My head is spinning, but not like Linda Blair’s

I was told somewhere, long ago, that while God’s timing may seemingly take FOREVER, once it comes, things can move into place swiftly. As I get older it feels like I am more able to catch a glimpse of His hand moving the chess pieces, occasionally. And they have been sliding into place pretty quickly.

I’m not sure what He’s up to, but my life has taught me that His promises are true, and that my part for now is just to “be still and know.” Or, as I’ve seen it put:

Be still and know that I am God. 

Be still and know that I Am.

Be still and know that I.

Be still and know that. 

Be still and know.

Be still and.

Be still. 

Be. 
I haven’t been writing much recently, primarily because…Well, because I’ve been taking a lot of things in, and processing. You know, figuring out what MY part is in things, and looking for the good while still addressing the wrongs in my life. 

Yesterday I believe I found a door that’s about to open for me, and this morning I learned of another door closing. It’s not difficult to accept the door that’s closed, as it had become an unusually unpleasant situation in recent times, and I’d talked to God about whether I could just GO. 

Anyways. This morning I got the news about the door closing and just moments later got about 4″ closer to a concrete post than I’d meant to. With my Element. It was pretty loud, and I’m grateful that it wasn’t any worse than it was. 

So, I guess I’m telling you that things in wondrland are moving right along.

I’m trying to make sure the seatbelt is locked and keep my hands inside while the ride is still moving. 

I’d love to hear about how things are progressing in your world! What helps you when you feel like Gilligan in the Minnow during that awful storm? 

Blessings from the Victorian house on the hill. 

What you put before your Recovery, you’ll lose.

​…if an addict tries to replace their Program of Recovery (growth via spiritual principles) with ANY THING, they will lose both. 

There’s a good reason that the Old-timers say “No major life changes in the first year.” 

School, work, moving out of state/country, job, serious relationship… 

Just. Don’t. 

If it’s God’s will for you, won’t it still be there when you’re actually ready for it? In my experience, my will is always going to be along the lines of INSTANT GRATIFICATION, while God’s will requires me to practice patience (and other spiritual principles). 

Something to think about.
Posted from my castle in the clouds.

Working with Angels

I remember once, at a group home where I used to work, celebrating the fact that a client actually used the toilet instead of her chair. The next time wasn’t quite as spectacular, but there for a minute, we were All-Stars. 

When I went off to work I jokingly (or not) told my hubby that it was a good day if I didn’t get poop actually ON me. That night, I told of the amazing feat of my lady actually using the bathroom facilities for a change. I knew he wanted to support me, but his face had kind of a blank look whenever I shared this kind of news. Fair enough. I didn’t fully appreciate the goings-on at his place of employment, but I was glad to see him happy. Probably the same way he does me. 

Sometimes when I’ve had a client with me out in the community, people have said something like “It takes a special kind of person to do that kind of work.” I appreciate it. I guess it does take a special something to do this work, but no more special than any other job that requires a lot of emotional weight-lifting, along with the usual physical manipulations of assisting an up-to 250 lb. infant/toddler go through their daily activities…

I mean, everything that an infant or toddler relies on their parents for, our clients depend on us to do for and with them. There’s kind of an inside joke among myself and my co-workers, that the bosses get us to start working there for super low pay, knowing that we’ll fall in love with our charges and basically put up with (no pay increases ever) any Managerial shenanigans so that we can be sure the clients are getting cared for by people who genuinely care about them. It’s the Hotel California trick. 

When we moved across the country last year, I was of course really sad that my older boy wasn’t coming with us, I still am every day. But he assured me that he  was a Big Boy and didn’t need me anymore.  So I gave him the benefit of the doubt,  and we moved. 

But deep inside of me, where I hadn’t even realized they were hiding, were my feelings about leaving behind “my” (non-verbal) little client. I really love working with the individuals who don’t speak. Possibly because of my personal experience in having to read body language as a child, and also because I know that they are the most vulnerable of any people group. 

The lady I had been working with before we moved was just as close to being an actual angel as I’ve ever seen. It’s not that she was beautiful by society’s standards, but her spirit shone through. When she was happy, her entire body shook with joy. And she was happy a lot when I was there. She loved going to church with me and her roommate, and the people at church fell in love with her, too.

Some of the other staff at the group home would get irritated with me because when she saw me come in, the world stopped and she did her kind of lurching goose-step over to me and hugged me fiercely. She watched for me to arrive, and would have hugged me all day if I would have let her. It was really nice. Like having a daughter, I suppose.

But then we had to move. Leaving that  sweet little girl behind was more difficult than I’d expected. Times when I’ve been home-sick, her smiling face has always come to mind. 

I know she is ok. The staff there are very compassionate and capable of caring for her, complicated medical issues and all. But I’ll probably never forget her, and I can’t wait to see her in her perfect new body in Heaven…

I was back home briefly over the summer, and the first thought  was to go see my special friend. Then I thought it through. And decided it would be selfish as hell for me to stop by & then leave again. So I didn’t go by the house where she lives. 

I know for sure that the rewards of this field of work are monetarily minimal. But the intangible rewards can make it surprisingly easy. I’m amazed when I think of the trust I’m given, when caring for my clients. Whether it’s pushing a wheelchair, coloring a craft, changing their pants/diapers for the umpteenth time or going through the “feelings” flash cards again, it is a privilege. 

Just another phenomenal blessing of sobriety. 

“And for that, I am responsible.”

Nobody said it was going to be easy.

Here’s a news flash: getting clean/sober is difficult. Right? That’s what many alkie/druggies will tell you. And, not unlike the feeling you get while preparing to jump into frigid water, once it’s done and over with, it’s not as scary as you may have thought.  

In the same way that our minds magnify the anticipated discomfort of the chilled water on exposed flesh, our addicted mind launches a massive campaign to convince us that going without our “medication” will be bad at the least, and more likely, downright unbearable. 

Truth is, there may be moments in early sobriety where it  does feel unbearable. And, there will also be moments that can only be described as exhilarating. 

You will never know how strong you are until you test yourself.

In my personal experience, when I have considered jumping into water that is anything but warm, the biggest motivation is that there is someone already in the water calling me to join them. If they’re encouraging me to come in, there’s one thing I can be sure of: it didn’t kill them.  

The primary reason that I don’t WANT to feel the water is simple: I have some recollection of the last time I was immersed in cold water, and it was absolutely NOT in my comfort zone. Nope. Not even close to it. Similarly, the times when I’d gone without any mood-altering chemicals were also uncomfortable in a BIG way. 
It was only after concluding that it was the only viable option, that I decided to stop using. The way I approached it was like learning to swim after finding myself in the deep end of the pool. Since I wasn’t doing a very good job (at life) on the shore, it seemed like a no-brainer that I should do what I was told by those who had been keeping their heads above water for a while. I learned to keep some distance between myself and other Newbies, because they could easily pull me under and cause me to drown. 

Staying in close contact with others walking the same path has been crucial to my recovery. In my experience, the statistics are true: 1/36 of us will STAY sober. It could be even less than that, I don’t know. But keeping my butt in places where I was continually reminded of what life was like before, saved my life. And being around old-timers gave me such hope and inspiration. 

If you think about it, we have very selective recall. I need to be taken back to how it USED to be, and hearing other people sharing about how it was terrible and horrific for them, just like it was for me, proves to me that even with slight variations on the theme, it’s still gonna SUCK. 

Anyway, it’s not easy to radically change every aspect of your life. It’s scary and uncomfortable. Easy would be staying with the status quo, not rocking the boat. Similarly to victims of domestic violence, the KNOWN insanity is more appealing than the UNKNOWN, cos, really, what if it’s WORSE? I’ve been there. 

If you’re miserable enough where you are, you will eventually break through that fear, and get the hell out. You don’t have to wait until you’ve been traumatized and scarred to allow yourself an opportunity to see if perhaps there is Something Good out there waiting for you. 

Even if you don’t know how to swim, I know of a LOT of people (myself included) who will be happy to lend you a life raft. Just let us know that you’re about to jump, and we will be there to help you hold your head above water. 

Written from my cabin in the mountains.

Life on Life’s Terms

I’m  a pretty simple person. I find it difficult to express myself with my small-ish vocabulary. But having found how therapeutic writing is for me, write, I must. Because if I don’t take care of me, I’m no good to anyone else.

My phone rang…

Last night I received a call from my firstborn. He had just seen his Cardiologist and called to let me know how his appointment went.  He told me that later that evening he would be getting an MRI on his brain. To determine whether or not he had a(nother) stroke last week. This may be the 2nd stroke for my 23 year old son. Here’s his post on FB, from the Children’s Hospital:

James Whitcomb Riley’s Children’s Hospital

“​Idk which has changed more, me or this hospital. I remember the stuffed animals, the hustle and movement of doctors, the laughs of kids that were getting better. Now there are no stuffed animals, the halls feel large and empty, and it’s just worried parents sitting on benches or chairs staring at phones or their coffee. Maybe I’m just seeing it with(out) the magic. I used to come here and be so happy cause it meant I was gonna get better. Now I come here and feel the dread that I won’t leave.”

Riley Children’s Hospital circa 1993

Change is inevitable
In the past couple of years he’s been having lots of palpitations and other painful events, which means trips to the ER on the regs, with a crap ton of feeling anxious and concerned about the future…not to mention the time he’s missed from work…

What can I Do?

So, I’m giving serious consideration to how good of an idea it is for us to live 8-10 hours away. When we moved here about 15 months ago, it seemed like a Good Thing all the way around. There is no question that it’s been  a blessing in many ways, but at the same time, God didn’t indicate how long we were to stay. 

God, grant me the serenity

Between my Mom living alone and losing her eyesight, and my baby spending more and more time in hospitals, it’s getting more and more difficult to feel good about being So. Freaking. Far. Away. 

Courage to change the things I can

I’m gonna have to seek God’s will…hard. Cos knee-jerk reactions are seldom, if ever, part of His plan. And moving cross-country is no small feat. The older I get the less I feel like packing everything up and beginning again. 

And the wisdom…

Thank God we have never had to go through any of this alone. God and His angels are always right on time. My trust has to be in Him, coz one more time: I’m powerless. 

I feel like this post is even more jumbled than usual, and I’m sorry for that. I needed to write this down, and get it out. I know that today, I will weather this storm, because I’ve withstood as bad or worse. And because I’ve seen and experienced God’s faithfulness, I am convinced that this, too, shall pass. 

Have you had to deal with powerlessness as pertains to your children? Or a family member’s declining health? Please share your E,s, & h in the comments below. 

FTW

First. Thought. Wrong.

Within the first 6 months of my sobriety, I had a crash course in powerlessness, and all I could do was give it to God. At that time, my relationship with Him was, well, dubious. I began, then, to understand that I had better keep my heart linked to Him in the calm(er) times, because when “life showed up” I would need to have a straight path to His throne.

No self-pity for me, thanks

When I told people about my baby’s medical condition, some of them would get a pitying (my perception) look on their face. I can appreciate that, now. I mean, what are ypu supposed to say/do in that situation?
At that time, however, I had learned to compartmentalize my feelings about it. I don’t know how much I ever stopped doing that, even after living with the situation for this long.

It’s not about me

My mindset, during that awkward moment when the person was feeling sorry for me (again, my perception, at the time) was matter-of-fact: My baby is fragile, and my existence at this time is entirely about caring for him. I didn’t have time for my feelings in the matter. I also didn’t have the energy for dealing with my feelings. They were irrelevant. It was Not. About. Me.

Not feeling can’t be a fulltime thing

That’s not to say that I never let the feelings out. I cried a lot at the Children’s hospital. And I cried and cussed at meetings. A lot. Because it was safe, there, to feel.

I had someone ask me “Don’t you ever wonder ‘Why me’?” And that is a thing that I’ve wrestled with, for sure. The answer I found, for me, is “Why not me?”
At the women’s treatment facility where I lived when I had B, there were a LOT of babies. Perfect and beautiful. My baby was beautiful, to be sure…but why did we get dealt the sh*tty hand?

Roll them dice

I have concluded that terrible things just ARE. I’m certainly no better or worse than the women who were blessed with healthy babies. Sure, some things are the natural consequences of poor choices. And other things are just a roll of the dice.

but God

But I haven’t gone through a minute of it alone. I’ve run back into His waiting arms. And I continue to do so. It’s all I can do.

Posted from my hut in the forest.

Finding Your Joy

What brings you joy? That’s a simple question that can be difficult to answer. Is it working in the garden that soothes your soul? Or teaching a child how to fish? Or is it sketching a landscape? Or maybe working on a car is when you’re in The Zone. Or perhaps it’s caring for an elderly person? There is no limit to the places and ways that we can do things that make our hearts sing. The trick is in finding out what it is that does it for you.

image

Happy happy joy joy

The thing is, as a recovering person, having joy as a part of my daily life wasn’t something that I had ever considered. Joy, as in, “I can find joy in my vocation”. What do you mean, I can go to work doing something I love? Noooo, that’s not people like me.

The World is My Oyster (on the half-shell)

But, it turns out that it CAN be a reality, even for a lower-middle class, former alkie/druggie. The question is, what are you willing to sacrifice to get there? Going back to school is absolutely not easy when you’re working and managing a household. BUT, what are the rewards that will come after you’ve achieved that Certification or Degree? I know that when I was a single parent, more money in the bank would have made all the difference. Single parents are stretched more than Stretch Armstrong, and finances are only a part of it. And education seems to be a strong start to getting ahead monetarily.

High School Lessons, 20 years later

I had never really known about setting goals and then figuring out how to get to them, little by little. I mean, like most of us, I wanted to win the Blue Ribbon without ever running the race. But once I got wind of the possibility of ME actually being more than I thought I could be, the wheels began to turn. I sought through prayer and meditation to find what my Higher Power’s will was for me. Then I began to investigate how I might be able to make that happen. God certainly will help us, but we have to do the footwork. Nobody came up to my door and offered me a grant so that I could go to college. BUT, once I started the ball rolling in that direction, doors began to open. It makes sense that God would want us to be educated when possible, considering that one of the wisest men in the Bigger Big Book said that there’s nothing better under the sun than finding pleasure your labors.

Ask, Seek, Knock

I’ve been told that it’s much easier to steer a vehicle that’s already moving. I think that applies to doing God’s will. If I am seeking counsel from people wiser than me, and following suggestions, after a while finding His will for my life won’t be such a mystery. In the process of looking for His will, I found that He has put desires in my heart that He wants to help me accomplish. However, I have to do the footwork. The first step being NOT PICKING UP for one day. Then repeating that, tomorrow.

Keep it Simple. It works!

In my early sobriety, God’s will was a huge mystery to me. How was I supposed to know what was God’s will and what was MY will?? I was such a manipulator that it was my normal to lie to myself and believe it. All day every day. I began to understand that each day that I don’t choose to relapse, I’ve done God’s will, at least in that aspect, for that day. That’s a LOT more than I ever did His will while I was out runnin’ and gunnin’. So that was my starting place.

Not my will, but Thine.

After doing the footwork for a few days, weeks, months, I began to find my joy. I sought out ways to get assistance going to college, and I waited. Some days it was like finding bread crumbs on a white beach. But I knew that if it was God’s will, it would happen, if I didn’t give up. And so it did. I returned to school after over 20 years away, and had a blast learning about the academics of Substance Abuse Counseling. I felt more fulfilled than I could remember feeling in a long time. In fact, I began to comprehend the word serenity!

Joy comes in many different vessels. What will yours look like?  While happiness is fleeting, joy is what lasts.
So, how about you? Have you found your joy, yet? It’s not too late.

Posted from my hut in the forest.