A little over a year ago, my hubby, our younger son and I went on a vacation to a part of the country that I’d only seen in pictures. The Eastern states were beautiful and the hills and mountains were mind-blowing, to an Indiana girl.
We moved here last summer and have been working on acclimating ever since. It’s been a difficult adjustment for many reasons, but things are beginning to fall into place and we are all finding our niches.
By the time I stumbled into The Program, I’d endured years of physical, emotional, and psychological abuse, followed by still more self-destructive behavior. I’d sought acceptance and love, and I’d gone “looking for love in all the wrong places”. When I didin’t find it, I settled for cheap imitations. I felt that I deserved no better treatment than to be used and thrown away, and I acted out in ways that perpetuated the cycle. I felt helpless and hopeless. I became what the Big Book calls “morally bankrupt”, and without the desperation that made me willing to go to any lengths to change the life path I was on, I’m sure I would not have lived to tell my story.
In the span of my time in recovery, I’ve experienced births and deaths, marriages and divorces, and joys and despair. Many of my worst experiences have been of my own making, but once I started finding the courage to face my demons, one small step at a time, I was able to re-learn how to live. I didn’t grab ahold of all of the principles at once, and thankfully, I didn’t have to.
To anyone contemplating this astounding life of recovery, I suggest :
1. Make up your mind. If you have any reservations, it’s not likely to work. This is an “all or nothing” deal. “Half-measures” are almost guaranteed to land you right back in the mess you’re trying to get out of.
2. If you’re going to meetings with a Judicial Scholarship (aka Court Ordered), keep your mind open. The people in the rooms are actually clean and sober, for the most part. The laughter is not an act. They can teach you to enjoy life again!
3. Go to meetings until you WANT to go. And when you “don’t feel like it”, go anyway.
4. If you are not willing to go to a Recovery meeting (12-step or otherwise), all is not lost. What is most important is that you find a group of like-minded individuals and begin to get to know them, and let them get to know you, too. The Recovery Community online is an amazing thing. Bloggers (like yours truly) abound, and you just have to find one, and you’ll be able to connect to many more.
5. If at first you don’t succeed, get a Sponsor/Accountability Partner and follow directions. 🙂
So, I was driving home from yet another mind-numbing trip to Malwart, listening to the most recent (long awaited, even!) edition of the Buzzkill Podcast, and at the end of it, our fearless host asked this question:
“Describe your first 30 days of recovery?”
So, as I’d been tossing around thoughts of what I might write about today, I latched onto this. I happened to have printed out a couple pages worth of feeling words not long ago, to help me better express myself to you, my lovely readers. Yes, even after all this time, I’m still not completely fluent in Emotions.
Here are the words that initially came to me:
Yeah. I think that with a few less intense emotions floating around, and maybe a couple of thoughts that weren’t feelings, those words pretty well cover it.
I thought about how the adjectives that came immediately to my mind were all really strong feeling words, and you know, it makes sense.
After so many years of doing EVERYTHING in my power to avoid feeling anything, in the first 30 days, OF COURSE the feelings that arrived came in like a flood of Noah-like proportions. I was almost instantly more self-conscious than I’d ever remembered being, and I felt like I’d just been dropped down onto a really scary planet. Actually, I used to tell people that reality was BY FAR the biggest trip I’d ever experienced. It stayed that way for quite a long time.
Today, if you asked me what how I would describe the last 30 days, I’d use very different words. Words like
It’s taken every event and every moment between the first month and today to get to this place: I feel things but my feelings don’t dictate my actions. I credit the desperation that made me willing to CHOOSE to trust again. Willing to follow directions, in hopes that these people were telling me the truth.
So, there you have it. If you’d like to know more about my first 180 days or so, you can go check it out here, where I was honored to tell some of my story recently on Recovery Rockstars.
So, how about you? Do any of those adjectives sound familiar? How would you describe your first 30 days?
An incredibly large percentage of the people I’ve spoken with in recovery about God have a similar story to tell. In one way or another, they feel that God has let them down, or betrayed them, or they blame God for the actions of people claiming to represent Him.
In my case, I had been taught that God was angry and short-tempered; He watched my every move just waiting for the next time I screwed up. I came into The Rooms with the belief that my purpose was to be a “Whipping boy” whenever He felt like punishing someone. I certainly was never anywhere near perfect, so I knew that I deserved every bit of pain and sorrow that I received.
Not coincidentally, my vision of who God was looked remarkably like my Dad: overbearing, rageful, impatient, and entirely frightening.
As I was thinking about this, I was reminded of something a friend said to me many years ago, in regards to establishing a relationship with my Creator.
I was in perpetual “bowing and scraping” mode. I was way too ashamed and fearful and guilt-ridden to even consider approaching God. Rather than beginning, I would stay stuck in the endless reasons I had for why He would not welcome any interaction with me. I was positive that I was better off doing everything I could to stay invisible to Him.
Instead of fighting to keep God at a distance, perhaps I just needed to stop running away, and stand still.
There have been periods in my recovery where I’ve done a better job at coasting than others.
I was talking about the “g” word with a friend recently, and she said that she was ready to start moving closer to God. It sounded like she was seriously standing on the brakes…but there is a lot to be said for “acting as if”!
I get it. Apprehension and trepidation were my closest associates in my early days of sobriety. All I can do, after all, is share my experience, strength and hope. One of the most amazing parts of early sobriety, for me, was the (gradual) realization that I was not God. I’m gonna try not to interfere as He works His loving ways with my friend. I just hope I’ll get to watch, and that I might somehow be helpful as she inches toward the loving Father of Whom she’s in desperate need.
He knows what skittish little kittens we can be. I imagine Him sitting still with His back to us as we creep ever so silently toward Him…letting us take all the time we need, while gently coaxing us to come nearer so He can rub our fur and scratch us in the best spots. 🙂
In considering “the god part” or your Recovery, I would suggest that, rather than the thought of throwing the door wide open to “whatever” may be on the other side of it, maybe just open it a crack, and then pause.
Instead of focusing on all of my “problems with God”, things that I don’t understand/agree with, my life has progressed in a positive direction when I concentrate on learning about the simplicities of His character. He wrote a book as an introduction, but I believed the hype instead of seeing for myself. I’ve gotta tell you, it’s been worth it, to investigate for myself. Standing on the brakes get tiring. He hasn’t steered me wrong even once.
Posted from my cabin in the mountains.
…is what they told me. I wasn’t so sure I believed them, but to be honest, they hadn’t lied to me, yet.
I’ve been thinking about some of the ways that statement has been proven to be true throughout my life.
I haven’t always gotten what I wanted, but I have always had what I needed. I was taught that, obviously, I didn’t NEED as much as I’d thought.
Here are some things that I had no control over that did, indeed, work out for the best:
1. I gave birth to my son within 20 miles of the best children’s hospital in the region, which made it possible to get him there and save his life, and subsequently, continue to keep him under the care of a team of exceptionally knowledgeable Pediatric Cardiologists.
Had I been in charge, I would have given birth in a foreign country with a much greater likelihood of his dying in infancy. But God…
2. I became (unexpectedly) pregnant, which was a huge factor in my decision to pursue sobriety. My own best thinking would have kept me living a very reckless and self-destructive life, but once I knew there was a baby in the mix, I was able to focus on LIFE, rather than the slow death of an addict,
3. I got involved in unhealthy relationships (reckless and impulsive, remember), thinking that I deserved the abuse and chaos. Without them, I realize, in retrospect, I wouldn’t have been in the right places, at the right times, for some pivotal events that changed my life, down the road.
4. I took a chance and said “hi” to a guy on a christian “dating” site (www.christiandatingforfree.com), and even though I was pretty sure he was WAY out of my league, he responded positively, and about a year later, we were married. The part that is all God, in my view, is the difficult lessons I had to learn in the experiences leading up to that(this)relationship. Through them (kissing frogs, I call it), I became the kind of woman who my spouse needed me to be. Instead of the insecure, impulsive, needy (“assertive” is what Cosmo calls it – yeah, it’s not really that), immature person I’d been for so long, I had somehow figured out how to practice (“…these principles in all my affairs”? You betcha!) some self-restraint, a bit of patience, and been given some kind of self-respect in working a Recovery program. I behaved like a woman who knew she had great worth, as opposed to how I’d behaved before I made seeking God a priority…and before He’d lined everything up just right… (it bears mentioning that I behaved like that woman, not that I actually believed it. I was “acting as if”.)
God took care of seeing to it that this guy became smitten with this damaged woman-child, accepted her children as part of the deal, and patiently continues to feed her fragile heart and spirit. ❤
I NEVER coulda worked that one out. And I can say that, for sure, because one upon a time, I did manipulate my way into a marital situation. Not proud of it. Just sayin.
So, that’s all for now, but I’m hoping to add more stuff to this list in the next couple of posts.
When good things happen, even now, my knee-jerk reaction is to be afraid, so this list is a concentrated effort to dispell that silly notion. You know, “fear of failure/fear of success”. But today, I have a fat list of things that happened to turn out good, just like He said they would.
How about you? Don’t be shy! What are some times in your life that you could not have been responsible for, working out?
From my castle in the *beautiful* mountains.