Former addict and now author, Isla Stone, recounts her journey to finding strength, spirituality and self-love in her new memoir The Art of Determination. This is her story…
CL: It usually takes some time before an addict admits to their problem and seeks help. At what point in your life did you realise that enough was enough?
IS: I was in denial for a very long time. In the last year as an addict, my life took a turn for the worse. It became painfully apparent to me that something was wrong; I just wasn’t sure what it was. The man I was dating at the time was an alcoholic. He decided to go back to rehab after we had been through eight months of diabolical binge drinking and drug abuse. Our relationship was great in the beginning, but fell apart as our addiction became unmanageable. He already knew that he had a problem, I didn’t. When he told me I was an alcoholic and addict, this just infuriated me. After the eight months – during which time I was black-out drunk for most of the time – he left and I decided to put myself to the test. What he told me about being an addict did eventually sink in. I went to a bar with friends and told them what my plans were – they knew the type of drinker I was. I sat in my seat and drank my drink. I felt pressed not to drink too quickly, but as the ‘disease’ kicked in, I finished my drink very quickly. My friends had barely touched their drinks. Then the moment came when I had lost control and was unable to stop myself ordering more alcohol. I remember feeling so helpless, because I was unable to stop. That night was another blur. The next morning, I woke up in one of the worst states ever and I thought to myself that I was either going to get help or die. I chose the help.
CL: You were abused growing up and for people who haven’t been abused, it’s hard to understand the long-term repercussions. Apart from turning to drugs and alcohol, you also struggled with personal relationships, hopping from one toxic relationship to another. Would you mind sharing briefly your experiences during some of these relationships and how it made you feel at the time?
IS: There were many factors that contributed to my perspective in those relationships. I developed a need for love and affirmation for father figures at a young age and, as I got older, the benchmark for what a father figure should be was set very low due to the abuse that we experienced in our home with my stepfather. This gave me a very twisted and confused view on how I allowed men to treat me. My self-esteem was at an all-time low and I felt I was undeserving of good things. Relationships were based on my flawed thought process that I was the lucky one chosen by these men. These relationships were co-dependant, especially since I had no idea who I was, what I liked, what my needs were, or how I wanted to be loved. I was unable to make the right choices for myself. I recall one day sitting and staring at one of my previous lovers while he was busy doing woodwork, which was something he enjoyed. It made me realise that I had no hobbies or no idea what I enjoyed doing. As I watched him, I felt empty. Now that I know myself, I love myself and I have accepted myself with all the flaws. I have come to truly understand what I want from my life and realise that I am quite fortunate to be in this position. I am building on the lessons of my ‘previous’ life and I’m now living a life that only existed in my dreams.
CL: How did Reiki and meditation help on your road to recovery and how were you introduced to these practices?
IS: I found meditation long before I found Reiki. During my first year in recovery, I stepped foot inside a Buddhist centre and started practicing meditation regularly. I felt the need to expand on my spirituality ever since I could remember, and as many alcoholics may one day admit, this is one of the reasons I drank and drugged. I wanted to find Source/God/Universal Love. I just went about it the wrong way. A part of me always searched for meaning. I continued my meditation practices during recovery and explored various avenues of spirituality until the year my mother passed away (she took her own life). When my mother passed away so suddenly, I had to find closure and I was drawn to a far more spiritual practice. This is when I joined my first Reiki class. Reiki helped me recover from a lot of the blocked energy that I carried with me and was unable to let go of otherwise.
CL: Tell us a little about your own energy healing practice. Where are you located? What is your speciality? Do you work with people from all walks of life?
IS: I am a holistic counsellor and intuitive healing practitioner. My practice is in Rivonia (JHB) in a medical centre. I specialise in women who are recovering from past trauma with abusive relationships, sexual abuse, depression and any other issues that they would like to talk about. I also do trauma counselling and work with addicts, addictive behaviours and couples’ counselling. Reiki energy is intelligent, thus it goes to the place that is needed most.
CL: Your book The Art of Determination is available now and is a personal account of your experiences with rehabilitation, empowerment and spiritual growth. What was it like documenting your past experiences?
IS: Writing the book was quite empowering as I was able to see how far I had come. It reminded me that I never gave up and that I pushed forward whenever I thought I wanted to give up. Now, when I look back at some of the hard moments, it gives me a different perspective. There were difficult days when I was reminded of the abuse, and feelings of anger and frustration bubbled to the surface. While writing the book, I remember feeling the need to focus my energies on finding a way to forgive myself and the people around me. I knew that this was the only way that I would ever truly be able to move on with my life.
CL: What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
IS: I went through so many trials and I think every person can take away something from this and apply it to their own circumstances. Whether it is family relationships, the relationship they have with themselves, addiction or trouble with intimate relationships. For me, the main lessons were self-acceptance, self-love and self-appreciation.
For more information on Isla and her book, visit www.islastone.co.za
Author: Candice Landie