Alumni Blog

Faith in Action!

Once we are clean and sober, we must face these awful things called feelings! They are new and we have no idea how to deal with them. This is why it is important to get a sponsor and work the steps together.

We must learn about the spiritual principle of having faith in a power greater than ourselves. We used because of our feelings and continued to use just to avoid dealing with them. The emptiness we felt would not go away, no matter how much we used. We put the substances down and now the feelings are here- staring us right in the face! Now what?! We have to learn to have faith, BUT also how to apply it to our lives. For me, I find situations on a DAILY basis where I need to apply faith. Some days I do well- other days- not so well. There are times we are faced with days of heavy feelings that are so strong that faith is the last thing we think about. So, on those days we just do not pick up no matter what. We are not perfect; but over time, we will learn and get better at applying it.

What is faith? By definition it is complete trust or confidence in someone or something. For us users, Faith is the principle we learn to help replace our feelings of FEAR! We learn a new feeling that “it will all work out” and your higher power has got this. We begin to see the evidence of faith in our life and also the lack of it.

Faith is invisible, it is something inside of us but the power of our faith is very visible to others! Faith helps us deal with situations and can be very appealing to others when they see us getting through situations.

Therapist Rob Hooper once told me he heard in the rooms, “you are holding on to a thread, when you could have a comforter.” Control gave me a false feeling of faith, but I was being controlled by the situation- what kind of faith is that? The hardest part was letting go of the idea I could control everything and believe something else could. My struggle with accepting faith and giving up my control was a long battle (I eventually lost that battle). I did not gain or develop faith overnight, but it came when I was ready to accept it.

Today, I choose to call my higher power God. I learned in this process that faith without work cannot be called faith, it needs to be the way we live.

“Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this journey if you learn all the right words but never do anything about the issue at hand? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it?” (James 2:14-17). This means we cannot just say we have faith, it is more than verbalizing it. We must affirm our faith in our life; faith is shown in our “works” and behavior – in our daily life. The surrender is not easy to get to, but worth the journey to embrace freedom.

-SN

 

“You can’t think your way into right action, 

but you can act your way into right thinking.” 
-Bill Wilson

Act As If

If you are anything like this recovering addict (me), you would know that when I first started treatment, the last thing I wanted to do was identify with others. Doing so was one of the biggest suggestion our counselors gave us, but my mind was not open to the idea. I was more of the addict that liked to compare myself. In reality, I wanted to convince myself I was better than the disease of addiction.   I told myself, “I wasn’t that bad,”in order to continue my use. I thought that this rationalization may convince my family and friends, who were hoping I would “get it,” this time in rehab.  If only I was not an addict after all, I won’t have them on my back.
 
I did not want to hear anything about “my will”  versus “God’s will” at this point, so I was running my own program while in treatment.  Since I knew best, I was very positive this time and believed things would be different. I changed the type of pill I used and decided it was not going to bring me to my knees like before. I made a decision – if I only use these pills, and keep my use under control, I will be ok. Sadly, we know how this story ended; once I got out of treatment  the relapse came right after the plane  landed in New Jersey. This “different substance I could control,” brought me to my knees. Once again, I felt like a failure! Why couldn’t I just control it? How did it get so bad again?
 
I was in a dark place wanting to die because my addiction was worse than ever. I was far from having the power to stop even if I wanted to. I was terrified to ask for help so I just wanted to give up; I had lost all hope. I figured death would be the only way to solve the problem and stop hurting my family. If I was gone, they no longer had a daughter that was a failure and would not have to worry anymore. By some miracle, my higher power did not let me die, there was a bigger plan for me. My family had an intervention when I was discharged from the crisis unit, and I agreed to go to treatment. I was broken, I finally surrendered.
 
When I went back to treatment this time, I started to “Act as if” or “Fake it until you make it”; meaning even if I didn’t want to, I pretended until I actuality want to. Not being able to look at myself in the mirror, I was willing and open to trying anything!. When I started to compare myself or judge others I pretended I wasn’t until I truly wasn’t. When I was listening to someone struggling at a meeting I didn’t care what the person was saying- I just listened and “acted as if” until I did have empathy. The days I did not want to be sober out of jealousy of the people drinking and it looked like they were having fun, I “acted as if” I too was having fun until I was. I had way more fun than I ever had drunk! This all probably makes me sound silly, but when you start to “act as if,” it will happen before you know it.
 
At the end of my addiction, being so defeated by drugs, “acting as if” turned out to be the way I saved my life. It all comes down to action and faking my mind into action when I was unwilling .  This minor action became the turning point of my sobriety. I still practice this today, and I challenge you to “act as if” today and discover what actions you are capable of that you never thought you had!
 
-S.N.
 
We are here to help!
 
Always feel free to reach out to me. I would love to be there to help in your recovery journey.
Skyler Noon, Alumni Coordinator

Time To Unpack!

We quickly learn after putting down the drugs and alcohol that we have much more to work on than getting through just the detox. Many people crawl into treatment with “emotional baggage” that we have been carrying around for most of our lives. Besides, we can all be carrying some form of baggage, addict or no addict! Everyone is fighting their own battle with something. We hold on to the past, we worry about the future and forget about the present moment. There is no payoff from repeating destructive patterns or from feeling pain, but fear is a great motivator for many to continue the vicious cycle.
 
What baggage are you still carrying around? Are there people, places and things that do not serve a purpose anymore? Is there a pattern or habit that is not working anymore? Is there a feeling of resentment that keeps you from reaching your goals? How long are you willing to repeatedly feel pain? What needs to happen for you to be willing to let go? These are some questions to give some to think about as we take a daily inventory of ourselves. 
 
Certain goals or phases in our lives can’t be reached without losing some of the baggage. With that said, let’s lose the stigma or fear of doing a step four and get rid some of the extra weight. At times,  it is comfortable to do what we always did, but do not let the results be a shock, we will get what we always got! The freedom we feel if we CHOOSE to let go and move on from our past, is worth the short-term discomfort. 
 
It all comes down to making the decision, what will you choose?
 
 
S.N.
 
“Sometimes we have to let go of what is killing us, even if it is killing us to let go.” -Unknown
 

Christmas Break from Recovery?

For many people in recovery, this can be a particularly challenging time of year. Also, a time where it could be easy for one to relapse by putting their recovery on “Christmas Break.” But, did our using and drinking ever take a break? Awareness and preventative planning can always help if relapse is close by.

During the holidays we are around certain family members we only see this time of year that may drink or drug too much or they flat out drive us crazy! Maybe in previous years we were able to deal with this better since we were drunk or high ourselves. Certain people and behaviors could be a lot less tolerable now that we are in recovery. But this is nothing to get worked up about, and nothing we cannot get through clean especially with our recovery friends and plenty of clean holiday events. So, plan your holiday the same way you previously planned to get high or drunk for the holiday.

We should know it is okay to not go to certain family events where we will feel unsafe and if we need to, LEAVE EARLY! If it is possible, bringing a recovery friend may also help. Create an escape plan of why you may need to leave early, that way you would not feel that you have to explain yourself in depth or that you are offending anyone. Keep your sponsor and networks phone numbers close and do not be afraid to USE them! Find out where there are Holiday Marathon meetings, speaker jams, dances or a holiday alcathon -where meetings run round the clock and there are plenty of support of others in recovery.

And lastly, it is important to remember that we should all have an attitude of gratitude during the holiday. Let’s not forget why we got clean to begin with, and keep that gratitude. We are clean today with the ability to be at a holiday event we will actually remember!

In the first few holiday’s we may need to avoid or get away from certain aspects of family members or events. However, after step work and because of the experience we gain on this journey, we may develop a large amount of tolerance and empathy for those that once drove us bonkers! That is where we can see the growth in ourselves and benefits of working a recovery program. We are not responsible for how others act, we are responsible for our recovery and how WE react in these situations.

Happy Holidays!
single mother

What Can Money Really Buy?

Joyful Moments are Always Priceless

Some of us come into recovery and we think if we hit the lottery and get rich, we could buy whatever we want and this would make us happy. If we have the nicest car, house, clothes and accessories we will really be loved and adored. Yes, finally, we will feel good inside.

However, in my life today, it is the smaller things that bring enjoyment to my life. I love to see my son’s smile when I pick him up from school because he is so excited to see me, his love is unconditional. Having my family proud of me today and not mortified of my addictive lifestyle. I am self-sufficient today and build my integrity doing the right thing no matter what the circumstances. I have discovered that in this journey of recovery as we start to get things back, the material things were not the ones that stood out to me. With the work we do on ourselves, we get back big things like acceptance of ourselves, integrity, feeling love, dealing with feelings without getting wasted- that is the lottery! The small things like someone calling me just to see how I was without any other motive except caring about me. Watching the stars with someone special or people coming to my sober anniversary to celebrate means the world to me. Today, having someone I trust to cry to and talk to about feelings- is worth more than any amount of money. I do not forget the days I could not deal with feelings, let alone talk about them! It is an amazing gift and blessing I do not have to live that way anymore.

In my journey of recovery, I learned money may buy momentary  happiness, but it can NOT buy joy! It fills my spirit beyond belief when someone notices how far I have come in my life and compliments my growth. I cherish those moments and that is the biggest deposit to the bank account in my heart, my joy. In recovery, I know it is about the little things in life that add up to big things. There is a difference for me between happiness and joy. Recovery shows me more than I ever imagined. Now that is priceless. Amen!

-S.N.

“It’s the little things that make life BIG.” – Unknown

 

We Must Walk Before We Run!

A common thing I hear from fellow addicts in the 12 step meetings is “when will I get my family’s trust back?” or “when can I make my amends for my addiction?” Now this is great to feel remorse and want to make the situation right with their loved ones but it takes time. Let’s face it, when we get sober many of us are not the same people as when we were while using substances, now we become more aware of the past.

When we get to step 9 and make our amends, it does not stop there. Changing the way we live is a lifetime process and perhaps the most significant amends we can make. Therefore, we show our amends through actions, not just words.

We may not be at step 9 yet, but we want to show our loved ones we are working to get better. Each day we make amends by doing the next right thing we are and the way, we are “making it right” is shown through our actions, no words are needed. The ones we love will see it rather than us having to tell them and trust me, that will mean more! Later, when we get to step 9 our words will line up with our behaviors. We are right where we are supposed to be, even if it does not feel that way.

Today we can work on an actively “living our amends” by building our integrity and doing the right thing, even when others are not looking. During step 9 we make amends, but the process is everyday in our lives. There is no finish line, we must race to achieve a prize, “no” we walk before we run. Keep walking the path of recovery and you will be running before you know it!
 
-SN

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