Recovery After Relapse

 I have gone back and forth trying to decide whether or not I wanted to share this post.   I have been  a people pleaser most of my life and I didn’t want any one to be angry with me. Others will stop reading.  BUT there may be one or two who will be encouraged or know recovery is actually possible.

My first time in recovery, I shared with everyone.  I didn’t care who knew because NA and the people I met saved my life.  They helped me to learn about me which made me confident.  Some would say I got cocky, since after two plus years of daily meetings I walked away from the program thinking I was “better” and was healed.  I was given back all of the tangibles in my life – family, a career, a house, car and so much more.

If you read my blog regularly, you may have noticed I have referenced my relapse and my walk back into recovery.  Pride and ego gets the best of me as I worry about what people will think.  BUT there may be someone out there who needs to hear this story….

When I started blogging in 2013, I shared the story of my addiction. The story of getting clean in 1991 was a blessing.  I was blessed with many years in recovery – from drugs.  Of course, I now know I substituted work for my drug of choice.  I became a workaholic – and some wondered if I cared more about my clients then I did my family.  As a workaholic, I had an occasional glass of wine figuring I had things under control.  Little did I know, it was the beginning of making a total mess of my life again.  See, I forgot one simple thing from those early meetings – a drug is a drug is a drug.  The truth is, anything we become obsessive about is a form of addiction.  So, as I worked for many years at a job I loved; I was able to “manage” my work – addiction.

When for health reasons I had to give up my crazy commute (4 hours a day round trip) and a job I loved – I was lost.  I had no real identity or at least I didn’t think so.  The first year wasn’t bad.  I worked on my direct sales business, and collected unemployment while I looked for something close to home.  The truth was being 54 with LOTS of experience was not an appealing trait for most employers.  All they saw was someone who was “older” and who they thought would quit when a better opportunity came along.

Over the next 7 years, my life would be like a roller coaster ride.  Taking jobs to fill the void and pay the bills.  But each time, my MS (not yet diagnosed) reared its ugly head, and I had to give my notice.  During 4+ of those years, not only did I struggle to find a job but I endured endless testing to determine what was going on health-wise with me.

Financial unmanageability was starting to wreck havoc in my life without a steady income.  MS started affecting my memory, my moods, my balance and my life. The unmanageability throughout my life got worse.  No steady income.  An inconsistent commission check from my direct sales business.  Using credit cards to pay for things or to shop or to keep up appearances.  Drinking wine to relax.  The old behaviors and feelings from my early days of using came back really fast.  Stuffing my feelings again.  Feeling like I didn’t belong.  Feeling alone.  Feeling like a victim.  Feeling unworthy of anything.  Playing the comparison game and never winning.  Being self-centered (I want what I want when I want it).  Angry. Letting pride rule. Jealousy.  All of those things I thought I had dealt with long ago.

See, the reality was I gave up the drugs but I never really worked on me.  I substituted work for drugs.  I identified as a Social Worker.  I identified as mom.  But I never identified as Hope – the person.  Looking back, I was happy with my life BUT I don’t think I was ever really happy with me!

One year ago, I walked back into the rooms of NA, I felt as broken and lost as the first day I walked into the rooms on October 26, 1991.  I have learned so much in the last year.  This year has been a turning point in my life…. you would think at 62 I would have finally gotten it together. LOL.

Are things perfect?  No but they are getting better.  I am learning to like me for me.  I still tend to play the comparison in my business but it is getting better. I am working on re-building broken relationships. I am building a network of strong women who I can lean on.   I am learning to accept my MS diagnosis and truly believe #mswillnotdefineme.

Why am I sharing this?  I want to help someone else who may be struggling.  I am coming face to face with my inner demons so I can move on from the past and embrace the future.

Have a blessed day!

It’s All About Who You Know

Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message….

We adopted Miss Becky and she adopted us. My husband was the pastor of a church in South Florida and our family lived in Texas. Miss Becky became a grandmother to our two children and a precious friend to me.

I took our two kids by Miss Becky’s apartment every couple of weeks. We always went to McDonald’s for lunch. I tried so hard to take her to a nicer restaurant, but she was not having it. She wanted a fish sandwich, French fries, and an orange soda – from McDonald’s.

After lunch, Miss Becky invited us back to her home for a visit. Translation? Jered took care of any needed repairs while Danna and Miss Becky made cookies. My job was to be there. To talk with Miss Becky and simply share life with her.

One afternoon, Dan called to tell me that Miss Becky was in the hospital having tests run on her heart. I made a beeline for that hospital … but on the way, I stopped at McDonald’s. Yep! I got a fish sandwich, French fries and an orange soda for Miss Becky – food that was probably not on her cardiac diet. But everyone deserves a treat if they are in the hospital. Right?

I approached the information desk to find out where Miss Becky was. “She is on the fourth floor – the cardiac unit. But I don’t think they will let you see her since she was just admitted.” So, I headed to the fourth floor.

When the elevator doors opened, I hid the sandwich and fries in my purse and began patrolling the hallways until I found her room. I spotted her clothes and shoes – but no Miss Becky.

I headed to the nurses’ station and said in my sweetest voice, “Can you tell me where Becky Sullivan is? She is not in her room and I would like to see her.” The head nurse smiled and said, “Well, she is down in Nuclear Medicine having tests run, but you can’t go down there.” So, I went down to Nuclear Medicine.

When the elevator doors opened, I was standing in front of Nuclear Medicine. So was a security guard. Arms folded across his massive chest, he glared down at me and said, “You cannot come in here!” He then spread his arms across the doorway. I ducked under his arms and came face to face with George Hererra, my neighbor. He had just been transferred and was now head of nuclear medicine. When I explained my mission, he grinned and pointed to Miss Becky waiting to be taken back to her room.

I strutted … yes, strutted past the guard and said, “Goin’ to see Miss Becky!” She loved her McDonald’s treats, and I learned a valuable lesson.

All of a sudden, I was somebody because I knew the man in charge.

You may think you are a nobody.

You may doubt your worth.

You may try to find your value in what you do – not who you are.

Beginnings are very important! In fact, the place of origin has much to do with the quality of the journey as well as the final destination! My journey – like yours – began in the heart and mind of God. Before I took even one breath, God wanted, loved and planned me. That same truth applies to you. You are no accident! You and I were created in response to the love of God and according to His plans. God did not “accidentally” create us and then step back in alarm to say, “Oops! I created her. Now what am I going to do with her?” The plan came first.

There have been many times in my life when I doubted my worth and value. I filled every waking moment with activity – good things – thinking that if I did enough good things, I would be good enough. It didn’t work. I can never be good enough to earn the love and favor of God. The good news is that I don’t have to be! My worth and value rest in the fact that I am chosen by God. I am loved, wanted and planned by God Himself. Wow! God Himself supervised our formation. We were created for an intimate relationship with God.

Psalm 139:14-16 “I praise You because You made me in an amazing and wonderful way. What You have done is wonderful. I know this very well. You saw my bones being formed as I took shape in my mother’s body. When I was put together there, You saw my body as it was formed. All the days planned for me were written in Your book before I was one day old.” (NCV)

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

A Little Reminder From God

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV).

I am such a mess. I hate how I am. I can’t ever get a handle on this issue.

Thoughts of self-hatred coursed through my mind as I sat on the hard-tile floor and took it all in. . . Within the cabinets I’d just spent twenty minutes rearranging, there still was no semblance of organization. Papers shot out of books. Bags heaped left and right in no particular order. Shoes and knick-knacks filled the right side of the cabinet. And, worst of all, electrical cords stood like tumbleweed in the center of it all.

Regarding cleaning and organizing, my best efforts fell – way short. And this is the problem. You see, no matter what I do, everything stays a mess. I fix things for a moment, until: my kids come home and mess things up, I get busy and I forget to keep up with it all, or clutter becomes impossible to throw out because I fear I’ll lose future-memories.

I want to be a better mom than this; my family deserves better.

With a heavy heart, I decided to approach my husband, “Uh…,” I said. “Can I share something with you?”

He waited.

“There’s an area I haven’t told you about where – all the time — I feel so angry at myself. Every time I open up a cabinet, I mentally get furious at how I feel like I’m the most unorganized woman on the planet.”

Compassionately, he looked at me and replied, “Well, maybe Jesus just wants you to remind you that His grace is sufficient.”  And He was right. I finally understood. My cabinets – and my deficiency — are a blessing, not a curse.

How could a deficiency be a blessing? Deficiencies point us to Christ’s all-sufficiency. Through them, we come to the One prepared to help us. The One with answers. The One with all the grace to accomplish true and long-lasting life-change.

Grace accomplishes far more than our hardest labor ever could. Certainly, God often calls us to meet Him in this venture by working, but work without God is — toil.

My cabinets would now be a reminder of this. They, in all their untidy-glory, would almost speak, “Kelly, invite Jesus in to help you with this.”

Where do you need to invite Jesus in? What personal issue do you hate to look at? What feels unconquerable? Heavy? Burdening?

Jesus’ grace is sufficient. It is sufficient to change you, to rework you, to remake you, and to renew you.

It is more than okay to desperately need Jesus’ grace. It is life-changing to be in need of God.

Be encouraged. Wherever you feel powerless, God is powerful. Wherever you are hungry, God has food for you. Wherever you feel blind, God restores sight. You are not left behind or forgotten. God will help.

Today, rejoice by saying: No matter where I feel deficient, Christ is all-sufficient.

But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. (2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV)

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy Easter 2019

EASTER cross

“For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.”  

On this day, let’s remember the true meaning of Easter as we visit with family and friends.  Treasure the moments for the days go by quickly, loved ones are gone and kids grow up.  Today holds so many mixed feelings for me…..

Growing up, I used to go to my grandparents while my parents and aunts went to sunrise service on the beach.  Then home to get ready for church.  Totally new outfits to wear to church.  Sometimes even a trip to the Boardwalk for the Easter Parade in Asbury Park.  Then back to my grandparents for a traditional Easter dinner with the whole family.  Easter baskets overflowing with candy from the “Carmel Shop” and “Old Monmouth”.  Happy memories of my childhood.

Fast forward (many years) to having my own home with my daughter, Belinda.  Easter took on a different meaning.   Gone were the tradition of church.  For the first 3 Easters, I was still in my addiction so it was dinner with family and an Easter basket for Belinda.  When I entered recovery, things changed slightly – I had a relationship with God but still did not have a church.  As Belinda got a little older, we did Easter baskets but they were filled with toys and games because she didn’t like chocolate.  I know can you believe it!  She did like white chocolate but only in small amounts.  And of course “stale” marshmallow peeps.  It was a treasure hunt to find the basket with clues left in Easter eggs throughout the house.  I can still remember the squeals of excitement as she found the basket.  I even remember making her Easter outfits (I know she hates this picture but I think it is cute!) and heading to Atlantic City for the Easter parade.  Dinners were a little smaller but family was still together.

Now, as the miles stretch between us, we each celebrate Easter with our extended family.  Gone are the Easter baskets filled with candy.  Gone is the traditional family Easter dinner.  There will be loved ones in heaven celebrating together while those of us left behind still struggle with making new traditions.  The true meaning of Easter begins to shine through…

After relapsing and returning to recovery, my relationship with God has grown a little stronger.  I am grateful he loved me enough to sacrifice his son for my sins.  Today, I will count my blessings and treasure the memories I can remember.  I miss the traditional family holidays (what little I can remember) but am learning to create new memories with each passing day.

Share your Easter memories with us.  Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Make a Difference For Mother’s Day

If you follow my blog you know, a HUGE part of my journey with Thirty One is to help others.  Sometimes it is a fundraising project, or a donation to an event or giving to someone who was just in need of some loving.  It doesn’t matter whether it’s a small goal or a HUGE goal, I want to help.  As a result, I have been able to donate to various causes throughout the years.

This is not to toot my own horn. None of these projects would be possible if it were not for the support of my friends, family and customers.  Individuals who believe in the cause, or just want to help. Okay, can you guess where this is leading…. YOU GOT IT!

Last year, for Easter, and for Mother’s Day we donated baskets to Dottie’s House.  Dottie’s House is a transitional housing facility designed to aid women and children who have survived domestic violence. They proactively help these families develop the life skills needed to become self-sufficient for their future financial and emotional independence.

Why is Dottie’s House so special to me?  I was a child of domestic violence……..  behind the doors of our seemingly normal middle class family, the was abuse.  My dad was an alcoholic and my mom suffered the consequences sometimes – physically and verbally.  Mom never left.  In fact there was a time when dad left and because I was so clueless as to what was happening, I begged for him to come back.  My mom took him back.  My mom was brave for enduring the struggle.  These women at Dottie’s House are brave for taking their kids and fleeing.  

If you have children, think about how your hubby or your family make sure you have a special Mother’s Day.  For many of the women at Dottie’s House, they do not have the same support system so Mother’s Day could be just another day.  I want them to know they are special too.

So with the help of my family, friends and customers, we are putting together “pampering pouches” as Mother’s Day Gifts for these ladies.  The goal is 31 since – 18 for the 18 units at Dottie’s House and the balance for the moms who have moved into their forever homes with Homes Now, Inc.

The $20 sponsorship will pay for the actual bag and I will use 100% of my commission to fill them with a variety of things like a fuzzy socks, notepad, pen, lotion, and chap stick.  My friends in direct sales will also be adding pampering products to make these hardworking mommas feel special.

Since I began my “give back program”, over $10,000 in products and cash donations have been made to various causes.  It fills my cup to know we have made the difference in the lives of so many people.

In addition, I am selling Domestic Violence Angel Awareness charms for $7 with the proceeds being donated to Dottie’s House.

Who is with me? For $20 you can bring a smile to a mom who is a survivor of domestic violence.   The cut-off is April 20th so the bags will arrive in time to be stuffed and delivered on May 12th.  This project is near and dear to my heart.  It is a tribute to the women I know who have escaped and survived domestic violence.

You can sponsor a bag in memory of someone, in honor of someone or just anonymously. Payments can be made via check or through Paypal at hopesgiftcloset@@comcast.net as a friend/family.  I can also accept credit card payments directly.  Please complete the form for more details:

Won’t you help to make a difference today?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!