By Jaymie L. White
Lilly White was born in Stephenville, the oldest of six children, to parents who would be remembered as great parents, partners, and community members until they left in 1976 when the mill closed. But outward appearances can be deceiving.
“They had their own businesses. We were dressed to the nines. We were at the park every weekend, but it’s what went on behind closed doors. It wasn’t when dad would be drinking that he would be abusive, it was when he was sober. We felt safe when he was drinking, so alcohol became a safety net for me without even realizing it.”
White’s father became a real tyrant, but it stemmed from a deep longing that he didn’t understand.
“I ended up really falling deeply in love with my dad before he died, and I was really grateful that I was with him in his last breath because for a long time I hated him for the abuse. But it wasn’t his fault, and I see now that it wasn’t his fault, and I was in my 30’s when I recognized that.”
It was these childhood traumas that began a pattern for White where alcohol became a safe space. She began drinking heavily when she was 21, and it was something that continued until 1991.
The hardships didn’t stop there. In 2000 her younger brother committed suicide. In 2012 her 37-year-old daughter Melanie did as well, and it wasn’t until a year later that the drinking began again.
“It was at my mom’s funeral that I got back into it for a few years, and it just about did me in. So now I’m sober again, thank God, but in the meantime, between Melanie’s death and my sobering up again, I wrote four books and one of them was Madness, Addiction and Love. It was really to help my grandkids understand the disease, and the reason I wrote it is no one really understands it. The white-collar alcoholic is the most dangerous because we look normal.”
Through all the devastation, White embarked on a difficult path to self-discovery, spirituality, and healing.
“In ‘91 – it was after that I went deep into the study of spirituality – you couldn’t take me out of there. I studied for years. I don’t study as much now. I teach more than anything now.”
Madness, Addiction and Love is one of White’s five self-published novels. It is a world of discovery, going into the dark corners of madness and addiction and coming out the other side through love and letting go.
“Before I published the book, I had been doing Power Up Your Life conferences where I was bringing hundreds of people into our small town in Almonte (ON) and teaching them about spirituality. I had my own clothing business. I had a spiritual business with the Trinity Table. I was on top of the world until Mel died.”
After her mother’s funeral, which happened only a year after Melanie had passed, White lost all hope and faith in God for a while, and it was in this darkness that the need to share her story came about.
“I was so afraid that the future generations would end up repeating my story and my parents’ story that I wanted to put a stop to it. I couldn’t put a stop to it, but I knew what I could do and that was to tell the truth as I knew it. I had no fear, and I had no fear of losing the friends I thought were friends, and I lost them because they were never friends to begin with. They were following me because I was giving them something they needed, but when I went into the darkness, they couldn’t believe that somebody who was teaching about angels and doing all the work I was doing could be that dark.”
The author worked for years in the retail industry, owned her own business, but knew her calling lay somewhere else. She is not just an author, she is an angel therapy practitioner, certified archetype consultant, certified mentor, and soul companion.
White studied with experts such as Caroline Myss and Dr. Mario Martinez before moving with her husband John to Almonte where she opened White Light Retreat, hosted workshops, and dedicated herself to helping mentor others in their journey to reach higher levels of awareness.
She decided against working toward a Ph.D., believing her path was taking her in a different direction.
“The people that come to me to get to know themselves, I take them on the best wild ride they’ll ever have because it’s vulnerable, authentic, and there’s nothing behind my name. They’re coming to me because they trust me, not because of the Dr.”
White has taken groups on spiritual journeys to Bali, a retreat aimed at spiritual healing and balance since 2004, and has plans to take a group to her home province of Newfoundland this summer.
“It will be a different trip than Bali. Naturally and spiritually, it will be the same; it’s just the environment. In Bali you take your sun hat. In Newfoundland you take your gum rubber boots.”
White has been married to her husband, John, for 47 years and has five grandchildren. Through her difficulties she has found her peace and believes, if you truly do the work, you will find your truth.
“When you fall in love with yourself at a deep level and not from an arrogant/ego way, but in a way of the divinity self, that’s where love is. But you have to go through the loops to get there. You’re not born with it.”