Her story of addiction is pretty common, but her recovery depended on how she told that story.

There are two stories of Jo's addiction. Only one is actually helpful.

Jo Harvey used to tell her story of addiction in a dark and messy way.

It started when Jo was 7. On a hiking trip, she was given her first drink. She liked the taste, and by the time she was 12, she had experimented with more alcohol and other drugs. In high school, she was introduced to cocaine. She became a party girl, one who didn't remember most wild nights and spiraled into a deep addiction to drugs and alcohol.

Eventually, she gave up the drugs and went in for treatment. In the years since, Jo not only has been sober, but she's dedicated her life to helping others through similar struggles. Today, Jo is completing a doctorate while working to develop alcohol and drug abuse prevention programs for her university.


Now she tells her story as the story of a struggle that saved her.

The difference between those two stories isn't in the facts of her life — those didn't change. But how she tells the story now is radically different because it is no longer dripping with guilt and shame. Jo used to be ashamed that she wasn't the perfect all-American girl that her good grades and pretty appearance led people to believe. She was ashamed that she had succumbed to addiction and that she was struggling with substance abuse. And that guilt and shame shaped how she lived her life.

Why did Jo carry so much guilt and shame around her addiction? Well one factor may have been her gender.

Laura Blum, Nancy Nielsen, and Joseph Riggs prepared a review for the American Medical Association's Council on Scientific Affairs. In it, they describe the societal attitudes about alcoholism and women as well as their unique barriers to treatment.

  • Women who drink excessively are stigmatized as "generally and sexually immoral." That stigma can be internalized by friends, family, health care providers, and even women themselves, who become more likely to deny their alcohol abuse.
  • This leads to an "under-recognition of drinking problems in women until they have reached an advanced stage. Fear of stigmatization may lead women to deny that they are suffering from a medical condition, to hide their drinking, and to drink alone."

GIF via TEDx.

Jo now believes that the key to recovery comes down to the stories we tell.

In order to heal, she had to shake the shame, stigma, and fear to come out on the other side and share her true story: one of hurt and pain, sure, but also of healing and strength. Today, she has this to say about people who are struggling with addiction:

"They matter and are worth fighting for. Even the deepest wounds can heal, and at any moment we can let go of our shame and find peace."

Watch Jo share her empowering story in her own words:


More
via bfmamatalk / facebook

Where did we go wrong as a society to make women feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public?

No one should feel they have the right to tell a woman when, where, and how she can breastfeed. The stigma should be placed on those who have the nerve to tell a woman feeding her child to "Cover up" or to ask "Where's your modesty?"

Breasts were made to feed babies. Yes, they also have a sexual function but anyone who has the maturity of a sixth grader knows the difference between a sexual act and feeding a child.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Instagram / JLo

The Me Too movement has shed light on just how many actresses have been placed in positions that make them feel uncomfortable. Abuse of power has been all too commonplace. Some actresses have been coerced into doing something that made them uncomfortable because they felt they couldn't say no to the director. And it's not always as flagrant as Louis C.K. masturbating in front of an up-and-coming comedian, or Harvey Weinstein forcing himself on actresses in hotel rooms.

But it's important to remember that you can always firmly put your foot down and say no. While speaking at The Hollywood Reporter's annual Actress Roundtable, Jennifer Lopez opened up about her experiences with a director who behaved inappropriately. Laura Dern, Awkwafina, Scarlett Johansson, Lupita Nyong'o, and Renee Zellweger were also at the roundtable.

Keep Reading Show less
popular

Life for a shelter dog, even if it's a comfortable shelter administered by the ASPCA with as many amenities as can be afforded, is still not the same as having the comfort and safety of a forever home. Professional violinist Martin Agee knows that and that's why he volunteers himself and his instrument to help.

Keep Reading Show less
popular
Courtesy of Macy's

In many ways, 18-year-old Idaho native, Hank Cazier, is like any other teenager you've met. He loves chocolate, pop music, and playing games with his family. He has lofty dreams of modeling for a major clothing company one day. But one thing that sets him apart may also jeopardize his future is his recent battle against a brain tumor.

Cazier was diagnosed in 2015. When he had surgery to remove the tumor, he received trauma to his brain and lost some of his motor functionality. He's been in physical, occupational, and speech therapy ever since. The experience impacted Cazier's confidence and self-esteem, so he's been looking for a way to build himself back up again.

"I wanted to do something that helped me look forward to the future," he says.

Enter Make-A-Wish, a nonprofit organization that grants wishes for children battling critical illnesses, providing them a chance to make the impossible possible. The organization partnered with Macy's to raise awareness and help make those wishes a reality. The hope is that the "wish effect" will improve their quality of life and empower them with the strength they need to overcome these illnesses and look towards the future. That was a particularly big deal for Cazier, who had been feeling like so many of his wishes weren't going to be possible because of his critical illness.

"In the beginning, it was hard to accept that it would be improbable for me to accomplish my previous goals because my illness took away so many of my physical abilities," says Cazier. His wish of becoming a model also seemed out of reach.

But Macy's and Make-A-Wish didn't see it like that. Once they learned about Cazier's wish, they knew he had to make it come true by inviting him to be part of the magical Macy's holiday shoot in New York.

Courtesy of Macy's

Make-A-Wish can't fulfill children's wishes without the generosity of donors and partners like Macy's. In fact, since 2003, Macy's has given more than $122 million to Make-A-Wish and impacted the lives of more than 2.9 million people.

Cazier's wish experience was beyond what he could've imagined, and it filled him with so much joy and confidence. "It is like waking up and discovering that you have super powers. It feels amazing!" he exclaims.

One of the best parts about the day for him was the kindness everyone who helped make it happen showed him.

"The employees of Macy's and Make-A-Wish made me feel welcome, warm, and cared for," he says. "I am truly grateful that even though they were busy doing their jobs, they were able to show kindness and compassion towards me in all of the little details."

He also got to spend part of the shoot outdoors, which, as someone who loves climbing, hiking, and scuba-diving but has trouble doing those activities now, was very welcome.

Courtesy of Macy's

Overall, Cazier feels he grew a lot during his modeling wish and is now emboldened to work towards a better quality of life. "I want to acquire skills that help me continue to improve in these circumstances," he says.

You can change the lives of more kids like Cazier just by writing a letter to Santa and dropping it in the big red letterbox at Macy's (you can also write and submit one online). For every letter received before Dec. 24, 2019, Macy's will donate $1 to Make-A-Wish, up to $1 million. By writing a letter to Santa, you can help a child replace fear with confidence, sadness with joy, and anxiety with hope.

Believe
True
Macy's