Sober Living

Recovery is like…

an onion.

There’s layers of hurts, habits and hang-ups to work out and once you heal and pull away one layer there is something new revealed.

But I think this is an incomplete picture of what my (and I’m sure many others) recovery looks like.

Yesterday I went to Sunflower Farm with a group of recovery friends. Sunflowers at sunset. It was delightful. I’ve been there several times but no one else had and to watch them enjoy the farm, filled my heart.

I was looking at my pictures and found a different and I think a better way to describe my recovery other than an onion.

Recovery is like a sunflower.

Have you ever seen a sunflower bloom? Well, I took these pics and will explain my recovery journey.

Starting off, I felt closed in. Lonely and not focusing on anything else but my own pain.

I started opening up. Trusting the people in recovery with my hurts. Being willing to be open. To heal what hurt and change my behaviors.

And as I worked the 12 Steps and the 8 Principles of Celebrate Recovery to the best of my ability, I opened up more and more. Revealing who I am. My true self.

Seeing for myself, who I was becoming. Understanding the gifts that God gave me and putting these gifts into practice.

Seeing those around me, for who they are, who they are becoming and watching with delight, watching them bloom.

But here’s the thing about recovery. Well mine anyway. I’m not done yet. i don’t think I will ever be done. I may have healed what initially got me into recovery, blooming, using my gifts and I’m walking along side others but life happens.

I will get stung. I will get hurt. But I also know that first I have healed before and second, I have a recovery community, a forever family to stand with me. I am never alone. And I am loved.

And look what a gorgeous pattern in the center of sunflower. God is amazing. Just like he knows every hair on my head, He made these beautiful flowers with nothing overlooked. No detail too small.

FINDING FREEDOM IN RECOVERY

I have found freedom from my past hurts and decisions. And I will continue to work my program to the best of my ability so that I can continue to bloom.

My journey continues…

My Truth

Perfectly Imperfect

6 years ago on Facebook, I posted one simple word. ‘Broken’. When I read it, I was immediately pulled back to that time. Where I was. How I felt. And what was about to happened. I was broken.

I had plan. I wrote THE letter. I cried until I couldn’t cry anymore.

I was suicidal and afraid to tell anyone cause I didn’t want my kids to be taken away from me while I was thinking of taking myself away from them.

But I stopped.

I sat in those feelings today for just a little while. So sad for who I was at that time. I wanted to hug her and say, ‘it’s going to be ok. Better than ok in-fact. It may not feel that way right now but I promise you God has a plan.’

Thank you Jesus that I stopped. I had already been seeking God. And trying to figure out what happened to my life.

Well it took me 6 more months to find myself again and get spiritually, mentally and emotionally strong enough to say enough is enough. Enough of the madness. Enough of the lies. The lies I was told and lies I told others to cover up how broken and lost I left. Enough of the living in fear of where I was and where I was going. Enough of being in denial. Enough of trying to save someone from themselves and their addiction.

Feb 2016 I went to my first Celebrate Recovery (CR) and I have never looked back.

From working the 12 Steps and 8 Principles of CR, I have learned so much about myself and how I learned to cope with life with codependency and why. I have gained awareness of my behaviors and now have new ways of coping.

I have learned so many amazing Bible verses and now actually read the Bible. And I apply them all the time.

For example, there are days that need to put on the Armor of God and well maybe I should be putting on these 7 pieces of armor everyday. Ephesians 6: 13-17 “Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

And I strive to live up to The Fruits of the Spirit. These are the 9 attributes of someone who is living in accord with the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”

When my mind wonders and I’m feeling down, I am reminded of what to think about in Philippians 4:8-9 “In conclusion, my friends, fill your minds with those things that are good and that deserve praise: things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and honorable. Put into practice what you learned and received from me, both from my words and from my actions. And the God who gives us peace will be with you.”

I’m grateful for being in this place today and the direction I am going. I am grateful that I stopped 6 years ago. And I am grateful for the last 6 years and every step along the way.

I am grateful for being perfectly imperfect but working every single day to become who God always knew I was.

Perfectly Imperfect in every wonderful way!

My journey to serenity continues…

My Truth

Self Care

Ever thought about what they say in the safety message when you take a trip on an airplane. And how it applies to life outside that flight? I have.

They say something like, ‘In the unlikely event we lose oxygen. Oxygen masks will drop down from above your seat. Place the mask over your mouth and nose. Make sure that your own mask is on first before helping others.’

Why do they say this? Because when we must take care of ourselves first before we are able to take care of others.

Imagine in the plane, if the person next to you was struggling and then you helped them, now you are suddenly struggling. And the both of you panic and can’t figure it out. It can happen so quickly.

Self-care starts and ends with God and His will for our lives.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

I love that, ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ And of course ‘His good, pleasing and perfect will.’

Truly trusting God and His will for my life is transforming. I’ve seen it first hand in others and I’ve lived it.

Self care does not come easy to me. For a long time, I ran until I was empty having nothing left for myself. Self care sounded selfish. I wasn’t getting my my needs met so I’d fill up all of my time with taking care of others. In all parts of life.

But now I have a new perspective. I need to put my own oxygen mask on. I need to fill myself up with healthy habits. We can’t pour from an empty cup.

Can’t pour from an empty cup!

Attending meetings is part of my weekly self-care routine. I’m a better me and am able to serve my family, friends, Church, Celebrate Recovery and work. Prayer and journaling daily are also part of my routines. I guess it’s living Steps 10-12 or Celebrate Recovery Principles 8 and 9.

Ready to take some action steps and make self care a priority? Tell me about it!

My journey to serenity continues…

My Truth

From a place of love…

As someone who struggles with codependency, I heard an amazing yet sad reminder over the weekend.

I went to a Church service where a guest Pastor spoke about his addiction and recovery through Jesus Christ. Part of his bottom was when his Dad unexpectedly passed away. And the next time he relapsed, his Dad was not there to help pick him back up.

Later in the day, at the Q and A session, he shared that if his Dad was still alive, he likely wouldn’t be.

That was such a difficult reminder to hear but an important one.

That hard truth of when a codependent or enabler ends up causing harm when we were just coming from a place of what we thought was love. That place where we want to soften their fall but we just end up prolonging their bottom and pain.

I know for myself, I wanted to soften the fall of a now ex boyfriend. I would be screaming inside….where is your bottom. As I picked him up from jail or from someplace else he shouldn’t have been. He needed to feel his own consequences from behavior he was choosing. And my softer version while well meaning, was not helping him.

I kept giving him chances and covering for him as I thought, this would be the time that he would get sober and if I didn’t, I would miss it. I would miss being there with him, living a sober life together. if I just loved him enough, he would stop drinking. Or thinking, if he really loved me he would stop.

But that’s not how that story ended.

That story ended with me reaching my bottom before he did. I had to untangle myself from this crazy train of addict and enabler. Which included a protective order because I was afraid.

Then I found Jesus Christ through this little program called Celebrate Recovery.

That story ends with me not only learning that Jesus wanted to be in relationship with me the entire time and I just needed to turn towards Him. But also that God loves me so much that He sent his beloved son, Jesus here to live a perfect life and die for my not even done yet, sins. To pay the price for me. To take on all my burdens. All of my hurts, habits and hangups and replace those things with freedom, joy and love.

I also have learned to love myself and have learned how to have real meaningful relationships with others. To fellowship with like minded people who love Jesus and each other right where we are.

My journey continues….

My Truth

What Alcoholic Behaviors Looks Like

If you have read any of my other posts, you know that alcoholism is not my issue. But I have been around it my entire life.

This post is from my point of view. The person loving the person who struggles with alcoholism and what their behaviors look like.

One thing I didn’t realize is it’s not the same for everyone. Which seems funny to say because it just isn’t. But I really didn’t realize how different the behaviors could be until I experienced it with different people in my life.

Growing up in the home of an alcoholic, I witnessed a high functioning alcoholic. One who was successful professionally. Maintained a home and provided for the family. And most people would have never known looking in from the outside.

My mom died from cirrhosis. It was the most terrible thing I have ever witnessed. Fluid backed up and had to be drained. Her skin cracked on her legs and fluid dripped out. It was terrible. She was shutting down from the inside out.

The man I married, drank nightly just like I experienced growing up. But he also used his words carelessly and was mean and thoughtless after drinking. There were times he was embarrassing to be around while he thought he was the funniest person in the room.

A turning point for me when I realized that this was a bigger problem, was when he was drinking at inappropriate times. Using a big gulp cup to cover that he was drinking something much harder than a soda. And telling the kids that it was ‘daddy’s drink’. Or having a flask at the pumpkin patch became normal for him.

A few years after my divorce, I got into a relationship with an alcoholic. He was a white knuckling alcoholic. Sober by forcing it but that didn’t last long.

He was a binge drinker. Black out drunk daily. Unable to keep a job. Hiding alcohol. Planning his next trip to the liquor store. Buying a small bottle cause ‘it’s the last one, I promise’. But then going back a few hours later for the next last one. Withdrawing. Needing to drink to stop the withdrawal. Hospitalized. Arrested. I became afraid of his unpredictable behaviors and was issued a protective order.

And my friend. Lying about where she was. Or how much she had to drink. Kinda wanting to stop but was just not ready to give it up.

As you see there is a wide range of behaviors and what alcoholism looks like in each person I have known who struggles with alcoholism.

The basic definition of Alcoholism is the inability to control drinking due to both a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol.

What all these people have in common is they each used alcohol to cope with life. That alcohol numbs feelings. And covers up deep hurts of the past.

Alcoholism stole my mom away from me.

Alcohol changed who people I loved were.

Alcohol lied to the people in my life that with alcohol, life is better.

But

I have also seen what it looks like to break the chains of alcoholism. And they are the most amazing people I know.

Lyrics from Chain Breaker by Zach Williams

I know that all of us do the best we can with what we know at the time. And when we know a different way, we do better. I have seen it, I have lived it with my own struggles of depression, codependency and body image.

There’s a better life.

If you’ve got pain, He’s a pain taker. If you feel lost, He’s a way maker. If you need freedom or saving. He’s a prison shaking savior. If you got chains. He’s a chain breaker.

So who is He? He is Jesus Christ. And He wants to be in relationship with us. Not only that but He wants us to live our best life. To heal the pain of the past and live and love in today.

It takes a lot of work and action to break the chains of any past hurt. But I know personally and witness everyday that all things are possible with Jesus.

I do have to acknowledge that not everyone breaks the chains. My mom, she found freedom in heaven. At least that is what I believe. I wish that was different but it wasn’t what happened.

I find comfort in knowing she is free now. Rereading those song lyrics….He’s a pain taker….she’s no longer in pain. He took the pain away in a different way than I’ve thought about before.

Thank you for letting me share.

My journey continues…

PS I drew the picture in this post

My Truth

that I matter to Him

If you have followed my blog for a while you would know that I attend Celebrate Recovery (CR) and have for four years now.

Along with the 12 steps and the biblical comparisons, CR also has 8 principles. These principles are based on the beatitudes. While all the steps and the principles are amazing on their own and how they work together, principle 2 sticks with me.

Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover. (Step 2)
“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

The first part is easy for me. Earnestly believe that God exists. I know that God exists and that He is working in my life every day. I trust His plan for my life and know that all things work together for my greater good.

The next part is my favorite part of this principle, that I matter to Him. There have been many times in my life that I didn’t feel like I mattered. That I was not heard. That I wasn’t enough. That my opinion didn’t matter.

That I matter to God….is a little overwhelming to even think. That God sent His son to die for my sins. That God works all things for my greater good. That God wants a relationship with me. That God has prepared a place for me. That I matter to Him. God has never turned away from me, I was the one who turned away. He was right there all along. Waiting for me to turn back. He met me where I was because He was there waiting for me because I matter to Him.

The last part of this principle is and that He has the power to help me recover. In principles 1, 2 and 3 and steps 1, 2 and 3, is all about I can’t, He can and I need to let Him.

I am powerless. I have control over very little. Really I only have control over my own actions and reactions. There have been times that I didn’t make good decisions. Not based on my greater good.

God has the power to help me recover and I need to let Him.

That I matter to Him. He hears me. He knows I am enough. My opinion matters to Him.

My journey to serenity continues…

My Truth

My New Normal

I think I’ve stumbled on my new normal. Lots going on and some changes too but I’m finding that I’m using tools I’ve learned and been applying to my life.

My day starts and ends in prayer. Been doing that faithfully since the start of the year. Every morning I call a friend and we pray together. I’ve never done that before. It’s pretty cool. It’s a wonderful way to start the day.

I’ve ended the day in prayer off and on for a while but now doing this constantly. Gratitude for the day and whatever specifically happened that day and doing a daily inventory occupy that time.

My new normal is full of tools that I’ve been developing for the last 4 years. They are starting to be a natural response and easier to tell someone what I need or to set a boundary.

I have an awesome support system in place. I turn to them when I need to process or support. Just to check in or just to say hello.

I am choosing to let go of a few things in my life that keep me busy and while it fills my tank there are parts that I don’t enjoy and it drains me. I did a lesson at CR a week or so ago on powerlessness. In the lesson, it says when our pain is greater than our fear, that we when we make a change. And while there is not pain in this situation, it takes my energy. So as I figured out that the drain on my life was at a faster rate then what it filled. It was time to make a change.

This is already making room for me to say yes to other things that fill me up. And be around more people with similar interests and that want to do stuff together.

I’m just going to enjoy this new normal and see what God has planned for me in this next chapter.

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

My journey to serenity continues…

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

If Nothing Changes, Nothing Changes

If nothing changes, nothing changes. BUT if something changes and you stick with it….EVERYTHING changes!

I know first hand how that works. In many parts of my life.

If I continued to relate to someone with codependency, that relationship will stay dysfunctional.

If I continued to not have boundaries with someone, I will continue to be run over and feel unheard.

If I continued to be in denial about my health, I would continue to on the path to put myself of a health risk.

I recently read ….Change happens when the pain of staying the same is greater than the pain of change. By Tony Robbins. It’s so true.

Change can be scary. What’s going to happen to me when I get healthy….less dependent….more assertive….speak the truth in love…..forgive them…..take off my mask….forgive myself…..will people like me….will I even like me?

Well let me say when I stepped out of denial with my health because my pain of staying the same was greater than my pain of change. And I made real changes. And stuck to them for the last 5 months, EVERYTHING had changed. I have now lost 47 pounds. My blood sugar and pressure are back in normal ranges. I have more energy. I am no longer in physical pain daily. I am happier. I am more confident.

As far as if others will like me…..I don’t care. It no longer matters to me if others like me or not. I don’t need to know. It’s actually none of my business. The right people will not only like me, they will love me.

And to answer the do I like me question….I love who I am becoming. I finally feel like I am becoming who I was always meant to be. I love serving others in a ministry that walks along side others who are in pain from life. And they have reached that tipping point of staying the same is more painful than pain of change.

Together we work the 12 steps. They are designed to take actions to achieve the goals of recovery – reconciliation with God, with yourself, with others and then serving and giving back….that’s how it works.

And then together we learn the Celebrate Recovery principals to develop new attitudes – attitudes of humility, vulnerability, honesty and gratitude….that’s why it works.

I love being perfectly imperfect. I make mistakes. And then I can correct them. It’s not a success only Journey. And when I fail, I can get back up. Failing just means I’m trying and not standing still.

If nothing changes, nothing changes but if something changes and you stick with it, everything changes!

My journey to serenity continues…

Ps parts of this post is inspired by a Celebrate Recovery lesson. You will find the most amazing people there. To find a meeting near you, go the Celebrate Recovery website.

My Truth

Different, Better, More

It’s been so long since I’ve written. I’ve missed it so much.

I’ve spent the last few months continuing to grow by applying the tools that I’ve learned. And here recently, I’ve been learning new things by reading a book about grief.

Grief is not just experienced during time when a person dies but people experience grief during times of high emotions like being let go from a job, loss of a pet, moving, divorce, graduation, financial issues, empty nesting, retirement or even health issues to name a few.

I’m about half way done with this book and I have made some new connections that is helping understand myself on a different deeper level.

So I can’t wait to share more as times goes on.

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 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.

I found that for 2015 I wrote ‘living life with drive and purpose, faith and integrity, grace and joy, consistency and always with kindness.’ 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.

And for 2016 my recovery journey started and I started the year off with ‘Trust His Plan’

I used words from my High School crest for 2017, ‘Grow in grace and wisdom’

For 2018 I wrote simply ‘I Love’. Which covered rediscovering and enjoying things I love and being open to finding new loves, like axe throwing! I went Axe Throwing a few weeks ago and loved it. It was so much fun.

So for 2019 my words are…..drum roll…

  • Different
  • Better
  • More

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

I look forward to writing more this coming year and sharing new skills and dreams.

My journey to serenity continues…

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

My Truth

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. =] 

My Truth, Sober Living

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….