Listen in on Episode 11 featuring Brooke Aymes, LCSW (Owner & Dually Licensed Therapist at Gaining Grace), and co-hosts Kira Yakubov, LMFT (Founder and Lead Therapist), and Daniela Galdi (Health & Wellness Professional).
PART 1 - Getting to know Brooke Aymes, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor in New Jersey as she shares her journey on recovery and using her experience to help others affected by substance use and addiction.
PART 2 - Navigating Substance Use with Family and Relationship Dynamics
PART 3 - How to Prioritize Ourselves and Manage Boundaries.
Content Considerations: Mentions of Mental Illness. Recreational drug use recounted.
Some episode highlights include...
More From Brooke…
“Hey! I’m Brooke, I am the owner of Gaining Grace and a licensed clinical social worker and licensed drug and alcohol counselor in the state of NJ. I grew up in New Jersey and experienced a troubled adolescence and early adulthood. By the age of 23 I had nothing to my name as a result and decided to try to rebuild my life. Somehow that decision landed me here -- I graduated college with a Masters degree in Social Work at the age of 28, worked in several substance abuse facilities, became dually licensed and now have a private practice specializing in addiction and mental illness. I am passionate about helping others put together some of the puzzle pieces of their own lives and helping them to find peace within themselves. When I am not working, I am a full time wife and mama who loves hiking mountains, sleeping in tents, hearing the waves crash on the ocean, listening to Taylor Swift and eating Chipotle.”
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Kira Yakubov 0:00
If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, or in the recovery process, you're going to want to listen to today's powerful episode, featuring Brooke Aymes, owner of Gaining Grace and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, and Licensed Drug and Alcohol Counselor in New Jersey. We discuss things like navigating substance abuse, the recovery process, family dynamics, and also how to prioritize ourselves and manage boundaries. In this episode, joining me will be co host Daniela Galdi. Let's get started.
Hi, I'm Kira Yakubov Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and founder of heal your roots wellness practice. Every episode, we talk with a professional from the mental health field to learn more about their approaches and specialties, and also their journey of becoming a therapist. In this podcast, we'll uncover a deeper look at the world of therapy from new perspectives. You will meet the therapist of heal your roots wellness practice, and trusted colleagues from the community tackling mental well being or your go to Network for practical and professional insight in mental health. Subscribe for new episode releases every other Wednesday.
Brooke, thank you so much for joining us today.
Brooke Aymes 1:19
Yeah, thank you so much for having me. Absolutely.
Kira Yakubov 1:23
So I just want to jump right in. I always like to ask our guests how they became a therapist, like what is your story and journey of getting here?
Brooke Aymes 1:32
Well, I think it's important to know that I was a troubled adolescent. And I think that's important to note because I definitely don't think I would be here without that experience. From ages 16 to 23. I really struggled with unhealthy relationships, substance use. And at the end of 23, I was left with a pretty wicked heroin addiction and left feeling like super defeated, right. And so at 23 I kind of like looked in the mirror and I was like, alright, well, if I'm gonna do something with my life, something has to change. And I need to change pretty much everything. Sure. And I called mom I moved back in with mom, I made the decision to stop using substances and I went back to school. And when I went back to school, I originally went for English. I love to write I'm a writer, I've always written since I've learned to write, I've always had a diary and whatnot, always wanted to be an author. So I thought that was the course that I would take. And I got a bachelor's degree in English. And then I couldn't find a job. So I had this bachelor's degree and I was still waitressing. And I was left kind of feeling the same way like pretty discouraged, pretty defeated, and was unsure what avenue to take. And then I spent a lot of time filling out applications and then I came to a realization that I should probably use my challenging experiences and and bring them some purpose and some value. So I started looking around the school I went got my bachelor's degree from had a pretty cool Social Work program. And so I decided to get my master's in social work and become a licensed therapist from there. And I started my career as a therapist in substance use facilities. And so I got a lot of my experience there and then in 2020, decided to open up my private practice and that's kind of how I came to start gaining grace and where I am now.
Kira Yakubov 3:32
That's incredible. I mean, that takes a lot of yeah, that takes a lot of guts to keep going like after feeling defeated or discouraged multiple times, like in a row with like big life stuff.
Brooke Aymes 3:45
Yeah, I think it's important to note too because I think a lot of people when we get to those places, and we feel those big feelings like feeling defeated or feeling hopelessness, it's hard to see that there could be another avenue or there could still be hope somewhere
Daniela Galdi 4:00
Absolutely. I've been there's like so many times and again like you're said, I commend you so much because the thought of having to what sounds like pull yourself out of the substance abuse to with all the other mental and emotional things that I'm sure you were feeling right like I just I admire you for that because it's hard to pull myself out of days when I'm feeling depressed you know, let alone take that next step to feel better out of something as as strong and addicting addictive as substance abuse and now what like what was it like if it's okay you know, when you had this epiphany of I want to use what happened to me the challenge is to help people
Brooke Aymes 4:45
I it just kind of felt almost like like it was supposed to be I hate using words like should are supposed to because I don't really believe in them whatsoever because it's sometimes I feel like we get lost in them rather than chasing our own hopes and dreams and I really did not want that to happened to me. So a lot of people I know and who have struggled with similar things, or who are in recovery, work in the field to do the same thing to use their experience and find purpose and value in it. And I was like, I'm not going to do that I'm going to follow my dreams and what always was and be a writer and go for English. And then when that wasn't working, it was like, Okay, maybe it's clear that this is not what I'm meant to be doing that I'm really meant to be doing something else.
Kira Yakubov 5:31
That's huge to face that reality. Because that's tough. I mean, number one, I was like an undergrad, I went in for accounting and hated it, and then had to, like, convince my parents for something else and like to start a new vision of your life or path of what you're going to do is, yeah, that's extremely hard. And that takes a lot of guts to do that. You still, if you don't mind me ask, do you still write and like, enjoy that on like the side for yourself?
Brooke Aymes 5:59
Yeah, so I write in a few ways. Right now I have a blog for my practice. So I make sure that I write in there, at least monthly. And then right now I have children, I have an 11 year old and a five year old. And I write to them pretty consistently so that when they're older don't have those things. And the goal is I have a ton of work that I did from when I was younger, the goal is to eventually write a book when I feel like I have more time. And you mentioned broke, like growing up troubled, feeling like a like being a troubled teen. And do you work with teens? Like are you able to recognize this with like families now from what you've experienced, and your education? Yeah, so in the beginning of my career, I worked in substance use facilities, and I also did work in in home. So I would go into people's homes and work with adolescents, and gained a lot of my experience with with adolescents there. And now in my private practice, I really love working with adolescents. And young women, young adolescents struggling with similar things like self esteem or unhealthy relationships, or teetering the line of substance use of my heart is really there and working with them. Because I can relate so much.
Kira Yakubov 7:12
Do you find that families come to you with like, already, their child is struggling with substance abuse, or that's something that's like uncovered through the therapy process that you have with them.
Brooke Aymes 7:24
But so both scenarios have definitely happened. Um, I love therapy for children, even if they're not struggling with really big overwhelming things, because it just gives them an objective person to speak to. So sometimes things will naturally come up in session that they wouldn't necessarily feel 100% comfortable telling mom or dad, just because an objective person that they feel maybe there's no consequences that will come from combining and being right. And then there's also families who reach out like, I found this, this and this, like I think my adolescent might be using, what do I do? And how would we get started?
Kira Yakubov 8:05
And so can you share some tips maybe of what you help those parents or families do when that does come up.
Brooke Aymes 8:12
So it's super difficult, it's actually come up in a lot of my conversations. Parenting in general has come up in a lot of my conversations throughout this week. I'm not sure if it's like the season or school or what. But the main conversation that I've had with parents throughout this week is really looking at a lens of what we can control. And while we cannot control right, so our kids start to gain independence as they continue to grow up, and we're not able to control everything, the same as we can, when they're much younger, right, we can control what they're eating, what they're sleeping, all that kind of stuff. They start to get older, and they start to form their own friendships, their own relationships, whether they're healthy or unhealthy, engaging in things or forming opinions that we might not necessarily agree with. And we don't have any control over that. And that's a really difficult pill to swallow. Especially like when we're concerned about their self esteem or their safety and not really being able to have complete control over that. Um, so I've been talking to parents a lot throughout this week of focusing on okay, I cannot control these things. I can control these things over here. Like I can still control what happens in the house maybe or grades or whatever the case may be, right. So really, for as parents as are focusing on ourself and our own mental health, making that clear line of what I can control and what I can't control. Because fear and anxiety are so big when it comes to our own children, our own stuff gets in the way so fast. So making it a clear line is helpful to say what I can focus on rather than what I can't focus on. And then also really having like those strong boundaries, which is so much easier said than done. The thing with boundaries are one it's hard to form them and to it's hard to remain consistent with them. And that's really the The most important thing when we're talking about boundaries is remaining consistent in them. And it really teeters the line of like tough love, which is very, very difficult when we're struggling with our own anxiety and fear because our child is struggling in a different season of their life.
Kira Yakubov 10:16
That tough love hit hard that you felt my parents growing up being super strict. And I would like go through a million questions to ask you. Because I know you're also a parent and you're in this field, and you're working with parents, what is like the fine line between tough love that's necessary versus being like, an authoritarian parent or too strict or like a helicopter parent?
Brooke Aymes 10:41
Yeah, that's a great question. And it's really like, there's no like, clear line, like, Okay, this is it, right. And unfortunately, just like, there's no book on, like how to be the very best parent, right. And it's very individualized for each person and for each family, because at the end of the day, as parents, we need to be okay, with the decisions that we're making, right? We need to feel okay, with the choices that we had, God forbid anything happened, we need to feel at peace with what we're doing, right. So it's very individualized decision within us, the sessions that I've had with parents, some of the most profound ones have come from shifting our perspective. And what we thought was helping our child is actually enabling them to continue the harmful behavior, right. So maybe I know, my, my, my daughter, who's in early adulthood, maybe she's in her early 20s, she's struggling with active addiction. So I'm gonna let her stay at my house. So she's not sleeping on the street. And I can rationalize that's definitely keeping her safe. She's not sleeping on the street, nothing bad is happening to her. However, it's making her more comfortable and more likely to continue engaging in the harmful behavior because she's continuing to be comfortable. What do you recommend in that situation? To not enable with parents is focusing in on ourselves and what's best for my mental health? Am I okay, when my daughter sleeping in my home and may or may not be under the influence? Or am I full of anxiety, not knowing what I'm gonna wake up to? Can I sleep? Right? So we're having those conversations in what's really best for me more times than not, it's unhelpful to be helping our child in that way. Because it's increasing our own fear and anxiousness. And gets to a point sometimes where it's making our own life unmanageable. We're like almost involved in the chaos of their addiction with them. So we've focused one on our own mental health, and then realize what's helpful or unhelpful, and then have to set boundaries from there on out. And like I said, that's very individualized. It has to be whatever the parent is comfortable with.
Kira Yakubov 12:48
That sounds really tough. That sounds extremely tough. So it sounds like you're helping the parents prioritize themselves over over what their child may need, or their mental health.
Brooke Aymes 13:01
Yeah, it's really interesting, this conversation came up, because I just wrote a blog post about it. And one of the main things in the blog post is taking care of ourselves first, before we can help a loved one that's struggling with addiction.
Kira Yakubov 13:15
So actually goes into another question that I was thinking about earlier that I wanted to ask is, how does the family support someone who is actively going through addiction, right? Because it's we don't want to enable, but we want to provide support. Like I have clients, I don't see clients who are actively through substance abuse or in recovery, but I have a lot of clients who may have family members that just recognizes and like they don't know, what to do, they don't know what level of support is supportive or not helpful.
Brooke Aymes 13:46
Yeah, it also depends, I think, on like, the nature of their relationship, like, am I are they dependent upon me and my husband, our wife, or my mom, or dad or my brother or sister? I think the nature of their relationship really matters when it comes to looking at our own mental health and setting our own boundaries. Because if my husband struggling with an addiction, I might not feel the same as if I'm like, mom or sister of him, right? Um, so I think it definitely depends on the relationship number one, but the main theme is that we look at our own mental health and what's best for us set boundaries that we need to in practicing that Topps love and then also letting them know that even if we have to practice tough love, even if our mom and I have to say that you cannot say here because you're under the influence, please no and I can say this as Mom, please know that. I'm I'm here for you if you want help and if you want support, because I will help you call rehabs. I will help you call therapist whatever it is that you need. I'm here to help you with those things. But I cannot enable this addiction.
Daniela Galdi 14:52
I'm really moved by this. When you're working with these parents. Again, like you said it's tough like I imagined Oh I don't know how I'd control my emotions, I think I'd have a lot of trouble controlling my emotions to just get that point across. So was there anything else that like you suggest there or maybe something in your blog that you touch on with that to, to help those parents who are trying to communicate?
Brooke Aymes 15:19
It is very sad, it's it's difficult work to do. Nobody, nobody has children thinking that they will be in a spa, that their child will be an act of addiction, and that's something that we'll have to go through, right, it's definitely not an ideal situation, it's a very sad, devastating situation. And a lot of times the parent is grieving what they had wanted for their child or what their child could have been, or who their child was in their childhood, right? Because they've like lost themselves in addiction for a little while, and this season. Um, so one of the main things that I also tell them is relatability, and support. So there are a ton of like family groups, there are NAR Anon, there's Al Anon, there's family groups in the community, at local churches, through local nonprofits, pretty much everywhere, and that relatability. And support is so helpful for parents when they're having to make tough decisions and stick to really difficult boundaries, because they can meet other parents who are doing the exact same thing, and have that kind of experience to share with them.
Kira Yakubov 16:23
So back to community community's always really huge in this and having that support. What about on the flip side, though, we're spending a lot of time talking about the family unit outside of the person. But what's it like for you to work with an individual who is in the midst of addiction or struggling?
Brooke Aymes 16:42
I love working with people who are either struggling with addiction or seeking long term recovery from addiction. I love working with those individuals as well. A lot of times, like we talked about briefly and my own experience, a lot of times really uncomfortable, overwhelming feelings come up as a result of addiction, or even their prior to addiction, like feeling hopelessness or feeling defeated. So a lot of times when we are in addiction, we are struggling with low self esteem, or like this feeling of not feeling good enough. And that really prevents us from moving towards our really big goals are kind of like theories what a handicap is right? And when I'm able to work with someone who is trying to overcome addiction, or is who is in recovery from addiction, it's really cool to work with them to shift that thinking for them to start to believe that they are capable of some things that they never thought that they would be capable.
Kira Yakubov 17:48
That's huge. So it's kind of coming back to their self esteem and what they feel like they're like their own abilities to help themselves. Do you find that that? Is there any link or any kind of honestly causes causation, but any correlations, like while we're growing up, if that's like within the family or environment, or just something that we kind of inherited, to have this lower self esteem or this feeling of inadequacy that we are turning to something outside of ourselves to help us move through that?
Brooke Aymes 18:19
Oh, yeah, absolutely. SoI think that addiction comes from a whole like ton of different places. The definition it says genetics, life, circumstances and environment, and then also describes addiction as any behavior that continues despite harmful consequences, right. And so it's saying it comes from genetics, it comes from life circumstances, it can come from environment. And to me that says, it can definitely come from adverse childhood experiences. They're also called aces. And there are a whole a whole wealth of different things, they could be any event that could be traumatic for a child. And that could be like, parents separation, it could be a parent struggling with mental illness in the home, it could be a parent struggling with substances, it could be as big as like neglect and abuse, right. And any of these experiences can impact our overall self esteem and cause us to not feel good enough about ourselves, can give us this core belief of not feeling good enough about ourselves. Some common examples that aren't as extreme that maybe some people have experienced our If our parents had super high expectations of us growing up, and we had difficulty meeting those expectations. Now maybe we've developed a core belief of not feeling good enough. And now that's the lens that we see the world through. Or maybe in high school, our first relationship is a super unhealthy relationship. And our significant other is constantly saying things like we're not good enough or doesn't like this, this and this about ourselves and And now we develop a core belief of not feeling good enough about ourselves. And that's the lens that we see the world through.
Kira Yakubov 20:05
And that paints everything, right like that paints, all our decisions or relationships, how we treat ourselves and other people, too.
Brooke Aymes 20:13
Yeah. And then if we're not feeling good enough about ourselves, someone offers us a joint at the boss side, we're more likely to say yes to try to fit in, we don't feel good enough about ourselves. And then we find relief from not feeling good enough, because we're high. Right? So now I just found the answer. And I'm going to continue to seek that.
Kira Yakubov 20:32
So it feels like the answer the antidote to that helplessness or to the low self esteem.
Brooke Aymes 20:38
Yes, it's temporary relief from those very uncomfortable feelings. And I definitely believe like those adverse childhood experiences lead to addiction, as well as like other mental health disorders, like Generalized Anxiety Disorder, or ADHD or depressive disorders, because then we're struggling with different things, but they're still very uncomfortable symptoms, and then we find relief and a substance. And I was going to say, because you and I have done some work together, you've helped support groups for me in the past, for others on this, and it's come up that, you know, there are different ways that you can see this type of like abuse or substance abuse or addiction, right. So it's, it can be seen in like eating, right, things like that. Are there other other areas that I am asking to identify so that listeners can, you know, pick up on for themselves and maybe it will help to lead them to seeking therapy or some sort of support in that way? So what are some other areas that it can also then show up in our lives as opposed to substance abuse? Yeah, absolutely. Um, so the definition describes it as any behavior that continues despite harmful consequences. I really, I believe that we can get addicted to anything that feels good, right? So if sex feels good, I can get addicted to that or porn feels good. I can get addicted to that. Our relationships, like infidelity, like still continuing to seek attention outside of my relationship, because I'm addicted to that attention, food, gambling, really anything that feels good, it gives us that instant gratification and has potentially made our lives unmanageable, maybe we can't hold a healthy relationship, because we're continuously seeking that attention. Or maybe our credit card debt is getting in the way of our relationship, because we keep shopping, or maybe we've gone through all the money now because we're gambling, any behavior that feels good that we're continuously doing, despite the things that it's doing in our life.
Kira Yakubov 22:44
That's a great definition. I don't think I knew that all the way through is that regardless of the negative consequences, we continue, right? Because negative consequences are supposed to right? stop us from continuing to do something right to reinforce us not to continue. But then there's this other piece that's like, No, we're just gonna keep rolling with this over here, because it feels better. And it's instant release.
Daniela Galdi 23:07
I'm so curious, Brooke, do you have some things that you do for yourself that you'd be open to sharing that helps keep you in this balance in this in this place of boundaries? Do you have anything that you are your go twos for this?
Brooke Aymes 23:23
I really I think the work that I do helps me a lot because I'm constantly talking to people about quieting our mind about practicing self care about setting boundaries, without being kind to ourselves. So I'm constantly reiterating these things. So I think that that's naturally helpful for me. But also, I really love to engage in anything that really quiets my mind. I think that's super helpful. Because a lot of times we just get caught up in the noise of like life and the news and where we have to go next, and what are we going to wear and so if I can quiet my mind, it's super helpful to get relief from that. Also, I think the more we quiet our mind, the more clarity we're able to have on things which is super helpful. And for me, the things that quiet my mind, I love to be in nature, I love to go hiking, I love to be in the woods, sleeping in a tent, I love all those things, because it's just so far away from like society and noise and bones and all that stuff. Um, I love the beach. And really, my kids help with being present in the moment to like running around soccer games and whatnot, because they're, you're fully in on what your kid is doing or not doing, you know.
Kira Yakubov 24:35
So there's just a lot of emphasis on just being mindful and present.
Brooke Aymes 24:40
Yeah, absolutely. And really, a conversation that I have a lot too is sometimes like self care can also feel like Monday and like a chore, right? So something I do for myself is going to the gym, but maybe sometimes I don't always feel like that and then it feels like a chore. And we don't want it to feel like a chore so something that I'll talk to people a lot about is practicing flexibility when it comes to taking care of ourselves? Because we might need different things at different times. And something I'll challenge people to do is to ask themselves, okay, what am I capable of? What am I willing to do? And what's going to bring me the most joy? Right? So maybe I had planned to go to the gym, but maybe I hurt myself, I'm not necessarily capable of doing that. What else am I willing to do that would bring me the most joy, and really looking at taking care of ourselves through that lens? Because I think a lot of times we just get lost and like doing the same old routine and really lose sight of joy, too.
Daniela Galdi 25:36
Yeah, absolutely. We just add it to the list. And you literally took the words out of my mouth, in terms of I was thinking the word like flow, like how can we make things flow and be able to have that flexibility. I love that you said that, because it's so important to be able to adjust, but also then to recognize when these tools that we do practice in like self care and therapy and different types of mindfulness. In knowing what is good for us to bring us back to those places. Sometimes, we might need them. And we've, you know, I can speak for myself or forget to use them, right, in that challenging time. But I've set it in my schedule to do like meditation in the morning. It's like, wait a second, why didn't I stop, take five minutes and go in the other room or like, go outside and just walk around the block? Right, same here. And I can both attest to like the whole nature, like being in nature and everything. And you know, so it's, it's important that you mentioned that about the flexibility and to be able to go with that flow of when we need these things for ourselves. Yes, it's good to get them in our schedule, so that we can become masters of these things, right, and become familiar with them, but at the same time, not to forget that they're there so that they can help us in the challenging times. And bring us back to that clarity you mentioned. Yeah, absolutely.
Kira Yakubov 27:02
I wonder if this is why you call your practice gaining grace, because what I'm hearing is giving yourself a lot of grace, that just came up for me, is like giving yourself that space to like that self compassion, like Yeah, I had this plan that I know this is good for me. But right now, I just, I'm not in a space where I can do it. And instead of beating myself up and feeling like shit, and shaming myself, which I'm sure it gets back into that cycle, it's I'm going to shift gears to what else can I do that's going to be loving, and joyful in this moment. I love that where it came from, I'm curious of gaining grace.
Brooke Aymes 27:36
Yeah, so the logo is like I were always had, and all these like flowers coming out. And to me, it was like all the anxious thoughts coming out. And gaining grace in general, I just really wanted to focus on finding that peace within ourselves, so that we can quiet those anxious thoughts and really, like feel confident in who we are.
Kira Yakubov 27:57
Hmm, I really love that. That all comes together. Yeah. And I love that image, too. I'll have to look at that logo. Because I'm just imagining it, it sounds wonderful. So I know that you kind of touched a little bit on these different mental health issues that may come up that are associated with substance abuse, or addiction, I know that you also work with dual diagnoses is so for the listeners, can you explain what that means? And what that looks like for them?
Brooke Aymes 28:25
So yeah, so again, in Gaining Grace, we definitely focus on dual diagnosis, because I think that mental illness and substance use disorder go hand in hand with one another. Um, a lot of times, we're using substances to self medicate from things, uncomfortable symptoms that we're having as a result of mental ailments. So dual diagnosis would be having a mental illness and a substance use disorder, that would mean like I have generalized anxiety. And then I also have had a substance use disorder, or maybe I've experienced PTSD. And I also have a substance use disorder.
Kira Yakubov 29:01
Okay. Thank you. I appreciate you clarifying that. Yeah. So I also want to kind of touch on the other side, right? When people come out on the other end of going through recovery and getting that kind of support. What does that process look like for some people? Because that sounds just as difficult going through it as maybe the addiction or I don't know.
Brooke Aymes 29:25
Like following through with long term recovery. Yeah. Yeah. So that's definitely difficult for people because change is inevitable, right? And so we're constantly changing as long as we're constantly growing, and life is constantly changing. So what we have mastered before is now different, right? And a lot of people seek relatability and support in their recovery and that is super helpful in recovery that similar to what we talked about with the parents, to have people going through similar life changes as US that can also change as well, right. So I also believe that different things work for us at different times in our recovery. And it's important to be open minded to that. And it's important to be willing to follow through with that. So maybe I go to a treatment program, and I've done church, and I've done the group's at church. And that's really helped me up until this point, but now it's like, nope, my life has changed, there's no longer fitting, right? So where can I find something else that's gonna fit and maybe now it's nutrition and fitness, or working with a licensed therapist to do some different kinds of work. Or maybe now it's going to 12 Step programs and seeking relatability and support there.
Kira Yakubov 30:41
So it sounds like going through the layers of healing, what we needed, then is not going to be the same now. And that's okay. And it's finding different things and different supports to help us move through that
Daniela Galdi 30:51
You just brought to mind, are there any, like misconceptions about recovery that you come across?
Brooke Aymes 30:59
It's not a one size fits all. So like, similar to what we talked about with the parents and being like, very individualized is that for the individual as well, right. So a lot of times, people will say abstinence is the only way. But that might not work for this, this individual, or people might say like, you have to believe in this certain higher power for it to work. But that might not work for this individual, right. And so it's definitely not a one size fits all. And that's why I think it's very important for the individual to like, really practice like self awareness and be in touch with themselves through that mindfulness that we discussed to know like, Okay, what's going to be beneficial for me in this moment? Or maybe I no longer do something that might be beneficial to add back in, you know,
Kira Yakubov 31:45
so it's just catering catering to the person and what they believe in and what makes sense for them in their life.
Brooke Aymes 31:50
Yeah, knowing that the goal is that we're not going back to substances, and that we're going to continue to grow. So how do I continue to do that? What path do I need to take to continue to make that happen? What types of therapy or strategies do you use? Is it a lot of talk therapy do tap into different types of like modalities? Yeah, so I take from a whole on abundance of different modalities, some of the main ones that I focus on the most are CBT. So that's cognitive behavioral therapy, focusing on our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and how they're all intertwined with one another, I use a lot of MI, which is motivational interviewing, I believe it's very important for me not to be offering advice or suggestions, I believe it's more important for people to be coming up themselves, or what's best for them, and me to be helping them along in those decisions not to be making them for them. Um, and then also, I believe in interpersonal therapy, I use that a lot. And that's really focusing on our body language, and what's happening. So someone's like, saying something and rolling their eyes. I'll point at that and say, like, Okay, well, what's happening here?
Kira Yakubov 32:59
So I know and I don't know if this is a common misconception, but is there? Is there a likelihood of like relapse while we're going through this process? Because I imagine, you know, when we try to make a change, or we try to do something different, that has been something that we've leaned on for a while, it's, it's easy and almost predictable to go back to that default, right? Like, even in any therapy, it's we go back to our old coping mechanisms.
Brooke Aymes 33:25
Yeah, describe it a lot of times as like, as like our blankie. Growing up as a child, this has been our comfort to cope with like really big things like we talked about adverse childhood experiences, traumatic experiences, throughout childhood, struggling with uncomfortable feelings, this has helped us through all of that. So letting go of that, and then trying to live life without it is super scary. Alright, so there's a lot of different things that come up. In that in itself. In long term recovery, we're really unlearning a lot of the things that helped us to survive and starting to learn new coping mechanisms for a whole different life. And that's very difficult. Um, and relapse is definitely something that comes up in that. I think relapse doesn't always have to happen. It does happen sometimes. And I think that when it does happen, it's important to recognize that I like to call it more of like, okay, this was a slip up rather than a relapse, because I think that a lot of times when we choose to go back and pick up the blankie, again, or we choose to relax, we can have increased negative self talk, um, similar to like food or dieting, right? Like if I'm doing so good, eating healthy and going to the gym and then I eat a cheeseburger. I could tell myself Okay, well, all bets are off. Now. I'm just gonna eat everything similar to relapse, it's like, okay, all bets are off. I'm just gonna go all out. You know, like, I can't do this anymore. So I think it's important if we do slip Ah, to really be mindful of our mindset surrounding that to not let that progress into a full blown relapse, we can still be successful and still seek recovery and still be working towards our long term goals, even though we had a slip up.
Kira Yakubov 35:17
I think that's important for a lot of people to hear and recognize to, is to not kind of go down the spiral of shame and like, I messed up this is it, what's the point? And just be like, okay, tomorrow's a new day, and I'm gonna get back on and try again, and restart from there.
Daniela Galdi 35:33
Yeah, it's a great lesson I feel in general, or anyone in recovery, as well, as anyone who's working through something. And I and I can speak from my own experience, even. You mentioned eating, and that's a situation for me, right. And so I've done that several times, where I've just gone down that shame spiral, and had to pull myself back out, it's not always easy. And then also in terms of like, any type of mental illness, like with my, with depression that I manage, like, you know, to kind of beat myself up and not give me that give myself that grace. It's easy to jump back into that unkindness. And so I hope that who's ever listening, you know, they see and hear your story and see and hear all the people that you work with through this and know that give themselves some patients with getting back into the life that they want, and that and the kindness for themselves. I think it's important to mention, because the jump to the shame, or the jump to the negative feelings is quick. But it might take a little bit more time. But it's not impossible to get back to where you want to be. Just leaning into that support, leaning into those tools leaning into that self care again.
Brooke Aymes 36:45
Yeah, really being aware of our thoughts.
Kira Yakubov 36:47
And it sounds like we need extra love even more in that moment from ourselves. But even though might sound counterintuitive, it's like I have to keep myself accountable. I have to be, you know, upset with myself, but it sounds like no, it's almost like giving yourself more love, like, Okay, I'm going to start new, I can continue going through this.
Brooke Aymes 37:05
Yeah, absolutely offering ourselves that compassion and that grace, like, of course, I mess up. I've been relying on this for such a long period of time. And what I'm doing is very difficult.
Kira Yakubov 37:15
So it's validating ourselves in that moment. Yeah, yeah. And so I know this, I mean, the recovery process sounds really tough and trying, are there any tips that you have, or recommendations for people when they are around? family or friends are the same environments where people are still using those substances or alcohol, and they're trying to refrain from it?
Brooke Aymes 37:39
Yeah. So I think first, it's important to practice that mindfulness and self awareness and insight within ourself to know, am I out for going around these people? Or am I out for being in this environment? Do I feel like this is going to be beneficial for my mental health or harmful? It really comes up so often throughout these next few months when we go through the holidays, because a lot of times people will be like, Well, I have to go to my mom's for Christmas, but my mom uses and then I always use, right? And it's really checking in with ourselves and saying, like, well, do I have to go to mom's house this year? Is there something different that I could do instead. So really being mindful in ourselves and what we're up for and what we're not, if we are feeling out for engaging in places or engaging with people who are using that we want to use with having a plan to leave early or having our own car so that we can leave whenever we're ready, so that we don't put ourselves in a spot where we're relying on someone else. Or we could possibly be stuck somewhere that we feel uncomfortable. So having a plan to leave when we're uncomfortable, or when we're ready to leave is also super important as a way to protect ourselves and have boundaries for ourselves. And then also on in recovery from substances. And really anything I always suggest that relatability and support. So having people like if we are at Thanksgiving dinner and a really uncomfortable conversation comes up and we're not able to leave like can we go outside and call a friend? Do we have someone that is supportive of our recovering?
Kira Yakubov 39:16
So it's like, it sounds like everything that's within your control, right? Like, put it back to your power your control and making these decisions and giving you enough freedom to do what you need to do if something comes up for you.
Brooke Aymes 39:27
Yeah, not going back to using substances has to be the first goal. So what is going to help me stay there?
Kira Yakubov 39:34
Daniela Galdi 39:35
And I'm glad you brought up about the holidays because I know that was something here really wanted to touch on because they are coming up. It's going to be a few weeks straight through. Right. And, you know, you mentioned about the boundaries and letting people know let's say it is mom or you know, I'm not going to be able to come how do you best communicate that when Maybe there's like an anticipated not so pleasant consequence, you know, people here, you know, maybe they don't want to hear that, and they want them there. And so how do you suggest people handle that?
Brooke Aymes 40:13
Yeah, mom's always gonna want us there.
Kira Yakubov 40:16
Guilt Trip? Yeah.
Brooke Aymes 40:21
When we're having these conversations, it's important that we focus on ourselves, right. And then and when we go into these conversations, it can be, even if we feel like in our recovery, if we feel like it's the truth, like you do this, this and this, and that's why I can't come. Not Not everyone, especially our family members is going to be receptive to hearing. So it's important that we focus on ourselves and, and focus on what's going to be best for us, and then communicate that. And so we can say something like, Hey, I'm not up for coming this year, I got invited to go do this, I'm going to do this. But maybe we could plan to do this on a different day. And maybe that would mean like not going into mom's house. But spending time with mom at a restaurant or somewhere where we might feel safer, you know, or inviting mom to come into our space. So we can be creative. A lot of times too, it's funny around the holidays, because I think that we just get caught up in traditions like, we have to do this because it's the juridische. And are we're supposed to or we should because it's their direction, right. And in early recovery, something that I did, I kind of like looked like, I don't know, if this tradition is going to serve me, well, this year, I think I'm going to do something different. And instead of like having Thanksgiving dinner with my family, I went and volunteered somewhere. And that was kind of like my out like, Okay, I'm gonna go and be of service to people who don't get to have a Thanksgiving dinner with their families, it'll be helpful for me, it'll be helpful for my recovery, right. So that's also something that we can do in our own recoveries is switch it off a little bit like, Okay, if we go to this restaurant, and always drink a ton, and I'm not offered that, like, let's do something different, let's cook at home. Or if we always cook at home and drink a ton of wine, let's go out and do something different.
Kira Yakubov 42:07
So prioritizing ourselves. I mean, like, throughout all of this is prioritizing ourselves, we're not responsible for anybody else's feelings or emotions, or how they choose to deal with it. And I know that's really tough, generally speaking for a lot of people, but especially I'm assuming this process is being really firm in that. And I'm assuming a lot of guilt might come up around having to say no to a lot of important people in our lives and have to set those boundaries. But remember that it's for ourbest
Brooke Aymes 42:37
Yeah, and really, so I talked about boundaries a lot too. And it's very difficult to set them and then be consistent with them, we can shift our perspective and and notice that when we're setting boundaries, we're really being proactive about preserving the relationship. Because if we put ourselves in an uncomfortable situation, and then react, we might cause harm to the relationship. So by protecting ourselves and our mental health and setting boundaries, we're being proactive about preserving the nature of this very importantrelationship.
Kira Yakubov 43:09
I love that you say that, because I think that in a lot of cultures, particularly maybe some immigrant cultures, setting boundaries is like felt and seen as a betrayal, of love and trust. And it's the complete opposite of how you're saying. So I think it's really important for people to hear that and like, have that on repeat that this is actually an act of kindness, and preservation of the relationship, because I care about you, I could just end this all together and not have to deal with it at all, but putting in these parameters to preserve this.
Daniela Galdi 43:40
And it also ties into what you said earlier, it's kind of circling back to the beginning of our conversation about when family members in the opposite end, right when family members are trying to not enable and trying to be there for the person going through the any type of like substance abuse situation. And so it's interesting because it might seem a little counterintuitive, like to me it might seem a little counterintuitive, of prioritizing myself, but then I question for myself, well, how many times that I put someone else's needs in front of mine, and then ultimately was enabling them and not doing what's best and actually doing harm to them and myself, you know, so it's so interesting. It circles back for the person who is in recovery and then also to the family members or friends who are there to help that ultimately, you're both setting those boundaries to prioritize and preserve as you said, to preserve the relationship because you want to see it through on both ends.
Kira Yakubov 44:42
It also sounds like prioritizing the needs of people and not the wants. Right and prioritizing what we need and what someone else needs is really tough when when we want something different and that's not an easy decision to make.
Brooke Aymes 44:54
Yeah, when we feel like caught up and shoulds are supposed to write I shouldn't be having Thanksgiving dinner with my family, even though that might not be best for my overall mental health.
Kira Yakubov 45:04
And so I know we're starting to come to an end is there, I know you've shared a lot of yourself. So I really appreciate that. Is there anything else that you would want to share with the listeners? And maybe that clients don't know about you like a fun fact or something that is kind of cool within your life?
Brooke Aymes 45:20
I think people probably don't know what my clients probably don't know about me is that I'm obsessed with Taylor Swift. A fun fact.
Kira Yakubov 45:30
can you share with the listeners, how they can reach you, your website, your practice, where you're practicing, and all that good stuff so they can get in contact with you? Yeah, absolutely.
Brooke Aymes 45:39
So we're called Gaining Grace. We are based out of New Jersey, so I can facilitate therapy with individuals, family, couples, adolescents, like we talked about in the state of New Jersey. It's all telehealth right now. So anywhere in the state of New Jersey, my website is gainingracellc.com. And then we also have TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook.
Kira Yakubov 46:04
Awesome. And so I know that you mentioned I think it was one of our forums that you are going to start a group therapy.
Brooke Aymes 46:12
Oh, yeah. Um, at the end of January, we are going to start our first group that would be program, it's going to be a six week course. And the goal is to really make therapy accessible to people who might not have insurance or might not be able to afford individual therapy, so we can offer it at a much lower rate, and people still can get access to that relatability and support that we talked so heavily about on this podcast today as being so beneficial for families and individuals.
Kira Yakubov 46:43
Awesome. Thank you so much for the work that you do. It's it's powerful and incredible. And I know when I was in grad school, I was like, Oh, I don't know if I want to touch this because I just it's this it's heavy work and it's powerful work and life and death for a lot of people. So I think I commend you for for having this be your purpose and your calling and helping so many people through this process.
Brooke Aymes 47:04
Thank you. Thank you so much for having me here and for helping to bring light to it.