I am fighting an uphill battle for survival. My story is not rare. Every woman in recovery has one hell of a story. My sister peers are nothing if not strong, vital women.
As for me?
I'm fighting for my right and ability to love myself wholly, as a child of God, magnificently created and loved by my creator. I am, after all, the apple of my heavenly Father's eye. Doubt it? Read the Psalms. 17:8, specifically.
I have done so many things to achieve my goal. Recovery, I've heard it said, is not for the feint of heart. My own journey started last August (2015). I decided to be sober on July 27, 2015. I relapsed on June 7. I originally spent four months in recovery. I reentered on June 28, and I'm not done yet.
I have found myself repeatedly derailed by people who I expected to love me. This is not an innocuous thing. I was so miserably defeated last June by unkindness that I relapsed. I recognize now that I let others steal my sense of worthiness to the point that I felt unworthy of recovery.
As a consequence of my own disease and behavior, I am under probation for awhile yet. I have submitted to the tenants of probation not only because it would be foolish and illegal not to, but also because I believe my probation officer and her determination to hold me accountable is a key factor in my recovery. I have been vulnerable and completely honest with my probation officer. She's not an easy person, but she is consistent and wants the best for the people she supervises.
My cousin has been acting horribly toward me. In an earlier post, I shared a link to a voicemail he left me in which he called me a piece of garbage. He's sent messages and made threats, and I have refused to engage with him. I don't have a gripe with him and he doesn't have a legitimate one with me.
Yet he is on the warpath.
Part of his efforts included contacting my probation officer with the goal of getting me in trouble. Aside from the question that persistently pops in my mind, who does stuff like that?, there's nothing he can do. Sober I am the most authentically law abiding person I know. I've never cheated on a test, I don't use my phone while driving, and I always want to do the right thing. He won't get me in trouble based on my own actions.
His fervent and frenzied desire to cause me trouble makes me wonder how far he's willing to go. There's little I can do to defend against crazy behavior like planting evidence or lying about things. The best I can do is to make the next right choice and stay on my journey to full recovery. That I'm doing. I am fully in control of what I can control: I can control my thoughts, my feelings, and my actions.
Worst about all this, I think, is that his mother who once bragged about being my godmother is now bragging about his actions. She's so excited he's supporting her, she cannot see that he is doing wrong, abusive, horrible things. That makes me sad, especially in juxtaposition to the behavior of my own boys who are my own cheering squad and chief defenders.
When they discovered what was going on in my life Monday, both my cousin's behavior and my mother's suicide attempt, my eldest son did all manner of things to support me. He showed up, offered to drive me where I needed to go, and he called his brother. My youngest sent me a heartfelt message; "Mommarooski, I love you. I can only imagine how hard today is for you because I hate imagining what my life would be like without my mom." When I found out what Adam had done and that Jakob was on his way home to be with me, I admit I cried a little. I was pretty silent on my end of the call, and Adam asked, "Are you crying?" I said, "No." He knew.
Why is it that kindness smashes my heart to pieces? That gentle treatment and wholehearted love undoes me? That Grace poured out is constantly such a shock to my system?
If my boys were to attack another person for perceived or real wrongdoing and they did a fraction of what my cousin's done to me, I would be horrified by their actions. They would never, ever call someone a piece of garbage. Not ever.
And you know? I'm not feeling all "Ohhhh pity me! The world is so unkind! Don't you feel sorry for me?"
The very thought of living that kind of thinking is deeply repugnant to me.
Just no to that.
Know what I'm thinking?
Thanks be to God. This, what I'm living, is amazing grace. Grace brings our chaos back into order; it makes the orphan a daughter; it sets us free.
I am so profoundly grateful for the way my boys conduct themselves in a world run amok.
While talking to darling Sara tonight, we got on the topic of Paul's letter to the Romans. She read this passage to me:
And that's that. I'm laying it all down at the foot of the cross, and I'm resting in the trust I have in God's unbreakable Word: "Don't worry, kiddo," he says in a chiding tone. "I got this."12 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, [a]acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may [d]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [e]acceptable and perfect.3 For through the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment, as God has allotted to each a measure of faith. 4 For just as we have many members in one body and all the members do not have the same function, 5 so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. 6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, [f]according to the proportion of his faith; 7 if [g]service, in his serving; or he who teaches, in his teaching; 8 or he who exhorts, in his exhortation; he who gives, with [h]liberality; he who [i]leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
9 Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good. 10 Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; [j]give preference to one another in honor; 11 not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12 rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, 13 contributing to the needs of the [k]saints, [l]practicing hospitality.
14 Bless those who persecute [m]you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but [n]associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. [o]Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but [p]leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
I'm not going to stop writing about what's happening. My story is powerful, my voice is powerful, and I am assuming the role of a mentor in recovery. While living the twelfth step, I will be telling my story over and over and over again. Count on it. It's when we start talking about what God has done in our lives that we become storytellers (Morgan Harper Nichols paraphrase).
Fr Harry once said to me, I want you to be the hero of your own story.
And you know what? So do I.