Category: Addiction

Our Thoughts

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Our attitudes are shaped by our thoughts and feelings.
Remember, we have choices.
Choose to believe the crazy notion, that positive thoughts can lead to happy moods and better days.

One day at a time.

Motivation is what gets you started, and habits keep you going.
Forming new habits take time.

Keep working hard and don’t give up!

One day you will look back and be so amazed at the life that you created by making different and new choices.

 

 

 

 

Sobriety: One Size Fits Most?

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I just read an article written by a clinical psychologist named Gerald Shulman,
who has been in the addiction field, in some capacity, for over 50 years delivering and supervising treatment.

Here is an excerpt from his article in Addiction Professional Magazine
It’s not 1960 anymore; A more balanced model is needed to optimize recovery potential today.

“I have arrived at the conclusion that recovery for many is a three-legged stool.
The seat of the stool represents recovery.”
“The three legs represent: *Psycho-social treatment: 12 step treatment, trauma care, motivational enhancement, cognitive-behavioral therapy etc.
*Recovery support services: group therapies, reading and writing assignments, etc.
*Pharmacotherapy (med assisted treatment)”
“One of these alone, is usually not adequate to bring about Recovery for many addicts.”

(Read the article in it’s entirety here:
www.addictionpro.com/article/its-not-1960-anymore)

Although I (hate) the term addict, I really like what he is saying here.
It’s totally relevant and reflects what I am seeing in the world of sobriety.

Not everyone wants to participate in a 12-step program and often, if they do, it won’t always be enough to lead them to a path of wellness. We are seeing an entirely new group of people who are struggling with addiction using new drugs, having less foundation laid in their lives, and are younger onset at time of first use.

No two people have the same needs. No two treatment plans, recovery plans, or sobriety paths are going to look the same and they don’t need to in order for us to be supportive people. I think we all need to keep an open mind when it comes to support other people who are in recovery, who are striving to live their lives sober.

I will not discount your recovery –if your higher power has a name like mine does, Jesus Christ. If yours doesn’t, if it’s different, or if you don’t have one at all that’s okay too.
I will not discount your recovery — if you loathe 12-step groups, or if you love them. I started my journey as a huge fan of them and have benefited from the steps and principles, and still do. But there are things that I choose not to use, and that’s okay too.
I will not discount your recovery if you choose professional one-on-one counseling and no group therapy.

I personally relied on 12 step meetings, one-on-one counseling, adult homework, CBT, my relationship with God, and literature during the early part of my recovery and beyond.

The point of all of it is to take the desire to change, and meet it with a concoction of individualized treatment therapies that will help you to break the chains that have been holding you back for so long, keeping you from being the best version of you that you are so capable of being.

Ultimately, it is all about utilizing the resources and tools that we need to maintain sobriety and a healthy lifestyle.

Whatever you find that helps you and inspires you to want to live again, do those things.

There is NO SUCH THING as one- size- fits -all sobriety.

 

 

 

 

Good Grief.

 

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The stages of mourning and grief are universal and are experienced by people from all walks of life. Mourning occurs in response to an individual’s own terminal illness, the loss of a close relationship, or to the death of a valued being, human or animal. (Psychcentral.com)

I used to run and hide from any kind of pain or uncertainty.
I knew that if I hid long enough, it would all just go away.
And every single time I resurfaced and saw that it hadn’t, it was my cue to reinsert myself into my induced, but functional, coma.

Before substances were my necessity, my best friend, and my only priority, they were my refuge.
Before they transitioned into chemicals that were killing me and taking over my entire life,
they protected me…….they were my safe place.

So today I am trying to sort through my emotions in dealing with a loss that is making my chest feel heavy, like I got hit by a semi-truck.
The kind of loss where I think that I can actually feel my heart breaking.

While I am still really beyond thankful that I am able to feel in the first place,
it can still be overwhelming to feel so much at one time.

But I am happy that I understand that it is normal to feel this way when experiencing personal loss.
Not only is it normal, it is OKAY.

My sobriety has taught me many lessons, but one of the most important lessons has been about happiness.

Being happy all of the time is unrealistic and unnatural.
You can’t always feel good. These expectations are ones that cannot be met.
Just as it is unnatural to always feel down, miserable, and unhappy.
It’s a balance thing.

Obviously, loss is a part of life, and grief is a part of our very real, very human experience.
It is okay to allow ourselves to feel sadness and to allow ourselves to recognize that we are in pain.
It is not wrong or bad to hurt and it is not a shameful thing to grieve for someone.

Today as I sit here I am okay with life not always being okay.
Is there a ‘right’ way to grieve? I don’t think so.
I think there are only healthy, and unhealthy ways to grieve.

I am able to feel and handle grief in a way that doesn’t negatively affect my wellness.
All for me, here is what that means: 
-I will not push the feelings away.
-I will not allow them to run my life and take over all of my thoughts.
-I don’t constrict myself to a time limit, I will grieve as long as my heart needs to.
-I will accept the feelings that come.
– And I understand that I am not ‘abnormal’ for having waves of sadness and a lot of tears as I mourn a loss that just might hurt for a long time.

We cannot change the fact that people will eventually pass on.

It’s just a tough fact of life.
It is a beautiful & painful process.

I know some of you who are reading right now might be grieving someone too.

Try to remember that we are left here with the gaping holes and pain.
But I believe that they are somewhere- and their spirit is alive and healthy, and near to us.
They are not hurting or sick anymore, sad, alone, or debilitated in any way.
They want us to remember them and to live a life that honors their memory by embracing the legacy that they left behind. That is how we can honor their lives lived here.

So I am going to try to do just that.

I am going to laugh, and allow myself to enjoy my life.
I am going to take my memories and what she instilled into my life,
and I am going to give it away to others.

She would have been okay with that.

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
(Psalm 34:18)

Happy New Year! 2014

 

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We all want to improve or change something in our lives and this time of year gives us a great starting point and although the large majority of people will not actually follow through on their new year’s resolutions, it is still a perfect time to take a step back to reflect on our year.

For me it’s a simple and short process. I do take some time to look back on my year. My gratitude for my sober life is deeply rooted in my life and I do try to make sure my actions reflect my level of gratitude. As long as I did not travel backwards regressing toward something unhealthy, and I am also not a complacent shell of a human,
I basically call that previous year a win; points for me.

My personalWell I look at it like this.
I did not die from my addiction. I tried to. I could have. I almost did a few times.
But, I didn’t. By the Grace of God- I’m alive.
So that’s always a point in the positive side. 🙂

 

My goals are pretty simple milestones. I truly just want to continue living in the now. I will continue to try to inspire my children to be the very best versions of who God created them to be. I want to learn to communicate more effectively with my husband, I want to learn to be a better friend.

I won’t compare my goals to anyone else’s. You shouldn’t either.
This new year is just another block of measured time to do more healthy, positive things. We have more time to learn things and to grow as individuals.

 

Use the start of 2014 to become an even better version of —YOU.

 

Just do it for the right reasons and don’t let the excitement of a new year beginning, take away from all that you are right now.

Unexpected Gifts of Living in Recovery.

 

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Using substances may have been some of the darkest, saddest, loneliest & scariest times of my existence, but that wasn’t where I first started to lose myself.

That started long before.
I think pain & trauma can make for fertile ground for that to happen, especially if it is not addressed.

I began hiding as a young girl.
I created masks to wear that became my safe places to hide when things became unbearable or when I really didn’t know where else to turn, so I turned inward.

I felt like I needed to hide from the drugs; the pipes, the trays, the smells, the bottles.
I cowered and hid from the violence; the drama, the yelling, the noise, the sirens.
I hid from the strangers in my living room; the men, the lurkers, the lovers.
I would imagine myself being in different places. Different houses, different cars, or different families.
I believe that I hid so often that there didn’t seem to be any benefits to coming back out again. It didn’t feel safe.

By the time that I started looking to different substances I was already a lost person.

All that I really yearned for was inner peace and calm, and some type of contentment. I just wanted all types of enough, to simply be enough.

I didn’t think that Recovery would work for me,
because I believed to my core that I was a throw away person.

But I wanted it.
I wanted to learn how to live a sober life.

The more I learned about God- the more I felt like I knew about myself,
and the more that I knew about myself through Christ,
the more I felt okay being who I was in my own skin.

I was finally able to make some real peace with my past.
I finally understood that I could not take back my bad choices, or get the time I had lost back.
I could not live on regret and I may not regain all of my memory either.
I began to understand that I was forgiven and it was alright to move forward.
I was given a sense of peace about it and felt ready to make new choices and new memories.

I was finally able to face and accept my past, and even embrace it to use it for something good.
I had a new chance to do something with my life. I was alive for a reason.
Letting God use my past for His glory, took away all of the negative power that I had given it before. 
It was now completely powerless in bringing me back down.
I was not going back there.

I want everyone who is hurting or struggling to know the truth.
You are loved and you are so so valuable.
God’s love is powerful, His love is the kind that can mend, heal, and re-create.
Through it, you can feel again.
You can love again.
You can live again.
You can look in the mirror again.

Recovery with God doesn’t mean that you won’t have to put in hard work, or learn new things.
Actually, the opposite happens. You are dismantled piece by piece, and re-built with parts that are so true to who you are. You will quickly begin to feel and believe that the cards you were dealt, and the mess that you have made of your life- are NOT the end of your story.

The struggle is real, but so is our GOD, and so is Hope,  and so is life after addiction.

God will absolutely restore every single thing that was taken from you and everything that you gave away to your addiction.

That, and much, much more.

8 Things I Wasn’t Expecting In Early Recovery

Being newly sober  was not what I expected.
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  Here are some things that I personally would have wanted to know early on:

1.  You might feel like you’re physically dying.
Say hello to withdrawal.
On a scale of one-to-ten your severity of pain or discomfort will vary, but go in knowing that your body is cleaning house. This can get ugly and it won’t feel good.
No it isn’t fun but it is a necessary part of getting to the best years of your life. You are breaking down barriers to find the new you.
Don’t give up now. You will get through it.

2. After Detox/withdrawal it gets harder.
So you conquered the first ninety-days and that is HUGE. But things won’t magically be or feel better just because you are sober. After some of the fog clears you might look around and notice that so many other things are still a mess.
Good news friends: It’s okay. Messes clean up and it will take some time. You can only clean up so much at once, so try to remind yourself of the progress that you have made and don’t focus so much on all that you have left to do. It will all get done.

3. The emotional struggle is real. 
You are so used to drugs making you feel better or helping you to not feel the things that made you feel guilty or sad or the things that acted as reminders of who you became.
Be prepared. You are going to feel things that you thought you hid away and you are going to feel things that you don’t recognize and it’s likely that you moods will be all over the place for a while.
Recovery is the opposite of everything that you’re used to, but it is going to be okay. Give it some time and things will even out a little bit more each day. Feelings are good and come and go, so remind yourself that it’s okay to feel the things, but they shouldn’t dictate your actions. 

4. Keeping busy has a purpose.
Often getting sober means that you are getting acquainted with yourself after a long stretch of time. Maybe you never knew what you liked to do to relax, unwind, or recharge. It is possible that you don’t know what recreational fun should look like for you or what kinds of things you are into. What in the hell do you do with downtime? How do you celebrate your victories? How do you curb negative thinking or a mindset that used to trap you inside of your own mind?
In early recovery it is important to try new things and to get a feel for new activities that you can inject into your new life and your new routine.

5. Reaching out can save your progress and your life.
Isolation in early recovery can tear down progress quicker than Donald Trump can say the word great or use singular expressive adjectives to exclaim disdain for his opponents. Sad!
You might not feel comfortable reaching out or ready to pick up the phone and tell someone you are having a shit day or are feeling like giving up. Hiding and concealing is no longer an option. I learned early on that my addiction was very tricky and deceitful. It won every single time that I tried to secretly battle it alone. No one is going to shame you for making the courageous decision to ask for encouragement.
Also, it is your job to speak up and to tell someone that you are having an off day or are feeling unsure of your existence or your choice to be in recovery.
Tell someone who you know cares about you and your Recovery.
Don’t keep it to yourself. 

6. Recovery changes ALL of the time.
You might assume that the second that you made the decision to quit and change that you will quit and that will be it. But that isn’t the reality of choosing sobriety. It changes all of the time.
Every single day life will reveal a little bit more to you. Each day you will grow and move away from the old you, as you step into your new way of living your life. As you make new friends and visit new places or meetings or groups you will change. As you implement new activities or uncover new loves for certain hobbies you will change. Every time you tell the truth and follow through you will change. As you set and reach and crush your personal or professional goals you will change. Your recovery benefits from every single thing that you do and think and say and decide. It all matters and it all pushes you closer to your authentic self.

7. Not everyone will be happy for you.
So I guess I expected people to be really happy for me. I thought that everyone would be on board and I would have a group of supporters beating down my door to pat me on the back.. but not everyone cared. There are so many people out there who will have your back and cheer you on, but they may not be the people who you expected. I have lost a lot of ‘friends’ and many of my relationships are gone, over or have changed. But I have gained a family and true, solid, friendships.

8. The other side of staying busy is learning to be alone with yourself.
This was probably one of my least favorite experiences as a newly sober woman.
Just because I was sober and wanted to learn how to embrace a calm, healthy way of living, didn’t mean that I loved myself. I still hated who I was and I had no idea when the loving myself part would happen. Over time I learned how to differentiate between my past mistakes and the person who I was becoming, the things that I could and could not control or change, and the difference between a bad choice and an inherently bad human being. I wasn’t as terrible to be alone with as I had once believed, but it definitely took some getting used to before I could look into a mirror without crying or wanting to smash my face into it.

I hope that these 8 things serve as reminders to you that you are not alone in this thing.

I may not have felt exactly how you are feeling but I can empathize with what you might be going through and I can only say these two things are guaranteed:

God loves you and is for you and will carry you and be by your side, and it all gets better as time passes.

 

Healing Our Voids.

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C.S Lewis describes lust, as he does every other topic:
His description is not only beautiful- it is complete, intricate, complex and yet somehow he makes it simple.

I have no idea how his heart and mind were so able to mesh concepts in such a way –
but he was so gifted and insightful.

He talks about desires of the flesh and states that as humans when dealing with any ‘pleasure’ that we healthily or unhealthily indulge in-
if we have yet to fill our hearts with Jesus we will eventually find ourselves in this predicament:

“With an ever-increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure.”

This phrase hits it right on the head for me. Yes it describes my personal experience with substance abuse, but long before I ended up struggling with addiction, I was searching.
I really had spent the majority of my life searching for something that would satisfy my craving for loyalty, peace, consistency, someone to love, and a need to let myself accept love.

So maybe, I searched in a bottle for whatever ‘that’ is.
Other people might look in needles, pill bottles, bars, relationships, shopping malls, or casinos trying desperately to fill that void.

That void represents a broken place that we are trying to fix the wrong way.
We are seeking anything that lessens the pain or that gives us the illusion of happiness, even if we know it won’t last.

But as C.S. Lewis said, each time we use these things to fill that gap, it loses some of its luster. Over time it doesn’t do its job anymore and we either try to find more or move on to something more powerful or that takes up more space.

We are all really on a journey of personal experiences and there will come a time that we all have face the hard things. Some of us might be able to elude this for a larger span of time, but eventually, we will all find a place to land.

What I think we are really searching for is a place where we can are safe to feel freedom, to find peace, comfort, and a true sense of self.

 

Staying Sober Over the Holidays.

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I know that this time of year is so difficult for a lot of people who are living sober lives.

This is a time where emotions are running high and if you are from a dysfunctional or unhealthy family, it can really be a stress filled time.

Family gatherings aren’t technically social events, but they are similar.

Often we can feel pressured to drink in this setting, and being around people who you are connected with can make for emotionally charged experience.

Many people may or may not have accepted or forgiven you at this point.
You might have to deal with the cold shoulder from a few, and hard or uncomfortable questions from others.

Most people will identify these scenarios as triggers.
A lot of opportunity for triggers to pop up.

My holiday advice for anyone who is dedicated to living a sober life is pretty simple.

1. Do what is best for you.
Period. Whether that means going and hanging out for awhile, or choosing to skip it. Try not to let guilt or any kind of pressure defer what you know is best for you.

2. Do have a plan.
If you attend any holiday related festivities make sure that you have an exit plan. Commit to sticking to your plan. Pre-plan what you will do if you are feeling the pressure, or if you just aren’t feeling the environment.

3. Do try to give it a fair chance.
Obviously, you don’t want to put yourself in a situation that you cannot handle yet. But you also don’t want to avoid everything either. Sometimes living in isolation seems like it would be easier to deal with but realistically, we know that we cannot learn to handle life or test our new found skills that are lying around in our tool box if we never accept any invitations to put ourselves anywhere other than a meeting.

4. Do have a list of phone numbers with you in your wallet, in your pocket or stuffed in your clutch. These are people that you can slip into back room and call if you need some right now or if you need sound, direct, helpful advice or someone to encourage you and take a quick assessment on how things are going. (this can sponsor, a caring best friend, a group leader, a counselor, social worker, case worker, anyone really as long as they are a healthy someone who cares about you.)

5. Do listen to your gut.
If you are feeling yourself break down emotionally, physically or any other way, acknowledge those ques. You are trying to tell yourself something. Don’t brush it off or ignore it. It can cause you unnecessary anxiety and it’s really not worth it.

6. Do interact.
If you are anything like me, you aren’t very good at being social and newly sober. In my experience, this gets better over time. Avoiding having to interact while sober will only delaying the inevitable.
Practice does help us to improve in any area and this is a great time to give it a try. This could be your first shot at building healthy, honest, solid relationships with people.

7. Do accept your decision. If you choose not to go for whatever reason own that decision and value your thought out choice. Don’t allow yourself to use it as an excuse to feel down or sorry for yourself because you are alone in a holiday. With all of that said, keep in mind that you opted out voluntarily, for good reasons.

 

If it is a choice between missing out on an annual get together somewhere—-and your sobriety…..

Always choose your sobriety.

People who love you and who empathize with your situation will understand.
If not, choose sobriety anyway.

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Embracing You.

 

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As I grow as a woman I have learned why it is important to maintain a balance between who I am, who I am not, and what my personal goals are.
I try to just embrace who I am right now and she is pretty okay.

Life for me has become more about why I am here
rather than how I look while I am here,
or who I am not while I am here.

I think that finally figuring out why I am here on this earth
has helped me feel super comfy about who I am.
I have realized that rather than fighting myself to be someone who I am not,  and may not ever be, I am just going to love and accept who I am.

Over the last decade I have definitely eliminated a long list of things I am not here to do.
Things that are not my why or things that I was not put here to do.
(Mostly because I have spent a lot of time meandering about, living an aimless life.)

Here are some things that I have learned along the way: 

*I am not a people pleaser and If I am, I am a really bad one. It only makes you tired anyway.
*Looking to someone else for self-identity, significance, or approval will always put you on the wrong path every single time.
*I drifted further away from my true self using other people’s opinions of who I should be.
*Quirky and unique qualities are actually really cool, which is opposite of what cool people think.
*There are no such things as cool people, there are just people.
*Setting limits is a necessary part of wellness.
*Knowing our own limits is another big part of wellness.
*People appreciate authenticity and people who don’t are usually struggling with their own.
*Grief is personal, and as long as you are grieving healthily, you have the right to go at your own pace. Cry when you want, remember when you want and take your time.
*It’s not always easy doing the right thing, in any situation. Do it anyway.
*Life is bumpy at best, but not just for me, for everyone.
*Shame is something that will hold you back and keep you down. Stay away from people who like to remind you of your past, or who refuse to embrace you presently, as you are. Bye.
*If we say yes all of the time to everything, we aren’t really living our own lives, or using our gifts and talents what we are actually supposed to be doing. Think before you nod your head yes to everything.
*Sometimes other women (or people in general) can be hard to get along with some days. Sometimes it’s them, sometimes it’s you. Don’t take it personally. Let it go quickly, and move on.
*Love the people who love you, and love the ones who don’t. Most of the time you can find friends in people who you least expected.
*Last, no matter how you are doing it someone will want to tell you that you are doing it wrong.
Don’t let yourself forget all of the support that you do have, and all of the lovely people who are in your corner, because they are who matter anyway.

This is just a short list of some of the main things that have really helped me continue to move forward on this journey of sobriety and health & wellness.

 

 

History of Addiction

I watched this series of videos and I was entertained. I know not everyone will appreciate or enjoy listening to long stretches of the historical aspect of addiction and recovery but I know a lot of you will be just as intrigued as I was watching this series!

Here is the link to the first one:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaBSm8-BcDY

Each Day Is New.

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For years I started each day with overwhelming sense of disappointment that I woke up…again.
I never looked forward to the chase, but I’m not sure that anyone really does.

My overall attitude had developed into knowing that today would be just like yesterday:
‘Same shit, different day’ and it was just the way I mentally prepared myself for how much the day was going to suck even before it really had a chance to begin.

When the chains that were squeezing the life out of me snapped, this kind of thinking was one of the first things to go.

Obviously, I didn’t develop a new life philosophy or overall attitude toward life overnight, but I did not think about not waking up.

I began to wake up focused on that sliver of hope that I had found, that I could actually do something better with my life. Over time, I adopted a different attitude and a new line of thinking.

I try to remind myself every single morning that each day is new.
Every single morning I am further away from my old life.

I am one more day away from that struggle that I can so vividly remember,
but that I am so intently living opposite of and these are things to be grateful for.

Science tells us that positive emotions broaden our sense of possibilities and can open our mind.
This allows us to build new skills and resources that can benefit all areas of our lives.

Positive thinking produces feelings that cause you to feel happy & expectant of more good to come.

Negative thoughts lead us and drive us too.
They can drive us right back into isolation, and they will continue to dominate our mind until we are intent on combating them.

We can begin to believe that our options are limited and our outlooks will become more narrow.
We can start to feel weighed down and moving forward or making progress can feel too difficult.

It is a nasty trap to fall into and a hard place to get out of.

Anyone who knows me wouldn’t describe me as a morning person.
I have been trying to force myself to turn into one for a few years now, but it really hasn’t worked well. I can’t force myself to wake up and work out before everyone else is awake, and I don’t typically speak to other humans until I have had at least a sip or two of coffee.

Despite the fact that I am not a chipper morning person, I still know how important my thoughts are, especially at the beginning of a new day.

I know that nothing good comes out of dragging all of yesterdays stuff into today or assuming before the day has a chance to begin that it is not going to be decent one, at the very least.

Of course I have days that are more rough than other days, and some days I can feel life smacking me in the face, but like they say my worst sober day has nothing on my best day when I was living my life chasing something that I could never catch.

So every day I try to start by reminding myself of all of the things that I am blessed to have.
I remind myself that I have choices.
I am an imperfect person with an imperfect, but full, sober life.
I love myself and I love the people who are doing this thing called life with me, and I am alive. 🙂

His compassion never ends.
It is only the Lord’s mercies that have kept us from complete destruction.
Great is his faithfulness; his loving-kindness begins fresh each day.
LAMENTATIONS 3:22-23

 

 

Fall 17 times, Stand up 18.

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One of the first books of the Bible that I ever read (or understood)
was in the book of Romans.
Romans 7:18 was the first thing that I memorized.
(Naturally, I had to get it tattooed on my body.)

Verse 18 goes like this:
I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.

It continues in verse 19 to say:
For what I do is not the good I want to do;
no the evil I do not want to do-
this I keep on doing.

Wow, right?!

This is the best way  to describe what was happening in my life at during my darkest times.

I kept trying to do better and I kept falling on my face.
Over and over and over again.

Deep down I wanted to do better or to be better, but I just kept digging deeper and deeper and falling further away from what I wanted to be until I just gave in.

The whole theme of my downward spiral was basically my well-intentioned desires
being over powered by underlying pain, unmet needs and sub-par coping skills
as I was living a life contrary to my very quiet conscience that desperately tried to make itself heard despite being smothered.

The fight between what I somehow know was right and what we I was actually capable of doing was so real.

The struggle can tire you out pretty fast and before you know it you are drowning yourself so you don’t have to look at the mess that is your life.

I tried to get sober and stay sober on my own, by myself, many times.
Dozens.

I tried to take on my demons and in the end, I lost every single time.

This verse doesn’t remind me of my strength or my own power-
it reminds me that my ego is not my friend.
It reminds me that pride is not what keeps my recovery growing.
I don’t have all of the answers.
I know what I can handle, and what I cannot.
I know my limits.
I know that I cannot do this alone, and there won’t ever be a time where I am called to live in isolation.
That is not what we were meant to do or how we were meant to live and it is not how recovery works either.

With God on your side, nothing that comes against you will be able to take you back down to that place ever again.

When you do fall, He will pick you up.

This is how we beat that urge to give into the familiar power that has overtaken us so many times before.

This is how we win.

The Smaller Reminders.

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Looking back, early recovery was basically a big block time filled with excruciating discomfort.

Of course any life change is uncomfortable and so is coming off of drugs, but what had really terrified me was coming to the realization that I never really did know who I was. I hadn’t ever found myself. It was one of the hardest of my truths to accept, stone cold sober.

There were strong emotions that accompanied accepting that I was and had really always been, completely lost.

But even in the midst of my discomfort and all of the unknowns that I was being introduced to, this new way of life still offered a long list of positives that overshadowed all of my discomfort.

And while these positives didn’t cancel out the consequences of my choices, they did a great job of providing hope and inspiration to keep going despite all of the discomfort.
The ability to appreciate the small things was one of the first gifts that sobriety gifted to me.

I began to notice the things that I had never given a second look before.

I can remember the first time that I looked up and noticed the sun setting.
I was completely overwhelmed by the natural beauty.
The colors were so bold and bright.
This massive sky was very clear about its presence.

And I felt so small and so surprised that I had never taken the time to appreciate something that felt so obvious and beautiful.

The earth had presented this beauty every day of my short life of almost 23 years and I had never stopped long enough to appreciate or notice it.

For the first time I realized that I actually had the ability to soak in a moment and benefit from something that I couldn’t buy at a store or pick up from a pharmacy.

That was a personal victory.
And somehow, I even felt closer to God even though we were hardly acquainted.

The overwhelming beauty of the earth in all its natural glory truly put me in my place and I felt humbled.

I realized that The universe is a powerful living thing, and I have power over exactly none of it.

If something like this could make my heart feel so peaceful maybe life didn’t have to be as complicated as I had made it for so long. Maybe it was all more simple.

I had spent a lot of time trying to find ‘happy’.
I still hadn’t figured out how to fill the dark place inside of myself.

I would have never imagined that something so simple (& free) could offer me peace and calm.  But what had changed was my mind, my heart and my perspective.

The sun has been doing its thing for a while.

Even now, years later, I still pull my car over to the side of the road if that means that I get a better view of a sunset.

Every single time I am reminded:

*Why I choose simplicity and why toxicity can have no place in my life.
*How small I am and how great God is.
*That busy is overrated
*How far the east is from the west; my transgressions have been moved that far away from me.
*My lack of control is very real. It is important to be aware of what I can and cannot control.
*How grateful that I am for the small things.
*The sun will always come up tomorrow and that means we have a new day- new chances and new opportunities to do a better job.

Sunsets have become meaningful to me and represent a lot of sober and beautiful happenings that I never thought would happen in my life.

It is a good reminder to me to not allow myself to get too wrapped up in anything that would cause me to ignore something so obvious and magnificent that is provided for us on a daily basis.

A new chance to start again tomorrow.

Wanted to share this with you. This song by Casting Crowns, truly speaks to me.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_JtiNF-mi0 

Carrying Your Message.

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The step 12 that I am familiar with reads like this:
Having had a spiritual experience as the result of these steps, we try to carry this message to others and practice these principles in all our affairs.

I am sure the one you have memorized is similar, give or take a few words or phrases.

Maybe you don’t work a 12-step recovery, and that’s okay. You can still read and relate to this.

Two important things about sharing your message:

1. ) In early recovery carrying your message will help other people
but it will probably benefit you more than you are anticipating.

Most of us go in early on with a simple goal of encouraging someone-
well… anyone, or at least ….one person who happens to be listening to us.

The process & preparation involved in sharing in early recovery
is something that contributes and promotes more personal healing for us than we can see at the time.

*First there is the reflecting and writing part.
There is something really powerful about writing your very personal experience down on screen or paper with the intent to share.
It can be an overwhelming process, but overwhelming in a really, really great way.
It is almost too much goodness. Like, is this even real life?
It is remarkable how much has changed and how much peace we have found.
Just wow.

*Then, there is the reading it out loud to a room full of strangers who may or may not be there by choice part, that brings another level of self-healing.
Deep breaths and tiny prayers whispered before beginning won’t help you hold back the gigantic alligator tears that are coming.
They’ll come anyway.Keep speaking. Everything is still so fresh, and raw.
It is likely that a mixture of gratitude and disbelief will take over your entire body and there won’t be much you can do to stop it all from happening.
You are glowing and the happy is just seeping out of your skin.
You might have a wet sloppy tear soaked face and a runny nose, but
you are alive and this experience is surreal.

What you are really hoping is that one human hearing your words needs to hear these words.
That one heart out there is feeling a little bit of relief hearing how much you have come back from, and how resilient our spirits really are. Someone is connecting with your message. They hear you telling them how accessible and free grace is. They can see that the hard work won’t have to be done alone. Someone out there just might keep trying because of something that you say.If you can stand up there all sober and grateful, then surely, anyone can.

2.) The ways that you carry your message won’t always look the same. (and that’s okay!) 
Over time the way that you carry your message will shift according to where you are planted.
We all have a specific gift and different ways of connecting with people.
So of course how we connect with people will change and grow as we change and grow as people.

For me, as time has passed the focus of my story has shifted little by little.
It  has become less about me and the details of my specific journey as an individual,
and has become more about helping other people to embrace whatever God has in store for their lives.

We are everywhere carrying our message.
Some of us are more boisterous than others, but we are out there.
We are living and sharing stuff.
We have worked hard and have learned the value of living well; we strive to lead healthy lives, living as the best versions of ourselves. We are everywhere. All twenty threeish million of us.

Living sober has offered us the opportunity to uncover our life’s true purpose,
and we are free to take our message of hope with us wherever we go.
So embrace your story.
Allow it to change and grow with you.
Don’t be afraid to own your experiences.
Do what you can with what you have from where you are.
Take your message to other people.

I know there is someone out there who needs to hear what you have to say.


 

 

 

Guts.

Justice means much more than the sort of thing that goes on in the court of law.

It is the old name for everything that we now call fairness; it includes honesty, give and take, truthfulness, keeping promises and all that side of life.

and Fortitude includes both kinds of courage-
the kind that faces danger as well as the kind that sticks it out under pain.
The term ‘guts’ is perhaps the nearest modern English term.

You will notice, of course, that you cannot practice any of the other virtues very long without bringing this one into play.

(C.S Lewis, 1977, The Joyful Christian)

Coming Out of Hiding.

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Hidden secrets will destroy you from the inside out.
Hiding behind substances will only deepen the roots of pain and the original problems.
Hiding from God- is unrealistic.
Hiding from reality is really exhausting.

The whole time that I was hiding, I really thought that I was protecting myself or blending in.
Maybe that was true in the beginning. I spent my childhood hiding, tucking myself safely away. Sometimes physically, other times I hid inside of my mind to block out what I needed to block out. I morphed into a person who could hide in plain sight.

I am positive that this was a coping mechanism, and it didn’t really translate well as the years went by.
I hid through the years of my adolescence in different dysfunctional relationships. I used substances as a way to end pain, and to force myself out of my comfort zone.
I was just drowning in severe depression and continuously reburying resentment that kept boiling to the surface.

It was the perfect storm. My addiction crept up on me and after it took over, hiding was my full-time job.
The lies always seemed like they had me right where they wanted me.

Alone.

I failed miserably at my first few sobriety attempts. I really did. I didn’t think I could do it.
I was afraid of failing and I was so scared to see what was out there.
I knew that I would have to face all of the things that I had been hiding from.

Recovery became my only option.
After a little bit of sober time it finally became clear to me why hiding is so dangerous.

We think we are isolating ourselves and hiding from everything that can hurt us.
What we are really doing is running from things that we cannot outrun, and shutting ourselves off from anything good that could happen in our lives.

I learned that God had been with me in all of my secret ‘hiding’ places.
God who loves me so much; despite all of the places that I had been.
Even after knowing all of the secrets that I thought I had kept.
He already knew the deepest innermost secluded parts of my heart.
When I realized this, and came to a place where I believed this- there is where I found my hope.
Hiding didn’t seem as necessary, and coming out didn’t seem as dangerous.

When our past, our mistakes, our vulnerabilities and short-comings are all known…
and we know it…….
there isn’t any reason to hide.

The truth sets you free because it illuminates all things.
Which means, you that you finally get to come out of hiding.

 

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

Recovery Is Real.

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HOPE:
1 of 10 guiding principals of in SAMHSA’s working definition of Recovery:

“The belief that #Recovery is real provides the essential and motivating message of a better future.
People CAN and DO overcome the internal and external challenges, barriers and obstacles that confront them.
#HOPE is the catalyst of the #Recovery process.”

#SAMHSA
(Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

#Recovery Principals

No More Shame.

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The “No More Shame” Campaign
is designed to empower Recovery.
(learn more here: http://www.pinterest.com/treatmentcenter/nomoreshame/)

*People who have struggled with addiction and are now in Recovery are publicly proclaiming that they are not going to hide anymore.We are not ashamed of our past.

*Families are saying that they are done hiding.
They are going to speak out.

Why?

Basically, to encourage people who are still struggling with addiction to reach out and to encourage families to reach out as well. Everyone involved needs some kind of support and this movement can help.
Each one of us can do our part to chip away at the stigma surrounding addiction so that when people do find the courage to reach out, they can without having so much fear and anxiety of being pushed away.

This hits home for me personally.
I hid my entire life. I covered up- I pretended- I smiled-
I spent all of my energy hiding an addiction and a mental illness that wasn’t even mine.

I went on to hide my own addiction for years.
and I am done hiding.

I know that many would say (many in my own family included)
that addicts isolate themselves, so really it’s their problem.

I would say that in many cases, yes. That is exactly what addicts do.
They manipulate and isolate.

Part of that is shame of who they allowed themselves to become and part of that is not really wanting to hear the truth.

However, there are those who are simply afraid to speak up and are afraid of humiliating themselves or their families.
Families are ashamed to reach out or speak up. They suffer in silence and hide the addict. They follow closely behind the addict, covering up the destruction that is happening inside of their home and hearts.

Addicts are not just the people at the exit ramps holding cardboard signs.
Many are people that you see every day, struggling inside & are hiding in plain sight.
Some, struggle behind closed doors- alone.
The harsh reality is – people who are isolated and ashamed of themselves take their own lives. Many will use until their lives are taken from them.

I had not always been a hot mess. Many judged me and had no idea how I got to that place, nor did they really care. I had been written off as a loser-nonredeemable- fuck up by most people; and I believed it. Of course none of that means anything-because there are thousands of people out there who care, but I know how it feels to believe all of those lies!

I was blessed to have an amazing best friend, boyfriend; now husband who loved me back to life.
I had someone who told me that I was loved, needed and could fight through.
I am so grateful to have had that enduring support, and a backbone when I needed one of my own.
It saddens me to think where I would have been if the right people had not intervened in my life when they did. Without a doubt, I know that God constructed my scenario.
That is why I feel so strongly about loving others despite them not being perfect or living what we would call ‘ideal’ lives.

When I ‘went public’ about my past and my own addiction + recovery…
you would not believe how much support that I received. I could hardly believe it.
I was completely shocked when people started confiding  in me about their past, their addiction, or other forms of personal bondage that they have experienced.
Others have shared the struggles that their own sons, daughters or other family members have endured.
Just this week I have had three beautiful, strong and courageous people reach out to me.
I listen to their stories and problems and am so honored to be confided in.
Sometimes, that is all people need; to not feel alone.

We have to got to get to a place where loving people is more important than judging them, categorizing them and dumping them off into some labeled place in our minds that we save for those who we feel aren’t worth our time. God can’t work through us if we are picking and choosing who is worthy of our ‘gifts’ , time or our love.

There is help.
With counseling, modern medicine, therapy, and God’s restoration-
people change.
Sick people can get well.
Families can mend.
Relationships can be restored.
We can make amends.
We can hold our heads high with no regret.

We have experienced something life-changing and powerful.
We are over-comers.
We.Do.Recover.

 

 

You Won’t Please Everyone.

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My blog is public for a reason.
I try my best to use my experiences to help other people in recovery.
I make my ‘work’ email available to anyone who might need it.
People contact me if they are interested in writing a guest piece for Discovering Beautiful.
Many people send me emails with networking opportunities.
Others just email me to update me on their progress in recovery or just to vent.
and I love and appreciate having the opportunity to connect with my readers.

But unfortunately, doing things this way also leaves the door wide open for people from my past to contact me.
This was a non-issue for my first couple of years in the blogosphere.

I know for sure that some of the people who I used/partied/ruined my life with do read the things that I write.
Truthfully, I am grateful for that.
Everyone deserves to live a healthy life and if I say anything to encourage that for someone else no matter who they are, or how I know them, or if I don’t know them….
that is awesome. That’s what giving back is all about.

But one person from my past (who I would prefer not to hear from)
has sent me several emails over the years.

He feels like it is really important to remind me in each one that I:
“Not ever forget where I came from.”
Well thanks for that.
I won’t.

I will be honest, this frustrates me more than it should, but I remind myself that
there are two kinds of people:

*People who have some unhealthy connection to a certain lifestyle and will never allow themselves to forget where they came from, who feel some sort of obligation to stay true to a certain way of life. They comply with some unspoken, mandatory code in order to belong to some non-existent club full of people just like them.
The person who sent me these emails (yes, plural. Apparently, it is of utmost importance that i not let myself for get where i came from.)  would only be happy for me if I was a 33 year-old mother of 3, driving an Oldsmobile Cutlass 442, listening to underground unreleased gangster rap, on my way to the laundromat.
Or maybe he wants me go buy my childhood trailer back from its new owners? Or maybe that basement I lived in for so many years is available, I really miss smoking pot all day and making bongs out of household items.

*and the people who aren’t afraid of and believe in embracing change and forward progress.
The ones who can look back and thank God that they had that particular life experience, but who are grateful that so much has changed since that time. These people understand that their roots are a small part of who they are as a whole. They are always with you but are just a piece of your story.

The truth is, when someone says something like this
with a negative underlying tone-
here is what they actually mean:

“You are doing great. You seem to be really happy and a lot different than you were. You are acting ‘better’ than you ‘really’ are, and the truth is, this doesn’t work for me.”

If I let every person who tried to hold me back win, I really would still be living in a basement somewhere believing that I didn’t deserve a GED, and wasn’t capable of doing anything else with my life because I had already failed.
I think that if someone like Jay-Z did the same thing, he might still be in the projects.
If Jewel did the same thing, she might still be living in a car somewhere.
If Eminem believed what others said about him, he just might still be living in Detroit working in a factory.

We don’t have to forget where we came from but we don’t have to let that place or that lifestyle be the base in which we live our new lives.
Certain things will always be a part of our story, but we are in no way obligated to any of it.

You really can’t write new additions to your story if you are obsessive about re-reading the old parts.

Not everyone is going to applaud or support the changes that you have to make in order to invest in your recovery.
It really is just another thing that you have to learn to deal with, but considering all of the hard things that you are forced to go through for sobriety, this issue is a small obstacle.

I am going to keep working and will keep doing my best to help as many people believe in themselves as I can.
If you are reading this, don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t change or that you don’t have what it takes to make it.

 

 

 

Triggers.

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-As the saying goes:
‘you get out what you put in.’

*We walk through a painful past so that we can focus on our present.
*By taking risks & forgiving people we shed the weight of some of the heavy baggage that we have been carrying.
*We hold ourselves accountable to gain a sense of personal responsibility to build back our integrity.
*Self-confidence is built by reaching short term goals and celebrating small victories.
*Trust is earned back and relationships are restored every time we follow through.

Recovery delivers.
The rumors were true.
Recovery works.


-But there is another saying, that also holds true:
‘you reap what you sow.’

I can’t even count how many surprises popped up year after year into my recovery. Anything that we plant eventually grows into something, and it is our job to harvest. Our bad choices and unhealthy decisions can follow us around for years and it can start to feel like the hits won’t ever stop coming.

Every single one of our choices have consequences, and they don’t have a statute of limitation. 
My personal experiences are loaded with examples:

*My bad credit following me around year after year, with paid collectors who call to remind me of purchases that I don’t even remember making.
*Getting looked over for a few positions because of my inconsistent work history.
*Not getting into the college of my choice because of my GPA.
*Being totally mortified when I wasn’t allowed to be added to my husband’s auto insurance. I am a liability. (Who knew)
*I still can’t fall asleep on my own and it seems as though my short-term memory is forever damaged.

Bad choices deliver. 
The rumors were true.
We are free to choose but we are not free from the consequence of our choice.


For me, recovery was a double edged sword for a long time.
It seemed that with each phase there were equal parts of positives and negatives.

While I was feeling good and gaining confidence as each day passed, and learning to really accept and love myself for the first time in my life, negatives kept popping up.
I think the ratio of good to bad felt like 1: 5. (Ex: For every healthy choice I made I had five warrants.)
How many pats on the back can you get in the same day that you are also tirelessly righting wrongs?
I had times where frustration got the best of me and I found myself asking God when I would be done being put through the ringer. I had nothing left to squeeze out, and just when I thought I had faced all of the stuff, asked for enough forgiveness, reached out to make amends, every time I made another right choice-
something else would come back around to remind me of exactly who I used to be and it always came in the form of a fine, a long-lost bill , a denial of some kind, or some other burned bridge I had long forgotten about.

Time does not cancel out natural consequences (everything surfaces eventually)
but time does offer opportunity to develop character qualities that will prepare us to win each fight.
We don’t have to become a slave to fear of an inevitable future full of wonderful, happy, exciting recovery…and a few surprise forgotten consequences along the way.

Triggers are everywhere and sometimes they are as simple as reminders of our bad choices.
As long as we are moving forward a little tiny bit each day, we will be ready to combat those reminders with our new truth, because we know better and we are doing better.

Don’t be misled—you cannot mock the justice of God.
You will always harvest what you plant.

Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit.
So let’s not get tired of doing what is good.
At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up.

Galatians 6: 7-9

 

Why Did You Change?

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For family members or friends of people who are addicted, we often wonder if they will ever change.
We worry.
We lose sleep.
We wish we had answers or effective words or more powerful love.
What it will take for them to finally be ready?
How much more will they have to lose?
How many more injuries can they sustain? Hasn’t it been enough yet?
What if it is never enough?

But I know better. Endless worrying won’t make any difference.

That pressure to change can be crippling. To hear the desires and concerns of people who have pure intentions, who are not motivated by anything other than the bond of love. While their expectations are heard, (and it would be perfect if they inspired people to change), most of the time it only stirs up anger toward self, and toxic shame. I can remember scrutinizing myself relentlessly after a plea from a family member. For fuck’s sake, the way I viewed myself was about all of the criticism that I could handle, and when I was hounded with inquisitions concerning my life choices, I just wanted to evaporate. I didn’t want to think about how many people I had hurt or let down.

I hit my personal bottom a few different times just to be safe. But I was tired and as motivated as I would ever be, to take the jump.

But having the motivation or feeling inspired to change varies with every single person. Everyone has a place that might look like a bottom to everyone else, but it doesn’t feel like it’s deep enough for the person who is using. Then on the other hand, not everyone has to hit a bottom. The hard and unfortunate truth is, some of us make it and some of us don’t. I am not sure we can pinpoint a definitive answer for why this happens.

Maybe it is just a combination of things. My personal opinion is that it is a mixture of a person’s psychological and biological make-up & development, whether or not there is a consistent and solid support system in place,and also whether or not the system in some cases (doctors, insurance etc) drops the ball during any phase of recovery attempt.

Yet, sometimes all of those things are happening, and moving and turning and the wheels are spinning and things are working and it still doesn’t change the outcome. It is baffling to me. Why is it that some of us hit bottom and change.  We feel motivated or inspired, we take the  jump, and somehow we accumulate time and we make it to tell the story. And then, some people who are motivated and inspired who have hit bottom and want change so badly, they don’t make it.

In life I have learned that there are simply some answers we don’t get the privilege of knowing. Sometimes there just aren’t clear-cut answers. It can be frustrating and it feels like we should know more and do more and be more for other people. But we can only do so much.

I am just going to focus on asking myself how I can best help people to stay motivated.
How can I help another person to keep progressing as time passes after they get to the point where they are willing and open to making changes?
How can I be of service to them as long as they are wiling and active participants in their recovery?

Maybe the best answer for me right now is to stay motivated. To keep doing my tiny part in this huge thing.

Early Recovery Truths.

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Early recovery is hard for so many reasons.
I think we all have unique experiences, but a lot of the hurdles early on are very similar.
One of the biggest problems many of us face is the fear of confronting our past.

For me, facing the truth was important to my sobriety.
It was really one of the first steps that I needed to take in order for any of this to work.

Drugs began as my happy place but Addiction became my hiding place.

Sobriety was uncomfortable for so many reasons, in so many ways, but basically it meant that I had to allow myself to be various levels of vulnerable.

I did not like vulnerable.

Exposing myself meant facing the past and looking at the present, and deep down I already knew what that was going to be like. I mean obviously, I had been doing my best to avoid it for as long as possible.

I knew that if I really wanted to change, I had to accept things that weren’t going to be easy.
One of the hardest parts for me was that I had to let go of the past.

Here 3 things that I realized along the way:

1.) Allowing yourself to let go of the past doesn’t mean that it didn’t matter.
Letting it go means not letting it take up any more room in your head or your heart for anymore time.
This makes room for new, healthy, meaningful things.

Yes it matters, but that isn’t the same thing as continuously feeling it or thinking about it.
I had been holding on so tightly because to me that was equivalent to showing that it happened and not forgetting it.
I didn’t really know what else to do with the pain.

I learned that the things that I experienced were wrong, and they shouldn’t have happened, but the blame game was officially over. In order for me to move forward, it had to be.

My feelings were heard, validated, and met with empathy.
and that’s all that could be done. It was now my job to put it away.

I learned that you can either take the deck of cards that you were dealt and play them however you can,
or you can fold because its too hard. I wanted back in the game and I was done playing conservatively.

I learned that we have no control over which environment that we are born into and we are not in control of our childhood, but that we can try to do something different.

We can stay stuck, living tied up emotionally, like a prisoner held captive by repetitive thoughts and recurring reminders of the same pain over and over again or we can decide that enough is enough, and be done living there.

Facing and accepting the painful stuff for exactly what it was gave me permission to begin the healing process through forgiveness.No longer would I allow my past to have control over the choices that I would make in my future.

Buh-bye, crappy past.

2.) The past is not an excuse to denounce ownership of the present.
If I wanted to learn how to make more responsible choices in the future, my first step was going to have to be taking responsibility for my poor choices in the past.
By taking ownership it meant that I no longer blamed or relied on other people to direct my life and the way that it was going.
I finally understood the direct connection that I had with blame, by tying my hurtful past in with every choice that I made for myself as a young adult. By taking charge of my choices and acknowledging that they were mine, I could sever the link between the present and all of my rage, bitterness, and stored up anger.
I learned that there were reasons why I hadn’t made thoughtful choices for myself or invested in my future. I was self-sabotaging because I didn’t believe in myself, I didn’t believe that I deserved any better, and I felt more comfortable being angry and sad.
I used my childhood as an excuse to stay stuck for far too long.
By admitting powerlessness over drugs and alcohol I actually began to see that I did have the power to make different choices. I could, in fact, rise up and do some really good stuff in my life. I had been drowning myself the entire time.

3.) Hard truths actually prepare us for healthy and progressive recoveries.
Cool things happen when you face reality, even if that reality is not pretty or perfect.
Rolling with the punches or accepting whatever life throws at you isn’t always easy, but it will make you stronger.
That is what happens when you start to unpack your own baggage. You don’t need a man to unpack your bags, you’ll unpack your own. It allows you to see exactly how strong you are, and at that point, you are totally pumped and ready to keep pushing forward in your recovery.

When you start to live your life with your head above the sand, you have no choice but to learn different ways to cope with the ups and downs of life.

You start to understand that feeling is a good thing and to feel the good things means that unfortunately, we also have to feel the negative emotions too.

It is scary but we stood up and felt the things that were once killing us (literally).

I progress in my recovery by allowing my experiences to relate to other people in different ways.
I have become a compassionate and empathetic person.
Now, I can see how all of the hard things in my recovery have actually been some of the biggest blessings to my own life and how they have enabled me to be a help to other people.

Recovery doesn’t mean that the past is erased,
it just gives us the opportunity to do something different with our past and our mistakes besides letting it destroy us and shame us into isolation.

We are allowed to be exactly who were are, and who we are is shaped by our past, but not controlled by our past.

 

No More Shame.

How do we break stigma associated with drug addiction?

Well, we get sober and act silly in front our webcam’s while we drink coffee.
We LIVE. 🙂 We get healthy. In yo’ face stigma.

Ribbet collage2006-2013 #NoMoreShame #Recovery

 

Your Recovery, and Mine.

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I do my best to support all types of people.
I interact with people all of the time from all different religions, who have various beliefs, opposing view- points and people with morals that don’t align with mine, and people who I sometimes struggle to identify with.

I have talked with people who struggle with process addiction, chemical addiction, single mothers, gay people, black people, white people, people who don’t believe in God at all, etc.

We’re all just people, trying to figure out this thing called life.
At the end of the day we are human beings worthy of love.
Everyone deserves to live and experience what being healthy & happy feels like.

Something that I have noticed on social media is that too often,

people who choose to do recovery without God as a part of their program,
tend to assume that people who are Christians in Recovery are working an easier, or less relevant program.

And then, people who personally love God, who attribute their success and sobriety to Him,
seem to have a really hard time being nice to people who have higher powers that go unnamed, or are unconventional.

**First of all, as people who are living sober lives, the most important thing that we can do is to support each other. We are on the same team.
The details really aren’t our business.

**Also we’re alive.
I made it out,
you made it out, so let’s not argue about the logistics.
Okay?

I learned the same things in school that any other Chemical dependency counselor learns, even at a Christian college.

I studied about the psychology of the brain, and the traits that essentially make up our person, the personality that identifies us and is the sum of what makes us unique humans.

Not really sure how my loving Jesus impacts my ability to learn and use the benefits of what we know about modern science and how that correlates to the addictive personality….

As far as my being a Christian in recovery, to even insinuate that somehow I am not “in recovery”  or am not working a real program, or whatever else, is ridiculous.
C’mon.

People quote Buddha, Bill W, and Dali Lama all of the time and that’s acceptable-
but quoting Jesus is not ‘acceptable’?

I really can’t (and won’t) change my personal experience.
Sharing my personal experience means you might have to hear about God.
Sorry.

There is no excuse for being hateful.
Zero.
I know of not one recovery program that follows any principle that promotes hate, condones the judging of other programs, or appoints specific members to act as official recovery police. 

You can disagree with a belief or a choice and still choose to be kind and ETHICAL.

So.

I cannot and will not change for each person that I meet or interact with.
If you cannot be nice that’s really your problem and I think speaks more about your program than anything.

I am not concerned with pleasing every single ‘seeker’ that I run into but I will not automatically categorize a person based off of their spiritual beliefs either. It is not my job to take away God’s title….. as ultimate judge and all-powerful Life-transformer.

I  think I am okay with letting him do his job, and asking him to give me the courage daily to go out into the world-
to share my most intimate and horrifying screw ups and self-revelations with strangers on the internet.

So you go ahead and rock your sobriety and your recovery your way,
the way that works for you.

I am going to continue to share what worked for me, what changed my life, and what I have absorbed through education.

 

 

Bravely Amateur.

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consequences unable to teach
Sobriety out of reach

hands reaching for help,soul screaming for rest
shunned,pushed away, not good enough at best

angry, empty exhaustion setting in
help me, I’m slipping, no ones watching,
dying from my sin

one kind hand, one open heart, the right time, the right place, a fresh new start
recovery, fresh eyes, new life, new heart

fresh air, real hope,reach out ,give back
hard work, good tears,God gives what you lack

thankful ,blessed, revived, new quest
give it away, love them, find all of the rest

they all matter, share your heart, go and tell the others,
help the daughters, sons, the strangers, & other mothers

life with a pulse, a life with purpose
the secrets out, they need to know this

the cries he heard, the screams he can hear
he was there all along, and knows your true fear

take a step toward the light, leave your old life behind
your regrets, shame and failures and your old frame of mind

His love is a gift, transforms you – you will see
he breaks chains and shows you what it means to be free.

So I am not a poet, lol.

When Our Past is Used as a Weapon.

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Our past.
This is a huge part of  our story.

For some of us, our past is not pretty.
Maybe we have caused a lot of pain.
Maybe we have experienced trauma, and hurt.
Many of us have made a lot of mistakes and we have hurt people in the process.

Although our past might be a dark place, it is a place that we have learned to appreciate.
I really don’t like the saying that our past is ‘just a story’. It is a very, very, real place.

Not only does it play a role in who we are now, our experiences allow us to develop wisdom; our past tells a story, and it can teach us important lessons.

But sometimes it will be used as a weapon.
Here are a two examples:

We can use it to beat ourselves up.
Sometimes we use our past as an excuse.
Maybe we will start to remind ourselves why we should quit by using our past choices as an example of why we don’t deserve to live a healthy life.
So often we vow to never allow ourselves to forget the mistakes that we have made.
We punish ourselves. We beat ourselves up.

Other people might try to use it to beat us up.
Oh’ this. It angers me just typing about it. Definitively one of the biggest frustrations of my own Recovery. I know that all people who have struggled with addiction who are living a sober life have experienced this to some extent. It can feel like people keep a list handy of every single thing that we have ever done to them or anyone else. Our mistakes have been inventoried and are readily available to use at the disposal of people who don’t mind using this as a weapon.

 

 

 

Here are a few things that I try to remind myself of if my past is being used to torture me: 

1.) Hurt people hurt people. Hurt people need time to heal, and just like we are healing, the people in our lives are healing too.

2.)  The only thing that really matters is what you believe about yourself. Keep reminding yourself of this truth.

3.) Don’t let this anger you into slipping up. It was a huge trigger for me and had the power to send my mind spiraling out of control. It is not the end of the world if someone still thinks you are a piece of sh*t.

4.)  If you are having a disagreement with someone try to leave the room if things get too emotional. Nothing good happens when it turns into a fight and anger is involved. People say things that they don’t necessarily mean, and recovery is not the place for drama.

If you are a loved one of someone in recovery, who is tempted to use the past as a weapon: 

1.)  Remind yourself that life is complicated and people mess up. They are trying their best to make changes in their life. Throwing these things in their face really only makes them feel terrible, and in turn, makes them want to use or not feel because it hurts so badly to hear how badly they hurt you.

2.) If you are on board, be on board. If you are not willing to learn how to communicate in a healthy way, you should respectfully excuse yourself from their life. Recovery is hard. Don’t make it harder on purpose.

3.) Learn things.
There are meetings for family members. You can talk and vent and learn with other people who know exactly how you feel and you can share your frustrations freely there with them. You are not alone in feeling hurt, or manipulated, or taken advantage of. Your feelings matter too and you deserve to heal and grow just as much as they do.

4.) Don’t fight dirty. If you are in a disagreement or a heated argument with your loved one, leave the room. Take some time to simmer down and regroup. Progress won’t if you talk when you are angry anyway. This way you can try to avoid saying all of the things that you are thinking. 🙂

Remember, healing takes time for everyone involved.
Each person will have their own timeline when it comes to mending emotionally.
Take your time, and play nice.

 

 

 

I Made A Fear(Filled) Moral Inventory

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Most of the time, a life that includes an addiction, also includes a lot of hurt.
Hurting and destroying ourselves, and hurting other people, and buried, ancient hurt we carry.

The guilt and shame that I covered up for so long got to be overwhelming. I cannot express with words the depth of my sorrow that I felt for all of the people who I had hurt. And when I got sober, thinking about all was all I did. My early sober days were spent feeling worthless, ashamed, & embarrassed. It became another cycle that I felt like I couldn’t run fast enough away from.

Eventually I did make it to the part of my program where I was supposed to create an inventory. Taking stock of what or who I had become, and how, and essentially ripping the rest of my heart out and smacking it down onto a piece of paper.

My experience with this step was a game changer, although I didn’t expect it to be a big deal. I was reluctant to participate, and I stalled and procrastinated, but eventually I did it. I searched. I dug around myself inside of my head, my heart, and my deteriorated, spotty, memory bank.

And then I wrote it ALL down.
All of the defects.
Who I felt like I had really become.
Everything I had done to hurt other people.
All of my secrets.
Why I felt like I needed to love people who couldn’t love me back.

Totally exposed.
Vulnerable.
Emotionally naked.

All of my ‘me’, put down on a piece of paper and I could hardly look at all of it.

When I read it was just a whisper.
I said it all out-loud, quietly to the Lord, with tears streaming down to the end of my nose, falling onto my paper.

I was afraid. Terrified. But I knew that I had to get it out.

It was me saying “Look, Lord this is me. Brittany. I know you don’t know me, but I am about to open up this part of me to you. This is all of the TRUTH. My truth. I am ashamed of every piece in here. Please. I need you to look at me. Please accept me. Please take this. All of it, and please, forgive me.”

I cannot live with it any more.

And my world didn’t explode. I didn’t die of embarrassment like I had imagined. However, everything also felt like it was the same; nothing was immediately different or noticeably changed for the better.

But…the one immediate thing that changed that day is that I learned that I could be brave, that I could do hard things that I feared.

I could make good choices, choices like being bold and honest with myself. I felt the power of what being honest meant to my life and I felt closer to God. A God I still didn’t really know, but who I could sense was near to me and for some reason didn’t run toward the nearest exit when I began divulging my ugly truths.

My soul had been exposed and I was not discarded. The dark parts of me now were pushed out into the light and somehow I knew it was okay to move forward. I knew that it was okay to allow healing to begin. I was accepted.

There was a time that my secrets made me feel supremely guilty and shameful from the time I woke up in the morning until the time I crashed the next time. There was a reason that I couldn’t stay sober for very long. My slate had been wiped clean, I felt instantaneous relief.

After accepting God’s forgiveness, I knew that if I didn’t get anyone else’s, I would be okay. I knew that I was valued and deserved another chance. I was not by any stretch healed, but step four helped me to see how important it is to my recovery to accept forgiveness in order to move forward making new and healthier choices.

There is a God who loves you – you are loved beyond any measure that I could explain to you, and He already knows all of the dark secrets that you are hiding.

 

 

I Am Free.

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When I entered recovery I had never experienced true freedom.
I yearned for it. I think I always had.

I had always envisioned a life of just being.
A life of feeling true contentment and having the ability to laugh and connect with other people and to enjoy my life.

This piece of scripture from the book of Psalms explains what my life felt like to me before I found my freedom.

It is how I felt at my very worst.

These words paint the most accurate picture of how my heart, soul, mind, and body felt when I wanted to die just so I didn’t have to keep experiencing failure over and over again; so I wouldn’t have to look in the mirror one more time knowing that I couldn’t hack this life thing like other people could:

 

For troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see. They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me. (Psalm 40:12)


This is how heavy my life felt to me.
I truly felt alone and saw no way of redeeming myself as a human, as a mother, and as a woman.

I had become a slave to my choices.

My past barricaded me.

And I believed that I was not worth more than the lifestyle I chose and the trap that I had accidentally walked into.

I felt more shame than I can even try to describe and yet I felt nothing.

I was drowning and I was exhausted and hopeless.

When I finally felt convinced that:
A) I had a serious life-threatening problem that I couldn’t fake having control over anymore
B) That I wanted to try be free; to be the mommy that my son deserved

I felt ready to take the first step.

I admitted that I was powerless.
That I had become powerless over my current life situation. I had dug myself too deep.

And I would soon learn that I wouldn’t have to stay that way.

Through admitting the loss of control over my life, and admitting that
I was drowning in an intricate and complex mess that took years to piece together to make the perfect storm….. that.

That is where I actually found my freedom.

I was told by a room full of strangers- that my life did actually have meaning.

No matter what I had done, or who I had become, or how many warrants that I had, or how much I had stolen, or how many creditors were after me, or who had my name on their bounty list or how many people I had hurt…

I still had value and could STILL turn my life around.

 

God had a plan for me.
and new things were waiting for me.

There is so much freedom in knowing that I am no longer bound by the chains of shame and regret.

Freedom is a lasting and genuine feeling of knowing that we have power over our choices.
It is discovering that we have choices!

We can choose to believe that our past or our poor choices can have amazing and positive effects on our present lives!

We can choose to help others to believe in themselves.

We can share what we know, that there really is hope.

Our past does not have to be a burden that we carry around, but a blessing to be used for the good of other people who are still struggling with things that we know about and have felt.

Our past does not define our present negatively, unless we choose to let it.

To me, there lies my freedom.
My past no longer dictates my present.

My chains have been broken, and I have been set free.
AND THAT It is the best feeling in the world.

 

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1

 

Prevention Education is Useless?

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The other day during a conversation, a friend of mine made a comment that got my wheels spinning. The comment was in regard to her personal theory, relating to why our public education systems were not effective enough, or as they originally sought out to be–specifically when it came to Sex Education and Drug Prevention.

The statement was something like this:
“Education is virtually useless; kids are
‘going to do what they were going to do’…”

I have to say, I respectfully disagreed. (at first)
“Education is the key!” I thought…

However, when this assumption is made,  that ‘education is key’, it seems it is always made based on key elements that are not present in the types of students that they are attempting to educate.

If you are educating high school students who already have a foundation laid, this information could prove to be very effective and helpful.
It would only compliment the factual information that they already feel pretty confident of.
These kinds of students have somewhat of an idea of who they are (or are well on their way in navigating that road),
how important and valuable they are and why this education is so imperative and applicable.
They might have a better understanding of how this information can help them to achieve their personal goals, and to have the best chances of living a healthy, balanced, and fruitful lifestyle in the duration of their young adolescent life and well beyond.

If you are attempting to force a group of teens who aren’t as confident with who they are, don’t care if they are valuable or not, and don’t take any adult authority seriously- it is highly likely that you could be wasting your time and taxpayer money. So I guess I don’t think that this type of education would be effective in prevention efforts in this kind of setting.

So, what then?
I don’t have magical answers.
This is a blog. I have opinions, not answers to life’s hardest questions.

No matter where you fall in the category…
whether you completely oppose public education systems,
you love public schools, or you think home-schooling is for the birds-

the only thing that I know with 100% certainty and the only fact that will undoubtedly withstand all arguments-
is that it is first the parents (or main caregiver’s) responsibility to ‘educate’ their young own people.

Parents!
It is OUR job to fill our children’s head and their hearts with truth.
They need to know the truth about who they are, why they are SO valuable, how loved they are, and WHY the prevention education is so important.
For their protection.

So, I agree to an extent.
Education is not the key, well- not the only one anyway.
It’s like a key on a key ring that should be a key set.

Prevention education is not meant to be the only education, it is suppose to compliment the ‘ideal’ foundation that is already laid.
It is an extra, an added bonus.

This, in my opinion, is why ‘Education doesn’t work’
and ‘kids are just going to do what they are going to do’…

But who knows?  Maybe the things that they hear in the classroom for that block of time will have some sort of an effect on the choices that they make later on in that day or somewhere down the line.
Maybe that is what the department of education is hoping for.

Maybe there needs to be a general, seculararly agreed upon prerequisite class that is required before the completion of the Sex Ed and Drug Prevention education?
Like a “Why YOU Matter”
a young male/female “Empowerment” class…
An “Understanding Your Unique Role” class…
I could think of hundreds of different types of ways to implement this type of curriculum.

No matter what type of prevention education you support or think is the ‘best’ or the ‘correct’ way to present our young people with information—-

Only people who value themselves give a damn about protecting themselves from any kind of harm.

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