You Can’t Talk Your Spouse out of an Addiction

You Can’t Talk Your Spouse out of an Addiction

If your partner is struggling with drug abuse, normally just talking to him or her isn’t enough. I see it over and over that partners seem to live on ‘hope’ for so long before finally being able to draw a line in the sand. Normally separation unfolds. Whether or not divorce follows afterwards is your partner’s ability to ‘do the work’.

I had a man who came to me with incredible anxiety and a history of 45 years of alcoholism. He was divorced for many years but still had a good relationship with his ex.

Over the first couple of sessions, he weaned himself off of medication including cannabis. After about 6 sessions and building a deeper rapport with him, I told him that there was very little I could do regarding his anxiety, shame or guilt UNTIL he stopped drinking for good. I asked him to please go to rehab as most cannot do it on their own…he said he could not… and replied ‘I got to do it on my own if I am going to do this’ to which I replied ‘ okay you have a week to get sober and if you can’t say no to alcohol, then there is no point continuing on with me’.

It felt cold for me to say it…but necessary.

He did it. He came back one week later and told me he quit that day.

We have had a few sessions since but yesterday was so incredibly moving for both him and I. He was 35 days sober and I just had to ask him: ‘What was the exact catalyst for you to move past that fear of what was on the other side of your addiction?’

His answer: “When you told me I couldn’t come back.”

{Mic drop}

Well, we were both bawling.

Let me be clear. This is not about me (as a therapist/coach). This is all about the drive for connection. And the connection starts with you. Am I worthy of having that connection with another person?

If you are struggling with an addiction and you still have some sense or desire of what it feels like to connect deeply with another human, then you have hope. For those whose addictions do not allow their minds to have enough moments of clarity and contemplative thought within that cycle of addiction, then there may not be hope. And – there is no one to blame in this cycle – it just is.

I spoke to him at the exact right time when his desire, his hunger, and his need for connection for himself as well as for me, was enough to overcome his addiction. His inner work now continues.

He is not loving by what he sees in deep reflection as he struggles with guilt and shame in the process, but his yearning for connection now manifests from his new frame of reference – when his mind is clear.

As author MaryAnn DiMarco described it beautifully, “We learn to separate genuine humility, a divine value, from the search for approval, and ego-based addiction.”

Join me in my upcoming Masterclass: Finding Peace and Hope in Your Current and Past Relationships. For more info on my Masterclass click here.

Facing That Inner Critic: It Is All About Stepping Out From Behind The Bushes

Facing That Inner Critic: It Is All About Stepping Out From Behind The Bushes

This post is a continuation of last week’s post on What Type of Self Critic Are You? Thus, it may be helpful for you to read that post first (however, not entirely necessary).

Let’s face it, we ALL HAVE FEARS about being judged by others. Even the most highly confident person’s energy will plummet when they read or hear a negative comment about themselves. It is not surprising therefore that public speaking is ranked as one of the most feared experiences. We all want to get to a place where our resilience and boundaries are strong when it comes to the negativity  and our low mood is brief. We should feel the hurt, but it should be acute, not chronic.

I believe that overt critics, a type of self-critic I described in my previous newsletter, easily sink into this hurt like quicksand. They fall hard and it typically lasts too long. They are in low energy for hours, days, and in the worst case, most of their lives. This low energy is all too familiar to them, and thus, it can feel comforting, or at least familiar, for them to be in this space. Overt critics are generally the ones who constantly ‘wait for the other shoe to drop’ in every situation …they are pessimistic and noticeably lack joy in their lives.

On the other hand, the covert critic is terrified of accepting any criticism into their psyche. They resist it the same way they would resist jumping into an ice bath, even within the dialogue with their selves. They can foresee the pain it would cause them and thus avoid it; yet, at the same time, they secretly know it would take away a lot of the noise that courses through their mind – the noise in their head that constantly screams at them ‘you must be perfect’. These people pride themselves on being tough, resilient to pain, optimistic, independent, strong, and forward thinkers. For more explanation of this type, again, please jump to last week’s post.

So how do self-critics of any type go to a place to where they can love themselves, become authentic and experience more joy in their lives? They do it by facing their fears. The more you step into fear and less away from it, you will love yourself and experience true joy.

I know, to read this seems incredibly ridiculous. Think of all those aspects of yourself that you are afraid other people might see. What would people say if you displayed your whole self: who you want to be, the things you want to do, the things you actually want to say? What would it feel like to have that whole self out in the open rather than hiding behind the bushes like you have done your entire lifetime.

Here’s a thought experiment: what if, after working at a job for 20 years, you realize that you want a different career and you were worried about how your spouse might react? ? But what if you didn’t care what your spouse said and INSTEAD followed what your heart told you to do?

I can think of many other examples of ways that people hide their true selves. What if you felt confusion surrounding your sexuality but were terrified to admit it? What if you purged some older friendships that you knew weren’t serving you any longer and instead sought out friendships that aligned to your authentic self? What if you started to dress in a way that was more to your liking, rather than to follow a certain trend or preference by a partner? What if you decided that a long-term intimate relationship wasn’t serving you anymore (and never did support your authentic self) and it was time to leave? What if you decided to travel to (or even live in) the place where you could be more of yourself?

“It is MORE than okay to want more out of life. Afterall, you only have one life to live.”

via @luellajonk

What if? What if? What if?

Do you see yourself daydreaming as you go to that imaginary place? What if I told you it doesn’t need to be imaginary and it can be your reality? Do I see a smile on your face? Yeah, me too.

This post may sound like it should be written as a script to the next Walt Disney animated film, but it doesn’t have to be. In a child’s mind this is all possible. A child is not guarded nor fearful unless fear was instilled into them. A child has no filter, only dreams. I am asking you to reflect on what your dream is, the one that it scares you to admit out loud, to do some deep reflection and dreaming and ask yourself: what do I really, really want? (Let the Spice Girls’ hit song be your own personal anthem). This doesn’t have to be a place of imagination.

As I’ve mentioned before, it all starts with slowing your thoughts, getting rid of the noise, and allowing yourself to do the deep reflection. You can do this through meditation, or with a therapist, a partner that listens and not judges, or just you and your journal. One would think it would be obvious as to what you want, but often it is not. Personally, I think that it is not so easy because we have been ingrained from childhood to ‘be satisfied’ with what you have.

From a young age we are taught ‘to be grateful for what you have’. Even I, as a therapist, proclaim this in my room. However, is this place of gratitude allowing you to be joyful MOST of the time? OR are you just placating to the situation you feel you have no choice but to be in – that you have settled with – that you are merely content with?

Maybe you want more than this – and if you do that is okay. It is MORE than okay to want more out of life. Afterall, you only have one life to live.

I want you to accept who you are, what you need, and then go after it. That might take you to a scary place, a place you want to resist entering – a place in which you have used distraction to avoid. Distraction normally comes with a lot of noise – noise in your head. Once you get rid of that noise you will realize much more easily what you really really want. I encourage you to sit in silence and let your mind wander to that place. Feel the feeling that comes with that place and let that energy remain with you throughout the day.

If what I have written here doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, I would encourage you to listen to Episode #14 of my podcast. The woman I interviewed in this episode explains it all with more feeling than I can do in a written post. I love, love, love her energy and she is a true testament to what it takes to overcome the noise.

To accept yourself is how you move out of self-criticism, whether you are a covert or overt critic. When you are afraid of showing people who you are, you stay hiding behind bushes. Instead, be a kid. Jump out from behind the bushes and start playing and being your true authentic and flawed self. Not only will you experience the energy of a two-year old, but you will smile like one.

Need help getting to this place? Stick with me because I intend on creating programs specifically for women who are reaching middle age and realizing they want more. I will teach you how to get there.

Episode 1 | Karen Martel


Hormone Balance: Understanding Your Body as a Woman with Karen Martel 

About This Episode

Not feeling well but not knowing why? Feeling fatigued, irritable, painful periods, and bloated?

If you have cycled through various diets and stepped back into your fitness regime but still have not found relief, it could very be because of hormonal imbalance.

Great news is that we have Karen Martel to shed some light on the topic of hormones & how they affect women’s bodies.

Together, we will give you all the information you need to improve your hormone health, so you don’t have to suffer in silence like millions of women do!

Show Notes

Hormones can make you feel like you’re swimming against the tide. But WHY?! And HOW?!

Karen Martel is a Certified Hormone Specialist & Transformational Nutrition Coach and women’s weight loss expert. 

Founder of the revolutionary program OnTrack a women’s hormone balancing & weight loss program. Host of the top-rated women’s health podcast The Other Side of Weight Loss.

I was very eager to have this intimate conversation with Karen about hormone balance because she is a person who I know will be changing the way that women look at hormonal issues. 

After struggling with her own health issues, Karen was determined to bring her knowledge to others with a bold new approach to women’s health and weight management. Karen’s passion lies in helping women breakthrough weight loss resistance and find their personal weight loss code through diet variation and hormone optimization. Karen is a health leader and researcher determined to revolutionize weight loss for modern women.

What you’ll learn from Karen’s story

  • Karen’s story on why she choose to be in the field of health and nutrition (2:53)
  • When Karen started digging deep into her weight problems (5:42)
  • Changing the next generation’s view on self-image (16:23)

Women’s confusion surrounding weight loss and how Karen addresses it

  • Understanding what estrogen dominance is (18:31)
  • Why do women experience cramping and abdominal pain (22:15)
  • Exploring what xenoestrogen is and how it relates to weight gain (23:35)
  • The only way to test how does your body break down estrogen (27:48)
  • Know the certain food that you can eat when you’re estrogen dominant (28:17)
  • Karen’s three-week estrogen detox program (30:17)

How hormones play a role in almost everything we feel in our body as women

  • Premarin and the lack of correct information on hormone replacements (33:25)
  • Getting to know what bioidentical hormones are and what most physicians know about it (39:30)
  • Why blood work is not an accurate way to test your hormones (40:08)
  • Touching on the topic of adrenal fatigue and what cortisol has to do with (42:09)

What it takes to improve our well-being and not suffer in silence like millions of other women

  • What makes us shift from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic (44:35)
  • Rethinking weight loss (47:20)

I hope that you’ll agree that knowing more about your body will ultimately empower you to make better, more informed choices about your health and wellness. 

Believe me, it’s so worth the effort! And I’d wager that learning about this information now is way better than stumbling upon this information later in life…


Luella Jonk


Karen Martel

What to do When You Fear Someone You Love has Distanced Themselves from You

What to do When You Fear Someone You Love has Distanced Themselves from You

First, please take note of the choice of words within the title, ‘when you fear’. This is an important distinction to make from, ‘when someone you love has distanced themselves from you’. Hence, this is the crux of this post.

Fear is the basis of stress and is often displayed through irritability, anger outbursts, and avoidance behaviours. For example, we don’t book a physical with our doctor for fear we might get bad news. We don’t make a point of calling our son or daughter because we fear they don’t have interest in speaking to us, we don’t tell our partner we are lonely in fear of hearing they no longer love us. Fear is the basis of much of our anxiety.

Anxiety can be displayed in many ways. Some suffer in silence while others live life through anger (unable to regulate their emotions), pessimism, or irritability. Some hide their fears with addictive behaviours, such as alcoholism, gabbling, phone use, marijuana use, or food binging.

So, what to do in those anxiety ridden times? You want – but you can’t – you want – but you can’t. Push – pull – push – pull – push – pull. It is energy sucking behaviour we put ourselves through. Before you know it, you realize you are ruminating in these thoughts for hours during the day.

“Fear is the basis of stress and is often displayed through irritability, anger outbursts, and avoidance behaviours.”

via @luellajonk

Anyone who knows me knows that one of my most favourite slogans out there is Nike’s ‘Just Do It’. I try to live by this slogan. Why? Because our mind constantly tells us to do the opposite, ‘Don’t do it’. Why? Why does our psyche seem to battle with our primal needs? Because it wants to protect us from harm. Evolutionally, we are wired to stave away from danger.

Our lizard brain, or deepest layer, is responsible for our deepest fears, emotions, and needs. Think of it as overseeing fight, flight, feeding, fear, freezing up, and fornication. However, sometimes we need to rely more on the outmost layer of our brain, or what is called the neocortex. After all, we are not a lizard.

Okay, enough on paleoanthropology. What do we do when we find ourselves ruminating on something that we really have no clue is true or false? It is quite simple. I suppose I already gave you the answer. Just do it. Take the leap of faith. 

I suppose you have the choice between ripping off the band aid and dipping your toe in the water. For those of you that know me, I am the type to do the former rather than the latter. I like being direct. Life is too short to beat around the bush. However, let me provide you with an example of how I would approach one of the scenarios I provided earlier.

You are fearing your child is distancing themselves from you. What to do? Depending on how safe you feel in speaking to them directly, either on the phone or in person, you may choose to write them a letter instead. This is especially helpful when you are speaking with a highly defensive person. Okay then, what do I write? Allow me to provide you with a script.

Hi {son/daughter}

{Insert usual chit-chat about whatever topic if you feel necessary to bridge the communication gap, depending how long you have been non-communicative}.

There has been something I have been struggling with for a while now, so I decided it would be best for me to get it off my chest and down on paper. It is easier for me to do this in letter form than in person. I hope you don’t mind.

For the past X months/years, I feel we have not been able to connect in a way that feels comfortable to me. I realize this is a ME thing, and not a YOU thing, and that I have to be respectful of your role in our partnership. I fear we are becoming distant in our relationship. I miss connecting with you and I am unsure if you are feeling the same or not.

If you are too busy, I understand. But I am wondering if we could problem solve around this. Rather than I just randomly calling you (possibly at a time you cannot talk) we could schedule a time to talk. It of course needs to work around my schedule as well, since I am not available 24/7, but I would hope there would be a time that would work for both of us.

I wonder about your commute time on the way to and from work? Maybe when you are walking the dog, folding laundry, or doing the dishes? I suggest this because I know you are busy, and I do remember those times as well. I suggest these times because they are daily, somewhat mundane activities and connecting might make them a bit more enjoyable as well.

I guess what I am saying is that I really miss you and I don’t want us to lose each other. As I get older, I realize how important family is to me.

Let me know your thoughts.



And there you have it. Done. No more thinking. This script can be adapted to many different scenarios. It is all about being authentic about your feelings and learning how to express feelings without criticism or blame. It is important to practice vulnerability.

And if ripping off the band aid seems too difficult right now, take small steps with someone who is not as near and dear to you. An example of this might be practicing authenticity with a friend by being honest with your feelings. Trust me, you will not regret it.

Past Experiences are not your only Sources of Depression and Anxiety

Past Experiences are not your only Sources of Depression and Anxiety

I am going to apologize ahead of time because this might get too sciencey at times, but bear with me please.

In summary, there is a lot more we can do to treat anxiety and depression than traditionally thought. Psychotherapy and medication have been the two most prescribed methods of treatment, along with body work, lifestyle factors, etc. But now I want to challenge you to think more outside the box. Let’s talk about body inflammation and overall body burden.

Most of us think about inflammation from the standpoint of tissue injury. This could be from a cut, sprain, break, bee sting, or allergen. The tissue gets tight, red, inflexible, and inflamed. This is a healthy and a normal response to trauma. Acute inflammation is the body’s amazing way of repair. Like almost ANYTHING in life, acute, short-term incidents are fine. Chronic is not. Note the various other examples of acute stress in your life that occur on a daily basis, such as acute anger, acute sense of guilt…all normal. When it becomes chronic, that is when there is a problem.

Now, when our bodies undergo chronic inflammation or chronic illness (because one is the same as the other), because our brain is connected to our neck and hence our bodies (except for the headless horsemen of course) our brain becomes inflamed. Neurons become stiff and inflexible. What does that mean for thought processes? Well, our brain cells, called glial cells, are metabolically compromised, making it difficult for the cell to uptake glucose or ketones to produce the energy used to function. The neurons are not able to fire as they once did, and do not speak to each other in a way that is optimal. You are not able to think quickly and crisply and be present in your natural surroundings. Sound familiar? Mental fatigue, brain fog, forgetfulness, depression, and anxiety are all symptoms of inflammation.

You might be asking, ‘Is it the chicken or the egg?’ What comes first? The inflammation or the depression and anxiety? Well, this is very individual of course. Adverse conditions, social isolation, interpersonal conflict (thought) would all play a role in stress hormone production or cortisol. Cortisol stimulates systemic inflammation in our bodies. And what did I just tell you? Inflammation drives altered thinking processes and therefore, it becomes a negative feedback loop. It is hard to have one without having the other.

Depression and anxiety

Now you might be wondering ‘Why are you telling me this or why is this important’? It is important because now we know that theris another way of assisting depressive and anxious thoughtsIf we can calm down body burden by ridding body inflammation, then we have more leverage managing emotional stress.

How do I know if I have inflammation in my body? Well, there are many ways, but the most rudimentary way is through standard blood work. There are blood biomarkers that test for inflammation including white blood count, HS-CRP, and more. However, there are two problems with solely relying on this method. One, our standard conventional ranges are so wide that there is often a fair bit of inflammation already occurring by the time it shows up on your labs. Secondly, it doesn’t provide you with enough detail in terms of where to start. For example, if your white blood count is low, you know you have an underlying infection…but where? It could be coming from many sources.

You must think of this in the bigger sense of, ‘How do I feel daily?’. Do I feel chronically fatigued (hormone dysregulation, circadian rhythms altered due to poor sleep hygiene, lack of sufficient nutrients or minerals)? Is my digestion off (gut dysbiosis, constipation, diarrhea, parasites or infection)? Do I get sick often? Suffer from migraines, bloating, dry itchy skin or hair loss…Do I experience constant migraines, brain fog, forgetfulness, etc.

“Chronic stress shouldn’t be part of your life. It is important to recognize whether you see this as short-term stress or long term, and to seek assistance accordingly.”

via @luellajonk

Thinking like this is preventative. Because of the feedback loop I just described, we cannot disregard diet, sleep, stress management, screen use (including time on social media), movement, and your relationships may be what is keeping you inflamed. It is another entry way into finding a solution to your labile mood, depression, and anxiety. It may be advantageous for you to explore supplementing with adaptogens or other supportive vitamins and minerals as a way of calming down the inflammation. Ashwagandha, Rhodiola, American ginseng, or licorice root are a few that come to mind when I think of downregulating the cortisol response. It really depends on what stage of adrenal fatigue you are in. Are you at the beginning stages of adrenal fatigue or are you hanging by a thin thread? Food and lifestyle factors come first, but sometimes we need a bit of help to manage symptoms. Chronic stress shouldn’t be part of your life. It is important to recognize whether you see this as short-term stress or long term, and to seek assistance accordingly.

Finally, if you really want to zone in on the cause of the inflammation and you recognize that it tends to be focused more on hormones (sex, thyroid, cortisol production) digestion, toxins in your environment, etc. then there are specialized tests to consider so you can get more granular and proactive in disease prevention. I personally feel these tests are excellent if you are tired of guessing why you ‘feel the way you do’ and you want to take action. Please contact me if you are at this stage of your journey – I can help.

Either way – I hope this gives you a clearer sense on how to approach your mood and overall well-being. Brain inflammation is a real thing and I suspect you will start to hear about it frequently in psychological and psychiatric articles.