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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Advice from my Future Self

A few years back, sitting in a meeting for the Spouses of Addicts, I was having a very rough time with some devastating news I had just learned. This news was a game changer, an escalation, a crossing of a line that should never have been crossed. It was the time period in which I found out that the situation I was in was so much worse than I thought it was before.

I mean, I knew it was bad before. I knew that things weren't good. But this news changed everything. 

I remember sitting in this meeting, a huge range of emotions going through me. 

Disappointment. Sadness. Shock.

Plus, I wondered if there would be more news. More things I didn't know about.

And yes, yes there was. But that is not a part of this story.

Obviously I can't tell you what happened in that meeting. But there came a point where I imagined meeting my future self and what advice she would give me.

I bawled.

Because my future self knew how sad I was. What I had imagined was not going to be. The future I had hoped for was not going to be. I had learned that my family had entered into a dangerous area, and I knew that nothing would ever be the way I had dreamed it would end up.

No rocking chairs on the porch kind of feeling.

Picturing my future self, she was calm. She knew the situation, she knew what I was going through, and she had survived it. She knew, just as I did, what direction things were going in.

Like I said, I bawled.

Now that I am "the future self," I would still tell my past self to be strong. To pray, to stay close to God.

And now what would my future self tell me? Honestly, the same things.

I have a guess that if any of us were to meet our hopeful future selves they would say the same thing.

I know what you are going through. I've literally been there, in your shoes. But I survived it, I prayed and asked God to guide my decisions. I stood firm in the places I needed to stand firm, I changed what needed to be changed. It won't be easy, but you can do it. You'll have plenty of opposition if you are doing the right thing, but you can do it.

Life is not about trials, It's about the decisions you make in getting through them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

I'm sure you look great! You just can't please everyone.

The other day I found myself being appraised by someone. They were so obviously looking over my outfit, judging. They might have even had their lips pursed. It took all of my strength not to ask in a sarcastic voice, "Well? How did I measure up to your standards?"

I was wearing jeans, a nice blouse, and a jacket. And, amazingly, a necklace. (I always have good intentions to wear necklaces, but it rarely happens). There wasn't anything exceptionally amazing about my appearance, nor did I think I looked trodden. I just looked . . . normal.

Years ago in college, a similar situation happened to me and my roommates. What happened all those years ago was much, much worse.

Three of us were at a dance, standing off in the "waiting" section. This was the place where anyone wanting to dance could hang out and anyone wanting to ask could come there. Standing and talking, the three of us watched this young man walk right up to us. He slowly walked by all three of us, looking us all up and down in what felt like an exaggerated motion. He would look one of us up and down, move to the next one and look her up and down, and then went to the last of us and looked her up and down.

And in the end, he passed us all up!

My roommates and I looked at each other and just burst out laughing.

Why? because it was so awkward!

The three of us were all very different. Different heights, different hair colors, different styles of clothing, and different (if he had gotten to know us) personalities.

And yet he couldn't bring himself to ask any of us to dance after his crazy appraisal?

Really, it was rude.

But the point is that you will never please everybody. You will always get the people who think you need a designer purse. You will always get the people who don't understand why you aren't always wearing makeup when they drop by your house. You will always meet those who can't fathom wearing tennis shoes with an outfit, even when you are going to be walking miles and miles that day.

And just like that young man at the dance, there are people who will never be satisfied.

Which has nothing to do with you.

Frankly, I feel bad for the people who can't imagine wearing sweats out of the house. There is no way they are as comfortable as I am.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Happy Pi Day! 3.14159... reasons that you are awesome!

It's pi day!

Here are 3.14 thoughts that prove how awesome you are!

1. You are reading this blog. :) Seriously, I think you are awesome!

2. This world is crazy! The fact that you are surviving with any semblance of normalcy means that you are strong!

3. We are all blessed with the ability to become, the ability to progress and a potential beyond our understanding. Your potential is awesome!

.14 - And, most importa

Well, there you go. 3.14 reasons why you as a human being are awesome!

Now, as a cashier at Burger King once told me, "Go, Fulfill your destiny."  #truestory  - Make awesome choices to match your awesome self!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

You don't even know... And I don't even know...

Look what I found! 

Yup, you read that right. "These beverages contain alcohol!" Those are small kid's drinks in a grocery store display.  Apparently no one likes the light blue and red flavors . . . or maybe those are the only one's with alcohol? 

Either way, this sign is pretty clear. There is no way its message can be misunderstood. The sign was put up by the store, an establishment I trust to give me information about its products. 

I'm not even sure that I need to follow its advice and "Please read the label carefully." If this says it has alcohol in it, it must be so.

I obviously know what is going on here.

I am informed.

I have seen it with my own two eyes.

And now I am spreading the information to make sure other people, such as you, know what is going on. 

But . . .

Sometimes all we see of a situation is a very small part of it. We think we know what is going on, because that small portion of what we see makes sense in our minds. And as humans we tend to apply our own experiences to it to help it make sense.

There are many times that I thought I knew what was going on in a situation, only to realize that I was only being shown a very small part of the picture. I think we all have to deal with this, probably every day in multiple different situations.

But being aware that you just probably don't know the whole picture, or what it is like to be in the whole picture or someone else's shoes, is very important. 

Friday, March 4, 2016

Dealing with your spouse's addiction: Finding the Spark (Guest Blog Post)

Today we have a Guest Blog Post written by Alicia from ! I am so excited to share this with you, and you should go check out her blog when you are done reading here. I asked her to answer the question: What has helped you the most in dealing with your spouse's addiction? Because this is something that so many people are needing help with. And when you are at that point you might want to hear what has helped someone else.

By Alicia:

I love the 3rd verse of "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."  Have you read it?
"Then the traveller in the dark, 
Thanks you for your tiny spark, 
He could not see which way to go, 
If you did not twinkle so."

I remember my Traveller Days, and they were so dark.  No one knew my secret because I believed it wasn't mine to tell.  People around me talked openly about my secret, never knowing.
"If my husband ever looked at pornography, I'd leave him."
I remembered thinking the same thing until it happened to me.
"Porn is such a problem right now... it's breaking families up."
If it was such a problem, why did I feel so alone?

I couldn't find any spark, let alone any light.  The cycle of addiction seemed to run our home.  We operated around where my husband was at emotionally.  I worked hard to keep my kids safe, to keep my husband happy.  I always came up short, but I never stopped trying to be "more."
More thin.
More easy-going.
More sexy.

I stopped focusing on my own needs and allowed them to be swallowed up in what I perceived to be my husband's needs.  No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many books I read or strategies I came up with... he would always return to his addiction.  I tried keeping tabs on him, following up with articles I'd asked him to read, and reasoning with him.

One day, six years into our marriage and after a year without my husband relapsing, I uncovered more lies.  I hit my rock bottom.  The emotional pain was so intense, it morphed into physical pain.  My heart hurt so badly, I clutched at my chest.  I couldn't believe this was my life, my story.
I cried myself to sleep and the next morning I told myself if I could find tiny spark -just one story of one person who had made it though a story like mine -I could make it through that next day.

I found a book online that led me to a 12-step support group.  At first I only attended with the intention to listen.  All I really wanted was to look into the eyes of another person going through what I was going through.  I had travelled in the dark for much too long.  I needed light.
I found sparks that night.  It only took a few meetings of "only listening" to really intrigue me.  I began working the steps myself.

Today, six years later, I attend two meetings each week.  I work my steps with a sponsor.  I attend counseling and reach out to a trusted spiritual adviser.  
I have found a great deal of truth working the 12-steps.  They have brought me to a place of serenity.  The journey has not been easy or painless... in fact, it has been very hard and very painful.  I repeat the serenity prayer each week and appreciate the reminder that, "pain is the pathway to progress."
I have learned I can let go of what I can't control (the past, others, the future...) and focus on what I can control -myself.

Working the 12-steps is like looking through a REALLY clean mirror... I can see my strengths and weaknesses, my pride and my humility.  It is almost as scary as it is empowering.  I have the direction I need to take hold of my life and live to my full potential, regardless of my husband's choices.

I live one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time -my path lit by the sparks of those who walked the path before I did.