Behind my Veil

Do I deceive myself?

Does this thin veil protect me,

From your copious attempts,

To whisk me away into the night,

Penetrate my covering,

Steal my heart,

And leave me vulnerable?

Or do I deceive you?

Hoping that you’ll instigate the affair,

So that I can watch,

As you search hopelessly,

Allowing you to believe,

That my heart is actually hidden here?

—Janet

Fandango’s One-Word Challenge: Copious

Word of the Day Challenge: Instigate

This isn’t really my style, but I had some revealing thoughts recently, about the roles that I’ve played in some of my ‘tragic’ love stories. I guess it’s true what they say… it really DOES take two to tango.

It’s not always beautiful to see the truth about ourselves, but we’ll never be able to change what’s wrong until we do.

Anyway, I thought the poem went well with my art. This was an accidental piece, and it lit a fire in me to try some new techniques… so I hope to do some more experimenting today.

That’s about all for now—
Peace & Love Everyone!

Magical Makeovers

—A Page in My Journal

My best friend went to cosmetology school when she was eighteen, and I was the brave subject of her very first “perm.” It looked pretty BAD, but eventually my hair grew out. Over the years that followed (or decades I should say), she became the extremely talented hairdresser that she is today.

For many of those years, although she did exactly what I had asked her to do, I’d come away from her shop feeling slightly disappointed. Sometimes I wondered if it was just MY hair that never seemed to come out “just like” the pictures that I would bring her.

I don’t know why it took her so many years to say it; but finally one day when we were discussing my dissatisfaction, she said that sometimes people come in believing that their new color or cut will make them look just like “the woman” in the photographs that they bring in, but that just isn’t the case. And it certainly isn’t a reality.

All I can say is that I love my friend dearly—and her honesty—and she really got through to me that day. Getting my hair cut to look like Jennifer Aniston’s latest style will NOT make me look like “Jennifer Aniston.” Such a simple fact, but it took my friend’s directness to make me grasp that truth.

Today I read a post by another blogger, and I had an “Aha!” moment. I realized that sometimes I’m still looking for those “magical” makeovers—just not with my hair. I get trapped into thinking that if I do the right things, I’ll suddenly be “someone else.”

I’ll no longer procrastinate or stay in my sweats until late in the afternoon. I’ll be able to function without coffee. I’ll be a designer, a writer… or perhaps a cage fighter. (Hey, stranger things have happened!)

The point is that I’m beginning to see why I struggle with follow-through. I envision that “someone else” that I expect to resemble, and… well… I’m still me. I’m not Jillian Michaels in the gym, or [insert name here] anywhere else. And when I realize that I haven’t “magically” transformed into someone else, I feel that same disappointment I felt when I left my friend’s hair salon. Then I change directions—or I give up.

As I thought about these things, a phrase from recovery came to mind: “Just for today.

So I embraced “who I am,” instead of “who I want to be,” and I did the things that I love. I didn’t try to function without my coffee, and I stayed in my sweats way too long. And I was a writer… just for today.

Today you are you! That is truer than true! There is no one alive who is you-er than you!

Dr. Seuss

Sometimes I think Dr. Seuss had it all figured out.

—Janet

Introspection

Fear, like a giant boulder…
Stays weighted at my feet.
—Afraid I’ll miss the curtain call, I stay paralyzed…
Gazing at the stage to find my cue.

Impatience, like a cold wind…
Sends me sailing into a flurry.
—I shatter into pieces, chasing a million things…
Until all that’s left are tiny shards.

Reason, like a brilliant scientist…
Wants to put me back together.
—Like a puzzle to be solved, I inspect the fragments…
But many of the pieces have been lost.

Acceptance, like a soft embrace…
Whispers I am enough.
—The mystery becomes magical, and I feel love.

But, Gratitude… Sweet, sweet Gratitude
—Like a burning flame…
She warms my soul.

Inspired by the Word of the Day Challenge: Gratitude

I’ve decided to make a commitment this month. I’m going to “write something every day,” and “work on things that I find challenging.”

Today’s Accomplishment: Write a poem without a rhyme

Dr. Seuss likes to whistle tunes to me when I even ‘think’ about poetry, so this was extremely hard for me.


Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors. —African Proverb


Dream Chasers

A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work. Colin Powell

In visiting some images from my past, I stumbled on this photograph I took of some of my friends taking surf lessons. I thought it was a good representation of my thoughts lately; about hard work and determination.

One of our math assignments last week was to read an article by Carol S. Dweck—the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University—about fixed mindsets vs. growth mindsets. What’s interesting is that in doing so, I learned a little something about myself.

A person with a fixed mindset believes that intelligence levels, talents, and abilities are fixed, that we inherently have what we have (basically what we are fortunate enough to be born with), and that’s it. A person with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believes that intelligence levels, talents, and abilities can be cultivated through effort and education; they are potentials that can be realized through learning and practice.

I’ve always had a tendency to bounce around when it comes to my passions, interests, and pursuits—I can’t always stick to one thing—and I’m now realizing why that is; I have a bit of a fixed mindset.

Whenever I hit a wall—when something becomes too difficult, or too challenging for me—I simply change my direction. I automatically assume that I must have been on the wrong track to begin with, and that I don’t inherently have what it takes to continue on the path that I’m on. I guess you could say that I believed I had reached a plateau; a point where I could never go higher in that particular realm. That was a fixed mindset.

A person with a growth mindset would have believed that they did in fact have the potential to go higher, beyond those plateaus that are actually momentary and temporary obstacles. A person with a growth mindset would believe that they could do it, but that the process would require something of them: 

Effort and hard work.

I’m not saying I’m not a hard worker. What I’m saying is that when I DO work hard I tend to want to work at something that comes easy to me. Something I already understand or know how to do well. That’s not growth; that’s repetition. In looking back at my old business, I recognize this. I did what I did for a living (and for so long) because it came easy to me. I could do it with little effort or thought!

So, now that I’m aware of this I’m going to work on changing my beliefs. No more fearing or running from things that are difficult or challenging. I also thought this was good information to share because I’m sure there are other people who may be stuck in a fixed mindset; believing that they aren’t cut out for something.

It really IS possible, it just takes determination, hard work and practice.

Don’t sell yourself short!

If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere. Frank A. Clark

Love, Fear & Courage

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. -John Lennon 


Well… it seems that my study of the word trust kind of fizzled out. I knew a whole year on one word was not my cup of tea! 😉

Regardless, even a week (or a month) spent on studying a word is something I would recommend. It seems to work better as an evolving process for me. I move from one word to the next, as I learn and discover things.

Lately love, fear and courage are words that keep coming up.

I’m learning so much about self-love, which these days I would have to call acceptance. It’s not about my past, or about what anyone else thinks of me. And it’s not about what I have accomplished (or failed at); where I live, what I do for work, or even what I drive… it’s about being the best ME that I can be. And it’s about building character.

I read something about walking with God. It said that God cares more about how we handle our journey than about where we end up. Makes complete sense! And it helped me stop the worrying about where I’ll be in the future.

It really IS amazing how love and acceptance for yourself; for where you are at this very moment, changes your outlook on life… and your perceptions of others, too. The more I accept myself (just as I am), the kinder and more patient I seem to be.

Imagine that. 😉


The other thing- that I’ve probably heard (or read) a thousand times, but somehow never let sink in- was about fear and courage. That it’s not about the absence of fear, but the courage to go on in spite of your fears”. I don’t know why but when I heard that the other day it finally clicked. It helped me truly accept the fact that YES I still fear things… but that’s OK… because I have courage now.


Anyway, I thought this was a good topic to go with my image. Opposing forces. A Yin and Yang kind of thing.

I got a load of new books from the library today and I can’t get myself to sit and read even one of them right now. I needed some art time. My meditation.

It’s so nice to simply clear my head… create… and just BE.

That’s about all for now. Happy Saturday…  and Peace and Love to you all!

Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear, not absence of fear. -Mark Twain

The Confession Series

The Confession Series

Confession: When I titled this series I was not really aware of what a Chameleon was. And I’m not talking about the lizard. I know the lizard, which in reality is all that came to mind when I was deciding on the name.

After publishing the first segment, I was surprised to find out that the Chameleon also refers to a borderline personality disorder. And in reading about the disorder, I have to be honest and say that I had a few of those Uh-Oh moments. Kind of like an Aha moment, but not quite as exhilarating. Ha!

Anyway, it took finding and looking to God for me to finally realize the errors of my ways, and to start becoming the ME that He created me to be.

Is my story over? Never.


Part One: I didn’t believe in God, so I never really feared going to hell… but then again, I didn’t need to. Hell had made its way to earth and was coming for ME.

Part Two: I was a shy and quiet girl, from a perfectly normal family, who JUST wanted to fit in and be liked.

Part Three: I want to say that the job taught me to be shrewd, but that sounds harsh. Simply put, it was the first thing in my life that gave me a sense of my own identity.

Part Four: Left to my own devices- I will overdue things to the point of self-destruction, sickness, or far worse- Death.

Part Five: Hands sweating, heart racing, vision slightly blurred and my mind in a fog (but sober!), I put my foot on the gas, and held on tight to the wheel.

Part Six: If the hole was round, this square peg would become ROUND, dammit, because I was going to fit!

Part Seven: I needed to replace my unhealthy addiction of chasing love (the wrong kind), for the sake of my sanity and my recovery, and now I’ve finally found perfect and healthy substitutes!

Part Eight: …it was like the weight of the world, that had somehow taken up residency on my shoulders, was magically dissolving… and drifting away… like little musical notes… floating up to the heavens.

Awkward Growth

“The tiny seed knew that in order to grow, it needed to be dropped in dirt, covered in darkness, struggle to reach the light.”  -Sandra Kring

I’m not quite sure why I’ve been leaning towards pink and purple lately. I think it’s because I’ve been feeling hurt and angry, and I wanted to calm myself.

I think my images express my thoughts and moods even more than I realized. Maybe backwards though, because they tend to project what I want to feel, rather than what I do feel. I can live with that. 😉

Anyway, I shot this on my last visit to the old zoo. What’s interesting about the tree is that it’s growing somewhat sideways (and no… I didn’t tilt the camera). So… it works as a pretty good featured image for my weekend thoughts… about Growth.

I’ve already mentioned that I had some weird experiences last week. What’s funny is that I really was sent into a mini tail-spin for a day (or two)… BUT, I’m kind of excited now because I discovered that it was really just an opportunity for growth.

Pushing through the awkwardness, you could say.

I’ll do some follow-up posts this week, about some of the things I’m learning, and hearing- which means YES, I’ve been listening.

Blessings!!

 

What If?

After thinking about my life this morning, I had a random, but important thought. About fear. You know—I realized that when I procrastinate about moving towards my dreams, I don’t ever really ask myself the question: What if I fail?

Pondering


Well, maybe—when I have to take a test or something—but I mean when it comes to taking chances and just going for a goal, or a dream. If I want something bad enough I’m never afraid of failure. When I started my business, I was renting a room in Arizona for $300 a month, sleeping on a blow-up bed, and had no car—so failure was the farthest thing from my mind! Maybe that’s the beauty of “nothing left to lose“.

The point here is that I wasn’t afraid of failing—and I gave it my all; without hesitation. What occurred to me today is that, when hesitating about moving forward, my biggest fear is actually…

What if I succeed???

Coming from someone who spent a good part of her life self-sabotaging, I think this makes total sense and I’m not sure why I didn’t realize that sooner. So… now that I’ve figured THAT out, it’s time to see about fixing the problem.

More to ponder.

Peace and Love!!

Confessions: Part Six

It still amazes me that the therapist at the church could say so little, yet so MUCH. In a short amount of time, with very few words, she was able to open my eyes to the fact that I’d been living my life entirely wrong.

I just got butterflies when I wrote that! That trip to the church was no accident. I KNEW that Dead End sign was for me, and I just HAD to visit that church. That woman may not have been expecting me that day… but God was!

It’s taken me this long to really see that. It’s not like I did a complete turnaround after that, but it did help me get unstuck. And you know what else? That woman has NO idea how her words affected me that day. I hear that’s how God works. Sometimes He uses you for good, and you don’t even know it. Anyway, her opinion was that…

I wasn’t running my life; my life was running ME.

She couldn’t have been more right. I was always adapting to my surroundings. If the hole was round, this square peg would become ROUND, dammit, because I was going to fit! If life gave me lemons, I would make lemonade. Whether I liked lemonade or NOT!

There was never anything that I was after. Well, except happiness. I realized that today, while writing. Finally, ten (or more) years after she asked me that question, I was able to think of the answer to her question. I JUST wanted to be happy. The problem was that I always looked for happiness outside of myself, and it just didn’t work.

It’s like my life had been like a dodge ball game, and I was always in defense mode. All of my time and energy was wasted; dodging here, dodging there… running in circles and flailing my hands about… constantly attempting to deflect the balls that were being hurled at me. I was always reactive… never proactive. I guess all I really needed to do was exit the field. Walk away, and try a different sport.

When I quit my job and left California, I actually DID have a plan. I was going to start a real estate assistant business. And I did. It was a struggle at first, and was slow to start, but after that meeting I took the bull by the horns and I MADE that thing work.

The business took off. I stayed sober for four years, and somewhere along the way that semi-dysfunctional romance blossomed into a happy, healthy and solid relationship. There was never a question in our minds that we’d spend the rest of our lives together. We were in love, and life seemed so good.

But I still lacked belief, faith, and any kind of a recovery program.

Relapse No. 2

In 2011 I met relapse number two. It was on that road trip with my son. The trip was wonderful (I know some of you have seen pictures) and I won’t let that backslide ruin the memory of the trip. It was a great trip! I’d like to say that being in the middle of Beale Street (party town USA) caused me to drink, but in reality I was sipping a glass of wine by the time I hit Albuquerque! Sometimes I think that the relapse was subconsciously premeditated.

Not long after I returned home my significant other announced that he had accepted a job in Colorado, and with my adventurous spirit, I was all in. Well, partially in. I said I’d give it a year… and I made it through two.

Once I left Colorado… I was on a mission to do things MY way; full speed ahead. It’s like I wanted to make up for lost time or something. Anyway, that’s about the time the MAJOR downward spiral started, and my life started falling apart. I had bought a jeep, which broke down, and I couldn’t afford to fix it. My dad passed away. My business started falling apart because my brain was turning to mush. My boyfriend came to California to join me… and I just wanted OUT.

The progressiveness of the disease had finally caught up with me, and I was unable to stop on my own. That’s when I started reaching out to people, and THAT is when I started corresponding with my dear friend Gil. I was finally ready for a REAL change. I wanted to get sober, turn my life around and make a difference in the world.

MORE importantly… I contacted Gil because I knew that I HAD to find God. I knew that He was my only hope—and I knew that it wasn’t going to be easy for this hard headed, closed-minded girl. But I did it! The funny part about that—especially now as I write this and see it even more—is WHERE I found Him. He was RIGHT THERE.  Right there beside me where He’d been the whole time.

It’s so hard to put a lifetime into a short story. You can’t go from A to Z without at least mentioning a few other letters of the alphabet. But through prayer—and through my writing—I’ve learned (and continue to learn) where I went wrong, the ways I was misled, what my weaknesses and triggers are, and a lot more.

Oh, one more thing I wanted to say. My story helps me understand why writing and photography are so dear to me. Because they are things that I have a passion for. It’s not to be perfect at them, or make a living off of them, or anything like that at all. It’s how I’m able to express myself. It’s a natural fit, without force and with no struggle.

And it’s nice to be a square peg for a change.

Read Part Seven

Confessions: Part Three

In spite of all the madness in those days (the crazy 80’s), I held down a job for eight years until—eventually—I was laid off. It wasn’t a surprise. Life had gotten really ugly, and I was showing up late on a regular basis, or calling in sick altogether.

If I had to identify my first turning point, it was when I set foot in my career. Our landlord was a casual friend and a real estate broker. He literally walked through our door, and offered me a job. In all honesty, the method behind his madness was that he wanted us to pay our rent!

With all that’s ever happened—and looking back now—I’d have to call his job offer one of my first God Winks. I want to say that the job taught me to be shrewd, but that sounds kind of harsh. Simply put, it was the first thing in my life that gave me a sense of my own identity.

I learned my writing skills in that job. I was an innocent, untrained sheep, thrown to the wolves in the real estate world (that’s supposed to be humorous). I survived my plight by teaching myself how to distinguish fires, ease the minds of stressed out clients, and win negotiations by writing well thought out, cleverly worded, and clearly stated letters and emails.

My verbal skills? Not so much.

I took the job seriously, and eventually crept out of my shell. I learned how to interact with people face to face, and started gaining the confidence that I so desperately needed. The downside was that—for many years—it was like having multiple identities, or personalities. One for the office, one for socializing, and one for home (and so on).

Sometimes I wonder if that’s why alcoholics (or maybe just ME) tend to prefer isolation. It’s exhausting to have to put on a personality that suits the circumstance that you’re in. Like I said, it was never done intentionally—and it’s taken me a LONG time to see it for what it really was.

During my fourteen years at that office, I gained the strength and courage that I needed to escape my hellish marriage and find sobriety. I blossomed into a productive member of society. But I was STILL empty. I became a bit of a workaholic, did some MAJOR overspending, and began that never ending search for the man who never really existed (Mister Perfect).

The bottom line is that I was constantly trying to fill that void. I had an insatiable appetite and it was killing me:

More, More, MORE! You need MORE!!

Skip to Part Four

Confessions: Part Two

If I had to sum up how or why I took the wrong road, I’d say it was because I had no faith or belief in God. To make matters worse, I had no direction, no plans, and no goals. I was a walking, breathing, empty vessel… easily tossed around and swayed by whatever (or whomever) was in my vicinity.

I just existed.

That’s how the chameleon came to be. It was never intentional. I was a shy and quiet girl, from a perfectly normal family, who JUST wanted to fit in and be liked.

I started becoming someone that I was NOT in junior high, when I entered the world of cliques. I never fit perfectly into any one of the groups. To survive that excruciating experience, all I could do was pretend that I wasn’t petrified. I started acting cool.

Coolness came with a price. It meant parties with drinking and recreational drugs. It also meant failing my classes, in spite of the fact that I was perfectly capable of passing with excellent grades. I hid the fact that I was fairly intelligent because I was afraid I would be ousted from the cool club. How weird is that?!

Perception is funny. As I’m writing this, I have to wonder. Where on earth did I get the idea that being cool meant doing those things, anyway? Was it a preconceived notion that I had, or did someone tell me that?

See… that’s what I mean about my people pleasing and the imaginary THEY’S that I was trying to please.  As I think back on my life, it seems that much of my trying to fit in was based on my own assumptions of what people wanted from me. That’s just ludicrous!

Anyway, once the partying started it was life at full-throttle, in a sense, and the next thing you know I’m in that stinking marriage surrounded by booze—and drugs that will keep me alert so that I can keep drinking the booze—and I’m completely and utterly lost.

Skip to Part Three

I’ll tell you something. I’m literally experiencing what I wrote about before—about writing being powerful. I’m STILL discovering things from my past that are helping me see the errors of my old ways, or how and where I made the wrong turns.

It makes me think about the enemy. He really DOES whisper to us. He’s been wanting me sick—or dead—for a LONG time, and filling my head with all sorts of  lies.

Confessions of a Chameleon

I had a great childhood. My parents never insisted that I be anyone other than myself. They never forced me to attend certain schools, or pursue a career of their choosing. They were a bit too overprotective—probably for a good reason—but other than that I was as free as a bird. The sky was the limit! In a sense.

Our family lived a quiet and simple life, and that’s all that I knew life to be. Nowadays I refer to it as having grown up in a bubble, but it was a very SAFE bubble. Their primary concern was that I finish high school, enjoy my youth, stay out of trouble, and one day be a happy, honest and responsible woman of integrity, just as they taught me to be.

So what was the problem? What stopped me from reaching for the moon?

I never learned self-confidence, and I was afraid.

The drinking started as fun. You know… teenage parties at night. Things like that. But I LOVED the way it gave me courage and that false sense of confidence.

With my tendency to always be in a HURRY, I left school before my senior year and began working full time at sixteen. I was pregnant at age twenty, married at twenty-three, and by age twenty-six I gave birth to my third son.

I drank and used drugs for years, almost daily, with my husband right there with me. I’d like to say that his addictions were far worse than mine, but maybe that’s not fair. I WILL say that he had an aggressive personality; lied compulsively; and was controlling and manipulative.

I didn’t believe in God, so I never really feared going to hell… but then again, I didn’t need to.

Hell had made its way to earth and was coming for ME.

Skip to Part Two

The Vertical Line

A worry that plagued me when I was already knee deep in writing was that my story was revealing a self-centered narcissist. Gazing at the pages, I’d see nothing but rows and ROWS of vertical lines. I, I, I — it’s all about ME!

That’s the enemy talking. He’s forever whispering in my ear; telling me to stop doing the very things that are helping me recover. Call him what you will; the devil, the flesh, or maybe a twisted merging of the two… the mind. Writing is therapeutic. Writing opens up your mind, and brings hidden things to the surface. The best advice I could ever offer anyone—aside from seek God—is…

Just write.

Writing (or journaling) is like a treasure hunt. Thoughts surface, questions come to mind, and incredible hints and clues appear on the page—right in front of your eyes. Yesterday, something in my post The Big Picture did exactly that. I found a clue!

“… by becoming someone that I was not. You know…a people-pleaser. Give them what they want. Tell them what they want to hear. Be who THEY want you to be. The problem here is that now I’m not even sure who THEY were.

As I typed that last sentence, I wasn’t sure where it even came from, and it didn’t make much sense, but I knew I didn’t want to delete it. I had to go back to it. It was telling me something. Of course, everyone’s story is unique. But, in my story… the truth that I’m learning—the thing that continually surfaces and catapults me over hurdles—is that there was no THEY. It was all in my mind.

My enemy is ME.

For forty some years, that vertical line that now fills the pages of the story was my victim. I’ve beaten her up and knocked her down again and again. And towards the end… I’m quite certain that I was trying to kill her!

THAT is why I write about her. Because I owe her that much, and I’m sorry for what I’ve put her through.

And it’s time that I allow her to heal.

Blessings-

(The picture is from Turquoise Lake in Colorado)

Moving Slow Today

I met my sponsor just a few days after my plunge from the puffy pink cloud. God’s timing was perfect.

It only took a couple of conversations about my unsettling romantic charades for her to point out that my picker was broken. The more I thought about it, the more I had to laugh. Looking at the lack of conditions I had listed for the man of my dreams brought new meaning to that famous line in Jerry Maguire; You had me at Hello.

Anyway, I’m on restriction now so there’s no dating for a while, and that’s a wonderful thing. I spent forty years trying to prove to the world that I was SOMEBODY, when the truth was- I never really knew who that somebody was. And I obviously didn’t care for her much, either.

When I had to sit down and name the people that I had hostility toward, the main culprit seemed to be me. My negative opinion of myself during adolescence did some serious damage to my psyche, and played a role in all of my self-sabotaging.

Learning to forgive
myself was HUGE.

I have to say that my walk with God started out extremely bumpy. I was expecting to display proof of some sort of immediate transformation, but I’ve discovered that it’s a lifelong journey. I had to dismantle that “fast-forward” button and stop trying to blast into the future. At the speed I was always traveling, I was never able to enjoy TODAY.

So this morning, like every morning, I woke up grateful. The past is gone, tomorrow isn’t here yet, and I am sober.

God is good!

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? – Matthew 6:27

A Child of God

Asking God to help me see my life from His perspective is what truly helped me. I went back forty years, to when I was lost in that awkward limbo between childhood and adulthood, and serious issues consumed my thoughts. I was convinced that no one would EVER understand what was going on in my head. I was the odd man out, the outsider, and a teenage misfit. I just didn’t fit in anywhere, and it was too risky to try.

I let fear win.

How I saw things now was that a curious young girl stood before me—full of intriguing thoughts and questions about life—and I silenced her. I introduced her to alcohol to help ease her angst, and we hit the fast-forward button. We raced into the adult world- totally unprepared.

What I came to realize was that, although my outward appearance had changed, that child had lived on. She carried-on in protest like a rebel without a cause—always reminding me that I was not like everyone else, and that I’d never measure up in this world.

I stamped the “reject” label on her myself, years ago, and she carried that stigma for decades. I was my own worst enemy! That’s probably when my recovery process really started to take hold. I visualized this younger me, and thought about what I could say to her…

You are loved, and you are worthy. You’re not different; you just see the world differently. That doesn’t make you less, it makes you unique. Be strong. Be courageous. Trust your Creator. He is with you wherever you go.

I embraced my inner child, and I told her these things. And then… I whispered to her the words that have never failed to see me through the darkest of days…..

You are a child of God.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 1  John  3:1

 

The Great Escape

It may seem odd that I always look on the bright side of things, but that’s how I roll. I’m an optimist ninety-eight percent of the time.

I don’t enjoy writing the other two percent of the time, when I’m feeling down and out. I don’t even like thinking about the times when I wanted to give up. The nights when I wondered why I was still breathing. It seemed like my life was meaningless, and I had nothing left to offer.

That’s how I felt when I had to move. I had lost my job that paid my rent, and I had no other options. I don’t think I need to explain why I lost my job; it’s pretty self-explanatory.

I hated the idea of moving. I had spent a year and a half decorating my place with second hand treasures, and I was SO proud. I LOVED my things! I never spent enough money on things to merit paying for storage though, so I knew I’d have to let so much of it go.

I cried for days!

But…I was miserable living there! My friend Sherry pointed that out to me, and she was right. I realized that my “things” were holding me hostage. I had created my own prison, trying to hold on to all of that stuff, and now the shackles were coming off. I gave away almost all of my furniture to family, friends, neighbors and the Goodwill.

The day that I watched my son’s truck drive off, full of my old belongings, the sun peeked through the clouds and lit up my face. It felt SO beautiful! I realized how long it had been since I had enjoyed the outdoors, and I felt a remotely familiar feeling. That feeling that I get when I’m on a road trip…

Like the morning that I woke up in Colorado, when it was so eerily quiet that I could hear a pin drop… and I realized that tiny snowflakes had silently covered the entire landscape overnight—with a beautiful white canopy. And that moment when I was sitting on the trailer porch in Arizona… and the night suddenly looked like day as thousands of lightning bolts lit up the sky at once. Or while driving through Utah, when my car was swallowed up by deep canyons, sheer cliffs and majestic rock formations.

That feeling that life is just as it should be. No tangible explanations, no concrete answers… just an awe-inspiring, indescribable understanding that everything outside of that moment is insignificant, and that God has everything under control.

So… with palms up, I looked to the sky and offered a silent prayer of gratitude.

I was ready to soar.

Next Up: A Step Forward

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

Through God’s Eyes

There was something else on my mind when I first contacted my friend Gil. I was trapped in that little world that I call SELF and I knew that I needed to get out of there. I wanted to make a contribution to this world.

I’m going to back up and talk about the man that I saw for four months, who finally admitted he lived with a woman. I actually mentioned to him that I’d written about him in my story. I had to assure him that he was anonymous just to bring some color back into his face (and later I learned why!). Anyway, he had hopes that I likened his character to Chuck Norris, but I’m going to call him your average “Joe”.

It was never my intention to present a one-sided version of this particular saga. Obviously he was dead wrong to withhold that crucial piece of information from me, but in spite of THAT, there are some really nice things I could say about Joe.

We had many laughs together, he listened to me talk incessantly, and he encouraged me a lot. We shared stories about our hardships, past and present, and there were things he told me about himself that left me with a heavy heart, full of compassion.

I’m not an idiot. I knew something was amiss from the very beginning, but I chose to ignore it. I wasn’t ready to face reality, I guess. I was living in fantasy land and was perfectly happy there… for a while.

My point is… I read something once—I think it was in a Philip Yancey book—about the way we see people when we are falling in love. We put all of our focus on what’s good in them, and overlook the bad. He compares it to how God sees us. Everyone has flaws, and we all make bad decisions, but God looks right through our defects and deep into our hearts.

I set out on this journey hoping to make a difference in the world. Perhaps imagining how people look through God’s eyes was helping me grasp that things aren’t always black and white. I was learning to appreciate the bigger picture, where the two extremes merge together to create countless shades of gray.

Anyway, I wasn’t trying to throw Joe overboard, or under the bus for that matter. I stopped seeing him, of course, but I have no anger. He’s only human, and he has a story. Everyone has a story.

Maybe we all just need to be heard.

Next Up: The Great Escape

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. Maya Angelou

Fighting to Win

Never be afraid to tell your story because there’s somebody who needs to hear it.

I have to keep telling myself that. I get those little twangs inside, telling me to just stop—that I’ve already said enough.

But, I’m not going to let fear win.

When I mentioned taking down the enemy in my last post; I was talking about sobriety, and my own spiritual battle. I wasn’t declaring war on men. I just want to make that clarification in case it wasn’t clear. Anyway, after doing some careful self-examination I started to realize something about my man pursuits. Not to sound cliché, but it wasn’t them—it was me.

After getting some male opinions, the general consensus was that—for them—it was like a hunt. Chase, conquer, pick up your trophy and go home. I’m not quoting them, but that’s what I took away from it. I mulled it over for a bit, and thought about how it compared to my own pursuits.

It was startling to discover that I followed the same pattern, in a sense, but it took MUCH longer to win the love of a man than it did for them to obtain their prize. Obviously, that was my own fault for handing out rewards far too quickly… but that’s another story.

What I discovered was that it was a sport for me as well, in a weird way. I went on long and treacherous fishing expeditions, with no REAL plans to keep what I caught. Once I’d thoroughly weighed and inspected him, I was ready to cast him back out to sea. Unless I just happened to harpoon a whopper someday, that is.

fishing

Either way, neither side was playing fair!

The bottom line was that if, or when, the love was finally reciprocated, the poor guy couldn’t possibly measure up. The thrill was soon over and I ended up having to plan my getaway. I was just chasing another high… looking to fill that void. The same void that I tried to fill with alcohol and anything else that I could get my hands on.

I never really knew WHAT I was looking for. In fact, it wasn’t until that void was finally filled that I understood that it was God that I had been searching for all of those years.

So, I guess you could say that while I was learning to embrace singleness, I discovered that God was embracing ME. The fight for recovery was suddenly easier, because I realized He had never intended for me to fight the battle alone.

Next Up: Through God’s Eyes

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms. He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’ Deuteronomy 33:27

More Girl Talk

They say that maturity is stunted when an alcoholic begins drinking heavily, or that when addiction starts, development stops.  For me, that basically meant that I had a lot of growing up to do.

My recovery process has involved a lot of stopping to reflect on what is going on inside of me. More importantly, it’s involved communicating with God… about everything. One of the biggest, most heartfelt prayers that I prayed, with tears in my eyes, was…

Lord, please show me how to live the right way! I don’t know what to do, because all I know… is what I know!

I can’t even begin to describe how much He’s shown me.

So… backing up a bit, I want to talk more about my little detour; my pursuit of the man. I used to be SO innocent. Naive is maybe a better word.  I dreamed about finding THE ONE. The love of my life. My soulmate. It wasn’t that I envisioned a future with someone, or even dreamed of living happily ever after. I was just searching for something. Something PROFOUND. That heart wrenching, over the top, so deeply felt it hurts kind of love.

I was a love addict.  I’d never seen a shrink, and had no professional diagnosis, but I knew enough to realize that, putting alcoholism aside, I had some serious issues! I loved being in love, or just loved pursuing love, I’m not really sure which one applied. Maybe both.

This isn’t a sex addiction I’m talking about, either. I think I was brainwashed early in life, whether it was by a specific man, men in general, or just society as a whole, that sex was just what people do, and it’s perfectly normal. In my case, it wasn’t exactly normal. I was just starting to realize that I had subconsciously used it… in an attempt to receive love.

I hope that came across correctly! Handing out sex to get love was not something I went about doing all of the time; and that certainly isn’t the point I’m trying to make. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that I was starting to discover that my entire life had been about pursuit; PERIOD.

From the moment I was young and my mind opened up to questions about the meaning of life, and death, I had a burning desire. I needed to find something! I would observe everyone around me, going about their daily routines, and think to myself; “Please tell me there is something MORE!”

I think from the very beginning, alcohol just helped me drown out that nagging voice in my head. It enabled me to stop worrying about finding the secret to life, and just go about my tedious day to day business like everyone else did. In looking to God for answers, I saw that my entire life had been the story of a girl who, since adolescence, was completely LOST. Swimming through a sea of alcohol and bouncing from relationship to relationship, in an attempt to fill a HUGE VOID, and find perfect love.

I was beginning to understand that none of those things; Alcohol, my business, or even the love of a man, would ever provide the complete satisfaction that I was looking for. Nothing here ever would. What I was seeking couldn’t even be bought. My mind was opening up and I was realizing that the things I thought mattered to me, never really did. It was a scam. The world around me had groomed me in such a calculated way that I was fooled, and I was just beginning to see things in a new light.

So, although I failed to “get the guy,” I got something much, much better. I gained valuable insight and learned something about myself, about life, and about God.

I’m thinking that the little detour I took….

…wasn’t really a detour after all.

Next Up: A Sprinkle of Faith

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12:2