I've been struggling lately.  I've just feeling really tired, overwhelmed and stressed.  I have learned over the years that stress leads to the desire to act out in my addiction so I take extra precaution when the winds of struggle begin to blow.  One of the precautionary measures I take is to keep the wheels of communication with my Bishop well greased.  My Bishop represents my Savior and in his office I find sanctuary, hope, healing, love and especially much needed counsel.  This past Wednesday as I sat in his office with tears streaming down my face he counseled me to remember where I came from; to remember what I have been given.  He offered this counsel to help me find my gratitude, for I had lost it.

It's easy for me to think back to the circumstances I was in when I began my recovery journey and I probably could have regained a measure of my gratitude by simply doing that but I wanted to take it a step further.  For the first year or so of my recovery I would email my Bishop all the time.  He was my outlet for expressing all the emotions I had bundled up from 25+ years of struggling to handle my addiction on my own.  He was the perfect Bishop for this, a shining gift from God.  I'd email him pages and pages of pain and he would just take it and reassure me things would be OK.  It was extremely therapeutic for me to just be able to express myself and put it somewhere safe. 

So, in order to tap into the memory I had stored up of where I came from I decided to go back and read some of the emails I'd sent him when I began this journey.  WOW!  In sifting through all the emails I realized I emailed him ALOT!  I'm not going to even say how much because it was A-L-O-T.  But once I started reading I sunk myself into my own writings.  I became immersed in the emotions I felt then; the anxiety, the shame and especially the fear.  I honestly didn't realize how bound I was by fear until I read my emails again.

I wanted to share a few excerpts to give perspective on how insane I was back then.  I'm not joking when I call myself insane.  It's common to talk about 'the insanity of addiction' and that's exactly what I'm talking about. My addiction made me absolutely insane.

Here are a few excerpts (1 month after initially seeing my Bishop)

I am a total mess faced with so many ups and downs.  I'm exhausted from it.  One minute I'm fine and the next I'm not... I often wonder if it wouldn't be better for me to just stop.  Better for everyone.  It would be so much easier to just shut off.  I just cannot wait for the day that I can... be full of hope and joy and love and compassion and good stuff.  Rather than all this bad stuff.
I had the worst night so far last night.  It was awful.  I lost it.  Ohhhhhh nelly did I lose it! My mind just went NUTS.  I hit rock bottom. I sat in the bath and just sobbed.  And then came the temptation - I wanted to mess up.  Oh MAN!  I wanted to mess up SOOO bad.  It would have been so easy for me to.   I was angry and sad and torn and jumbled and I just wanted some sort of control.  The numbing effect is like a drug and I wanted it.  I WANTED it.  But I did resist.  I did.  I did it.  
I'm this kid with millions of volatile insecurities.  I have serious abandonment issues and I get scared that people will just leave me.  Give up on me.  It's what they always do, right? They always leave.  Sooner or later. 
I knew I'd get down - and that I'd say all the time that I can't do this - that it's impossible.  I just didn't realize it would be this HARD and this OFTEN!! UGH!!
Lately I have been really doubtful if you can help me at all.  I am just feeling really lost again.  I'm thinking it's pointless to continue our visits on Tuesdays (regular Bishop visits).  I mean really, what's the point? 
Actually, when I think about it, I'm afraid.  I'm afraid the ugly parts of me will show again. 
I have come to a major realization; that I have a desperate need for approval.
While reading my own words I felt so much compassion and love for myself.  I was a scared little girl, terrified of coming out of the dark.  It has truly helped me see how far I have come.  I have memory of these feelings I wrote about but it's as if it's not me.  I didn't realize how truly insane my addiction had made me.  I didn't realize that all my insecurities and fears were false; how they were lies Satan has told me that I'd believed.  I didn't realize how much my Savior loves me and wanted so desperately to heal me.  Little by little I began to trust and in doing so little by little my Savior healed.  His level of healing was directly proportionate to my level of trust and humility. 

For those of you who know me, this might almost seem like a joke because these excerpts are so far from who I am now.  Now I am confidant, I love myself, I am happy and I rarely ever think about giving up.  I myself almost don't recognize the person who wrote these words.  But that is the point.  I can't ever lose memory of who wrote them.  If I lose sight of who wrote them then I lose sight of how far I have come and in doing that I lose my gratitude.  My Stake President once posed the question to me: "What is the difference between someone who sins and repents and a person who doesn't commit the sin?"  The answer?  Memory.  My memory is a gift so I don't forget where I came from.  I have been granted the ability to remember where I have come from in order to better retain my gratitude.  What a wonderful cycle!!

This experience of remembering where I came from has truly opened my heart up to feel the most exquisite gratitude for my Savior.   I am grateful for His love and for the sweet tender care He takes to tend to my wounds, comfort me, lead me and to cherish me.  I am grateful for His ultimate rescue of my lost Spirit and for never ever giving up on me. 

I also want express gratitude for my Bishop who has also never given up on me.  Thank you.

Quick update July 14, 2012:

My Stake President offered some words on this topic after he read this post and I wanted to share them with you.

"As time goes on in life and we fill our lives with the love of the Savior, then we fill our hearts and mind with the goodness of the Lord.  Over the years we fill our hearts with the memories that will help us forget the bad ones.  The Savior will be by our side holding our hand and blessing us with His Grace.

Moroni 10:32-33
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.  And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
Never forget He is always with you." (Thank-you President J.)

Another update: July 17, 2012

I was researching another blog post and came across this quote by Neil L. Andersen and thought it fit perfectly in this topic!

Repent That I may Heal You

The scriptures do not say that we will forget our forsaken sins in mortality.  Rather, they declare that the Lord will forget.  The forsaking of sins implies never returning.  Forsaking requires time.  To help us, the Lord at times allows us the residue of our mistakes to rest in our memory. It is a vital part of our mortal learning.  As we honestly confess our sins, restore what we can to the offended, and forsake our sins by keeping the commandments, we are in the process of receiving forgiveness.  With time, we will feel the anguish of our sorrow subside, taking away the guilt from our hearts and bringing peace.


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