Category Archives: recovery

I am just one person.

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difference

 

Today was a pretty rough day in my house.  Our 3-year-old cat died from a sudden and rapid kidney failure.  We realized last night she may not make it through the night.  Sadly, my daughter was tired from an outing last night when we came home and fell asleep before we realized there would be no chance for her to say goodbye.  This cat was special to the two of us.  She was found abandoned before her eyes even opened, and together we bottle-fed her and nursed her into a healthy, albeit very devilish little kitty.

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So, when my daughter woke up today, Maddie was already gone.  I watched my 12-year-old sit on the floor with her pet and stroke her soft  fur.  She quickly made her a necklace of bright-colored string and tied it around her little neck.  She lovingly touched her with tears flowing the entire time.  She said her goodbye in her own way, and it was heart wrenching to watch as a parent.

When I logged on to Facebook, still feeling pretty sad, this was the message that awaited me from a friend: “Just so you know: you are one of the nicest people I know, and you have made my life better just by being in it.”  This friend had no idea what had been going on in my house, in fact I hadn’t talked to him in the past few days. It was just random.  One of his friends had posted the status “Just in case you need to hear it today: go out of your way to make someone’s day. Give them a simple compliment and watch their day turnaround.” and he decided to do just that.

This reminded me of a meditation from last week.

Just for Today – October 13

“Words cannot describe the sense of spiritual awareness that we receive when we have given something, no matter how small, to another person.”

Basic Text p. 100

Sometimes it seems as though there is so much wrong with the world that we might as well forget trying to make a difference. “After all,” we think, “what in the world can I do? I’m just one person.” Whether our concerns are so broad that we desire global peace or so personal that we simply want recovery made available to every addict who wants it, the task seems overwhelming. “So much work to do, so little time,” we sigh, sometimes wondering how we’ll ever do any good.

Amazingly enough, the smallest contributions can make the biggest difference. To gain more from life than an ordinary, plodding existence requires very little effort on our parts. We ourselves are transformed by the deep satisfaction we experience when we lift the spirits of just one person. When we smile at someone who is frowning, when we let someone in front of us on the freeway, when we call a newcomer just to say we care, we enter the realm of the extraordinary.

Want to change the world? Start with the addict sitting next to you tonight, and then imagine your act of kindness multiplied. One person at a time, each one of us makes a difference.

Just for today: An act of kindness costs me nothing, but is priceless to the recipient. I will be kind to someone today.

When I read this meditation last week, I thought about all the friends I have who are making such a difference right now.  I have some pretty amazing friends in my life right now who are fighting to make this world a better place.

Sometimes it DOES seem like we’re banging our heads against the wall.  Other days, like the one in this video, are just amazing.  Sometimes when I think about the incredible friends I have and the things they are accomplishing, I think that they must have something I do not.  I think they are making a difference and I wonder if I am capable of that.  This meditation reminds me that making a difference doesn’t have to be global.  Sometimes you just need to be that one person who makes a difference to one other person. 

Today, my friend was that person.  “Just so you know: you are one of the nicest people I know, and you have made my life better just by being in it.”

Thank you.  I needed that today.

 

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I am not unlovable.

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I remember being 9 and finding out my cousin had a part in the movie “Annie”.  I was so excited for her, we were like sisters!  I memorized the soundtrack to the movie, and could be found wandering around at school and daycare with my Walkman on, singing at the top of my lungs.  The reaction of many kids I knew was that I was “too weird, too different, too everything”.   I stopped singing out loud.

September 30
Being Ourselves
“Our real value is in being ourselves.”
Basic Text, p.101

Over and over, we have tried to live up to the expectations of those around us. We may have been raised believing that we were okay if we earned good grades in school, cleaned our rooms, or dressed a certain way. Always wanting to belong and be loved, many of us spent a lot of time trying to fit in – yet we never quite seemed to measure up.

Now, in recovery, we are accepted as we are. Our real value to others is in being ourselves. As we work the steps, we learn to accept ourselves just as we are. Once this happens, we gain the freedom to become who we want to be.

We each have many good qualities we can share with others. Our experiences, honestly shared, help others find the level of identification they need to begin their recovery. We discover that we all have special gifts to offer those around us.

Just for today: My experience in recovery is the greatest gift I can give another addict. I will share myself honestly with others

When you learn from an early age that who you are inside, secrets and all, is not pleasing to other people, you learn to hide that person from others.  There was no one standing behind me as a child telling me that I could be anything I wanted to be and that who I was inside, the very essence of me, was awesome and amazing.  Instead, the messages I got loud and clear were more like “I saw you lying in the ditch pretending to shoot cars with a stick. That’s SO weird.” “Why are you always getting in trouble? What’s WRONG with you?” “Why are you darker than other people, but you’re not black?” “Don’t be such a baby!” “Don’t tell these secrets, no one will believe you because you lie.”  Well, you get the picture.

You learn early on to try to emulate other people, mold yourself to who you think they want you to be, all in a search for the one thing everyone really wants: to be loved.  That need to be accepted and loved is a strong one in people who don’t feel it freely given in their life.  It can lead to some scary places in life, some heartbreaking places. In many cases, it can and does lead to addiction and mental health issues.  Which only compounds the guilt and shame and belief that you will never be good enough for anyone.  As a rational adult, I can see that this “hole” in my heart was caused by  emotional hunger.  Even in the worst of my addiction, I was able to recognize this and have worked hard not to let this cycle repeat with my daughter.  But I couldn’t put my finger on how to fix this.  Some say fill that hole with God, others attempt to fill it with many other things.  Nothing I tried over the years ever worked.  I see now, why that is.  All of these experiences I had taught me to dislike myself, eventually taught me not to love myself, which in turn left me believing that I was unlovable.  When you feel unlovable, there isn’t a person on earth who can make you feel loved.

“It’s much easier to love yourself when you are being yourself.” When you have spent a lifetime trying desperately not to BE yourself, one day you wake up, sober up, and realize you don’t know WHO you are anymore.  You lose that essence of you.  That can be an overwhelming realization, paralyzing even.  When the only voices in your head telling you about yourself are completely negative, it is time for a clean sweep.

I have learned some things about myself over the past few years. Not about the things that have happened to me in life, or about the things I have done in my life, or even about the people who have been in my life… about ME.

  • I am still here, so apparently I am pretty resilient and strong.  I work every day to believe this, because it is true.
  • I have a kind heart and I care and feel deeply.  This is not ALWAYS a good thing, because it can lead to more hurt.  But what I have learned about myself if that I would rather feel even the pain of life than to not feel at all, because the joy and love of life is so worth it.
  • I have a wicked sense of humor at times.
  • I am a good person. I don’t need other people to tell me this, or to tell me the reasons they don’t think it’s true.
  • I am a good parent.  Now, don’t ask my 12-year-old about this, because I promise you will get a snarly 12-year-old response. But I know the truth.  I know that my child is kind, smart, brave, and loved.  I see the results of my parenting every day, coupled with the essence of who she is, and I know that I am a good parent.

This is only a sampling of the things I am learning about myself.  The fun part of trying to get to know yourself again is the experiences along the way. I have people in my life who love me and accept me for exactly who I am.  I am not the lost person anymore. I am not the sum of my experiences. I am so much more than my past or than opinions of other people. The most important thing I’ve learned is this: I am not unlovable.  I am deeply loved, flaws and all, by the person who matters the most and can fill that hole: ME. 

“Today- this moment- I am free.”

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Yesterday I returned from a camping trip with middle and high school Girl Scouts.  I love these trips because I get to know the girls better, I get to hang out with other women crazy enough to spend their weekend with teenage girls, and I get to see the girls learn and grow.  We all come home dirty, exhausted, and happy.  I never feel quite so mentally at peace as I do on the drive home.  Last night, I sat down with my meditation for the day, and I realized why.

September 29
“When we stop living in the here and now, our problems become magnified unreasonably.”
Basic Text, p.96

“Just for today” – it’s a comforting thought. If we try to live in the past, we may find ourselves torn by painful, disquieting memories. The lessons of our using are not the teachers we seek for recovery. Living in tomorrow means moving in with fear.

We cannot see the shape of the secret future, and uncertainty brings worry. Our lives look overwhelming when we lose the focus of today.

Living in the moment offers freedom. In this moment, we know that we are safe. We are not using, and we have everything we need. What’s more, life is happening in the here and now. The past is gone and the future has yet to arrive; our worrying won’t change any of it. Today, we can enjoy our recovery, this very minute.

Just for today: I will stay in the here and now. Today – this moment – I am free.

From the moment we arrive at camp, I feel the weight lifted.  There is no time to worry about yesterday or tomorrow.  Camp life takes my full attention, therefore I am completely in the moment. I am free to enjoy the beautiful setting. I usually have my camera out, capturing memories for my girls and myself.  I do not own a smart phone, so I am not connected to the world outside of camp.  I like it that way, in fact my girls aren’t allowed to bring theirs either.  In this super-connected world, they need some peaceful, “in the moment” time too.  They have to interact with each other face to face, without the aid of electronics, without the pressures of media, without the stress that being teen girls can often bring.  It is good for them, it is good for me.  (Really need to do this more often!)

This weekend, my meditation was watching one girl from another troop, as she attempted climbing the 55ft tall Phoenix Tower. This child was new to her troop, and her interactions seemed a bit awkward with troopmates.  Early in the morning, I found myself hoping this girl would have an amazing experience.  The first challenge we came to was the tower.  I watched her, completely in the moment, as she started to climb.  She got to the first level and couldn’t figure out how to get over the beam. The facilitators gave suggestions, she chose one to follow and pushed on.  Up to the next level, where she seemed to get stuck again.  Again, she listened to those with experience and pushed on.  This went on until she reached the platform on top and struggled to pull herself up on it and stand.  The look on her face was priceless! Her troopmates, my girls, and I were all cheering for her at this point.  I’m not sure she even heard us.  The beaming smile on her face was completely HERS, and coming from inside.  This was HER “in the moment”.

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As we prepared to leave yesterday morning, we circled up and went around the circle telling our favorite activities or memories from the trip.  When it was my turn, I turned to this girl, looked her in the eye, and told the group, “My favorite memory of this weekend was watching T climb the Phoenix tower.  I loved your determination when you started.  I admired your ability to take direction to help you overcome the times you got stuck. You showed such perseverance when you kept moving until you were on the top.  Your smile from up there was my favorite memory of this weekend.” And that smile just BEAMED back at me as I spoke.

When I am completely in the here and now, I am free to enjoy these moments.  I can also learn so much when my mind is free from worries of the past or future.   These girls have been a big part of my recovery.  This weekend, a 12-year-old reinforced my belief that with a little determination, some help from people with experience, and perseverance, even the most awkward of us can do what we set out to do.

Today – this moment- I am free.  It feels good.