Tag Archives: love

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…

One Final Gift

One Final Gift. This is a story of true love and one final gift.

It was this time 14 years ago. A kind hearted, generous, strong and faith filled man suffered a stroke.
You may not know this but it sometimes takes a few days for the body to settle down after a stroke and you will know your starting point.
This strong mans body deteriorated over a couple of days.
When the dust settled, this man who was smart, loving and a wonderful provider for his family was unable to move his right side or speak. But this is his starting point and a plan was being put together for his recovery.
He could not talk or read but he could understand what was said to him and he could answer yes and no questions.
As he lay recovering in the hospital, he was visited by the people who mattered most to him. One of his favorite people in this world is his sister. She is also kind hearted, generous and faith filled. She spent countless hours talking and praying with him.

One day it was clear that he wanted to tell her something. After a series of questions, she was able to figure out that he wanted someone to know about a gift he had gotten for his wife and hidden it was under the guest room bed.

Sadly, just 10 short days after this journey started, it ended. He passed away with his family around him on the evening of December 23rd 2002.
Now on the way home, the sister is thinking about the gift that is hidden but did not know what it was or when is the right time to tell her.
Shortly after getting home the sister tells the wife about the gift. The wife opens the gift in tears. It’s a beautiful 3 diamond necklace. One diamond large than the next. Which represents the past, the present and the future.
I can only imagine that when this necklace was purchased, THIS was not the future he imagined with his wife.
What an amazing thing he did by telling someone about it when he had no words to speak. Otherwise, who knows how long it would have remained hidden. She had one final gift from him.
How do I know this story you may be wondering. Is it something I read online or just made up?

I know this story because it’s the story of my parents and my aunt. And It’s the story of true love and one final gift.

No one knows what the future may hold and how our story will unfold. All to often we end up in a very different place than we thought we were going.
Remember that communication is always important even when you have no words. My lesson learned from my Dad during this time is to keep asking questions. Even yes and no ones.
I love and miss you Mom and Dad! I am blessed to have been a witness to your love story. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of you both. Thank you loving each other and for loving me…..even from heaven.

Much Love

Your loving daughter- always. 

My 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 

New tattoo

I’ve been wanting a new tattoo for a while. I’ve had different ideas. All of them had the same basic meaning. Some with words, like a crossword some not. I’ve also wanted to get a semicolon to so I was looking for ideas and put this together. 

       Faith, Hope, Love, I choose to continue…


A semicolon is a popular tattoo the last couple of years. Do you know the meaning? A semicolon represents a sentence the author could have ended, but chose not to.

You see, I’m the author and the sentence is my life.

In my lifetime, I have battled denial, abuse, anxiety, depression, codependency and contemplated suicide. I want to remind myself and others the fact that because of faith, hope, love and wanting to continue I am growing and wanting to be a better person for God, for me and for my kids. 

My journey to serenity continues…

Worry does not change outcome…

Today is 75 days. 75 days ago, I committed to myself to understand my codependent nature and be willing to allow God guide my journey. 

75 days of putting one foot in front of the other. 75 one day at a time. 75 days of being stronger than yesterday. For 75 days I’ve carrying my 24 hour chip. 

Today my mind was preoccupied. Occupied by 2 things. 

First my SIL is very ill. I’ve been giving my brother breaks and hanging out with her while he runs errands or whatever he needs to do. I’ve watched her decline over the last few months. It’s hard to watch unfold and I am reminded that God is in control and things happen in Gods perfect timing.

The other thing is I have court on Tuesday. If you haven’t read my other posts, my ex boyfriend is taking me to court to dissolve our protective order. 

I felt many things today. I ran to the store today, I had a quiet moment in the car. I felt angry. Anger towards him for the lies he told himself and to me about his addiction. Anger towards myself for believing him and for not walking away when I should have. Angry towards being wrong. I thought he was part of Gods plan for me. 

Anger didn’t last long and I was sobbing in my car at the thought of having to face him in court. 

I took a deep breath and started the car. And my favorite song started to play…. 

It don’t have a job, don’t pay your bills
Won’t buy you a home in Beverly Hills
Won’t fix your life in five easy steps
Ain’t the law of the land or the government?

But it’s all you need
And love will hold us together….

Hold Us Together by Matt Maher has been my go to song when I’m feeling overwhelmed. 

I was reminded in that moment that worry does not change outcome. 

I can worry myself sick over what can happen Tuesday afternoon and it will change nothing. But what I will do is be honest with myself and the judge about how I feel if my order is dissolved. 

I can worry about my brother and his wife but worry does not change outcome. It’s actions that matters. And how I show them I love them in this stage of life matters. 


Many more days ahead of putting one foot in front of the other. Many more days of one day at a time. Many more days of being stronger than yesterday.  Many more days of carrying my 24 hour chip. 

Don’t worry, God’s got this. God is in control. God goes before me. 

My journey to serenity continues…

Meeting Takeaways…

Hi my name is Mar and I struggle with codependency. 

I never noticed that other people said ‘I struggle with’ and not that ‘I am’. What an awesome mind shift. My codependency does not define me. 

I am working on the parts of me that are broken. Those parts that made me think that codependency meant you love someone.  The parts of me that makes me want to control things that I can’t. 

I am Mar and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and I struggle with codependency. 

If you have not followed my blog for long you may not know that I attend Celebrate Recovery (CR). It’s a Christ Centered 12 step program. It’s for anyone who struggles with hurts, hang-ups or habits. What we struggle with may be different, what got us to walk into the meeting may be different BUT how you heal and recover is exactly the same. 

The start of the meeting is with the worship band. They sang a song I never heard before. 

Break Through by Don Moen

Break through all my doubts
Break through
Break through all my fears
Break through
That I may worship You
Break through

Break through all my pain
Break through all my guilt and my shame
Break through like only You can do

You are brighter than my darkest night
Stronger than my toughest fight
Just one touch from You my King my Friend
And I’ll never be the same again
O break through all my pain

Break through all my guilt and my shame
Break through like only You can do
O break through like only You can do
O break through like only You can do


Only with God can I recovery from my doubts, fears, pain, guilt and shame. 

I am not my doubts.
I am not my fears.
I am not my pain.
I am not my guilt.
I am not my shame. 

I am stronger than yesterday. 
I am perfectly imperfect.
I am joy.
I am love.
I am light.

I am forever changed. 

I am Mar and I am a grateful believer in Jesus Christ and I struggle with codependency. 

My journey to serenity continues…

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

If I told you my story…

If I told you my story….you wouldn’t believe parts of it. You wouldn’t believe it because there are parts of it that I still can’t believe. Situations I put myself in. And kept myself in. 

There are a handful of days that were turning points. Days that are forever burned into my soul. Unforgettable. Days that changed me. 


Codependent is as codependent does. 

I am full of joy for not to be in that time and space anymore. And how odd it is to say, I am grateful for this time because during my darkest day, God sent people to walk along side me. GOD MET ME WHERE I WAS AND WALKED ME OUT. 

Of all people I have met on this journey there is one person who stands out. One who understands where I have been and how I got there like no other. She walked in my shoes. We are one in the same. I was not open to talking to her at first. In fact I don’t think I was very nice to her. 

You see, she is my ex boyfriends ex girlfriend. 

She came to court to support me for the trespass and protective order violations. She knew who I was when she walked in the room even thought she didn’t know me or what I look like. All she knew was my name. She knew me by how beat down I was. She knew my by the look of fear on my face and in my heart. She knew and walked up to me and said I’ve been there, I know how you are feeling and I’m here if you need someone. I’ll be sitting over here if need me. I wasn’t ready to talk to her but appreciated her being there. She waiting a long time as the State and his attorney were working out a deal. She knew I needed some space and she left before court was over and left me her number. 

It took me a few days before I called her. 

Had I not been in that codependent relationship, I would have never met this brave beautiful wonderful women and now be part of her life. 

We have helped each other in ways that no one else could have. We could write each other’s story because they are so much the same.

Not only has she helped me but I have also helped her. Grow past this time in our lives. Grow in grace, hope, mercy and wisdom. Let go of our hurts. We talk about our favorite scriptures. We talk about our struggles. We celebrate our victories. She is now my sister.

The more I write the more I feel compelled to keep writing and share my story. 

Like the Big Daddy Weave song My Story. 

If I told you my story
You would hear Hope that wouldn’t let go
And if I told you my story
You would hear Love that never gave up
And if I told you my story

You would hear Life, but it wasn’t mine
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin

Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
If I told you my story

You would hear victory over the enemy
And if I told you my story
You would hear freedom that was won for me
And if I told you my story

You would hear Life overcome the grave
If I should speak then let it be
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
Praising my savior all the day long

For the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell
Of the grace that is greater than all my sin
Of when justice was served and where mercy wins
Of the kindness of Jesus that draws me in
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
Oh to tell you my story is to tell of Him
This is my story This is my song
Praising my Savior all the day long.

My journey to serenity continues…
PS I painted the picture used in this post. It’s title is Light and Love.