What Would You Do For a Klondike Bar?

I can remember coming into recovery and in the rooms people spoke about having reservations. It was a common theme to hear of “Squashing all reservations” and I had no idea what they meant. Even after learning what a reservation was, I still was not sure how to “squash” them. I mean- how can I not have alcohol at my own wedding? How could I sit by a campfire without drinks? How do you go fishing without smoking pot? These drugs did not bring me to my knees, why is it a problem? Now mind you, I was crawling into rehab and wanted to die, but now I am setting limitations to what I was willing to do to stay clean and sober. It was taught to me, a person who has reservations on their recovery is limiting themselves from the process. The “conditions” I put on my recovery was usually what I wanted, and not what I needed! So, I started to say something to myself that would make me smile every time I considered holding on to reservations and limiting my growth. 
 
“what would you do for a Klondike bar!” 
 
Saying this quickly stopped my racing thoughts, since it made me giggle, then I could remove myself enough to speak to my sponsor or network. The second it made me smile, I was able to pick up the phone, not a substance. The more I shared with people, it got better and people in the rooms had their own experiences that helped me, more than I could ever help myself. It was then, I understood how to “Squash the reservation” and I was going to do anything for that Klondike bar!
 
Skyler N

A Mother’s Love

As I was talking to my sponsor the other day she brought up the fact Mother’s Day is this weekend and asked if I had plans. Before I could even answer her, she started to cry. It has been a few years since her mother passed away, but each year she still says to herself “what should I get mom this year?” but quickly the reality hits her. My sponsor always reminds me to never stop being grateful to still have my mom around. And this got me thinking…
 
“There’s no way I can pay you back,
But the plan is to show you that I understand,
you are appreciated”
 
This got me thinking about how truly blessed I am today to not only be clean and sober but to have my mother to support me. I have a mother that has always walked in when the world walked out. When she was behind me, I did not have to look back in fear; she never let me down. I reflect how when I got to the worst possible stage in my life, even contemplated suicide, she fought for me. And to be honest, that gave me the hope to keep going. I could not leave her with a funeral because not once in my life did she ever leave me. There was never a limit to what she did and always gave me so many sweet memories. When I went to Genesis House I felt terrible my mother had to put out so much money but she said to me, “there is no price on a life.” So, I stay sober and work to be the woman she raised me to be. With Mother’s Day coming up and on every day of the year, I am so grateful to have her as my mother. I aspire to be the selfless, kind and loving mother she is to me. Having a son now, I can understand her dedication and never-ending love.
 
Sunday, remember how special it is to be in recovery with the ability to have appreciation for loved ones. Try to imagine how many times these special women have prayed for us to get well? In recovery, they see us doing just that and their prayers are being answered.
 
Happy Mother’s Day 2017!
 
Skyler N

Lesson Or Blessing?

Everything went bad one night I was caught and then my entire family knew I was using again. Turns out, I did not have them fooled after all. I woke up the next morning, staring at the ceiling for a long time, hoping it was a dream! When I walked into the kitchen I saw my family waiting for me. My head lowered down in shame and fear of what was coming next. Not before long, I was in the car with my mom, driving to the airport to get on a plane to Genesis House, my 3rd rehab.
 
What are we guaranteed in this life time? Is there one definite answer to that question? I have seen in past experience, that in every individuals’ journey, the answers varied. With that being said, life is rather short. We must try to make the most out of each day and find positive perspectives the best way we can. In the blink of an eye, it could all be over; I am going to count my blessings today!
 
I have come to find out, the night I was caught using drugs again was the best lesson AND blessing in my life. There were times in treatment I was so angry I was caught but later on realized it saved my life! It also gave me the option to get my life together and find the gift of recovery. At first, I had to just be grateful for the situation as a blessing and later I was able to see more of the lessons. Although, sometimes people do not believe this but, when you least expect it, something great will come out of every situation. The blessing of being caught that night, taught me the lesson that all is possible with patience, perseverance, and determination. I hope you may you find your lessons and blessings in your life!
 
Skyler N

Memorial To The Surrender

Today is Memorial Day and we are celebrating the day clean and sober. That may sound rather simple, but the meaning to me is still a big deal! I continue to stay grateful for getting another day without using any substances. We know where the path of addiction led us. We also know the ultimate destination if we keep using. Memorial Day is observed for soldiers in the military but also can be for those in recovery fighting a different kind of battle.
 
Memorial Day is an American holiday, honoring the men and women who died while serving the US Military, as well as those who are Veterans and current members of the US Military. However, I also pause to think of all those that have died in the battle of addiction. Every one is a soldier in their own way, fighting for something. Those dealing with addiction are faced with a lifelong battle of surrender. Hats off to us for not giving up on ourselves and each other, especially, those that relapsed and have the courage to come back, surrendering once again. We are stronger than we realize!
 
Getting clean was never in my plans, but as my life continued to become more unmanageable, I was left with no choice. I kept asking myself, “what do I have to do to arrest this addiction?” So, the war against myself began and I was terrified. How will I learn to continuously defeat my mind and self-will? My sponsor replied, “more will be revealed Skyler.” 
 
A memory I hold close to my heart on this day is my friend Joey R. This August marks one year that Joey has been gone. Joey fought so hard, he had 20 months clean and the disease had him convinced that 1 bag would not harm him. Now, I will never again be able to hug Joey at home-group and never be able to see his big smile, from that 1 “harmless” bag. I can never say that without starting to cry and begin to miss him. Sadly, that was his journey. I kept asking myself, “Joey what happened, why did you not reach out?” However, this war is so much bigger than any of us. This is a battle we fight and unfortunately must lose some “soldiers,” along the way. Rest in paradise Joey, you will not be forgotten. 
 
Let’s take some time today to remember all the soldiers lost. We can also reflect the courage we have to keep fighting our addiction and being brave enough to surrender. We at Genesis House are so proud of you and believe in you!
 
Happy Memorial Day!
 
Skyler N

Comfortable Being Uncomfortable

In recovery, changing the way we live is a lifetime process and is perhaps the most important amends we can make. Putting down the drugs and alcohol was not hard, it was living without them and dealing with feelings. If you are like this addict, I used because of feelings- to supress them and not feel them. One of the biggest feelings I used over, was the past. I practically resided in the past, wishing it was different and hoping I could change it. I cannot change something that already happened, but I can learn from it! Our past is just that: the past. We must put it behind us so that it no longer lingers on the edge of our thoughts, waiting for a chance to haunt our present.
 
In my steps 8 and 9, unfortunately there were parts I was NOT willing to look at and put on my list nor make the amend. My sponsor constantly reminds me to pray on it and ask for willingness. Over the years, it has only affected me and critically stunt my growth in this process. The avoidance of walking through the feelings was complete and total fear. How long can I stay afraid?
 
Today, I am choosing to address situations instead of ignoring them. Acceptance is not about ignoring – it’s about recognizing situations and people for what or who they are. That was the hardest part for me. It was not until recently did I truly understand that this lesson. This process teaches us about spiritual principles we deal with in life and to live by them. The spiritual principles I learn most about are the ones I feel and experience personally. I read so much in the literature about powerlessness but did not learn it fully until I was powerless! As I become more aware of this, I gain more acceptance to the process and my faith that I am right where I am supposed to be. Becoming a parent, I have learned how hard it can be and that my parents did the best they could for me. They love me, tried to always do what was best but are still human, we all make some mistakes along the way. If you asked me about my parents when I was at Genesis, they were the reason I used and why I was sitting in a white chair in rehab. Everything was everyone else’s fault but mine, I was the victim.
 
The other day, the avoidance to make an amends to my father was brought to my attention. The person saying it recently lost their father and express the regret they felt for not addressing certain issues. I hold on so tightly to the pain about my dad, it weighs me down in many areas of my life. Through step work I have worked on it but never fully healed due to my own lack of acceptance. I had become so comfortable with the pain, I have not wanted to let go. Later, I prayed about the amends and picked up the phone. I called my dad and addressed how I felt and apologized for my part. Guess what? It was not as bad as I had projected for all these years. I walked through my fears, let my feelings be heard and felt acceptance to the situation. It sounds so simple, but my own avoidance made it very complicated for years!
 
If you are struggling with a situation from your past, have hope you will get through it and pray for the faith to believe in the process. My God has a way about timing, he reveals what I need to see when he sees fit, not when I felt it was time. I have faith in your Higher Power to do the same for you!
 
Skyler N

Celebrate The Miracle

There are many things we celebrate in our lifetime. One of the most important celebrations I hold close to my heart, is my clean date anniversary. There were years I hesitated and did not want to make a big fuss but this is very important not only to the addict celebrating but to the newcomer that feels hopeless. Our families also feel good watching us celebrate knowing we are living differently today. There is merit to the fact that regardless of the challenges we face, we stay clean and do not pick up no matter what!
 
I remember like it was yesterday having the idea in my mind that I could and would never be able to stop the lifestyle of an addict. How could I actually stop using? How can I find strength or have courage in myself to stop? Self-esteem and self-worth were no words of importance to me. Showing up at a job was optional and being there for others was out of the question. There was a frequent prayer I would say to God at night asking him NOT to wake me up in the morning because I can’t do this one more day. This was followed by the angry prayer in the morning that I was still alive. Looking back, I know I was alive but definitely not living. Until the one day the prayer altered some, “God I need your help because I can’t do this anymore.” That was the first moment of surrender for me and an inkling of willingness to try something new.
 
Last week marked my 9th year of clean and sober and it still overwhelms me how strong I truly am. I am not the weak person I once convinced myself I was. The tears of joy that come to my eyes when realizing how much I have endured along this journey, but I’m still here and stay sober on a daily basis. Every year on my clean date, I am reminded how blessed I am to have this amazing life of recovery. This day also continues to be a reflection of the intense pain I no longer feel and the pain I no longer intentionally cause loved ones. It’s a joy to know I no longer do that and am a woman of recovery! Therefore, today I will celebrate the gratitude I have for this miracle. I am proud of myself, but could not have done this alone.
 
Skyler N.

Imagine This

When I got clean and sober I went to treatment for over two months and one of the best exercises that helped me, was doing a vision board. My therapist Rob, brought me in some poster paper, scissors, glue and a magazine and told me to get to work. 
 
I can remember at the time being so excited to envision my future because prior to that the only future I saw was a casket with my name on it.
This simple project started to give me hope. 
Rob and Natasha believed in me so much, why didn’t I? The assignment was having me depict what love looks like on the posters. He wanted to help me start believing I was lovable. I then hung these posters by my bed and the visions slowly became realities. 
 
It may sound silly but buy the supplies and try it! You can cut out pictures and words of the future you would like to envision for yourself.  It is similar to the law of attraction and placing positive thoughts in our mind. To this very day, I still make vision boards from time to time and I find them helpful.  I will forever thank my therapist, he truly believed in me until I believed in myself. The exercise helped me see hope for the future.
 
It can inspire you too!
 
Thanks Rob!
 
 
Skyler N

Lean On Me

At the end of my active addiction, my run was lonely and depressing. I only had friends that wanted to use substances with me or sell them to me. I had lost all the friends that genuinely cared for me and were doing the next right thing in their lives. They told me to get help or leave them alone, so I kept using and stayed in active addiction longer. The ultimatum did not bring fear, they just did not understand I needed to use to not feel my pain. I rationalized, justified and minimized my use to the point I could not even understand why they cut me off, “I was not that bad.” As time went on, addiction did not show me anything more except the fact- I was that bad!

 

When I finally decided to get help, those friends were the first ones to pick me up, unlike the “friends” surrounding me at the bar or my using partner. When I went away for treatment, my friends were there to encourage me and they even wrote me letters. I never had a missed call, voice mail, text message or letter from the friends I was using with, was that a surprise? No, they had moved on to their next target and I was free.

 

After treatment, I began to go to 12 step fellowship meetings and meet more people that were trying to recover. There were men and women who cared about me and helped me, not looking for anything in return. This was a great feeling and gave me a chance to start letting go of my old behaviors. I could then become the person I once was inside. Making friends in recovery can take time but is well worth it compared to where I came from. I now have people that will help me and go through stages of my recovery with me. I never have to feel as alone as I did when I was using again. At some 12-step fellowship conventions, they play the song “Lean on me” at the end, now I understand why.
 
Skyler N

Drowning In Shallow Water

Even if we are not an addict, aren’t we all recovering from something? Are we not all fighting some kind of battle? I found in this process, that does not just mean we are just recovering from substances. The families are recovering from the addict, the addict is recovering from the lifestyle, and both may be recovering from the chaos. However, I have seen that we tend to replace one obsessions for another to substitute the original one. Carrying the message can be very rewarding for us in recovery. What about those times you want to carry the addict who is struggling instead?
 
One of the most difficult obstacles I am faced with in recovery is watching someone else suffer from a compulsion and being powerless over their obsession. I watch them choose NOT to help themselves when they were fully able to. There are limits to what we can do for someone else in while they are in active addiction. We can give them our time, compassion, care, empathy and suggestions, however, we cannot make the change for them. 
 
I was once told we are not powerful enough to make anyone use and we are not powerful enough to make anyone not use. We cannot play God and being unable to make anyone change their behavior is a lesson we must all face at certain points in life; “life on life’s terms.” I believe the saying we often hear, pain is the greatest motivator. Yes, it may be hard to watch people drown in shallow water, when all they have to do is stand up. Do we have the right to rob them of their process? Do we ever stop to think how many loved ones and friends watched us drown in shallow water? They had to sit back, allow us to face our demons and continue to pray for us. The best way I have found to help the still suffering addict is to pray for them! We love from a distance and ask our Higher Power to guide them, the same way others did for us. Having faith in something bigger than ourselves, turns out to be the best guidance any of us have to get through challenges in life.
 
Let’s continue to pray for the suffering addict that is no longer with us and for the one’s that did not make it to recovery, yet. 
 
Skyler N

At Least I Have a Glass!

Is your glass half empty or half full? This expression is used to explain how we perceive situations or life events. Perception is different for everyone and is our own perception of reality. This phrase is usually used to indicate that a situation could be a cause for optimism (half full) or pessimism (half empty), depending on the individual and the personal perspective. However, in recovery we can see it from a different perspective considering our past, and gratefully say at least we have a glass! The complete expression of gratitude is knowing we have our share of both optimism and pessimism but are alive to feel both due to getting clean and sober. We do not need to look at a situation as bad or good as a situation we are grateful to be going through alive, aware, willing to endure it and not numb. I feel my fellow recovering addicts can understand this more than anyone, we have seen hell and heaven, so if that glass is half full or half empty, we remain thankful we at least still have a glass!
 
The perspective of the glass being half full or empty can change from day to day depending on the person, including myself. However, after a near death experience I was once told- “at least you have a glass.” This quickly gave me a chance to get my thoughts grounded and to realize, yes, the situation may not be ideal and it may be hard to get through, but I still have the ability and strength to get through it with a lesson learned. The fact that I made it through the trauma was a blessing. It wasn’t about being optimistic or pessimistic; it was just being grateful to be alive and breathing! Suddenly I began noticing the small things more. In many instances, it is all about perspective… isn’t it? So, if you can just alter your perspective a little today to have gratefulness instead of negativity it may create a better impact on your day. Something so little can go a long way. Today, I invite you to try this!  
Skyler N.