Hope Inspires, Hope Wissel, Recovery

Anniversaries – Celebrations With Reflection

This past week I celebrated two anniversaries both filled with emotions and the struggle to remember.  Two milestones in my life which changed me forever.

On Friday, hubby and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary.  We have been together 18+ years BUT only married 10.  If you know our story, you get it.  🙂

I generally blog about our story BUT this year,  I want to share the gratitude I have for this man.  Our road has been a rocky one – from his commuting for 5 years, to living together to marriage.  It all seems so basic, right?  But add to it – recovery on the road to relapse, a perceived loss of independence, his congestive heart failure, my diagnosis of MS and now his retirement.  Life on life’s terms which is something I’m not really good at.  It has been a true test for both of us of our wedding vows.  He has been my rock on my most difficult days.  I have tested his patience and he has learned how to communicate just a little bit better. We have grown together in so many ways…

As we sat at dinner the other night, the subject drifted to the one question to be sure about a relationship.  I had never heard this and honestly, I was scared. But he continued saying it is “do you bring out the best of each person?”….. Of course I had to know what he thought about us because honestly my memory is awful and fear was creeping in.  My immediate reaction was to feel less than. Not worthy of his unconditional love.  Instead of blurting things out, I prayed to be quiet while he finished.  He said “our life has been a balance –  sometimes we have brought out the best in each other while there are times, we have brought out the worst.  He said it is life but the true test is how you get through it.  We have made it.  WOW!  I didn’t get defensive.  I didn’t try to over analyze.  I just was grateful I kept my mouth SHUT and for how far we have both come. I may have already forgotten much of the night, I pray his words about our life together stay with me forever.

Jump ahead to Saturday and another celebration…. WE HAVE 3 YEARS!  I look back on where I was three years ago… a hot mess on the verge of losing my hubby, a mound of credit card debt, a victim mentality while I isolated feeling less than everyone else, broken emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  Appearing confident (often cocky) on the outside while a scared child on the inside.  I had walked this road before and relapse became part of my story.  I had let down my family, my friends but most of all I had let myself down.  The strong confident person was gone.  What was left was a broken, shell of my former self.  Sadly, I didn’t notice it – I thought I hid it well.  I blamed everyone else for what was wrong in my life when the only one who was to blame was me.

As I sit here writing, unable to feel anything but sadness (MS seems to play with my emotions as well as taken my memories) I struggle to remember how bad it was.  Not just this time but the first time (my first clean date was 10/26/91).  Hubby often says, God took the memories because it was too unbearable for me to remember.  God gives me glimpses at times but when it becomes overwhelming for me, they fade and only segments remain.  So instead of struggling to remember, I try each day to be a better person than I was yesterday. Does it always work? NOPE!  I know with God’s help, it will.  I continue to go to meetings – I need to hear the struggles, I need to share my blind faith, I need to be surrounded by people who have been where I have been and I need to remember  “never” should not be part of my vocabulary.

Today, the credit card debt is paid off.  Today, I am trying to connect with local women in recovery.  Today, I accept I am an introvert but it does not mean I need to isolate.  Today, I know my ride & die gals who have been with me since the first night 3 years ago are just a phone call away.  Just for today, I like myself.  Today, I don’t beat myself up over the weight or how I think “I should look”.  My life is blessed in so many ways.  Yes, MS kicks my butt BUT it is not an excuse to go back to those old destructive behaviors.  Living life on life’s terms is not always easy but WE do recovery together.

Thank you to everyone who has walked these many roads with us.  We are grateful for the part you have played and continued to play in our lives.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Acceptance

Acceptance is defined as “the action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group“.

For years, I didn’t feel like I fit in.  From about the age of 12, I started to stuff the feelings of inadequacy which raged in my head every day.  Fear of not fitting in.  Fear of not being good enough.  Fear of not doing the right thing.  Fear of disappointing others.  As  a result of stuffing those feelings, I developed unhealthy coping mechanisms – bulimia along with many different types of addiction (drugs, alcohol, and shopping).  It wasn’t until I entered recovery the first time, I found true acceptance from others and with myself.  I spoke my mind and felt confident.

Over the years, on the outside I accepted who I was but on the inside the inner gremlins were starting to play the comparison game.  Slowly, the “old me” who was insecure in who she was, was looking outside for acceptance.  I worried about disappointing others.  I worried about whether I was good enough.  I worried about EVERYTHING.  The truth was I didn’t like who I was becoming.  Instead of sharing the feelings with others, I stuffed them.  I didn’t want family and friends to see my struggles.  WHY? Pride.  I was afraid of what they would think.  Unsure they could or would love me for who I was.  Unsure they would accept me broken and unsure.  Pride and fear kept feelings stuffed away.

As the feelings got stuffed deeper and deeper, relapse was inevitable.  See, relapse can take on many forms.  With me, it was in shopping and credit cards.  I was trying to live up to the expectations I thought everyone had of me.  When I walked back into NA, I was broken.  I didn’t like me at all.  I didn’t like the person I had become.  I didn’t like the pain and hurt I had caused over the years to the people I loved the most.  I didn’t like the financial mess I had made of my life.

With the help of friends and the support of family, I am again accepting who I am (okay, at least trying to).  I struggle with the picture I have of who I should be.  I struggle with worrying whether I am meeting everyone’s expectations.   But I know when I turn things over, it will get better.  The tapes aren’t on replay and I can live in the moment.

I am learning to accept what is in my life – the good, the bad and the ugly.  I am learning to accept I am wonderfully made even on my worst days.  I am learning to accept (very slowly) my struggles with MS, having faith in the fact it is all part of God’s plan.  Do I think God’s plan was for me to make a mess of my life twice?  NO!  I do know he has helped me through the struggles.  He accepts me for who I am – no matter what.

I am learning to be thankful…Being thankful helps you get through life’s tough times, because you can easily call to mind all of the good things in your life.  Being grateful just makes you happy and being happy can help keep your mind and body healthy!

Accept who you are, without relying on outside influences.  Accept we are not perfect and it is okay.  What are you thankful for today?

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: Gratitude

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Gratitude is defined as “the quality of being thankful”…..or I think this one better “an emotion expressing appreciation for what one has”.

I will admit this has been a struggle for me.  There have been moments when I have appreciated what I have, not comparing myself to others or wishing for something better or different.  For many years, I never lived in the moment – I was always planning the future or regretting something in the past.  Over the last 18 months, life has become very different.  Recovery is teaching me (again) how to live in the moment and be grateful for what I have.  Do I slip into those moments of comparing myself to others?  ABSOLUTELY!!!

Every night as I relax and reflect on the day, I have been thanking God for the blessings he has given me.  Even on my worst days, there is a blessing to be had or a lesson to be learned.  Taking a gratitude walk through my day has helped me to appreciate where I am instead of regretting the past or wishing for the future.  It helps me to not miss out on the special moments of the day.  Have you ever taken a gratitude walk?

November is the kickoff to a season full of gratitude.  Some feel they have nothing to be thankful for.  Others are too busy trying to fit into a role others have set for them to appreciate what they have.  Some are dreading the holidays as this will be their first holiday with out their special someone. Some are just thankful they have lived to see another day. What ever your frame of mind is, I am hoping this video clip from Kid President will make you smile – I know it always brings a smile to my face.

How many of these have you forgotten to say sometimes? As we approach the holiday season and begin to consider our blessings, maybe it is also time to add some of these “words” back into our everyday conversations. It is amazing what a simple “thank you” can do to change a person’s perspective on a day. What was your favorite one?

Have a blessed day!

Thankful Thursday

Thankful Thursday: The Lens of Lovely

I  re-visited a blog I read some time ago by LYSA TERKEURST.  It changed my perspective on things a few years ago, and right about now, I could use a change in perspective when it comes to my weight and view of myself.  The blog was entitled  “Learn to Love Your Story“.  I am hoping it will chase  Negative Nellie away when it comes to how I view my body and my weight.  A change in perspective will help me get motivated and back on track to lose the few pounds I have gained…

Lysa talks about loving your story – your life – being content in the moment and enjoying it! WOW!  Most days I do love my life but then there are those curve ball weeks.  An emotional roller coaster and I am not sure why.  No major fiascos, no crisis – just little hiccups which quickly send me on a road less traveled (okay so maybe it is traveled a little bit more than I want it to be).  You know the journey with Negative Nelly where you struggle to see the light at the end of the rainbow?

Since starting my recover journey again, I can almost tell when I wake up, if I am going to love my story for the day.  Crazy, right?  Of course, I should carry a warning notice around my neck which was “STOP! NOT A GOOD DAY!”.  Send out a text alert to friends and family so they know to stay away.  LOL.  The reality is, on those days  I need to STOP, take a breathe and regroup.  The Serenity Prayer and the Third Step Prayer have become my go to for getting some peace in my life.  I need to then praise and thank God for my life… my story.  See I forget that sometimes.  My life may not be a story book or full of lots of happy endings but it is MY story.  It is the life God gave me or at least he tries to keep me on the right road when I take my will back.

Memories are hard for me.  But there are days when hubby and I talk about the past – reminiscing about days gone by.  I have no regrets nor does he because it is because of those things we are blessed to be in each other’s lives today.  We had our struggles.  We had our heartache.  We had our joys.  Life wasn’t perfect but we got through it to get us where we are today.  The struggles still come but now we try to look at the differently – together.  I am grateful for the times he helps me to remember by playing a song or sharing a picture.

Lysa talked about “pre-deciding” she would LOVE her story.  NOTE to self: change my point of reference BEFORE the day begins.  Stop thinking about the “what if” and “predicting” what may happen in any given situation.  I am learning to live in the moment thankful for being able on some days (working towards all days) to live without expectations.

I decided I would look at it all through the lens of noticing the rich evidence of life through each mess and mishap.

Did I do it all perfectly? Nope, not at all.

But even if we choose to be noticers with thankful hearts just once today, we’ll start to look at our stories in a different way.

A more beautiful way.

I remembered our key verse, Philippians 1:3, where Paul says “I thank my God every time I remember you.” I have plenty of reminders each day to thank God for the people in my life. To rejoice over every piece of my story. Starting with those shoes.

So I whispered, “Notice. Be a noticer. See all the fun represented here and thank God for these moments.”

Noticers see the lovely in front of them and learn to love their story.

What might happen if you pre-determined to look through the lens of lovely today?

Thank you Lysa for reminding me to look through the “lens of lovely” today.  What are you thankful for today?  Share it with us so we can all celebrate together.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Hope Wissel

Happy Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day by definition is a celebration honoring the mother of the family, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society.

Today, I am blessed, to be a daughter, a step-daughter and a MOM!  Today will be a day filed with lots of emotions – lately I have become a crier.  LOL.  Okay, so maybe I always way.

To my mom, my best friend and biggest cheerleader.  The road has been filled with more than our share of twists and turns but through it all you have stood by my side.  Through thick and thin, the good times and bad. I’m grateful for a monthly “mom and daughter” days.  I’m grateful to be able to laugh and cry with you.  To share things I never thought I would.  When I was a child, you were there to guide and support me now as MS takes away my memory, you have been able to fill in those gaps.  Thank you for being my traveling buddy, my cheerleader and for always understanding.

You have taught me about strength and kindness. You have taught me how to be a good mom. You taught me to cherish my family. Mom, thank you for all of the lessons. I may not have always appreciated them at the time, but I am grateful for them now as an older, wiser and sometimes a more mature woman.  I am who I am today because you allowed me to grow and struggle through the bumps in the road. I am who I am today because you love me when I can’t love myself.  Thank you…..Happy Mother’s Day to the BEST MOM in the world. I love you!

To my daughter, Belinda who makes MY Mother’s Day so special. They say you never know what it means to be a mom until you have a child – I can’t agree more. I now understand why my mom put up with everything (the good, the bad & the ugly) all of those years. My daughter is my heart.  It was “you and me, kid” for most of her life and I wouldn’t change it for the world.  Being a single mom had its struggles but with the love and support of family and friends we made it.  As a child, you were a challenge – having your own opinion and questioning everything but you helped me to grow as a person too. Our road has been rocky lately but I’m grateful to be working our way back the bond we used to have. You have grown into an AMAZING woman who I am proud to say is “my daughter”.  MS may steal the memories by in my heart I know it will alway be “you and me kid”.

To those who have lost their moms, cherish the memories. To those who have a strained relationship with them, reach out, re-connect – bless and move on – for you don’t want to live with regrets when they are gone.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms and those who have been like a mom to so many.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day.