Early in recovery I was taught to write a gratitude list every morning. I was instructed to list 10 things that I was grateful for. In the beginning, I struggled to find things that I was grateful for. At first I listed things like my car, my home, my legs, my arms. On good days I listed my sanity and sobriety and on even better days I listed my friends, family and even my faith. Gratitude is a form of medicine. It can cure what ails me. If I am pissed off at something, I can think of what I’m grateful for and replace that angry feeling with gratitude. Easier said than done. I also know that when I’m grateful for things I already have, I’m not thinking about the things I don’t have. At least, not as much. But Chapter 6 in the book of John just taught me something else about gratitude. In the beginning of the chapter, John talks about how Jesus, who had to be pretty tired after healing that guy at the pool and bringing that royal kid back to life, walked to the top of a hill, I’m assuming to rest. But when
I’m one of those people who felt that I needed to read the bible all the way through, once I became a Christian. So I did. It took me a year, but I made it all the way through that book. Even through Numbers and Kings and other really boring parts. But aside from feeling like I had accomplished something, I didn’t get much else out of it. Instead, as the years went on, I became less familiar with the bible and the words in it. I flip through to certain verses when I need to reference something now and then. And if I’m reading something else, a devotional or another book, I will see a verse and then go read the words around that verse in the bible. But I haven’t spent time IN the word. I haven’t STUDIED the word. I’ve read it. I’ve even highlighted parts. But I haven’t really studied it. And I feel like I’m hungry for that. It’s not a hangry, I need it now or I’ll pass out sort of hungry. It’s a subtle rumbling sort of hunger. It’s as if God has this really delicious treat that I didn’t know I
I don’t know about you, but when I first met God I felt totally unqualified to join His organization. I had no experience being a Christian and didn’t know if they took people like me. Aside from the fact that I didn’t look, act or talk like a Christian, I was overwhelmingly underqualified in every way to be part of this spotless team. But I was desperate. My spiritual bank account was overdrawn. I had quit all my previous positions and was currently self-employed and didn’t like my boss all that much. I was ready for a new employer. However, I didn’t have a clue how to get my foot in the door. How does one prepare a resume to be a Christian? Under previous employment do I list all the faiths that I have dabbled in during my lifetime? What work history do I detail? I am not a Sunday school teacher. I have never been on a mission, anywhere. I haven’t led a bible study and can’t quote scripture. My resume would look something like this: Name: Jennifer Wilson Address: Earth Best method of contact: Prayer Position sought: Christian Previous Experience: Practicing Catholic 1968 –1984 Born to
My spiritual awakenings don’t always come from recovery meetings. Sometimes they come when I least expect them. I recently moved my living room furniture around, again. I am an avid furniture mover. Some would call it an obsession. I prefer to call my need for constant change courageous and bold. So many people are afraid of change, especially people in recovery. They are afraid to change jobs, change hairstyles or change homes. They are petrified to move out of their comfort zones and try something different. Not me. I embrace change. I thrive on it. Before I got into recovery, I always felt like I needed more. More money, more house, more prestige, more recognition, more love. I filled the sense of lack by changing things outside of myself. I bought new cars, new toys, new clothes. I repainted the rooms of my house every year and moved the furniture almost monthly. Now that I’ve been in recovery for a while I’m better in a lot of ways. I realize that I will never find the things I was looking for on the outside. I will only find them inside of myself. But I still like to move my furniture. Shortly after Christmas,
The 2007 movie the Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, made it to the Academy Awards because it resonated with millions of people. We could identify with Morgan Freeman’s character, a man who had dreams he wanted to fulfill before he died. For many of us, if we didn’t have a bucket list before that movie, we did after. My bucket list has several things on it, some of which may be on yours. I want to travel to Egypt and see the pyramids. I want to see the Redwood Forest in California. I want to write a bestselling book. And I want to go to the Academy Awards. When my husband and I were discussing our bucket lists, this one came as a surprise to him. “Really? The Academy Awards?” he said, a puzzled look on his face. “That would be kind of cool, but I’ve never heard you mention that before.” Oh yes. I’ve always wanted to go to the Academy Awards. In my younger year I watched the Academy Awards every year. My girlfriends and I were avid readers of the tabloids and knew all of the actors by name, age and dress size. Many of my
My friend’s husband has this very annoying habit of interrupting people when they speak. I’ve known this man for decades and he has always done this. Sometimes it bothers me more than other times. It also seems to really aggravate his wife and close friends. I assume they are aggravated because they roll their eyes when he starts a conversation over theirs. They’ve also come right out and said his behavior pisses them off. His wife has expressed enormous amounts of frustration at being ignored by him. “I’ll be talking to him and it’s as if I’m not even speaking. His eyes will just glaze over and then he’ll start a completely different conversation, right over mine.” When she talks about his behavior I can see the anger and hurt in her eyes. I’ve seen him do it to her and to others and have kind of just come to accept it as arrogance. I mean, he must think everyone around him is just trivial and their words are uninteresting. Why else would he steam roll them with complete disregard for their feelings? It’s such a part of his character that when I see him at social gatherings, I can count the
“If I hadn’t heeded the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I too would still be blind to the crazy contradictions between my beliefs and my behaviors.” – from the Celebrate Recovery Bible, Janet’s Story I had been taking a Celebrate Recovery Step Study class at my church and was four months in when I heard that line. As I had been strengthening my faith and was believing more and more in God and His love for me, I was also slipping further into a the guilty cycle of alcoholism and denial. Then, one day in class, we read Janet’s story out of the Celebrate Recovery bible. That last line was what did me in. “The crazy contradictions between my beliefs and my behaviors.” I had been living those crazy contradictions forever. I had been spending months in the class strengthening my faith. That alone alone was weakening my ability to live a double life. It was that line that described the insanity of my alcoholism. It was that line that saved my life. It was that line that took the tiny sliver of willingness in my heart and ripped it wide open. A week later I admitted my powerlessness over alcohol. Since then I’ve
Good morning God, I have to do this thing for a family member this weekend and I really don’t want to. I mean, I work all week and look forward to the weekends for ME time. I want to get out of this commitment but don’t know how. What do you think I should do? Weekend Whiner Dear WW, When you serve others it pleases me. Serving others when it is inconvenient for you honors me. Keeping your commitments to serve others when it is inconvenient for you thrills me. I think you know where I’m going with this. Thrill Seeker God Want more God Talks? Subscribe to to ClumsyChristian.com and Get 30 days of FREE God Talks!
Yesterday was one of those “really glad to be a mom” days. My hubby and I were at a technical college with our son Jackson. We had been there for awhile and were listening to the orientation specialist tell us all about the college. She also told us all about herself, her daughter and other irrelevant things. I understand sales. She was trying to connect. But she was trying too hard. And she was interrupting me every time I tried to ask a question or explain Jack’s academic history to her. Our son Jackson did not take the traditional school route. He was a square peg in a round educational system and his exceptionality did not fit into the neat little holes the public, private or virtual school systems offered. Even if we shoved really hard. I know because I tried. He eventually found his own path and got his GED before he would have graduated traditional high school. He got a job and is now seeking higher education. I couldn’t be prouder of him. Until yesterday. About 30 minutes into the orientation Jack put both his hands on the desk and began speaking. “Excuse me,” he said to
I don’t know the shooter’s name. I don’t know what he struggled with, or if he struggled at all. All I know is that while I sit here, feeling the effects of a new bipolar medication, I’m watching President Obama talk about yet another mass shooting. And I am disgusted. I’m disgusted because two and half months ago I was having a severe episode of mood cycling from depression to hypo-mania. I had gone weeks with an average of two to three hours of sleep a night. I was irritable, confused, unmotivated, hyper, tired, angry, sad, scared and annoyed. I knew it was bad and I knew I needed help. So I called my psychiatrist and was told I wouldn’t be able to get in for six weeks. SIX WEEKS! I don’t think the killer at the movie theater could have waited six weeks. I doubt the shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary would have holstered his weapon and waited for his evaluation. I am pretty sure that the killer at the church, the movies, the college campus, the military base, the high school, anywhere, everywhere – I’m just guessing here that they wouldn’t have been able to get their emotions in
I just returned from Women of Faith on Saturday night, one night earlier than I expected. I left my tribe on Friday afternoon after making sure the dogs were in the crate, the dishes were done, my kids had their house keys and the bed was made. Why I made the bed, I’m still not sure. I knew I wouldn’t be sleeping in it. And I don’t usually go out of my way to be nice to other people for no reason at all. Honestly, I just don’t. It requires thought and effort for me to be nice. I’m just not a naturally generous person. So, unless I’m going to be sleeping in the bed, I’m usually not going to make it. But for whatever reason, it was made. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride up, the fellowship with other crazy women, the speakers, the music and the experience of being reminded of just how brokenly human and humanly broken we all are. I was reminded that it’s okay to scream, nag and fail. I was urged to be gentle with myself and those who are put in my path. I was encouraged to be vulnerable, honest and to share my story.
In honor of National Recovery Month, I wanted to share my thoughts on beginning the recovery journey. I, like most of us who enter recovery, was scared to death and felt completely alone. It has been a few years now, and even though I have my ups and downs, they are never as terrifying as that first day, that first attempt, that first thought that I might actually do this, this whole recovery thing. I’ve watched so many newcomers enter the rooms and sit in the back row against the wall. I’ve watched them shake and bake, cry and fidget. And I’ve watched many of them disappear back into the world, never to return again. So in honor of National Recovery Month, I wanted to write an open letter to the newcomer. More specifically, I want to share my open letter that the sober Jen is writing to the newcomer Jen. I hope you can identify with something here. Dear Jen, The first thing I want to say to you is that it’s going to be okay. I know that right now you don’t believe that. You probably think it is a big fat lie. I did too. I didn’t
I tried to kill myself a few months after my seventeenth birthday. I wasn’t addicted to alcohol yet, but had been relying heavily on drugs to numb my feelings of self-hatred for some time. When I laid the pills out, all the colored pills, on the bedspread of my little girl bunkbed, I thought it was the only way out. I put on Styxx’ Babe and cried softly as I swallowed each pill in the dim glow of the Christmas lights hanging from the bed frame. I didn’t want to die. I just didn’t want to live anymore. But I didn’t know what I didn’t know. And today I do. So, in honor of National Suicide Prevention Week I want to talk to the suicidal Jen and thank her for not succeeding that night. Dear Jen, They look kind of like skittles, those little pills, don’t they? Especially with all the twinkling Christmas lights reflecting off of them. Those lights, hanging from your bunk-bed, they look pretty cool. That bunk-bed sure has a lot of memories, doesn’t it? I remember Dad building it for our brothers. I remember the smell of the sawdust and the way it stuck to our skin while we watched and
There is no way to ease the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. But maybe getting a tiny glimpse into what they were feeling and could never tell you, what they lived with everyday, might help some people find peace knowing that the person they loved, the person they miss so much, isn’t suffering anymore. It works for some and not for others. I hope this helps someone. What does the pain of depression feel like? Here are a couple of unique perspectives… “When you try to help I will push you away. When you try to hug me, I will cringe in real physical pain because the emotional pain of hating myself is too intense. When you tell me you love me and want me to get better I will hate myself more because I know that with every passing second, I am hurting you more which makes me feel worse about myself. When you ask me what I want to do I will cry because I can’t even put two thoughts together. When you ask me if I would like to go for a walk, go to a movie or go out to eat I will
Thanks to my bestie for sharing this video with me… how appropriate during National Suicide Prevention Week. WHAT I WANT TO SAY TO FAT PEOPLE —> #DearFatPeople This is my response to Nicole Arbour’s video (& all body shamers!) S2 of #MyBigFatFabLife premiers Wed. 9/9 at 9 on TLC! #NoBodyShame This video reminds me of just how damaging, how hurtful and honestly, how deadly bullying can be. So today, if you know someone who might be struggling with this issue, tell them how beautiful they are.
In honor of National Suicide Prevention Week, there are a few things you should know. If you are thinking about suicide, please remember… You may want desperately to end your pain through suicide, but others only survive their pain because they watch you get through yours. They look at you, at your circumstances, at everything you’ve been through and think, “Wow, if they can do it, so can I.” Your very existence may have saved countless lives already.You may not love yourself, but someone else does. They may not be able to show you or tell you, but that is their issue, not yours. You may not think you’re worth anything, but the people whose lives you touch do. They base their own self-worth on the people around them, you included. They may be helpers, nurturers, parents, children or just people who feel your pain. They are the people who have openly worried about you and secretly prayed for you. To them, you are worth the effort, the time and life. You may think life is too unbearable, but you don’t realize your existence is the only thing that makes life bearable for others. You may be the bright spot in someone
There’s a television commercial running that shows people contemplating whether or not they should go to their high school reunion. If I had to guess from looking at the balding, slightly puffy actors, I would say they are about 20 years removed from their Alma maters. One woman is shown peering into her closet and scrunching up her nose at her wardrobe choices while another man slides his hair piece up and down. It made me think of my Breakfast Club high school experience. I related so much to all of the Brat Pack movies. They had drugs, alcohol, sex, insecurity, popularity, neediness, confusion and want in slightly different proportions than I had. But nonetheless, there were clear parallels. If I had to pick a character to identify with, I’d like to say it was Demi Moore or Molly Ringwald in most of the movies. But in reality, I was more like Ally Sheedy – the dark, brooding girl who talked little and smoked much. I was the one who hid behind her hair and scared people just a little. I didn’t wear black. Instead I disappeared behind a collage of tie-dye, ripped jeans and wool Baja jackets – sometimes concealing an homage to
How did you get here? I mean here, to my page, not here in life. Okay, well I guess I’d like to know that too. But also, how did you get to my blog? Was it through a search engine, a FB page, Twitter, the many subliminal messages I’ve planted all over the internet? Why are you here? Don’t you have anything better to do? Cause c’mon. I know there are billions, well, maybe just millions of other blogs and pages on the internet. I’m not telling you to leave, nooooo. I’m really glad you’re here. Just wondering why. What do you think? Not all the time. What do you think about the blog? Do you like it, hate it, love it? Does it help? Do you think it’s the best darned thing since Prozac? Do you text, tweet and message all your friends and tribe members to flock to it immediately? You can do that, you know. Anyhow, what do you think? Finally, thanks for the info. None of it matters though. Because I don’t write this for you. I don’t do any of it for any of you. If it helps, I’m glad. If it gives you a
We all come to recovery in our own unique ways. Some of us spend our last hours going out with a bang – using heavily and sucking up every last second of our drug of choice. And others of us look at our habit with tears in our eyes, exhaustion in our soul and utter defeat in our heart, ready to surrender. How did you come into recovery? LION – heavy in your addiction and resistant to change LAMB – quietly surrendering and ready for help Leave your answer in the comments!
I was instructed by my sponsor to “take exquisite care” of myself because I was feeling rather crappy. I was whining, moaning and pretty much minimizing the incredibly frightening claws of depression that were pulling and tugging at my consciousness. If she could see the scratch marks, she didn’t let on. “Yoga, eat well, pray, gratitude, nap…” were some of her instructions. Napping was not a problem. I’ve always been a napper. I can nap at the drop of a hat – as long as I can get horizontal. I have never been able to sleep upright, in a car or airplane. Nope. I need a flat surface, of any kind. Give me a bed, a floor, a desk, a long countertop and I’m good to go. So, I checked the NAP box and looked at the rest of the list. YOGA – maybe. I could commit to stretching in bed while slowly waking up from a nap. That will have to do for now; check. EAT WELL – hmmm. I wondered if mint chocolate chip ice cream counted as eating well. I DID eat it after I ate cottage cheese and almonds. So I ate well – check. PRAY.
I recently heard a woman talk about how she thought she was always last on God’s to-do list. She believed God was taking care of everyone else but her. He was doling his blessings onto everyone around her while she sat lacking. She thought for certain everyone else in her life was getting all the lucky, fortunate breaks while she remained stuck in an unsatisfying life. She was absolutely positive that God answered other people’s prayers and that hers ended up in His spam folder. Until she got into recovery and met the God of her understanding. This God was not the same God she knew before. This God wasn’t selective and biased. He didn’t hold a grudge. He wasn’t easily flattered. This God was kind, loving and equal in His benevolence. He blessed everyone, forgave everyone and loved everyone, regardless of how they felt about Him. I used to think that my God also tossed my prayers into the recycling bin. I was pretty sure that all those foxhole rants that I called prayers were rising up into the atmosphere and either evaporating into the ozone or falling on God’s deaf ears. I knew with absolute certainty that everyone else
I recently received a message from a girl who wanted my help. Her name is Michelle and she is the founder of Schizophrenic.NYC. She stumbled across my blog and wondered if I would be willing to write a post about her organization. She would even be willing to send me a free tee shirt. Now, she had me at help… but the word free sealed the deal. See that cool t-shirt I’m wearing? That’s just one of many designs she creates and sells to help raise awareness and fund programs for the homeless mentally ill in and around New York City. And even though I’m not from New York, I can identify with the mental illness part. I suffered my first depressive episode at sixteen and it sucked. It sucked my sanity, sucked for my family and nearly sucked the life out of me, literally. At the time, I had no idea what was happening. I thought I was just being witchy and mean. I thought I was just being overly emotional and sensitive. I thought I was a loser, a scumbag, a failure – not worth the air I breathed. And I at the time, I thought that type of thinking was normal. Luckily,
Step 3 and Step 11 are the only two steps that refer to God’s will. On the surface these two steps seem pretty simple. When I was first introduced to them I thought they were rather straightforward. No problem. I can turn my will and my life over to the care of God. Heck, I was doing a pretty lousy job caring for myself so I figured I had nothing to lose. And as far as my will? Well, I had been trying to change myself, trying to discipline myself, trying to will myself into getting better, healthier, saner. And that hadn’t worked out too well either so I was more than happy to let someone else take a stab at it. I also figured that since I enjoyed listening to classical music on rainy days over a good cup of coffee at Panera, that I could definitely meditate. And prayer was a no-brainer for me. I had been praying for God to make changes in my life for as long as I could remember. Yup. This whole 12 step thing was gonna be a cinch. And then I read those steps again. And again. And… again. And I kept
I am going to admit something to you that I haven’t even admitted to my sponsor – I know, I know. But c’mon, I know you’ve held something back from time to time too. But this isn’t a little something… this isn’t a small thingy that I just casually forgot to mention. Nope. This is a big, bad, hairy, scary boogie-man sort of thing that has been on my back, over my shoulder, in my closet and sometimes under my bed for as long as I can remember. Ready? Okay… here it is… (big sigh) I’M SCARED TO WRITE. Now before you get all – What the what?! on me, let me explain. I’m not afraid to write behind the cloak of anonymity. (Notice I don’t have many personal pics on this site?) I’m not afraid to write for someone else (ghostwriting, freelancing, favors). And I’m not afraid to write for free (this blog, FB, Twitter, general mish-mash of musings – although I’m open to payment or donations :)). But I’m terrified to actually finish something of my own that will be published. In other words, I’m scared to finish my books. I have a few, several actually, that I’ve already written. They
The farther away I get from my last depression, the harder it is for me to remember the specific feelings associated with that hellish place. But when the topic of depression comes up, a chill runs up my spine when I remember just how bad it was. My depression was different each time. The first time I experienced depression I wasn’t quite sure what was going on. I was a teenage girl experiencing raging hormones, substance experimentation, sexual exploration and the normal pressures of high school. My blue skies turned gray over a period of years. Then in just a few short months, those gray clouds turned black and opened up, pouring rain and hail down on me and my loved ones. Before I knew it, I was sullen, silent and suicidal. The old Jenny was gone and a shell of a person, a ghost Jenny took my place. My family tried to help… but only made it worse. They pushed me for answers, they prodded me with questions, they got angry. I was killing my parents. My siblings told me how selfish I was and what a toll I was taking on my mom and dad. Everyone hated me and I knew it. I knew I
I was making my morning coffee the other day and was down to the last few packets of Truvia. Over the years I’ve used sugar, Splenda, Sweet & Low and numerous other types of sweeteners in my coffee. And I’ve run out many times. But this particular morning, I had just enough. And I was grateful. There have been many times when I’ve come close to running out of something and found that I had just enough. I’ve pre-soaked laundry and loaded it all in the washer only to find I had just enough detergent to clean that one load. I’ve done the same with the dishwasher. I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in the shower with just enough soap or shampoo to get the job done. And everyone can identify with having just enough toilet paper left on the roll. These moments are little “Thank God” moments for me. They are minor situations that cause me to stop and say, “Whew, that was close. Thank God I had just enough.” I’m reminded to be thankful because of how close I get to running out. But I don’t always do that with other things in my life. I forget to thank God
It seems to me that Steps 6 and 7 are the most underused, overlooked steps in recovery programs. In the Big Book, they take up a scant two paragraphs. In other literature they are only touched on with a simple prayer or two. But for me, these two steps are vital to my continued emotional and spiritual conditioning and I cannot ever take them for granted. In fact, I must stay in these two steps every day. Step 6: We were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Once I completed my 5th step, I became acutely aware of all my shortcomings, my defects of character. At first I thought the choice of words, “defects” was rather harsh. I knew I was defective, there was no doubt about that. But I didn’t like other people to label me that way. Different recovery programs call these defects different things. Some refer to them as shortcomings, flaws, character traits, etc. No matter what I call them, they are things that have caused me pain and discomfort in my life. They have usually caused me to behave in ways that are harmful to me and others. And no matter
As a sober woman, I get the privilege and honor of being a part of other women’s recovery journeys. This past weekend I met with one of my friends in recovery. She was having a particularly difficult weekend. She had some serious emotional upheavals and even though she had a lot of recovery, she was struggling. “I can’t seem to find my toolbox,” she said, referring to the many spiritual tools she has acquired along the road to happy destiny. “Yeah,” I said, “I lose mine a lot too.” We decided it would be a good idea that once she found it, she should put a big neon flashing strobe light on it so it would be easier to locate next time. We joked about it, but the reality was that she was making some choices that were not in her best interest. She knew what she should do, what would keep her on the beam, but despite all the knowledge, she still chose to do things that could jeopardize her sobriety. Some of the issues she was struggling with were huge. I mean they were big, bad, dark, scary, monster in the closet in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm
In the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, Chapter 5 describes in detail, How It Works. Before the 12 Steps of AA are listed, buried in the second paragraph is a phrase that I don’t give a lot of thought to, but I should. “…willing to go to any length…” This is part of a sentence that talks about what we are willing to do to get recovery. What actions we are willing to take to achieve the sense of peace and serenity we see in our fellows. My first sponsor spent a lot of time on this particular phrase with me in early recovery. She pointed out that unless I am willing to put my recovery first, sacrificing all other people, places and things in my life, I will struggle and might never have that peace I so desperately wanted. With her help, I realized that might mean giving up obligations and commitments that were very important to me. It might mean rearranging my schedule. It might mean going to places I didn’t want to go and doing things I didn’t want to do. Eventually, I got the point of that phrase. But as my recovery has shifted from desperate defiance to more
I figured I’d blog about this because it seems to be a recurring theme in my life the past few weeks. Not only have I personally experienced my inner brat rearing her sweaty little head lately, but I’ve watched a few friends struggle with their inner brats as well. I first heard the saying, “The brat dies hard,” in a meeting. As soon as the woman said it, I recognized exactly who she was talking about. I could not only identify, I could totally, completely, wholeheartedly get what she meant. I saw images of a little Jenny stomping her feet and pouting when she didn’t get what she wanted. It was like a silent movie playing in my head with the little Brat as the star. My childhood flashed by with regular appearances by that girl. But it didn’t stop there. My mind filled with images of that same little spoiled girl acting up when my husband told me I couldn’t buy that new outfit or go away on a girls’ weekend. Snapshots appeared in my head of that obstinate Brat quitting yet another job even though she had no idea of where her next paycheck would come from. There she was again,
I’m so important. I’m so special. I’m so unique. Yeah, right. But I really thought that. In fact, my favorite words were, “You just don’t understand.” Can you identify with this at all? It’s funny how my inward perspective has changed since I’ve been in recovery. When I first arrived, I was quick to blame everyone around me for all of my problems. My husbands, yes, both of them, were to blame for my depression. My kids were to blame for my mood swings. My mothers-in-law were to blame for my frustration, and on and on. There were very few people in my life that didn’t get blamed for something. Sorry guys. When I claimed my seat in recovery, I didn’t know I would have to undergo a complete makeover to keep it. But that’s what it required, and still requires, every day. At first, I focused on myself. I started to peel away the layers of denial and reveal my sorry state of terminal uniqueness. It came as a shock initially. What do you mean that my life isn’t more difficult than other people’s? What do you mean I don’t have it worse than everyone else? The realization that I
No one knew I was depressed. They didn’t know the first time, they didn’t know the second time. And by the third depression, even I didn’t know I was sinking. The first depression occurred when I was 16. My parents probably thought it was just moody rebellion. I certainly did. I was defying rules, ignoring curfews, blatantly disobeying everyone and anyone in positions of authority. I experimented with drugs, alcohol and sex. I was 16 and life was good. Until it wasn’t. The darkness came over me gradually brought on by a haze of substances and activities, all designed to twist my emotions and distort reality. Hormones raged and endorphins screamed. The old Jenny, the straight A student, the compliant child, got swallowed up like a fan in the stands of an Aerosmith concert. When I emerged, I was changed. The music had stopped, but the noise was still deafening. Voices that were never in my head before became my constant companions. They said things I didn’t want to hear and sewed new truths in my fertile mind. Those around me noticed the change, but were equally unsure if it was just teenage angst or something more sinister. Clarity came in the ambulance. You
I have a vision board in my office. It is filled with words and images of things that I want to accomplish or acquire. I made the board with a bunch of other women at a vision board party. We pored over stacks of magazines while we munched on sweets. Each of us picked and snipped sayings that held certain significance to us as we chatted about the meaning behind the words. We called out images we were in search of. “I need a campfire” I said, knowing that I really wanted to go camping with my family. I used to camp a lot, in my previous life, my first marriage. Every memory I have of camping, from childhood to motherhood, is good. They are nestled in smoky smells and drizzled with the aroma of burgers on the grill and bug spray. When I close my eyes and think about those lazy summer days I can hear the kids laughing and the pool water splashing. The warm summer breeze wraps itself around me as I nap in the tent camper just feet above the leaf filled earth. Camping, a cabin in the mountains, road trips, being on the water more… these are just some
My daughter’s wisdom astounds me. I was driving her to school the other day and we began talking about this new game her brother helped her download on the computer. It was one of those rare moments that my children were not only getting along, but actually interacting in a kind and loving way. I know my kids love each other. But they don’t always like each other. While her big brother was downloading the game, he began telling her about other games he had on his account and how he would let her play those, too. I busied myself in the kitchen trying not to jump for joy at the rare gift that was being unwrapped before me. I wanted to scream from the hilltops “How sweet! You are an awesome big brother!” But I didn’t. Instead, I soaked in the tenderness he was displaying to his little sister and eavesdropped as she reveled in the attention he was giving her. On the way to school, I mentioned that her brother was very generous and had a big heart. “Yeah,” she said, “He has a big heart. But it shrinks a little when he’s mean.” Images of the Grinch
I have recently been thinking about Step 12: Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to (alcoholics, addicts, others), and to practice these principles in all our affairs. It reminds me of when my son was in the marching band. Over 200 kids would show up in the heat of summer knowing not a lick of music slated for their upcoming season. They would spend weeks before school started, learning the music, learning the choreography, getting to know their individual parts and how those impacted the production as a whole. They got to know their abilities, their fellow band members, and every nuance of each song. Despite the fact that they worked their butts off, none of these kids ever expected to get out there on the first day and put on a perfect, flawless performance. I also bet none of them ever beat themselves up about it. The band members remind me of each person in recovery. We all show up with a different expectation, a different role and a different level of experience. Some of us have been to band camp before, might even know a few people. Some of us
For Valentine’s Day this year, my husband and I decided to let each other pick out our own gifts. We went shopping together and paid for each other’s new purchases. His was a new pair of Dr. Scholl’s gel inserts. Mine was a FitBit. Not too romantic, I know. But we got what we wanted and that’s what matters. I’ve been using my FitBit for a few days now and have to say, I’m really impressed. Not with the technology, although it’s quite amazing. But I’m impressed with my motivation to walk more and eat less. The FitBit tells me how many steps I’ve taken, how many calories I’ve burned and provides a mobile or online dashboard that lets me log my food intake. This way, I can see the number of calories coming in and going out. My weight has always been an issue for me. When I was in my 20’s and 30’s, I never thought I was thin enough or fit enough. Today, that undesirable body is the one I strive to get back. I was so blinded by illness and addiction and the disease of “less than” that I never realized what an amazingly healthy and beautiful body
Nearly everyone I’ve met in recovery has some experience with a psychiatrist, psychologist, therapist, counselor or mental health professional. Coincidence? I think not. I lump myself into that group because over the span of my 40 something years, I’ve had more visits to mental health specialists than to the dentist. You would think after seeing countless doctors and having undergone every mental, emotional and physical test know to man, that I would have learned exactly what my ailments were. But I didn’t. I listened diligently over the years as medical professionals asked questions and dissected events in my life trying to rationalize and label my behaviors. I followed their instructions to read, exercise, eat right and take my medicine. I tried individual therapy, group therapy, intensive therapy and even light therapy. Some of those methods worked a little. But none of them healed me. It wasn’t until I came into recovery, into a room full of strangers, that I was able to begin the process of truly healing my mind, body and soul. Looking back over decades of expensive 50 minute sessions, I know today that the doctors and counselors who sat across from me are not to blame. They never had a chance. How could they help me when
The term “depression” gets tossed around quite casually in today’s world. But clinical depression, also called major depressive disorder or major depression, is a mental illness caused by a chemical imbalance. We’ve all felt down or sad at one time or another and admittedly, it’s no fun. Sometimes a depressive episode starts with those normal feelings of being down or sad. But major depression hangs on and persists. People who have never had depression have a hard time knowing if they’ve crossed the line from being down to being clinically depressed. What makes it even more challenging is that those around the depressed person don’t know what’s happening either. They tell their loved one to “snap out of it” or “cheer up,” which is nearly impossible to do when you’re stuck in the deep, dark pit of depression. I have struggled with depression and the depressive side of bipolar for most of my life. And still, I can miss the subtle signs of depression when they rear their ugly heads. I have been to countless therapists and psychiatrists and have researched everything I can get my greedy hands on to better understand my illness and to arm myself and those around me with ammunition to combat
I’ve been told a grateful heart is a happy, sober, serene heart. So today, I want to share 25 things that I’m thankful for. 1. Patience – the patience my family has for me when I’m short-tempered, moody and generally ugly. 2. That feeling you get when you open your house windows for the first time after a long hot Florida summer or a cold, icy, northern winter. 3. That I don’t want to kill myself today. 4. That he had the affair. 5. Fingers that allow me to write the thoughts in my head. 6. Google and how it has expanded my knowledge on all things and how it has informed me of all the illnesses I wasn’t aware I had. 7. John Baker and Celebrate Recovery. 8. That I don’t apologize for things I’ve already apologized for. 9. That God does for me what I can’t and won’t do for myself. 10. Jeggings because they always fit. 11. That I don’t stop doing all the right things just because I did one wrong thing. 12. For a husband who is willing to do anything I ask of him and who loves me enough not to. 13. That
Halloween has always been one of my favorite times of the year. When my boys were little we used to make killer jack-o-lanterns and do the holiday up like nobody’s business. We camped every October and would decorate our site like a haunted house. The kids would enter costume parades at the campground and the smell of campfires and fresh crisp apples still linger in my mind a decade after moving away from New England and the cool autumn weather. A lot has changed since then. Fall in Florida is quite different from chilly northern nights. My boys are grown and we don’t camp on Halloween anymore. But one thing that hasn’t changed is my love of homemade costumes. My daughter and I discussed several costume ideas before she broke the news to me in the car the other day, the news I dreaded and hoped I would never hear from one of my children. “I don’t really like homemade costumes, mom.” I almost drove off the road but managed to keep it together while saying the Serenity Prayer in my head. I couldn’t believe I gave birth to a child who didn’t want a homemade costume. After years of successes with Batmans,