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!

Voices

Here is a poem from a friend that I wanted to share in my posting Friday about finding your voice, but I didn’t permission yet. A special shout out to Danny B.!

Will you find it?

There’s a part of me that won’t keep silent

A tongue that won’t be still

A voice that wants a song

A soul that needs a quill.

 

There’s a story that needs unfolding

A heart that needs release

A love that needs awakened

A lie that needs to cease.

 

I’m a little bit of mystery

A piece of time and space

A pinch of pain and sorrow

A touch of common grace.

 

There’s a piece of me that is worth finding

A hope for which to strain

A faith, a life to win

A treasure chest to gain.

 

And all our of souls need a quill – or a paint brush – don’t they? We are a mystery – often even to ourselves. Some of you are souls and God is calling you that it’s time to get clean and sober. For some of you, it’s time to take that step and become happy and not just clean and sober. To take that next step, to find your voice. To find that piece that is worth finding. How about sending me an email and we’ll talk? addicttoaddictnet@gmail.com. Love, Sally.

Love – even in sorrow

This may  be the strangest post you read all month. With Valentine’s Day coming, I am sure you are thinking it is about Valentine’s day, but it’s not.

Six years ago today my old son was born. We named him Jedadiah before he was born, after one of the rebuilders of the temple wall in the book of Nehemiah in the Old Testament prophets.  In retrospect, I think I named him Jedadiah because I believe God has called me to be a rebuilder – to help people rebuild their lives.

I’ve written about how Jed died the next day before, but today I want to concentrate on love. On how with Jed’s heart problem he could have died before he was born, but he wanted so much to live with us. That’s love.

Or his big sister, who is 12 now, and more beautiful every day, and how thrilled she was when he stuck his tongue out at her – we couldn’t touch him because he was sick – and how she asked, when she heard Jed died, “Did Jesus float him up to heaven?”. And I thought for a moment and said, why yes, I think He did. Simple faith, simple love.   And Jed was so sick, I think perhaps sticking his tongue out was love, because that was all he could do.

And how two years later, we opened our heart to love and had a baby girl. She will be four on Friday.  And I made the mistake of trying to explain to her that she has a brother, and she decided my good friend’s son is her brother! That’s love too.

Love is far more than a holiday, flowers, and romance. Love is daring to dream by opening your heart to that foster child you’ve dreamed of adopting, sponsoring a newcomer – daring to dream that God can use you.

Love is finding yourself a coach or a therapist or a sponsor– loving yourself enough to dare to dream that things can be different.  And love is also daring to believe that God really does exist and that He loves and cares for you.

I am Sally and I am a recovery coach, mother, and so much more.  I help people harness their own creativity for sobriety.  I have a deeply eclectic background and harness my own love for music and art, my background as a deeply contemplative theologian, a love for the 12 steps, and PhD level studies in counseling, particularly in attachment theory, to help you reclaim that passion.  Then, using my business background, I help you turn that passion into a sustainable business.  Read more about me and my coaching practice here.

Made for love & attachment: Part II

First of all, for those of you with an Amazon Kindle, my book is free today and tomorrow, July 22nd and 23rd! It is called The Addict to Addict Guide to Surviving Your First Thirty Days Clean and Sober, and is at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008HJFASS . Please submit a review! If you miss it this time, the usual price is 99 cents, and you can download Kindle to your computer or smartphone.

Hello. A reader pointed out to me that Question # 2, What happens when we aren’t securely attached? was not clear. So this post will clarify this. If you missed part I, please go to Made for love and attachment, part I, and then come back.

Secure attachment typically happens in early childhood, but can be made up at any point. An infant develops secure attachment if he or she has his or her emotion and physical needs met by his or her parent or caregiver.  If not, the infant develops an insecure attachment. As an adult, the individual sees the world as a dangerous place. There is no safe place. The individual does not know what to expect in relationships, and so if the individual is treated well – in other words, in a safe place - the person does not know how to react and may actually run away.

So the individual is always finding themselves in unsafe situations and with unsafe people. That’s why some people do things such as marry an alcoholic over and over again, pick a string of bad boyfriends, or end up getting date raped over and over. That’s where trauma and PTSD join the party, and it seems there is no way out. Depression, anxiety, drugs, alcohol – all of those things seem to make life “safe” or at least tolerable, until finally, the substances take over and there is no other choice.

How do AA and NA relate to this? First of all, NA and AA provide a secure and safe community to work through very rough feelings. For instance, it is okay to having a “burning desire” – to talk and leave the feelings in the room if you feel like you are gonna leave and go out and use, or kill yourself or anyone else. This makes it okay to share even very rough feelings.  Second, sponsors, friends, and the meeting atmosphere allow the person to “trust the process”, as a reader of part I wrote, and to grow that secure attachment.   Third, AA and NA talk often about an individual finding his or her bottom. Perhaps one of the reasons people have to find a bottom is that some people with an insecure attachment will not “trust the process” if there are any other options left. It is too easy to run if you have an insecure attachment.

So does everyone in AA and NA have an insecure attachment when they stop drinking or using? I honestly don’t think there is any research on this, but I would guess that many, but not all, come into the rooms with an insecure attachment and eventually grow a secure attachment if they stay clean and in recovery.

So why do some people relapse over and over?  For some people, without drugs or alcohol, the trauma looms in their hearts and souls as large as a skyscraper.   It’s like a poison they cannot seem to get away from.  The substances had done their job of keeping them from pain, but had exerted way too high of a cost. Suddenly, everything reminds them of having been raped. Or perhaps, the person is reminded only of detached, non-specific memories accompanied by intense fear.

The trauma may be stored in in the unconscious, where the person consciously does not remember the trauma, but it is stored in the brain in disconnected pieces. The PTSD and the substance abuse must be dealt with together for the person to stay clean and sober. The program Seeking Safety and therapies such as EMDR may be helpful here.

I was one of these people for whom trauma writ large and overwhelmed me when I got clean. At sixty days, I got a really good counselor, who knew substance abuse and EMDR, and other techniques that helped me cope. With 2 to 3 sessions a week, I stayed clean, and at about six months, the trauma cleared enough I started to enjoy life.  I did what I had to do to stay clean, because staying clean is a whatever it takes program.

Yes, we all come into the rooms unhappy and with some degree or other of trauma, and many people can heal very well within the 12 step environment with little or no psychotherapy.  It depends on the person and their circumstances.

So are you against the 12 steps then? For those of you who have been reading me for a while, you already know the answer is a resounding No! I believe everyone needs the 12 steps, it is just a matter of how much time we need to spend on them.

So how do I break the cycle? There are many ways!  For ourselves, we go to meetings, we work the steps, we seek a therapist, and most importantly, we don’t use! For our children, we break the cycle by making sure our children do have that secure attachment. For our sponsees, spouses, and others we come into contact with, we provide a safe and love environment. It is never to late to change!

If you like this post, please insert your email address on the right side near the top, where it says, “Follow my blog via email”, and click Follow. Thanks!

Sally is a mother to two girls, and to a son who lives in heaven with Jesus. She is a recovery and business coach, writer, and blogger. She blogs on addiction, recovery, and occasionally, on related topics such as how to make more money in a “down” economy.

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.