Oh, the holidays! When we think of them, so many thoughts and images pop into our heads! Snow! Family! Food! Togetherness! Traditions, old and new! Excitement is in the air, and we start planning how and when our ideal holiday will come together. Unfortunately, for those who have a loved one struggling with alcoholism or addiction, an additional level of stress typically accompanies the holidays: worry that our imagined holiday will turn into our worst-case scenario.
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.
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!
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!
Facing the new and the uncomfortable can be hard and terrifying work! This life in recovery has so many blessings and rewards, but it’s not always easy to walk the path in front of you in order to reach deeper understanding and more beautiful moments of growth in life. We must move through the hard and uncomfortable, knowing it is temporary, to keep growing spiritually and enjoy the blessings that await.
I made it through another Mother’s Day. As a person who loves to celebrate, I definitely love the aspect of honoring the loving, nurturing women in our lives. And, yet, it can still be a reminder of something that is missing in my own life – something that I dreamed of that didn’t take place because of the disease of alcoholism.