I am beyond delighted and grateful to introduce the newest member of the team. She came to me through a mutual friend and the sparks flew from Day One. There was no doubt in my mind that she is not only an incredible woman, but highly capable, bright, and ally. I am beyond excited for what the future has in store as we look to launch our pride collection as well as our new athleisure collection!
Here are her words, which can also be found under SQUAD.
My name is Alisa Zhamnov. I’m 28 years old, a Pisces, and the newest member of the State of Gratitude Gang! I am so excited to support an initiative that is so close to my heart since today, I truly live in a State of Gratitude for this beautiful life I live. I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself and share a little bit of my story.
Life is beautiful, yet it can be filled with challenges. However, it is the challenges we face and the way we choose to overcome them that shape us as people. While we all have our own process of healing, I believe in the power of sharing, and hope my personal experience makes a positive impact on those who read my story.
I grew up in Chicago and moved to Miami when I was 13 years old with my mom and younger siblings. My parents were going through a divorce at the time and my father moved back to Russia. Growing up, I remember my mom was always out with her girlfriends drinking or having late nights at the house. I was too young at the time to see or understand the signs of my mom’s disease. It took me a while to make the connection between her alcohol consumption and intense mood swings. One minute she was loving, beyond generous, and then the next, she was screaming, unhappy, angry and throwing things around the house.
As time went on, my mom’s drinking increased, and her behavior became more unpredictable, chaotic, messy. And most of all, it was concerning. I was always her punching bag. Scared that one of my little siblings would be next, I decided to stay in Miami for college. Before long, I was finding empty bottles hidden in her closet, receiving phone calls from schools asking why my siblings were absent as she was too sick and hungover to fulfill her basic parental obligations. Additionally, she was dating toxic men, some who even laid hands on her, yet she kept them around. Nothing seem to faze her as long as she was drinking.
It hit me that I had to step in and try to help her which led to me being obsessed with her drinking. There were so many people depending on me, and I became so fixated on trying to help her get better. Sadly, she didn’t want to get better or accept that she had a problem.
By the time I turned 23, I was exhausted, depressed and angry. My mom was in and out of the hospital. She had begun having regular seizures, and was diagnosed with liver cirrhosis among other health issues. Despite her deteriorating health, she continued drinking as if she’d just given up on life. I had never seen someone look so ill; her skin was yellow and her abdomen was severely bloated.
Due to my mom’s condition, I had no choice but to assume the role of primary parent for my siblings. Suddenly, my own needs were out the window. I was so hurt and upset as to why she didn’t have the will nor the desire to get better. I started to question everything. Did she not want to see her kids grow up? Constantly, I felt drained, which began taking a toll on my mental and physical health. So, I began distancing myself from my mom. I simply could not handle it anymore.
On August 8, 2016, I lost my mom due to her addiction with alcohol. Educating myself on alcoholism and addiction provided me a better understanding of my mom and her disease.
Throughout these challenges, I could have easily resorted to alcohol or drugs to soothe myself. Thankfully, my experience with my mother led me down a different path, a path of healing. I decided to endure my pain and emotions because there is no healing in masking your feelings, especially in something as insidious as alcohol. In the blink of an eye, everything can change, so forgive yourself and others, and embrace every day and the lessons you gain from each experience.
In my life today, I have learned so much through my experiences and discovered positive outlets and passions. Today, I choose to put myself and my wellness first and truly focus on things that matter to me. I am a huge animal lover, so don’t be surprised if you start to see lots of me with animals! For me gratitude means appreciation and respect… throughout the journey of life, I have grown to see how destructive natures and habits can tear families apart. I choose to be part of the movement to spread positivity in the world while also giving back to a community who is so often overlooked or ostracized. Mental illness and substance abuse victims need our assistance, not our criticism. We are only ever promised today, so let’s make the most of it.
Be present, mindful and live in a State of Gratitude.