MS will Not Define Me

Feeling Defeated???

If you feel defeated or have ever felt like it, know you are not alone!

Since March when COVID became our way of life, I’ve seen many posts about people who feel like their whole life is falling apart.  I will admit, I had those fleeting moments too.  You know the feeling when it seems like no matter how hard you try, you aren’t able to do anything about it.  We want to fix, manage and control things.  The very people you thought would stand beside you forever turned and walked away.   Those days when the waves of hopelessness flooded your heart and clouded your mind, inching you closer and closer to simply giving up.   The mere thought of facing one more day filled your heart with pain, fear and too much uncertainty to manage.  Who has been there? Maybe not during COVID but at other times in your life….

As a recovering addict who battles with MS, I will admit those days still happen.  I want you to know you are not alone.  There are others who have already been there.

People who know me, know I’m not a quitter…I never have been.  I usual face things with the confidence I will overcome and things will get better.  Honestly, there have been times when I’ve felt like giving up and waving the white flag of defeat. I’m not immune to having the feelings of being overwhelmed, weak and uncertain.  I have tried to do things my way only to find out I created more of a mess.  Those days when MS kicks my butt with brain fog, confusion and aching throughout my body.  Or the days when I  feel as if I’m not “enough” – frustrated with my weight loss efforts and life in general.  I struggle with admitting I’m powerless.  I struggle with wanting things my way.  

Recently, I saw a post about Emperor Tamerlane who was badly defeated in battle. He ran from the battle and hid in a barn. Enemy troops searched the countryside for him. By this time he was depressed, his troops had been terribly defeated and scattered, and he didn’t know what he was going to do.

It was then he noticed an ant trying to push a giant kernel of corn up over a stone wall. As he watched this ant attempt to do the impossible, he counted its futile efforts to see how many times the ant would try until it gave up.

One, two, three… twenty… forty… sixty-nine times the ant tried and failed to push the kernel over the wall. But in one last push, on the seventieth try, the ant made it. Leaping to his feet, Tamerlane excitedly said to the ant, “If you can do it, then so can I.” That day he changed his outlook, reorganized his forces, went back and defeated the enemy.

This story reminded me of the “Little Engine that Could” book I was given my first time in recovery by a friend who was also my boss at the time.  It was this book which helped to remind me on a daily basis things would get better.  Life did get better and then I thought I had things under control.  BIG mistake…..I know I squirreled but I do when I am writing (or talking, LOL).

I know you have probably heard it a million times but you can do it too!  On the outside, people don’t understand every day living with MS is a struggle for me.  On the outside things look easy but on the inside I am attempting the impossible – searching for memories, struggling to find the right words, and trying to carry on conversations.  Add my character defects (yup, I have them) linked to being a recovering addict and you have a “hot mess”.  just like the ant I failed more than once…but I don’t quit.  

I push, get exhausted, try some more, fail, rest, but still get up and try again.  I admit I am powerless in trying to fix, manage and control things.  I push through weakness, dizziness, muscle spasms, and a lack of sleep.  I push through going to meetings because I need to know I am not alone.  I push through feelings of comparison when it comes to my business.  I push and keep on pushing at everything I do. There are days when even a simple trip to the mailbox is a struggle.  

Do I still craft?  YES!  Do I still do puzzles? YES!  Do I still plan meals?  YES (if I didn’t, I never know what we would eat, LOL).  Do I still work my business?  YES (most days)!  Why do I keep pushing….. I think of the little ant who reminds us we can do it. The fight is worth it.  We can make it. Even though things look as if they are impossible, there is still some possibility there. Today, let me be the ant for you.  Remember “impossible” is actually “I’m possible”.

Don’t let the fact a situation, a person, an addiction or a health issue cause you to feel defeated. You can’t stop trying. You can’t stop pushing. Don’t let it win…now PUSH!

I haven’t written in awhile, not sure what to say or what to write about.  This morning, this was heavy on my heart so I figured someone needed to hear it.  I was also surprised by the number of people who keep stopping by my blog to check it out even though I haven’t been writing.  I’m grateful for my readers.  I’m grateful for those who support my business.  It is because I can make a difference in the life of one person I keep on pushing….

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Recovery, Unclutter Your Life

How Honest Are You?

 The “Just for Today” reading this morning was about growing honest.  Think about how honest  you really are.  Do you return extra change to the cashier? Would you admit if you hit a parked car? 

Now, how about being honest with yourself.  Do you honor the person you are on the inside by honestly sharing with those are around you?  Maybe you are like me and don’t always know who the person is on the inside.  Maybe you have “white lied” or left out parts for so long, you have honestly lost the person inside….

We all say we want “the truth” but are we always ready to hear the “truth”???

I remember telling Belinda when she was growing up  “if she was honest with me, she wouldn’t get in trouble.”  I know you are probably thinking  “she’s CRAZY”, right?  Who is crazy enough to tell a child they wouldn’t get punished?  Was I scared of what she would tell me?  YES!  I wanted her to know I would always be there for her.   I stuck to my guns. When she did something wrong or thought I wouldn’t approve of some thing, she told me and she didn’t get punished.  I’m not foolish enough to think she admitted everything but I do know there were times when she did and I was grateful.  I think it helped us in building a strong relationship.

My first time in recovery, I was honest to myself.  I wanted the values I was learning (re-learning from my childhood) to be instilled in my daughter.  Sadly, as I made my way down the spiral to a relapse, those things were lost.  My “white lies” or not whole truths kept me from being the honest person I wanted to be.  It sent mixed messages when there should have been complete trust.  I chose pride over honesty until things were such a mess, I had not choice but to get “honest” with myself and others.

As I entered recovery for the second time, the phrase “honesty is the best policy” haunted me.  Doubt and fear had me convinced those I loved would walk away, never speaking to me again.  They trusted me.  They believed what they saw on the outside while I was trying to close the door on the inner gremlins seeking to get out on the inside.  How could I be honest with them?  I feared the pain I would cause.  I feared the outcome.  I feared the losing the people I cared about the most.  But we are only as sick as our secrets.  It was time to get honest and take the good with the bad….

With 22+ months clean, I am learning honesty is more about having faith.  It is trusting my Higher Power will be there to guide and protect me.  Do I still struggle with being honest about my feelings?  YUP!  I play through how I think the other person will react.  I play through all of the “what ifs”.  Then I turn it over (or at least try to) and trust in the process.

After losing a sponsor, I looked for another.  I valued this person’s honesty at meetings. In a conversation, they told me “you worry too much about what the result will be, just share your feelings.  Be honest because it is about YOU getting better”.  I tried their suggestion and it backfired. Because when stating my feelings, I lost all compassion for the person I was speaking to. I realized their honesty was often self-centered, without a caring and compassionate concern for others. NOT the person I wanted to be.  I learned compassion and honesty had to work hand in hand for me.  I’m learning there is a time and a place to be honest.  What I mean is maybe sharing my feelings is NOT appropriate at this moment and may be better done at another time….the feelings still get shared BUT it is done with compassion towards the other person.

”Honesty is the cornerstone of all success, without which confidence and ability to perform shall cease to exist.”~Mary Kay Ash

This quote was in an early blog I wrote about honesty in business.  It can be applied to any aspect of your life.  Do we have self-confidence when we tell those “little lies” to hide our feelings?  Do we let doubt and fear take hold, so honesty goes out the door?  If you are lacking confidence, maybe you should look at how honest you are being to yourself and others.

For some honesty is the only way they have lived.  For others, being honest is something they have to re-learn because of past experiences.  How often have we thought we were being honest yet we were not sharing “everything”.  

When we are NOT 100% honest, we weave a tangled web.  We are being deceptive.  Believe it or not, after awhile we start to believe our own tales.  One small tale leads to another sort of like digging a ditch (one shovel full at a time).  Before long you are confused and lost in your own stories.  Reflecting, every time I lied or left out details (the times I remember) I was usually convincing myself I wasn’t good enough.  I was afraid of not living up to the expectations of others (which probably wasn’t there to begin with) or I just wanted to fit in.

Honesty cuts through the red tape, the distractions, the frustration and the indecision. Honesty gets you where you want to go faster because you live how you really feel. Believe it or not your intuition will give you a feel for what is in harmony with your heart.

Start by being honest with yourself. Be honest about your thoughts, words, actions and wants. Then think about your interaction with others and your personal relationships. Do people know your true self? If not, what are you afraid of?  Tough as it may be, own your feelings when you talk.  Don’t blame others!  I will admit this takes some practice.  I’m still learning!  Isn’t our immediate response to defend when we are hurt or angry?  I know mine is.  I easily react to something someone says instead of expressing my feelings honestly and openly.

Be honest with your friends, family and co-workers.  If you mess up – ADMIT it!  They will appreciate the honesty.  If we are viewed as “perfect”, others may hesitate to approach us.  The way you present yourself to others, being true to yourself and your values will shine through.

Honesty can lead to better health….. “Telling the truth when tempted to lie can significantly improve a person’s mental and physical health, according to a “Science of Honesty” study.  Makes sense, right?  Less stress.

Have a blessed day!

Hope Wissel, Recovery

Why is Trust Easier Than Faith?

Faith is “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”.

Trust is “firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something.”.

Why is it so much easier to trust someone or something than it is to have faith?  I will be honest, the two words sometimes get confused in my head.  Nothing unusual with the onset of MS….

We trust every day – driving on the highway a car won’t cross the line, flying in a plane we won’t crash – yet when it comes to having faith in a Higher Power (I chose to call God), we want more.  I often hear individuals talk about struggling with the idea of a higher power, of having faith there is something greater who is loving and caring.  Yet, we readily jump in the back pockets of other recovering addicts “trusting” they will lead us in the right direction since they have some clean time.  It is a very fine line but who doesn’t like the thrill of walking a tightrope without the chance of falling.

Life has had its ups and downs lately.  Nothing dramatic and probably no more than usual. The impact my relapse has had on my life (and my relationships) rears it ugly head some days which can send me spiraling.  Life on life’s terms was never promised to be easy.  I have faith God will restore relationships completely when the time is right.  I have faith he wraps his loving arms around me, giving me comfort when I am weak and struggling.  I have faith he will help me close the door on Debbie Doubtful and Negative Nellie when they come to call.  I have faith when the time is right those relationships will be restored and all will be well.  I also face the fact, they may never look like what I want them to be but I trust it will be right for those involved.

Today, I don’t have to be the selfish, self-centered person I was (I want what I want when I want it). I wanted to fix, manage and control situations and people so I could feel better.  I can change.  It took me a long time to totally understand how self-centered I was.  My justification used to be to make a list of the things I did for everyone else, or to sacrifice what I wanted to do, so how am I being self-centered?  I have learned to trust others when they point out this definite character flaw.  It is my faith which allows me to believe they were brought into my life for a reason.  See the fine line???

As the world reels from the “virus”….. “who do you trust?” “do you have faith?”.  Are you being negative and jumping on the anger wagon during this crisis?  Does this “interfere” with your life?  My one day at a time perspective and the inability to remember things has helped me keep a positive attitude in light of all of the negativity.  Showing kindness towards others in dark times is more important than ever.  Thanking those who are working hard to stock shelves.  Thanking those who are helping others who can’t get out.  Stopping by my favorite small business to share some “angel love” and support them during this difficult time.  I trust we will get through this.  I have faith this is a blessing in disguise.  Sometimes darkness needs to come before there is light.  Look at the positive side of all the closings.  Be grateful you have a home to go to.  Be grateful you have family to be locked in with -even if we may want to kill them.  LOL.  Be grateful there is some food and some toilet paper.  Please no hate mail.

I know I have probably squirreled throughout this post but my heart was heavy this morning thinking about things.  As we start to talk and plan hubby’s retirement, the “woulda, shoulda, couldas” come along.  I loose focus on who I am becoming, loving myself (okay I will start with liking myself) and start to force the memories of the past.  Struggling for memories brings frustration which brings negative thoughts and questions everything.  It is only when I trust in my Higher Power and have faith he will restore those memories if and when the time is right, I find peace.

If you are struggling with faith, look for the little blessings in your day.  What you call coincidences, I call blessings or your Higher Power at work.  Maybe your Higher Power is a loved one who passed.  Maybe it is your dog.  Yup, it can be anything or anyone you want it to be who is greater than you.  I’m a visual person since processing words is tough anymore… so someone holding the door, a random smile from a stranger, a hug from another recovering addict, a random call or text from someone you haven’t heard from in awhile… These things are blessings from a power greater than yourself.  Are you struggling with finding supplies during the “stocking up”?  Maybe someone shares their toilet paper or drops off a meal for your family or gives you the gallon of milk from their cart.  These are all your Higher Power at work.  Have faith, even as small as a mustard seed……….they are really tiny!  All things are possible.

Check out of my favorite songs.  Listen and trust there is a plan for all of us…

So, just for TODAY, will you join me in trusting your Higher Power has a plan for you.  He will guide you when you swerve off course as long as you EMBRACE his love and open your heart to all he has for you.  As you do this, your faith will grow just like the mustard seed.

Have a blessed day!

Hope Wissel, Recovery

Peace Within

Hi blog followers….. I still haven’t figured out the road I want to take with my blog but this was on my heart today…,  Are you wondering “how can she did she get peace within”? LOL.  I have been wondering the same question.

I have 21 months clean today. I have a calmness I haven’t felt in a REALLY long time.  Is everything perfect in my life?  NOPE!  Honestly, what in life is perfect?  The difference has been my daily practice of the first three NA steps .Actually, I am grateful for a strong third step which says “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him”.

On those moments I’m alone at home or driving in the car admiring the beauty of the sky, I think about how peaceful life has become.  I am grateful for my relapse. No, I am not grateful for the pain and heartache it caused. BUT it has helped me in so many ways to really appreciate the gift of life.  It has helped me to put my life with MS in perspective and not let it control me.

Over the last few weeks, I have been blessed with a clear head and vey little brain fog.  I have completed physical and occupational therapy – actually graduated out because I was doing so well. YEAH!!  Planning our vacation in April.  Clearing out the clutter so we can put the condo on the market by early summer.  Creating new angel designs.  Tracking my food even though the scale doesn’t seem to be moving much.  Sadly, I had to find a new sponsor which has its growing pains.  LOL. I am taking it one day at a time and enjoying whatever life brings.

Whether you are in recovery or not, here are some simple steps to help you find peace within…

Stop Thinking about Your Past. … 

I will admit for me this is a little easier than for most.  I don’t remember a lot of things –  thank you MS.  I have let go of the “woulda, coulda, shoulda” kind of thinking.  I have stopped beating myself up for the mistakes I made which I can’t change.  Yes, I have regrets.  Yes, I get sad about broken relationships. Yes, the pain and heartache I caused is in my thoughts.  The difference is, I don’t focus on them.  I have faith relationships will be healed.  Definitely not in my time but when God sees fit to make it happen (I will be ready).  I stop focusing on the past and am enjoying the moment of today.

Don’t Push Yourself Hard for Something. …

As not only a recovering addict BUT also a recovering workaholic, this can be tough.  MS has taught me many things – don’t push yourself too hard because you will crash and burn (okay, not literally).  Do I still have goals?  Yup.  The difference now is I am enjoying the journey and where it takes me.  See, God has a plan for my life (and yours) so why not just let it unfold.  This can be rough for a planner (an old grant writing habit).  You can still set goals but don’t push so hard you forget about….

Spend Quality Time with Loved Ones.

Loved ones can be family, friends or someone who are important in your life.  I am learning to enjoy the quiet times. Don’t get me wrong, I always enjoyed spending time with loved ones.  The difference is NOW I am in the moment focusing on them and our time together.  I no longer am thinking about the next thing I need to do.  I am grateful for time with hubby – looking forward to his retirement.  I am grateful for the days (not as many as I would like) I get to spend with momma.  I am grateful for the time spent with my fellow women in recovery.  Are there some I don’t get to spend quality time with?  YUP!  Do I mess them?  ABSOLUTELY!  Still I am at peace.  I can’t control others so fix, managing and controlling everything is a quality I have learned to let go of (there are still some days – LOL). I know in time, the day will come when I will get to spend quality time with ALL my loved ones.

Lastly, focus your attention on those things you can control. …

I have always been a peacekeeper, really “a people pleaser”.  I stuffed my feelings when they didn’t agree with what others thought or did.  I tried to fix, manage and control things.  It was how I hid my feelings as well as my addiction.  If I am focusing on others, I didn’t have to think about me. YIKES!  It used to scare the hell out of me.  I didn’t know who I was.  I didn’t like me.  NOW, I am grateful for being able to look inside and see me (most days).  Yes, there are still days I don’t ‘like myself.  There are days the number on the scale makes me crazy despite my best efforts.  The difference is now, I focus on the things I can control.  I watch what I eat  since eating healthier makes me feel better despite the scale.  I talk to others when those inner gremlins creep in instead of stuffing them behind a closed door.  I wake up asking for guidance and go to sleep being grateful for the day.

A long post but I know in my heart someone needed to hear it.  Have a blessed day!

 

Hope Wissel

Reflecting on 2019

 Happy 2020!  A new decade, a new year, a new month and a new day!  A clean slate all around….

It seems weird writing a blog post today since it has been about a month or so since my last one. For my regular readers, I am sorry I did not give you a heads up.  I needed a break after 6+ years of writing, I was empty.  I didn’t think I had anything more to say.  I’m still not sure I do but we will see what 2020 brings….

Last night I saw all of the posts talking about the last decade and it got me to thinking.  At first, I stressed over what I couldn’t remember then I asked for guidance and some memories came back.  So here goes my decade in review….

In 2010, I saw my daughter graduate from college with honors.  I was working full-time at a job I loved and commuting crazy hours to get work.

2011 was a roller coaster year.  I started my direct sales career with Thirty One.  We planned our wedding and after a 9 year engagement walked down the aisle.  Edythe, one of the rocks in my life passed away.  I retired from my job as COO at Bethel Development. We ended the year with a cruise for our honeymoon with family.

2012 is kind of a blur. Hubby had congestive heart failure and spent 13 days in the hospital.  I promoted to Director with Thirty One and walked across the stage to celebrate with my daughter.  I spent lots of time trying to figure out what I really wanted to do.

2013 – 2016 were a definitely blur. There was lots of testing to determine what was going on with me.  I was losing my memory (even more), leg spasms, depressed, and more I can’t remember.  I spend time working part-time jobs at WaWa and Wall Storage. Relapse was a strong part of these years. We planned Belinda’s wedding and celebrated their beautiful day in the mountains of NC.  Shopping, spending money, and drinking was my way of filling a void in my life.  I got the “unofficial diagnosis of MS” – grateful to finally have answers

2017 started rough as my Dad spent much of his time in the hospital and then passed in April.  I started Angels by Hope as an official business.  Still looking for ways to fill the void. My MS diagnosis became official and I started on medications (3 times a week injections).

2018 brought the smack in the face I needed to face the unmanageability of my life.  Credit card debt was high, income from my business was dropping and I was an emotional mess.  I walked back into the rooms of NA in May looking for the joy I once I had.

2019 brought a change in diagnosis to “progressive MS” and with it a cane and a brace for my left ankle.  Recovery has been a blessing as I am slowing rebuilding relationships with family.  I am blessed to still have both my Thirty One business and Angels by Hope going strong.

So, this is just a glimpse at the last 10 years.  I am grateful for Facebook memories and this blog (since March 2013) to help me remember when I can’t.

I have been searching and for a word for 2020.  Last year’s was Courage and it definitely fit the year I had.  Courage in so many areas of my life to step out on faith, out of my comfort zone.  This year’s word didn’t come so easily.  I prayed.  I took those “word tests”.

My word for 2020 is GRATITUDE!  Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.“.  I know when I practice gratitude, everything else in my life will be okay.  Not just gratitude for the good things but also for the challenges.  Through the challenges, I will learn and grow.

Best wishes for a safe healthy and happy New Year.