Support Systems in Recovery

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I am definitely a fan of ‘alone’.
I am a true introvert, and not by popular, new-age, twenty-first century, because it’s cool choice.
It is simply who I am.
I am not anti-social. I love the people who I am close to, I enjoy speaking and meeting new people and I am encouraged by engaging with readers and talking with other women.
I simply need breaks occasionally and can certainly physically feel the need to regroup and re-engage with self afterward.
My years of struggling with addiction sent me into a black pit of unhealthy isolation, and there was a time where I preferred nothing more than to be all alone with my shame, guilt and continuous running from myself.

When I decided that Recovery was my only option, and my only way to keep my life- I hated everything that it required. Everything. Every little thing.
In addition to truth being a necessary component, so was interacting with and opening up to new people.
It took me quite some time to even consider, but over time it became crystal clear to me why this component could make or break a person’s progress and personal development in their Recovery.

Here are some things that I have learned along the way.
5 Benefits of utilizing a support system in your Recovery:

1. Secrets get us into trouble.
Addiction banks on self-deceit and denial. Secrets are the gift that keep on giving when it comes to a compulsive behavior. Secrets promote shame and shame shuts us up and has the power to keep us isolated.
It is imperative that it all comes out. Anything from our past that we are still hiding or have pushed deep down and anything that we presently struggling with needs to come out.
We need to have someone wise and trustworthy listen to us, and if necessary, provide us with feedback so we can work toward clarity. Over time we will begin to recognize our own thought patterns, our own tendencies and will be able to separate the truth from the lies that we have grown accustomed to believing about ourselves.
We cannot learn to do this sitting alone at home, in isolation. There is proven therapeutic value in open sharing with a trustworthy person.

2. Addiction will prey on our weak moments. 
(And we can just expect to have weak moments in early Recovery).
We know sobriety is a requirement for Recovery. In order to grow in Recovery – sobriety has to come first. It is a great thought, and obviously a huge step to choose to live a sober life….but there has to be a plan in place to maintain sobriety.
We cannot assume that when tough moments come or we are stuck in a hard place making a judgment call, that we will have everything under control. Chances are, we won’t. Drugs affect the thought process of every addict, regardless of intelligence level. We have to force ourselves to reach out, to make that phone call, to drive to a meeting, talk to your counselor, call your sponsor, and reach out.
Sometimes in the more intense moments, if left up to ourselves– we can quickly be deterred and will allow ourselves to be talked back into self-deprecating behavior.
Often, another perspective or a listening ear is all that you need to get you back on track in a weak moment.

3. Growth springs from personal experience and learning from others. It doesn’t matter which Recovery program that you choose-any good program will encourage regular involvement, whether online- or in person. Alone, we only know what we know. Alone, without any outside interaction or involvement there is zero room for growth.
We remain humble by choosing to be open to learning from our experiences and the knowledge of others who have been where we have been. We are far better off and have an increased chance of developing and growing in our own Recovery if we decide that we can learn a lot from others.

4. The right people will keep us honest. Having even one or two people who you regularly interact with who will lovingly call you out on your bs, is a great thing. We have to have people around us or involved in our lives in some capacity that if needed, will encourage us to re-examine our ways. This is a pretty important thing to have in Recovery. As annoying as it can be, and as much as we tell ourselves that this isn’t a necessary piece, it is needed.

5. Building new relationships are a great way to embrace the new you.  It is difficult to believe that we are capable of doing this ‘new life’ thing. New relationships offer us a new start. We begin to see that we are capable of having full, healthy relationships with other people. It is a nice feeling to have a new network of people who know exactly who you are, and accept you as is. It is comforting to have real friendships based on trust and balance, and not shaky or scandalous foundations. Our new relationships are built on firm foundations of mutual respect, and this helps us to continue growing in our recovery. It helps us to believe that we are in fact, living new lives in different and exciting ways. It becomes clear to us that we have in fact changed and are capable of so much more.

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5 Benefits- Living One Day at a Time.

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I believe that in Recovery, we should definitely have long-term goals etched out in our minds. We should have a rough idea of somewhere we would like to be, somewhere we could see ourselves, something that we would like to accomplish in our lives in the long-term as sober humans.

For me, early Recovery was enough- my only long-term goal was to be at peace.
Vague, I know, but that is all that I envisioned. I wanted that life.
You know, where I would be happy with the simple things- able to enjoy simple days, plans or no plans, excitement or no excitement. I was just tired of chasing the idea contentment. I truly just wanted to ‘be’ …and I wanted to be alright with it.

So you could say that my personal long-term goal was a loose, definitely open for interpretation, and not exactly mapped out with specific routes to get me to ‘that place.’
But I had vision.

Overall, It is important to have some kind of idea of where we want to be in the future, what you are working toward, and who you are striving to be – regardless of how specific it is or not.

In early Recovery we are told to focus on the twenty-four hours that are in front of us, and those hours only.
Why are we told so many times over to live and plan for only one day at a time?

How can living one day at a time be beneficial?

1. At this point, staying sober is priority #1.
You don’t need to get overwhelmed. Early Recovery means fresh emotion. It means emotions will be running high, and emotions that are running inconsistently. It means feelings will come that won’t make any sense, and most we won’t know what to do with. Our minds are playing tricks on us. Our bodies hurt and aren’t understanding this new change. We may have legal or professional issues to handle as well.
It is important to avoid adding any extra, unnecessary or avoidable stress.
Extra stress will make staying sober that much more difficult.
By focusing on staying sober today only, it will feel and look do-able to us.
We can agree and commit to this.

2. We are learning how to value ourselves. 
By setting daily goals and striving for small changes
(likely only noticeable to ourselves and God at this point)
we begin to see that we are in fact capable of change; albeit, small change.
We are setting new and attainable standards for ourselves and the way that we are choosing to live our lives. Each day that we take on with intention, we continue to live as this new person.

3. By slowing down, we learn to rely on God throuough each day, moment to moment if need be.
We live one day at a time, and for most, one moment at a time.
We learn to slow down.
We learn to analyze ourselves in our environment.
We take a long hard look at our reactions, how we interact, how we respond to others, how we treat others.
We learn to take the time to pause and take note of these things.
We ask for help from God when we need it and if that means right in the moment, then so be it.
We take the time later in the day to recount to ourselves and God the things that we fell short on that day, and the things that we surprised ourselves with. Sharing our heart with God, sharing the good and the bad of our day with him – will help us to see that we have instant access to God, whenever and wherever we are. We begin to see that he is real, and cares about our individual situation.

5. We begin to appreciate and value hard-work over instant gratification.
We haven’t had many experiences with the fruit that hard work can produce in our lives. Instantly being pacified has been what we prefer for along time.
We got use to having what we want, when we want it, by any means necessary. Having to put in such hard work, waking up determined and focused on the present 24-hours, helps us to see the value of working hard for something. We begin to see why the easiest way is not always the right way, the best way, the most healthy way and certainly– not the most rewarding.

(These are my own opinions based off of my personal experience. This is how I feel I benefited from focusing on today only, and how by doing this, I was able to meet my long-term goal without losing focus and embracing the ‘now.’)

Things will get a little bit easier every single day.
We make mistakes, but we know that tomorrow, we are going to try again for the next 24-hours that we are given.
We can only get so much accomplished in one day.
This is why they say that Recovery is a personal journey. We aren’t racing.
No one’s experience is exactly the same, and we are not in competition with anyone.
We are figuring out who we really are and embracing a new thing.

This is a long-term commitment, with long-term goals and long-term generational benefits.
We will meet our long-term goals by committing to each day with everything that we have.

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Addiction requires Dishonesty. Recovery requires Truth.

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We have to pay particular attention to how honest and truthful that we are in Recovery, holding ourselves to crazy high standards in order to ensure the best possibilities for ourselves and our future.

Why?
Because active addiction requires a lot of consistent dishonesty.

One of the only areas left that an addict can manage maintaining any level of consistency with is being dishonest.
Whatever substance has a tight grip on the addict is telling them all of the many reasons why it is okay to utilize all of these manipulative techniques.
It all makes sense at the time & all feels completely legit.

*Here are some ways addiction perpetuates lies.  
An addict will: 

Lie to themselves.
They will lie about their present condition, their abilities, self-worth, value, potential or need to change; minimizing, rationalizing or intellectualizing what their lives have become……

Deny the need for help from a force more powerful than themselves.
Often, an addict denies a need for any outside help whatsoever, claiming to have control over their choices, or lives. Others, (like myself) mock and scoff at the idea of a God at all- especially one that can help ‘them’…

Lie to others.
When the drug completely takes over their person, and devours and chips away at any human decency that they have left, interpersonal relationships that may have once been important to them-can quickly mean nothing and become expendable selfish resources and nothing more. Nothing really matters anymore at a certain point, besides their own desire to use. Lies, manipulation, cheating, stealing, and all other small, big or dangerous lies fall into this category. All ruin relationships that we may have had with others, whether personal, casual or business related relationships.

*Here are some ways that any Recovery program requires truth.
Recovery will: 

Ask us to get honest with ourselves.
For the first time in a long time, we will look into a mirror and see a person. We will see what we have become and we have to decide to swallow that hard truth and begin work right there, from where we are at that moment. We decide to dedicate ourselves to not changing the truth of our lives or the choices that we have made up until that point…but we dedicate ourselves to creating a new truth about ourselves. We commit to vigorous honesty in our thinking and evaluating our daily actions, mistakes, and victories; and we will to work in 24 hour increments.

Ask that we recognize that we cannot help ourselves and we need God’s help.
In order to do this, we have to be honest. We have to take an honest look at where we are, and how we got there. Without God’s help or direction – this is where we ended up. Without His power to look up, we didn’t have any hope or strength left to start this Recovery process.
We have to willing to admit that we have to look to His power and seek His strength in order to be able to work and handle working a program that is so raw and requires so much honesty,  like the one addiction recovery asks for and requires.

Help us to learn to be honest in all of our interactions and dealings with others.
As we begin to understand and value the importance of honesty with ourselves and with God, we will see how this can change and possibly repair our relationships with others.
Whether or not we are able to ‘fix’ broken relationships won’t be as important as the benefits that we will gain as human beings in Recovery, as we do the right thing-one person, one interaction, one conversation and one situation at a time. That is all that we can do, but there is tremendous healing and potential for personal growth as we go through each day intentionally and honestly. Our integrity begins to rebuild within our inner parts and we start to believe that we are in fact, respectable and worthy people in society. We begin to see that we can change and make decisions that we don’t even expect from ourselves. We begin to allow that first seed of Hope to grow, and we see that if we keep working a little each day- great things start to happen.

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This new life is more than I imagined….

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For me, part of my healing along the way has come from being transparent and honest about my ‘story’.
Finally allowing myself to take an honest look at my childhood, to feel that pain instead of being ‘strong’ or sweeping it somewhere deep inside of my psyche really helped me to have the freedom to move forward.
Taking responsibility for my own actions and decisions as an adolescent and young adult, and again, allowing myself to be saturated in real life raw emotion regarding those decisions really helped me to begin to grow and move on in my Recovery.

I share my ‘story’ here, the reader’s digest version—hoping that someone else will read it, and think….hey. I am not alone. Cool. (at the very least)…
It helps and comforts to feel that we really aren’t the ‘only one’s.’

Oftentimes, severe dysfunction can cram you into a small box, making you feel like you are all alone.
In reality, chances are, you are certainly not walking a road never been traveled on.

We have all experienced some level of let down, dysfunction, regret and overall hurt or disappointment in ourselves or happenings with our childhood. It helps to find people who have similar stores. Hope is one valuable gift that definitely keeps on giving.

I always say, like so many others that if my story helps even one person…
and I have heard from at least one beautiful human since this story was published, and so…I am thankful for that! God uses people to help people.

I had the opportunity to share my story here.

http://www.heroesinrecovery.com/stories/new-life-imagined/

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Healthy & Happy.

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18 weeks today! We’re almost halfway there. I just have to say that I am so grateful for this journey!!! God is so so good people.

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Choosing to go public.

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When I first had the idea to blog, I simply needed to vent. I needed to get things off my chest and needed an outlet that offered my complete freedom to do so. I loved the freedom that the internet world offered to me. A platform to speak my mind and share my truest, most raw feelings in an honest and uncut way.

It did help and I was so surprised at how much healing took place in my heart simply by being truthful and brutally honest about ‘what is’ , ‘what will be’ and what I can and cannot change.

After that first year, I felt like I was in a good & healthy enough place to reach out and extend a hand to others who have had similar struggles.

I had done so in group settings for many years, but I wanted to share my story on the internet.
….And not the sob story of a traumatic childhood sprinkled with a few happy times, lots of neglect, mental illness, alcoholism, drug-use and feeling supremely misguided…
but MY story.

The story I now saw for what it was, accepted, took responsibility for, struggled through and now owned as all mine. 

This story was one that stemmed from me not knowing how to deal with the aftermath of my childhood. I made a long, long list of poor & unhealthy choices as a young adult and I created my own story-totally separate from the one I was given at birth and it was all my own doing. My story isn’t drastically different or more important than anyone else’s, but the more people realize that they aren’t alone, the more Hope people have.

**It felt a little crazy at first, to even consider telling this story to anyone else—out loud.
I had shared my story privately with people who I trusted in group settings…
but CHOOSING to shout it all out to the world in a very public way–was scary, foreign and definitely a leap into the unknown.

**When I decided it was time to start my blog over in a new direction, shining a light in a broad area that specifically focused on healing, growth, Recovery and embracing your individual journey,
I did so knowing that all of my ‘dirty laundry’ per say, would be hung out for ALL to see.
I knew that most of my posts would be derivative of my personal experiences. By any typical standard…pretty risky clicking that ‘publish’ button.
So -why?

I know and understand that publicly sharing personal stories of addiction isn’t for everyone. I know many people who prefer to keep it quiet and move on with their lives, serving in other areas. I am all for people doing what is best for them, using the strong points that they have. Sharing publicly isn’t for everyone, and shouldn’t be.
But I was never really on the fence about it.

For me my mission quickly became ALL about the bigger picture and less about what people might think. 

I come to a place in my life where I was completely comfortable in my own skin.
There was just something about going through hell and back, owning my mistakes and getting through to the other side that helped me to grow stronger, and feel more confident about the woman that God had created me to be from the mess that I was.

(Plus, I had always been that girl with her middle finger up not really caring what people thought anyway, so let’s just say- I took that attitude and decided to use it for something good. Something that I feel matters and something that definitely requires an attitude that says- I don’t really care what you think of me, I am committed and that’s that…but without all of the hostility or false confidence. ;-) )

So in other words, the opinions of others definitely weren’t going to hold me back. 
Societal stigma was nothing compared to the importance of the bigger picture that kept telling me that there are thousands of people out there struggling to be heard. People who were ashamed, embarrassed, and struggling to find their own voice.  

You see, the only way that the public opinion will change, is if the majority is one day able to see that there really are humans out there living in the world, who have been down to the depths of society, and have actually lived the lives of the ‘throw away people’ (as society generally categorizes addicts) and have come back from that place!

So I decided that with God on my side, all of the stigma and hatred (or fear)
was not going to stop me or hinder my persistence in reaching out to people or telling very real stories about the very real statistics. People do recover.

So ya. There are times when I wonder if someone’s opinion of me will change or be tainted if they see my blog url on the bottom of an email. It may not be in my benefit all of the time, but that’s okay.

My story is my story and is my reality. I believe it is the gift that God has gifted to me, uniquely to reach out to a people group – and I don’t intend to stop doing what I can to help others any time soon.

I believe in people helping people and God urging us to use what we have to do-
in various ways.

So – that is why I choose to share my story.

And really, I should THANK YOU GUYS. I receive positive and encouraging feedback from my readers and my facebook community. I hear that sometimes I utter things that encourage you and that friends is what makes it ALL worth it. 

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Well hello familiar stranger.

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When my grandmother’s house burned down, the photo albums were MIA for a long while. It took awhile to dig through the remnants of her belongings that were salvageable to gather them all up. Many made it through, but a lot were damaged by smoke or water, and all of them smell like mold and mildew.

I (thankfully) was able to pick them up and look through all of the albums. I am excited that I get to make copies before sending them off to their rightful owners.
I use to sit for hours with my grandma, going through every single photo, every detail and every person and place that each photo was taken.

It was nice and familiar to be able to sit and look through all of the pictures.
So many memories.

I came across a few of me that I didn’t realize existed, and definitely don’t recall taking at all.
One of which is the one I added to this post.
I felt tears well up in my eyes when I first saw this.
When I look at it, of course, I know it is me…and I can remember this time frame in my life –but that person is long gone.

I am sharing this today because the back of the picture tells me it was taken in 2005 when I was 22—
and that was my worst year.
I was the most sick I had ever been, and  the most desperate.
I was the most alone that I had ever felt and had never experienced hopelessness, self-hate or fear like I did that year.

It was the year that I realized that I was no longer in control and my life certainly reflected that fact. Thus began the long battle and my road toward Recovery.

So this #TBT is for anyone still struggling. SO much can change in a short period of time. It has been about eight years or so since this photo was taken, but as they say, it took me many years to get there, and it has taken just as many to put the pieces back together. Lifestyle change and healing takes time!

God pulled me out of a self-created and perpetuated hell that I had no idea how to get out of or away from.
My eyes aren’t empty, my heart feels again and my bones have meat on them. I can rest at night, I eat, I have relationships with humans and I have been given the opportunity to start over.

No matter how many years that go by, I am not sure that the strong emotions will ever subside when I think about where I could have easily been, where I came from, where God has brought me to and who he has helped me believe that I am.

I just want other people who might be struggling hard right now to know that things do get better.
Don’t be afraid to reach out; it promotes the process of the beginning of healing and learning how to live in a new way.
There is always hurt before healing and the fear that stems from the shame that we have been living with for so long desperately tries to keep us right where we are.

The courage that you have to find is that to break away from what you are use to and what you believe about yourself, and to try to trust someone who tells you that you CAN change and that you ARE worth it-
even if YOU don’t believe that yet- there are people out there who do. 

Keep going!

Brittany

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The 12 -steps & Recovery.

I ran across this article from 2011 on Promises Recovery website.
I am sharing directly from their page, and I think it is beneficial for anyone who is in Recovery.  Here is the link to full original article:
(http://www.promises.com/articles/work-the-steps-in-recovery/)

**Working the Steps Promotes Essential Values

It has been said that each of the 12 Steps incorporates an essential value.
As you work the steps, you become more practiced in helping your healing process.

You learn by doing, by being active in working the steps.
Of course, there is no “official” list of values associated with each of the steps. You can ascribe any value you choose to any of the steps and it will be perfectly appropriate. What matters is that there are values that you begin to incorporate into your life of sobriety the more you progress in working the steps.

This listing of values pegged to each of the steps is not the author’s. (*Credit goes to Earnie Larsen, who, together with his sister and co-author, Carol Larsen Hegarty, wrote the book, Now That You’re Sober: Week-by-Week Guidance from Your Recovery Coach.)
We’ll list the values identified by the Larsens, along with our commentary on why they’re important in recovery.

  • Acceptance: Step One – You could just as easily say honesty is a value associated with Step One, since you need to acknowledge what is really going on in your life as you work this step. You admit to yourself that you have an addiction and choose to no longer deny the ramifications of your self-destructive behavior. Acceptance is a prerequisite to moving forward in recovery.
  • Faith: Step Two - Certainly we are all powerless to overcome addiction on our own. When we work Step Two, we come to recognize that there is a Higher Power at work that fosters our ability to climb out of our addictive past and make steady progress in our goal of recovery. To actively work this step, we need to open up to the idea that there’s something infinitely more powerful at work in the universe than just ourselves.
  • Trust: Step Three – Faith, which may be associated with Step Two, goes hand-in-hand with the value of trust so intertwined with Step Three. You cannot go forward in faith of a Higher Power and do the work you must without trust that you will have the strength and courage and wisdom to keep on going. Trust also means that you learn to step outside yourself, end your isolation, and begin to extend yourself to others.
  • Honesty: Step Four - Closely aligned with acceptance (the value associated with Step One), honesty requires that you peer inside yourself and scrutinize what you see there. Addiction masks many character defects, but being clean and sober allows you the opportunity to peel away that mask. Doing something about glaring faults and self-destructive behaviors requires rigorous honesty first – and continuing to work the steps.
  • Courage: Step Five - How do you build connection with “God, self, and another human being” that Step Five encourages? It takes courage, for one thing, and courage is not a value many in early recovery have in abundance. Still, you’ve come this far, so you have some measure of grit and determination. Courage is another word for what it takes – and, you’ve summoned up quite a bit so far on your journey.
  • Willingness: Step Six - Being open to learn a new way of life without the masks of addiction means having the willingness to make further progress. At this point in your recovery journey, you may come face to face with things that you find troubling or even dangerous from your past. But you can’t hope to end your isolation and connect with others if you aren’t able to progress further in this step. Allow yourself the willingness to push on – despite how uncomfortable or disquieting your revelations may be.
  • Humility: Step Seven - The world is so much more than each of us and our immediate concerns. Once you start working Step Seven, it helps if you feel a sense of humility. None of us is, after all, God. Therefore, none of us is perfect. Humility allows us to accept and own that there is a better way to live our lives other than remaining trapped in our addiction.
  • Forgiveness: Step Eight - Months and years of addiction have kept you trapped in destructive and self-destructive behaviors that hurt many others besides just you. As you begin the tough work of Step Eight, you need to find within you the power to forgive yourself and others for all that has happened to cause harm due to your addiction. Yes, you need to own the responsibility for your thoughts, words, and actions. And, yes, you need to do something about it. But first, embrace the value of forgiveness – which makes working Step Eight that much easier.
  • Freedom: Step Nine - Now that you’ve identified and accepted responsibility for the wrongs that you have done to others, making amends brings along with it an incredible benefit – freedom. Once you have lightened your burden by making amends, your soul feels lifted. You have a sense of well-being, an almost tangible sense of goodness and light – and you feel empowered to keep going, to keep working the steps in recovery.
  • Perseverence: Step Ten - You’ve come a long way by the time you reach Step Ten. In some respects, it’s getting tougher to make further progrss working the steps. You need the endurance of a long-distance runner, since you may hit the wall at any time. It is often at this point in recovery when you realize the value of perseverence. You know your ultimate goal: effective long-term recovery. You also know that there are many obstacles that rear up along the way. At any time, you could come smack up against the urge to slip back into addiction. Stick with your resolve. Keep working the steps.
  • Patience: Step Eleven - An awful lot of water has roiled under the bridge since you first set foot on the journey of recovery. It helps if you acknowledge that you don’t always know what’s best for you, that perhaps, it’s your Higher Power or the God as you know Him that can help you through the tough times. The steps you work day in and day out may not reveal a payoff that you can readily see – but they are working in your favor nonetheless. Strive to cultivate the value of patience – which can help see you through periods of indecision or confusion.
  • Love: Step Twelve – When you arrive at Step Twelve, you may be tempted to think that all your work is done. In some respects, however, this may be the toughest step of all. Achieving effective long-term recovery requires that you give of yourself to others. In essence, it means that you recognize and accept the value of love as integral to true recovery. Looking at this another way you could say that recovery is love gained, whereas relapse is love lost.

    Recovery

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12 gifts of Recovery.

 

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1. HOPE- We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance.  And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.  And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
(Romans 5:3-5)

2. POWER- For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. (2 Timothy 1:7)

3. CHARACTER:  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control.
(Galatians 5:22-23)

4. CLARITY- Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me.
(1 Corinthians 13:12)

5. SECURITY-  What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us?
(Romans 8:31)

6. ABUNDANCE- And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.
(Philippians 4:19)

7. WISDOM- If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.
(James 1:5)

8. SELF-CONTROL- But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you.
(Romans 8:9)

9. FREEDOM- For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
(Galatians 5:1)

10. Happiness- Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.
(Psalm 119:35) 

11. SERENITY- And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow–not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.
(Romans 8:38) 

12. PEACE- I am leaving you with a gift–peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.
(John 14:27)

 

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Clarification.

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When I read this I just had to share with you guys.
I think it is important to have clarification on this issue. :-)

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Courage & Wisdom.

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Everyone goes through ups and downs in life.
(And if you have an addict in your life, there are sure to be lots of ups, downs, unpredictability, uncertainty, highs, lows, let-down, defeat and more.)

One thing that I have learned in Recovery that I have applied to my everyday life, has been learning to accepting what is.
Sometimes it is hard to accept the truth.

When you finally understand and accept that you cannot control or take responsibility for anyone but yourself and your own actions, you will begin to see things much more clearly.

This can be pivotal for anyone healing and trying to move forward.

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Bystanders.

After writing my open letter to my family members, I saw a photo posted by someone who lost their loved one too soon to drug addiction. I immediately teared up.

These emotions are so raw and real.

Family members literally watch their loved ones slip away, day by day, very slowly.
They aren’t dead but they aren’t who they once were.
They are lingering in that place between spiritual death and physical death.

We grieve while they are still alive, for who we once knew.
We yearn to see their eyes bright again.
We so wish we could hug them so hard, that they would definitely feel real love.
We want to break down those walls and rip off their masks.
We want them to feel safe with us and know that they are free to be them.
We want to scream so they will hear the truth, they can change!
We are here to support them!

None of it is heard.
It is like watching a silent movie.
Nothing penetrates that wall.
Their thoughts cycling through as repetitive  as they are, are stronger than our deepest, most sincere pleas.

I am so sorry to all of the families who have watched this happen, and who have physically lost their loved one.

This is why we are so afraid to make boundaries and keep them.
We don’t know how much time they have left, and at the same time- by not keeping any boundaries, we are chipping away at the remaining time.

It’s a strange predicament to be in, and is not easily explained.

This is where we have to be reliant on God’s truth and the truth that we know as fact, backed up by science.
We only hurt by helping, even though we feel obligated to help.
We feel like if we just sit back with our hands metaphorically tied, we are enabling their demise…when in fact, it is the other way around.

It is hard to do when your brain doesn’t understand. Your heart doesn’t want to follow, but your brain tells you ‘facts’ and ‘truth’.

We have to be on top of our emotions, to make sure that when they are ready for help…
they have someone stable and reliable to go to.

Utilize Al-anon, Celebrate Recovery, Nar-anon, and online-support groups to get you through these tough times. It is not easy for families to get through this alone, in one piece (mentally, emotionally and financially for some)

We have to be bold and courageous enough to reach out and share with others about our struggles. People help people and there are people out there who are willing to listen and help you through.

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TO FIND A MEETING NEAR YOU:
http://discoveringbeautiful.com/need-treatment/

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An open letter.

I am in need of this reminder this week, so today I am going to refresh my memory as to why good, strong boundaries are so important in relationships with addicts.

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An open letter to the addicts in my life. 

I love you both very much. I know that you don’t feel like I do and you cannot see how I could. I distance myself from you both.

Brother,
I know that I won’t help you when you need it most, and I seem not to care if you are sleeping in a filthy motel with only one paid night left before you hit the streets.

I know that last night when you were crying and grieving, I wasn’t there for you. I didn’t even call. I won’t give you rides and I don’t believe your lies anymore.

I understand how you feel like I am better than you and I don’t have time for you, and I know that you think I don’t have any idea exactly how it feels to look out into the world feeling like you are completely alone with no one who has your back.

The truth is, you have physically hurt me, and you don’t recall any of it.
I am pregnant now and I really cannot risk being around you for one second.

I love you so much, and it absolutely breaks my heart to see you hurting and in so much obvious and denied, stuffed, heart -wrenching emotional and physical pain.

I love the memories that I have of you, when you were young, silly, and care-free. You were unapologetically….you. The best little brother ever. (even though I wasn’t the nicest big sister)

I pray for you all of the time and the only thing that stops me from swooping in and saving you- giving you rides, ten bucks, another night in the motel, a shoulder to cry on—is my own well-being and safety and your well-being and safety.

I cannot  and will not allow myself to be lost in you. I cannot and will not ever forfeit my own Recovery to ‘help’ you. How in the world could I break these cycles for my own children if I was destroying my own progress by getting lost in my love for you-& choosing to helping you in all of the wrong ways?
Oh’ how I wish I could just grab your face and reach the depths of your soul for you, but I cannot.

Only you can.

I wish that you could see from a different perspective, I want so badly to force you to see how talented you are, how much you are loved, how valued you are as a family member and just how important you are to the world. You have so much to offer. You have so much life left to live.

Even now, after you have been in and out of prison, dozens of treatments, accidents, car wrecks, overdoses, health problems, developing mental health issues ALL drug and alcohol related…. over a ten year span..
—my heart and mind still tell me the harsh truth.

Only you, brother can decide that you want to change and give it all you have.
Until then, I will keep praying for you.
If or when I get that phone call that I have been expecting and dreading- It will kill me inside, but ultimately I know that there is absolutely nothing that I could have done for you.

************************************************************************************************Mom.
My love for you is much different. I love the idea of you, and the you that I have heard stories about.

I know that you think my brother is my responsibility. I am not sure why you have formed this idea in your mind, but somewhere over time- it developed into something real for you.
There is no  way for me to help you understand how much I care about my brother, I am not abandoning him - but newsflash. I didn’t give birth to him.
This way of thinking that you have had my entire life, is precisely what gave birth to my colossal, destructive, and hard to get out of role reversal & enabling issues.

I understand that you do not comprehend simplistic statements and cannot follow in conversation. I know that you don’t choose this, you simply do not have the capability of having rational thought patterns.
I know you get frustrated and you don’t see why I am not helping you to help my brother.

I can sense the anger in your text messages, and I can hear you struggling to keep it together in the 1 a.m voicemails that I have been getting.
The hatred, the antagonistic threats and the sarcasm in your voice are exactly why I am still honoring the boundaries that I have had set with you for a few years now. You still aren’t safe for me to be around.

I wish I knew of some long-term, documented study out there that has already been conducted, to help me to better understand what has happened to your brain.

The mental health issues that have been either exaggerated or have developed as a result of your continued drug use frustrate me. I don’t understand the way you interpret and perceive any given circumstance. I cannot understand you decisions. We live in two different worlds.
My main frustration stems from not being able to get through no matter which way I word things, or how patient I am.

I don’t hate you but I certainly hate your illness.

Yes, I use to yearn to know who you may have been, or maybe who you were. By the time I was born, mental illness had already begun the decomposition process...but…..

I don’t hate you anymore.
I don’t blame you for my drug use anymore. Those were my choices.
I accept what is.
I have learned about the psychology of your illness and and I completely accept you for who you are.

I have come to a peace, a place that I found after true forgiveness for you.
God has shown me what true empathy looks and feels like, and I have that for you as a human.

You truly did the best you could, with what you had to offer. What I do hate, is the idea that you were cheated out of life. Maybe, you cheated yourself because of the choices that you chose to make, but ultimately, you missed out on so much Joy.
I wish that you could feel true peace for even just one second.
That, mom, is what i struggle with presently. That you won’t ever know what it feels like to just…..be.

I want both of you to know that my decision to stay away isn’t always as easy as you think it is. It wasn’t an easy choice to make. I knew that after over twenty years of the drama, I needed a break at the very least. I needed a chance to figure out who I was, apart from the role that I had adapted to. I needed to give myself a shot, for my kids. They deserved that. 
It has been one of the most difficult decisions to stay committed to, and at the very same time, one of the best decisions that I have ever made.

I also want you to know that it is never too late to change things. People can and do recover every day. I don’t think you are throw away people. I don’t believe that you are lost causes. I think that miracles happen every single day and like I have said before- if you are still here breathing, there’s still HOPE for you. 

************************************************************************************************

Venting & getting these things out is a healthy thing to do. It helps me to sort out my emotions instead of ignoring them. These thoughts and feelings weigh heavy on my heart and sometimes it makes it tough to enjoy my own family, or be excited about my own life happenings when I know there is so much hardship going on in the hearts and minds of these two. The battles are continuous for them.

In this case, I don’t have the option to say these things to either of them and even if I did, it wouldn’t matter, and sometimes, it just isn’t necessary.

 

 

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Happy Anniversary… x2!

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As much as I loathe getting on my *personal facebook account sometimes, I really do appreciate not having to remember anything whatsoever.
(Birthdays, social events, life-milestones lol)

Having said that, Facebook has reminded me that September 13, marks my
3 year anniversary of quitting smoking cigarettes!

September 13, 2011. 

When my Recovery journey began, quitting smoking just wasn’t in the forefront of my mind. If anything, it was the very least of my problems and definitely not the most dangerous thing that I had been doing. I had no interest in attempting to quit, after all, it was all that “I had left” …….

Keep in mind, in 2006 is when the journey to get sober began. I needed to smoke.
It kept me busy. After the first year of failures, things got much better and I was completely sober. Smoking was still not something that I was ready to give up.

By 2011, I was getting sick a lot.
I would get coughs from colds that just wouldn’t go away, and also- my kids were getting older and would watch me. I hated them seeing me, and I hated them smelling me.

Around this time, my mom was given yet another diagnosis. This time it was emphysema.
It was scary to watch how quickly her ability to function normally (speaking of her lung function) spiraled out of control. I am hard-headed and typically, I am a ‘see it to believe it’ (or at least experience it for myself) type of person….but this was enough for me.
I really wanted to be healthy for my kids when they were older and when I had grandchildren. Granted, I only smoked for 13 years or so, but it was difficult. I make it sound so easy, my motives were pure and it is easy to talk about them….but quitting was not so easy. I failed more than a handful of times, gave up and started over.

Finally, I quit and prayed…prayed….prayed and took a prescription for the first 4 weeks.
After that, I was on my own.

Today- it has only been 3 years and I have times where I will think about it. That is as far as it goes. The benefits of feeling good, being able to work out and know that my body is in repair mode is enough for me to stay away.

I never thought I could do it.
If you have been thinking about trying to quit….you can email me for support if you want! (Ladies)
You can do it!

My next anniversary is our wedding anniversary. September 27.
I am excited every year….because we are still so in love and happily married. God has truly given me a man who is perfect for me. Of course…things aren’t beautiful all of the time, but I know in my heart that he is my ‘home.’ Well. That’s how it feels anyway. He’s a good dude. :-) A great father and someone who keeps me on my toes…which is what I need.

Anyway, here’s to many more smoke free and happy marriage years.

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We break Stigma!!

judgement

If you are in Recovery, chances are, you know someone who truly cannot understand how ‘people like us’ could ever allow our lives to be transformed, taken over and destroyed by a chemical or process addiction.

I have heard variations of comments like these: 
Those people are stupid. 
How could you let your life get like that. 
Wastes of space. 
They don’t deserve to live. 
Line em’ up – kill em’ all. 
These people are what’s wrong with our (seemingly perfect otherwise) country. 
We waste so much time and money on people like this. 
My taxes pay for these trashy losers. Wow. 
Just quit already, get a job for f*ck’s sake. 

(*Yes. I have heard every single one of these comments come from the mouth’s of people that I love, respect and some- consider friends.)

These are people who are otherwise….nice humans.
These assumptions, ideals, ignorantly formed thoughts, and inexperienced opinions are why stigma exists at all. It is a lack of understanding. A lack of an empathetic development in their pretty little heads and for some, it is simply a big question mark that they write off much easier when they just tag us and bag us as throw away humans.

We know the truth. We know, the facts. The facts are very public these days and are easily accessible.

Addiction crosses all lines-
Seriously. The 23.5 MILLION AMERICANS LIVING IN RECOVERY cover a very broad range of types of humans. Males, females, broken homes, wholesome-average families, single parent homes, all races, all socioeconomic statuses….addiction doesn’t care who you are, where you came from or whether or not you had a daddy in your home.

(of course, the risks factors and components as to what leads up to first use or the decision to do drugs in the first place is obviously affected by all of these variables. However, once addiction sets in and drugs are introduced – it will rampage anyone’s life destroying everything.)

So, what makes people so judgy, harsh and hateful when it comes to people who struggle with substance abuse? 

The biggest one in my opinion, is a lack of education. No matter what issue you are speaking of, I am a big fan of knowing facts before you rant and rave about whether or not you think a person deserves to live or deserves another chance at life. Personally, I don’t like to join debates or movements unless I am armed with information. People tend to have a lazy approach on this issue. They know what they know and that’s enough for them.

Another…. ego.
To drop a nasty, harsh, or down-right mean opinion about the soul of another person anyway, requires a high opinion of self and the false belief of personal authority & superiority over another human….and not only that human, but a very large group of people.

Possiblity number three-a lack of empathy. Chances are, people who refuse to educate themselves about addiction, the probabitly of lasting recovery with proper support and individualized treatment….are probably people who have strong, weakly based opinions on many, many other major topics; not just this one.

If you are reading this, and you have been shamed in any way by any other human please hear me. 

Stigma is not truth. It is something that is being broken as I type.
23 MILLION PEOPLE  are LIVING NORMAL, HAPPY, PEACEFUL AND FULFILLING LIVES IN RECOVERY FROM ALCOHOL AND OTHER DRUGS. This incredible number will not be ignored.

Stigma is an overall assumption, based off of skewed opinion of the masses who prey on weak people and are comfortable with scapegoating. It is not truth about who and what you are, no matter what you have done. 

Of course sometimes opinions hurt. They just do. 
But it still doesn’t mean that they are truth, or apply to your person. 

GOD tells us that we are uniquely made individuals, and if we are are still alive & taking breaths……we are here for a reason and that is all that matters.

**What can we do to help other people gain a better understanding?**
-Live your life in a way that completely debunks the crap they believe.
-Don’t fight fire with fire. Reciprocating hate, or judging them harshly as well will not help.
-Make friends with people from all walks of life. Most will never believe that you are an addict living in Recovery.

The best way to fight the stigma…is to continue striving toward your personal goals. To live a healthy life. Time will reveal the truth to the naysayers.

It isn’t our job to change their minds, but I believe it IS OUR JOB TO PAVE THE WAY AND MAKE THIS ROAD EASIER FOR THE MANY MORE TO COME.
WE COULD MAKE THEIR RECOVERY JOURNEY A TINY BIT EASIER, AND MAYBE, JUST MAYBE- THEY WON’T HAVE TO DEFEND THEIR HUMAN RIGHTS, OR EVER–HANG THEIR HEAD IN SHAME.  

:-) We can change the world.

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Yes YOU can!

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Being one hundred percent positive that we should do something is an elusive luxury that we don’t get to have. We can’t really base our decisions on being certain of an outcome, we can only trust God and take a step –somewhere.
When we fail, we can become afraid to take a leap again. If we make a decision that doesn’t quite work out the way that we envisioned, we can get stuck in a situation where any big decision from that point on, is one that is so anxiety ridden that we don’t allow ourselves to enjoy life.
Ultimately, we have to come to our own terms with reality. That is, we don’t get to have answers to all of life’s tough questions, turns, opportunities and unknowns.

We really do have a choice, whether the decision, dream, option, offer or opportunity is big or small.

We can choose to hide or we can make the decision to try.

Fear can smother you to death, and keep you from saying ‘no’ when you need to say no, or when you simply know it is best for you or your family to decline or go a different direction.

Fear can keep you from taking a step in a direction that you have yet to travel in your life- simply because you don’t have the luxury of certainty. So many unanswered questions and variables to consider (and re-consider).

I am really not a fan of making baseless or reckless decisions without any thought backing them. I guess what I am saying here is that we should never allow fear to fuel us. It should not be allowed to be the motivating and ultimate deciding factor when it comes to our decision making process.

Failing, having to pick yourself up, admitting a small defeat, being a little embarrassed from time to time, having to muster up courage to stand behind who you are at all costs, these things aren’t really so bad.

For the most part, these are the typical results of one of our ‘leaps’ that don’t go as planned.

What is cool is that failing, if we look at it and take notes, can build character if used properly.

We can choose to use the situation as fuel for motivation to take that next step into something unfamiliar.

We learn that we are much more strong and resilient that we thought. We learn that fear, is a gigantic lie.

So, if you have a dream that have been pulling on your heart strings, consider going for it.
Wear red lipstick tomorrow if you want to.
Whatever that thing is, big or small that you are not doing because of fear-
consider taking a calculated risk.

The part of the journey that helps you build confidence and stimulates your brain to push for even more comes from the realization that you….YOU just did something that you thought was impossible. YOU did something that you weren’t certain of, that you may have even been afraid of, something …..that you have been waiting to do for so long.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.  2 Timothy 1:7

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Maintenance.

Episode-7-S02Lately I have been reading and posting a lot about the dangers and traps of becoming complacent in Recovery.
Partly, because I know that the first five years (at least) of Recovery are tricky.There are so many ups and downs, struggles and victories and you are hanging in the balance of getting too cocky, or feeling defeated and giving up. It helps for people to be aware of this pitfall.
The other part, is for myself. I, after seven years of being in Recovery, am still mindful of the dangers that complacency brings with it.

This point in my Recovery has really highlighted that no matter how far along I am in this new life post drug addiction, no matter which season of life that I am in, how old I get or how many years I have under my belt …….

I should never be ‘finished’  evolving, changing, learning, growing, discovering or stretching.

If I am not working at all, or am pushing something aside, I are digressing.
Even I don’t notice it at first.

For me, long-term Recovery is not so much about relearning how to live anymore or how to let go of the past.
The majority of my Recovery at this point is about continually evolving and embracing it, and continuing to be dedicated to giving back.

In order to improve a little bit over time, I have to allow myself to slow down and recognize some of these things. I have to continue to accept my mistakes as I make them.
This has been hard for me to regulate. I have learned that the prospect of becoming complacent doesn’t just apply to my Recovery-
it applies to my parenting, my marriage and my everyday interactions and relationships.
If I focus on one area, and not another- it creates a problem. If I work hard in one place and act like I have it all together in another, it ends up coming back to bite me.

I recognize that as a mom, wife & woman in Recovery my life is all about balance and prioritizing.
(Unfortunately, my personality is not exactly one that naturally gravitates toward balance -in many ways I am impulsive and really don’t love planning.)

I have found that to be mindful, I have to plan.
To think before I speak when I am frustrated, I have to plan.
When my emotions are running high, I have to plan before I make a decision or act.
If I snap at my husband unnecessarily, I have to balls up and apologize and think about how I could do things differently next time.
All of these scenarios require me to be pro-active.
I will (and do) mess up- but if I am active in taking a stance in my life that says I am dedicated to improving, I don’t run a high risk of becoming complacent in these areas.

Much like the weeds on our rocks outside of my house. Listen.
I will see a few and overlook them.
The next week, they are out of control and I am overwhelmed.
Then I try to convince myself that they’re not so bad, that…I actually kind of like them.
In reality, ya’ know…..in truth… I always regret not simply pulling the few from the previous week.
This nasty thought process can translate into our daily lives and interactions. It is a waste of perfectly good energy and thoughts.

Celebrate Recovery did a great job of teaching me personal accountability and the importance of being truthful with myself…..while conveying a message on the necessity of on-going maintenance. The simple tool: Writing down your daily inventory.

If we take a daily inventory on a regular basis and we are honest in doing so- we can confront problems or small issues head on.
We don’t avoid them, push them aside or act like they didn’t happen.
We write them down and stare at them.
We tell God about them and we think of ways that tomorrow can be better.
We pray about it and ask for strength to keep going and the courage to continue to look at our faults in a very real way. We can do these things, because we know that we are works in progress, and always will be.

I guess what I am learning is that we don’t always have to be thinking or analyzing every single thing that we think, feel, do and say every second of every day in an obsessive or compulsive way.

What we do have to do is have embrace this life, while maintaining balance.

We can let go a little and enjoy all that God has gifted to us, but that doesn’t mean let the weeds grow over.

We don’t have to tend compulsively, but we cannot allow ourselves to get in the habit of looking the other way either.

It is a balancing act and one that we will never perform perfectly, but we can have fun while we are doing it- and we can keep practicing.

And we should surround ourselves with people who are loving, kind, respectful and supportive of this process and it’s importance to our sobriety and continually growing Recovery.

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Writing Exercises- don’t underestimate the power of old-school.

I really like to use visual paper/pen exercises to help with clarity sometimes. 

I utilize them any time that I am feeling lost or confused on a certain issue, and other times just to remind myself of all that I have to be grateful for.

In Celebrate Recovery, there are many times in the guides that we are asked to write down times where we have been hurt, things we have not yet forgiven, times that we have made poor choices, our personal daily inventories… (and DOZENS more).

These exercises help us to SEE where things went wrong.
We can pinpoint and recognize a problem, admit our own role, and learn how to be mindful to not make that same choice or to have the same reaction in the future.
When we choose to sit down and invest time in uncovering our truest and darkest secrets….these are life-changing exercises.
Very helpful in Recovery.

In school I learned a lot about behavioral psychology and cognitive therapy.
Both of these disciplines use the same techniques for clients and offer many templates, approaches and examples for us to use as starting points as new counselors.
There are many exercises for dealing with anger management, tracking positive and negative emotions, and for achieving overall emotional regulation.
These are typically used to help someone with a substance disorder to SEE patterns and to recognize their own patterns of behavior.
This way, clients can stop the downward spiral before it begins, and learn to form new habits and responses.

In my personal relationship with God, writing my gratitude lists out by hand, journaling or simply jotting down prayer requests for others has really helped me over the years to stay in touch with Him. It also helps me to hold myself accountable for things that I really need to remain mindful of.

In any case there is just something about taking time to sit down, to take out a pen and paper, and write things down.
It is so beneficial to sit in a quiet room, silently focusing on our task to gain clarity.

For me, it helps me to balance and focus on the most important things. I am a thinker, and if I am not careful, my mind will wander and my brain will concoct ridiculous happenings – especially if I am trying to logically sort out a heart matter.

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Putting this into practice in my real life: 

I am 13 weeks along with baby #3. I am over the freaking moon excited. My family is growing and I am one of the crazies that believes that if God gives em’ to us—he’ll provide and we will adjust. End of story.
I have family that is supportive and friends who are as well. My husband and children are ecstatic.

and yet…
still, quietly, in the far right hand corner of my brain, in the darkest- innermost part- I feel this ridiculous ‘need’  to ring up my mom to share the news with her. 

Wth? Lol.
(Like I said…. ridiculous.)

And no, it isn’t some irrational, impulsive, fleeting thought in all of the excitement. It is more of a deep-rooted yearning for that bond, that I know isn’t happening this side of heaven.

For this ‘problem’… instead of wishing or praying away a drug-induced mental illness….
I find that doing a writing exercise helps me to pull things back into perspective.
(Our emotions are not always logical, right…and will not always pull us toward the best scenario for us.)

Logic vs. Love.
Love, or my heart (that thing that a lot of people will tell you to follow around…….and I don’t recommend that) tells me typical things..like that we’re family and she has made mistakes. She is my mother of course and it is only natural to want to call her to share news with her.
Logic tells me that our track record as interpersonal humans–is shoddy and dangerous and that it has been for 25 years now and it hasn’t shown ANY signs of positive progress.
It also tells me that I’d be setting myself up for something (no telling really)
and it’s obviously best to stay positive, keep myself, belly and family safe.

Neither really ‘wins’ …..in this particular case…. for this particular problem….

My faith has to be the louder voice.
It wins.
God’s provision wins.
Ultimately, this is what I choose to follow around.

For this writing exercise I would write out two columns.

The first column is labeled “Needs”
I would write something like:
*I want to be able to share with my mother. I want to call her. I want a strong woman in my life to care and to be there for me. (brutally honest is the only way to go. God knows your heart anyway guys)

The second column, is labeled “God’s Provision” 
I would write how God has already provided for that particular want:
*Great friends, wonderful & caring mother-in-law. I have strong, wonderful women IN MY LIFE RIGHT THIS VERY MINUTE who would love to be a part of this journey with me, and some already are.

This helps me to see that my ‘Needs’ ARE in fact, being met.
God IS providing and I AM getting exactly what I need.
I may not be getting what my brain or heart wants
but God IS taking care of my need in a way that I don’t usually recognize unless I purposefully seek out his response.

This exercise helps me to see that God’s love for me is overflowing. I am not lacking anything that I might feel like I am from time to time. Sometimes, the things I may want…..just aren’t necessary or best for me.

This can be used for anything that you feel that you need or want. You can write down how God is already providing for you in some capacity to meet that need.

Hopefully it will help you, the way that it helps me!

Never underestimate the power of old-school.
The pen and paper…. ;-)

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Getting Sober vs. Staying Sober

Which was harder for you:
Getting sober ……or staying sober? 

I read this question a couple of weeks ago, and it really made me think.
I am not sure that I had ever really thought about which one was harder for me.
A few stated that getting sober was more difficult, but the majority noted that staying sober was much harder for them.

After years of recreational use and a few years of dependence and struggling with addiction –
I knew that I had come close a few times to losing my life, and a couple of times I was disappointed at my escape from death. I knew that I was tired, and I was aware of the fact that my life had spinning out of control for quite some time.

Looking back, I think that absolute worst and lowest part of my life was when I came to the realization, that I was in fact, completely out of control and that getting sober was not going to be easy. ( I really liked ‘easy’)
I did try to slow down, I tried to quit, I tried to do that whole ‘mind over matter’ thing.
Each time that I fell hard, flat on my face,
the less I cared about picking myself back up for the next try.
Eventually-there wasn’t any fight left.

Of course Addiction wasn’t fun but living a ‘life’ controlled and led around by a substance just became my norm- like the life of other addicts.

What really began to grind and tear at my soul or the internal ‘me’ that I hadn’t destroyed….
was a desire for peace.

Something, somewhere inside of me yearned, screamed for and wanted —calm.

I wanted to stop and slow down. I wanted that kind of life, that I knew other people had-
I just didn’t know how to get there from where I was.

This whole process was my attempt to ‘get sober’ at the end of it all,
and it really took its toll.
It is scary to realize that you are no longer in control and what little desire you have creeping out of you (or what was once ‘you’) —isn’t really important to the demons that have taken over at that point.

This was my hell.
Wrestling with my mind and fighting with my body.
The little time I did catch a glimpse of what I had made of my existence- I definitely didn’t want to be sober anymore and I would hide, and start all over again.

It took me a little over a year of trying to get completely sober.
That first year, I would make it a few weeks or so, then a month or two –
and then finally, I dug my heels down deep and began the real work that I had been avoiding for so long..
I did finally begin a Recovery program-

After I (reluctantly) made the choice to commit to the program, there was no turning back for me. I got a little taste of freedom and I was g.o.n.e. 
Yes! I may have spent two years struggling hard. Fighting my mind and body. Trying to expose my lies, my truths, my dark secrets- while still trying to believe that I was a valuable human being. I do remember being an exhausted, lost, confused, emotional hot mess of a train wreck.
but even those days during the first two years were 1,000 times better to me than those days that I spent trying to navigate one more day in my crazy, dangerous, empty life. 

So I guess for me, my answer would be:

Getting sober was much harder for me.

(Staying sober- ppppsshhhh.
It wasn’t easy, but it was beautiful there. At least I felt alive.)

Tell me! Which was harder for you? 
Feel free to comment here, tweet @ me, or connect with me on my Blog page on Facebook and let me know!

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How are things?

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This is a less personal Recovery post and more of a……..
just personal post:

I turned 31 yesterday.
I got a beautiful necklace and ring from my husband and children, along with some useful home-made coupons from my boys….that I will definitely be utilizing before they expire.
I got a new, soft, much-needed pillow and some chocolates too. My family went above and beyond, making sure that I did not have to cook or wash a dish all day long.
It was pretty incredible.

Today marks my 10th official week of pregnancy.
We still haven’t made a formal public announcement (via Facebook)
My blog platform (and I have nice & kind readers…thank you!) is really the only place that I have mentioned it at this point. We have told our close immediate family, but for the next couple of weeks, we are keeping it to ourselves. My first appointment is August 12 and that will be an exciting day! I haven’t worried too much about things developmentally but I am ready to SEE that things are cooking well….and I am so ready to HEAR a heartbeat!
My morning sickness is really just waves of nausea on and off all throughout the day.
Some days are great and I feel like I must be in the clear, and then the next day, it’s back again. Fatigue is the same. It is definitely not as bad as it was in weeks 5, 6, 7, 8 but it is still creeping up on me here and there.
I haven’t gained any weight yet, but am pretty bloated!
I have also had vivid dreams, lots of them and mostly odd ones.
I will spare you the details of them but I am normally one of those people who cannot recall a dream the minute that I attempt to recall a dream….it just vaporizes. These- I can smell the smells, feel the feelings, and remember details. So, that’s been interesting ;-)
We also have names for both a boy, and a girl already….I’ll do some name droppin’ in about 10 weeks or so when we know if this little beautiful life is a he or a she…

It’s back to school time- and for us that means a lot of squashing of doctor check-ups, dental check-ups, closet cleaning and shopping  into a few short weeks. It is an exciting time at our house.

All and all guys I am blessed. I hate using that word- I really do.
(it is overused and sounds so cheesy in some instances)
so forgive me if it sounds cheesy.

:-) I reflect a lot. Part of my Recovery (the LIFE that I LIVE now) entails and requires a ton of reflecting and it doesn’t just happen on days like my birthday.

As I sat back on my birthday, I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed; with love, and with thankfulness. No more celebrating by getting trashed and making the entire evening about me, me, me. No more chasing happiness.

Yesterday was just a simple & true celebration of a life that God has allowed me to create, with people who I love, who love me back- and who support me.

There aren’t any better gifts than that for me,  aside from having the opportunity to  experience true rest at the end of a day.

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Girl at the End of the World.

So I am finished reading Girl at the End of the World. As I said before Elizabeth has guts, but I finished the last page thinking about Recovery.

Toward the end of the book, Elizabeth finally decided to see a therapist. They talked about typical issues one would expect to hear, when dealing with anxiety and childhood trauma.
(things like dissociation, triggers and learning to practice being present.)

Although I may not have been raised in a cult- or by parents who were virtually brainwashed, believing that they were in fact, guilting and beating their child for their own good- I understand dissociation.
I understand numbing my way through life. Children learn early on to recognize what is coming, and what they would prefer to not fully experience. I understand escaping through any means possible and as a small child, these coping skills work like magic.

I also empathize with the anxieties that Elizabeth shared with the world. Those same, magical coping skills that were a sweet, sweet refuge and a safe place as a child-
don’t exactly translate well into adulthood or day-to-day life experiences as they come.
It is difficult to shed those, to tear down the walls and allow yourself to feel safe without them.

I understand loving people who you don’t understand or agree with, I get having to learn how to create boundaries that are foreign and having to learn how to implement them as hard as that can be sometimes.

In Celebrate Recovery we learned that we are, a family.
We may not have the exact same hurts, habits or hang-ups….
but hurt, hurts the same and has the same effects on the mind, body and spirit of all of us just the same.

God’s love covers these non-specific things all the same too.

We experience healing in the same way and we want to share that hope with others who need to know that the pain can and does stop and there is healing for them and their specific hurts and deep-rooted  _______________. (fill in the blank.)

So.
It was a quick read, with relatively short to-the-point chapters, which is my kind of book….

I think that anyone who has experienced any type of trauma and has mustered up the courage to step into a life of navigating Recovery would really enjoy and appreciate what this book is about. She managed to escape, to forgive, and to hold onto her faith in the Lord through her experience.

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Books. Books. Books.

I thought I’d share the books that I am reading right now and I might do little informal reviews for each one as I finish. Not that my opinion on reading material particularly  matters, ha! I just thought It would be fun to share.

First, you must know that I am pretty bad about starting more than one book and finishing them on what you could call a slow but steady pace (unless it is one that dominates and I just cannot put it down), but that is just how I do things.

I think it totally depends on my mood, and I am only able to read a little bit each night.
( and what that really means is, like so many other mommies or busy exhausted people who are only capable of keeping our heads up and eyes open for varying increments of time at the end of each night ;-) )

I am in the midst of reading the following:

The Resolution for Women  (Priscilla Shirer)
This was recommended and loaned to me by a friend, and I am only a couple of chapters in so far. I like what it’s about. The overall feel is that it is a challenge. A pledge to live on purpose; challenging women to embrace our current seasons of life and to be present right where we are, living in a way that champion’s God’s model of womanhood.
I think this will be interesting to get through. I like books that make me stop and think about my daily life, what I am dedicating my time to, how I am parenting, how I am loving my husband and showing love to others and really challenging myself to pay attention; to live in the now. I will definitely have to share how it goes.
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Girl at the End of the World (Elizabeth Esther)
This. Guys. I am only a few pages from being done with this one. It has definitely been my ‘go-to’ choice lately. Like I said, I don’t get to read often, or don’t have the will to keep my eyes open long enough to make real progress sometimes, but this one has kept me up a few nights. Obviously, it caught my interested because I love love love memoirs, non-fiction, true-crime and such-
This has definitely provoked the welling of tears, has got my blood pumping, stirred a tiny bit of frustration and has also been refreshing and encouraging. This is really about trauma- childhood trauma, first-hand and its’ after effects. Elizabeth gives an honest and eerie account of what her life was like growing up with fundamentalist parents and grandparents. She does a great job of tying it all together in the end with her raw testimony of her progression through Recovery. I love everything about this book. Elizabeth has guts.
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A Farewell to Mars (Brian Zahnd)
I was a teensy bit weary of reading this. Here’s why.
I live in Mo., in what some call the conservative ‘Bible belt.’
I am a relatively new Christian of almost 8 years.
(New to branching outside of the suffocating conservative belt)
I wasn’t sure that I was ready for a read like this one, but I knew two things when I started reading it.
I knew (generally) what this book was about, and I knew that I could stand behind something like non-violence, love and peace.
I am just finishing chapter 7…. I cannot get enough. I enjoy reading content and information that makes me stop and think. I like having to put a book down for a moment to highlight an entire paragraph or to contemplate a concept that I had never considered.
I appreciate learning from a new and fresh perspective, from one that in my world—had been untouched.
I am looking at Jesus in a new way, that’s for sure.
Not the core truth of scripture, but Jesus as a man- and Jesus’ mission.
Applying what he stood for to our modern times, standards and way of living is what this book has really forced me to stop and do.
( I have highlighted about 25% of this book so far! Good thing it’s an eBook.)

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Happy.

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Growing up with an addict taught me all about the attitude and expectations of living a life at full speed. No working hard- no following through. Getting things now now now, even if that meant hopping out of the car, and stealing something from a parking lot or hiding for rent-a-center employees. Extorting and manipulating, rather than working and paying your own bills. Begging, borrowing, pleading, quick loans, trades etc.

So much of what I observed and picked up on, was all about the quickest and easiest way to do everything. Although a part of me knew this wasn’t the right way, I was affected. It did influence how I managed my own young adult life. It did skew my expectations of myself and my own abilities and those I set on the world and those around me.

By the time I became a full-blown drug addict, it felt like every time I tried to dig myself out, I fell back down deeper. I had made so many quick, ill-conceived decisions. It wasn’t hard work becoming a drug-addict.

Recovery not only taught me that hard work was the only way out of that hole that I had dug myself, it showed me that to live a life with integrity and character- it was going to require follow-through, hard-work, drive, and personal accountability.

God has created us with so much resilience and the ability to recover, bounce back and absolutely thrive even after tragedy, tough circumstances or places in life that we chose to take ourselves. He offers us strength to navigate and new LIFE. Through him- our past no longer defines or controls us, because He is greater.

We have all gone through different circumstances, but we have all made mistakes and have experienced setbacks. For some of us, these set backs weren’t environmental inheritances, for some of us they were, but were  then we succeeded by our own choices to continue that legacy of living in total and utter chaos.

God forgives us, and offers us new life.
Through him, our Recovery can flourish and grow.
We can follow-through and accomplish things we certainly never thought possible.

For me, this goal is just a tiny stepping-stone to other things. To me, it doesn’t matter that I may not have my bachelors degree until I am 45. All that matters is that I am a changed woman, with a new appreciation for life, a reverence for Christ, and a will and desire to help others.

Set some goals. Don’t compare them to the goals of others, don’t compare where you are to where other people have already been. All that you need to focus on is God’s will for your life, and act accordingly. Oh’ and have a little bit of fun, be nice to people and never allow your past to dismantle your newfound peace.

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Change of plans.

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This photo should say -Brittany, your plans never work out- because God has better ones!

Guys. I am serious. I have been going to school, studying addiction and psychology. For the last year of classes, I had already begun to mentally prepare myself for a new beginning of sorts. I have had planned to go back to work this Fall, when both of my children will be in school.

Plan A: 
So. I begin my search. In my city and surrounding cities, the substance abuse counselor, the mental health technicians, case manager, and intake coordinator positions —won’t work for this mommy. As my searched widened and continues- it became clear that I cannot be the mommy that I want to be and have the career that I have been working toward.

Was I upset- not really.
Here’s why.
I have an online ministry. I get to talk with people all of the time. I email and send messages to many people each week. Though I am not getting paid, I am still using my brain, reading, thinking, writing, studying and using my education to help others.
This is exactly what I had set out to do in the first place.
And so, I just decided that when the time was right, I will begin my career, but not at this point in my life.
For me, and our family, my being here in the morning to cook breakfast, in the evening to cook dinner and greet smiling faces off of the bus, help with homework and be around in the summertime are priorities.
Do we sacrifice? Yes.
Absolutely.
We could live in a bigger house, or ______ or _________ etc.
But this just works for us. 

Plan B: 
So I changed gears. I decided that substitute teaching or being an assistant teacher (para) would be the smartest route for me to go. I will have the same hours as my children, and it would afford me the luxury of having the summer off with them as well.
I made an appointment at our local university to take the state paraprofessional test. I studied for it for a few weeks and took it. I passed with a great score and prepared my resume accordingly.
I spent the week requesting reference letters from my generous and awesome teacher friends, and began my job search.

I liked plan B.
I did.

The same week that I was applying for jobs in ours and surrounding school districts, I began feeling sick. I felt exhausted and sick. I am a mommy, and mommies know that when we get the flu, most of us chug some dayquil and keep on truckin’.
However, after about 4 weeks of this, I began to question the source of this sickness.
And yes, you guessed it. That week, we found out that we are expecting baby #3!
So here I am, with a new plan. Plan B.
Remember, I threw plan A out of the window or, set in on the back-burner.
I planned everything out for plan B. It was my new plan.

And now, God has blessed our family with a new life.
Plan B is now sitting on the back of the stove next to my perfect plan A.

This wasn’t really a planned thing, it was an idea. For the past FIVE YEARS we have not….not tried either way. We haven’t really been careful and we haven’t exactly been reckless. It was one of those…if it happens, well wonderful- it happens kind of ideas.

Well-played, God. Well-played.

Aside from us knowing that we can provide for a #3, I don’t have a Plan C. 
Like, at all.

At this point, I am focused on getting through first trimester sickness and exhaustion. We are at eight weeks two days now. I have some time to get a plan C in place, and am going to listen to where God is leading. He has made a pretty clear statement at this point. I am overjoyed, grateful, and excited- and anxiously awaiting that first appointment.
Working from home in some capacity is likely going to be what my plan C looks like.

Here’s where the ability to roll with waves, punches and change comes in quite handy. Yes, these are skills that I learned in Recovery. This life is beautiful and I really mean that.

That is what life is.

It is this series of winding changes and unexpected things. Sometimes good, sometimes not so great. We weren’t meant to always be happy, and certainly not to always be sad or disappointed. It is all a mixture of feelings, events and occasions.

And like my favorite quote says:
“The only thing we can really control is how you react to things out of your control.” 

We just have to learn how to cope and access what is and is not in our control. Change can be scary, but it is certainly not always bad.

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Joy in different ways.

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I had the privilege and opportunity to lead and teach a class of first grade children.
I am going to brutally honest here, (surprise!)
and tell you this:
I did not want to do it initially.

Let me back up so this makes more sense.
Over the years since I have become a Christian, (when I was 22, and am now 30) I have taught teens, and have led women’s groups. I have enjoyed speaking to adult men and women and also sharing my testimony a dozen times or so over the years as well- but all of my interaction has been with teens and adults. This is what I prefer, this is what I am most comfortable with – and this is what I think I am best at. So obviously, this is what I know I need to be doing.
(Thank you very much)

Two years ago, I reluctantly agreed to volunteer for a Children’s program on Wednesday nights. There was a need for volunteers, and this was something that my husband was interested in helping with- and so I thought it would be a great opportunity to serve together; and so,  we signed up.

I have listened to dozens of Bible stories and lessons designed to articulate Biblical concepts, stories from God’s word, His promises, & core Christian principles – written and communicated in ways that 5-8 year olds can grasp and begin to understand.

A few weeks ago, I was asked if I would be interested in helping in some capacity with Vacation Bible School. Of course! I would love to assist in an area, put me down I said.

I was then asked if I might consider being a lead teacher. My first thought was …ya, no.
Did you not hear the ‘assistant’ interest I conveyed through my Facebook message? 
After a few message exchanges- I agreed to fill a lead teacher role.
I had the same feeling that I normally do when I am being asked to do something that I don’t feel like I am great at or particularly interested in….is this the right decision and God, is this what I am supposed to be investing my time in?

(I want to state too, that I am not a ‘yes’ person. It is likely that I am much more stubborn and picky, rather than discerning and a good steward of my time. I might have a tiny bit of those skills, but for the most part, I just don’t say ‘yes’ in fear of a reaction. I say ‘yes’ when I can, if I can, if it doesn’t derail other priorities etc.
When I said ‘yes’ to VBS and Wednesday evenings, I never felt pressured or guilted into it. I felt reluctant and apathetic, but not bullied into it on any level.)

Through these two different experiences, God has used them in a few very special ways in my life. (Even though I began with a crappy attitude and not much excitement.  I cannot believe how much he loves us, even when we are adults throwing toddler behavior at him)

*He has shown me brand new ways of experiencing Joy. 
-Joy can come in all shapes, places and sizes. Not just where we expect- but in ways we never would have dreamed. Hearing a mother tell me that her daughter has prayed and asked Jesus into her heart, and will soon be in talks of baptism- (made me cry!) but really jolts things right back into proper perspective. God works through people. People who think they suck at what they are doing. Sometimes, all you have to do is set your own expectations aside and simply decide to be willing to look stupid at times, sweat from nervousness and trudge along all week long praying you are saying the right things.
-Seeing the tiny hands lifted singing praises to Jesus is enough to make your heart burst, and is another perk of being willing.
-Hearing these tiny voices repeat what they had learned and absorbed throughout the week was definitely a highlight of the week.
-And lastly, the joy of being so ridiculously exhausted. It felt wonderful for all of the right reasons.

*God is filling in my blank spots
I remember a few times visiting Sunday school with a friend on occasion, but I never once regularly learned about Jesus, heard of him at home, thought of him as anything more than a fictional heroic character in extravagant stories in a monstrous, heavy book- and didn’t really know Him until my early twenties.
I LEARN so much when I help with these tiny people. I am filling in gaps, details and expanding on concepts that I am already familiar with every single time I prepare to teach a lesson to elementary students. God knew this when I was first presented with the opportunity to help with these ministries. He knew what I needed, what was best for me and what would benefit my faith, and what would inadvertently affect my ministry- that would in-turn, bring Him glory.
Interesting. All along I thought I was wasting time that I could be using to put into my work with adults. He was and will continue to lead me to tasks and roles that do JUST THAT!

*Legacies. 
Obviously, because of my experiences and because I am a mommy, the legacy that we leave behind is something that I think about often. It is something that I try to be intentional about. By reaching out and doing something as simple as dedicating one night a week  per school year, and five days per summer – I am contributing a tiny bit of truth to a child’s heart. That is the special and most important thing about a legacy. You won’t see the results. You don’t get to see it all play out and you don’t get to reap benefits. The point is , you are leaving something lasting for someone else to do something with. It could be something tiny or something huge. It can be a life-long investment (our children) or a temporary commitment like vacation Bible school.

I may not have thought that I was cut out to do certain things, but God has different ideas sometimes. Sometimes we have to do things that we don’t think we are good at. Other times, we don’t understand the point or agree.
But anytime we focus on complaining or allowing negative thinking to guide our thoughts- we will undoubtedly miss out on the blessings and the truths that can come out of certain situations, opportunities, and experiences.

There are indeed times that we shouldn’t do things, or times where other people may be better for the ‘job’. But discernment is important because we can miss big things if we are simply afraid, doubting ourselves, avoiding, seeking answers first, or not trusting God’s lead.

and P.S.
It is not always about us, ways we can benefit, what it will do for us, or our ministry.
In my experience, if we make the choice to take that guided leap-we always come out the other side changed; with new perspective, wisdom and ways of experiencing Joy.

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Rattle your own cage on a regular basis.

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Recovery offers me a chance to live a life that is intentional. This means that I am so grateful and excited to lead a new fresh life, and I try to be careful with it.

My choices mean something and I have a ‘why’ behind listening to reason,  examining the logistics and trusting God’s direction(s).

My time is spent with people who I (have somehow) formed these solid relationships with, are built on solid ground, and thankfully, are made of substantial material.

My new memories are cherished and my time- wel, I understand that I don’t get it back and some of us- we feel like we are living on borrowed time…….

I am just not interested in wasting any more time on this planet, because frankly, I have already done a lot of that.
It gets old and things mean something different now.
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The paradox of being free, yet living a carefully thought about, intentional life- is real.

We are so grateful to be free, that we don’t really want to risk wasting time- we strive to do the opposite: spending time on people, places and things that are going to spread the message of hope, that are healthy, positive and worthwhile- all while praying that you are walking the path that has been set aside for you, and you alone.

There is value that feels like it is ingrained deeply into our bone marrow, our soul- it tells us that we know exactly what we came out of- and we don’t really ever want to go back.

We glance back every once in awhile to ensure that we still understand the power of those heavy, weighted chains from a realistic standpoint…

but ultimately, we know in our hearts to whom we belong- and also understand the divine power of God, his love and His plan for the direction of our new life.

To me- my beliefs are simple enough.
I am here, I shouldn’t be and that leaves me with an understanding.
There has to be a reason. What do I do from here? What am I doing with this second go round? Am I enjoying my life? Laughing? Soaking up my children? Giving back? Showing compassion?

My recovery from drug-addiction and other chemical substances forces me to examine, re-examine and fearlessly search my own character, almost compulsively. Not obsessively, but regularly….

I know that the possibility of digression is real, and for me that is detrimental to my mental health, and my well-being as a woman in Recovery.

As a woman who  follows the radical ideas of a man named Jesus, this calls me to regularly examine the ‘who’ of who I am as well, with vigorous honesty- raw and uncut. Just me…and truth.

It is very important – whether you are in Recovery or you are just a person who, like the rest of the humans in the world are simply trying to be better than you were yesterday….
to follow the path that God has for your life; go that way.
Purge. Weed your own gardens, rattle your own cage a bit, hold yourself to standards contrasting to your own personal past records of living and doing;  cut out the negative, thoughtfully commit to tasks, ‘extras’ and other activities, learn healthy boundaries, don’t be led around by fear. Live boldly enough to make these tough choices.

God’s love tends to make my goals pretty clear. Sometimes, tending to my own garden and cutting out crap isn’t pretty, and is not always easy.
Other times, it is mindless and quite obvious and…. simple.

Ultimately, we can bank of the fact that God obviously wants what is best for us in our lives, and for those of us in Recovery, what is best for our new journey. 

Let’s learn to spend time, spending our time well. 
That seems simple enough.
Recklessly abandon the stuff that you don’t really need in the name of recklessness abandoning our lives, for Christ and for living lives healthy, in recovery. 

Never underestimate the power in abandoning crap. 

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Recovery = A balancing act.

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*****in·tent

1.something that is intended, on purpose; design;
2. the act or fact of intending as to do something:

3. the state of a person’s mind that directs his or her actions toward a specific object.

4. meaning or significance.

*****free·dom

1.the state of being free or at liberty rather than in confinement or under physical restraint:

2.exemption from external control, interference, regulation, etc.

3. political or national independence.

4.personal liberty, as opposed to bondage or slavery: a slave who bought his freedom.
(or as a person who follows Jesus, who has been freely offered freedom as a gift, not earned by us, but given by GRACE) 

 

 

 

 

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Living in Freedom, with intent.

Freedom should never EVER be synonymous with lack of work, or lack of intentional maneuvering though life. 

I am free.
Freedom for me, came when I came to believe that a power greater than myself, could restore my life and sanity. I was introduced to Jesus at a 12-step meeting, at a Christ centered program. From that point, in 2007, He has not only released my sin and wiped my slate clean, but has also provided healing; healing for all facets of my life and all areas of my being.

My mind is not constricted anymore or tightly wound around self-perpetuating lies, endless shame or reminders of trauma or other negative memories.

My heart is no longer chained down, heavily saturated in hate, guilt and anger.

My body is free, no longer bearing the grunt of abuse and torture, though scarred- actively healing every day, moving and nursing itself back to a positive state of being.

My spirit has a home. I am connected with God and do my best
(though colossally failing regularly) to follow him on the daily.
My spirit is not lost, or controlled by this need to roam;
repetitively seeking, trying, filling, refilling.
My spirit is resting, in this freedom.

My soul. It is free. I am free to be me, live a life embracing this journey here on earth. I am able to face myself in the mirror without shame, with a smile that surfaces from thankfulness and humility. I know where I will go when I die, I am going to live on, because He lives.
That, enables my soul to feel a sense of rest and peace, allowing me to embrace this life full throttle, head on and with .………intention. 

Yes. Living in freedom feels good.
(Damn good, like song worthy, scream at the top of your lungs with grateful and enthusiastic, deep down, stomach wrenching Joy worthy kind of good.)

This freedom.
For me, my life has been reconstructed; not just revamped, but systematically demolished by my own doing -and rebuilt by His grace.

I have to remind myself that to live in Freedom does not necessarily mean that I live without intent or direction.
I enjoy this freedom and am humbled that I have been provided an opportunity to live this life in a new way.

My snapped chains are in the trash. 

But if we don’t live in Freedom with intention, is it all for not?

There must be some structure to live a life that gives something back for other people. 
and I’ll tell ya right now, Recovery from anything will not continue, grow, progress or flourish………………………… by accident. 

Just like a beautifully constructed but later abandoned building:
without maintenance, upkeep, attention, and insightful, in-depth overseeing and intent——
It withers, rots, crumbles, loses its structural integrity and eventually it
is unable to stand any longer.
As strong, sturdy or beautiful as it may have been at some point, and regardless of what it could have been—--it succumbs to neglect and it falls to the ground. 

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Think of the famous Titanic scene.
Jack and Rose at the bow of the large and grand ship.
In love, feeling good and are embracing a fleeting moment.
They feel FREE.
Rose, arms outstretched. Both deeply breathing in the fresh sea air, so in love with the newness of this wicked and exciting attraction. It feels so good.
Rose literally feels like ‘she’s flying’.
Rose, darling, you have no idea what is going to happen next!! (because your…….)
………………..EYES ARE CLOSED.

That is freedom, but careless freedom. It feels nice, but you can’t see anything coming.
You enjoy the newness and the feeling of not being bound by societal standard or expectations, but you end up looking like an ass, hurting people, making careless mistakes and in the end, someone freezes to death. ;-)

Freedom in Recovery and freedom in Christ is more like…….. skydiving.

You are gettin’ crazy! Letting loose, and trying something new! Whoohoo!
But….you prepare.
You take classes and find instructors who know more than you do to help you navigate this new journey you are about to embark on.
You trust them and feel comfortable with their knowledge level and intent.
You suit up – with the right gear.
Then, you jump. You scream and yell, and enjoy literally leaping out into the abyss -without knowing what is coming next. You heard a lot about what it would be like, you’ve heard the good and the bad, you have made a decision- the one that is right for you. You prepared for this wild journey and can’t wait to see what it looks like as you experience it for yourself.

My point is this:

For most of us in Recovery, what got us in trouble in the first place is lack of intent.
I can tell you for sure that I had no intention on becoming a drug-addict or dropping out of school. I did not plan on getting kicked out of my house, moving into my boyfriends basement or having a baby as a teen. I did not plan to steal, go to jail or lose my license. I did not plan on, dream of or intend to do or become any of these things.
They happened because I made choices and decisions that felt good.
They felt good at the time, and required no plan, no thinking and no logic.
I did not have a set standard of living and truly craved feeling like I was free. No worries, no restrictions.

Recovery requires thought, logic, preparation and planning.
We have to be aware of surroundings, medications, and environment.
We have goals and expectations for ourselves, and we strive to progress.
This happens because we are taught to have and maintain clear intentions and expectations for ourselves in Recovery.

At the same time, we are experiencing that freedom that we so craved while using. Our lack of intent may have gotten us into our initial trouble, but when dependency reared its ugly face and took over, there went that beautiful feeling of freedom and we then became prisoners. 

Prisoners of our yearning to feel free from ________.
(insert pain, trauma, self-hate, etc. here)

So I am just saying, living in the freedom that Recovery offers, and that a relationship with Jesus offers to our being….

Requires some intent. requires action and planning- but this doesn’t change the most beautiful part about it – it is free , and available to EVERYONE seeking freedom.

This freedom remains and can be felt regardless of the need to have a tentative plan at the very least.

There is a freedom that comes with Recovery,
but with freedom, comes responsibility. 

LIVE IN FREEDOM, WITH INTENT.

 

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Dr. Maya Angelou.

I am not really sure that any blog post of mine would ever express the impact that this one woman has had on so many people; well, not in a way that would even begin to do her justice or accurately illustrate the depth or influence that her work and life has had…..

Today is a very sad day……the world lost a woman who has changed things. She has touched hearts, opened eyes, restored hope and inspired countless individuals.

But…we are all going to have our day.
We don’t know when, how or why- but what we can be certain of, is that it will come.
We are going to leave this earth.
The people that we leave behind will have stories, photos and memories. They will have whatever it is that we have left behind, that has the capability of being passed on- to keep that legacy alive.

Maya Angelou’s website describes her this way:

Dr. Maya Angelou is a remarkable Renaissance woman who is hailed as one of the great voices of contemporary literature. As a poet, educator, historian, best-selling author, actress, playwright, civil-rights activist, producer and director, she continues to travel the world, spreading her legendary wisdom. Within the rhythm of her poetry and elegance of her prose lies Angelou’s unique power to help readers of every orientation span the lines of race. Angelou captivates audiences through the vigor and sheer beauty of her words and lyrics.

 

This woman…..she LIVED.
She is going to continue to live on for generations.
Her legacy is history and though she is not here physically this woman will live on for years to come.

It really makes you think about things.

For me, I think about how many great people have come before us- people who have stepped out of their comfort zones, who have conquered fears, beat odds and exceeded any limits that the world may have put on them.

I think about people who pave the way for more people to follow and make an impact.
I think about leaders creating leaders, and the importance of legacies.

We can all learn from lives lead with integrity and passion, and leaders who LIVED every minute of their lives here on earth, until the last day they were here.

maya-angelou

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Addiction affects so many.

I have a grandparent who lost her daughter due to inhalants. A mother, gone too soon, leaving a son behind, along with a grieving family ……

A new friend, experiencing anxiety about a loved one who is young- abusing prescription medication and is now going through a rough patch emotionally. Family is now living in a state of fear…..so much stress and uncertainty.

A parent in my family…worrying about one of our family members; homeless again-
not able to cut it in the real world. We are helpless. (but not hopeless).
The anxiety is back. Uncertainty and worry, sleepless nights…are back for some.
But everyone affected in some way, in varying degrees. 

An internet friend is commemorating the 10 year anniversary of losing his son from an overdose…today.
So sad, and still affecting so many-including strangers. The only thing left to do is to speak publicly and to spread awareness in his memory. 

Addiction seems to affect so many families.
Almost everyone you know is affected in some way.
On many levels, it is a silent killer.
Many families suffer in silence, and don’t want to reach out for fear of being categorized, thought of differently, judged or marginalized by the stigma that has surrounded this disease for so many years.

What I have found are two things- things that seem to be static; unchanging. 

1. When an individual or family reaches out for support, they get it.
Whether it be the addict, or the loved ones of an addict.
For the loved ones the fear and the scariest part of considering reaching out…are the possible outcomes of coming out of the
“I love or raised an addict” closet…………..
but typically, reaching out doesn’t result in the scenario that fear told us it would.
For many, people are met with support and a new idea of what addiction is. Learning about it and connecting with others who are in your position can help lessen the impact a little bit.
People find that there ARE support systems in place.
There ARE other people who know exactly what we are going through.
We are NOT the only ones, and that, in and of itself- is a comfort.
We can learn to manage – and we can learn how to be loving without enabling. Utilizing all of the available support out there can help relieve some of the guilt, stress, pain and anxiety that most of us have no idea what to do with.

For an addict, the same is true. There are support systems in place and there are many options for the insured and the uninsured-when they are ready or willing.

2. People can change and it’s okay to remain hopeful as long as they’re still living.
Through all of the support systems and other helping support services that I have mentioned, I have also learned this:
People can and do change.
Yes, some people may not. There are some people who just never seem to dig themselves out for one reason or another.
However, many (thousands, millions!) of people CAN and DO change.
For the people who love the addict, the trick is— to rely on God for strength and patience. Believe that his timing is best and until then- take advantage of support groups, tools, resources, books, friends, *prayer, memories and other positive things to keep yourself healthy. You deteriorating and breaking down is not going to help them get clean, sober or healthy any faster.

It is so difficult to hear all of the stories that I hear and to see all of the families, besides my own, being destroyed by addiction.

It kills the addict and can destroy the loved ones watching in the process-

I just want people out there to know that it is okay and really recommend that you reach out for outside help, and —to hold onto hope. People can and do change.

Just as I have learned in Recovery- our lives are reflected by the quality of our thoughts, beliefs and attitude– and so is managing life as a bystander of addiction.
We have choices. It is not always easy, but we have choices. They are the only things that we have control over.

Stay strong!

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