Tag Archives: grace

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…

Where Truth Meets Grace

I’m in a little mini season of reflection. I’ve written my testimony and have been reading it over and over and over again. I even recorded it and listen to it when I’m driving. I know there is this thing called being overly prepared but it helps me to just keep doing it. I still get chocked up at the same parts, and that’s ok. 

It’s real.  

It’s truth. 

It’s my story.

 It’s where I’ve been, how I got there, how I got out and where I’m heading.

I’ve settled into a new normal. I can see changes in how I interact with  my ex husband or with my kids. 

I had dinner with my oldest son on Sunday night. It’s our thing, we go (out just the two of us) and have dinner together and catch up. I gave him an example of how I interacted differently now and he commented that he sees it too and give me an example of what he noticed. 

This new normal….it’s Where Truth Meets Grace. 

The Grace that God has been extended to me. The gift of Grace that I extend to myself. The  Grace that is extended to others. 

Right after I wrote my testimony, I had some doubt and fear roaming around unattended in my head. But then I was reminded, what I wrote was truth and light. 

My light is not for me but rather to glorify God and shine light on someone else’s darkness. That’s why we share our story. To give hope to others. It’s just that simple. Darkness thrives on the fear of the unknown, feelings and  fear of speaking authenticity. When you stand on the truth, you find grace. 

The corner of Truth and Grace…..my new benchmark. 

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 My Sponsor…

I started Celebrate Recovery 9 months ago. 9 months ago next week, I took a 24 hour token. Stating that I was ready to commit to a new way of life and surrender my life and will to the loving care of God. 

The woman who would later become my sponsor is a program leader and the more the attended meeting and learned about her story the more I realized that our walk was very much alike and she is a beautiful example of a loving wife and mother in recovery. 

So one day, I took a chance and asked her to be my sponsor. And this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. She took my hand and said lets do this. 

  

Dear J –

You are so amazing as my sponsor. You ask me the right questions. You understand how I think. You call me out and lift me up. You remind me that I’m strong and special and am enough. You extend grace to me when I need it and allow me the opportunity to figure things out in my timing. 

You cry with me and for me. When you say ‘I’m so sorry’, I know you mean it to your core that you are so sorry for what happened to me. 

You kept me balanced when doing step 4 and supported me when I said I just wasn’t ready to finish my step 4 on my mom. Many hard conversations during that step. Many many tears and raw emotion.

I love that you love that I blog about my recovery journey. You are supporting me with leading my first meeting with a concept that inspired me that I found in a pod cast. And have been so supportive of me putting this teaching together. Your excitement gets me even more excited. 

This week we are starting a step study with a group of women. I’ve excited to dive deeper with you in this study and commitment to the program. 

Friendships that are born out of recovery are different from other friendships. We know so much about each other. We support each other in all aspects of my life. 

You have helped me reconginize where I need to create boundaries and have pointed out that I’ve made boundaries without even realizing it. 

I would not have made the process I have in 9 months without 1.my willingness and commitment for a better life and 2. your commitment to me and loving guidance. The perfect recipe for sponsor/sponsee. 

Thank you for walking along side me. For holding my hand and telling me how proud you are of me. 

Celebrate Recovery and the 12 steps are becoming part of who I am. It’s become natural and sometimes I catch myself using recovery lingo or phrases or a scripture reference and think to myself….wow look at that I understand now. Look at where I’m heading. It’s a beautiful thing. 

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

This girls journey to serenity continues….

letter to my alcoholic ex boyfriend part 2

I wanted to revisit this letter to XXXX. 
The first letter I wrote him in a blog post gets hits almost every day. And is in my top 2 of viewed posts. https://thisgirlsjourneytoserenity.wordpress.com/2016/04/15/letter-to-my-alcoholic-ex-boyfriend/ 

I have read it many many times and I am surprised by my understanding even back then about what was my part and what was his. I guess I really was ready to live life differently now and admit my life was unmanageable. 

Because it gets so many hits I often wonder who is reading it? Is it someone like me struggling on the merry go round? Is it someone like XXXX, looking for understanding of the dance we once were pros in? I guess I’ll never know who it is or they are but I hope my words are helping them to understand themselves or help them understand where they have been or are and know they are not alone. Not alone in the insanity. Not alone in feeling broken. Not alone in the feelings of this is just how it’s going to be. Not alone in wanting it to stop and not alone in recovery! 

I have done my step 4 on XXXX and I shared it with my sponsor. I feel differently about that time last year. I understand so much more about where I was. And where he was in his addiction. 

If you have read my blog for a little while now, you know I have a protective order against him. 

XXXX is now out of jail. And how I feel today about if different than how I felt even 2 weeks ago when he was moved from one to another that was just a few miles away. I know it’s because of Step 4. 

Isn’t that amazing. Gods perfect timing for me to be so much stronger now. 

So if I were to write him a letter today, this is what I’d write.   

September 13, 2016

Dear XXXX-

Thank you for time you loved me like no other. The time in the beginning where we enjoyed the simple daily things that life had to offer. For the time that you allowed me to love you and for reminding me that I am lovable. Time was simple and it was pretty easy to take care of and love each other. 

Then your addiction was in control of you, you were not. Your addiction controlled your mind long before it controlled your actions. I tried to make your falling a softer landing because I thought that is what I was supposed to do. 

I wanted to get back to where we were before alcohol took over, that I didn’t see how I was harming both of us in the process of trying to fix everything. I’m sorry that I didn’t know a different way. 

Things that happened  were awful. Awful for both of us but just awful in different ways. Many things you don’t remember. Many things are clouded by an alcohol fog. 

We both have lived out consiquences for our actions and reactions. And it’s time to turn the page with grace, love and forgiveness. 

I now understand how I got in that place. I’ve connected the dots and it all makes sense now. 

I wanted to wish you all the best. That we both always remember that God is in control and that we accept the things that we can not change. That we have the courage to change the things that we can and we have the wisdom to know the difference. That we always life one day at a time. Enjoying one moment at a time. That we remember that hardships are pathways to peace. That we take as Jesus did, this sinful world for as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He makes all thing right, if we surrender to His will. That we may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy forever with you in the next.

Grow in grace and wisdom

This girls journey to serenity 

Keep Calm and swim on…

 Its been a rough week. 

Work stuff.

Ex husband stuff.

Ex boyfriend stuff. 

Emotional stuff. 

Seems I have a lot on my plate right now. 

So all I can do is stay calm and swim on. 

 
All I can do at work is do my job and do it well. Keep my head down and focus on my role. The changes going on at work will either work out and benefit the entire team or it won’t and they will change the process again. I can only control my contribution. 

All I can do is listen to and support my sons while they work through the stuff with their dad (my ex husband). Give them advise and let them know I understand. 

All I can do is tell the judge the facts and how I feel about my ex boyfriend and his request to dissolve my protective order. And the Judge will decide what to do. 

All I can do with the voice in my head that repeats unkind words that was said to me is to quiet it down with the truth. I am not those things. 

All I can do is control me. Control my reactions, feelings and self talk. All I can do is look up and say Lord, please help me with these things in my life. Guide my footsteps, words and thoughts. Provide wisdom, courage, strength and grace.

I have no regrets because I did the best I could with what I knew at the time. 

I will not worry about things I can not control because God is in control and he knows the rest of my story and will walk with me to that place. 

I will lean on my faith in Gods promise to me. 

 
My journey to serenity continues…

I painted the pictures used in this post and used Font Candy to add the text. 

Seeing things a different way…

Do you see a tree line with a reflection?

Do you see a guitar? 

Do you see a tree line with a reflection that happens to look like a guitar? 

This was an actual picture but I wondered if it was real. A friend of mine posted it on Facebook and I knew I had to paint it. It is just so beautiful and simple. I love this painting. 

 

Now that I am past the daily chaos that was. I can look back at my life and am starting to see things a different way. 

My recovery from being codependent is still in its early stages. 

I am still embarrassed that I lived this way. I am still hurting. But everyday I get a little stronger. 

  
I am learning to let go and forgive myself. That process is very hard. I am responsible for so many things running amok. In an earlier post I said I wish I had a super power and could rewind time but I don’t so I can’t. 

But what I did do is that I’ve made a list of things I am responsible for and a list of things I wasn’t. Makes it clear where I need to put some energy in for forgiving myself and what I need to let go. That’s not part of my story. That’s someone else’s crap to deal with. I’m leaving it for them to deal with, known or unknown. Its not mine. 

It’s easy to take someone else’s inventory, but there is self love and grace and wisdom in taking our own. I get that now. I see it differently. 

Part of why some of this is hard for me is I don’t have closure. My parents have passed, my ex husband….well is my ex husband and it would not be a productive conversation. And my ex boyfriend….well I have a protective order. I guess is all part of Gods plan. That I will find my closure a different way. 

My journey to serenity continues…

I painted the pictures in this blog post. =]