Author: Brittany

Guest: Mark- Sober Parent, Smart Phone


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: 

From Broken to Awesome.

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

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.



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.

2016-01-28 13.20.41

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


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. 

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.
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,

The rest is up to him.

I hope this helps someone!

Appreciating Diversity.

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

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.

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


This is a very well researched article on
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:

Recovering Out Loud.


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 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!


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:

2015-10-06 08.58.24

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


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.



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)

2015-12-10 14.53.06








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:

2015-12-10 14.53.52
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:



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


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


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)


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.


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

2015-12-10 14.56.15  2015-12-10 14.55.082015-12-10 14.51.51


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:

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:


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:


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

Here, I was 26:
175 lbs

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


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-
*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.

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.

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…

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.


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.
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.




***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

Guest: Chelsie- My husband has been diagnosed


My husband has been diagnosed with liver cirrhosis


When I fell in love with a Hep C patient I knew the risk I was taking, but somehow it still wasn’t enough to prepare me for the bad news I received last week.

My husband caught Hep C from a blood transfusion for his hemophilia at 10 years old and he’s been living with it for 22 years now. We knew liver cirrhosis was a possibility, but we never imagined that it would happen so soon.

When you start a life with someone you don’t really think about the end and what would happen if one of us ever got really sick. Sickness isn’t supposed to happen until we’re old and wrinkly, until we have lived a long life together. Our son isn’t even a year old yet and the fact that his father might not be around to send him to college or watch him get married has now become my reality. I try to be hopeful, but the resulting chaos makes it difficult.

We found out that the Hepatitis C progressed to Liver Cirrhosis last week when he started a new treatment for his Hep C. Expecting to finally be cured of the Hep C we were excited for him to start the treatment which is known to have a very high success rate but the medication wasn’t the only thing he received. We also received the sad news that he now has Liver Cirrhosis and that’s it. No information about options or lifestyle changes or what to expect. The nurse who delivered the life changing news said we would have to wait a month to talk to the doctor.

I don’t know about you but not knowing can sometimes be the worst part. Of course, I went straight to Google for some answers but every case is different and no concrete answers were found. No alcohol and low salt was pretty much the only consistent information we got, the rest was pretty vague. Life expectancy and life quality can’t be found on google. Only his doctor can really answer that question with any degree of certainty.

What now? I guess we wait and try not to freak out, well at least not too much. I’m trying to be hopeful and I’m successful most of the time but something changed and life at home isn’t the same. He’s changed. Angry. On edge. No Patience. I can’t reach him. The tension is unbearable. Everything I do makes him angry and he denies it or seems to think I deserve it. We should be growing closer, but it feels like I’m already losing him. Maybe he just needs time to process all of this. Well at least I hope that’s all it is.

Since all this chaos began I’ve thought about using drugs a few times. Not my usual drug of choice but still something that should be avoided. The worst thoughts are the ones where I think I could handle it and that it would be a relief to just have fun and get away from all this. It’s only a quick thought, nothing serious yet, but enough to have me think about how I’m going to avoid going down that dark path again. I’m even more cautious since the last time I relapsed was due in part to my 6 year relationship ending. I don’t know what I’d do if things didn’t work out with my husband, for whatever reason.

The fighting is just terrible and when I feel like I can’t take it anymore the first thing I do is get some distance by going into the bedroom. Then I’ll usually write. Thoughts need to slow down to be written down. They can only go as fast as I’m able to type which helps me calm down. It helps me organize my thoughts and process how I’m feeling. When we get in an argument I rather go in the bedroom and text him. It just makes it easier to express myself and say everything I need to without being cut off.

I know a big part of wanting to retreat into drugs has to do with the criticism and feeling like I’m not good enough. I’m a perfectionist in many aspects of my life. I’ve never taken criticism well and having to deal with it all the time for useless reasons is tough. Thinking I’m not being good enough has a significant negative effect on me. It’s one of my major weaknesses.

I know he’s going through a lot and I feel bad when I’m not more patient with him. I shouldn’t take it so personally when he’s criticizing me. However, it’s hard not to take something personally when your being criticized or when someone always getting mad at you. That’s pretty personal if you ask me. I’m not perfect, even though I’d like to think I am sometimes.

I’ve avoided going back to drugs thanks to a combination of two things. First is getting some distance by keeping busy with something I love and the second is remembering what drug use leads to. My secret answer to both those things is blogging. Writing calms me down and keeps me busy.

Whether I’m writing about addiction, reading an old post or reading another recovering addicts blog, it helps remind me what drug use leads to. Blogging is a great solution for many recovering addicts. I believe that’s why so many of us do it and why when things get bad at home I’m often hiding in the bedroom on my computer. We’ve built such a strong and caring online recovery community. I’m truly honored to be part of it.
Read more here. 

Meet Chelsie:

I’m a Recovering Addict, Child of an Addict, Freelance Writer and Psychology Major. I’ve recently become a mom to a wonderful baby boy and got engaged to his father, who is also a recovering addict and a great supporter of my dreams. I’ve always dreamed of having a career helping people and making a positive change in the world. I hope I can help people understand addiction and inspire compassion within them for those suffering from addiction. I believe that by letting people in on my journey of self-discovery along with sharing what my addiction and recovery mean to me I can give hope that recovery is possible as well as inspire change in those who are still struggling. I want to let people know they aren’t alone in this fight. I write all about this on my blog A Recovering Addicts Experience. To inquire about my freelance work or if you need someone to talk to I can be reached at






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The Twelve Steps for Adult Children- From Addicted and Other Dysfunctional Families:

So I love scanning the bookshelves at thrift stores, you never know what you will end up finding. Last week I came across this gem and splurged. I thought it might be worth .50 cents.
Yes, it’s old.

Yes the revised & updated edition was published back in 1989; but I thought it couldn’t hurt to see what was inside.

After all, I have only recently begun digging into this side of my roots, and I can’t think of a better way to continue, than by learning more about it.

From what I had already read on the internet, I am really not too sure that much of this information has evolved much over the years.

It doesn’t read as irrelevant or outdated, and I have really found much of this applicable to my experience.

I am thirty pages in and have found that I am nodding my head in agreement with most of what I am reading.

So far the chapter that has stood out to me the most has been on step 4, and writing a personal inventory. This chapter talks a lot about resentment and anger.

The more that I learn, the more I begin to make sense of myself. I am putting more of the pieces together, and am understanding how I became who I became, and why.

Like I have said before, these concepts aren’t brand new to me, but the more I learn, the more blanks I fill in, and the more empathy I develop for others who are struggling- including my mother.

20151019_125556(Page 22)

I still have my very first participant guide from my first Celebrate Recovery meeting. It took me a long time to fill it out, and to work through that first book. Over the years, I have referenced it and flipped through it.

I can see and feel the anger that I felt and carried written on the pages of that book.

I was an angry young woman, who had been hurting for so long. I just hadn’t realized how long I had been carrying it all around. I did allow it to destroy me in the end. It infected every single part of my being.

Until now, I guess I never realized that the way that I processed being hurt and how I expressed (internalized) anger were things that I learned to do when I was a child, for my own protection.

(page 30)

So yes, I so relate to this. I learned to not allow myself to feel a long, long time ago. I protected myself.

My own addiction to not feeling developed a LONG time ago.

It was the beginning of what would become destructive behavior.

Recovery forced me to stand up.
I finally tried to face AND feel my anger when it came.
I had to learn what to do and other ways to handle this emotion.

For me understanding, learning more, and educating myself helps me to have more patience with my slow progress.

Knowing why I became what I was, and how I can combat these things really helps me to keep pushing and moving forward. I am not a lost cause or simply damaged goods. I was a small person coping like a child. Now I am an adult who understands that  these things were self-taught and utilized for survival.

I am capable. I have learned new things. I can reteach myself, and I live now-
I am not just surviving anymore.

I am also learning that no one can communicate effectively one hundred percent of the time.

I am still working on taming my inner beast. Anger is definitely the emotion that I still struggle with most, but I have made tons of progress. It no longer sits inside, and I try to talk about how I feel when it is necessary, in an appropriate way.

Someone who is much further along in Recovery taught me a long time ago, that recovery has many gifts, and one of the big ones is our ability to feel and experience life.

But we have to learn that we cannot pick and choose which emotions that we accept and deal with. It is an all or nothing sort of deal. 

I choose all.

Roughly 70 pages more to go in this book.
So expect a few more posts as I dig and learn even more.

Reflections From a Visit with Mom:

2015-10-15 15.48.55

I had lunch with my mom on Thursday, October 15, 2015.

We had only really seen each other a handful of times since our last big hoorah in March of 2006-
and on that particular St. Patrick’s day we both ended up in adjacent jail cells.

Fast-forwarding to our next big hoorah, that happened on February 16, 2014,
1 year and 8 months ago.

That was the day of my late grandmother’s visitation, or celebration of life; and we had quite an afternoon.  (It was terrible, but you can read more about that visit HERE)
That day could have played out much like our past encounters, except that last time, things were different. Mostly due to the fact that I was sober. Also because I had one of my children with me, and something about working a Recovery, growing, learning, and forgiving, had really tweaked my soul.
In February of 2014, I experienced one of her episodes – and I reacted a little bit different from I had in the past. Even though I was left a tiny bit traumatized and it really almost triggered a legit panic/anxiety attack, I managed to not react.

I guess it was the first time I had really experienced an episode while I was sober and not utilizing one of my cognitive escapee techniques.
That time I lived the moment, I processed it, and moved on with my life.

So our most recent visit was uneventful. Well – it was definitely not boring or quiet, but it also wasn’t violent or threatening, so, I guess I consider it a major win for us.

Judging from our visiting patterns, it seems that we see each other on average, once every year or so, depending on the severity of drama encountered at last visit.
After each experience, I do try to reflect.

This most recent visit I took away a few new things, and I am okay with what I learned.

I can appreciate that I am not sitting here writing about my anxiety as a result of the visit. This time we both managed to end the day feeling pretty positive.

Here are 2 things that I took away:

* I have to accept what is, for exactly what it is.

She had no recollection of our visit from last year, nor did she understand why we hadn’t seen each other in over a year.

Ah, this.
Yes,  I recognize this.
The memory loss, or loss of time, phenomenon is one that I talked about in support groups for years. For a long time, much of my deep-rooted resentment stemmed from my anger toward her for this very reason. How in the hell does someone treat any someone, more specifically, someone who you spawned, in the way that she has acted toward her children, and manage to not remember any of it?

I had to learn to apply what I know. What I know is that I am only responsible for me.

Change in this situation, or in our relationship, will only happen if I am the one making moves.
It has come down to doing my best to understand even more, and educating myself about her personality, condition, traits, and patterns.

I have had to force myself to accept that her dissociative behavior hurts, but isn’t personal.
It seems like it is targeted directly towards me, but in reality, it isn’t  chosen or intently thought out -it is impulsive and triggered by things that don’t have anything to do with me.

In and in a perfect world, she would hold herself accountable and her brain would understand that she cannot hurt me with her hands, or with her words, but this isn’t a perfect world.

Our visit last year was one that seriously re-damaged my bandaged up wounds, and threw me off my game; however, it was not on her radar, whatsoever. Didn’t happen. No ill-feelings for her to do with or handle, just the confusion over why I disappeared again.

An incident that nailed our relationship coffin tightly closed until I came around to feeling safe around her, didn’t affect her in the slightest.

But utilizing what I know, has really helped my healing process this time. I am not trying to change anything but myself, and how I choose to deal with things as they stand.
I also understand that when I put myself in certain situations, I need to be ready to accept what happens. I know what the possible outcomes are, and I am able to make a conscious decision to cross certain boundaries, or not.

*I am learning to appreciate that she is different, and possesses good qualities that were drowned out during the more chaotic years.

She isn’t afraid to do everything under the sun, that is considered socially unacceptable; and something about it makes me smile.

So what use to mortify me as a child, is now pretty entertaining.
The older that I get, and the more that I learn about myself, the more I see why it isn’t so bad that she goes against the grain.
(Like all the grains).

-She isn’t afraid to wear exactly what she wants, despite season or color. If she likes it, screw it. She’s wearing it. It doesn’t matter if it is a child’s tiara from the thrift store, with a matching wand,coupled with a denim purse, or a very sparkly lanyard, and lots of costume jewelry. She is not afraid to express herself with what the mood suits.

Maybe it isn’t the fact that she is bold in the fashion department that I like, it is the part where she doesn’t even notice people staring, nor would she care if she did.
I need more of that.

-Age is nothing but a number. It really makes no difference to her. She  laughs too loud, she yells in what other adults have deemed ‘quiet places’ (like the bank lobby), she skips through parking lots, and she gets really excited when she see’s shiny things and birds flying.
Yes, it is funny and I give her crap about it when we’re together, but I like the freedom that she feels.

Maybe it isn’t so much that I like that she sometimes deliberately breaks what adults have adopted as ‘typical’ behavior, but again, what I like is that she is herself, no matter where she is or who is watching. I think I can always use that reminder; something that I learned in Recovery. It is always alright to be myself, and I am okay with who I have to offer the world.

-Even in her situation, she thinks of and gives to others. 
She talked and talked about others. Praying for other people, trying to do her part to give what she can to others, and had a bag full of things for my kids.
Granted, she has little to give, and the things for my kids weren’t gender specific or age appropriate, but her heart meant well, and her motives were loving.

It isn’t really that she gave silly things; it was that she isn’t really in an ideal position to give, by my standards, and she gave anyway.
I think that is something that I can learn from.

This visit was perfect considering alternatives.

I want to learn to do things more unconventionally, and radical. One-hundred percent…

Maybe not on her scale, but a smaller, more muted scale
that rests on the same fundamental principle:

We should live life and be exactly who we are, authentically, and unapologetically. 

This isn’t really me praising her for perfection, or erasing all that has been done.
This reflection is really about my learning to take what she does have to give, and trying to pluck out hidden positives that may not stand out.

This is much better for me, and my own mental health, instead of focusing on all of the typical &  traditionally passed down things,  that she simply cannot offer.

Ultimately, I guess I am excited that I am making progress in this area. It is not easy loving someone who isn’t mentally well, who is suffering in many different ways. It has taken me a long time to forgive her for her actions that affected my childhood, and it has taken just as many years of learning about mental illness and the after effects of long-term drug use to understand more of who she is today.

I have a feeling it will take more than one positive visit for me to see more of her and less of the illnesses, but I will take the little bits revealed here and there. I also have a feeling that as the years go by, things will change as all things do. I can only try my best to handle what is, right now.

Thanks for reading, lovelies!

Guest: Mike Palombi- Sober Author & Speaker


Michael’s story goes to prove that God is still in the business of redemption, healing, and miracles. Mac Powell, Third Day

Mike contacted me via Twitter, and I took some time to check out his story.

I am so happy that I did! I love to hear different stories of how God works in the lives of different people, weaving this beautiful narrative that only He could have pieced together.

Sometimes, we give up on people or we consider them to be lost causes.
We often give up on ourselves, and feel like there is simply no way out of the mess that we have created.

I encourage you to learn more about Mike and his story, I know that it will inspire you to keep going through whatever you might be struggling with, by offering you hope.

Here is a little bit from his website: 

“Mike Palombi’s message of hope is encouraging, inspiring, and a welcomed antidote for those struggling with the condition of hopelessness. His message is delivered powerfully, simply, and not without answers to some of life’s most troubling circumstances.”

“Whether you are an inmate, an addict, a housewife, or a church pastor, Mike’s message crosses multi-cultural boundaries and respectfully challenges every man and woman, young and old, to re-evaluate their own lives and choose how they will live.”

If you would like to learn more about Mike and his story of redemption, click here.
It truly is never too late to allow God to change your whole life. 

Guest: JessiRae Pulver-Recovery Blogger & Author

I really like the idea of featuring fellow addiction & recovery bloggers on Discovering Beautiful.
As authors of our own writing, we each bring a unique voice and perspective to the Recovery world.
Our individuality is what brings so much value to our contributions.
Please take some time to get to know JessiRae:

JessiRae Pulver-Adell is an addiction & recovery blogger for Harbor Village. She writes to elucidate the disease of addiction and is an activist for the homeless and animals. She enjoys furry creatures, Jrock, and towering bookshelves! Have a story or a pitch to share? Email her directly at

wTake some time to stop by the Harbor Village Blog to check out some of the articles that she has written:

*Using the Arts to Overcome Addiction
*Opening the Doors of Communication During Recovery
*Holistic Healing For Addiction 
*2 Million Students Tried Vaping for the First Time Last Year

-Here is a Direct Link to her writing.

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