yeah.

Gina Tabrizy

I mean, I’ll go through fire with you, but you got to go through fire with me too.

Steen

Yeah, I’m coming up on seven years in February for myself.

Gina Tabrizy

I’m such a fan of recovery. It’s possible for anybody.

Steen

Now, you work in a recovery environment, is that correct?

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, I have from the beginning. So the whole thing around trauma that you and I were discussing a little bit earlier, was that when I started in the field, I started working with post-traumatic stress disorder primarily. And as I did that, I remember thinking, oh, I don’t want to work with addicts.

Steen

Wait a minute.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah.

Steen

But you’ve already had your share. I’m full.

Gina Tabrizy

Exactly. I did my time.

Steen

I’ve eaten from that trough. I’m good. Yeah, no more, thank you.

Gina Tabrizy

And here I am, working with people that have all kinds of trauma. I mean, primarily it was sexual abuse, like severe, horrific stories of sexual abuse, physical abuse, emotional abuse. And everyone had addiction, every single one of them.

Steen

Wait, I’m just going to say it: Go figure.

Gina Tabrizy

Right. And so I come up with this – I call it a Gina-ism, but I said, “Addiction is trauma and there is no trauma without addiction.”

Steen

See, you got to keep writing these stuff down.

Gina Tabrizy

Another book, right? So when you have trauma, an addiction has to surface, because you need a coping skill. How do you get through being sexually abused? There’s many ways you got to disassociate. And you got to numb the pain. And for a lot of – when they’re little kids, almost always it was food first.

Steen

Sure.

Gina Tabrizy

Eating sweets and eating comfort foods and things like that to numb the pain, the numb the feelings. And then as soon as they could find another substitute –

Steen

Not numb, but replace, find feeling.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, not to feel it, to separate.

Steen

Yeah, change the feelings, to supplicate the feelings, to disassociate from the feeling. Yeah, you have to find another way to feel.

Gina Tabrizy

Right, And so every single person that I worked with, trauma, whether they were young kids, they all had the same story and there was some addiction in their life. So, I was like, I’m not gonna get away from working with this addiction thing. I better really learn it from this perspective. I had learned it from being the partner and I was going to learn it from the therapist perspective and understanding the symptom and all the symptoms for the ism.

Steen

Wait, wait, wait, you just said it: ism. What’s ism stand for? Anybody? I, self, me.

Gina Tabrizy

I like that.

Steen

See?

Gina Tabrizy

I hadn’t heard that one.

Steen

You haven’t heard that one? I, self, me. So alcohol-ism, right? Ism – I, self, me. I only think of myself, myself, and me.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, me, myself, and I.

Steen

And so me, myself, and I, because why? Because you’re trying to survive. What are you trying to survive? And that survival mode is how am I going to survive? I’m going to do this behavior, because this behavior, it pushes the feel-good button inside me. And the feel-good button all of a sudden goes off the hook and you’re like, “I got to have them and more of that feel-good button.” And the feel-good button, once it’s pushed and you have that personality, that addictive quality in you, that addictive gene, whatever you want to call it, and you’re off. You’re off and running. It’s a “No, I can’t stop.” And then the person who –

Gina Tabrizy

So hard to explain to anybody who doesn’t know.

Steen

So hard to explain. It’s like did the blue angels just fly over? ‘Cause I didn’t catch any of that. And that’s what we try to do on this show, is get people to understand, break it down as easy as possible, ‘cause you’re out there going, well, I don’t understand my friend, the person I love best just won’t stop. Why don’t you just stop?

Gina Tabrizy

If they could, they would. I mean, what person in their right mind annihilates themselves on a daily basis, does something that’s so destructive, that is so life threatening over and over again? Why would they do that to themselves with any semblance or any ability to stop? That biochemical change in the brain is very, very important to understand. And families and co-dependents and the layperson doesn’t want to accept that it’s not a defective character. They want to say you could stop if you wanted to. And it’s not. That’s why you have to understand that it is spiritual, it is physical, it is emotional, and it’s all of those things. But the chemistry of the brain is altered. When an addict hits that button, that reward button, whether it’s opiates or whatever it is, that brain says, “Oh, my God, this is the greatest thing that ever happened to me in my life.” And no matter what the ride is, that addict just wants to go back and take that ride.

Steen

Food, gambling, sex, anything.

Gina Tabrizy

Whatever sets it off.

Steen

Whatever it is, it’s getting there.

Gina Tabrizy

Whatever sets it off. And then they feel like, “My brain isn’t right unless I’m pushing that button, the go button.” And a normal person is like, “Okay, I tried that. I fell down, I hit my head, I pissed off my wife.” They look at all the wreckage and go, “No, I’m not doing that again,” ‘cause they don’t have that go button. Their go button has a pause and stops, like a normal one. It’s like, “Well, it was open and now it’s closed.” And addicts opens up and stays open and says, “Keep feeding me,” ‘cause it’s on and this is great and it doesn’t matter what the consequences of the behavior.

Steen

The only way I can say it is they can’t stop.

Gina Tabrizy

They can’t.

Steen

They cannot, not without help. And then we come back into the co-dependency relationship, because now you have someone who’s already in your life. How does that co-dependent help? But let’s attack that when we come back from this oh-so-brief break. This is the Recovery Show with Steen here live with you on KOCI 101.5 FM here in Newport Beach, California. Now, Gina, we were just talking about the relationships and the co-dependency and the addictive relationship and that psyche, but you do work in the recovery with a specific project.

Gina Tabrizy

New Directions for Women.

Steen

Oh, we know New Directions. They’re wonderful.

Gina Tabrizy

Right here in Costa Mesa, in beautiful Costa Mesa, California. New Directions for Women has been around since 1977.

Steen

That’s incredible.

Gina Tabrizy

Serving women, women with children, women who are pregnant. So many, many, many people out there are familiar with New Directions. It’s a non-profit. It was founded by several wonderful women, Pam Wilder being one of the first who stood up in a Junior League meeting and announced that she was an alcoholic and she was looking for help for women. She got their help and Betty Ford came and gave some advice and guidance, so we have a beautiful, rich history. Our Founders wanted a place for women to recover. At that time, there was a lot of stigma around addiction and women, especially women.

Steen

Women who are mothers have a huge amount of stigma. I mean, why are you drunk?

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, what’s wrong with you?

Steen

What’s wrong with you? You have children.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah.

Steen

What’s wrong with you? What are you doing?

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, you’re sick.

Steen

Don’t you know? You have children. How could you do that to your children?

Gina Tabrizy

How could you do that to your kid?

Steen

Oh, gosh.

Gina Tabrizy

How could you do that to your kids.

Steen

You don’t even have to be Catholic to know that that’s bad guilt.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, that’s so bad.

Yeah, it’s like the worst. It’s a mortal sin, right, to be a mother and to not care for your child.

Steen

You’re supposed to somehow not be human when you’re a mother.

Gina Tabrizy

Yes, you’re supposed to be above being human. So think about the woman who’s also a mom, who’s also co-dependent, who’s also an addict. It’s a mixed bag of –

Steen

That’s a whole bag of stuff we can’t really even say on the show.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, and so it’s difficult for women. There’s barrier for women, because of the shame and because of the stigma coming into treatment, especially if they have children.

Steen

Or if they’re pregnant, God forbid.

Gina Tabrizy

Or they’re pregnant.

Steen

What are you doing to your body? Don’t get me started, I’ll so soapbox on that.

Gina Tabrizy

So much fear too around if I do go in to treatment and they find out, they’re going to take my kid. So on top of going through the pain and trauma admitting my addiction and that I need help, and humbling myself to ask for that and get the help, now on top of that I’m going to lose my kid.

Steen

Everybody’s against me. Yeah, yeah.

Gina Tabrizy

And that’s a real fear. You know what’s interesting is the women that stay with their children in treatment have better outcomes than any other population of women.

Steen

Wow.

Gina Tabrizy

The motivator is so great and that connection. That’s where that mother bond does come to their aid and does come to their service. It’s a huge, huge motivator for them and keeping them together with that child, because there’s a lot of chemistry, especially in the pregnancy and post pregnancy, between women and their children.

Steen

But see, that’s the complication. I did a whole series at the beginning of this summer of women and addiction, leaders in this field. And you were a part of that. You were on one of those shows. And it’s just amazing to me how little resources, when we peel this back, that are out there for women.

Gina Tabrizy

Very little. Very little in terms of the family, keeping them together with their children.

Steen

Keeping them together – ‘cause we separate.

Gina Tabrizy

Mm-hmm.

Steen

Separate faster than you – no, I’m not going to go to that political realm, but we separate quickly.

Gina Tabrizy

Yes.

Steen

And it’s a mentality that’s never going to work. And I work with alcoholics a lot and I work with males. And when they can’t identify with a higher power or God, they can, if they have children, they can identify with their children and find strength through that.

Gina Tabrizy

Right, so it’s exactly what we were talking about. Oftentimes for that mother, that’s their higher power. I mean, it’s my baby, my child, my children, whatever number of children they are. Really what they want is to be that mother to their child that they always wanted. The disease gets in the way of them being the mother that they always wanted.

Steen

Right, and oftentimes they’ve gone through similar trauma of what their mother –

Gina Tabrizy

Exactly, they’re repeating that pattern.

Steen

Right.

Gina Tabrizy

They had the alcoholic, whatever, cocaine-addicted mother, and they become that same mother. “I’m never gonna be like my mom.” Saying that out loud, it really has no impact.

Steen

For those of you out there who think of this belongs to one segment of society, you cannot be more mistaken.

Gina Tabrizy

No.

Steen

Because it affects everybody sitting in the big house, as opposed to everybody sitting on the street, everybody in between. There is no one who goes without – no class of people that goes without having to be affected by this.

Gina Tabrizy

It’s known and there’s a lot of conversation around and you’ll know the expression of hitting a bottom. And what’s interesting is if you talk about class or society, the people that are wealthy or people that have resources, oftentimes it’s harder for them to get to that bottom and hit that bottom, because they’ve got a lot of padding.

Steen

They’ve got a lot more to lose.

Gina Tabrizy

Right, and they have a lot of padding between them and hitting it. And so the willingness –

Steen

Well, they got handlers.

Gina Tabrizy

Exactly. That’s why so many celebrities, as we know, succumb to the disease and disease, because people are protecting them, because paychecks are attached to all of that, right? So it’s a lot easier. And then you’ll see it.

Steen

Wait, wait, talk about co-dependency.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah.

Steen

So now you have a financial co-dependency.

Gina Tabrizy

Huge.

Steen

Which is almost an addiction, really.

Gina Tabrizy

Well, it is an addiction, because I’m watching you killing yourself, but I don’t care, because it’s covering me. I’m getting paid.

Steen

Now it’s got a weird bend to it. Oh, that makes it feel icky.

Gina Tabrizy

It is icky. If you think of, just go through Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Prince, just think about the influence, the power, or the access that they had to money. How many people were making a living off of them making a living, you know what I mean? And how invested they were in keeping that machine going.

Steen

Well, directly and indirectly.

Gina Tabrizy

Directly and indirectly, absolutely, and their families and all the people that were attached to them that were invested in keeping that going. So hitting that bottom a lot harder. Oftentimes you get that person who’s homeless and they come in and they say, “I have nothing to lose. There’s no place to go but up, so I surrender.” They’ll come in and they have that willingness to surrender, whereas you have somebody with resource who starts telling you –

Steen

And they can’t find that willingness.

Gina Tabrizy

They start telling you what they’re not going to do. I find it always amusing. They come into treatment with a list of things they’re not going to do. “I’m not going to go to this group, I’m not gonna do that activity, I’m not gonna talk to that person.”

Steen

Wait, don’t you know how important I think I am?

Gina Tabrizy

Exactly.

Steen

Yeah, I, self, me.

Gina Tabrizy

I, self, me. And it’s so sad, because you see them getting in their own way and you see them buying their own BS, convincing themselves that what they’re saying is okay and healthy, just because. They can’t hear it. It’s harder for them to hear how the addiction has a hold, is controlling them in some way. But we also said, as we were talking about the mom who’s repeating the pattern of their mom, is sometimes they’re just repeating a pattern they learned in their family. A lot of them grew up with functioning alcoholics or functioning addicts, which basically just looks like somebody’s able to hold down a job and keep a semblance of what society deems is a normal life. That doesn’t mean they’re healthy. That doesn’t mean emotionally or spiritually they’re healthy.

Steen

Yeah, I put the fun in functioning alcoholic. And it’s not fun.

Gina Tabrizy

No.

Steen

At the end of the day, it never is fun.

Gina Tabrizy

At the end of the day it’s never fun for the addict or the alcoholic.

Steen

Or anybody who loves them.

Gina Tabrizy

Right, but they’re just keeping the picture. As long as they’re keeping the picture that society wants to view.

Steen

It’s like trying to connect the circle of the cyclone. It’s a never-ending cyclone. There’s no way to connect the rings. It’s never ending, therefore vortex is – and it’s infinite. It continues to go until it dissipates or falls apart. And then you’re just left with what? You’re left with chaos.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, so really it’s sad. It’s sad to watch that, because sometimes their progression is much further or much longer, because they can’t see that they’re standing in their own way. And there’s too much cushioning between them and their bottom.

Steen

But let’s get back to hope and recovery and New Directions. Because you must see a lot of great stories coming out of there.

Gina Tabrizy

Really, the first people that come to mind are those who come in who have lost everything and have truly hit their bottom. A lot of the women we see have already lost their children. To see them find their dignity again and their grace and their ability to stand in their own power as a woman, to find self-love and then to become a person their children and their families start to be attracted to again and to rebuild those relationships is so very, very powerful.

Steen

And get their children back.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, we’ve had women who come in and the courts say, “You don’t have any rights to your kids right now.” And they come in broken and wounded.

Steen

Well, far more broken and wounded than most women, because they’ve now lost what they created.

Gina Tabrizy

Right, right, or part of themselves.

Steen

That’s a huge hole. They’ve been trying to fill that hole in with addiction. And it’s just a cacophony, I mean, just complete chaos.

Gina Tabrizy

With recovery, anything is possible. So what we do is love them back into wellness.

Steen

There we go.

Gina Tabrizy

We love them and we keep telling them recovery is possible for anybody. It’s not reserved for any one person, any race, class, or creed, whatever. Recovery is possible for anybody and we believe it when we say it over and over again. The motto that I created and adapted to New Directions when I came on board was love, kindness, and compassion, and all things. So when we come to the patient, I say, “If you can’t come with love, kindness, and compassion, then you tap out. You go take a break and you tap somebody else in who can come with a patient with love, kindness, compassion, and all things, as to show them that.” We embrace them. We tell them we love them. We tell them they’re beautiful, powerful women, that they’re not their disease. Their disease is what happened, what they did, but it’s not who they are and to understand that’s not who you are. That’s what you did. And you’re not doing it today. Every day you’re not doing that today, you’re not that person. You’re this person who’s sitting in front of me. This person who’s sitting in front of me is amazing. So there’s constant affirmation and reframing those horrid, horrible, cognitive, negative self-talks that they have said all through their disease about how worthless they are, how they’ve ruined lives, how they’ve hurt children. It’s so painful for them to grieve. “I wasn’t there for my kid,” or, “I was drinking when my kid needed me.” Yes, yes. And we can’t change that and we can’t take that back, but the woman sitting here is present and the woman sitting here is capable of being a mother and showing up for her children now, in the now, in the today. And love heals all wounds and your kids want you to show up as a woman in sobriety and well and be present. And believe me, they can forgive. Believe me, because I’ve seen it over and over again. Women who their kids are in their 20s, their kids are in their 30s, even in their 40s. We’ve had grandmothers come in and say, “My children won’t talk to me and they won’t let me see my grandkids because of my alcoholism, because I get drunk and I fall down and I say mean things.” And we tell them sobriety can heal all of that. Staying sober and staying present can heal all that. They get to be mad. They get to be angry. They get to be disappointed. They get to be hurt with you. Women who their kids are in their 20s, their kids are in their 30s, even in their 40s. We’ve had grandmothers come in and say, “My children won’t talk to me and they won’t let me see my grandkids because of my alcoholism, because I get drunk and I fall down and I say mean things.” And we tell them sobriety can heal all of that. Staying sober and staying present can heal all that. They get to be mad. They get to be angry. They get to be disappointed. They get to be hurt with you.

Steen

Gina, you’re here tonight and you’re with New Directions. We just talked a lot about recovery and some positive things. When we talk about addictions, addiction’s hard. We talked about the different faces of it, because it doesn’t have just the addict’s face there. There’s the co-dependent, the person who loves the addict, or the people who love the addict, right?

I have to share with you a story about my daughter when I got sober, fifth grade, the day I got sober, went to her room and got her book on health and fitness and opened it to the pages of alcoholism and addiction. It says, “I don’t want a daddy like this.”

Gina Tabrizy

Oh, wow, that’s incredible.

Steen

And that’s when I found my higher power.

Gina Tabrizy

That’s incredible.

Steen

And she’s still my higher power. She’s still part of that higher power, because higher power can mean God and you can see God in everything.

Gina Tabrizy

Everything.

Steen

Right? Everything. And I still get misty thinking about it.

Gina Tabrizy

Of course.

Steen

For as long as the addict is out there, the alcoholic’s out there, it’s not an easy thing to go through and work through and heal.

Gina Tabrizy

No, it’s not.

Steen

Some wounds take longer, and that’s okay.

Gina Tabrizy

It is okay. And every day that you’re sober and every day that you’re in recovery is the possibility that that healing’s coming and as long as you can believe in that. I think it’s a beautiful thing that what you believed in at that moment was your daughter. And they say you see God in the eyes of children. I mean, that’s why it’s so important for the women coming in to recovery with their children to see that on a daily basis.

Steen

Absolutely.

Gina Tabrizy

We had a beautiful young woman who just gave birth. I’m gonna say it’s about a month ago now.

Steen

Congratulations to her.

Gina Tabrizy

And when she came in, she definitely was very discontented, very pregnant, very uncomfortable, very unhappy. Her great plan was if she didn’t get out of her discomfort, she was going to be homeless, live in her car, and be using again. She was eight months pregnant at the time, telling us this story, that that was the great plan that she had for her life if she could not get out of the discomfort that she was in as she was detoxing from substances. We kept loving her anyway. She was pretty angry on a daily basis with everyone and everybody was standing in her way of her great plans. And we kept loving her anyways.

And after she had the child, this miraculous thing happened to her. And she said to us, she said, “I was never spiritual. I don’t believe in God. I don’t believe in anything.” And she goes, “When I looked at that child, I saw God.” It was her first experience of something greater than herself that she could surrender to. Beautiful. I mean, beautiful.

Steen

Beautiful.

Gina Tabrizy

And so whatever your higher power is or isn’t, I think that’s one of the things why people struggle with. Like through the work that I’ve done, I meet atheists, agnostics, everything, every walk of belief and non-belief that there is. And one of the struggles they have with the program is the word “God.” And so it’s the God of your understanding, right? Sa that could be the eyes of your child.

Steen

That’s it. It could be however you manifested yourself. I always share this. How many artists have tried to paint a picture of God or a god? You can never have the same picture exactly the same, because why? It’s their interpretation.

Gina Tabrizy

Right, right.

Steen

We’re allowed to paint our own picture of what we believe in inside our brain. That’s the gentleness of coming to believe in something bigger than yourself. And I think what’s painful for someone in that, again, is the powerlessness. It’s like why do I have to surrender and think that there’s something greater than me that’s gonna restore me to sanity? I have to figure that out for myself.

And just to think that there is answers and that I can glean those answers by following a simple program or steps or prayer or meditation, then what’s wrong with that? Why isn’t that God? God is in all things, right? Like we were talking about.

Gina Tabrizy

It could be the group of people that is surrounding you and loving you.

Steen

It could be the fellowship. Right, that’s why we talk about the fellowship in this program as well, because it’s so important that you find something bigger than you to surrender to. And surrender’s not “I’m giving something up,” as “I’m gaining something,” right?

Gina Tabrizy

No. Well, yeah. It’s letting go, letting go of what you think you could control that you never had control over.

Steen

Well, as addicts and alcoholics, we want to control everything as it is, right? And then letting go means you have to let something in, right? And to fill up the hole with something other than what you’re trying to fill it up with, which that hole can never be filled until you learn that it’s really not a hole. It’s just a part of the web. And you just have to find a different way around.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah. I just think it’s that pain and it’s thinking again about how do I now translate or shift this pain into something that’s manageable or tolerable? And the idea of spirituality is really to feed the hole, to feed the pain, to create something within yourself that creates joy, that creates peace, that creates comfort in the same way that you sought the substances to do that for you.

Steen

We have a new year coming upon us.

Gina Tabrizy

Yes, we do.

Steen

So New Directions, new year.

Gina Tabrizy

Yes, we do.

Steen

Lots of words with “new” in them. So what do we say to someone right now who’s struggling in this cacophony, this chaos, this vortex of the pressure over the holidays and the beginning of a new year. Because we as a society, we put a lot of pressure on this time of year.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, we do.

Steen

I mean, we just put enormous pressure on give, give, give, give, give. Now, now, now, now, and you got it, now you’ve got to make resolutions to be better.

Gina Tabrizy

Well, there’s so much expectation and the expectation around perfectionism. There’s certain things I have to be. There’s certain ways I have to look.

Steen

I have to weigh this amount. I have to fit right in these jeans. I got to lose this weight.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, got to have this car, this house, this spouse, this number of kids.

Steen

Is it that novel 1984 coming true? I mean, how many pills are gonna make us better?

Gina Tabrizy

Isn’t it sick?

Steen

How many pills is it gonna take for me to be that perfect person?

Gina Tabrizy

We forgot how to be.

Steen

Just be.

Gina Tabrizy

We don’t know how to be. We’re always doing. And in our doing, we create chaos. We create stress, and in our chaos and our stress, someone decided that there’s a pill for that, instead of just being.

Steen

But what do we say to the person – wait, now, I know there’s people out there right now.

Gina Tabrizy

Stop.

Steen

It’s just stop, deep breath, right?

Gina Tabrizy

Just breathe.

Know that you are okay and know that within you is the resource to heal and be okay within yourself, not better, not perfect, not more, just okay, to accept the you that you are in this moment.

Steen

Accept that you can make progress, but you don’t need to seek perfection.

Gina Tabrizy

No. It’s a beast that you can never tame, the beast of perfection.

Steen

Right. And if I would just say to whoever’s out there either suffering or in recovery, or you know someone’s who’s in recovery, you know someone’s who suffering, just take that step forward, because that’s progress. Take a deep breath. Realize that you don’t need it for another moment and take a deep breath, and just realize that now you feel a little bit better and you don’t need to feel ashamed about it. Take another deep breath and you take another step forward. And maybe you pick up that phone that seemed like it weighed 200 pounds.

And you look up. “I have a problem with,” fill in the blank here, “and I need help and I’m in Orange County.” And I bet you find places like New Direction.

Gina Tabrizy

New Directions for Women. And you call. I mean, it seems like the hardest thing in the world is to pick up that phone, but when you pick up that phone –

Steen

To ask for help is human.

Gina Tabrizy

Help from anybody.

Steen

To ask for help as humans is so difficult. Why is that so difficult?

Gina Tabrizy

Well, we’ve been culturally conditioned to endure and we’re supposed to manage everything. It’s a sign of strength and it’s a sign of weakness to admit your faults, your flaws, your insecurities. We’ve just been conditioned societally to accept that.

Steen

And now we come to the end of our show, yet we feel like we can go on for another hour.

Gina Tabrizy

Oh, yeah, absolutely.

Steen

Which means we have to come back and do this again.

Gina Tabrizy

No problem.

Steen

So my friends, we want to thank Gina for coming on – Tabrizy.

Gina Tabrizy

Thank you. Gina Tabrizy.

Steen

Tabrizy. It’s not Italian.

Gina Tabrizy

It’s not. It’s from the city Tabrizy in Iran.

Steen

I love it.

Gina Tabrizy

It’s Persian, from Iran.

Steen

And we’re so grateful you came on tonight.

Gina Tabrizy

Thank you.

Steen

Thank you.

Gina Tabrizy

Thank you so much for having me. I’m grateful for the path that brought me here so that you and I could connect on that same passion you have for helping the recovering community and giving your time to do it. I thank you for that. I have the same passion. We’re only here for a short time. And we should use that time wisely.

Steen

Wisely. And thank you again, Gina.

Gina Tabrizy

Yeah, thank you.

Steen

Okay, my friends, I wish you a happy new year. Just one day at a time, one step at a time. Some days it feels like it’s just gonna be one breath at a time, and that’s okay. You take your time, ‘cause it’s your year. It’s your time. It’s your decision. You choose which way you step. The real is to just make a progress. Take that step towards progress. Don’t worry about the perfection. There are forces out there that are perfection. Look at the grass and the trees around you. Look at the way this life and the way that we are in this world, and to me that’s a form of perfection. Allow that life to happen.

And when you feel overwhelmed, there’s places to reach out to and you know how to get them. We live in an area where there’s many resources for you to look up. I encourage you to do something positive for yourself. Remember, it’s a happy, it’s new, and a year. And you just take it one day at a time. And we’ll be back together next week and we’ll talk about what we’re gonna do in this new year. And we’ll be back the week after that and we’ll continue to be here every week. It’s the Recovery Show with Steen, every Thursday night live to you on 101.5 KOCI, LLP, Newport Beach, California. I love you and stay well.

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