Embrace Your Story w/ Jacqueline Pena, Educator

Updated: Dec 31, 2020

Adrienne MacIain 0:01 Hey everyone, welcome to the That's Aloud podcast. I'm your hostess, Adrienne MacIain, and today we have Jacqueline Pena. Please, lovely lady, introduce yourself. Jacqueline Pena 0:11 Yes, hello. Thank you for having me on the show. As you said, I'm Jacqueline Pena, and I'm mostly an author, an educator, a consultant. I'm always trying to find ways to help people succeed in their personal and professional endeavors, whatever that means. We all need different things to be able to succeed, different tools, we're all in different places. But a lot of the work I've been doing actually has been reflecting on and thinking about your story, and thinking about where you are and what you can learn and how you can change your future. What is the mindset that you need to chase the right goals, the goals that make sense for you. And I think a lot of that has to do with us knowing who we are, and knowing our story, and understanding how that story has affected us, and how that story, not necessarily in a negative way, but just how that story has helped us become who we are. And maybe how that story and embracing and understanding all these things help us know who we want to be and where we want to be and how to get there. Adrienne MacIain 1:14 Well then, you are the perfect person to have here on season three, because that's exactly what we're all about here. Getting that story of who you were, and who you are out there, and then looking forward to what's the next chapter. So I can't wait for the end when we do that. But let's just go ahead and start with the first question that I always ask, which is what is the story that you're not telling? Jacqueline Pena 1:38 So the story that I'm not really telling, but I am today. And I've kind of thrown pieces out at people here and there, and I realized I really need to tell the full story. It's a story of being a Dominican woman, first American-born Dominican person in the family, who was raised in a home with an alcoholic parent. So I'm the daughter of an alcoholic father. And it is a complicated story. Any addiction story, alcoholism story is just not a simple story. And it is a story that still weaves in and out of my life and as a part of my life today, even in terms of communication with that person. And I think a lot of times when we deal with something that's complicated as children, and we grew up within it or we grew up away from it doesn't matter, and in this case is the daughter of an alcoholic father, it affects us in many ways. And we don't see it, we have these blinders because we're living day to day, and with our blinders on are really thick sunglasses that don't let us see all the different colors of life, we miss out on a lot of things. And we we close ourselves off to a lot of things as well. And I think if taking the time to reflect on what that was, that experience, and connect it to some beliefs and behaviors and experiences we've had outside of that sphere of the alcoholism and the home, we get a better understanding of who we are, some of the decisions we made that we might not have realized we made through these blinders or these really thick sunglasses, and be able to understand better who we want to be and where we want to go. Not saying that your life is going to be always negatively impacted by being the daughter of an alcoholic father, but saying that a lot of things were impacted, a lot of your decisions and things you did. And I think understanding that just helps you understand where you want to go and what you want to do.

Adrienne MacIain 3:35 Absolutely. So I want to go a little deeper here and talk about, it's so interesting when our story is so intimately tied to someone else's story. Right? This is actually the story of your father and his alcoholism. But it's the story of the impact that that had on you. And you wonder how aware people are of how their story is impacting the people all around them. You know what I mean? Jacqueline Pena 4:06 Yes, I do. Adrienne MacIain 4:06 So let's dive in. The next question is, where does it begin for you? I imagine very young... Jacqueline Pena 4:17 So my earliest memories of alcoholism, not having a name for it, are probably ages three and four. I have very vivid memories of negative situations at age four and five, things that are between his temper and the alcohol and it's hard to unbalance that and see what, how much the alcohol affected, but you knew it was there, you could smell it, you knew there was something there. And I have memories of, you know, getting locked in the bathroom because I was really upset about how my mom mixed my food together. You know, she took away my control over eating and mixed my Dominican stew, my sancocho, with my rice and I refused to eat it because I wanted my control and he came home and I was crying, I was upset, he was mad that she couldn't control me, he was mad at me. He locked me in the bathroom, there were always issues with the bathroom-locking situation. But looking back at that, you know, I used to be mad at my mom for not opening that door, for not letting me out, for letting me maybe get hit in the bathroom before I got locked in. And looking back at that memory, it was also her way of controlling the situation herself, because by letting me stay locked in the bathroom it meant that I wouldn't get hurt in a situation that might have been alcohol infused right? So there are some of those memories that you say, okay, those things happened, I learned from them. But then you keep fast-forwarding through life you remember incidents, you remember an accidental slap, literally accidentally like someone, maybe he wanted to touch me, and it's just like, boom, and swipes your face. And you realize that's not my father, but then you have to learn that is my father. Incidents where I'm told don't get in the car, because if I get in the car with him he might be drinking and so it could be dangerous. Incidents where I was in the car, I was in multiple car accidents with him growing up, where maybe he was sober at the time but he had been drinking so much that his reflexes were off. And I say maybe because I don't know, I don't know when was the last time he had that drink before we got in the car. So it's always been there weaving in and out. My parents broke up because the drinking and some other issues. They got back together, they broke up again. He got shot, they got back together. And it's like, why did you have to go get shot because now she's taking care of you and you're getting back together. Then you know, they get back together, we move to start a new life. They have a situation, they break up again, they get back together, then he sobers up for a few years, then he's back on it again. Then I asked him to leave and she agrees and he leaves again, then he comes back, and it's this cycle of back and forth. So the alcoholism itself, it's a situation at home with the parent, he and I, it was hard because I really did love my father, I still do. I mean, he was the one who supported me, supported my independence, who supported me following my dreams where my mom, I think, raised me more traditional and wanted me to be a certain way and do things a certain way. But he really supported my independence. But then I would get close to him, and trust him, and then here he goes, starts drinking again. And that person that I hate, you and I talked about the Jekyll and Hyde, so the person that I hate, this monster comes out, and that trust is destroyed. And I think the last time I fell for that trap was probably around my teens in high school because he was sober for a few years, and then after three years that that went down the drain. So you have those issues, but then you have the fear. You never know when you're safe. And then you have no real stability, Because he's in the house, he's not in the house, he's in the house, he's not in the house. We're living here, now we're living there, now we're living there, now we're living there. Oh, wait, we're gonna live somewhere for more than five years. Wow. And then it's like, okay, now we're going to move every six months. And so there's so much instability when when you have that in the home as well. And so that story of being the daughter of an alcoholic parent becomes very complicated because there's just so many other factors that were impacted. And he was in a relationship, he was with my mother, so her decisions were impacted by his drinking. How my brother was raised was impacted by his drinking, how I was raised. So you have all of that going on in the home. Adrienne MacIain 8:44 Yeah, absolutely. I'm very interested in something you said in there, which is realizing this is my father. Because you have that thought of like, it's not him, it's the drinking. Well, he's doing the drinking, so this is him, in a sense you kind of are what you do. Right? But you also need to kind of be able to separate out that behavior from the soul in that person. You know? So how do you deal with that? Like, this is my father who I love but who keeps hurting me? How do you deal with that? Jacqueline Pena 9:26 It's funny because he's also that extremely loving, I'll sacrifice anything for everyone else person. And he helped, he brought his family over to United States, he helped bring my mother's side of the family or, as he would say, he would sacrifice anything, take off his shirt and give it to you, not eat so that you'll eat, so it's a man with an incredible heart. So it's hard to to put it together. And then you look at the beatings that life maybe gave him. So, the immigration story, the working-hard story, coming from really poor upbringings of the Republic, and wonder what that had to do in his decisions of drinking away some of that pain or some of that confusion. Then you have, I don't know, but you have the the man syndrome, you know, 'I'm the man,' I should be able to excel more in life, I should be able to do this, I should be able to get over these things. And sometimes you drown out some of those feelings with alcohol or other substances, but in his case, alcohol, of course. And then you look at mental health, and I thought a lot about this. I think that a lot of times there's something going on mental health-wise underneath. And in many of our, in my country though, we probably, we don't talk about that, we don't talk about mental illness. And now we do a little bit more, but before sort of that doesn't exist. Depression? Go work in the field, cut something, do something, you got to work, you got to work that feeling off. And I think, looking at myself, looking at my family, looking at my father, looking at other people, I think that a lot of times there are some mental health challenges that are underlying everything, and we just don't talk about it, or believe in it, or it's very taboo. And it's easy to mask it with alcohol or other drugs. And in this case, for me, it looks a lot like depression, or, in my case, I myself have been diagnosed with depression, and it makes sense within the bigger scheme. But we're actually looking at a potential bipolar type, one diagnosis. Because we treat the depression which is when you think you're about to die, right? You might kill yourself, you don't know what's going on. But there's a high, there's another, there's a loop up that leads to that. So the higher the high, the worse the down, it's just that we treat the down. So now I'm looking at mental health and addiction and alcoholism. And it's a new kind of a side-passion of mine, understanding that. So, you know, this is my father, the whole thing: he's a good person, but he's also this devil that would come out with the drinking.

Adrienne MacIain 12:04 So when did the tide start to turn for you? Jacqueline Pena 12:09 Personally, or in terms of my relationship? Adrienne MacIain 12:12 You know, there's usually sort of a climax or a rock-bottom point, right? What was that for you? Not necessarily for him, but for you? Where you were, like, this is it. "This is all I can stands and I can't stands no more." Something has to change here. What was that? Jacqueline Pena 12:31 So, I've had more than one. So, I broke away. Adrienne MacIain 12:34 There usually are! They say you have to try five times before you can actually change something, right?

Jacqueline Pena 12:40 Well, the current situation stories, it'd just be fun, let me tell you about the breakaway points, and then where we're at now. But you know, I broke away in my 20s, I was sort of disengaged, I think by 19-20 very, very disengaged, very away. And I think I barely even spoke to him, because I had all these things, and all these bad memories and all this, you know, instability and all these other things going on. And you can't fix it, because you want to fix it, you want the person to go into AA, you want them to have a better life. You think you could fix it, and that's a woman 'let me fix everything' syndrome that comes out. You're the child of an alcoholic, period. But you can't fix it because it's not you. You're not fixing yourself, you're trying to fix someone else, but he has to do it. And so when I was 30, he almost died from extreme DT, delirium tremens. And at first I thought, okay, he has pneumonia. He got sick, he ended up in the hospital and he's in withdrawl. So I got the phone call. And I say, you know what, he's an alcoholic, he's withdrawling, so he's going to get really sick, blah, blah, blah. They called again, hey, they're moving him to the ICU, he's not doing well. And so I was like, you know, he's, again, he's an alcoholic, he's going through withdrawl. You know, if he didn't drink for a day or two, this is gonna get serious. And then I got the call, his organs are shutting down, you better get here soon. And I hopped on a plane, I was just turning 30 actually, I hopped on a plane and went to New York. I didn't, I'm not saying that this is a story where we make up, this isn't a story where we make that connection again. And it's clear just how bad the alcoholism was, where from not drinking for a day his body started deteriorating, he collapsed, went to the hospital. Second day not drinking, his body didn't know what to do, and then you go into this extreme DT and you're dying, basically. And to this day, he still won't admit that that's what happened. He thinks he had, like, some weird pneumonia or his sugar dropped dramatically, you know, his glucose because my family, they're diabetics. But no, it was extreme withdrawal, extreme DTs. And then I still stay very distanced all that time, and I've always been very distanced, but I think I was able to come to terms with a lot of things that happened because I went through my own reflection process, the same process that I use with other people, whether it's a 90-day reflection process with my journal or 30-day process with my workbook, and I did a very long, extensive process for years. And I realized, you know, this is who he is, I am his daughter, and he has no one left who can really take care of him. So once in a while we'll check up on him, once a year, he was living in Florida and I was living in Florida. And then it was interesting, because I got married to a wonderful man who, he also had some some issues with addiction that surfaced. And so the question is always did you marry your father? And another wonderful person, amazing heart, you know, we we just had our issues, and he he definitely does have an addiction issue, whether it's with alcohol or something else, right. And that process and separating from my husband at the time, and then eventually getting divorced a few years later, and going through my own personal struggles, because then I was drinking myself and I was depressed myself. And I was, I felt like I was hurting a lot of people because I'm always thinking about other people. So I think going through that whole process, and I needed to put a pause, and reflect on everything that's happened, how did I get to this place? Let's look back, and let's look at each day as I move forward, what am I getting from each day, and tying it back, and everything that happened each day and how I felt each day tied back to something that happened five years ago, ten years ago, twenty years ago, and that's where that daily reflection process became so important. And so from there I was able to understand that how this affected me and the decisions I made where I lived, my poor decisions and relationships, my difficulty connecting with people, I'm not that emotional, and I have a hard time putting roots down. I always want a sense of full control, but I never feel like I have control and looking at fears over am I drinking too much? Is he drinking too much? Is this person going to turn into a monster if there's a drink in this person? And the fact that I grew up in a house where we didn't talk about it, so I had to process all this stuff I never got to process because we just never talked about it. And knowing that I myself have communication problems in intimate relationships and relations with friends, and I think it comes from all of that. So I had to go through all of that. And even now, being able to, well, over the years, then being able to once a year, just touch in to make sure that he was alive and he was okay. And then realizing that there was no one else, you know, just touching, you know, just checking in on him and seeing what was going on. The story doesn't end there, though. So I feel like I was in a good place, I figured out a lot of my, can I say crap? Can I say the S word here? Adrienne MacIain 18:02 You can say whatever you like here. Jacqueline Pena 18:04 I feel like I have taken care of a lot of my shit over the years and really was able to come full circle in life and really decide this is where I am, this who I am, this how I got here, this is where I want to go, and this is how I'm gonna get there. This is where I want to be when I get there. And then we were having issues with my father. So he would get stopped by the police and sent to the ER because he is heavily intoxicated. So we had all these different issues that were coming up and there wasn't really anyone who can bail him out and I know that that's the worst thing you can do is always enable someone with a problem. And I had already accepted what the problem was, but then I also felt like there was no one else who was going to do it. And at one point I showed up at his place because I heard that he had been sent to the ER by the police, that they had stopped him driving with them to the ER, and they took the car to the pound. He was in such bad condition that they didn't even arrest him, they sent him straight to the ER, that's how bad he was. And by the time I got there it was the next day, he had been released and, you know, they give you a banana bowl, they clean you out in the hospital so it's like all good, nothing happened, I'm sober now. And in that process, you know, I got there and I was like this is it, this is the last time, I'm not bailing you out, I'll get your car (there was no way he was able to get that car), I'll get your car, you're on your own. If you don't go to AA and stay in AA, never ask me for a single dollar or for any help again, just lose my number, you're on your own. And two weeks later, I got him into AA. And two weeks later he got himself out. Meaning, I promised I wasn't going to put him in a residential program, it was going to be a, you know, commuter program. And he went to, like, the first two meetings and never went back. And it was some psychologist and they did a check and it was a great program. Yeah, no, he got himself out. So then I stopped talking to him again. Okay, what do you need? And and then one day last year I got a call at like one in the morning from his ex saying your father is lost, your father's in Jacksonville, and I don't know what's going on, the police have him. That's it. That's all I have. I'm like, great, and you know, she's like, I don't know how to get there. She doesn't drive. So then I start calling the police in Jacksonville. They don't have him. I call the state troopers. They don't have him. I call Highway Patrol. They don't have him. No one has my dad. I thought, I'm like, okay, they took him to the hospital. I call every hospital. No one has him. Then I called, then some lady said, listen, if he's arrested in the hospital he's not in the hospital name records, he's not in the police station records, he's in a separate set of records. So now I have to call back and see if he's arrested inside the hospital. No luck. This really nice woman goes, listen honey, if he's not arrested in the hospital, if he's not in the hospital, he's not in jail, then he's probably bait grafted, they put him on a psych hold, and you won't be able to find him till he gets out. She said call every unit that has a psych ward. Leave your information. Once he's released, if he agrees that they can talk to you, then he'll call you or they'll call you. So then I spend the whole day calling every psych ward I could think of to leave my information. Few days later, I got a call from a really nice nurse. "Hi, are you Jacqueline Pena?" And I'm like "Yes." "Okay, we have your dad. He was just released from a psychiatric hold." And from there, the story shifted into an interesting story where I got to finish healing, because from there I ended up being the person who then, you know, I asked for them to hold him a little longer so I could get to him. I went, they established a late night release for me because I was working. I got him released, and when I saw him, I was ready. Like, the whole way I was practicing this Fuck You speech. This is, hey, I'm bailing you out, and we're gonna figure something out, and I'm gonna get your sisters involved, but I am done with you. That is it. Like, I practiced a speech for like five hours in the car. And when I picked him up his condition was just so depressing, it was so bad. He had no clue where he was, he really had no real sense of what was going on, and he didn't have clean underwear on. Like, I just picked him up, went to Walmart, got him a toothbrush, underwear, got a hotel room and tried to get him to sleep a few hours so I could figure the rest out. And the rest figuring out meant that I eventually, that same weekend I packed up all his stuff and I made him come with me to Miami. Because I didn't know what else to do. He didn't even know who I was sometimes. His memory was gone. Adrienne MacIain 22:58 Yeah. Wow. So then what happened? Jacqueline Pena 23:04 I'm laughing as my coping mechanism, but it's always it's also an interesting story. So I brought him to Miami and I was going to try to move him to New York. It was clear he had Alzheimer's like symptoms, but, I kind of touched upon that a few times, but he couldn't come sober enough to really know what was the alcohol or what was going on? And so from there, I brought him to Miami. My dream was to move him to New York where he could live near his sisters or close to them, and he could get insurance, he could get tested and he can be diagnosed, and that just didn't work out because everyone has complicated lives and limited resources. And so my mom, who lives next to me in Miami, said, you know, come back to Miami, I'll help you, I'll help you. And so we came back to Miami and she's been helping me out a lot. He stays there because she has a lot of extra bedrooms and she has a more stable life than I do. I take care of all his medical stuff. I got him insurance, I got him diagnosed, he has brain atrophy from extensive alcohol abuse over multiple decades. He's been sober since September of last year, so he's been sober for a year. It's the most he's ever been sober except for those few years when I was in high school. And it's almost like a lot of things have been erased in his head like, hard wired, like where are you going? Why are you staying here with us? Oh, my princess! The father I remember, that I loved is coming out, and the monster that would come out from the drinking has completely disappeared. So that kind of like original personality has come out. And it's been interesting for me, it's been a great healing process because I've been able to have to stay with him, live with him, take care of him. I'll be the main caretaker for you know, for a month at a time. And we're very similar. We're readers, we're, we like to sit, think, write, we're creative. So it's interesting to have us both in the house together again. I think if I hadn't gone through my own healing process prior to the situation, I wouldn't have been able to do this. But doing this, I think also, for us, it's part of what we're supposed to do, you know, it's my duty as a daughter to take care of him. This is not the long term solution, but at least I know I've put him on the right pathway to a good place. And his mental health is deteriorating so quickly that I really don't know for how much longer he will remember things. Like, he can't even use a stove that much anymore. He's really young. So it's been an interesting process, in that sense. In terms of looking back at my relationships, my marriage, it's been interesting to see, now that I've gone through this healing process and I can coexist sort of with him. It's just been interesting to look at those relationships and look at the decisions you made, but also, the people you choose to stay with, which might be more like him, versus the ones that, you know, I've had so many great people in my life and I shut them out because I didn't know how to make those connections. And I always have to warm up, and I'm always so protective, and that's a lot from that upbringing. So I think going back to, you know, reflection, if I hadn't figured that stuff out, I wouldn't be able to take care of him. Many people are listening to this, saying I don't know why the hell you're taking care of him! Adrienne MacIain 26:47 Oh, it's complicated. It's complicated. Family is always complicated. Jacqueline Pena 26:52 Everything is always complicated. And he really did great things for us. But if I hadn't taken that time to figure this out, to heal, to do so much, I don't think I would, I think I'll be, I'm in my 40s now, be going into my 50s and 60s and still be really lost, unable to make good emotional connections, unable to understand why a situation bothers me, unable to understand why I always want control but I feel like I don't have control, and being able to communicate those things when when challenges come up with an intimate partner, rather than saying screw you, you're gonna talk to me about control! Get out of here! I don't need you! It changes, it just changes how you see every situation in life. Adrienne MacIain 27:35 Absolutely. So what do you think has blocked you from telling this story in its entirety before?

Jacqueline Pena 27:42 I think part of what blocks us is that, one, we weren't raised to communicate. So what happens, you keep it to yourself, and we didn't really understand everything that was happening at certain ages, we just picked up on things, right, unless we were directly involved. And then we didn't. No one said, oh, your dad's drunk, that's what's going on. So one of the things that I'm trying to, that I've been learning to do is to speak up more. But the other thing is that there's always like this, the shame of telling stories. And in my culture, too, there's stories you just don't tell, the bad stuff, you keep it hidden away. And that's how you show respect. But I think that what happens is that then we don't allow ourselves the ability to fully heal, and to really go through that process to be able to become better, to be able to get to where we want to be and how we want to get there and who we want to be. But I also think that a lot of people suffer in silence, just like we did. And if I hadn't suffered in silence for most of my life, I think things would have worked out differently. And as a teacher, I'm an educator at heart, and I see so many of my students and I know that they're suffering through so many things in silence. So even this story, I started telling it more for my students, and I would tell it to my students, because I wanted them to see that everyone has something that they're keeping quiet about that affects them. And you have to find someone or some way to release that. Not everyone has someone to release that to. And to get to this level where I'm like, yeah, let me talk about this on a podcast, or you know, I share parts of the story in an auditorium once with over 100 people. It's hard to get to that point. But if you can just start journaling, and then eventually tell one person and then another person. But if you can't even tell yourself the story, which is what happens with most people, if you can't tell yourself the story, how are you going to figure out what's going on, who you are? And how are you going to heal? And how are you going to move forward? And how are you going to see the areas that you keep saying you want to improve, but you don't know how, and it's because you haven't figured out some of the moving parts that make those situations happen. So I think telling your story is important. The power of story is really what we're talking about. Adrienne MacIain 30:00 Absolutely. So how has it changed you to, to know your story? And to start telling this story? How has that changed you? Jacqueline Pena 30:10 I think it's made me, so it's empowered me in many ways, it's made me more forgiving of myself. I think those are some of the hardest parts. You make so many mistakes in life, and you don't realize why you act in certain ways and why you do certain things, and if you can figure that stuff out, then the next piece that's really hard for a lot of us is forgiveness. And it's funny, because for my own podcast, Coffee and Interview, I'm all about learning, right? I want to keep improving. And one of my wonderful guests focused on forgiveness and healing. And in that conversation with Kimberly Milousis, I completely understood it, because you have to forgive other people. If you don't forgive, I'll tell you this from my experience, if you don't forgive the other person, you're giving that power to the other person. If you have hate in you, towards other people, and you blame them for circumstances, then what happens is you've empowered them and you're never going to have that power, you're giving up part of your power to live your best life. If you can let that go there's something magical that happens, there's this weight that's lifted and this freedom, but then that's even easier than what I'm about to say. Going back to what I was saying before, you have to forgive yourself. Then you're like, I can't believe I heard this person this way, I can't believe I did this this way. Because you were wearing those thick sunglasses that were, you had all these blinders on, you couldn't really see everything that you were doing, how you were acting, and how others perceive it. So then once you forgive these people who hurt you, or who did things that are complicated, and negatively impact you, then you got to figure out how do I forgive myself. And I think that's the hardest part. Once you can get through that, then you have to allow yourself to remember you're human and that was hard for me too. So I have to forgive myself for a lot of things. And then remember, I'm human, I can make mistakes, I'm not perfect. Because then you always want to seem perfect for a lot of children of alcoholic parents, we have the Superwoman/Superman syndrome, and we want to be perfect in everything and excel and we don't realize that. And so you have to come to terms that you're not a superhero. And yes, people will say, oh, that was, she did that, that thing she did was stupid. And it's okay. Because we have to allow ourselves to be human, we're not perfect, and we make mistakes. I think that's one of the hardest things I've had to learn. And then from there I started learning things like it's okay to fail at certain things because from there you'll learn. It's okay to be who you want to be, because that's who you are. And then when it comes to control and relationships, I'm learning, it's going to be an ongoing process, communication, intimacy, relationships. We were just talking about this with an author last night, and I was like, yeah, I'm never gonna get, I'm not gonna be the mushy one! I'm just not! But whatever you need, yo, I'm driving 12 hours to get to your house and help you do whatever you need, even if I haven't seen you in 10 years. That's my way of being mushy. But I have to be able to communicate that if I can't show what others perceive as intimacy or emotion. So I've been learning a lot about that through that process, because I went through the healing process. And I think that allows me to communicate better with friends, with intimate partners. So I'm learning. It's a work in progress.

Adrienne MacIain 33:45 For sure. It absolutely is the hardest part, that self compassion. I mean, it sounds like the easiest thing in the world, and it is the hardest step. But once you get through that, it's amazing how everything else starts to kind of fall into place. Once you really can forgive yourself and have compassion for yourself, then you can love yourself and you can respect yourself and you can find integrity and you can just start. It creates this chain reaction, I feel. So, we're almost to the part where we get to do the fun exercise, but I want to ask one more question about this, which is can we tie it in a bow? What is the main message or takeaway from this story? Jacqueline Pena 34:28 From this story about alcoholism? I think alcoholism is a complex, very complex, we're gonna call it a problem. It's an addiction. And it impacts everyone around you if you're the person who is an alcoholic, but that person was impacted by other things. I think the main message is that you have to understand that person's story and understand your story in relation to that person to then be able to come to terms with everything. That's what's going to help you lead to your forgiveness of that person, forgiveness of yourself, healing, and really help you start living with clear lens. Be able to really see all the colors out there and everything that's going on. But if you can't understand that there's no black and white, that everyone is all shades of gray and complexity and there's so much going on, you'll never get beyond that if you can't understand that. That person with the alcoholic, the alcoholic himself or herself has so many things that impacted her and that there's a disease. So there's an issue here, but there's a lot that's impacting that. And also understand how that person impacts your world, you have to understand those things. If you don't, you'll never get to a point where you can understand, forgive, heal, and start seeing the world through clear lens. There's nothing to be ashamed of. I think we live in shame, and in this process there's nothing to be ashamed of. It's more about understanding it, owning it, and understanding how it it's part of your record and who you are.

Adrienne MacIain 36:19 Yeah. I think like you were saying, those thick sunglasses, that's the shame. It's like you're looking at the world through these shame lenses. And so taking those off, and really taking a good look, and having that self awareness, and that awareness of this other person and some empathy and some compassion for both of you. Know what you're going through. Yeah, that's big. So we're going to shift gears a little bit. Want you to take a deep breath. Close your eyes for a moment. Now you can take a drink, that's good. Okay. I have just granted all of your wishes, everything that you want has just come true. Everything. You are now fully the person that you've always wanted to be, and always have been. And so I want you to look around your life for a moment, and just describe to me the amazing, ideal existence that you are now in. In the present tense, please. Jacqueline Pena 37:26 This one, this is a hard one. Adrienne MacIain 37:29 Just let it be, just look around. What do you see? Jacqueline Pena 37:33 For me, I definitely see a partner, right? A very comfortable living space. I don't need nothing too outrageous, a nice home, a great partner. We're having coffee, we're laughing. We're very happy and truly connected. Very happy together. So that's that's one one of the things. Adrienne MacIain 38:02 I hear a lot of ease and comfort and peace there. Harmony, balance. So what's bringing you meaning in this ideal world? Jacqueline Pena 38:15 I think, so, I described that component. I think also that ability, or knowing that I'm out there epowering others. So I see myself in the classroom, or the auditorium, or with 20 people on a zoom having powerful, meaningful conversations on a daily basis. And that, for me, brings me that comfort because it's what I feel I'm here to do. It's my where I want to go and who I want to be, that person who's comfortable with all my stories, and can help others find the power of story and use that. Adrienne MacIain 39:03 Absolutely. So let's pick one of those. Which of those is really drawing you as like, yes, yes, I want this! Jacqueline Pena 39:13 That's a good question. I guess I can't picture it. I mean, I love, I love the classroom, I'm gonna be very honest. Adrienne MacIain 39:22 Okay. So you're in a classroom, and you can see the faces of these people that you're having this massive impact on. And they're really connected to the material, they're really connected to you. I just want you to breathe that in, to feel that for a moment, what that feels like. And now I want you to look back into your memory. What had to happen for this to be possible? What was the step just before this one, to create this amazing situation where you've got these incredible students and you're making this wonderful impact on them? What happened just before that? Jacqueline Pena 40:03 I think to get back to a place where I can do that, it has to do with finding new stability again, because of the recent changes. Maybe making more of a commitment to that trajectory, be able to say, okay, I'm going to commit to a full time teaching position again, because I can be in one place, because I resolved the care issues for the father, right? Or, okay, I can do this differently, I can I can think outside of a traditional employment framework, and embrace that this can be done through non-profit programs. Or that I don't have to follow a traditional pathway to that particular moment where I know I'm empowering people through the power of their own stories. Adrienne MacIain 41:03 Yes, I love that. So what I heard in there that was so important is the word commitment, that what you did to get there was you made this commitment, you decided I am all in on this, I'm going to find a way even if it's a very non-traditional way to make this my reality. So what is the next step for you, that you could make today toward that commitment? Jacqueline Pena 41:37 Oh, I already got this one for you. Adrienne MacIain 41:41 Let's hear it. Jacqueline Pena 41:42 So, like many things in life, commitment's always been a problem, including with my own creative writing, using the power of my own story, and then using what I create from that to empower other people. So my commitment for today is to block off two hours to finishing the draft of a short book about a woman's life told through different drinks. And by committing to this power story today, and looking at immigration issues, issues with being raised by an alcoholic father, issues of identity, all kinds of things that are in this particular book, I need to make a commitment to actually finish a book. And that's my commitment with this book. And from there, being able to use this structure to lead free workshops to get people to be able to tell their own story, through the things that matter to them most. Adrienne MacIain 42:48 That's so beautiful. I love that. So, on that note, is there anything else that you want to share with me about this beautiful, ideal world that you've created? Any feelings that come up, the core desired feelings that are happening from this, anything else that you want to share about it? Jacqueline Pena 43:12 I think for me it's about stability. And being comfortable with stability, not just having it, but being okay with the rhythm of stability. And that's my biggest challenge in life, one of my many big challenges, not just my biggest. And so I want that comfort with stability to be part of that scene, where I have this comfort with a partner, I have this comfort with a career track, I have this comfort with my purpose in life and what I'm doing for others, but then having that stability, peace, no chaos. I'm tired of chaos. So I always try to create a life with no chaos. Or unnecessary chaos, meaning conflicts and negative emotions. So being able to work through that, but having the power of communication and emotional intelligence to be able to deal with anything that comes up in the situations of life. Adrienne MacIain 44:14 Beautiful. All right, I love that. You can open your eyes. Thank you so much for going on that little journey with me. So, if we were working together, what I would suggest next is, like, we know the next steps here. I love that you have this commitment to finishing your book. Right? And so I would really map out that, you know, the steps that need to happen to make sure that that happens. And get some accountability in there. Get an accountability buddy if you don't have one already. I love trading pages with people, that's one of my favorite things to do, and so if you can find someone to trade pages with that's great. It really keeps you both accountable and working. And I would say if there music, I am very like audio person, and so if there's a piece of music that goes with that image in your mind of that ideal world, take that time every day to play that piece of music and just listen to it and again, feel those feelings and see those picture perfect images of the world in front of you. Jacqueline Pena 45:28 Those are great tips actually. Some that I'm working on with the accountability, but the remembering that image and some music to go with that which I use for my stories, I have songs that go with stories. So I need that, not just for the fictional stuff. Adrienne MacIain 45:45 Yeah. That's great. So thank you so much for being here today. Is there anything else you want to say to the audience before you tell them where they can find you?

Jacqueline Pena 45:56 I'll just keep saying it's about embracing your story, the power of story, empower yourself by reflecting each day and connecting it to things in the past, where you came from. If you can figure out that stuff, if you can own that story, and then use it to become the person you want to be, or have the kind of life you want to have, you've done more than most of us get to do in a lifetime. And, you know, empower yourself and then empower others. You know, I've been talking a lot about the self self self, but really, at the end, it's once we do that, how are we empowering others? What are we doing for others, not just yourself? So how can you empower others through your story, whether it's advice, speaking, writing, drawing, just holding someone's hand and saying, I've been there? How can you empower others through your story? Adrienne MacIain 46:51 Beautiful. And where can everyone find you? Jacqueline Pena 46:54 Yes, so you can visit my website, jacquelinepena.com, and there you will find resources and I'll be updating it with some podcast episodes and some free materials for people who are looking to go on their goal-based journeys. I'm also on Instagram and on Facebook, Jacqueline Pena. Adrienne MacIain 47:15 Beautiful. Thank you so much. Jacqueline Pena 47:18 Thank you. Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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