Tag Archives: serenity

500 Days of looking up!!! 

500 days of focusing on my needs. My program. My journey.

500 days of not looking back. 


500 days of understanding how my life was overtaken by chaos and having a plan in place to never allow that nonsense and foolishness to rule my world again. 

500 days of saying no to what no longer serves me but yes to things that do. 

500 days of trusting that I’m heading in the right direction. One step at a time. 
500 days of listening to my life tell an amazing story of understanding and letting go. 
500 days of steps forward and a few back, and sometimes standing still while feelings pass over me. But those steps back and standing still moments did not derail me, they did not stop my forward momentum. Instead those moments gave me rest to keep going. 

I am 500 days away from the addict/ codependent dance that I knew so well. 
I am 500 days closer to the person God wants me to be. 
I am 500 days closer to the life that I got off track from.
I still have work to do for sure but it’s amazing what can happen in just 500 days if you just let go and let God. 

500 days of looking up and thinking…I trust You. You hold the answers. I will praise You for all you have done in my life. 

My journey continues….one day at a time. 

I took this picture from my back yard and use font candy to add the text. 

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…

The Story of Rachel and Leah

I went to Catholic school for 12 years and when we studied many parts of the bible, my eyes glazed over and my brain shut off when it was about this person has these sons here and these sons there and married this person and had these sons too. Names I couldn’t pronounce and places that I had no concept on where they were.  But…..

I recently listened a pod cast and heard the story of Rachel and Leah and Jacob in Genesis. I love this story. Wow who knew there was such scandals in the bible! 

Genesis Chapter 29:16 ish 

So here is my version of recapping this story and a couple of ah-ha moments from their stories. I looked a few things up to better understand this section. So I hope I do it justice. 

Leah is the older sister and was described as having weak eyes. While the younger sister, Rachel is described as having a lovely figure. So is weak eyes the bibles way of saying ‘she has a great personality’ or a nice way of saying she’s unattractive? Well I did find that it means Leah was tender and tearstained. She cried about her fear of being forced to marry Esau. But who knows. 

So Jacob is totally in love with Rachel. Like crazy in love. Jacob makes a deal with the girls father to work for him for 7 years and then Jacob can marry Rachel. 

And he does. The Bible says 29:20 ‘So Jacob served seven years to get Rachel but they seemed like only a few days to him because of his love for her’. So sweet. 

Jacob had been thinking about her for seven years and when the time is completed he says 29:21′ Give me my wife. My time is completed and I want to make love to her’ 

Calm down Jacob. Take it easy buddy. 

They have a big party and its the wedding night but dad sends Leah and not Rachel to Jacob and Jacob doesn’t notice until the morning…..yikes. Can you say awkward. 

Jacob is pretty ticked off but agrees to stay with Leah and then work another seven years to get Rachel. 

Poor Leah. God saw she was not loved and He enabled her to conceive but Rachel remained childless. Leah had a son and said ‘it is because the Lord has seen my misery. surely my husband will love me now’ Leah had another son and thought ‘Because the Lord heard that I am not loved, he gave me this one too’. And another son. And Leah said ‘Now my husband will become attached to me because I have borne him three sons’. Leah has one more son and then stops. 

Oh Leah, sadly I know these feelings. I have 3 sons. And had hoped it would have saved my marriage too. But kids don’t fix marriages and besides Jacob loves Rachel. 

Speaking of Rachel, she’s now all jealous of her sister because she is having trouble getting pregnant. So what does she do? Yep, she tells Jacob to sleep with her servant who shocker gets pregnant. Not once but twice. 

And now poor Leah is jealous and tells Jacob to sleep with her servant too and she has 2 sons too. 

So to recap we have one man, four women and eight sons so far. 

Leah and Rachel have a little argument about mandrakes. Mandrakes is a plant that has a plum type fruit that is an aphrodisiac and promotes fertility.

Leah trades mandrakes with a night with Jacob. And you guessed it, Leah has son number five. She has son six and a daughter. 

Rachel finally conceives and has a son! YAY

Now we are going to skip ahead to Chapter 35. There is some crazy stuff that happens in those chapters between but I wanted to focus on Rachel and Leah.

They are now traveling back to Bethel. Jacob talks to God and God changes his names from Jacob to Isreal. 

Rachel is pregnant again! On the way she goes into labor and is having a difficult time. 35:18 ‘As she breathed her last – for she was dying – she named him Ben-Oni.’ Which means son of my pain. But Jacob calls him Benjamin, which means son of my right hand. 

35:19. ‘Rachel died and was buried on the way to Bethlehem. Over her tomb Jacob set up a pillar and to this day that pillar marks Rachel’s tomb.’ 20 ‘Isreal moved on again.’

Did you catch it? Jacob buried his beloved wife and Isreal moved on! 

WOW

Jacob loved Rachel and when she died, JACOB buried her and set up a pillar and ISREAL moved on. He was changed. Oh and changing Ben-Oni name from son of my pain. Not labeling him and have him carry that burden. WOW OH WOW. 

Ok so what I learned about myself from the story of Rachel, Leah and Jacob…..

1. I am Leah. Weak eyes and all. And I’m totally ok with that!

2. I was married to a man who really didn’t love me. Well he likely did on some level but not in the way I needed or understood. I’m sure Jacob loved Leah on some level. 

3. Kids don’t fix marriages. Don’t give them that job! 

4. You are changed after a major heart break. 

5. You are not defined by things that happened in your life! Even if it’s at the beginning of your life.

I love finding and understanding recovery stuff from unexpected places. 

And all His people said……AMEN 

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 

Step 1

Wanted to start to share parts the materials from the Celebrate Recovery program. Things that resonated with me. 

The best place to start is the beginning with the first step. 

 Step 1 

We admitted we were powerless over our addictons and compulsive behaviors, that our lives have become unmanageable. 

                    Step 1 is about being in denial.   

D disables our feelings
E energy lost
N negates growth
I isolates us from God
A alienates us from our relationships 
L lengthens our pain 

Being in denial last year kept me stuck in the most unhealthy relationship I’ve ever been in. I was in denial about what was going on and I lied to myself and everyone else. I talked about some things because I can’t hide it when I’m upset about something. But I didn’t share or I down played the worst of the worst. 

Being in denial absolutely disabled my feelings, I spent tons of energy in the wrong places, my personal growth stopped. I thought I was listening to God but was being pulled further and further away from Him. My other relationships were adversely harmed. And I stayed far too long.

BUT in recovery, I now know that depth of my denial and that I am powerless over codependency and my life was so unmanageable. 

My journey to serenity continues…

Keep Calm and…

This recovery thing is hard work. It’s all consuming in some ways because I am trying to reprogram my default reaction to be something new, something healthy when codependency has been all I’ve ever known. And how everyone knows me. 

I think a few of my non recovery friends are tired of the 12 step speak. They are not used to me being so open about my faith.  They don’t get it. And I’m ok with that. 

 
I am busy working my program. Busy unraveling a lifetime of events that got me to this place and learning how to be a better me with the new knowledge and understanding. 

A few years ago, I worked with business loans and we would get appraisals done for building loans and one line item always stuck out to me….’the highest and best use’ It’s about evaluating what’s the purpose, given the location, can it be changed and be something else?. So recovery is becoming to me an awesome way for me to figure out my highest and best use. 

I mentioned in an earlier post that goals have been hard for me, I can’t see that far down the road. In recovery, it’s one day at a time and some days it’s one hour or one minute at a time.

Goals to me are scary because there are things out of my control, what if I fail? What if I take longer? Codependency is about control. I have avoided even thinking about goals. 

No goals had caused me to not know where I’m going. No plan. Just making it to the end of the day, white knuckling it. 

In my recovery, I am learning to let go. I am learning to just listen to my heart and write about whatever God has put in my heart. Trusting God. I can’t control the things around me. My life was unmanageable when I was trying so hard to do so. Only God can restore me to sanity.

Its ok that not all my friends get why I’m in recovery. It’s not there’s to get I suppose and if we are still friends during this journey they will get to see the best version of me, the highest and best use of me and if we are not, that’s ok too. They were part of the beginning of the ride. 

Blogging is really helping me think about me and what I want and need and I can just ramble and think things through…like tonight. Keep calm and blog on. =]] 

My journey to serenity continues…

Letter to my alcoholic ex boyfriend….

April 14, 2016

Dear XXXXXX-

I have tried a several times to write to you these last few months. For months I have with pen in hand been frozen to start the first words on the blank pages in this notebook. 

I didn’t know where to start until today. Until I read a blog from someone else and it clicked. 

 

I’m sorry for all the times that I tried to rescue you. To save you from yourself. It was not my place. 

My actions were from a good place and with good intentions. From a place of what I thought was love. How I thought I was supposed to help. You knew I was codependent long before I did. 

Our actions and reactions fed off each other. You would fall and I would dive in the way to soften your landing. Hurting myself in the process and preventing you from growing from the experience. Others have done that for you as well. Your growth was stunted a long time ago. 

I’m sorry that it took me as long as it did to realize that consequences of your actions are for you to manage without my involvement. 

You asked for my help. You lied to me about  where you were in life. You lied to me about everything. I don’t think any of it was real. Because your addiction was in control of you. 

I know like I know like I know that you wanted to get yourself out of the pit you found yourself in. I know you saw in me, things you wanted for your life. And at first were willing to stay sober to get it. And when you started to spin, you took me with you and I willingly went not understanding what was happening. And so the dance began of you drinking and me saving or trying to anyway. 

So now it is time for you manage the consequences of your actions so that you can grow into the man you are meant to be. 

And now is the time for me to manage the consequences of my actions so that I can grow into the women I am meant to be. 

Your consequences are different than mine. My actions were different from yours. And we will have to do this apart.

Mar 

My journey to serenity continues…