Category Archives: AA

Review of Love Warrior by Glennon Doyle Melton

I chose to read this book when I saw Brene’ Brown had endorsed it.  I listen to books on Audible pretty often, so I can multi-task.  My favorites are the ones that are autobiographical narrated by the author.  I can feel the emotions as they talk and it makes it that much better.  Glennon narrated her memoir and it was so moving and raw.

I have had to face various types of numbing and addiction in my life so I can relate to all of her emotions behind the addictions.  She has an amazing way of conveying the insanity inside and how we don’t realize that it is insane when we are in it.

There are phrases that she used that touched me.

She commented on how a woman at a church was giving out grace like it was a free-for-all.  She realized a shift when the words resonated with her…”GRACE IS FREE FOR ALL!!”

I love the feeling of that, we all deserve grace.  No matter the path we have taken, God gives us his Grace without charge.  It’s FREE for ALL!

“Numbing keeps us from learning our lessons.”

One thing I learned in AA is that pain always comes before peace.  I was on a retreat earlier this year and one of the lessons was that we needed to accept pain.  We can’t avoid it.  Numbing only delays it.  It is waiting for us to acknowledge it.  The only way passed it is through it.

“Pain is a place brave people visit.”

That really hit home, because it does take courage to face the pain life deals us, real or imaginary.  I say that because we often times create our own pain inside our heads.  The pain is real, but the situation is our own perception of reality.  Once we know that, then we can change our perception and start the healing process.

“Grief is proof of love.”

Sometimes I question whether I am capable of love.  I have spent so much time numbing and afraid that I wonder what love actually feels like.  I have questioned if I ever loved.  Glennon talks about having these same questions and feelings.

I have grieved the loss of relationships, friendships, death and most recently the grieving the loss of family ties that I am not sure were ever there.  I don’t know, in some cases, if there was love from the other person, but I know I loved.

I guess maybe now it is learning how to be loved.  How to let people love me.

This is such a powerful book!  I highly recommend it!!

Personal Growth and the Mirror

Hello my friends,

As my readers know I have been doing some personal growth and self reflection over the past years.  After my recent retreat the self reflection has picked up the pace.  Change is uncomfortable for everyone.  The person changing is uncomfortable and the people in his or her lives get uncomfortable.

I have come to this place many times and the same thing comes out of it.  When I meet someone and I have an immediate negative reaction, I need to stop and really look at what it is that is bothering me, then I have to look in the mirror and see that part in me.  100% of the time when there is something I don’t like about someone or I have a negative reaction to someone, it is something I see in me that I don’t like.  It’s that damn mirror.

I am far from perfect in my actions to become a better person and happier with my life.  I try to be positive, but it ebbs and flows.  Recently, I was in a hormone induced ebb.  I was very moody and negative.  When I am this way I have found that I need to look at what is causing it.

I ask myself questions like:

Am I sleeping well?

Am I spending too much time with negative people?

Is it hormonal?

Am I depressed?

Am I anxious?

Have I been eating right?

Am I exercising?

Sometimes it’s a combination of these, but what ever it is I have to figure out how to defuse it.  Exercise, eating right and getting a good nights sleep all can bring my mood up.  Sometimes I am just being judgmental and I need to look at changing something about me.  Sometimes it’s a friendship that is no longer working for me.  Those usually fall away naturally, but sometimes it doesn’t and a decision needs to be made.  Sometimes a discussion needs to be had in order to set boundaries.   Whatever it is, it is an action that has to come from me.

Honestly, IT SUCKS!! When I come to this place I go to my big book and start working the steps on what is bothering me.  I am so grateful today that I have a new person in my life to work with because I need to get out of my head space for a while and just enjoy the now.  I have so much to be grateful for, and such a wonderful life.  It is too short to spend it in a dark place, well dimly lit place.

It’s time for action and more change!

Thank you to all my new retreat ladies who support me through the bumps as they come up.

Love Ya,

Brenda the Brave

 

PTSD – My Ghost’s

After recent world events I feel the need to share a short post.  This blog post is amazing:  http://www.feelingsandfaith.net/1149-2/

I have spent time in therapy since I was 21 years old, of my own accord, for being molested as a child and date rape.  It wasn’t called date rape at the time, it was against my will and I was angry.  Based on what I was taught in my life, the only person who was going to protect me was me.  I took the action at 21 to start therapy, lack of financial resources I had to stop.  I will never forget my first therapist, Marilyn Leaf, she would call me on the carpet when I was avoiding a topic.  She helped me get my anger under control.

Over the years my choices landed me in an abusive relationship.  It was an environment that felt familiar.  The details are not important to discuss, only that I got out after 16 years because I knew if I stayed I was going to die.  I spent years running from the pain, fear, nightmares and anxiety.  In case you don’t already know this, you can’t out run it.  I faced many ghost’s when I got sober, but one I was not aware of was triggered during my 4th year of sobriety.  I had just moved away from my AA network.  I felt strong and safe.  I had all the tools I needed to stay sober and I was getting plugged in in Fort Worth.

10376834_10152606755112176_3060665850839391739_n

One day after work, I am sitting and watching TV and BANG! BANG! A neighbor was letting their door slam as they came and went.  That first bang triggered my PTSD HARD.  Suddenly, I felt like I was going to die, my skin got hot, I started sweating, shaking, crying and I curled up into a ball on  my couch.  In my head I knew I was safe but my body was not listening.  I was already well medicated for this condition and I was out of control.  I did not want anymore medication to numb this, I needed help.  This happened every single time I heard a loud noise.

I called a dear friend in Dallas and she told me she had the same thing happen to her and she was in treatment that was helping her through it.  EMDR – Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing.  She told me about her experience and I found a doctor in Fort Worth that worked with me for a couple months, once a week.  I have not had an issue since.

If you are interested in my experience in greater detail leave a reply and I will get back to you.  I just want to say that you don’t have to live in that place.

My heart goes out to all the victims walking around this world.  I want you to know there is hope and we can heal.

Love,

Brenda the Brave

Comparison: You will never win!

Good Morning! This topic has been on my mind all week. I have been open to see how much I have done this and have seen how others around me use it.  I am going to start by saying what we all have heard a million times, when we compare ourselves to others we will never win.

comparison

The title of this post is meant to mean no one wins, but also I am feeling today like it means that comparison is no longer going to win in my life.

I have spent my life in a constant state of comparison and competition.  I really acted like they were the same thing.  This kind of competition has not served me well and has held me back more than moved me forward.  When I was really willing to take a long hard look at myself, my behaviors and remove the comparison I found that comparison served multiple purposes.  When I lost the contest I was alone and worthless, when I won I was arrogant and judgmental.  Neither of those are attractive qualities.  Also, I see that I used them to keep people away from me.  I had to accept that it was a choice, not a conscious choice, but a choice made out of survival instincts.  Either way I was alone!  Even when I was around people I was ALONE!

comparison 2

Every positive relationship I have in my life is from people being drawn to my light.  How do you make that shift from comparison and competition to ownership and acceptance in order for your light to shine?

This has been a long road for me, because I didn’t really have  any role models in this area, until recently.  In case my family reads this, this is based on my experience growing up, not yours.  We all grew up in the same family, but we all had different experiences and perspectives.  This is mine.

My dad demanded perfection and ruled with an iron fist and my mom moved between viking and victim as it served her needs.  My Mom was a master manipulator.  Don’t get me wrong I love her and I sided with her and followed in her foot steps most of my life.  I am as guilty of these things as she was.  My Dad needs to be in control, even though that is only a delusion.  I took that part of my father.  All of these characters are in a place of comparison.  They are also reacting to life rather than responding.

Starting at age 6 I lived in fight or flight mode having experienced sexual abuse, emotional abuse and physical abuse until my ex-husband died in September 2013.  Honestly, until I got sober on July 18, 2010 I was trying to survive from day to day.  I started my journey of creating who I am today on that day.  Old habits die hard and working the 12 steps honestly with a sponsor will change your perspective on life and yourself.  This is where I learned to take ownership of myself and my actions.  I was taught how to pause (not easy) and respond rather than react.  My toughest character defects are those characters I listed above: Perfectionist, Victim and Viking served on a platter of self-righteous indignation.

Love this quote
Love this quote

How do you make the shift?

  1. You have to want to change. Period.  If you don’t want to be different you won’t be.  Any changes will be temporary.
  2. You have to own your stuff.  You have to stop focusing on what other people have, say and do.  You need to just focus on what you have, say and do.   These are the things you have control over.  Believe me you will feel SO much better when you stop trying to control things you have no control over.
  3. Accept that you don’t know what someone else’s life looks like from their shoes.  You don’t know what they have survived or what they have yet to survive.  Comparing your looks, feelings, pain, experience to what you see on the outside of someone else only hurts you.  It keeps you apart from everyone else.
  4. Create a support system:  There are groups, organizations, treatment centers, or even people who love you and accept you as you are.  I am fortunate to have amazing friends, I have my AA home group and I have my sisters from the Matthew Hussey Retreat to support me.  Find like minded people and jump in the pool, the waters nice.
  5. Take one step, one action, one micro change at a time and over time they will build into an amazing new life that you didn’t even know was possible.

These are the steps I have taken.  I have not done them perfectly.  My progress is not a straight line, but I always keep moving forward.

One thing I learned in my 6 weeks in an eating disorder treatment center, in the group sessions everyone had to tell their story.  For each person the details of their life, pain, abuses and experiences ranged from one end of the spectrum to the other.  It was horrifying hearing what some of these people endured.  But when we each broke down how it made us feel and how we viewed ourselves it was the same for everyone.  The details didn’t matter anymore.

We are all humans with feelings.  Comparison creates a divide, but compassion is the bridge over that divide.

What are your thoughts?

When the Noise Stops.

Have you ever noticed that there are times when, through all the noise that the world throws at us, a message stands out?  It resonates with your soul and gains your attention. Once you notice it, it repeats until you do something about it.  For me, these are things the universe is presenting to me as an opportunity to learn and grow. This knowledge has been gained by looking at my life and in hindsight, I can see this path very clearly.  There is an intentional sequence to my lessons.  Each one building and preparing me for the next.  Each lesson is harder and goes deeper than the one before.

I spent my life up until 2010 at top speed, living in a fight or flight mode. If I ran fast enough all the feelings would never catch up to me, but that doesn’t work.  As we all have heard the phrase, “No matter where you go there you are.”  Up until this point I had lived in the delusion of being in control.  In 2009 I lost my mother, that was the straw that broke the camels back.

10376834_10152606755112176_3060665850839391739_n

I got the message loud and clear to STOP!!  Stop running! Stop hiding! Stop NUMBING!  JUST STOP!  It took a full year to be able to STOP.  It was through divine intervention that this happened and my life stopped and turned on a dime.  I was surrounded by people who understood immediately and loved me until I could love myself.  I was so far out of my comfort zone that all I could do was let go and ride it out.  Through this process I had to completely examine my life, the good and the bad.  “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Socrates was right.  This process changed my perspective on life and various events in my life.  Perspective is key to whether or not I have a good day or bad day.  I get to decide.  Connecting the Dots is a perfect example of this.

In 2011 was the year of FORGIVENESS.  Forgiving the little things, mistakes, things said in the heat of the moment are easier than others. Asking for forgiveness is even harder.  There is a level of humility I had to gain, but once I started taking the action the relief was palpable.  I had no idea the weight I was carrying with the fear and shame. Then when it comes to forgiving someone who IS WRONG and HAS HARMED YOU or someone you love, the resentment and righteousness are tough to put down.  The event that harmed me was life changing and for the average person is unforgivable.  This was quite the struggle because my resentment had manifested in PURE RAGE.  Inside I knew that if I couldn’t let this go my life would never get any better than it was right then.  I WANT MORE!  I WANT TO FEEL PEACE!  I WANT TO BE HAPPY!  I had to make my peace with him, I had to make amends for my actions towards him after the event and in my heart I had to forgive him.  It took more divine intervention to get to the place where I was sitting across the table from this person and asked him to forgive me for my actions.  He did.  In sitting across from him my perception of him changed.  Seeing him where he has lived his life on the streets, in half way houses, drunk, losing his sight and day-to-day not knowing what might come hcropped-1510909_10152359989386030_7638752685126468128_n.jpgis way, my anger turned to sadness.  Life has a way of balancing the scales.  A friend told me, “forgiveness does not mean that they were right, or what they did was ok, it just frees you of the burden of carrying the resentment.  It helps you to move on and live free of the toxic feelings that resentment brings.”   When I got up from that table and wished him well I felt PEACE!  I WAS FREE!  I never dreamed that any of this was ever possible.  It is one of the greatest days of my life!

I had over a year of PEACE from 2012 and into 2013.  I am not saying that I didn’t have struggles, but I was able to face them with a level of grace I never had before. I was spending time with God and enjoying each day.  5 Ways I Get Closer to God is a blog post wrote during this time.  My mornings consist of

coffee with God as my meditation practice.    aa6c4-file3931347376227

Now 2013 was one of those years when I realized that everything before was preparing me to deal with what was happening.  The message FEEL.  FEEL EVERYTHING! Ugh, seriously?!  It has been so nice for so long.  At this point I had been divorced for 12 years, and my ex-husband had managed to continue the emotional abuse via stalking me electronically.  I never really felt safe or completely at rest, part of me was just waiting for the next thing.  In September of 2013 I was contacted by my step-son, who told me that my ex has lung cancer and only has a few weeks to live.  He died that night.  I found out most of the information from Facebook.  I have never felt so many feelings all at once..relief, guilt, anger, fear, shame, peace, guilt….all cycled over and over.  FEELINGS!  TOO MANY FEELINGS!!  This triggered my PTSD.  After talking to a very dear friend who was going through the same thing at that time, I went into EMDR treatment, which helped me process everything and I was back to a peaceful place within the month.

2014 was all about me. Once I had faced all these external demons I only had one demon left and it is one of the toughest…ME!!!  SELF-FORGIVENESS and SELF-LOVE. This is a current and ongoing battle to change my brain.  I need to break old habits and treat myself like I treat my friends, and even people I don’t know.  I have undergone intense therapy where it was reflected back to me how mean I am to myself.  My greatest lessons have come from being around groups of people in the same situation.  I have always seen it, but now I actually don’t completely believe the things I tell myself.  I am making progress, slowly but surely I will get there.  “The Power of Vulnerability” by Brene’ Brown has really helped me find my way out of a place of shame and into a place of love.  I am still a work in progress.

I am enough!!
I am enough!!

Today the word that jumps out at me is JOY.  Brene’ talks about how joy is one of the most difficult things to feel.  What she describes is so me.  When I feel JOY I feel so vulnerable and I am so afraid that something bad is going to happen that I just shut down that feeling.  PEACE is one thing  JOY…real JOY AND BLISS?!  I am not sure I even know how to feel it.  I see it in others…kids playing, couples in love, friends…

…You know I just realized when I am in a group of people where I feel safe I do experience JOY.  It almost always happens when I hang out with my friend Dianne and our group of friends.  Also, My friends Amy and Shy and our group of friends.  I feel 100% safe around them.  There’s HOPE!!!

How do I create a life where I can allow myself to be Joyful everyday?!  In 3 months I will find out exactly how to do that when I go on Matthew Hussey Retreat in Florida.  This week will wrap all this hard work up into a road map to living my life the way I want to live it!  I am so excited I can’t even wait.

Tell me do you see your lessons or path through the noise?  Have you found your path to PEACE, LOVE and JOY?!

 

 

My favorite quotes:

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through.  We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness.  We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.  We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know the word peace.  No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience will benefit others.  That feeling of uselessness and self pity will disappear.  We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows.  Self-seeking will slip away.  Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change.  Fear of people and economic insecurity will leave us.  We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us.  We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not.  They are fulfilled among us – sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly.  They will materialize if we work for them.”

AA, Pp 83-84

“Some day he will be unable to imagine life either with alcohol or without it.  Then he will know loneliness such as few do.  He will be at the jumping off place.  He will wish for the end.

‘…I must get along without liquor, but how can I? Have you a sufficient substitute?’

Yes, there is a substitute and it is vastly more than that.  It is a fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous.  There you will find release from care, boredom, and worry.  Your imagination will be fired. Life will mean something at last.  The most satisfactory years of your existence lie ahead. Thus we find the fellowship and so will you.

Among them you will make lifelong friends.  You will be bound to them with new wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey.”

AA, Pp 152-153

I have found these to be true in all areas of my life.  If it weren’t for this book and the 12 steps I would not be able to see myself and my life as clearly as I do today.  Through this process I actually have a relationship with God.  I have always had faith and believed in Him, but today I hangout with Him and know that when I see something in myself no one else sees, it is God directing me.

Today I have so many people that I can call, lean on, count on, whom I love so deeply, they have become a part of me.  Life still gets tough, but God has laid the path before me to succeed, if I am willing to do the work.  Work I must, so work I do!!