“See me. Feel me. Touch me. Heal me.” -R. Daltrey

Hello, family! 

I’ve missed you so much!

I began a job several months ago, doing what I do ūüėČ, and haven’t been here (primarily) because I have to be very careful about what I talk about. 

I’ve been able to get to at least 2 meetings a week, and it’s been an unbelievable blessing.  Left to my own devices, I don’t spend time with other people. After my current employment began, I was reminded of the things I had been missing by isolating.

I missed seeing other miracles and being seen as one, myself. I missed the feelings of being “a part of” and acceptance. In isolating, I was not where I was supposed to be.

Now, I get to use every gift God’s given me, each time I clock in. I expose my scars and bandage up client’s, every day.  The Big Book says we “will not regret the past”, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever be completely THERE, but there’s no question that it’s the painful experiences of my past which allow me to come alongside those “still suffering”. 

They say that the Human Services field has among the top burn-out rates of any occupation. I can see that. With that in mind, I daily pour myself out in the name of (love) lifting up individuals that, to be honest, most people wouldn’t even want to talk to. I know that God has placed me where I am, and I am full of gratitude for being used by Him. I actually get paid to share my experience, strength and hope with men & women who have none of their own! 

Is it always a cake walk? Oh, heck no. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been beat up, by the end of the day. I reckon that’s why they call it “work”.

I truly don’t have words to adequately describe how it feels to see the flicker of hope in their eyes, when they realise that they’re not alone, and that someone understands and cares. 

So, that’s a synopsis of my last 6 months. How have you been?  

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Stand Up

As this new year begins to settle in, many folks will be beginning the precarious tight-rope walk of sobriety. This post is full of wisdom.
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Days sober: 88  (and made it through the holidays) “Trying to help an addict is like watching someone drown in 4 feet of water and not being able to convince them that they can save themselve…

Source: Stand Up

Understand

I don’t. 

The Democracy thing is set up so that the majority vote decides, right? Has everyone gone mad? 

In my understanding, as a Christ-follower, I am to pray for our leadership, and remember that God is sovereign. 

Throwing temper tantrums never worked for me as a child, but I guess many folks were raised with a very different experience. 

I used to take people’s words at face value. Then I realised that unless the actions line up with the words, it’s foolish for me to take people’s words as truth. 

I’ve been quiet lately because I watch and see what transpires. So far, I’m embarrassed to be connected to the folks who are acting like savages. That is all.
…from my shack in the forest.

It’s a new day…

God only knows what’s in store for  “we the people”, but I’m excited. I’m so ready to stop the…sadness, sickness, anger…among other things that can be helped with just a bit of effort.

I am grateful for the liberties that this country affords us as it’s citizens. There are many countries in which people are being slaughtered for the crime of owning a holy book. Literally. Women and men made to watch their children’s suffering before they become the object of tormenting, the likes of which you can see on Criminal Minds.
I am grateful to be able to wear what I like and travel alone without being questioned or worse. 

I thank God for His never-ending mercies. He is a just God, but He prefers to show mercy to repentant hearts. 

I am grateful to be able to show affection to those I love and care about. 

I’m grateful for a husband who’s encouraging,  a hard worker, funny, quick to forgive, gentle when necessary and an ex-Navy Seal. Never have I felt safer in every way. He’s just one more example of my God’s compassion. 

So happy together

I am grateful for friends who agree with me as well as friends who don’t. 
I’ve lived long enough to know that things aren’t always what they seem, and sometimes that’s a GOOD thing. 

I’m grateful for being freed from the bondage of self, the chains of addiction, and from being a slave to sin. 

Thank you for reading, and for praying for peace. Let’s try to be kind to one another. 🌷

From my cabin in them thar hills. 

…Life on God’s terms…(Part 4)

‚ÄčAs my baby grew, we found our “normal”, which involved frequent check-ups at the Children’s Hospital, and close monitoring of his development. 
In the year 2000, my second son was born, and I juggled one more little bundle of energy/joy, along with my “miracle baby”, who was by then 7. Not long after #2 came along, I was living the life of a single-parent, and the insanity returned for me. (The continual stresses of single-parenting brought my mental illnesses to the forefront, and once again I went to a Dr. to get help managing them. My sons deserve the best I can give them, and if that means I have to take medication to help me function, then so be it.) I didn’t know much about raising ONE boy, let alone 2! And as they grew, it became more of a challenge. I failed many times as a parent, but I’m learning to accept that that’s par for the course.  I concluded years ago that anyone who says they’ve got “no regrets” either has no children or a selective memory.

In 2010, through the wonders of technology and a Christian dating site, I met my smoking hot husband, B. I had finally divorced from the boy’s dad a couple of years earlier, and I knew that I needed help with them. God knew exactly what we all needed; my husband is my equal in many ways and absolutely surpasses my dreams in the rest of them. He is also in recovery, and my greatest support as we walk this bumpy road of life. 

First things first…

After we’d been married a couple of years, I woke up at about 4:00am and realized that I’d had a stroke. After going through many tests at the hospital, to be certain, the Dr.s concluded that, indeed, it was an actual  stroke. I had virtually no use of my left hand for many months. Physical Therapy was not in the budget, so, I just worked my hand and stretched it out, using the other one. The main thing I attribute my healing from this situation would be the prayers of the people in the church we’d found shortly after B and I were married. It wasn’t a “lightning bolt” healing, like we (instant gratification being of course my preference) would have liked, but slowly over the course of a few months, I regained the use of my hand and now people have a hard time believing me when I tell them that I had a stroke. I just love it when God does that!

30 days and done

There’s an idea, a fairy tale, if you will, that’s been going around. It may have even begun before Alcoholics Anonymous found the solution for alcoholism. The story goes something like this: go to treatment for 30 days (or however many meetings your Judicial Scholarship requires), and then go home and return to life as normal. I’m pretty sure this myth is perpetuated by pre-recovery alcoholic/addicts, and also the family members who desperately want things to go back to “the way they were”. That does sound good, doesn’t it?

image

Stick with the Winners.

When I was first clean, my Mom had a big house with a very pretty bar in the basement. I mean, a pool table, big screen tv, and little lights behind all the bottles. She said to me, more than once, something like “it’s too bad you’re not drinking anymore, since we’ve got this fully-stocked bar!” She didn’t know. She’d never seen me in all of my drunken, belligerent, sloppy, (and eventually) semi-comatose glory. I assured her that she really DIDN’T want that, and that if I did have a drink, there wouldn’t be enough for me, anyways.

But I get it. I can imagine that most social drinkers wish we could join them for, oh, I don’t know, a half a glass of wine (AS IF), now and then. This is just one more aspect of sobriety in which we have to help educate them. It’s NEVER going to be like it was again, unless you look back to way before we ever took that first drink. Even then, the only real similarity would be that we weren’t drinking. The “ism’s” would still be there.

In my early months years sober, I stayed at Mom’s place a few times. She asked me once “How long do you have to go to those meetings?” And I told her what I’d heard from The Winners: “Until I die from something else.” That mindset helped to keep me clean/sober.

The fact of the matter is that the initial 30-60-90 days are primarily to get most of the chemicals out of you, and get you started on the right path. I don’t think there are any successfully recovering folks who didn’t continue to make drastic changes in their lives for a very long time, after.

So, my friends, if you’re thinking about getting rid of whatever you’re addicted to, I hope you’ll keep this in mind: as long as you want to feel better, and as long as you want to hate yourself less & less, and have people begin to trust you again…That’s how long you’re gonna have to live this New Life. If you’re good with returning to the lifestyle of your last several drunks (or whatever), then just do sobriety half-assed, don’t get committed to it, and hang around the same people you used to. That’s a recipe for all the misery you once had, and then some.

I’m only saying it because I care. So, to re-cap: Treatment does not equal recovery. Judicial Scholarships are not given out as the absolute solution to alcoholism, addiction, codependency, or any number of other addictive behaviors.

They told me in The Rooms something to the effect of “You didn’t walk that deep into the woods in one day. It’s going to take a while to find your way back out.” Another saying (we really do have a ton of them) is that “Time takes time.”

So, I hope this has been helpful. It’s a sign of progress when the newly clean/sober individual goes to a meeting every day, or meets with their counselor frequently. It really is a Good Thing.

Posted from my hut in the forest.

Mental Illness and Stigma

There’s a lot of talk these days about the “Stigma” surrounding addiction, and mental illness. Just the other day I saw a story on social media telling of some heinous crime that was committed by a “mentally ill” person. Again. No wonder the world thinks of us as entirely dangerous. I suppose the fact that the Stigma is being discussed is encouraging, but perpetuating the untruth that folks living with mental illness are dangerous certainly isn’t helping anyone. Consider for a moment, a definition of “mental illness”:

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The Mayo Clinic:

Mental Illness refers to a wide range of mental health conditions- disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior…many people have mental health concerns from time to time. But a mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function.

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So, many people have concerns from time to time. Personally, I have had concerns about others, many times, but they tell me that mentally ill people don’t usually see themselves as the crazy ones. ¬†And don’t get me started on the “Nature vs Nurture” theories. In my own experience, while living with a seriously disturbed individual, it became necessary for me to think like the person in order to (safely) communicate with them. I had to speak the language, which in turn caused residual mental issues that I had to overcome once I was away from them.

I’m sure most of the Stigma comes from just not knowing any better. When the world gives you the same (informational) menu every day for years, it’s difficult to consider that it’s been wrong all this time. I’m not a Mental Health Professional, but I have studied it for as long as I can remember. Initially my interest came from wondering why my perceptions appeared to be so different from everyone around me (because they were), but then the curiosity turned to trying to understand the folks that I interacted with on a regular basis.

For example, I was told that many years ago that my Dad was diagnosed as a Sociopath. I’m positive that’s why in my memory he never had anything good to say about Mental Health workers in general. As it turned out, Dad was the product of an abusive home, and he struggled with several issues, depression and addiction being a couple. I know that he had the Ism’s of alcoholism/addiction for as long as I knew him, and those may have, in fact, been the behaviors that caused people to think he was a Sociopath.

Another thing that causes me to ponder the Mental Health diagnoses is the multiple official diagnoses which have been changed or even removed altogether from being considered to be a “disorder”. ¬†So, does that mean that being crazy or not just depends on the time period in which you are seen by a diagnosing physician? ¬†Consider this: ¬†¬†

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or “DSM” is considered to be the reference for characterization and diagnosis of mental disorders. It’s had numerous adjustments since it’s inception in 1952. ¬†In the first edition of the DSM, there were 102 “broadly-construed diagnostic categories” , and by the time the third publication of the DMS came out in 1980, there were 265. When the DSM-IV was released, there were 297 diagnosable disorders…. (from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)

Someone said that the bottom line definitions of a mental disorder was behavior outside the realm of socially accepted behaviors.  That, in a general sense, sounds about right.

Depending on whose information you believe, one-in-four or -five American adults experiences a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year. ¬†So, if I work in an office with, say 20 other individuals, and I consider myself to be mentally healthy (Duh. I’m not ONE OF THOSE PEOPLE!), then that means I’m working beside a pretty good amount of crazy -and potentially ¬†lethal, according to society- people! Wow! How do people find the courage to leave their houses?!

My suspicion, and, remember, I’m not a Professional, is that the larger part of adults today, in our country, are living with a whole lot of unnecessary duress and discomfort between their ears. Most will never see a Dr. about it, and do you know why that is? ¬†Because it would mean that they were, I don’t know, flawed? Less than perfect? Oh, that’s right, anyone who has a mental disorder must be a danger to themselves and others. I almost forgot.

What if the disorder is Depression, which seems to be the most prevalent? Those folks aren’t nearly as likely to hurt you as they are to hurt themselves. Like 99% more likely to hurt themselves.

What about Anxiety? Look up the stats on Veterans and suicide. PTSD is in the Anxiety family.

Ok, how about Bipolar (once known as manic-depression)? Or Obsessive Compulsive Disorder? Or Borderline Personality Disorder? ¬†Or Schizophrenia? Oh, I know, what about people like “Sybil” from that old Psych 101 film? Unless all that I’ve read or heard is wrong, these people are much more likely to IMplode than to EXplode.

While I will grant you that many of the people acting out violently in society may have some kind of mental imbalance or disorder, most of the individuals with a diagnosed mental illness will never be a danger to anyone but themselves. If you don’t believe me, ask the 4 or 5 people in your office. ¬†