Category: Addiction

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.

What do you stand for?

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Think of something…anything that you are a firm believer in-
that at some point or another you have had to take a stand for.
This something is so important to you, and you want to be a voice for the cause.

It is no secret that when It comes to underage drinking, binge drinking, recreational drug use or drug abuse–
I have a zero tolerance standard. Each of these hold the very real, possible and probable cards to ruin lives and create trouble for present and succeeding generations.
I have made a personal promise to myself to take a stand, and not to back down as a parent.
Even if that means I am not the cool parent. In the 2016 world of parenting, I can assure you parents who take a stand for things can feel like they are in the minority. I have officially fallen under the category of that parent; the one who is strict.
I am not a police officer (although I have thought about it!)
and I don’t think God assigned me to conviction duty……..

I am not under the false impression that just because I come from a l-o-n-g line of addicts and should not even take a chance- that no one else should either.

But I am all for taking a stand for something that you believe in.

I chose to commit to taking a stand to help educate parents about the dangers and effects of underage drinking and drug use.

(It tears up their body, changes their brain and makes it even more likely that they might be fighting a ferocious battle with addiction someday).

I chose to commit to taking a stand to help those who struggle with addiction, by showing them that there is hope, there is help, and there are people who want to love on them.

Take a stand for something that you believe in.
Don’t be afraid to stand up and be an advocate for a cause near and dear to you.


 

“Omg. Just Quit Already.”

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Today, I read an article on “Myths vs. Realities ” relating to Addiction problems.
Most of the Myths were the simple cookie-cutter misconceptions or skewed viewpoints.

Society likes to hold on to the one’s that perpetuate stigma.
Today I am going to talk about a common misconception that goes something like this:

“If you really want to quit you could just quit.”

We’ve all heard this one. In a literal sense, I suppose these people are right.
That assumption is logical.
I mean it just makes sense.
If you don’t want to do something, then—don’t.
However, this is not realistic.
Addiction doesn’t really align with logic..

Assumptions aside, in real life, making the decision to try to change can be done very simply.
The hard part is making that happen as simply and seamlessly like it sounds.

*The reality is—–

*Many people don’t have the desire to stop.
But there are so many people who do desperately want to change, but don’t know where to start.
*There are so many people who dream of the day their loved one reaches that point, where they reach out for help.
Yet so many who do reach out are met with no hands reaching out to help them up.
*We can desire to change, make progress, and make mistakes or have setbacks.
Most will just assume we just don’t want it bad enough.
*We have bodies that have changed chemically, that now are dependent on our drug of choice.
Yet the vast majority of people believe that we are forever trash, unable to do any better.
*There are many underlying emotional and psychological things going on under the surface.
It really does become something a little bit bigger than willpower alone.

It’s not as simple as having a desire to quit.
It’s not impossible, but it just isn’t as easy as it sounds.
There are many different factors and a lot of time put into developing a character that supports a physical and psychological Addiction.
Even if we have the courage to try to make some real changes, we will need a list of necessary tools in order to make progress in the right direction.
The truth is, most people struggling with addiction don’t have the proper support systems, or access to programs or treatment centers who can offer a solid support system in order for them to  have a good chance at maintaining a lifestyle change.

It is going to take some time to “just quit.

Of course, there are people who I know who have have chosen not to take advantage of opportunities to enter treatment or to complete a program. But I am talking about the people who do want help; people who do want to change.

Let’s not make it even harder for them by shaming them or refusing to be kind.
Sometimes people need a little bit of help, and a ton of Grace.

If you are a myth believer, or a stigma perpetrator….
Please attempt to view sick and hurting people in a different way.
Learn.
Gather info.
“It isn’t that hard.”

 

 

Fighting Within.

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A person who is struggling with addiction is fighting an epic battle.
The fighting is fierce and continuous.
It is tiring.
And it becomes more and more intense with each passing day.

It is a fight between
the person struggling with addiction,
the substance,
and a third.
The quietest one of all.
The whisper of truth.

All 3 are striving to be heard.

The Person is saying:
How could I let this happen?
I hate myself.
I am not this person, or am I?
I can’t even want to look at myself in the mirror.
Maybe I won’t wake up.
No one will notice.
There is no going back now anyway.
I am too far gone.
No one will ever see me the same.

The Substance is saying:
F*ck the world.
You are fine.
One more time is not going to kill you.
(Who cares if it does?)
You have tried to stop.
You won’t ever be able to.
You are nobody.
Look at all that you have done.
Pick up the phone. Find more. You might not
Everyone has abandoned you.
This is who you are now.
No one cares.
It is us against the world.

The third voice is saying:
This is not who you are.
Do you remember who you are?
Look around, what are you doing?
These people don’t love you.
You are going to die.
You need to stop.
You do have things to live for.
Today can be the last day that you use.
Pick up the phone and call _________(insert name of a person who reached out to you here)
You can do this.
You are worth it.

There was a time where I would have told you that I truly believed that I had strayed too far from who I once was.
I believed that I would never know who I could have been.
I really thought that I been fooled by the voice of the substance.

Today, I would tell you that I was manipulated, deceived, and wholeheartedly believed the voice of the substance..….
but my real fear was that that third voice.
What if it had been telling me the truth?

Any amount of sober time, forced me to see myself for who I had become.
I did not like that.
I hated that feeling.
I hated seeing myself in the mirror.
I truly felt disgust and embarrassment at the thought of who I was and what my life had become.

If I could have told myself one thing- what would I have said?

I would have told myself that I am invaluable and worthy of forgiveness.

That is the one thing that I think I needed to hear all along.

I mattered.

Someone told me that despite all of my choices,
there was a God who loved me and created me to do something bigger than myself.
Someone told me that I was loved and invaluable.
Someone told me that it did not matter what I had done, or who I had become. My secrets could be revealed, and I would still be worthy of love.  I wanted to know more.

That is what I want to tell other people.
You matter.

Recovery is more than possible- it is promised, and you are worth it.

Spiritual Death.

.Becoming dependent on a substance takes time.
No matter what your substance of choice is, I bet we can all agree that the ultimate result of addiction is death-
but before that, there is this place where we live.
It is the last stop before physical death:

Spiritual death.

This is a place where nothing good happens.
No positive thoughts enter.
No smiles form.
Tears dry up.
Everything cuts deep -but isn’t felt at all.
On the surface, we show apathy for everything.
Neutrality is where we live, as long as our one need is met.

This is where we go before we die.

Some of us stay for a long period of time, and for others the stay is shorter.

Aside from drug dealers, liquor store clerks, other addicts, bail bondsman who know us by name, or people who we consider ‘friends’ there is usually no one else around.

No meaningful, intimate human relationships are left.
Not one.
We have shut them all out, or they have had all they can handle.

How do we make it back from a place where we spend most of our time harming ourselves wondering why we haven’t died yet?

Well, it takes a village to tear the walls down. 

The intense discipleship that has taken place in my life from the time of my overdose, right up until this very moment is absolutely breathtaking to think about.

God has placed so many people in my path who have all played a vital role in helping me to tear those walls down that I had built around myself, and in learning how to rebuild my life wall-free.

We really are stronger together.

If you are someone who is going through the difficult process of rebuilding after tearing walls down,
Here are reasons why we have to learn to let people in to help:

1. They help the walls to come down.
I get it. They’re our walls. We can get a tiny bit territorial of them and angry if we feel like someone is crossing a boundary or tearing them down too quickly. The truth is, they need to come down, and the faster the better. It is not going to feel good to see beyond them at first, but it is what is best for the long run. Let them crumble.

2. To Combat Negativity.
We are totally fine with being alone and walking alone, crying alone, worrying alone, and doing life alone.
But this is just not a healthy way to try to attempt lasting recovery.

Lies, shame, guilt, and other creepy things really prefer us to be alone and will thrive off our self-doubt.

We need have to have some people around us to help us get through some of the tough spots that we will all face in early recovery.
We have to have people to help us separate the lies, and what the truth is, the facts, and the crap that we have been believing about ourselves for so long.

3. We can learn valuable things from others in Recovery.
No two walks or journey’s are the same but being around people who have been where we been makes us feel hopeful.
We see that they have made progress and have really turned their life around.
We really start to believe that maybe, just maybe we can too.
This requires us to be around people, to meet new people, and to be willing to put ourselves out there by attending groups, counseling, or meetings of some kind.

God works in many ways and one of them is through people.
He will use them in different capacities to love you back to life.

It took that first person in the long line of people who have been a part of my healing and recovery, simply looking into my eyes, and not seeing what I saw- they saw a person.
They saw broken.
They also just happen to know someone who knows what to do with broken.

 

 

Knowledge is Power.

http://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/monitoring-future/trends-in-prevalence-various-drug

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The more that I study different substances, signs, symptoms, side effects, withdrawal discomforts and brain altering effects-I become more and more interested in prevention.

The bigger picture.

Not only do I empathize with people who suffer from and struggle with the powerful stronghold of addiction,
I am very concerned with the growing numbers and statistics of our young and curious teens who casually use street drugs and household products to get high.

I want to work to educate parents about the importance of talking with their young people living in their homes.
No longer should it be acceptable to sweep uncomfortable issues under the rug, or avoid them because of personal feelings of inappropriateness.

The bottom line is: You love your young people and your young people need to be aware.
They need to be talked to on their level, in a way that they can understand.

It is dangerous to assume that because you:

*Live in a nice home
*Your child goes to a great school in a wonderful district
*You are raising your children in a Christian or religious home
*You have no family history of drug use
*You kids know right from wrong
*Are involved with your children’s lives

You believe that drug use is an irrelevant  or is a ‘non-issue’
and it does not need to be discussed in your home.
Drug use has never had a favorite demographic.

Try to ask yourself these basic questions: 

-What are some ways to approach the subject with my children/teen? 
-What age is appropriate for my children?
-My children know right from wrong. Why do I need to talk about this specifically? 
-What household products should I know about that can get my teen high?
-I trust my teen. They will tell me if something is offered or suggested.

Maybe just start there.
Start somewhere.

It is as easy as googling some information and asking your kids some questions.

We should all just make sure that we are keeping the dialogue open.
We can play a part in decreasing the number of children who fall prey to this nasty epidemic.
Let’s arm them the best that we can with knowledge and good, solid, information.
And love.
Don’t forget love.

Passionate Work.

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Not everyone gets to this place, or has the opportunity.
Often, the people who I meet who have, have stumbled upon this gift as a result of going through some really tough things through some self-revelation.
But they come out the other side, and they just know.

It is an incredible thing and it is a rare thing.
You experience that ‘ah-ha’ moment.
You just know.
Maybe it came in a progressive or subtle way,
or maybe it  hit you like a ton of bricks in the face,
but you know.
You can feel it tugging your heart and tingling in your bones!
It gets your blood pumping.
You feel driven and focused.
And you are grateful.

You have identified what you are truly passionate about.
Now what?

Simply put:
You figure out a way to get yourself out there.
You take risks. Lots of risky vulnerable risks.
You figure out a way to make sure that your passion overflows in all of the right places.
You saturate yourself with as much knowledge as you can squish into your brain.
You acquire as many tools as possible.
You share what you know with other people.

Discovering your passion and using it for something is not synonymous with ease.
Even when you are in route on a road that you know you are suppose to be on,
one that you are desperately passionate about, it doesn’t mean it will be smooth sailing.
There will be road blocks, detours, and disappointments along the way.
Working passionately is not all whimsical and dreamy.
Some days are really, really, difficult.

What can help us to stay dedicated to our passion, or our cause?
How do you keep your eye on the truth?
What is it that will keep you going; ignoring all of the doubt, whose main job is to hold you back?
What can help keep us enthusiastic about all of the possibilities and the future?

1. Remind yourself why you started. (How do you keep your eye on the truth?)
When I feel that nasty feeling that tries to pull me down, or slow me down, I just remind myself of why I started.
I ask God to help me stay focused and confident. I remind myself of my ‘why’.
My original goal is to reach out to people who might need some encouraging words; I care about the hearts of those who are broken. I remind myself of this when I start feeling like I am beginning to doubt what I am doing.
The truth is, I started to help people who really want to give up. I want them to keep going.

2. Pay attention to the signs. (What is it that will keep you going?)
A few things keep me going. God never fails to provide me with much needed confirmation at the right times.
These tiny confirmations have come in many different forms.
Some days it is a nice or encouraging compliment from a friend.
It could be an email from a stranger or a comment from an acquaintance, and some days it is as simple as a feeling.
I also make sure to take care of myself. If I am not healthy or focused, it is so easy to begin to feel defeated.

3. When you don’t see signs, keep going anyway. (How can we stay enthusiastic?)
I really have to keep probing and creating goals for the future. There are so many ways to help others and so many people who need encouragement. I cannot hinge my ambition on consistent, well-timed confirmations. Yes, they’re nice but that shouldn’t be why I keep moving and working. I don’t work for recognition.
As long as I know that I am moving in alignment with where I feel God leading me, I might not always get pats on the back. I don’t get a count of how many people that I might have offered hope to. I don’t get to check the stats on how many hearts may have absorbed something that I have done,
and that has to be okay. 
I think that is the reality of life.
It is the truth about having a passion or a calling.
Isn’t that what passion is?

You continue to work hard, and to remain passionate, and faithful,
even when you don’t get the opportunity to see results or effects that you might have had on someone.

In my case, it is all about giving back.
It is about using and exhausting my abilities to help others
and continuing to praise the Lord for the opportunity.

What are you passionate about?

The Beauty of Letting Go.

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Don’t we all have those feelings…
The ones that we just want to hold onto- even when it hurts us or is holding us back from something new?
The ones that have the ability to completely conquer us if we allow them to?
All of those things that we really can’t change or control. Wouldn’t it be nice to just let them go?
That was a very important part of my early recovery.

*It all started with my sobriety.
Being sober for any big chunk of time feels really foreign. It is almost like finally waking up from anesthesia after a really long surgery and not being coherent for a few hours, feeling groggy, and finally coming to. Then, the world starts to feel more real and less like Super Mario Land 3, and your vision begins to clear up.
As you look around you try to feel amazed or surprised at all of the things that have been waiting for you, but if you are going to be real- you knew they were there all along.

*Uncovering the Junk.
-Anger

I was an angry person. I was mean and negative.
Early sobriety challenged me to really begin the process of taking a look to see how much stuff I was carrying around.
The truth is, until that time, I really didn’t want to let go of what I carried.
I really battled with myself; because I just had to keep all of the hatred.
In order to stay exactly where I was, I needed to keep that resentment and anger right by my side.
This made my addiction seem necessary to me.
I relied on having the convenience of falling back on all of this.
I had packed these feelings away for a very clear & obvious reason: to continue destroying myself.
So, I had already started the process of learning to forgive, and let go of the anger.
By allowing myself to forgive people in my life who had hurt me, that meant that the healing process had permission to begin. Over time, the resentment and bitterness began to dissipate too.
and it felt so refreshing.
-Shame
This is the kind of shame that takes years to develop but only a short time to completely base your identity on.
I am guessing that it resulted from years of struggling to be seen by parents who had problems of their own that they were focusing on, and not having my needs met as a small human.
Pair that with years of chosen self-destruction & knowing all of the people that I trampled on and treated poorly, and wala. You have a nice recipe for some self-shame. It was a sad cycle of self-hate. I would not let my mistakes escape my mind. I reminded myself all of the time of the things that I had done and who I had become, and then I would hide.
Facing this shame meant that I had to analyze some things that I preferred to keep quiet, and in order for me not to think about any of it, my plan had been to stay incoherent. It was always so much easier than thinking about any of it.
I had to admit that I had actually stolen, lied, cheated, and manipulated.
I burned bridges.
I hurt a lot of people.
I had made a long list of really terrible choices that were physically and emotionally unhealthy. Facing all of that meant…
that I would have to fess up to mistakes, take responsibility for my actions and in some cases, inaction.
I had this crazy huge fear of being exposed for what and who I had become.
Even though I was finally facing a version of myself who everyone else could plainly see already.
The reality of it was, I didn’t have to face every bad choice all at once. I had envisioned what facing these things would be like, and the reality was different. People were pretty accepting and understanding for the most part. The ones who weren’t I quickly learned were out of my control and I could only do my part to make amends. Either way, I fought my own self-shaming, by facing one thing at a time.

Facing the anger helped me to get rid of bitterness and resentment.
Facing the shame I hid from, helped me to feel less sad and really helped with my negative outlook on life.
Facing the fact that I simply won’t be accepted by some people, really helped me to embrace self-acceptance.
Over time I got strong enough to branch out, and start work on the other things.
The idea of letting these things go was really was scary.
Like everyone else I started this process feeling blind. I wasn’t sure how to ‘be’ without that familiar stuff that I identified with. Who was I if I wasn’t that old me?

After about a year, I began reading my Bible and really digging into it. I wanted to know about Jesus and who He was.

Turns out, as I learned about who He is, I began to form a more clear picture of who I was; who I really am.

God knew who I was all along, and was still waiting for me anyway. 
I learned that His word tells us a lot about self-destruction.
*Hebrews 12:15 says: See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
*Micah 7:19 says:  You will again have compassion on us. You will overcome our wrongdoing. You will throw all our sins into the deep sea.
*Romans 6:6 says: We know that the person we used to be was crucified with him to put an end to sin in our bodies. Because of this we are no longer slaves to sin.

To make the decision to try to learn how to let go of the things that we cannot control means that we are finally ready to accept things for exactly what they are. We are learning to be strong enough to live with reality, even if it isn’t how we expected it all to turn out.

 

 

 

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