Thursday, July 31, 2014

200 Days- 200 Lessons...Joke!

This Sunday marks 200 days of continuous sobriety. This, as always, BLOWS my mind! I remember the first 100 days, I was holding on so tightly to make it to that 100 day mark. This second set of 100 days has brought quite a bit of change for me. 

First, I have noticed that my life no longer revolves around my addiction. I don't think as much about using or memories of using. I don't notice triggers or cravings nearly as much as I did the first 100 days. I am not uncomfortable just trying to abstain from using drugs. My life is now focused on RECOVERY. I now think more about what opportunities I have in recovery. There are three things that I have found to be extremely important as a person who is in recovery and would like to stay in recovery: 

1. Balance: When I have a healthy balance of sleep, exercise, healthy foods, friends, family, work, and recovery- I feel at peace. I don't feel unsettled or like I should be doing more or less of anything. I love feeling at balance. Obviously, this is a constant battle for me since I have such an addictive personality and too much of anything can be a bad thing. I am getting better and better each day as I remember to live in balance and continue to move forward and try harder each day to live a balanced life. I feel really good about my efforts lately. Sometimes I can get obsessed with running, a TV show, sleeping, playing all the time, etc but lately I feel a really solid sense of balance. I am doing enough in my recovery to make sure I am on top of things and not becoming complacent, but at the same time, it's not my entire life. It's a BIG part of my life, but not my entire life. That's something I think everyone can work on in different degrees of different parts of life. 

2. Community. This is something that I am finding has been very helpful for me and something I wish I would have become a part of sooner in recovery. Going to different groups and meeting new people the last few weeks has been so much fun. It has made recovery so much more fun than just feeling like I am alone in this. Since I was alone in my addiction, for some reason, I thought I had to be alone in my recovery. I didn't want people to know I was an addict for such a long time that even going to a meeting with other addicts was out of the question. When I was in treatment, I grew very close to my housemates and the treatment community. Once I was out, I felt lost and slowly drifted from the people I was in treatment with. That's why stepping out of my comfort zone and being around people in recovery has been so nice. It's fun to see people who are 5+ years sober and how meaningful their lives are now. I can't wait to be one of those people. At the same time, I feel very fortunate to be in recovery so young since most people my age who are addicts are still active in their addictions.

3. Service. This past week, I have begun volunteering at my old treatment center. It has been so fun to go back to a place that means so much to me, and give back. Hopefully at some point I will work there, but right now, I feel like it's my opportunity to give back to a program that changed my life and help others fight their own battles. I cannot even tell you how stoked I am to start school next month and begin my journey as an addiction counselor! I believe the most meaningful part of recovery is to be able to help pull others out of the addiction hole and show them that anyone is capable of recovery if they want it bad enough. 

Besides getting involved in the recovery community and volunteering, I am also taking time to exercise each day and get my body back to the health I need to go back to school and work. 

Today I went on a beautiful trail run:

I got some new workout stuff with a bunch of gift cards I had this past weekend. I looooove new work out clothes!

I love the fact that I have a pair of Brooks for every running outfit!

One day I will write a post about how recovery is so much like trail running! 

Here's to 200 more days!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mi Familia- Young Family Pictures

Over the weekend, while everyone was in town, we decided to do some family pics! These were literally thrown together- no outfit coordination, our neighbor snapped the pics, and we decided like 2 hours before. 

But, they actually turned out pretty good!

The entire fam! Of course the two youngest, Charly and Savannah were not going to look at the camera and smile- it would be too convenient! Still cute anyways!

Jack and Allie

The original 5 Young kids

We attempted to get a picture of the kids and grandparents, but it didn't work out so well...

The oldest four: Kali, Jack, Allie, and Rylie

This one is my favorite with all the kids and parents

My second family: Rylie and Kali

Charly was trying so hard to hide her face, but we got at least one snap of the little grump!

It was so fun to have everyone out here for a few days!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Surrender & Gain Surrenity

Recently, my biggest goal has become to learn balance in my life. When I look back on my life experiences, I believe the times that I was my absolute happiest were when I had a pretty solid balance of work, family, exercise, friends, etc. in my life. Being an addict, I tend to get sucked into whatever my brain wants to focus on, and everything else gets set aside. Since I got into the U before the required 3 sobriety years, I have thought a lot about how I need to take care of myself through school and what my priorities will need to become. The 3 year rule is really just to protect addicts who want to help other addicts from relapsing under the stress and pressure of that career. To avoid that happening to me, my biggest goal right now has been to figure out what I need to do for me and my sobriety in order to make sure I am in a solid place with myself and my own recovery program, and I won't become triggered and relapse from going into the program too soon.

 The past couple of weeks, I have really tried to go out of my comfort zone and work a very rigid recovery program for myself. Since January, really all that I have done is abstained from addictive substances and gone to my therapist from rehab weekly. This has worked out just fine, but I felt the need to reach out to the recovery community in SLC, try different treatment approaches, and figure out what will be best for me. I have never really done 12 steps or AA/NA, so I have been working on fitting some of those meetings in more regularly to see if it will work for me personally and also to see how I can incorporate those principles into my future career in Social Work and Substance Abuse Counseling. 

This has given me A LOT of time lately to ponder the first step and what it has meant for me over this last year. 


While in the middle of an addiction, everything can seem so hard and complicated. BUT, I firmly believe that every addict gets to a point where it is a very simple decision: live or die. Those are the only choices. To live, means to surrender. It means to surrender to the power your addiction and hand it over to God or a higher power to get out of this dark place. I honestly don't think that addiction is taken seriously enough to where people treat it like the terminal illness that it is. It has that aspect of free agency in the early stages, so aspect can really  take it away from the seriousness that addiction ends either by recovery or death (you don't meet very many people who have been constantly addicted some something for 20+ years...hmmm), just like any other terminal illness. The only way that I can really imagine it in my head as a true terminal illness, is if I went to the Dr. for an entire year with a massive tumor in my brain that was going to explode and kill me really quickly, unless I gave that tumor the attention and medicine it needed to survive much longer. It really is essentially the exact same- both terminal brain illnesses...except addiction is fortunately treatable if the addict agrees to do what it takes. 

 I will never forget the details of my surrender on November 14 ,2013. Even though I was really drugged up in that moment..those thoughts, feelings, beliefs, etc were so strong that I will never forget them. I look back on some of those overdoses, and cannot deny the fact that God literally saved me. I shouldn't be here, but I am. So why? Because I am lucky, cool, special...I honestly can't answer that. But, in the moment of surrender, I knew and still know that I am meant to be a tool in my Father's hands and my story is just beginning of my new life. Ever since I surrendered to my father and made the decision to seek the treatment and help that I needed, I have never felt at more peace for so long. I have never felt more fulfilled. I have never felt more purpose. I remember in high school and college, I always was alone, empty, and bored. My brain wouldn't stop spinning into the late hours of every night. I didn't realize how much depression and anxiety that I was battling, until I surrendered and it went away. 

I know that every story is different and every addiction is a beast of its own. But, I will say that I completely believe that until an addict surrenders and makes the clear decision that is required to change, that addict won't be ready. Having loved addicts, I know how frustrating this can be. Why can't they just stop? How many rock bottoms can it take? My answer to that, is to rely on God's time. He will give every addict that opportunity to surrender and gain peace and happiness. We all just might need to deal with a lot of crappy times to really appreciate sobriety and recovery. It's not even a matter of having bad times to appreciate the good times, because there will always be days where I will wish I could take something or have a drink. Sobriety isn't this beautiful, blissful, happy process. It's hard. It has pushed me further than I even knew was possible. BUT, once you surrender to God, I truly do believe that you can find a sense of peace that you didn't know was possible. That peace is what drives recovery and sobriety more than anything else. That surrender will always and forever be a sacred, quiet moment where God testified to me of my purpose and meaning. He showed me my place in this world and the world to come. I have honestly never felt that strong of the spirit of God in my entire life. 

Yes, addiction is a terminal illness and kills victims EVERY HOUR. But, there is a cure and miracles do happen. 

I share these thoughts, because even if you can't relate to the specifics personally, or by the far off chance you don't have a loved one with an addiction, this is applicable to all aspects of life. It is part of the plan. It is why we are all here and in this together!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Retired at 25

Some people know how sick I've been since I got sober last winter. It's pretty crazy actually. Almost like clockwork, I get really sick every 3-4 weeks where I throw everything up, have a really bad headache, and become incredibly incapacitated. I have been going to work throughout the entire time I have been sick, but it's finally to the point now that I feel like I need to take some time before school starts and be more proactive about my health. I am so sick of being sick all the time and ready to find some answers. Every Dr. has their Theory, but the biggest one is just that my body is trying to get back to normal after the chemical overload for about a year. Hopefully, I can get this under control and get back to work and start feeling good once school starts in about a month. I know a lot of it had to do with the fact that my job really stressed me out, because I felt like I was constantly delivering bad news and it is just getting more and more impossible to close mortgage loans with all of the regulations that have hit over the last 2 years I have been in the industry. This is a good time to seek out another direction in my career since I will be hopefully getting my Masters of Social Work in a couple of years. 

Other randoms: 

I am honored to have the best waffle house in the state literally 2 minutes from my front door. 

The entire family got together for the 24th this year. It has been a year since we all were in the state together. Gotta love it!

I am getting more and more comfortable being a part of the amazing recovery community in Utah. That fine young man on the bottom right is Ian, the Founder of Fit2Recover. An awesome fitness resource and community for those in recovery. He's starting a sober gym and it's gonna be rad. 

Mona rope swing, it has been far too long!

Just a normal day for these two guys!

My little Asian babies are quickly learning who the favorite aunt around here is!

Candy + Swinging = Sucker

It has been quite awhile since I went to Byron's grave. This particular experience was the first time I felt the real peace of acceptance since he's died. It took nine years of the ups and downs of the grief cycle to finally feel that peace. 

As usual, I am starting to train for a half that is in 2 weeks...awesome!

Little Miss Charly is the youngest of the grandchildren and most certainly the most stubborn. She won't admit we are "buddies", but clearly, we are ;-)

Rylie is my favorite little Tomboy

Back when I worked at a gym as a trainer, I used to be able to bust out squats on the workout balls. It's tough. I was happy with just doing one today! Woof!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Refuse To Sink

For me, this week sobriety got REAL. I got accepted into the Substance Abuse Counseling program and hit six months. I also ended up going to quite a few recovery meetings. It made me realize that there's absolutely no turning back now. I will be in recovery the rest of my life. The last few weeks I have carefully thought about getting a small anchor tattoo to represent my sobriety. The anchor, for me, means a few things. First and foremost that I am anchoring myself into living in long term recovery. Other meanings: I am the Captain of My Soul and The Master of My Fate (favorite quote). Also, for me, this means that I refuse to sink. I am anchored into my recovery program and feel confident that I will never go back to that awful place I was in a year ago. I am really happy about what I got. It's super small, but every time I look at it, that's what I am reminded of. Now, I have two tattoos that represent who I am, what I believe, and what I am passionate about. 

Other happenings: 

One day, I was driving home for lunch on the freeway and this tire tube came flying into my car and crashed into my windshield. It was crazy..all this glass came flying at me! I am really lucky though, because I have heard horror stories about things actually flying through the windshield and killing people. I really should write a list of all of my near death experiences. Let's just say, I am definitely meant to be on this planet. 

My oldest niece Kali turned 9!! I can't believe it has been 9 years already. I feel so old! This kid is amazing, smart, and going to do some amazing things in her life. I learn so much from her and I am so grateful to have a piece of Byron still in my life. 

My nieces came into town from California. I only see them once a year, but I still remain the favorite aunt when I see them. This kid was supposed to be in bed, but kept coming out of bed to chill with me. She is so funny and I love seeing them when they come to town!

Friday night, my good friend came into town. We are having a weekend full of adventures! We hit up the State Capitol steps and overlooked the city at night. It was awesome and we had a great conversation about life. 

Jesse is the son of one of my old professors at USU. I cannot believe we have known each other for three years now!!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Six Months, Six Lessons

The day I went to rehab. The hardest day of my entire life. A decision I will never regret. 

My family visiting me in rehab. These visits helped motivate me each week. 

Our family Christmas picture taken at Turning Point. I feel like I look so different now. I am so grateful for treatment. 

It has been six months since my relapse right after I got out of treatment. It has been eight months since I actually entered treatment and began a sober life. I want to share six lessons I have gained since January. 

1. I am capable of living a sober life: A year ago, I never in a million years would have thought this was possible. With my back problems, I thought I had to take something just to make it through the day. Since I have been able to work with a Dr. who understands addiction and understands chronic pain as well, I have been able to live a pain free and drug free live. It has been incredible. I really never believed I was capable. Now, whenever I get a craving, I really anchor myself and remember that I truly am capable and I have the sober time to prove it. Cravings will come and go, and I can remain sober.

2. Secrets keep you sick: Since I was such a functional addict, I was really good at keeping my addiction a secret. This is what kept me sick for such a long time. Now that I am open about my addiction and talk about it with others, there is no way that I can live in my addiction without anyone knowing. This is how I have been able to stay sober for so long. It has been so healthy for me to be able to reach out to my constant supporters and let them know where I am in my relapse cycle so that they can remind me that I chose sobriety and this is what I want in order to live a healthy and happy life. 

3. God will never give up on me: I have lived through so many near-death experiences, that I know that God is aware of my struggles and will fight to keep me on this planet. I have had so many amazing spiritual experiences, that I know that if I allow God to take control and help me, I will make it through the hard times and I don't need my addiction to survive. I am 100 times happier than I was a year ago when I was stuck in my active addiction. This is all because I chose to let God take control and save me from myself. If you chose God's plan over Satan's plan, you can do anything- even overcome an addiction that almost destroyed me. 

4. In order to stay sober, you need to have a plan when you are craving: For me, I have to switch to a mindful activity that will allow me to switch perspectives. If I am running, I can only think about running. It is impossible to think two things at the same time. If I can't stop thinking about craving, I have to do something that requires my entire mind and attention to get away from the cravings. 

5. I was created to live a happy life: I did not come on this earth to have an addiction. I came on this earth to live out God's plan for me. I believe, this plan is to help others' who struggle with addiction. That is why I got into the addiction counseling program. 

6. When I am struggling, reach out: This goes along with secrets keeping me sick. I used to think I had to overcome this by myself. I know for a fact that I have only been able to do this through following a treatment program, going to therapy, seeing an addictionologist, and reaching out to friends and family who can help remind me of what is important and what I really want. 

That being said, thank you so much for all of the love and support. It wasn't until I was able to humble myself and realize that I needed help from a higher power and professionals that I was able to finally say goodbye to my addiction and live a happy and healthy sober life!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Recovery Approach

This was me right before rehab

This was me after rehab

Deciding how to approach recovery is something that every addict struggles with. Each person is different, and it can be hard to decide what your personal recovery is going to look like. Sometimes, people can approach it very silently by just working with a counselor and not involving very many people. 

Others (like me) need to share their experience. For themselves, and hopefully for others as well. I know some people feel weird about how open I have been about my addiction and my recovery, and that's totally okay. It's okay to have an opinion about how someone approaches recovery, but PLEASE keep it to yourself. DO NOT criticize how another person handles their own recovery. 

It is already a very sensitive and vulnerable topic. Honestly, I feel like crawling into a hole and taking a bunch of pills secretly. Secrets, for me, are very dangerous. I HAVE to have my addiction public to keep myself safe. If I feel like someone is annoyed by the way I have handled my sobriety or feels uncomfortable by how much I share, I honestly feel like my open wounds have had salt poured directly in them. I am walking around with third degree burns that are completely exposed. PLEASE be sensitive to this. PLEASE understand that this is a real person with real feelings. 

I want to continue to be vulnerable and share. It is so liberating and makes me feel strong. I feed off of the love and support that people have shown me. I need the validation that people give me, so that I can keep moving forward. 

I know that at the end of the day, sobriety is MINE to keep and it shouldn't matter what people think. But, I don't have anyone else but myself. I feel so alone in this and I LOVE feeling other people's support. 

Thank you again to those who have shown love and acceptance for who I am and don't judge who I once was. 

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July

4th of July will always and forever be my favorite holiday! I slept in until 1 (I've been really sick lately). Then, went down to hang out with my sister in law and her kids at the pool. It was just a fun and chill day. It was perfect to get out in the sun and just relax. Since I've been really sick, I feel like I am in bed more than I'm not, so it was good to just get out and be around loved ones. 

Here's some pics: 

My niece Charlee is hilarious. She's two and FULL of personality and funny faces. She hates pictures, so it's hard to get a smile out of her!

Riding bikes is always their favorite activity. They like to show me how good they have gotten since the last time I saw them. 

Jack is ALL boy!

I keep my longboard in my trunk so that I can always play with the kids when they are riding their bikes. 

Such a perfect day! I wish we had the 4th of July at least once a month in the summer time!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

I Believe

Lately, I believe...

Love doesn't exist. 

Everyone needs therapy.

You shouldn't have to fight so hard for relationships that are constantly toxic in your life. 

Judging others' struggles is just as productive as texting your feelings. 

Going to church makes someone spiritual just like Going to college makes someone smart. Institutions and making sure you get on the roll at church are all smoke screens.

I will never feel comfortable and be in church at the same time. I just won't. 

Even if you don't think you are wrong, if you have deeply hurt someone, you should apologize. 

You will never fully understand, so don't even attempt to.

Getting a mortgage loan approved is just about as easy as it is for a guy to be granted custody in a Utah divorce. 

People leave and hurt you and that will forever be the hardest thing it accept.

Socks and sandals will never be an acceptable combination.

Hot chocolate after February will never feel right. 

Getting married is not the way to cure loneliness. 

Marijuana should be legal as long as alcohol is legal. 

When it comes down to it, all people really want is love, validation, and acceptance and I will continue pounding my head against the wall trying to feel deserving and getting such things in my life. 

Move On

The past is over. The drama of constant drug abuse feels like a different world. The rock bottom weeks and days that lead to my rehab experience are now nothing but painful twinges in certain areas of my heart. The mind blowing rehab experience now feels like "the one time at summer camp" and no longer seems real. The friends I met in rehab are now all on their own paths and creating their own stories without me. The awkward months after rehab have passed, and now here I am 7 months sober. An accomplishment...right? But the thing is...I don't know where to go now. I don't have much to move on towards. I don't have a husband who has waiting to get his wife out of addiction's grasp. I don't have kids to live for. I don't have an exciting career that I can see in the close future. I don't have anything to live for and move towards. So, I remain stuck. I remain confident in the sobriety and recovery process and love sharing my experience to help others who struggle or may have struggled. I talk about my experience to keep the secrets on the outside. When the secrets of addiction ate my insides, thats when I was the sickest. That's when I felt like a fraud. When I finally decided to share my experience, I felt liberated and authentic. That was..until I was told by "my greatest supporter" that they didn't want to hear about it anymore. They didn't want to talk about the struggle that has been on the forefront of my mind the past 7 months. Sobriety has been something that has required almost every thought in order to stay on the straight and narrow. So when is it "too far past" to talk about struggles that are still an every day battle? Who gets to decide when it is no longer socially acceptable to talk about past issues. Who even gets to decide what is appropriate to share and not to share? Doesn't it depend on the individual and whether or not it helps or hurts them?

Honestly, at this point, I just want to give up. I don't see a hopeful destination. I don't see myself ever having the things in life that are socially required for a person to be happy. I don't see myself being anywhere but alone and lacking fulfillment in my life. I just can't see it. I try to stay upbeat and positive. I try to remember the destination to get through the journey. But for now, I am tired. And that's where I am going to stay for now.