Tag: Jesus

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.

 

Christianity and Science.

There haven’t been any supernatural phenomenons curing me of this sleeping monster.

Jesus saved my life.
Gave me life. Forgave me.
Having faith in Jesus has allotted me power and strength to
break free from my strongholds and keep away from substances..
to build a new life..
to find a new identity…
to have a new hope…
to hunger to learn more and more…
and to feel joy & true contentment

But I am not cured.

I want Christians (and I say that lovingly, I am a Jesus follower too)
and other people who lack knowledge or who simply refuse to attempt to understand what happens when a dependency develops to understand something:

There is such a thing as science and you cannot argue with that.
(if you do, you get to be the delusional one)

It does exist and like it or not, our brains are scientific things, made by a God who is smarter than us but who created sciency people who are much smarter than me….

There are chemicals, and tiny scientific complex operations that happen inside of our heads.

It is totally possible to screw things up in there, and it is possible to be freed in Jesus, liberated and saved by the hope that we find in Him, through our faith and His grace….

and he still may not choose to push the reset button on our brains.

We may just learn to coexist with a condition. Or we might just use brain and behavioral based therapies to embrace the new life that Jesus gave us.

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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)

Unexpected Gifts of Living in Recovery.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That, and much, much more.

Husband Q & A

Relationships. 

Let’s say you are a couple.
You love each other and value one another.

One of you ends up with an addiction and becomes dependent on a substance.
It tears them apart and dismantles who they once were.

That person that you fell in love with  is gone.

All you are left with is an empty relationship, basically completely deteriorated;
looking nothing like it use to and there is not a lot of hope in your heart when it comes to the prospect of finding him or her once again.

*You are sad, and feel lost. What can you do to get this person back?
*Is it a fruitless effort?
*Are you hurting or helping? Where should you turn?
*Who is this person that you use to know?
*Should you take it personally?
*Can you be of any help?
*Is this person who you love going to be this manipulative shell of deceit and self-absorption permanently?

These are the types of questions that ran through my husband’s head and made his heart ache leading up to the days where I smashed into my rock bottom face first, and throughout my first two years of Recovery.

This is the type of confusion that he dealt with and had to learn how to navigate through. 

My addiction did have a profound affect on him, and although I was far too busy focusing on my recovery to empathize or inquire at the time–

in the succeeding years post active addiction— he has revealed so much to me about HIS journey riding on the crazy coattails of my recovery.

While I was abstaining, detoxing, hurting, learning, growing, and changing-
He was going through his own change and was navigating a new path himself.

I am going to share that with you guys now.

As a side-note or a disclaimer of sorts:
As a professional I would never support or recommend that a person in Recovery start/begin/consider a new romantic relationship.
It is not a healthy choice to make.

In the event of entering recovery as a married person or as a person who is already committed to a long-term relationship, I would definitely set certain boundaries and limits with both parties on a case-by-case basis. Everyone involved would be learning and would need to be counseled on some level.

Every life, recovery and circumstance is completely different. What worked for us, may not be something that will work for another couple who is struggling with getting through Addiction-TOGETHER. 

What does inspire HOPE is knowing that there are other people who have made it through some of the most exhausting and trying times, and have come out the other end—
strong and CRAZY in love with the new people that we have transformed into throughout our journey together and individually.

So take what you can from it and leave the rest. 

Thank you for reading and I hope that we can inspire you to keep working and loving.

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So THIS is Love.

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When I began to believe that God did exist and I actually began to feel and see the evidence of Him in my life, the way that I experienced love immediately changed.

Unlike most other aspects of change in recovery from addiction (and underlying issues) this change was almost instant and didn’t require work.

No longer was it a word that I tossed around, or a word lacking meaning behind it.
I could feel it.
Although it is an over-used word these days, there really aren’t words powerful enough to describe what it feels like to experience love for the first time.

Self-Love was brand new to me.
For the first time in my life, I saw my own reflection in a new way, and felt differently about all of the circumstances that I had inherited and created for myself. 
I saw who I really was, and I embraced her.
For the first time, I could say that I loved me.
Not who I would become, not who other people told me I needed to be.
I loved myself, and it was enough to let myself embrace the things that were to come.

Feeling the Love for my children.
I had always loved them but something was different when I looked into their little faces, and seeing the brightness behind their eyes, celebrating their victories, soaking in the belly laughs, hearing their stories, cherishing the color pages, and even wiping their tears.
I could remember the moments.
All of it became something more than what it had been before.
I could finally see them.

Being madly in Love
for the first time.
I wasn’t in love with a persona, or who a person might possibly become.
I wasn’t staying for lack of better alternative or the sense of being needed.
I knew I was valued and appreciated, imperfectly accepted.
I was in love with someone who was already whole.
I could see this person for who they were and I didn’t want to change anything about them.
I wanted to be more because he inspired me.
I wanted to keep going because he pushed me.
I wanted to unpack my own baggage, so that I could be a whole person too.
I wanted to receive his love and to give it right back.

It all finally made sense. 

I had finally accepted love. I had finally let myself be loved.
I was finally able to give love away.

God’s love for me shined a beacon of light on what this life is really all about, about what love really means, how it really feels, and why it is all so important.

1 John 4:19
We love each other because he loved us first.

 

 

Guts.

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

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

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

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

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

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. 🙂

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

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.

A glimpse of —her.

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This is a picture of my mother and I.

This short visit happened on April 13, 2013.

It has taken a lot of learning to trust in God’s word and personal growth on my part to be able to say that I am truly grateful for her, and genuinely happy that she has thought about trying sobriety.

I respect her for that, and have chosen not to love her only when she is doing ‘good’.
She has a dual diagnosis, and struggles with sobriety and balancing her mental health issues.

Having waited such a long time to try to begin to manage her life – has really had a negative impact on her treatment success.

I do know that I was grateful to have a sober visit with her, that seemed almost ‘normal’.
Whatever that is..

But it was the most normal interaction that she and I have ever had, my entire life.

I hope that we can do this again someday.

*Bear with each-other, and forgive one another if any of you have a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (Colossians 3:13)

*Do not judge and you will not be judged. Do not condemn and you will not be condemned.  Forgive and you will be forgiven. (Luke 6:37)

I will be grateful for this visit if this one visit -even if it is the only one that we ever have.
We are all important.
We all deserve respect from other people.

My mom would be no exception to my beliefs.
My excitement for her is not for her as my mother, but for her as a person.
This is her journey, and this is one of her personal victories.

We have since had run ins, and not good one’s.
She struggles so much.
I pray for her, but am still grateful that I got to see a glimpse of ‘her’.

 

 

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