Episode 53 – From Suicide to Sobriety with Shama Persson
Listen to this episode here!
In this episode Rachel is joined by her mother Shama! They talk about Rachel’s life growing up and Rachel shares their family constellation including every marriage and divorce and all the step dads, step moms, step siblings and half siblings… It’s pretty much the most complicated family history of all time! Shama tells her life story and the struggles she went through in her childhood leading to her moving out to live on her own at a very young age, losing her father to cancer and her struggle with bulimia and alcoholism that followed. She also talks openly about her suicide attempts and how after her last near-death experience she lost everything, including her children, and how the darkness that followed was actually the beginning of a whole new life. They also talk about the 12 steps, sobriety, finding a way out of depression and using service as a way to heal your heart.
Rachel: Hi and welcome to another episode of From The Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl. Today I have someone on the show that you have all met many, many, many times through social media, my mom, Shama, aka mormor, and Lea Luna’s grandma. Welcome to the show, Mom!!
Shama: Thank you.
Rachel: Are you excited to be here?
Shama: I’m super, super excited!
Rachel: Do you feel bullied into doing this podcast?
Shama: (laugh) I feel a bit pushed. Slightly.
Rachel: A little pushed. You had 250 comments from people demanding your attendance on the show.
Shama: Yes, yes.
Rachel: Do you like that?
Shama: Yes, I love it!
Rachel: You love it.
Shama: Yes, I love it.
Rachel: You like to talk to people. You like to get-
Shama: I like to talk to people, and I love when people think I’m super wise. (laugh)
Rachel: (laugh) If they only knew! My favorite question was, “What does it feel to be so empowered?” And she was like, “What? Empowered? Who? Me?”
Shama: What does it mean?
Rachel: What does that mean? (laugh) But it’s so good to have you on the show. You were on the show almost a whole year ago.
Rachel: When the baby was really little.
Shama: Super small.
Rachel: Super small, and we talked about a lot of stuff. And now there’s been a really good year for us, overall, I think. And for you and for me.
Rachel: So, just in the spirit of the name of the podcast and speaking From The Heart, how are you right now?
Shama: I am … I’m really good. I was thinking, I just took your class, and I was thinking that it’s amazing that I am … More or less every day, someone asks in the comments, “How do you do when you have tough days?” And I’m just like, “I never have tough days.”
Rachel: That’s a great answer. People feel so relieved hearing that.
Shama: No, but, yeah, but I-
Rachel: I never have tough days, you’re on your own.
Shama: No, but, you know, I used to have only tough days.
Rachel: Maybe it’s being balanced out now.
Shama: Yes, to realize that, okay, I more or less every day I feel good.
Rachel: And what do you think is … what’s the reason behind that? What’s the biggest shift, if you think back, just to contrast between having mostly shitty days and now having almost no shitty days? What’s the shift?
Shama: I think … I mean, there are many, many things. Many years, many things. But I think, in total, the biggest one is to lose everything and to realize that all you have is yourself. You lose everything you love, and I lost my children. I lost you, you know? When I tried to commit suicide three years ago. I lost everything. And now, to come back from that and realize that I have everything, and I had everything, but the one thing I lacked at that time was me. So, I kind of lost everything, I was stuck with me, and I had to work with what I had, and that was me, alone. I mean, from being mom of four kids, always, more or less, to have no one. And then to grow from there, to get from there, it was like tiny baby steps. And now I just kind of float in my life, being me, feeling like, wow. So, I think that’s the biggest … Now I live my life together with me. Wherever I go, I bring myself along. I never let myself kind of down anymore. And I think that’s the biggest shift, because it’s easy.
Rachel: But it’s also easy to have the … if you’re a mom and you have four kids, I feel like I can barely do it with one. It’s easy to always have an excuse of, “But I have to tend to the children, but I have to work, but I have to …” So you always bring focus onto everything else, and then you forget, at the end of the day, if everything is stripped away, what’s left?
Shama: Yeah, but I’m also very, you know, when Luni now is so tiny, and I don’t know how many times today we say, “Duct tape shay” to her.
[004:00] Rachel: I know, I was thinking about that today, too.
Shama: And really, but I mean, told her we say, “Good girl.”
Rachel: So, we have … we’re going to start a little dictionary called Dennis’ Swedish-English words. So, whenever we say a word that we repeat a lot in Swedish, he has his own English abbreviation. One of the things we say is, “Duktig tjej,” which means good girl. And he says, “Duct tape shay.” I was thinking about that now, how I don’t want her to grow up and feel this sense of, oh I have to do something or perform to be a good girl. She should be instilled this love, just being her, she is a good girl, whatever she does.
Shama: She is, she is a good girl, and whatever she does-
Rachel: Even when she fucks up, she’s still a good girl.
Shama: No, but she’s surrounded by this feeling, like she’s a good girl, you know? Because she’s like, wherever she goes she’s met with love. If she goes to you, to Dennis, to me, to [Sana] to Ludvig, to the maid, to anyone, she’s met with love.
Rachel: At Island Yoga, she walks, people are like Ahhhhh!
Shama: It’s like everyone, the whole world is loving her, you know? I think that’s the difference, when you come come to the world and you don’t feel that, then you feel like, from the beginning, something is wrong with me. And I think then you have a totally different platform, and life becomes a struggle.
Rachel: Why don’t you share a little bit about that? Because I don’t know if you have done that before. When I share my past or our past, it’s my perspective in my life. You had me when you were 20. But could you share a little bit of your life story?
Shama: Yeah, and I really want to emphasize-
Rachel: From then to now.
[006:00] Shama: … Yes, that there is no blame in my story. It is what it is. I was born … the sister, I had two sisters when I came. One is eight years older, one is two years older, and I more or less was born into a divorce. And I think that, as three sisters, we had totally different perspective on our parents, where my eldest sister, she had two parents for six years, alone. My two years older sister, she had them … She was very longed for. And then they were divorced, and they were pregnant with me, and I kind of was born into that situation. And I think that I was born super happy, really! I can see pictures, I was really solid, bouncy, sturdy, happy child. But the situation I was born into wasn’t perfect.
And then divorce, then I grew up with my mom. I missed my dad a lot, and they were fighting a lot, and there was … My sister, she didn’t like me coming. I threatened the whole situation. I think I kind of was, to my sister, that I was the reason for the divorce.
Rachel: Mm, like you came along and then they split up.
Shama: I came, and everything went, you know, bad. So, she punished me a lot. I grew up in a situation where I really didn’t feel at home. I felt like an outsider, and I longed for my daddy. It was a really … I don’t know, the situation, to not be at home in your family and to not have support, I think that kind of … what do you say …
Rachel: Yeah, you don’t have the roots there. I mean, a feeling like you belong, yeah.
Shama: Yes, and it kind of took me to a direction that wasn’t my essence, you know? If I would have grown up as Luni is, I would be totally, like, super happy. But now it took me away from my essence and I became kind of sad, and an outsider. I didn’t have many friends, and I always was the odd bird, in a way. And I grew up like that.
[008:00] I remember the first time I drank alcohol, I was 14, and it was the same time when my dad got cancer. Then I kind of strayed away further into a difficult situation where I hang out with a lot of guys, and I did things that wasn’t me. I was very shy as a child. I don’t think I was shy from the beginning, but I grew into being a shy child. And then alcohol gave me courage to do things, you know? Football game courage. I was really good at sports. So, I got a lot of confirmation, but from the wrong… What should I say, from the outside world, but not from my family, not from my core. So there was always kind of a fight, with me and my mom, with me and my sisters, and I was never included. I wouldn’t say never included, it feels terrible because, but in the things that I felt mattered, to go on skiing trips or, you know, to go on exercises, gymnastics and stuff, I was always left at home. Because I was considered too small.
And for me it’s really strange. Like, my 12 year old sister and my 4 year old sister, they went to do stuff, but I was left alone, and for me that’s very strange. So, I don’t know, there was like a strange constellation in my family. I would say we did as good as we could, but I strayed off, totally. So I ended up in really difficult situations, bad situations with alcohol and guys. I was kicked out of my home.
Rachel: At how old?
Shama: I was 17. I think I was 16 at first.
Rachel: And then grandpa was really sick.
Shama: Yes, my dad was dying, and him and my mom, they discussed what to do with me, and my mom didn’t want me to stay at home, dad didn’t want me, so when he got really sick, he bought me an apartment. So, I moved away from home when I was 17, and managed.
Rachel: Do you remember that feeling, like, moving away, was it a relief, or was it just a super sad, heavy situation? Or were you not even aware, you just went along?
[010:00] Shama: No, it was more like … my mom had moved to Stockholm, so I didn’t have any friends. I had bulimia. I was eating, throwing up. I was kind of mixing eating, throwing up, playing football, drinking, hanging out with 10 year older guys, eating, throwing up, playing football. You know, it was like a vicious circle of anxiety. I didn’t know it was anxiety back then. I didn’t know I was trying to soothe anxiety by doing sports 10 times a week. And in between I ate and threw up. And then I went to do more sports, and then I drank and got totally pissed, ended up at some random guy’s place, and in the morning I went to a football game and I performed brilliantly, and it was really weird.
And then I lived alone. I was 17 and I earned my own money, no one paid for me. So I worked extra cafes and restaurants, and I kind of had my little own household with my-
Rachel: And you were in school, of course.
Shama: Sometimes, sometimes I was in school. Not often, not much, honestly. The last year, when my dad died, I skipped school a lot. So yeah, it was a difficult time, really.
Rachel: And then somewhere around then you met my dad. That’s weird.
Shama: Exactly, exactly, exactly.
Rachel: It’s really weird for me to even imagine. Because I’ve seen pictures from how … I think you look like such a baby when you were like 17, 18. You look, like, 12, you look so little.
Shama: I was! And was really chubby, you know? And I can also see that all of these-
Rachel: You weren’t chubby, you were, like, soft.
[012:00] Shama: No, but my face was kind of, you know, very … yeah, it was like a chubbier version of my face. (laugh) Yes, but I met your dad in a restaurant, I was waiting tables, and I met him, he had took a seat at a table there. And I was together with a different guy at the time. That was also, like, because my dad just died, he just passed away, and my boyfriend at the time, he decided to be unfaithful to me, so I went on an even darker path, you know? So, I started to sleep around also and at that time I met your dad. I wanted to ride a Mercedes. (laugh)
Rachel: Sounds like a great reason to transition into a new relationship.
Shama: 19 year old gold digger. But I could really see that this search for support, for someone to take care of me, and my dad, he was financially very successful, he was a professor and a surgeon, and he was very wealthy. My mom was super poor. So, I think the situation being raised with my mom super poor, and my sisters, and my dad being super wealthy and had a lot of power and good looks … So I just felt like, okay, power and to be someone and money, that’s where happiness is, you know? So, I really, I wanted to stay with my dad, to live near my dad. He had a wonderful wife, who became my second mother. And so I really longed to be there.
I think that in your dad, I saw that. I saw something, you know, that could represent that life.
Rachel: Like stability, or-
Shama: Yes, that need … I think that’s the basis, you know, for gold diggers, when you speak about women being gold diggers. There is a lack, and you see something-
Rachel: I hate that term … But it’s also so-
Shama: But it’s true. It is true.
Rachel: Yes, but I mean, because you use the term a lot. And I know you mean that in a way that you were an unsuccessful gold digger because you never made it away with any money anywhere.
Shama: No, yes, that was actually-
Rachel: You were looking for stability and to be cared for in some shape or form, and he was in this looking to become a provider, I think? I mean from his childhood and what he was doing then …
Shama: I think what your dad, what he loves, he loves to take care of people, you know?
Rachel: Loves to take care of people.
Shama: And he loves to kind of bring the food to the table. He loved to support people, like, you know, when he is loved, I think he is the best provider, when he feels safe. And I think that we kind of met in a situation where we kind of … We were super young. I was 19, he was 23, really. I didn’t see that I had a gold digger mentality back then.
Rachel: You didn’t think that you liked him because he had money.
Shama: No! No no no no no.
Rachel: But was he handsome? Was he, like, an interesting person? Or did you just want to ride the Mercedes?
Shama: No, but he had this charisma. He was flirty, and he was kind of fun. He always made jokes, and he was … and he hang out with all of the rich people, and all of the-
Rachel: I mean, he was really, really young and really successful in a really young age.
Shama: He was super young and successful, yes, yes, yeah. He didn’t drink alcohol at the time, and I drank, you know, six days a week.
Rachel: He didn’t have a drink until he was 23 or 24, his first drink.
Shama: No no, but I mean, we went out and he had a glass of champagne, he threw up, on the way home, he threw up because he got so drunk. And I’m like, “Hello?” I had two bottles and he had one glass and he was like totally wasted.
Rachel: But he still doesn’t drink, I mean, now. He’s never been a drinking type of person.
Shama: No, but I can say that your dad, he always said when he met me, he was sure that I was a drug addict. And I never did any drugs. But he felt I was so far out, you know, too much … that he actually thought I had a drug problem. But I didn’t! But I drank alcohol.
Rachel: You had problems.
Shama: I drank alcohol as if it was drugs.
Rachel: Mmhm, yeah, but it is.
[016:00] Shama: I was more or less always drunk. I was working drunk. I woke up drunk. I was really … yeah. So, we were together for … I think one year and half, something like that, and then we were supposed to split up. We lived together. And then I was pregnant with you. And at that time … and I remember, I felt so bad because I knew that during these three months that I was pregnant with you, I had been drunk maybe 30 times? I don’t know. And I didn’t know … back then you didn’t think that the little embryo had any effect. You always thought, like, a big child in the belly. So it wasn’t an issue, you know, it never was.
Rachel: No one said anything about that.
Shama: No, no. No no. But afterwards, when you were born, it was, like … Oh, that’s so bad! I was really drunk six nights a week.
Rachel: And I turned out just fine.
Shama: [Clears throat]
Rachel: Or … (laugh)
Shama: No, but that’s really, like, when you say that, I can just say that every child of mine is like proof that all of the things you are supposed to do and not do when you’re pregnant … Well, sometimes it’s not true.
Rachel: Yeah, it’s all really individual, yeah.
Shama: Yes, yes. And you turned out fine. But I can also think that, of course, because I believe that we can have traumas received in the belly, you know, as embryos, and I think both you and I did suffer a lot as embryos and babies like that. I don’t think, because you were super loud, we loved you really, both of us, we did our best to be parents. I became a full-time mom from being the party … you know, girl. Waiting tables until 5 in the morning then going out to next party. I stayed at home, I had a little car, we bought a little house, I did everything before you were born. I did all your bed linen, I knit little sweaters.
Rachel: Everything handmade at home. That’s a big-
Shama: Everything. Everything was super, super perfect.
Rachel: Were you alone, then? Because all your friends, they continued partying, right? Or who did you knit bed linens with?
Shama: It was me, and then it was me, sometimes it was my mom, and sometimes it was my dad’s wife. But most of the time I was alone. I was really alone. And when you were born, I felt still like an outsider, you know. Because then I was really an outsider, because I didn’t have the perfect marriage. I didn’t plan the baby. Didn’t know anything about motherhood. I was ten years younger than every other mom. So, whenever I went to a mom’s group-
Rachel: You were 21 when I was born, yeah?
Shama: Yes. And everyone was like 30-35 or something. I was always the odd bird. But I had a few friends. Friends of your dad’s, also in the casino/restaurant business. So we hang out.
Rachel: They’re wives of his friends.
Shama: Yes, the wives, yes. You were the same age, so we had a lot of fun with you. Three babies and three girls, yes.
Rachel: And then my brother, who was just here … It’s funny because people ask so many questions about him because he’s never around.
Shama: And because he’s so handsome! Everyone wants to, uh … yes.
Rachel: He’s so handsome! Everyone, yes, they kept asking if you could be their mother in law. He’s such a handsome guy. But he’s also such a … you know, he’s not like a in the spotlight kind of guy. He’s lived in L.A. for a decade. We see him super rarely now. But he was, well he’s two years younger than me. So by then you were-
Shama: And he’s like your, what you say, he’s like your opposite.
Rachel: Total. 100%.
Shama: Totally, totally, yeah. Super sweet. I’m not saying that you’re not super sweet!
Rachel: Thanks! “He’s, you’re opposite, he’s the best. He’s my favorite child,” he’s totally opposite from me. (laugh)
Shama: No, but you were! And people wonder how you were as a baby. It’s like, you were like Luni, but even smarter, you know?
Rachel: No, no offense to Luni.
Shama: But you, really, you were the one pushing the … you were the one on the edge all the time. Trying, climbing. When you were ten months old you climbed out of your crib. Luni hasn’t even tried that.
[020:00] Shama: You know? So, you were really, you were climbing shelves, you were … At this age you spoke. You were very, you know-
Rachel: At one.
Shama: At one. And you said really proper words. You didn’t say nana. You said banana. You said mama, papa, you said lumpa, table. Yeah. And you were always the best. Then Ludvig came, and he was very slow.
Rachel: (laugh) And fat. And so fluffy. He was like 11 pounds or something.
Shama: And fat and chubby and … and cuddly, and really, you know, his thing was to sit in your lap. He climbed up to everyone’s lap, just sitting there. He didn’t walk until he was, like, 15 months, I think. And he didn’t speak early. He was very late and very sweet and very gentle. Totally different character. You were the greatest! And he was very cute and sweet and. As you say, he was super easy to love. Really, really. But you were more like quicksilver. I think both of you, I think you were extremely loved. Both of you. And this is what I feel, like my ability to love, even though I didn’t receive that much myself, was kind of undamaged. So for me it became very strange to not love your children, to not be able to show how much you love them.
Rachel: Did it create more separation between you and your mom? Did you ever reflect on that then? Because we were always so close with her, me and Ludvig.
[022:00] Shama: I am feeling now, when Luni is here, I feel my mom, she supported me so much when you were a baby. When both of you were babies. She was so supportive, really. She stayed with us. She took care of you so much. She loved you and she really cared. And she was very supportive of me, as a mom. She never questioned my motherhood. She never told me what to do, not to do. I think that was her moment in my life.
Rachel: Do you think she loved you through us? Like it was easier for her to be really-
Shama: It was super easy for her to express love to you. Really. I remember you also said that she told you once that she wasn’t that kind to me when I was a kid, yes. And she was sorry for that. But I think it was … Somehow, I think I was very much like my daddy also. So I think she saw him in me, a lot, and that made it difficult.
Rachel: And he left, and here, yeah.
Shama: Yes, yes.
Rachel: It’s not easy. I was even, before we started recording I was … because there were so many questions for you, and I was trying to pick up good ones and write some down, and then someone says, “Well, I don’t understand how this makes any sense, like, your whole family. Who are all of these people?”
Shama: Who are all of these people?
Rachel: Who are all of these people?
Shama: Who are you even?
Rachel: So I … because of course I also have my dad’s side of the family, and there’s a bunch of kids there. And then you have four kids. And we’re going to get to there. But what happened next, I guess?
Shama: But I mean, it’s difficult to get, like 50 years in a one hour podcast.
Rachel: Should I share my little abbreviated version of our family tree? I almost wanted to make one of those YouTube videos where everything moves super fast?
Shama: You can do it super fast, and then I can give my version. Okay.
Rachel: Okay, but this is just the facts. I didn’t put anything in it.
Rachel: Okay. So I put from my point of view then … My mom met my dad when they were super young, fell in love-ish and had me when they were 21 and 24. Two years later my brother Ludvig was born, and shortly after that my parents separated, with some drama and scary stuff involved. Mom decided to go to air traffic control school, met Stefan, the cool fighter pilot guy, and we moved to South of Sweden to live happily ever after with him. He died in a plane crash. We moved back up to my dad, and he decided to move to Latvia around the same time.
[024:00] A few years pass, my dad has a baby, my sister Katja, with her mother Natasha, but they separated right away. Or were they even together? No one knows. My mom meets Karl and falls in love with him, and we move in with him and his daughter Hanna and my sister Hedda is born the next year. My dad meets a new woman and falls in love at the same time as my mom meets a new man and falls in love, so she leaves Hedda’s dad for Stefan, who has two other kids, Gustav and Louisa, and we all move in together. My mom and my dad marries the new woman, Inga, and in the year 2000, everyone gets married. I held a speech at my dad’s wedding saying, “The year 2000 was the year my parents finally got married, just not with each other.” I was 12 years old.
The next year my mom and Stefan had my sister Maia and my dad and Inga have my sister Emilie. A few years pass, and then everybody decides they aren’t happy anymore, so they all divorce. My mom meets David, they have no more children, thank god. And my dad meets a woman named Alexandra, who is Dennis’ exact same age. My mom divorces David and my dad goes on to have two more kids, Nicholas Jr. and Mikaela, who is Lea Luna’s age. And now here we are today. My mom is single and happy and ready to mingle, and I have seven forking siblings in the messiest family history of all-time. But, we are all happy. Sort of. Most of us. The end. (laugh)
Shama: (laugh) It’s really funny! It’s really, really funny. I mean, if you cut out all the drama, if you take away all the bad parts and just stick to the facts, it’s really, like, yes.
Rachel: It’s like, black and white. Marriage, divorce, children, stepchildren, divorce, marriage.
Shama: It’s funny.
Rachel: But that’s how we are. So I’m sitting here with 7 siblings, 6 of them are half-siblings, however you would call it. Ludvig is the only one who is with both my same parents. So, somewhere around then, and I know, like, if I look at from my perspective now, everything is really peaceful, for me, at least.
Rachel: I don’t know if it is peaceful for everyone from where they’re sitting, and there’s still drama happening and unfolding in our family, I feel.
Shama: It’s not mine.
[026:00] Rachel: It’s not mine either!
Shama: It’s like for the first time in my life, the drama is not mine!
Rachel: But how did you arrive to there? So, from being that young mom with two kids, and then you weren’t happy with my dad, and you left, and all of the stuff. We could do that.
Shama: Mmm. But I get, I can just say that, for all … because I also read all the comments, thank you so much for sharing and telling what you want to hear. I can just say that if you live your life from a perspective of lack, like lack of love, lack of confirmation, lack of purpose, reason to be, if you live your life from that perspective, it’s not going to go well. Your decisions are not going to be … it’s not going to take you into right direction.
Rachel: Or as if you’re the victim, all the things-
Shama: Yeah, no, because you are the victim and-
Rachel: All the bad things come my way, it’s not my fault.
Shama: Yes, and you kind of feel like you’re jinxed. I felt like that, like my parents got divorced, I lost my daddy really young, and then my father got cancer, and then he died, and then I met the love of my life and he died in a plane crash.
Rachel: And that was after, that was when we were little, when you had divorced dad, or left dad, yeah.
Shama: Yes, yes yes, yes. And I can see that I met your dad in the big grief of my father. And when I met Stefan, it was more like we were, like, totally … he was my Dennis, you know? We really fit. My friends said that this was the first time in my life together with them that they’ve ever seen me love someone, you know? Except for you and Ludvig. And to be able to share that with someone. And then he died, and then I felt like nothing good is ever going to last, for me.
Rachel: And you were how old then?
Shama: I was 26.
Shama: And he was 30, yeah.
Rachel: And I was 5 and Ludvig was 3.
[028:00] Shama: Yeah, you were almost 5 when he died, yes. So we spent, like, not even two years together, but those years were really, like, they were super intense and they were super good years, you know? And after that I felt like, for me, I was like that someone would love me, so I kind of took what I got. I didn’t choose. I didn’t go with my heart. I just felt like if someone would love me again, I’ll go with that person. And that’s sad to say, but … and I think that’s the same with the fathers of you, like for me, of course I loved them, but it wasn’t my full heart. Because I was acting out of a place where I had a big lack. And I think the biggest change now is that since I lost everything, I had a lot of support from my girlfriends. Really, without my girlfriends, I would not be in this place. And also I’m blessed that God or someone is talking to me at times. Soon two years ago I heard a voice, waking up, hung over, being out with my friends, and the voice says, “This doesn’t work anymore.” And I just realized that I am in more or less the exact place where I was when I got pregnant with you. I was out, drinking, having fun, waking up, hung over, and the next day we would be out again … Because this was the first time, three years ago, in my life when I was single. In, like-
Shama: More or less since I was 15, really. And then I was partying, I was being out, having fun, kind of living a single life, because you took a step away from me also, my kids. And I was like, okay, so this is my life now. And then I woke up and this voice says, “This doesn’t anymore.” And I knew exactly what it was.
[030:00] And we used to joke that I was an alcoholic when I was young. Like, when I got pregnant with you, I was an alcoholic, and you kind of saved me. And you hated that part. You always said, “I hate it that you say that.” And I didn’t, you know, some things that we said back then that we, or I thought was funny wasn’t funny, really.
Rachel: Yeah, but you don’t think of it that way. I thought it was a lot of weight to carry, for a child, that feeling. Like you saved your mother.
Shama: Yes. And it’s like, yeah, and it’s like we parents, I think none of us do things to hurt our children. We don’t know. And then I came into AA. Thanks to that I called a friend and I said-
Rachel: Because of that voice.
Shama: Yes. I said that I realized I need to stop drinking, and where is the meeting? So I went to a meeting and since then I haven’t had one glass of wine, or-
Rachel: Two years.
Shama: Yes. And I think the eye opener with AA, for me, because I did a lot of spiritual work, I did a lot of personal development, and many groups and retreats, and I really turned my inside out, 100 times. I processed my dad, my mom, my childhood, I processed the separation with you, I processed my suicide attempts, and I processed everything. But, I didn’t process myself, you know? I didn’t look-
Rachel: The things that happened to you, but not the things that-
Shama: And why am I the way I am? You know? What shaped me? And through these steps that you work, you kind of take a look at yourself, and that’s when the gold digger mentality came in, and to realize you are not a gold digger because you’re an asshole, you know? You are that because you have a fear. And that fear is the, you know, the fear of emotional security, financial security. And to realize that behind every negative behavior you have, there is a fear. And for me to be able to look inside and see that, oh, what if … I’m an arrogant asshole. I despise people. I am a gold digger. But I’m a very unsuccessful one. But all of these negative, what do you say … character traits that I have, I just realized that, okay, this is me. This is what I am.
[032:00] Rachel: So it’s not just everything that happens to you, and you’re the victim of everything, but also what’s …
Shama: I got a full list, like 10 points. This is how I am: I’m not humble. I’m arrogant. I despise everyone, more or less. I’m pretty myself. I’m superior, you know? And to see that, okay, great, then I can work on it. It kind of gave me back my power. So, it’s like-
Rachel: Is it the act of not drinking? The sobriety? Or is it the 12 steps and the spiritual work that you do in the groups?
Shama: I think it’s a combination. To have a personality like mine, I don’t think I’m depressed. I don’t think my personality is melancholic, depressed. But I know that the ways, the number of ways to reduce anxiety that I have tried during my life, alcohol was my biggest one, and to not drink makes me, I mean, a much better person. A nicer person. I mean, to drink, for me, at times is like pouring alcohol or, you know, gasoline on a fire. It’s totally stupid. Because of all my, you know, dark sides, my bad sides, I’m arrogant, I’m superior, you know? I’m too much. They get-
Rachel: Magnified, mmhm.
Shama: … magnified with alcohol. So I kind of float on top, problems I have disappear for that time, and then you wake up to your more problems.
Rachel: And more anxiety the next day. Yeah, of course.
Shama: And more anxiety. So what you use to reduce anxiety, to solve your problem causes more problems. So, to remove alcohol was like the first … and to realize that I have a problem, and to say that … but for me, I can honestly say, you call me a hobby alcoholic.
Rachel: Because from everybody else’s standpoint, it was always … and I have also learned a lot since then, so must people that go to AA aren’t the people, necessarily, who lie in the gutter with the half bottle of whiskey, but they’re very functioning people, high-functioning people that have good jobs and they’re C.E.O.s and they have families and responsibilities, and … you know, alcohol affliction can be anybody. There’s no person that fits that label.
But for me, when you said, “Oh, I’m sober now, I’m in AA,” I was like, “Is this a fucking joke?” Like, I remember, I was like, okay, here was another thing, now. But everyone has noticed the change in you, really. And I don’t know if it’s the type of humbling, very humbling work that’s done then, and also the work that’s without a guru, without a super teacher… Like, I don’t feel like you’ve attached to this “this is the only way” feeling, which it’s been a lot of before.
And I think the change was big enough now, if you would start drinking again, I would freak out. But I would say, like, “Oh, you were a hobby alcoholic. Not really a real alcoholic.” But then the change was so big that probably yes, that was a very, very important step.
Shama: Yeah, I think so. Alcohol, to remove what you’re using, and it doesn’t matter if it’s alcohol, or if it’s like when I was a child, I used to pull the nails from my pinky toes. Totally terrible. And I played football, so it hurt a lot when I played football, of course. But I did that to reduce anxiety.
Rachel: Yeah, but there’s … people cut themselves, there’s-
Shama: Yes, yes, there are a number of ways.
Rachel: Sugar, cigarettes, drugs, sex, there’s everything.
[036:00] Shama: I think that the most important is to remove that thing that actually harms you, and then, I think, also the people I met in AA, the work we do, that everyone wants to become a better person! It’s really like you get sober, you get clean, and then you have a job and you work those steps that are totally brilliant, everyone should do them. Being an addict, yes or no? And the 12th step is you give back. What you have got, you give back to people. Which means you have to be a good person. So it means in the little things, really, if I’m arrogant, how do I stop being arrogant? Well, I have to act more humble, you know? I have to clear other people’s trays in McDonalds. I have to really things that I don’t have to do. I have to exaggerate the humble side of my life to become less arrogant. Because you can’t say, “Now I’m going to be less arrogant.”
So it’s really like I love this, and I also love that there is no, as you say, there is no guru, there is no people on top of each other, no one tells anyone you’re an alcoholic. The only one who says you’re an addict or an alcoholic is you. And then only membership needed is you don’t want to drink, you don’t want to use. Like, please help me. And I think that this becomes a lifestyle.
I also feel like I don’t know if I’m an alcoholic, to be honest. I don’t.
Rachel: They’re going to kick you out of the group! (laugh)
Shama: But does it matter? No one can kick me out! And you know, people relapse and they come back, and they relapse the next week and they come back. And I’m like, really, does it matter if I’m not an alcoholic? It’s really good for me not to drink.
Rachel: Right. It’s as simple as that.
Shama: It’s as simple as that. Exactly.
[038:00] Rachel: And there has also been … I mean, I’m looking at all of the questions that we’ve had. So many people are asking about … and I get this question a lot, and I feel also strange when they say, “What has been like to grow up with a mother that’s an alcoholic and an addict, and how have you gone through this?” And this was not something that I grew up with. I didn’t ever have this thought in my mind. I think it could have been anything. It could have been alcohol, it could have been something. For you it’s just a tool that you can use now to peel things away and come back to who you are.
But what’s the hardest part about the relationships changing, I guess? You know? Everything that surround it. People are asking for advice. So, if they have someone that’s around them that is an addict and maybe they don’t know or it’s really hard to be on the sidelines, and I feel like I cannot answer that question because that’s how our relationship looked like. For me the challenge that we had was that I was also scared that you were going to kill yourself. I was always fearful.
Shama: But for me, now, for me it’s like life is the most important thing that I have in my life is actually not to stay alive, but to have my level of life joy as high as possible so I never, ever touch that point again where I don’t want to live. And where I am now, and I think this is also comforting, especially for those who struggle with life joy and perhaps contemplate “should I kill myself?” That’s nothing, that that, once you have it in your head, it kind of returns. And then it comes often.
Rachel: It’s like cancer, yeah.
Shama: It’s like cancer. There is a point, when you think that that for the first time, and then it’s like you’re infected. It’s like it answers back. And I’m sitting here, I tried to commit suicide three times. I survived. And the last time I survived, it was just seconds from not being here. And to realize that you can actually be happy … Life doesn’t have to be … you don’t have to come to an okay place, where you manage-
Rachel: What was the difference, then this time around? Because-
[040:00] Shama: No, but I never … As I feel in my body, in my life, where I am at right now, I never have been in my whole life. You know? I’ve never been a stable person. I’ve never been solid. I’ve never been trustworthy. I’ve never been … you know, I’ve always been more on the go, fun, alert, too much, always busy, always happening stuff, and never feeling I’m here, and I’m going to be here. You can count on me, because I wasn’t that kind of person. And now I feel like this quality that I have right now, I need to preserve that. Which means that I cannot jeopardize my situation with bad people, with drugs, alcohol, bad situations, you know, overworking, stressing.
So, I kind of … I think that the way we watch Luni, don’t eat that, don’t go there, you know, watch it, careful. That’s how I care about me now. I feel when I’m straying off-
Rachel: And is that tiring or is it joyful thing?
Shama: It’s super easy. It’s like caring for a child.
Rachel: Because you’re in a good place. And that’s also the thing, I think, that comes back to anything, people ask a lot, “How can I maintain a good diet? How can I make sure and stay motivated to go back on the yoga mat? How can I do anything that’s good for me? If you’re in a bad place, everything that’s good is hard.”
Shama: yeah, yeah.
Rachel: If you’re not in a good place, it’s really hard to do yoga everyday. Yoga feels like … It’s boring, it sucks, you’d rather eat the crappy things. When you’re in a good place, all of those things come super, super, super easy. And I can find with me, my controlling side, my never stopping side, my overworking, achieving side, it gets super, super, super high when I’m not in a good place. And then when I’m in a good place I feel really soft, and it’s really easy to just sit down and calm, and I don’t snap at people. So I think we have to start in the right place. You can’t start with just the yoga. You can’t start with just the outside stuff, you know? I’m going to eat salads everyday now and suddenly my life will change, that’s not how it goes.
[042:00] Shama: No, but I think if you have an addiction, the first thing is actually to give that up, and the best way to do that is to connect to a program. Like, if it’s cocaine or … you know, alcohol, or overeating, I mean, there are programs for everything. So that’s the first thing, to connect, to stop using. But then, you know, like, I can see on you when you are not in a good place because you snap at people, you are … I can feel that when you are not-
Shama: Grounded. When you are happy, then it automatically takes as small arrows out to other people. You direct everything else. And yesterday, you were so happy and kind and loving and everything, and I was like, “Oh, something shifted.” And I can also see there has been a lot of people visiting, coming, and a lot of pressure on you. And when that pressure release and you can calm down-
Rachel: Yes, it’s a really hard balance.
Shama: It’s like everything changes. Yes, it’s a really hard balance.
Rachel: Yes. Because I love having people at the house. I love having gatherings. But then a part of me is waiting for everyone to leave so I can be quiet again.
Shama: Yeah, so you can relax.
Rachel: So I can relax again and no put on the show all the time.
Shama: Yeah, and I think that’s the thing. Serenity, peace, what is that? If you have that, you know it. And if you don’t have it, and some people never had it, I didn’t have it for, like, my whole life. Except for the years we lived with Stefan, than I felt we were in the right space. But now I have peace. And what I wanted to say was that if you’re depressed, if you feel like you’re struggling, you don’t want to live, there is actually this space, this realm of peace and loving yourself and being happy is available to you, because a person sits here tried to kill herself three times, and she’s sitting there being happy.
[044:00] And I don’t have a fancy job, I don’t have a boyfriend, I don’t have a … you know, before, I used to, “If I got this, if I only could achieve this, if I got married to this person,” or whatever, then I’d be happy. And I did all that, and I wasn’t happy. And now I don’t do that and I’m happy, you know? It’s-
Rachel: Yes. Sometimes I feel like from the outside, like, Dad sometimes asks in a condescending way, “How’s your mom doing now?” And then I’m like, I don’t know, are you the eccentric one who has it all figured out now? Because I think from other people’s standpoint, you’re like the crazy person who talks about everything, I mean sort of like I do, talks about everything online, and now it’s hard and now it’s good and now it’s easy and then it’s … And I think part being just, you have to be a little crazy to get by. You can’t just conform to everything all the time.
Shama: No. No!
Rachel: And that’s the pressure I feel when I feel like people are watching me all the time, or if I have to perform, I have to be this person. And then all my serenity goes. All my peace. Because I can only be at peace when I can be who I am, which isn’t always what other people want me to be, or what I’m supposed to be, from the outside world. And then I get stressed and then it starts to build this pressure that I don’t need. So I’m really working on how can I be this … I don’t know. How can I allow myself just to be? Like, I don’t have to do anything to deserve to just be who the way I am.
Also, with retreats, we have a retreat starting tomorrow, and part of me feels like there’s this pressure building now, I have a retreat coming, people are expecting something, they all want to have a life changing experience when they come here, and I feel it’s my job to provide that. But then I also know I provide the best teaching when I am soft and I am me, and I am not, you know, outside of myself.
Rachel: It’s a life-
[046:00] Shama: But this is also life. I would say that this, if we bring in the topic of age and being old.
Rachel: Gammal mormor.
Shama: Gammal mormor. Since Luni was born I have become super old-
Rachel: Anyone who says that to you… So Dennis and I we make a, Dennis mostly.
Shama: Gammal mormor.
Rachel: He calls gammal mormor.
Shama: And he can say, “Can you please remove your gammal mormor feet from the table?”
Rachel: (laugh) He’s the funniest person! But it’s all … I mean, it’s a joke, because one, you are super young and you look super young and you look super great and you’re super fit and all this stuff. And it’s become, like, but you’re old. Because now you’re a grandma! All the sudden you’re super old!
Shama: Yes. Yes! Yes yes yes.
Rachel: You have to be old when you’re a grandma.
Shama: But with age, also, wisdom comes. And I can also see that now-
Rachel: But not for everyone.
Shama: No, but you have to also, you know, you have to also kind of not take yourself so serious, and kind of relax into, I mean, what the fork is all of this? Now when I look at people arguing and having drama and bad relationship, it’s like, what? It’s so stupid. It’s like totally stupid! It’s such a waste, such a waste of serenity, it’s such a waste of peace. And I’m like … why? Why even bother to [inaudible] if you’re going to disagree about it? Why? And I think that aging, in a way being relaxed about it and feeling like, okay, I have maybe 50 years to become a better version of myself. Everyday. And I must know that it’s never too late to become a good mom. I mean, you can become a good mom when you are 45. If you were a shitty mom when the kids were young, you can still. It’s never a lost battle. I mean life is never a lost battle until you die. So you can always start again, you can always. But the thing is, you have to do the work on yourself. You have to kind of … And if I can be, I know that you and me, especially, we struggle about the stardom, in a way. You know? Who is on top and who is, like … And to be able to be the person who kind of takes the back seat position. For me I needed to be in the front seat, because there was so much pressure on me to fix everything. And thanks to killing myself, I kind of ended up in the trunk.
[048:00] Rachel: Everybody stuffed you in the trunk and said, “Go fuck off!”
Shama: Exactly, so now to kind of get into the back seat, it’s like- (laugh)
Rachel: It’s like a great thing. (laugh)
Shama: It’s like … yes! No, but I think life is … I never thought that I would be the kind of person who thinks that life is an adventure. Like, you don’t know what’s going to happen. And to look forward to, like, what Luni is going to do when she’s 20. It’s like, wow!
Rachel: And what she’s going to say. It’s something also that people … because people ask always, of course, all of these questions about the heavy stuff, and suicide, and being sober, and how do we live … People maybe don’t know, we have so much fun! So much fun! (laugh)
Shama: I say, “We have an insane amount of fun. Thanks to Dennis!”
Rachel: Mostly thanks to Dennis! I think so! Oh my god. (laugh)
Shama: (laugh) Mostly to Dennis. It’s like Dennis, everyone should have a Dennis, yes.
Rachel: His sense of humor is the best.
Shama: But I was thinking that, yeah-
Rachel: It’s really light now. And it’s not going to be that way forever, and we piss each other off still, sometimes. And of course we have hard days and good days, but I think overall, for all things they’re just super good. I look at Luni and I’m like, look at all the people she has that just can’t wait to be together! Not just for her, but because we all really like to be-
Shama: Yeah. We like to be together, and to move as one body, yeah.
Rachel: But we all live in a hundred different places also, so-
Shama: Yes, people also ask about that.
Rachel: It’s nice to have your space.
Shama: It’s nice to, I mean, people, about this long distance relationships, it’s actually Ludvig was here now, I haven’t seen him in one year and three months, and then he comes, and everything is as-
Rachel: I saw him for 24 hours in December and we fought the whole time! (laugh)
[050:00] Shama: Yeah. I was going to say, I am telling you, everything is as normal when you meet. (laugh)
Rachel: (laugh) I know! We didn’t always have that though. Did we? I mean, we fought. Like, I was always a little mean to him when we were little.
Shama: You always been guilt tripping him and punishing him and kind of bullying him a little.
Rachel: We have so many fun stories!
Shama: And now he speaks up to you.
Rachel: Yeah, now he fights back. But when I was little I remember I had this super pretty doll that someone had given me, I can’t remember the name of it. But it was like a brand new doll from the toy store.
Rachel: Mine. Yes. And then Ludvig didn’t have one, and he was so little, and he was like, “Well, I also want a doll.” But he was a boy, so he didn’t get a doll. And then someone was like, “Well you can have my doll.”
Shama: No, but he got my old-
Rachel: He got your old doll from when you were little, which was like a downgrade, because mine was new and fancy. But I was like, “Wait, did Ludvig get the better doll? Because this doll came with history and stuff?” And I was so jealous and I wanted him to trade with me, but he didn’t want to trade because it was his doll. And then I convinced him that his doll would look so much greater if he cut all the hair off the doll! (laugh) Because I knew it would render the doll useless and ugly! And I can really remember, like, he was like, “Are you sure, are you sure?” I was like, “Yes, your doll needs to look like a boy! It’s a boy doll!”
Shama: Do you know what you named her?
Shama: You don’t know? Ludvig says, “[Swedish]” (laugh)
Rachel: (HUGE laugh) Wait, we have to translate it! [Brutfia], it means farty. Fartsy pants.
Shama: Fart Louis.
Rachel: Fart Louis. (laugh) Oh my god that’s so mean! No, but I can really, like, yeah. I had to really be the boss of him.
Shama: Yeah but you still have to be the best of the bestest.
Rachel: Now he grew up and now he fights back, and we have politician issues.
Shama: We can’t share about that.
[052:00] Rachel: We can’t talk about that, but we have a lot of arguments within the family about politics and being conservative versus liberal and all of this stuff, and everything is like stir it up like crazy, and we drive each other absolutely insane. And then were like, “But I love you so much!” “No, I love you so much!” I love you I love you I love you I love you, don’t go, don’t go, don’t go, don’t go, don’t go! And that’s just kind of how we have it. But not much has changed, actually.
Shama: Mmm. But we have a good life. I really feel that that is also one part of it, to realize how blessed I am. How blessed I am to be in this life, to be back, to not be on the other side, to live this life, and to be at peace, you know? To be happy. To live this life. Because I can say, to live this life and not be happy, that’s hell. It’s living hell.
Rachel: What about the relationships that exist in your life right now where there isn’t peace? Because there are relationships like that, like you and my dad, for instance. How does one deal with that?
Shama: But it’s not … I mean, we don’t have much contact. But then we have issues if there’s something that is, like, not done or should be done or something. But then the way, actually, when there is an issue with someone is actually to pray for the person. To pray for the-
Rachel: Do you pray for him? Do you really, really, honestly, do you pray for my dad? I don’t think you do! (laugh)
Shama: … No. No, but I can … But I don’t feel … what do you say? I don’t feel any resentment or any-
Rachel: But is he on your future prayer list when you’ve made it to Step 55, that you’ll pray for my dad?
Shama: No, there is only 12 steps.
Rachel: (laugh) I know! But maybe you just-
Shama: No, but this is, for me, this is a big issue because on the 9th step you’re going to make amends to people that you harmed, and I can say that your dad, if you have like a balance, I would say from my side he harmed me so much more than I harmed him. But, I am supposed to make amends for the things that I did wrong to him.
Rachel: Of course.
[054:00] Shama: And it’s very difficult for me to come to your dad and say, “I’m sorry about this this and this.”
Rachel: It requires a superhuman amount of humility to do that.
Shama: Yes. So I’m waiting for, you know, for maybe in ten years. I don’t know.
Shama: It’s like some people are harder to make amends to. And some dads.
Rachel: Some of the dads.
Shama: Some of the dads, like three of them.
Rachel: All of the dads.
Shama: Yes, exactly, exactly. But I can see my part. My part, for the most important part, is my gold digging part. That I saw a value in them that I wanted. I wanted them to add value to me, because I didn’t have enough myself. And I think I share that with so many people, you know?
Rachel: Of course, I mean, everybody looks for structure, stability, for-
Shama: Yeah, I think may be the biggest drive for a relationship, actually, that another person should give you something.
Rachel: But what an absolute gift to realize that I already have everything I need. Or I can give myself everything I need. I am the one who can be the provider, I have to be the provider for myself. That’s, that’s-
Shama: And not wait for someone to come, you know? When that happens-
Rachel: And save you.
Shama: Yes! This feeling of living, the need to be saved, to not be able yourself. And that’s so stupid, because who was able? I was. I managed my whole life. I supported all kids, you know? I ran a business, I had a house, many houses. I did everything myself, without support, and still I didn’t feel I was able. But I managed, you know? There was a big, big lack in myself. But I think I share that with so so many. Especially women, especially women who are super competent and still feel a lack of value.
Rachel: So what do you see for the rest of this year? What’s the future of … You have coined an amazing hashtag on Instagram, it’s #mormorhood
Shama: Mormorhood. Do you know what? I have that.
[056:00] Rachel: You registered the URL?
Shama: I did. (laugh)
Rachel: You did! I knew it!
Shama: I nailed it.
Rachel: You nailed it! You have to be really fast! So anyone listening, mormor is the Swedish word for grandma, so grandmotherhood, she has coined it mormorhood. It’s a great … You should trademark that.
Shama: Yes. Yes. And the question is what shall I do with it?
Rachel: What are you going to do with it? Something, you don’t know yet.
Shama: I’m thinking what I want to do, I’m super excited about-
Rachel: (laugh) Dennis immediately said, “You could create a home made for very old, old, old grandmothers where you just sit together and you measure your old grandmother feet. You’re just old.”
Shama: (laugh) Just being old together, exactly.
Rachel: Someone called me an ageist the other day, and I got so upset, because they don’t understand that it’s all a joke!
Shama: Yes, but someone you know actually did that.
Rachel: What? But I love-
Shama: Yes, like you’re not racist, but around age
Rachel: It’s called ageist.
Rachel: And I had podcast where I shared about Grace and Frankie, my favorite show, and how I was a little judgmental of the show because I felt like it wasn’t my demographic, because they are older, I mean, they’re in their ‘70s. I’m like how will I-
Shama: But they are super cool.
Rachel: They’re the best, oh my god, I love it so much.
Shama: They’re the best. I am them both.
Rachel: But then I got an email from someone who said that I was ageist, and I think it’s because we make so many jokes about you being old, but you’re so young, and it’s all just sarcastic. So maybe I should tone it down?
Shama: But it’s also, I mean, to become older and to see your body kind of lose it’s, kind of, grip of the bones.
Shama: (laugh) It’s like … you know? The muscle-
Rachel: Wait. We have to talk about your health, because a lot of people asked. So, Chuck, anyone who’s ever watched Better Call Saul, it’s on Netflix, it’s a really great show, Saul’s brother is a little mentally unstable and he’s allergic to-
Shama: A little mentally unstable.
Rachel: Slightly mentally unstable. He’s allergic to electricity, or so he believes. So he’s covered in this tin foil-type cape wherever he goes. And now Mormor, mom, she started every night to put her feet on a tin foil plate connected to the radiator.
Shama: And the radiator, with copper, you know?
[058:00] Rachel: Okay. You realize this looks absolutely insane?
Rachel: Yes? Okay. What does it mean?
Shama: I do. But the number of remedies I tried the last three years to-
Rachel: And why are you trying so many remedies?
Shama: Because I had … Because in our family we have a lot of illness. Your grandma was super sick, like, for her last 25 years or something. She had many auto-immune diseases, and she ended up in a wheelchair with rheumatic disease and Crohn’s disease. There was so much. And we have it, our sisters, we all have it. A lot of joint pain and a lot of strange, you know, difficult stuff. I have a lot of problem in my knee and in my leg, in my joints. I’ve been working on it for a long, long time. And I thought, I’m super disappointed, but-
Rachel: You thought becoming sober you were like, “This is going to fix all of my pain!”
Shama: Yes, because everyone said that if you have … but then you can clearly understand that it wasn’t rheumatic, my issues, because removing the alcohol didn’t help … at all.
Rachel: Didn’t help at all.
Shama: No. And to make turmeric, I tell you, it doesn’t help.
Rachel: But so it means, basically, you have pain in your joints all the time.
Shama: Exactly, exactly.
Rachel: Sometimes you can’t hold the stroller with the baby, because your hands hurt so much.
Shama: But everything is so much better now, and I think, because one day I just … I couldn’t manage it anymore. No more turmeric, no more green juices, no more-
Rachel: (laugh) I thought you were say, “I can’t manage the pain anymore.” But you couldn’t manage the green juice anymore! (laugh)
[060:00] Shama: No but I wanted to tell you that if you think this sitting on tin foil is weird, I’m going to tell you another one I did. (laugh) I bought a big bucket, big enough so I can sit in it, you know? I sit in it with my knees out of the bucket, I place this big plastic bucket in the bathtub, I fill it up with ice cold water, I take ice from the fridge and I fill it up with ice cold water, and then I sit in that bucket with ice cold water, I put the hot water by the feet, I put that so I have hot water on my feet, and then I take the shower with really hot water on my shoulders, and I’m sitting there for like an hour! It’s terrible, because it’s like a German remedy that if you have your belly cooler and your head, and your feet hot, toxins are being removed, you know kind of? And I did that for two weeks, like every night!
Rachel: (boisterous laughter)
Shama: I mean I’ve done such insane things to try to cure myself, and then six months ago-
Rachel: This was remedy number 55, or something insane.
Shama: I don’t know. I don’t know. But then I just gave up and I said, no, I had enough of this. I’m going back to the gym, now I’m going to start running again. I’m going to eat. I’m not going to be a vegan anymore. It doesn’t work.
Shama: I’m just going to now live. If it hurts, it hurts. Okay. If I get sick, I get sick. So now I said fork you, disease.
Shama: And I’m so much better.
Rachel: I’m just thinking of all the tension you’re accumulating in your joints by sitting in the ice bucket. And eating all the turmeric that you hate and doing all those things you don’t like.
Shama: Do you know what I think was … what if the body was actually, you know, kind of lighting a pain here in my left wrist saying, “Okay, this is something. See me, see me, see me.” And then I have to care for this wrist for a week. And then it’s the knee. “Okay, see me, see me, see me. Maybe this is the universe way to say, “Care for me, please do. Take care of me. Don’t disregard me anymore.” I’m thinking now, to eat food, to really fill yourself up with food, and then go throw it up.
Rachel: That’s insane. No, it’s crazy.
Shama: I mean, I did it for maybe five years.
[062:00] Rachel: But so many people do. And what does that do to your body, to your digestive system, to your, yeah yeah.
Shama: What does it do to your whole system, you know? And to really … and to your, you know, your essence.
Rachel: Of course. Of course, to your heart. Like you don’t-
Shama: You kind of push your essence down and then you throw it up. And for me to know that I did it, like, I was 15 I think when I started, and I even did it when I was pregnant with you. And it’s so terrible, really. And I just felt like, for all those years when I drank so much, when I self harmed, I need to give back to my body now. So, it’s okay that it hurts.
Shama: It’s really okay that this knee says, “Child’s pose is not for you.” It isn’t for me.
Rachel: No, but then you need to get the hell out of child’s pose! (laugh) I taught a class the other day, and everyone’s in child’s pose, and I can immediately tell that mom is not comfortable in child’s pose, so I gave 15 cues of, “Please, if you’re not comfortable in child’s pose, turn it around.” And she refused to leave!
Shama: I didn’t know what would work for me.
Rachel: So she just … I’ve never seen you so uncomfortable. And then you gave up, you laid on your back and you slept for 60 minutes through class. I love that. No, but it’s good. I think whatever works, and at the end of the day, probably the attachment this obsession with, “I have to get it perfect so that …” You know? It’s like you have to also relax and just live, right?
Shama: And you also have to relax into pain, in a way.
Rachel: And allow what is to be, yes, yes.
Shama: And it doesn’t mean if your knee hurts today, it doesn’t mean it’s going to hurt tomorrow.
Rachel: You don’t need to freak out about it.
Rachel: So now sometimes you sit with your feet on tin foil connected to the radiator.
Shama: Sometimes I do, and sometimes your sisters do.
Rachel: (laugh) Sometimes you FaceTime me.
Shama: Sometimes visitors come and they sit there for a while.
Rachel: And how do they feel? It has something to do with the charging-
Shama: They feel like they’re sitting with their feet on tin foil. (laugh)
[064:00] Rachel: (laugh) Another question we got was for me to share the most embarrassing moments I’ve ever had with my mom, but they just keep coming. There’s no, like, end to it. And it’s also pretty awesome!
Shama: (laugh) Yeah.
Rachel: Should we go get the baby, and …
Shama: Yeah. Is there something else in the comments that we missed.
Rachel: There is a lot of things in the comments but … Yeah, I think ending with mormorhood is a good thing, because it’s a lot about the future. What are you most excited about, when it comes to mormorhood and the coming year?
Shama: I just … I bought a little summer house, and I feel like this is like a small sanctuary. I’m preparing for Luna to be there, already. Already mentally put up a fence and, you know, kind of did things in the-
Rachel: So she doesn’t fall in the water?
Rachel: That’s good. Also for her mother.
Shama: Exactly. But I’m think that to be a mormor, I can also see there is so much… One question that we should address, somehow, is this mother/daughter relationship. Because it’s a difficult relationship, not only for you and me and for me and my mom, but for everyone. There’s really … And it’s sad that it is, because as daughters, we really need support from our moms. It’s, like, the most important support. And if that gets cut off, we are kind of not complete. That’s the biggest lack of support. I think if that is in place, we can manage a lot.
Rachel: But then what do you do, then, to not remain feeling victimized or blameful or, you know, I could go the rest of my life and say, “Oh, my mother, she was so difficult when I was little and she just tried to kill herself, and everything was horrible,” but it’s not going to change the reality of my situation, right? At all.
[066:00] Shama: No and it’s like, really, there’s always, even in that relationship, when you grow up, I mean, the only people who are without blame are kids and … you know, mentally handicapped people. In every situation, as an adult/child, you have your side, and you can always, as a child, begin to see things differently and change and care more. And I always know that sometimes when you are harsh to me, I know you hurt, and I know what I said and did to my mom. That hurts me. So I’m really now trying to make amends to my mom, even though she’s dead, really trying to give thanks to her. Thank you. Like now, the last days, I’ve been really super grateful for what she did for you and Ludvig, and how she supported me. And I’m thinking, also, if I can be a good mom for you and for my children, and I can be mormor for Luni, and really be that support, for the rest of my life, really, that’s my wish. That I can stay as a supported character in your life. That I can be trustworthy, and you feel that mormor, we can count on her. She’s not going to flip out or leave us, desert us. And I think that if I can be that ground, I think the future generations are going to be much more supported and calm and carry on that.
And I think, if you have a difficult relationship with your daughter, or with your mom, you really need to think, “What do I want to give to the next generation?” If you don’t want to give that further, you need to work on that relationship. And the first thing is to work on yourself, your side, you have to take your responsibility in that relationship to see what did you do, you know? What did you contribute with? How did I disappoint and offend my mom so much, especially when I was out drinking, you know? How much worry did I give her, you know? I really feel I did a lot of bad things to her.
[068:00] And it doesn’t matter that I was excluded when I was kid! I was still, I was a young adult, and I misbehaved so much, you know? And to take on that part and say, “Mom, in heaven, I’m sorry. I really am sorry, and I’m super grateful for what you did to me.” And if your parents are alive, if your mom is alive, you can go to her, and you know to just take your card and say, “I’m sorry for this and that, really, and I love you.” And it’s never too late.
Rachel: But not everybody has that type of relationship either. There are people out there with, I think especially a lot of the people that are writing that have maybe parents that are addicts and that are still. Maybe they’re not sober yet. They’re still reliving that cycle and causing harm or causing pain. There’s also moments where it’s … you need to separate.
Shama: Yeah, yeah.
Rachel: And that’s also a really hard thing. People as that all the time. I don’t think it’s about you just sit and you continue taking shit coming your way and you have to own your part.
Shama: No, no, no, no, but that’s different, you know?
Rachel: Of course. Many people sit with that now where it’s not a past thing, it wasn’t great then, but now we’re good, you know? For people that are sitting in relationships now that still aren’t good.
Shama: And I can just say that to just realize that if you have parents who are alcoholics or addicts, you can just see, I mean, the empathy of it is to see that they are suffering, you know? Not stable, healthy people are behaving badly. I mean, people that kill other people, they are really, truly suffering. And it doesn’t mean that you say, this is, you know, I forgive you, that is okay. But if you can … I mean, you can always pray. You don’t have to interact with them, but you can always pray for them, you know? You can begin to pray for them, and wish them a better life, you know? Because they are suffering. If you’re not kind to other people, you are suffering, and to understand that people are really living their own problems, their own hell. I don’t think anyone would harm anyone unless they … if they had a choice, you know?
[070:00] Rachel: Of course, of course, of course.
Shama: And it’s so … I mean, so much is different to understand in this world, but the only thing that I can say that if you can’t repair the relationship, you can care for yourself, you know? And to really say, “What can I do for me to come out of victimhood?” Because to be a victim of circumstances-
Rachel: That never takes you anywhere, no.
Shama: No. It doesn’t matter if it’s circumstances of the present or the past. But to be a victim, that’s the worst place to be. So, the question is how can I come out of this? And the way out is to see your part, because you’re never a victim unless you chose to be in that situation.
Rachel: But also to ask for help is a huge, huge piece. And I feel like we do have a lot people also within the family who are very much victims of … And for me it’s really hard, because nothing triggers me as a victimized person.
Shama: No, because you grew up with that.
Rachel: I despise it. Yes, I hate it so much.
Shama: With me and mormor, you know? It’s in your genes. It’s in your bloodline.
Rachel: Poor me, poor me, and I can’t do anything, and this happened to me, and now again this happened. I’m like, if you want to change your life, change your life, or at least take responsibility for what you can do now. Maybe you cannot fix all of these things, but we can get up in the morning and try our hardest. And this is a really hard thing to tell someone who’s living that moment right now, where everything is happening to me, and everything is so horrible, but for as long as we stay in that victimized place, we’re never going to get out because we’re not going to feel like we have the power to step out. The truth is you have all the power.
Shama: But the thing is, I know what it is like to be that victim and not know you have the power to step out. To think that you have to live in these circumstances for the rest of your life.
Rachel: I never lived, I never had that. So when I look at someone, it triggers me somehow, like just, Jesus, pull yourself together and fix your life! And that’s, of course, not a nice thing to say to someone who’s sitting with this giant-
Shama: No, and it doesn’t work, it doesn’t help them at all, at all.
[072:00] Rachel: Yeah, it doesn’t work, it doesn’t help, no.
Shama: But also kind of confirming them in their victimhood doesn’t help them either.
Rachel: So, what do you do then?
Shama: If they have addiction, you know, then it’s easy. I always say go to meeting. Find a group, go to a meeting, take a sponsor, work the steps, because this is the program. It works for everyone, you know? No matter, it works, if you work it, it works. It’s just easy. But if you stay home and wait for someone to come rescue you, then it’s really difficult.
Shama: This is like you have to take action if you’re not happy. If you are miserable, you know, you have to take action. Move your body and ask for help. And to go to a place where help is provided for free.
Rachel: It’s pretty amazing that it’s there.
Shama: It’s really awesome. It’s really, really awesome.
Rachel: And as long as you start asking for it, you see that it’s actually abundant. There is support, even when we feel at our loneliest, there is avenues to take, but we have to ask, the universe can provide. Thank you for coming on the show!
Shama: Thank you daughter! (stretch groan) Now are we going to …
Rachel: We’re going to get the baby.
Shama: Dennis, me and you are going to Do It center.
Rachel: You’re going to go to Do It center, to the hardware store that’s really good. No, but I’m really grateful that you came on the show, and I made Dennis, like, a staple. He’s once a month he’s on the show, because people love him on the show. And maybe you should be, like, at least twice a year? (laugh)
Shama: Yeah, maybe, maybe.
Rachel: Or every time you come over here we should do an episode. We can dive into deeper topics too.
Shama: Yes. Thank you.
Rachel: Thank you! And everyone for listening, thank you so much. Whatever-
Shama: Thank you for wanting me on the show, everyone! Thank you for all of the comments and all of the sweet stuff you say all the time. I’m super bad, I don’t know if you know this, I’m not really an Instagram person. I never follow anyone else except my daughter, and then I never comment back. I never answer you.
Rachel: So self-absorbed. God.
Shama: Yes, I know, I know. So bad.
[074:00] Rachel: (laugh)
Shama: But I don’t know how you manage! I don’t know how you manage the time, because I get stressed, and I know it’s not good for me to be stressed, so I drop it.
Rachel: No, but that’s also pretty smart. I don’t.
Shama: Yeah, that’s my choice.
Rachel: No, no no. I respond as much as I feel I am able to and still stay sane. Which is-
Shama: But this is also your life.
Rachel: Yes. And I have chosen it, and I’m happy in it. It works, because I work it. (laugh)
Shama: (laugh) And I’m just a tag-along.
Rachel: I love it. Thank you guys. Thank you so much. Thanks, mom. I’ll see you next week.
[End of Episode]
TransferWise – transferwise.com/podcast
Four Sigmatic – foursigmatic.com/yogagirl
Third Love – thirdlove.com/heart