We have great news here at The Retreat! Our new National Center for Women’s Recovery is now open to lovingly welcome women suffering addiction into a beautiful space to heal! And it’s amazing! I had the absolute privilege to attend an event this past Friday with about 20 other women to break in the center with amazing energy. We wanted to do this so that the energy from women who have been on the journey before could breathe in healing for the women who are to come next. To be in this new space and surrounded by women who have a passion for recovery and a desire to share their unconditional love and energy was heart changing to say the least. As we embraced this new place for community together, we entered each room and blessed the walls with a love and purpose I cannot put down in writing. The new walls are nothing short of extravagant, but what moved me more was the bursting of love from this group of women in preparation to open the doors and welcome home new family. I have often said there is something magic in these walls at The Retreat that is indescribable, that fact most definitely has not changed even though the paint on the walls and the beams that support the walls are rebuilt.
I never asked this question when I was getting sober, but I have heard other people ask it. I thought they were raising unreasonable objections to getting sober or expressing resistance to recovery. Over the years, patients at Hazelden and guests at The Retreat have spoken of their reluctance to recover by saying that they are afraid to recover, because they are afraid of who they might be if they stop drinking or drugging. What will happen, they ask, if they get sober and don’t like themselves, or don’t like who they have become?
Life is hard sometimes. When I entered the world of life in recovery, I thought it was about just not using and redeeming what I thought was my horrible, weak character. Years later, I now know that it is much more. Life, whether through addiction recovery or any other adversity, is about reaching a chapter of spiritual growth. So here’s the hard truth! Spiritual growth does not blossom through the easy, peasy moments. It is birthed through adversity and hardship. And nobody escapes life without adversity and hardship! Here’s the thing…life and people and circumstances are not out to get you, they are out to grow you!
Watching someone you love struggle with addiction or alcoholism is extremely painful. I often liken it to watching someone dig a deep hole.
I can’t tell you how many conversations I have had with a woman embarking on recovery that is traumatized by abuse in some way, shape or form. I think we can all agree that the word abuse riles up a certain distain in each of us. But have you ever thought about yourself as the abuser? Ouch, tough question and I bet most would say no way! However, the same women I talk to are also abusers of themselves. This is not an accusation I state lightly as I am also an alumni of abusing myself. I am talking about negative self-talk, self-hate and self-loathing. Regardless of its origin, I believe we are all guilty of this on some level. I used to beat myself up with demeaning and horrible statements when I didn’t live up to my unrealistic expectations. Calling myself a stupid this or an incompetent that. Even for an accidental toe stubbing! Can you imagine if you stubbed your toe and I hollered at you that you were a total moron? Have Mercy, that’s not even logical or remotely loving and respectful!!!! My friends….is this not verbal and emotional abuse? I had to ask myself, would you say these things you claim about yourself, in your head, to another living human being? Heck no!! So why is it ok to have this running commentary in our heads and spirits about ourselves? It’s not!! Its verbal, emotional and mental abuse towards ourselves and by ourselves. And it’s not ok!
“With dignity we will stand for ourselves, but not against our fellows.”
-“From Survival to Recovery”
Growing up, I wanted people to like me. I considered it a personal challenge to win people over. And I wanted to feel connected to those people. I was intrigued by spirituality, and how it might make me feel connected, so I would “meditate.” But really I was just getting high, contemplating not my place in the vast continuum, but rather how a fish might have a swordfight with a bee.
I attended a lecture recently where the speaker described her recovery process from an accident. She said “healing is painful.”
This time of year always finds me reflecting on the men and women who have served in our Armed Forces. Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, the anniversary of the Tet Offensive all take place at this time of year. Additionally, from now through New Year’s Eve we will see TV commercials from service women and men who are overseas wishing loved ones back home a merry and happy holiday season.