Alumni Blog

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.

How Genesis House Handles a Hurricane!

The Genesis House staff stepped up, and went out of their way to ensure our client’s safety during the hurricane Irma.  

When the warning to evacuate began, our Tech’s Arlene, Dan, Jordan and Mike assisted in transporting the clients to a hotel in Orlando for safety during hurricane Irma. The Tech’s stayed with the clients around the clock for 6 days. Some of the Tech’s left their family to be with the clients and even our newest Tech offered help without hesitation. Our team at Genesis House never ceases to amaze us with the willingness and eagerness to help our clients. We are very thankful to have such amazing staff members.  

During the stay in Orlando, the clients were kept busy with our staff, they attended outside recovery meetings, saw a movie, enjoyed bowling, played miniature golf and ate out almost every night. The nights the clients did not go out to eat, we ordered take out! We know coming to treatment is not easy and can be stressful. So, with a hurricane coming we wanted to keep our clients busy, happy, comfortable, safe and supported. 

Our Therapist Natasha also stayed the entire time with the clients. Treatment for our clients did not stop even with a storm coming. Natasha continues to have three to four process groups during the day and met with clients individually as needed.

Our Clients expressed a great deal of gratitude for the way Genesis House went above and beyond to ensure their safety. They shared that they felt supported and comfortable during their stay. 

Some clients come to treatment not feeling lovable or worthy of anything due to their actions during active addiction. However, the care we provided was not only about safety but also for them to know that they are very lovable and completely worthy of being cared for no matter what their past entailed.

Skyler N

Laughter is Golden… So let’s be Rich!

Did you ever realize how important laughter is? When I got sober, I became conscious of how much I was NOT enjoying laughing! We all know how to laugh, although in addiction not much was very comical or amusing. My days were summed up to waking up, doing the same thing over and expecting different results or better known as insanity. Most days, there was not much else to the lifestyle and life did not have much meaning. I may have laughed while watching a funny movie or hearing a joke but the focus was quickly back to scheming how to get the next one. The worst part, and far from laughter, was being consumed with fear that I may not be able get the next one!

Once, I heard the recovery slogan, “We do not have to live that way anymore!” I later learned, my miserable experience in active addiction without laughter was common among other members in the 12-step fellowship. I still vividly remember and always share about a genuine belly laugh I had while at Genesis House; that is one of the most unforgettable moments I cherish from early recovery. My roommate and I were giggling about something juvenile but we could not stop laughing to the point my sides hurt. I later laid in bed thinking, wow when was the last time I laughed so hard and felt my spirit smile? I know for me, it had been many months or even years! That split second, I could remember feeling hope that I didn’t have to feel as sad and lonely as I did when I was using.

Now laughing has become a form of therapy for me. Since that night at Genesis House, I have not stopped finding ways to laugh, even in the worst of times! For me, laughter helps draw attention away from anything that causes me anger, stress, guilt and other negative emotions. I can see a difficult situation with a new perspective and instead feel gratitude. Instead of allowing powerlessness to get the best of me, I can change my perspective, know it is a lesson or blessing and simply smile. Even on days I feel laughing is not helping my circumstance, I know that laughter is contagious and I may be helping others. Try to make sure to have yourself a good laugh today!

Skyler N