My Truth

Grateful

I recently did a questionnaire that puts in order 24 character strengths. I went into the questionnaire not knowing the names of the strengths.

I was not surprised by my top 5. They are: gratitude, appreciation of beauty and excellence, kindness and generosity, capacity to love and be loved and spiritually, sense of purpose and faith.

We often think and talk about our character defects and not character strengths. So doing this work gives me some great incite into who I am and how I am showing up in the world. The other cool thing is the other strengths can be worked on and improved and moved up the list.

Something I can only contribute to recovery, is having an attitude of gratitude. There have been times in my life that I have felt unworthy. Ungrateful. And not seeing the gifts there are from trials, hard days and even conflict. Over the last couple of years, I have developed a very strong sense of gratitude. So I was not surprised that this is my top strength.

According to The Positivity Project gratitude’s parent virtue is transcendence and this strength allow people to rise above their troubles and find meaning in the larger universe. Gratitude is sometimes resisted due to not wanting to experience a sense of indebtedness. However, gratitude is less about feeling indebted and more about being aware of the consideration, kindness and generosity of others.

I am approaching my 4 year of working a recovery program, Celebrate Recovery (CR) I’m giving my testimony at two different CR’s in the next few weeks. Tonight I am reflective of who I was walking in the doors of CR for the first time and who I am today AND JUST HOW FAR I HAVE COME.

And I find myself just so grateful.

Grateful for where I was. Grateful for those who came along side me. I am grateful for those who stuck with me and for those who walked away. I am grateful for the work I’ve done to find myself. I am grateful for friendships that are not like any other I have ever had. I am grateful for making my recovery a priority for the last 4 years.

I am grateful that I can admit that I am powerless. I do not have it all together. I do not have to try and control all of it. I am not responsible for all of it. I am not that powerful and it’s not my job.

I am grateful that my higher power loves me. That I matter to Him and that He wants to have a relationship with me. That He works all things together for my greater good.

I am grateful that I make the decision everyday to turn my life and my will over to the care of God.

I am grateful for fearless inventories. And identify my part and see character defects because I will grow from this information.

I am grateful for being able to admit to God, to myself and to someone I trust, my wrong doings.

I am grateful that I am a work in progress and am ready to have God remove my defects of character.

I am grateful that I can humbly ask Him to remove my shortcomings.

I am grateful for identifying those that I have harmed and become willing to make amends with them.

I am grateful for making direct amends when ever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

I am grateful for continuing to take personal inventory and promptly admit when I am wrong.

I am grateful for prayer and meditation. Praying for knowledge of His will for my life and the power to carry that out.

And I am grateful for getting to carry this message to others and practicing these principles in all of my affairs.

I am grateful for the 12 steps and learning how to apply them to me and my pain and hurts.

I am perfectly imperfect and grateful.

My journey to serenity continues…

My Truth

Let Your Light Shine

I’m not a big believer in New Years resolutions mainly because I have not been successful in past years. At first it’s motivating but it soon fades.

But I am a believer in words and how powerful they are for me. So rather than say, I’m going to join a gym and workout everyday, I’d rather say my focus is on self care this year and see how that plays out. Maybe that’s an easy way out but it works for me.

In 2015 I wrote ‘living life with drive and purpose, faith and integrity, grace and joy, consistency and always with kindness.’ Those words are how I would describe my Dad. This was a hard year and I’m not sure how successful I was in all those words that year but then I got to start over with a new book with 365 blank pages.

So for 2016 I simply said ‘Trust His Plan’ and didn’t I ever.

I used words from my High School crest for 2017, ‘Grow in grace and wisdom’ There was a lot of steady growth that year. Lots of understanding and healing.

For 2018 I wrote simply ‘I Love’. Which covered rediscovering and enjoying things I love and being open to finding new things to love.

My words for 2019 were

  • Different
  • Better 
  • More 

This was about doing even more of what I love. Being around people I love. And stepping into new things coming my way with confidence.

I just looked through the photos on my phone for 2019 and I did a pretty good job with different, better and more.

So I’ve been thinking a lot about my words for 2020.

I kept getting messages about ‘light’. So I looked up in the Bible verses about light then more specifically people being light or people shining their light.

Here are 2 of my favorites: 

Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 5:15-16

No one lights a lamp and hides it in a clay jar or puts it under a bed. Instead, they put it on a stand, so that those who come in can see the light. Luke 8:16

So that is exactly what I am going to do. I will continue to:

living life with drive and purpose, faith and integrity, grace and joy, consistency and always with kindness.

And I will always remember to Trust God’s Plan.

I will grow in grace and wisdom.

I will love.

I will keep searching for different, better and more.

But this new year, in fact new decade. These new roaring 20’s I will focus on:

Letting my light shine

Shining my light for someone else’s darkness.

And surrounding myself with like-minded HOPEDEALERS!

Cheers to 2020!

My journey to serenity continues.

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

I created the graphics used in this post by using Font Candy.

My Truth

no shame in my game…

I did an interview for another codependency blogger and will be featured in a few days. Pretty excited for that. One question that jumped out was…..Do you find being a codependent an embarrassing label? 

My answer may surprise some. I answered not at all and I’d like to explain more. 

I had never even heard the term codependency until late 2015. But I have been codependent for most of my life. It’s how I learned to cope, it’s what I thought Love looked like and for some time it served me well. That’s is until it didn’t and my life got completely out of control. 

Now that I have an understanding of codependency and where is came from for me, I have no shame around this term. 

The more people I met that struggle with this, the more I know that I am in good company. Men, women from all walks of life. Codependency for me has always come from a good place. A place of love and trying to protect someone. I know now this form of love is hurtful and doesn’t allow the other person involved to grow from the experience. 

Back 6 months ago or more, I want to a training event for Celebrate Recovery (CR). We were welcomed by a motorcycle group with CR Patches on their leather jackets with a big logo on the back that said ‘my chains are broken’. These men and women who on the surface not approachable but if you talk to them you know very quickly that they love the Lord and made the attendees feel welcomed and excited to be there. Was another example of not judging others. 

Just like during my regular meeting, I heard many of them introduce themselves just like I do…hi my name is —-, I’m a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and I struggle with codependency, YES! I’m in such good company. 

I am not ashamed of this label or being part of a recovery group. 

I carry my recovery tokens on my key chain. Recently, because of my tokens, I had the opportunity to talk to complete strangers about what they meant. And both times the person who asked took the time to share with me where they were in life and what they wanted to change. What a blessing to them and to me! 

No shame in my game!!! 

My journey to serenity continues…

My Truth

Judging Others…

One thing I have learned first hand from 12 step recovery meeting rooms has to do with judgment. 

While I was spinning out of control on the codependency/addict merry go round, others didn’t understand what was going on and why I was acting like a crazy person. 

I’d ask for advise (while knowing what I should do) but frozen in being able to take action to change what was going on. And the merry go round went around and around and around again. In some ways it felt safer to do what you know. 

I felt like a crazy person. I didn’t understand what was going on. How did this become my life?

Part of codependency is about what others may think of me if they knew what was going on.  So I would take care of things and make it easier for others. I’d paint the picture of it not being THAT bad. Why? Because I didn’t want to be judged in a negative way or for those around me that I cared about to be judged. The shame I felt that if everyone knew, they would be disappointed in me somehow. Because I was disappointed in myself. 

But then I had to DO something and DO something different because I did not want to spin around one more time. With a ton of work and willingness, my heart started to heal and things started to make sense and more connections were made and my heart healed a little bit more.  

For me when I first started to go to meetings, I felt a lot of things but being judged was not one of them. As I heard others stories and where they were, I didn’t for a second judge them. I felt compassion and empathy and just wanted to love them along their journey. 

What a beautiful gift to share with others in recovery who also at one point may have felt shame for their behavior. Being in a space of not being judged. Being in a safe place to share the darkest of their days. Learning to heal and grow and learning to trust yourself and others around you again. Beautiful thing for sure. 

In the Book of Matthew 7: 2-5 it says this about being judgemental…...Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?’ 

Wowzers, pretty clear. Why do people do that? Because it’s easy. It’s easy to point out others flaws or sins and not look at yourself and owning your part. 

Reminds me of recovery sayings like….

Stay in your own lane.
Keep your side the street clean.
Keep your spoon in your own bowl.

Or in Romans 3:23 you will find….’For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,’

Yeah hello, everyone has fallen short and who am I to think that my sin is less sinful than someone else’s. Or that this persons sin is so much worse on the sin scale. (Is that a thing?)  Makes me laugh to think of times I thought that about someone or a situation. Because I didn’t understand that this is not how it works. 

I would not trade my best day on the codependent/addict merry go round for my worst day off it!!! 

I think this is actually called grace. Going to a year and a half of meetings, I have learned to give grace because grace has been given to me. 

I have learned not to judge because they didn’t judge me. 

My journey to serenity continues….

My Truth

Two sides of HOPE

Side one…..In the past I had…..

Hoped that he would change
Hoped that he would notice my pain
Hoped that he would keep his promises 
Hoped that he would stop drinking
Hoped he would choose me
Hoped that I would be heard this time 
Hoped that the family would be come first
Hoped that this time would be the time
Hoped that this time would be different
Hoped others didn’t notice
Hoped someone kinda would have noticed
Hoped I can fix it
Hoped I was doing the right thing…..knowing it was the wrong thing


                              Faith    HOPE      Love   Continue 

Side two……Now HOPE is different for me. 

I don’t hope in other people. Or even in myself. Don’t get me wrong, HOPE is all about positive feelings of expectation, trust and desire for a certain thing to happen. 

But today my HOPE is in God and trusting His plans for my life. From the many gifts He has given me not only to be my best self but to also live out the 12 steps and glorify Him in all of my affairs. 

My journey to serenity continues…

I designed this tattoo on my arm. Faith Hope Love and I choose to continue. 

My Truth

I share my story because…

Someone asked me today, why do you share your story? Why do you blog? Why are you willing to share your story at a meeting? 

Well there are 3 parts to this answer…

#1. Sharing my story of love and recovery is for me aka the story teller. Because….

  • There is power is writing my story.
  • There is power in hearing myself say it out loud.
  • It keeps our story real and reminds me of how far i have come. 
  • It strengthens my commitment to my recovery. 
  • It helped me find my voice. 
  • It’s the ultimate form of self love or self care.
  • It’s one of the steps. Step 12 Having had a spiritual experience as a result of these steps, we try to carry this messsge to others and practice these principles in all of our affairs.
  • It’s a form of service to others. 

#2. Sharing my story of love and recovery is for others. Because…

  • I shine my light not for me but for someone else’s darkness. 
  • It shows others that they are not alone. 
  • It encourages others in their journey. 
  • It gives others hope in recovery. 
  • You create amazing friendships from those in recovery. 
  • Allows others with similar stories to have someone who can relate to and go to for support. 
  • We sharpen each other 
  • You can share tools and experience.

#3. Sharing my story of love and recovery is to glorify God. Because….

  • It is only by His grace, love and forgiveness that I am in this place today and I need to tell others what He has done for me. 

This girls journey to serenity continues…

My Truth

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 getting closer and closer to 2 years 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. 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 helped me in all of my relationships. 

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. 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 at my meetings, 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.

Bonus 13 thing I’ve learned 12 stepping.

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…

My Truth

The Best Part of Recovery……I Am Never Alone

The best part of recovery is that I am never alone. We are not built to be alone. But when you are in the middle of your addiction, you pull away from others because of shame and guilt. 

Now when I feel overwhelmed or upset, I can reach out to several people and they talk to me about what’s going on, how I’m feeling and why. 

My recovery family glows in number and in depth. Spending time with likeminded, God lovin’, people in recovery makes me a better human. 

I’m giving my testimony in 3 days. I have thought about this day for 6 months. What I have written is perfect. It’s me and my story.  I know that sharing my story will give glory to God and share courage, strength and hope. 

My journey continues…

This girls journey to serenity

PS this is my picture that I took and I created this graphic for this post =] 

My Truth

Open letter to My Recovery Tokens

Dear Recovery Tokens – 

Oh how I love you. I count the days until I get a new one. I celebrate your arrival. I clap for my friends who get you. 

Tokens are used to identify milestones or time frames of recovery. It’s not only for the person getting the token but also to inspire others but most of all, they are for His glory! 

  
Today is 9 months in program! 

9 months and 1 week ago, I walked into my first Celebrate Recovery Meeting. I was so broken. I cried the entire time. I was so ready to stop the insanity. Stop being in denial. I was ready for God to take this from me and free my life of codependency. My life was chaos. Something had to give and I wasn’t going to let it be me. At the close of every meeting we say the Lords Prayer and say ‘keep coming back, it works if you work it and you are worth it’

The next week, I got the first token. The 24 hour to 29 day token and I said that I was hurting and broken. But that I was worth it. 

This first token says ‘welcome home’.

  
I carried this first token on me 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for months. It meant everything to me. On days I didn’t know what I was doing or if the pain I was feeling would ever end, I clung to. And then one day, I noticed I wasn’t hurting as much. And started going days without thinking about what happened in the past. 

Then I started working the steps with my sponsor and while there was pain, there was so much healing. 

So thank you my dear recovery tokens for helping me count the months. For celebrating and giving hope to others. But most of all, thank you for allowing me to glorify God and sharing with others what God has done in my life. 

Stay on this ride with me…..the best is yet to be.

This girls journey to serenity…