Category: Addiction

My Personal Decision to Shed the “Addict” Label

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We are managing our lives.

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

5 Common Roadblocks in Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

We know.

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

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

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

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

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

For good.

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

I’ll Have What I’m Having.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

One more unsolicited opinion:

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

We are all on the other side supporting each other.

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

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

Dear Young People.

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You just can’t see it coming.

This was me.

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

 

A junior in high school.

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

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

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

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

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

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

How quickly life can change.

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

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

I couldn’t have foreseen what was to come.

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

it was too late.

No one plans to become addicted to something.

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

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

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

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

 

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

6 Things to Remember in Early Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

No one there to share your excitement.

Nobody believes that this time could be your time.

You have incinerated the bridges to everywhere.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guess what?

None of that matters.

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

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

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

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

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

We are everywhere.
You are not alone.

 

Recovering Out Loud.

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

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

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

Without getting too detailed…

Here are a few things that we know:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and that’s all okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Merry Christmas from Discovering Beautiful!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Don’t Belong In a Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Hot Mess, Party of One.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I just started to feel suffocated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you for reading, friends.

Interesting Article…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Tis’ the Season to Al-Anon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It is the knowing and watching part.

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

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

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

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

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

We can only love them.

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

 

It gets better.

What-happens-in-the-past

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It just does.

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

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

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

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

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

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

And you know what, I completely agree with you. 

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

I am not writing to you.

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

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

You will.

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

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

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

 

 

Relapse Begins In Your Head.

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Recovery is a long-process because you are not simply learning how to stay away from drugs.

Of course, that’s of utmost importance.
It’s a given. It’s a start and a pre-requisite for life change.
It has to happen in order for you to move forward or to make any progress in Recovery,
but there is just so much more.

As I sit here and type, I am over 8 years in.
I have physically been in Recovery for 8 short years. 
However, I have fumbled around and messed up about 4,557,903 times
……….in my mind.

I learned a lot in school by learning about the psychology of Addiction.
It really helped me to understand my own journey with drugs, alcohol, and coming back from severe depression and negative body image.

My mind is what controls how I feel and what I do.
My perception is also relative, and is not allowed to dictate everything I experience either.
I know that internal conversation definitely has an impact my Recovery.

Here are two things that I have am mindful of on a daily basis:

*Where I let my mind wander.
The mind is a powerful thing. We can’t always dream of rainbows and butterflies and prance around with smiles on our faces…but people who are in Recovery from drug-addiction need not allow their minds to get on a negative setting.
I don’t know about you, but this spirals pretty quickly if it’s allowed. For me, it is usually guilt that leads to self-doubt and I certainly don’t need any help. I am an expert when it comes to reminding myself of what I was, or who I use to be.
I can be pretty convincing, and I know it, definitely my own worst (and meanest) critic.
That sneaky whisper of self-doubt tends to creep in and take over if I let it, and I have to be mindful to immediately combat it with the truth.
Lots of truth.

*What I listen to, who I listen to, and what advice I am going to take.
The radio, social media, tv, email. Messages everywhere. Everyone always has a message.
People often give advice and people love to hear themselves ‘justifiably’ talk about other people.
This one, like all else in our lives- we only have control over so much. We have to pick and choose very carefully if we want to stay true to ourselves.
Who I am is pretty important to how I function as a woman in Recovery, a person who loves Jesus, and as a wife, mommy, and friend. Staying true to who I am is important to me. I have lines, boundaries, clear places I will go and won’t go now.

If I lose sight of who I am, other things begin to fall as well.
I just make sure that I stay on track with who I am as an individual.

These are only two of a laundry list of things that are important in my everyday, real-life Recovery.
We all have different things we tend to focus more on as we progress on our individualized journey.

Does the way that you think impact your day-to-day Recovery? 

3 Things I want you to know:

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Three things that I would want to tell you: 

1. You matter. 
Yes, YOU.
Even though you feel like you have messed up too many times, or have gone way too far to ever be a person that you like again, you still matter.
You are a valuable, respectable, loveable, human being.
(Colossians 2:13 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossians+2%3A13-14&version=NLT Read it.)

2. You are not alone.
You might prefer to be alone, but you hate to feel alone.
Sometimes our minds trick us into thinking that we are alone because no one loves or cares about us. Most of the time we are alone because we have pushed everyone away and have chosen isolation. There are people out there who don’t understand completely, but they care.
There are people out there living in Recovery who care.
So much caring going on, trust me.
(Joshua 1:9 https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Joshua%201:9 Read it.) 

3. It gets better.
It does.
Right now it may feel like you are drowning and you will not ever be able be strong enough to lift your own head up for air.
You might feel like there is just too much mess and weight on your shoulders; that there is simply no way to fix all of it.
But there is.
It gets better little by little, one tiny change at a time.
I always like to remind people there are over 20 million people in the United States alone that are living healthy lives in Recovery from drugs & alcohol.
(Psalm 32. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Psalm+32&version=NLT
Read the whole thing.)

 

What Keeps You Sober?

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What keeps you sober? 

Your program? Reading Literature? Meditating on Daily Devotionals? Staying fit or healthy? Reading? Sports? Traveling? Church? Your sponsor or accountability partner?

Based off of what I have observed in the awesome people I have met in the Recovery community, it is usually a combination of several key things and there doesn’t seem to be one secret ingredient.

I have heard a few opinionated (but wrong) friends, family, and nosy onlookers over the years who love to hear themselves give this advice:

“You are just replacing one addiction with another.”  

Really now.
Are we?

I think we need to be very careful about how often we over-use and misinterpret the word addiction. If people understood what it actually meant to be, live, and experience a true addiction, I am not so sure they would use the word as an equivalent to describe a hobby, a passion, or an interest.

There are major differences.

Addiction sucks the life out of its host. It devours souls and leaves you physically and emotionally unrecognizable, exhausted, void, and out of control.

Passions or hobbies is something that you feel a deep emotion for. While maintaining balance is essential to any activity, passions can enhance healthy euphoric feelings and feed our souls and help us to build confidence. We can live out God’s purpose and plan for our lives.  These passions reflect our hearts and are an outward manifestation of what is going on inside of our minds. They fuel and empower us to keep going and to inspire others to do the same.

I recently read a quote in an article that sums it up perfectly:

“Addiction is centrifugal. It sucks the energy from you, creating a vacuum of inertia. A passion energizes you and enriches your relationships. It empowers you and gives strength to others. Passion creates, addiction consumes …”   -Dr. Gabor Mate

(From the article: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-20266/i-struggled-with-addiction-for-15-years-heres-how-fitness-keeps-me-sober.html)

What keeps me sober?
Taking care of my family. Giving them the best version of ‘me’.
Blogging. Sharing what I know and what I have learned with others.
Strength training. I want to feel healthy and strong.
Embracing my new life and learning more about who I am every day. I want to live my life authentically.

I am very passionate about all of these things, and they fuel me. They aren’t simple ‘replacements’ for my old lifestyle for one good reason: My unhealthy habits weren’t all centered around my addiction.

I didn’t have one simple problem to beat. My complex problems centered around pain, hurt, resentment, unhealthy coping skills and unresolved emotional issues that stemmed from childhood trauma.

My passions and new interests are blessings to have uncovered. They have grown from the new foundation laid through my faith and because of my choice to get sober.

It was a long process of self-revolution to discover who I am and what I like and what sets my soul on fire.

Which is NOT the same thing as replacing one addiction for another.

 

Tell me.
How do you stay sober?
Do you have something that you are passionate about or new hobbies that you grateful to have discovered?

My Favorite Part of Sobriety,

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I was recently asked if I had to choose my favorite part of sobriety, what would it be?

I went with my immediate & initial cognitive response. The one that automatically popped into my head.

Contentment. 

That was it.
If I were to have thought about it for much longer, I would have debated, went back and forth, and eventually it would have turned into a full-fledged mental deadlock.

Obviously, I think sobriety and recovery are pretty amazing.
There are too many perks and positives to be thankful for and not enough depth to the adjectives that we have to choose from in the English language to convey how much I appreciate God’s grace, and all of the awesome humans who have supported and encouraged me through my journey.

So….Why contentment, then? 

For me, out of all the feelings of sadness, anger, rage, dissociation, isolation, loneliness, envy, negativity, hopelessness, and pity….

The exhaustion from being continually discontent is the most prominent feeling that I remember hating and needing to rid my heart of before I chose Recovery.

I can recall feeling like I wasn’t good enough from a very young age.
I needed to be more, to be different, be even better, be prettier, dress nicer, be more liked, act more normal, look more happy.
As I got older I still felt inadequate in so many ways and I chased ….everything.
I still needed to have more, get more, earn more, be better, do more.

Addiction was not any different.
I had to have more, find the best, keep searching, continue making calls, re-search my own hiding spots, plan for the next day, worry and wonder about when my next fix would come, where would it be from, would I find it, were they home, where did they go, when will they be back, do I have the money, how much is my ring worth, will I get it back…

No rest for the weary and discontent.

I appreciate the aspect and benefit of Recovery of being able to feel content and I am grateful for the blessing to have a God that fills the voids that I wasn’t able or capable of reaching or filling to satisfy my own desires.

I know that I am enough, exactly the way that I am.
I can accept I will simply not be ‘good enough’ for some people, but that’s not my problem.
I can rest my head at night.
I can live each day and enjoy the ‘now’.
I am no longer seeking, searching, striving, and repeating, myself insane.

I really cannot think of anything better than that.

Recovery Misconceptions

myths

Many come into Recovery looking for a break. 

Let’s face it.
If we have sought help and are considering a major life change, chances are, we are tired.

We can’t kid ourselves, though.
There aren’t any Recovery programs out there that I know of that are readily handing out free passes to new miracle lifestyles or quick-fixes for your addiction.
(aside from Passages Malibu, they have a cure…)

It doesn’t matter if you go to a resort style Rehab that offers an in-house gym, acupuncture, yoga, and tanning- or if you go through the shock treatment provided in your local prison…there is much work and renovation to be done in your emotional and spiritual world.

There really is no break.

What there is, is Hope.
What there is, is a sense of relief.

The miracle is that because of God’s Grace, we have the OPPORTUNITY to choose Recovery.
After we decide that we are ready to accept this gift, this is when the hard works begins.

We are now choosing to put our effort into learning to live well.
We have to understand that it is going to be the toughest thing we have ever attempted to conquer.
The relief comes from believing that it gets better.
As each day passes and with the more that we learn, it gets easier.

It does get better and If I can do it, you certainly can too!

Love- Hating Yourself.

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Recovery means different things to different people,
but I would bet that we could all agree that it generally speaking-
It means us, learning to live healthy, productive, peaceful, lives. 

Regardless of which program we choose to follow, partake in, or interact with-
Regardless of what our drug of choice is/was-
Regardless of how much clean and sober time you have under your belt…

It is highly likely that amidst the long list of your to-do’s..
you are working on these two things. 

Self-Love 
Self-Destruction

*We work to enhance our ability to invest in ourselves mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This means that we learn to recognize our true needs and we find healthy ways to meet those needs.

*At the same time, we are working to recognize our own self-destructive habits.
As we procure new habits, we are cancelling out the old, volatile ones.

Self-Love defined simply:
The stuff that you do for yourself, to make yourself -your best self.

What are those things?
Do you know?

Self-Destructive Habits easily defined:
Things that you do, whether you know it or not, that keep you from being your best self.

What are those things?
Do you recognize them?

Stumbling Blocks:

There are things that can hold us back in our Recovery.
We can count on these things keeping us from moving forward or making any significant progress.

There are certain things that will most definitely stop you dead in your tracks.
Without learning how to accept and process these them, you will have a really tough time and your recovery cannot progress.

Here they are:
1. Having the ‘if-only’s’ 
2. Blaming people, places, or things for what happened in our lives.

*Say Goodbye to your ‘if-only’s’.
If we had only done_____. If we had only said_______.
We have all said it.
We just cannot seem to accept ‘what is’. (or what we have created)
Here’s what we know. We can’t go back.
So much time in addiction is spent feeling regret or shame.
We replay certain things repeatedly.
We tirelessly attempt to hide from our own thoughts and feelings of shame and regret.

This is part of the insanity that is addiction.

When we are finally clean and sober, we don’t know what to do with these thoughts.
We are no longer muting these feelings. We can now hear them loud and clear.

The most important thing is what we do next.
It is important to look at what is.
As hard as it may be, we have to allow ourselves to look at things as they are.
Swallow that truth and learn to understand that from that point is what matters.

Each choice that we make right now, is a choice farther away from the ‘if-only’s’.
and that is all that we can do.

*No longer will we blame people, places, or things for what happened in our life.
The truth is, blaming another person for our choices or the situations that we find ourselves in helps us to evade any kind of responsibility for our actions. This makes addiction work well for us.
I think most people who think this way, truly believe that they would have made completely different choices if it weren’t for this person or that person.
Ultimately, a person cannot change if they don’t see their actions for what they were. If we refuse to admit that we are the source of our own detriment, we will never see our need for major change.

Just like letting go of our ‘if-only’s’ – we have to accept our blame shifting for what it is.
Another way to evade our truth.

We have to look at our current situation and allow ourselves to see how we got to that place.
In some cases we may very well have been brainwashed, manipulated, pressured, ignorant, fooled, pushed, or strung-along.  But we are still the decision makers in our own lives.

The bottom line is that our actions, regardless if they were influenced in some way by someone else….are still ours.

We have a choice.
We always have a choice.

We have to choose to take responsibility for our own actions.

When we choose to say- I am going to look my truth in the face and own it,
we gain crucial ground in recovery.
There is power in owning our choices and our real, raw, current truth. We are empowering ourselves to propel forward.

As hard as these two things might be to accept, they are such powerful tools that we can use for our future.

It is really all about how we choose to cope with ‘what is’ from now on. C
Continue reminding yourself that you are in control of your choices.

Choose to use your ‘if-only’s’ as a reminder of the lessons that you can take from your past.

Take the blame that you placed on other’s for your choices and use that to remind you that no one can push your life in a direction that you don’t want it to go in.

You can start right now. 

It All Boils Down To Staying Honest With Ourselves

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that was that.

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

The actual flushing part got pretty weird.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Percocet. I love you very much.

Pill-Head

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

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

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

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

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

Perfect.

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

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

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

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

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

It was just a pain-killer after all.

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

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

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

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

This was causing me stress and hardcore anxiety.

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

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

I wasn’t able to relax.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Why Relationships Are Sort of Important:

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

Until ….Recovery.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Walking alone is a choice.

The Danger of the One Man Army.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Reasons to Reach Out in Early Recovery:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Shame Card.

 

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Words.

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

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

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

Progress people; progress.

To be on the other side of this is interesting.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

If there are people who cannot see that,

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

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

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

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

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

We know.
We remember.

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

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

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

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

And we understand that.
We totally get it.

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

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

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

 

 

 

The Irony of it all.

ironic

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction Destroys Families.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Addiction.Destroys.Families. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

You can still choose to change.

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

Restoration and healing are still waiting for you.

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

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

One healthy choice at a time.
OHCAAT.

 

 

 

 

Practicing Recovery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To go.. or not to go?

To go or not to go? That is always the question during the holiday season.
Thanksgiving-Food-Clip-Art-Black-and-White-1

If you are in Recovery, the holidays can be hard.
Each individual has various levels of coping skills, time in Recovery, different triggers, vulnerabilities, and weaknesses.

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

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

3 Things that I am grateful for.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Colossians 3:12-15)

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

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

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

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

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

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

So is there really a down-side??
There really isn’t when you are living.
___________________________________

I am grateful to have the opportunity to share with you guys.
I love everyone who supports me crazily opening my life up to the internet, hoping to inspire hope in someone else.

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

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

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

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