Author: Brittany

Guest: SoberMJ -An Mom, An OverComer

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Have you ever woke up after a long night of partying to realize that you have no clue what happened?

Have you ever spent a whole night in total black out to find yourself the next morning in bed with someone you don’t know?

Have you ever blacked out and done something that you totally regret?

Or even worse, have you ever came to in the middle of a black out to find things happening that you’d much rather not remember?

I have.
I remember it like it was yesterday.

 When I graduated high school in 1998 I went a little wild.
Well, maybe a lot wild.
I was waiting tables with people who were in college and they partied hard.
I fit right in.
I could get into bars without an ID, I could get drinks bought for me, I could get away with whatever and I wanted and I took full advantage of it.
I was young, promiscuous, and ready for a good time.
I was a wild party girl and I was proud of it.
I started dating a guy who ended up moving to Austin, Texas. I thought what the heck I’ll try long distance dating, plus, it’ll give me the chance to check out the party scene in Austin.
They sure know how to party down in Austin!
Me and some girlfriends drove down from Arlington a couple of times until that relationship went sour. Relationships and monogamy have never been top on my priority list but I kept in touch with some of the people down there.

When a group of friends decided to take a road trip to Austin for a car show, I was all about it. I figured while down for the show I would stop in at the apartment complex where my ex boyfriend lived to see if there was a party going on.
Of course there was… there always was a party going on.

 It was a hot summer night in Austin.
Beer was flowing and the air was filled with smoke. It was my kinda party.
The night was a blur but, surprisingly, I remember saying to everyone that I needed to go to sleep.

I was really high, (smoking has never been my thing I don’t like the effect it has on me).
I barely remember stumbling to a back bedroom, closing the door and passing out on the bed.
I was alone and fully dressed.
I don’t know how long I was in bed, could have been an hour- could have been 6 hours, I don’t know. What I do know is I woke up to a guy having sex with me.
I remember feeling scared and confused, and I wanted it to end.
Instead of fighting it, I turned my head the other way and passed out again.

I just let it happen.

When I woke the next morning, I got the hell out of that apartment and never went back.
I’ve never spoke to any of the people I was with that night again.
I have no idea who it was that was on top of me that night. I could pass him on the street and would never know it was the guy who raped me.
I was so disgusted and so ashamed, and I was angry!!!!
The thing is, I was angry at myself.
How could I let this happen to me? How could I be so stupid?
Maybe, I shouldn’t wear such revealing clothes.
Maybe, I should have locked the door.
Maybe, I need to stop being a flirt.
Maybe, if I had some control over myself this wouldn’t have happened.
Maybe, I’m just a piece of meat for men to use?!?!
It’s all my fault!!!
Not once did I blame the guy that undressed me while I was unconscious.
Not once did I see how disgusting it was for a guy to feel the need to have sex with a girl who is clearly not capable of saying no.
Any guy who does this to a girl is in my eyes not a man.
It’s disgusting!
I have had trust issues with men ever since.
I’ve been in one unhealthy relationship after another.
I wonder if men are really interested in me or they just want to have sex with me.

Through counseling I have come to understand my need to date married men, my bosses, or men who are unavailable.

It is me seeking control.
I use sex as a way to control the relationship.
I figure they will use me anyway so I’ll be one step ahead.
I’ll use them and take all they have and then ..I’m the winner.

It’s a sick way to look at things, but I’m finally working through all of it through counseling.

I am working on having a healthy relationship with myself before I worry about having a man in my life.

Since that night many years ago I have met other girls who have had the same thing done to them.

I feel comfort in knowing I’m not alone, but at the same time, I am sickened by the fact that it’s more common than we think.

I have come to realize that it’s not my fault that it happened.

We live in a world that tells woman that it’s our fault that we get raped.

We’re told that what we wear causes men to act inappropriately.

As if they have no control over their behavior when a girl wears a short skirt.

It’s unfortunate that women are scared to tell someone when they’ve been raped because they will be called liars.

It doesn’t matter how much you’ve had to drink if you say no the answer is no.

I wonder if I could’ve saved myself years of misery if I had told someone and sought help.

But as always, wondering does me no good.

I have to focus on today and work on being the best possible me for myself and my kids.

Maybe one day I’ll find the right man for me, maybe not.
I’m okay either way.

I’ve learned that I am good enough just as I am, I don’t need a man to make me feel better about myself.

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Melissa Johnson is a dedicated member of the recovery community.
She is a loving mother in recovery who is inspiring others with her personal accounts of addiction and sobriety through blogging.

This is the link to her blog: www.MyTruthStartsHere.org

Simple & Personalized Key Holder.

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I am borderline compulsive when it comes to certain things. Things like organizing any closet that I walk by, hanging clothes in color and seasonal order, or grouping my book collection by genre because it’s so super important.
But I am also never late, but always right on time, I have always had a bad habit of losing my keys or locking them in my car. All of the batteries in all of the things are likely in panic warning mode desperately in need of a charge …
all in all, I do lack in organization in certain areas.

So I like organizational things that actually help.
This super-simply key holder was a no brainer.
I totally ‘needed’ it in my life and now I have one.

I had an old frame, I already had spray paint and even the cheapo hooks.

This is one project the boys have already laughed at and have voted it unnecessary.
However, I have not had to run around trying to find my keys, so I voted that it stay.
I win.

Here is the original pic from the post that I used as inspiration:
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The Places We’ll Go.

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So who bought a cheap map of The United States of America and tacked it up in her living room?
I did! I did!
I am excited about it too.
A few weeks ago I was up way too late scrolling through Pinterest -and boom.
This pin caught my eye. I loved it! What a cool idea…
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First of all I love photos almost (but not quite) as much as I love actual experiences.

I have folders full of files like everyone else, but I need to touch photos and write on the back of them and hoard them in old books.

I try to print as many as I can.
Yes, I have fallen behind on my boy’s individual albums but I do a great job at printing photos off.

When they will actually touch down and arrive in their permanent homes is anyone’s guess, but I plan on spending downtime in my mid-life ironing out my scrap-booking issues more fully.

This project was something that could be done quickly and minimal expense.
I knew it was totally do-able.

So I Amazon primed the map and ordered a few photos to get started.
It has only been a week or so since I hung it up. I have to figure out a cute way to frame it.
Maybe a burlap border with lace overlay or something…not sure about that yet.

All of the boys like it. It has already opened their eyes to how much is out there to see. We have also had some fun conversations rehashing old memories from our trips.
There are so many places that we want to see, so many places that we haven’t been and we have a ton of ideas for future road trips.
Overall it has been a neat thing to have hanging up.

So it gets a thumbs up from them.
(which is funny, because it is *one pinterest project that they think is legit cool).

Of course you cannot leave here until I get all deep
and squeeze a little bit of sobriety into this post.

Much of my personal self-careish moments throughout the day are simple ones that I am easy able to integrate into a hectic or unpredictable mommy schedule.

They are clustery kinds of tiny moments dedicated to reflection.
For me this isn’t anything fancy schmancy.

It really just means I take time to breathe deep.
Often I will just smile to myself.
Other times I silently thank God for seemingly mundane things, even if that means I am grateful for the not so pretty, or quiet, or clean parts of my day.

So of course I have noticed several impromptu moments inspired by this pinteresty travel map.

I glance at it throughout the day, I can see all of our smiling faces.
It makes my heart happy.
I remember those fun times and particular memories stick out.

I can’t wait to see more places & new things with my people.
The goal is to travel to as many states as possible- to make memories that I will remember forever, but most importantly, I am excited to fill the hearts of our boys with good, positive, healthy, things and for them to experience different things. It will all just end up being tiny parts of the ‘who’ that they become and a small slice of who God created them to be.

What a very cool thing.

2 Reasons to Fight Stigma:

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For years (way too many) people have been allowed to freely assume, to judge & generalize, and to categorize & marginalized the people out in the community who struggle with addiction.

This is called stigma.

We (people who have struggled with addiction) are finally standing up to tell people that it’s wrong.
If you have allowed yourself to be conditioned by the old school hype, you’re wrong.
It’s all wrong.

For so long people haven’t had any reason to change how they view addiction.
People haven’t had to understand why this issue is so important.
They haven’t found themselves in a situation to care enough about something that hasn’t touched their lives.
Well, for decades, they haven’t. 
But it’s beginning to change.
It has started to creep closer and closer to their families.
To their churches.
They have a friend, a co-worker, a niece, a friend of a friend.
It is begun to seep into their world and it is starting to affect them personally.

And that is exactly what it takes sometimes.
Sometimes, it takes a personal brush with something real, to wake up a community.
This happens, one person at a time.

What people are starting to realize is that the old, washed up, sad excuse of a definition of what and who a drug addict  person struggling with an addiction is,
has been a misleading, appalling way to view an epidemic that has killed so many people. 

Here are some things ‘drug addicts’ have been labeled:
Losers. Worthless. Street People. Senseless.
Low-Life. Junkies. Drunk.
Here is the online thesaurus lists as synonyms for the phrase ‘drug-addict.’
Just for kicks, here’s one more.

Why does this need to change?
Two important reasons.

First, people die because of this stigma.
No. Stigma is not directly responsible for the deaths of these people. 
But do we know how many of them were too afraid to speak up or reach out?
Do we know how many hid in fear of being found out by family or a boss, a friend, a peer group or a team at work?
Do we know how many may have just needed a tiny bit of encouragement but instead, we met with a nasty comment or a dirty look?
No we don’t.
And no, it isn’t your job to baby people who are struggling with something.
And no, I am not saying these deaths are your fault. I am simply saying that I know for sure at least one of these deaths could have been prevented, and maybe, just maybe, we could have unknowingly played a part in that.

Second, the people who live through an addiction aren’t anything like what stigma says they are.You might just be surprised to find the types of people who are living sober lives in your community. We are everywhere. We probably work right next to you.
We are friends with you or maybe your children.
We are your neighbors, your nurses, your counselors, your artists, writers, musicians, advocates, business owners or your teachers.

So please. 
Before you judge, consider listening to that voice in your heart that tells you that you could be wrong.
You just might have been conditioned to think a certain way about a certain group of amazing individuals who you really don’t know anything about when it comes down to it.

I understand that it is so much easier to wash your hands of something that, if you’re lucky enough, hasn’t personally effected you (yet).

but you just might find that you have been missing out of some REALLY amazing people.

My Personal Decision to Shed the “Addict” Label

Often, addiction as a disease, is compared to diabetes.
People will say that people with diabetes aren’t being stigmatized for their condition.
And you’re right. I agree with that.

People develop it.
Sometimes it’s random, other times it is a lifestyle combined with genetics.

What would happen if you met a person, let’s call her Jane.
Jane has developed diabetes, but has it under control and is managing her condition well.
She has a diverse plan full of helpful dietary and fitness tools along with a support group as her health regimen.

It has been over 6 years since Jane has had complications with her diabetes!
Congrats, Jane! You totally rock. Well, maybe you, maybe your hp, maybe Jesus. Maybe both, or neither. Which ever you prefer. Congrats in a humble way, Jane.

I know Jane does not look in the mirror every morning and say-
“Oh, hey Jane. You have diabetes. Don’t forget you have diabetes. It can kill you. Be careful Jane.”

Or when Jane meets someone new or introduces herself to a new friend or co-worker, she is not like-
“Oh hey, I am Jane. I have diabetes. Well, I do but I eat healthy and I exercise, go to the doctor regularly and really don’t have any issues with it anymore, but 6 years ago I did, and I could in the future- but only if I chose to start slacking on my personal health and wellness and really just changed most of my lifestyle but it is a possibility. I think it always will be, but it is great meeting you.”

Maybe that’s going too far for you but I don’t think it is.

I think that Jane looks in that mirror every morning and she is so excited to have this full, healthy, awesome life and she is damn proud of herself for pulling it all together and learning to live in a new and different way that was, at one point, completely foreign to her.

Jane has grown and learned so much about herself and she knows, believe me, she knows that things could change in the future if she doesn’t stay committed, but Jane is not diabetes.

Jane has a condition but that is not her identity. It is something that she experienced that she will never forget, something that changed her forever, and it changed how she sees other people forever.

She will always do what she can to help other people who might be in the situation that she was all of those years ago.

Anyway, that is just how I think about it.
My brain might not make sense to you, and that’s okay.

This has been a long process for me to get to this place.
I know that I have always had a problem with the word.

I know that some people out there feel like I am adding to the stigma by refusing to identify as an addict. Many others are feeling empowered and are inspired to finally be hearing someone else voicing a similar (yet unpopular) view point as theirs.

For me, rising beyond what society has always (ignorantly) assumed an ‘addict’ is,
is exactly the opposite of adding to the stigma associated with addiction.

I am not an addict, I am a person who struggled with an addiction, and now I do not.

I might always have a brain that will be susceptible to developing an addiction if I am not mindful and vigilant about maintaining my physical, emotional, spiritual and psychological health, but being an ‘addict’ is just not something that I focus on every single day.

My new lifestyle that I have gotten used to is composed of all of the things that I need to continue on this path in sobriety. I have healthy people in my life, I am content and I  am so grateful to be alive to experience all of this.

I have learned that it is my job to take care of me.

Wearing the label of drug addict to me means that I am what society has concocted it to be.
I am nothing like what is (sadly, and unfortunately) typically regarded as a ‘drug addict’.

It is important, in my opinion, to do our part to chip away at the stigma.
It is our job to live lives that reflect the EXACT OPPOSITE of what society has deemed ‘drug addict’.

We are all so much more than that, and we deserve to live free from being suffocated and categorized.

We are managing our lives.

Here are two old posts where I brushed on this topic a tiny bit:
http://discoveringbeautiful.com/deepthoughts/
http://discoveringbeautiful.com/heres-an-idea/

Guest Rose: Battling Addiction, Fighting for her Children.

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Like any other Mom, I love my children fiercely.
Honestly, the depth of the feeling cannot really be put into words.

The two happiest days of my life were the days they came into this world.
I looked into their faces and vowed to do my best to protect them in every way possible.

Unfortunately the hardest thing I faced was trying to be a mother and an addict at the same time. 

I knew the day I left my ex that it was going to get ugly.
But I had no idea that it would turn into the battle it did….

Life as a Mother, and an Addict-

When I began my travel down the road to addiction with an eating disorder, I never thought it would end with me checking into treatment for prescription meds and alcohol use.

For a long time I knew that I was playing with fire when it came to drugs and alcohol.
I knew that I wasn’t like the other people I partied with. I always took it to a different level.

This was something I knew, but never wanted to admit.
Even when bad things started to happen, or when my family started to show concern.
I ignored them and continued on.

For the duration of my marriage I was what is called a “high functioning addict”.
I was able to keep a job, pay my bills, care for my children, cook meals, do laundry.
However, keeping up the guise of normal was exhausting both mentally and physically.

I went to the doctor a lot telling them that I was sick, and trying to find a reason why I felt so bad; unfortunately I never told them the whole story.
For me everyday was a struggle.  (and when I say struggle, I mean it.)
Constantly trying to balance work, kids, relationships, and an addiction isn’t for the faint of heart, mind you.
But for a period of time, I managed.

Of course, on the outside my life looked normal, for the most part. My kids were well taken care of.
I read books on parenting and child development.
I had a bedtime routine we read stories every night.
I took them to the park, to birthday parties-you know normal things parents do with their children.
I tried to be the best mom I could.

Addiction made that difficult, and at the end, impossible.
It’s crazy what you can live with when you don’t know any better.
I had no idea how much anxiety I lived with physically and emotionally. I had heard about it, but for some reason never felt like it applied to me-(this is ironic, to say the least. I literally oozed  tension and stress.)

In treatment I was forced to feel, face, and seek help for this anxiety.
Before treatment I found a solution in a substance or behavior and that worked but the relief it provided got shorter and shorter. Eventually, there was no relief no matter how much I used or drank- it didn’t work anymore.

The last 3 years before treatment I could not get high or drunk anymore. The feeling evaded me.
The only reason I used at this point  was to be able to function, to feel “NORMAL” .
I got sick if I tried to not use.
Miserable is putting it lightly when I talk about getting sick.

I had only known my ex husband for 5 months before we got married.  We got married because I unexpectedly got pregnant.  I was told by friends and family that I didn’t have to marry him but I did  it anyways.  I felt like he was all I deserved.

I knew he had issues with alcohol and drugs but I hoped things would change after the baby was born.  What I wasn’t prepared for was how drastically he changed and the person he became.  It started with a small shove here, an insult there.  I kept telling myself it would change and get better.

It didn’t take long for the violence and emotional abuse to escalate.

I could go into gory details but I choose not too.  I feel it is more important to focus on the future.  In the end, the fact is, we both made mistakes and had poor judgement.

After six years I vividly remember the moment when I had had enough.  I couldn’t do it anymore.
The havoc left in the wake of domestic abuse and substance abuse was blatantly obvious at this point.
My children were innocent victims in this whole F@#$%D up situation and I decided it was time to leave.

I packed a couple of suitcases grabbed the important documents and moved back in with my parents.

The Downward Spiral-

Before I moved home I don’t think my parents realized just how bad the situation was.
They kept encouraging me to go to counseling. I did what I always do, please other people, and went to counseling.
It didn’t help, but I have to be honest and say I put no effort into therapy.
I was done. I was not going back to that marriage ever.
The kids stayed with me, and for a while, things were okay.
That was the first 2 months and then I fell apart.
I no longer put limits on when I could use.
I had held it together for seven years, I pulled out the stops and fell apart in a matter of months.

My using spiraled out of control.  I was in full-blown addiction, I did not have a good grasp on reality. I blamed everyone and everything else for my problems.

I tried so hard for 6 months to stop using I went to 12-step meetings every day, I had a sponsor.
But the reality is I couldn’t stop.
I got so sick, and this meant that no matter how bad I wanted to get sober I just couldn’t do it.
I can’t put into words how much I hated and despaired having to wake up in the morning.  Honestly I wished that I would just not wake up, and that maybe I would be lucky enough to die.
I did not want to have to face another day of hurting those I loved the most.

Finally I had a moment of clarity:

I called my sponsor and asked her if she thought maybe going to treatment would be a good idea. She said it helped her.  That was the hope I needed if she could do this so could I.  In treatment I would have the supervision I needed to stop.

I called a treatment center at 9 AM on July 29th 2014.
By 5 PM that day I was on my way to treatment and to a new life.
I was terrified but at this point anything was better than where I was.

I knew that they would help me medically detox from the prescription drugs and alcohol.  Turns out you can die by just stopping cold turkey benzo’s and alcohol cold turkey.

Getting Clean Didn’t Make All My Problems Go Away-

My first week of addiction treatment was spent in bed asleep I got up to maybe eat and get my vitals checked or take meds.  After six days I got up and took a shower and started the process of putting my life back together starting with me.  I went to my groups, I went to my individual sessions and I threw myself into getting better.  Having had a taste of not having to use I wanted sobriety and I was willing to do whatever it took.

My first treatment center like so many across the US could only get me coverage to stay for 30 days.  Come on let’s just put this in perspective I had spent 16 years destroying my life and 30 days is supposed to cure me and have me ready to deal with life.  The reality is I was still testing positive on my drug screenings as benzo’s are stored in the fat and take a long time to get out of your system.  I had been using Xanax, and Clonopin for 3 years I was still having significant side effects from them and seriously I was an emotional train wreck. . But my insurance felt I was ready for a half way.

I thank God that I knew I wasn’t ready I was terrified of going back to the bottomless hell that my life had been while using.  So I asked for more inpatient treatment. They found it to this day I am so grateful that I had those extra 5 months of Partial Hospitalization it saved my life.  The healing that took place could not have happened in any other setting.  I had intense therapy to treat the emotional pain and trauma that had followed me for so many years.

I finished this program moved to a halfway house and got a job.  This is when I started to really see that I could do this.  My sponsor worked with and I began to work  my  way through the steps.  I continued an Intensive Outpatient program and eventually moved onto seeing an individual therapist. I will not sit here and tell you this was easy.  It wasn’t it was a lot of hard work.  A Lot of tears, and a lot of emotions.  But I got through it.

I knew I wasn’t ready to be a mom yet, but as I continued to improve and accomplish things sober I knew I was getting closer.

My ex didn’t trust me. He believed that addicts couldn’t get clean and stay clean.  He has told me many times that once an alcoholic/addict always one.  Based on his thinking, I was a danger to our children, and always would be.

The irony here is he didn’t even care for the children full time until just a couple of months ago.  His parents did the caretaking.  Somehow he also seemed to have a blind spot not remembering the domestic violence somehow that was ok.  But me being an addict was’nt.  He did anything and everything to limit and control my contact with my children.  To this day every day I have to request through text or a phone call to speak with my children.

Really!!!! Are you F&*$ing kidding me. It’s exhausting and sometimes I don’t feel like doing this.  It has been a year and a half.  He has no legal order limiting my contact with the children.  This doesn’t change the fact that he knows this is the only way he can hurt me anymore.

In  the end I just have to keep my side of the street clear.  I keep doing the right thing I go to meetings, see my therapist and do the best I can with what I have.

I have a custody hearing in May and I am nervous to say the least.  The only prayer I have is that God’s will be done whatever it may be. It will always be in the best interest of the children that is what I really want and at this point I will accept the outcome.

You see the thing that recovery has taught me is that I don’t know what is best.  My plans don’t really take into consideration the big picture.  God or my “higher power” has a way of always having the best outcome happen.  I can take comfort in this and I do.  Its gotten me this far.

Don’t get me wrong there was a time where I really thought I was going to lose my kids that it didn’t matter that I had done the right thing and gotten treatment.  The thing is even when I was faced with my biggest fear in sobriety.  I stayed sober.  And at this point I still have a chance of getting partial custody.

In the end my life is amazing compared to what it was a year and a half ago.  I am alive I wake up happy in the morning looking forward to my day not dreading it.  I have contact with my kids and things are continuing to improve.

I have a job that I love and people in my life that love and support me.  This is more than I could have asked for before. My family is back in my life and I am building relationships with them again.  I am grateful for each day.  Today I can deal with life as they say on life’s terms.  I have coping skills and have healed from trauma that I never thought would be possible.
Today I choose to live.

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Rose Landes is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find me on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

 

 

Project: Books For Recovery; One Man, Giving Back.

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I recently heard about a project called Books For Recovery, and I thought it sounded like a fantastic idea.
Reading really helped me to get through some of the toughest parts of early recovery.
Those hours that felt like days were a little bit more bearable when I had a good book to keep me occupied.
I know that reading has also played a huge part in so many people’s sober lives as well and I really think that Books For Recovery could really help so many people out there.

We all want to do our part to give back and help other people who are new to recovery in any way that we are able to, and that’s exactly what the person behind Books For Recovery aims to do….

Who is he?
Matt is a person from New Jersey, who struggled with alcoholism until he was 27.
He has over two years of sobriety and is coming up on his third. He got sober and began his recovery with the help of family, friends, medical professionals, and with the help of people he met through soberrecovery.com.

What is he doing?
He is providing FREE books to people who are newly sober, and is raising money to put toward the project.
His ultimate goal is to provide one free book to people who are entering treatment facilities. (How cool is that!?)
The money raised will go directly to cover the costs of inventory upkeep, storage, shipping supplies & shipping costs.

Why is he doing it?
Like all of us in recovery he simply wants to give back and make a difference in someone else’s life.
He feels like an idle mind can be a dangerous thing to a newly sober person. (Which we can attest to!)
Reading (and cycling) helped him to pass through the difficult days much easier, and reading offered him inspiration, education, empathy, and perhaps most importantly- hope.
Without cycling, the support of his family, and all of the reading that he has done, he doesn’t think he would be where he is today.

How can we help him?
Matt has been giving back with books since 2014. Let’s help him reach his goal, of not only continuing to do what he is doing, but to grow into something with even more reach!
We can help him by making donations, buying from the Amazon store, or partnering with him.

Amazon:
https://www.amazon.com/s?marketplaceID=ATVPDKIKX0DER&me=A1YDKIO38XNEAJ&merchant=A1YDKIO38XNEAJ&redirect=true

If you are interested in making a donation here is the Indiegogo link:
https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/project-books-for-recovery-time-to-give-back#/

If you would like to learn even more about Matt, his project, or are interested in partnering
here are the social media links: 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/waresofthecoast
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/booksforrecovery/

Guest: Mark- Sober Parent, Smart Phone

 

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Twitter has become my new drug of choice.

Sorry coffee, the tweets pour in before you percolate.
My wife has noticed a change in me since I got on twitter six weeks ago.

Here’s our conversation in the car the other day:

At a stop light I thumb “notifications” on my black rectangular wonder box.

“What kind of world is this?” My wife asks.

“What do you mean?”

“You can’t sit at a stop light and just be still. You don’t have to check that thing. Nothing has changed.”

Silence. How often am I silent instead of saying “you’re right?”

“Our kids are screwed,” she continues.

“Not if we raise them right.”

“They sit in the back seat and see you check your phone at a stop light? What do you expect them to do?”

My son is three and uses a pine cone as a cell phone, but she has a point.

The hardest part of parenting is modeling the behavior I want to see in my children. And I don’t mean eating broccoli for dinner. I mean demonstrating patience instead of anger, choosing to read instead of watch TV, or refraining from cursing—lifestyle choices.

“So what to do we do?” I ask her.

“We pick up the kids from daycare at 5:30 and they are in bed by 8:00. That’s two and a half hours. Two and a half measly hours that we should not be on our phones. Period.”

We agreed three days ago to place our phones in the kitchen in a designated place for those two and a half hours.
Here is a brief review of those three days and what I’ve learned from them.

*Day 1

Kids playing in the other room. Wife is making dinner. I reach past her for my phone.

“What are you doing?”

“I thought of a text I need to send.”

“What about our deal?”

“Our deal was to leave the phone here, I’m not picking it up!”

Lesson 1: when collaborating with an addict to ‘give up’ an addiction, make the language clear, final, and without any wiggle-room.

*Day 2

We are eating dinner with the kids. A muffled buzzing in the kitchen alerts us somewhere, someone is reaching out to one of us.

We stare at each other between our infant’s gooooos and a toddler request for more milk.

“I’ll get it for you bud.” I jump to the rescue and dart into the kitchen.

“You’re pathetic,” my wife’s response.

Lesson 2: turn your phone off; don’t just switch it to vibrate.

*Day 3

Today was much smoother. Until I came downstairs to fetch my son some water as I put him to bed.

“Be right up bud!”

A quick check won’t hurt.

Lesson 3: when you admit you broke a pact, do it while guest blogging so the likelihood of your wife reading it is not very high.

The phone-hide practice has it’s advantages. My nine month old daughter was able to push a cart, walking (with assistance) for the first time. I was fully present to experience every second of it.

Mark Goodson has been sober since 2007 and has found writing to be a key to his recovery.
He is a teacher and a sober daddy to two children.
Mark Goodson Twitter: 
@maninrecovery
Website: www.MarkGoodson.com

From Broken to Awesome.

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http://www.worshipsong.com/songs/songdetails/at-the-cross1
I am one of those people. I hear a song, and it takes me somewhere.
That link will take you to an old song, from 1996.

When I listen to this song, it takes me back to a meeting that I was sitting in.
This particular worship song played at the beginning of our Celebrate Recovery meetings.
(I can remember the whole playlist from that first year, and each one has a different meaning to me. Crazy, I know.)

I had heard this song played a handful of times before, but for some reason, one particular Thursday night, I cried.

(I should note that I cried a lot that first year. I was in emotional shock. Feelings were everywhere. It was just a part of what was happening to my body at the time. It was like I couldn’t control any emotion that I had, & when I did experience an emotion, it was magnified x 1,000.)

Anyway, not to sound dramatic, but that day this song made a real connection with me somewhere inside of my heart.
Not only should I have been happy that my heart still had the ability to absorb good and feel things,
confirmation that I still had one was a small victory in and of itself.

But the words. Those lyrics.
They were just screaming at me.
They weren’t just appealing to me on a psychological level.
I know that I was subconsciously yearning for a clean slate; pining for forgiveness, and for the possibility of a new chance.  This was something more than my needs or desires being met or empty promises of success being made.
I was drawn to this idea of being made white as snow. The notion that anyone could be made white as snow, no matter how dirty their lives had gotten.
I can remember deciding to try this laying my life down at the foot of the cross thing that I kept hearing about. I had heard testimonies and stories about it. I think at some point or another all addicts have someone who wants to talk to them about Jesus. Anyway, I assumed this cross.. was not a literal thing, but a spiritual thing.

I finally chose the cross, knowing that I had already tried a long list of other things.
I tried to do good, I tried to be good, I tried to think positive. I had tried other ways.
Sometimes I did okay for awhile, but I always ended up right back where I started.
It all left me feeling even more lost, and depleted of any strength to keep trying.
I lived life in circles; and hopeless is a bad place to try and live a life.

So I really didn’t have much to say there, at the foot of this figurative cross.
Since we’re being all figurative, I was a tattered, torn, empty shell of a mess of a young woman.

I had nothing to offer but resentment, bitterness, rage & anger, blame, shame, mistakes, fear of failing, and tears.
That’s it.

but I left it all there.

….and it was like magic.
Like instantaneous.

(just joking, my experience wasn’t anything like that.)

I actually walked away feeling weak and still very empty.
I was still malnourished and I still felt overwhelmed & defeated.
My eyes were swollen on the outside and still very empty on the inside- if you took the time to look close enough.
I was still an angry person.

I was still unsure if sobriety would stick and I was really, really scared.
And I was not even sure that I believed that people like me were welcome there, at the foot of the cross.

Still, somehow, it felt like a weight had been lifted off.
I gave everything that I did have to give, as lame as it all was.

It was like I instinctively knew that it wasn’t a quick fix.
What I felt like I did know, it that I was promised a chance for a new beginning.

I gave Him what I did have, and in return I was suppose to have a new chance at this life thing.

The work that I had to do alongside of Him, was what created the basis of a long-term relationship, and since my life changes weren’t instantaneous but slow and gradual, this took time.

Just like any other relationship, it all hinged on trust.
Each time I had no other choice but to take a leap, or choose an unfamiliar path,
I did so with the belief that God would never fail me or forsake me.

What I have learned since is that God is for people like me.
He has always been a healer for broken people and an advocate for people who felt like they had screwed up too badly to be loved ever again.

His church, is the place for broken people.

His hand guided every single phase of my journey to sobriety and recovery.
Not only has He taken all of the stuff that I had to give and turned it all into something usable,
he made sure that I could see why it all mattered and it why it was an important part of my story that lead to him.

He did ‘t erase the trauma, he used it for something good.
He didn’t cause my trauma, but he healed my heart from its after-effects.
He didn’t fix my past, he opened my eyes to all of the reasons why it is okay and necessary to leave it there.
He didn’t promise me a trouble free life, he promised me new ways to get through life’s inevitable troubles and an endless vessel in which to draw strength to do so.
He put the right people in my path, at the right times to make sure that I had opportunities for wise counsel for every season of my life so far post addiction.

Recovery with God isn’t synonymous with ease or success without failure or any work.
God doesn’t take a magic eraser to help wipe our minds clean of all things bad, past and present.
He is not a get out of jail free card that we use as needed.
He also doesn’t always approach us in conventional ways, maybe sometimes he speaks to and through things and people that he already knows that you will respond to.

But what he is in the business of doing is making broken things awesome, and walking with us through each stage of change.

🙂

5 Common Roadblocks in Recovery

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You know that saying “Nothing worth having comes easy?”
When it comes to being a newly sober person this couldn’t be more true.
A person who is has become chemically dependent on a substance has a tough road ahead when it comes to long-term sobriety. They will need a strong support system behind them.

Here are 5 common road blocks people come face to face with on their quest for living a sober life:

1.) The initial battle with the clock.
Why do they tell us to live one day at a time?
Mostly because when you are detoxing or trying to stay sober, one hour can drag on so long,
to us it feels like a week.

Our body is screaming at all times with zero breaks, it is asking for more.
Sometimes people give into the immense pressure.

In the very beginning stages of sobriety we are fighting like hell. You might not be able to see it, but it’s happening.

We are doing our best to figure out what to do with our feelings, our emotions, the physical triggers, and quieting the psychological triggers without any substances.

It’s like an insane bundle of hot mess, squished inside of a physical body,
a body that is watching the second-hand make its way around all of the numbers, in slow motion.
We can hear it move, we feel it move, and it is moving very slow.

So time can feel like public enemy number one when you’re newly sober.

2.) The fear is overwhelming.
We are afraid that we won’t be able to make it and what that could mean.
We are afraid that we have screwed up way too many times.

There is a real fear of the future, fear of failure, and fear of the unknown.
Fear of letting people down.
Fear of having to face the past.
Fear of having to face all of these people who are rooting for us, after we let them down…again.
Fear of not being strong enough.
Fear of not knowing what to do next.

 

We are afraid because we don’t have any idea how we are going to face all of it.

3.) We have unrealistic expectations.
We are used to living fast and have become accustomed to instant gratification.
We ended up trading quality of life for a now, now, now way of living.
Most of us assume that positive change will happen as fast as our lives fell apart.Unfortunately, this is not the case and frankly, we start to lose any hope that we might have found when things don’t start to look as pretty as we would like, as fast as we would like.And although change occurs the second that we make the choice to change our lives,
we don’t have the luxury of feeling or seeing any of the changes instantly. So we immediately think that sobriety isn’t working or isn’t for us.Sometimes it can seem easier to revert back to believing that we just aren’t capable,
rather than continuing the hardest, longest, walk of our lives.

4.) Our mistakes loop continuously in our stream of subconscious thoughts.
It might take us years to gain proper perspective to see the damage that we have really caused while we were living the way that we were living,
but don’t assume that we don’t know that we have made a long list of mistakes and have hurt a lot of people.

We know.

This is a huge part of the reason that we keep using when it doesn’t make sense to other people.
We can feel the shame deep in our bones.

Many times, we stay sober just long enough to be reminded of how shitty we are or have been, and all of the harm we have caused, and then, we have heard enough.

5.) Unresolved trauma whispers to us.
Often our emotional baggage and our scars are quieted by drug abuse.
This abuse is what has turned into a this monstrous thing that we are now attempting to gain control of and eradicate. We want to be free of it, and from the pain underneath the surface.
We have experienced things that no one should have to go through.
We are forever changed, and rightfully so.We still have not allowed ourselves to process these things that have left imprints on our lives.
Our hearts are tightly bound with bitterness, resentment, sadness, and often, rage.We keep holding onto these feelings because if we let it go, none of it really mattered. If we choose to forgive, it means that we think it was okay. It feels better to keep it with us, because that way our perpetrator is being punished.

Because we have not accepted, faced, and sorted through the damage the aftermath of our experiences will continue to replay in our mind.

In order for healing to begin and for us to make forward progress, we have to make the courageous choice to put this away.

For good.

By trying to understand the hurdles that many people face in early sobriety, I think that we have a clearer understanding of just how tough this road can be for them and we have a better perspective on what our roles as supporters should look like.

I’ll Have What I’m Having.

 

yourway

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA) offers this definition of Recovery:

“Recovery from alcohol and drug problems is a process of change through which an individual
achieves abstinence and improved health, wellness and quality of life.”

My personal journey through sobriety and long-term recovery has changed many times over the last eight or nine years.
It is interesting to look back and think about all of the different turns and paths that I have taken when it comes to my own journey.
My first few years were spent in Celebrate Recovery. Over time, I would begin to feel like my personal needs were changing. So naturally, I would begin to change what I was doing.
At some point things transitioned and I moved over to focusing mostly on the principles of Al-anon.
Presently, I only attend Al-anon occasionally- meaning when my stress or emotional levels are screaming for it.
I still love everything CR stands for, but I don’t go to Celebrate Recovery often. I don’t  benefit from doing step studies at this point. In the future, I would love to be called to lead a small group or start a new CR somewhere, and I am already pumped about the mental health additions being implemented into the program. If I am asked or am feeling pulled toward a particular thing, I will speak or share with groups, but I don’t go anymore on a regular basis.

My point is, this is my life; my recovery.
I go day to day living out my personal sober journey and adjust my sails as needed.
For me that means that I maintain with Jesus as my guide; He is my sustainer, and my source of strength;
I try to be mindful of things and make sure that I am always moving in a direction that resembles a forward motion.

and my Recovery doesn’t look like yours. 
Yours, should not look like mine.

In my opinion, when it comes to being in “Recovery” there are really only two
central requirements: 

1.) You have to cultivate humility.
This is true for all of us.
We can’t really move on if we don’t have a realistic view or opinion of ourselves.
We really need to know who we are, what our limitations are, what we need to work on, what our needs are and what works and what doesn’t in order work the rest of our recovery.
We can’t do these things if our grandiose view of ourselves causes us to come to the conclusion that we don’t feel like we have any room for change or need for improvement; this hinders us from admitting our wrongs, or our faults, and eventually we will just be right back where we started.
Stay humble.

 

2.) Remain willing.
– Willingness to learn.
In order to grow, we have to be open to learning. We can learn from mentors or really anyone with wisdom to share. Read things. Look things up. If you have questions, ask. Keep pushing new information in, and all of the old crap, that doesn’t work (evidenced by the pile of mess that became our lives) will be overwritten with new stuff.
-Willingness to accept.
We are willing to accept things that we can’t change. We accept what is. We learn to accept the consequences of our actions despite whether or not we like them or if it makes us feel warm and fuzzy. We learn to accept feelings; positive and negative. (That doesn’t mean it will be easy, or pretty, it just means that we accept what we are experiencing at the time.)
-Willingness to examine.
Listen. Our way might work, but there may be a better way. Or, a way that is better for us. We have to be willing to take some time to examine things; things we can work on, things that we are doing pretty good with and things that we might need to talk about .Examine it all, regularly, and honestly. Get to know who you are.
-Willingness to take care.
Taking care of ourselves physically, spiritually, and emotionally will go a long way toward our sobriety and our overall recovery. Rest, sleep, eat good things. Have some quiet time; force some time into your life to reflect or do whatever it is that you need to do to recharge. Do that.
-Willingness to communicate.
This one is tough, but can be the difference between the beginning of a breakdown or facing some hard things and continuing moving forward. It isn’t easy to voice what we are feeling, or needing, or interpreting, but we really need to learn to do this. Don’t keep things all bottled up, unanswered, unspoken, or just simmering somewhere. You will get better at it with implementation & practice.
-Willingness to interact.
Your support team. My support team was small, it still is and they weren’t the people I was expecting to make up what is now, the best support team eva. We have to learn how to let ourselves interact a little bit. Get back out into the world, so that we can learn how to function as an integrated part of society like the worthy and respectable human citizens that we are. We can do this.
Willingness will keep you moving in the right direction.

One more unsolicited opinion:

We have a common thread.
It is so cool to think that we have experienced the same types of feelings, and have been in eerily similar trenches where where the darkness feels the same.

We are all on the other side supporting each other.

We wait to encourage the next person who rises their head above that darkness; who are scared to death to peek out over the horizon.
We are there. when they dig their way out. 

Let us try to focus more on this commonality,
because it is much more important and powerful than any of the differences that we may have.

Dear Young People.

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You just can’t see it coming.

This was me.

Before stealing.
Before juvenile court.
Before jail.
Before lawyers.
Before counselors.
Before programs.
Before isolation.
Before suicide attempts.
Before overdoses.
Before tickets.
Before judges.
Before emptiness.
Before probation.

 

A junior in high school.

-I had just won an award for a photo that I entered into a photography contest.

-In the coming weeks, I would excitedly order my class ring.

-4 months from when this photo was taken I would order my cap and gown &
would complete my A+ volunteer hours required to receive my two free years of community college.

-7 months from when this photo was taken I would be turning in all of my books to my school counselor, choosing to drop all of my classes.

Soon after, I would be kicked out of my family home for repeatedly not respecting or following any rules.

Months after leaving my house, I would be moving on to harder drugs.

How quickly life can change.

Every single choice that we make, is important.
What I casually chalked up to a phase, would change the course of my entire life.
Every unhealthy choice that I made, drove me further and further down into my very own trench.

I chose to experiment with drugs and alcohol, and I really thought that everyone did.
Everyone else seemed to be able to handle their alcohol, and I thought I could handle it too.
Other people were just having fun, yet my fun always seemed a little bit different than theirs.

I couldn’t have foreseen what was to come.

My lifestyle, my choices, the people I chose to let into my life-
it all became something I didn’t recognize anymore.
After a few years of living this way, I became someone else; foreign to myself.
By the time I realized that I had dismantled my entire existence,

it was too late.

No one plans to become addicted to something.

We think it can’t happen to us.
Young people cannot imagine the potential damage & seriousness of ‘experimenting’…

My goal in sharing is to help support #NationalDrug&AlcoholFactsWeek, (#NDAFW ) 2016.

There are ways that we can help our young people, and we can be a part of helping to decrease the chances of them making unhealthy, life-altering, potentially life-threatening choices. 

Please click here or here if you would like to learn more! 
We can all help in some way.

 

*And for the record, I wouldn’t change my journey for anything. 🙂
When you know better, you do better and that’s all that you can do!

Prevention Plans

prevention

I talk a lot about the difficulties relating to my addiction, recovery, being an ACoA, and also being a recovering codependent and enabler.

As the years have gone by, and as my family has grown,
my personal recovery focus has shifted from focusing solely on myself,
to me taking care of myself so that I can stay healthy for my husband & three boys.

It’s important to me that I talk openly with my children about drugs and alcohol.
(For obvious reasons)
It is also important to me that we aren’t overly obsessive about it, or speak out of a need to control or from a place of fear. I am not a fan of dictatorship or fear mongering. I simply want to make sure that our son has accurate information.

This has been especially true with our oldest son who is 13 1/2. It is prime time for young people.
So we really started having these important, transparent conversations around the time he entered 7th grade.

I always aim to speak to him from my personal experiences.

I really try to remind myself what maybe could have helped me to make better or different decisions as a young person, and have tried to use that as a starting point.

I think it is important to have a plan or strategy in mind when it comes to teaching prevention to our children.
*We all have different ways that we raise our kiddos, and our families are all so different.
I vote that you do your own research, and come up with a little something that aligns with your family’s beliefs and what works for your child and their personality.

Here are some things that we use as prevention tools: 

1. Pray for him, and with him. 
I pray for him all of the time. That he be courageous and wise, even if he feels pressured. That he understand that is what courage is, it is doing something that looks and feels like it is too hard for you to do, but doing it anyway. It takes courage to walk against the influx of certain peers.
I pray with him, and we ask that he always seek the Lord for strength, and for reminders that he is made uniquely for a special purpose, that he remain steadfast in knowing the truth of what is right and what is wrong, even if it gets really really hard to tell the difference sometimes. You can always feel the difference and its important to listen to that still small voice.

2. Arm him. 
We arm him with information. Two key pieces of information, actually.
We don’t flood him or lecture him, but when he asks a question, we answer. When there are opportunities to use teachable moments, we use them. When armed with indisputable information, it can feel empowering.

*So first, we always remind him that this isn’t about rules and things he isn’t allowed to do. It is about his health, his body, his mind and his future. We hit hard on this being his life, and these are his choices, and he is in control of which road he takes. Drugs and alcohol change you. They end up taking control and he has definitely seen first hand what it can do to a person physically and mentally.
*Second we hit really hard on this fact:
-Drug abuse is not a ‘phase’ 
-It is not something that you ‘try’ 
-It is NOT something ‘everyone does at least once’ or ‘experiments’ with just for fun.

These are things parents tend to tell themselves sometimes when they are blindsided by full blown addiction, or what other young people tell other young people to ease them into using recreationally.
That’s all bs. The truth is, not everyone ‘experiments.’
(Not to mention that IF addiction were to be infallibly, scientifically proven to have a specific predisposed gene, playing around with it or experimentation sound just as ridiculous as it actually is.)

3. Listen to him.
We try to listen about the small things, and the big things and the in between.  We want him to know that we care, we want to hear about his day if he is willing to talk about it. Even if that means I am hearing about girls, lunch, P.E, etc.
I try not to pry about the non-academic topics- but definitely probe when he casually mentions things that I think we could talk about for a couple of minutes.
I have heard the craziest stories. As early as his first bus ride to middle school I have been hearing bits and pieces of overheard conversations about sex, alcohol and marijuana. The questions that I had been anticipating started rolling in faster than I was ready for even after all of my mental preparation and planning.

I guess my point here is that I feel like his voice is important, but more importantly, I want him to know and feel like his voice matters. 

Disclaimer: 
I am a person who had a scholarship to a junior college. I got kicked out of my house my senior year.
and dropped out 8 or 9 weeks in, after ordering my senior class ring, and my cap and gown.
I KNOW THAT PARENTS HAVE A LIMITED AMOUNT OF CONTROL OVER THEIR CHILDREN.
Believe me.
Looking back, no one could have talked me out of dropping out, moving into my boyfriends basement, and getting fired from my long-term job for stealing money to pay for cocaine. I was living the life that I chose to live at that time.
This post isn’t my personal proclamation of my superior parenting skills, or a statement to my own parents.
I truly believe that we do what we think is best at any given time as a parent or caregiver, and when we know better, we do actually do better-

and as always, hindsight is seems to be a better teacher than foresight.

Of course, I am aware that there are no guarantee’s that my prevention approaches will deter our son.
Obviously, I will not be with him to help him make important decisions each time he is faced with a difficult predicament.

I feel like that what we CAN do is aim to do our best not to focus on CONTROL,
but to focus on LOVE, SUPPORT, TRUST and INFORMATION/FACTS.

The rest is up to him.

I hope this helps someone!

Appreciating Diversity.

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How can things like vacuuming cracker crumbs two billion times a day, accidentally stepping on squishified bananas, playing peek-a-boo and throwing cakes in the pan periodically throughout the day, while the faint sound of random nursery rhymes loop in the background from deep inside of the toy box from a toy that just won’t die-
describe me, living my dream?

How or why would one look forward a lukewarm, end-of-a-long day bath where you will be cramming your head at an angle to fit underneath the hot-wheels track suctioned to the tiles  as it drips freezing cold water onto your shoulder, as you lay there gazing up at all of the places that you must have missed with your new scrubby tool while you were cleaning the previous day? (Not to mention the colorful plastic toys floating around your face.)

How can I stay here all day, and why would I look forward to any of that?

I guess we could assume that I must just be an uneducated, government sucking, lazy, woman. 

Or, it could be that years ago, my husband and I seriously discussed whether or not my desire to stay at home with the kids was something we could make happen.
It could be that we have chosen to compromise on some things for this to be plausible.
It could be that this ‘job’ completes me and meets my personal needs. I feel accomplished and fulfilled.
My addiction was allowed to steal too many memories; I had missed so many milestones already.
It could be that for me, my sobriety changed the course of my future, that included my goals, desires, plans.
It could be that my definition of personal success for myself, is exactly what I am where I am right now.

It could be that you just don’t know.
and it could be that it just shouldn’t matter to you.

To the working mommy, there are some things that I want you to know.
I respect you. Why you choose to work or why you have to work is really none of my business.
Frankly, I don’t care that you work outside of the home.

It makes no difference to me whatsoever.

It could be that when you casually mention that you work outside of your home,  I don’t have any negative or catty things floating around in my head.
It could be that I choose not to categorize you.
It could just be that none of that defines your whole person.
It could be I choose to believe that you are a perfectly imperfect, fantastic mom.

I think we could all stand to take our own opinions and assumptions about this particular nitpicky battle a little bit less seriously.

My family operates in a way that works for us and our situation and this is what we feel like we are suppose to be doing. I am living out my journey in the way that is the best for me, and for our family.

-and you are doing the same.

We might just have a lot more in common than you might think.

🙂

If you are interested in learning more about how you can help to support other mom’s
please click here. 

6 Things to Remember in Early Recovery

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Recently, an anonymous person wrote to me and told me that they were interested in giving rehab another try, but they didn’t think that they could do it.

Sobriety was something that she had tried a few times, and thus far, she has relapsed every single time.

But she is motivated to try again and feels like she has people to prove wrong,
despite the fact that a loved one in her life told her that she will never be able to stay sober, and should ‘give it up’ already.

For the person who is struggling to stay sober:
On top of your addiction slowly morphing you into someone that you don’t recognize inside and out,
stealing your soul piece by piece,
pushing you into isolation and destroying your relationships, self-worth, feelings of value or importance to anyone or anything here on the planet-

most of the time it will also deprive you of lifelines.

And when you are finally ready or willing to reach your hand out for some help, everyone is gone.
The only one waiting there for you is God.

Since he cannot drive you, it is likely that you’ll end up having to walk your ass to treatment
because at this point, no one will take you seriously.

People who were in your corner have either given up on you,
or you have exhausted their faith in you.

No one there to share your excitement.

Nobody believes that this time could be your time.

You have incinerated the bridges to everywhere.

Whatever is one step below feeling invisible, it’s that.
This can feel like that.

So to you, the person who is ready to change- please remember these things:

1.) Most of the people who love you will come around –eventually.
Addiction hurts our relationships by destroying trust.
Our unpredictable behavior and decisions that we have made have undoubtedly caused stress, strife, and hurt, among the people closest to us.

2.) Repairing any relationship takes time. The relationship with ourselves and with others.
Time isn’t a healing thing, it’s a revealing thing.
It doesn’t heal the wounds on either side, time allows us to work through the pain and rebuild trust.
Time allows us to create a new path, and a new history with people.
Give.it.time.

3.) Not everyone will come around, but you still won’t be alone.
Some people may choose not to forgive you. They might feel too hurt, others might feel like it is too risky.
Other people are automatically weeded out of your life because your circumstance has changed. Let those people go.
Regardless, this particular issue falls under the category of things that we cannot control. We cannot control people.
The people who stay, are meant to stay. The ones who choose to leave, were not meant to travel this part of your journey with you. God always delivers. There will be people in your corner, even if they aren’t who you thought would be there.

4.) You have to focus on you.
This isn’t about other people. This isn’t a game of who to prove wrong. This isn’t about anything right now other than you choosing to change your life. This is a brave and courageous thing that you are doing.
This is you time. It is selfishly you time. The result of you taking the time to focus on getting (clean or sober or dry or whatever you want to call it)  will be your chance to renew those relationships when it is the right time.
First things first.

5.)  Just because this didn’t work the first time (or second or third if that’s the case)
doesn’t mean that this time isn’t your time.
Sometimes we like to tell ourselves that we have already tried everything.
We have failed.
It didn’t work.
We ‘already tried’ meetings, counseling, treatment, we already know all of the facts, stats, and information.

Guess what?

None of that matters.

Successful sober living is a long term lifestyle change-
it means different things to different people,
and it is not all about logic and reason.

We can logic and reason ourselves to death and still be addicted to something.
We have to have our own spiritual and emotional cooperation in addition to ‘knowing’ what we need to know.

This time could be the time that your heart and spirit have caught up with your head knowledge.

Telling ourselves that we have exhausted all outlets is just another excuse to keep using.

6.) It is okay to believe in yourself.
Remind yourself that there are over twenty-three MILLION people living sober lives in recovery, FREE from drugs and alcohol.
Not all shout it from the rooftops, but we’re out there.

We are everywhere.
You are not alone.

 

Recovery Experts

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This is a very well researched article on RecoveryExperts.com.
There are many Recovery experts & advocates who had the opportunity to contribute to this article,
and I was honored to be one of them. Here is an excerpt:

“The Drug War has lasted for decades and accomplished little. Thousands of individuals get hooked onmultiple abusive substances every day, and many wind up in prison for nonviolent crimes. Worse yet, the black market for illegal substances is gigantic and thriving. Many in the US today are wondering whether or not there is another way to end addiction.Today, a growing number of advocates and concerned citizens have raised their voices.”

Please take the time to read through this piece in its entirety, here: 

https://recoveryexperts.com/rebuzz/roundups/experts-pov-is-drug-war-the-solution-or-there-are-other-options

Recovering Out Loud.

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

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

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

Without getting too detailed…

Here are a few things that we know:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and that’s all okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Merry Christmas from Discovering Beautiful!

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Discovering Beautiful isn’t about outer beauty. It is a bunch of writing shared from my heart to yours.
My blog emphasizes the beauty that is nonexistent &  unnoticed when living an empty life addicted and hopeless.
Sobriety and Recovery both allow us to embrace life.

Because of God’s Grace, we are alive, and are given a second chance; a chance to start over.
We are transformed from the inside out. We understand that beauty, true beauty, comes from the inside.

When we are free from addiction, we can finally SEE, FEEL, EXPERIENCE, & REMEMBER all of the small things.
We see the beauty in people.
We feel the beauty that life has to offer.
We create new memories to cherish.
We can laugh again.
We are able to enjoy simplicity and finally embrace calm.

But life with God, or with sobriety and recovery certainly don’t offer perfection to you..
I am definitely not a perfect mom, wife, friend, daughter, sister, writer, advocate or encourager…

What these things DO offer is permission to live authentically, and in freedom.
I am free to be imperfect. I am totally okay with learning and doing better tomorrow.
We are free to love ourselves and to embrace this new  chance at life.
We can accept our past and are completely free to move forward.

So this holiday season, I am thankful to have another year sober.
I have another year full of memories with my family.
I am another year further away from the old me, and my old life.

I have memories that I  can & will remember, and these things are engraved in my boys hearts too.

We are marking the very first Christmas of our 3rd baby boy,
and are continuing our traditions with the older boys.

Sometimes I can’t even believe that this is my life now.
I am still in awe of how much things can change in a short amount of time, and just how much life there is left to live- even after you feel like there is no way out.

I wish you a Merry Christmas to you and yours,
from our crazy awesome, loud, messy, fun, hilarious, imperfect little clan;  The Shelton’s. 

Guest: Alexandrea- Choosing to Live a Sober Life

I’ve never written about this.

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

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

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

What I learned was this:

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

Meet Alexandrea:

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

I Don’t Belong In a Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

How To Easily Hem Pants:

Since I had Maxwell, I have been on a new -to- me fitness journey.
(Read about that here if you are interested in forms of self-sabotage that I have indulged in)

Anyway I am working hard and am losing at least a pound or two every couple of weeks. (or 6 or 7 or 8 weeks) 🙂

This means that I refuse to buy new jeans or new pants; because it wouldn’t make sense right now. What I have been doing is happily buying gently used jeans from consignment/thrift stores. It takes awhile to find any that I like, and when or if I do, they are ALWAYS 3-7 inches too long. I live in the shorter side of life…where you will find the rest of the cool people. Definitely joking.

So I find jeans that I like, and I hem them myself. 

—-I am what you would consider an admitted lazy, non-conventional seamstress.

So, if that doesn’t bother you–keep reading.

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Here is quick summary of how-to easily 
hem your pants:
(Highly likely my way is not the by the book way)

*Total time from start to finish: About an hour
*Tools needed: (5) Some kind of sewing machine, a white crayon, scissors, pins, & a ruler.

1. Try on your jeans figure out how long you want them to be.  
Put one shoe on your left foot, and a different shoe on your right foot.
I chose two that differed a little bit in height.
I knew that I would only be wearing these particular jeans with tennis shoes or Sperry’s.
Cuff (not cut) cuff them right where you like them.
(Where you want them to be when you are completely done)

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2. Iron the cuffs.
After you cuff them, take them off and iron them at the creases/folds of your cuff.
Make sure your iron is on a high setting. Iron both sides of each leg.
These creases are very important.
(Side note: For darker pants or black slacks I would use a spray bottle (steam) or starch)

3. Grab the ruler, the white crayon, and scissors. 
Unfold your cuff.
Make sure that you can see a distinct line on both legs of your pants:

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4.Mark your cutting line.
Align the left side of your ruler with your fresh crease.
Use your white crayon to mark the right side of the ruler.
Like this:

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Here you can see the crease from where I ironed, and the white line from the crayon.
Do this to both pant legs:

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5. Cut your jeans.
Cut right down the white line (not the creases that you ironed) that you made.

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6. Time to pin.
Fold up and under using the ironed crease as your reference point.
I pinned about every inch and a half or so all the way around each side on both pant legs.
Your fold will be right at the crease and pinned, not going higher than your crease.
(remember, that crease is the length that you chose originally, so don’t fold past that point, fold right up, right at the crease and pin)

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7. Sew.
I like to use the width of the guide plate to determine where I will start stitching. This way, it is simple, no extra work, and it is simple to gauge where to start on both pant legs.

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8. Try them on and hope you didn’t completely mess them up.
(That’s what I usually do)

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My (Slow) Fitness Journey:

I have never really worried or cared if I was ‘fit’ or not.
Until now.

As a child growing up I was usually one of the shortest people around, and I was skinny, and thankfully, healthy.

As a teen, my addiction to drugs kept me skinny skinny, not ‘fit’,  and very weak & malnourished.

I also had many hidden insecurities that had a strong hold on my relationship with my body image and with food.

Here I am at 21, 110 lbs:

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At one point I became very sick and I lost even more weight.
(I contracted MRSA from a surgery, and that is what led to my pill addiction)

22 years old, 117 lbs:

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After I got sober I did allow myself to put much needed weight on.
I gained some of my strength back.

I wasn’t eating pills, I actually ate real meals.
I wasn’t abusing myself for each bite that I took.
I didn’t stare in the mirror critiquing myself anymore.

Then, a few years after I got sober, I also quit smoking.
I gained around 15 additional lbs, and kept it.
I felt healthier, and certainly had meat on my bones.
I had FINALLY learned to love myself for who I was, and that’s what was most important at that time in my life. 
I was no longer obsessed with being ‘skinny’…
But I definitely wasn’t ‘fit’.

27, 135 lbs:

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I have been pregnant 4 times, and have gone through 3 full-term pregnancies.
Each time I gained between 50-65 lbs.

I was 18 here:
170 lbs
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Here, I was 26:
175 lbs
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And this last (and final) pregnancy, I was 31:
181 lbs
39 wks

I gave birth in February, 2015..
It wasn’t until July 2015 that I just felt like it was time to take some kind of action.

(and between a long healing process from a tubal ligation/c-section, having a newborn, learning how to breast feed and pumping incessantly- I just felt busy & tired; I was trying to stay focused on eating and staying nutrient rich for my milk supply, not getting back into old jeans.)

So on July 6th, 2015, my husband and I committed to making some changes.

June/July 2015, 32 years old:
160 lbs

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So, why now, what are my goals, what did I want from this?
My goal was to feel good, get fit, and if I lost weight in the process of this life change-
wonderful.
*My goal was not and is NOT to ‘be skinny’!

**I have also developed the utmost respect for ALL of you out there who have lost weight or who have stayed dedicated to any kind of body transformation! This stuff is HARD, and I have not even made significant leaps in the progress department!!!
I am only 6 months in and I have puked, pushed myself to the max repeatedly, wanted to quit numerous times, worked when I didn’t feel like working, and used Pinterest as my late night but kicking motivation when I was feeling defeated.

Here are a few things that I have taken away so far: 

1. The scale doesn’t really matter much.
There have been weeks that I have not lost one pound, despite my efforts.
My clothes have been my biggest indication that my body has changed.
Jeans literally falling off, are always a great sign- even if the scale doesn’t move.

2. We totally get what we work for.
I have talked about how Recovery has taught me the benefits of follow-through and honest hard work. It has felt good to see change in my body, as a result of hard work and dedication.

3. My body will never be whatever society claims is perfect. (and I don’t care)
I am already happy despite how tight my stomach is or isn’t or how big my biceps are or aren’t, and have a husband who thinks I am perfect as-is.
There are parts of me that have the beautiful tarnishes that babies leave and that makes my heart smile. I don’t have stretch marks, but I have stretched skin. I have wide thighs. I have a big butt.
And that’s perfectly okay.

4. Fitness should be a you thing.
For real. This is a battle that can get ugly or unhealthy if you let it.
This has to be about you being a healthy you, not a perfect you.
This is about you reaching your own realistic goals, meant for your body.
Not another woman’s body.

What changed in my daily life since July 6 when we began this journey?

1. I don’t eat beef.
First, I eat chicken everything- grilled or baked.
This started out as an accident, but has sort of become a thing.
The first month I did not eat anything but chicken.
I tried to eat beef and had some serious (serious) digestion/gastro issues.
It happened twice, each time that I attempted to eat beef.

2. I consume limited, very limited, amounts of cheese and dairy.
(I am lactose intolerant, so this wasn’t a crazy change for me)

3. I do track my food now. I keep my calorie count under a certain amount every single day.
I eat pretty much whatever I want, but I track my intake and cut myself off.

4. I do not eat fast food.
(Rarely did before July 6, but have not since.)
Yucky, wasted calories, fake food.

5. I don’t drink soda. At all.

6. Water water water.

7. I work out every day.
For me, it started with a cardio plan. I stuck to this for about two months or so, but have had more noticeable results with weight training. Plus I enjoy weights over cardio. It works for me.

8. I bought a fitness tracker.
It has seriously helped. I use it as motivation. I track steps each day to keep myself moving, and have a daily goal. I push myself to progress, and strive to beat my own records.

9. I schedule my workouts for a time that works best for me.
I am not into shakes, or putting this part of my journey in front of everything else.
For me, having 3 kids and other things going on too, are just as important as getting and staying fit.
I don’t usually work out until after my kids are in bed. (by choice)
I like to relax, take my time, and enjoy the sweat.

Advice to anyone interested in taking a fitness journey:

1. Don’t think that eating healthy is too expensive.
Listen, I am NOT a garden growing, lover of things organic. (Love my friends who are!)
But we have always cooked ‘real’ food for our daily, sit-down, family dinners.
I have just learned to cook a billion things using chicken, and began serving smaller portions.
Sometimes we will only have one side, and a protein. I just pick a healthy side that my kids love, and boom. They can eat a ton of steamed veggies, and a piece of chicken. They are happy and full, and I am not eating cheesy hamburger casserole (anymore) Ha!
So you don’t have to get fancy or crunchy if you don’t want to.
Keep it simple if that works best for you, your budget, your family etc.
But don’t let the ‘it’s too expensive’ stuff be your excuse for not doing it!

2. Keep pushing through even if you don’t see instant change.
Listen. I am a former instant gratification junkie! I like to see things right now, not later. It is hard for me to stay motivated if I don’t see any benefits.
I remember reading through Pinterest motivational quotes about ‘keep going’ blah blah, thinking, I could never do that.
But I did. I have and you can too.
It really is a matter of time.
So don’t give up.
Getting fit or changing your body doesn’t fall into a short-term-goal category.

3. If you’re like me, and you have a husband or significant other who is on this journey with you, don’t get discouraged when they lost 25 lbs in two weeks, and you are throwing yourself a victory party for rounding up to a 5 lb loss. It doesn’t mean that you are doing something wrong, or aren’t doing enough. We lose at different rates than men do! It’s okay!

4.Don’t take my advice too seriously. I am a noob. 🙂 

Right now, 32 years old:
129 lbs.

IMG_4237
That means that since February 2015 I have only lost 51 lbs. (10 months post baby)
That means that since I changed my ‘lifestyle’ I have lost 31 lbs. (6 months and counting)

Right now, I am just trying to enjoy feeling myself get stronger and watching the changes that my body is going through, even if it isn’t reflected on my scale. 

Hot Mess, Party of One.

A1qcolBL7PL._SX425_
October and November were uncharacteristically difficult for me.
Like really crappy.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just started to feel suffocated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading, friends.

Interesting Article…

genes-environment-choices
I read this article today.
It centers around the theory that if a human person was born into an ideal/healthy environment regardless of whether or not there were drugs offered or available, they would be less likely to become addicted to that drug; in essence, preventing them from becoming an addict.

Environment #1.
I have a father who struggled with alcoholism.
My mom struggles with mental illness(es) and drug addiction.
I saw a lot of interesting and violent things. My childhood definitely included things like inconsistency, trauma, uncertainty, verbal abuse, sexual abuse and neglect.
I was excitedly using a step stool to pour my grandpa’s rum and Coke by the time I was 5.

-As a teen, when faced with decisions like whether or not to smoke pot for the first time, whether or not to drink, steal, lie, or abuse other drugs.
I don’t even remember hesitating or attempting to question it.
I really thought that it was a normal part of having fun and that all young people experimented in some way.

Before I knew it, my entire life was dismantled.
Boom, I was a drug addict.

Environment #2:
Let’s just imagine that I was removed from my family of origin and adopted into a stable, healthy, typical environment as an infant.

The only police lights that I ever saw weren’t at my house to handcuff one of my parents.
My basic needs were met every single day, and I felt loved.
I felt secure.
I learned to develop goals.
I was able to develop a healthy sense of self.
I was free to be a child, be imaginative, fun, and creative.
Trusting adults was okay.
I didn’t have to do anything other than be a child.

I don’t think the study in the linked article above was stating that addiction isn’t possible in an ideal environment.
I think the point was more that when given more opportunity to grow and learn, and develop as a person, (or a rat)
the less likely a person would be to try drugs at all for any reason in the first place.

I agree. I think that I would have been less likely to pick up and use for the first time if my environment would have been different. As a parent, I have studied enough prevention information to understand the basics.
I also believe that being raised in environment #2 would have allowed me to develop different coping skills, and having less trauma to process would have probably meant that I wouldn’t have sought out a form of escape from my mind and from buried pain.

I also believe that I would have still ended up addicted to something, even if I was raised in scenario #2, if I chose to use for whatever reason. I really do. I have observed my own behavior and thought patterns, and I find it pretty insane that my brain does what it does and thinks in the way that it does.
I can’t prove the science behind my personal theory that there are some kind of genetic links to this thing, but I do think it plays some role, in addition to the outside variables like environment, based off of my own experience.

At the end of the day there are just so many different reasons that a person picks up a drug and uses.

I definitely think that the ‘why’ behind our decision to use for the first time, more often than not, stems from something emotional going on inside.
It could be a pain, hurt, loss, unmet need or diagnosed mental illness. Maybe it is as simple as wanting an escape or just being curious.

Some people who use become addicted and some don’t.

The ones who do also have a lot in common, regardless of where they came from originally.
We all end up in the same place, on similar rides.

Lives are destroyed, souls are emptied, and voids keep widening. Every piece of that person, their emotional, physical, psychological, and mental health are all shredded until there isn’t anything left to shred.

 

Tis’ the Season to Al-Anon.

To-love-an-addict1I really enjoy having the freedom to put my thoughts -well, somewhere; writing is like my personal therapy.
My brain, even though I am sure on a scan it would be lit up all funky, blotchy, and likely considered ‘dysfunctional’…

is somehow still full of ideas and deep things that always seem to be circulating and brewing regardless of where I am or what I am doing.

My routine, routinely changes. That’s something I can count on.
Although I am somewhat of a crazy list making person who enjoys the illusion of control that my lists allow me to hide behind…

I know that I can arrange and personalize this juggling act to fit our lives, but the day to day will always look completely different than what I envision in my head when it comes to planning or scheduling, or balancing.

So lately, my writing world has come down to a battle of ‘blog or sleep’
and sleep is winning.

I am happy to say that things are settling down and look semi-reasonable.
I am more than ready to spew and piece together random thoughts to share with the internet again. 

Our little family of 5 is doing well. We are happy and healthy, and crazy and loud.

We enjoy this madness and especially love the long weekends, yummy food, and extra family time that the holiday season gifts to us. 

And yet there’s this nagging feeling in the back of my mind, amidst all of the fun and memory making.

*There are people in my family who will spend the holiday season alone. 

Obviously it is unfortunate and sad year round, but it’s just super sucky during the holidays.
There really is not one way to deal with something like this.

In my mind it seems like it is always shifting around these thoughts:

On one hand:
My head knowledge tells me that I have drawn boundary lines that I know are the safest and most reasonable choice for the mental healthy/physical safety/future of my kids.

The flip side:
I am also a recovering codependent enabler who has spent countless hours learning to differentiate being an empathetic lover of all things ethical and human,
and being a chronic ‘helper’ with an incessant need to scoop these people up and dust them off every time they might have to experience a self-fulfilled consequence.

As a person who has struggled with an addiction:
I definitely spent more than enough time all alone with nothing but shame and deafening silence to comfort me. I know how alone, loneliness can feel. 

Then again:
I also know that I isolated myself and at some point in the ordeal, I began isolating on purpose. Although I was very lonely, I had also got to a point where I felt like f*ck anyone who doesn’t accept me for what I have become. (Or who doesn’t have cash or anything for me to pawn).

So in truth, spending time with me only ended up hurting people who loved me,
because I wasn’t ….me.
They wanted to see and hug and help a person that they remembered.
They wanted to just see if I would come out even for a little while.

Yes. It hurts thinking about it.
It hurts knowing that they fight within themselves still continues.
It is hard being the one having to make decisions that are rational and healthy to fit into my new life.
I have times that feel almost unbearable knowing that my decisions seem so heartless and irrational to others, despite my understanding that I am doing the right thing.

Knowing that we cannot fix them or
take steps for them tears me up –but isn’t the hardest part. 

It is the knowing and watching part.

Watching as they continuously and tirelessly cycle through shame and use
we can still see shadows of potential wrapped up in the destruction.

We know that God has something spectacular to give to them. It is easy for us to see all of the things that they cannot imagine for themselves.

So this holiday season if you are going through the motions, I say don’t.
Don’t just go through the motions.

Try to allow yourself to embrace and enjoy the season with people that you love, who love you, and who you are able to make memories with. 

Love your sick/hurting family member in whatever way you are personally able to handle and in a way that is in fact helping you both and not destroying the both of you.  

We can only love them.

We can’t do it for them, and it’s okay to believe that. 

 

It gets better.

What-happens-in-the-past

My life began to change almost 10 years ago.
I last attempted suicide & sobriety almost 10 years ago.
I have been in Recovery from drugs and alcohol for almost 9 straight years.
I was baptized 7 years and 8 months ago.

One of the main things that my Recovery revealed pretty quickly was the importance of looking at the stuff that I had been running from for so long.
I was so stuck and deep down I knew that moving forward wasn’t an option unless I faced it all.

I tend to categorize my ‘past’ into two parts:

1. The childhood raised by an addict/abuse/neglect/wtf kind of trauma stuff
2. The choices that I had made as a young adult
(a long long list of mistakes, crimes, and other sad/careless things)

I am talking particularly about #2 today.
It is the part that forced me to accept the consequences for all of the choices that I made between the ages of 15-22.

I did my best to make amends.
I accepted responsibility for my actions and choices whether I remembered them or not. 

I tried to reach out and repair relationships,
and I made the harder choices of which ones to let go of for good.

I think I assumed that I would be able to move forward, completely free from that part of my past. 

Over the years life has shown me  (insert evil laugh)
that more often than not, I will have to face this part of my past (as well as the first part I mentioned) more than once, and that while I am free in one sense, I am also deeply connected to the choices that I made.

This means that  might pop up at any given or least expected time.

This can happen regardless of whether or not we have completed certain steps, how much sobriety time we have, or despite how many times we move location, change inwardly or outwardly, how many times we apologize, and no matter how much we attempt to push it away.

It just does.

Here are a just a handful of examples of what I am talking about:

*Having to accept my credit self-destroyed credit for the relentless little b*tch that she is.
I murdered these scores years ago, as I sucked the life out of every piece of plastic that I was given the green light to use.
I have whittled most of it away, but I still have to answer the occasional phone call which means I have had to learn to tolerate some pretty condescending creditors -one recent one who felt the need to remind me that if I was ‘decent’ I would have taken care of x, y or z a ‘long time ago’…

*I made it through the somewhat embarrassing conversations when I finally got around to attempting my second shot with college. Who knew I would have to answer questions about high-school, graduation dates, GPA’s and such? How do you skip those parts and the parts where you went to GED classes high as a kite, and waited an extra two years before taking the GED test? Or maybe that one time where you earned a few college credits right before you developed a full blown addiction?

If you aren’t actually in full throttle REM sleep by this point of the blog post, thank you for being so dedicated.
I will spare you the detailed sob stories of how crappy job applications are to fill out when it comes to my work history; ppshh, damn those pesky questions about termination history (stealing, or just being plain unreliable) or questions regarding criminal history (legit fail for me) usually ensure that I am looked over.

Sometimes I get asked if I would do things differently if I had a chance.
I always respond the same way…
Not so much.
No.
I really and truly think that my past is more than “just a story”,
but it’s actually more like the sh*t formed who I am at my core.
So I’ll keep it; all of it.

I know some reading this will say that people ‘like me’ deserve it. 
I made the choices. I deal with the reality. I get it.

And you know what, I completely agree with you. 

But today (or for the most part any other day too)

I am not writing to you.

I want to talk to the people who feel defeated-
To the people who have made mistakes, but are trying to make amends. 

Sometimes it can feel like you will never get up to see over the horizon.
Will you ever be able to catch a break?

You will.

The breaks will come, but they will come with time.
They probably won’t feel like breaks either. They feel tiny breaths of fresh air.
Time has a way of revealing new ideas from old truths to us.
We see things a little bit differently each time we look at them.
As we lock in more and more sober time, we begin to see things a little bit differently.
Including our past mistakes.
Even if we can’t see it, we gain wisdom from falling on our face.
Each time we get up a little bit more gracefully.

The best part of all of it is that God has a way of using our past mistakes for awesome things in our future and this is something that happens regardless of what people say or how they personally perceive our mistakes.

So yes. The consequences are so ours to accept and deal with  but so is how we handle this phenomena…..
The past can only really ‘haunt’ you if you let that be your experience.

 

 

Music.

***Love everything about this song***
I truly think these lyrics are amazing. @2:40- (!!)

“Touch The Sky”

What fortune lies beyond the stars
Those dazzling heights too vast to climb
I got so high to fall so far
But I found heaven as love swept lowMy heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the groundWhat treasure waits within Your scars
This gift of freedom gold can’t buy
I bought the world and sold my heart
You traded heaven to have me againMy heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out, I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

My heart beating, my soul breathing
I found my life when I laid it down
Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground

Find me here at Your feet again
Everything I am, reaching out I surrender
Come sweep me up in Your love again
And my soul will dance
On the wings of forever

Upward falling, spirit soaring
I touch the sky
When my knees hit the ground

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