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!

Thankful Thursday

thankful-thursday

Today is Thankful Thursday.  I know the rest of the social media world thinks of today as “Throwback Thursday” but today I want to be “thankful”.

I am thankful for:

  • My Mom who loves me unconditionally
  • Being a child of divorce
  • My loving hubby
  • Being a mom
  • My guardian angels who always guide me
  • A family who supports me despite my faults and bad decisions
  • Mistakes I made in high school which changed my life
  • Mistakes I made in college which shaped my future
  • The variety of jobs as I looked for me
  • The friends who have come for a season and those who have stayed
  • My addiction
  • My relapse and recovery
  • My lack of confidence
  • My business and its roller coaster journey
  • My  weightloss struggle
  • My love of writing
  • My passion for helping others
  • My rocky walk with God
  • My MS
  • The rocky and winding road to find myself
  • and al of the other good, bad and ugly parts of my life

Thankful-for

My life has not been perfect, but today, I am deciding to view it through the lens of thankfulness and gratitude.  For it is those things which have helped to shape me.  It is those imperfections which have helped me to become the woman I am today.  Some days those same things take me on a dark journey of negativity BUT today is NOT one of them.

TODAY, I am thankful for the struggles because without them I would not be able to make a difference in the life of someone else. I would not be able to be compassionate. I would not have the desire to make others smile.

TODAY, I am thankful for a loving God who not only has forgiven me for my mistakes but continues to guide me.  I have faith and trust with Him, all things are possible.

So, what are you thankful for today?  Share with us and let’s celebrate our imperfections together.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

 

Do You Have a Bold Decision To Make?

I’m not good at making decisions!  For those who know me, it is no big surprise.  Ask me where I want to go for dinner?  I will leave it up to you, because “I can always find something which sounds good”.  Ask me what I want to do?  I will usually defer to the person asking unless there is something really pressing on my heart.  So, why is it so hard? I’m a proverbial people pleaser – one of my character defects.  I don’t want anyone to be made at me or upset or get their feelings hurt.  The end result over the years has caused me to stuff feelings and was definitely part of my relapse story.
What about you?  Are you good at making decisions?  I don’t mean just the little every day things but the BIG ones.  The life changing ones – maybe it is time to retire, or change your career or quit your job or end a relationship or admit and accept you have a problem (or a chronic disease).
Do you make your decisions base on everyone else’s expectations?  Some decisions are tough – really tough!  Some conversations are uncomfortable.  Some choices are not popular.  A true sign of spiritual and emotional growth comes when you can stop making decisions based on everyone else’s expectations.  The greatest feeling is when you can lay your head down at night and be at pease with your Higher Power.  If you compromise the peace you have with him, then you have compromised EVERYTHING!
For many years, I was spiritual, avoiding church but having a great relationship with my Higher Poser then I got involved with the church again.  No hate mail please!  I’m not against organized religion but I will admit it is then I started  to make decisions based on others expectations (again).  Over the last 9 months, I have started to have a stronger relationship with my Higher Power again.
I’m learning to be bold and courageous in my decisions.  Pray.  Listen (this is tough for me).  Don’t overanalyze! (okay so I struggle with this too).  There are days I pray for an answer and when the answer comes via a person or event or opportunity, I don’t always recognize it.  I want the SMACK on the head or the booming voice to say “here is the answer”.  LOL.
Use your common sense, which is a blessing from God to help you make the right decision. Have you ever heard the saying: “Don’t be  like the frog in a pot of cool water who didn’t notice the heat had been turned up and the water was starting to boil. All he had to do was jump out of the pot!”.  Yup.  I’ve been there a few times.
All of this is to say, if you have a decision to make…. make it based on YOUR common sense, your wishes and NOT what others will think.  This is where I am at right now!  Decisions about my business and this blog.  My fear of letting others down has me struggling with accepting decisions I know in my heart are okay.  Fear of what the future will bring has me hesitating.  Fear of stepping into a new path where God seems to be leading me.

 

Do you have a decisions to make?  Don’t worry about what others think. Do what you know is right. No one else has to live your life—or your consequences.

I challenge you to “Rather than people-pleasing, be bold and courageous in your decisions.”  Can you do it?  If you need support, comment below and we will help!

 

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Happy ThirtyOne Anniversary

 

Happy 8th Thirty One Anniversary to ME!!!!

I can’t believe eight years ago today, I started this journey.  For many, staying 8 years at a job, any job, is amazing!  I will admit in my own life, before recovery, I jumped from job to job always looking to make more money.  More money equaled prestige, a title and deep down allowed me to bury my lack of confidence a little further.  It wasn’t until I entered recovery the first time, I started to see happiness was more than just about the money, it was about making a difference.

Over the last few weeks, I have been thinking a lot, trying to remember life 8 years ago.  2011 was a crazy time – I got married to the love of my life after a 9 year engagement, I left a job I loved because of commuting and health issues and my relapse took on a life of its own.

Why am I talking about all of this?  As I mark my eighth anniversary with Thirty One I realize the difference it has made in my life.  Despite the many times I thought about quitting because I wasn’t “as good as” or “didn’t have a good month” or “didn’t earn the leadership trip” or any of the other comparisons/excuses I made – I stuck with it.  God had a plan and even through my relapse, I felt it. For those who don’t know my Thirty One story, here it is.  Did I remember it myself?  NO!  I’m grateful for blogging because it helps me to remember.

Here is how the story goes…..

See, the truth is I joined Thirty One in 2009 and didn’t do much with it.  Yup, I was a kitknapper. I had a few sales but nothing much and it wasn’t long before I went inactive.

I can’t remember exactly how or why it all happened – God had a plan.  I started following Hope Shortt on Facebook and I read her story.  On February 7th, 2011, I talked with her and told her I wanted to join her Thirty One team. She asked me “what my why” was?  Kind of the standard question when someone joins your team…

I was nervous and being a “people pleasing person” I told her I wanted to earn some extra money.  I had a good job – Chief Operating Officer for a non-profit and who had time for much of anything else.  BUT the truth was, deep down I had a big dream but fear and doubt crept in along with Negative Nellie so I stuffed it down deep.  I started sharing the products at vendor/craft shows, not wanting to do home parties and really not interested in having a team.   Recruiting wasn’t an option because I joined the day before the FREEZE. No, not the weather although it was cold; Thirty One froze enrollment because they were growing so fast.  I was relieved. I had been doing craft/ vendor shows for over 20 years, so it was going to be easy.  Hope listened and said she would be there to help when I needed her. No pressure just support and kindness.2014-08-09-18-17-48-4

So started my journey with Thirty One.  I did LOTS of vendor events. Fear and doubt kept me company.   I didn’t have much confidence – I know amazing, right?    This was so far out of my comfort zone.  I was a grant writer and social worker, what did I know about sales.  I had several failed attempts at my own business so what was I thinking?

My first TWO potential recruits came during the “freeze”.  I was honest with them,  I was going to be learning along with them. Believe it or not, they still joined as soon as the freeze lifted and quickly qualified with $1,000 in sales.  I was now a Senior Consultant and in Leadership. YIKES!  I wasn’t sure what it meant but it was okay.  I was having fun and slowly building confidence.  Then my first home office lead wanted a HOME PARTY! Panic set in… it was someone I didn’t know and I was clueless.  I stumbled my way through it – no additional parties bookedbut I had sales and it was kind of fun.

My FIRST Thirty One National Conference was August of 2012.  It was there I set a goal and decided to write my dream on paper – I was going for Leadership. The goal was to be Director BEFORE National Conference 2013. The stats say those who go to national conference earn more – TRUE! Those who go to national conference – PROMOTE – TRUE! In October, 2012 I was a Director in Qualification and in January 2013, I earned my $1,000 Director Bonus.  I had gained confidence as a consultant but being a Director brought new fears and challenges.

At National Conference 2013, I was joined by my daughter and members of the Rays of Hope Team. I walked across stage and was CELEBRATED as a NEW Thirty One Director. Tears of joy flowed freely all weekend and continue each time I think back to the moment.  Hope Shortt, my Senior Executive Director, hugged me on stage.   It is weird, the MS has stolen the memory but the emotion of walking across the stage stays with me bringing me to tears each time I think of it.

Since then my why has changed so much.  I no longer work full-time due to health reasons.  We rely on my Thirty One business as the second income in the house.  It pays my credit card debt as a result of my relapse as well as some standard household bills (groceries, cell phone, cable and meals out).  It allows me to work from home as I struggle with my MS.

I struggle with my “why” and learning to DREAM BIG. I still get nervous before a Home party.  I struggle with personal development and fighting my haunting inner gremlins as processing thoughts are difficult most days.  I am blessed with a sisterhood across the country who helps me when I am struggling, who celebrates with me and who encourages me when I struggle.   My team inspires me everyday.  They accept me for who I am and have helped me to learn to love me for me.

One of the biggest blessings is the support from the Pink Bubble Warriors.  A group of Thirty One sisters with chronic diseases.  Together we inspire each other.  I gained some of my confidence back which was lost in HIGH SCHOOL. Yes, I earn FREE products! Yes, I earn a commission check every two weeks!  Yes, I found a sisterhood I didn’t know existed in my Thirty One sisters! Yes, I have grown in my walk with God, learning to trust and believe his will will be done in my business!  The benefits have definitely outweighed the negatives of those rough months.

This past year has been a true struggle – accepting my relapse, and the need for a twelve step recovery program to help fight the demons in my life.  It is the result of vision casting with the Beacon of Hope Team (my upline’s team) which has helped me to focus on my why again.  To Make a Difference in as many lives as possible while becoming debt free – is what keeps me going every day.  It can be a little act of kindness with happy mail or a hug to delivering a welcome basket to a new single mom moving into her forever home.  It is those things which keep me going when I am not sure what to do.

A $99 pink box eight years ago, CHANGED MY LIFE. Could it be the thing which changes yours? 

 

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Brain Jumble

letters
The cloudy cold dreary weather causes people to struggle with changes in their mood, and pain in their joints.  For me, add to it how it wrecks havoc on my foggy brain.   There was a time when I think my body just needs some oiling (lots of supplements/vitamins), and could definitely need some repairing but on those cold and dreary days….…I think a new one is the only thing that will help!
At the age of 61, some would say it is normal to forget appointments, people’s names, a movie I already watched (maybe more than once) or even what was said a few minutes ago….. the reality is my brain as seen on my MRI scans is filled with holes scattered all over the place. Some are bigger than others but definitely more than just the few which come with aging.
I love this explanation from a fellow MS blogger “I imagine words bouncing around in my brain, sliding from hole to hole and hitting road blocks in hopes of finding a way of escape. It’s kind of like they are stuck in a perpetual reality game of Chutes and Ladders.”   It is so true.  Combine that mess with missing memories and some days I feel like the movie “50 First Dates”.  Yup, I had to look up the name because I couldn’t remember it.  If you haven’t seen it, it is about a girl who doesn’t remember so each day is a new day.  An average day for me includes not remembering things BUT there are those crazy radon thoughts which find their way through the maze of detours.  It is those crazy random thoughts on a good day which make some think, I’m okay!
What happens to the thoughts and memories which don’t find a place to call home?  Do they just keep rattling around forever?  It’s such a weird feeling to know the words or the things I’m trying to remember are there somewhere…. stuck so they can’t seem to connect with my tongue.  Therapists wanted to call it selective memory or that I am repressing bad things.  What about the good memories?
I know I frustrate people from time to time with my long pauses, lack of complex vocabulary and not remembering things.  I frustrate myself.  I used to be able to multi-task, juggling lots of things and remember clearly important events (as well as random nonsense) in my life.  Most memories of my childhood seemed to be missing after my addiction so I adjusted or at least I thought I had.  I always said I probably burnt out more brain cells than I thought during my many years of using drugs.  Then along came the MS.   Only recently have they determined loss of memory can be a key factor in the diagnosis of MS so were the gaps in memory addiction or MS.  Guess we will never know…
I struggle to remember things when talking to my old HS classmates. I struggle to remember growing up.  I struggle to remember the birth of my daughter.  I struggle to remember the work and people I met doing social work for 20 plus years.  I struggle to remember my wedding.  I struggle to remember my accomplishments even looking at pictures or plaques seem like someone else.  I struggle with my business to remember prints, products, fellow consultants and even customers/hostess who have been with me for my almost 8 years in business.
I struggle to remember time frames so it may have been weeks/months since I talked to you but to me, it may be less than a week.  Some days I can’t remember anything at all, then some days I remember bits and pieces.  When people tell me things I have said or done, it seems so foreign to me. Like it was a different person – a person I can’t identify with now.  The memories I do have take on a different picture than those of the people around me – some things have fallen into the potholes of my brain still trying to find a way out.
I’m thankful for the people who are patient with me.  I thankful for the ones who give me the space and time I need to piece things together even when I get things all mixed up.  I’m learning to say “ I’m collecting my thoughts” which is so true some days.  I’m learning to be honest and say “I don’t remember” of course the blank stare I give when people talk is often a clue.  I truly know what it’s like to sift through words, thoughts and ideas as I attempt to make sense of things.
But that’s my world now…a jumbled up 3-dimensional word search game. The bad thing about it is someone keeps switching the game board and jumbling up all the words. I feel like they see I have made progress with my puzzle and then come along mixing up all of the pieces.  Just when I think I have things solved, BAM…there’s a new arrangement of letters, pieces and words to sort through.
Today’s blog was a rambling jumble of thoughts as I come to terms with living life with MS.  There are days I try to act like it isn’t there – things are normal (whatever that may be).  There are days when I am unable to move because my muscles don’t know what to do.  There are days when I actually do remember, and can function as if the MS is only a blip on the radar.  Most days, I’m just trying to sift through a sea of letters and words in my brain searching for…what was it again? Pancakes? Trashcans? Envelopes?
Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!