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.
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.
Celebrate Recovery (CR) is a Christ centered 12 Step program for ANY hurt, habit or hang-up.
It’s unique in the fact that it’s not issue specific. I actually love the fact that the program is set up this way.
Because we may have each learned a different way of coping with life, substance or behavior. We all heal the same way. When we take the substance or behavior away, we can see and feel the pain underneath. We can all learn from each other’s pain.
You see, pain is pain. No matter where the hurt originated.
At CR we learn to work through our pain. We get tired of running from it, ignoring it, pretending not to be in pain. And we realize that what we’ve been doing is just not working because the pain is still there and it still hurts. We work the 12 steps and learn to lean on God and not ourselves. (To follow are the 12 Steps but shortened)
We admit we are powerless.
We come to believe God can restore us to sanity.
We make a decision to turn our lives and will over to God.
We make a searching inventory of ourselves.
We admit our wrongs to God, ourselves and someone else.
We become ready to have God to remove our defects of character.
We ask Him to remove all our shortcomings.
We make a list and are willing to make amends.
We make amends.
We continue to evaluate.
We seek God.
We can’t stop talking about what God has done in our lives.
And it’s after we admit, come to believe, decide, search, confess, ready, ask, become willing, make amends, continue, seek….only then we are able to share with others what God has done. And our pain is healed.
And here’s the thing, NO ONE, says my pain is greater than yours. Or my pain is not enough. Pain is pain. And we rally around each other until.
Whatever until looks like.
Did you ever notice the 12 Steps starts with We and not I? That’s because we are not made to do this alone.
Proverbs 27:17 reminds us that, Iron sharpens iron. This is our sponsor, our accountability partners, our recovery community. They know pain.
Being in community gives us the opportunity to be around people at different stages of recovery and walk alongside each other. What an amazingly beautiful gift.
Bob Dylan is credited with saying ‘Behind every beautiful thing, there’s some kind of pain.’
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
I have also seen what it looks like to break the chains of alcoholism. And they are the most amazing people I know.
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.
I went to a tulip farm this past weekend with some friends. As I walked by this some section of flowers, I knew I had to take a picture and there was more to this story. I had many things come to mind and I wanted to share it with you.
Here is what one yellow tulip said to my heart…
🌷Be yourself. Flowers don’t look around and see what other flowers are doing, they just bloom.
🌷Positive Perspective. When you think you were buried, maybe you were planted.
🌷Resilience. Look at the ground. Dry, Rocky dirt. Looks like nothing would grow here. And yet it does.
🌷 Be open to what ever today brings. Some days are dark and rainy 🌧 but that helps you grow stronger.
🌷 Give fully. Flowers do not close when Bees 🐝, butterflies 🦋 and people approach, they openly give nectar or pollen or even themselves when someone picks them to take home.
🌷 A flower lives for as long as it does. It doesn’t stop blooming because their season ends next week or tomorrow or in a month. They bloom until.
Yesterday I spent a few hours with friends from Celebrate Recovery. We had a picnic at a flower farm.
What a beautiful, special, blessed day it was.
Many of us posted pics and thoughts about how nice this time together was especially since we had not been together in person since mid-March.
Recovery friends are referred to as Forever Family. Reflecting on yesterday, forever family is the perfect way to describe way to identify these people to me.
I created an photo album online titled ‘This is CR’ The description says. Celebrate Recovery has changed my life and has taught me how to walk along side others with love. It’s not just a meeting once a week, it’s how I do life and how I do life with others.
I didn’t realize how much I really missed being with my CR family in person for the last few months until seeing so many of them yesterday.
Looking back, some of my favorite days were ones with my Forever Family. Painting, a birthday party, axe throwing and a picnic at a flower farm to name a few.
It’s not just a meeting once a week. It’s real relationships. People who you want to spend time with. People you admire. People who know your junk and love you anyway. People I know their junk and don’t judge but love them for who they are today.
It’s not just a meeting once a week. It’s a way of living life with others in a healthy way.
Stay on this ride with me, the best is yet to be.
My journey to serenity continues…
Ps the pics in the post are my pics from the different CR forever family gatherings
In this world of uncertainty that we have found ourselves in, I started feeling anxious and overwhelmed while at the grocery store tonight.
I walked down aisle after aisle and found empty shelves and choices were limited. I was hit in the face with how real this is. The restaurant in the same parking lot was empty and the coffee shop was dark.
I felt that I needed to remind myself of all the tools and new ways of coping with life when life happens that I have learned from WORKING a recovery program. Cause life is happening right now and while it’s a little unsettling, I know that this will not last forever and God is in control.
I used my tools right away, which was kinda cool that it came so naturally. I reached out to my sponsor and talked to her about how I was I was feeling and why I felt this way. And I found out, that she was feeling the same way. Having a sponsor, accountability partner or trusted friend to talk to is just so important. I know I am not alone in my feelings.
Here are some other things that are on top of my toolbox:
🔨 Eating well. Comfort food is called that for a reason. Often is not the best choice but sure makes me feel good. Adding healthy options like a salad or veggies is a plus. I also tend not to eat and go for long periods of time without eating. So I need to keep planning meals so it’s something I don’t have to think about. I have it written down and know what to do next without having to think about. Making smart food choices will keep me healthy.
🔧 Take meds. Always take your meds as prescribed. It might be a good idea to take a vitamin too.
🔩 Exercise. Now that gyms are closing to practice social distancing, there are still lots of options. Can be as simple as going out for a walk. Or going up and down the stairs at home. Or there are tons of online resources on YouTube for workouts at home. If you have a gym membership, they may even have resources on their website or Facebook group. Or how about putting on your favorite music and just dancing!
🔨 Read. Lots of options here too. From the serenity prayer to the 12 steps and 8 principles (Celebrate Recovery) Can all be found on the CR app or online. The Holy Bible app is another really good one to download. There are many suggestions on the home page of the one I use has references hope and anxiety or I can search programs. Or I have even googled ’what does the Bible say about —- ’ to find really good verses on that topic or feeling. Can always read other stuff too but there are my go.
🔧 Journal. Journaling can help you sort out your feelings. Ask yourself, have I felt this way before? When? Why am I feeling this way? How did I cope last time? Did that help? Why or why not. Tons of journaling books available if you need props too.
🔩 Get creative. I enjoy painting but I recently discovered diamond painting which is kinda mindless yet fun. Sometimes I struggle with ideas on what to paint so diamond painting takes the pressure off. Think about what you enjoyed doing as a kid. Did you like to color, crossword puzzles or draw? Give those a try again. You may find a new (old) hobby.
🔨 Write a thank you or thinking of you note. Send an email or text and check on someone else. Let them know you are thinking about them. Set up a call and share a cup of coffee by phone.
🔧 Do and act of kindness. I cleaned out a cabinet over the weekend and found a few board games that we hadn’t used in years. So I posted on my neighborhood Facebook group and set them outside. They were gone within an hour.
🔩 My 100 things list. One of the first things my sponsor had me do was write a list of 100 positive words that described myself. This took me a month and I asked my friends for help and I use the thesauruses. But when it gets in my head that I am not enough, I reread these words to remind myself who I really am.
If you need a place to start, here are some things God says about us from a Bible study I did:
I am blessed
I am chosen, forgiven, favored and accepted
I am made in Gods image
I am His child
I am victorious and strengthened by Him
I am healed, new, delivered, set free and redeemed
I am complete
I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I am His masterpiece
And I am loved
🔨 Listen to Music. Have a playlist on your phone or listen to on of your favorites on YouTube and that song will lead to the next and you just may find a new favorite one.
🔧 You can meditate – there’s an app for that too. I use the free version of ABIDE. It’s a prayer meditation style app which has a list of topics from anger, anxiety to fear or hope. These are short just 2-5 minutes meditations.
Using these 🔨 🔧 🔩 will keep me connected. Connected to God. Connected to myself and my program and connected to others.
This is my final thought.
From Philippians 4: 8-9
And now dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable and right and pure and lovely and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.
And the God of peace will be with you….another word for peace is serenity. And the God of serenity will be with you.
Stay well. Stay positive. Take things one day at a time. Stay connected and go wash your hands.
I was drowning in his addiction. It was all consuming. It impacted every part of my life. I didn’t know how to stop the merry-go-round of addict and enabler.
I knew it wasn’t right but I kept going back. Kept waiting for him to hit his bottom. I knew I was hurting myself but I ignoring that part and only focused on him. Seeing myself from the outside, screaming don’t go see him….cut him off….walk away. But I couldn’t hear it.
I would have those thoughts and then think, this is the time. This is when he hits his bottom and we would bounce up from there. That I would walk away and this time he would get sober and stay sober. I’d think back to the good days and want those days back. That if I walked away, I’d miss it and not being part of it.
There’s not only the fact that I prevented him from growing and learning from his actions and the consequences from those actions. But I was also putting myself in harms way. My poor decisions were impacting the world around me and I couldn’t stop it.
Until I hit my bottom. I walked away and have never looked back. I kept putting one foot in front of the other. Kept making the next right choice for me. I was craving more for me and for my life.
As I worked through this I had to ask myself some hard questions. How did THIS become my life. How WAS it ok with me to not only put myself in this relationship but why did it stay ok? That this is a good as it gets and what I deserved? Was I so lonely that THAT life became ok? Why did I NEED to be needed and being needed meant love. Why did that feel like love? HOW and WHY did my worth become based on fixing someone else. So many hard questions that key to the answers were threaded back in my entire life.
I was drowning in his addiction.
But I’m not drowning anymore. I have bounced up from my bottom. I have found myself. I found it wasn’t ok. I found that that was far from as good as it gets. I found I deserved so much more. I found that it wasn’t that I was lonely, it was that was the path I was on. If it wasn’t him it would have the next guy who was an alcoholic.
I found I don’t need to be needed. I found that love doesn’t have to look like that. I found that my value is not in fixing someone else but in who I am and who I am to God. I found that had I not been there, I wouldn’t be here. I would take my worst day now over my best day there.
And being here, I am finally living into who I was always meant to be. I have a relationship with Jesus Christ. I serve in ways that use my God given gifts and talents. I walk along side others with healthy boundaries. I ‘do life’ with an awesome support system. And I am grateful.
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 principleis 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.
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.