Grief and Prayer

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I want to share with you guys about a time when I started believing in a Power greater than myself. If you have read any of my other posts you know I am a recovering addict, who lost custody of my two oldest children while in the midst of my addiction.

When I first got clean I had a lot of anger, guilt, and self-hatred because I found recovery and got clean “too late”. I didn’t get clean when I “needed” to, I got clean after I had lost my children. At times in my early recovery I struggled because I was trying to build my life back up, but without the people who meant the most to me.

The day I decided to stop using drugs was the day I found out I was pregnant with mine and my husbands oldest daughter. I had a doctor’s appointment where my pregnancy was confirmed, and instead of joy I felt fear. My heart couldn’t take the pain of losing another baby because of my addiction. That night in tears, I hit my knees and begged The Universe to show me how to get clean, I promised I would do whatever it took, as long as The Universe showed me a way out. (I have been clean from that moment forward.) A few days after my prayer I was introduced to a program that has ultimately saved my life, and I am still very active in that program today. It’s scary to write these words because they are such intimate details of my life. But in the very beginning of my recovery I made a commitment to be transparent with who I am, because transparency gives hope, feeds connection, and saves lives.

The first seven months of my recovery were spent trying to navigate my intense feelings of regret, grief, and guilt over the loss of my two oldest children. Each night I would fall asleep praying to my Higher Power to take away the pain in my heart and let me sleep in peace. My grief was manageable during the day, as long as I kept myself busy. But inevitably, each night I would lay down, and the emotions would start flooding in. Years of wreckage, and stuffed emotions all wanting recognition. During those nights I prayed with every fiber of my body, it felt like I was praying more than I was breathing. I didn’t know what I was praying to, and it didn’t matter. All I know is it worked. I didn’t bow my head and say the words I had heard used as a child, I didn’t kneel and ask my father in heaven for help, like I’d seen in the movies. I laid curled in the fetal position on my bed, snot and tears mixing on my pillow, begging something greater than myself to help me make it through the night.

During this time I had fully committed myself to my recovery and my new life. I was taking suggestions from other recovering addicts around me, and I was putting in some intense internal work. One night it happened, I fell asleep without begging for relief. I fell asleep without a mixture of snot and tears on my pillow. My heart and soul were healing. It didn’t happen every night, but it happened with enough frequency that I had faith I would be ok. I began to feel relief from the intense emotions that had been crushing me for years, I began to see the positive outweighed the negative, and mostly I began to look towards my future with hope. There came a point where I had the desire to start defining what I was praying to, to start defining what my faith looked like. I began praying in different ways, and forming new ideas about my spiritual connection to those around me. I began talking with people about their beliefs and spirituality. Eventually I realized I didn’t need to define anything, I just needed to keep doing what I was doing and just BE.

I finally understood and fully believed something greater than myself existed:¬†the power of Love. Through love I had found a way out of my darkness, through love I had found worth within myself, and through love I had a second chance at being a mother and a wife. I didn’t need to define anything, I just needed to BE love, and pray hard.

Tonight after years of peace I found myself curled in the fetal position, snot and tears mixing on my pillow, grieving the loss of my son who celebrates his birthday tomorrow. An old sense of panic washed over me, because although I am familiar with grief and pain- I am also traumatized by their intensity. Moments later in the midst of a prayer calmness washed over me as well, because I am loved and my soul knows this. I know I am not alone on this journey, I know there is a Power greater than me working in my life, and ultimately I know I am ok. I lived in such a deep tunnel of darkness for so long that sometimes its a bit scary when my emotions feel so intense. Sometimes I have to remind myself its ok to feel those emotions that traumatized me, because today I don’t live in them the way I once did. Tonight I am grateful for the power of prayer and connectivity. The power of recovery, and the gift of being present in the moment, even when its intense and scary. Most of all I am grateful for the second chance I have at being a mother, and for the women who are holding my two oldest babies and loving them while I can’t. Women save the world day after day, and we save one another while doing it.

And as always I am grateful for you guys. Thanks for being here and reading my words. I love you…

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Climbing Timp

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This is the view of Mt Timpanogos from my front yard. This picture looks a bit like The Eye of Sauron, so that adds to the badassness of Timp!

This last summer a few of us decided to hike Timp, which in its entirety is about 15.5 miles. I believe somewhere in the planning of this hike it was mentioned that the hike would take about 12 hours round trip. My brain has a tendency to hear what it wants to, not neccesarily what has been said. So the twelve-hour part didn’t really stick in my mind. I have this goal of one day meditating in the Himalayas overlooking beautiful peaks and mountain ranges. Hiking Timpanogos seemed like a good place to start working towards this goal. Let me tell you what I learned from this hike, and how it has changed the way I am approaching my goals and dreams.

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About three hours into this hike I was confused why we still hadn’t reached the top, I wanted to turn around, leave my group (and my dogs), and go wait in the car. This is when it was again mentioned to me the twelve-hour round trip part- and you guys- I panicked. I had already cried a few times, I was already sore, and apparently we weren’t even close to being halfway done! If I quit then and turned around I would have essentially completed half the hike, which is an accomplishment in itself. But I know I would sit in the car for those final six hours feeling regret. I didn’t realize how hard this hike would be, I didn’t realize the work it would take to actually reach the top. I was in the best shape of my life- literally. And yet my brain was telling me we couldn’t finish and to quit now. My brain does that. It’s really great at making excuses and talking me out of finishing things. This is a big part of why I stayed overweight and unhealthy for so many years, my brain is always my enemy when something is hard.

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Instead of watching me quit, my husband slowed his pace and walked behind me (which is why most of the pictures show me leading the way), our friends who were hiking with us, slowed their pace as well. At this point we were in this twelve hours of insanity together, and I was recommitted. Every now and then my head would start nagging me, telling me we needed to stop, we needed to turn around, and we should have been to the top by now! Each time, I would acknowledge the thought, yet continue what I was doing anyhow. As we hiked we would pass other hikers on their way down, who would encourage us in passing- it was like a small community on the trail. Eventually we reached  about the halfway point, which is actually a few miles below the summit. This is where the glacier and the lake are. The meadows are full of wildflowers and mountain goats. It was breathtaking, and incredibly satisfying to sit down and take it all in.

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Sitting there I realized how incredibly hard it had been to get to this point, the point where my brain chose to see some kind of progress, and accomplishment. The point where the task at hand isn’t really “work” anymore, but actually something I enjoy. And it hit me how much of my life is treated the same way. My crossfit/health journey was the same. It took me SO long to recognize the accomplishment of simply showing up each day. Many things I do in life are “tasks” until I recognize the accomplishment. This realization has helped me better surrender to the joy of the process, and recognize the joy in simply taking the first steps. This realization has also helped me understand the work that goes into truly fulfilling something I set out to do.

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I never reached the summit. My dog Whitley gave us a good scare when we though she had fallen off the side of a cliff. So I elected to keep the dogs while everyone else hit the summit. I was satisfied with my choice, and took the next hour or so to nap with my dogs in the sun.

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The hike down the mountain was equally as hard as the hike up. My knees hurt, my hips hurt, and my feet ached in a way I’m not sure I can describe- but my brain was silent. There was no attempt at self sabotage. There was no voice telling me I couldn’t succeed, no little voice telling me to quit. I had made it. I had set a goal and then smashed it, even though my head had told me to quit on that mountain, more than it told me we would succeed.

Many times in my life my brain tells me to quit. Many times my brain wins out long before I have even attempted something. You know the feeling of making a commitment to yourself, only to let yourself down a few weeks, or months later? This was a feeling I was very familiar with. It became so familiar I didn’t even realize the things I was missing out on because I had let myself down so many times before, and now I was afraid to even try.

After hiking Timp I finally understood that if I want to accomplish any of my goals in life I will have to take many “first steps” and a few leaps. Sure sometimes I will fall, sometimes my head will be an asshole, and sometimes I will cry throughout the hard parts- but I refuse to let myself down. Today I celebrate my ability to try something, even if I’m out of my comfort zone. Today I allow my head to be a part of the ride, but she is no longer driving. I am gentle with myself, knowing I wont be great at something the first time I try, and probably not even the thirtieth time either. I am honest with myself and feel into my decisions before I commit, lessening the chance of failure.

I recently decided to delve deeper into my ascension practice. I attended a weekend retreat with some phenomenal people and teachers. And while simple meditation is a regular thing for me. Daily ascension, done with intent and dedication is not. My head has found her voice again- speaking up and asking me to quit. Pointing out how awkward I feel, and how “we aren’t doing this correctly”. Encouraging me to stay in my comfort zone, because its pretty comfy here! But today I remember the lessons I learned on the mountain, and how if I ever want to meditate in The Himalayas I need to put in the daily work towards that goal. So today I won’t quit. I’ll carve out the time to ascend, and I will appreciate the fact that I have taken the first steps. My heart is full of gratitude, for the people in my life who walk this path with me. But more than anything I am grateful for myself and this new journey where I have faith in myself, even when the fear and doubt creeps in.

Thank you guys for showing up in my life, loving me like you do, and taking the time to read my words. I love you…

Walking Through Fear

You guys! I did it. I finally started a blog!!! See, I have this really big dream about being a writer and one day publishing a book, maybe some people will love that book and I’ll end up doing a TED Talk- a girl can dream- right?! This dream scares the hell out of me, and excites me all in the same breath. So- here I am writing my words, and finally honoring my creativity! And while I want to get super “perfectiony”, (thats a thing right?) and add widgets, and photos to my blog before you read it- I think its most important to get my words out there. Everything else can wait…

Part of me wants to introduce myself and explain who I am. In hopes you’ll love me and follow this blog. But that feels awkward and forced. So instead I’m going to write my words as they come. I cant promise I’ll have proper grammar or punctuation, I cant promise I wont say fuck, or stay out of the realm of politics- but I can promise I will stay authentic, loving, and vulnerable with you. Hopefully over time you’ll gain insight into my life, and perhaps find similarities in my story and yours. Because while our experiences might not be the same, our emotions and our insides are.

I have a feeling the people reading this original post are my FB friends, and real life friends- because you’re basically the only people who know I have taken this leap. So lets chat about some things… Tonight my heart is heavy and my mind is racing. Because even though I found a way out of the darkness, not everyone has.

For almost a decade of my life I was homeless and addicted. I slept in park bathrooms, with the door locked, and my back against the door in case anyone tried to come in. I would go days without real food, or a shower. I would go months, and even years in some cases, without contacting those I loved. I knew the deepest darkest depths of a personal hell I had created for myself. I lost parental rights to my oldest son and my oldest daughter- and yet I couldn’t stop using. I remember a specific night where I had accepted the fact I would die alone, homeless, and strung out on drugs. Clearly the universe had different plans for me. Here I am- almost seven years later- healthy, clean, and living a life full of love, serenity, and stability. I made it out alive.

Although I have cut ties with every aspect of my old life, sometimes bits and pieces creep back in via social media posts, stories, etc. Tonight it crept back in. And I am reminded just how ugly, and heartbreaking addiction really is. Nights like tonight I wish I could take my serenity, and my recovery and just give them away to those I love who are still in the darkness. But here is the main thing I have learned in the past six years: I can not give someone something they are not ready to receive. I can not save anyone. We all have to save ourselves. What I can do is pray, and put my passions into carrying a message of hope for those still suffering addicts. What I can do is continue to live my life in a way that honors me, and keeps me safe. Tonight I will pray extra hard, and meditate a little longer. Because I know the healing power of connection, and love. And while I might go to bed with a heavy heart and a racing mind, I know there is always hope as long as I keep love in my heart.

I’m grateful to be on this journey with you guys- thanks for being here, and reading my words. I love you.