Let the future begin

Tell your story. You are unique. God says you are unique, so don’t forget it!

BUT, if we use drugs, somehow we lose that uniqueness. We lose our story. Nameless. Faceless. Loveless. Unable to love or to be loved.  We forget our passion, our skills, and our desires.  We make our money out of desperation, not out of uniqueness.

We aren’t unique in pain, but instead, we worshipped the drugs. Not hurting. Not feeling. Always looking for that next hit of euphoria. Living in constant desperation. Losing that connection with God, or maybe never having a connection with Him in the first place. Doing everything we do for the wrong reasons. Living in a numbing void, not even hearing the sound of the birds outside. Nothing else matters except the next drink or drug. Or maybe nothing at all matters. Pain so deep it seemed there is no hope of finding a solution.

But then for whatever reason we enter recovery. And for most of us, it takes some time to feel good. Our body chemicals take time to recover. The trauma won’t leave our heads, and it seems for a while, that we’ll never feel good again. Our sponsor, our friend, our therapist – others tell us that yes, it will get better. That dealing with our feelings and working the steps really will help.  And, hesitantly at first, we choose to believe. Choose to believe there is better in store, that maybe others are right, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel – and no, it is not an oncoming train.  We trust these others that care for us enough that we choose to believe there is a better future, to suspend our disbelief, to dare to believe that maybe our future can be different from our past.

At first, like a blind man, we hesitantly move forward. Oh, a few of us are brave and charge ahead, but I was never one of them. Or maybe I was. Guess it depends on your perspective, but I was scared to death, and that was all I knew. Sometimes I felt the journey would kill me, but I kept it up because I knew not taking the journey would definitely kill me. And this way promised a way out of hell.

Eventually, we begin to tell our story, first in a disorganized manner, because most of us have a disorganized or ambivalent or insecure attachment style. We tell our story, at first in bits and pieces, almost daring others to love us. Others listen. Others tell their story. Eventually, we begin to realize that we can be secure, that we are loved and cared for. We decide to risk to saying a bit more. Our story changes and our story becomes more understandable. The more we tell our story the more we begin to understand our story as well.  And we begin to realize that we had omitted parts of our story, parts that we were too scared to admit had happened. Parts that we didn’t think anyone could love us if they knew. Parts of our story that kept us from loving ourselves.

Much to our own surprise, others looked at that story, stared deeply into the face that we just dared to finally unveil, and said, “I was there too”. It is as if we have taken our mask off and shown someone the deep pain – the scars – etched deep on our face that we think they will never go away- and the people that matter to us touch the scar and tell us how beautiful it is becoming. And we learn that we can take the masks off and be more than we had ever been before.

The passion to draw, to paint, to be with others instead of hiding, the passion for selling, writing, music – it all comes roaring back. And sometimes, the changes seem so great that we feel like we are a surfer on the biggest wave of all. And we think about going back into our hole again. Usually, not by using drugs, but by withdrawing from the world. Losing our independence and going back to doing what others say we should do. Hiding in the lies that are almost the truth – and not bothering to correct them.

And eventually we begin to love the wave. To surf on it higher than we ever have before. To dare to go forward, to do what we are made to do, to be the person God has made us to be. And sticking my neck out and being who God made me to be- it makes me smile. There’s a huge smile on my face, just thinking of all the things God has done and is continuing to do.  The people I am going to meet, the connection I make with others, the love – trust me, it’s so totally worth it.

:).  :)  :)

My name is Sally and I am a recovery coaching, mother, PhD student, teacher, yet more than any of these I love, I smile, and I be. Recovery not feeling so godo right now? Ready to give up? Thinking about if recovery is for you? Let’s talk. Email at addicttoaddictnet@gmail.com and we will setup a time to talk. There really is hope and I can’t wait to see the changes God makes in you!

Guilt, guilt, lay it down…

I spent most of last week in a personal growth group therapy group.  And it was REALLY powerful. We did this psychodrama where someone else had us act out a scene from when they were young … and it could have been me when I was young. And I realized how much GUILT I felt in my life… as if I was a guilt catcher…. I imagine myself, inside, instead of having a butterfly net, a guilt net. And I decided to leave that behind.

You may have noticed on a post a few days ago, in the comments, I challenged someone to come up with a picture inside of what “knowing and feeling God’s love” felt like for them- whether it was painting a picture, a mental picture, or whatever else had meaning for them. And right now, I have the same homework. What does letting go of the guilt net look like for me? How do I make sure I remember what laying the burdens down feels like when I start to pick them up again? How do I picture myself not allowing the magnets on the guilt catcher to automatically attract more guilt? Some of it is keeping that picture of the guilt net handy, seeing the guilt sucked away, magnetically de-attracted – sort of like how two positively charged magnets pull apart.

But I sense a need for something deeper in my life, a deeper picture, a picture that makes sure the change doesn’t melt away within 6 months. A way to make sure I keep the picture of letting go of the guilt in my mind. Maybe it’s a painting. Maybe it’s something I need to add to my spiritual practices. I’ll let you know what I come up with – and feel free to brainstorm some ideas in the comments!

My name is Sally and I am a coach, student, college professor, researcher- but so much deeper. I am on a personal, deeply personal journey – not only away from the addictions but toward a deeper understanding of God, of relationships, and of love. If this resonates, send me an email at addicttoaddictnet@gmail.com, leave some comments, or have a free coaching session with me. It’s an incredible journey so hang on for the ride of your life!

Finding your voice, letting go, and giving God your pain.

This week has been an amazing week, a time deep thinking and reflecting. Of realizing that all of us, even those who aren’t addicts, share the same human DNA as children of God. That my identity is much more than simply being an addict. Of learning to tell others, outside of a recovery environment, hey, these are the struggles I’ve had. And God has been good in them.

Of letting go of guilt I felt personally, and of realizing that some of the things that I felt guilty about were things I had to do find out that I had to be sober. Things that made me realize I absolutely had to be sober. Part of God’s plan to  make me face up to the person I needed to be. So I’d know who I was made to be – to find that voice inside.

And at 80 or 90 days I started painting. Painting like a maniac. Red for the pain inside, words of hope I had heard – lots of things that were hugely therapeutic for me.

Some confusing, perhaps even tortured:

IMG_20110904_174933

While eventually, some were comforting, like this picture from when I was sober about 7 months:

purple ballet shoes

And some just terribly funny, like this one where my daughter tried to follow along with her water colors, when I had about 90 days:

hannah painting

And slowly I found my voice. I got freed from the worst of the pain, from the need to obsessively paint red, the confusion in my head cleared, and I slowly began to go from surviving to thriving.

And eventually I painted this:

chalice

Which for me shows the exchange of substances for God. Turning the ship so that life focuses on God, not substances. The great exchange – instead of denying my pain, letting God carry it and heal it.  Realizing my pain is part of my story – but doesn’t overwhelm me – and doesn’t define who I am.

Much love – Sally.
A renaissance women, recovery coach, mother, not quite amateur but not quite professional theologian, student of psychology – and so much more – simply me!

Your spiritual heritage: We ALL have one

I wanted to write a bit more about our spiritual heritage. I said on my blog before last that if you don’t have one, to borrow someone else’s. But, actually, we ALL have a spiritual heritage, particularly if we are addicts, even if we aren’t clean yet.  Remember all those times that we shoulda died and we didn’t?  You know, overdosing and blackout drinking, rape, driving drunk, doing stupid…

God watched over us all those times. God drew us back from the brink. All these things brought us to the brink, so we were willing to get right with God. Willing to listen to Him. Willing to give God every shred of our lives, lives that we felt completely hopeless about.

All these are our spiritual heritage as well. We have a God who watched over us, even when we were out there. We have a God who loved us so much, he watched over us when we didn’t believe and/or follow Him. In actuality, it isn’t a matter only of us deciding it is time to get right with God – it’s a matter of God reaching down and lifting us up.

So here we see the power of God. He’s not just some being waiting for us to be ready to get right with Him.

Lose my soul: commitment is more than just not using

Hello. Today is another day. I think my husband is finally getting better after his surgeries and back problems. It’s been alot, and having pain medicine in the house hasn’t been easy, although it has been getting easier. The next song I am going to listen to right now is Lose My Soul, by TobyMac, on  .

I know if I use, I lose my soul. Period. Not in the eternal sense, as much as in the here and now sense. I don’t want to go back to that hell. At one point, I made an important commitment, and that was that if I had to stay on my knees praying, all night long, to keep from using, I would. It’s that important.

But more than that, God is calling me. Calling me to do more than just not use.   That when I have to rush home because I can’t tell if my husband is okay, and the cop stops me for speeding, life goes on (yes I am gonna tell the judge that!).  That honestly, God has been really good to me, even when it doesn’t feel like it.  That life goes on, and no matter what, God does take care of me.  And God is calling each one of us to make, or renew, the same commitment.  There is always room for us to be more committed to God.

On writing as therapy: My Kindle book on addiction, coming soon!

Hello. Good to see you all again. My husband is home after his second surgery in two weeks and much improved. No more surgeries are planned which is a relief.

Over the past few weeks, which seemed like one crisis after another, I found solace in writing. I’ve always been a bit of a writer, but it is only the past few weeks that I really managed to use my writing as therapy and making something that I think will be marketable! My husband’s surgery stirred up all kinds of feelings within me, so  I decided to make grenades into lemonade, used my feelings to relive my first thirty days, and  have almost completed a short kindle book on Surviving the first 30 days Clean and Sober.

I’m really excited about writing this book because I’m so excited about being clean! I want everyone to know about how great it is to be clean!  There is something magical about being clean that I would like to share with everyone.

Who are you following? What is your focus?

So many of us have this idea that we are independent, free… and that pursuing freedom is doing whatever we want, whenever we want, with whoever we want (remember people, places and things?), but all it got us was chaos.

You see, each and every one of us was made to follow something, to have our gaze fixed on something. Somehow, that gaze fixing leads us around. The gaze fixing can be drugs, alcohol, food, gambling, and any of a number of other things- there seems to be no limit on what we can get our gazed fixed on.

And then the thing we fix our gaze on- the thing we loved- started to become a bad lover, an enemy- and took on a life of its own.  And perhaps we realized we were addicted, or perhaps we blamed the struggles on other things. Things grew hellish, because we didn’t realize that the thing that we thought was our friend was slowly poisoning us.  We felt sick all the time, so we took more drugs to make us feel better – without realizing the drugs were making us sick to begin with.  We took drugs to help us relax – not realizing that God could teach us to be more relaxed without the drugs, and even happy.

Slowly it dawned on us that the problem might be the drugs. Or perhaps the courts forced it on us. Either way, quickly or slowly, we stopped. Perhaps it came to us in a flash of insight, as it did for me, when God told me himself because I wouldn’t listen to anyone else- or maybe it was a gradual process. Either way, we quit the drugs.

But it seemed as if the drugs still led us around, since we thought about drugs so much.  And slowly, we learned to turn our focus to God.  Perhaps we started to pray and meditate, even though we weren’t sure there was anything up there.  We realized that our life really was unmanageable, and that we had to rely on God. We really had no choice.  Slowly, we started to realize that God really had been caring and protecting us, and we began to give ourselves over to a loving God.  The gazing fixing began to move from drugs to God. And something incredible happened. We began to have some clean time, to collect chips and medallions, even  though we didn’t quite understand how it happened. And, quickly or slowly, we realized that we were happier than we’d ever known we could be (for some of us that took some time).

And even if sometimes it felt as if the rebel had become part of the establishment, life was something new altogether. We began to wish we had gotten clean or sober sooner, even if occasionally we missed the taste of drugs or alcohol.  We learned to enjoy the little things – the beach, the sound of the waves, birds tweeting – and realized how thankful we were that God even gave us so much to enjoy.  Suddenly we realized that even though getting clean and sober had changed everything, we loved it.

Advantages of being a clean addict

To continue on yesterday’s topic, I want to talk about the advantages of being a clean addict. No, I don’t mean, the “I’m not living on the street anymore” kind of advantages.  I mean, knowing that staying clean is so hard, that once you’ve done that, everything else is easy in comparison.

I’ve always been very spiritual, and even though the word “religious” has almost made me almost want to gag, many people have considered me that. Instead of “religious”, I’d say having a relationship with Jesus has always been very important to me. But somehow I couldn’t quite trust God with… you know, all that pain in my life, my finances, and so much more.  When I was close to Jesus, I was usually happy, no matter what was going on. But I couldn’t seem to stay close to Jesus. Now I have to stay there. Being an addict forces me to become what I’ve always wanted to be. I have to do what it takes to be to be close to Jesus, or I know I’ll go back into active addiction. And even if I didn’t go into active addiction, life would be sorta boring… humdrum… and I’d fall back into self hate.  Much as I don’t like most church hymnbooks, that old song, trust and obey, got it right…

And that means I’ve had to develop the discipline to do the spiritual practices that have usually made me happy and made me like myself. I’ve hated that word discipline, too. But, I’ve learned that hating something like discipline has often kept me from being the person I like and want to be. So a big advantage, for me, of being a clean addict is that I like myself and I am the person I want to be.

I’ve also discovered a number of new talents, like a love for art.  My art teacher says my art is all emotion, and boy is she right!  I don’t know how I lived without playing with color and seeing my moods in color.  My world was a whole lot more drab.

Finally, I know that with God’s help, I can do darn near anything, but only if it is what God wants me to do. I know it is the same for you as well.

Clean addicts have great lives!

Hello. Just came back from a meeting that was, you know, on the wrong side of the tracks.  I came a half an hour later to a 90 minute meeting I don’t usually go to. Then, I got invited to cross the parking lot and go to graduation! It was a bunch of addicts celebrating 4 people getting their associates degrees! I saw the glint in their eyes as they talked about could do something that didn’t think they could do and succeeding – college. And now they are on to four year schools.

And I realized just how important the otherwise neglected building that I’d seen before but never been in was – a center with clean parties every Saturday night. A recovery house. And that the building was far from neglected – it was immaculate on the inside, even though it fit in with the neighborhood on the outside. I’m going to donate my electric organ that I don’t really have space for to the center.

And I saw again the hope and the promise of freedom from active addiction.

In my other life, I’m a professor. And I remember, a semester ago, failing an addict who had more clean time that I did. I wanted to yell at her – HOW can you be clean so long and FAIL my class? Passing my class is teeny compared to getting clean! But she didn’t complete very many of the assignments at all. I couldn’t understand it. I think I believed in her more than she believed in herself.  And I believe in you too. Go for it.

Your new life story- what changes?

Okay, so the party days are over. You’ve come in from the cold (at least that’s how it felt for me), you’ve been clean and sober for awhile, but something is still missing. For some of us, it is feeling a part of humanity. For some it’s a need to be creative, to reach out  and make some more friends, any of a number of things.

Getting clean is a huge accomplishment. You can do anything, and become the person you want to be.

Okay, so who are you? What do you value?  These might be some of the things that are important to you:

Character:  love, joy peace, friendship, creativity, spirituality

The zone: getting into “the zone” where everything just flows. For me that comes from painting, and to a lesser degree, from writing. Always nice when you can get in “the zone” with your job.

Relaxation: arts and crafts, music, photography, exercise (I like to put my young daughter on the back of my bike and take off!), sports, yoga…

Education: going back to school

Other: Religion, improving public speaking (I love Toastmaster’s),

What are YOU going to do this week to become the person you want to be?