Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Spirit of Elijah

Prior to recovery I had no interest in Family History.  I remember my mom working diligently at it and getting excited at the smallest piece of information that would lead her to the next bread crumb.  She would often share her findings with me in hopes of lighting the fire within me, but it just never happened.

However, once I began recovery my heart began to soften to gospel principles that I once found boring or beyond me.

And then eventually the fire, the Spirit of Elijah, was within me lit...

I distinctly remember the very moment...

I had attended the first Saturday night session of Stake Conference I think I had ever attended.  President Miller (1st counselor in the Stake Presidency) delivered the most empowering talk on Family History.  In an instant I felt the most intense desire to find out more information about my ancestors.  He ended his talk with a challenge.  He challenged each Stake member to research five family names who were in need of ordinance work and take them to the Temple.

I'd recently had my Temple privileges restored so I was nervous, but excited to take on his challenge.  But as much as I wanted to complete the challenge I also wanted it to be easy.  I harbored fear from my mother's experiences with Family History, waiting months and months for films, or certificates to arrive in the mail.  I wanted it simple and streamlined.  Lucky for me, Family History research has progressed leaps and bounds since my early childhood.

I had three family lines to choose from.  My mom's line, which had already had quite a bit of work done on it, my step-dad's line whose extended family I felt no connection with, or my biological father's line who, as far as I knew, was completely untouched by Latter-day Saint Family History research.

Sidebar:

I was born to Roger LeRoy Whiting and Irene Jean Williams in 1974.  They divorced a year later and 3 years after that my mom met my step-dad, Joseph Darrell Keller who eventually adopted me.  A year after that I was sealed to him.  Roger has kept in distant contact with me over the years but it was his mom, my Grandma Frankie, who truly never let go of me.  She was the best grandma I could ever ask for.


Laverne "Frankie" Rose (Frank) Whiting
Given the fact that the Whiting line hadn't been researched and I already had a personal connection to them, I decided to start there.

Fortunately, when I was young my mom had a sound mind and sent my grandma Frankie a bunch of pedigree charts and asked her to fill them out.  Those pedigree charts proved to be the diving board I needed to catapult me into a giant sea of Family History.

I began plugging in the names off of the pedigree charts into new.familysearch.org and immediately ordinances began popping up as available.  After only a short week I had over 100 ordinances to perform for those on the Whiting line.  I was astounded, grateful and so humbled.

I spent the next six months working through those ordinances but the time eventually came when I began nearing the end of my stack of names, which meant, the real work was about to begin.

My grandma was able to record information back to my great grandfather Edward Lemoyne Whiting Jr. and with the help of Ancestry.com I was able to determine Edward's father to be Edward Lemoyne Sr. and his father to be David Randall (Whiting).  But that is where I got stuck.

And when I say stuck, I mean stuck.  David Randall lived with his wife Harriet Elizabeth (Parker) in West Bloomfield, New York for almost 40 years.  David first appeared in West Bloomfield on the 1840 census.  But I couldn't find any information prior to that, where he came from, or anything.  There was rumor that his father's name was also David, but there was no substantiating evidence to support it.  

Over time, as I continued to research, I found that a deep personal love began to develop within me for my ancestors, especially for David Randall.  Family Search wouldn't release his work and make his ordinances available for completion until I had birth information for him and I obviously didn't have that information without knowing where he came from.  A burning desire was lit within me to find him.  I felt as though I was only a couple of degrees of separation away from a major breakthrough, but I couldn't seem to find it on my own.


After much futile searching I awoke one morning and thought:
I need to go to the Temple and while in the Celestial room, ask for help with this research.
The Lord quickly admonished:
Why do you need to wait to be in the Temple to ask for help?
I immediately felt a wave of recognition wash over me.  I knew the Lord was right.  I didn't need to wait.  So I dropped to my knees right then and poured my heart out to the Lord:
Dear Heavenly Father, 
I need your help.  I am looking for my great great great grandfather's parents and I can't find them.  I know they exist.  I know there is information out there.  I can feel it.  Please help me know who to talk to and bless me with the Spirit to know what to say.  And please also bless those I speak with, that they may know where to look.  I feel like I am right at the cusp of a major breakthrough but I need your help to burst the barrier.  And please, please tell my great great great grandpa and grandma that I am coming.  I am coming for them.
Tears streamed my face as my head lifted and I knew I hadn't needed to ask Heavenly Father to tell them I was coming, because I felt them, I felt them right there in the room with me.  They heard my plea themselves.

The three days to follow were nothing short of major miracles and a living hell all wrapped up and tangled together.

My oldest son was an emotional wreck, having meltdown after meltdown.  I was triggering like crazy and didn't understand why, given all the good I was doing.  And the contention in our home was absolutely insane.  We were all anxious, frustrated and on edge with little to no patience with one another.

Yet, at the same time, new avenues were being opened up in regards to my investigative work.  I had reached out to someone regarding David Randall on findagrave.com, someone who lived in or near West Bloomfield, in hopes they could help.  They weren't able to, but someone else, a little old man named Charles, caught wind of the conversation and stepped in.

Charles also lived in the area of West Bloomfield and was busy spending his retired years fishing and taking pictures of Civil War veteran memorials.  After reading my plight on findagrave.com he reached out to me and offered to check some resources he had access to for more information on David Randall.  My angel, Charles, didn't stop there.  He emailed me multiple times per day with possible leads to discovering David Randall's heritage.  He told me (paraphrased):
I don't normally help people with research but this line has me really curious. Also, it's pouring rain right now, otherwise I'd be outside fishing or taking pictures.  So I'm sticking to electronic research for now.
I felt this overwhelming sense that the Lord had made it rain in New York at that time just so Charles would be willing to stay inside and help me research.  I know that sounds crazy, but that's truly the feeling I received.

On the morning of the 4th day I woke up from one of the most vivid and intense user dreams I have ever had.  It left me nauseous and feeling so consumed by darkness.  I laid in bed for a moment before I began rolling off the bed to crash to my knees.  My intention was to cry out "why!?" to the Lord.  "Why all this turmoil and madness these past few days!?"  But before my knees even hit the floor the Lord answered me loud and clear with the piercing words:
It's because of the Family History!
The revelation immediately dispelled the fog of despair I was feeling.  Understanding the reason behind the adversary's attack only fueled my desire to fight to stay on the straight and narrow.  I left for work that day with new resolve.  And I knew; I knew that huge miracles were coming.

That same day, about an hour after arriving at work, I received my 12th email from Charles, containing only a picture.

Notice the names of the children....


I will seek that which was lost and bring back that which was driven away.

And then they were found.

For some reason, David Randall decided to change his last name from Whiton to Whiting.  I have no record of him as a Whiton so I'm not sure exactly when the change happened, but definitely prior to him showing up on the 1840 census when he was 37.

Upon receiving the above information I immediately plugged David Whiton (David Randall's father) into ancestry.com to see if any information would populate.  I was in shock to find that all of his information had already been entered, as well as his entire ancestry dating back to 1635 when my 13th great grand father, Thomas Whiton, docked in Boston harbor having arrived from England.  I tapped into a family of rich, noble, brave and courageous ancestry.  Between many of my ancestors, all of the early wars are represented: The Revolutionary War, King Phillips War, The War of 1812 and the Civil War.

But the most important find of all came when I plugged in David Randall's parent's information into new.familysearch.com and I saw the beautiful little green arrow that told me I could now do his and Harriet's work.  They could be cleansed from all the woes of their life, they could make the necessary covenants with the Lord to ensure their own salvation, they could covenant with one another and the Lord to be an eternal family forever and also have each of their children sealed to them.

They had true happiness on the horizon...

I didn't waste any time.  I took them to the Temple right away.  I have felt his presence near me often since that day.  I feel my great great great grand father, David Randall Whiton/Whiting, is one of my most stalwart guardian angels.  I feel honored that he would minister to me and honestly, it makes me want to be better each day so that his service to me isn't in vain.

I love you my dear Grandpapa.  I cannot wait to see you again.

God be with you till then...

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The 5 W's of Addiction Triggers

Triggers are a beast aren't they?  They can be giant or they can be small.  They can be apparent or they can be isolated/hidden.  They can show up in the most obvious places or in the most ambiguous places.  They can manifest from our own doing or be completely out of our control.  


What is it?

trig·ger

  [trig-er] 
noun
  • anything, as an act or event, that serves as a stimulus and initiates a reaction.
verb
  • to initiate or precipitate (a chain of events, scientific reaction or psychological process)
  • to become active; activate.
Who is at risk?

Triggers effect everyone.  Anyone who has  a brain with functioning memory retention is susceptible to triggers.

Where can it happen?

The fact is, they are everywhere and all around us.  We can find them in:
  • Music
  • Commercials
  • Television
  • Movies
  • Clothing departments
  • Clothing ads
  • Jokes
  • Boredom
  • Anger
  • Staying up late
  • Smells
  • Taking showers or baths
  • Memories
  • People
  • Talk radio
  • Fabrics
  • Scantily clad people
  • Websites
  • Food
  • Laying down for naps
  • Old haunts
  • Social media sites
  • Apps
  • Games
  • Conversations
  • etc... the list could go on and on

Why does it happen?

Triggers are nostalgic, sparking memory of images, situations or stimuli related to our addictions.  In essence, through any of our five senses, we remember the euphoria that comes from acting out.

When can it happen?
Are we responsible for them?

Sometimes we are responsible for our own triggering.  If we indulge music or media or conversation that offends the Spirit, shewing Him away, then yes, we can expect the adversary to replace that Spirit and move in with his seductive whisperings.  We are never truly completely alone.  If the Holy Ghost is not with us, then surely Satan's followers are, and likewise, if the Holy Ghost is with us then Satan's followers cannot stand to be in the light of our countenance.  We are never without one or the other and they both have very distinct purposes: 

Satan seeks to destroy.
The Holy Ghost seeks to save.

If we offend the Spirit, and trigger, we are responsible and we threaten the protection of the Spirit.  If we have not offended the Spirit, and trigger, we are not responsible and the Spirit will sustain us through the temptation, so long as we don't allow our thoughts to linger too long.

If we are responsible for the trigger, it is then our duty to acknowledge our accountability and work to right our wrong.  If we don't, we are putting ourselves at risk for greater temptation and the Spirit will no longer stand by waiting, but will completely withdraw.

However, if we have not offended the Spirit and the trigger manifests, we are in no way accountable for that thought.  Our slates are still clean, even with that temptation.  We learn in the scriptures that Satan tempted the Savior.  The Savior felt the very triggers we experience day in and day out and yet He still remained clean and perfect.  As heavy as those temptations were for the Savior, He still denied them.  He denied and refused them in the very face of Satan himself.  He did not shy away from them, feel shame for them or blame Himself for them.  But instead He placed accountability where it belonged.  At the adversaries feet.  He rejected them completely and told Satan "get thee hence."  That is the example we are to follow.

There are also times when we trigger for no apparent reason; when we are doing everything right; reading scriptures, working on dailies, attending the Temple, remembering our gratitude and generally striving to do what is right.  And yet, even in he wake of all that hard work we can still feel an intense pull to act out – as if we are standing in front of a giant steel door called 'addiction' and every cell in our body is magnetized.  There is no way humanly possible that we would be able to withstand that temptation on our own.  

It is during these times that I often reflect on the wise words of my Stake President when I once asked him why, when I am doing everything right, does my Father in Heaven still let me suffer through such horrific temptation?  He paused and then looked at me and said:
Your Father in Heaven has heard the promises you have made to Him, and He is now letting the wind blow on your branches, to see if you meant what you said.  
Our Heavenly Father wants our roots to grow stronger and for that to happen He allows the wind to blow on our branches.  It is up to us to remember that no matter what Heavenly Father see’s fit for us to bear, that His plan does not require us to do it alone.  He has provided us with His son, an army of Angels, the Priesthood and a plethora of other protective barriers to sustain us through the hard times.  We are only  required to be obedient and trust Him.  And truly, we are safe in that.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Let's Talk About Suicidal Thoughts

I don't really know what I'm going to say here...

I do need to clarify that I am for sure not speaking for the majority of women addicts, or even any other woman addict.  I'm only speaking from my own experience on this one.  But I want to talk about it.  I want to put it out there.  This is a topic I shy away from because I'm ashamed of these thoughts when they come, and it also freaks people out when I talk about them so I tend to isolate in them, and we all know where isolation leads.

My suicidal thoughts have evolved over time... which sounds weird to say, but they have.

Prior to recovery I would have them as a means of total escape; to escape pain.  I just wanted the pain to end.  But there was no good in it.  I didn't just want the pain to end, and continue to exist, but instead *I* wanted to stop existing.  I wanted my spirit exterminated.  I wished I'd never been created.  That's how bad it was.

I no longer think that way, and really, I can't imagine myself ever thinking that way again, thank goodness.

Progress...

Once I started recovery I stopped with the doom and gloom suicidal thinking, but I still have lingering thoughts.  They don't come too often and mostly show up when things get low... like these last few days/weeks.

The difference is, I'm not wanting to die because I no longer want to exist.  I simply want to die to go home.  I want to be done with this earthly existence.  It's cathartic for me to think of myself in Heaven, dwelling with Angels and such.  It's an escape mechanism for me; a coping mechanism.

Of course, if I actually did go as far as succeeding at suicide, I know that I would not find peace and rest and would not dwell with Angels.  No, there would be heavy consequences to that choice.

This is important for me to talk about though.  Because remaining isolated in those thoughts, when they come, have the real potential to turn dangerous for me.  I need a place where I can talk freely and openly about those thoughts without people freaking out and worrying I'm going to go and off myself.

I'm not even close to that place.

The prayer I wrote yesterday to God was heard though and answered.  He answered it so beautifully that I know it was specifically for me.  This was so poignant that there is no way it was coincidence or an accident.  It was an absolute miracle and I recognize it as such.

I opened my scriptures last night and turned straight to the following verses:

Philippians 1:20-25
20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
22 But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not.
23 For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better:
24 Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you (me).
25 And having this confidence, I know that I shall abide and continue with you all for your (my) furtherance and joy of faith;
I find so much validation and comfort in this passage of scripture.  Paul had thoughts of wanting to go home too, but he recognized that as much as he wanted to go home, that the Lord needed him here on this earth, and he was willing to hold out for the greater reward.  

So as I continue my journey I plan to be more open about my thoughts of wanting to go home, I will air them to the light and be open and vulnerable with them.  But please know that I'm not in any danger and I'm not at risk, but rather it's just me being honest about wanting to go home.

***Update***

I love the Lord....

He shed more light on this subject for me as I was doing dishes tonight after dinner.  

The question came to mind "when I get low, why do I want to go home?" and the Lord answered...
Because when you are happy, it's because you are close to the Savior, and 'home' is with you, all around you, all the time, as long as you let it.  The Savior is your home and when you lose sight of Him you long for Him, and you miss Him and yearn for Him and you want to come home to see Him.  But please know and remember, you don't have to come home to be near Him and to feel peace.  Study Him.  Study His life and His teachings and that peace will return.  You will know Him once more and be happy again.
He's right.  As those words sunk into me I knew He was right.  So that is going to be my focus.  To study the Savior.  I'll read His words in the scriptures and Conference talks.  I'm also going to finish The Infinite Atonement.

God is good!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Dear God: Are You There?

Are you there?
I want to come home
This darkness is all around me
... I can't see
... where I am
The spark within me is dim
I cannot see my path
My thoughts of suicide are back
I won't
But I find it oddly comforting
... these thoughts of coming home
... and resting with you.
That's the catch though...
If I facilitated my own homecoming
... there would be no rest.
So, I won't.  I will remain here
... and strive to find healthier comforts.
My rage is back
Like an ugly black cloud of ash and decay
I hate myself when I get so angry
... it erupts like a volcano and I can't control it
and
It won't shut off
I need help.
Those around me... I hurt them.
I need help.
Are you there?
Please help me.
Please.


Friday, April 19, 2013

Dear Bishop: You Eased My Fears

Dear Bishop, 

I made a choice that I was sure would withdraw the Holy Ghost permanently from my life. Despite taking accountability for what I had done, I remained angry and cynical. I wasn't sure I fit in the realm of the church anymore, or that restitution was going to be worth it. I knew a disciplinary council was inevitable, but you didn't seem to be in a rush. I'll always remember our meeting when you told me you recognized a need for me to have opportunities to feel the Spirit. I was encouraged to meet with you regularly and without shame. You always opened the scriptures during our visits inviting a rich, beautiful spirit to fill the room. I never wanted to leave your office. I left our visits refreshed and full of hope! I would pray for that spirit to remain with me; oh how I prayed!! I invited my visiting teachers and the missionaries to come over anytime and hoped they'd share a message just so I could keep feeling that spirit. Week by week you seemed to say exactly what was on my mind. It blew me away. I gained a testimony of Bishop's by knowing you. I know you were called of God, and that you aspired to truly receive inspiration on my behalf. I thank you, so much.

I felt like we were just getting started down a path of healing, when my husband got a new job and we were going to move. The level of anxiety I felt over changing Bishops and wards was overwhelming and I couldn't express that to anyone. Not even my closest friends understood why I cried uncontrollably when I spoke of moving. But you did. You eased my fears, spoke to my soon-to-be Bishop, and offered me a priesthood blessing that has sustained me. Bishop, although we didn't discover the root of my problem together, you taught me the importance of staying close to the Lord until I did. I appreciate you; more than you'll ever know.

A Beautiful Daughter of God

A contributed post in response to A Call For Input: Dear Bishop Letters.

Am I Ready For Step 2?

The main them of step 1 is admitting powerlessness and our need for help.  We also surrender to becoming willing to abstain.  It's that simple.

So ask yourself two questions:
  1. Am I powerless over my addiction?
  2. Am I willing to abstain?
If you can answer yes to both of these questions then move on.  Don't give the adversary time to whisper in your ear such lies as:
  • You didn't do it well enough
  • You'll never be able to abstain
Satan would have us believe these whispering's...  but truly, there is no 'perfect' way to do the steps. You learn what you can, commit to being better and move on.  

Simple.



Thursday, April 18, 2013

Fortifying My "Control Line"

I recently met with my Bishop and we went over some more aspects of my last slip.  He asked me again: 
What did you learn from this?
I responded:
I have learned that I cannot get close to the line.  I must take great care to stay clear of the threshold in which my mind gets hijacked and I lose the ability to choose.
His question and my explanation got me thinking about a fire, and how firefighters will carve out a 'control line' (or firebreak) to prevent the fire from jumping to more areas and spreading it's hot destruction.

A 'control line' is defined as:  
All built or natural fire barriers and treated fire edge used to control a fire.
I liken fire to my addiction.  My addiction can manifest as a small flare-up, a trigger... but like fire it can also become a completely uncontrolled rolling red hot disaster in just a short period of time if I don't take certain precautions. 

I feel that I need to take extra precautions to keep my addiction controlled, or manageable.  I need to create a control line around myself.  I need to use natural barriers as well as build barriers and treat the edges of that barrier by dousing them with the Spirit and lining them with armies of Angels.   

I also acknowledge that it takes major work and major change to create and maintain a burn line.  I have to eliminate triggers from my life and make changes.  I also have to drop the walls of pride to facilitate these changes.


In order to facilitate these changes it is imperative that I call on my support system to help me bolster my control line.  I need to admit that I need help and then actually call on that help.  I have such a wonderful support system and many loved ones who are ready and willing to help me if I only ask. 



I also need to remember that once my control line is built that the fire won't just go out.  Like poof!  But instead, I have to be patient, and trust that my intently and meticulously fortified line will control the burn and manage it.  That the precautions I've taken aren't to douse the fire and put it out, but to hold it so it doesn't spread.  I simply need to stand on the other side of the control line, barricaded by my life changes, my Angels, my support system and the Spirit, all of which are gifts given to me by my Father in Heaven to help me stay safe.



If I do everything in my power to fortify my control line, the Lord will not allow the fire to threaten me.  He is bound by His own promise and He cannot break it:

D&C 82:1
I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Journal: Isolation is the PITS!

I've been hit with a wave of pretty heavy depression.  I have been feeling so low and stuck.  The biggest symptom is this insatiable craving to isolate.  I haven't felt the need to isolate this intensely since prior to recovery, I think.

I don't have a very good grip on it either.  It's spilling over.  I lied to two people yesterday in order to protect my isolation...

The first was to my visiting teacher who text me early in the morning and asked if there was a time this week they could come and visit.  I rolled my eyes internally.  When I feel low like this the last thing I want is company.  So I lied and said no.  I blamed school projects, finals and Tim's graduation that's coming up.  

Then on the way to church I bumped into my Relief Society President and her family and she asked how I was doing.  I lied and responded "pretty good."  Which, I really wasn't doing pretty good.

I've reached out to both of these sisters and came clean with my fibs and explained where I really am.  Both responded with love.  They are good people and I'm very blessed to have them in my life.

I'm  also feeling the desire to isolate from my Bishop.  I mentioned a few blog posts ago about a night where I fell under some heavy temptation and was directed to text my Bishop.  He did answer... but when we talked about it in person a few days later he said with sort of an eye roll that he really almost didn't answer my text.  That scared me.  I lean on my Bishop a lot and I think I wear him out.  

I was reminded of a line from one of my favorite 80's movies, Some Kind of Wonderful...  

The main character Keith and his side-kick Watts, are best friends.  In a nutshell, Watts is secretly in love with Keith and Keith wants to date the popular girl, Amanda Jones.  At one point Keith begins to resent Watts for nitpickingly getting in the way of him and Amanda and Watts tells him she'll just stop coming around altogether:
I'm driving you crazy and you're driving me crazy and I'd rather not see you and have you think good things about me than have you see me and hate me.  'Cause I can't afford to have you hate me, Keith.  The only things I care about in this **** life are me and my drums and you.
And this is how I feel about my Bishop.  Except he's not driving me crazy and I have many more important things to me than just him and some drums; which I don't even play the drums.  But, I would hate to have the cry wolf thing happen with him.  When I really need help and reach out to him, I don't want him to ever think 'ugghhhh HER again?' and not respond. So I'm finding myself pulling back from him.

I've also been feeling low because of the weather.  I woke up to this today... blech!!  Seriously?  So depressing.


Isolation sucks.

But.

I did have a small but big tender mercy happen yesterday for me.  My dear friend was teaching Relief Society and had us listen to super uplifting music and spend 10 minutes searching for a scripture/hymn that spoke of the nature of God and what that means for me.  I returned to a scripture I'd found a few days before and studied it more in-depth.

D&C 38 7-9, 15
But behold, verily, verily, I say unto you that mine eyes are upon you.  I am in your midst and ye cannot see me; But the day soon cometh that ye shall see me, and know that I am; for the veil of darkness soon shall be rent...  Wherefore, gird up your loins and be prepared.  Behold, the kingdom is yours, and the enemy shall not overcome.  Therefore, be ye strong from henceforth; fear not.
I love how the Lord is in my midst.  He is not a prideful God that sits up on His throne and lets me flounder around by myself.  No, He is down here with me, loving me, nurturing me and healing me.  He is here in the darkness with me.  I am not alone.

How can I isolate from that?

So I will work to continue to reach out.  I know this is a crazy wave and a device of the adversary to keep me hidden from His healing touch.

But I will not go back to that place I once was....

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Dear Bishop: I Knew You Loved Me Still

Dear Bishop,

I will never forget many things surrounding the first time I came in to talk to you. My life was a wreck. I had just gotten home from a stay at a mental hospital. I was hurt, broken and lost. As I sat in your office I very matter-of-factly told you how I hated the church, how I wasn't going to come anymore, how I wanted to be released from all callings and how I didn't want help. I confessed my sins, mostly out of obligation, and I believed that you would call it quits on me and excommunicate me so I could be released from all responsibility and sent on my merry, sinful way.  

I remember the look on your face…was it shock?…maybe a little. Concern? Definitely.  But I didn't see it that way. I saw a man who would just not be able to grasp it all. He would be disgusted with me and my sins and addictions. He would say 'I can’t help her' and that would be the end of it all. I could continue to justify my life, my sins, my lies etc. I do remember crying but I know it wasn't tears of sorrow.  They were mostly tears of pain. You asked if we could pray together. I nearly fell off my chair, what? Was this guy for real? So you prayed and I left angry, bitter, and feeling everything was over.

In my disciplinary counsel I didn't feel love. I felt resentment, anger, frustration and bitterness. I expressed that I didn't have a big desire to continue in the church. I felt sorry for the things I had done but it just wasn't coming through yet. I remember you saying later how the atmosphere in the room and the feelings from me were dark , that I was practically begging to be excommunicated. You prayed, your bishopric seemed shocked and I felt disgusted. The decision you made did shock me and I left feeling confused and numb. I was not excommunicated. What did this mean? It meant I had to keep being “good” and trying.

A few months went by and I no longer attended church. I felt free and liberated, or so I thought. I began to indulge in my addictions more and more and act out worse than I ever have in my life. It was as if my spirit was really taken over from a dark spirit. 

Finally, so broken, and feeling as if I was beyond repair, I came to you again.  This time out of desperation, out of pain and sorrow... so much sorrow I had never before felt. I laid it all out in front of you, every single sin. It was painful, it was embarrassing, and I was devastated. I was broken. Again I thought you’d say all was lost and that I was hopeless. You didn't though.  Instead you took it all with grace. You didn't even flinch or cringe at some of the things we talked about. You listened, you heard and you loved.

I did have a second counsel and this time I was so terrified, I knew I was going to lose it all. However I knew this time it was all out of love. I knew as soon as I walked in the room that there sat men of God, who loved me, who cared and who wanted the best for me. I knew that no matter the decision I would not recoil from God or from the Atoning power of the Savior, it would not change what I would plan to do and that was to change, to seek the Atonement and to really apply it.

Months have passed since that time and I still struggle with my addictions, I have given in a time or two but I have never stopped feeling the love of our Savior, nor of you. I sat with shock as you expressed personal family struggles, some with those who had struggled with addictions themselves. I knew you loved me still, just as you would still love your family. I know without a doubt of your desire to continue to help me. 

I appreciate the assignments and study we do together. I appreciate your prayers and can feel them. I am so grateful for someone who was in tune enough to know what I really needed, to know what would put me back on the right path, the eternal path that leads to Father and our Savior Jesus Christ. Though I am not currently a member of your fold you still are there for me, you truly know how to feed the lost sheep. I look forward to the day I will belong again as an official member of your flock.

Bishop for all of this I am grateful you took it with grace, kindness and the love of Christ.

A Beautiful Daughter of God

A contributed post in response to A Call For Input: Dear Bishop Letters.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Journal: What's Going on With Me?

I feel like I haven't posted in a while, even though I have.  Hah.  So this is going to be sort of a rambling post.

I attended my women's group last night.  I wasn't going to but someone new asked if I would go with them and I said I would.  I have decided though, that I'm going to start attending the general ARP meeting on Sunday nights for a while rather than either of my women's meetings.  I feel the need to blend in and be a nobody.  I want to go to a group where no one knows me, or my story so I can just sit and soak in the counsel of the plethora of old-timers that are found there.  I really feel the strong desire and need to work my own program right now.  So that's my plan.

~~~~~~~~~~

I've started listing Step Assignments on my blog.  I've completed listing all the Step 1 Assignments.  They can also be found listed in order on the right hand side of my blog.  I'm really excited about this!  I'm happy to see that people are already posting their thoughts on the different assignments and it's exciting!  I love it!  Lot's of healing to come from that!

~~~~~~~~~~

I'm fighting the desire to isolate.  I am having a hard time differentiating between isolation and need to spend time on myself and get my grip.  It's tough to see through the fog sometimes!  So I'm striving to just maintain a healthy balance.  I'm still getting outside and I'm not avoiding life.  But at the same time, I'm avoiding taking on extra things.  I'm also remaining consistent in working my steps.  I also plan on starting to listen to all of the conference talks in more detail.

~~~~~~~~~~

The semester is soon coming to a close.  I'm working on studying for biology exams as well as a project for my Psychology of Interpersonal Relationships class.  It's a fun project that I've named The Honesty Project.  It's still in the works but I plan to blog about it once it's complete and presented.

~~~~~~~~~~

AWESOME EXCITING NEWS!  I received a "by invitation only" invitation to the SA Lifelines Benefit Dinner coming up at the end of this month.  I'm so excited for that!  It's awesome to stretch my branches and begin to dip my toes in other projects.

~~~~~~~~~~

Speaking of other projects... I also presented for the UVU Chapter of Fight the New Drug a few weeks ago.  Did I blog about this already?  I can't remember.  Forgive me if I'm repeating myself.  It's a common occurrence.  Anyway - it was REALLY awesome!  They asked me to be a guest speaker.  I shared my struggle and recovery in front of a room of 20 or so men and women.  I was surprised and excited to have so many questions and was grateful for another opportunity to share recovery.

~~~~~~~~~~

The weekend is upon me.  I am attending a couple of conference calls in the morning with people striving to get women's groups up and going in other states.  AWESOME right?  Love it!

Anyway, love you guys!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Introduction Assignment

Step assignments are generally given from the LDS Addiction Recovery Manual, however, some assignments may include reading additional General Authority talks or writing inventories.

Assignment preparation:
  • Pray and humbly ask the Lord to open your heart and mind to be receptive to His teachings.  Ask Him to teach you what He would have you learn.
Assignment:
  • Read the Introduction to the Steps, focusing primarily on the paragraphs following the break found below the first four paragraphs.
  • Listen to the Spirit and ponder what the Lord is teaching you.
  • Journal your thoughts and feelings (keep in mind the Spirit will often teach you principles that aren't necessarily related to the actual Step).
If you are willing, please share what you have learned in a comment to this blog post.  Your thoughts will help others as they come to work these Steps.

Journal: Taking a Step Back

I met with my sweet Bishop today.  It felt good to just sit and spill and soak in the love of my Savior.  It'd been a while since I've had to face confession and I'd sort of forgotten how to do it.  I prayed for guidance as to what to say and for the Spirit to sink into my soul.  My Father in Heaven answered my prayer and the meeting was full of Grace and hope.

I brought my Temple recommend with me in anticipation of handing it over but my Bishop did not require it.  He simply asked me to not take the Sacrament for a week.  I feel good about the steps of repentance laid out for me.  

I am facing forward.  I am not anticipating more slips.  I am anticipating triumphs.

~~~~~~~~~~

It has been made apparent to me that I need to cut back on some things in my life.  Not any one thing that I do/carry is too heavy, but all together it is too much for me to manage.  I'm mourning cutting back and have thought, pondered and prayed about what to cut back on.  The impression came that I need to cut back on sponsoring.  I currently have quite a few active sponsee's and more and more keep coming as sisters continue to reach out to me through my blog.  Most of these sisters are in isolated areas of the world and don't have access to the wonderful women's PASG groups that some of us do.  My heart aches for their isolation and I've done everything I can to lift and sustain them on my own.  I just can't do it anymore.

Some of these sisters also continue to struggle because they refuse to work the steps diligently.  I cannot testify enough that it is ONLY by the Grace of the Savior that healing comes.  Each of us must give our lives over to Him completely.  He has laid out a simple step by step plan for us to do this by way of the LDS Addiction Recovery Program.  Admittedly, I lost sight of this myself, and that caused me to fall.  So I myself will again be working the steps each day.  I will post the assignment as a blog post, and then respond with  my own thoughts in the comments of the post.  I will create a section on the right side of my blog for each assignment so those who want to work the steps, at any time, at any pace, can do so.  Anyone can read the comments of others who have worked the assignment and also add their own comments.

I will also be strongly recommending sisters join the boards at thelighthousecoalition.blogspot.com and seek support there.  There are many wonderful women, whom I love dearly (including myself) that post there.  

This is my way of stopping sponsoring so many but creating a plan for sisters to still find direction in working the steps and seeking support from other women who are on the same path.

Please don't take this as a shun.  I'm not shunning you.  I love all of you, each one.... and I still want you to text me/email me, as questions etc... I just can't support the day to day sponsor stuff.  As for my current sponsee's that are actively working the steps with me... we shall continue... I will not leave you hanging, and I look forward to still being a support to you along your journey.  

~~~~~~~~~~

I love you guys so much.  I can't even express the level of gratitude I feel for each of you, that have touched me, continue to touch me and will touch me.  I am so blessed to have you in my life.  I appreciate your understanding as I strive to get a more secure grip on my own recovery and get my feet stable again beneath me.  This, I must do!  For Him!  So I can go home and dwell with Him!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Journal: I Slipped

I slipped.

....sigh.....

Two nights ago I stepped across the threshold into a dark and inky blackness.

My thoughts are completely jumbled right now.  I'm still in shock.

I woke the following morning (yesterday morning) in a complete and utter daze.  I did my best to hide my emotion  from my family (I have been in Montana staying with my parents) but I only found myself isolating.  I was so desperate to get away and just disappear... but how could I without giving things away?

Good news: I did tell Tim right away.  I text him at like 2am right after I slipped.  I knew that if I waited till morning the desire to hide it would increase and I didn't want to get in trouble that way.  I also told my Bishop the following morning and made an appointment to visit with him this coming Sunday between conference sessions.

I don't have internet protection on my phone... so the stress I was under and the knowledge of available access proved to be too heavy for me to handle on my own.  I was dumb.  I should have had my phone protected.  That will be first on my list once I get home.

I feel so very sad.  Wow.  So much sadness.  Sadness that I left the loving arms of my Savior to seek out something so binding and dark. I was blindsided.  I was in a robotic trance as those few hours unfolded and seemed to have no control.  But that was my fault because I didn't take the necessary precautions to stay safe from the enticement of the Devil.  For that, I am very very sad.

But...

Good news: I don't feel shame.  This is a new experience for me; slipping and not feeling shame.
I credit it to the relationship I have with my Savior.
I still know that He loves me.
I still know that I am of worth.
I still know He values me.
I still know I can and will be an instrument for Him.
I know that this slip does not define me
...and
that makes it easier to get up.

I blogged about my last slip a while ago... and how I learned to get up after.  That lesson was a hard one.  I still felt so much shame even as the Lord showed me that I didn't have to feel it, that I could be free from it.  I still spent a good portion of time on the ground mourning the fallen hurdle.  I wasted time on feeling sorry for myself and listening to the taunts and jeers of the adversary and his followers.

Not this time...

I will not waste time this time.  I missed a hurdle.  I fell.  But I am already standing up and facing forward.  Knowing that the Lord still loves me is huge part of my ability to get up and keep working.

And I do have a sure knowledge that He truly does still love me...

He proved it last night.  As I laid in bed trying to fall asleep, the most intense wave of crave again fell over me.  Images from the previous night filled my mind and I began to justify them.
I decided to pray.  I prayed through silent tears for rescue and refuge.
I then felt a prompting:
 "Text your Bishop"
It was 9pm though and the likelihood of him still being awake was slim.
But, I followed the prompting anyway and text him:
"Are you still awake?"
He was...
"I need help"
He prayed for me and offered words of support and comfort.

That was an absolute miracle.  I felt the Spirit sink into the very core of my body and chase away the craving in my body.  I literally felt it leave me.

The miracle didn't end there though.  Just as I was thanking my Father for the Angels protecting me, the family dog, Chief, meandered in.  I heard his jingling collar and immediately recognized his presence.  You must know, he never comes into my room.  He's my mothers dog and hardly ever leaves her side.  I know he was sent to my room by my Father.  Chief is a huge bull-mastiff and even though it was an undertaking, I invited him up on the bed... and I cried.  I cried into his fur as I held onto him and hugged him.  Through my tears I thanked my Father in Heaven for sending him.  I know that Chief would protect me against physical danger without any question but in that moment he was protecting me against spiritual danger.  

After a time I fell soundly asleep and woke safely to my 'day 2.'

That entire experience is proof that the Lord still loves me.  He is not ashamed of me.   He simply wants me to get back up and keep moving.

And that... I will do... because the prize is far too great to lay sedimentary in stagnant pride.

I want an Eternal life of sanctuary and happiness.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Monday, April 1, 2013

Journal: Stress > User Dreams

Well I made it to Montana safe and sound.  Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know it was no easy trek getting here.  I think I made six puke stops along the way.  It was insane!  My poor kids.  They get it from me.  I think I will do things different on the way home so they don't suffer as much.

On Saturday we had a huge family gathering.  I was able to see my brother Tom for the first time in about 10 years.  I admit, I was a bit nervous.  There is a huge age difference between the two of us and we live completely different lifestyles so I was nervous we wouldn't have much in common.  But I was happy to find out we do!  We listen to a lot of the same music and actually have similar senses of humor.  At one point I felt this wave of "I really want to be his friend" wash over me... and so I told him: "You're pretty cool Tom, I think think we should be friends" in which he responded "Yeah, we should."  It felt good!

Sunday was a huge gathering as well... and as much as I love my family, the amount of people started to wear on me.  I don't do well in large crowds and as my stress level rose my desire to hide increased as well. I fought it, but not without being OCD when it came to glancing at the clock.

Finally it was time to settle down a bit. As the peace settled in I began to trigger.  The stress and anxiety was a bit overwhelming and my brain was reminding me of the quick fix for it.  I ignored it though and decided to just watch one of my favorite shows on my laptop in bed and then crash.  I fell asleep safe.

I can't say I woke up safe though.  I had one of the hardest most vivid and most personal user dreams I think I have ever had.  I woke up triggering like crazy and dripping in dopamine.  I felt sick to my stomach and depressed.  I text my sponsor and told her, and also my Bishop.  I cleaned the house and took a shower and got outside with the kids.  It took a while but eventually I forgot the dream.

I'm tired now and still triggering.  It's been a long day.  But I'm off to bed again... and I'll arise tomorrow morning, 936 days sober.

Never EVER Give Up!

Wow... I came upon this video and it truly reminded me that we should just never ever give up.  This little guy's strength and determination to not give up really inspires me.




Ezekiel 34:11-12,16

"For thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick"