Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Being A Skittle In A Reese's Pieces World

When the Gru of all things blogging asked me to blog, I admit I blew it off, repeatedly I really didn't have time! Between the Holidays and kidding season on the ol' farm I have been up to my elbow, errrr I mean eyeballs in all things farming! Really though it is more than that. Recently I have been struggling with who I am. I mean I know who I am, but as I go through the addiction recovery program, as I decide what I am going to do about religion, God, spirituality, and make some decisions about my triathlon training I have had to evaluate who I am. What parts of me do I hang on to because that is what I have always known, it is my protection, and what parts of me is really who I am. As I have blogged about in recent months I recently joined the LDS church. This after hearing my entire life how wrong the church was, while still trying to wrap my mind around am I even able to believe in what the church teaches, to fumbling through the culture that is this church. More than that trying to not make everyone mad in the process both people in and out of the church while I figure this out. However, I can say I have not been successful in that, dang! In addition, I have decided to evaluate my farm and my family and my lifestyle to decide what really is important to me. My fingers have stuttered over the keyboard for three days now as I have attempted to write this blog, the deadline for publication has come and gone a few times, yet I assured the powers that be, tonight it would get written. It is not that I don't know what I want to share with you, it is I want you all to read it from my heart.




Kyle, my seven year old, he is the difficult one of the bunch. When you have six kids, there has to be one, right? He is a free spirit and stubborn! He also seems to be impacted but what he eats especially sugars and food dyes. For Christmas, from Santa, he wanted a candy machine. With the exception of my four year old my kids don't believe in Santa, but there is an unspoken rule what you ask Santa for, you shall receive. Against my better judgment a candy machine was purchased, you know the kind with the 3 compartments to dispense all kinds of sugary goodness into the outstretched hands of its recipients. As the semi controlled chaos, otherwise known as Christmas morning, came to an end Kyle picked up his candy machine to go stash it in his man cave. The last thing the little guy was about to do was share his candy with his siblings. As he grabbed his prize possession, by the lid, the lid slips off and thousands of pieces of candy scatter across the floor. He was pissed, in his mind his world had come to an abrupt stop and his Christmas had been ruined. What is a mom to do, except kneel down and offer to pick up the candy for him? However, mom had the idea of scoop it all up and place it in the compartments, it really did not need to be sorted. Kyle on the other hand was adamant that the M&Ms be placed together, the Skittles together, and likewise the Reese's Pieces. Alas, sort them is what I did. Candy with an M went in one pile, an S another, and the blank orange, brown, and yellow in another. It took some time but finally the candy was compartmentalized again and Christmas was saved.




Several days after Christmas Kyle comes to the living room, after bedtime. He has a bowl and proudly says, "Mom here is Reese's Pieces just for you cuz you helped me pick them up!" My favorite candy! Kids were headed to bed, Netflix was on tv, why not round out the evening and make it a perfect trifecta with a little candy. I tossed the 1st few handfuls in my mouth getting what I expected peanut butter in a crunchy shell, there wasn't a doubt in my mind that what I was seeing was really what I was getting. That was until about the 3rd time I stuck my hand in the bowl, opened my mouth and tossed in several pieces of orange, yellow, and brown candy, this time however not all went as expected. One of those yellow pieces of candy, was in deed not a peanut butter center with a chocolate shell, instead I had bit into a chewy, yellow, lemon flavored Skittle. I like Skittles, really I do, but when you are expecting peanut butter, and all the other candy is peanut butter, it is a shock to many senses when a chewy lemon flavored candy sneaks in the batch. Who knew that the same yellow on the outside could produce such different results on the inside? As I wrestled with self acceptance recently it is through a silly bowl of candy that I found peace and assurance. It isn't what we show others on the outside, it is what we are made of on the inside that matters.


I hate labels whether it be addiction, mental illness, genius....I hate it because of the stigma society has placed behind them. Over the course of the last six months I fear the what if. What if people get to know me, what if they find out I was locked up, what if they find out I was a heavy drug addict, what if they find out I lost custody of my two older kids for a few months, what if they find out I had an affair on my husband with gasp a Mormon, what if they find out I am not like them. I fear what if they think underneath my yellow coating is peanut butter, but really it is lemon. I fear I will lose friendships, others will think I am crazy, unstable and that they should fear me. In fact even in typing it out today my fingers seriously stutter over the keys on my keyboard and I contemplate finding a different topic to blog about. However, it is time I overcome the fear and pray that in some small way I can help society overcome an even greater fear of people that are different than them. Sugar coating it (no pun intended) through semantics and verbiage just to ease my own insecurities and the fear, of judgment, places control back onto the fact that so many don't look past the yellow coating on the outside to determine what is on the inside, because the world can't only be made of Reese's Pieces sometimes you need lemon Skittles.


I am going to share with you who I am. I am going to share with you that I am more than a blogger on the other side of the screen. I am going to share me! Our outer candy shells may look the same, but what matters is what's under that coating, I am going to challenge you tonight as you read this, embrace you! It doesn't matter if you are pure chocolate, a chewy rainbow of fruit flavors, or a fake peanut butter concoction, the world would get tired of candy really fast if it all was the same. Don't pretend to be something you aren't the world needs a little flavor. With that said, here I am:

I am a 38 year old stay at home mom of six incredible kids. I am the mom that waits with you at parent pick discussing the everyday happenings. I am the mom that avoids volunteering at school functions, tell me how much to write the check for I am good with that. I am the mom that helps with her kids homework, school projects, and attends all of their events. I am the mom that you complimented today while in the store about how well behaved her children are. I am the mom that couldn't get out of Target fast enough because those well behaved children threw a fit to end all fits. I am the mom that sat across from you at parent teacher conferences and you told her how well adjusted, advanced, and fun her child is in your classroom. I am the mom that you had to call because said child in your class decided to take his knowledge of the birds and the bees and educate his peers. I am the mom that sits next to you in the bleachers at baseball, I am the mom that you hang with at 4H meetings, and comes to your home for music, art and horseback riding lessons. I am the mom that you asked your son or daughter to come to my house and play. I am a wife that loves her husband unconditionally.

I am a 38 year old educated woman. I am the student that sat in your classroom earning two master's degrees before I was 28. I am the peer that helped you pass your classes in addition to doing my own work load. I am the teacher that taught your son/daughter in countless grades and multiple subjects. I am the softball coach that led your child's team to state finals. I am the teacher that you emailed or called anytime your child needed me regardless of it being school related or not. I am the administrator that advocated for your child and you as a parent working to come to a common ground. I am the administrator that came to your house to talk to your son/daughter because I truly cared about what was going on in their lives. I was the teacher that came home from personal vacations early to attend funerals, write letters of recommendations, to go with you to court, to sit in the waiting room with your while child was in surgery, and attend both yours and your son/daughter's college graduations. I am the special education advocate that did not view your child as a disability and fought countless hours for you and your child to have more than simply a fair and appropriate education.

I am a 38 year old well rounded woman. I am the woman that stood next to you at the start of a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or triathlon. I am the woman that shouted cheers of encouragement as we passed each other or crossed the finish line together. I am the woman that you got in touch with to ask questions about gardening, animals, cooking, fitness, or nutrition. I am the woman that you asked to write a children's curriculum, devotional, and to speak hundreds about the journey known as my life. I am the woman you sat next to at church. I am the woman you asked to minister to others in need. I am the woman that you see at the gym, the library, the grocery store, the bank. I am the woman that you make small talk with just because I am there.

 I am a 38 year old woman that cares deeply about people. I am the woman that decided to be real, honest, and open about motherhood, being a wife, drug addiction, and once being given a mental health label. I am the woman that you contact even though I am a complete stranger because you need to talk to someone that has been there and understands. I am the woman that you send messages to on facebook, to my phone, and via email because you just need to talk and don't know who else to turn to. I am the woman you call because you have a friend that is struggling and you don't know how to help. I am the woman that puts aside my own pride and fear to ease the pain and struggles of someone else. I am the woman that believes firmly everything has a purpose and a reason and I do my best to help you with your purpose and reason. I am the woman you come to to pray for. I am the woman you turn to because you just need a good laugh. I am the woman that pours my heart out weekly in blogs to thousands of strangers often leaving myself raw and exposed because I never want you to feel alone.

I am a 38 year old woman that used to have borderline personality disorder, BPD yet fought with all I had to overcome and no longer meet the criteria. I am an addict, I will always be yet I didn't know how to deal with the center of my candy being different from how the vast majority of the world portrayed theirs so I buried my struggles in cocaine, heroin and pills. I am a woman that has been hospitalized as a result of drug overdoses and suicidal tendencies. I am a 38 year old woman that has dug deep within myself to identify my triggers and to fight and push through them and to begin to accept because I am different than you not only is that okay, that is how it should be.

Hi I am Ryan a 38 year old woman that is so much more than the coating on the outside of my candy. If I hadn't been open with you would not have ever known I had once carried a label for a mental illness or was a drug addict. Yet, had I not been open with you, you also would not have gotten to know all the strength, humor, and compassion, that is also me. Those around you don't need to only see the candy coating you so painstakingly keep together to keep you blended in with candy of the same flavor, those around you need to see and experience what is on the inside. You are the only you, you are here for a purpose. Be real! I promise the world doesn't need the perfection fa├žade.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Follow Your Own Arrow

I am tired and I have a strong suspicion I am getting sick. Blogging under these conditions is the equivalent of grocery shopping while hungry, you buy way more than necessary, in this case I may say more than necessary. However, I have never been known to mince words, you never really have to guess what I am thinking. When the Gru of all things blogging once again emailed me, asking if I would write a blog or two this week, I figured sure why not, because I have something I want to say, I have something that I feel I am not the only one out there battling.



Have you ever tired to fit a square peg into a round hole? No? Me either. But, I've heard the analogy plenty over the years and I often visualize it and think, well you could take the part that needs to go into the hole and you could carve it to fit the round hole you could smooth its edges and that part would fit nicely into the hole. In my mind the top part always remains square it is just the part that is going into the hole that becomes circular, but that square part is always still there, the peg never changed it was only shaped to fit in. I have always felt that I was a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. My entire life this is how I have felt, and it has always really bothered me, a lot, until today. I have always felt as if I was the one that was broken, the misfit, that something was wrong with me. However, today I am proudly embracing my square peg like self in this circular like society and I am at complete peace with me!




I have always been okay on my own. I have always been the absolute most at peace, happy, calm, and just overall fulfilled when I am by myself, or with my family. Even with my family, sometimes, I need a break to recharge my batteries, sometimes I need quiet and alone, and over the last year I have been okay with asking Roger to take the kids for a few hours or even a day or two so that I can regroup. I have learned to accept this and that in no way does it mean I am a bad mom or wife or that I don't love my family, but rather it is much the opposite. I can be a much better wife and mom when I am recharged. However, I somehow managed to figure this out with my family yet I have never embraced this when it comes to my relationships with others and societies ideals that we all need to belong to something much bigger than us. I have never accepted that I am different, and I have always tried to force myself to do otherwise. If you have known me for very long or have read my blog, over the course of the last several years, you have seen this 1st hand. I don't do anything half assed which includes trying to force myself to find that peace, happy, calm, and fulfillment through a sense of belonging either with people, organizations, religions, etc.




I hold very high expectations for myself, for my children, for my husband, even for my farm animals I don't settle. People have told me, don't hold expectations for others and you won't be disappointed. So once again I am shaving off a little more of that square peg to fit in the round hole? Why? I am not supposed to hold high expectations of others, I guess in theory that might work, but it doesn't work for me. There are things I expect from other people and I hold them to those expectations. Does this make me tough to get along with, absolutely! I know I am not easy to be friends with and yes this bothers me, but not for the reasons you may think. It bothers me because I feel like I am supposed to belong I am supposed to have all these friends I am supposed to have this desire to have more than what I do, when in reality, what I have is really all I long for. The more I try to belong, to fit in, the more I lose myself, the harder it becomes to reach that peace and calm, but I let it slide because I feel like I am supposed to be doing this. I am not supposed to be content being by myself or with my family. I am supposed to have this longing and this desire to have others in my life, so I force it. You can only force things for so long. You know those jeans you force yourself into and keep telling yourself it was the dryer that shrunk them, but you can't breath, forget about sitting down, and finally you say enough and take those bad boys off and slip into what fits you. That's what I'm talking about! I can fit myself into the jeans of society. I am not anti social, I am not a recluse, I am not overly socially awkward, but I can only keep those jeans on for so long before I have to slip into the yoga pants and I always felt guilty for wearing yoga pants when I needed to be crammed into tight jeans.


Women are some of the toughest creatures in the world, not only on ourselves but on each other. Today I encourage you to follow your own arrow wherever it points (this has become one of my favorite songs as of late). Love yourself! Embrace yourself. Cherish your uniqueness, cherish your quirks! Your mold is not broken because it is different than mine. Your sense of direction is not heading the wrong way because it's pointing down a path that is not similar to mine. Be you! The world needs you! I have tried so hard to fit in and belong my entire life, because that is what I felt I should do. However, I have had two freeing enlightening moments in my life, the first was 2 years 6 months and 3 days ago when I stopped tripping. When I walked away from cocaine, heroine and pills. The second was that moment when I decided my mold is not broken, I don't need to try to belong to something, anything, because society says I need to fit, when I realized I am enough, I am different than most people and that is okay. That moment when I decided to follow my arrow wherever it points, that moment when I decided to love my loner self and not to feel guilty for loving my loner self. When I embraced who I am, and realized that peace and happiness, I have had all along. Those two moments in my life are so freeing. My From Trippin' To Triathlons path has been all over the place but I love my quirky self and my mold is a unique shape as is yours! Love yourself, and follow that arrow wherever it points!






Wednesday, November 18, 2015

100 Things I am Thankful For

1. Roger
2. Rebekah
3. Garrett
4. Melissa
5. Kyle
6. Kelsey
7. Jordan
8. God
9. Independent Thinking
10. Burn trash barrels
11. Addiction recovery
12. Grace
13. Little League Baseball
14. Friends
15. My Blog
16. My seester Jamie
17. My parents
18. Modern Medicine-both my step dad and grandpa are with us this Thanksgiving as a result
19. My Grandparents
20. Coach Kitty
21. Iphones
22. Electricity
23. Automatic watering systems
24. Rototillers
25. Ivomec
26. Protein Shakes
27. Baseball hats
28. An empty septic tank
29. A full propane tank
30. Muscles
31. Properly fitted bike seats
32. Wyoming
33. My Aunt Cheri
34. Purple Monkeys
35. Laughing until I cry
36. Chickens that don't lay their eggs in the mud
37. Rabbits that don't spray me with pee
38. Sneezing and not having to cross my legs
39. Forgiveness
40. My entire farm
41. Savant
42. Mud bogging
43. Prescription Sunglasses
44. Airconditioning
45. Animal Transport
46. Self Sufficency
47. 4H
48. Coaches
49. Holiday Flavored Coffee Creamer
50. Amazon Prime
51. Text Messages
52. Shipping Containers
53. Automatic Watering Systems
54. PayPal
55. The Blumenthals
56. Saddles
57. Huggles
58. Flowers picked just for mommy out of the yard
59. Randomly hearing you're beautiful from your 4 year old son and knowing he means it with all his heart
60. Hair Stylists
61. Muck Boots
62. Washing Mashines
63. Pictures
64. Vacations
65. Sobriety
66. Filtered Water
67. 2011 it was the absolute worst year of my life and one I never thought I would live through, I did and I am thankful for knowing what rock bottom is and never wanting to go back
68. Hoodies
69. Sunsets
70. Tubing at the lake
71. Jeff and Cathy Layton
72. Ticketmaster
73. Protein Shakes
74. Toilet Paper
75. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers
76. Suburbans
77. Dinner together as a family
78. Organization
79. Being able to be a stay at home mom and wife and knowing that next year when Jordan starts kindergarten I can continue to stay home and be a mom and a wife and pursue my dreams of how I vision my farm and writing
80. Odd and often inappropriate humor
81. Teachers be it school or those that are willing to share their talents and teach others
82. Batteries
83. Toilet Plungers (are you noticing the toilet theme)
84. Taco Johns
85. Hard wood floors
86. Whole 30
87. Insurance
88. Golden Girls Reruns
89. Time
90. Long Hot Showers
91. Clean Laundry
92. Fiction Books
93. Imagination
94. Training Peaks
95. Family Vacations
96. Board Games
97. Diamonds and Pearls
98. Cards
99. Acceptance
100. 2015-the most fulfilling, fun, peaceful year I have ever had in my 38 years!





Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Counting Before Algebra Shapes Before Geometry


Before I begin to delve into more questions of Step 3 I need to write a bit about what it is like for me to go through these questions, these steps, the book, this process. All of this opens a side of me that I keep closed very tightly for all the reasons I already have mentioned. When I open those boxes that I have sealed closed so very tight and all that is inside begins to drift out and it all combines together I begin to feel overwhelmed emotionally, I begin to panic. This is when those moments like stopping by a Circle K and picking up one of my favorite drinks becomes a trigger, it is in these moments that driving near Kino Hospital makes my eyes well up with tears and I want to retreat, but at the same time I fear that retreat that being alone. Last week there was an incident on the bus that my kids ride, a 7th grade boy exposed himself to some girls, and my daughter was a witness to all of it. This incident all be it disgusting and one that I would be mortified of if I found my boys in the midst o, more than anything has become such a huge time drain for me. When my daughter told me what had occurred I notified the school with the expectation that disciplinary action would be handled within the school and this boy would no longer be allowed to utilize district transportation. However, when the school viewed the tapes apparently there was much much more than what my daughter knew of. For this I am so thankful, yet at the same time it annoys me that I have to give up an entire day so that my daughter can go to a child advocate building to be interviewed since this falls under the category of a sexual assault. Sigh! The building that I had to take my daughter to was right next to Kino Hospital, a place I have avoided driving by for nearly 4 years now. Today as I sat in the parking lot the building glaring at me I couldn't help but feel my chest tighten at the memories of being locked up there as a direct result of my drug usage. The 1st time was nearly exactly 4 years ago to date, I don't remember much I just remember waking up and not knowing where I was or how I got there. Of my nearly week long stay that moment is all I remember, drugs seriously wiped out so much of my memory from those few years. The 2nd time I was at Kino involved the sheriff, a lot of pills, and my drug stash being found. I thought to myself, today, alas I am over on this side of town, I will stop and pick up my favorite drink ever! A crushed ice, cherry dr pepper from Circle K. However, this just compounded the blending of emotion as this was what I would always drink when I was using. I have barely drank it since I became sober and I don't know that I can do it again. Yes, I know it is just soda, but when you are an addict it is essential to realize sometimes those triggering components, no matter how lame they are, that is okay and sometimes necessary to avoid them.

 

While sitting in the waiting room of the advocacy center with Melissa I was reading a pamphlet that they gave me to take home. Inside of it was myths and facts, one of the myths involved cocaine usage and about becoming an addict. The fact component was valid, but it was the line at the end that was a sucker punch when referring to addiction. It discussed how even after a person has been sober for years they can relapse. It was in that moment that the weight of my decisions weighed heavily on me. I knew that when I struggle with the addiction component of my life that it is best if I bring it into the light, leave it there and walk away, rather than keeping it to myself and then allowing myself to ponder and play with the notion of using again. Justification is a slippery slope. It is in these moments where I know I have to allow myself I have to force myself to take the opportunity of vulnerability and reach out to someone and tell them, I am struggling. It seems lame to me, I know it has to seem lame to the person on the other end, but not fighting the battle alone is huge. As I place it all out there for another person to see I always instantly want to take it back, it is so embarrassing so shameful, something I should have a grip on by now, but the truth is most days I do, but on those days I don't, well I don't. I always fear what will they think, what will they say, will they think I am messed up, and as jr high as it sounds I catch myself feeling and thinking and wondering did I lose a friend, will they still want to be my friend. Today was not an exception it was the rule.

 

Tonight as I was frustrated with myself about this because, I feel more than anyone, I should have this figured out by now I was brought back to the teachings in Step 3 about how I don't have to do this alone that there is a power out there much greater than mine. For the 1st time in, well forever, I was able to find some solace and comfort and accept the shred of peace that I felt that I don't have to worry about what Heavenly Father thinks on the days I struggle that He isn't going to say here we go again. He has sent the Holy Ghost as my guide and He is with me as long as I remain in Him. Tonight as I pushed one of my amazing friends away out of humiliation, fear, and embarrassment  I was reminded that I can't push our Heavenly Father away through these emotions. For the 1st time ever I felt a true sense of I am beginning to get what recovery is about. Which after the struggles of my day I sit here and open my AR book and the question I am on is based on the writings found in Mosiah 24:15 and the difference between wanting immediate relief yet being willing to accept the burden to be lightened gradually.

 

 Once again I am in awe of the timing of our Heavenly Father. I needed this question tonight! Addiction is one of those instant gratification events. You need something be it an emotional or as you delve into addiction physical and mental need met so you jump to that instant gratification rather than working through what is necessary to meet that need. This is so me! When I 1st started pondering the idea of doing this addiction recovery program I shared with some friends, it really isn't the act of using that concerns me it is the behavior patterns of addiction that still strike me and one of this that I discussed was instant gratification. Things come easy for me so when that is combined with the addiction behavior I am your prime candidate. My recovery and sobriety and coming into the church are no exception. When I struggle with addiction, when I struggle with anything emotional or mental I want it resolved right now I want it gone. I spout off a few sentence prayer literally begging God to remove it and I expect Him to. When that isn't the case I often question and doubt and wonder about God. I feel like He didn't do what I needed right then He allowed me to struggle He allowed me to hurt and now look at where I am. When I didn't receive that instant relief from my struggles I took any will any resolve I had given to our Heavenly Father immediately back because if He wasn't going to do it, then I could fix it better myself I could provide relief for my struggles if He wasn't going to "snap is heavenly fingers" and make it disappear right now. I tried to find that immediate relief through drugs, through busyness, through training for an ironman, through my kids, through my farm, through friends, through my husband, through shutting down, I had my entire bag of tricks and I wanted it fixed right now.

 

I have prayed for so many years, in fact so many I can't even tell recall, but I know for a fact since all of this started with the drugs and with the struggles surrounding the drugs, so nearly 6 years I would pray God help me, take this from me. He didn't. I wanted to say Amen and be healed be better not to struggle anymore. I wanted immediate relief and after repeatedly not receiving immediate relief I had gotten to the point where I question and doubted was there even a God. Why hadn't he helped me, why didn't he fix me, why wasn't I better? Yet now in looking back I can see the gradual lessening of my burdens. I was no longer using, I was feeling so much stronger, so much more whole, I was beginning to become the person I once was before I allowed my world to fall apart subsequently leading up to addiction. Had our Heavenly Father taken my burdens from me immediately what would I have gained from that? I still would have denied the power and grace and love of God, I would have taken the credit, it would have become an all about me "look what I have done moment" Yet instead He was guiding my path to that point where I would be willing and open to accept Him into my life and that I would allow Him to gradually lift my burdens working on each layer each step. He waited for 38 years until I was about ready to walk away from Him altogether to use virtual strangers at a little league baseball game to touch my life and my heart in such a way that I would seek Him in ways that I have never before.

 

 I feel like addiction recovery is similar to math. You start with the basics you have to learn to count before you can do algebra you have to learn your shapes before you can do geometry. A young child does not question why they are learning to count, or learning what a circle is, they embrace it, it is new, it is exciting it is knowledge. They have no idea that in the years to come these foundational things, that they have learned, will be the basis of what they need for much deeper more complex multi faceted step problems. As they begin to solve for x and y and determine the radius of a circle there is no shame in remembering that 2 comes before 3 and recognizing the shape of a circle. It is 2nd nature it is not given another thought it has been carried with them from the beginning. There is no humility in utilizing the foundation knowledge and working step by step through the problem each component relying on the step before. A person that can not count will have very little chance of algebra a person with no concept of shapes will have very little chance of success in geometry. It is a step by step learning process. The same is expected of us by our Heavenly Father. He asks us to build on the steps we already have. He asks us to humble out to trust that our knowledge of counting will one day become algebra. Our burdens, the struggles an addict faces, when given the instant relief mentality we have, isn't to work up from counting to algebra but rather go from counting to calculus in a day. Humility comes from trusting Him, and just like Alma allow the burdens we face to strengthen us, to prepare us, to teach us patience.

 

Ha...how's this for instant relief I feel like I am never going to get through step 3! I am only done with 3 of the questions in this step...

Sunday, November 1, 2015

High Dives..1, 2, 3 JUMP Or Not!






Hang with me y'all I promise this will get back to the triathlon part! Going from Trippin' to Triathlons is a journey and I am no longer trippin' and I am working towards those triathlons. I know many of you are not spiritual in nature and even less of you are of the LDS faith, but I REALLY hope you hang with me, on this journey because when I cross that finish line in IM Louisville it will be so much more than "just an IM." This is truly a journey! The spiritual nature of my writings are not meant to turn anyone away, but spirituality is the path I have chosen to not only help me remain sober but to truly recover. Who know, NOT ME, what this journey would be about!

It's been two weeks again since I opened the book, it's been a long hard two weeks, personally and spiritually. I open my addiction recovery book to Step 3 and the title of the step is Trust In God. If I believed in irony I would say very ironic, instead I will say well played God, well played. Last Saturday I was told by a very dear and close friend in the church, "If you don't believe it then you have to just make a decision and follow through" The very 1st sentence in step 3, "Step 3 is the decision phase" I have struggled so bad my entire life with the key principle of step 3: Decide to turn your will and your life over to the care of God the Eternal Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. Struggled doesn't even begin to describe the epic battle I have waged with this for about the last 25 years of my life, but especially the last few weeks. I am not even sure I want to read step 3, step 1 and 2 were pretty easy, but I know that step 3 is the beginning of the heart of the matter and I am not sure I am ready, yet at the same time, I know it's time. Surrender our entire lives, past, present, and future, that means I have to give up what I have held onto that means I have to surrender where I'm at right now and that means the future is truly His. The fear of this is HUGE! The fear of surrender is probably the greatest fear I have. I fear not being in control! I fear not calling the shots, I fear peace, I fear what surrender means. This weekend Gina, yet another amazingly awesome friend (you know the kind of awesome that drives you to your addiction recovery meetings nearly an hour away from her house and sits in the parking lot the whole time you are in in the meeting just so I have someone to talk to driving down and back yeah she is THAT KIND OF AWESOME) said to me, "do you really trust that you can do things better than God?" Well, no I don't but it's again that comfort that comes from what is familiar what is known and surrender is not one of those familiar things. I fear not being okay. My drug use was not a result of some rebellious got sucked up into the wrong crowd young adult situation. I, in fact, never touched a drug at all, barely ever drank, had only taken Tylenol and birth control (and well with 6 kids you can see how well I remembered to do that) I was 33 before I ventured into the world of drugs. It wasn't just a phase I was going through. I know exactly what landed me in that mind frame to begin using and I almost didn't make it out. I don't just mean it was the drugs that almost killed me, because they did, and I still have such a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that I am alive today with the amount I used. But, coupled with that was what lead me to use and the fact that alone almost destroyed me. I guess I haven't really talked about it, I don't talk about it, it is so much easier to talk about the addiction than it is to talk about the surrounding factors of addiction. Yet, I fear that when I surrender, what if that fine line I walk is shaken, what if I am not okay. That is what I fear, I don't fear the addiction, I fear surrender, I fear trusting something, even if it is a Heavenly Father, I fear not being okay. Step 3 is that choice of agency and I know it is time. Yet as I sit here book beside me computer screen open, I am shaking so bad I can hardly type or see the screen through my tears. Sitting on Jeff and Cathy's couch when I said this book scares me it isn't the meetings, this right here is why, surrender. I also know that until I choose to surrender until I exercise this agency I can not put into the fullest practice addiction recovery.

At every turn the last several weeks I have wanted to leave the church, to walk away to be done. Yet, wherever I run there I still am. I can't run away from me. Thursday night, as I stood in my kitchen making dozens of sugar cookies and over a hundred pumpkin ham and cheese sandwiches, frustrated once again with people, I felt strongly impressed that it was time to sit down and look at the questions in chapter 3. Last summer I took my kids to Wyoming to see my family. We went to some natural hot springs pools, to swim, one day. I HATE heights yet my daughter, son, and nieces convinced me that I needed to go off the high dive. I slowly and reluctantly climbed that ladder, got to the top and could see the entire springs around me. It was really pretty! Yet, I knew I couldn't stand there forever, in fact my time on this diving board platform was really short. I had to decide was I going to walk to the end of the board and jump trusting that the water below was going to do it's job and I could testify that it was safe and fun and completely worth the trip up the steps or was I going to turn around and walk back down the steps to the deck and always wonder what would it be like to jump, always wonder what if. As I walked to the end of the diving board I had my little cheering section my kids were yelling "You can do it Mom" my nieces were yelling "Go Aunt Ryan" my aunt and mom were both watching not saying much but waiting to see the jump. I walked to the end of the board and I stood there for what felt like an eternity. I would count to three and tell myself okay on three you are going to jump. Three would come and go and I would start over, again and again. I would think through the whole process, am I going to dive, am I going to jump, what if I land on my butt, what if I belly flop, what if I look stupid, what if my swimming suit comes off, then finally when I stopped thinking through it when I stopped counting I took one big breath and before I knew it I was air born. I didn't think about jumping, or diving or belly flopping or if my suit was going to stay where it belonged. Within seconds (less than that I'm sure) I was under water, I didn't stay under, I quickly rose to the top, laughing and so thankful I took the plunge. As I look at Step 3 I feel that same way. I have stood at the end of the diving board nearly all my life. It hasn't all been bad there have been some amazing views but I have been here before. Where I stop, where I go through all the what if scenarios in my head and I tell myself okay when you count to three you are just going to do it...three comes and goes and yet there I stand. I don't want to climb down the ladder I've started to climb down before, yet I know I am done standing on the end of the diving board. Tonight, it is time to jump. It is time to take that jump to surrender. Just like the water below I know I will be caught, I will be encased in something so much more than myself, and when I come up out of that water I will be a different person than when I was standing on the board.

 It is not about the church, it isn't about the things I don't have a testimony of, this is about my willingness to trust in God and obey Him. I am not a cowardly person it is time I act in that courage and learn to trust in His will. I have tried to find comfort and joy within myself. I often find myself not patient with me with this process and then in turn also feel that those around me, walking this journey are also not patient with me as I fight some of the same battles repeatedly. I have been sober 2 years and 5 months, this isn't about fighting the battle of sobriety it is about fighting the battle of recovery. I have to trust in the patience of our God when I don't have that patience with myself and when those around me are tired of hearing the same struggles "one more time" My efforts at recovery, not sobriety, but recovery have been anxious and halting. I keep giving the Lord that trust of my recovery of my life been then out of fear of screwing it up I take it back almost as quickly as I give it to Him.

A scripture came to mind the other night Isaiah 43:18-19 "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland"

When it comes to Step 3 it is all about surrendering your will. Today in Gospel Principles, the lesson was on talent. I do not think I am void of talent, however, I have never really looked at my talents as a gift that our Heavenly Father has personally given to me. As the lesson was discussed I thought of this lesson and how it discusses our will is the one thing that we can personally give to Him. Holding tightly onto our own personal will hinders our Heavenly Father's plan for our lives on so many levels. Not only does it keep us from being able to live our lives in a state of recovery, it also hinders us from our abilities to be stewards of the talents He has personally selected for each of us. Our talents are our obligation to the world and if I choose not to surrender my will to our Heavenly Father if I choose to not push through that fear and hesitation and pride that this addiction recovery book faces me with, what I am doing to the puzzle that Heavenly Father has created? Will my lack of surrender, my desire to hold tightly to my will hinder His role for me on Earth? Absolutely! However, because I sit here with less fret today than I did last week it does not mean that I am any more eager to truthfully do this. I am still scared! I still struggle with the unknown and all the what if, however I also know that if I continue to stand here and count to 3 while thinking out all the scenarios I may very well never jump. I may need to walk myself down the ladder back to the platform so that those whom are ready to take the jump may do so. However, I am not ready to walk down the ladder I am ready to see what happens when I hit the water.


How do I feel about God directing my life? That question kind of depends on the moment. One moment I am relieved, it is that sigh of relief at the end of a heavy burdened task, a most difficult job, a sigh of okay I can do this I can allow Him to take over I no longer need to rely on my own merit. HOWEVER, that is most often over shadowed by the terrifying thought of I am no longer calling the shots. When I 1st started the idea of ascertaining my sobriety I would often set limits for myself, I would say okay well if sobriety doesn't work I can always use again. I can always get more cocaine, heroin, or pills it is not hard. I would always leave the door open so that I could go back to that lifestyle I would never shut it completely because what if I needed to go back, what if I couldn't handle the way it was sober, even though I had liven the vast majority of my life sober. I was afraid to shut that door to my drug use completely, because what if! I knew that sobriety was what I was needed I knew with my entire being that I had to walk through that door I had to make the decision that I would never use again, I knew that I had to turn my back on the way of comfort and security that came with the instant self gratify moment of a high. I knew that I had to shut down the adrenaline seeking behaviors and thoughts behind the seeking out the drug, the securing the money the making the trade and the using. Sometimes I often think, that it wasn't the high from the drug alone that I sought after but the high from the entire process. As I sit here tonight reading the 1st question, again, for the 50th, time in Step 3 "How do you feel about letting God direct your life" I find myself almost with that similar mindset that mindset of well if turning my will over to God doesn't work out I can always take it back, after all He has given us the right of free agency. Yet, in my heart of hearts I know that tonight that decision to surrender my will to Him completely is just like it was when I walked away from the life of a drug user on May 16, 2013. There is no keeping one foot in the drug world and one foot in the sober world. I was a binge user I would use so much so fast and then go a few days, weeks, and at one point even months without using again, but when I had those drugs in my possession there was no self control. I couldn't just use a little, it was all or none. When I flushed the remainder of my drugs, when I burned my "tools" I was scared to death. I was shaking I was afraid I couldn't do it. I didn't think I could do it, I wanted to run back to my drugs, to my habits, because I could no one was making me quit and if they were screw them it was about me. Yet, another day sober clicked by and another and another, and those days turned to weeks weeks to months and eventually months to years. It didn't mean it was easy, and there are still days that I think, "Why did I quit?" I could call up my dealers right now and in a few hours time I could be blasted. Yet, I don't. It's my choice not to, but I don't because I don't want to go back to that lifestyle. That is how I am with my decision to let God control my life. I know that especially in the beginning it is going to be hard, it is going to be a challenge and there are going to be those moments those days that I want to run back to what I know. However, just like in my sobriety I had to have measures in place to protect me. If I kept on doing what I had done during my drug using days I would be right back into the using phase of life. One can not make huge life changes without having the proper safety nets in place. I have to find that time to read scripture and to pray. I have to surround myself and treat this new tender lifestyle the same that I treated my new tender sobriety nearly 2.5 years ago. So how do I feel about letting God direct my life? I feel like can I do this? But at the same time I know I can!


What prevents me from allowing Him to direct my life? I have answered that in the above example and in the diving board analogy. However, I will take it a step further and get real with myself. I fear what if I am wrong. What if believing in this plan of God or even fully believing in God equates itself to something similar to believing in Santa Clause. Yet, I know there is a God I believe there is a Heavenly Father yet I struggle to let go of my will and allow something (for lack of a better word) that is not tangible to direct my entire life. My life isn't just about me it is about my 6 precious babies. I know if it was just me the struggle would be less. I get that it should be the other way that I should welcome Him directing my life to in turn then direct my family, yet I feel the opposite. The "what if" I am wrong "what if" this is silly "what if" I am leading my family down the wrong path. As I sat in relief society today and listened to them talk about ward harmony and that we go to church for our Heavenly Father and our testimony in Him (which I already knew I'm not saying I go to church for the people) but it made me wonder again how strong is my testimony. How easily do I allow myself to be shaken because of the free agency and human nature of people especially those within a church setting, but more than that I feel like I place church and religion on the same plane as Heavenly Father which makes it really hard to separate when I am so new to the church with such a small testimony. As I held this book in my hand that Tuesday in the Layton's home I knew I was going to have to face some tough junk, both personally and spiritually. And step 3 is the start of that junk. What prevents me from allowing Him to direct my life...trust...I don't trust. I have always been hurt by people as both a child and as an adult. I feel and hurt a lot more than I ever let on and as a result of the deep ways in which I feel things I tend to not trust to protect myself. I find myself doing that with Heavenly Father. I find myself not allowing him to direct my life because I struggle with trust. I keep waiting for the other shoe to fall and the peace and trust and comfort I have found in him to be yanked away. I am afraid to truly trust in what he has promised and to find that solace and peace that so many speak of. When you have such a skewed view of family, earthly family, when your view of what a father is like is in fact so far from anything that you would want to direct your life it is so hard to let the concept of a Heavenly Father, someone (again lack of better term) you can not see, touch, feel, something that is not tangible something you have to have faith and believe in have that control. I prevent me from letting Him have that direct control because I fear getting the rug yanked out from under me, I fear hearing "oh wait just kidding I know this is what I promised but this is what is going to happen instead" I fear not calling the shots and not being in control of what happens. When you have grown up, your entire childhood years, formulated around broken promises, around a twisted and corrupt sense of I love you. When the people that you were supposed to be able to trust to guide and direct your life when you were supposed to be able to let that guard down and know that those that were meant to direct your life were going to direct it out of love and out of a desire to do what is best for you, but don't, then what? When those that are supposed to direct your life but do it with so many broken promises so many "I love you it will never happen again" you lose that ability to be able to allow anyone even a Heavenly Father to just come in and direct things. You lose that ability and desire and capacity to believe in Heavenly promises to accept that love because there were always conditions always broken promises. What prevents Him from directing my life is so much more than just keeping that door open a crack to use again, because those doors really aren't open. What prevents it is 38 years of being in survival mode, of not being able to trust anyone, of not being able to find security in a promise and from always have the love of those in a position to direct my life full of malice.


Is this easy? Absolutely not! But, I am absolutely determined to continue on my journey of From Trippin' To Triathlons and when I cross that line in Louisville KY and hear those words "You are an Ironman" I will also know that crossing that line has allowed me a full and complete sense of recovery.



Monday, October 12, 2015

Hope, Enough, and 150% of Life

I have not opened my addiction recovery book in 2, yes TWO, weeks. I could not bring myself to do it while we were on vacation. However, I have felt many promptings the last couple of days to sit down, to read, step 2. Remember how this whole addiction recovery started, September's fasting and testimony service, today was no different! Today during testament meeting Brother Estes' talked about his early conversion experience and as he spoke all of my own walk, since my baptism came together. I don't pray, I don't read, I don't study, I don't seek council because the idea of the Holy Ghost with me is completely intimidating and overwhelming. Yet, until today, I didn't put it all together. Tonight as I sat down and opened Step 2 Hope, I had no expectations. Not that I mean that in a bad way, I mean I was prepared to absorb what was written without my own preconceived notions. Then I read this: "As we took step 2, we became willing to replace trust in ourselves and our addictions with faith in the love and power of Jesus Christ. We took this step in our minds and in our hearts, and we experienced the truth that the foundation of recovery from addiction must be spiritual."
 
I have been unwilling up until this point to relinquish the trust that I have in myself and my "look what I can do with my addiction" mentality and make it a spiritual matter. I have tried all the worldly things, all the things within me to fully recover from my addiction, but deep down I have always known I had to do more, I had to take it to the next level, and until tonight I was not ever willing to ascertain that notion of letting go of what I can do and allowing that power from Heavenly Father to enter my life and that the truth and foundation from my recovery could spiritually come from Him. Pride? Absolutely I wanted to take the credit for my sobriety and my addiction, I didn't want to admit that I needed something more, something beyond myself to solidify my sobriety. I have been afraid of letting the Heavenly Father, the doctrine, the scriptures, and prayers to change my life. I have been afraid that in doing all these things I will fully believe in this church, in its teachings, that I will have that hope of better things to come. That fear of hope and belief in the spiritual is much larger than I gave it credit for.
 
As an addict self imposed isolation is what I know best. I don't mean recluse isolation, I mean that I am very walled up. I don't let people into my world but with that I also don't let Heavenly Father in either. All that is required in Step 2 is to become willing to practice believing in the love and mercy of Heavenly Father and the accessibility and blessing of the Holy Ghost. Those promptings to pick up the book tonight, to read step 2, after listening to Brother Estes' testimony on a day I almost didn't make it to church, the one thing I can say is I believe fully in the impeccable timing of Heavenly Father and it is through that belief, that precept, I can push forward!
 
After reading the questions that followed the paragraphs for step 2 I realized that I have been afraid to fully commit to our Heavenly Father because I wanted to leave some doors open for poor and worldly choices. I knew that if I prayed studied believed and read that the Holy Ghost would be with me, and I viewed that as "Big Brother" always waiting for me to make a mistake always watching my every move rather than as a companion that wanted to walk with me, guide me, comfort and love me through this life on Earth. However, tonight, as I opened this book, as I read these words, the reality hit me hard, it is two fold. I can not recover from my addiction without allowing the Holy Ghost being my companion and I will not make it long in the church if I simply go through the motions. Tonight my conviction runs deep, this program, this book, is not only leading me through the necessary means in which to recover from my addiction, this program is strengthening the roots of my spiritual walk within the church.
 
One of the questions in step 2 "How do you feel about sharing your feelings with the Lord?" My reply, straight up I don't like it. It leaves me feeling stupid vulnerable naked and exposed. However, coupled with that I long to have that desire that relationship and I know that it will come only from shutting those doors from not hanging onto the temporal things feeling like "what if I need them." I don't just mean with drugs I mean with thoughts, feelings, emotions, beliefs, and actions. I want to always believe that I made it this far in my life on my own. I wanted to believe that after a childhood of junk that lead me to walk out the door at 16 and be on my own, after walking away cold turkey from strong drugs, after all I DO that I had my bases covered that there was nothing that I could not do for myself. Yet his grace his where I am at, His mercy and that fact that for this recovery to fully take place I must allow the savior to do for me what I can not do for myself.
 
Recovery and sobriety are two completely different things. I can remain sober, it is a challenge it is hard and there are days I think heavily about using, but I can maintain my sobriety. I do that simply by not using. However, recovery is much deeper than that it is much more than that my recovery is very superficial, my recovery stops at sobriety. I absolutely need that divine strength that can only come from the Heavenly Father to get me not only into my recovery but to maintain it and to keep it going rather than it being a stop start type of set up.
 
My physical body does not need healing, thankfully I do not have any long term physical implications from my drug use, it is my spiritual and emotional bodies that need healing. I need His strength His hand to reach into those levels of my life and to heal from within. I do not have it within me I do not have that kind of strength to push through those areas of my life that lead to true recovery from addiction. Not only the addiction of the illegal substances themselves but from the addiction to the thoughts feeling emotions that surround themselves from the life of being an addict. I have got to draw on the redeeming power of Christ that step 2 speaks of if this will ever happen in my life. My strength ended with my ability to maintain sobriety. I can not further change myself on my own accord, and believe me I have tried!
 
 Another question in step 2 asked in what ways am I more aware of Jesus Christ in my life than I was a week, month, or year ago. Last year I didn't even know if I believed in Him in fact I am pretty sure I didn't. I absolutely never saw myself in an LDS church, and a month ago although a baptized member of the church never imagined myself going through an addiction recovery program, a week ago I was ready to walk away from all of this, because it is hard. The reality was I was feeling like I wasn't enough Mormon that I would never be enough.  However, today as I see where I was a week, a month, a year ago and after listening to Brother Estes' testimony and reading Step 2 I realized how true that is I will never be enough. I do not have the strength that Christ has we are not designed to be enough. We are created to be allow Him to be enough in us and through us.


As I continually battle with my feelings of "not enough" it seeps into all areas of my life including my triathlon training because after all I am going from trippin to triathlons. 5 and a half years ago my world came crashing in and I became this addict that I am now working to recover from. In that time I let things in my life slide I stopped giving 150% to life because I couldn't, what addict can? I played softball, I ran, I was crazy strong and could outlift most guys that I was in the gym and I wouldn't quit I kept going. Yet, when you use the amount of drugs that I was using how can one exactly do that? The last half marathon I ran, I ran with enough heroine in my system that I should have been dead and not running. It was after this race that I stopped working out, and when I sobered up on May 16, 2013 I put on 100 lbs, 60 of which I am still packing around. However, what did I expect to be able to do was to jump right back into running, into training, to be at that point I was at six years ago before I started my life of trippin'. Who was I kidding? I was trying to kid myself. I wanted to be "that person" that didn't have to build back up to where I was at as an athlete. I didn't want to admit that the drugs and then the weight I gained were not going to impact my abilities. I didn't want to admit I was that way overweight person that hadn't done much in the 6 years that I had continually let myself down.


I had a bit of a reality check lately, I have finally been able to accept I have to start at ground zero. I have to admit I can't lift, run, bike, and swim like I did 6 years and 60lbs ago until I build back up to that point. However, I want to do this, I need to do this. I need to prove to myself that I am enough. I need to prove that I can back to the point where I was at before, I need to do this to prove to me that I can race again. More than that I need to do this to prove that I am mentally strong enough to eat right, train right, and not give up! I feel like a huge failure for the events of my life over the last several years and I refuse to let my triathlon dreams be one of them. After a long sob story email to my training coach and to my crossfit friend, I have adjusted all of my races and my training schedules accordingly. I have a half IM and a full IM on my schedule and they are so obtainable it is empowering. I am no longer scared, I have my fight back!


As I sat down with my calendar last night, putting in baseball games, rabbit shows, horse shows, goat shows, 4H meetings, church events, choir concerts, my trip to CA to pick up rabbits, the host of other kid events, my crossfit and triathlon training, my Hawaii vacation with my husband, ALL the farm going on, and my HIM and IM races it hit me full force I have absolutely no choice but to go through this addiction recovery program. I need to be healthy for me, for my family, these things I can not do if I find myself in the dark, mental, emotional, and spiritual places I have been.


I have got this, I am enough!! There will be an exciting new addition to From Trippin To Triathlons over the course of my training until that moment I cross the IM finish line! I can't wait to share it with you as it comes to fruition!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Every Journey Begins With A Step

I have, for some time now, openly admitted, blogged about, and discussed that I am an addict. That I was addicted to pills, cocaine and heroin. I have stated with great pride about the ways in which I became sober and have remained sober for over two years. However, what I have never done is discussed my addiction, and I do not see any need to go into the details surrounding it. Reading about others habits is often the forefront of triggering another person to spiral into their own darkness and that is the last thing I want to do. When I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I was going to take my recovery to the next level, going through the addiction recovery program written and sponsored by my church, the Gru of all things blog sent me an email. I am pretty sure he sent me the email before I had even pushed publish, it was that fast. The Gru wanted to know if I would blog my way through the program. I did not reply for a couple of days and when I finally did I told the Gru I would do it but with conditions. I would always write from my heart, I would not write for an audience I would write for me and share it with an audience as this is my journey. I also said that there was no way I could keep my faith out of my writing. I share this conversation with you to simply say, this writing is for me, I am honored to share it with you, and although I will not preach, but because this is about my experience it will undoubtedly contain a great deal of reference to the spiritual components of my recovery.


 Four years ago this month I entered the world of drugs. I had already been on again off again abusing prescription medication, yet I took it to the next level. I started with pot, yes I know of the whole debate regarding pot and this isn't what I am saying. One evening in mid September I had taken way too many pills, I was angry and raging, and the sheriff ended up at my house. I felt that I was above reproach. I challenged them, in a method similar to what my seven year old challenges me. It was kind of like I dare you to take me in, I dare you to find my pot, I dare you to ticket me. Want to guess who lost this battle of wills, it wasn't the men with badges. My pot was found, my pills were confiscated, I was taken in for a psych eval and some time to detox, and I was ticketed. My life was out of control. While I was locked up my ex husband and his mom gained custody of my older two children and I was so angry. I hated him, I hated myself, I hated everything and everyone. I had a chip on my shoulder that paralleled the likes of any chip I had ever known. However, instead of trying to right my wrongs, instead of trying to get help, I challenged the world! I was starving and not in the hunger sense, but I was starving my voids were great and I needed them filled. I was going to show everyone I was going to shock them all. September 29, 2011 I found my drug, cocaine.


September is such a hard month for me four of my six kids have birthdays this month. As each birthday roles around I can't help feel the guilt of the choices I made, but I also can't help but feel a deep sorrow coupled with an immense depth of gratitude that I am still here, that my babies are the amazing kids that they are. Four days after my now nearly 13 year old daughter's birthday I lost custody of her and her brother for six months, I found cocaine, and her birthday decorations were still hung all over my house. To this day, if you were to come into my kitchen, and look up at my ceiling, there are 3 small pieces of streamers still pinned up there. I keep them there as a reminder to me. (Everyone else thinks I am too short to reach them that's why they are there) It is a reminder of what I lost, of what I gained, and of the journey I refuse to ever take again.


However, tonight I sit here computer open, all six of my kids asleep in their own beds, in our home, with not a worry of will mom be here in the morning, not a worry of what is mom doing so long in the bathroom, when now I'm truthfully hiding from them for a moment of piece. They are able to worry about kid things, what should I wear to school tomorrow, how do I do whatever it is they do on minecraft, how do I sneak the last piece of gum out of my brother's cubby. They get to dream about our upcoming beach trip, they get to plan for Halloween, they get to be kids. Four years ago I wasn't certain I wanted to live to see another day, I wasn't certain my family would ever be whole again, and I wasn't certain that I would ever have another day of my life sober.


This September has been different than those hard Septembers of years past. This September is full of hope, of peace, of happiness, joy, and a completeness I have always longed for. It is no coincidence that Brother Pratt spoke of the addiction recovery videos, during his testimony, the 1st Sunday of September. There was no coincidence that I met with the couple that oversees the addiction recovery program and that I attended my 1st meeting all in September. I did not plan it, in fact I had no idea I would do this. Yet, as I type this out, I am reminded once again of the tender mercies on my life. On the perfect timing of things as of late, there was no coincidence that this most difficult month for me, the month I 1st found drugs, the month my world spun even more out of control, would also be the month I reach out and finish my journey into addiction recovery.


Yep, that last paragraph makes it sound all flowery and wonderful. And although I am very grateful for the timing and the significance of what it means to me personally does not go unnoticed I can not say that it has been something I jumped into with boldness and eagerness and excitement. Last Tuesday as I sat in the living  room of the couple leading the program, my amazing friend on one side of me, and the couple across from me, I thought there is no way I can get these words out. Quick where is my computer screen maybe I can just type this to them and we can get back together another day. But, I dug deep. I shared with them that I had been clean over 2 years but that is as far as my sobriety went. I shared with them that the temporal reality of addiction is scary and I need to work through all that I have run from I want to not only say I have been clean x amount of time I want to say I have recovered. I shared with Gina and the Laytons my hearts desire to break the chains of addiction that ripped not only my childhood apart but those of many generations before me. I vowed my children would never know an ounce of pain from having an addict parent, an unstable home, and carrying the shame that comes from both. I do not want my kids, at 38, sitting on someone's couch trying to fix their broken. When Brother Layton handed me the addiction recovery book he asked if I was intimidated by the meetings. No sir the meetings aren't what intimidate me it is this book right here, the one you handed me, the one I have to read through, answer questions about, it's the contents of this book that are going to make me feel, deal, heal. It is the fact that I worry am I strong enough, can I handle this, am I ready? It is the feelings of what if I trigger myself? Can I do this? Should I do this? I've got a good handle on life right now maybe I should just stay where I'm at. We talked some more, Gina and I left, and as we were driving away she said I bet you are blogging about tonight in your head. My answer was curt, "No I am not blogging about this." What I really wanted to say was screw all of this there is no way I am doing this forget I thought about this everyone leave me alone. Later that evening, I am texting another friend about the meeting, Stacy, the one whose testimony of faith brought me into the church, and our conversation got ugly fast. On my end as always, not hers. Wednesday morning as I looked at those text messages wondering what went wrong, it was a face palm moment, the reality of how scared I was about the unknown, and typical fashion for me I was going to shove those that truly were here to walk me through it right on out of my life.


From the time we left the Layton's home until my 1st meeting was exactly a week. I fought with myself all week. I wasn't going! Nope, I can't do this. I don't want to do this. I am not doing this. I had posted on my facebook that this addiction recovery was the single most hardest (yes I know nice grammar) thing I had ever done, and with that I had people I barely know asking if it would help me if they did the book along side me, so they could understand so they knew. I am a proud person, show me an addict that isn't, letting go of my pride through this program is going to feel like a part of me dies, and I began to regret my openness. But, as those moments of regret appeared I remembered why I was so open, I never want anyone to feel as alone as I felt. I had people around me, I had an amazing husband that stood by my side, I had an amazing friend, Robin, that cared enough to sign the papers to petition me for help and never walked away, yet I had no one that had "been there done that" there was no one that could show me the light at the end of the tunnel. This recovery is about me, it is about breaking those chains for my precious kids, and it is also about letting people know you are not alone, I GET IT!


 However, as the day of the meeting dawned there was no way I was doing this. NO WAY! All those fears of what if, the unknown, the unexpected, the I didn't get to plan this out moments crept up. Gina knew this would happen, she was giving up her entire evening to drive me, to make sure I went! She was willing to sit in the parking lot no matter how long the meeting took. Yet, all day I kept giving her an out, I kept telling her she didn't have to, I kept telling her I got this, I kept hoping she would say ok I'll stay home so then I could stay home. I had a laundry list of excuses as to why I would stay home and I would make them valid and legit and justified, I couldn't do this. She didn't bite. She was there to take me to the meeting. As I climbed into her van I said I couldn't do all of step 1. I read it, but the questions I have to think about. She listened we changed the subject we laughed, we were serious, we talked about our kids, our husbands, Mexico, she knew I didn't want to talk about this meeting. She handed me this cute big blue eyed purple monkey, she said here, take this into the meeting with you. I can't go in, but know I am with you. Seriously, four months ago, I knew none of these people, yet quickly I have developed deep and real friendships like this one. As we neared the church I wasn't sure I would do it, as we pulled into the parking lot I was even less sure I would do it. My reasoning isn't because I don't want to truly work the steps and be an addict in recovery, my reasoning is plain and simple fear, fear of so much. The clock in her van was quickly approaching 6 and I knew I had no choice. Gina prayed and I went in. A room full of strangers in a ward I don't attend in a building I had never crossed the threshold to, yet I went, I sat.


The facilitator explained they were on step six and asked if I was okay with them continuing on from there or if I wanted them to go back to step one. I was fully prepared to pick up wherever they were for the meetings and work through the book on my own time at my own pace, not even one step at a time, but as the saying in the church goes precept by precept, I was going to do question by question building on each one, only moving forward when I am ready. I told her carry on. I am so glad I did. It was the assurance and reassurance that I needed. It was Heavenly Fathers way of calming my spirit of reminding me His timing is perfect and that He is omnipresent and all knowing. There is so much for step six I could sit here and share with you about what it meant to me yesterday, but I will save sharing step six until I personally get there to work through it. Although I will share the part that brought peace and confidence to me.
 "As time passed, though, we noticed that abstinence seemed to make our character weaknesses more visible, especially to ourselves. We tried to control our negative thoughts and feelings, but they continued to reappear, haunting us and threatening our new lives of abstinence and church activity. Those who understood the spiritual implications of recovery urged us to recognize that while all the outward changes in our lives were wonderful, the Lord wanted to bless us even more. Our friends helped us see that if we wanted not only to avoid our addictions but actually lose the desire to return to them, we had to experience a change of heart..."How" you may cry. "How can I even begin to accomplish such a change?" Do not be discouraged by these feelings..." 


I can not even really begin to describe what reading that felt like. Seeing on paper what I have felt since May 16, 2013 when I walked away from cocaine, heroin, and pills. Knowing that how I feel was completely validated in that paragraph. Will this be easy? Absolutely not! Will I want to quit? Of course! But, what I do know is that I have searched for this, longed for this, needed this, well before I made the choice to use pills, cocaine, and heroin. This is so much more than stamping finished on my addiction chapter, this is about digging within me, fixing the broken. Your circle of friends might be different than mine, your journey most definitely is different from mine, but as I share with you my heart in the weeks to come, I pray you find peace, comfort, and strength from my journey. I hit my wall, I laid at rock bottom, and I had very little desire to climb out. Your time may  not be now, but do not ever believe it isn't possible, when you are ready, you will know. I am ready, this I know!