Category Archives: relationships

It’s Hard for Me to Say

It’s hard for me to say that I am pretty, even though I’ve been told that I am by people who I trust and love.

It’s hard for me to say that I am a fierce warrior, even though I know my story and know I’ve overcome.

It’s hard for me to say that I am a strong leader, even though the power reflected in my employees would clearly point in that direction.

It’s hard for me to say that I am a good wife, even though my husband constantly reminds me that I am.

It’s hard for me to say that I am a good mother, even though if you met my son’s you would see how awesome they are.

It is also hard for me to say that I am an addict, a liar, a thief, a cheat, a prostitute, a crackhead, a sexually abused child, even though if I am being honest about my past those words are there.

It’s becoming increasingly hard for me to say I’m a Christian, even though my love for Jesus and my faith in God grow substantially with each passing day.

These things, these words, these labels are what society has chosen for me and some of these, I have made for myself.  I cannot deny the hard truth that I almost killed myself and everyone I love with my addiction. I cannot deny it, because it happened and to deny it would mean to deny that I am not only a survivor, I am also redeemed in the eyes of my creator. I am saved, loved, forgiven.

So, although these things may be hard for me to say, I can look you in the eyes today and own these things, all of them, the good and the bad.  I can say that I am a beautiful woman of God, who has sold her body and soul for crack. I can say that I am a good mother who left her child alone or in the care of others to go get high. I can say that I have excelled at the art of marriage, even though I once failed miserably at it.

I am new, and that, is not hard for me to say.

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The Fear and Freedom of Taking the Plunge

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These last couple of weeks have been crazy ’round these parts.  There are a lot of changes going on in my business.  All good ones, but changes none-the-less, and change, even when it is good, can be scary.

On Sunday I went to Tonkawa Falls with a group of friends. We were quite the crew. My husband, my AA sponsor, one of my employees and a girl who I’ve been helping while she’s transitioning out of the strip clubs into a healthier lifestyle. All very different.  All very much alike.

At one point, all of us ladies made the climb to the top of the falls to check things out. We had noticed a group of boys sliding down the waterfall, then climbing back up and we needed to investigate further, so we did.  When we got up there we got the 411. If you sat in just the right spot, the current would usher you down the slippery rocks and into the icy, bubbling brew below. We all kind of laughed and talked about the dangers of it all and how, surely, we would hit our heads if we dared, so we watched, one, then two, then eventually several teenage boys tumble over, unharmed.

“Kinda looks like fun!” My employee remarked.

And it did!  After a few minutes of encouragement from the rest of us, she sat down, shivering and scared and she launched off!  feet first, screaming the whole way, into the water below, alive!  It. Was. Glorious!!!

One by one I watched my girlfriends fly that day!  After the falls, they mustered up the courage to leap from the highest peak.

It dawned on me that over the last couple of weeks I had witnessed so pretty awesome plunges.  We had a wonderful young lady staying with us through her final month of college and just the day before she walked the stage with a degree in business.  The once homeless, exotic dancer decided to finally turn in those stilettos and glitter body lotion and left today for a year-long program that helps women who have been sexually exploited. I jumped in with both feet and bought a $12,ooo juicer for my juice bar (that was scary) and my husband left his job to pursue something more fitting for him.

These actions were all different, and yet the fear and intimidation felt as we crossed the platform to that degree, got in the car to go get help, turned in that 2 week notice and entered in that credit card information, THAT was all the same. And for that we had each other.

The other similarity is the freedom we each felt as we realized that making those decisions and running full speed ahead, even though we were sweating bullets the whole way, was totally worth it.  We had done it and it was good!

Whatever cliff you are facing today or may be looking at tomorrow, because the cliffs will always rise, just know that you are not alone. Whether it is the hypothetical plunge or the 20 foot drop, be still and know.

These Servant Hands

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The picture you see here is not of dirty hands.  As a matter of fact, I wash my hands over 50 times a day, most recently with textured soap, the same kind that mechanics use.  Look closely.  Can you see the cracks?  See the stains? See the toil and strain?

I recently became more aware of the way my hands looked.  I went into a nail salon 2 weeks ago in preparation for a huge event that, not only was I attending, but was also sharing my testimony at. When the beautiful young girl picked up my hand to paint my nails she wrinkled her nose & made a comment about how badly I needed a manicure, but that there wasn’t much she could do at that point.

My hands are not dirty, they are stained from processing beets and other colorful fruits at my juice bar.  I try and I try to get them clean and uncracked, but nothing seems to work.  I think I’d have to take 2 weeks off to heal them completely. They are ugly, and gross (looking) and I have become increasingly aware of these facts.

This morning as I got ready for church I noticed them again. UGH…I was a greeter this morning.  It’s something that I take great pride in because I can’t offer much to my church body in the way of money or time, but by golly, I can wish them a helluva fine “Good morning!” But this morning as I got ready, all I could think about was how disgusting my hands looked.

I went into the bathroom, again, to give them one more good scrubbing, to no avail, then headed off to church, where I was sure that everyone who took a bulletin from me would notice.

Greeting went as it always does.  Lots of chit chatting with my greeting partner for the day, hugs and smiles from other church members, comments on hair and dresses and bow ties. Standing in the sunlight of the Spirit both figuratively and literally. Seeing my peeps.  My church family.  Serving them in the best way I know how, with a warm greeting!

As I snuck into church after the opening prayer and took my place next to my dad and my husband, I looked down.  There they were, those old tattered hands.  I had only just then thought of them again!  I had been sure that morning that I would have a hard time focusing on what I was doing because of the state my awful hands were in, but no, I hadn’t thought of them at all.

What a concept!  My service to others; people I love, people I hardly know, my friends, my family, total strangers, had completely taken all the fear, self loathing, embarrassment and inner voices away.  I had been healed, if even briefly by that simple act of selfless service to my fellows.

For the rest of the day I wore these battle scars with pride.  I work hard for these deep cracks and stains.  I love my life, dirty hands and all.  Most importantly, when I was feeling low, it wasn’t self-care that helped, it was helping others that healed.

Daddy/Daughter Date

It’s that time of year!  All the super sweet pictures of little girls dressed to the nines, being whisked away by their prince charming; Dad! To a lavish ball, filled with other dad’s and their daughters.  It’s magical and memorable.

I didn’t grow up in an environment that fostered a daddy/daughter relationship.  My biological father was abusive towards my mother and I feared him.  I loved him, but I feared him.  We didn’t go on dates, he didn’t teach me how a man is supposed to treat a woman, we weren’t buddies.  He was dad and what he said was rule.

He and my mother divorced when I was 9-ish and my mom met my step-father.  He was kind, loving towards my mother and genuine, something I had never experienced before.  He was so different and I did everything I could to run him off.  I have no clue, other than Divine intervention, how he stayed through my teenage years, but he did.  His dedication and love are the temperature by which I gauge most of my relationships today.

So when I see these adorable posts of fathers treating their little girls like princesses, my heart tugs and I think back to the last “date” I had with my real dad; my step-father!

As you probably already know, I am a recovered addict and alcoholic.  To say that I dragged my parents through the fire, would be an understatement.  I was nothing short of the death of them. On my last bender my mom started making funeral arrangements. Of course, I was convinced, and would have convinced you, that I was only hurting myself and that the pain and suffering my parents were feeling was sidebar.  It was not.  It was more real, confusing and conflicting to them than almost anyone.  They were definitely in the top 5 victims of my addiction.

I called my step-dad up one afternoon and asked him out on a date.

“Well…ok.  What will we be doing?” He asked.

“I was thinking that we could go for coffee and then to an AA meeting.”

He chuckled and agreed.

The next day I put on my all blue Chucks, a pair of blue jeans and a faded concert “t” and we were off! To a meeting. To a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was glorious!

He listened with intent, soaking up all that he could gather, hanging on the next words of each person in the room, hoping, maybe, for an answer to my affliction. One of his former bosses and close friends was an alcoholic in recovery and my step-father was privy to this lingo, but still captured by it all.

When we left, I thanked him.  I felt so loved and honored that this daddy/daughter date went so well.

Our relationship has changed over the last few years.  I have gone from being the phone call they dreaded to the receive to the daughter they can now relate to.  We don’t always see eye-to-eye…after all, he hates these tattoos, but we can find common ground in the relationship that we’ve built over the years.

I didn’t wear a ballgown or fix my hair.  He didn’t ring my doorbell or bring flowers.  But the best daddy/daughter date was had, our style, our speed, our God orchestrated.

 

Awkward Silence

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Silence is golden…or so they say.  It can be a coveted luxury for a new mom, the sacred place for a worshiping soul, the blank canvas for a studious learner.  It can also be death for an abused lover, pain for a suffering addict, the dark and lonely place of a mind that feels alone.

Almost 3 years ago I embarked on this sober journey…again.  I was known as a chronic relapser.  Someone who comes in and out of the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, staying sober until life looks good, then tearing the whole thing down, only to scratch and claw their way back into AA, repeating the cycle. It is embarrassingly awkward, filled with judgment of people who don’t understand and lonely because clearly, you just can’t “get it.”

I ALWAYS wanted to be sober.  I longed for it to come easy to me.  I saw people, knew people, who had come in, dragged up from the depths of hell, much like myself, and they “got it.” Whatever “it” was, they got it.  I wanted that illusive “IT!”

Lack of desire was not the issue.  If you knew me when I was using, you know that I am not even a shadow of the person I was created to be.  God made me in His image to be loving towards people who are hard to love, kind & generous, creative.  When I am using, it’s as if the candle is blown out.  I can think of nothing more than of myself, justifying my poor behavior as acceptable, greedy & dried up in a desert of shame & pity.

When I washed ashore in September of 2013, in my own version of Nineveh, Victoria, TX, I felt the call to be creative.  I come from a family that fosters creation on one side and encourages hard work on the other, with little time for creativity.  I fell somewhere in between, loving both hard work and writing.  I needed and outlet for the time because I was given the chore of sitting still, being quiet and listening to God.  Not the easiest thing for a girl like me, but I knew my will had been broken, I was going to do whatever I was told to do, so I did.

I began this blog.  You can look back over those posts and see that my journey had just begun, but there was still a powerful story of redemption beginning to surface.  I was awakening, slowly but surely.  I received a phone call on afternoon, from someone I greatly admired who told me that I should put the brakes on this writing thing, that being so “out there” with my early recovery could be detrimental to my case in point.  I heard & listened & shut it down. I also got a comment from a person from my dark past, who did not have my best interest in mind.  These two incidents drove me to this 2 year awkward silence.

Recently, listening to God and not my fear of being “found out,” I started sharing my story.  I was given the green light from my husband to be candid, open, honest…even when it is ugly, about what I went through.  You see, this story is not just mine, it is his too.  He suffered on the other side of my addiction for 2 years, mostly silent, dying in his own way.  So to get his blessing to move forward was all the push I needed.

Here I am.  Back. With an incredible story of redemption, light, love that defied all obstacles, hope.  This isn’t just my story.  It is the story of many women, who sit in silence, wishing they too had an outlet.

Stay tuned.  This is just the first of many posts.  I can’t wait to tell you of all that has happened.  A love story that only God could’ve written. A business that was built in His hands.  A family stitched together with the Almighty thread of peace.  A life you would hardly recognize as the one violently tossed from the belly of the whale.

This story is ours.  Join me. Break the silence.

Beauty for Ashes

I have heard it said many times that God takes the horrible, tragic things in our lives and uses them for good.  A prime example in my life has been the relation and comradery I find in the 12-step program I attend.  Each one of those folks is using their darkest past to carry God’s light to the suffering afflicted in order to help them see that change is possible.  Another great example would be mother’s who put their children up for adoption.  The majority of children who are adopted out are not born into the greatest of circumstances, but their new family is able to provide them with the love they so desperately need.

Neither one of these senerio’s is perfect. Each one is still conducted by and through human beings, and we all know that humans will fail us, but in each one of these dramatic cases there is a common thread of God showing up and showing off.  He loves to take unbearable situations and make them remarkable!

I wanted to share with you a real time experience I had in this arena just yesterday.  It will demonstrate how humans fail, I fail even bigger, God comes in because I open the door and something even more out-standing than I could have ever imagined happens.  He is so Good.

A couple of days ago I called my husband.  A little back story here is that we are currently separated and I worked on utterly destroying our marriage for the last year.  We both have room for improvement, but my actions warrant complete dismissal.  Back to the story at hand.  I called him earlier than he likes to be called and I bugged him about something that I wanted him to do.  Great way to wake up, right…a nagging wife!  When he answered me, his tone was condescending and his manner was short. I immediately went on the defensive and ended the phone call, only to text him moments later.

The text was NOT nice.  It wasn’t wrong in the sense of context but it was accusatory and angry.  I needed to say what I said, but I didn’t do it in a very loving way.  It was a knee-jerk reaction to an uncomfortable situation and I wanted to shake him up.  The text ended with the threat of, “maybe we shouldn’t talk if you can’t change your behaviors.”

And with that, we didn’t talk for 30 long hours.

30 hours may not seem like a very long time, but in marital fight time, especially when 300 miles from each other, it’s an eternity.  I spent the first 5 hours checking my phone every 20 minute or less to see if he responded.  The next few hours were spent in anger contemplating whether I would answer the phone when he did call.  After that I went to bed and cried myself to sleep.  My dreams were awful.  I was hiding from someone and on the run.  I woke up unrested, but with a new resolve to make that day better than the last.

The problem was finding out how to do that.  In the past I would’ve acted out of fear.  I would’ve manipulated, spun my wheels until I got what I wanted, cried, begged, pleaded and degraded my own worth in the process.  Today would be different.

I started off by praying that God help me to focus on the task in front of me.  That each step be clearly marked and that my selfishness be removed so that I could follow through with duty.  I placed more emphasis on God and I let him carry me to work.

One of my jobs is cleaning houses.  During that process I asked God to help me do things differently.  To allow me to make a move I have never made before.  I called someone who God has lead me to as trusted leadership.  I told her about the situation and she spoke some truth about herself and her relationship into my life and I identified with her.  I had been selfish, I had reacted out of fear.  Did he need to stop speaking to me in a disrespectful manner? Yes. But how was my reaction going to transmit us to a place of common ground.  I was humbled by our talk and hung up refreshed.

I called on God again. I asked God to forgive me and to give me guidance on how to rectify the situation.  I waited and I sat still until I felt God move me to call my husband.  What ensued could only be attributed to God.

When we talked a heaviness was lifted.  I expressed my apologizes and insecurities.  I didn’t explain or justify, I simply laid my mistake down before him and asked him what I could do better.  We talked about it and he set some clear boundaries. I did the same.  I expressed my dissatisfaction with the tone he used and we both vowed to get better.  We talked through some of the hardest shortcomings of our 6 year marriage in a little over 30 minutes.  My husband told me that he could only tackle one issue at a time without getting to angry and I followed his lead.

Our conversation ended with the first truly unprovoked, unsolicited, unforced “I love you” we have shard in a very long time.

This is one of many times that I have found that just by letting go of the reigns and relinquishing control to the man upstairs, a dooms-day situation was turned into a beautiful bridge to recovery.

Thank you, God, for allowing me to mess up.  Thank you for loving me when I do and thank you for turning ashes to beauty.  You are an awesome God.

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