Full Circle Addiction & Recovery Services

To All the Children Who Have Lost a Parent to Suicide

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To all the children who have lost a parent to suicide:

September 5, 2011 my dad shot himself.

When I was 9 years old my dad put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger. My mom told me he lost the battle with not feeling he was good enough and was in so much pain he felt like he could not live anymore.

I was barely 9, when I lost the greatest love of life. People say I am too young to know love. People say kids don’t know real life love or loss. But I disagree. I felt love the moment I was born and my dad held me in his arms. I know I felt love because as I grew up I felt safe whenever he was in the room. When he would walk in the room, I felt like the luckiest kid in the world. I wondered if all dads were as great as my dad. When he cheered for me at my volleyball games his voice was the loudest, even when we lost, he stayed until the very end. Sometimes, he would get angry at me for not doing homework or talking back but even when angry I felt love. My dad believed I could do anything and when He told me I could do anything I believed him.

I know my dad’s suicide wasn't my fault. And it wasn’t my brother’s fault, or my mom’s fault. It wasn’t even my Dad’s fault. Sometimes, I feel like it was God’s fault. But, now after some time, I realize that God didn't take my Dad away for no reason or out of anger. He did it because my Dad served his purpose.

My Dad’s purpose was to show me and everyone around him that kindness and lightheartedness are two very important things you need in life. My dad was the best role model. He showed me so many important skills. My Dad was such a gentleman. My mom was so lucky to have fallen in love with him. My Dad would do anything in the world to keep me and my brother safe. When walking on the sidewalk he would stand on the side where the cars were passing to protect me from traffic.

My Dad had so many people who cared for and loved him. He had family and friends who would take a bullet for him but instead he took a bullet for us. I believe that he chose to end his pain for us. I think he didn’t want us to see him pretend anymore. He wanted his wonderful amazing smile to be real but it wasn’t. Behind his electric blue eyes, he was suffering and could not hide it anymore so, he did the unimaginable, and took a bullet to his head.

Suicide is a crazy thing to wrap your head around. It makes no sense. No one knew how much my dad was suffering. On the outside, he seemed happy. He accomplished a lot in his life. He was most proud of his years in the United States Coast Guard and had a love of baseball and world history. He played every day with me and my brother and supported my mom in her career of intervention and television. No one would have guessed that on the inside was a deep dark secret of depression and twisted thoughts that took him over.

For a long time, after my dad’s death, I would shut people out and cry. I hated it. I felt so alone and so sad. My mom told me every day that I was loved, it was not my fault and I was not alone. I struggled with trying to understand why my dad left us but with the help of family, friends and therapy, I know he did not leave us, he simply could stay any longer. It was not personal to me and even the love for his children, could not fight the painful dark thoughts in with head.  

I felt like I went hell and back again the day I found out my dad committed suicide. 6 years ago, I never thought the pain I felt in my heart would end. I believed that life would never make sense and that I would never laugh or smile again, but it does get better. I have a heartache every day but it's getting smaller as more time passes. The pain feels different and easier to live with.

I learned very young, that life has surprises that we never expect, ask for or even agree with but I wouldn't trade a single second of my life. I feel this experience has been a blessing and a curse.
Knowing that I have my dad in heaven guiding me in my life, is definitely a blessing, that not many people have but, knowing that I will never physically see him again, is a terrible curse.

I try to focus on the blessing. My Dad will not see me grow up, and that is one of the hardest things I will ever face. Knowing that he won't be there on the day I turn 16, or the day I leave for college, or my wedding day, brings me down at times but these struggles have only made me stronger.

My Dad’s death left a huge impact on me but it has made me who I am today and I love who I am. I have turned my greatest pain into an experience that I use to help others. I am wiser and more sensitive. I am a better friend and daughter. I appreciate every day and I know no matter how much life can hurt, it always gets better.

I hear terrible things about suicide in the media and in public. People are afraid to even say the word. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have, we all have really hard feelings and thoughts at times. Sometimes, I feel people judge my dad for killing himself and my mom for not be able to save him but I will not allow suicide to my dad’s legacy. It is how he left but it is not how he lived. I have his blue eyes, his nose, big smile, long hands and most importantly his lighthearted and kind attitude.

No one will ever change how I feel about my dad or my family. I will always remember my Dad as one of the greatest heroes in my life.

In loving memory of John Wandzilak.

 

Everyone is so Beautiful on Instagram

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"Everyone is so beautiful on Instagram. Their lives look so perfect. What is wrong with me?" my 17 year old female client said.

We as a culture are assaulted everyday with pictures of perfection. Photos that are edited with filters and lighting posted with quotes of the great spiritual giants, of past and present, raising the bar of everyday life so high, that no one can achieve it. Our teen girls are comparing themselves, their value and purpose to the Instagram feeds that display perfect bodies, perfect relationships, and perfect lives.

We need to teach our girls not to believe everything you see on social media. No life is perfect. Everyone will experience pain and loss in their lives. Every body is flawed and it is the flaws that make us unique. Eating gluten free bagels and drinking green juice, posing for photos, in some of the most beautiful places on earth does not mean a person has life figured out, or is on higher spiritual plane. Trust me, gluten free bagels taste like cardboard and green juice will give you diarrhea, if you drink too much.

What Instagram doesn’t show:

High school can suck.It can be painful and girls can be mean.

You will have days that you miss your lunch because you are hiding in the locker-room with your beautiful face buried in your hands, because your best friend snap chatted a party you were not invited to.

You will be left out at times.

You may have your heart broken by the boy you have had a crush on since 7th grade.

You may fail a test, or a class, or mess up on that stupid useless dance routine you have to learn for PE.

Your tampon may drop from your bag in front of the football team, turning your face bright red and your legs and arms will feel numb with searing embarrassment.

You might not be invited to prom, and the dress you bought in hopes that the cute boy from math class just might ask you, will hang in your closet. Unworn. Or maybe that cute boy from math class, will ask your friend to the dance. And she might say yes. It will hurt but it will pass and you will survive.

You might have sex for the first time, drunk at a party, with the totally hot senior, that all the girls like, only to be ignored the next day.

And you will fight with your parents, screaming that they don’t understand you, slamming your door and dive into your bed, safe under the covers, watching Netflix and hiding from the world.

Most of the time you will walk around feeling lost, confused and awkward, doubting yourself, trying to hold it all together, smiling widely, so no one actually knows how lost, confused and awkward you feel.

And at the end of all this, on your bed at night, you will look at Instagram and Snapchat, and all the stunning pictures of perfect bodies and lives, only to end up feeling less than everyone else. Do not go to battle with IG, by comparing your insides to the outsides of your followers, you will lose. Every time.

The pictures you see on social media platforms are only pictures. It is not real life but an image captured, in perfect time, to show a perfect story in a seemingly perfect life.

The most unforgettable moments will be captured in your mind and on your heart, not on a camera. The feeling of a first kiss, when your knees go weak and your head spins with exhilaration, the feeling of passing your Chemistry final after weeks of anxiety and hours of studying, and the feeling of your mom or dad, sitting at your bedside, touching your back gently and reminding you how much they love you, cannot be captured in a video or a photo.

Do not believe what you see. Behind every perfect photo is a great camera. I promise, in only a few years from right now, no one will remember how drunk you got at the senior prom, kissed a boy that was not yours, and threw up in the back seat of your best friend’s car.

Life is not an Instagram feed.

Sober and shameless, Kw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Failure and Success

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In our relapse prevention group the question of success and failure often arise. Many clients
struggle with the feeling of failure as a consequence of relapse, feeling crippled with shame.

I do not believe in success or failure. I believe in experiences. Some more enjoyable than others, but all of them opportunities to learn and expand as a person. The terms success and failure are a creation of ego and a social barometer of a value of a person and their choices. I moved away from the labels many years ago.

Relapse is not failure. It is a deeply shaming to attach the judgmental term to a disease and the
process of recovery. This belief keeps people from seeking help once relapse has occurred and is a breeding ground for the internal torture that cripples’ addicts from ‘coming back’. Shame is the universal haunting of the addicted mind and the most powerful kindling for the raging fire of self-hatred and regret that follows a relapse episode.

We need to move away from viewing relapse as a failure.

When guided by a trusted professional, relapse can be a turning point in a person recovery.
What is viewed as a failure or a setback can be the greatest lesson in a person’s life which in
turn, can lead to lifelong sobriety. There is no shame in relapse, only an opportunity to learn.
Full Circle is a safe and inviting place, for clients to return for help, guidance and inspiration. If we can can make it as simple and gentle to return to treatment or self-help programs, by dispelling the belief of success and failure, reducing shame, addicted men and women will return and will begin again.

In my 24 years sober I have learned that I can never sit in judgement of another’s path. I believe that my spiritual and professional purpose is to keep the back doors to recovery as wide open as the front. My many years working in the treatment industry, have shown me, that although I may not be able to understand the journey of another, I am in no position to question it but rather help guide through the emotional mine field and help find the life lesson.

Some of the most considered successful people I know, are the least I admire and equally, some
who are considered failures, those who struggle and continue to fight for themselves, are my
greatest teachers. Once I let go of defining my experiences, both professionally and personally,
as successful or failures, life became a playground. A wide-open space to try new things, take risks, to say yes to opportunities that are terrifying and to fall down and get up again. I have said yes to every opportunity that has presented itself along my way, no longer afraid of failure but open to the challenge to face my fears, be brave and learn humility. I take no pride or shame in the outcome of any of my adventures, in life or career.

No longer defined by the terms and labels, I am truly free, to live large and be brave. Since letting go of any attachment to the outcome of my choices, or how others view me, life has become an arena of endless opportunities. I hope to inspire others to say Yes. To be unafraid. Take risks. Be uncomfortable. Be brave. Play, Struggle, stand still and hurt, take chances and through all of life’s experiences, evolve into people who simply, inspire others to live. Relapse is not an end but the beginning of someone new. I will stand my post, without shame or pride, hold the doors of recovery open and keep the fire of hope burning. Come home. We are waiting.

If success and failure, are illusions, what would you do with your one life?

Sober and shameless, Kw

Full Circle's Outpatient Relapse Prevention Program

Full Circle's Outpatient Relapse Prevention Program is an individualized addiction treatment service for men and women in the tenuous early months of recovery from alcohol and drug rehab. Lead by Kristina Wandzilak and Paul Mara, LMFT, a licensed therapist, with a specialty in relapse prevention, the RPP is an alternative to traditional outpatient treatment programs. Focused on the intricate, complicated and challenging issues of early sobriety, the service provides extensive recovery care while building and maintaining active lives. This program is offered in Marin County, just North of San Francisco. RPP is completely customizable, and can align with even the most challenging client schedules.

The Full Circle Relapse Prevention Program Includes

  • One private session weekly with a Full Circle Recovery Care professional.
  • Two educational/process groups weekly-Tuesday and Thursday 630 to 830pm
  • All scheduled and random drug testing. We require a minimum of two drug tests weekly.
  • 24-hour staff support.

The Full Circle Therapeutic Support Group and Drug Testing Service

Full Circle’s therapeutic group program is a monthly service offering education/process groups coupled with twice weekly drug testing and. The TGA is a clinical solution for individuals who have strong continuing care plans and are wanting the added support of a therapeutic group experience. Focused on relapse prevention and facilitated by Kristina Wandzilak, CAS, CIP and Paul Mara, LMFT, the service is a valuable addition to long term treatment plans.

Please call the office directly 415 202 6255 for further questions and admissions.

substance abuse treatment

Exposing and Embracing Addiction:  How to Overcome Secrecy and Shame and Live with Freedom and Self-Love

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I have had the privilege of being interviewed for an online speaker’s series with 20 other respected leaders in the addiction field on the subject of shame and addiction. It is no cost to anyone who would like to join and listen to the interviews.


Learn how to heal shame, when you join me and 20 experts in the field of addiction and recovery beginning February 26, 2018, for “Exposing and Embracing Addiction” a complimentary interview series hosted by my friend Beth Osmer—recovering addict and alcoholic, hypnotherapist, and Shamanic practitioner.


Shame is the universal haunting of the addicted mind. Beginning with a core belief that we are deeply flawed and imperfect.  Shame is the most unbearable of all human emotions and I have watched people drink themselves to death in a desperate attempt to escape the suffering of shame. Finding the feeling nearly impossible to bear, it propels addicts and alcoholics to drink and use in order medicate the burning self-hatred deep within. The drinking and using will create consequences, which only proves our deepest fear, that we are unworthy, and in turn creates more shame. It is a regenerating cycle and will lead to a very dark and hopeless state of being. The shame spiral can be a lifelong and progressive cycle.


I believe that alcoholics and addicts die of shame and secrets and healing the shame is the most effective treatment and medicine for the disease of addiction.


We are not born with shame. It is accumulated through a life time. The process of healing and recovery is not a journey toward something or somewhere but a return back to the beginning where we are shameless and free. Once we heal those deep wounds, life becomes a playground, where the possibilities are endless. We can love, laugh, play, fail and face life, head up and chest forward, without defining ourselves by the sand castles we build. In a shameless life, there are no successes or failures, only experiences, where we learn, grow and change.


If you no longer had to define yourself by the shame that haunts you, how would you author the rest of your life? Who would you be? What would you do? And how would you live this one life we have been granted?


Please join me and reserve your spot at no cost: https://goo.gl/TcsCSW

When you go to the link above and join us for this powerful series of conversations with addiction experts, you’ll get practical advice, tools, and strategies to stop healing shame.
Specifically, you'll learn:

  • How to have compassion for yourself.
  • How a person may unintentionally perpetuate the “Secrecy and Shame Spiral”.
  • How addiction and self-love are intimately connected, and strategies for working on.
  • How you feel about yourself.
  • How to find the courage to reach out for help.
  • A variety of specific strategies and tools for recovery, ranging from the Law of Attraction to the 12-Step Process to mindfulness practices, hypnotherapy, etc., so you can utilize the ones that most resonate with you.

Join me for “Exposing and Embracing,” starting February 26, 2018. https://goo.gl/TcsCSW


Sober and Shameless,
Kristina Wandzilak

"Intervention" A Misunderstood Process

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I have spent the last 22 years practicing intervention all over the world and have met some of the most extra-ordinary families. The love and acceptance, I am greeted with on the door steps of strangers, continues to humble me, decades later. Connected by addiction and the fierce fight for the ones they most, we partner together and go to war against the disease. I have witnessed the greatest acts of blind faith by the families who have trusted me enough to open their homes and lives. Holding their breath, standing on the edge of their greatest fears, they offer their loved ones into my care. Even after all these years, it is a reasonability I accept with the greatest sense of humility. Having worked with hundreds of families and thousands of addicts, when asked about their most painful consequence of addiction, the most common answer is the effect on their family. The deepest regrets and shame of addiction can be traced directly back to the loss of family and the distant memories of laughter, home and love. Addiction is a disease propelled by shame and secrets, and is a breeding ground for the most unbearable feelings. As families gather, sitting around dining tables, bittersweet feelings and brutal realities and the truth of family addiction becomes undeniable.


Intervention is a misunderstood process. The word will often conjure up frightening feelings, resulting in families postponing the call for help. Trying desperately to control and contain the disease, families suffer from many lost and unhappy years. Crippled with feelings of helplessness, despair, self-doubt, fear and misguided loyalty, families will delay asking for help. Sometimes, waiting too long. Addiction is a fatal disease and it takes countless of lives every day. Some of the brightest and most sensitive people, I have ever known, are extinguished from the planet, far too soon.


Intervention is a highly respectful, honest, and often the greatest gift of love, a family can offer. I know this, that deep inside, hidden in the soft under belly of addicts, there is a primal desire to survive and live. The act of intervention is accessing the piece, of the person, that wants help: the part that remembers the authentic self and where the flame of hope flickers. I know that addicts do want recovery, but are lost in the darkness of the disease and need the way out to be illuminated. Desperate for guidance and connection, the addicted will follow when lead by a caring, knowledgeable, safe professional.


Recovery begins when the path to safety is shining brightly and the doors of safe refuge are held wide open. Full Circle Intervention will guide your family home.

 

Sober and shameless, Kw

Good Morning America

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My mom and I have been invited to New York by Good Morning America to do a live-in studio interview this Thursday February 8.

We will be interviewed about our experience as an addicted family, family recovery and our
book The Lost Years: Surviving a mother and daughter’s worst nightmare. It continues to
humble me that our book and story has touched so many lives. 25 years ago, my mom, after trying everything to save me, finally made the decision to let me go. I’ll never forget the day, I showed up at her door, after once again, disappearing through the window in my bedroom, not to be heard from for weeks, saying “you are no longer allowed in my home or life until you are living a life of recovery and if I never see you alive again, I want you to know how much I love you” And she closed the door.

I wish I could say I got sober that day but it wasn’t until 3 long years later, beaten, hungry and cold, laying on the floor of a homeless shelter, that I became motivated to change. Our healing took years and writing our book was a cathartic experience and healed deep wounds in both of us. I have had the great privilege of traveling the country with my mom sharing our story to countless of families who are inspired by her strength and recovery. I stand next to her on stages, large and small, and bare-witness to the power of her words as they fall upon the beautiful nameless faces that have come to hear her speak.

I believe, it is not the adversities that come our way that define us, but what we choose to do
with that adversity. Although, I cannot say I am happy that addiction infected my family, I can
say, I am very proud of what we have chosen to do with it and how we use our experience to
benefit others.

Thursday morning, in front of 8 million viewers, we will share our experience, healing and hope. One of the greatest gifts of my recovery is being next to my mom as she talks about her recovery and inspires countless of families, to love enough, to let go. My mom is the hero of my story and I am very proud to be her daughter


Sober and shameless, Kw
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