Getting Unstuck…One Day at a Time
January 2020 Issueby Rinsha Ballani
Photography by Cassidy Dunn
Sometimes, we just get stuck. Whether it’s something someone said, or a personal vilification, thoughts can linger long past the point of being unhealthy. True or not, thoughts can turn into defining beliefs and niggle us for days, months, years, or even a lifetime. Negative beliefs are notorious for snowballing out of control and morphing into a large, resentful and distressed snowman. Before you know it, it has shaped your whole life.
This is exactly what happened to six-year-old Julie Davis the day her loving parents shared the news that she was adopted as an infant. This information punctured her happy-go-lucky, young girl bubble, and she became stuck. She was devastated. Dark parts of her tiny soul were ignited and convinced her she was unwanted—a throw-away. “We all have a dark place inside of us, and we have to be able to rise out of it. I should have realized I was beyond loved by my parents, but I took it completely differently; I felt unwanted. I didn’t know the story behind my adoption, so I thought of it as ‘my mom didn’t want me. It followed me for years. Growing up was rough.”
Experiencing the pain of abandonment, Julie felt alone. She searched for a confidant whom she didn’t have to put on her everything-is-okay smile, or feel any of the sadness and depression that haunted her. As a result, at age 13, Julie began self-medicating with drinking and using drugs. “I could just forget everything,” she said. Thus, Julie got sucked into the dark world of addiction. She was stuck. This experience shaped her life, as she went on to spend the next 20 years struggling with the disease of addiction. “It’s all I knew how to do,” she said.
In 2017 Julie was able to find the support she needed to begin her recovery. The impenetrable snowman she had become began to melt. “I looked at myself and knew I had a choice to make. I hated who I saw, and I wanted to be the person that I knew I truly was. I just didn’t know how.” At last she was motivated to create better days for herself.
Sober now for two-and-a-half years, Julie’s recovery has been filled with many motivational moments. She began simply by reframing her thoughts. Whenever her brain would prompt her to think, “Why me? Why is this happening to me?” She practiced flipping her thoughts to the positive side, “What is this teaching me?” Knowing we continuously attract the things we think, Julie wanted to attract genuine power and happiness, and so she began embodying her radiance and even began sharing it with the world through her Facebook posts. “It wasn’t a process of ‘I’m not going to drink today’, but rather ‘What can I do today to make it better than yesterday?’ or even ‘How can I help someone today?’ There are still days I don’t get out of the bed, and that’s okay. It’s more the positivity I can give to the world based on my experiences. I can do this, even if just for today.”
Throughout her journey, Julie’s biggest inspirations have come from her partner, Dave, and her three boys. “My children inspire me. They’ve helped me, when I should have been helping them. I had kids at a really young age, and each time I got pregnant with them, I was about to die. My kids saved my life, every time, and I was going to do anything I needed to do to keep my little ducklings with me.”
Julie is now a role model of what it means to be unapologetically honest and brave. “This is my recovery, nobody else’s,” she proclaimed. “People work their recovery in different ways. I can’t promise that I’m never going to drink again. Do I work every day not to? Absolutely. But I know that at any moment, that it's just a day. I can restart at any time, and that’s okay. It doesn’t matter whether it’s today, tomorrow, or whenever it is. We shouldn’t feel bad, and we should know there will be bumps in the road.”
Her courage, authenticity and passion for making others smile all have made such a difference for her and others. Her new outlook has empowered several people to contact Julie for support on their own journeys. She helps keep them accountable each day, even if she doesn’t personally know them. She is a superhero for many. “Even when I make mistakes, I remember that I’m only human. Every day I strive to be better than I was yesterday, and that’s all I can do. Just one day at a time.”
Recovery: Julie attributes much of her success in her recovery to the 12-Step Program she learned through Alcoholics Anonymous. “I don’t care if you drink, if you don’t drink, whatever your story is. The 12 steps can be used for anybody at any time. They’re truly life changing, and you can apply them to any situation in life.”
Writing: Since day one of her recovery, Julie has kept a journal. She uses it to keep herself accountable and remember how far she’s come.
Post-It Positivity: One tip for people battling their own issues…“Write yourself post-it notes that say you’re beautiful, you’re powerful, you’re strong, make today amazing! You must have a reminder to look at each day until you believe it, yourself.”
The Importance of Laughing: Laughing is necessary for the soul! “People laugh at my expense all the time, and I’m okay with it. If they’re laughing at me, that means for one minute they’re forgetting the tough things they’re dealing with.”
Find a Local AA Meeting: Log onto www.lowcountryintergroup.org for meeting locations/schedules in Beaufort, Jasper and Colleton Counties. There is a meeting happening near you, and this is your year!