Tag Archives: celebrate recovery

500 Days of looking up!!! 

500 days of focusing on my needs. My program. My journey.

500 days of not looking back. 

500 days of understanding how my life was overtaken by chaos and having a plan in place to never allow that nonsense and foolishness to rule my world again. 

500 days of saying no to what no longer serves me but yes to things that do. 

500 days of trusting that I’m heading in the right direction. One step at a time. 
500 days of listening to my life tell an amazing story of understanding and letting go. 
500 days of steps forward and a few back, and sometimes standing still while feelings pass over me. But those steps back and standing still moments did not derail me, they did not stop my forward momentum. Instead those moments gave me rest to keep going. 

I am 500 days away from the addict/ codependent dance that I knew so well. 
I am 500 days closer to the person God wants me to be. 
I am 500 days closer to the life that I got off track from.
I still have work to do for sure but it’s amazing what can happen in just 500 days if you just let go and let God. 

500 days of looking up and thinking…I trust You. You hold the answers. I will praise You for all you have done in my life. 

My journey continues….one day at a time. 

I took this picture from my back yard and use font candy to add the text. 

12 Things I’ve Learned 12 Stepping 

I didn’t know anything about 12 step programs before 2015. Maybe a few jokes here and there. Maybe how it was depicted on a sitcom. 

I was a Seinfeld fan and there was an episode about Step 9. And how George was looking for an apology from someone who was in AA. So my concept of 12 step programs was from a sarcastic place and that all anyone talked about who was in a program was the program. 

Now look at me 16 months of working a 12 step program. And yeah I do talk about the program a lot. 

The thing is, my life has changed and I am continuing to grow closer to my Higher Power, HP or who I believe is Jesus Christ. I am continuing to understand and let go. I am continuing to be that much closer to my authentic self and who God wants me to be. 

So in no particular order, 12 things I have learned from my 12 step program.

1. Working a program is just that, work. You can’t just show up to meetings and do nothing else and things get better. So I….Got a sponsor. I have surround myself with  a sober community. I read recovery materials. Celebrate Recovery has a step study which are workbooks that ask some hard questions on each step that you answer and share with a small group, so I joined that group. I read the Bible. Putting all these things into action is working a program. Doing all of those things, you can’t help but change. 

2. What you struggle with does not define you. The 12 step program I attend is for anyone with  hurts, hang ups or habits that separates us from God and that you want to change. I love that when we introduce ourselves we say ‘I struggle with’ not I am. Mistakes of my past doesn’t mean that is who I am. 

3. Forgiveness is not for the other person but for yourself. I will never contact my ex boyfriend again but I have forgiven him. The freedom of owning my part and understanding his and forgiving him is life changing. I no longer carry the guilt and shame of my actions. 

4. Forgiving myself has been the hardest thing.  My actions hurt other people, I knew it and then I isolated, shut down and hind because of my shame and guilt. Forgiving myself took me the longest to do but then a friend in program reminded me that God had already forgiven me and I should too. 

5. Worry does not change ourcome. If fact worry is a form of not trusting God. God is in control and already knows what is going to happen and knows the mistakes I will make in the future. He has a plan in place to help me through these times too. So worry only takes energy from the now and prevents you from being present. 

6. Understanding codependency. I learned to cope with life by being codependent. When I thought I was helping, it actually caused damage. I made excuses, lied to cover up for and took care of things that were not my responsibility. And it turned out that I prevented the other person from growing from the experience of managing his own problems. 

7. I’ve learned about setting boundaries. Boundaries not only keeps me in a safe space, it also allows me to communicate in a healthy way what I need and what I am willing to do. I don’t always have to tell others my boundaries, me knowing in some cases is enough. This has not only helped me with my relationships but also with work. 

8. It’s hard to complain when you are grateful. Gratitude reminds me of the things in your life. Often addictive behaviors starts from lacking something and it’s a way to escape. It’s so hard to bitch about life when you start to become aware of all the little things to be grateful for everyday. I am grateful for all the little things, the good things and the trials too. 

9. Feelings are hard and that’s ok. No one likes to feel unappreciated or hurt or singled out or not heard. Addictive behaviors are often to avoid those feelings. Feeling of not being good enough. Feelings of not being enough. Feelings of being disappointed or disappointing someone else. But there are also feelings of love and acceptance and joy that by avoiding those negative feelings you also miss out on the good ones too. So sometimes you have to sit and feel those feelings that you don’t want to and then move on. 

10. You are exactly where God wants you to be. In number five, I said that God has a plan in place for my future mistakes but He also has a plan for the good times too. I am in the right place…..right now. Maybe there is a lesson that has yet to be learned. Maybe there is someone else that you will cross paths with for you but what if it was actually for them. Isn’t that a cool thought. Don’t worry about where you are right now, just be there and enjoy every second. And before you know it, you will be in another place with new challenges and new good times and then that is where you are supposed to be. 

11. Being in program taught me how to listen. Being in dysfunctional relationships, I often felt that I was not heard. During the share time, each person is given 5 minutes to share whatever they want. No one can interrupt them. No one can ask questions. No one tell you how to fix it. No one can tell you that you are wrong. It’s only 5 minutes but it’s the only 5 minutes that are like that in my week. I’ve learned to listen. And I don’t judge or think less of them because I know they don’t think less of me. It’s how this works. During the week I may check in with them or next time I see them, we’ll talk about how whatever went or ended up. 

12. Recovery doesn’t end, it’s a lifestyle. I hate to be the one to tell you, but working a program is not a one and done thing. You have to work and embrace the steps everyday, every single day. And when you do, you change, you become aware. You feel things that you don’t want to but you cope with it in a new way. You learn to recognize and own your part and you set better boundaries for next time. And you share your experience, strength and hope with others. And why do we do that? We share our story for His glory and to show others what God has done in our lives.
I want to add a 13th thing I’ve learned because people joke about the 13th step. The 13th step is that someone in program hits one newer member of the group. 

But this is my experience of other people in the group…..

13.  Sponsors, accountability partners and friendships born from recovery are amazing. People in the program are full of wisdom and grace. And this combination is incredible. They have worked the program. Your sponsor will push you in a loving way. You accountability partner will ask you questions that will make you think and maybe give you reason to pause. And the fellowship you share with other members of the group is like no other friendships you can ever have. I have learned how to give grace because others have given grace to me. 

Stay on this journey with me, the best is yet to be.

My journey to serenity continues…

Fruit of the Spirit

Have you ever had something nudging at you? Not knowing what it’s about but a phrase that keeps showing up. Making you want to ask what does this mean? I want to learn more and more. 

So this has happened to me recently with the Fruit of the Spirit. It’s been in a meditation, a pod cast, during a step study meeting and on and on and on. 

So first I looked it up. Wikipedia says ‘The Fruit of the Holy Spirit is a biblical term that sums up nine attributes of a Christian according to Paul the Apostle in his Letter to the Galatians: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.’

I did some more reading and looked for a podcast to listen to and you tube videos to watch.  So all of my time I have trying to figure out what God wants me to learn. I just ordered a study guide on Galatians. 

First thing I noticed is it says fruit not fruits. To me this means that it’s one package deal. All 9 words are equal, part of each other, work together. I should strive to be all of those things every minute of every day in all my encounters. So that when people look at me, they see those words first written on my soul. Who wouldn’t want to be these 9 words. It’s amazing. I know people that when I think of them those are the words that come to mind  and have even said to them, I want to be you when I grow up. 

The next thing is it’s the fruit of the spirit not the seed. Otherwise Paul would have said seed of the spirit. The hard work is done. The seed was planted, and the soil was perfect, there was the perfect amount of water and the right nutrients to feed the seed. But there may have been hard seasons where the seed was not in the perfect environment but the seed is resilient and continued on its path. Resting when it needed to, taking from one place to make up for another. Trying to keep itself balanced and become what it was intended to be. The fruit is a result of the years of hard work from the seed. 

The fruit is….love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. 

I’m going to end here and have a part 2 to this post. I’m working on where I am on living my life in the fruit of the spirit and where I need to focus more. So stay tuned while I work this out! 

My journey continues

This girls journey to serenity…

Ps I painted the picture used in this post. 

Ripples From Yesterday

May 5. 2015 2:12 am was the exact moment my heart broke. The man I loved began drinking and this took me on a codependent journey that I had no idea what all was about to happen. 

This is the post I posted on Facebook at 2:12am

‘Ripples in water……did it start from a single tear rolling down someone’s face? Did it start from a kind word that changed someone’s day? Did it start from a single act of service for someone else? 

No matter how it started…..know the effects are long lasting. Rippling the waters for moments to hours to days to time beyond what you can imagine. 

Be kind. Be supportive. Be understanding. Be forgiving. You never know who you may touch with one single tear, word or small act.’

I read this today and see myself sitting on the sofa sobbing, not understanding and not ready to face the truth. 

I feel myself sitting next to myself saying….you are going to be ok, better than ok in fact. The next few months you will not be yourself and you are going to make mistakes but know that this is going to take you to understanding and you will be ready to face the truth. 

Ripples that started 2 years ago, pushed me to THIS place. Now being 450 days in recovery from codependency and having the understanding of how I got there.  

And ripples from today being a healthier person and LIVING life will push me to even better places. I attend my home group meeting every week and I am working a step study, I am starting another study. I am spending time with like minded people in recovery. 

My journey continues…

This girls journey to serenity. 

Recurring themes…

I keep running into these words: Resilience and Living Authentically. 

Resilience is defind as the ability to return to the original form, position, etc., after being bent, compressed, or stretched; elasticity.

And Living Authentically is defined as acting in ways that are congruent with our values, preferences, and abilities being true to the core self in one’s daily life. 

Before working a recovery program I thought I was living both of those but now I have a completely different point of view. 

Working a recovery program, being resilient and living authenticity means that you are reflective. Understanding what is your part and what is not. 

Working a recovery program, being resilient and living authenticity means you are not judgemental. When being reflective you understand that people make mistakes and the greatest lessons are from the darkest nights and understand that others make mistakes too. And bounce back when you are hurt or disappointed. 

Working a recovery program, being resilient and living authenticity means you live in the present. You no longer dwell on the past or what if’s or if only’s. You are trusting God and enjoying one moment at a time.

Working a recovery program, being resilient and living authenticity means you have identified your character defects and are entirely ready to have God remove all our defects of character and humbly ask him to remove our shortcomings. 

Working a recovery program, being resilient and living authenticity means that you listen. You understand that there are times when someone just wants to be heard and knowing this you learn how to be a good listener. 

Working a recovery program, being resilient and living authenticity means you are consistent. Living the steps, having a sponsor keeps you on track and consistent. 

Working a recovery program, being resilient and living authenticity means others notice and ask you about how you life your life this way. Because by living this way, you give others hope. 

I am humble and grateful for my program. 

My journey to serenity continues….

At The End Of Me…

Life is different since I started living life with the 12 steps and working a program. The first 3 steps are admitting that I am powerless over my compulsive behaviors and my life is unmanageable, that I believe that a power greater than myself (Jesus Christ) can restore me to sanity and I have made the decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God. 
At the end of me…..I found you there. 

Clearly my plan and way of coping with life wasn’t working and I was spinning further and further into chaos and further and further away from God.

And then I hit my bottom….at the end of me….I found you there. 

God has sent the most amazing faith filled women to join me on the journey. For me to witness their walk with God and watch them walk the walk and talk the talk. They are amazing role models. 

At the end of me…..I found you there. 

We are not made to walk a recovery journey alone. Friendships born from recovery, sponsor and accountability partners. We walk together. There is safety in safe numbers. 

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

And one of my favorite passages. 

Proverbs 27:17 As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.

My journey to serenity continues and I am grateful for at the end of me…..I found you there. 

My Testimony…..it’s for His glory

I gave my testimony tonight at my Celebrate Recovery meeting and I wanted to share it with you too. I know it’s different reading it over hearing it. 
Thank you Lord for what you have done for me in and out of these rooms. It is only by His Grace and love that I am here tonight. I am humbled and it is an honor to share my story.

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

I am the 6th child to a Catholic Family. My siblings are 5 -11 years older than me.

My parents were both worked hard but also alcoholics. Knowing all that I do now, who could blame them. My mother grew up in a very abusive alcoholic home and moved more than once a year. She attended 17 schools before graduating high school. My mom just wanted to escape. She got married at 17 and divorced the next year and then married my dad after knowing him for 6 short weeks. And my Dad, he was born as a result of a rape and grew up in another family member’s home. The shame he carried was unbearable. The fact that he would even know this still breaks my heart. None of these things were ever talked about. Most of this I’ve learned from other family members of the past year.

We did not want for anything growing up. I was very shy. Painfully shy in fact. I didn’t want to be noticed or bring attention to myself. We lived on a street with lots of kids but they were mostly older like my siblings. I was often the lookout but more often the pest.

As long as I can remember, one of my brothers told me that I was found in a trash can and they felt sorry for me and took me home. This same brother sexually abused me for several years. I never told anyone because he told me that they would send me back to the family who didn’t want me to begin with.

I had learning disabilities in school and I am convinced the abuse and learning difficulties were connected. I cried a lot those early years of school as I just want to be home with my mom. I was so afraid that someone would find out what was going on. I was pulled out of class for tutoring and was left feeling that I didn’t belong and was lonely because my friends were off doing other things while I had tutoring or summer school.

To say that I was a daddy’s girl would be an understatement. But if there was also a mommy’s girl, I would have been that too. My parents were my best friends.

My parents drank every night to the point they passed out on the sofa or chair and got up the next day and went to work. This seemed completely normal to me.

By the time I was 13, I was the only one left at home and it was like I was an only child. I became very close to my parents during this time while my siblings were off getting married and starting families of their own. The dynamics of my family was different than most families. Distance started to grow between me and the 5 siblings. I have relationships with only 2 of them today.

As a teenager, I used my sexuality to find love in all the wrong places with all the wrong guys. I was more sexually active than my peers and found myself in circles with older teens. The cycle had begun, I was looking for older guys who were outgoing, could make friends very easily and everyone liked them but when no one was looking, they were not kind to me. I was taken advantage of and this became what I knew and what I felt I deserved. That description of outgoing and made friends easily but was mean spirited, this is exactly how I would describe my brother while I just wanted to fade into the back ground.

I drank in high school which was a good escape but I hated feeling of bed spins or just the feeling of not being in control or worse yet feeling sick the next day. So I took on a different role. I helped my friends from getting into trouble or doing stupid things or helped them clean it up when they did. They all thought that I had a high tolerance but they were too drunk to notice that I had drank little to nothing. I was needed.

I was friends with everyone but didn’t belong in one group or click.

I started working in High School and continued on that path after. I met the man I’d later marry at a coworker’s house. They were about 10 years older and I liked hanging out with them. I got married at 23 to the class clown type who everyone loved and who would make friends with anyone if sports and drinks were involved. But I didn’t drink and while I like to watch sports I didn’t know names of players or their stats nor did I care. He is critical of others and mean spirited sarcastic humor rules his world. From the start were in different boats but rowing in different directions.

My life became about the kids and his life didn’t change much.

There were a couple of life changing events that made me realize that this was not what I signed up for and those center around the passing of my dad in 2001, we filed bankruptcy in 2007 because we were living off credit and was over extended and didn’t do anything about it. It was an easy way out from the responsibility but it was not easy at all. I was embarrassed and ashamed. And then my mom passed away in 2008.

In late 2007 my mom got very sick and hid her cirrhosis diagnosis from everyone until she was hospitalized and the doctor said something in front of the family.. she was in the hospital or nursing home for 5 months.  In March 2008 they suggested that there is nothing left to do for her but to go home with hospice care. 24 hours later she was home. Her bed was set up by the window. I spent that evening as I did the months leading to that day brushing her hair and putting lotion on her hands and feet. My Mom passed away just a few hours later.

My husband never went to see her and I again felt unsupported and not cared about. This was the end of my marriage. In 2010 and I am now a newly single parent with 3 sons. I walked away from a 16 year marriage because of years of my needs were not being met and I was exhausted from broken promises and not being heard or supported and I didn’t have the skills to tell him what I needed. I felt alone in my pain.

I started searching for a way to fill that emptiness and feeling of not belonging that I had felt most of my life. So I started with my spiritual life and went Church shopping. My faith was quiet in my adult life but knew there was more for me. Everywhere I turned 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 that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.

This made no sense to me but it just kept showing up.

I was white knuckling life as I had done for so long and just trying to make it until next payday or the often just to the end of day. I figured this was how my life was supposed to be.

I was lonely and felt I didn’t belong as I was the only person in my circle of friends that was divorced. I knew a lot of people but have very few friends. I found myself getting into suddo-relationships with men that I didn’t ask a lot of questions and honestly I just didn’t care. They were giving me time and attention even if it was mostly online or by text. It was time and attention all the same. Ignorance is bliss; I didn’t ask and therefore didn’t have to deal with shame of knowing the answer.

At the end of 2014, I reconnected with someone I went to high school with. He talked about love and God’s light and his beliefs seem to line up with mine. Early 2015, he was looking to start his life over and needed someone to take a chance on him. Again, I didn’t ask enough questions but agreed to have him crash on my sofa while he started over. He got a job within days of moving in. We went to Church together and as the weeks and months passed, I completely fell for him. He was filling that emptiness in a way like no one else ever had.

I knew that he was behind on his child support and had a court hearing pending. I knew he struggled with alcohol but he was not drinking. We didn’t have alcohol in the house and we were going to AA Step 11 meetings together. He never shared, didn’t have a sponsor and was not working the steps but I didn’t know anything about 12 step programs at that time.

In May the wheels fell off when he lost his job and he turned to alcohol. I came home from work to find him passed out on my sofa. I made excuses for him for a couple of days as every day I came home to him passed out. I kicked him out because I couldn’t allow my kids to be around this chaos. I started hiding and lying to everyone about what was going on once I kicked him out.

He didn’t go far, just a few blocks away, where he found a place to live with a bunch of other addicts who were squatting in a house while the owner was in jail. I paid rent for him because I felt bad for kicking him out. This was the start of my codependent merry go round.

I became the girl who put his needs above mine and thought if I just love him enough, he would stop.

I became the girl who left work to check in on him and lied about why I was gone so long.

I became that girl that believed his half truths because I wanted so desperately to get back to where we were.

I became that girl that took him to court drunk because he knew he was going jail.

I became that girl who visited her boyfriend in jail every weekend and cried in the waiting room wondering what I was doing and how did this become my life.

I became that girl who put my finances at risk to bond him out of jail a month later and lied to everyone about where I got the money.

I became that girl who was devastated that the day I bonded him out, he drank again after telling me he wouldn’t.

I moved him back in and my kids were so upset that they moved out and moved in with my ex-husband.

I waited a few days and when the drinking didn’t stop and I ended up with a black eye, I kicked him out once again.

July 18th 2015 I sat of my sofa sobbing. My kids moved out and were not talking to me because they felt betrayed and not heard and this man that I loved so much was choosing to drink over me and I felt that I was not enough. So I sat on the sofa, crying. Pen. Paper. Knife. I just wanted to end my pain. And then I heard some advice repeated in my head from a few years earlier from a conversation with my oldest son when a classmate committed suicide…..it just transfers the pain to someone else and you don’t fix a temporary problem with a permanent solution. I could not be responsible for giving my sons this pain.

My life was unmanageable and I was a mess.

I almost lost my job. But instead I was demoted.

The 2 younger kids (11 and 15) moved back in 2 weeks after they left but they were hesitant and skeptical of everything I was doing. But my 19 year old wanted nothing to do with me.

So I did what any good out of control codependent would do, I continued to chase after him and try to save him from himself. During this time, we actually talked about one day we would be on stage together sharing our story of love and recovery.

His drinking continued to be completely out of control and I continued to make excuses and lie. After the 4th trip to the ER for him to detox I picked him up and I was angry. I just didn’t understand why he wasn’t stopping; I had done everything I knew to do. Clearly it was my fault and I was not enough.

In October, I had reached my limit and asked him to leave me alone. To just go away. That I was not enough to save him and I couldn’t take it anymore. But he didn’t. I received 100’s and 100’s of text messages and phone calls. He trespassed and then entering my house when I was not home but my 11 year old was.

I got a protective order which he then violated and spent a month in jail.

How did this become my life?

I started to go to Al-Anon. This actually made me miss him because it was the same location as the AA meetings I attending with him. I started to think about the good times and how he filled my emptiness. I reached out to him in December. We talked by phone for a couple of weeks. But then he was picked up again for not paying child support and was back in jail.

I met with someone from my Church (thank you Joni for being here tonight) and she suggested Celebrate Recovery. And I am so grateful that I listened.

Feb 2nd 2016 was my first CR meeting. I talked to him from jail as I walked into the meeting. And after that meeting, I did not talk to him again. His mail was returned to him unopened and I have never looked back.

Feb 9th I took my Welcome Home Chip. I carried that chip on me 24 hours a day for months. It meant everything to me.

I listened and learned and cried in each CR meeting. I finally found a place where I belonged and that people understood. I could share and no one told me what to do. They just listened without judgment.

I started a blog. I was looking for an outlet to write about how I was feeling and what I had learned. I found support I never imagined.

I got a sponsor and I started to work the steps with her. I needed to look back at my life to figure out how I got myself in this awful place because I am determined to never be in that place again. So, I had to go back to my beginning. This relationship is one I would not trade for the world and I am so grateful for her walking along side me. 

My oldest son moved back home and I am so grateful for him being here tonight to support me.

From working Steps 1 – 5 with my sponsor, I was able to make all these connections from my childhood to adulthood. I had never realized how the events of when I was 5 impacted my life at 45. And I began to heal those parts of my heart that I didn’t even realize were hurting.

I starting listening to CR podcasts and filling up all my time with understanding what happened in my life. I taught something I learned and has become part of my recovery path for the first time in November. I was humbled by that experience of sharing.

I joined a women’s step study group and have developed relationships with amazing faith filled women who lift me up and cry and celebrate with and for me.

Now I understand what James 1:2-3 means ‘when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity of great joy’. Had I not been there, I wouldn’t be here.

To the new comer, I say keep coming back, it works if you work it and you are worth it. I am only 13 months in and God has moved mountains of hurts. Matthew 11:28 If you had faith even as small as a tiny mustard seed you can say to this mountain ‘Move!’ and it would go far away. Nothing would be impossible.

I am in the process of self publishing the first year of my blog to capture what happened in my life as I let go and let God.

God was with me every step of the way. Sending people to walk with me and help guide me in the right direction. But it is in my faith and willingness to understand and let go that I have found freedom from my hurts. These hurts once kept me from living my authentic self.

No one needs to get fit before joining this gym, just come as you are because God loves you in this moment and so does everyone in this room. God wants to take to you a better life when you become willing to allow Him to work in your life.

So here I am sharing my story of love and recovery. Sharing how God, the CR program, you and I have changed my life. I am a work in progress. I am a healthier person now than I was a year ago and I am forever grateful for being there to now being here so I can see the joy and resilience that I have developed.

I have not only found joy in trials but I have learned that I am enough, that I can love and am lovable, I have learned that I do belong and all things are possible when you let go and let God.

Thank you for letting me share.
This is me and this is my story. Thank you for reading it. My journey continues.