My thoughts today.

The therapeutic process is a journey.
It is a process of self-discovery.
Individual and group therapy sessions help us to come to our own personal realizations.
It is therapeutic, self-actualization. We participate in this process and little by little- we begin to get to know ourselves. We grow. We reveal things to ourselves as we talk. As we listen we gain knowledge and different perspective. Through this process we build confidence, by forming relationships that are new and healthy, and based on truth.
We gain momentum by holding ourselves accountable and reaching short-term goals.
Over time, we learn more and more about ourselves and eventually – we become strong enough to guide others through the beginning of their new journey.
This process is never-ending, as we will always seek to continually evolve and learn, and give back to others.
It is a beautiful thing when it all starts falling into place and making more clear sense.
There is a lot of everyday life and applicable value in the process of self-discovery.

-Brittany

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My Addiction is CURED!

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Gotcha!

When I saw this picture, I literally laughed out loud- hard.
I so identify with this and it is hilarious to me.

I have spent a long time learning. I am a new person and I have changed my habits, thoughts, and environment.  I have goals and have new standards, morals and ethical values.

No matter how many years that pass.
No matter how many days I am sober.
No matter how much I dive into my new identity.
No matter how how far I am from that old me.
No matter how focused my thoughts and life are on Jesus and His will for my life.
No matter how hard I could try to describe to you, how much my heart and life has changed-
No matter how much time I spend loving my family, my friends or my passions-

It is there. 
and it is still waiting. 

That is just the truth.

For example:
(Two of many possible examples that I have experienced over the last 7 years)

I had a Cesarean section 5 years ago, 2 years into my Recovery.
I had my nurses scratching their heads and collaborating with one another. How in the hell do they sedate & numb me?
After almost ten minutes into this emergency situation, they were asking me how in the world I can still feel the needle point? (as they lightly poked me repeatedly)
I don’t know I said.
I am not a doctor, and certainly no scientist for Gosh sakes, just give me more.

Or this. (given I don’t have anything non-drowsy readily available)
To date, I will take 1 or 2 Benadryl on a high pollen count afternoon-in much needed situations, and will spend the remainder of that day- fighting my own brain away from the hall closet.
It is the damndest thing.
The same goes for any sleep medication, NyQuill, Pm anything.

What would you call that?

*Is that  ‘moral failure’ on my part?
*I bet you think I have just not given it ALL to God.
*Maybe you think that deep down I have not really sorted through all of my addiction and so, it must be lingering.
*I just haven’t worked hard enough….
*Or wait! I could just be trying to push the responsibility away from myself so I don’t have to be accountable…
*No no. It is because I am choosing to think that way, and so- have inadvertently created this scenario.

Or maybe.

*Maybe- there is an underlying scientific/cognitive/psychological  reason.
*Maybe, I am not just some loser human who cannot get it right.
*Maybe, I have worked really, really hard and this —thing- isn’t going away.

*Maybe, I will always have an active Recovery.
*Maybe I will always reach out and give back to keep busy and try to encourage and help others.
*Maybe there is more to it than some people are willing to accept.
*Maybe I will always have to stay on my toes.
*Maybe, all that I am sure of, is what I have personally experienced and that is why I advocate for the disease, and biopsychosocial model.

I am not a scientist or an expert in the field (yet!)
I am just sharing my truth, from my perspective and pairing it with the information that I have sought, studied and learned.

I don’t know why some people are seemingly ‘cured’.
Some never get through detox. Some never make it to treatment.
Some struggle through recovery going back and forth.
I don’t have definitive answers, only loose theories.

I just wish that more people would be willing to arm themselves with factual information.
I wish more people could at least try to gain insight into certain things that they might not understand
before bashing them, categorizing them, damning them to hell, questioning their faith or closeness with God, assuming that they must be morally corrupt on some level, squishing them into some AA, NA or 12-step box or dehumanizing their existence based on personal opinion and perception.

So, no.
My addition is not cured. I am only LIVING in Recovery and working my butt off to break the stigma.

Be nice to people.

 

 

 

 

 

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Christianity and Science.

There haven’t been any supernatural phenomenons curing me of this sleeping monster.

Jesus saved my life.
Gave me life. Forgave me.
Having faith in Jesus has allotted me power and strength to
break free from my strongholds and keep away from substances..
to build a new life..
to find a new identity…
to have a new hope…
to hunger to learn more and more…
and to feel joy & true contentment

But I am not cured.

I want Christians (and I say that lovingly, I am a Jesus follower too)
and other people who lack knowledge or who simply refuse to attempt to understand what happens when a dependency develops to understand something:

There is such a thing as science and you cannot argue with that.
(if you do, you get to be the delusional one)

It does exist and like it or not, our brains are scientific things.
There are chemicals, and tiny scientific complex operations that happen inside of our heads.
It is possible to screw things up in there, and it is possible to be freed in Jesus, liberated and saved by the hope that we find in Him, through our faith and His grace….

and he still may not choose to push the reset button on our brains.

*Does this mean that my mind is not renewed? No. I have a different perspective and the most positive outlook that I have ever had on life.
*Does this mean that I am not a new creation, old gone- new here? No.
I am not who I was, I am new. Things have changed. Old Brittany gone. New Brittany, here.
*Can he  perform miracles? Yes.
*Does he have the power to? Absolutely.
*Does he? I bet he has, does, and continues to.
*Just because you are saved or have turned your life and will over to him, does that mean that he automatically reverses & restores any and all brain or chemical change or damage? No.
*Did he fix my brain chemical malfunctions? Nope.
* Am I mad? Nope.
*Do I resent that or blame him? Of course not.
*Am I still a Jesus follower? Yes.
*Did he give me the tools and resources that I have needed along the way to learn how to manage my new life, and my addiction? Yes.

*Do I believe in the science of addiction? Yes I do..

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A not-so-scientific, social experiment.

This week I made an intentional decision to check-out.
My Discovering Beautiful posts were scheduled a week out and posted automatically.

(A feature that I had never really taken advantage of until now, and I am loving it!
What?! Where have I been?)

Aside from a few seconds a day, I have not been online reading or scrolling social media platforms.

Okay. I have been focusing a lot lately on the power of positive thinking and the destruction of negative & toxic thinking and interacting.

(Not because it has taken precedence over my faith or God’s power in my life, or my belief that He supplies all of my needs… but because I feel that having a healthy mind contributes to our quality of life and our ability to function in or daily lives at our best. My faith is in no way compromised or ‘less’ important because of my firm belief in the power of psychology. My human mind is also affected by human things, including – human behavior. My faith is what keeps me going everyday. God’s love is why I am alive, why I do what I do, and why I can say with certainty I believe we should spend time with others who are dedicated to loving others and building others up.)

*I already believe that the ‘you are who we run with’ or ‘you become like the 5 people you spend the most time with’  theories are right. In the context of drug use and abuse and especially in recovery. It is important to change your environment and who you are around for obvious reasons. Boundaries are necessary for progress and success.

*I also believe that in certain families, it is best to make relational boundaries for a number of reasons. In my case, it is what is best for my recovery and for the personal safety of myself and my family. So, those boundaries are necessary.

But- interestingly, it has recently occurred to me:

Although I place a high value of the importance of boundaries and have them in place in certain areas of my life, I have never really paid much attention to the power that a negative attitude, a negative mindset, and a negative interaction can have on me.

(Not the majority of people who have problems, and everyday issues. Not people, like myself who have crappy days every once in awhile. I am talking about an overall, general negative attitude and outlook and approach on life.)

I am not saying that I am not aware of the potential effects that a negativity can have on a person.
I understand and have learned a great deal about this, and believe the validity of the research behind negative influence and it’s ability to negate any type of growth.

What I am saying is that I have never really taken an intentional look at how my mood, reactions, and attitude are effected when/if I  interact  with such people on a daily basis.

I have had a sneaking suspicion (and if this was a real experiment, I would call this a hypothesis) that certain interactions were in fact, stealing  ’good vibes’ and not replacing them with anything positive….

So. I wanted to know. 

Do I interact with Individuals who are inherently toxic- who never seeing the glass half-full, who are unforgiving, who gossip, or who never lift anyone up?

Does this matter? Does reading this stuff on Facebook,  scrolling past it on Twitter, or listening to it over the phone have any affect on me?

If I do, what happens?

The only way that I would find out is to take a break from social medial and to pay closer attention to who I was talking to and how I felt after talking to them.
I monitored my interactions and what I was absorbing with my eyes, ears and heart.
I took note of my thoughts, feelings and reactions.
Basically, I lived my life as usual, I just paid more attention to a few things.

All week long- I had great interactions.

I read a little in a good book, I laughed hard- with my kids, I didn’t have any arguments with anyone, I enjoyed my husband; we had fun talking with him via skype while he was out of town, I read positive quotes, and read in my Bible throughout the week with the kids. Every person that I talked to ended up being an interaction that I could consider ‘positive.’

Except for one.

What I noticed was interesting. Obviously, not surprising- but I paid close attention.
What kinds of feelings did I feel afterward?  How did it effect my thoughts? Could this have been avoided?

Because I was intentionally seeking and observing this week, it did not have a lasting impact on my mood, my day and certainly not my overall attitude. It did not have the power to ruin my day.

It simply felt different, and not a good different. (I am all about fun and change, challenges and calculated risk) but this is not the change that I felt. Just an overall uneasy feeling- and a stark contrast to the other experiences of this week. It did (try) to bring my happiness meter down a few notches, that’s for sure.

As far as the social media aspect- that too, was a definite eye-opener.

Not seeing anything negative, or reading any posts with complaints about general, everyday, life stresses  really did make a difference.
I know that my ‘experiment’ -(using that word loosely) was by far, amateur, and not a well-controlled or well-documented one……
But it did provide results and left  me with enough information to come to a pretty clear ‘conclusion.’

There is room and need for immediate improvement in my Facebook feed.
‘Friends’ and ‘Pages’.
I am confident about my twitter feed for the most part.
As for my relational sociological interactions, that too will be tweaked.

We will never have control over everything that happens in our lives, stress is to be expected, things happen, we experience trials, bad days and hard times.
What we do have control over – is our attitude and our reactions to these things.
Obviously, I am all about loving other people, that is not the question.
Just don’t allow the negativity of another person, to effect your person.

We have one life, and I believe that it should be lived. LIVED happily, and intentionally.
Seek out good, do good, promote good and love even better.

So.
In keeping with my approach, and the natural procedural systematic observations and methods….

my ‘conclusion’ can be summed up nicely by saying:

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Deep Thoughts.

I am just a person who lives in Recovery.

I manage and control this monster that is locked in my head whom I have now buried alive and suffocated with truth, things/people/relationships that I value and factual information.
I continue to drown and suffocate this monster on a daily basis, just to be safe.

It is surreal to me that, in my case,
I blew it.
I created my own hell on earth.
I felt sorry for myself because of the crazy circumstances that I was dealt.

I made foolish choices and justified my way all the way to chemical dependency.
I developed a disease in my brain.

I fought like hell with this strange dichotomy of wanting to die and secretly yearning to live.

………….But I had a the choice, the option to reach out. 

I was still handed this beautiful thing.
It is mine to do with what I please and I have control over what that looks like.

My Recovery is not that big of a deal.
My Recovery is just another —yet another opportunity that I have given.

I just cannot get over how many opportunities that I am given simply because I chose Recovery.

This choice affords me a certain type of guaranteed freedom…….

I am enabled to feel and experience a type of security in my everyday life -right now.

This gives me that instant gratification that I so crave (being free every day) and satisfying that desire that I had, that yearning to just –live contently.

I live in Recovery each day because I have had the chance, the option and the opportunity to heal and grow as a person.

What else can I ask for? This enables me to live my life- and enjoy doing so.

Recovery is really just a journey to find your true self and to do that,
you have to do a lot of digging, probing, healing, revealing and struggling.

We have to fight with our internal selves, with our minds, or against what the community has labeled us.
We have to fight to break through the walls that we have built around ourselves.
We struggle when no one bothers to turn their heads or notice that we are drowning and we are angry about that. We can’t shake the feelings that scream at us that we don’t matter, we’re too far gone or we aren’t worth fixing.

But none of that stuff is true. It is all part of what addiction essentially is. It debilitates everything about us and we have to fight our way back.

When you come out the other side you are so fired up!
You realize that not only did you stay alive and make it through, this Hope that people talk about is a real thing. 

That, to me, is why Recovery is so amazing.
Not simply because we chant memorized sayings, live by mantras, or find solace in belonging to a certain group, but ultimately because by the grace of God-  we have the opportunity to figure out who we are, and how to love ourselves.
All so we can give that love back to others.

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You CAN.

Tonight the boys and I watched a documentary on Netflix titled: “Stuck”.

We knew it would be sad and probably tough to sit through.

The thumbnail showed pictures of tiny, adorable little humans (children) from around the globe, and the short description warned us that the movie would be about the complex dynamics of adoption and the lives that the majority of orphans face.
(Oh’ and the f’d up system that makes it all too difficult and lengthy)

We decided to watch it anyway.

I really think that for our family,
watching documentaries with substance have really served as an aid;
a convenient first world tool….

Which brings a nice balance to our home.

(There is only so much ‘Suite Life on Deck’ & ‘Good Luck Charlie’
one can allow a small brain to absorb)

There is that bitter irony… I can flip on Netflix to teach our boys about poverty, social issues, persecution, injustice, and all other violations of human rights…… because we live in a country with the option to do so.
So. We do.

I want them to see these things.
Not so that they feel sad, but so that they are aware.
Not to callously make them feel guilty (about being wrapped up in fuzzy blankets with bowls full of Cheez-its while they watch these types of movies), but to help them to learn to be content and grateful with what they do have.

I talk with them throughout and most of the time I will pause the movie
(which I hear is annoying) a dozen times to explain how this connects with their lives and their mindsets and what is going through their mind.

(and I am well aware of the problems that we face in our own country. However, tonight I am talking about problems like children having to dig through trash for food, live in dirt huts or share rice out of 5 gallon drums with 75 other orphans under the age of 12)

The tone of our discussions provide a platform for us, as parents.

We answer questions. We do feel good that our little people are inquiring about other little people on the other side of the planet.
They have questions. They want to know. They want to know how people are helping. What they can do to help. Can they pray. Is it really real.
We also bond as a family. We even selfishly utilize this time to let our kiddos know how much they are so loved and valued.

We want them to grow up thinking that they CAN change the world.
I live by this crazy philosophy that we all have some type of gift or talent that we can use for good.

So some will say that us watching about this problem on our flat screen tv in our free country really isn’t helping anyone….

But we feel that if these random family movie nights don’t do anything else,
we can hope that we are challenging our children to think outside of the box,
to think bigger,  and are developing a greater awareness of the world that we live in.

(We also like to cultivate strengths here too and in our house, that would be creativity, humanitarian interest, video games and video games.)

On a serious note, the only thing that we have control over is how we react to things that we don’t have control over.

We can’t control world poverty, or any of the other many global crisis’ that we are all well aware of.  There is no magic cure.

There are only people who can love and invest in other people in the name of love. That’s it.
And we can do our best to teach our young people that they can’t do everything but everyone can do something.  (Hellen Keller Quote)

(Sidenote: I am an imperfect parent who has no idea what they’re doing. I really just talk way too much to my children, and if you asked them- they’d tell you that. I am just a hard-core believer in doing better than yesterday and utilizing available tools and education. Frankly, without tools and education, I would still be a high-school drop out/drug addict. So, there’s that.)

Until next time readers.

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How we think is how we live #Recovery

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Our attitudes are shaped by our thoughts and feelings.
Remember, we have choices.
Choose to believe the crazy notion, that positive thoughts can lead to happy moods and better days.

One day at a time.

Motivation is what gets you started, and habits keep you going.
Forming new habits take time.

Keep working hard and don’t give up!

 

 

 

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More than enough #Gratitude

On a different note, readers-
This is how my heart feels right now:
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That pic reminded me of that cheesy 90′s drug prevention commercial.
“This is your brain.” “This is your brain on drugs.”  (*Cue egg frying sounds)

This is my heart, and that picture up there—that is my heart when it doesn’t understand why God’s Grace is so massive.

The more that I am learn about Human Anatomy & Biology and
the effects psychoactive chemicals have after they are put into our bodies….

The more grateful that I become.

Just when I feel like my heart and soul could not possibly feel more excited to be alive- and able to give back, I learn something new about the way that we are all wired as humans.

I am serious.
God really does give and love abundantly. By his Grace- I am still breathing.
That was enough for me. More than enough.
To look up and give the praise to him.

I mean, I knew a long time ago that I should have been gone… and for some reason
I am here. Which–is a huge thing and is a fact that hasn’t escaped me in the last 7 years.

I enjoy and value being able to remember things and retain important memories. I have the capability of enjoying me- when I am alone and I no longer feel isolated in a room full of people. My children are my loves and my husband is the best friend that I have ever had.

These feelings and benefits of living healthilyy, they are all more than enough for me.
Obviously they are a stark contrast to what I use to consider ‘life’ -
these are all gifts that I am supremely appreciative to have.

And then–
Each day it seems there is just more and more.

It’s like I learn something new and booooom.
Mind blown -again.

Just when I feel comfortable feeling like I know just how grateful and blessed that I am, I learn something else that puts me right back at square one in the amazement department.

I am in awe- and humbly, humbly I sit here and say that I have barely scratched the surface of the human brain, and the central nervous system and the heart… and I can confidently assure you that I should not be sitting here typing this.

No way.

But here I am. Here you are.

Our Recovery journey is so much bigger than I think we realize; we have a huge opportunity to make an impact on our communities or heck, even on the world.

It is all too much for my tiny brain to comprehend,
much like His unfailing love and grace. The magnitude of it’s depth is something my tiny mind seriously has no idea what to do with sometimes.

So I just wanted to take the time to say thank you. Am I really thanking God directly on my blog? I don’t think he subscribes, but I am going to thank him here anyway. Yes, I am that excited.

Thank you to God first for keeping me here to do—
something for other people….
and to have the opportunity to leave a different legacy for my children.

That would have been more than enough.

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Keep Choosing Recovery #Addiction

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Last month I was literally chased out of a funeral.
I am talking out the door, down a walkway and across a parking lot.
Running with all that I had- running away from a drunken & belligerent woman (my mother) screaming obscenities. I wasn’t looking back but I could hear these words close behind me:
” You privileged hoity toity little bitch!”  “You just think you’re better than me little girl” and that I had “Better run”

(mind you I was running for my impending future career and my integrity, not fueled by fear)

Every bone in my body wanted to stop, turn around, and take my shoes off.
But my heart and my head told me to get to the choppa!’ 

Fight or flight kicked in and I chose escape.
I chose my Recovery.
I chose my progress.
I chose my newly clean arrest record and reputation and finally being off of probation! (lol)
I chose to conduct my behavior like my new self. 
Let’s gtfo of here!

Now before you feel sorry for me or label me an attention whore: 
I ask that you don’t.
I chose to go, knowing that this is typical of crisis situations in my family of origin.
This drama is not anything new, it has been this way my entire life and I am not left traumatized. I made a bad decision to go, but….

I also made the decision to not allow any extenuating circumstances get in the way of my saying goodbye to someone who was very dear to me for 25 years,
even if that meant there was a possibility that I would have to run like a champ in cute purple wedges.

Also, my motive for sharing this publicly is to illustrate the importance of having a clear-cut plan in your Recovery. We never really know what (or who, lol)  is coming our way.

Are you ready to face stress? How will you handle unexpected emotional situations?
Plans are important. Knowing what you believe, who you are, what you stand for and knowing what your Recovery goals are – is important.

So let’s call the above story,  a ‘storm’…..
It is a day where I was met with a real-life problem.

The three main things that I wanted to share with you as a result of my taking a mine- filled walk down memory lane were these things:

1. Not everyone will understand or  welcome your lifestyle change.

Change could mean accepting Jesus into your heart and life. Allowing change to take place as a result of that decision.
Change could mean deciding to cut people out, stop going to certain places, no more calling this friend or that one, creating distance for one reason or another- all benefiting your Recovery goals.

Change could mean a number of different things for you as an individual.
If you are diverting from what you normally do- expect some form of unexplainable resistance from unhappy people.

Not everyone wants to understand it. Not everyone will respect it.
Not everyone will want to support you.

That was one thing that was very hard for me to process and handle early on in my Recovery.

Why wasn’t everyone happy for me? Even after over 7 years in Recovery, I still have people who hate who I am. There is resentment and hatred like I have never experienced.  (In the case of my mother, her mental illness is the roadblock and cognitively, she is not able to grasp, reason or cope healthily)

I have come to a place where I just don’t care about that anymore.

It doesn’t mean that I hate certain people, or that I need to treat them unkindly or disrespectfully if they aren’t cheering me on…

It means that I don’t stop what I am doing or completely change my plans because of them. I chose to take heavy steps forward toward my goals, despite of all of the opinions.

Your adversity will look completely different from mine, but expect it in some form.

Ultimately, God’s plan and opinion are what matter. My changes were drastic, but so was my life situation. Big change was necessary for me, but may not be for you.

Regardless – any amount of change will throw people off.

As hard as it may be, you have to stand behind your commitment.
You have to decide that you want it.

2. We have the power of choice.

A bad day only has power if we let it have power.

Anytime we are met with stress or unexpected barriers throughout our Recovery, we have choices.
We can choose to put our Recovery first, no matter what.

Just because I am in long-term Recovery doesn’t mean that I don’t deal with negative thoughts. I have learned what to do with them. I choose to focus on other aspects of the situation. I choose to believe science. Emotions are not always logical or rational.
They certainly aren’t going to be the basis of important decisions that I have to make… they may be a factor, but not the driving force.

In dealing with the aftermath of my ‘running in cute purple wedges’ day,
at first, I was left feeling completely drained. Empty. A tiny bit confused and angry.

I will never understand mental illness as much as I have tried and I have seen with my own eyes what develops after years and years of drug abuse & chemical dependency.

But after a few hours of being home that afternoon I couldn’t help but be happy.

I chose to be grateful for the life that I have now.

Choice has taught me that I am only in control over my own Recovery.

I have control of my emotions and I choose how I am feeling, depending on how I think about something.

I cannot change anyone else. I can only adjust my sails- for my own journey. I cannot navigate someone else’s, and I have also learned that It is not my responsibility to do so.

So remember -
Bad days will come.
They do.

This is real life and being in Recovery doesn’t mean things will be easy. Things will be harder- much harder. We have to learn how to face bad days—-sober.

Choose to stick with facts and truth during tough times, emotional times or times when you would have normally used.

3. Choose God’s love.

No longer do hurtful words stick in my mind or my heart, nor do they retain any power to affect how I feel about myself as a daughter, wife, mother or friend.

I know who I am and I am aware of what I use to be and -I know the difference.

I know that God knows my motives for making boundaries- he knows how I really feel about these people in my family who are sick and fighting personal struggles within themselves.

That’s really what I want people to know.

We have choices.
We can choose to believe truth.
We choose to think positively.
We choose to see the good in a bad situation.

Struggles are inevitable, but no matter what type of adversity, trouble, resistance, stress, or affliction that we have to face—- we can face it all courageously, with Him.

We can get through it, it is not impossible or hopeless.
It is completely do-able. 

It won’t consume us, if we don’t allow it to. It may be bad, but it cannot break us.
It is not the end of the world, because we have Hope.
It does not define us because we know who we really are.
It may feel so powerful and strong, but we know we have something more powerful.

So in the middle of a life storm, always choose truth.

Ephesians 6:10 
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power

Psalm 46:1
God is our refuge and strength an ever-present help in trouble.

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No such thing #Recovery

I just read a brilliant article written by a man who has been in the addiction field in some capacity for over 50 year-
delivering and supervising treatment. He is a clinical psychologist-

Here is an excerpt from his article in Addiction Professional Magazine entitled:
It’s not 1960 anymore-
A more balanced model is needed to optimize recovery potential today.
By Gerald Shulman:

“I have arrived at the conclusion that recovery for many is a three-legged stool.
The seat of the stool represents recovery.”
“The three legs represent:

Psycho-social treatment- 12 step treatment, trauma care, motivational enhancement, cognitive-behavioral therapy etc.
Recovery support services-group therapies, reading and writing assignments, etc.
Pharmacotherapy (med assisted treatment)”

“One of these alone, is usually not adequate to bring about Recovery for many addicts.”

Read the article in it’s entirety here:
www.addictionpro.com/article/its-not-1960-anymore

Whether you are an addiction professional or are someone who volunteers time to “give back” in some way-
Regardless of what your role may be in the grand scheme of things- we all need to understand one important thing:

*There is NO SUCH THING as one- size- fits -all treatment*

Just as we have unique journeys–
unique stories, and unique backgrounds – unique “rock bottoms” and unique instances where we found ourselves in desperate need of help…….

It’s safe to assume that we are going to have unique Recoveries.
OUR Recovery regimen is THE recovery regimen.

Our job is to love and support others using the roles that we take on, using our gifts, talents, experience and education to do our best to do just that if that is what we choose to do with our time.

If we, as we say, are in “Recovery Together”

Let’s agree that we are not all going to have cute little cookie cutter recoveries that we can mass produce on baking sheets.

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We are unique creatures.

If we are truly standing together we are going to stand and say:

I will not discount your Recovery –simply because you name your higher power Jesus Christ. (That fact alone doesn’t make my counseling, therapy, behavior modification, detox, hours and hours of reading, writing and assignments or group therapy any more or less important than your Recovery)

Does it? 

I will not discount your Recovery — if you loathe 12-step groups, but really benefit from medication and individual counseling together.
That doesn’t make your Recovery any less important than mine—

Does it?

I will not discount your recovery because you cannot afford traditional therapy or counseling or treatment for whatever reason, and you reach out and take advantage of every single online resource that you can get your hands on.
That doesn’t make your Recovery less than mine—

Does it? 

I could go on, but you get it.

The purpose of this article was really hitting on the fact that simply believing that 12-step groups are ‘enough’ simply is not sufficient present day. There is scientific evidence to the contrary. We are dealing with an entirely new group of addicts, new drugs, younger and younger clients and less foundation to work with.

Now, it doesn’t mean that 12 step groups are bad.
It just means that for some, (and it seems for many) –
they aren’t enough all alone;
and for some, they are.

Ultimately, it is all about utilizing the resources and tools that our clients need- that we have available to use- to help them learn how to live again. So that they can live well, healthy, independent lives-free of the chains of addictive behavior.

But after reading this article, it really inspired me to open my big mouth and use my tiny platform to convey this message.

So if you are just an individual in Recovery- helping yourself and helping others along—
keep this in mind.

If you are a professional working within the broken system-
Let’s try to do our best to keep this in mind.

We can’t be THE best but we can try to do our personal best.

With that, I will pass.

(I couldn’t help it.)

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SAMHSA’S “I CHOOSE” PROJECT #Prevention

The “I Choose” Project, which began in February 2013, will continue through National Prevention Week 2014! This project is an easy way to make a difference, be a positive example, and inspire others. By participating in the “I Choose” Project, you can help spread the word that our choices make a big difference in our lives, our health, and our future.PhotoGrid_1394126632419

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New things #BreakingCycles

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I have come to be crazy enough to believe this to be a great idea! I don’t think the easy things are always the right ones, or the paths intended for us to take- in my experience,  they certainly haven’t been the best options for my life.

So, don’t automatically dismiss and idea, or say no to an opportunity based on the fear factor.

Sometimes- the new-different and difficult….

Are exactly the terrifying and amazing things that God intends to use – for something awesome.

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I have a feeling that the type of feelings that I have been experiencing lately could be similar to those spoken of when people refer to ‘Empty Nest Syndrome’…
(Is that a real thing–an actual syndrome? )
Hmm. I might Google that later.

—However, if “selfie” has been officially added to our American dictionary, it’s safe to assume that the empty nest thing is something your insurance will cover.

I have been working pretty hard (after hours) to job search- and prepare my resume. I have a few state certification tests to take over the Spring/Summer months—-
I am almost done with my classes…….

and think I have finally, (finally) absorbed the crazy notion that both of my children (who I won’t publicly call ‘babies’)
will be in school next year and mommy is going to be working outside of our home again!

What is happening?!

Roughly 5 years ago, when my husband (Fiancee at the time– yep. I did it allll backwards. You’re not surprised.)
and I had our first discussion about me quitting my job and staying at home– it was scary, but it was what we really wanted…. and after feeling like I went through meat grinder psychologically, I think I really needed it too.

It was a huge change …..but ended up being perfect for our growing family….
and that is how my journey as a SAHM mom began.

Through this one, huge, life- altering decision, I learned so much about my husband’s character as a man- my partner, as a ‘daddy’  and as a human. I was met with an overwhelming, supremely supportive response to this change in dynamic -and it has grown over the years.

I have had the honor of loving on my kids-all day every day. I have been able to be here to take wayyyy too many pictures, and document everything. (I didn’t say organize, I said document ;) )
I am here- I have taken it all in & I am happily sober -so I can remember it ALL.
(which is pretty nice)

I know that not all mommies can be home, and not all who are home want to be home.
As a former single working mommy- I did not have this option open to me, so I can empathize with those of you who truly (single or married or in between or uninterested) aren’t able to do what you want to be doing during the day.

That is just another reason why this experience was so amazing. I wanted to have the chance to be here at home, and that is what I got.

But, as with all things, this could not stay the same forever.
This is life, there are seasons that come and go and I am just in the midst of a passing season.

This experience has affected me as a woman in so many ways.
I learned things about my own capabilities, likes, passions, limits, strengths, weaknesses and talents that I may not have otherwise discovered.

I feel like I am like a 5- foot- tall Swiss army knife/ninja, multi-tasking wizard of sorts; completely flexible, not afraid to get dirty and feel confident entering in this workforce thing.
(Hmmm. To put that on my resume, or not? :) )

I really cannot describe how much this experience has changed my heart and how much it means to me.

So what is happening in my life right now?
God. God is happening.

That is what makes it such an odd & exciting life thing.

I have tried to teach myself to pick the good out from the uncomfortable.
To view change as opportunity and to use the unknown or the uncomfortable as a chance to learn to trust God —
and the to trust the process more and more each time life throws inevitable life transitions my way.

Things happen- we either adjust or we don’t.
Seasons in life come and go anyway, regardless of how ready or resistant we are-  it’s happening.

So I am going to take this change.
Although initially, I was shocked, in disbelief and sad-
I am also rational.
There is nothing that I can do to halt the age progression of my children.
I have gone back to school for a reason and the only thing left for me to do at this point,  is to remind myself that my #1 job is to bring glory to God-
and I can do that right now by trusting him through this life change.

My husband and my children will still remain my top priorities. My blog and ministry are still going to be a close 4th –and my new job title, whatever that ends up being –
will mesh into my priorities somehow.
It is going to be alright.

I am willing to bet (or not – I might have a touch of an issue with control, and betting is not my friend) but I can say with confidence that it is probable that
there is something brewing that I am not aware of yet.

Great things will happen this year, and I will be amazed (yet again) at how things work out when you trust God –
and trust that the progression of life and it’s process of change.
The transitions are perfectly normal, and healthy.

Someday, I will be able to look back and see the blessings poured out all over all of this change- the same ‘change’ that I am so excited and justifiably terrified about.

So I guess if you learn anything from this post- and my blabbering
it could be that life throws us things. We have to learn what to do with them – because it happens and it isn’t going to stop. Change happens. Transitions come upon us.
We have to make decisions. Remain grateful that you have life- that you have a daily source of strength, love and everything else through your relationship with the Lord- that will never run out….. and hold on for the ride.

It can either be miserable or exciting.
That part is up to you and your brain. :)

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Courage is recognizing that we need help, and deciding to take a chance even though we are scared to death.

Courage is knowing something is going to be hard, and scary-
and doing it anyway.

We gain confidence in ourselves and begin to see that we really can start over. Each victory, each time we pray for the courage to take another step- we see more and more of exactly what we are capable of.

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Simply ‘being all there’ and taking each day-
one day at a time.

If you think about it, rushing doesn’t really ever produce anything of best possible quality anyway.

Breathe deep, and take it all in.

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Tom’s Story- #Addiction #Recovery

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Hi my name is Tom and I am a recovering heavy alcohol abuser/possible alcoholic (I can’t say I was alcoholic or not because I never got evaluated).It all started when I got back from Afghanistan in 2007 and I felt the need to drink a lot because that is what I thought everyone did when they got back from their deployment.At first it was okay and there didn’t seem to be any problems, but then somewhere two or three years later I just couldn’t control how much I drank anymore. I still thought that nothing was wrong and that I was just being “normal” like everyone else and I felt that if I wasn’t drinking then I wasn’t being normal.
 So in late 2010 I had an episode where I drank 8 beers before I went to the bar, I did this all the time and thought that is what everyone did, and then 6 pints of really strong beer at the bar. Probably totaling somewhere around 18 beers if you add up all the ounces and alcohol content that night. So I got home and the next morning I had the usual hangover symptoms and thought everything was fine. It wasn’t until around 3 pm when I was on my way to college that something didn’t feel right.
My right side of my face and right hand became numb and I thought I was going to pass out. I started to throw up real bad and for like a few hours this numbness and feeling sick went on and hyperventilating. I went to the hospital and I almost went in, but I was too embarrassed to go in. Luckily somehow I made it home and in a few days I felt better. If I drank anymore that day I probably could have died.
You would think that would stop me from drinking, but a few weeks later I was back at it. I never drank that heavily again but I drank about 10-12 beers once every 2 or 3 days up until the day I said that is enough of this lifestyle. I am happily 4 months sober at this point. . (Sober date of September 16, 2013)
Here I am today, luckily, 4 months sober with the help of everyone around me, my running club (I now run 3-4 times a week, which is a way better high than alcohol ever was), and Brittany’s blog (which by the way rocks!!!)
What I am trying to say is NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!!There IS life after addiction or substance abuse.If you are reading this and are near giving up hope or feel like you are not worth it, believe me, YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!If you feel like you want to end your life or getting close to it, there is SUPPORT AND HOPE out there and we all think that YOU ARE WORTH IT.Whether you believe in a God or not, that is okay. What I can say is that God has surely helped me personally and now I read the bible every day. God truly does love you and has no partiality for anyone. No matter what you did in your past, He really really really loves you. All you have to do is love Him back.
KEEP GOING BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!
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Rob’s Story-#Addiction #Recovery

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    “My name is Rob Kelly, I am an alcoholic and addict!
    Today January 10th 2014 I celebrate 2 years clean and sober, this is the longest I have been clean and sober since I was 12 years old, & I am 51.”

    For me the journey into darkness began after being physically and sexually abused.

    I sought to fill the hole inside me with alcohol, drugs, sex, a successful career as a teacher, coach, and contractor, my marriage, as a parent, and an active Church member.

    Gradually I lost them all and I put a hand gun in my mouth and pulled the trigger… the firing pin dropped and hit the primer… nothing happened…

    I didn’t realize it but God had a plan for me.

    The pain and darkness, the desperation, the self loathing spiraled out of control.
    in total surrender I cried out to God!!!
    Help me, I cant live like this anymore, I want whats real!
    If you are real you have to show me!!!

    From that earnest plea, that small act of faith, God did respond in a way that changed my life.

    Today I have a peace and serenity in my life that comes by the grace of God, Jesus His only Son is my Lord and Savior and I have been redeemed through the salvation he supplies.

    There is hope in him, please know this.

    This is a very abbreviated version of my story.

    If I can share my story anywhere or help you or a loved one struggling in darkness please let me know.

    Remember my God always responds to faith. I am given a daily reprieve based solely on the maintenance of my relationship with the God that created the universe and breathes stars into being!!!!

    Thank you for letting me share.

    Rob.

    (If you would like to contact Rob, feel free to comment below or request his email address. You can do so anonymously)

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Balance.

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I use to run and hide.
I felt like if I hid long enough, things would just go away.
When I resurfaced and saw that they hadn’t, that was my cue to reinsert myself into my induced functioning coma.
Before drugs were my necessity, my ‘best friend’ and my only priority-they were a refuge.
Before they transitioned to nothing but chemicals that were killing me and taking over my entire life- they protected me. They were my safe place.
(hence the deceit that people speak of when referencing addiction)

So presently, when dealing with a loss that feels like getting hit by a semi,
I really am thankful to be able to feel and know how important allowing yourself to feel- is to the process.

It is so important to learn how to face hard things, and to process them in a healthy way.
Some have told me that I can be too intellectually minded or analytic when it comes to dealing with tough circumstances.

and of course, I believe that we all take our own time to do things like grieving,  and no two people will grieve in the same way or time frame.

I do tend to intellectualize issues. (All issues).
Even tough ones like loss;
not because I am a cold person or because I don’t allow myself to feel….
but because I believe that for me—- there has to be a balance there.
I have a brain, that has the capability to feel and to think.
I just assume both are pretty important.

I believe that God has her wrapped in his love and the presence of all of her loved ones.
This, to me, is a truth that I can count on.

I have learned the value in taking something, anything that I don’t understand, don’t know what to do with, where to put it, or how any good come from it– and siphon something good from it.

So it becomes a balance of logic-
(and remember this is just the way I tend to do things)

I know that this is life.
We are born, and we don’t stay forever.
It is a natural thing and it is inevitable…the circle of life.
Understanding that we cannot go back- no changing things. Things are left the way that they are left, and at this point- you either cherish the great times and hide those memories in your heart, and you don’t allow yourself to form regret or come down with a case of the ‘I really should have’s'……

And emotion-
allowing yourself to cry and let it all out. Releasing the hurt and trying to lessen the blow in any way possible. (for me that looks like —praying and music therapy)
Knowing that it is unhealthy to not cry and it is unhealthy to cry permanently.
Our family and community lost a person who made a mark- and it hurts to know that we won’t have that anymore. Here, we are left with a gaping hole-and right now, no one is sure what to do with it.

If left to pure emotion, I would remain a hot mess.
For one, no one in my family seems to deal with death well. I know that no one does, but I mean people in my family tend to get down. Really, really down for long periods of time. I learned and mimicked this behavior for a long time. (I think as individuals, we are all getting better at this and are all watching ourselves closely during this time.)

but that is probably another reason that I make sure to balance all of the waves of emotion, with a healthy dose of reality and logic.

For me, living solely with my heart or emotion guiding me- is no guide at all.

So today, I am much better than yesterday.
Tears are coming less harshly and I am starting to believe that it is real.
Plans are being made by the loving and caring people who have taken on the task of creating the perfect going away celebration for her and for everyone who knew and loved her to attend.

I know some of you reading this have lost loved ones as well.
Try to remember that we are left here with the gaping holes and pain. 
I believe that they, they are somewhere- their spirit is alive and healthy. 
They are not hurting or sick anymore and they want us to remember them and live a life that honors their memory. 

I am going to try to do just that.
I am going to laugh, and allow myself to laugh.
She would have been okay with that.
I will do my best to take away what I can from all that I witnessed and was a part of for so many years;  all of the lessons, memories and examples. The laughter, the fun and the love of life—

Thank you for all of the kind messages, readers! I love you guys.

Enjoy your week this week and do something new! Get out there and be bold!
Live your life and remember….
we are only here for a short time- take this life and make it awesome.
Take what you can from the hard things, and use them to do something good for someone else!

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Different; not lost.

My grandmother passed away in her sleep on January 8, 2014 – at around 3 a.m.
I know you are probably picturing a sweet little old lady, with cats or something….
or maybe a woman who made us cookies, wore aprons, or who went and got her hair rolled once a week like clockwork–as the majority of grandmother’s do.
(Typically.)

But my grandma, my grandma was like no other grandmother out there.
She certainly wasn’t what anyone who knew her would call ‘typical.’

I am going to attempt to encompass her personality by transforming its massive quality into simple text, but I already know
that it is not going to come close to frame her spirit or match is vigor.

She was a lover of any soul that the world would try to tell you wasn’t ‘worth’ anything.
Right off the top of my head, the major causes that she stood behind:

*Special needs children inclusion and right to everything everyone else has, does and is.
* Helping people who suffered or struggled from some form of mental illness (her daughter- and she considered this an illness or disease, not a defect.)
*Supporting, loving, accepting and defending Gay rights —their freedom to choose to live life the way that they wanted felt suited them personally, because after all, they are people too……

She had a genius I.Q.
She was upfront, honest and outspoken.
She wasn’t afraid -of anything.
Being told ‘she would be able’ to do something rekindled the fire inside of her…
She wrote. She wrote plays, grants, comedy skits & newspaper columns.
She invented.
She believed that people all deserved a shot. All people.
She was a witty, analytic thinker.
She wanted us to know how big this world is, as it is much bigger than what we can see.

She taught us that people, regardless of how they looked, how slow or fast they thought or comprehended, who they chose to love, what religion they followed– they were all worthy of love and respect.

She taught me that I should only partake in activities that I would be comfortable having printed on the front page of a newspaper…

She was an advocate for being ‘you’ before it was cool.

She was at every emergency room visit—through every stitch.

When I didn’t have the courage to take a first step in any endeavor, she was there pushing me and encouraging me.

She taught me how to line dance, play black-jack, and how to be comfortable in the only skin that I have.

She taught me the value of knowing how to read a map and the importance of turning the radio off during a road trip.

I know why we tell stories about our lives and how much there is to absorb from the experiences of another human.

If you have an idea, work for it. Apply yourself and make it happen. You are the way from point a- to point b. There is nothing stopping you, except for your idea that you cannot do something.

I could go on and on, and who knows.
This is probably just a part-1.

My parents struggled hardcore with drug addiction/alcoholism when I was a child, so I spent a significant amount of time with her for many, many years. I am just not sure that I realized the impact that she had on my life.

I have watched as she led her life with arms outstretched to other special needs families in need for so many years and as she loved on children that were overlooked by society as a whole. I observed her living out her love and her passions manifest and as she left a little bit of her personality, everywhere that she went.

I have never met anyone as fearless and strong-
or as funny and intelligent,  or as cut throat or badass.

She really was a force to be reckoned with, because when she believe in something or set a new goal-
there wasn’t anything that was going to deter her.

I know her spirit is watching over all of us.
We all know she’s dancing in the sky and singing with damn you (family dog), Grandpa John, Grandma Mickey, Tiny Phil, Grandpa Phil, Matthew and all of the other loved ones who were waiting for her arrival.

She can breathe. She can walk, run, jump, dance and laugh as long and loud as she can.
Everything is different…
but not – gone.

My heart is so heavy and I literally feel physically sick.
We experienced our fair share of ups and downs, but at the end of the day she knew, as did I that we had a special bond and a connection like nothing else I have ever experienced.

All that I keep thinking is the only thing that we can do now, is honor her by allowing her life and legacy to live on — through our outstretched hands.

This speaks to my aching heart and soul right now.
I know she’s dancing – I know it.

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Happy New Year.

Happy-New-Year-2014

The new year does provide us with a sense of newness, and a point in time that we tend to take an inventory of our lives.
What is important, what’s not, what do we want to fix, how much do we need to lose or how can we improve yadda yadda.
It can actually be a great time of year to do some reflecting and can be very useful.

Each year that I have made it through, in Recovery- is certainly awesome.
I do use it as a time for reflection.
I feel like it is a good idea to consider how far that I have come, and to allow myself to feel grateful that I feel to have made it through another year without back tracking or becoming stagnant.

So as long as I have grown in the positive and have not gone backwards, that’s pretty much what I call a productive year.

That is basically how I gauge my own personal progress, lol;  Not exactly setting my bar high, am I?

Well I look at it like this.
I did not die from my addiction. I tried to. I could have. I almost did a few times.
But, I didn’t. By the Grace of God- I’m alive.
So that’s always a point in the positive side. :-)

Did I spend my year trying my best to be better?
Better than I was last year?

I have tried to write what I feel God has laid on my heart.
I have tried my very best to sharpen my discernment skills, think before I speak, pray before I make decisions, look on others with love first- rather than what my flesh so desperately wants to see- I have tried hard.
I have failed and fallen short, but tried nonetheless.

My desire to change and move forward, to grow and become something more than I was last year is pretty simple.

I want to be the mother that God wants me to be- who loves her babies so much with an un-conditional love and who teaches them about who God is and how they can know him too
to be a that friend who provides what God needs them to have form me
to be the kind of counselor that God needs to help pull more people to him
to be that annoying blogger who only posts what God has laid upon her heart
& to be the person the woman who God created me to be.

If I were giving advice, I would say- don’t compare your goals for a new year to anyone else’s.
Set your bar where your bar needs to be.
God works in His time, and I don’t think he intended our bars to be moved at the same speeds, at the same levels, or through the same channels.

Look at your new year as a new opportunity to continue this journey that God has you on.

Look for new ways to grow, meet new people and try a little bit harder to focus on Him. The more you focus on Him, the more clear everything else becomes.

Use the start of 2014 to become an even better version of —YOU.

For me, I don’t think I am going to create new goals for the sake of making new goals in 2014.
I will continue working hard toward my goals–
even though they are so ‘last year’…..
and I will do my best to keep moving toward my aspirations and to complete projects in the works. I will just work even harder than last year.

So change something this new year. Growth is change. Set new goals. Re-commit to working toward the old ones.

Just do it for the right reasons and don’t let the excitement of a new year beginning, take away from all that you are right now.

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Is this Recovery- Part 2

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Addiction will kill us if we keep going back.
We can’t go back.
The enemy wants us to go back.
We don’t want to go back.
We don’t feel strong enough to stay away.
This is the struggle.

My addiction isn’t really where I began to fall away. It may have been the darkest, saddest,loneliest & scariest time of my existence, but I lost myself years before.
I think pain does that to people.
For some of us, we create masks and safe places to hide when things become unbearable or we simply don’t know what to do.
I started hiding when I was a little girl. I imagined myself being in different places. I hid from the drugs, violence and craziness and I don’t think I ever really came back out of hiding.

So Recovery.

It wasn’t what I expected.
In my last post, I compiled a short list of things to expect in early recovery..
things that I didn’t know–that I wish I would have.
(If you haven’t read that one, read it here: http://discoveringbeautiful.com/is-this-recovery/ )

But there was more. Much more that I was not expecting.

Recovery is not impossible like I had once believed.
I was strong enough to get through it. I had the will to fight and the endurance to win the daily battle, to not give into the urges and to resist the cravings—-with GOD.

Recovery with God doesn’t mean I did not have to do any work that is typical of addiction Recovery. What did happen was that I got sober, committed to Recovery and got much more than I could have ever dreamed.

I was able to make some real peace with my past.
All of my bad choices and regrets. I finally understood that I could not take them back, or get the time back. I came to understand that I was forgiven and it was alright to move forward. I was given a sense of peace about it and felt ready to make new choices and new memories.

The hope that God gave me helped with the daily mood swings and bouts of depression. My thoughts became less powerful as I dug into his word and I felt compelled to learn more about him. The more I learned about him- the more I knew about myself…and the more that I knew about myself through Christ- the more I felt okay being who I was in my own skin.

My relationship with God allowed me to value my past and how to use it for something good. I can see it as beautiful because at my lowest, I didn’t give up. There was a reason that I didn’t give in and let it completely consume me. I had a new chance to do something with my life. I was alive for a reason. Letting God use my past for his good took away all of the negative power that I had given it before. It was completely powerless in bringing me back down.

Overall, finding my real identity in Christ- put everything in proper perspective.
I felt worthy.
Its pretty amazing how your choices will reflect your beliefs.
I believed that I was of value, and I was loved.
I was a strong person, and I had a purpose.

I had a whole life to live and many, many people that I could try to reach out to.
I want everyone who is hurting or struggling to know the truth. They are loved too, and God–the one true God- believes that they are important.

God’s love is that powerful, and life became that much more beautiful when I realized that I could feel again. I could live again. I could enjoy laughing and resting, baking and reading, singing, watching movies- bowling, road trips and even family get together’s –sober.

The simple things became the big things. Each day being a gift that we are given with our children, or people who we love. I wouldn’t dream of missing a thing now that I have had a taste of true —living.

Recovery with God also taught me that we should not spend too much time feeling sorry for ourselves. The hands that are were dealt don’t have to be permanent. The poor choices that we might have made along the way don’t have to define us.

We can choose at any time to accept the Lord into our lives- and begin to live happy and free being who we were meant to be in the first place.

This is why I think Recovery is so beautiful.
It allows you to come exactly as you are.
No masks, no makeup, no hiding.
Free and vulnerable, but comfortable.
Enjoying life’s pleasures and taking each day for what it is.
We know that we are blessed to be alive and life is not ordinary, life is not always what we expect but we enjoy living now. We are alive.

The struggle is real, but so is our GOD and so is life after addiction.
God will absolutely restore every single thing that was taken from you and everything that you gave away to your addiction. That, and much, much more.

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Is this Recovery?

Recovery is the opposite of what we have come to know, and what we are use to….
and Early Recovery was not what I expected. 

New-Life
So here are some things that I would have wanted to know early on: 

*Withdrawal- Depending on your drug- it can take anywhere from days to get through withdrawal, to several months for the intense feelings to subside. Headaches, mood-swings, nausea, sleeplessness, depression, weight gain.  (all different for different drugs) It is likely that all drug detox causes irritability and poor sleeping habits.
It is not fun. If you are reading this, and you have made it through withdrawal, successfully without using or dying—I am so so proud of you. You should be proud of yourself too.

*It’s only just begun after detox/withdrawal.

*Expect to struggle- Recovery is not instantaneous.
It is a long process that will not always make sense, it is not fun and it requires a commitment.
We are so use to drugs making us feel better. Right this very second, even if only for an hour—things felt better in an instant.

*Thoughts are powerful. What we think about is going to dictate how we feel.
How we feel, drives what we do. We have to be careful because we are not yet strong enough to resist doing what we are use to. So if we are feeling crappy- we use. If we are feeling great- we drink to celebrate. Only put yourself around people who are going to lift you up and take your thoughts seriously.

*Reach out and be honest. If you are having an off day, or are just feeling super down- tell someone who you know cares about you and your recovery. Don’t keep it to yourself. Hiding and concealing is no longer an option. I learned early on that my addiction was very tricky and deceitful. It won every single time that I tried to secretly battle it alone.

*One Day At a Time is smart. Drugs made me feel good. I did not have to feel anything, or care about anything. I didn’t have to think about anything and I did not have to work toward anything.
All of that is gone in recovery. Sobriety is worth it, but it is hard work. There is a lot of waiting. You have to work through each and every day. Things don’t just happen anymore. You have to learn to be patient and believe that if you take one day at a time, you will get through today.

*Our minds will play tricks. Sometimes you will feel alone, when you’re not. You might think that no one cares, when they do. Remember to share these thoughts with someone too. I experienced a lot of irrational thinking. Our bodies are trying to get things back in order. Chemicals in our brains are changing. Our moods are trying to get back to something that feels regular. It is likely that our thoughts will be inaccurate or off. Just because we think it doesn’t mean it’s true. My brain felt like it was going to explode too. I had no idea what to feel, or what I was feeling or if I wanted to feel anything. I felt crazy. It is going to be alright. :)

*Recovery is a process. I thought that once I made the decision to quit and change, that was it. It has almost been 8 years and I am still learning new things. This process has just changed. Each day sober, is another day that I am grateful to be alive, but I am always learning something new.

*Not everyone will be happy for you. I guess I expected people to be really happy for me. I want others to know that there are so many people out there who will have your back and cheer you on. They may not be the people who you expected, or the ones that you wanted to be there for you- but their out there. I have lost a lot of ‘friends’ and many of my relationships are gone, over or have changed. At the end of the day, you recover for yourself. So that you can have a quality life and can function —and really experience freedom. Not everyone will be on board.

*Quit it all. I am not an alcoholic. My body doesn’t crave alcohol, and I was never dependent. Alcohol was something that I consumed if I didn’t have what I really wanted, or I couldn’t find what I wanted immediately, but I didn’t ‘crave’ it.
When I quit doing my drug of choice, It was very important to keep away from ALL chemical/brain altering substances. I would definitely recommend that others do so as well. I would have liked to have known WHY when I began my recovery. It is because we need to give our body a break. We need to let things go back to as close to natural as we can. We need to get healthy and really focus on recovery. We have to learn not to crave feeling ‘f*cked up’ – and learn to crave feeling alive—sober. It is a bad idea to begin using the excuse that you can use this, and not this.

*Brace yourself, Forgiveness is a key part of recovery. We need to learn how to think in a different way, how to learn new habits, what our triggers are, where to go, where not to go, who to reach out to, how to be brutally honest——yes. But we have to learn how to sit with ourselves sober.
I didn’t expect forgiveness to play such a huge part to my own recovery.
I couldn’t look in the mirror – I hated ‘me’. I hated the mother that I was, and the things that I had missed and done. I had to learn how to forgive myself.
I hated what I had done to people who I loved, very much. Things that I could not take back. I hated thinking about it. But I had to learn how to ask for their forgiveness, and to forgive myself.
I hated the things that had been done to me, and I had to learn how to shut them off once and for all. I couldn’t keep thinking about it, or the people who I had lost or other painful things. I had to forgive and make peace, and move on.
Without forgiveness, nothing can be laid to rest once and for all. We cannot move forward. We cannot go to the next phase of learning to love ourselves again, and learning how to give love to others.

*Relapse is preventable and you can see it coming.
It is a process. You know when your thoughts are getting negative. You are feeling way down. You are starting to think of how you can use, or even just once. Maybe you can sneak out and come back etc. You can spot those thoughts and tell someone about them. If you feel yourself slipping back, TELL SOMEONE. It is not a shameful thing or relapsing –simply having the thoughts. It is a smart thing to recognize and to know yourself in such a way, that you can see certain patterns. Don’t be ashamed, be excited that you are beginning to see how addiction works.

My next blog post:

No.
Early Recovery is not what I had expected it to be.
It sucked much more than I wanted it to and it was harder than I could have ever imagined, but it was more rewarding and beautiful than I could have ever dreamed.

Hope is a real thing and it makes all of the work of early recovery- worth every single second. I couldn’t have anticipated what God had in store for my life- after drugs.
It will all be worth it.
Seriously. 

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The first and greatest, is love.

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Matthew 22:36-40

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Where you are, I am FREE.

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Husband and Wife.

Two whole parts, that came together as one.

Many many many people have asked me why we waited to get married. Why this, why that. I wanted to be a healthy, whole person that he was taking as his wife.

I wanted him to have a partner in life- and to feel like he had a person on his side that could be strong when he couldn’t and that could encourage him when times got rough.

He deserved to marry someone who was clear-minded and level headed.
I wanted him to have what I had.

I knew he was ‘it’ for me- (and he still is, even more so now)

So..I will end this little mini series by saying this:

It is possible to make it through active addiction- early recovery and all that goes with that.
It is not easy, some days suck really bad and you won’t always see clearly or have clear answers as to what you need to do. You won’t always understand each other and some things don’t make sense right away.

Also, remember that the difference between controlling someone, being co-dependent, enabling and LOVING someone is really about motive. What are you trying to accomplish? What is your definition of love?

Love is not giving a sick person everything they whine for when they are stressed or tempted.
Love is not buckling from guilt or bending boundaries to make someone temporarily happy.

Love is a journey- it is a self-less thing-
When you love someone with an addiction sometimes they need your sensitivity and other times they need set- firm expectations.

It takes a lot of patience and determination to figure out which one to draw from and what to do.

The most important thing is — not ‘loving’ that person to death. Or loving that person so much that you begin to kill yourself. If either of those things begin to happen, something somewhere-  needs to change.

I hope that some of our ‘real’ experience helps someone else in some way.

And Mr. Zachariah- I am so grateful to have such a strong man-
I love our love and man- we have some crazy love.
Thank you for supporting me in all that I have done, and hope to do-
God has done some incredible work in our lives and I really can’t wait to see what else is in store. You are my bestie and we are strong people individually, and together–that much better.

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Husband Thoughts part 5- Is Recovery forever?

My husband has been a trooper.
He picked me up so many times after I had fallen-yet again.

My ‘falling’ doesn’t necessarily mean that I relapsed.
I lapsed a few times, he helped pick me up (he was mad, but he picked me up)

I have gone through sicknesses related to this disease, memory issues that continue, lots of fog, early on mood changes and lots and lots of discovering, properly handling and learning to regulate emotion.

He has always been behind me-
making sure that I was honest and holding me accountable for working my recovery.

He didn’t let me slack and he pushed when I didn’t have the drive to push.
he wouldn’t let me back down or quit, and didn’t ever feel sorry for me when I was feeling sorry for myself.

So..recovery –is it forever?
I believe it is.

My husband understands that Recovery is not unlike any other process that we have to keep healthy. It needs to be an area where I stay on top of my game and continue putting effort in and learning about.

I know that no matter what, he will always be my cheerleader- except now,  he knows that I am alert, aware, willing and in a healthy place and can be there for him now as well.
He showed me what for better or worse, actually means in real –day to day life.

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