Addiction

I’m going to do a little detour on the “my book share” right now and talk about addiction from my point of view and personal experience. I feel like addiction is so misunderstood in so many ways because every individual deals with addiction differently. Some addictions are more severe than others. I am one person and I can testify to my own experiences.

I smoked for four years, a pack a day sometimes more if I was drinking and hanging out with friends. I didn’t smoke 20, 15, or even 10 years, but I indeed was addicted to that little nicotine stick by year one. When I made the choice to stop smoking it was not a hard decision for me. I quit cold turkey and it wasn’t a huge battle. I “dabbled” with drugs as a teen, nothing “hard” but they weren’t exactly legal (sorry mom). I luckily did not become addicted to those drugs. Quitting smoking was not going to be my challenge. That was easy to quit. The challenge for me was drinking. I enjoyed drinking alcohol and I was “proud” of myself at how much I could consume and no one would be the wiser. I thought, how awesome that my tolerance is so high that no one can even tell that I’m drunk. I loved the taste and smell of beer. I liked that I could fall asleep at night and I liked that I just didn’t care. I mean, I’m a high functioning drinker so what’s the problem?

Alcohol wasn’t as “cold turkey” as I wanted. I kept slipping up. Even after I was baptized, I had a hard time not wanting and craving beer. I remember drinking and then beating myself up after. I didn’t turn into Miss Hannigan, dancing aroud the house and slurring my words. I would drink maybe half a beer and start mentally beating myself up. I thought I was a total failure and why can’t I just stop?

I have God right?

I care about my body and my family.

I would tell myself how bad of a person I was with no self control. I did that a few times, drink-beat myself up-drink-beat myself up, and then the last time I drank I did something different. Instead I thought, my kids are upstairs sleeping and what if one of them wakes up and sees me drinking? What if one of them has a bad dream and when I go up to comfort them they smell alcohol on my breath? It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about the 4 little kids I had upstairs sleeping (the last two weren’t even thought of at this time). It wasn’t about the judgments I would get from other people, and oh those would, flock like the salmon of Capistrano. It wasn’t about the oh I am such a horrible person for drinking what’s wrong with me? Poor me. It was me recognizing that I had something greater than myself to consider.

Now I know not everyone is going to think the same way and that’s okay. What I am saying is, find the thing you need that is greater than the addiction. Sometimes we don’t value ourselves enough to quit for ourselves. We need to find that one thing that has us say this isn’t worth it anymore.

So here is my advice with addiction.

When you slip up do not beat yourself up. Beating yourself up will not cause you to quit. It will lower your self-esteem and make you turn to the addiction even more. You will start to feel like a failure and you might as well just keep doing what you’re doing. You are not a bad person because you slipped, you are a person. It’s going to happen. Just get over it and move on.

Find your self worth from something that is solid and never changing.

God.

He is the only thing that can be solid enough to get you through the hard times and you will go through hard times. He is the only one that knows exactly what you are going through. He is also the one that is cheering you on the most to defeat this battle.

Here is the hard part. When you feel like you’re going to slip or maybe you have already slipped, stop what you are doing, get on your knees and pray. Pray out loud and ask for help. Just like praying is an action, the answer that comes to you should also be put into action. Getting in a car and expecting it to drive you to the store is ridiculous, you need to drive the dang car yourself. Praying and then doing nothing is also ridiculous you asked for the help now act on it.

And to those who have loved ones with addictions

Be kind, loving and patient, let them know that they have someone to fight this battle with. Addiction is a lonely thing.

My Book: Marriage

Here is a little piece of the Marriage chapter in my book. I am not gonna lie, it is getting harder and harder to keep writing. I am down to the detailing and it’s a lot of mental work. This chapter is meant to be a little more lighthearted than the others. My life wasn’t an easy one, if it were I probably wouldn’t be writing about it.

Hmmm, marriage… why would I add a marriage chapter to my “turning hardships into strength” book? Marriage is a piece of cake with frosting on top. 

Right? 

NO! Marriage is a slam to the face everyday with that cake and it’s not even your favorite flavor and you don’t eat one single bite of it and still gain weight! 

Lets just take a moment of silence for Dan real quick. 

I started to take marriage and family courses online from BYU-I. I quickly learned that Dan should have turned around and ran after meeting me. I really should have been introducing myself like… Hello, my name is Red Flag. I would like to say that Dan was led by the spirit of God and was told that I would make a wonderful wife, but I am a realist and I am sure my face, and the rest of me (wink, wink) had a little something to do with that date request. If I followed my ancestry line down far enough I have no doubt I would find some Sirens in there. My great, great, great, great, great grandmother used to lure sailors with her song and beauty into her lair and eat them! No crossing the plains over here people!

According to the experts, Dan and I should already be divorced. We did not have the same upbringing, social status, came from different social classes, we were young when we got married, and we were of the same faith but I was new to that faith. I had only been baptized for a few months before I had met Dan. I was for a lack of better words, a gamble. 

Hey Kids, we aren’t leaving our house for a couple weeks…maybe longer

Having to tell 6 kids that we will be practicing social distancing is like telling them to cut off their left foot and then run a race on an empty stomach and then burn all your houses down on Fortnite. This is torture for them having to stay in a home with siblings they don’t always get along with and they cannot leave. We have already had a fist fight and it was day one. Not a good start but its a start. Right?

I want to share this letter mainly for parents. This could be some inspiration of what to tell your kids are maybe what you need to hear. God bless you all. In these times prayers matter!

Kids,

We could easily look at this plea for social distancing as the worst thing that we have ever had to do. I am here to tell you it is not the worst… and sadly kids, you will go through harder times with much more difficult tasks.

I am writing you today to enlighten you of the blessings we can receive, if we choose to, during this isolation in our warm, comfortable home. To  focus on the blessings, lessons and positives instead of the things we can’t do or the negatives we will likely face. It is your choice whether you want to grow during this time. 

  1. We are learning appreciation for what we take for granted daily. Toilet paper, soap, paper towels, hand sanitizer, and the many other things we currently cannot just go grab off the shelves at our whim. We are learning gratitude and to not be wasteful.

2.   We are going to get to know each other better in these days of isolation. We are normally busy and gone from the house. I am grateful that I get to talk with you and guide you through troubled times with faith and charity. We are blessed that we have each other.

3.   This is a lesson to be prepared to the best of your ability before it’s too late. Preparing during a crisis makes it a 100x more stressful and harder. Being prepared gives you the ability to help others who need the help. 

4.  Treat others how you would want someone to treat your mother or little sister. Be charitable and loving. We are still being tested during hard times on how we treat our fellow neighbor, if not even more so. God is powerful and He is the one we need to look to for an example.

5.   There are going to be times when you have no control  over what is happening in your life or the world around you. What you do have control over is praying to your Father in Heaven. That has more power than you could ever comprehend. Pray for those around you who are less fortunate. Be open to hear the guidance given after prayer. Pray for the courage and desire to act on those promptings.

And lastly…

6.     Your mom and dad love you and will be here to protect, guide, play games, watch movies, argue with you, laugh with you, teach you, listen to you and comfort you anytime you need. 

This could be the best thing that has ever happened for our family, if we focus on the positives instead of the negatives.

My Book: My Brother

Here is another rough draft piece from the book I am writing. One of my most cherished life changing memories.

…The doctors “asked” my brother yes or no to a question that would determine whether he lived or died. They received his answer with him blinking his one eye that wasn’t swollen. One blink for yes and two blinks for no. The question was whether he wanted to stay on life support or be taken off life support. They asked him this question 3 times, my mom and I were not permitted in the room while this questioning was happening. I can’t even imagine the terror my brother must have felt at that moment. Just hours before everyone was trying to keep him alive and now they’re asking him if he wants to die. The doctors told us that once, he said he wanted to stay on life support but twice, he said he wanted to be taken off.

He said yes once?

How can we even make this decision now? 

In the movies when someone is removed from life support they seem to pass fairly quickly. It seems peaceful and they fall asleep and their heart stops. This was not the case. It took close to three days for my brother to pass away. His organs were healthy and fully functioning. He was young and should have had a long life ahead of him. He was trying to breath but couldn’t keep up with what his body needed to function. I remember his breathing was so loud. His body fought and did all it could to keep up. He was on high doses of pain killer so we didn’t get to interact with him much towards the end. I think my mom and I were both hoping that a mircle would happen and he would start breathing on his own after being taken off.  I started to beg God to let him live. I remember putting my head down and frantically talking and asking over and over again for him to live. I was crying and begging non stop and then what I heard next caused me to freeze and I couldn’t think of anything else, I heard, “You need to stop praying for him to live and you need to start praying for you and your mom to get through his death.” I quickly realized I was praying for the wrong thing. This was God’s will and I was not going to change it. This was my brothers journey and his ending was not my choice. Towards the end of my brother’s life he was mad at God and cursed Him. My brother felt like he was dealt a horrible hand and blamed God for all his hardships. He also felt that anytime something good happened to him something bad was there to always take it away. He didn’t feel like he could ever catch a break.

Listening to him struggle to breath made the days long and painful. We had to sit and watch and we could do nothing to help him. It was so mentally destroying.  On the last day, I was praying in my brothers room, head down crying. This time I was praying for my mom to get through this loss. While my head was down I had this amazing, comforting, powerful feeling surround me. It wasn’t in me, it was around me. I heard the words, “We are here for him” I felt like if I lifted my head I would have seen a heavenly being but my mind was thinking, out of respect I will keep my head bowed. I remember whispering to my mom, “Do you feel that?” She was fully consumed in her own prayers so I don’t even think she heard me. I know that even though my brother could not verbally communicate with my mom or I, I know he was talking to God. He was asking for forgiveness and repenting. He turned to God in that lonely, painful time of need. God was the only one who knew what he was going through. Even though my brother had cursed God and blamed Him, God was still watching over my brother. God does not let anyone die alone. My brother had to go through a tragic death to live again. My brother went with God that day and my testimony went from strong to indestructible.