love is….

Most everyone has heard 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. You may not know it by the chapter and verse but you’ve heard at a wedding I’m sure. 

I’ve heard it at many a wedding. I’ve heard it at a funeral and tonight it was mentioned at my Celebrate Recovery meeting.

What if we took those passages and replaced the words LOVE AND IT and before each line with our name. And THAT is how we strived to live our life…

  

Mar is patient
Mar is kind
Mar does not envy
Mar does not boast
Mar is not proud
Mar is not rude
Mar is not self seeking
Mar is not easily angered
Mar keeps no records of wrongs 
Mar does not delight in evil
Mar rejoices with the truth
Mar always protects
Mar always trusts
Mar always hopes
Mar always perseveres 
Mar never fails

With God all things are possible! 
Do I have work to do to make all those statements true, you betcha I do and that’s what makes me human and growing and learning and living! 

Give it go, put your name before each line and feel how it changes your heart and mindset. 

Much love and light. 

My journey to serenity continues…

Indirect Contact…

Indirect Contact 0
Me 1

Last night I got a phone call from a number not in my phone, I usually don’t answer but last night for some reason I did. 

It turned out to be a friend of my ex, who was asking about his belongings. If you haven’t read my blog for long, I have a protective order against him and I’ve had it for a year now.

I answered with I gave things I had left to his cousin, when he go out of jail a few months ago. Then I answered with you, he and anyone else he knows has no reason to ever contact me again as I do not have any of his things. All the best. 

So what I learned from this is I get to choose how to react.

I could have burst into tears, but I didn’t. I could have asked questions about him, but I didn’t. I could have yelled at the person calling, but I didn’t. I could have hung up on the person but I didn’t. I could have kept the conversation going to give the details of what happened to his stuff, but I didn’t. The bottom line is that I dont have anything of his anymore. 

I answered the question to the best of my ability and wished her all the best. 

I thought about it after I hung up, but didnt over think it. I called a friend to tell her what happened but when I didn’t get her, I went to bed. 

WOW what a difference a year makes. I am secure in my footing. I am 293 days away from his nonsense and foolishness. I am not that worn down broken person that I was this time last year. 

I reached out to my sponsor and did talk to my friend tonight that I couldn’t reach last night…..but that’s the only time I thought about it today. 

I’m lovin’ this healing version of me! The change that God has made in my life is almost enough to take my breath away. 

So I pray this tonight –

Lord keep directing my footsteps and allow me to continue to heal. Keep bringing new tools into my life to cope differently and in a positive way. Keep my family safe. Keep me safe. Keep this energy of learning, growth and understanding always with kindness around me. Keep me searching and hungry for your word and wisdom. Keep allowing me to glorify you. In Jesus name I pray. 

My journey to serenity continues…

3 Circles Method…

This week I for the 1st time taught a lesson at my Celebrate Recovery meeting. I’m sure it’s different hearing it over reading it, but I wanted to share with you what I learned and taught. 

I am humbled and honored by this experience and feedback I received.

Everytime I practiced, I cried at the same place….everytime. So I decided to just embrace who I am as a crier and not worry about it or try and stop it. After all there is healing in tears. And it’s just part of me being real. What I was not expecting is that I started to cry sooner and i forgot to bring tissues on the stage. My niece was there to support me and when I saw her leave the room I was concerned she was upset about what I said. But I was wrong, she left to get me tissues and walked on stage and gave me  the biggest hug. And then I was able to keep going. 

It’s a little long but enjoy. Please tell me what you think! And if you are not familiar with Celebrate Recovery, it is a Christian based 12 step program for anyone who wants to overcome hurts, hang ups or habits. 

*********************

Hi my name is Mar and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ. I struggle with codependency, I’m the daughter of alcoholics and I struggle with compulsive overeating. 

I am so grateful for doing this teaching this week as the holidays have been a difficult time for me. Before CR I would get into a bad headspace of what I don’t have during the holidays rather than what I do have. 

I listened to a Celebrate Recovery podcast and learned about the 3 Circles Method. I felt so strongly about doing this for myself that I wanted to share it with you and I am grateful for the opportunity. 

James has become one of my go to books of the Bible. Several years ago after I was separated, I was missing something from my life. I grew up Catholic. We went to Church every week and I went to Catholic school for all 12 years. But my faith had become quiet in my adult life. 

So I started searching for a new Church home. It’s funny those of you who are Catholic know this but Catholics do not study the Bible. I found that by doing Bible Studies there were so many people I didn’t know about. There is Wisdom, Strength, Courage, Hope and Grace. 

Everywhere I turned at first, I found James. James 1:2-3 Dear brothers and sisters when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity of great joy. For you know when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 

Great joy in trials, my life was falling apart how could this possibly be joy. My life continued to spiral into chaos but I never stopped searching. I knew there was more for me and my life. 

Did you know the Bible talks about addiction? You can find one example in James 1:14-15 Temptations comes from our own desire which entice us and drag us away. These desired give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death. 

Some of us are one use away from losing everything or death. Many of us know someone who has died from their addiction. My Mother was an alcoholic. Her entire life she coped with or didn’t cope with life by drinking. I watched her die from cirrhosis. It was the saddest time of my life. Watching her body shut down and being helpless. She was in denial. She was in denial until the end. The day that they suggested there was nothing left to do but to go home with hospice care. My Mom sat up and said ‘hospice, hospice is for dying people’ and in that very moment, she realized she was dying. 24 hours later she was home. Her bed was set up by the window. I spent that evening brushing her hair and putting lotion on her hands and feet. My Mom passed away a few hours later. 

She never got to understand the freedom there is in recovery. 

But through recovery we learn that we need to admit we are powerless over our addictions and compulsive behaviors. We learn to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. And that we made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to the care of God. 

Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans but the Lord determined our steps. 

In recovery, wherever we are tonight, we can put the 3 Circles Method into action and it will keep you safe and keep you working your program and the 12 steps. 

Plan your work, work your plan. 

Because if you are not working on your recovery, you are working on your relapse. 

THE FIRST CIRCLE – The Center Circle

The first circle is your abstinence statement. Knowing what your are abstaining from is the place to start. Giving it a name. Defining it for you. 

What do I need to avoid? Substance or behavior. Whatever it is. YOU define what abstinence means to you and your program. Is it: Alcohol? Dependency on other? Drugs? Food? Sugar? Pornography? Anger?

For me, I struggle with codependency and have been involved in unhealthy relationships with active or dry alcoholics. But if that is not your struggle and drugs or alcohol is, than abstaining from those would be in your center circle. 

I had to look at my food issues and figure out where I struggle and what I need to avoid. For example, not eating from boredom or emotion is in my center circle. Or I have in the past I have just not eaten and lived on coke or coffee. So not eating is also in my center circle. 

THE SECOND CIRCLE

The second circle is your boundaries list. This is self imposed limits that promote health and recovery. 

It’s boundaries around situations, people and behaviors and these limits keeps you safe. 

Early in my recovery I made boudraries without even knowing it. If I was in a situation where I felt uncomfortable, I quickly recognized that it was not a safe place for me. 

In the past, boundaries were like suggestions. And when someone crossed a boundary, I gave them a pass or just moved the boundary. 

But now boundaries or limits keep me working my program. 

If you struggle with alcohol, maybe having a boundary that you can’t go to a bar to play darts or listen to a band because it’s just not safe for you. 

Maybe you have to limit how much cash you carry so that you are not tempted to buy something you shouldn’t and having to use a card to get cash would stop you or would help it become noticed. 

Maybe you have to create a boundary around some of your old friends from your old life. I know I did. I reconnected with someone I went to high school with in late 2014. It ended in the worst of ways buts that’s a story for another day. We have many of the same friends on Facebook. Because I now have a protective order against him, I unfriended some and felt I needed to share with others what happened to keep me safe from indirect contact. 

If you are looking at your partners phone when they are asleep or in the other room to see what he/she are doing maybe you need to set a boundary not to and focus on your program and not take someone else’s inventory. 

A boundary may be to install software on your computer or phone so you don’t view certain websites that you shouldn’t. 

Whatever it is you need to keep you out of the center circle. 

THE THIRD CIRCLE

The third circle is the best one of all. It’s where you create your plan. A plan you make using the tools we have to be healthy. Healthy physically, healthy spiritually and healthy emotionally. 

1 Corinthians 10:13 The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is  faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endore. 

This is how you endore. This is your escape plan. This is your safely net. This is your relapse prevention tool box. 

I keep my bag in my purse. It’s actually a Bible cover. I like it because it’s the perfect size and had pockets. But you may keep your bag at home or work or in your car. Where ever you need it. when you are struggling to do the next right thing and that center circle is calling your name, this is where you go. 

This is what I have in my bag and other ideas of what you could have if yours. 

The serenity prayer, 12 steps and 8 principles. We get a copy at every meeting and sometimes simply reading these is enough to reset your mind. 

CR Book – You get one at your first meeting. It explains the program and it has testimonies. If you do not have one, they are available in the gathering space. 

List Of Meetings – if it’s not a Tuesday night and you want to go to a meeting, we have a list meetings in the area also available in the gathering space. 

Phone a friend – this is a list of people to call. Written down. No excuses that your phone is dead and you don’t know the number. You have a list of people to call. When I got my drivers license, my Dad taped a quarter to the inside of my glove box and told me no matter what, if I ever needed a ride home, no questions asked just call if I need a ride. So I glued a quarter to my phone a friend card to remind me….no risk, no judgment just call and ask for help. 

My Top 10 Things To Do Instead – these are personal and what brings you joy and distracts you. My top 10 are. Call my sponsor. Journal. Listen to music. Go to a meeting. Read the Bible. Meditate. Paint. Go for a walk. Write a thank you note. There is always someone to thank. And an act of kindness. Doing something for someone else feels good for them and for you. 

Remember Why I Started – in 2015 I was dating a dry and then active alcoholic. I was trying to save him from himself and make his fall a softer landing. But what I did was put myself and my family in harms way and I prevented him from growing from the experience. My life was unmanageable and I just needed the chaos to stop. So I started this journey to stop the chaos.

My 100 Things List – One of the first things my sponsor had me do was to write 100 positive words that describe me. This took me a month. And I asked friends. And I used the thesaurus.  But when it gets in my head that i am not enough, I read these words to remind me who I really am. 

  
I also created  a word bubble with the 12 steps and serenity prayer and other slogans. Reminding myself that God is in control, that I need to share my story with others, to live one day at a time, examine and confess, pray and meditate. This can easily change my focus from my current temporary situation to something positive. 

Nail – I have a nail to remind me that Jesus Christ died for me. He paid the price for my sins. I keep it in a little box on the front I wrote 1Timothy 2:6 He gave his life to purchase freedom for everyone. And on the back I wrote 2Peter 2:19 You are a slave to whatever controls you. 

Pictures of Loved Ones – on the back I wrote what is at risk if I relapse. 

Write a Letter – write a letter to yourself, write it now when you are feeling strong. What you would tell yourself in just moment you were about to use. Ask loved ones to write a letter too and explain why your sobriety matters to them. 

I AM Statements – it’s like my 100 words list. There is an app I AM that will send positive affirmations during the day. 

Play List – have a play list on your phone or iPod  loaded with your favorite songs. Mine is filled with many of songs we sing here at CR. 

Read the Bible – One thing I do when I don’t know where to start to look for something I Google ‘what does the Bible say about —-‘ it gives me a starting point. 

Write, Journal or Blog – I’ve been in the CR program for 9 1/2 months now and 8 months ago I started blogging. I have 104 posts and 150 followers that I don’t even know. I have 6000 hits from 2000 visitors from 33 countries. 

Meditate – there’s a app for that. I use Abide. It’s a prayer meditation style app. You can search by feelings and there even is a CR Guide that has a prayer for each step. 

Listen to a Podcast – just like I did to learn about the 3 circles method. Did you know there are hundreds of CR meetings available to listen to from the podcast app or online? 

The Three Circles

YOU define what YOU are abstaining from. 

YOU define YOUR boundaries. 

YOU define YOUR plan. 

  
I think this is a cool visual. Because people in recovery talk about those things in the black center circle. We are willing to be vulnerable, genuine and are willing to share with others what we struggle with. 

It makes these things small. Talking about it puts it in the light and it’s no longer a secret. You are no longer isolated in your addiction. And the more boundaries and plan you have around the center the smaller it becomes. Your life becomes healthy. Your plan keeps you on track when you live in the orange and grey circles.

Why do you need a fire escape plan? 

Having a plan helps you to avoid trigger situations. Being prepared for a situation will help you with alternatives when there is a trigger. 

Having a plan helps you to forgive yourself of slips. Having a plan will help a slip from becoming a full relapse. 

Having a plan helps avoid keeping cravings a secret. Talk to your sponsor or accountability partner. We are as sick as our secrets.,

Having a plan helps you to work on healthy behaviors and putting energy into healthy places is the best self care. 

Having a plan helps you to try something different and alternative choices. Be willing to try something else after all our best thinking got us into CR to begin with. 

This is My Final Thought

My final thought. 

From Philippians 4 8-9 And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you. 

And the God of peace will be with you. Another word for peace is serenity. And the God of serenity will be with you. 

Keep coming back, it works if your work it and you are worth it. 

Thank you for letting me share. 
My journey to serenity continues…

Shaken But Still Standing

When I wrote my Moms eulogy almost 6 years ago, I wrote a list of thank you’s. 

A few were:

Thank you for your quick wit. 
Thank you for cheering for us from the snack bar. 
Thank you for always having Plan B. 

One comes to mind tonight, thank you for teaching us, it’s ok to get knocked down, as long as you get back up. 

Back in July, I was asked to take over a postion at work that the person doing that job walked out and left a huge freaking mess. I had little training and worked many many many nights and weekends to keep up because the trains don’t stop in that department. Oh and did I mention that I’m salary so all the extra time was for free. I asked for nothing in return, I came to work sick because the work had to get done. I sacrificed time with my family to make sure stuff got done. 

If you had asked me yesterday how I felt about this job, I would have said. I love the client contact and I felt that I had finally gotten my sea legs and things were running fairly well. Compared to when I started it was night and day. 

So today, I was told that they hired someone else for this position who had more experience and they were transferring me to a different department. That they hoped I would train the new person and make the transition as smooth as possible. 

I felt like I was punched in the gut. 

I worked so hard to turn this around. I give this postion my everything. It’s complicated and there are a lot of moving parts. I helped improve processes and bailed the company out of a difficult messy situation. 

I’m feeling defeated. 

  
I know time will prove to me the why behind not staying in this position but I can’t see it right now. I have used every mistake as a learning opportunity and rarely have made the same mistake twice. 

I’m skaken. Knocked down, but getting back up. Tears rolling down my face but standing. 

My journey to serenity continues…

an aha moment…

I am teaching for the first time at my Celebrate Recovery (CR) meeting on Tuesday. The bulk of it was written weeks ago, I’ve reading it and rereading it ever since. I’ve practiced it out loud in the car during lunch. I’ve practiced on my sofa. I’ve practiced with my sponsor. And with another friend last night. I think I’m pretty prepared. 

This lesson is one I brought to the leaders and asked if I can teach because it meant so much to me when I heard a CR Podcast about it. 

I earn a living by talking to complete strangers about payroll over the phone and explain something fairly complicated in easy to understand terms. I’m used to that. I am not used to standing up infront of people and reading something to them. 

I was just about to practice one more time tonight and I had an aha moment. 

First I have to rewind my story a little…..

In late 2014, I reconnected with a guy I went to high school with. He was looking for a fresh start and I quickly fell for him as he told me everything I needed to hear. He moved in my home and crashed on my sofa. Things were simple and easy. He had a job. And then life happened and his hours got cut. And all hell broke loose. 

He started drinking for days…. weeks and then …..months. I kicked him out after days but chased after him and tried to save him from himself. And that started my crazy spiral of chaos from being in a codependent / addict relationship. 

During the months and months, he tried to stop drinking  for a few days here and there. We talked about Gods plan for us and we talked about one day we would be on a stage together sharing our recovery story. 

  
And now fast forward to today. A short year later, I will be on the stage sharing part of my story and teaching about avoiding relapse and putting together a plan. 

It just hit me that this was our plan together and that I’m about do it myself. This was part of Gods plan for me all along. My story is important. My story is one of hope and grace and finding joy in trails. My story is about connecting the dots of my life and putting the pieces together. It’s about trusting God and letting go. 

This girls journey to serenity…

Open Letter to Codependency…

Dear Codependency –

I didn’t know much about you until late in 2015. But you had been a part of me for a long time. 

It’s how I learned to deal with life. And 2015 was a perfect storm. 

It was such a surprise to me but I woke up daze, confused and heartbroken and then I discovered the truth about you. 

When you (codependency) ruled my day, I….

  • Had an unreasonable sense of responsibility for his actions.
  • Needed to be needed and jumped in that role naturally. He needed me and I needed to feel needed.
  • Didn’t ask questions because I don’t want to know the answer. The fantasy of what I wanted it to be was more important to what it actually was. 
  • Tended to do more that my share. Over achieving doing more or making up for his lack of ability to do it himself. 
  • Would rather have felt awful then be alone. 
  • Avoided making decisions and allowing someone who was deep in addiction to make decisions for me. 
  • Lied to cover up when he was drunk and failed to keep his promises. 
  • Would rather feel nothing and take care of him other feeling how out of control it was. 
  • Fear of being judged by others for decisions I knew were not in my best interest. 
  • Was so trapped in denial that I didn’t see any of the above. 

The first few months of learning about the dance that codependents and addicts do, I was full of embarrassment and shame. How could I do this to myself and my family. 

Then the more learned and started to dig deep in how did this happen? How did I ever get to into this situation? How did this become ok?

  
And the pieces of my life started to come together. I understood how and why. When I got this tattoo on my shoulder several years ago it was because I felt broken and pulled apart. Now it’s about putting the pieces of me back together. 

So codependency, thank you for time but try not to waste anymore of mine. You kept me safe in some ways and harmed me in other.

 I’ve figured you out and am leaving you behind and moving forward with my head held high. I’m learning new ways to cope with life and figuring out what a healthy version of me looks like. 

Driving away and seeing you in the rear view mirror feels amazing. 

All the best. 

This Girls Journey to Serenity ….

  
  

An Open Letter to the Committee in My Head! 

Dear Committee in My Head- 

I’m sure there are more than 6 of you but I’d like to address you. 

HaPpY – I drew you in pink because it my favorite color and I imagine you would be in all pink. I love having you around more lately.

Grateful – You remind me to full my heart of all the small things that matter.  Little things add up to big feelings. Coming from a grateful place keeps me grounded in what I have.    

Envy – I don’t like when you show up. Like yesterday when a friend told me she was dating someone new, you had to pipe up and get in my head. You come from comparing my life to others and really I’m just focused on being me and embracing who I am not need to compare. 

Angry – I don’t feel you that often. But you sure make a statement when I do. You have a time and place and I’m grateful that I’ve gotten better at expressing you in a more healthy way.

Oh Lonely and Sad, how I do love you. We’ve spent a lot of time together over the last few years. You’ve been with me on some long dark days. I wish You guys weren’t around so much. I think it’s getting better as HaPpY and Grateful are around more. 

 
All of you have a time and place. Please know I need all of you to be human but when one stays too long, it’s not healthy for any of us. 

Thanks for making me, me. 

Grow with me, the best is yet to be. 

XXOO

This girls journey to serenity

I drew the feelings in this post. =]