Tag: Celebrate Recovery

I Don’t Belong In a Church

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Complacency Trap

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Ahhh. Complacency. We have all heard about it. I am almost positive everyone goes through a phase where they couldn’t even imagine themselves falling into an infinite loop of nothingness; and that place that isn’t necessarily ‘bad’ but it isn’t effective or healthy either.

Complacency is to recovery what bystanders are to injustice.
No, maybe you didn’t speak up or do anything wrong, but the real sum of the problem can be found in your chosen inaction.

I don’t think that we all need to be overly critical of ourselves, that isn’t healthy either.
What I do think that we need to avoid is the trap of becoming people who aren’t self-aware.
To be self-aware simply means that we have an accurate view of ourselves. In order to obtain a view of oneself we have to be willing to honestly evaluate ourselves often.

In early recovery we are taught (in most cases) that personal accountability and taking responsibility for our actions is a huge and courageous step to take on our journey. We can’t really fix anything if we will not allow ourselves to embrace our role in all of it.

Even as we enter the long-term or maintenance phase of our recovery, we will still have to hold ourselves accountable and we will still have to face things.

Avoiding complacency will still be on our radar and is based on the same principle that worked for us in the beginning, but it will look slightly different.

No matter where we are in our sober lives
or how much sober time we all have
or which recovery path works for us,
there are a few things that we should all do to avoid complacency:

*We should assume that we ‘finished’  evolving, changing, learning, growing, discovering or stretching ourselves.

* We have to realize that if we are not working on anything at all, we are slowly digressing in some way, even if it isn’t immediately noticeable at first.

*We need to travel at a pace that works best for us.
Having mentors or guides is wonderful, but keep in mind, yours is still a unique journey to you.

*We cannot hide.
This would include hiding from things like mistakes, missteps, or feelings. It is just best to own our decisions and to face our what we’re feeling.

 

We don’t always have to be thinking or analyzing every single thing that we think, feel, do and say every second of every day in an obsessive or compulsive way.

What we do have to do is have embrace this life, while maintaining balance and regulation.

We can let go a and enjoy all that God has gifted to us, but that doesn’t mean let the weeds grow and get out of control until we can no longer see our gardens.

We don’t have to tend to it compulsively,
but we cannot allow ourselves to get in the habit of looking the other way either.

 

 

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.


 

 

 

About Me.

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Most personal blogs, specifically Recovery blogs, have a detailed ‘my story’ or ‘about me’ section.
Often, they choose to start from birth, work their way up to their addiction forming, proceed to telling the story about how rock bottom felt, and work their way to the present.

I really don’t see any problems with it and don’t think it’s a bad thing.
It works for a lot of people, but I have found that it really doesn’t for me.

I have had a hard time writing the ‘my story’ page for my Recovery blog.
I have tried. Really, I have.
Most writers will understand when I say that it is difficult to write when it feels forced or there isn’t any passion behind it. That is how it is for me anyway..

So it isn’t for lack of trying on my part.
I have typed it up and it just doesn’t sit well with me.
I have yelled at it.
Published it, and quickly deleted it.
Prayed about it.
Deleted it.
Re-typed it.
Revised it.
Edited it and deleted it again.
and deleted it for the last time.

and usually if I am not feeling good about something there is a reason.
I have realized that I have to just do what works for me and that I like mine the way that it is.
Current and present-focused. To me, about ‘me’ doesn’t have much to do with anything in my past.

It isn’t that I am ashamed of my childhood.
I am not afraid to share it.

As time has passed, the impact that my childhood has had on my testimony has decreased, and isn’t really a big part of who I am anymore. On paper, it has dwindled down to a few sentences and has been overshadowed.

Studies tell us that in the cyber world, we lose people’s attention pretty quickly.
As writers we don’t get a whole lot of time to hold onto the attention of new readers.
Considering that, I think it would be counter-productive to ask strangers to sit for fifteen minutes, reading my most personal childhood hell (trauma, neglect, violence etc.)— in chronological order,
in order to get to why they’re really in that section in the first place- and that is to get to know me.

I shared that story for years.
It served its purpose as a therapeutic tool meant for my own healing and personal growth.

God helped me use that part of my story to get me to a healthier place.

Through that process I was able to see the significance and value of forgiveness, making amends, and moving on.

At some point I realized that this part of ‘my story’ was not going to define my personal identity any longer.

It keeps me humble and grateful.

But I have really just realized that
…’my story’ is much much more than traumatic childhood experiences.

My story is a continuous thing, updated on my blog every week!
My story is still unfolding as I type!

That is what I find so ‘beautiful’ about life.

My story and yours, is a journey that continually moves, changes, and if we allow it to, it transforms!
We discover, experience, and feel —LIFE!

I am sure this will change over time, as I publish my first book it might be more necessary to dig a little bit deeper in that section of this blog. If I ever get to my second idea for a book, I am sure it will change again.

For now, I will try to keep my about me section relevant and aligned with my current goals of writing and sharing my life and thoughts with you guys.

And also, thank you for reading and sticking by me. 🙂

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

 

“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.”

 

 

Addiction Recovery- Things that have helped me -1

Out of the countless tools and newly acquired skills that I have learned in the past seven years, one of the most important concepts that I had to accept is what I am going to talk about today.
It sounds very simple, here it is:
It is not my job to fix your problems.

Emotional and Disconnected.

Celebrate Recovery, changed my life!

Find a CR meeting! –>  http://www.celebraterecovery.com/find-a-group/

 

 

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