Author: Brittany

I Can See You.

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*How you see you: 

You see failure.
You see right through yourself.
You feel angry when you see what you have become.
Shame consumes you, blinding you from seeing hope for any kind of change.
You see how far you have fallen.
You see all of the destruction you have created.
You can’t see your future anymore.
You don’t want anyone to see the real you.

You wonder if anyone else can see you at all. 

 

*How I see you: 

I see your empty eyes that were once full of life.
I see your dreams.
I see your tears.
I can see the hurt in your face.
I see the regret.
I also see your potential and all of your talent.
I remember seeing your smile.
I recall the light in your being when you talked about your goals.
I can still see all of the life that you have left.

I can still see you. 

 

*How God sees you: 

Someone who can be forgiven
Who is worthy of His kind of Love
Somebody who is enough
Who is worth saving
Who is precious
Who is capable, through His strength, to start over fresh, as a new person
A person who shines
Someone with a calling and purpose

You are much more than what meets the eye….
(so much more than we can even begin to comprehend)

HE sees you.

I hope that one day YOU allow yourself, to see you….

Thanks, Al-Anon.

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You hold onto hope, because that is what you do when you love someone.
Instead of screaming- “that’s where people like that should be”  …
we are imagining all of the places that they have the potential and talent to be one day.

We don’t see the awkward, tired, malnourished human who has made countless dangerous, selfish choices.
We see who they once were. We see the funny, intelligent, witty, talented person that is buried somewhere deep beneath the surface…

This is the dilemma we find ourselves in when we love an addict.

*Applying the 12 steps to my life as Brittany: the enabler, codependent, someone who happens to love an alcoholic- has been a tough journey for me, but I do understand the value of setting necessary boundaries in this relationship; for me, and for him.

*Applying the 12 steps to my life as Brittany: the addict in long-term Recovery from drugs, alcohol, anger issues, and trauma- has been very tough, but navigating has been ongoing, and growth pretty consistent.

With family, it is difficult to love from behind the safety net of set boundary lines.
It is difficult to watch them struggle. It is hard to keep my feet planted and not rush over to help them up.

Realistically, I understand I am one woman, who by the grace of God has the opportunity to  live and learn, one day at a time.

I am one person who cannot control the actions of others.

I am just a lady who knows that the only actions and behavior that I am responsible for…
is my own.

So for right now, I will allow my heart to play a little bit of catch up in understanding the facts & truth that my brain already knows.

There are consequences for the actions and choices that we make.
If we cannot allow people to experience their own consequences….
they won’t ever have the chance to begin their own journey.

Just. For. Today.

Thanks, Al-Anon.

Stigma Is A Verb.

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Merriam Webster would have you believe that stigma is a noun. Yes, it’s a thing...
but it has to be practiced in order to be a thing…

Stereotypes are over-generalizations that lump major groups of people together in one mis-conceptualized melting pot of untruth.
They produce stigmas that are unrealistic.

Stigma does a lot of things when put into practice:

Stigma would have you believe that I was born a loser. A nobody.
That this is who I was at my core.

Stigma says there is nothing that we can do for ‘those’ people.
People like me.

Stigma would have you convinced that I wasn’t worth saving, and that any human who used other humans in the way that I had, wasn’t worth a second look, and definitely not a second chance.

Stigma would prompt you to turn the other way, overlooking any outstretched hand that is grasping into the darkness seeking and yearning for help- if the person on the end of that arm is addicted to drugs or alcohol.

Stigma shames you into being too embarrassed to confide in your own doctor in order to reveal prescription or family history concerns with them.

Stigma keeps you labeled. For some, keeping the secret seems easier than being permanently labeled ‘addict’.

Stigmas keep our heads down, cries silenced, and our voices quiet.

The reality is this.

Addiction is tough enough to overcome as a primary problem itself.

How a person found themselves at that point no longer matters.
It becomes an issue of survival. How can we help a person who is at a point where they have lost all hope?

A large contributing factor in the shame that holds so many down, and that keeps so many silent is the mere thought of imagining what people would think about them if they did reach out.

The stigma that surrounds addiction and alcoholism kills people. 

For those of us in Recovery who choose to speak out and tell our stories, we have to remember we are speaking for so many who are silent, who are afraid to reach out and ask for help.

We can help to be a voice for those who are still suffering in silence, or those who are in Recovery and who (respectively) choose to remain anonymous.

We can help change an old, washed-out perception held by so many.

Together.
That is the only way.

 

Finally. All Alone At The Bottom.

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When no one came to my rescue, I found myself alone.

All alone in my self-created pit, that I called my deepest rock bottom. I really hated being alone. Feelings of loneliness seemed to be one of the only feelings that I allow myself to feel. Despite the fact that I always felt alone in a room full of people, I still preferred to be semi-conscious around people, than to ever be physically alone with my own thoughts.

I couldn’t seem to figure out how to numb loneliness.

But this forced loneliness was where the idea behind step one and I were finally able to come face to face. It is possible that maybe it had been there all along. Maybe, it had been there waiting for me every single time I hit the bottom. Waiting for me to arrive alone.

And it was here, this time, deep, in the midst of this unknown where I realized that I had lost this battle that I had waged against myself.

I finally admitted to myself that I was done pretending to have it all together.

Of course, from the outside looking in nothing had changed yet. My life was still a mess. I was skinny, malnourished, and unstable. I was still using and had urges to use and unmanageable triggers.

But ONE critical thing had changed down there in that pit.

I had become WILLING. 

People loved me when I was addicted by giving me rides, bailing me out of jail, giving me money, paying some of my bills or buying me groceries, or simply continuing to partake in good deeds that kept me feeling comfortable exactly where I was. All of these were all acts performed by well-intentioned people who were just loving the wrong way.

So remember. Pour out your devotion and love and loyalty and hope for your person in healthy ways that aren’t going to push them further down. Be a force in their corner, a person on their team that they can rely on, help them to see that you aren’t leaving. Be the person who refuses to tag along with them to the bottom to save the again, and try to be the person who is waiting for them at the top as they crawl up to the surface.

THAT kind of love saved my life. THIS is the kind of LOVE that kills addiction. 

When No One Showed Up At The Bottom

 

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I hit more than one bottom before making the decision to try Recovery.
My body felt like I hit thousands of times but realistically, hundreds is probably more accurate.

I really couldn’t tell you what a dozen of my ‘rock bottoms’ looked like and that’s because I was never down there long enough to have to observe or take notes.

Each time I fell down flat on my face I knew there would be someone who was waiting for me on the bottom. They were always more prepared than I was, and were ready and willing to bend down, pull me up, dust me off and walk me back up.

It was glorious.

I had manipulated my enablers into a cozy place; nicely secured in my front pocket. These were kind people, who gobbled down every spoon fed sob story that I dished out. They took my verbal and emotional beatings like champs, getting right back up again after I made pointed attempts to crush them.

These people also believed that if they loved me enough, I would change.

They had no idea that I could no longer feel anything. They didn’t know that I didn’t want, or need, or feel any of the love that they were forcing on me. They didn’t know that when I looked in the mirror, I was disgusted and embarrassed and ashamed that they loved me. I had given up on myself and wasn’t really concerned with the way I was making them
(or their pocketbooks) feel.

Over time my network of enablers began to dissolve. People started pulling back.
People started using the word no, and suddenly people weren’t picking up the phone.

It took years, but I had finally sucked the life and money out of all of my go-to’s. My life lines had officially run their course.

So this last time when I hit the bottom I hit harder than ever. 
As usual, I felt the sting of the impact- but this time, I just laid there face down.
I was alone.

No one was there.

I couldn’t see.
I was afraid.
I was bruised, felt beaten up, I was tired, I knew I was lost, and worst of all-
I was alone.

I couldn’t climb out, because I was too weak.
I couldn’t talk my way up, there wasn’t anyone close enough to hear me.

It was finally all on me to make a pretty tough decision, because I was finally able to see that I needed some help.

 

 

It All Boils Down To Staying Honest With Ourselves

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I said I would tell you how things went after I left the hospital. 

Maybe it doesn’t ever completely ‘go away’.
It goes, somewhere, but not ‘away’. I know that is not a super sciency explanation, but this is a real-life, true to every day explanation.

Like if our brains were old farm-houses. Our old addictions or our addictive patterns would just live in the attic, and no one would ever visit them. Or, if our brains were Clark Griswold’s home from the movie Christmas Vacation, our old addictions would be staying out in the RV with uncle Eddie and his nasty ass dog.

That is, until we invited them back in the warm, clean, cozy part of the house.

The first few days were fine. I took my script like a reasonable, rational, responsible adult without being supervised like a gigantic baby.

After one week of taking Percocet every four hours I remember walking in the kitchen feeling good. By good, I don’t mean high, I mean well.
Pain free and I hadn’t taken any pain medication that day.

So I walked to the cabinet and grabbed the bottle of Percocet from the top shelf and I literally stopped myself and looked out my kitchen window. I stood there and I knew right then that I needed to flush them.

And that was that.

I wasn’t in enough pain to justify ‘needing’ them at that point so I did what I knew I needed to do.

The actual flushing part got pretty weird.

I didn’t really want to flush them and I tried to justify not flushing them, because of course, maybe, what-if, the pain returned and I flushed them?

I literally had a full-fledged conversation with myself in the bathroom hovered over the toilet.
My mind had made up reasons to keep them ‘just in case’ with things that would have sounded very close to actual ‘logic-and reason’ if I wasn’t a rational, sober, honest, adult.

Ultimately, I dumped every one of them (even the few that I had considered keeping)
and flushed the toilet. Too close to the fire, Brittany. Too close.

Conclusion:
It ALL boils down to what I choose to do.
Every step of the way I had choices to make.
I had tools to take advantage of and they were my responsibility to utilize and to practice.

Those principles that I memorized all of those years ago?
I had to practice them.
I had to implement and honor them.

(and for the record, baby is almost 6 weeks old and we are both doing great)…

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.

 

Beauty from Ashes.

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I feel an unquenchable urge to tell others about what God can do in the life and heart of any person, regardless of anything that they may consider ‘too shameful’ or ‘not good enough’…

He can take ashes and make them beautiful.
He can take what you thought was permanent damage, and turn it into permanent purpose.

Choosing to accept God’s’ love was huge for me.

By doing so, I chose to believe that God loved me, that I had a purpose that exceeded far beyond the chaos that I had been so wrapped up in, and I also had never felt so vulnerable in my life.

But I have learned that God backs up his promises. He followed through. I felt a love like I had never experienced before in my life. And soon, all of my buried pain, the scary times, the uncertainty, my feelings of inadequacy, and the moments that I thought ‘defined’ me as a person all began to look and feel different.

They didn’t disappear and no, God did not magically wave years of trauma and grief and pain and addiction out of my life.

But he did take all of those things and other experiences and memories that I hated, and he turned them into things that I can now say I wouldn’t ever go back and change or make different or tweak, or skip. 

He offered me contentment and a kind of healing that no one else could have offered.

 

 

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!  2 Corinthians 5:17

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.

The Danger of the One Man Army.

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Call it a coping mechanism, a learned behavior, something ingrained into my psyche from listening to too many perpetuated loops of Tupac’s Me against the World
(or maybe a combination of varying amounts of all..)

but when a person allows themselves to succumb to the ‘me against them’ mentality,
you can expect fatal results.
Yes, I said fatal.

This type of tunnel thinking is not only negative, dangerous, selfish, sort of pitiful and based on skewed reality, but is capable of completely ruining a person.

For me it began as a child. When I realized that either I figured things out, or they weren’t getting done, this mentality was planted.
Early on in my life as I was climbing into high shelved closets for medicine when I wasn’t feeling good, or figuring out a way to wash my own clothes, or wracking my brain trying to decide where I would shower that day it sort of did me in.
I developed this horrible “f*ck everyone, I will just do it myself” attitude very early on.
Reliance on ‘self’ was what worked for me.

This meant, I made a conscious decision not to trust or reach out to anyone for anything.
Any physical need that I had or any emotional need that I may have had (buried or not) –
I was only relying on myself to take care of it. Period.

This type of thinking was established early for me. It may have been a way of coping, but at the time I was surviving. It stuck, and it stuck because it worked.

During my teen years as I dabbled in rebellion, hating adults, and anyone of authority,  I experimented with a long list of drugs and lots of alcohol.

As a young adult, this mentality became a wonderful companion to my addiction.
It killed any chance that I could have taken to change- before my addiction really took hold of my life, my person and my soul.

You see, when you develop this ‘one man army’ mentality….
you might be tired, but you won’t admit it
you may need help, but you won’t ask for it
you might be inches from the ledge, but are too stubborn to say it
there may be one person reaching their hand out to grab yours, but you will push it away.
you might realize that it ain’t working anymore, but you won’t know what to do instead.
It feels like it’s too late.
It can ‘feel’ like there is no turning back, and no one would get it anyway.

There will come a point when you realize that you are ashamed that after all of these years… ‘doing it on your own’ just isn’t cutting it anymore.

You simply don’t have access to any more strength within yourself to keep fighting.

Your burdens, or your shame, or maybe your mistakes or sadness- your isolation ..
It is all too heavy. It is not an ideal way to continue living your life. Hell, it isn’t really living at all.

For some of us, this is what makes reaching out for help after addiction so difficult.
We don’t ‘need’ help. (or so we thought).

You see, we are simply fighting the shadows in our head.
We are battling our own will to keep living the way that we thought we had to for so long.

Even in my 8th year of Recovery I battle this way of thinking from time to time when something or someone hurts me. I immediately want to be alone. I want to handle it by myself and I my first inclination is a nurse a desire to keep it all in. I dive into music or my own thoughts. It doesn’t bother me. I am cold as ice.
I have to intentionally reach out, and force myself to call someone.
I still have tendencies to allow myself to be vulnerable and am reluctant to admit that I need the people who God has placed in my life…at first.
But I am also at a place in my 8th year of Recovery where I trust God.
I understand the value and purpose of human relationship and I can combat and tell the difference between real truth, (God’s unchanging truth) and the lies.

We weren’t meant to bear burdens alone. We weren’t created to rely on ‘self’.
It was never God’s intention.

This is why this way of way of thinking kills. The kind that isolates.
As I said in the beginning of this post, with this type of thinking- you can expect fatal results.

If we are talking addiction- I believe that addiction loves this mentality. It is the best kind to feed on.  It is a perfect and prime target.

Some people refuse to even consider that maybe, just maybe this is an instance where we won’t win. We can’t win.  We don’t have the power to overcome and until we make the choice to put our hands up and surrender, we will just die piece by peice. In some cases it may take a while, but it will happen.

This way of thinking is fatal to any intimacy.
This way of thinking completely stunts our ability to develop a spiritual life.
This type of mindset won’t allow for any humility or accountability.
This attitude leaves no room for surrender.
It robs us of the ability to love anyone – fully.
It robs us of the ability to feel love or allow anyone to love us in a raw, real or vulnerable form.

We can never form trusting, solid, strong, loving relationships with other humans like we were created to do thinking like this.

So if this way of thinking doesn’t steal our life by isolating us,
it will take it by not allowing us to reach out when we are dying from the disease of addiction.
If it doesn’t kill us that way,
this mentality will take away any prospect of developing any connection with anyone on an emotional level.

So the next time you feel like putting your middle finger up or succumbing to the lies that isolation tries to make you believe-
try to be intentional and remember that you are not alone.

There ARE other people who have been where you are or who have felt what you are feeling.
There ARE people who care.
It IS okay to admit that you cannot do this alone.
It DOESN’T make you a weak person, it makes you a strong person for admitting that you need God’s help navigating life.

3 Reasons to Reach Out in Early Recovery:

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As I scroll through any one of my several news-feeds, I am reminded of my own struggles that I faced in early recovery. I can literally feel the frustration and anger from people who are withdrawing & detoxing their bodies and minds. These people are doing their very best to sort out feelings that they are now in a position to actually feel. They are navigating new territory and they aren’t afraid to speak up, mostly about how much it sucks.

Anger, sadness and feelings of loneliness, are what I see most.

Here are a few reasons why you have reach out in early recovery and why it is so important to UTILIZE the information & the help that you are offered: 

1.) Your thought processes aren’t on point.
(Doesn’t mean that can’t be or won’t ever be.)

But in early recovery, you completely believe that your feelings are accurate, but please listen.
Your feelings are important. They are valid.
They are relevant and yes, they are real.
But none of this means your thoughts are accurate, realistic, or indicative of truth.

You need to have at least one person who you let into your recovery who is not afraid to (lovingly) challenge faulty thought patterns with you, and who will walk beside you to do it.

2.) Chances are, you suck at coping.
(Doesn’t mean you always will, or that you are’t capable of developing coping skills.)

Despite having met so many amazing people who are new to recovery, I have never met anyone who is struggling to stay sober, who also happens to have a set of strong, healthy coping skills to rely on.

Before you developed a dependence, chances are, that for one valid reason or another, you actually never really developed healthy ways to cope.

Living a fog free life after the black cloud lifts means that you have a clear picture of your world.
You can see things with more accuracy and you feel things more intensely.

Because of this influx of overwhelming reality, things are now flooding your new state of consciousness.
You have to cope in some way to handle all of this.
Everything that you face in early sobriety is going to require coping skills that you haven’t had time to develop.

So you have to be open to learning new things and trying new techniques in order to cope with this very fresh, and raw way of being.

Ask questions.
Ask the questions that sound ridiculous in your mind, ask hard questions, ask questions you’ve already asked just to be sure.

Learn things. Read things. Watch things. Participate in things. Expose yourself to different things.
Try out new techniques, and find things that work best for you.

Another reason to have at least ONE person who will answer their phone, reply quickly to an email, who will drive you to a meeting, or who will meet with you for coffee.

3.) Isolation can kill you.
(Doesn’t mean that it will, but it can.)

Sadly, for so many (way too many) isolation is a death sentence.
You cannot choose sobriety and resist offered varieties of support simultaneously.

Because being alone with your unhinged emotions and also having an inability to distinguish truth from the lies that your addiction relentlessly feeds on-
will quickly lead to digression and you resorting to old ways of thinking and old ways of coping.

Somewhere along the line you as you got more comfortable being all alone, you also began to believe that you couldn’t change, and you weren’t worth saving.

Addiction feeds off of these lies.
These lies about your past, your abilities, your worth, all of it. Your drug of choice needs you to be alone. It needs you to continue believing that you cannot live a sober life. It needs you to live in isolation.

The only real way to effectively combat it its strength is to abstain from it, and to keep feeding your brain with TRUTH. This truth comes from letting people in. This could be in the form of your news feed, your inbox, your bookshelf, your prayer (alone, meditation) time, or your face time at meetings, yoga, the gym, counseling, or other things.

Having people, or at least one, solid, reliable, loving person around might drive you crazy, but it can also save your life.

Please reach out and keep reaching out.
Your corner is not empty.
There really are people out there who care, and people who understand where you are.

The Shame Card.

 

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Words.

They are powerful.
They have the power to help the healing process and they can hold enough power to destroy someone.

In the past using words as weapons to cut people down and stomp all over them was how I would react when I was angry or frustrated. It was my defense and it was how I coped.
I was good at being mean, and I knew it.

Although this particular issue is one that I still struggle with from time to time when I feel like I am being pushed, I can’t tell you the last time I verbally destroyed someone. However, I can recall the last time I wanted to.

Progress people; progress.

To be on the other side of this is interesting.

In my experience, no matter how much sober time you accumulate, there will always be at least one asshole person who will dig up your past and use it against you in some way like it is going to propel them in a forward motion in their lives or something. 

That one person who just can’t wait to remind you of what a piece of sh*t you ‘really’ are or who you used to be.

In my case, I have given these personality types a lot of options to choose from.

All of my cards are out on the table, via my personal choice to live a transparent, authentic, loud, recovery life and this makes me susceptible to open critique, and vulnerable to judgement.

Pulling the shame card is a cheap tactic and I can always tell when it’s coming.
Being the target of this kind of ‘communication’ triggers feelings inside of me that beg for instant reaction.

If you find yourself being shamed and you feel like someone is attacking you with your past, remember: 

1.) You really don’t need to react.
I understand being angry, and wanting to defend your new self and your new lifestyle.
We want so badly to remind this person that they are wrong.
That is not who you are anymore, so there is no reason to talk about it…..again.
The problem is our past is not being thrown in our face because that shamer is under the impression that we are still those people. This age-old cheapo tactic is used to hurt.
This isn’t about being factual, reasonable, logical, or accurate.
It is about using words deliberately to hurt you.
No defense on our part changes their desire to hurt us.

This usually happens for one of two reasons. They felt threatened, didn’t have a solid counter argument or couldn’t handle the heated discussion for whatever reason, so they resorted to being shit mean.

Or

We have hurt this person in the past (chances are pretty high) and they still haven’t processed it, or forgiven or healed.

So at the end of the day,  it’s not a you thing, it’s a them thing.

2.) Recovery is all about progress and not perfection.
Okay, okay.
So the mud being slung around is true.
It’s all real life stuff that actually happened.
It’s not pretty stuff, not admirable, and certainly not our best life stuff.

It is really hard to walk away from a heated argument or a crappy phone call
without second guessing your self-worth or your ability to keep living sober, especially after hearing a long list of reasons why you are a worthless person.

Remind yourself that it is okay to own your past, and to accept all of it.
None of it means that is who you are, those are things that you did.
Nothing that was said diminishes who you are right now.
It doesn’t decrease your value to God, who loved you then, and who loves you now.

It doesn’t take away the power that your recovery story can have to other people in the recovery community or others who are still struggling.

You have worked hard and every day you are one day further away from that old life and that is all that you can do.

If there are people who cannot see that,

At the end of the day that’s a them thing, not a you thing.

3. Boundaries are a great alternative to consider.
Boundaries are our friend.
In some really intense cases, they are our bestest friend.

The most encouraging part about this shaming issue is learning that we have options.

It is okay to create distance for as long or as little time that we need or want from a person or persons who refuse to even consider that we have turned the page.

Take these reminders with you and please don’t allow anyone to push you back down. We are busy working on rebuilding our lives, and loving people, and we will have a much harder time doing so if we are constantly cut down and reminded of just how far down we have gone.

We know.
We remember.

It is normal for people in our lives to ask for and get some much-needed time to heal from all of the ways we may have hurt or betrayed them in the past.

They will also probably need some solid blocks of time to observe us, and to see the life changes that we are making.

It is normal for them to feel like they need ‘proof’ because we have probably ruined any weight that our promises to change had once held.

They want some consistency and it will take time to earn our trust back with each individual person in our lives.

And we understand that.
We totally get it.

But it is not healthy to allow this to go on for years, and years.
It is not okay to feel like you have to put up with hateful rhetoric.

It is okay to draw some lines, and create some healthy boundaries for ourselves.
and if people aren’t on board to at least consider giving us a second (or 34th) chance,

it’s just a them thing, and not a you thing.

 

 

 

Careful Thirsting Friends, Careful Thirsting.

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Recently, I read a post on Facebook that linked an article called
‘Lies Christian Women Will Believe to Justify Watching Fifty Shades of Grey.’
(Here is the link to that article, if you are interested:
 http://www.carmendmiller.com/2015/01/lies-christian-women-will-believe-to.html )

I commented on that Facebook post:

“I have not read any of these books, I have still not watched Magic Mike, and don’t plan on watching Fifty Shades of Grey either. Not because I haven’t considered, but because my hubby is more than enough for me and my imagination, and  I know I the same respect for me is reciprocated from him. We do have to be intentional about protecting our marriages. 
Thanks for posting this!”

Whether you are a Jesus follower or not,
if you are married,
this topic should matter to you and you should be doing something intentional to protect your marriage. 

After I posted my comment, my husband and I talked about this for a while,
and I wanted to share our take on it.

You see, the article focused on Biblical marriage only, or Christian women who are married etc.

But I am married to someone who is not a Christian, who does not go to church and who doesn’t personally identify as a follower of Jesus.
He does believe there is something more, but for all purposes of giving you a backdrop as to where he stands on ‘Biblical’ marriage…we will call him Agnostic. An adoring, loving, kind, caring, giving, considerate, hot, hilarious –agnostic. 😉

So in our ‘unequally yoked’ marriage, how do we address these kinds of issues?
For us, this is not a God centered issue, but is a respect and protect issue.
It is a very important one that we make sure to keep at the forefront of our marriage.
So we don’t address it much differently, really.
We believe that our marriage is between the two of us, that our intimacy is important and plays a huge role in keeping our relationship healthy. AKA, having a healthy sex life.

Much like you, I married my man because I want to give my all, everything- all of myself to him until we are done here on this earth. We have both committed to giving our best to one another, separating our relationship from all others.
This means that there are some things that are left alone.
Left for him and I only.
One of these things is ——–sex.
(To be clear sex and intimacy are two different things. I am addressing sex in this post, but in a marriage, they are very closely tied and connected together.)

Everyone has their own self-perceived definition of what they consider ‘cheating’.
For my husband and I, cheating is not a very complex issue.

It is pretty black and white.
Not any real ‘grey’ area that we can see.
This is definitely one area that in our opinion, motive is just as important as taking literal action.

Movies like Magic Mike and Fifty Shades really only have one real purpose for women.
To get you all crazy thirsty for the D. 
That’s it.
These books and movies make bank off of people who like to lust, fantasize, and daydream about crazy sex- and allow themselves to be turned on like crazy in a movie theatre surrounded by all of their closest friends.

Pretty harmless…
Until you go home and have sex with your husband, but you aren’t thinking of him.

(I guess I don’t really see the point in needing or wanting to be turned on by any other man besides the one who has my ring on his sexy as* finger..)

For me,  I would never want my man to go to the club, pay for a few VIP dances and come home and give it to me.

I would never want him to get on his Twitter account and browse the “Hot girls daily”, “Best sex gifs” or “best ass pics” accounts and then hop into our bed.

Look.
As women and men, if we are being real ….we all have a respectful amount of default insecurity. Our safe place is knowing that we are completely, one-hundred percent, unconditionally ‘enough’ in all ways for our significant other.
Especially when we have children, busy schedules, not enough time in a given day, frazzled nerves, good days, rough ones, financial stress, and all of the other realities that come along with being a typical suburban grown-up with a spouse and a family-
our alone time together becomes very important.

We have to cherish exactly what WE have.
The bodies that WE have.
The little romantic things that WE do together the way that WE do them.

These things are unique to us and our marriage.
No one else has them.
No one else can give them to you.
No one aside from your man can provide you with what you need.
Allowing other variables in to fulfill needs meant to be met by our partner and our partner only, is only asking for trouble.

Watching these movies, reading these books, watching porn, going to strip clubs or viewing any of the numerous xxx accounts that are free and so easily accessible to both men and women …………
will leave us chasing, yearning and pining for more and more and more. 

It will leave us feeling like what WE ALREADY HAVE RIGHT IN FRONT OF US, simply is cutting it. It is not exciting enough. Not hot enough. Not skinny enough. Not spontaneous enough…..
Simply……what our spouse has to offer to us, isn’t enough.

By giving into all of the temptation, what we are really saying is that these kinds of things supplement us and satisfy us in ways that may be temporary,
but they are more important to us than filling in those obvious gaps in real ways, in our real lives, to enrich our very real marriages that we have committed to.

On both sides, husbands and wives are very real, very impressionable humans –
who whether we admit it or not,
feel that we have to be lacking in some way if our partner gets that turned on by a book, gif, stripper, or movie.

So I just want to say, try not to give in.
These kinds of temptations are destroyers of true intimacy.
Whether you consider this ‘cheating’ or not, at the very least you risking putting your partner first, making them feel like the most beautiful thing on the planet, planting seeds of doubt in your loved one’s mind and heart, and pushing yourself that much closer to what you might consider ‘cheating’…..

Be mindful and protect your marriage.
There are more than enough obstacles as it is that cause marriages to begin to crumble.
Don’t let this be one of them.

Careful Thirsting friends.

The Irony of it all.

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I was just thinking and thought I would share with you guys.

Isn’t it ironic that in early addiction we tend to live in the future. We are living fast, we want things now, we are rushing around in a hurry to have fun and find more, more, more.

In late addiction we tend to dwell on the past. We dwell on all of the past. We dwell on things going as far back as childhood and work our way right up to all of our recent misgivings, shortcomings and mistakes.

In early addiction we are thriving off of a false sense of reality. The truth that we knew is fading and is being overtaken by a facade.

In late addiction we begin to see the truth of what our lives had become and we grow weary and tired of chasing the facade.

In early Recovery we are afraid that we aren’t worthy or strong enough to turn things around for the better. We dwell on the fear of the unknown, and we worry anxiously if we will have the strength to hack it.

In late Recovery when we are stronger and our lives have changed. We spend the majority of our time trying to encourage and convince people to take the first step; from a very similar place we were just standing, terrified.

In early Recovery the truth scares the crap out of us.
It is that fear that keeps us in hiding.

In late Recovery that truth that we discover about who and what we really are is what fuels us, keeps going, and keeps us out there trying to help others.

Addiction Destroys Families.

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Yes addiction destroys families.
It destroys all of nouns in its path if they are within reach.

It’s hostages are usually people, but relationships, mental health, physical health, emotional health, a person’s business, someone’s career, overall stability, and wellness are almost always banged up too. You name it. If it’s in the way, it either moves, or gets sucked in.
Period.

Everything adjusts trying to fit naturally into a system that is no longer functioning in a natural way.

Addiction injects a level of intensity that overrides what most people are wired to handle on a day-to-day basis.

Basically, anyone close enough to even look like they are involved or invested in the family, gets involuntarily swallowed.

Even the people who are quick to create distance hoping lessen their chances of being damaged by this health crisis still find themselves struggling internally with some level of guilt and anxiety relating to their decision to create boundaries in the first place. They are usually the ones sitting in a chair in Al-Anon, in disbelief.

Each person within the family system will be affected in a different way,
and how it changes a person depends on many different variables.
Things like severity of trauma endured, mental wellness, personality, temperament, birth order, ability to cope, etc. Some people call it nature, some nurture, others a combo of the two.
Whatever you view it as doesn’t change one this one thing.

Addiction.Destroys.Families. 

Wishing or hoping to forcefully make a broken system work
-doesn’t work.

Repair and restoration are sought after long-term side effects of every person within that system healing as individuals. Over time the goal is to heal as a unit. It can take years and most often, families struggle as they strive to find a healthy balance of reconciling the past, and embracing the here and now without enmeshing the two.

But there is good news is:
Change happens one person at a time, one mended heart at a time.

You are in charge of you, and only you.
At any time, you are allowed to choose to be the one who stands up to fight against this powerful & convincing lie, the one that has been telling you that there is no way out.
The one that you have believed for far too long.
The voice that has whispered to you that you aren’t strong enough for something like this.

No, the destruction cannot be erased and the past cannot be changed.

But even if you feel like you are the one who has done the majority of the damage,
or despite being the one who likely contributed most to the brokenness of your family spirit…

You can still choose to change.

You are still a capable person who is in charge of whether or not you are walking toward something new.

Restoration and healing are still waiting for you.

You can still commit to rebuilding things from exactly where you are.

You can still be where this cycle stops.
It can all come to an end right here with you.

One healthy choice at a time.
OHCAAT.

 

 

 

 

You’re a Great Mom.

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If I fall asleep during this post, I guess it won’t get published like I had hoped, because I wanted to share what is on my heart this morning. 

It is 9:05 a.m. and I can barely keep my eyes open.
By all mom standards, it is one of those days.
I am listening for my washer to stop, keeping one ear open for my flu sick tween, and have a loosely made tentative ‘plan’ for my Tuesday that includes making phone calls and other miscellaneous errands.

I am also so grateful to be almost 30 weeks along with our 3rd boy, but I don’t sleep anymore. We are at that point.
Last night, our oldest boy began throwing up at around 3 a.m.
………..Not that I had fallen into REM sleep by then, but it was feeling pretty great to lay down in between trips to the bathroom.

The struggle is real to get my off-centered, gravity-challenged behind out of bed, due to SPD (which is always worse at night)
…..but when I heard the pitiful sounds of someone small in my house getting sick, instinct told me that is exactly where I needed to be.
We have been up and down a half-dozen times since the first round at 3 o’clock, and by 7 it was time to get our 2nd boy fed, dressed and happily on the bus to Kindergarten.

Needless to say, this Tuesday is not unlike many of your very own Tuesday mornings. 
I have a news feed full of tired mommy friends who are also dealing with sleepless nights for one reason or another due to sicknesses, illnesses, diseases, and other random sleep-stealing culprits.

I don’t do this mommy thing any better than any one of my friends.

Some of them work outside of the home, some own their own home-based businesses, some work from home, others don’t work according to the typically accepted definition of ‘working’ – but I think we all do our own thing, with our own children, within the confines of our own family dynamics and we do our best. 

Admittedly, I enjoy reading an occasional witty, crude humored blog post from one of the ever so popular mommy bloggers who so eloquently use their sarcasm and what they call ‘realism’  (which to me translates to negativity most of the time)
to describe many of the scenarios that I described above to help other moms not feel like they have to paint pictures of mommyhood with “butterflies and roses” all of the time,
and encourage women to opt to be more ‘real’ about the ups and downs of being a mom…..

Well,  I am all for ‘real’ okay. 
But I am also for staying positive and grateful, and nice. 

We can’t cultivate a healthy type of thinking or mindset by saturating our news feed with cynical but popular (and funny) mommy blog posts all of the time
…………..or by joining Facebook groups of that are swarming with adultsize, judgmental mean girls.

Here’s what I am feeling like I see way too much of: 
**Moms maliciously critiquing other moms for the most ridiculous (none of their business) things.
(Such as: cloth diapering vs. disposable, daycare vs. other, breastfed vs. bottle fed, binky or no binky, co-sleeping or not, attachment parenting or something else, working outside of the home or staying at home, natural birth vs anything else, adoption vs. fostering………etc. etc. etc.)
**Viral blog posts about motherhood that are funny, but always so negative.

That type of mind-set is certainly not what fuels me, doesn’t help me push through a hard day and is not ‘realistic’ to me.

I am not saying that sheets that have been pottied on or bathroom floors that have remnants of 3 am puke on them are in any way, beautiful.

Or that gaining knowledge, info, advice or wisdom from other (nice) mommies is a crappy thing.

Here’s what I think is ‘real’.
We are moms. Quit complaining. It isn’t always pretty. Things don’t always go as planned, We don’t always look pretty and we don’t need to.
Not all days are what many would consider ‘fun’ but that isn’t what it’s all about in the end anyway.

It is about creating a life with these people who look to you for that love – that love that they somehow know you have to offer unconditionally.

It is an important part of who they have become, and who they will blossom into as young adults. So, in all seriousness everything that we do, whether we are feeling recognized or appreciated at the time, matters a whole helluva lot.

Motherhood is always changing— but what never changes….is that we, women,  were created especially for this mommy role; and that is beautiful all of the time. 

We have the ability to keep pushing on despite unforeseen circumstances, being completely exhausted, being in pain, running on fumes with two-day old greasy hair and no recent sleep that qualifies or that falls into the category of anything considered decent. 

We are capable of so much and have so much love to pour out with no questions asked.

While we should definitely maintain our sense of humor about the less ‘beautiful’ side to the ‘joys’ of motherhood, rolling with the punches…

it is SO important to keep a healthy and positive perspective.
It IS a beautiful thing to be gifted the responsibilities that we have taken on in the form of being a mother, and a wife.

To my mommy friends out there please remember that what you are doing is so important.
We don’t always have to have everything together, everything clean, everything washed, ironed, organized, folded or put in its place…and not all mommy opinions spewed to us by other mom’s are one’s that we are obligated to share in, or one’s that we should take to heart. 

We just need to remember how important we are to our individual family unit.

Keep in mind that I am not writing to shove my views or ‘advice’ down your throat or to make you feel guilty if you don’t smile while you steam mop your kitchen.

I am not some mythical domestic mommy goddess….

I just wanted to remind all of my mommy friends how awesome,  important and capable they are.

So when you look into the mirror, don’t define the kind of mommy that you see by any other standard than what God sets and the one that you were made for. YOUR own family.

 

Practicing Recovery

The real lifestyle changes that Recovery has to offer will have the opportunity to begin and become active parts of our new lives:
when we choose to close our apps and decide to power off our laptops; and get to work. 

I know not everyone has meetings available in their area, or the type of meeting that you may prefer isn’t always offered close enough to you.

I understand that inspirational pages, pictures, posters, quotes, sayings, and blog posts can be instrumental and pivotal in helping you to keep going and to keep a positive mindset.

I get that connecting with groups and individuals on Twitter and Facebook can help you gain a sense of community and support.

I also understand that it can be scary to go ‘out there’ and try to interact and live what we are learning.

You see, I began my Recovery without a support system. I have since built one, all based off of the very list that I just typed.
I have met SO many supportive people online.
Many inspirational and informational pages on social media definitely give me that kick in the as* that I need so often, and much of what I read helps to ‘keep me going’ or to help me to stay positive, continually moving and looking toward the future.

I also own an inspirational page, so obviously, I COMPLETELY believe in the power and importance of having community, camaraderie, support and a good & healthy flow of information, data and encouragement.

But I also know that talking in chats & scrolling past pretty posters with positive sayings or quotes alone, simply isn’t enough to grow and maintain lasting Recovery.
Not by itself.

These things should be a PART OF our Recovery.
These things should be SUPPLEMENTAL. 
These things are very important, but are just pieces of the integrated puzzle of what should be a tailored plan that we have for our new life.

Alone, utilizing these valuable (yet incomplete) resources –
simply won’t cut it.

We have to unplug and IMPLEMENT the things we learn.
We have to KNOW, but then we have to go out and DO. 
We have to put our knowledge and beliefs into PRACTICE.

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Otherwise, we aren’t growing. We are sitting in neutral, filling our minds to the brim with information and warm fuzzy feelings as a result of hitting ‘like’ and ‘share’ continuously.

Let’s mesh our online head-knowledge
with our everyday lives; put our Recovery into practice.

‘Recovery in Action’ doesn’t have to be this messy or complex thing…

There are small things that we can do on a daily basis that can help us implement action into what we already know we should be doing.

We tend to think that ‘normal’ is some combination of being busy, having important jobs and staying sober.
This is not the same thing as working Recovery.
Remember. Recovery is life-long journey of maintaining a healthy, active and progressive lifestyle. We are moving at our own pace here.
We cannot avoid ‘busy’.
And on the other hand we can take on too much to avoid working our Recovery.
It is easy to be sober and to make sure that you stay busy busy.
Whether we are talking working long-hours, taking care of children or a family, managing a home or being in charge of three Recovery pages online- it’s still not the same thing as working your personal Recovery.
Make sure that each day you take some time for yourself. Find your center.
Make sure there isn’t anything that you could cut out of your schedule.
Reassess your progress honestly.
Do you need to let go of a commitment? Is everything that you have taken on (on top of family, and a 9-5 completely necessary? Is it doing more harm than good? Etc.)
Don’t allow yourself to make excuses about not having enough free time to have a little bit of alone or quiet time.
**If it is 5 minutes or 15 minutes, it doesn’t matter. Fit it in.

GO for your goals!
It is nice to read about ‘letting go of the past’ or ‘reaping what you sow’
but it is another thing to put yourself out there, and go for whatever ‘it’ is for you.
I don’t care if you simply want to put your brave pants on and join an exercise class,  if you want to submit the transcript to your first book to a publisher, or if ‘going for it’ just means that you are going to put in three resumes or applications per day, every day, until you get a j.o.b.
The voices in your head truly hold no power if you take charge. The past may never stop whispering completely, but a great way to kill it, is to move forward by taking action- even if you are taking baby steps!
**Do it!

If you are changing your people, places and things….
try this:
changing your people, places and things.
This one gets me every time.
People love to hit ‘like’ on this one, and I believe, truly understand how important this is.
It is something that Celebrate Recovery, NA and AA all call attention to specifically.
It also seems to be a hard one for people. (It was for me as well, in the beginning.)
But this one definitely needs action to back it up, because believing it will never be enough to reap the positive effects of this principle.
-If you use to drive down a certain street that is close to a seller’s house- find a new route. If you have spent years in a bar, restaurant or other ‘spot’ – don’t go there anymore.
-Go through your phone. Delete EVERY SINGLE number in their of ANYONE that you use to use with, buy from or party with in any capacity. I don’t care if you have known them since second grade. Buh-bye (at least for a while).
-Use the block feature on Facebook. I am serious. People are nosey. Most notice that you are changing, and don’t want that. Sometimes people will stick around to invite you to things you shouldn’t be going to, or to continually slip that mindset into your news feed. It does matter and it does have an effect on you whether you want to admit it or not. Just reading about what their doing, or places that they are going can negatively impact your thoughts. Get rid of it all.
-Throw away ashtrays. Throw away lighters, coolers, wine glasses, bongs, or anything else that might get those wheels in your head turning.
**If you are truly behind the notion that changing people, places and things in your life will help ensure your sobriety and recovery, do the scary thing- and actually change them.

Be honest and be nice.
This is also another popular and simple notion.
It is much harder to do out in the real world.
But it helps you grow, and will help you to gain confidence in the new you.
If you walk out of Wal-Mart, look down at your cart and realize that your bottled water is sitting there at the bottom, not-purchased…and .even though it is cold, you are tired and it would be a long annoying walk back inside, and another annoying wait in a customer service line- walk yourself back in there and pay for the water.
Be nice to people. This one is still hard for me, but offering grace to others is something that is important to our recoveries too. We have asked for forgiveness and are trying to make amends and live as new people. The not giving a fuck attitude is out the window. Try holding a door open for someone, and not caring if anyone has held one open for you today. Say something nice to someone, or choose not to huff and puff or curse if you are forced to wait behind a 93-year-old woman who insists not only on writing a gosh forsaken check, but who also has to tell stories to the cashier as she records her spending in her log book.
**Learning to treat others kindly, being honest at all costs, and offering a tiny bit of grace to others when we have been offered insane amounts of it can go a long way in helping us to grow and change little by little as we go about our everyday, real-world lives.

That mindful thing.
We all support and like those posters and pictures that encourage present living or mindfulness.
Living in the present doesn’t mean being reckless or dangerous.
It can mean trying to embrace or purposefully create some moments of mindfulness for yourself. It can mean the simple act of noticing things that you hadn’t ever taken the time to before you are living more intently.
So the next time you are rushing, slow down. Nothing comes from rushing aside from stress. Notice the sunrise on your way to work. Take it in, even if only for a second. If you are at a stop light on your way home from work, take some time to soak in the sun setting. Watch the snow fall for a few minutes, gaze at it untouched- and breathe in the crisp air.
Watch your kids play for a few minutes, take in their little laughs and smiles.

This one hits me close to home. I still get teary when I have these intense moments with the earth and all its wonders and all things that God created. He gave so much for us to take in, it is overwhelming. Sometimes, Recovery shows us how lucky we are to be alive. We notice all of the blessings surrounding us that much more. I am just blown away that I missed so much for so long.

To go.. or not to go?

To go or not to go? That is always the question during the holiday season.
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If you are in Recovery, the holidays can be hard.
Each individual has various levels of coping skills, time in Recovery, different triggers, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses.

There are too many variables to post an all-encompassing, accurate, blanket answer for everyone in Recovery who cannot decide if a family holiday gathering is right for them, right now.

So I think it is safe to say that ideally, you will have a wise sponsor, friend, accountability partner or someone else that you can confide in to get a little bit of guidance from on this matter.

Here are some things different situations that I came up with that might help a little bit if you can’t decide whether or not it is a good idea to show up at your family Thanksgiving this year.

****Hypothetical situation:
The mere thought of spending time with your family makes you feel like you want to use your d.o.c? You start to think of where you can go to get some or who you can call “just in case”  (Drug of Choice, the one that almost killed you, the one that you are trying to stay away from)
*Do you go?
If the thought alone is enough to get you worked up, thinking about using, and physically/emotionally vulnerable, stay home.
Maybe it’s too early for you and there is work to be done to ensure that you are strong enough to make it through regardless of the reasons that you are already feeling unsure right now.

 

****Hypothetical family situation #1:
You have a supportive family, but they don’t understand addiction. 
They love you but think that you are cured. It might annoy you or irritate you to be asked ridiculous questions, or to feel like addiction is thought of as a weakness. Maybe, their lack of understanding is insulting, despite the fact that they care and are open to forgiving you, love you and accepting you back into the family. *There is not any drug use or drinking happening at this family affair, simply a lack of understanding of what you went through and are still navigating.
*Do you go?
For this situation, I say go. Spend some time with your family. The only way to help them to understand is to share your story with them. Maybe take it slowly, share little bits at a time if asked. Always answer questions honestly, and lovingly. Try to remind yourself that not everyone has a healthy family to go back to or one at all. So, as annoying ask the misconceptions or lack of knowledge can be, it is something that you can work with and over time, more people might begin to see addiction in a new light. Because of you taking the time to invest in answering their questions.
If educating themselves seems like something they sound interested in, direct them to Al-anon or a helpful website that they can read. Don’t give up on them, they didn’t give up on you.

 

****Hypothetical Family Situation #2:
Same love as above situation, same acceptance, same forgiveness.
However there is a lack of empathy for your disease, or respect for the possibility of a lapse for you as a result of a lack of knowledge on the part of the family.
You are an alcoholic. Knowing this, many will still be drinking despite the fact that you are going to attend, but they will not hound you to drink. They are loving, yet naive.
*Do you go?
For me, this would depend on your personal progress in Recovery.
You need to be honest with yourself here. Are you strong enough to be around alcohol?
Can you go all day long, watching other people pour it into their cups or pop off the tops of their ice-cold beer, without caving?
Have you been in situations like this prior to this Thanksgiving holiday? How did you do?
This is where rigorous honesty comes in.
This risk is not to be taken lightly, and shouldn’t be played with. Not when your sobriety is hanging in the balance. But you cannot hide forever.
If you know you are strong enough and have tools under your belt, I say go.
When you leave that gathering sober, you will have a whole new confidence within yourself. You will see that your hard work is tangible, and that you are capable of so much more than you thought.

 

****Hypothetical Family Situation #3:
Same as above situation – identical. 
EXCEPT- they will pressure you intermittently all day long to drink. 
They forget that you don’t and cannot drink and will ask repeatedly.
*Do you go?

I say IF you go, have your own car, a friend’s number who will be more than happy to come and pick you up, a route to the nearest bus stop, a number and some cash for a cab or an awesome cousin, brother, etc. who will run you home with left overs if you need to get out asap.
It is tough to go where there will be alcohol, even if the people love you, accept you, and forgive you. In Recovery, emotions are a tad irregular and it is hard to keep anger/temper under control. This, mixed with the temptation to have a drink and have it offered to you all day long persistently, is a dangerous combination.
One ‘sure’ or ‘ya’ can ruin your progress, hurt peopl,e or worst case scenario…
take your life.

 

**Hypothetical Family Situation #4:
Tons of great people. No drugs, alcohol will be around, consumed by others who don’t get drunk or belligerent. Of those great people, your cousin (or relative etc.) is also in Recovery, but you are both in very different stages. You have both gotten into some trouble together before, and in the past bad things happen when you two are together. There is also the possibility of violence erupting if that person slips.  
*Do you go?
Remember, you have learned that you are only responsible for you. Your program requires you to be honest with yourself. You have to face the facts. That person may slip. They may try to cause you to lapse. Are you ready to face that situation head on? Do you have a plan to deal with that if it comes up?
If so, I say go.
Again, you are only as strong as you believe you are. You can’t avoid and run from these kinds of situations, you work through them. If you are comfortable enough to face them, and understand the true reality of what you could be walking into, it is a risk but one that you are ready to handle. Don’t allow yourself to be influenced or swayed. Walk in with confidence, keep your distance, and walk out with your integrity.

 

****Hypothetical family situation #5:
Drama, drama, drama. The family has conflict and most of it has always been unresolved. Sometimes things are calm, but a lot of the time there is fighting going on. Not just friendly banter or light bickering, but the possibility of fist fights, tears, raised voices or police. There is also alcohol and drug use.
*Do you go?

No. You don’t go. You go with a friend to their family get together. You find a church that is hosting a big to-do, maybe find a shelter that you can serve at or even a meeting and a dinner to go to. If all else fails, order out or cook your own turkey and watch Netflix. 
I have dealt with years of the above scenario. I know it hurts to distance yourself from it and above all, your brain wants to keep stressing the fact that ‘this is all you have’ or ‘this is your blood’ and you have some sort of obligation to fulfill here. 
I disagree. If it severely messes with your freedom (having no warrants, a clean record, no fines, no court dates, no bounty hunters looking for you etc) It isn’t worth it. 
If it destroys your serenity, that peace you have found…the storm inside of you is calm, feeling positive and is on the right track, it isn’t worth it. 
If it poses a risk to your personal physical safety, no explanation necessary. It is not worth it. 
Listen, we are trying to live new lives. That doesn’t automatically mean cut your family off. But if they pose a high risk to every part of your well-being, inside and out….
Don’t go.

 

 

If you decide that ‘to go’ is your decision-
always have a plan b.

3 Things that I am grateful for.

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In Recovery we are taught to cultivate an attitude of gratefulness.
This helps us to begin the process of living in humility;
balancing living mindful, presently, and in the now yet not ever forgetting the trench in which we were pulled from, and the people who were there to help save us from ourselves.

The balance part is pretty important because you cannot move forward or gain your footing in your new life if you are stuck in the past. You cannot take advantage of a new life if you are rehashing the old one every chance you get, even after you have gone through the process(es) of healing, grieving, making amends and are on the road to a more positive mindset.

On the other hand, you cannot live in humility if you allow yourself to simply forget or you choose to minimize just how desolate your situation had become, and how much you needed help. Living humbly requires us to hold in our hearts, the truth. God uses people to save others, and thank the Lord we were saved (however you were reached, through whatever means you were).

It took me a few years to unpack, and to fully let go of my past, releasing its power.
I moved and worked through each step, some more quickly than others.
But as God worked in my heart and my life, and I completed my program, I feel like I was in a place to try to embrace this new life I had been given.

Here are  3 things that I am grateful for today, after almost 8 years of living as a woman in Recovery from drugs, alcohol, co-dependency, enabling and self-depreciation: 

1. That I was given a NEW life.
Not a ‘second chance’ at life, because I would’ve blown that too..
(and if we were counting how many ‘chances’ I have been given, well…let’s just say the count is well beyond two chances or opportunities to start over.)
The chance to start with a clean slate is exactly what I needed. God’s grace provided me something that I obviously did not deserve, after blowing my ‘second chances’ dozens of times.
So a new life, a new me and the choice given to me to embrace this opportunity, is something that I am forever grateful for. It still brings tears to my eyes when I think about who I was, who God has allowed me to become, and that there is always room for growth just blows me away.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new one has begun! (2 Corinthians 5:17) 

2. Perspective.
I am grateful to have the ability to see things from different sides, angles and positions. Not really talking about empathy here, but the simple notion that I understand that things look different from different points of life and from different people’s shoes. This is why I am so grateful for my family.

-My immediate family of 5:  I have three beautiful boys that I cherish. I see how God used my poor choices and the broken road that I created for myself, to help me to love these boys so hard and so much more than I would have ever if I hadn’t made such a mess of things. Every day is different and has its’ unique challenges, but I know that parenting three boys is a challenge that I am meant to have.
My husband. Looking back, I never would have guessed that we would have cleared the hurdles that we have, together. Sure. We knocked a lot of them down and fell on our faces along the way, but guess what? We are still kicking a** and running together. We are strong and God has shown me how our hearts come together in a perfect way, perfect for one another.

-My extended family: perspective has definitely done a wonderful job of revealing purpose. It is my belief that we are all on a journey and we are all figuring things out as we go. We all make mistakes and there really is no reason to hold onto bitterness or anger over the mistake of people who are simply trying to navigate life just as I am.
I am not sure that there is any good reason to carry any of that around.
The truth is, perspective has also show me that family, is not black and white.

-My church families, inherited family, friends and the rest:
Perspective has shown me that if looked at in the right mindset, the term family can be used pretty loosely. If we allow ourselves to open that door to our hearts a little bit wider, our hearts can hold a lot more than what we like to try to limit it to.
Love is a vast, rich, deep thing. If we let it in, God will pour it through the most unexpected places.
So, I am so so grateful to have so many people in my life, and our lives who care, love and ‘show up’ .

I would have never thought of it like this if my perspective hadn’t changed so much over the years, and it is only because of God’s love and the way that we are told to extend and accept love, that I was able to warm up to the idea that love is limitless and we shouldn’t constrict what we allow into our lives when it comes to people who truly care.

You must clothe yourselves with tender-hearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.  And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

(Colossians 3:12-15)

3. The ability to feel. (negative AND positive feelings)
This one may seem odd to you ‘regular’ people ( 😉 ) who aren’t in Recovery.
Using self-soothing coping mechanisms for so years as a child stunted and muted anything that I might have had to feel, face or confront.
This tactic translated pretty nicely into my adolescent and young adult years, as I still used my poor coping tools.
My drug use was a poor and insufficient substitute for coping and dealing with the reality in front of me. Whether self-created, or inherited, or both,  I didn’t have the guts or sufficient tools to open my eyes, lift my head and accept anything real.

My sobriety, my Recovery and my relationship with God have all given me my the ability to feel again.

*God heard my desperate cries and knew my desires to get well.
He not only saved me, but helped me find my soul for the first time. I felt like a person; like I was seen.
This was probably one of the first times in my life and one of my first experiences with  true joy (even if this tiny glimpse of light was just a predecessor of the struggle I would have ahead of me to feel anything more).
However, this is also what catapulted and revived my heart just enough, because of this shred of light, I knew there had to be hope for even…..me.

*Sobriety helped my brain to decompress, slow down and have a little breather.
After a year or so, feeling anything again was fantastic. Every emotion felt new.
I began to feel the powerful waves of inconsistent emotion that most of us in Recovery experience, but it felt good to be reassured yet again, that I was alive, I could feel again and that meant there was hope.

*Recovery has helped me to appreciate feeling. Although I still have emotions that I am more comfortable with than others, I am able to recognize what I am feeling and can accept it.
I understand that it is natural to feel the good and natural to feel the negative emotions as well. I am grateful to know that it is more important to try to maintain control over what we DO with the feelings, rather than trying to push away feeling altogether.

The most interesting part of the journey back to feeling and away from living completely apathetic and numb is that the joy and the happiness is far more vivid and incredible than I had imagined.
The negative and the more tough days or situations can get ugly and aren’t fun, but they certainly aren’t anywhere near as ‘low’ as the ‘low’ that I lived in for so many years.

So is there really a down-side??
There really isn’t when you are living.
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I am grateful to have the opportunity to share with you guys.
I love everyone who supports me crazily opening my life up to the internet, hoping to inspire hope in someone else.

We are put here to share and spread love, and because of God’s love for us, we have the opportunity to make the choice to do just that.

I am also grateful to live in a country where the biggest consequence that I might have for sharing my heart with you guys, might be a few nasty comments, an un-follower or two (or 100),  or being made fun of for loving and following the one true God, that is deemed ridiculous or illogical by the standards of some select people groups.

Not too high of a price to pay, and for that, I am grateful.

Something to remember:

 

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“Well, the past is playing with my head
And failure knocks me down again
I’m reminded of the wrong
That I have said and done
And that devil just won’t let me forget….”

“My mistakes are running through my mind
And I’ll relive my days in the middle of the night
When I struggle with my pain, wrestle with my pride.
Sometimes I feel alone and I cry.”

“When I don’t fit in and I don’t feel like I belong anywhere
When I don’t measure up to much in this life
Oh, I’m a treasure in the arms of Christ…”

“And in this life
I know what I’ve been
But here in your arms
I know what I am…..”

“Well, I’m forgiven
I’m forgiven
And I don’t have to carry
The weight of who I’ve been
‘Cause I’m forgiven…”

(Lyrics of Forgiven, by Sanctus Real)

 

 

Being strong and courageous.

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Being a strong person can mean a lot of different things to different people-
but it doesn’t  always have to mean holding it all together despite what may be going on around us or what we might be going through.

I think many of us condition ourselves to hide or shy away from letting the walls come down.
We hide behind the facade of what others perceive as ‘strength.’
We like the idea of showing the world how ‘strong and courageous’ we really are.
We get too wrapped up in looking strong, or maybe too wrapped up in how weak showing vulnerability would look to the outside world.

Other times we might believe that to be strong means to show no emotion, to not allow ourselves to cry, or open up to anyone about what is going on in our lives.
(just in case that too, would make us look weak)

Whatever we have to do, to ‘look strong’.

In Recovery, we are taught the importance of personal growth on a consistent level, and that includes practicing accountability and staying in touch with, balancing and recognizing our emotions. This is important because we have to keep our lives transparent; and if not between us and God…..then who are we going to share our most vulnerable feelings with?

When we allow ourselves to face the truths that come with being imperfectly human…
and we trust God with our innermost dealings…

we open the door for our relationship with God to grow like CRAZY.
He knows some days are more rough than others, and we know how ridiculously brutal and tiring it is to act like things are always perfect.

It takes strength and courage to allow our faults to be made known on any level. 

Now, I am not saying that it’s okay (or healthy) to become hot messes of walking, seething, blubbering whiners, overflowing with negativity.  

I am simply saying this: 

*It’s okay to be afraid of sharing, even if it is just between you and God. The most important part is that you give it a try. You will be surprised at how much of a weight is lifted as you grow closer to him. You begin to see that you can open up and it is okay.

*Sometimes, the strongest people are the ones that allow themselves to show their shortcomings and vulnerabilities. By sharing with God, you will begin to see that it is fine to be comfortable being imperfect and gradually, sharing with others doesn’t seem so insane.

*The strongest people know their own weaknesses, and learn to recognize if & when they need to reach out for help. It isn’t healthy to pretend….in any area of your life. It is simply too much work, and too much stress. So, being strong really isn’t about looking perfect.

*It is okay to let your guard down. There is no shame in knowing who you are, and how much that you can handle at once. We have to stay humble, straight-forward and transparent- or we definitely aren’t moving forward…and if we aren’t moving forward, then…well we are backsliding by default.

We are us, and that’s okay.
Being aware of this is just another freedom truth brings.

So take some time each day to have a conversation with God.
Have a few if you want.
Share openly and honestly about how you are REALLY feeling, what you REALLY want to change, what you REALLY love, what you are REALLY thankful for and what you TRULY need.

It’s okay to be strong, courageous AND vulnerable. 

Support Systems in Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Living One Day at a Time: 4 Benefits

 

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

In early recovery my only long-term goal was to be at peace.
It sounds like a vague goal, I know, but that is all that I envisioned.
I wanted that life.

You know, the life where I would be happy with the simple things.
A state of being that I would be able to enjoy simple days.
I would be a person who could have plans or not have any plans, and still be happy.
Some days would be exciting, and other’s wouldn’t, and that would be okay.
I was just tired of chasing the idea of contentment and truly just wanted to ‘be’ …and to be at peace with just ‘being’.

So you could say that my personal long-term goal was not exactly mapped out with specific routes to get me to that place that I had imagined, but at least I had vision.

In early recovery most of us are told to only allow ourselves to focus on the twenty-four hours that are in front of us, and those hours only.

Why are we told so many times over to live and plan for only one day at a time?
How can living one day at a time be beneficial?

1. At this crucial stage staying sober is priority #1.
You don’t need to get overwhelmed.
Early Recovery means fresh emotion. Emotions running high.
Emotions all over the place.
They’re inconsistent and seem to want to dictate everything.
Most feelings are being felt for the first time in a long time and don’t make sense.
A lot of us have had personal experiences where our minds are playing tricks on us.
Our bodies hurt and aren’t understanding this new change.
We may have legal or professional issues to handle as well.

For these reasons it is vital to focus solely on the now and to avoid any additional & avoidable stress. Typically, this is something that we can agree to commit to for right now.

2. We are learning to value ourselves. 
By setting daily goals and striving for small changes
we begin to see that we are in fact capable of change; albeit, small change.

We are setting new and attainable standards for ourselves and the way that we are choosing to live our lives. Each day that we take on with intention, we continue to live as this new person.
Every single day proves to us what we had previously thought was impossible for us. As each day passes we begin to realize that we are capable of doing good things.

3. By slowing down, we learn to rely on God throughout each day,
moment to moment if need be.
We live one day at a time, and for most of us, one moment at a time.
We use this 24-hour-format to teach ourselves to slow down.
We learn to analyze ourselves in our environment.
We begin to see the value in embracing what comes each day.
We take a long hard look at our reactions, how we interact, how we respond to others, how we treat others.
We learn to take the time to pause and take note of these things.
We ask for help from God when we need it and if that means right in the moment, then so be it.

Taking each day for what it is allows us to strategically peel off each layer. We take note of the good, bad, and in between every day. We share our heart with God, and we learn to see that whenever and wherever we are He is there, and He is real, and cares about our individual situation.

4. We begin to appreciate and value hard-work and prefer it over instant gratification.
It has been a long time since we believed that hard work can produce good things.
Instantaneous gratification is what we have been chasing.
We got used to having what we wanted, when we wanted it, by any means necessary.
It has become unnatural to have to put in such hard work for what seems like little reward.
Over time we will begin to see the value of the effort that we have put into living a sober life. We become more determined and more focused, despite having rough hours or difficult days.
We begin to see that the easiest way is not always the right way, the best way, the most healthy way and certainly– not the most rewarding.
Things will get a little bit easier every single day that you make it through.
You will make mistakes, but guess what?
You are going to try again tomorrow in the next set of 24-hours that we are given.

You can only get so much accomplished in one day.
You aren’t competing or racing anyone else.

This is your journey and you are doing a great job embracing this new thing.
ODAAT.

Addiction Requires Dishonesty. Recovery Requires Truth.

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

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

One of the only areas left that an addict can manage maintaining any level of consistency with is being dishonest.

The substance that we are addicted to tells us all of the many reasons why it is okay to utilize all of the manipulative techniques that we use.

It all makes sense at the time & all feels completely legit and necessary.

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

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

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

-Lie to others.
When the drug completely takes over their person, and devours and chips away at any human decency that they have left, interpersonal relationships that may have once been important to them-suddenly don’t mean anything and become expendable selfish resources and nothing more.

Nothing really matters anymore at a certain point, besides their own desire to use. Lies, manipulation, cheating, stealing, and all other small, big or dangerous lies fall into this category. All of these things ruin the relationships that we may have had with others, whether personal, casual or business related relationships.

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

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

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

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

We begin to allow that first seed of Hope to grow, and we see that if we keep working even a little each day- great things start to happen.

This new life is more than I imagined….

Breaking-the-cycle

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

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

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

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

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

I had the opportunity to share my story here.

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

Healthy & Happy.

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

Choosing to go public.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The 12 -steps & Recovery.

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

**Working the Steps Promotes Essential Values

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

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

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

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

    Recovery

12 gifts of Recovery.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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