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Relapse

What a nasty word….Who knew 7 tiny letters, arranged in such a way, could cause me such anxiety? It scares the pants right off of me. Relapse.

What’s even scarier is the statistics behind that word. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the rate of relapse is 40 to 60% for addicts in recovery. So, it’s common? Absolutely. However, the good news is it’s completely preventable.

Relapse doesn’t just happen. It’s a slow process that begins months, or even years before you actually pick up the pipe, the bottle, the needle. **The following sentence may be a trigger to some. Please feel free to skip to the next paragraph.** Just like a person with suicidal thoughts doesn’t just wake up one morning and decide to act right then. Their suicidal thoughts have been churning over in their head for the last few months, or even years before they act. Same with relapse.

Addicts don’t just wake up one morning and think, “Eh, I’m going to use today.” They’ve already gone through emotional relapse, which led them to a mental relapse, which leads to the physical act of using. But, remember when I said it’s completely preventable? Addicts will show you, without even realizing it, that they’re in the process of relapse. You just have to pay attention to the signs.

The first stage is emotional relapse. In emotional relapse, you’re not thinking about using just yet. It’s a set up. In this stage your emotions are trying to take hold and, they’re setting you up for possible relapse. I say possible, because even at this early stage you can intervene.

Some warning signs of emotional relapse:

  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Defensiveness
  • Mood swings
  • Not asking for help
  • Isolation
  • Poor sleeping habits and/or eating habits

Emotional relapse is the easiest stage to intervene. During this time you probably don’t realize yet why you’re so angry or anxious. You haven’t yet put the two together that maybe you’re having an urge. However, if you stay too long in these emotions without re evaluating yourself, you’ll tumble right into mental relapse before you know it.

You have to keep your emotions in check, and practice self-care. When you get angry, or defensive, or anxious, just stop and re evaluate what is making you feel this way. Take a breather. Recollect yourself. Rest, because if you don’t you’ll become emotionally exhausted and want to retreat into a world that’s familiar to you: addiction.

The second stage is mental relapse. Think of it as World War III going on in your head. You want to use because all these familiar emotions have now taken hold and you just want to get away. But, part of you doesn’t want to use because maybe you’re still clear headed enough that you know it will lead to no good. There’s two parts of this stage. In the beginning of mental relapse, the thought of using is just kind of at the back of your mind, lingering there. In the later phase, you’re definitely thinking about using, and ways you could use, without anyone noticing.

Some warning signs of mental relapse:

  • Thinking about people, places, and things you used with
  • Lying
  • Hanging with old using friends
  • Fantasizing about using
  • Planning your relapse around other people’s schedules.

The farther you get in this stage, the harder it is to pull out of. A few things to try when you’ve found yourself in this stage is always play out the entire scenario. For example, some people think they can use while their spouse is out of town. No one is around to notice, so what’s the big deal? This is a very common mental urge. No one will know you used, no one will know you relapsed, not a big deal, right?

Wrong. If you could control your addiction, you would have done it by now. If you could control your addiction, you wouldn’t be worried about relapse in the first place, right? Always think through the consequences you’ve already been through at the hands of your addiction.

Tell someone you’re having these urges. A strong support system is always valuable in times of relapse. Find someone you trust completely to confide in. Let this person help keep you busy, distracted from your urges. If you find yourself alone and really struggling to fight off urges, just wait 30 minutes before doing anything. The average urge usually last about 30 minutes. That can feel like a lifetime in the moment, but keep yourself busy. Draw, take a hot bath, read, do something physical with your hands. Punch a pillow. Clap for 30 minutes. Do something!

Once you start actively thinking about using, if you don’t do some of the strategies mentioned above, it won’t take you long to physically relapse. It’s hard to stop at this point, but even if you relapse it’s not the end of the world. Recovery is like walking up a down moving escalator. It’s a job all in itself. Always keep moving. If you relapse, wake up the next morning and start over. Relapse doesn’t mean you’re a lost cause. It means you stopped moving, stopped working, played hooky for a day in your job of recovery. You can always start over.

Relapse is humiliating, and the guilt and shame that come with it are very real. I’ve said it plenty of times before, take that guilt and shame and do your recovery even better next time around. Find what triggered you in the first place and figure out how to avoid it next time. The thought of being sober for an eternity can be paralyzing. Take it one day at a time. Your emotional, mental and physical self all have to be in tune with one another to recover. That’s the very reason why recovery can be totally exhausting. Don’t look too far ahead in the future, but rather just look at today. Set small goals. Keep moving.

Always remember you have someone right here. I’m a message away and I would never, in a million years, mind chatting with you for 30 minutes, an hour, or how ever long it takes for an urge to pass. You always have someone in your corner. We do recover.

“All the times I didn’t relapse, it was not because the urges were weaker, but because I was stronger.” -Anonymous

Boundaries

It’s time I get completely honest with everyone who follows my blog. For the last 4 months, as you can see, I’ve been completely quiet. I haven’t been able to write, not even a sentence. Everyday I log on and the blinking cursor mocks me. I get angry. I give up.

My family has been going through some tough events lately that have caused me to be angry, sad, and cautious. I couldn’t find the words to encourage all of you through this recovery process when I felt guilty for being so angry with someone fighting their own battle. I had to take time to realize that I’m human, and I had no reason to feel guilty. Anger and sadness are completely human emotions to have when you’re caught in between the turmoil of setting personal boundaries and loving an addict.

I’ve talked extensively about my father and our relationship. On July 31, my 26th birthday, my father and I stood face to face after a grueling year and a half with no contact. He looked me in the eyes, and apologized to me wholeheartedly for the first time in my life. Even though his conversation was slightly unclear at times, joy is an understatement of what I felt in that moment. That was the best birthday gift I could have received.

However, we didn’t see each other again or speak until October 3rd, when I was heading home from the store late that evening and saw him walking about 2 miles from where he was staying. I quickly pulled over and gave him a ride. He was Dad. He was clear headed, able to make completely put together conversation. I hadn’t seen this side of my dad in years. I agreed to bring the kids by to see him because I knew in my heart he needed that. And part of me wanted it so bad.

That Friday I took the kids to see him, and he was dad. Entertaining the kids with his belly laughing jokes, spoiling them with candy and prizes. I soaked it all up. Part of me was sad that he hadn’t been there to watch them grow in the past year and a half. My youngest didn’t even know who he was. That’s when the guilt set in.

She didn’t know him because I didn’t allow her to. Dad had to answer a million questions from every angle from my kids, some that clearly pained him,  because I hadn’t let them see him in so long. Me, that was my fault. I took that grandfather experience from them. What right did I have to do that to my kids, or my dad?

Because boundaries. I have every right to set boundaries that will protect myself and my children from the pain I felt at the hands of an addict throughout my life. I love my father more than anything because, at his core, he is a good person. He’s funny, he loves my children more than life, but I have the right to set up boundaries to protect their emotions. I’m sad because he’s missing out on so much, his living conditions are that of a squatter, and it’s getting colder everyday, but I have the right to set up boundaries. I’m mad because you never know what the next day holds for him. Will he be clear headed? Will he be talking out of his head with gibberish? This is why I have the right to set up boundaries.

His choices are not my fault. I’ve given ultimatums, I’ve discussed my boundaries, and what he chooses to do with them are all on him. I’m allowed to be angry. I’m allowed to be sad. But, I will no longer feel guilt for doing what I know is best for myself and my family.

Boundaries. We have to have them or we will be pulled into the undertow and drown with our addict. Even if they are in recovery, we have to have boundaries because truth be told, we are all unstable at times. I, myself, still have very emotionally unstable days where I battle with myself on whether or not I’m making the right choices for my kids, and myself. This is the ugly, dirty, and painful side of loving an addict. It hurts, it’s frustrating, and sometimes downright draining. But, you are allowed to have them, and you are allowed to not feel guilty … Boundaries.

 

“Love yourself enough to set boundaries. Your time and energy are precious. You get to choose how to use it. You teach people how to treat you by deciding what you will and won’t accept.” – Anna Taylor

Devotion Tuesday

This week we continue in Philippians, Chapter 3. Last week we talked about our recovery being more than about ourselves. I gave you examples of ways and situations where you can put others first. This week, I want to talk about us.

Honestly, we have to be better personally to be better for someone else. Philippians, Chapter 3, starts with a tip we could all interpret differently but I think it speaks huge volumes on the road to recovery.

Philippians 3:2 says, “Look out for the dogs, look out for the trouble makers …”

I interpret this with an addict mind as being told to steer clear of the people, and situations that made me use in the past. If you think you can recover by keeping every aspect of your life exactly the same as you did when using, you’re wrong. You have to completely distance yourself from anything that causes you a bit of second guessing in recovery. We are warriors but we have weaknesses. We have to gain confidence to fight those battles.

Philippians 3:3 says, “for we [who are born again have been reborn from above – spiritually transformed, renewed, set apart for His purpose] … who worship in the Spirit of God and glory and take pride and exult in Christ Jesus and place no confidence [in what we have or who we are] in the flesh-”

Here, Paul is telling us that we are not to put confidence in the flesh, meaning ourselves or anybody else. Sometimes we face situations that our earthy bodies just can’t fight on our own. I’ll be the first to admit that if someone was standing right next to me, consuming my drug of choice, I would have absolutely no will power by myself to not want it, and consume it too. I also couldn’t trust the addict next to me to shelter me from the temptation. You have to place your trust in something bigger than yourself.

We can’t, and won’t always make the best decisions, even when we follow God. He actually doesn’t even want that, because you see, if we all got to a point in life where we became perfect we wouldn’t need God anymore. We would think we were owed something because of our perfectness. The fact is, we’ve already received far more than we deserve, and that was God’s son dying for our sins.

So, He leaves us some weakness so that we actually have to go to Him to ask for help. He wants to guide you. He’s waiting for your call. He wants us to realize that our will power is not enough, and lead to nothing but frustration.

Philippians 3:9 says, “and [I] may be found in Him [believing and relying on Him], not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law and its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith.”

Speak the word this week by saying, “Here I am, Lord. I do not have a perfect record but, I do believe in you. My victory is in you, not in my flesh.” Then, watch him manifest himself in your daily struggles in recovery!

Philippians 3:12 says, “Not that I have already obtained it [this goal of being Christlike] or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that [perfection] for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own.”

Purpose. Every single one of us, no matter what we’ve done in this life, have a purpose. I feel my purpose is this here, helping fellow addicts on the walk of recovery. You may have the exact same purpose but, we all do our job differently. We weren’t put here to filter oxygen. God made the plants for that. He put you here because he has a greater purpose for you than just taking up space, or being another number.

I encourage you this week to really find your purpose. Look for things that make your heart beat a little faster, and your stomach do a little flip flop. That’s when you’re about to do something incredible and very brave. You were made to change the world in some way, so why not do it?

Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something because of your past. We all have faults. We’ve all done questionable things. Paul tells us exactly how to overcome those feelings of doubt.

Philippians 3:13, 14 says, “Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, (14) I press on toward my goal to win the [heavenly] prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

The devil would rather you focus on how many times you’ve fallen, how many times you’ve picked up the pipe, bottle, or pill, rather than walk away. Satan doesn’t want us tto focus on how much good we’ve done and continue to do. Satan wants you to stay in the past with all the guilt, shame, temptation, regret. As I’ve said before, his only job is to make us miserable and he knows how much we hate facing our past mistakes. So, you can bet Satan will throw them in our faces every waking chance he gets.

But God! God wants us to find our strengths in the midst of our weaknesses. He wants us to hone in on those and count our victories, not our losses. Here in verses 13 and 14, Paul tells us that God wants us to do nothing but look ahead. Don’t look back. Keep moving forward.

This week I challenge you to really think about who you place your confidence in. Have you found your purpose? If not try seeking out new things to do this week to help you find it, because I promise you, you have a purpose. And remember, count your victories everyday, whether it’s a new day sober, or you went longer today without using than you did yesterday. Each step forward, no matter how big or small, is a step forward.

Join me next week as we finish up the book of Philippians with Chapter 4. We will talk about how to resolve conflicts, being thankful, how our thoughts effect our recovery, and ways to think positive.

“Lord, I delight in You and I will continue to rejoice because I am in You!” – adapted from Philippians 3:1, “The Everyday Life Bible”, Joyce Meyer

Devotion Tuesday

If you’re anything like me, I always find it difficult to put God’s Word into every day life comparison. Most of the time I find myself lost as to how this massive book can possibly relate to anything in this century. I want to learn with you, and give you practical every day practices to help you grow stronger in your faith. As addicts, and loved ones of addicts we have to believe life will get better. We have to keep running toward the light for the rest of our lives. My goal is to get you sprinting towards that light as opposed to a sloth like jog!

Yesterday I read Philippians Chapter 1 and 2. It fit so perfectly with yesterday’s blog post that I decided to start Devotion Tuesday. Philippians is a good place to start on the journey of recovery because it’s a rather short book chalked full of instruction on how to find joy in the most difficult circumstances.

The book of Philippians was written by Paul during his imprisonment. He was sent to prison because the Jewish high priest thought he was a traitor because he was sharing the word with the Gentiles. He was just doing as God instructed, and sometimes following Him seems to put us back on our journey because Satan gets so mad with us for choosing the right path. Satan will do everything in his power to put roadblocks in the way and make us question our faith. Paul, however, knew God was using him even if he couldn’t see the end result right away.

Philippians 1:6 – “I am convinced and confident of this very thing, that He [God] who has begun a good work in you will [continue to] perfect and complete it until the day of Christ Jesus [the time of God’s return].

Here at the very beginning of Philippians Paul insures us that God will finish what He starts in you. God placed a movement in us to seek out recovery, and we may fall at times but God won’t stop working on us until His work is done. Of course, we have to do our part on this journey, which is believing in His strength to get us through the tough times. God always finishes what He starts. All we have to do is ask Him to help us through the tough times, and a strength you’ve never felt before will be granted.

Philippians 1:9 – “And this I pray, that your love may abound more and more [displaying itself in greater depth] in real knowledge and in practical insight,”

This is actually a simple prayer we can speak every day. When you don’t understand something, or feel completely lost at times, it’s completely normal. Speak The Word by saying, “God, I pray my love may grow more in you. Help me understand your word through you. Help me identify the best paths to take when I’m lost on my recovery journey. Give me knowledge to see the roadblocks in my path before they even happen, and give me direction on how to overcome them.”

Here’s where Philippians gets really interesting. As I mentioned, Paul was imprisoned while writing this book. How many times have we encountered a bump in our recovery and just felt we needed to give up? Give up on our selves, our recovery, and most definitely God. However, Paul was enduring some terrible circumstances during his time in prison, which as you can imagine prison is hard today and you have TV, yard time, three hot meals, your laundry is washed and dried. Think of how tough it was back in Jesus’ time. Almost everyone sent to prison during this time was there to die for whatever “sin” they had committed. How discouraged would you feel if you were sent to prison on a death note just because you had a conversation with someone our president didn’t like? Crazy, right?

But in Philippians 1:12-14 Paul shows us that he was able to find joy in these most difficult times. He turned his time spent in prison into a ministry to those who needed it most. You’ve heard the saying, “Everything happens for a reason.” Well, that’s exactly what Paul says in these few versus. He had to find the why for his imprisonment, and that meant leading others to Christ. But being of man, I’m almost certain Paul had times he doubted in his faith, but through Christ he was able to get up everyday and carry on.

Philippians 1:28 – “And in no way be alarmed or intimidated [in anything] by your opponents, for such [constancy and fearlessness on your part] is a [clear] sign [a proof and a seal] for them of [their impending] destruction, but [a clear sign] for you of deliverance and salvation, and that too, from God.

What’s all that mean? The words constancy and fearlessness describe the temperament we should face when problems arise. Satan knows you inside out just as God does. He knows what makes you weak and he will use every possible way to bring you down. Don’t let the devil see you waver. Stand strong in your faith. Breathe life in deep in your lungs and carry on. Satan’s only job is to tempt us. That’s all he has to do with his miserable time. But, if we show him time and time again that we will not fall, we will not waver, he eventually gives up and picks on someone else.

That’s way easier said than done. Trust me, I know. Here’s a few tips: Satan hates the word “no”. It shakes his whole fiery world up. Tomorrow, wake up and leave your feet just above the floor. Say, “Lord, guide me in your light today. Help me conquer today with you.” Then,  place your feet on the floor firmly and say, “Satan, you will stay below me and my Lord today.”

I’m serious guys. Make this a new habit, and your day will be so much easier to get through. Yes, some days will still be hard because the devil hates to be told what to do, but before you even react to a situation all you have to say is, “God, you’re in front of me. Satan, you will stay behind me.” Now that we have the best teammate on our side that we could ever ask for, I’m going to share my little jolt of Jesus I received yesterday.

Chapter 2 of Philippians is where God spoke to me after Monday’s blog post. It’s easy to get in our flesh and say, “But what about me?” Yesterday we talked about making our recovery about someone other than ourselves. It’s so hard. Even those not recovering from a substance, never touched one in their life, have a hard time making life more than about themselves. It’s our human nature.

Philippians 2:3,4 – “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit [through factional motives, or strife], but with [an attitude of] humility [being neither arrogant or self-righteous] regard others as more important than yourselves. (4) Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.”

I struggle with this daily. It’s okay if you do too. Thinking of someone or something that has nothing to do with our own earthly personal gain is so incredibly hard, but if we just think of others as better than ourselves, and think of others before we act, our heavenly gain will be so much more rewarding. Philippians 2:5-8 tell us to have a love like Christ. Christ put us before himself and ultimately died for you and I. Now, he’s sitting on at the Throne! Work every day, find ways to put someone before yourself. The smallest actions have the biggest impact.

Lastly, Philippians 2:14 says, “Do everything without murmuring [complaining] or questioning.”

I think this might be harder than actually putting someone else’s needs before our own. As a child we all got in trouble for asking, “But why? Why do I have to clean my room? Why do I have to eat my peas?” Sometimes God is going to ask us to do some things way outside of our comfort zone, but again, there’s a reason for everything.

I’ve always been nervous in sharing my faith. I was nervous starting this blog, and I’m nervous every time I write something because I don’t want people to see ME as anything other than how they’ve always seen ME. But, there it is, it’s not about ME! God put these words on my heart to write and share because maybe someone out there needs it. One of you reading needs these words to better walk in recovery, and who am I to stand in the way of God?

Join me next week as we look at Philippians Chapter 3. We will learn where to place our confidence, finding a purpose in our lives, and what God says about looking forward and leaving our past behind us.

“Thank you, God, that you are effectively at work in me both to will and to work for your good pleasure.”  -adapted from Philippians 2:13 (Joyce Meyer, “The Everyday Life Bible”)

It’s Not ALWAYS About Me

Addiction has very narcissistic qualities. When you’re an addict what’s the one thing you put before everything? That’s right, your desire to get high. One of the first truths we face on the path to recovery is feeling remorse, but often times it’s scary to face that your addiction hurts others just as badly as it hurts you. When you’re high, you may think no one cares. But, they most certainly do. Try putting yourself in other’s shoes and realizing: It’s not always about me.

It’s about the elderly couple who moved their life belongings into a storage unit before they were whisked away to the nursing home. That same storage unit you ransacked at 2:00 AM to find goods to fund your habit. You are pillaging through memories and keepsakes, this couple’s only physical remembrance of the last 80 years of life.

It’s about the son or daughter that has the addictive nature instilled in them the minute they are born. Those babies watch and listen to everything you say or do. Your nightly six pack and loud, angry tone could encourage Molly that it’s normal to need alcohol, and it’s okay to be disrespected.

It’s about the single mama who sleeps on the couch in her run down apartment just in case you come knocking on the door again at 1:00 AM, wanting to use the nearest phone, so you don’t frighten her sleeping babies.

When you choose to use, people are impacted, people that don’t deserve to be. There are people closest to you, friends, and family that are severely impacted. But, today we are talking about people you’ve never met. Strangers. These people fight your demons because of YOUR actions. You are never ever truly alone in your addiction. And, once you realize these things and your heart is filled with regret, you have to pull yourself together and learn to help instead of hurt.

You have to want to get clean for yourself but, you must also have a why.

Incorporating others’ feelings, along with your feelings to better yourself, in our road to recovery, will allow you to find blessings in the most unimaginable places.

Start a neighborhood watch in your community so another single mama can feel protected and not worried about the next addict knocking on her door. Help give her peace of mind so she can get some much needed rest.

Volunteer at the local nursing home so that you may give comfort to those elderly that get the news of their possessions being sold off at the local pawn shop. Listen to their many stories of the life they have lived, your companionship can ease the pain of losing the tangible items.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it as many times as necessary, children brought up with addictive parents have a greater chance of becoming addicts than children brought up in sober environments. This is the greatest why anyone can ever have. Remember in your recovery that someone, somewhere, is looking up to you. Someone, somewhere, sees you as an inspiration, so change the world starting with the most impressionable: the children. Show them that life gets hard but we can, and always will, overcome.

You don’t have to go back and make amends with every single stranger you’ve ever impacted. That’s just not possible. However, you can start by making small changes in other’s lives to make up for the mistakes you’ve made. It is never, ever, too late to start over. Find your why and make the difference.

I promise if you choose to start impacting people in the best way, you’ll wonder why you ever chose the wrong way to begin with. The feeling you get when you help others is a totally different high that actually fills your heart up and last a whole lot longer than the corner shake and bake. Plus … it’s completely free. Can’t get much better than that, huh?

We have to give to receive. Whether you believe in Jesus, Darwin, or the big bang theory, something/someone had to give to you so you could receive the life you have. And, now you’ve been given a second chance, so make the best of it starting today. Before you take that first hit, drink, or pill, stop and find something you  can do to make a difference. Your first sincere “thank you” from a stranger will make you feel so worthy of this new recovering life that you’ve been given. The smallest actions have the greatest impact.

“If you live your life as if everything is about you … You will be left with just that. Just you.”

 

The Illusion of Envy

Envy. It’s one of the infamous “Seven Deadly Sins”. It will kill your recovery faster than you could imagine. It almost killed mine.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I LOVE seeing a fellow recovering addict do well for themselves. Getting back into the basics of life itself. A new job, new friends, a new home. Those are huge obstacles to overcome and great blessings for anyone.

But, do you ever catch yourself not counting your own blessings but comparing them with others? I did. And, it’s a normal human feeling. It’s easy to get caught up in what Jane Doe has that you don’t.

It’s easy to forget that you feed, clothe, and provide for your family with your blue collar job when you see Jane Doe got accepted to a 9-5 office job.

It’s easy to forget that your car, that you have to jumpstart every morning, still gets you from place A to place B when Jane Doe just got her very first new car.

It’s easy to forget that the home you worked so hard to get still provides you shelter and keeps you safe when Jane Doe just bought a new house.

It’s easy to forget the blessings within your own struggles. But, envy only allows you to see from the outside.

Maybe Jane Doe just finished putting in hours upon hours of study time to finish college, and that’s what helped her to have her sweet job. Maybe she works two jobs, or even three, to be able to pay for that first car. And, maybe her new house isn’t filled with the love and company of her children because she had to have a home before getting custody back.

Envy doesn’t allow us to see the picture from the inside. It blinds us from the reason of why our tiny accomplishments are actually huge blessings. Every step you take in recovery is climbing a mountain, regardless of if that step is barefoot, or your feet are bleeding from the sharp rocks, or frozen from the cold ground. And, Jane Doe had to climb that same mountain, and I guarantee you she had no shoes as well.

 

“Don’t feel disillusioned by where you are now, your progress is good enough. It’s meaningful. It’s on time. Though everything may go unacknowledged, every silent step is movement in the right direction. 

When it feels as though everyone is going forward, and you’re being pulled back by your own demons or your past, remember that every movement in this journey will play its part in the greater narrative – what a beautiful story to share one day written just by living your life.” -KL

I went silent.

It turns out, I’m human. I got discouraged. I hit a rough patch. I went silent.

The worst thing we can do in the addiction community is go silent. You start telling friends and family you’re fine. Nothing is wrong. You say it so much you give yourself false hope that everything is fine. But, at the end of the day, when the world is sleeping and you’re all alone, you look around and you are, in fact, not okay. You’re not fine.

I’m here to be completely honest. I lost sight of what I was writing for. I was proud of my book, I was proud of the words I was able to share but I got frustrated that I wasn’t reaching more people. I got caught up in the excitement and false hope that now, I could sit back and watch lives change all because I published an 80 page book. Who am I kidding?

So, I went silent.

But, it took my niece, who’s not even 13 yet, to make me realize that someone is listening. Not just reading words on a page, and going on about their day, but really listening.

I came into her life when she was just 3 years old and I’ve got the privilege to watch her grow up. I fell in love with her the first time I ever saw her. She’s still a baby in my eyes. She’s still my baby. So, when she told me she was reading my book, I was nervous. It was like my own child was about to find out my deepest, ugliest secrets. She had no idea about my own struggles with addiction. She looked up to me, and I was so afraid that she’d look at me differently once she read my story.

But she didn’t. She plopped down on the couch beside me, gave me a big hug, and told me she loved it. This strong young lady, who has been surrounded by addiction her entire life,  who has witnessed things that would break your heart, read just a preview of my book, which was just the first 18 pages, and she loved it. She wants a whole book all to herself, and you can bet your bottom she’s going to get just that.

That’s when I realized, it doesn’t matter if I change the world. It doesn’t matter if the world listens. If sharing my story of struggle, and the role addiction has played in it all, can change just her life, I’ve done my job. If sharing my story makes her second guess making bad decisions when she grows up, I’ve done my job. I’ve accomplished exactly what I’ve set out to do.

Children who grow up surrounded by addiction are more likely to become addicts than those who aren’t surrounded by it. It’s proven. There are studies that show it. I’m one of those children. However, out of my 6 nieces and nephews who’ve seen addictive addiction present in their lives, even to this day, just one has read my book. And I might not can change the world, but she can.

So, for her I won’t stay silent. I won’t get discouraged. I’ll keep talking because I know she’s listening even if no one else is. I’ve done my job.

HMR: Aunt Sarah loves you. You’re going to do beautiful things. Thank you for inspiring me to keep on keeping on. I love you so very much, and I’ll get you that book.

“Be the role model you needed when you were younger.” – Unknown