Love Yourself – Warts and All

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not found anywhere. You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe deserves your love and affection.” ~Buddha

For as long as I can remember I’ve loved and cared for others. I never really thought about caring for myself and my needs until the last few years. For about 7 – 10 years I actually hated who I was. I didn’t feel like I deserved love. Sure I got compliments for looking nice, doing a good job or being nice but I figured people were being nice and didn’t really mean it.

How could I help other people if I didn’t at least like myself?

I always second guessed myself until I met someone who changed all that. This person, rather his passing, made me go outside my comfort zone. This was my first step in loving myself. Since I’ve done that, I’ve had lots of complete strangers all over the world compliment my work which has helped me to accept myself a little more each day.

Thanks to the love everyone has given me, I feel love for myself and that love is sent back out again to others. It is the love that is given, shared, received and given back out. It continues going from me to you, to my family, to your family, and on, and on and… It’s a circle of caring and sharing.

Thought for the day…Believe in yourself. Conquer your fears. Dip your toes in the water to test it if you must, but then just jump in. You are not as bad, ugly, or unworthy as you may think you are. Love yourself for who you are, warts and all.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

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No Matter What

I wanted to share a social media post that moved me. Many of these words kept me clean in some of my darkest hours. Thank you for the reminder April.❤

Here is a poem I wrote using some common recovery slogans/sayings….. Hope y’all like it! 😊❤️

No Matter What
By: April Grisham

6 years & 8 months ago
I went to get help
They all told me
“You can’t do it by yourself”

I was overwhelmed
Wanted to say, “Shove it!”
They told me to calm down
And remember, “Easy does it”

I was told to get a sponsor
And I was like, “Why?”
I thought, “What a joke!”
They said, “Work the Steps or die!”

At first I resisted
All because of fear
I said, “I got this”
They said, “Your best thinking got you here!”

I was pretty offended
But I listened anyway
Worried & scared to death
They said, “Just for today”

I began working the Steps
And started to be healed
They said this is forever
And “More will be revealed”

I began to feel emotions
I felt under attack
They said, “The best & worst thing about recovery”
“Is you get your feelings back”

There were times I wanted to give up
There were times I couldn’t see
I got angry when they told me,
You’re right where you’re supposed to be”

I stayed the course anyway
Recovery seemed so far
I wanted to run away
But they said, “Wherever you go, there you are”

I took all of their suggestions
At times I’d just smile & nod
Then, life showed up
They told me, “Let go and let God”

At 18 months clean
Everything happened so fast
I lost my job & almost lost my brother
They said, “This too shall pass”

I wanted to use so badly
I felt it in my gut
They held my hand & told me,
Don’t use no matter what”

I stayed clean through it all
But I’ve also made mistakes
But I have stayed willing
To do “Whatever it takes”

I have to take suggestions
To avoid being in a hearse
And remember that no matter what
My recovery MUST always come FIRST”

I still keep a gratitude list
I still continue to climb
Sometimes it’s really hard
But I take it “One day at a time”

Things still make me angry
At times I scream & swear
But I calm myself down
Saying “The Serenity Prayer”

I still hit my knees & pray
My brain still has a short circuit
But it’s true when they say,
It works if you work it”

I haven’t relapsed “YET”
I have a lot of haters
Sometimes it’s hard to deal with
But I know “It gets greater later”

Recovery has changed my life
Acceptance is the key”
I’ve learned so much
And gained serenity

I never thought it was possible
I never thought I’d find
A way to stay clean
And gain true “peace of mind”

So, if you think it’s impossible
And you feel under attack
Just know “We Do Recover”
And “Keep Coming Back!”

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Formula for Failure

I’m going to switch gears a little bit. I subscribe to a couple of daily or weekly inspirational readings. This particular one struck a chord in me because I’m struggling with correcting years of doing this to myself. This is one that many of you reading this can identify with. I corrected a couple of words so that anyone can catch the message of experience, strength and hope not just a certain group of people. Acknowledgement of the source is at the end for a reason, which you will understand when you read this in its entirety.

“Formula for failure: try to please everyone.”

I used to drive myself crazy trying to please everyone. In my insane home, I learned that if I didn’t make waves, and just agreed with everyone, then maybe for a little while there would be some peace. But it didn’t last long. Soon I would have to change, adapt, and give in again to placate the prevailing mood or attitudes of others. It was exhausting, and in the middle of it all I lost my sense of self.

I discovered something: I had a lot of resentments. I used to consider myself an easy going guy, but what I learned by doing a personal inventory was that by acquiescing(accept or agree to something, often unwillingly) to others by trying to please them, I was not only untrue to myself, but to others as well. By looking at my part, I realized that if I was to be happy and free, it was up to me to change.

Changing the way I interacted with others – especially with my family – was very uncomfortable for a long time. Suddenly I was no longer the pushover, and when I disagreed or refused to go along with their ideas, I suffered their wrath. But at least I didn’t hate myself or hold the familiar resentments anymore. After years of being true to myself, I’ve healed my relationship to myself and to others. Today, I have successful relationships because I am no longer trying to please everyone.

And because of this, I live a life that is happy, joyous, and free.”

For much of my life, this was me. Pleasing others, not wanting to make waves, agreeing with others to avoid conflict, etc. “Don’t make waves or else this person will be mad.” I was also the type of person who followed the crowd rather than being a leader. In doing all of this I lost the most important person in my life. Me. I’d forgotten who the real me was. Hell, I don’t think I ever knew the real me. I got to a point where I thought the world was out to get me. Eventually I got to a point of self imposed isolation because I didn’t want anyone to hurt me – again, as always.

It wasn’t until I was in such a pit of despair and headed towards that rabbit hole of depression that I was asked one simple question. A question that best sums up this reflection :

  • Who are you? Not your name, your title, or your job. Who are you as a person?

To answer that question I had to ask myself a couple more questions:

  • What are you passionate about? What drives you? What do you want out of life?

As I answered those questions over the following years, I began to get to know who I was, along with who and what I wanted in my life or not. I discovered new talents and things I was passionate about. For once in my adult life I began to enjoy life before it got to late.

So, who are you JQ Reader? What do you want out of life?

Each of us has a past and some of us have had it harder than others but we keep it to ourselves. Anyone of us could be dealing with “stuff” at anytime we talk to each other. Perhaps because of your hardships, instead of being a people pleaser or a peacemaker, you’ve hardened your heart and/or became bitter. Maybe you walk around with a chip on your shoulder and you lash out at anyone and everyone. Or maybe you even blame others for your misfortunes.

If this is you, I repeat the question above; Who are you JQ Reader? What do you want out of life? Do you want a life full of drama, chaos and hate? If so, I can promise you that finding any kind of happiness will be difficult and if you do, it won’t last long. Your anger and hate will overpower the happiness and you will be miserable again. Why not work on changing your mindset about your life and getting to know the real, authentic you? You just might be surprised by how much your life will change for the better.

Thought for the day: If you are unsatisfied with your life, why not try learning about yourself, your dreams, your desires and your passions? It could change your life in innumerable ways.

(The above inspirational I quote was from Wisdom of the Rooms Quote of the Week)

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Another Life Taken Far To Soon

“Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there’ can instantly fill up the emptiness inside.” ~ Jean Kilbourne

It’s one week shy of the one year anniversary that I got a phone call I didn’t want to get. That day I stopped dead in my tracks because I was shocked and heartbroken. I remember when I heard the news from my friend on the other end of the phone. I instantly went numb. The same thing happened roughly 5 months later when I got a social media message and again last night when I ran into a friend. What was this news you ask?

Another friend died. What’s worse is that they died a senseless death from a drug overdose.

If you’re not an addict, you might be wondering how I could possibly be friends with an addict? Simple. Because I am an addict too, but I am a recovering addict. I knew these 3 beautiful souls when they were at their best and their worst. Each of them did stop using for different lengths of time, but for whatever reason, they chose to start using again. I watched them come into recovery not only physically broke but also spiritually and emotionally broke.

At first, when they came in, you could see the pain in their eyes and hear the desperation in their voices. After they got some time clean, I saw the transformation. They started looking and feeling better. They began to have hopes and dreams again. They became productive members of society again and regained the love and trust that they’d lost from their families. But something happened. It was any number of reasons but it mainly boiled down to one thing.

They couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with their reality which was different for each of them.

I can hear the comments already from non addicts who are not familiar or don’t understand this disease – and yes, it is a disease. It is a mental health disease. I won’t go into the specifics of that today. I have written numerous pieces over the last year and a half and encourage you to read them. Pieces like “Who Is An Addict?”, “Reality of Addiction”, “A Demon Named ‘Addiction’”, “Addiction-Disease or Moral Failing?”, “Break the Stigma”, “The Demon” and many others. I write this today for another reason.

My hope and purpose today is to reach out and touch the life of just one addict with my words.

To any addict who may be reading my words, wherever you may be in the world, especially the addict in pain right now. Whether you have less than 24 hours clean or you have 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 1 decade or longer clean. Whether you are an old timer, newcomer, relapser, or the one contemplating a relapse this message is for each of you.

“There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.” ~ Sherman Alexie

I know your pain. I have lived it and I am still living it but I am still clean. I don’t care what your pain is, I understand it. Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Yea right lady. How can you/You can’t possibly understand what I’m going thru? You’re not going thru what I’m going thru.” Ah, but I do.

I’ve been in recovery for a few 24 hours now. I’ve done research on the internet and talked to numerous professionals and other addicts in that time. I’ve also done something for a while now that’s helped me not only with my personal research but it’s also helped me stay clean. When someone who’s relapsed comes back into recovery I ask them, “Why did you relapse?” The answers I’ve gotten back have varied but there’s one common denominator. Reality. You don’t want, can’t, or know how to deal with whatever your reality is.

Pick a reason, any reason; this person died, your kids are making you crazy, you can’t deal with your spouse or kids clean, that person looked at you wrong, this person said something to you, that person pissed in your Cheerios, the sun is out, it’s raining, it’s snowing, it’s to hot, it’s to cold…or maybe it’s something I neglected to mention.

“But my situation is unique.” Really? Allow me to tell you what I’ve been thru and still stayed clean.

Since I’ve been in recovery, I have been thru a divorce and another relationship after that. I’ve been thru deaths of family, friends, loved ones and addicts I considered family. When my dad fell ill and was in the hospital, I had to tell my mother and sister that I agreed with the doctor when he advised pulling the plug on him. I had to force my mom into a nursing home and lost my blood family because of it. I’ve had financial problems, no food in the house. I’ve been gossiped about and stabbed in the back. I’ve argued with more people than I can count, and currently I am dealing with a potentially progressive illness almost as serious as addiction.

And that’s just a snapshot of what I’ve dealt with over the last six years. Have I thought about using? Of course. Do I have an excuse to go back to using? Sure I do, but not a darn one of those excuses is a good enough reason.

Since i got clean I’ve also been able to pay off my car and buy my own home. They’re both mine. I don’t have to worry about being evicted because of divorce or family problems. I have a part time job and I finally have peace of mind. Yes I still worry about having money to live, but my drama and chaos is behind me. Best of all I still have family – a group of friends who will and have dropped everything to help me when I needed it most. Right now I can say life is good. Tomorrow may be different but for right now I am in control of my life. Plus, I’ve discovered new passions and a purpose for life.

Best of all I don’t worry about my next high or how I’ll pay for it. I don’t have to worry about being dope sick.

“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Look, I’m not going to lie to you. Being in recovery isn’t going to be easy. It’s not for the faint of heart? Some days will be damn hard. There are numerous ways to get and stay clean. Some of those ways are difficult and someone are easy. I’ve learned from other addicts that the easy way is a surefire way to not succeed. For an addict to stay clean we need tough love, not enabling, coddling or condemnation.

Most of all, we need the fortitude to commit to a new and better way of living.

I want you to know something that you may not know about yourself. You are important, deserving, loveable, intelligent, worthy, beautiful, brave, strong, powerful, resilient, fearless, talented, fierce, funny, loved, needed, alive for a reason and so much more than this list. You CAN do this.

Please, seek out recovery before your loved ones and friends bury you.

“Wait for me.” The words come out choked and pained. “I need you to wait for me.” ~ Krista Ritchie

…There’s no more time to wait. The time is now to live the life you were meant to live.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts.

Unconditional Love  

“My relationships with my cats has saved me from a deadly, pervasive ignorance.” ~ William S. Burroughs

Humans learn something new just about every day. We learn what to or not to do, how to or not to do things, what to or not to say and much more. We learn these lessons from a variety of teachers starting with our parents and teachers in school. When we leave school and home we don’t stop learning. We continue to learn from other people around us but did you know that we also learn lessons from animals too? Believe it or not we can and do learn some of life’s lessons from animals, specifically our pets.

How many of you own a pet, rather have a pet that owns you? Have you ever noticed that no matter how you look or feel, what you’ve done in your life or what mood your in that animals don’t care? They still come up to you anytime, anywhere and give you lovins. That’s called unconditional love – affection without any limitations or conditions.

I’d known about unconditional love for many years but I don’t remember really feeling and understanding it until I needed it the most. I was laying on my couch feeling sick, depressed, and like nobody loved me. My two cats didn’t care. Despite how I looked and felt, they came up and curled up next to me. Until this point I had a hard time treating others with unconditional love. These furry little teachers taught me to love others, and myself, warts and all.

Thought for the day: If you ever feel like nobody loves you, look into the eyes of your cat(or dog, etc). They will love you until you can love yourself.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts

Courage

“Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr

A few years ago, I was involved in a self help group and my task was to find speakers for certain nights. I lucked out for the longest time and didn’t have to speak. I was grateful for this because I hate public speaking. Besides, I didn’t think anyone wanted to hear my story. I was able to get away with it until one fateful night. I had no choice. I couldn’t find anyone to speak so I was going to have to do it. I would be remiss if I said I was looking forward to doing it. Actually, quite the reverse. I was petrified.

Someone taught me a couple of acronyms for fear. I could Face Everything And Rise or Forget Everything And Run or that False Evidence Appearing to be Real. These acronyms helped me overcome my fear that night and other times since then. After thinking about it, I decided I needed to get passed my fears. So I stepped up to the plate and spoke.

All to often our fear of doing things in life is because we are afraid we won’t succeed. I used to hear, “If you don’t even try, you won’t know if you’ll succeed.” I also used to hear, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” by Thomas H. Palmer. No matter how old we are, when we can overcome our fears, we grow a little each time.

Thought for the day: What happened when I spoke? Many of friends came up to me and said that my story helped them and that I did a really good job. This was the first time I learned that I had a message I needed to share.

***Please be sure to read more of my posts.

Impossible Dreams

“If you don’t believe in yourself, then how will anyone else believe in you?”  ~ Arnold Schwarzenegger

Recently, I started watching a tv show called “Objectified”. It’s a show where the host interviews famous people in their homes. After watching a few episodes I realized something that many of us forget. We forget that many famous and wealthy people came from humble beginnings.

Yes, that famous actor, musician and athlete that you idolize was once like you and me, living paycheck to paycheck. That CEO, layer or doctor with all the money was just like you and me.

Another way they were like you and me is that they each had hopes and dreams. They just took advantage of opportunities that were presented to them or they worked really hard to get where they’re at in life. Sure, some may have were either handed or born into a successful life, but many people had to work at it somehow.

Some of us remember when we were young and adults asked us what we wanted to be when we grew up. Older generations may even remember hearing that if we worked hard we could have the American dream. Somewhere along the way to achieving our dreams, something happened and we gave up on our dreams. Maybe we pursue other dreams or we give up altogether. This was me.

I had dreams, took some wrong turns, ended up somewhere in did want to be and in the end I gave up. Years later I woke up, discovered a new passion and some hidden talent. My new dream? You’re holding it in your hand.

Thought for the day:  When life knocks you down, never give up. Pick yourself up by the bootstraps, dust that stuff off and keep trying. “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” ~ Vince Lombardi

***Please be sure to read more of my posts