Category: Addiction

I’m Not An Alcoholic, But I Live Sober Anyway


Passover is one of the Shalosh Regalim, or Three Pilgrimage Festivals. On the eve of the first day of Passover each spring Jewish people around the world partake in a feast known as the Seder. The celebration is an opportunity for families to enjoy a meal while honoring Jewish prayers, history, and traditions. Each of the eight main foods served at the feast hold great symbolic significance.

This past Monday evening I had a cool opportunity to attend a Seder dinner. And yes, if you know me or have read anything here, normally I would politely pass and choose not to attend intimate gatherings such as these, due to crippling internal anxiety that plagues my brain and physical body any time I consider committing to attending any kind social event, but I am doing my best to overcome anything connected to my “normal”.

I have come to believe something: It is really important to my mental health and wellness to understand that I am a messy human, but a human nonetheless; created with a longing for connection and a for a sense of belonging. I know I belong, so that is a non-issue, but I have to remind myself that I need connection like I need oxygen. Isolation for me is  nothing but a self-destructive tactic that delivers nothing it promises, so pushing myself to walk circles outside of my concocted realm of comfort is essential to my well-being.

During this meal a group  of over twenty-five adults and children sat together around several rectangular folding tables in the middle of the hostess’ dimly lit living room. I nervously sat in my chair with my middle son sitting on my lap. I sat, eyes closed, clinching my son’s little hands as we listened to our pastor recite Jewish prayers in Hebrew, with English subtitles.

I was so excited to start eating (and not just because I hadn’t eaten dinner and it was after 7:30 pm), but because the apple concoction called charoset that sat on our plate looked particularly delicious.
(I also knew that the pastor’s wife brought it, who was sitting directly to my left, and she makes a mean Caesar salad so I knew it would be yummy).

As my son and I worked together to pack spoonfuls of charoset onto our piece of matzah that we broke into two pieces for our makeshift charoset sandwich step, I asked “What is in the charoset?” Through the thick of the background noise I only made out the “wine & chopped walnuts” part.

My son immediately set his matzah sandwich on our plate and I could feel his disappointment as he leaned his weight back into me. I quietly breathed a deep sigh of relief (and scolded myself that I hadn’t asked about ingredients before this meal began). Due to the most recent epi-pen injector recall, we were left without ours for a short window of time. Our pharmacy had informed us that due to the recall, our prescription would be on back order. This is never an ideal scenario when it comes to life threatening allergies, and in our case, a life-threatening nut allergy. So charoset containing walnuts would be a ‘no’ for my son.

I had about thirty short seconds to decide if I would pick up where my son left off on his matzah sandwich. It wasn’t until after my first big bite, that I realized that charoset is a cold dish and that maybe it wasn’t heated to a temperature that would allow wine used in the preparation to evaporate.
But I cleaned my plate anyway. I tasted the apples, the cinnamon, the walnut, the honey, and nutmeg, and it was absolutely delicious. If she were to have mentioned adding crushed Valium or sprinkles of Xanax in the ingredient list I would have had to made a different decision, because if not, I would most definitely be waiting for a bed to open up at the nearest facility and my life would expeditiously crumble to very small fragments.

As we wrapped up our evening by saying our good-bye’s and giving hugs, the woman who brought the charoset said “Whoa I smell alcohol” and leaned into the empty dish tucked under her arm that once contained the ooey-gooey goodness. So naturally, I had to lean in and take a deep breath too, and boy did it reek.

I may not think about my alcohol intolerance often, but all it takes is a whiff of whisky or wine to remind me that there is absolutely nothing lost in my life from my decision not to drink, despite not being an alcoholic.

I was a dependent pill-aholic and am a former, (quite crafty) escape-aholic, but never quite made it to alcoholic. Alcohol and I never bonded; it was never anything more to me than an enhancer, a filler, or temporary cheap substitute.

Yet still, somehow, my body is one-hundred-percent intolerant to its gaggy essence, causing me to feel physically ill and queasy the second it penetrates my nasal cavities.

But maybe every now and then  I need a reminder of how amazing the cold tiles used to feel on my body on the floor of my bathroom in my old apartment, after a night of puking up my insides.

Sobriety to me has become about truly enjoying my life as a sober person and not continuously pining away for an out, any kind of escape from the day-to-day, or having the false belief that everything is more enjoyable when I am drunk or some version of high.

So I decided a long time ago, that despite my not having “biblically sound” evidence to support my theory that this unexplained intolerance is likely just another undeserved gift from God and a result of Grace living, I am okay with the not really understanding it part.

It works for me.

Don’t You Dare Give Up

Maybe you are only an hour in.
Or a day. Or three months.

Maybe you hate what sobriety is feeling like right now.

You aren’t sure if it is for you.

Maybe you are trying to tell yourself that you can’t hack it, because you aren’t strong enough.

Early recovery can be hard.
Really, really hard, and most often in the beginning of changing your life entirely you will wrestle with nauseating amounts of skepticism.

Tonight, I am talking to you.

I can remember fighting within my own mind and feeling defeated having to constantly break up disputes between my heart, my head, and the shadows that seemed to lurk in every corner of my life adamantly reminding me of who I had become and all of the mistakes that I had made.

I know what it feels like to be utterly lost.
Having to feel the pressure and weight of the dissonance I was experiencing between my wanting a brand-new, rebuilt, different life, and also feeling like I had been robbed; stripped of an identity that fit nicely until it began to squeeze the life out of my eyes. I wanted to rid my body of this thing that tightened its powerful grip around the threshold my existence and at the very same time I had no idea how to live any other way.

I have raw fear.
I was a girl who ended up somewhere unfamiliar and frightening, left to wander around not knowing what to take and what to leave behind with questions looming in my mind like, “Who the fuck am I anyway? and “How did I end up here?”

I struggled with disconnect.
I knew my desires didn’t match my impulsive feelings, my habitual go-to’s and cravings didn’t match my true desires for my life and my future, and my overwhelming self-doubt didn’t match up with my dream of one day experiencing real & lasting inner peace.

I wasn’t any match for the anger and wound emotions that I would go through.
I clearly recall raging with anger, crying, and screaming as I did what I could to dig my heels in sobriety.

I didn’t know if I was doing enough of the new stuff.
I saturated my time with as much routine and new information and self-care remedies as I could manage to swallow, hoping that something would stick and I would start to feel as if feeling was a thing that I might actually get on board with.

I remember the struggle of fighting with exhaustion.
I had no idea how to fall asleep. I had zero knowledge of how to quiet or slow my racing thoughts. How would I ever overcome or manage my excruciating anxieties about what the next day might bring. What if it got even harder?

I experienced the agonizing uncertainty of knowing only that I knew nothing definitively.
Aside from being completely certain that I couldn’t go on as I had anymore, I had no idea if I would be able to figure out how to live as a sober person.

For me, there was a 100% chance that nothing was going to change if I wasn’t willing to stick with making any changes, and just for the record I was not good at sticking with things. Follow-through and I were not acquainted.

Drastic life-change takes some time to get used to and specifically regarding substance use disorders, it can FEEL like a lifetime of struggle, like years of planting before we can see any new harvest.

But the small changes that we make every day will begin to make a huge difference in no time.

So tonight, or tomorrow, this week, or this month, if you are feeling unsure of yourself, just keep pushing.

Please don’t believe the lie that you can’t do this, that you are simply too late, that you have fucked up too many things, or that redemption for you, your heart, your soul, your relationships, or your reputation, is not a viable option for you.

You don’t get to decide that.

Because God says that you matter.
You are loved. You are seen. You are important. You matter.

There is not one thing that you have done, said, broken, stolen, smoked, crashed, burned or neglected that can take away God’s grace that is freely offered to your story.

So please don’t give up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGYjKR69M6U

Shame.


Strong emotions connected to an all-to-familiar brand of deprecating shame were recently reignited within me. And this recent spike of shame also brought with it the kind of nasty, heavy, weight that prefers to bear down directly on top of my shoulders.

I tried to self-talk my way through and I also attempted to take and utilize some of my own advice. Despite my effort, I still began to feel overwhelmed with preoccupation; allowing doubt to barrel roll through my mind and circle back around again and again until my mind felt as if there wasn’t any room for rational thoughts to form.  It didn’t matter how many distractions or diversions presented themselves as alternatives throughout the day.

Reeling (and also out of realistic ideas) I chose a project from my to-do list after deciding that keeping myself busier than normal would be a productive way to combat feelings of shame, assuming it would do the trick.

So I spent several late nights this month painting the interior of our house. I would start painting past my boys bedtime ensuring that it would just be me, my crappy-yet-comfortable painting attire, a podcast of some kind, my roller, and a few brushes.
(Solid recoup recipe if I have ever heard one).

The week I chose to begin this project just so happened to be offering up beautiful, warmer-than-usual temperatures. The weather allowed for open windows as I painted and I would occasionally close my eyes, slowly breathe in the cool night air, and let myself take in the breeze sweeping through my house.

I listened to a dozen of Beth Moore’s audio messages from her app as I worked and took occasional breaks for deep breathing. Each message lasted for around twenty minutes. Many of those late nights I would start to laugh to myself as I thought about Beth Moore. Here she was preaching, with her gaze fixed upon a live crowd packed full of thousands of eager, teachable, women, yet somehow I still believed that she was speaking directly to me, and just for me.

This week-long project provided my spirit a much-needed introspective time-out. Physical labor doesn’t sound like an opportunity for restoration, and most wouldn’t categorize interior painting as R&R, somehow the quiet and calm that I experienced during these blocks of alone time provided me with a fresh perspective.

Ten years in recovery and what I truly needed most was to get back to the raw, natural, basics.
Nothing fancy.
Nothing habitual or ritualistic.
None of my usual, supplemental, go-to tools.
No special acronyms, no advice, no Dr. Google, no slogans, no music.
No vibes or light or fluffy stuff. No noise.

In the middle of a storm the most effective, fool-proof way out is to take refuge in the only one who can command the sky. He alone is my shelter. His word brings deep healing within my bones. I just needed to lather my whole spirit with His words, bathing in His truths about who I am.
I needed unadulterated, concentrated Jesus- served straight up. Or forget the chilled part, let’s just do Jesus, neat. (Preferably funneled or shotgunned -let’s even skip the cute glass.)

When I initially began painting I know that I went in feeling disappointed in myself. I felt physically weak and defeated, and was dragging close to the ground spiritually from having spent so much time feeling like it was necessary to continually quantify my current value as a human being on a old-scale.

I can’t, or won’t, tell you that I was somehow able to walk away from the firm grip of soul-wrenching shame without having ripped open old scars. Believe me. If these particular emotional scars were visible, I would have already bled out.

I will tell you that I was able to wrap up this project feeling hopeful and optimistic; that I walked away from this endeavor still fully aware that I will always be a woman who has a past littered with brash, negligent, defiling choices regarding sex, intimacy, and relationships with men- but am also moving forward feeling replenished, reminded of my purpose, and even more determined than ever to encourage other women to live their own truth.

I was also reminded that if the enemy cannot use our disbelief in God as a weapon, our disbelief of our value will be the next best target. If we are quick to believe that our past defines our purpose, and holds power over our vision, or that our worth or potential is rooted or dictated in or through anything other than the solid truth found in Jesus and His definition of who we are, we are vulnerable to believing the lies that tell us that nothing that we do or say or have to offer is useful.

Please hear me.
Listen.

Shame generates this feeling within us that tells us that we need to hide and we have to refuse to live in that space. Don’t believe for one second that a rough past means that you ‘deserve’ to be pushed aside, living quietly in a dark corner of the earth somewhere, or if you’re like me- somewhere perpetually beating yourself for decisions made when you were sick and not well.

I will not hide or allow myself to feel forced into hiding.

So, if you happen to be struggling with shame associated with your past, decide that you will walk forward with me as we take responsibility for our choices and stomp the whispers of shame into the ground with the truth that we are armed with about what kind of people we really are.

And then we will sit back and watch it all become smaller and smaller in the rear-view mirrors of our mind and less and less relevant in our present.

Struggling With Feelings of Inferiority & Shame

Maybe I am the only person who feels this way, or maybe, that is habitual isolation at its finest, trying to convince me that I must be the only person that this happens to. I am safe to assume my hunch, and that is, I am definitely not alone in this.

So you know you are doing well, there’s no question about that. You are healthy, your life is stable and mostly consistent. You are still making progress in your recovery, and hell. You’re sober. By all accounts, (and compared to your track record) you are winning at life.

But as time passes you begin to realize that you are not just in recovery from becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol. You are in recovery with your why. With the how and most important, why you got to that place.

Now sometimes it can start to feel like you are just might probably in recovery from everything. You know that you are composed of blood, cells, skin, organ systems but also, cushioned layers and layers and layers of messy, overlapped, hidden, well-placed shit?

Is there even a group for this?
Does anyone know?

As an adult child of an addict, I am in recovery from childhood trauma. Things like experiencing abuse & neglect, being immersed in violence, inconsistencies, and mostly just having a front row seat to the life that drug-addiction offers. There was also a death in my immediate family before I was ten years old, divorce, and other unfortunate things that statistically meant that I was almost  a perfect candidate for some of my most favorite vices.

And trauma, has lots of fun after-effects. For me those are things that fall under the umbrella of codependency, struggles with vulnerability & interpersonal connections, several anxiety disorders, and boatloads of perfectionism and issues with control.

Want to be friends? 🙂

But wait. There’s even more. Imagine:
Each of those primary core-issues has a bratty little baby. These little baby sub-issues weasel their way into facets of your life such as: your parenting style, your personality type, your thinking style, and your interpersonal relationships.
These kinds of things also factor into your dysfunctional relationship with substance abuse and your likelihood of developing a toxic relationship with psychoactive substances.

It’s like this huge, fucked-up family word-picture all within the confines of my pretty little brain.
Welcome.

So last week I saw a person from the uglier part of my past at a sporting event. That was all it took. A glance in the wrong direction and one second of accidental eye contact and boom. I began my decent back to the dark corner that I felt like I deserved to belong in. Feelings of shame that I had long since admitted, confronted, and made peace with bubbled-up and reemerged.

This week as I processed the unexpected dose of my shameful past, I wrote about intimacy & that shame. I also began making this long list of things that I still need to work on, and all of the reasons why I should feel humiliated.

But I realized something. That is the process, the one right there. When I internalize and isolate myself into this head-space. This is how I get sucked back down. I have to use what I know and what I have learned. I can’t react the same old way to an old problem. I cannot let a wave of negative feelings and emotion negate and invalidate the progress that I have made in my life.

I was surprised at how quickly the lie that I am too messed up to love, or too complex, or way too different to relate to anyone, tried to monopolize on my slump, and move right back in. I could have easily initiated the process of ostracizing myself from connection, community and support,  pulling myself away from love and from the opportunity to be cared for and embraced by people who understand, and who know what I am feeling.

And alone, I am even more prone to believe that I might actually be unlovable, or that maybe I am actually doing this recovery thing wrong. That after all of these years of renovation, my character might be shiny and new, but my heart still can still feel raw, defected, and bruised.

After a few days of unsuccessfully internalizing how I was feeling I talked to my husband about it. I began to write about it, and I read God’s word. I sat and read much-needed reminders about redemption, and about Grace, Love, Forgiveness, and Imperfection.

This isn’t so much about hiding from or forgetting the things I have done or who I used to be. This is about using the new stuff and operating from my new space, from the things that I have built.

Part of believing God’s story that he has for me is choosing to believe his truth instead of the tired, worn-out lies that tell me that I am not good enough, that I am too messed up to fit anywhere, that I am not different that I was and that I am all alone and no one would understand.

This is about choosing to believe that I am renewed, restored, redeemed, rebuilt. Not just to distance myself from the deplorable decisions that I have made, or to run from the repercussions of those choices, but because I believe that I am strong enough to face those things with dignity and confidence.

So if you are anything like me and can relate to some of these feelings, please know. You aren’t alone.

There is nothing odd or weird about having things from the past pop up and try to act as road blocks in your path. I will remind you, as someone reminded me: you are to use those as stepping-stones, to move forward. They are only road blocks if you use them as such.

God’s got this. Forgiven means forgiven.
Redeemed means just that: Redeemed.

So rest a little bit easier knowing that the strong, fleeting feelings, or painful flashbacks, or very real triggers, or regretful memories, or other people’s opinions of you cannot take those gifts of Grace away from you.

And as Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

 

Self-Care In Addiction Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just remember to take care along the way 😉

What Recovery Taught Me About Accepting Love After Experiencing Trauma


It’s almost Valentine’s Day. Let’s talk about love….

A few years ago I believed that drugs and alcohol were the culprit behind my inability to accept love from other people. My philosophy? It was because of my addiction(s) that I had let toxic shame overcome all what was left of me, and that is why I just couldn’t let love in.

Thanks a lot drugs and alcohol.
Because of you, I became this timid, weary girl, unable to see my own worth, with zero ability to feel or accept love from anyone.

Although, deep down I felt like I didn’t deserve to be loved,
but on the other hand, I also believed I didn’t need or want it from anyone anyway.

Then on one-hand I felt like I had defiled my character into non-existence and that people ‘like me’ didn’t deserve to be respected, never-mind, loved.

And on the other hand I didn’t understand what I needed to do to garner some real fucking devotion or loyalty or consistency from at least one human being on this god-forsaken planet.

From one side of my maladaptive perspective, the culmination of years and years of poor, embarrassing choices were a direct reflection of how unlovable I really was.

And on the flip side, I lived my life in such an angry state, furious at the cards I had been dealt, that I never gave myself time to absorb the harder truth. My life, and those choices? They were mine. I couldn’t blame my parents forever.

Here are a few things I learned in early recovery about my (not-so) personal relationship with accepting love:

*Never had I been able to accept love, and I have no memory of ever thinking it was a good idea. This was a thing for me. A common theme weaved dating back throughout my 24 years on earth. Okay, or at least since the age of 4 when I can clearly remember feeling like I had landed in a house full of morons and I was obviously on my own.

*Long before I ever got high, or drunk, I was already living in a detached state, in an isolated,  lonely, place.  Every-man-for-himself is what made me happy and most comfortable. What had started out as a coping mechanism where I had no desire to allow anyone to penetrate my walls, became this empty place in my heart and grew into something I couldn’t manage anymore. As a result, I had never allowed myself the luxury and blessing of experiencing things like vulnerable connection, real intimacy, friendship, or real, soul-invigorating love. Thanks to childhood trauma, I had always been sort of cold, disconnected, and chameleonesque. And none of translates into anything exciting during adolescence or young adulthood.

*I didn’t need redemption in the eyes or opinions or memory banks of other people.
I needed to feel some love for myself, people. I needed to learn to love ME. The real me. The one who I had never really known or discovered. Instead, I buried her alive. But it was time. I had to be okay with the woman in the mirror and the heart that was still beating (by the grace of God) inside of my chest. This had to happen before I could see why love from others is so important. And God, my higher power, is what did it for me. Learning about who Jesus was as a person made such a difference to me in my recovery journey. Not only did he offer a freshly wiped slate, wiped completely clean, he also reminded me that it is his opinion of who I am that matters. My past couldn’t have a grip around my throat if I knew it didn’t have any power over who I could become. I didn’t need anyone else to like or accept or forgive me, but me. I began to smile when I looked in the mirror. I started to see myself through a brand new lens. I am worthy of love. I am a woman of God. I am valuable and precious and not even my old conclusions of my worthiness would stop me.

*Accepting love means that I can see my own value and self-worth. 
After the rush of the big wave came in, I could also see my progress with the smaller, choppy ones. I take compliments now, instead of politely sending them right back. love myself enough to surround myself with loving, nurturing, caring, affectionate, healthy, positive, people. I am still weary of the feeling of vulnerability and I am a survivor of some pretty intense forms of anxiety, but you know what? If the things that I have been through and survived haven’t killed me, I know for sure that anxiety and vulnerability aren’t going to get the job done. I am going to be okay.

Recovery. This was my place.
In a small room in the back of a church was where my life began to take a turn. It was in a small room where I accepted my first dose of vulnerable love. My first natural-high. A real sense of belonging somewhere.

It was the first time in my life where I let myself be carried, and supported.
I accepted compliments, and let encouragement in.
I began forming relationships based off of solid, pure, authentic, substance.

I accepted forms of love without even realizing what I was doing.

So I guess I could say: thanks a lot drugs and alcohol.
Because of you my whole world finally turned around, and I let love in.

Content vs. Complacent, What’s The Difference?

The difference between being a person in recovery who is content, and being a person in recovery who has become complacent, is a subtle one.

Both are formally defined with very similar descriptive words like satisfaction & gratification.

In my opinion, and personal experience with both, the subtle difference hinges on pride; and we all know, pride is a tricky little sob. It lurks close to our hearts and always seems to be an ever-present force in our lives, happy to see us face-plant.

First, let’s talk about the differences between the two:

Contentment means that you feel happy.
You feel grateful for where you are, but you are still working diligently to make improvements.
You choose to remain committed to personal growth.
You are aware of your shortcomings, but you are also aware of how far you have come.
You are proud of your accomplishments, but you haven’t adopted the thinking that you have learned all that there is to know, that you have ‘crossed the finish line’.
Feeling content is healthy.
It can push you, and can provide you with healthy, solid, earned confidence as you continue to rebuild your identity, and as you experience your new life.

Complacency on the other hand is more about being filled and puffed up with self-satisfaction.
Not only are you happy with where you are, and with your accomplishments, you aren’t interested in improving.
You are pumped up about the changes that you have been able to make so far, and you might feel so confident that you convince yourself that you can take intermittent recovery breaks.
Over time, you might even start to think that there isn’t much more to learn.
You may even have the sense that you are in a comfortable space and building from where you are isn’t necessary anymore.
Feeling complacent will start to feel like a light-weight on your shoulders. Over time, you might start feeling more irritable and easily agitated. Little by little, your weeds begin to overgrow.
But your pride is holding you back from holding yourself accountable, and the positive changes that you made begin to fade.

How can we avoid moving from contentment to complacent? 

1. Don’t isolate yourself from healthy, positive, strong, peers and outside support systems. 
It is always a good idea to keep people around you who have your best interest at heart.
This means, they will probably tell you if they start to notice negative changes or warning signs that you might be trying to forcefully ignore, or maybe you don’t even notice happening. This helps you to stay open to suggestions and it can help you to stay humble. Continuing to cultivate healthy relationships with the people in your life is a sign that you are on the right track. Consider it a personal warning sign when you subconsciously try to pull away from your people. You need this tribe of people no matter how much sober time you acquire.
Allowing yourself to be genuinely loved and cared for is always an important component to living a healthy life.

2. Keep giving back in some way. 
Do it your way, but do it.
Sponsor someone, write something, serve food somewhere, make art, just do something to volunteer your time or talent or services to the community. Nothing will keep you more grounded than serving other people who are in need. It is one of the best natural, most powerful remedies for pride inflation that I can think of.  No matter how much sober time you acquire, loving others fills your heart with a special kind of gratitude for your own life.

3. Stay open and keep moving.
Stay open to change and keep moving forward.
Stay open to learning. Stay vigilant of who you are, what your needs are, what your progress level looks like, what you see or feel needs improvement. Continue celebrating milestones and victories, but stay honest with yourself. Keep moving along but keep in mind, as you grow as an individual your needs will change. As you get to know yourself a little bit better, you will notice that your interests will develop and take on a new route. So tweak your program as you see fit and don’t be afraid to make changes. Don’t make excuses to stay the same way if life is leading you in a new direction. No matter how much sober time you acquire, always stay committed to your own personal growth. And remember to measure with your own ruler.

Jumping When You Are Ambivalent about Recovery & Life Change

I can remember feeling comfortable living the way I was living. Of course, I wouldn’t describe my life as full or my feelings as content or joyous, because it was all the exact opposite. Still, I was comfortable being there. I mean, there was zero possibility of letting anyone down.

Not even I could manage to fuck-up being a fuck-up.

I continued to lived in that comfortable place for a few years, and at a certain point (one that could be described as one of the most dire, lonely, empty times of my life), the idea of changing began to look and sound really, really good to me.

Not plausible, but good.
Not likely, but still, good.
And that was a step in the right direction.

Even after I felt motivation to move toward change, I still took my sweet time, struggling &  battling within myself. I was reluctant to put any kind of intentional effort into initiating any sort of real changes. I could best describe it as a confusing, permanent state of confusion; in an ambivalent head space that affected every area of my life.

What I projected on the outside did not match how I felt inside. (Or maybe, at some point toward the end, I looked just as confused, disheveled and miserable as I felt on the inside. That’s probably right).

I wanted to feel connected and people to care about me.
But I also wanted to be left alone and for people to stop asking me questions.

I wanted to feel genuinely happy and free to be myself.
But I was also afraid of sorting through the buried pain.

I tried to do everything that I could to feel alive, to remind myself that I was still a human.
Yet I continued to hide, numbing every human feeling that I possibly could.

I wanted connection. I wanted to be seen and heard and felt and needed.
But I also wanted to be left alone and for people to stop asking me questions.

I wanted people to hear my silent screams and to see the pain in my eyes.
But I also wanted people to leave me the fuck alone and stop asking me questions.

I wanted to feel what triumph, normalcy, calm, victory, and contentment felt like.
But I also didn’t have an ounce of personal confidence in my body.

I wanted other people to believe in me and to see that I could change.
But I couldn’t believe in myself, and didn’t believe that I was capable of changing.

I was stuck and I didn’t know how to move forward.

I felt like I was swaying back and forth all of the time from feeling tired, depleted, and sick of letting myself and my son and the people who loved me down, to feeling too afraid to fail yet I yearned for rest and change.

Now I understand that my ambivalence stemmed from my own internal fears.

I feared that I wasn’t good enough to have real friends or relationships, or deep connections.
I feared that I wasn’t strong enough to live a sober life, and I feared that maybe I just wasn’t good enough to deserve a new lifestyle.

Two things really helped me get un-stuck, so that I felt comfortable enough to begin my recovery journey:

A solid, healthy support system.

For me that was my boyfriend, his mother, and my home group, Celebrate Recovery.
Motivation is a key to change, it is multi-dimensional, and it also fluctuates. I needed to have people all around me to encourage me and to be there for me when I felt my confidence wavering, or when my self-doubt started to crush me.
No old friends, or people whose intentions weren’t pure or unselfish. Just a bunch of people I barely knew who were ready to talk to me, who wanted to speak love into my heart, and not talk at me. People who didn’t have any motives other than wanting to see me experience freedom and peace so that I could be the woman and mom that I desperately wanted to be.

I learned something important, that I hadn’t realized before: that change is a process.
This is simple but it helped calm my reluctance to try to give recovery a shot.
I went in with the understanding that I wouldn’t accept this help I was being offered and somehow magically wake up the next day with a clear sense of self, and zero feelings of uneasiness. I would wake up the next day expecting to feel the pain that I knew was coming, but I would wake up with a plan. I would wake up knowing that I was working on my new life. I would wake up and I would start making small changes. I would make new decisions, and different choices. Everything that I was going to do would be better alternatives to what I was used to. Nothing was going to be perfect, just better. Knowing this truth made the whole thing feel more do-able and a lot less overwhelming.

Some call it a leap of faith or taking the plunge.
Call it what you want.
It is just this huge space of the unknown, where most of us jump because it is all that is left.

If you are on the fence, I highly recommend getting down, and gearing up for the jump.
It’s better over here.

 

Hard Work Always Pays Off, Sometimes In Unexpected Ways.

Steps  8, 9, & 10.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So we went through the regular protocol.

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

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

No ticket.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Really, life? Really?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Don’t Miss Faking My Way Through The Holiday Season

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You know what I don’t miss around the holiday season?

Faking my way through gatherings in an attempt to live up to the expectations of others, and to look and sound as sober and happy as everyone else seemed to be.

I would make an exhaustive effort to fit by faking my way through what I thought was a pretty decent premeditated plan, that I was always sure would get me through. And it was always the same with me. I tried to ‘fit’ by blending in. By blending, I really mean that I needed to disappear.
Every holiday event, gathering, or get together went something like this: 

  • Became hyper-focused and compulsive. Continuously check your eyes and complexion in any and every reflective surface to make sure you are still blending nicely with the regular, annoying, happy, folks.
  • Consistently and purposefully enunciate all of the your words, and the sounds and syllables in your sentences when communicating. It’s what they all do. It sounds so sober.
  • Always open your eyes extremely, almost weirdly wide when someone is speaking to you. You are officially sober looking, and paying attention. Also, only blink occasionally.
  • Never doze off sitting upright. It scares them and could spark whispering and suspicion and it’s only downhill from there. Sleeping while smoking is also frowned upon.
  • Eat the food. If you can’t eat make a plate and sit where eating is taking place and blend. Take a bit or two and throw it away (always plate facing down.)
  • Periodically disappear. But act surprised when people start asking where you have been. Your confused reaction will help to kick-start them second guessing their own judgment, which gives you at least two more opportunities to slip away for alone time.
  • Always avoid the loud-mouthed well-meaning family members who think they have sober radar. They only stir things and cause drama.
  • Become combative if they begin to sense that you might be high. Confront them. How dare they accuse you, again? I mean, who do they think they are anyway?
  • Always be sure to announce that you have to leave early to make sure you get home in time to sleep for that job interview that you have the next day. You have that job interview to make them stop asking questions about what is happening in your life.
  • Never forget to make rounds. Ask people for gas money to get to your interview that you don’t actually have. They really wouldn’t want you to miss it, now would they?
  • Bail before you forget to enunciate and watch how you are walking. Those are two signs that the night is about to get even better.
  • Call as many people as you can. Only people who might want to ditch their gathering for a bar, too. When they don’t answer, call them again.
  • Most of everyone is sick of being around you. So go home so that you can not think about how much you wish you could be annoying and happy and sober like the people you just had to escape from.
  • Spend a few hours crying, wondering what is wrong with you and why you can’t do normal things and why you are always alone.
  • Drink more, chain-smoke cigarettes and search and re-search your apartment to find ‘those one pills in that cellophane’ that you hid for later.
  • Fall asleep sitting up in the hallway looking for said pills.
  • Wake up the next day unsure whether you made it to that gathering or not? Probe. Search your memory bank for fragments of the prior day and try to piece together what happened. Mostly try to remember if you found ‘those pills in the cellophane that you hid for later’.

Holy hell.
That was exhausting.
It is safe to say that I don’t miss any of that. I don’t miss feeling like I need to melt away into nothing in order to escape feeling like a fuck-up.

Being around people who seemed to lead content, calm lives, forced me to become more self-aware of how empty I felt. Maybe that’s why I preferred hiding and faking my way through. It wasn’t so much about being around them, as it was how I saw and felt about myself when in their company. 

Hiding, after it has become a lifestyle, can feel so powerful. It is like the hold it has over you cannot ever be broken; like it would take a miracle for you to push through. I want you to know if you are reading this, that breaking free is possible for you.

I walked into the idea of living an authentic life completely terrified to look and see who and how I had become. I had tried and failed at rehabilitating myself and my life countless times.

My consensus was that I had been running for too long and it was too late for me. I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do or how to be. I had no idea where to start. It was just too much.

But, by the Grace of God, I stayed alive long enough to take the first step anyway. I wish I could tell you that it was magical and easy, but it was magical and terrifying and difficult.

The good news is that while early recovery can feel sucky, and unstable, and like it’s just not working, it is not hopeless and exhausting.

Somehow it works itself out as you plug new things into your heart and your mind. The long piled up list of things that you never dreamed you could get through, or find the strength to face, will eventually be dealt with.

Through the sorting process, you will learn about who you are and what you are capable of.  You will gain confidence and your heart will mend. My mind is still playing catch-up, but I know for sure our hearts mend. 😉

And while time passing doesn’t heal, it does teach us about who we truly are. God paves new paths for us to walk and all that is required of us is to agree to keep moving forward, making one healthy, new choice at a time.

I am still so grateful to have celebrated my tenth sober Christmas this year, and I am looking forward to my tenth New Year’s Eve of doing NOTHING.

By nothing, I mean a lot of important somethings.

I won’t be searching, driving around, searching for willing babysitters, money that I don’t have, or for specific drugs or people. I won’t be faking my way through any gatherings, and I won’t be forcing myself to attend parties that I don’t really want to go to in the first place.

I also won’t be waking up a special hatred for myself on Sunday morning.

The only thing I will feel guilty about on Sunday morning is how many carbs I consumed from all of the Pinterest appetizers that we are making, and the only ‘plan’ that I have had to make this holiday season have been detailed grocery store lists.

God is good.

 

Coffee at Midnight, Please Send Help

nfsitpy
On my way to the coffee pot at midnight.

Rest assured, this particular walk of shame was exactly as it should be. I made sure to mutter that sweet, negative self-talk to myself as I tip-toed down the hallway so not to wake the small, sugar-filled humans. There is no way I could let myself forget how foolish it is to allow caffeine to drag me around by the balls.

“Again?”, I quietly said to myself. I continued the sarcastic brow-beating as I walked to dump a filter of old coffee grounds from my antique coffee pot: “Jeez. Is there anything that you aren’t working on? Wtf. Hi my name is Brittany and I can’t moderate COFFEE. Can you really have this many struggles? Anxiety, some fucked up form of ptsd from several bouts of traumatic things from so long ago that you can’t even recall them in detail, long-term memory loss, drug addiction, drug-dependence, people pleasing, co-dependency, enabling, and you still don’t sleep and now you have headaches when you don’t drink coffee….”

Yeah.

All of this while walking to the trash can, waiting for one 8 ounce cup of coffee to save my life, within a four-minute drip-brewing window. (Want to be friends? 🙂 )

And I know.

I shouldn’t be responding to the beck and call of any substance, not even the caffeine in my coffee.

And really, this whole situation is surprising to me because I have always played on the other team. The one opposite of the things that stimulate my central nervous system, but hey.

People change.
I’ve changed.

But as I sit here in my chair impatiently waiting for my coffee to cool enough to where it won’t scorch my taste buds off of my tongue, I can’t help but smile to myself.

I am still so damn mean to myself sometimes. Seriously.
It is just coffee. It’s not like I am beer-crawling through my kitchen at midnight on a Tuesday to find a cold place to sleep.

After drastically cutting out my coffee, for over a year now I have only had one cup of coffee a day. And according to the internet, I am not going to die from this dependence. A face-headache is probably as bad as it’s going get for mama. Google says this: Caffeine is a stimulant to the central nervous system, and regular use of caffeine does cause mild physical dependence. But caffeine doesn’t threaten your physical, social, or economic health the way addictive drugs do. (Although after seeing your monthly spending at the coffee shop, you might disagree!)” 

What a relief.
Huge shout-out to Dr. Google for saving the day again.

I have accepted that maybe there will always be a small, shitty voice in existence that takes up a tiny bit of my head space and will forever whisper to me that I am not doing enough, that I am not good enough, I am not working hard enough, or am not doing ‘it’ quite right.

But I have also accepted that I get to choose what I tune into. Because there is a louder voice that I discovered.

It is one that I had to excavate like some rare dinosaur fossil, but it has been unearthed. And once dusted off, you can’t re-earth it. Those are the rules.

And mine feels more like home to me than any house has ever made me feel.

I have taken time to get acquainted with this voice, and have come to understand it. This voice is strong and powerful. It knows the truth about who I am deep within my resuscitated soul. This voice also kicks the ass of, and easily drowns out the noise of the negative one. (The one that is still relentless in a quest to try to shove my face back down into the mud.)  This is now the same mud that I stomp in on the way to the coffee pot at midnight. 

From time to time (or once a day) I might get sucked in for a few minutes, but I am anchored in God’s truth of who I am and what I am capable of. I know that I am always going to be a work in progress, and I am okay with that. But I am also going to stay committed to allowing myself to become. I am going through the changes as they happen, and I am enjoying (or sometimes not) the growth as it changes me.

I am not, nor was I ever, and I won’t ever be, defined as a list of things or symptoms or blemishes.
And sometimes I have to remind myself of that. I have to go toe-to-toe with my perfectionism. There is no end destination here on earth. No finish line to cross. We are all  just learning, becoming and picking up pieces of ourselves as we go along.

Sooooo.

I am not going to shame myself for needing a cup of coffee.
Not today tonight.

Be nice to yourselves, loves.

 

 

 

Tips For The Holidays

I was asked to be a part of an expert panel for a Facebook live event put on by the ever wonderful, Beach House Center for Recovery.

I definitely had to dig my heels into this commitment, but I refused to let myself back out. I am proud of myself for following through on my word. I showed up. Small victories are still victories.

This really was a fun collaboration and I am blessed to be a small part of such a cool, diverse, community. Please click here, and take a few minutes and listen as we talk about relapse. 

Here’s To 10 Years of Digging Out

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This is the month that I acknowledge that I have made it to my ten-year mark.
Ten short years in recovery. No more squirming around searching for a place to land. It’s completely fulfilling here and I am still just as grateful as ever to live in this head space.

It has been a long decade of ups and downs, as I still continue learning more and more about myself and unlearning lies that I believed for too long about who I am.

Over the years, there has been a significant amount of shedding and loss, but also so much gained and gifted.

Here are:

  • 10 things I have lost (Because I chose recovery):
    1. My desire to people please at the expense of my personal identity and mental-health status.
    2. An inherent need to continually escape from difficult emotions, conflict, and endeavors.
    3. My deep-seeded belief that I am permanently damaged and not as worthy or good.
    4. The heavy blanket of guilt related to my long list of parenting mistakes that plagued me for years.
    5. A need to be needed in order to feel validated and relevant or important.
    6. Any desire to cultivate or tend to relationships that aren’t honest, solid, healthy, or authentic.
    7. The mistaken idea that my false ego was rooted in something that resembled confidence.
    8. My belief that I didn’t need anyone or that I was fine walking through life in isolation.
    9. A level of comfort living closed off from any deep, personal, relationships or connection.
    10. My ability to wallow for too long within the realm of a ‘poor-me’, victim mentality.

 

  • 10 lessons I have learned (Through healing in recovery):
    1. No matter how much you want to help, you can’t change other people.
    2. No matter how much sober time we have, we never earn the title of:  Sober Police.
    3. Family is so much more and deeper than a simple biological connection.
    4. There will always be at least one asshole who refuses to accept the new, updated, version of you.
    5. Implementing and applying is just as, if not more important than the learning and absorbing.
    6. There is a tiny bit of wisdom to be found even in the programs you don’t necessarily agree with.
    7. Sobriety is about choosing alternatives to unhealthy coping or relaxation go-to techniques.
    8. It really will not work if you refuse to accept and own the ugliest parts of your truth.
    9. Slogans can be annoying and redundant, but they can also help at the right times.
    10. Self-care is the most pressing & important aspect of long-term recovery, & relapse prevention.

 

  • 10 ways I have been taken by surprise (The gifts of recovery):
    1. It’s not as complicated or as impossible as it seems in the beginning.
    2. Sober living isn’t synonymous with easy living. This is hard work; a lot of hard work.
    3. Despite feeling uniquely fucked up, there are actually a lot of people who will ‘get’ you.
    4. You may not stay on the same recovery path forever, it will change..as it should, as you grow.
    5. The stressful days really aren’t ever as terrible as the worst day you had in your previous life.
    6. You will be amazed at what your mind and body can do and how much you actually can change.
    7. Letting go and forgiving isn’t actually the same thing as forgetting the experiences that shaped you.
    8. Forgiveness takes up a pretty significant piece of the self-healing pie.
    9. Balance is key to every recovery component. (e.g.. feeling proud, creating boundaries, giving back)
    10. How much of your slack God will gladly take up and carry for you if you give him your heart.

There are still so many things that I am uncovering about myself. As I learn and grow and expose myself to different people and experiences, I am finding that I appreciate a new aspect of choosing to live sober over and over again. Things are always changing and it keeps it interesting. Maybe this is preciously why gratitude isn’t something we have to look too hard to find when we are living on borrowed time?

Here’s to the next ten.

Should Drug-Dealers Be Held Accountable For Overdose Deaths?

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I have been hearing more and more stories of drug-traffickers, pushers, and dealers being held criminally responsible for overdose deaths.

I am also a regular viewer of the show: “The First 48” and have been for almost 15 seasons now.
So basically I am an expert in criminal law and homicide investigation. 😉

In cases where people supply weapons that ultimately take the life of another person despite their intent, they are still held criminally liable for the death of that person.
The suspect who is being arrested will almost always protest as they are hand-cuffed, saying:
“I am not the one who shot, sir!” and the investigators will always respond:
“It is because of your involvement, your actions, and your part in this that our victim is no longer alive.”

Boom.
So I say, yes, yes, yes.

Drug dealers should most definitely be held responsible for contributing to the death of the people who die as a result of them selling narcotics by acting recklessly or grossly negligent when they sold the drugs that were the source of anyone’s overdose.

I dated a higher-level drug dealer for a couple of years, and another lower-level one for a few years. (And just to clarify, I am not proudly proclaiming. I actually cringed a tiny bit while typing that sentence, and not because of who they were, but because this is more dug-up, now public, evidence to the non-existent standards to which I used to run my life. I cringe because of who I was and some of the choices that I have made…but my truth is my truth. What a colorful life I have led.)

Even as an addicted, self-medicated young woman, lurking deep somewhere underneath the thick coating of Xanax, Valium, and alcohol running through my bloodstream, there was a muffled moral voice screaming at me. Telling me that it was all wrong.

There are no absolutes in the world of bullying, intimidating, and the buying and selling of drugs. No basis of right or wrong. None. 

So much of their time is dedicated to the obsessive-compulsive worry. Worry about protection of house, the product(s), and how to continue remaining inconspicuous to law enforcement.
They worry about themselves.

The rest of the time is spent sleeping with one eye open and looking over their shoulder, or counting money that isn’t even theirs.
They worry about their own well-being.

I have watched as people’s bodies fell to the ground as they were brutally assaulted.
They worry about protecting their own safety at all costs.

I saw thousands and thousands of dollars exchange hands every week. I saw enthusiastic, willing, teenage boys volunteer to ‘get rid of’ backpacks full of small things for nothing more than what would amount to a respectful street nod, a little to smoke for themselves, and a few dollars.
They worry about not exposing themselves.

Yes. It is unfortunate that people actually *choose this life.
It is one of the most selfish ways to live that I have ever seen.
Unlike addiction, it is a choice. It is a moral failing.
And most surprising, it’s not all about monetary gain.

It is also about nurturing a false sense of pride, taking care of the false-self, being looked up to by other people who are just as lost as they are, ensuring the inflated ego is fed continuously, gaining respect from people who either fear them, or who don’t even really like them anyway, and constantly seeking out external validation.

Public image or persona is much more highly regarded than character, or having any real friends, and everything is built on what the next person can do for them. Everyone is expendable and replaceable.

None of that leads to lasting, solid, human connection.
It’s a shallow life of revolving doors that never stop turning.

Not only is there no honor in making quick, dirty, easy money.
There is absolutely NO forethought regarding the well-being of anyone. 

It doesn’t matter if they see the same person ten times a day.
You won’t hear thoughtful dialogue being exchanged about whether or not a certain person has been back too many times, or who maybe shouldn’t be sold to again.
There are not conversations going on behind closed doors about how potent, pure, or dangerous any of the drugs are.
All of that is conveniently filed under the
‘not my problem’ category.

As an empath and a trained counselor, I get it. I can look objectively at these people. I can see that by choosing this lifestyle, it is a clear indication that there are some serious problems.

It obviously signifies that there are several pressing, unresolved, underlying issues within the hearts and minds of these people. The majority of people who choose this life often have painful, traumatic, dysfunctional stories. They have reasons for why they become who they became.

To that I say: so fucking what.
Guess what else they also have?

A sound mind.

They think and plan ahead.
They do complicated math.
They keep intricate, precise records.
They are organized.
Technically, they are CEO’s of a tiny (shitty) little enterprise.

So to say that they don’t understand what they are doing is absolutely ludicrous.
No one should have access to a free pass from the community or from the justice system for being of sound mind, but morally flawed.

They should have to pay the price for their role and responsibility in the decline that lead to the death of another person and in my mind, are no different than physicians who are irresponsible with their prescription pads.

Disclaimer:
I have said before I am pro-life. To me that means, among other things, that I am not a supporter of capital punishment and I believe that every life is important and of value, as long as a person is still breathing.
My being a firm believer that people should have to learn to hold themselves personally-accountable and to take personal responsibility for their actions, does not change the fact that I am a proponent of change, and it doesn’t change my belief that God can change the heart and mind of anyone despite their past.

How To Get Through Halloween Sober.

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Before I became addicted to Benzodiazepines and tirelessly & unsuccessfully escaping my life, I was a self-categorized professional ‘party girl’.

Ahhh. The life of ridiculous, careless, over-indulgence.

What a glamorous thing. 

Long before my physiological-self needed its next high to start any given day, my false-self (ego) needed to remain active at all times, as long as I was awake, to serve as my reminder that I was still alive, relevant, and not as lost as I felt on the inside.

If I didn’t go out on a Friday night, or make it to ladies night Thursdays, or celebrate every single American holiday printed on my 12-month wall-calendar, I would double-over, cringing with anxiety, as I imagined all of the things I would miss if I stayed home. Also, staying in also meant I would be plagued with the overwhelming task of boring myself with my own company and having to endure my deep-seeded hatred of alone time. No thanks.

Halloween was no exception.

In my teens, Halloween meant having bonfires in geographical places where they weren’t allowed, nasty ass keg beer, hanging out until the wee hours of the morning with the same group of people, and hopping around from house party to house party until it was time to drive drunk to Taco Bell at 3 a.m. Amazing. Memories to be cherished.

As I got older it meant scrambling to dress my son in his costume long-enough to take a few photos and dump him off with his grandma so that I could go and celebrate Halloween as I should, and as I deserved: like an adult at a bar until it was time to argue with whichever bartender dared yell ‘last call’ in my face. At which time I would probably try to fight he/she, until I had to be physically removed.
Fun fun. Wouldn’t want to miss all of that.

Toward the end of my days living in active addiction hell on earth, Halloween mostly meant driving around all day having to endure shit conversations from older men selling Xanax, scoring as many as I could, for under seven dollars a pill, and going home to eat them all, smoke pot, and drink alone by myself all night. Those were the days years. (Said no one ever.)

So I can relate.
It is hard to stay sober on Halloween so here are a few things to remember:

-You don’t have to have a “Happy” Halloween.
You just don’t. It’s okay to not feel super excited about being sober on a holiday. It is fine to pass on passing out candy, or to turn off the lights and ignore the entire thing. It is not okay to trick yourself into believing that drinking or using is what you need in order to have a ‘happy’ Halloween. We all know that it doesn’t work. Have a sober Halloween, not a happy one.

-Sometimes it can feel like you are missing out on everything.
You aren’t missing anything and deep down, you know you’re only missing the same ole’ same ole’. And remember, you are not missing anything if those things are going to hurt you and you are important to you now.

-You can start to talk yourself into believing you are being left out.
Don’t buy it. You are choosing to opt out, because you are committed to taking care of you. You are making strong, wise, choices because you are on a mission. You are changing.

-Like you can’t deal with the emotions that you are feeling. 
Emotions and feelings are mean girls sometimes. Anxieties and fear and worry are strong little britches. They’ll relentlessly bully and harass you until you feel like you need to break in order to make it go away. But you don’t need to hide anymore. You are feeling it and facing it, but you don’t have to do it all alone. Call someone or reach out to any online resource out there, or go to a meeting, any meeting.

-You can talk yourself into buying the lies that one more time won’t be that bad.
Yes, going out to party ‘one more time’ is a really, really, terrible, bad idea.
End of that story.
You’re welcome.

-No you aren’t irrelevant or boring or lame.
You matter and you are important. You are valued and worthy, and exactly none of that is related to your proximity to the nearest Halloweenie fun fest.

-Yes, you can do other things.
Read a good book or go buy a magazine, scroll through Pinterest, watch a movie, go to the store and buy ice cream or Oreo’s and milk, take a long walk, go to the gym, buy a bunch of shit on Shutterfly and go to sleep early, or make a list of all of the reasons that you really want to stay sober and why.

-The truth is not what you think, so be vigilant.
Your body might be craving routine, your mind might try to force you into your old way of thinking, but keep reminding yourself not to believe the hype.
The truth is if you give in now you will just have to start again. You already know that you will end up in a place where you don’t want to be, and where you aren’t happy or healthy or at peace.
The truth is, you are changing your life and it’s hard to transition from one version of yourself to the next.

Don’t Give Up

Music speaks to me in a unique way and I loved this song the very first time I heard it on the radio a few weeks ago.

Today is first time I have had a chance to watch the ‘official’ video for this song. I sat this morning with tears streaming down my face as I watched and listened, drowning in gratitude. I thanked the Lord for His grace and mercy and healing. I have been allowed the freedom to let go of that little girl who used to take up residence inside of my head and my heart, and I have accepted forgiveness, and have forgiven myself for being that mom pleading with the garbage disposal. I am beyond thankful that I crossed paths with Celebrate Recovery and found God. He gave me the strength to walk down some of the ugliest, messiest, most painful roads on my search for closure, healing, and contentment.

There really is hope and healing and life after being in a state of complete brokenness.
Please keep holding on, and don’t give up hope on yourself.

Zach Williams, Chain-Breaker Lyrics:

If you’re been walking the same old road for miles and miles
If you’ve been hearing the same old voice tell the same old lies
If you’re trying to fill the same old holes inside
There’s a better life, there’s a better life

If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker
If you feel lost, He’s a way maker
If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

We’ve all searched for the light of day in the dead of night
We’ve all found ourselves worn out from the same old fight
We’ve all run to things we know just ain’t right
When there’s a better life, there’s a better life

If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify
If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify, testify
If you believe it, if you receive it
If you can feel it, somebody testify

If you need freedom or saving, He’s a prison-shaking Savior
If you got chains, He’s a chain breaker

nfsitpy

Dear Younger, More Naive, Critical, Me

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In case you need a reminder today: It’s going to be okay. You are not a failure.

Lapse, relapse, messed up, slipped up, fucked up, wrong choice?
It doesn’t mean that you don’t deserve sobriety.
It doesn’t mean that you will always just mess up.
It also doesn’t mean that you have failed and you should shelve the idea of attempting a new lifestyle.

I won’t bore you with the specifics in relation to all of the times that I lied to myself and cheated my sobriety and fucked up early on in my recovery.

Or how many times I sat surrounded by that cozy familiar feeling of numb, staring blankly into space as I listened to people who were telling me that I was loved and that they could see me, as I secretly pondered how much I didn’t deserve to be there hearing those things.

Since I sincerely don’t love giving direct advice, here is some that I would have whispered into my own ear:

You are changing your entire life. Calm down and slow down a little bit.
Listen. This is all new. You changed jobs, friends, locations, and your life is no longer recognizable. Your new normal will feel weird for a while and you will probably be uncomfortable and scared.
Maybe you aren’t sure that you will ever get used to it all, but you will.  It might take a long time to warm up to all of the new things, and for those new things to become your normal things, but they will. It takes time. Also, when you are in the midst of all of the changes you probably won’t be able to see how your small changes are important and it will be frustrating. You will have no idea how significant or incredible the small victories actually are, or how huge their role is to the process. Try to calm down and let the things play out, because I can assure you, they all matter.

Handle yourself with more care and stop with the picking.
Just stop. You are over-analytical and critical are there are not strong enough words to describe how harshly you handle yourself. It is okay that you are not meeting your own unrealistic expectations and unattainable goals. You are shedding skin that you have lived in for over twenty-years. This process is painful. You expected sobriety to be the answer, and while it is the first step toward peace and freedom, it is only the first step in the right direction. Keep pushing through. Keep rewriting and overshadowing your old beliefs about yourself and about what you thought your experiences and choices meant. You get to choose what happens next.

Recovery changes and it isn’t as black and white as people think.
There’s grey. The  grey is where the magic happens. It’s where the lessons and learning and navigation take place. When you make a mistake or forgot to journal, or if you miss a meeting, or lose your temper, or slip up, or feel your old ways of thinking or coping creeping back to the forefront of your mind, that doesn’t mean that you throw everything else out the window.
Your progress still matters. Don’t discount all of the days and weeks that you walked through the doors of the church sober with your homework done. Don’t overlook all of the times you came straight home from work or that one time that you turned your car around and decided to come back home instead of going where you weren’t supposed to go. Don’t believe that since you slipped up that you should completely derail. You haven’t failed, you messed up. And that’s it.
Now you stand up and you own it, and admit it and you keep moving forward.

3 Powerful Things I Have Learned In Recovery

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Funny, amazing, beautiful, painful, crazy awesome things happen when you allow God to disassemble your entire life and the person who you thought you were, and allow transformation to happen.

I am not sure if I have gone through so many internal overhaul’s because I got sober at a young age, or because until that point I had never truly cared about the importance of self-discovery, or because I get bored easily. Probably a combo of the three, but nevertheless, I have learned a lot along the way so far and I know that I am not anywhere near the end of the learning process. 

Here are a few unexpected things that I have learned along my journey:

I don’t know.
I don’t have answers. Not about my recovery and most definitely, not about yours.
Instead of rollin’ up on my upcoming ten-year chip overflowing with intellectual, shiny, advice or with some cataclysmic, overabundance of wisdom, it’s the opposite.
I realize with humility that I really don’t have answers, I only have personal experiences.
I have at my disposal, an arsenal full of weapons that work for me and a storage shed crammed with a long list of stuff that didn’t work for me that I continuously try to empty.
I have trial and error, and a lot of trial but probably a lot more error.
I also have the wisdom gained through face planting experiences, from falling over the bumps in the road, and from making lefts when I could have chosen to take a smoother route with what would probably be a better, healthier vantage point.

And also, several days per month I question my own strength, sanity, abilities and purpose. So I humbly remind you, it’s okay to not know all of the things all of the time.

Proceed with caution in the presence of Chronic Advice Philanthropists.
Online, or in close proximity to me. Bye Felicia them all day. They are givers. And no, there isn’t anything wrong with being a giver. But too much of a well-intended not-so-good thing triggers my internal alarm bells. Red flags everywhere.
I am all for people helping people. I am all for information & knowledge sharing and encouraging other people.
But in my experience there is a fine line between telling people how they should feel, and explaining to them what they should be doing and how it looks very similar to the advice giver’s path – and listening to someone and allowing them to talk about their problems, and guiding them or simply allowing them to experience the gift of self-revelation through expression.

Guidance or listening ears = good. People telling you what you should be doing or that what you are doing breaks golden recovery program rules = back away slowly.
Taking advice that is not meant for you will only smash you into uncomfortable corners that you don’t belong in, onto roads that weren’t meant for you to travel on. By embracing truth that isn’t meant for your walk, you will only end up on yet another detour, taking the long way back home. To find your true self.

Here’s what I would advise that you do when it comes to how seriously you should take direct, pushy, judgmental, blanket, forced, advice:
Don’t.
The end.

Looking back at your past won’t always be that interesting.
I really wouldn’t have believed you if you would have told me that some day I would get to a place where looking back wasn’t a necessity, but rather, something that helps me to help other people.

It is not longer about standing in awe of how much I have overcome, it is about showing others how far they can move.

It’s moved away from me moving away from my painful past, and has me walking closer and standing by other people to remind them that they are capable of moving away from their old way of living and thinking and doing and being. It’s about reminding them that they can also learn new things and embrace a newer, healthier, version of themselves.

This shift in mindset wasn’t a conscious or intentional effort on my part, it just sort of happened.

My psychological road trips are much less frequent and less necessary.
Obviously, my story (and all that entails) will always be a part of who I am, but it is not as pronounced as it used to be. The best way that I can describe it, is that as time passes it fades, it’s status has officially shifted to low-key.  It’s not as vibrant or relevant as it once was.

Most importantly, it has lost its power to dictate how I view my person. It has lost its power to influence how I feel about my capabilities, and my worth.

And I am really kind of digging it.

Doubting God & Making My Faith My Own

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Yesterday I was digging around looking for an application for certification that I had misplaced. (Because there is nothing that makes more sense than being a housemommywife with credentials that I won’t actually be using.)
I found the application, along with (a quarter, yes.This is a small portion) of my hand-written notes from back in the day.

At the time they were written, I had made the big move from being an apathetic, empty, angry, deity denying, God-loathing person, and had moved somewhere closer to believing that there could be something or someone more.

I wasn’t ever a passive person and being sober didn’t change that. There was no way I was the kind of person who was just going to accept that this Jesus, who I had heard so much about, was real or that the Bible was “truth”, just because other people told me to believe it. I was a thinking person. (Yes. Even people who think can get addicted to drugs. True story.) I was not a person who was going to be pushed into believing something unless I actually believed it.

Although Jesus’ words were already penetrating through and touching some of the darkest, most hidden parts of my person. I didn’t just want to feel it for myself, I wanted to ‘know’.
I needed to know.

I was filled with hope and wonder, and doubt, fear, and uneasiness. But instead of running away, I chose to find out more. So, I followed where my ego led, and together we stepped out in ‘faith’ and fact checked God. I spent a fair amount of my free time analyzing, over-thinking, over-analyzing, intellectualizing and learning.

And as I Googled the absolute shit out of every single version of Christianity and other world religions, and as I studied and read and wrote and compared and contrasted core beliefs, missions, and their histories, something incredible happened.

God used my doubt and reluctance.

He waited as I sifted through all that I felt like I needed to, and he patiently and gently answered all of my questions. He took it all and he gave it back to me shiny and new and bigger than anything I could have dreamed of. I felt in awe when I heard and read more of His words, and they did feel so so sweet and refreshing to my soul-like no other advice or motivational prompting I had ever endured encountered.

This is where I realized that on my quest, I had somehow actually developed faith in God, through the words and life of Jesus. I came out of the other side with pages full of notes, facts, practices, and miscellaneous information; with belief, hope, and a faith to call my own.

I don’t believe for one second that God is against education or thinking people or people who have questions or doubts. Not at all.

He knew that I needed to come to my own conclusions, so that I could see for myself that there is a difference between knowing and feeling; between probing, comparing, contrasting, and memorizing facts, and experiencing your own, personal, true faith through Jesus’ words. 

So. After I reminisced and took some time to laugh at the older, younger, version of myself, I let my toddler stomp all over my notes. He played & crumbled them up before he proudly carried them to the trash can like a big boy.

Like with several other components that I have picked up along my recovery journey, these notes served their purpose an it was finally time to let them go for good.

4 Ways To Avoid Your Baggage, That Won’t Help You

bags

Baggage. We all have it.
How full it is, what it contains, and how willing you are to unpack it depends on who you are.
And I learned the hard way, as I do most of my life things, that unpacking the bag is more wise than some of the alternatives….

Growing up, I hid each part of who I wanted to be.
I abandoned my own desires and quieted my ideas and ignored my own needs. I tucked away my fear and pushed my pain down and hushed feelings of sadness.
My moves were calculated, and dictated by trauma.

My philosophy was pretty simple.

I just took all of the stuff that I couldn’t hold or handle, and I moved it. It was my quick-fix/out-of-sight, out-of-heart approach that I thought was helping me. I wasn’t intentionally saving it all of this stuff for some rainy day or hundreds of group therapy sessions in my mid-twenties.

I truly had no idea that repressing was not the same thing as processing and that hiding and avoiding wouldn’t have the same effect on my life and my future as acknowledging and confronting would.
I was sort of just aiming for the safe, warm fuzzies.

As I tucked it all away, it was being kept secure and intact in a figurative bag.
And you better believe that my baggeth had definitely runneth over.

It was a dark and ugly bag. Bursting at the seams because it had filled it for so many years, it had become so heavy and I knew in my heart that soon, I would not have the choice to take another step, even in my preferred direction: backward.

I would have done anything to avoid having to unzip that bag and open it up. Anything sounded better to me than confronting its contents, so I avoided it for as long as life would allow me to. 
On my road of self-discovery, I have discovered a few ways of handling my own baggage, that believe it or not, won’t actually help.

Here are four:

Hiding the bag.
I managed to hide hundreds of pills from myself over the years to make sure that I wouldn’t lose them, only to never, (ever) find them again. Yet I couldn’t manage to hide this bag for one nano second. It too bulky so it wouldn’t fit anywhere and no matter how many fistfuls of pills I ingested, I knew exactly where it was. I couldn’t forget where I tried to hide it. Insanity. It made me feel insane. I became hyper-focused on this game particular game of hide-and-seek not admitting to myself what I already knew: I wouldn’t ever win.

Ignoring the bag altogether.
Surely it wasn’t there if I told myself that it wasn’t.
I just told myself that the bag didn’t matter and if it did actually matter, or if it were meant to play any significant role in my actual life, it wouldn’t be in the bag in the first place, now would it? I labeled the contents of the bag ‘garbage’.
I could ignore trash easier than I could my truth. Here’s what I wasn’t expecting: Truth is always louder in the end, and it always comes out on top. Truth wins.

Shifting the weight of the bag.
This tactic was pretty reliable for a while, and it worked until it just couldn’t.
Sort of like if you had numerous bank accounts and also a money moving issue, with too much coming out and not enough going in. Eventually playing catch-up wouldn’t cut it, and the problem would explode, exposing the lack of available funds in your account and your inability to cover your ass. In my case, I ran out of stamina and shoulder room. Shifting and moving and changing positions was tiring.

Pawning it off onto willing shoulders, or any shoulders that weren’t mine.
It was like a game of hot-potato. I got rid of it as quickly as I could the second it was back in my hands to the person closest to me, who was standing with their arms out, willing to play the game.
This one was my favorite, go-to approach of ignoring the bag. Although the bag was still attached to me, these innocent gems carried it for me so that I could no longer feel the weight, and there is no better remedy for my conscience than volunteers who asked to carry my bag for me.

I will be the first to admit that it took quite a bit of time after I got sober for me to accept that this bag was mine.

I hated that it was mine and that I was responsible for it and I hated that I felt stupid and embarrassed for denying that it was mine for so long. But after some convincing, I realized that taking ownership of the bag was pretty important.

Accepting that no one else would, could, or should unpack it, was half of my battle. The other half of my battle was the actual unpacking part. I was terrified and unsure of my unpacking abilities. I had to allow the loving, caring, people who were in my life to stand beside me and hold the bag open. I had to believe them when they said that there was beauty packed deep inside, but it was my duty to bend down and scoop out the contents of my bag, one item, one memory, one mistake, one regret, and one tear at a time.

Ten years of recovery and my new life is contingent upon a process that reflects this same process.

I have had to continually live on faith, not knowing if I am going to actually find the beauty in the hard things. I have to accept the love given to me and I have to continue to do the work that I need to do in order to move forward.

And my bag?
Still not empty.
You heard me.

I am still unpacking.

I am still pulling out one thing at a time, dusting it off, and googling the shit out of it to make sure I am handling it correctly. (Kidding)

I am still digging and processing and healing and learning about myself. I have also come to the realization that I am not happy or grateful for all of the things that I have experienced but I am grateful for the lessons that my experiences have taught me.

And one of the most important lessons that I have taken away from all of this is that my personal freedom, and my ability to live and thrive and move forward, was not a result of my initial decision to try recovery.

I didn’t find freedom the second that I made the decision to live sober.

My freedom has been found inside of my baggage.

I found my freedom inside of the pain; in believing in myself.

I found my freedom within my personal belief, that I could, by God’s Grace and through His strength, move through all of the hard things that I had believed for so long, would kill me if I faced them.

The Experience of Love

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Most of us were taught that God would love us if and when we change. In fact, God loves you so that you can change. What empowers change, what makes you desirous of change is the experience of love. It is that inherent experience of love that becomes the engine of change. 
― Richard Rohr

Why is love so scary? Maybe it’s because it asks us to be vulnerable before it delivers.

Addiction destroyed me. It ravaged my entire life and it took out everything that I had left. This would be the last phase of a long list of self-destructive habits that I had adopted; my last stop before I met an untimely death or an on-time life change, and the difference between the two would be my choice to make.

So I crawled away from drugs and alcohol with my life, and a deep seeded desire to experience rest- not knowing if I would make and certainly not believing that I deserved it.

But it was this destruction that opened a new door for me.

It ripped me apart just enough to create slithers of cracks in the shell that I had lived in. The walls that I had built as a child to keep the danger and fear and instability at a safe distance were beginning to weaken. I was raw and vulnerable and cut open.

And Hope crept in.
It was finally time.

I  was apprehensive to fully embrace the belief that I was capable of change, and truthfully, I wasn’t sure that I would be strong enough to hack this sober living thing despite desiring freedom so badly I could feel it in my bones.

As I listened as other people who, just like me, had been in the place I was in, I realized that they knew how I was feeling. They had been where I had been.

They made it out to tell about the other side.
And that gave me hope.

Entertaining this new hope, would change things.
My hope turned into love, and I was in for quite a ride, because love is a game changer by nature.

Hate and Love ARE mutually exclusive. 

I hated myself. I hated my choices and my past and my childhood and my mistakes.
I hated people who had peaceful lives, who could love, and smile and who looked annoyingly happy.
I hated that I couldn’t get anything right.
I hated who I saw in the mirror.
And I hated that I couldn’t seem to feel anything else but hatred.

Hope and love grow and unfortunately they don’t deliver the instant kind of gratification that I had grown accustom to.

It is actually really hard to transition to the comfort of a life filled with hatred to an unknown world filled with the vulnerability that love requires. It is a process of learning and stretching and shedding and growing. It asks that we choose to have faith and to trust that love will actually change things.
We are asked to set down our old way of seeing the world and the things in it, and walk away.
It asks that we just keep walking.

But over time this love smothers everything and it will cover all of the old things.  We will actually start to believe that love is as powerful and life-changing as we had heard.  And then, we begin to believe; in ourselves, and in others, and in hope.

We get excited because it is all real and as terrifying as it feels, it is ours.
All because of a hope that led us to leap into faith so that we could experience love.

And we know that the greatest of the three, is love.

 

What’s It Like To Be Sober?

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September means that National Recovery Month has come around again.
Maybe for you that means that the extra circulation and publicity and open sharing will get your mind reeling. You have heard all of these things before and while many of them sound appealing to you, you are afraid.

Because moving can feel risky.

It can be scary, and it’s almost always costly.
It means uprooting from everything that you know.
It means that you are choosing to leave behind all of the familiar routes and back roads and short-cuts. You are voluntarily waving good-bye to your comfortable paths and there won’t be any more trips to your go-to places.

But it can also be brilliant. It can be the breath of fresh air that your soul has been yearning for.
Here’s what life is like in the sober state:

You never thought It’d be you.
Never. Not in a million years.
But you are excited.
And you aren’t alone, because we all feel this way here.
It is very similar to island, beach-front living, or having a day job that is truly living your passion.
Every single day you wake up surprised.
Yes. This is actually your new home.

There are a ton of ways to get here, don’t worry. 
You may have taken your time to make this move, and like me, you may have gotten lost on your way in a few dozen hundred times. Maybe you got turned around somehow, or you bailed at the exit before the right exit, or maybe some moron gave you cardinal directions. But none of that matters now.
You found it.
Now you know that there are several ways to get here and yours wasn’t necessary the wrong way, it just wasn’t the fastest route. Some of us prefer scenic, and that’s okay.

Move over other indigenous, unclassified language. 
You are part of a community that resembles a big melting pot of diversity. We don’t all speak the same dialect but we do understand each other. We get it. Twelve-stepper or not, chances are, you will know what ODAAT means and you do your best to choose person-centered words that empower, that don’t play into the discrimination of you or your fellow neighbors. We try to take care of each other here.

We just aren’t into walls. 
Walls really aren’t our thing, not on an individual level and they won’t be popping up, dividing this community either. We are pretty into loving our neighbors and we avoid division for the sake of the whole. We won’t stand for it. We happily take in the displaced wanderers who are seeking shelter and support,  and we prefer to be close to those who are in need. For anyone who is choosing to make this place their home we want you to feel safe. You finally have a place to land.

We are locally owned, operated & are completely self-sufficient.
That means there is so much room for adaptation and growth. We are a moving system pushing out so much energy, we keep things moving and functioning and advancing at insane rates.
We are film-makers, writers, artists, authors, counselors, sober parents, doctors, cashiers, small-business owners, anonymous people, loud people, and so much more. We are alive and kicking and producing and are so not hyper-focused on what we do, but on who we are and how we can help each other, help other people.

Welcome to the sober state, population 23 million……… and counting.

Here’s What I Thought I Needed To Be Accepted

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From my kitchen I could hear the television in our living room. I caught the end of an interview of a young woman.

I listened as she tried to explain why she had been bleaching and lightening her skin. She described what it felt like to experience feelings of inadequacy and when she began to view herself as ‘different’ and why she equated that with not being good enough.

She wanted to belong.

I could relate to this person on so many levels. There was a time that believed that I had to be anything but ‘me’ in order to belong.

Here are 3 of ridiculous things that I believed wholeheartedly:

1. Living from the outside-in was the only way to live.
This was a place where physical appearance ruled my perspective on everything.
The size of my boobs or the smoothness of my thighs or the level of my tan or the length of my hair had nothing to do with who I was a person, but you couldn’t have convinced me otherwise.

Men liked me, and for a while, I thought a couple of them truly loved me.
I may have accepted and ignored physical abuse and emotional abuse but I felt loved. The men boys who I chose may have been emotionally unavailable and mostly project men for my own fixing pleasure, but they wanted me.
I thought that this sick dysfunctional cycle that I was stuck in, was love.

Why I was wrong:
It took me around twenty-five years to understand that feeling good on the outside cannot seep into my soul and change how I feel on the inside.

It happens the other way around.

Change starts in our heart and manifests and changes us on the outside.
We do have a glow and it’s full of self-love and confidence.
That’s beauty.

And when we realize this and allow ourselves to experience it, not only do we grow exponentially but we are able to set higher standards for ourselves. Our definition of love changes forever.

2. I thought that I had to fit in with everyone else in order to matter. 
I was around seven-years-old when I looked around and noticed that my world didn’t quite match everyone else’s. So I began to take meticulous notes. I would use them to compare and contrast and berate myself.

According to my calculations my life was completely fucked up.

I didn’t really have a plan but I did know that people couldn’t know about my real life.

Why I was wrong:
I started to believe that in order to fit I had to be just like the rest of them or as close as possible. So for me, that meant denying who I was and where I came from and what I was experiencing and how I was feeling. I denied all of it and refused to believe that I could be good enough the way that I was. I couldn’t belong or be accepted if people knew that I was broken and damaged. In order to deny all of those things I had to pretend a lot.

And on my quest to fit with everyone else I lost myself.

3. I didn’t deserve anything that looked or felt like consistency or healthy.
Much like that young woman on television I had one constant voice of reason who did try on numerous occasions to sit me down and tell me that I deserved more. That I was loved and smart and capable of awesome shit.
(my grandma)

But I was not able to see what she could see.
I didn’t know that person that described.

She saw qualities and potential that I still had no idea existed, and it annoyed me.
It made me feel angry that she kept trying to force me to look.

Why I was wrong:
I felt like I had to fill certain criteria in order to like who I was. It took me quite a few years to see that there is so much value in all of my weak areas and a lot to be gained from mistakes and none of those things dictate my value or capabilities as a woman.

So many of us begin our decent into that hollow, dark, empty place that we are all familiar with by believing that we are not good enough the way that we are.

Or that where we come from or where we find ourselves is too embarrassing or not normal enough to make the cut that society will deem as acceptable.

At some point we trade any authenticity for belonging at all costs.

We don’t believe that boldly owning our battle scars could possibly be as effective or as powerful as sweeping them under the rug and shamefully hiding their existence.

And in the end we are left with nothing.

We don’t even feel accepted or like we belong.
It was all for nothing.
We are void of connection to self and others and we have no idea why or how to get back up again.

But we can, and we do. 
And when you’re ready to reach out, you will be introduced and welcomed and loved on in a realm that you might not have believed actually existed.

It is one full of people who are welcoming and loving and wiling to connect.

These people are like us.
They desire real, raw, meaty, relationships that have only one requirement:

We come as we are.

So if you’re new here please know that you are accepted and you belong somewhere.

5 Things I Learned From My First Blog Baby

Original FBizarre

I launched my first blog, Forgiving Bizarre, back in 2011.

This was my first header photo.
Okay, not completely mine because it was composed of several bad ass photos that I stole from Google images, but mostly mine.

And because the name alone wasn’t enough to let my readers (*cough, no one) know that I meant business when I said I had been through hell, I decided to go the ‘tell all’ route when creating this gem.

This art represented my life experiences and how I was feeling. When I look at this now I can see all of the pieces of my past and how they correlate. Each photo that I carefully chose represented a specific piece of my still-wounded, mushy, heart.

Yes I had been sober for 5 years, but that didn’t mean that I knew how to move on from having a parent addicted to crack, or a childhood filled with the repercussions of her seemingly insane choices, I had no idea how to move forward without my family, without any acknowledgement of my personal victories and without their support. I felt lost. And for some reason, I couldn’t’ see past this pain.

So I wrote for a couple of years.

Everything that I wrote, I wrote with equal parts passion, rage and sadness. I screamed and cried and I wondered and over-analyzed and cringed.

And I healed.

I shared it all and I voluntarily turned it loose into this realm that I was still getting acquainted with.

And it rocked.
It changed things.
It helped my heart to mend and my mind to see more clearly.

And then one day I woke up and decided that I was done.
It was time to for me to move forward.

So I did.

I didn’t transfer files.
I didn’t copy or save any of my blog posts.
It was all just gone.

I bought my new domain and felt confident that it was more fitting and applicable to my new outlook on life.

I went from Forgiving Bizarre to Discovering Beautiful and I truly haven’t looked back in regret one time.

I learned some things through this process and I want to share them with you.

1) What we want and what we need aren’t always matchy matchy.
I wanted a blog. I wanted to write things that could help other people.
But what I needed was to continue to heal and I needed to give myself some time to grow before I could do what I wanted.

2) Finding a healthy way to release bottled up emotion can be your unrivaled new bestie.
I did not anticipate the healing that would take place in my life as a result of writing openly and honestly, holding nothing back and not giving two fucks about what people might think about my feelings or my experiences. I have learned that true, real, raw, healing-power is proportionate to our willingness to be crazy honest with ourselves, and loyal to our need to validate our feelings.

3) Don’t steal photos.
It’s not classy.

4) You can’t rush your journey.
It is going to unfold as it may and you have to work with what it is. I am not saying that you don’t have the power or choice to bust your hiney and work work work to move things along, but keep in mind that balance is the key that unlocks peace and a plethora of other life things. Learning to enjoy the season that you are in can mean the difference between happiness and contentment and gratitude, and feeling tired and cranky and misunderstood.

5) It’ s okay to start where you are and work with what you have.
I had a domain name and a desperate need to purge 24 years worth of drama, pain, and other nasty, negative, toxic stuff. We all begin somewhere and you cannot ever move from where you are or work toward your dreams or your goals if you are fixated on not looking ridiculous. I always tell myself that I have definitely looked ridiculous in my day, (many times) and none of them were when I was crushing my goals. Also, sometimes when you feel like you are flailing or floundering or not doing it like everyone else is, you are actually doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.

I Could Have Died In My Safe Places.

 

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Since sobering up I have traded my daily quest for temporary freedom for something with more meat on it; something deeper. Something less transparent and more enduring.

When I was at my darkest I sought out freedom on a daily basis.
It was a frail, wimpy, expensive, kind of freedom. But cheap was fast, easy, and familiar to me.

I associated being physically and emotionally distant from any place that might contain other humans with my definition of freedom. Being anywhere that I could isolate myself without anyone fucking with me or asking me questions or encouraging me to change? Boom. Freedom. Winning the race against my own thoughts and seeing how quickly I silence my internal, perpetual, self-deprecating shame fests? More Freedom.

Obviously I had missed the mark in my search for freedom, but it took me a long time to recognize that my daily quests weren’t as much about freedom as I thought. It was about honoring and comforting the little girl inside of me. Refusing to abandon coping mechanisms that had always delivered. I did what I had to do and in return, I was given another safe, temporary place to hide.

When I chose to say yes to recovery, I chose to say good-bye to that girl. I chose to embrace the woman who I am, who God created me to be.I chose to believe that there really was something better out there or even better, inside of myself and every bone in my body excitedly anticipated what my first taste of real, lasting, freedom would be like.

My true freedom came when I began to believe that I didn’t need to hide anymore and as I discovered why I had spent my entire life taking refuge in various forms of hiding, and that is where I found my healing.

I could have died hiding.
But I didn’t.

The grace of God carried me right through the unknown, right into the realm full of feeling human beings. It is nice here. It isn’t perfect but the imperfections make it unique. It isn’t the same every day but the unexpected parts are what make it mine. It doesn’t always feel good but it is how I know that I am alive. It isn’t enough to break me because I have already felt what broken is. And here, there isn’t a guarantee that I will know wtf I am doing at any given moment and I am not sure that I don’t look ridiculous fumbling around from time to time,  but it’s proof that I am still trying.

I can rest more easily knowing that I am a strong woman who can overcome hard things. The most freeing part of this entire process has been coming to believe that I can learn to face the things that come my way, without hiding.

And you can too. If you are in a place that you don’t recognize or don’t feel completely comfortable with don’t turn around. Transition isn’t always super smooth. Change takes time. Learning new ways and embracing and practicing more healthy approaches to handling the ups and downs that life throws at you isn’t easy. Every single day you are moving further away from that old version of you, right into the path that you were meant to be on.

 

Have Your Time.

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I turned 33 today.
33 non-recovery, biological years old.
That means have been in recovery since I was 23 + a fistful of months.

People often make comments about how cool it is that I got sober at such a young age.
And I have to humbly agree. It is pretty cool.

Experiencing spiritual death & emotional and psychological depletion doesn’t really leave you with much. After bankrupting myself internally I began working on my physical exhaustion.
Because, why not?

Young, empty, impoverished, and exhausted.
And out of ideas.

This is where I found myself.
Or where I realized that I had lost myself.
Either way, it was my time.

I had been carrying around weight that had not ever been mine to carry.
I had believed my ill-formed assumptions about who I was and what I was capable of for too long.
I relied on my anger to keep me in perpetual turmoil and stuck in a cycle of self-loathing.
I was tired of drawing strength from resentment and bitterness and unforgiveness.
And the after-effects of the trauma that I had experienced were winning.
They had conquered every single aspect of who I had become as a human being.

It was my time.

I had run out of rope and burned down all of the bridges.
I had backed myself into a corner that I couldn’t hide in for one more second, because if I had, the darkness would have suffocated me completely. My self-hatred would have just finished the job that my desire to run from my pain had started.

It was just my time. 

No matter how old or young you are doesn’t matter.
When it is your time it is your time.

Even if you can’t seem to feel anything else you will know when it is your time.

So don’t let your biological age get it twisted in your mind.

*There is no such thing as too young or too damaged to choose to live a sober life and to start to get to know who you truly are deep inside of your core.

*There is no such thing as too old or too damaged to choose to live a sober life and start to get acquainted with who you truly are deep inside of your core.

We all start from the same place regardless of our age…….
and that is the place where we find ourselves ready. When it is your time.

We all end up finding out the same truths and experiencing the same miraculous grace and celebrating the same excitement….
and that is that we aren’t permanently broken and the pieces can be put back together to create something so inherently unique and beautiful. When it is your time. 

So please. Be proud of your decision to make a change.
Don’t give up on yourself and don’t allow the noise in your head convince you that you shouldn’t get to have your time.

You are strong enough to make the choice to change and you get to say:

“This is it. This is my time.”

Happy Birthday.

I Care.

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This so-called “F*ck-it Bucket”.
How does this work and where would I find one at a decent price?

-Asking for a friend. 🙂

I think I used to believe that I owned one of these buckets. This was back when I also tricked myself into embracing who I thought I was or had to be, and that person was the emotional equivalent to an armored tank. That or a hollowed-out lava rock. Something like that.

Present day me will not chuck any of the things into a figurative bucket that has gained a pretty rockin’ reputation for being the ‘easy way’ to get rid of f*cks given.

And remember, it’s not because I haven’t tried it.

It isn’t that I think there is something inherently wrong with people who are capable of committing to saying ‘f*ck it’ and leaving it all there in the bucket, where they put it.

It’s because I have lived that way and it didn’t work out.
My f*ck-it bucket and I have amicably parted ways.

Here in the land of the living I have learned that I can say matter-of-factly that I actually have a lot of f*cks left to give about a lot of things and denying this is counter-productive to personal growth in all its forms.

Yes, I even care and think of and occasionally worry about things that may not merit or deserve to grace the presence of my sacred f*cks.

But I can certainly appreciate the idea behind and usage of the bucket. It holds its contents and keeps it separate from other things.

I also understand need and yearning and strongly desiring release; to be able to let go of something and move forward without feeling the weight of whatever is in that bucket.

To just keep going without looking back.

But it’s the looking back part that tends to ignite internal struggle thus defeating the whole idea and intrigue and convenience of a f*ck-it bucket.

Personally, I prefer things to be more analyzed scrutinized —-organized.

I like having a plethora of buckets available.
I might toss this or that into one of these, or something similar:

#1: The ‘when to let go’ bucket
#2: The ‘when to hang on’ bucket
#3: The ‘take your time and evaluate the things that are in my control’ bucket
#4: The ‘be vigorously honest about the things that I cannot control’ bucket
#5: The ‘I am so grateful and humbled for and because of these things’ bucket
#6: The ‘I have chosen to forgive’ bucket
#7: The ‘things that I am sure of’ bucket
#8: The ‘remind yourself that you are healed, forgiven, and not your past’ bucket

The truth is that I care too deeply and feel too immensely in general to utilize a f*ck-it bucket correctly. I can’t toss it in and neuralyze my memory like it never mattered because f*ck-it.

But I can remind myself of a few things.

I have done all that I can do, and now it is in this bucket over here.
And because I myself am a miracle, who was once thought to be a throw-away person who would or could not ever make any real change, I know that there is always hope for something different to happen or come from this situation. There really is always hope.

But in the mean time, I don’t have to carry it around.

My sobriety and my life that I live every day in recovery from drugs, alcohol, and trauma. It has shown me what it means to admire and embrace my own authenticity and from that, I have learned to be mindful of what is mine to carry and what part of the load I can put down.

I have been introduced to the value of facing my issues, small and large, rather than pushing the hard things aside.

And I have benefited immensely from living as my authentic self and even from fumbling around, tripping all over my feelings.

Because I am a feeling being and know that’s okay.

I Can’t Have it All.

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When I forcefully managed to spit out a very quiet and unsure ‘yes’ in reply to the question:
“Do you want some help?” I may have been bubbling over with reluctance that pressured me to hesitate and accept help with the same apathy that I approached each day with, but I was also really, really, tired.

In addition to the color black representing my level of motivation, I wholeheartedly believed that my only real problem was staying sober for any significant blocks of cumulative time.
I was convinced that if I could figure out how to not do drugs, I would be fine and everything would naturally fall into place.

But that’s not how it went down.

I did try to quit on my own. I really did. From the outside it probably didn’t look like I was putting much effort into life change, but in reality I had tried fixing myself and cleaning up my life at least a dozen times (and failed) . Every single time all that I found was just another bogus, useless thing that I wasn’t good at.

And so I ended up with a long list of weak, fraudulent, and less than dependable tactics that didn’t help me. I had no idea just how weak they were. Not only were they not successful, they didn’t even come close to being strong enough to win the battle that I geared up to fight through every day.

I wanted sobriety.
I wanted a simple, easily applied solution to very complex, deep-rooted problems.
And what I got was a complete rebuild.

This was more than teaching my body not to rely on a scheduled dose of daily narcotics, which I was sort of expecting it all to be about.

This whole thing, (recovery) has been about being able to discern what is a priority in my life, and what isn’t; to be able to decipher where my responsibilities begin and where they end, and to accept what is and to trust and allow what isn’t to float away.

This journey has been really hard. I won’t ever forget the sweat and tears that I put into all of the forgiving, uncovering, accepting, realizing, submitting, and learning.

But despite the work and even after feeling the warmth from the light that had managed to creep in and breathe me back to a real life human being, I still have work to do. I have realized that I am a huge, messy, imperfect, piece of unique work, created by a God who loves me and all of my imperfection so deeply I can’t even comprehend it.

I have also learned that I may not ever have it all at the same time but I have exactly what I need for the season of life that I am in.

Even though I will never be able to remember the things that I have forgotten or that were washed away somewhere out wherever the memories go when they are mixed with Xanax and Budweiser, I can experience and remember the memories that I have made every single day that I have been sober.

And it seems that I can’t stop certain flashes of memories that might *try to forever haunt me. But I can remind myself that those experiences or choices do not make up the sum of who I am today, nor do they have power over how I identify as a mother, as wife, as a friend, a daughter, or, as a strong woman.

And no. I cannot run and hide from the negative emotions that I experience (and I have been told that I cannot throw or hit things either) and I shouldn’t hide under my covers hoping that when I come out everything will be alright. Because in order to experience and allow myself to completely feel the positive, good, amazing, I don’t want to forget this stuff, I have to face the hard things too.

And I also know that I can’t have the blocks of blank, black, dark holes in my memory back. They are there because I relied this mechanism to keep me safe. I consider that a blessing, but I also know that for me that means that I maybe I won’t ever be successful when it comes to recalling some of the real emotions or feelings from some of the better times that I know, actually happened (evidenced by Polaroids likely taken by one of my wonderful amateur photographer grandparents)

But that’s okay.
Because I can’t have it all.

Maybe this is just another puzzling paradox found within the sketchy parameters of addiction recovery.  

Maybe that’s why when we remind ourselves to pause and take it all in,
we can smile even when we think about the fact that we will never (ever) be able to have it all-

because the gifts that this life produces as a result of making healthy choices, show us every single day that we already do.

I Was A Terrible Sponsor.

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To live out my step 12 I felt like I needed to be of service. I did practice the principles I had learned in my affairs but I felt like it needed to be more.
I had to reach out and I had give back.
It was important to make myself available and I felt like it was also my duty.
The very least that I could do.

and so I did.
I did, and I shouldn’t have.
Step 12 wasn’t for me, well, not in the traditional sense anyway.

One year sober just wasn’t long enough for me and if we’re being honest, it is safe to say that I did more harm than good when it came to trying to be a sponsor to anyone.

Thank GOD there were (only) two young women who had to deal with my over-inflated, grandiose view of my own sobriety and my own path that I used to get there.

At one year sober I can remember feeling so proud of myself and excited, invigorated, and determined; I felt like I was ready to jump out there and save the world!
Or, any one of the new bodies who walked through the doors of our next meeting.

Whichever.

I was so full of gratitude I cried every single time I thought about my new life.
I still did homework. I still went to meetings every single week, and at that time, I was also sharing my story at churches and co-leading meetings at the treatment center downtown.
Busy, busy, busy.
Giving back, giving back, giving back.

Giving back was good. It helped me to gain confidence and each time I told my story it provided a little bit more closure for me. Over time my story became less and less about the negative and the addiction and more and more about good things;  like sobriety and reflection, and coming into my own and embracing who I am.

And of course I wanted people to know that sobriety was a possibility for them too.
That recovery was a real-life actual thing, that could be done no matter what they had done.
That this program worked and there were real-life people to relate with and they really cared.

But none of this means that I was ready (or cut out to be) a sponsor.

I can remember my sponsees sharing their struggles or experiences with a relapse with me and I wondered why?

Why they hadn’t just taken my advice?
Why weren’t they listening?

“What in the absolute f*ck is wrong with them?”
“What a waste of their time, damn, our time..”
“They can’t be doing their homework.”
“Maybe they just don’t want it bad enough”
“Something isn’t going right and that something is them, not doing their part.”

Those are actual thoughts that I am ashamed to say that I had.
As we met every single week I would make a beeline for the table of snacks and coffee to get the hell out of the room for a few minutes.

Why wasn’t this program working for them the way it had for me?
Obviously because they weren’t working it correctly, that’s why.
That had to be why. I felt so annoyed.

It all makes more sense now, almost nine years later.
What was happening was that they were simply being honest with me and with themselves.
They were just sharing their experiences, and instead of being met with kindness they were met with disbelief and contempt.

How completely awful for them to reach out for help or guidance, and in return they get someone who closes the door on them for being who they are?

I truly wasn’t ready to be a sponsor.

Aside from sharing my story the only thing I should have been ‘giving back’ the first few years of my sobriety should have been hugs, smiles, knuckles, or any other morally supportive hand gestures that are in existence.

-I was still not emotionally regulated or stable enough to be relied on as a form of solid support. In my case sobriety didn’t equal stability. Obviously, I don’t think that sponsors or support people need to be a picture of perfection, but stable should definitely be a requirement. Most sponsor/sponsee relationships are some of the first new & healthy dynamics that a person in recovery will build. I wasn’t ready to be that or to offer that to any vulnerable someone’s yet. One day I would welcome their calls and other days I didn’t want to come out of my bedroom, let alone talk on the phone or meet for lunch. Blah.

-I hadn’t developed a whole lot of empathy for others at one year sober.
I am still a straight shooter, but not a straight shooter who lacks empathy.
Yes there is a difference.
The level of cold that I used to be was dangerous to a newly sober person or anyone remotely interested in recovery. I was forward, honest, and direct all right. All necessary qualities, but I needed a large cup of empathy and a few heaping tablespoons of balance; balance between being direct, and also lovingly able to spit out truth without being totally condescending with my delivery.

-I hadn’t yet done life with other people in recovery.
The main difference between how connect and encourage people now and how I did things at one year is simple.
I know more people.
I have met people from all walks of life, from all different programs, and people who are anti-program everything.
I have friends who like me, love God, and others who are atheists in recovery.
Some use counselors and therapies, others use essential oils, some rely on meditation or travel or medications, and others like myself rely on prayer and the Bible, and fellowship.

There are about a billion self-care techniques and combinations out there that we can use to maintain sobriety.

Not just…one.
Not just…mine.

The whole recovery process really isn’t all about the program we choose.
The program itself is merely a blueprint to help guide.
The program (if you look at all of them) are meant to prompt self-discovery and to reinforce certain bottom lines depending on which program you are a part of.
There are all different paths to one goal, and that is to figure out why we do what we do, hence, discovering who we are.
Recovery is truly about self-revelation.
Addiction is about hiding from the truth.
A sponsor should be there for their sponsees to help them through the  transition from one to the other until they ready to move forward on their own. To be there for them to be loving, kind, honest, and trustworthy.

Today I know:
*I can’t save everyone and I know it’s not my job to save anyone anyway.
*My personal recovery isn’t worthless if I am not sponsoring someone else one-on-one. I am raising three kids. That counts.
*My sobriety isn’t meaningless if I don’t go to meetings regularly. I go to al-anon now. That counts.
Because like I said, this isn’t about following the strict guidelines of any program.
It is about self-discovery and maintaining balance within ourselves.
So, of course my ‘program’ isn’t going to look like yours, and that’s okay.

I also know:
*My step 12 may not look like yours. You may not even care about step 12. You may not even know the steps and that’s okay.
*I still don’t sponsor people, and that’s okay too.

 

Accept Not Fix.

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Long before I found myself in the process of self-discovery where I was unpacking and finally facing the fact that I was a codependent, enabling, doormat-ish kind of person I was reluctantly facing another harsh truth.

It was time to choose to accept help for my drug addiction.

What had held me back and what had kept me stuck for as long as I stayed stuck was an idea that I held close & tightly clung to for years. Well, it was more than an idea, it had become my belief system.

It whispered to me constantly as it served as a reminder to me every day:

Not only are you unworthy of living a healthy life, there is no possible way that you could ever repair the damage that you have done. Zero. Don’t even bother. You will let everyone down. It is all too broken, you have made too many mistakes, you have damaged your son too deeply, and you couldn’t fix any of it. Oh’… and good morning.”

The same lies that kept me up at all hours of the night, the same lies that woke me early in the morning, the very lies that compelled me to live a life in isolation, were also the same lies that preferred I stay far away from anyone reaching out to help me to see the truth.

My belief system was built on lies. I operated on these lies. I suppose I got to a point where I relied on them to sustain my way of life.

I had come to believe that the only way to change was to fix everything.
In reality, the only thing that I really had to do was accept everything.

I had to accept help.
I had to accept the that I had made mistakes.
I had to accept that I couldn’t take any of it back.
I had to accept that some of it could be repaired and some of it may never exist the same way again.

For me that meant detoxing. It meant moving. It meant changing my phone number. It meant feeling like I was totally, most likely, going to d.i.e., it meant really wanting to quit but so badly wanting peace and calm, and contentment and it meant doing it anyway.

All of that was just preliminary work that needed to happen before we (God, myself, counselor & my small group) opened Pandora’s box full of things like memory repression, dissociation, long-term effects of trauma, lack of coping skills, inability to self-regulate ..anything, clinical depression and some other complex issues.

I was a hot mess of raw pain and deep rooted unhealthy thinking with a dependency on all things no good in every single area of my life.

In order for my recovery to continue progressing, I had to, had to, had to, continue believing the truth that I chose to believe in the beginning of the process. 

I had to choose to accept what is, and I had to vow to combat my need to want to fix it all and call myself good enough.

I had to commit to stop telling myself that everything, all of the things, it all had to be fixed in order for me to be ‘well’ or to be considered ‘good’ ‘acceptable’ or ‘worthy’. 

That is crap.
It’s all crap.

It is totally fine, acceptable, and completely normal to stumble into a meeting, or a facility, or a church, or a counselor’s office, or rehab or (Insert your choice of recovery regimen here)

completely unwilling to do anything except- accept

That’s okay.
It really is.

It’s a solid place to hit the ground running and a great start to your very own recovery journey that will enable you to grow into the person who you were meant to be; the healthiest version of you.

Just accept the gift of Grace, and vow to keep moving forward.
And as they say, one day you will look back, and you will be amazed and so grateful that you took that very first step…right into acceptance.

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