Cope or die

Getting sober has to do with removing the crutch (es) from your life. More importantly, it has everything to do with learning coping skills that you lacked when you used.

As an (always recovering) addict, at some point I had the hard realization that if I did not stop the journey I was on, I was going to kill myself. I couldn’t tell if it would be by my own hands or by the vices I held so high.

I HAD to realize there were people who went through the same or worse than I and they did not escape into unhealthy vices. I had to decide my life was worth living and that it was time to find my healthy and embrace it fully.

It took God. It took accepting that I was unhealthy and that all of my choices were unhealthy. It took fully breaking down and releasing everything to God. My pain, my weaknesses, my stubbornness, my everything.

What’s hard for most of us addicts is that we endulge in instant gratification. We want what we want immediately.

Sobriety is long and drawn out and lasts a life time. That is NOT what we want to hear. That’s why I believe God blesses us in the little things so we can keep full ahead to reach our end with peace.

I have been sober for 11 years now. My life is not easier than it was. Yes I wake up knowing where I am and whst happened the night before. Yes my body is healthier. Life is not easier. It’s harder. But it’s my pleasure to cope sober.

I deal with stressor every day. I make a choice to attack it with God’s power daily.

This, my friends, is true sobriety.

God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace;
taking, as Jesus did,
this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your will;
so that I may be reasonable happy in this life
and supremely happy with You forever in the next.

Amen.

Reinhold Niebuhr

Alone but not lonely

God bless me.

I’m sitting in church. My children left for children’s church. I’m completely alone. I am the only one in the pugh. And I’m ever so comfortable. And it’s all because of God and His love for me. I used to have such anxiety because I had a spouse that was miserable to be there. Then it turned into I didn’t have a spouse to hold my hand. How beautiful God is to calm my soul.

God has worked a miracle in my life. I sing the songs to praise His love loud and proud. I sway back and forth. I smile and tap to the beat. I don’t feel an emmense pain in my chest. I feel a glow of God. It beams off me.

God is so good to me.

God has loved me when I am unlovable.

God is working on me daily!!!

Excuse me sir, you have something in your eye

I have a hard time listening to a person discussing someone else’s faults. Nonetheless, I have been caught doing the same thing.

Psalms 73:26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

Thank you God, for knowing us and giving us Your Grace!

I have done almost anything there is to do wrong in life. The beauty in that is that I am able to admit this. NOW. If we stop looking inward at what we are doing, and focus on the outward of what others are doing, what are we REALLY accomplishing? NOTHING. I still fail today. Yesterday. And probably tomorrow. But I feel like that helps me share God’s grace to others (most of the time).

Matthew 7: 1 “Do not judge, or you too will be judged.2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

I absolutely LOVE the Bible. God knew these problems would continue beyond all years. He allowed flawed humans to create it, knowing we could use it for life. His ever so careful and kind and loving and precise love pours out onto the pages.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. ~ Ephesians 4:2-3

So without sounding so totally gushy and mushy and fake, I mean this as real as possible. Love. Love wins.

Next time you want to bash someone for doing something you think is less than….. Use your love for God to show them love. Even if that love is not saying anything at all. That’s OK. God doesn’t expect us to be Him. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. So if shutting up is the best option. Do that.

If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

See the good.

I was giving all of my mind funk to God today. I do that often. It’s the best thing to do. As I was letting Him have it, we were driving down the interstate. We had gone out of state for a vacation to see my best friend (whom I hadn’t seen in 10 years). It was an emotional trip. As soon as I had hugged my best friends neck, I couldn’t fathom the thought of having to leave her again in a few short days…. We grew up together. We were thick as thieves. We went through some rough times together. She was my safety net many times when I had nothing else and I hope I was that for her sometimes, too. She learned the hard way, just like I did, to FROG 🐸 (Fully Rely On God). She truly had given her life to God since I had seen her last. It was the most beautiful thing to see her shine like she was.

Anyway, we had a great time, not long enough though. We said our goodbyes.

I kept it together.

On the way home, I was just begging God to show me what I’m missing. Life is rough at times and I have a hard time managing it all. So there I am, losing myself out the window. I prayed for God to show me a sign. I want God to have control over my every piece of life and I fail. I make decisions without Him being TRULY at the center of it. And I’m tired of it.

So I’m asking Him. TELL ME. God, I’m basically a blonde dumb dumb so if you don’t hit me on the head with it, I may never understand……

Minutes later…. I can’t make this up….. My boo said, look at that. Someone had, in red solo cups, created a pattern in the fence of a bridge that we drove under. It said :

SEE THE GOOD

In big, bold, bright red, bubbly, letters.

See. The. Good.

Yes God. I hear you God. I will do my very best God.

See. I’ve struggled with this my whole life (that I can remember). I don’t know the name of it exactly. Depression. Anxiety. Sadness. Overwhelming fear. A mixture of all. I’ve tried hard to be proactive in seeking to better understand it and make it better in general. It’s a never ending cycle. A roller coaster, if you will. I can honestly tell you, I don’t know if Im doing myself good or harming some days. But today God shouted a sign to me. Not because I didn’t have faith in Him and His work in my life. But because He loves me. He truly loves me. Don’t get me wrong, He isn’t a magic 8 ball that I ask questions to and He gives me a yes, no, cannot predict now, blah blah. He gave me what I NEEDED to hear at that moment because He thought it best. See. The. Good.

Life is too short to focus on the bad. There is so much bad. That can’t be denied. But I NEED to focus on the good. I need to focus on the good of this world, myself and others. I can’t worry about what others think I’m doing or not doing. I need to leave all that to God and just see the good.

So. I leave you with the same message. Life is life. Our treasures are not found here. There will never be true satisfaction and peace until we hit those pearly gates. We give every bit we have to God. We have to seek out the good until good is all that surrounds us in Heaven.

In Jesus’ name, Amen.

The tough stuff… Part 2

I’m 17. I’m a tiny fish. I move to a big city. I moved to a huge pond. A friend of mine and her father, who was heavily into drinking and masking his problems, had moved up earlier so I followed. It didn’t last long. Me and another friend decided to get our own place. It was a decent apartment with a pool. Little did we know, we were about to head down a road of bad decisions that would only get worse. We had found ourself at a night club several nights a week. It was a candy land of drugs. We took advantage of it. We racked up his credit cards. We lived way above our means. We had house parties until 10am. Stayed up for days. I got a job at a downtown Nashville car dealership. On the outside I was fine. On the inside, I was slowly dying. I bought an almost brand new car. They SHOULD NOT have sold it to me. I snorted cocaine with the man who sold it to me. I found myself being forced for reasons we will leave out. He was a lost soul just like me. Successful on the outside, pitiful on the inside.

I remember doing drugs on the back of the toilet at my job. I had professional attire on and my hair done nice. I would pass out in the break room from being up for days. No one batted an eye.

I remember being picked up by a coworker there. He was so cute. And appeared to have his life together. He had just gotten divorced. We had a short fling until his wife came barreling into the dealership one day. This guy didn’t stop though. He drove drunk to my house with blood all over his shirt. Supposedly he had gotten into a fight at some bar. He was a lost soul too. I asked him to leave me alone. One night he called and I ignored it. He died a few miles away from my apartment. only a few minutes after his phone call. Driving drunk. Ran off a bridge. I imagine he was heading my direction. He was a dad. A husband.

I began working a night job… Get this…. At a strip club. No, I did not take my clothes off one single time. But don’t let that fool you, I was no angel. I worked the front and managed the scene. I remember doing drugs on the back of the toilet there too. I remember stealing from that place. My life was disgusting. My best friend at the time was a DJ there. He was who cared about me. Marv. He always had my back. Even though we were both actively heavily abusing drugs. We bounced around. Hotel to hotel. He lived in them. I had never seen such a thing. There were always plenty of drugs and plenty of people to do them with.

I couldn’t keep my life together anymore. I told awful lies for why I was late. Lies that I’ve had to work really hard to forgive myself for. I found myself in a high speed chase with troopers on a lunch break one day with another good friend of mine. We chunked the drugs and weapons. We went to a hide out place where there were people hiding for God knows what. We felt like we couldn’t leave the house because it wasn’t safe.

I got fired. And I deserved it.

I found money in selling drugs. I brought them from Nashville down to Alabama. I was slinging so hard my head was spinning. I had weeks when I would stay up and have no idea what was what. I remember getting pulled over one time and my driver snitched and we were let go. That didn’t stop me. I made several trip from Tennessee to Alabama and back. I looked like I was barely 16 and precious. No one knew I had a pound of Marijuana in my car. Even when I would get pulled over. I learned ways to mask the smell. I “knew it all”.

I remember a friend of mine I knew from the club overdosing. The people she was with chose not to take her to the hospital. They dumped her out. She died.

July 2006. My best friend Marv died. Heart failure due to heavy drug use. I remember sitting in my bedroom of my apartment. I’ve never been so close to suicide in my life. I prayed to God. I can’t take this anymore. Help me. I had my pistol. I was holding it. This was not the life for me. I could not do it anymore. I had to get out.

God showed up and showed out. I remember closing my eyes and seeing red and white. Bright. I instantly felt relief. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I knew to rely on God, whom I had ignored for so long. I knew Marv could not die in vain. I decided to get clean. I had no idea how but I had to for my life.

I stopped selling everything. I was broke. It took a while but I let the harder drugs go first. I reached out to what was called a doggy daycare. I had never heard of such a thing before but I had ALWAYS loved dogs. I was paid to play with dogs all day every day. I scooped their poop happily. I was safe. No one knew where I was and no one could get to me. This saved my life.

My friendship with my roommate had ended long before then but he finally moved away and took the lease with him. I lived everywhere and nowhwere all at once.

I lived in my car for about 6 months. I stayed sober. That was the only thing that mattered to me. I began a job at a different daycare. I traveled to the parks when I got off work. I would read and people watch. Then when I finally got tired, I would find somewhere to park. Usually at campgrounds. They had free showers. My car was packed full of all my life added up to. I would go into work and say nothing of my life. I would get my paycheck. Save what I could. There was a girl there who had just gotten out of prison. Very similar story to mine she just got caught. We knew a lot of the same people. She was my saving Grace. She didn’t know I was homeless. She let me stay with her at her mom’s one night. It was the best sleep I had ever had. We loved dogs. We loved sober living. She helped me talk the boss into allowing me to adopt this pup.

She was beautiful. Her family disowned her because she had bit. She had long white fur with blue gray spots. My boss said if I could train her, I could take her. It was her and I against the world. She would sleep with me in my car. We would go to the parks and anywhere we could find.

I finally had enough saved up to get a trashy trailer in a trashy trailer park. I could only pay the deposit and rent. I didn’t have electricity. I proudly sat in the dark after spending hours cleaning up cockroaches. I lived at this scary place for a while. I even brought my parents to see it. I was so proud. I can only imagine how scared they were for me. Living in Nashville, all alone, in this environment. But they came. And they smiled.

I met a neighbor. He was from Laos. He thought I was cool Nad I thought he was too. We began dating. I had no business dating. But I was so lonely. His family was nice to me. We did the best we could. I was still actively drinking and smoking my problems away. The environment was dangerous. Guns were pulled. Fights broke out. Dysfunction ran heavily. Chaos ensued. I begged him to allow us to move away from it all.

We moved into an apartment with the help of his family. It didn’t last long. He didn’t want to give up the gangster life. So here I was. Me and my dog. In out apartment. I had a steady job. But barely making it. I ate little to nothing every day. My dog ate well and I had electricity. I was living large. I lost the apartment. I moved back to Alabama briefly but just couldn’t manage there so I can back to Nashville.

I decided to get a second job so I could survive. I began working at Buffalo Wild Wings. A bar. Probably not the best idea. I rocked it though. I had never been a server. I had charm. I made good money. I had a key to the doggy daycare so. I would crash there when I got off my second job. It would be 2am and I would go let all the boarding dogs out to potty,let them back in and pass out on the futon. I ended up quitting the daycare because my boss was also a lot soul and I was making way more at BWW.

I would stay anywhere I could find. I finally decided to move back to Alabama.

I still drank and still smoked… A lot. But from where I came from, I was so much better. I still had an empty chunk in my heart. I kept telling myself it was ok because I wasn’t going to die of an overdose anymore. I want going to go to jail for distribution.

I had boyfriends. They weren’t boyfriends. They wanted one thing. I wasn’t taken on dates. I allowed this behavior because I didn’t know I was worth more. I consumed myself in alcohol to not feel the pain of my life. I was as much of a functioning alcoholic as they get.

I had transfered my BWW job from Nashville to Huntsville. I worked doubles. I NEVER came in late or not at all. I got consumed in the life of a bar. I was lost on a whole other level.

I had ran into a high school friend at a local party. He ran around with “my crew” he was persuasive. We hit it hard. I had realized after years of allowing myself to be treated so poorly that I deserved better. I asked him if he was serious about me. He swore yes. I even talked with his mom about her being o Keith us being together. He was 17 and I was 20. She said yes. He has gone through a lot of rough times. He had quit school and got lost in another world also. His mom was hopeful we would be good for each other.

Little did I know…….. I got pregnant…….

I was so disappointed. We were so immature. We had not been careful. I was an idiot. How would I raise a child!!!!??? I decided at that moment, the fun life was over. It was time to get serious.

It was turmoil. It was so dysfunctional. I won’t go into detail out of respect.

He and I didn’t make it hardly 3 months into the pregnancy.

I was back on my own.

My grandparents allowed me to move into my grandmother’s home. She had recently passed away.

I ran into my high school sweetheart. Told him what had happened, he had been going through a lot of addiction problems also. He had a son. I saw this as meaningful and we began dating again. Only a few months into our relationship (this time around) he mentioned us getting married. It’s what I wanted to hear. Little did we pay attention to us not having many things in common, nor life goals.

He moved in. We did the best we could with what we had emotionally. Which wasn’t much.

I enrolled in college classes. My first semester, I was big as a house. I had my son before classes were over. I had to bring him to take my finals. It was embarrassing but I was proud to do it.

My high school sweetheart and I had many many troubles. But I was so set on making a family that I forced what should have been left alone. I wasn’t doing anything anymore. I was mom of the year, wifey of the year. Took care of EVERYTHING. Focused on God and His will for me as much as I knew how.

I was still broken.

Years into the relationship, we took some bad advice from a counselor I now know had several problems himself, and planned a marriage. We married in January. Pregnant in March. It was devastation all over again. Marriage and babies do not make problems go away. They only magnify the wrongs.

I graduated with my associates degree pregnant with my second child and moved on to my bachelor’s.

We tried so hard. Both of us. But we were two totally different people who wanted different things. We were unhealthy and well… “hurt people, hurt people”.

I found myself at Celebrate Recovery. It was screaming exactly what I had been feeling. Hurts, habits and hang ups. Hey!!!! I have those. It was the beginning of a long road. I have always been naive. Even the street smarts I learned, I still couldn’t get past trusting people when I shouldn’t. And trusting my thoughts when I shouldn’t.

My husband and I had gotten to the point of pitiful. We hated each other and had no idea how to talk. He despised the life I was trying to live and I despised not seeing things for what they were early on. We separated.

He was broken. I was broken.

I was the director of a church nursery at this point. But my personal life was eating away at everything I was trying to accomplish. I could not get past bad decisions. I stepped down from the position.

I moved in with my mom with the kids and he stayed at the house. My mother had just gone through a divorce herself after 28 years of marriage. Neither of us were in a good place.

Here I am. Two children and myself. I’m in school, I’m working full time. I’m hardly sleeping. Barely surviving.

I work really hard to make everything ok but I still just couldn’t do it. I continued to go to Celebrate Recovery. I had began a step study to heal what I had yearned to heal for so long. I was finally at a halfway decent place. Ha.

I had always wanted to be in law enforcement but never had the opportunity to go. I had one. I began reserving for the local sheriff department. I loved it!!! I felt satisfied.

I had a freak accident. I had cheered in an alumni football game 10 years after I had last stepped on a field. The girl holding me in a stunt didn’t let go when I fell. I shattered my ankle. 11 pens and 8 screws and two plates later, I was bound to my couch. Not only that but my mom had found a new love and I had nowhere to go. I was forced back into the home with my estranged husband. I stayed on couch arrest for several months. I had to quit my step study due to not being able to drive. A few months in, my husband and I even gave it another go. That was a no. He moved out to his father’s and me and the kids had the house.

I finally got better and again found myself in a mess at work. I couldn’t get over how naive I was to the real world. I moved to another sheriff office where I flourished. I became lead dispatcher. I patrolled part time. I loved it. I continued my education. I was still broken. I was lost. You realize after becoming sober, that was the easy part. I found myself in unhealthy relationships.

I graduated with my bachelor’s in 2015. A whole lot of debt and many exhausting hours later, I did it. I relaxed how important God is and has always been in my life. I realized I could not keep living unhealthy and expecting peace. I realized it was tien to take serious action for MY RESPONSIBILITY in all of this. Pointing fingers at everyone and everything else was not the answer. I decided to look to God and no one else. It always takes me longer to get it straightened out. I had to analyze all my friendships and relationships. I had to start standing up for what I wanted in this life. For me and my babies.

I gained employment where I could make a difference. I could use what has happened in my life for good. I was able to be a light to others. I was able to continuously work on myself so that I achieved so much more than the devil wanted me to achieve.

I am still broken. But I am healing so beautifully. I’m learning daily what is healthy and what is not. I’m learning that I am responsible for my actions and that excuses will get me nowhere. I’m learning that my love for God will overturn anything that this world tries to offer me.

My children are happy and healthy. I’m transparent to all that look my way. I’m about to begin my masters program in social work.

I. AM.FOUND.

Denial

Principle 1: Realize I’m not God. I admit that I am
powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is
unmanageable.

“Happy are those who
know they are spiritually poor.” (Matthew 5:3)

There’s a reason this is the first step. This is the shining star. You don’t accept this, you can’t recover. You know this, a whole new life opens up.

But this is the tough part. The 12 steps only work if you constantly work them. I am 10 years into recovery of my first issues. I am 3 years in recovery for the rest. I am day one in recovery for life. And tomorrow when I wake up, I will continue to admit to God that my life is unmanageable and without relying solely on God, I will fail.