My name is Marti MacGibbon and I am an addiction treatment professional, award-winning author, a professional humorous, and an inspirational speaker. I specialize in addiction, trauma resolution, recovery, resilience, and all forms of inspiration. I am also a person in long-term recovery from addiction, with 18 years chemical-free. I entered treatment for Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) when the symptoms became unbearable in sobriety.
I am writing this blog for two reasons:
– To summarize my story of personal recovery which I told in detail in the book Never Give Into Fear, and
– To express my gratitude to Terence T. (Terry) Gorski for his life work.
Terry has dedicated his life to creating practical systems of recovery that are describe step-by-step skills that can be learned and used. He presents these skills in clear, easy-to understand, and no-nonsense language. He has always put recovering people and their families first. His primary goal has to help people to live sober and responsible. His methods have always fostered a movement from dependence, to independence, and then to interdependence. His methods are always collaborative and respectful. He believes in rational thinking and sober responsible living.
Terry Gorski has dedicated his life
to helping addicted people and their families
to learn effective skills
for helping themselves to recover.
My Story Encapsulated
In my active addiction, I might have been described as one of the hopeless cases, and looking back now, I know that both childhood sexual abuse (first instance at 14 years old) by authority figures, and the extreme trauma I survived in adulthood fueled my addiction. Knowledge is power, and this is especially true in recovery. Organized knowledge is even better. The more I learn about the disease, the stronger my recovery grows, and the more positive action I can take to build a better, more enjoyable lifestyle and share experience, strength, and hope with others.
Knowledge is power.
Organized knowledge is even better.
~ Terence T. Gorski ~
In 1984, I was a successful standup comic (check out part of my act on YouTube), with a scheduled appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, but I struggled with addiction. I’d been a heavy drinker in an attempt to cope with emotional pain and self-loathing, but couldn’t perform well on stage under the influence of alcohol, so I’d begun experimenting with stimulants. That’s when I discovered methamphetamine, specifically crystal meth, and it was “game on!”
In the manner described in Gorski’s book, Straight Talk About Addiction, when I used meth I had an addictive brain response that released the brain chemistry of self-confidence. I felt more in control on meth, and I felt excited at the prospect of a new drug of choice that seemed to benefit me. I met a man¾a handsome criminal with lots of contacts in the drug world. The relationship went downhill fast, morphing into a classic abusive relationship. My downward spiral became a power dive, resulting in my being trafficked to Tokyo and held prisoner by Japanese organized crime figures. I endured rape and physical abuse, and lived under threat of death, but someone helped me to escape, and I returned to the U.S.
There’s a good reason
not to get intimately involved with a criminals.
That reason is … Ummm?
Well, the reason is they’re criminals.
As a general rule criminals can’t be trusted!
~ Terence T. Gorski ~
At that point, I began using my drug of choice as a means of coping with the trauma I’d experienced, and, as many trauma victims do, I returned to the abusive boyfriend. He beat me up and almost killed me. After that, I spent a year and a half homeless, sleeping under bridges and in abandoned houses. I lived in terror of reprisal from the traffickers I’d escaped. I suffered from nightmares. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was suffering from PTSD. (See Gorski’s Approach To PTSD)
Eventually, I met the man who is my husband today. We’ve been together for 26 years, and although we experienced active addiction together for several years, we both entered recovery during the 1990s, and we still enjoy strong recovery today. When I got clean, I returned to professional standup comedy for some years, and I know the power of laughter as a healing force! For me, gratitude, laughter and fun are mainstays in my recovery program. As I motivational speaker, I still do standup comedy, I just call myself a humorist and my audiences are sober people who enjoy a message of hope delivered in a way that helps them life at the ironies of life.
I always wanted to be a comedian,
but I lacked one thing – Talent!
So I did the next best thing.
I became a therapist!
~ Terence T. Gorski ~
Recovery Is An Action Plan
Recovery is a plan of action that creates motivation, which in turn creates more positive action. During my first few days clean, I took a look at my daily schedule and saw that my average day in addiction consisted of a series of bad habits, negative thought patterns, and self-defeating behaviors. At that point I instinctively knew I needed to learn more effective skills and practice them in every area of my life until they became habitual. When I was addicted, I was driven by the automatic and unconscious habits involved in getting ready to use, using, and recovering from using so I could start the cycle again. I didn’t have to think about it. It was a habit – and habits don’t require thought.
I managed to put the complex behaviors required to get and use illegal drugs under automatic habitual control – and I did it during a drug war, while I was homeless, suffering from severe PTSD, and surround by dangerous people. I certainly could develop a set of automatic/habitual recovery skills when I had a safe place to live, food to eat and meetings filled with sober and responsible people willing to help me.
So I rolled up my sleeves and got started. I replaced bad habits with good: began an exercise program, focused on a healthy diet, learned about cognitive distortions, began using positive affirmations and mantras, and started building a sober support network. The results came quickly and my success filled me with enthusiasm for my new lifestyle and the healing process. One success built upon another building momentum until I had moments of genuine well-being which I call spiritual experiences. The recovery process was a similar but opposite to the process of addiction. When actively addicted one failure built upon another until hopelessness crushed the soul.
Recovery is a plan of action that creates motivation,
which in turn creates more positive action.
~Marti MacGibbon ~
After ten years in recovery, I entered into therapy. I still had nightmares from the experience in Japan, and the additional trauma during my homeless period on the street.
Therapy has been, and still is, a game changer for me. The healing is deep and profound. After therapy, I knew I wanted more than standup comedy, so I obtained education and training in addiction treatment. My goal was to be able to carry the message of recovery to others who suffer. During my studies, I discovered the work, of Terry Gorski. I learned about his Relapse Prevention Certification School. After earning my CADC-II, I enrolled in the RPT training and earned the ACRPS. I have worked with special populations, (Women and Homeless Veterans), and in outpatient, inpatient, and transitional housing settings.
Terry Gorski’s books provide education about the disease of addiction. His material is well organized. He presents valuable information for therapists and recovering people in plain language that anyone can understand. When I read his books Learning to Live Again, and Understanding the Twelve Steps, I knew I’d discovered valuable recovery tools! Terry didn’t really say anything I didn’t know. He did, however, give me a better way to put what I knew intuitively into words so I could explain it more clearly to others. I’ve purchased the two books for sponsees and friends in 12-Step programs as gifts they can use as additional resources and companions to the Big Book and Twelve and Twelve. The women I have shared these resources with have always been enthusiastic about the results they achieve when they study the books and take action.
While reading many of Gorski’s books, and in my addiction treatment training, I was thrilled to learn that fun and laughter are important to recovery even though the evidence for relationship between humor and health is not as strong as many believe it to be. This idea, however, continues to electrify me. Although I do not currently work as a counselor in a facility, I maintain my certifications and work to carry the message about recovery.
Today I am producer, founder and host of Laff-Aholics Standup Comedy Benefit for Recovery, an annual fundraiser in Indianapolis featuring nationally headlining comedians. The purpose of the show is to provide a fun event for people in recovery, with social connectivity and plenty of healing laughter. Newcomers learn it’s possible to have fun in recovery, that our community comes together for our most vulnerable members, and “old-timers” are refreshed and inspired. 100% of the profits from the show go to facilities that provide transitional housing and access to treatment for those who have little or no financial assets. We prefer to benefit facilities that will take clients who have “only the shirt on their backs,” so to speak.
Now I am launching a talk show on a recovery radio network called Pure Motive Radio. The show is on Blog Talk Radio, and it’s called, Kickass Personal Transformation with Marti MacGibbon. The purpose of the show is to provide entertainment, education, and tips on personal development in recovery. I’m booking comedians, authors who write about recovery, and thought leaders in the addiction treatment field. I enjoyed the two guest appearances that Terry Gorski made on my show. I am excited because he has agreed to do more in the future! My listening audience will be fascinated, educated, and enthralled!
Terry’s generosity to the recovering community is extensive. His many books, lectures, and the services of The CENAPS® Corporation provide a wealth of resources for those of us who suffer from the disease of addiction. He’s a brilliant clinician with a keen sense of humor and his contribution to recovery has made it possible for countless lives to be saved, healed and improved. Terry Gorski Rocks! ~ Marti MacGibbon
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