Search: “stranger”

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

Deliveries, Deliverance, and The Trials of This Life


I heard drone delivery is being tested by Amazon. My mind immediately went to a future sky peppered with boxes or bags full of our wants and needs, and our sweet cargo dropping at our front doors. Not only will we have the option of shopping from the comfort and privacy of our own home, we will be able to have our purchases air-lifted faster, and without emitting toxins into our atmosphere right to our front door. Majestic.

Let’s not forget that in the 1950’s (and probably much earlier than that), people could actually have bottled milk, eggs, butter, or bread, from local dairies and creameries delivered to their porches. But back then deliveries were made by actual humans. As time passed, other methods became more convenient, cost-efficient, and practical, but to me, there is something so cool and special and awesome about the care one must invest to hand deliver milk and other dairy to the same people every week. I think it would have provided very personal, relationship and community building opportunities. So, minus the drone technology and speed, this was basically the same thing that Amazon is re-thinking, right?

The computer-animated movie Storks is another shiny example of my fascination with hand delivered cargoI have watched it several times with my kids. Somehow until today I had never cared enough to dig deeper into the stork/baby delivery story, but apparently, it’s an ancient myth/legend kind of thing. According to Wikipedia this myth was popularized by a 19th century story written by a man named Hans Christian Anderson. Regardless of the origin (that I still can’t seem to make myself care more about), babies, in my opinion, are the most special deliveries that have ever been or will be delivered. And at some point, some people somewhere thought this stork/baby stuff was fascinating and whimsical enough to pass down through the generations. I agree. In the make-believe realm of the front-door special delivery biz, the stork and baby concept is most definitely the OG.

For whatever reason the idea of having something delivered directly to our front door is something we all like whether it is an age-old legend like the storks, something simple like having fresh dairy hand delivered to our doors, or getting an Amazon delivery notification.

Maybe the storks remind us to imagine and to remember not to take life so seriously. Maybe the allure with Amazon is the convenience, or the lower cost on most products. Maybe the times of the milkman represent more interpersonal connection and less fear of strangers on our doorstep.

Or what if it’s all of that, and then some. What if it is also that we are all inherently different and unique, yet we all really like to feel like we matter, like our needs are being met, and we are consistently fulfilled, full, and most importantly free.

Most of us will all undoubtedly get to a place where we will require more substance and strength than any feel-good, ancient urban myth, small talk on our porch, or brown box with Amazon Prime tape stuck all over it can offer to our lives.

At some point, we’ll need deliverance. Some real, raw, deep, personal, please help me delivering.

God is in this business. He doesn’t always throw what we need or want on our front porches and He’s not so much a direct competitor of Amazon, dairy farmers, or storks, but He is The deliverer.

Always has been and he’s still in business.
As per-His-character, He’s a next level deliverer:

Psalm 107:6
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress.

Psalm 18:2:
The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.

Psalm 34:17:
When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles.

Psalm 34:4
I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.

The good part is He makes it just as simple the 50’s and the days of the milkman. We just believe what He says and fix our gaze on Him.

The life-changing stuff is almost always hand-delivered privately. It will be placed in our lives in a way that can never be explained by mere logic and always arrives through conduits we aren’t expecting. Maybe not by drone or stork, but He makes it known, that He gets it and he’s right here.

Deliverance for us could be as simple as walking with us through our current mess, but knowing that we aren’t alone it. It could be providing us courage or strength. Maybe our deliverance will come in the form of a new willingness to offer forgiveness, or to let go of something,  a noticing our newly developed level of self-control, or having a desire to get up tomorrow morning.

He will use people, places, and things to draw us near to Him and He will call us out from under our strongholds and bondage. He will rescue us time and again from danger and affliction, (and if you’re anything like me), he will save you from yourself by reminding us that we have a direct line to him. 

He delivers gifts, and they’re completely free. He freely gives us access to His resources. They’re free. He opens up doors so that we might experience His freedom, and live or lives boldly, never forgetting what we have been delivered from, and who delivered us.

Self-Care In Addiction Recovery

My addiction recovery was only supposed to help me learn how-to not eat pills for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I never went in expecting anything more than to learn how to abstain from drugs and alcohol. So I began to wonder why so much emphasis was being placed on self-care and self-love when I went to meetings.

I don’t think I realized that God would place the right people and the right material smack into my path who would commit their time to showing me not only how to stop, but they would be the ones to help me to see why needed to. I would go on to learn why I hungered for a sense of escape, and they would also pass along their wisdom about self-love. A how-to, on ingesting quality food, and non-toxic people, places, and things that would provide real sustenance and nourishment to my life.

And that was it. That was the key.
Nourishment.

Everyone in recovery has heard the slogan: “My recovery must come first, so everything I love in my life doesn’t come last.” Recovery IS Self-care, and self-care is an expression of self-love.

Nourishing our lives means injecting the things most necessary for our personal growth, sustaining our health, and keeping us in good condition. We take care ourselves so that we have the best chance of not falling back into old ways.

The bible tells us that the enemy attacks hardest when we are at our weakest. The temptation will come when we are thirsty, when our lives have become dry and desolate, like a desert. Because when we become desperate for relief, we are much more likely to compromise what we stand for and believe in. And if we’re honest, when we are feeling depleted, fatigued, stressed, and unsure of ourselves, we are more susceptible to buying into bullshit. The same lies that buried us, will try again when we are vulnerable. Sort of like when a predator goes after its prey. They big cats are more likely to go for the lingering animal looks lost, who are not well-protected; the one who seems most accessible. That one will be the easiest one to pounce on, and sometimes, it could just be that particular animal just wasn’t paying enough attention to its surroundings.

I can see how this can be applied to addiction recovery.

Self-care is to our recovery, as water is to a desert. Like water to dry land, plugging in acts of self-care quenches our innermost dry places. We have to find the things that have the ability to reach deep within us, beneath the surface. The places that we cannot see. We drench those areas with acts of self-love and it absorbs into the dark spaces. Like water, beneath the ground, the desert floor just eats it up. Water saturation prevents cracking and flaking and the breakdown of the richness of the area, just like self-care helps to can help to prevent the first stages of relapse, because we are aware and mindful of our surroundings and our current condition.

That is what self-care is able to do with recovery.

I can learn all of the new information, I can arm myself with the latest and greatest, most up-to-date, most modern, applauded, factual, head-knowledge about addiction recovery, and coping mechanisms, but if I am not taking loving on and caring for myself physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, eventually, I will start flaking and cracking and breaking down.

Breaking free from generational strongholds and the chains of addiction is something I cherish. I have learned that taking care of myself is the sole identity of what my recovery is composed of. I am not just sober, I am living as my authentic self, in freedom.

I believe that experiencing freedom, living, and finding recovery is nothing short of a miracle. But that doesn’t mean that anyone else is going to tend to my new responsibilities. It is my job, and is a pretty awesome opportunity, to to nourish my mind, heart, body, and my soul on a regular basis. And understanding the importance of self-care doesn’t mean that I always like it, or that I have found some perfect balance. Because I don’t, and I definitely haven’t. But I try, everyday.

It is said that recovery begins when measurable goals are set. It doesn’t matter whether they are big or small, long-term or short-term. The minute you look into your future, and you set a personal goal for yourself, that is it. That is where your new life begins, and where you have the opportunity to wave goodbye to the old version of yourself, one healthy, new choice at a time, at your own pace.

Just remember to take care along the way 😉

Hard Work Always Pays Off, Sometimes In Unexpected Ways.

Steps  8, 9, & 10.

I believe it is smart to continue living out these steps in my day-to-day life. Not only to maintain my sobriety, but my maintain my integrity that reflects my values as a person and the strength of my interpersonal relationships.

If you need a refresher, here are steps 8-10:

8.Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

10.Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.

As we choose to live out these steps one choice at a time, we are basically saying that we are sorry. We are going to try to live in a way that truly reflects who we are, and not just for everyone who we have hurt, but also for ourselves, because we have decided that we love and value who God created us to be.

Last Friday night around eleven o’clock p.m., I was on my way home from a night out. My evening was full of hardcore, small-group, Bible discussion. Sober status: Sober af, per the usual.

I was less than a block away from my driveway when I got pulled over.

I am no stranger to the flashing lights, but most of the flashing lights that I encounter these days are seen from my vehicle pulled off of the right-hand-side of the road, as they speed by on their way to the scene of an emergency. I have only been written one ticket in the last ten years and it was a speeding ticket. (Much like the ticket that I knew I was going to receive on this particular Friday night.)

I was expecting a ticket because I was knowingly & confidently coasting at 35 in a 25, but I’ll be honest. I am not a fan of 25 mph unless I see children, cyclists, animals, or a funeral procession approaching, and on this cold, dark, late Friday night, I saw nothing of the sort. It was just me, my music, and my frozen hands. (The heat in my car is hit and miss and that night it was missing).

And I can’t say that I cared too much about getting pulled over. I am grateful that Grace has reached so far into my life that I have morphed into a law-abiding citizen. I am equipped with a legal, valid, driver’s license, valid, up-to-date insurance, no warrants to freak out about, and I’m also white, (so there’s that).

I was really annoyed and disappointed with myself for not seeing him sitting in his regular hiding spot. Dammit. My fingers were beginning to feel hot and tingly, so whatever was going to happen, needed to happen swiftly. Like supa-speedy fast.

So we went through the regular protocol.

He asked me if I was aware that I was ignoring the 25 mph signs posted, and I politely told him the truth. That yes, I was fully aware that I had been ignoring the signs posted.

When he came back to my window after running my name and license plates, I was fully prepared to sign my ticket and be on my way. But there was not a ticket in his hand.

No ticket.

Officer: (After approaching my window with a half-smirk) “You have been pulled over before, correct? It seems that you have had quite a few run-in’s.”

Me: (Trying not to let shame creep in and sink me down beneath my vehicle.) “Yes sir. I have, but all of that was a long time ago.”

Officer:  “Tonight I am going to let you go with a verbal warning. As a resident here, can you do me a favor and drive the speed limit?”

Me: “Wow, yes. I can do that. Thank you sir. Have a nice night.”

Me after he is pulling away: Hold on a for just one second. What?
First, thank you, sir. (Speeding tickets are expensive and stressful).
Also, sir. Thank you for referring to the most stressful, hopeless, most expensive, time of my young adult life, collectively, as “run-in’s.” (That makes it all sound so much more pleasant).
Lastly, did I just get out of a speeding ticket because of all of the trouble I have been in the past? (If that isn’t something that I can consider “full-circle” then I don’t know what full-circle is).

I just sat for a few seconds and let it soak in. I breathed out a sigh of relief, and then I began to laugh hysterically.

Really, life? Really?

I am sure that the officer was trying to be kind and do me a solid, or maybe he just didn’t want to mess with the paperwork, or maybe both. But regardless. He couldn’t have known how many years I spent digging myself up from underneath the mountain of legal woes that I was convinced would smother me and send me to my slow, agonizing, early death. Poor me.

This why after ten years I am still bursting at the seams, filled with joy and gratitude. Completely filled. Full.

After all of the time I spent in early recovery wondering if the changes that I was making mattered.
Wondering if I would ever benefit from the work that I was putting in.
Asking myself if it would ever get any easier or better or if it would really turn around.

It is amazing to continue to reap and harvest from actions and choices sown so many years ago.

But that is how my personal experience with life recovery has gone so far. Every turn is a new surprise; a new, fresh, blessing. I feel like grace is always offering me a new positive, from a once dry, depleted, empty, deserted head & heart space.

You harvest what you plant, whether good or bad.
Proverbs 14:14, (CEV)

No Thank-You, Anxiety

 

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Ten years ago I think if you would have asked me, I would have told you that I believed that I was an outgoing, people-oriented person. Never-mind the fact that it only took three or four various types of Benzo’s carefully carelessly mixed with any amount of cheap alcohol to render my central nervous system inactive just enough, that I felt like I could interact with other humans without bolting or vomiting…but viola.

After the chemicals dissolved into my bloodstream, I was gently catapulted right out of my metaphorical, safe-place. I would be temporarily transformed into a person who I thought I liked, who was also likable. Deep beneath my scar tissue I was obviously a fucking blast. This way, I was friendly and interpersonal, yet zombie-like and unable to decipher real connection from shallow interaction.

For years living this way satisfied my deep longing for connection. I thought I was filling my empty spaces. Isolation became this sad, empty, arena that I mistakenly thought was my happy place.

Sober, not only have I learned to embrace who God made me to be even if that person pushes the barriers of what it means to be imperfect, my empty spaces are filled and I understand true connection.

Among other characteristics, qualities, and quirks, I am a confident, introverted, personality type who is also supremely awkward, and inept in particular social situations. Overall, I am a person who prefers to escape, and in short, I struggle with some co-occurring anxiety stuff. If I can even smell conflict, confrontation,  or any situation that makes me feel like it could be considered ‘high-stress’ I just prefer to disappear.

My life is calm and I am happy to say, drama free. My boundaries with my family ensure that I am not in any immediate danger, I don’t get screamed at or threatened anymore. No fist fights, no yelling matches, nothing. My relationships are safe and typically dysfunctional.

And it’s beautiful.

Over the years (special thanks to counseling and my healthy boundaries), I have learned about why I experience anxiety and what (mostly who) triggers it. My anxieties have lessened and aren’t as widespread, but there are a few areas where it will still try to rule over and suffocate me.

For instance, I have no problem getting up and sharing my story with large groups. Churches, treatment centers, small groups, meetings. Totally fine. I am confident and even excited to have opportunities like that. I can have a one-on-one conversation with a friend, and can manage having the passing, pleasantry type of interactions just fine.

But when I am thrown into any situation involving an unknown, (e.g., ice-breaker ‘activity’ “Let’s go around the room, state your name, or why you’re here or your favorite _______!”) one by one, in front of a large group of people, or am invited to be a part of a discussion panel or a podcast, I instantly freeze up.

The same feeling washes over me if I am introduced to a stranger and then abruptly left alone, standing there expected to carry on the conversation. (e.g., “Oh, hey Jill, this is my friend Brittany. I just think you two have so much in common!”)

No. No and more no.
Please, just stop.

“Maybe, if I sit still enough or quiet enough, they will skip right over me.”

“Which path can I take from here to make a break for the bathroom in the most unsuspecting, casual, way?” (as if anyone really gives a shit if I get up to use the restroom).

“How can I get out of this?”

If I fail to actually morph into an inanimate object, which most of the time I doesn’t happen, I will stay and participate or try to carry on the conversation for exactly the least amount of time that is socially acceptable.

And somehow I don’t actually die.

I will sweat and my mind and heart will race so rapidly that I have to fix my eyes on something to avoid vomiting, but I try to breathe deep and remind myself that although my feelings and the tingling sensations are very real, my anxieties aren’t logical. It isn’t real, and it will be okay. I am not in actual danger and all of my red flags need to chill. But I still feel terrified,out of control, and have to fight through every natural instinct that still lives within me not to run away.

Sometimes when it is my turn to respond out-loud and unplanned in a group setting my answers take what feels like three whole minutes to come out of my mouth before I start talking. I might mix up my words or stumble around trying to come up with an answer, and if there’s food involved you can bet that I will always shake just enough to drop pieces of lettuce on my shirt as I try to look as calm and casual as whoever I am sitting next to.

If I had to try to explain it to someone I would say it’s different for everyone, and anxiety by definition is a normal phenomenon. It is when you have a disorder that it becomes difficult to manage and to navigate, and even harder to help make sense to those who have never experienced it.

For me it is like a tiny, raging, internal battle for control of my attention. On the outside I might just look like a shy or uninterested person with drops of salad dressing on her shirt who can’t carry on in intelligible conversation.

On the inside I am overwhelmed and distracted by all of the red flags that are unnecessarily popping up warning me of ‘unknown’ things happening; warning me of impending danger that is too close. My body is gearing up for take-off as I silently work to turn off the engines against its wishes.

So. I still find myself battling old demons from time to time, but at least my life isn’t actually in imminent danger so that is something to be grateful for.

And listen.
I struggle.
And I probably look stupid, or maybe that is my anxiety talking.
And I know at times I am misunderstood.
And sometimes I want to wear a sign or hand out cards so that people would stop asking me why I am “so quiet.” (Nope, just talking myself into staying, thanks.)

But most importantly I push myself. I want to quit. I want to run and hide, but I don’t.
I go to ladies events,  holiday parties, birthday parties etc. I play board games with our family that force me to stand up in front of all of them and look really, really, ridiculous and vulnerable (Quelf).
And sometimes I hate it.

I have to talk myself out of staying home, or not participating, or making excuses to avoid going EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Not because I enjoy self-torture, but because I know what my track-record looks like when I choose isolation over interaction.

It’s a dangerous game.

I also know that I cannot make any progress if I don’t make some attempt to try.

I might succeed, and by succeed I mean make it through from start to finish without leaving.

And sometimes I skip one event or invite but try to make it to the next thing.

But I go at my own pace. I go.

I deep into God’s truth and I hold onto the reassurance that His strength is sufficient. I use that strength to resist giving my internal fears one nano-second more of me, my life, or my opportunities to build and engage in my relationships, than I have already missed. I have buckled, and I have given in, and I have cowered in fear, I have hidden, and stayed down, too many times throughout my life for far too long, and have missed so much already.

So no thank you, anxiety.

I might not be able to get rid of you completely in every area of my life, but I will continue to fight through you every single time.

So I encourage you, not to do what I do or to think how i think, or to believe how I believe, but only to challenge yourself a little bit.

Challenge your old ways of thinking or and your comfortably uncomfortable ways of reacting.

Whatever a tweak or a change or a step in a progressive, healthy, direction looks like for you, safely within the confines of your life, do that.

Take tiny little baby steps, but push yourself out there a little bit further than you ever have. If you’re anything like me you will get discouraged, you will take one step forward and ten steps backward, you might get salad on your shirt, or trip over the carpet on your way to run to any other room than the one you are in that has people, but even so, decide those things will not be the reasons that you decide to quit trying altogether.

Because inconsistency is not synonymous with failure. 

Be nice to yourself as you are transforming. Life and change and growth is hard enough.

(Note: As a former substance abuser of all kinds, and a person who spent years addicted and dependent on prescription medication, I choose not to medicate myself for my anxiety disorder(s). My mental health is important, but I do what is best for my life as a whole. It is a personal choice that is best for me. However, I am not advocating for the ‘pulling yourself up by your bootstraps’ technique and barreling through without medication, especially if medication can benefit you and improve your quality of life. I am, however, always an advocate for pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.) 

 

Guest: Andrew-From Alcoholic to Workaholic

andyoneguestpost
How do you define success?

In my opinion success is not the amount of money I make, the car that I drive or the clothes that I wear.

Success for me is being 8 years sober, running a growing business that employs deserving people, and providing a great service to our clients.

**I have never shared my story on the internet and I think it is about time.  

My family and I immigrated to Southern California from Colombia in 1986. My childhood in SoCal was great. My parents were both very hard-working and provided my siblings and I a good upbringing.

But I was 12 years old the first time I got drunk.

As a Colombian, our family parties are awesome.
Everyone eats, dances and has a great time.
Often that ‘great time’ is accompanied by a little anise-flavored drink called Aguardiente.

We were at a family party and the adults were taking shots of this strong-smelling drink. Being the very curious kid that I was I wanted to know what it tasted like. After multiple rejections from the man passing the shots around he finally became inebriated enough (and annoyed enough) to give me a shot…and then another… and another.

I loved the feeling.

It made me feel more confident.
I danced salsa all night long with my sister and cousins. From that day on I understood that alcohol made me feel less insecure, therefore I drank whenever I got the chance.

-At 14 I smoked marijuana for the first time. I took it and ran with it.

-At 19 I was introduced to meth and the beginning of the end of that chapter of my life.

-At 23 I was incarcerated in Idaho on drug related charges for two years. I was near my rock bottom.

While incarcerated I was introduced to a program called Alcoholics Anonymous.
At first, I would go to meetings just to get time out of my cell for a few hours. Then I found out about Narcotics Anonymous and started going to those too…for the same reason.

I wouldn’t speak, I wouldn’t share, I wouldn’t participate; I truly believed that it was a bunch of B.S. and that I didn’t have a problem but it didn’t take long for some of the stories that I heard shared to strike a chord.

A story that really killed me inside was one from a psychiatrist, who was three years in on a five-year stint for a third DUI/hit and run.

He recounted how his alcoholism fueled his rage one night at a local bar. He got into a verbal altercation with his wife, which led him to getting plastered at a local bar, which ended with him surrounded by cop cars after running over a brick wall.

The story really wasn’t what actually struck a chord, it was what he said after.
He said that while locked up he had come to a conclusion about his anger. He said that he was just a soft 13-year-old boy who gets his feelings hurt easily. He said, “if we dissect backwards we can all come to that same conclusion: rage spawns from anger, anger spawns from hurt, hurt spawns getting your little f****ing feelings hurt.”

And I didn’t sleep that night.

At that moment I realized that I had an alcohol problem.
I had an addiction problem.
I had an anger problem.
A personality problem…a life problem.

It has been 12 years since I heard those words from the psychiatrist and I can still remember them all. From the tone of his voice to the smell of the jail issued soap I used that morning.

AA and NA helped me get through my jail time. I was able to have a daily routine and stick to it. I had a great sponsor, support from other inmates, and was able to go to two meetings a week. Then I was released and I was both happy and apprehensive. I had not been out on the streets AND sober, for a very long time.

After multiple relapses, multiple AA and NA meetings I decided to check myself into a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in Idaho. That got me back “on the wagon” for a while, but fell off again.

When I was 26 years-old I was broke and feeling ashamed and guilty.
I decided that I had to focus my energy on something else.

I moved back to California and to make a long story short I found myself selling knock-off perfume on the street. It was a multi-level marketing company that gave you knock-off perfume on consignment, and then you had to go out and hustle.

I became obsessed with being the best salesman I could be and after 2 months I was 10 pounds lighter, and attending AA and NA meetings regularly;  I had my own office in Fremont, California, training others on how to go out and hustle perfume.

I purposefully mentioned the 10 pounds I lost to accentuate my new obsession.

I became so focused on growing the business that sometimes I wouldn’t eat. I had no real friends, and I wouldn’t even call my parents.

I had traded drugs and alcohol for…work.

At the time I was introduced to Jeffery Combs’ book Psychologically Unemployable (Jeffery is also a recovering addict). In the book there was a part that said not to confuse addiction with passion.

That there’s a fine line between being a workaholic and a passionate entrepreneur.
I sold the business and moved back down to my parents house in Southern California.

Now 28, living at my parents house, I was working at Target and felt passionless.
Luckily I was able to find a great AA/NA community close by and my sponsor at the time gave me a task.

He told me to go sign up for a class at the local community college. I really didn’t want to do that, but he said that it was not a suggestion, that if I wanted to continue working with him that I had to go take a class.

A week later I was at the Saddleback Community College campus looking through their course catalog. There was nothing I was interested in, until I saw a course called intro to website development (HTML). I thought, “I like computers and websites…why not?”

Three months later my room at my parent’s house was full of HTML and website design books. After a while I decided that I could make a business out of it. I had already overcome my fear of sales (selling perfume on the streets to strangers) so selling website design to local businesses would be a cakewalk.

And 8 years later  here I am.

I now co-own a website development agency.
I have a staff that I feel are like my family, and as a matter of fact, my brother is part of the team.
We are currently based out of Medellin, Colombia. Ironically, my parents left Colombia seeking a better life for us and I’ve come back to Colombia with that better life trying to help the local economy, while helping businesses in the U.S. with their online presence.

Once sober and committed to my sobriety, I didn’t try to become an amazing developer and build the next Facebook; instead, I evaluated my strengths and passions and decided how I could best utilize my skills to build a business that could employ people and help businesses.

Early in my sobriety I felt like every little step I took was all about me, and in a sense it was. I mean everything you do early on has a big impact. Every single step you take, every single piece of homework your sponsor gives you, every piece of literature you read is all about you and your recovery.

But after a while, you start to realize that there’s a bigger reason for your sobriety.

Whether it’s to help your parents buy a house and retire, provide your children with a great life, work at a company and help it grow, or start your own company and employ people who depend on you, there’s a larger importance to your sobriety other than just your own well-being.

You may not see it now, but everything you are doing right now will have a greater impact in the future.

Good luck and thank you for reading.

Andrew was born in Bogota, Colombia, but was raised in Los Angeles California. He is a recovering addict / alcoholic with 8 years of sobriety under his belt. He is also an entrepreneur, the proud owner of RedDoorStudios.com.co.

 

A Grateful Mother’s Day

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I have taken advantage of the opportunities to learn from my addiction and my former debilitating lifestyle in all its glory; the one that deadened and demanded it have my whole person, but mostly, forcefully snatched my desire or ability to focus on or experience anything that I would perceive as good.

Being an unhealthy person overall (physically, mentally, spiritually, and emotionally) was exhausting.
It helped me to keep the traumatic & painful things at the forefront of my mind and I really didn’t know how to shut down the continuous loop that reeled inside of my head.

I was continuously reminded of the pain because I did a good job making sure that my old wounds stayed raw, and fresh. I hated who I was, but most of my underlying rage was directed very specifically toward my mother.

I wasn’t aware that the bitterness and resentment that I had been holding onto would also become the starting point where most of my healing would take place in recovery.

Loving someone who has struggled with mental-illness and addiction my entire life is comparable to the stages of emotion one experiences when they are grieving, except for its a little different.
Physically she has always been here and she is still alive today, but she hasn’t ever been, and still isn’t available. I never had the privilege of knowing her, but I have had a front row seat to watch the slow deterioration process.

So in honor of her and because of my grief,
I never really let celebrate Mother’s Day.

Despite being a young mother myself, it almost felt disrespectful to enjoy the it. Instead, I spent it mourning what I never had and what I would never have. This holiday magnified all of my negative feelings and gave me an excuse to feel sorry for myself year after year.

I would cry throughout the day wondering what things could have been like or what it might have been like to have her around, or who she might be if she was healthy or what our relationship could have been like if it was ever given the chance to develop.

I would imagine what it would be like to meet my mom for lunch or shopping. What if one day we went to get our nails done, what would that be like? Maybe she could have gone to my wedding, or maybe I should have tried to find her to come to the hospital for at least one of my children being born? What would it be like to invite her over for dinner? What does she like to eat? Then I would start wondering how she spends her Mother’s Day. Is it still traumatic for her?  Does she still blame herself for my brother’s passing?

Then I would seamlessly transition to all that I never had. I wouldn’t let myself forget that when I was a little girl I never had anyone to watch get ready, or to share lipstick with. No one to talk about adolescent girly types of things, no one to laugh with, no one to talk about boys with. As I got older I didn’t call her when I found out I was expecting my first baby, my second, or my third. My labor came and went without any contact with her or connection of any kind. Post-par-tum days weren’t any different. She didn’t know that my life had changed, and she wasn’t interested.

Just like my addiction in its organic form, this entire process was completely inward focused. I couldn’t see any of the good around me because I was so focused and determined on all of the negative things. 

But my recovery taught me how to sort through all of the negative feelings that I had relating to all of those things that I never had and would likely never experience. I learned that In order to allow myself to move forward I needed to accept what is and forgive her for what wasn’t.

And then God took it a step further.

It became so much more than acceptance, and having my feelings validated.
It was more than processing and healing.
It was more than being free and more than the ability to move forward.

Somehow I became grateful that my life went the way that it did.
Somehow I was able to look back without wanting to change it all.
I was thankful for the messes and the trauma and being the ‘unfortunate kid.’

It is why I can sit here with tears welled-up in my eyes, so thankful to be here writing this.
It is why I can celebrate Mother’s Day:

*My experiences are the reason why it is so important to me to encourage other moms to stay sober and why I want to help them to stay strong for their babies. Their kids need them. I know how much of a difference that having them will make in their lives. I also know that it doesn’t matter to a child when a parent gets sober, it really won’t make a difference to them. They will just be over the moon excited and relieved.

*My experiences are the reason why I want to be a part of fighting for people who are struggling with the stigmas that have formed around people and families with mental illness and addiction. They are the reason why I don’t believe in labels. These things make an already difficult situation so much more shameful for all involved. I fight for people who I have never met, because we are all connected in this thing, even if we’re strangers.

*My experiences are the reason why I am so grateful to be a mommy, and I am okay with being an imperfect one. My mother is imperfect and I still love her, so I know that I can’t possibly screw up my kids that bad, so I have already made a little bit of progress with the legacy that I will someday leave behind. Progress people, progress.

*My experiences aren’t debilitating anymore and they aren’t powerful in the sense that they can have me down in my bed for days in tear-soaked bed sheets.
They are powerful in the sense that they have become my purpose, and my primary motivation to love my kids so hard that they won’t ever spend a Mother’s Day trying to figure out what they could have done wrong, or different, or better.

This is what drives me to keep cheering for all of the parents out there who are in recovery.

You guys rock and *you* might not believe it yet, but you are changing the world by changing your life. We can change the trajectory of the little lives we are in charge of, and that is amazing.

You matter and changing your life matters even on days where you can’t feel that it matters. 

Our kids see us fighting to get our lives back and they will see how determined that we are- and they will begin to see their own resilience and freedom to choose.

For me, God has taken a holiday that used to have me face down in the mud, and has breathed so much new life into it, so much that I can’t put into words. His love for me has shown me how to love other people. I had a wonderful Mother’s Day with the little people who I have been loaned, and I hope that they know how much my love for them has driven me to be a better woman.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of my beautiful mama friends. 

(Side-note: I am not trying to feed stigma here. I am writing about undiagnosed, mismanaged or misdiagnosed mental-illness. It is possible and very common for THOUSANDS of people who have a mental illness to live happy, healthy, productive, stable, awesome lives.)

Recovering Out Loud.

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I have received a ton of positive and uplifting feedback in reference to the “guest posts/shares” section of this blog. 
I really wanted to take a second say thank you, and share my thoughts on why its important to share our stories as people who are living in recovery from drugs and alcohol. 

Among all of the unanswered questions and despite all of the conflicting scientific research that we have regarding the origin of addiction,

there are some simple, general things that we do know and can agree on when it comes to helping others who struggle with addiction or early recovery.

Without getting too detailed…

Here are a few things that we know:

We CANNOT:  
*We know that we cannot ‘save’ other people.
*We have come to accept & understand that we cannot ‘change’ other people.
*We are aware of the fact that people have to do the work themselves for lasting change to occur.
*We are not responsible for the progress (or lack of) in anyone else’s journey.

We CAN: 
*We can pray for them.
*We can befriend people who struggle; treat them ethically (ya know like other humans)- with fairness, respect, and dignity.
*We can support them by listening or being there for them in other simple ways (that are in within the limits of our personal boundaries.)
*We can encourage them to keep going.
*We can choose to recover out loud.

That is what this post is about.
What exactly does it mean to recover “out loud”?
It actually sounds pretty scary to a lot of people.
But it’s really just another tool that we the option to utilize
as people who are living healthy lives in recovery.

It basically means that you are sharing your story- in some capacity,
in hopes of helping another human -in some capacity.

It can look different with each person who participates, and can mean a broad range of things.
There are countless ways to participate and it is all up to you when it comes to the details.

It isn’t necessarily shouting out your story to every single person that you bump elbows with. (People in the grocery store, in your apartment elevator, the stairs, on your lunch break etc.)

It doesn’t have to be you standing in front of a large group of people from your local community giving an honest account of all of the mistakes that you have made and what steps you have taken to redeem yourself.

Could it mean those things? Yes.
But it could be that you choose other ways.

-You might not want to share within your local community.
-Maybe you prefer online only.
-Maybe you want to talk with individuals only.
-It could be that you feel most compelled, connected, or comfortable speaking with people of the same sex.
-It may be that you only want to share online as an anonymous person, or under an alias.
-A lot of people’s hands are tied, due to their occupation/job security/career which is completely understandable.
-Others are fear stricken; unable to even imagine what it would be like to be ostracized from within their family, their community, or social circles.
-Many people are completely okay with sharing in a meeting as an anonymous person only,
and have have every intention of keeping it that way.

and that’s all okay.

For whatever reasons that you choose not to share,  or however you choose to recover out loud…
I just want you to know that I completely respect your choice and your right to do things your way. 

In my opinion, what it looks like to recover out loud
should be just as personal of a road as your road to recovery has been.

It should be a tailored, well-thought out, perfect -for- you kind of thing.
Your version of recovering “out loud” definitely needs to be cohesive and fit with your particular needs, wants, wishes, desires, and overall comfort level.

If you are curious or interested in taking a step toward living a loud recovery- but don’t know where to start or what to do, I would encourage you to take some time and really look at what, if anything, you feel comfortable with.
Start there. Just entertain all of your options. Give it some thought.
Almost everyone I have met in recovery is just bursting at the seams with stories of hope, and everyone has a special story that might be THE story that helps someone.

Remember that you can start super small, you can go at your own pace for as long as you want-
and you can make adjustments at any time, if or when you feel its necessary.

Although we all have different ways of coping,
different ways of relaxing, meditating, recovering,  embracing serenity- 

and we also completely different ways of recovering “out loud”……..

The IMPACT that we can have on another person is similar:

*We will help another person to hold on and to keep going a little while longer, until they can figure out how to do the next right thing.

*We will all be surprised on how powerful our voices or actions can be in the life of another.

*Our hearts will be forever changed when we step out into a land of vulnerability-
and are met with support, love, and with gratitude from strangers who have been in hiding, who just really needed to hear that they aren’t in fact “the only one’s” ………..

and we truly never know what another person is need of and what they will hear, feel, read, or see that just might encourage them to push through.


Guest: Alexandrea- Choosing to Live a Sober Life

I’ve never written about this.

Most of the people in my life know nothing about it, yet here I am, penning an entire article about the dirty little secret my family adamantly ignores as much as possible.

Whenever we gather, there’s an elephant in the room. I grew up with him.

For the first decade or so of my life I didn’t even know he was there. All I knew was that there was something that kept my mother’s side of the family disjointed and angry. Over the years I managed to catch tiny tidbits of the stories; little pieces of information I was never meant to know, but I learned anyway. I got in trouble quite a few times for being in “grown folks business.”

What I learned was this:

  • At some point, my mother and her many siblings were placed in foster care before going to live with her grandmother.
  • There were hushed accounts of molestation and incestuous rape that everyone skated around and avoided like the plague.
  • My mother and her siblings were subjected to severe abuse, including being locked in a closet, burned, beaten, and left unattended for days at a time.
  • My grandmother was addicted to drugs, including heroin and cocaine.

 

None of these things made sense when I was younger; it wasn’t until my teenage years that I began to really understand.

When I was eleven I met a woman named Queen for the very first time. She was introduced to me by my cousin as ‘auntie Queen’ and I remember feeling uneasy around her whenever she was around, which honestly wasn’t often. Queen dressed strangely- always in at least three layers of clothes. I recall thinking it was so strange that she wore a beat-up old coat in the middle of Florida summers.

 

I remember my mother being upset that I had been around Queen but not really understanding it. She was so angry; there was furious yelling like I’d never heard before, and my home was hardly a silent one. I remember being told to never be alone with her or another recently introduced member of my extended family- an uncle.

 

I remember being alone with that uncle. I remember suddenly understanding why I was supposed to stay away from him.

 

When I was about 14, I was blindsided by a revelation: Queen was not my aunt, she was my grandmother. It made no sense to me, then, but looking back it should have. My mother and I called the same woman grandma- of course she was actually my great-grandmother. Her name was Virginia and she was a powerhouse, the loving and gracious. I miss her dearly at the strangest times.

 

My mother sat me down just once to explain what happened in her childhood. She told me about the neglect and abuse she and her siblings endured at the hand of their mother, under the influence of drugs and a (then undiagnosed) mental illness. She told me about taking the brunt of it as the oldest in order to protect the younger kids. She terrified me and broke my heart in one go.

 

Not long after that, my mother left. In the middle of the day, she was shipped off in the back of a police car and immediately Baker Acted. She had written a letter to a friend, confessing that she was on the verge of suicide. She told her friend she would take my brother and I with her, so we wouldn’t suffer without her. Her friend saved our lives by calling the cops before we ever got home from school.

 

To be honest, I’m not sure what would have happened if she hadn’t.

 

That began a tumultuous period in my life, filled with powerful emotional pain and confusion as my mother was in and out of mental health hospitals, trying to finally deal with the demons in her past. I remember being so angry; so terrified; so lost. I harbored that anger for a long, long time. To be honest, I still haven’t been able to address it with my mother, even though I am no longer angry. I have abandonment and trust issues, and a gnawing fear for my own mental health because of what happened through my childhood and teenage years.

 

That’s the saga of Queen. That’s what addiction does- even generations removed.

 

The damage isn’t limited to my corner of the family. Though my mother has proven strong enough to forgive the woman who never asked for it, most of her brothers and sisters were not able to do so. Three of my mother’s siblings developed substance abuse disorders. One of my aunts- a twin to my uncle- died due to HIV complications after contracting the virus through needle sharing. I ache for her daughter, even though she is older than I am.

 

Virginia, the woman I will forever call my grandmother, died three years ago. I haven’t seen Queen since the funeral; she’s now living with one of my uncles and his wife.

 

As far as I know she has been sober for at least a decade now. In a weird way I’m proud of her, yet I feel like she is a stranger. I don’t know if she thinks of me as anything different. I’m not sure I want her to. But I would be lying if I said she didn’t play an important role in my life, even if she was absent of much of it: she is the very reason I lead a sober life.

I’m sure she never imagined her life turning out the way that it did. For my grandmother, my mother, and yes, even for her, I am doing the best I can to make sure I don’t follow her.

 

 

Meet Alexandrea:

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Alexandrea Holder is a South Florida native working toward double Master’s degrees in Psychology and English. She finds the psychological aspects of addiction and mental illness fascinating, as both are prevalent in her family’s history. Through her work with Harbor Village Rehabilitation in Miami, FL she has garnered valuable insight and experiences which she applies to her work and personal life. When not researching and spreading addiction awareness, Alexandrea enjoys sparring, artistic pursuits, and admiring puppies online.  

I Don’t Belong In a Church

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I have been reflecting on my time and my experiences with Celebrate Recovery, and although I don’t attend meetings anymore, there are so many things that this program taught me.

It is okay to be *exactly* who you are inside of an actual church:
During one of the very first large group sessions that I attended I heard a testimony. I had never met anyone who had overcome drug-addiction and lived to tell about it which was extraordinary, but
when I heard the word cocaine thrown around, along with hearing about extramarital affairs,
I legit thought that was it for all of us. I was already convinced that my I might actually burst into flames just by being in there in the first place.
I had an uneasy feeling that right there in that big room with the pews, (which I later learned is called a sanctuary) we were definitely breaking some weird illuminati-ish code, or some historical or religious law of some kind, for sure.
Maybe lightning would strike us dead sometime soon.
I really didn’t know how God worked but that guy speaking was talking about using drugs and cheating on his wife.
C|R taught me that the church is not for perfect people, but more so, the why of that is what was most important. We aren’t called to, asked, or expected to be perfect – just willing.
The more I heard about God, and learned about who this Jesus was as a man and what that meant for a person like me, the more I realized that the church could be my home too.
I learned that it was more than alright to be honest about who I was, where I came from, and the things that I had done…. it was necessary. It was necessary to understand why I need Jesus in the first place. In Celebrate Recovery you are allowed and encouraged to come exactly as you are, and without any of your masks.

We don’t have to have the same problems in order to connect.
Celebrate Recovery asks that we take a few steps back to see the bigger picture.
When we walk through the doors of a C|R meeting we are seeking a safe place; a shelter from our storm. We may not have all be experiencing the same storm, but we are all there in search of relief.
We all took different scenic routes to come to this place where we find ourselves walking through the doors of a meeting. Loss, grief, sadness, emptiness, anger, resentment, emotional exhaustion all feel the same when you look up and find yourself buried in an inescapable trench.
And we can all relate to the feeling of not having control of our lives anymore, and not having an idea how to begin to try to put the pieces back together again.
For one reason or another, we cannot live the way that we are living any longer, and that is a feeling that we can all relate to.

Despite what lawyers, family members, probation officers, police officers, teachers, a guidance counselor and even some random strangers had said to me at one point or another throughout my roller coaster ride it was actually possible to turn things around and start over again. (Thanks)
I don’t know how many times I heard the phrase “your slate can been cleaned” in the first handful of meetings I attended.
I sang unfamiliar (Christian) songs and uttered the words “white as snow” more times than I can remember. It took awhile for me to connect the dots. I really did not get what white snow had to do with God. I didn’t know who Jesus was, that he was referred to as the Lamb, that His blood meant anything to me personally or that all of these things were connected. What I did understand at the time is that a clean slate sounded pretty good to me. Hearing about this clean slate opportunity really did speak to me deep down inside of the black emptiness that probably use to have my soul in it. It was like an answer to my innermost desires that I couldn’t put into words. I wanted to get rid of all of the things that I had been walking around with for so many years. So I was totally open to hearing about this clean slate thing and maybe kept going back to see how exactly we could make that happen.

Although I had no idea at the time, I was unpacking a little bit each week. With each tear shed, and with each step I took, I was waking toward a cross that I didn’t understand. 
Eventually, I came to a place where I just said- I want my slate to be wiped clean. I want to start over.

Somehow, believing that it was a possibility even for me, sparked a tiny bit of hope. I still hadn’t accepted Jesus at this time, but I knew that these people had something that I really wanted; unwavering peace and brand new lives.

My ‘home’  group is Celebrate Recovery (C|R). It is 12-step, Christ-centered program. Although this program is similar to AA & NA, there are many distinct differences too.
(If you would like to read more about Celebrate Recovery, click here or here.)

December, 2016 will make TEN years since I walked through the doors and into my first meeting.
(I made a video about it that you can watch here if you are interested.)

This was where I navigated through the 12-steps.
This is where I sought weekly refuge after each hellish sober week that I got through, and some that I didn’t make it through completely sober. It was my safe haven for a long time. It was a place where I slowly (and mostly reluctantly) trudged through the bulk of my muddy past.

 

Hot Mess, Party of One.

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October and November were uncharacteristically difficult for me.
Like really crappy.

I mean we all have stress, and we all have our fair share of ‘lifey’ kinds of things that are always happening. Hell I know and have been praying for some families who are really struggling with some serious things right now.

But I also know that we *all* have days that we just want to be alone or need to be alone, for whatever reason.

Sometimes there is just too much stuff to try and attempt to balance, even if it is not life-threatening or mountain-moving kind of stuff…

Obviously, I am not one to give up and just quit.
But I have finally come to the realization that I am not, in fact, She-Ra, Princess of Power.
And guess what? That’s okay.

I accept that I am just a person who can only handle so much but I still struggle with reaching out and talking to people when I am having a tough time.

I would be one-hundred-million percent more comfortable walking into a CR meeting and sharing my troubles or current situation(s) than I would picking up a phone and calling a friend.

Believe it or not, I never (like, ever) share a lot of personal things with anyone in my ‘real’ life
(and by real I mean people who I don’t see face to face; aka, not cyber friends) with the exception of my husband.

Which is sort of odd…
(odd because I spent years openly sharing my character defaults with random strangers, or odd because I air most of my past and present personal failures and mistakes on a public blog kind of odd)…..

But some of this is because I like to write, journal, and reflect on things alone.
Some of it is that my life has been in shambles before; at one point completely void & shredded.
I always seem to feel a need to remind myself that ‘this is not ‘shambles’ and to suck it up.
A little bit of it is that I tend to not want to burden anyone or bother anyone, or make it seem like I am complaining -especially when I have a truck load of blessings in my life.
And then a lot of it is that in my experience, it can sometimes feel that many people actually enjoy hearing your weaknesses or when you are barely keeping your head above water.
Lastly, a huge chunk of it is because there are times that I could share my heart until it was purged of all of the stressors or things weighing heavily on my thoughts and still not felt any real peace or relief.
I feel that there are just some things that only God can pull you through and the rest is unnecessary background noise.

A tinge of postpartum has lingered and surrounded my head for a while.
I have felt like it wasn’t ever going to ease up. I say a tinge because on a scale of one to ten, I was probably pushing five, but it still felt like five gazillion pounds.
(I don’t mean to insult anyone who has experienced severe postpartum by saying I have experienced a ‘tinge’…like that’s even close to medical terminology/diagnosis)

but what I experienced this time around after baby number three, has just been different from my other experiences. I have really just felt ‘off’ and super teary, and very sensitive and then very void at other times.

So, add that in the normal day-to-day AND things like:
-Our family dynamic changing and trying to rearrange what an average day looks like around here (tentatively, of course)
-My oldest son having issues with a particular (bullyish) kind of situation at school,
-Middle son starting a brand new sport
-My husband being out-of-town or working every weekend in October,
-Personal familial boundaries being rocked at their comfortable core by life sucking relative situations (probate/estate kind of matters)

I just started to feel suffocated.

I literally stopped in the middle of my work out about a month ago to pour out old wine that I knew was in the basement refrigerator.
I went the safe route only because old nasty garage freezer kept catching my eye. In my experience if an inanimate object ‘catches your eye’ …that is called a red flag.

Anyway I knew. I knew while I was pouring out the wine that I needed to re-center. I needed to un-plug, and I needed to consider that my mental state wasn’t picking back up where I left of before my pregnancy began.

I have learned that I have to allow myself to hit the reset button; unapologetically.

I know that it is okay to take some time away from whatever (for me it was social media)
to refocus on my core priorities, and essentially, get my sh*t back together.

I have to step back and remind myself of how big our God really is.

I have to remind myself that certain people in my family have to be watched carefully. They possess the ability, if power is given, to suck the positivity right out of my soul.
And also, to remind myself which responsibilities are mine, and which ones are not.

I have decided that I am going to force myself to let people in. Well at least one person. I suppose periodic updates are in order, so I will have to get back to you on that one.

Reflecting on why my self-care regimen is so important to me and my vitality feels good. I am reminded that I have to always continue to do what is best for me and what makes the most sense for my person, and obviously, my sobriety.

Things are coming back around and I am finally feeling like a ‘me’ that I recognize again.
The rest of the things will work themselves out eventually, all things do. I am going to do my best not to over-think every possible outcome and allow things to just- be.

Looking forward to spending our holiday break together eating good things, hanging out and making memories as we celebrate Jesus’ birth and Max’s very first Christmas holiday.

Thank you for reading, friends.

My #Mommitment Changed Everything.

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I took a pledge. I made a commitment.
I am a part of a movement.
A mom-movement dedicated to kindness and non-judging of other moms..
 known online as #Mommitment. 

Since discovering the original article on Twitter a few months ago
(you can read that here: http://www.nextlifenokids.com/2015/01/tired-of-mom-wars-why-im-making.html) and making my own personal pledge, I have found that nothing and everything has changed.

The nothing is that my day-to-day life is exactly the same.
The everything is that I am much more aware and intentional about two things: 

1. The judging or squashing of mommies into my pre-conceived ready-made boxes. 
I have thrown those boxes out.
I have been doing my best to give other moms the same kind of love and acceptance that I desire.

This can be as simple as a smile in the grocery store directed at a mom whose 3-year old is flailing around on the aisle floor, instead of shaking my head in disappointment over her obvious lack of control over her strong-willed child…….

Or maybe the more complicated and annoying situations like I found myself in on Sunday. Stuck on a plane sitting directly in front of the one obnoxious, tired, toddler on board.
Lucky me.
The high-pitched, banshee boy (who was also adorable btw)
kicked and poked the back of my seat for two plus hours.
He managed to whine and complain about his particular seat location, and needed to potty every time the seat-belt sign lit up.

I could hear his mom trying every trick and parenting technique (re-directing, singing songs, coloring, games, bribery, jokes, etc.) in the book. I heard the grinding of dad’s teeth through his disciplinary attempts.. (on Father’s Day).
As a mom, I could empathize with mom, and knew there was a strong possibility that she was feeling a little bit embarrassed and frustrated.

Instead of commenting under my breath, or complaining about how terrible he was or how much better his mother could have handled the situation(s) I played hide and seek with the kid. My goal was to distract. It worked for a few minutes.
Eventually, something else set him off all over again, but hopefully this mom could feel that at least one person on the plane that morning wasn’t judging her.

Sometimes that helps more than we realize.

2.  I refuse to allow myself to shrink internally when it is obvious that I am being judged. 
The moments that I can actually feel the stares of the eyes of those who are begrudgingly trying to do the math to figure out how old I must have been to have a 13 year old,

or those strangers who snarl when they see I am dragging around three young people with (gasp)
………no wedding ring on!?!?
(I have been having allergic reactions to my wedding ring)….

Or when I whip out my Enfamil in public to feed my hungry infant….
(I tried my best to breastfeed a starving boy with a lip tie for three long months)

There are always going to be those select few who seem to enjoy letting it be known that their disapproval is VERY important. We should absorb their negativity and allow it to saturate our beings.
(not.)

I have realized that as with anything in my life, I have to be intentional if I want to get things done and keep that peace that I value so much in my world.

My relationship with the Lord has to be intentionally kept and taken care of in order to grow, my relationship with my husband and the quality of our marriage depends on intentionality, my reactions and interactions with my children, and especially my personal recovery. Its growth depends on me being mindful and intentional.

Same thing with this.

Yes it would certainly be like an added bonus to catch a smile instead of a floor to ceiling glare down..but I personally don’t have anything to prove to anyone.
It is not their job to know the ‘real’ story behind the surface.
This is about my personal peace. It is MINE.
and it is my job to keep it.

This #Mommitment thing has really helped me.

Not only have I been able to connect with a large group of diverse and equally loving mommies, I have learned to respect differences more.
I want other moms to feel confident in who they are and to feel like they have people in their corner who are different, but who understand.

I am committed to continuing being intentional in my interactions with other moms, and in brushing off the judgment of others.

If you want to learn more about this, check out this page:
All you have to do is ‘like’ it and you can be a part of this awesomeness.
(Quiet and discreetly if you choose!)
https://www.facebook.com/Mommitment?fref=ts

 

 

Closet Bloggers: 3 Reasons to Click ‘Publish’

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In 2011, I began by blogging for therapy. Over time, after I did some growing and healing,
I thought that it might be cool if God could use me in any way possible to help just ONE person.
Just ONE I told myself.
Then.. I would feel like I had done some good.

Somehow, sharing my innermost thoughts and my colossal screw-ups, could help someone else. Right?
Over the past 5 years, I have shared THE most embarrassing, mortifying, shameful, details of my life with complete strangers on the internet.

Surprisingly, I have received a lot of positive feedback.

I have never really felt pressure on what to share, what not to share, if I am wrong, offensive, too safe or not, politically correct, or correct at all.

I simply share my thoughts, my feelings, my heart, sometimes my accomplishments, but mostly random things that I am feeling led to share.
Sometimes it isn’t that deep, sometimes I just need to vent.

Either way, this type of creative freedom feels great.

It’s actually freeing.

Lately, I have read posts written by people who are apprehensive to post their thoughts on their blog.
They have a desire to write, they write, but they never post it.

They want to. They debate about it. But…

for one reason or another, clicking that publish button creates internal conflict and anxiety for some of these nice, talented, passionate people.

I cannot imagine what this must feel like.

Torture, really. Torture.

Think about it.
Not doing something because of the fear that comes over you.
Not doing it because of what other people may think.

Creatively, this is the worst kind of constrictive box that we put ourselves in.

(Apparently, I have spent the last 5 years off in my own little blogging bubble, throwing my intimate thoughts to the wolves without a second thought.)

It really could sort of drive you mad thinking about what the thousands of other people out there who blog are thinking about your posts, especially those who are experts or experienced in your particular niche…

IF you thought about it. (or over-thought about it)

If critics were going to stop me from sharing, I would have deleted this domain years ago.

….I am sure it would be different if I blogged to competitively (does that even exist?) or for money,
or maybe if it was a source of income for my family.

….Maybe if I had an official job title at some huge corporation. Maybe if living in a self-made psychological prison sounded good to me…but it doesn’t.

This is my bubble. My domain. My ‘safe’ place.
I share what I share, and that is the beauty of the internet.

You can click that red X in the right hand corner if you don’t like, enjoy, or gain anything from what you are looking at.

I have found that if you post genuine, original, honest content— people will find their way.
People will come back.

If I can do it, then so can you.

Here are a 3 things to remind yourself of if you are one of the talented, passionate, but apprehensive closet bloggers: 

1. No two blogs are the same. 
We have the freedom to share what we want, how we want- and we can rest assure that no one else will have the same exact opinion, approach, or delivery.
This is the very thing that makes our blog ‘ours’.

2. Not everyone needs to like your blog posts. (and that’s okay!) 
So being nervous or apprehensive is understandable, but certainly shouldn’t hold you back!
If we didn’t have something different or controversial (to some) contribute to this massive online melting pot, then what would be the point at all?
You will have a ton of people who love your writing style, your opinions, and your voice.
You will have the people who don’t necessarily agree with everything that you say, but who respect you as a fellow blogger.
Then of course, there will be others who tend to actually enjoy putting you down. You are probably not the only one.

3. It’s really a you thing, not a them thing. 
Blog for you. Blog to share your heart, your creative flow, share what you think is cool.
Writing can most definitely deflate a stressed filled week, but publishing freely is empowering. It will help you build confidence in yourself. You have a unique voice. You have something to say. You never know if your particular view is going to help someone else!
If you have a passion to share your thoughts, do it. Own it people!

SO if you are reading this….

If you are one of those people who are terrified for one reason or another to post your thoughts publicly, online…

I encourage you to give yourself permission to value your own passion!
If you truly feel the urge and need to share your thoughts, share them!
Jump in.
Take the plunge.

The internet just might surprise you. 🙂 

Percocet. I love you very much.

Pill-Head

After my c-section and tubal ligation, I chose not to take any pain medication stronger than the standard issued 800 mg of Ibuprofen every few hours.

It did absolutely nothing. My pain remained a solid 10.

On top of having latching issues and being brand new to breastfeeding a new adorable tiny human every single hour after having a major surgery, it quickly became too painful to move.
I couldn’t walk, sit up, or stand up from a low position without wincing in severe pain.

My last ditch effort to get through the rest of my second evening involved me trying to sleep in an upright position in a rocking chair.

I rolled the baby’s bassinet right up next to me.
Less moving. Less effort on my part, but I was still able to reach him.

Perfect.

Every few hours my nurse would come in for one reason or another, and she would ask me again:

“Are you sure you don’t want Percocet, you know you just had major surgery?”

I would consider.
I would imagine the pain drifting away and me loving it too much.

I would look at my husband, and back at the nurse.
“No, thank you, I am pushing through just fine.” (<–Lies)

I know how ridiculous it sounds to people who haven’t ever had any dependence issues on prescription medication.

It was just a pain-killer after all.

But I am just a person who has experienced a very real, very powerful, physical and psychological dependence on prescription medication.

After 8 years of being pill-free and pain-killer/downer free
why was I so afraid?

I was terrified to even consider taking anything stronger than Ibuprofen.
Surely I could make it through.

But that just wasn’t how it actually went down.
It hurt.
Everything just really hurt.
I was experiencing severe pain.

This was causing me stress and hardcore anxiety.

I was already very tired, and self-care was something that I have grown to value and rely on and I was quickly breaking down.

No my life wasn’t falling apart but I certainly didn’t feel like myself.

I wasn’t able to relax.

I was overthinking various outcomes of what could or might happen if I did take something stronger.

In my mind each time a nurse asked me if wanted something stronger for pain, the kinds of things that I imagined in my head would have made anyone a hot anxious mess.

All that I could see was me slurring, falling down, passing out for hours on end- neglecting my hungry newborn baby boy.

I immediately began to see and feel and experience every single mistake that I had ever made as a parent during my former pill-head days.

I have fallen asleep when I was supposed to be awake.

I have slurred my words, totally messed up bedtime stories, and puked in front of my child.

I have forgotten to pick him up before. I have fallen asleep in strangers driveways and on the shoulders of highways.

I was overcome with fear and all that I could see me letting God, myself, and my family down.
I could see it all crumbling so quickly.
I couldn’t stand the thought of waking up something that I categorized as a sleeping demon.

So even if I was in so much pain that my eyes welled up with tears at the thought of moving, I just couldn’t….

But I did.
I pressed my nurse call button with so much purpose.
I decided to trust myself.
I couldn’t wait another second.
I was finished playing games with my thoughts.

When my nurse walked in our room I told her that I felt like it was time to take some stronger pain medication, like now.

I was prescribed two Percocet every 6 hours. I asked to start with one because I wasn’t sure how my body would handle it. I didn’t want to be sloshy happy mommy, I just wanted some relief.

(which is hilarious because I back in the day, I could ‘handle’ handfuls without much effect whatsoever)

Within 25 minutes my pain was gone. 
It was completely gone.

I felt happy and my mood immediately lifted.
What a difference.

I am not sure I realized how much more stress I was putting on my body and my spirit by forcing myself to endure severe pain after a major abdominal surgery.

I had discussed my pain levels in-depth with my husband. He knew that I was sincere.
He knew I wasn’t bullshitting him or saying what needed to be said to have what I wanted.
I kept a real and honest assessment of my pain levels, and shared openly with him. That made me so much more comfortable. And then, I trusted myself.

For people reading who have never personally experienced the control and power of being addicted to a substance, maybe reading this will help you to gain a better understanding on the grip it can have over a person’s mind, body, spirit, and soul.

It does sound pretty ridiculous to put yourself through something that you could have avoided so easily, with the push of a red nurses button…
but the risks were very real to me despite the fear not being as honest and when in doubt, I prefer to take safe routes these days.

 

Why Relationships Are Sort of Important:

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Never trust or rely on anyone. People will always let you down. I choose to walk alone.
This mentality blossomed into what would later become one of my greatest
‘character defects’.
My addiction turned me into a taker, a manipulator and user of people.
I ‘needed’ their services, their money, or any other tangible, useful or valuable thing that I could suck out of them.
That was about the extent of my dealings with humans. That is how much I needed them.

Until ….Recovery.

After I admitted that I needed help, that I was ready for it, and I did not have any answers..
I found truth.

Here are some truths about people,
that I found through my Christ-centered Recovery:

1.God uses people to revive other people.
I was a wounded person, with years of resentment and pain buried deep within my being.
It took loving, kind, patient, open-minded people who were willing to take time out of their lives to invest in someone ‘like me’ in order for me to purge all of my hidden and even unknown hurts. It took their time and commitment to a complete stranger. Their faith in God and His plan for their life, allowed me to find a place to heal. I found myself in an unfamiliar place. I was being loved on by complete strangers; in the arms of people who believed in loving people as themselves.

**And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. 
The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.
No other commandment is greater than these.”
(Mark 12:30-31)

2. It is important to have teachers, leaders, mentors and other people who you can put your trust in.
I have learned that it is no good to go at it alone. This journey called life that is. It is so ridiculous to walk blindly without any direction or guidance from other people. We have so much to gain from people who are more wise, people who have more experience, people who have been where we have, who have more insight or even people who are just more gifted in certain areas. We have to learn the importance of being led by people who are farther along on their path. We can pluck wisdom from them. We can teach ourselves to see the value in Godly mentors.

**Then Jesus gave the following illustration: “Can one blind person lead another? Won’t they both fall into a ditch? Students are not greater than their teacher. But the student who is fully trained will become like the teacher.
(Luke 6:39-40)

3. People aren’t perfect, and that’s alright. 
My relationship with God has shown me how to empathize. I am naturally empathetic, but through God’s love for me, and because of the grace that I was given, I wad able to see why it is so important to love others despite their flaws. I was loved on despite mine.
Part of my incessant need for self-protection that I felt stemmed from anger. I hated that people could be so inconsistent, so unreliable, so…straight up crappy sometimes. I felt that I ‘deserved’ better. It was their fault.
God’s love for me and the love that others showed to me, helped me to see that life is not always as black and white as I had made it out to be.
Part of developing empathy for the people who hurt me or quit on me so early on in my life, helped me to see that my ‘one man army’ way of thinking was not only unnecessary, it was useless.
People aren’t perfect. Everyone in my life who had hurt or abandon me were dealing with their own demons and addictions. Some were doing the best that they could, with what they had. It took me a long time to understand this, but again, my new relationships with people helped me to uncover this truth. There’s only one person who will never leave us, or let us down. The rest, should be given a fair amount of Grace, because people aren’t perfect.

**Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
(Deuteronomy 31:8)

4. We need people and healthy relationships to stay on track and to stay accountable. 
Recovery is all about vigorous honesty, growth and personal accountability.
The simplest truth here is, we need people to call us out in a way that penetrates our brains and hearts, and we need people to spur us on and encourage us as well. This keeps us humble, accountable and growing in the right direction. We find satisfaction in this, even when we might be hearing things that are hard to listen to- but even then we feel loved because true love is honest. I have found some of my strongest friendships and relationships are the ones that rely on these principles. A healthy balance of give and take, mutual respect and loving honesty.

**A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
(Ecclesiastes 4:12)

5. People make life more fun. 
I like funny, I like to laugh, and I enjoy finally having the ability and desire to simply be myself and to have fun with people who I love and feel close to.
Embracing my ‘me against the world’ mentality for so many years definitely inhibited my ability to let go and have fun in a good or healthy kind of way. That would have meant my guard had to be lowered, which equals vulnerability. In my book that was a no no.
Today, I enjoy laughing until I cry. I don’t mind revealing my flawed self to those around me, because I don’t feel that need to hide in a shell of self-protection all of the time. This happens because I am around people who care for me, who love me and who I know love me despite my being crazy flawed. I have a happy heart and from what the Bible says- it makes a cheerful face.

**A glad heart makes a cheerful face,
but by sorrow of heart the spirit is crushed.
(Proverbs 15:13)

Listen. Doing life alone leaves us so tired and worn out.
We don’t have to be accountable to God, or anyone else.
We can live comfortably in lies that feed addiction, or other unhealthy habits that we hold close to us.
We can tell ourselves all day long that we don’t ‘need’ anyone, but the truth is- yes. Yes we do. We need to have healthy dealings and interactions. We need to have at least one or two healthy, strong, close friendships.
We need to allow these to form in order to accept love, to freely give love, and to grow at a steady pace following the path that God has for our life.
We have so much to learn from others.

I have learned that sometimes, the people who we so so desperately want in our lives, may not be the people who God intends to shape our lives at all.
Just because things don’t look like what we have painted in our minds, doesn’t mean that they are wrong or not as good. If God has anything to do with it, you better believe that you are surrounded by the best and most profound people for good reason.
Blood relation or not, having strong bonds with other people is exactly how God intended for us to do this life thing….
together.

Walking alone is a choice.

My Addiction Story.

The most interesting thing to me about the power of healing is that it offers brand-new purpose & perspective on old, painful experiences. God sheds new light on the positives that are often hidden inside of the hardest parts of our story. These places teach us that we can draw from them, what we once …

Unexpected Gifts of Living in Recovery.

 

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Using substances may have been some of the darkest, saddest, loneliest & scariest times of my existence, but that wasn’t where I first started to lose myself.

That started long before.
I think pain & trauma can make for fertile ground for that to happen, especially if it is not addressed.

I began hiding as a young girl.
I created masks to wear that became my safe places to hide when things became unbearable or when I really didn’t know where else to turn, so I turned inward.

I felt like I needed to hide from the drugs; the pipes, the trays, the smells, the bottles.
I cowered and hid from the violence; the drama, the yelling, the noise, the sirens.
I hid from the strangers in my living room; the men, the lurkers, the lovers.
I would imagine myself being in different places. Different houses, different cars, or different families.
I believe that I hid so often that there didn’t seem to be any benefits to coming back out again. It didn’t feel safe.

By the time that I started looking to different substances I was already a lost person.

All that I really yearned for was inner peace and calm, and some type of contentment. I just wanted all types of enough, to simply be enough.

I didn’t think that Recovery would work for me,
because I believed to my core that I was a throw away person.

But I wanted it.
I wanted to learn how to live a sober life.

The more I learned about God- the more I felt like 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.

I was finally able to make some real peace with my past.
I finally understood that I could not take back my bad choices, or get the time I had lost back.
I could not live on regret and I may not regain all of my memory either.
I began 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.

I was finally able to face and accept my past, and even embrace it to use it for something good.
I had a new chance to do something with my life. I was alive for a reason.
Letting God use my past for His glory, took away all of the negative power that I had given it before. 
It was now completely powerless in bringing me back down.
I was not going back there.

I want everyone who is hurting or struggling to know the truth.
You are loved and you are so so valuable.
God’s love is powerful, His love is the kind that can mend, heal, and re-create.
Through it, you can feel again.
You can love again.
You can live again.
You can look in the mirror again.

Recovery with God doesn’t mean that you won’t have to put in hard work, or learn new things.
Actually, the opposite happens. You are dismantled piece by piece, and re-built with parts that are so true to who you are. You will quickly begin to feel and believe that the cards you were dealt, and the mess that you have made of your life- are NOT the end of your story.

The struggle is real, but so is our GOD, and so is Hope,  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.

Carrying Your Message.

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The step 12 that I am familiar with reads like this:
Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.

I am sure the one you have memorized is similar, give or take a few words or phrases.

Maybe you don’t work a 12-step recovery, and that’s okay. You can still read and relate to this.

Two important things about sharing your message:

1. ) In early recovery carrying your message will help other people
but it will probably benefit you more than you are anticipating.

Most of us go in early on with a simple goal of encouraging someone-
well… anyone, or at least ….one person who happens to be listening to us.

The process & preparation involved in sharing in early recovery
is something that contributes and promotes more personal healing for us than we can see at the time.

*First there is the reflecting and writing part.
There is something really powerful about writing your very personal experience down on screen or paper with the intent to share.
It can be an overwhelming process, but overwhelming in a really, really great way.
It is almost too much goodness. Like, is this even real life?
It is remarkable how much has changed and how much peace we have found.
Just wow.

*Then, there is the reading it out loud to a room full of strangers who may or may not be there by choice part, that brings another level of self-healing.
Deep breaths and tiny prayers whispered before beginning won’t help you hold back the gigantic alligator tears that are coming.
They’ll come anyway.Keep speaking. Everything is still so fresh, and raw.
It is likely that a mixture of gratitude and disbelief will take over your entire body and there won’t be much you can do to stop it all from happening.
You are glowing and the happy is just seeping out of your skin.
You might have a wet sloppy tear soaked face and a runny nose, but
you are alive and this experience is surreal.

What you are really hoping is that one human hearing your words needs to hear these words.
That one heart out there is feeling a little bit of relief hearing how much you have come back from, and how resilient our spirits really are. Someone is connecting with your message. They hear you telling them how accessible and free grace is. They can see that the hard work won’t have to be done alone. Someone out there just might keep trying because of something that you say.If you can stand up there all sober and grateful, then surely, anyone can.

2.) The ways that you carry your message won’t always look the same. (and that’s okay!) 
Over time the way that you carry your message will shift according to where you are planted.
We all have a specific gift and different ways of connecting with people.
So of course how we connect with people will change and grow as we change and grow as people.

For me, as time has passed the focus of my story has shifted little by little.
It  has become less about me and the details of my specific journey as an individual,
and has become more about helping other people to embrace whatever God has in store for their lives.

We are everywhere carrying our message.
Some of us are more boisterous than others, but we are out there.
We are living and sharing stuff.
We have worked hard and have learned the value of living well; we strive to lead healthy lives, living as the best versions of ourselves. We are everywhere. All twenty threeish million of us.

Living sober has offered us the opportunity to uncover our life’s true purpose,
and we are free to take our message of hope with us wherever we go.
So embrace your story.
Allow it to change and grow with you.
Don’t be afraid to own your experiences.
Do what you can with what you have from where you are.
Take your message to other people.

I know there is someone out there who needs to hear what you have to say.


 

 

 

About Me.

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Most personal blogs, specifically Recovery blogs, have a detailed ‘my story’ or ‘about me’ section.
Often, they choose to start from birth, work their way up to their addiction forming, proceed to telling the story about how rock bottom felt, and work their way to the present.

I really don’t see any problems with it and don’t think it’s a bad thing.
It works for a lot of people, but I have found that it really doesn’t for me.

I have had a hard time writing the ‘my story’ page for my Recovery blog.
I have tried. Really, I have.
Most writers will understand when I say that it is difficult to write when it feels forced or there isn’t any passion behind it. That is how it is for me anyway..

So it isn’t for lack of trying on my part.
I have typed it up and it just doesn’t sit well with me.
I have yelled at it.
Published it, and quickly deleted it.
Prayed about it.
Deleted it.
Re-typed it.
Revised it.
Edited it and deleted it again.
and deleted it for the last time.

and usually if I am not feeling good about something there is a reason.
I have realized that I have to just do what works for me and that I like mine the way that it is.
Current and present-focused. To me, about ‘me’ doesn’t have much to do with anything in my past.

It isn’t that I am ashamed of my childhood.
I am not afraid to share it.

As time has passed, the impact that my childhood has had on my testimony has decreased, and isn’t really a big part of who I am anymore. On paper, it has dwindled down to a few sentences and has been overshadowed.

Studies tell us that in the cyber world, we lose people’s attention pretty quickly.
As writers we don’t get a whole lot of time to hold onto the attention of new readers.
Considering that, I think it would be counter-productive to ask strangers to sit for fifteen minutes, reading my most personal childhood hell (trauma, neglect, violence etc.)— in chronological order,
in order to get to why they’re really in that section in the first place- and that is to get to know me.

I shared that story for years.
It served its purpose as a therapeutic tool meant for my own healing and personal growth.

God helped me use that part of my story to get me to a healthier place.

Through that process I was able to see the significance and value of forgiveness, making amends, and moving on.

At some point I realized that this part of ‘my story’ was not going to define my personal identity any longer.

It keeps me humble and grateful.

But I have really just realized that
…’my story’ is much much more than traumatic childhood experiences.

My story is a continuous thing, updated on my blog every week!
My story is still unfolding as I type!

That is what I find so ‘beautiful’ about life.

My story and yours, is a journey that continually moves, changes, and if we allow it to, it transforms!
We discover, experience, and feel —LIFE!

I am sure this will change over time, as I publish my first book it might be more necessary to dig a little bit deeper in that section of this blog. If I ever get to my second idea for a book, I am sure it will change again.

For now, I will try to keep my about me section relevant and aligned with my current goals of writing and sharing my life and thoughts with you guys.

And also, thank you for reading and sticking by me. 🙂

Your Recovery, and Mine.

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I do my best to support all types of people.
I interact with people all of the time from all different religions, who have various beliefs, opposing view- points and people with morals that don’t align with mine, and people who I sometimes struggle to identify with.

I have talked with people who struggle with process addiction, chemical addiction, single mothers, gay people, black people, white people, people who don’t believe in God at all, etc.

We’re all just people, trying to figure out this thing called life.
At the end of the day we are human beings worthy of love.
Everyone deserves to live and experience what being healthy & happy feels like.

Something that I have noticed on social media is that too often,

people who choose to do recovery without God as a part of their program,
tend to assume that people who are Christians in Recovery are working an easier, or less relevant program.

And then, people who personally love God, who attribute their success and sobriety to Him,
seem to have a really hard time being nice to people who have higher powers that go unnamed, or are unconventional.

**First of all, as people who are living sober lives, the most important thing that we can do is to support each other. We are on the same team.
The details really aren’t our business.

**Also we’re alive.
I made it out,
you made it out, so let’s not argue about the logistics.
Okay?

I learned the same things in school that any other Chemical dependency counselor learns, even at a Christian college.

I studied about the psychology of the brain, and the traits that essentially make up our person, the personality that identifies us and is the sum of what makes us unique humans.

Not really sure how my loving Jesus impacts my ability to learn and use the benefits of what we know about modern science and how that correlates to the addictive personality….

As far as my being a Christian in recovery, to even insinuate that somehow I am not “in recovery”  or am not working a real program, or whatever else, is ridiculous.
C’mon.

People quote Buddha, Bill W, and Dali Lama all of the time and that’s acceptable-
but quoting Jesus is not ‘acceptable’?

I really can’t (and won’t) change my personal experience.
Sharing my personal experience means you might have to hear about God.
Sorry.

There is no excuse for being hateful.
Zero.
I know of not one recovery program that follows any principle that promotes hate, condones the judging of other programs, or appoints specific members to act as official recovery police. 

You can disagree with a belief or a choice and still choose to be kind and ETHICAL.

So.

I cannot and will not change for each person that I meet or interact with.
If you cannot be nice that’s really your problem and I think speaks more about your program than anything.

I am not concerned with pleasing every single ‘seeker’ that I run into but I will not automatically categorize a person based off of their spiritual beliefs either. It is not my job to take away God’s title….. as ultimate judge and all-powerful Life-transformer.

I  think I am okay with letting him do his job, and asking him to give me the courage daily to go out into the world-
to share my most intimate and horrifying screw ups and self-revelations with strangers on the internet.

So you go ahead and rock your sobriety and your recovery your way,
the way that works for you.

I am going to continue to share what worked for me, what changed my life, and what I have absorbed through education.

 

 

Bravely Amateur.

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consequences unable to teach
Sobriety out of reach

hands reaching for help,soul screaming for rest
shunned,pushed away, not good enough at best

angry, empty exhaustion setting in
help me, I’m slipping, no ones watching,
dying from my sin

one kind hand, one open heart, the right time, the right place, a fresh new start
recovery, fresh eyes, new life, new heart

fresh air, real hope,reach out ,give back
hard work, good tears,God gives what you lack

thankful ,blessed, revived, new quest
give it away, love them, find all of the rest

they all matter, share your heart, go and tell the others,
help the daughters, sons, the strangers, & other mothers

life with a pulse, a life with purpose
the secrets out, they need to know this

the cries he heard, the screams he can hear
he was there all along, and knows your true fear

take a step toward the light, leave your old life behind
your regrets, shame and failures and your old frame of mind

His love is a gift, transforms you – you will see
he breaks chains and shows you what it means to be free.

So I am not a poet, lol.

I Am Free.

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When I entered recovery I had never experienced true freedom.
I yearned for it. I think I always had.

I had always envisioned a life of just being.
A life of feeling true contentment and having the ability to laugh and connect with other people and to enjoy my life.

This piece of scripture from the book of Psalms explains what my life felt like to me before I found my freedom.

It is how I felt at my very worst.

These words paint the most accurate picture of how my heart, soul, mind, and body felt when I wanted to die just so I didn’t have to keep experiencing failure over and over again; so I wouldn’t have to look in the mirror one more time knowing that I couldn’t hack this life thing like other people could:

 

For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. (Psalm 40:12)


This is how heavy my life felt to me.
I truly felt alone and saw no way of redeeming myself as a human, as a mother, and as a woman.

I had become a slave to my choices.

My past barricaded me.

And I believed that I was not worth more than the lifestyle I chose and the trap that I had accidentally walked into.

I felt more shame than I can even try to describe and yet I felt nothing.

I was drowning and I was exhausted and hopeless.

When I finally felt convinced that:
A) I had a serious life-threatening problem that I couldn’t fake having control over anymore
B) That I wanted to try be free; to be the mommy that my son deserved

I felt ready to take the first step.

I admitted that I was powerless.
That I had become powerless over my current life situation. I had dug myself too deep.

And I would soon learn that I wouldn’t have to stay that way.

Through admitting the loss of control over my life, and admitting that
I was drowning in an intricate and complex mess that took years to piece together to make the perfect storm….. that.

That is where I actually found my freedom.

I was told by a room full of strangers- that my life did actually have meaning.

No matter what I had done, or who I had become, or how many warrants that I had, or how much I had stolen, or how many creditors were after me, or who had my name on their bounty list or how many people I had hurt…

I still had value and could STILL turn my life around.

 

God had a plan for me.
and new things were waiting for me.

There is so much freedom in knowing that I am no longer bound by the chains of shame and regret.

Freedom is a lasting and genuine feeling of knowing that we have power over our choices.
It is discovering that we have choices!

We can choose to believe that our past or our poor choices can have amazing and positive effects on our present lives!

We can choose to help others to believe in themselves.

We can share what we know, that there really is hope.

Our past does not have to be a burden that we carry around, but a blessing to be used for the good of other people who are still struggling with things that we know about and have felt.

Our past does not define our present negatively, unless we choose to let it.

To me, there lies my freedom.
My past no longer dictates my present.

My chains have been broken, and I have been set free.
AND THAT It is the best feeling in the world.

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

 

Passionate Work.

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Not everyone gets to this place, or has the opportunity.
Often, the people who I meet who have, have stumbled upon this gift as a result of going through some really tough things through some self-revelation.
But they come out the other side, and they just know.

It is an incredible thing and it is a rare thing.
You experience that ‘ah-ha’ moment.
You just know.
Maybe it came in a progressive or subtle way,
or maybe it  hit you like a ton of bricks in the face,
but you know.
You can feel it tugging your heart and tingling in your bones!
It gets your blood pumping.
You feel driven and focused.
And you are grateful.

You have identified what you are truly passionate about.
Now what?

Simply put:
You figure out a way to get yourself out there.
You take risks. Lots of risky vulnerable risks.
You figure out a way to make sure that your passion overflows in all of the right places.
You saturate yourself with as much knowledge as you can squish into your brain.
You acquire as many tools as possible.
You share what you know with other people.

Discovering your passion and using it for something is not synonymous with ease.
Even when you are in route on a road that you know you are suppose to be on,
one that you are desperately passionate about, it doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing.
There will be road blocks, detours, and disappointments along the way.
Working passionately is not all whimsical and dreamy.
Some days are really, really, difficult.

What can help us to stay dedicated to our passion, or our cause?
How do you keep your eye on the truth?
What is it that will keep you going; ignoring all of the doubt, whose main job is to hold you back?
What can help keep us enthusiastic about all of the possibilities and the future?

1. Remind yourself why you started. (How do you keep your eye on the truth?)
When I feel that nasty feeling that tries to pull me down, or slow me down, I just remind myself of why I started.
I ask God to help me stay focused and confident. I remind myself of my ‘why’.
My original goal is to reach out to people who might need some encouraging words; I care about the hearts of those who are broken. I remind myself of this when I start feeling like I am beginning to doubt what I am doing.
The truth is, I started to help people who really want to give up. I want them to keep going.

2. Pay attention to the signs. (What is it that will keep you going?)
A few things keep me going. God never fails to provide me with much needed confirmation at the right times.
These tiny confirmations have come in many different forms.
Some days it is a nice or encouraging compliment from a friend.
It could be an email from a stranger or a comment from an acquaintance, and some days it is as simple as a feeling.
I also make sure to take care of myself. If I am not healthy or focused, it is so easy to begin to feel defeated.

3. When you don’t see signs, keep going anyway. (How can we stay enthusiastic?)
I really have to keep probing and creating goals for the future. There are so many ways to help others and so many people who need encouragement. I cannot hinge my ambition on consistent, well-timed confirmations. Yes, they’re nice but that shouldn’t be why I keep moving and working. I don’t work for recognition.
As long as I know that I am moving in alignment with where I feel God leading me, I might not always get pats on the back. I don’t get a count of how many people that I might have offered hope to. I don’t get to check the stats on how many hearts may have absorbed something that I have done,
and that has to be okay. 
I think that is the reality of life.
It is the truth about having a passion or a calling.
Isn’t that what passion is?

You continue to work hard, and to remain passionate, and faithful,
even when you don’t get the opportunity to see results or effects that you might have had on someone.

In my case, it is all about giving back.
It is about using and exhausting my abilities to help others
and continuing to praise the Lord for the opportunity.

What are you passionate about?

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