It was around this time, 4 years ago, that I truly got the feeling that my life was over. I no longer recognized myself when I looked in the mirror. I no longer wanted to do anything and I saw no way out. It took me to come to the point that I was sitting on the bathroom floor early one morning, going through my usual routine of throwing up stomach acid then drinking a water bottle filled with some kind of liquor to calm the tremors. It was this morning that I sat there and wanted to cry. (I couldn’t actually cry because I was so dehydrated.) I knew I was dying. I knew if I continued I may be lucky to see my next birthday, but certainly not the one after. I knew I was not going to see my children grow up. I knew I would lose everything I once had. It was that morning that I got the courage to make a doctor’s appointment to seek help.
In the following months I went through detox twice, because I relapsed soon after my first treatment, and I went through intensive rehab. I don’t know exactly why I waited so long to seek help. A large part of it was because I was too terrified to let me “secret” out after years of drinking. Part of it was because I was ashamed of who I had become and the person that I had been to so many, particularly my husband and children. Part of it was because I was afraid of the judgement that would be cast on me by those I were trusting to help me. I was afraid that my husband would have that final reason to leave me, that my children would be taken away from me and I was afraid of having to feel everything again. Everything that I had been trying so hard, for years, to numb.
Seeking help was probably THE biggest decision I have made my entire life because it led me to living again. Not just living in the sense of I get to go about my daily business and deal with the usual joys and struggles of life. Living in the sense of having worth, having purpose and having someone to live WITH every minute of every day.
Yes, I’m talking about God! The rehab facility I went to was based off of the 12 step program and there were people recovering from all sorts of addictions there. However, along with the steps, the program also integrated a strong teaching that we MUST believe in something bigger than ourselves. They spoke of God, we prayed as a group every morning and every night and every meal. We were encouraged to attend a church of our choice when we were cleared to leave the facility after our 2 weeks of “isolation” from the outside world.
It was here that I came to believe in my Higher Power and that I HAD to turn to it for guidance and strength. It was here that I understood that I HAD to stop the addiction in order to stay alive. It was here that I understood that I HAD to do my best to turn my life over to my Higher Power and to live simply for the day…24 hours at a time…because that is all we are ever promised. It took me 2 weeks to come to this understanding though.
The first two weeks I was still battling with ways to just alter what I was doing before. You know, maybe I could just have a drink on holidays…but I would stay sober the first year at least. I thought my husband would never be ok with having a wife who never drank a drop again! That’s all he ever enjoyed doing with me (early on). Or, I’ll stop drinking but I’m just going to keep living the way I have been because I know best what I’m dealing with. I hadn’t heard any guidance for years so why would I hear it now? Higher Power, that’s just silly.
I also certainly did NOT want to start letting go of my baggage because I could already feel the pain of it. I mean, how many times have I already cried myself to sleep and broke down during group sessions? Wasn’t that enough? Enough pain already! Enough! Just get me sober and everything will be fine…being “meh” with life would be a huge improvement from what it was before anyway!
This amazing thing happened after I found truth in needing to let go of my baggage. Of moving on and not living in the past, of having something bigger than myself to live for. I found hope. I was happy! I laughed SO hard that I surprised myself because I hadn’t laughed that loud and that free for years! I felt lighter and I saw the possibility of a beautiful and peaceful future with my family. I saw myself growing old with my husband and seeing our children grow up and have kids of their own. I saw the chance to work through my faults and to form healthy relationships again. I was learning how to communicate with others and to recognize how I was truly feeling and speak directly and honestly. Most importantly, I saw myself reappearing. None of that was promised, but I knew that it was a real possibility with the new drive I had and the realization that doing things MY way or how I thought was best, wasn’t leading me to those possibilities.
I started to remember the things that used to make me happy. I started to find time for myself to recharge. I started to be myself and see the value in that. I saw the beauty in my life, even in that place that could have easily brought me further down as I dealt with some heavy issues and heard about everyone else’s past. I learned how to accept everyone, despite what they had done. To be gracious toward them even though I was not comfortable with the circumstances that brought them to their rock bottom. I learned how to forgive and to move on. Living in the past and dredging up old mistakes only keeps me from moving forward because I’m holding on to something that was never meant to come this far with me in life. I can’t change it. I CAN live in the now and deal with the circumstances that arise TODAY. No situation will be exactly the same as it was in the past. Clean your dirty underwear already and put on your big girl britches so you can clean them again tomorrow.
I didn’t call my Higher Power, God, at first because I still had an odd relationship with that name. I was simply more comfortable calling him my HP in the beginning. However, my description of my HP was exactly what God is. He provided me strength, courage, guidance and he offered me the chance at a bright and glorious future! He showed me that I was a beautiful and talented person with a kind heart and love for others. He valued me and he gave me purpose as a wife, as a mother, a friend and daughter, and, most importantly, as an individual. I could finally embrace my uniqueness.
The ONLY way you can accomplish all of this is to find gratitude in your every minute of every day and pass that gratitude on to God (or your Higher Power). You CAN NOT do life the way that YOU think is best. You will fail miserably and you will be miserable for the rest of your life if you do! There are no exceptions to this! Even if you’re coasting along now, it will catch up to you eventually. Your Higher Power has to be someone/something that will never be able to fail you. Something that will always stay the same/constant and will never contradict itself. Your relationship with your higher power will grow, just as mine did. It grew from being a simple vision to being God himself and my relationship with him is still growing. However, He himself has always remained the same. I still have the same hopes only I have a greater conviction. I still fail and yet he still remains strong and ever present.
Every day, find gratitude! It will change your life! Give that gratitude to God! He will bless your life and free you from your chains if you will only see and recognize the good that He provides you every day. Don’t walk through life as a shell and remain ignorant or numb to the blessings He is giving you each day He allows you to wake up. Life is a gift, even on the really hard days. Even when you feel like you have completely lost yourself or you don’t think you could ever be happy about your current circumstances. He is blessing you in numerous ways and you NEED to wake up and be grateful for what you have right now! You have far too much to lose if you continue down the road of pessimism, dread, depression, anger, frustration and ingratitude. Trust me, write a gratitude list every day for a month and you’ll see the gradual change. Write a gratitude list and turn to your higher power each time the going gets tough and he’ll guide you and bring you peace. Today is all you have, be thankful and live it with gratitude.Tags: 24 hours, God, Gratitude, Higher Power, His way, Thankful
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