Tag: Hope

Recovering Out Loud.

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

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

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

Without getting too detailed…

Here are a few things that we know:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and that’s all okay.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.

 

Guest: Tom- Acknowledging Alcohol Abuse

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Hi my name is Tom and I am a recovering heavy alcohol abuser/possible alcoholic (I can’t say I was alcoholic or not because I never got evaluated).It all started when I got back from Afghanistan in 2007 and I felt the need to drink a lot because that is what I thought everyone did when they got back from their deployment.At first it was okay and there didn’t seem to be any problems, but then somewhere two or three years later I just couldn’t control how much I drank anymore. I still thought that nothing was wrong and that I was just being “normal” like everyone else and I felt that if I wasn’t drinking then I wasn’t being normal.
 So in late 2010 I had an episode where I drank 8 beers before I went to the bar, I did this all the time and thought that is what everyone did, and then 6 pints of really strong beer at the bar. Probably totaling somewhere around 18 beers if you add up all the ounces and alcohol content that night. So I got home and the next morning I had the usual hangover symptoms and thought everything was fine. It wasn’t until around 3 pm when I was on my way to college that something didn’t feel right.
My right side of my face and right hand became numb and I thought I was going to pass out. I started to throw up real bad and for like a few hours this numbness and feeling sick went on and hyperventilating. I went to the hospital and I almost went in, but I was too embarrassed to go in. Luckily somehow I made it home and in a few days I felt better. If I drank anymore that day I probably could have died.
You would think that would stop me from drinking, but a few weeks later I was back at it. I never drank that heavily again but I drank about 10-12 beers once every 2 or 3 days up until the day I said that is enough of this lifestyle. I am happily 4 months sober at this point. . (Sober date of September 16, 2013)
Here I am today, luckily, 4 months sober with the help of everyone around me, my running club (I now run 3-4 times a week, which is a way better high than alcohol ever was), and Brittany’s blog (which by the way rocks!!!)
What I am trying to say is NEVER GIVE UP HOPE!!There IS life after addiction or substance abuse.If you are reading this and are near giving up hope or feel like you are not worth it, believe me, YOU ARE WORTH IT!!!If you feel like you want to end your life or getting close to it, there is SUPPORT AND HOPE out there and we all think that YOU ARE WORTH IT.Whether you believe in a God or not, that is okay. What I can say is that God has surely helped me personally and now I read the bible every day. God truly does love you and has no partiality for anyone. No matter what you did in your past, He really really really loves you. All you have to do is love Him back.
KEEP GOING BECAUSE YOU’RE WORTH IT!!!!!!!!!

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)

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

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