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!

 

Hope Wissel

Birthday Reflections

Another year, another milestone….. believe it or not, today is my 63rd birthday!  Do I feel 63?  Nope, not this year!  I kicked MS to the curb A LOT this year.

I wasn’t going to do my annual reflection BUT last night I decided I had so much to be grateful for this year – I would!

Despite the craziness of the “shelter in place” order, I have been content.  I never realized what an introvert I truly was or should I say am!  I don’t mind staying home… sure I miss the hugs at NA meetings  and the running to the store when I get an angel idea to grab materials BUT overall I have learned so much about me through this process.  I enjoy cooking meals – even three times a day!  LOL.  I enjoy staying home because I can always find something to do…yup I squirreled!

I am blessed to have woken up this morning.  No matter what the day may bring, I know it will be WONDERFUL!  Am I always this optimistic – NOPE!   I’m determined to be positive and make the most of each day.  Brain fog mornings have been few and far between.  Physical therapy this year helped with the “shuffle” as hubby calls it.  LOL.  The brace has made long walks possible without dragging my foot.  I haven’t lost any of the weight gained because of my MS meds but I haven’t gained anymore either.  I guess that is a win.

Truth be told for many years “birthdays” were just another day.  I was filled with low self-esteem, a lack of confidence and a LOT of nasty inner gremlins which made me feel like I didn’t deserve a celebration. Today, I was blessed to wake up without expectations.  I have learned this year expectations lead to hurt feelings and resentments.  I have a little bit more confidence and am starting to like myself a little more each day.  I am sometimes still self-centered but I can actually spot when it happens.  I am grateful for whatever the day may bring.  Birthdays are milestones in our lives.  As children, they are a day (or sometimes a week or even a month) where the focus is on us.  Filled with presents, parties, family, friends and of course cake and ice cream.  As the years go by, life “happens” and things change.

This year, my Disability was approved as a result of a change in my diagnosis.  I went from RRMS to Primary Progressive.  It was a hard pill to swallow but it does explain so many things.  As a result, changes needed to be made in my life.  Changes which made me put on my “big girl panties” and do…..

I made the decision to step down as a Director with Thirty One.  I will always be a Thirty One girl but I felt I was not giving my best to my customers or my team.  Trying to keep up with all of the exciting things happening in the company was taking its toll on me.  Doing home parties are tough from carrying things into the house to remember prints/products to processing all of the conversations which go on.  A hard decision but a necessary one.

Angels by Hope took off during the holiday season.  I love sharing my angels with everyone.  New ideas continue to come along…. some are a success while others are definite flops.  Allowing the creative juices to flow again has been exciting.  It helps with processing the same as working my puzzles help with eye hand coordination.

I have come to terms with more lost memories and struggling to find the right words to say.  Hubby’s guitar playing has helped with some memories as he plays songs which have meaning in our life.  As I look through old pictures, there is frustration with the occasional glimmer of a tiny memory.  The normal question of “do you remember…….?” when I see old friends or family brings stress and frustration because most times, I don’t remember.

Through it all I hold fast to the mantra “every day is a gift from God with a blessing to be found.”  WOW! I feel like this is turning into one of those “holiday letters” you get from people you only hear from once a year…. LOL.

I have to admit the tears are starting to flow, tears of joy mixed with some sadness…

  • To my NA friends and family…………thank you for your support and guidance this year.  You have helped this “hot mess” become a better person.  Actually you have helped me to find the person I lost so many years ago.  To those who take my texts at all hours of the night, to those who listen even when I repeat myself, to those who put up with this “old lady”…… I am grateful and blessed to have you in my life.  God willing, we will have two years on the 22nd!
  • To my daughter, Belinda.  God could not have given me a greater gift than to be your mom.  Has the road been rocky the last few years?  I think that’s an understatement!  My relapse created a wall between us which I never thought would happen. You have grown into an amazing woman who I am so proud of.  Today, I feel like we are on the road to rebuilding our relationship.  I know it will not be the same but I’m sure it will be better.
  • To my mom….You are my best friend. I don’t know what to say, you are always there for me.  I’m looking forward to the time when the miles no longer separate us.  Till then, I know you are a phone call or a short drive away.  You are one of my biggest cheerleaders.  I can’t tell you how grateful I am for the support you have given me during my relapse and recovery.  I know dealing with my MS memory issues is tough but you are a trooper.
  • Lastly, to my hubby (who probably won’t see this)…who is my ROCK!  This past year has been amazing.  There are days I feel like we are back to when we were first dating (yup, that is a good thing).  I know I am not the easiest person to live with (imagine?) but you are always there, standing strong and supporting me.  I’m looking forward to your retirement this year, selling the condo and moving to our forever home.  Together we will do amazing things.

I’m sure there are many more people I could (and probably should) thank or talk about from this past year.  Please don’t feel slighted…  This has been a great year and I am looking forward to the blessings God has for me in this new year.  I can’t believe I am actually 63 years old – okay, so it is only a number, right?

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Have a blessed 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, Personal Causes, Relax, Reflect, Recharge

Addicted to Our Thoughts…

It has been awhile since I blogged…. I didn’t know what to write.  I didn’t know if anyone actually cared. Believe it or not it was part of my addiction.  Obsessed with “my image” and what people would think.

See, addiction isn’t just about drugs or alcohol.  It is about anything which consumes us – food, people, shopping, sex, love, thoughts and so much more.  I needed to take a break.  I needed to STOP and think about what was important to me.  I needed to decide what I really wanted to do with my life on disability.  Tough decisions but things I had to think about.  Do I have all of the answers?  NOPE!

We are addicted to our thoughts.  We cannot change anything if we cannot change our thinking.

WOW!  I don’t know about you but this quote scares the hell out of me!  Changing my thinking has been the toughest thing at age 62 with 20 months in recovery.  It is a daily process which has affected all areas of my life.  My addition shows up in some of the strangest places….Here are just a few, any of these sound like you?

1.  Comparing ourselves to everyone else, and then competing with them.

It is this kind of thinking which  started my troubles during my relapse.  The grass was always greener on the other side.  I wanted to have what I thought others had.  It is a struggle for me to remember I  don’t have to always be and do what everyone else is being and doing.  I remember my mom saying “if they jumped off a bridge, would you?”  I know that is an extreme but it is the wanting to be liked and to be like everyone else which contributed to my crazy way of thinking.

Now, I try to not compete with others.  I try to compete to be a better version of me. For some, this sounds lame.  Through recovery I am learning to not compare my outside to their picture “perfect” life because you never know what they have been going through.  I mean who doesn’t want to look good on social media or when gathering with friends? I know I am not the only one who struggles with this, right?

2.  Secretly wishing for everyone’s stamp of approval.

This is one of the hardest things as a people pleaser I deal with.  The truth is “we don’t need anyone’s affection or approval in order to be good enough in your own eyes.”  I know, easier said than done sometimes, right?  When someone rejects or abandons or judges you, 99% of the time it isn’t actually about us  WHAT??? You mean I am not the root of all things?  Self-centeredness is for another day.  It’s about them and their own insecurities, limitations, and needs.  “Your worth isn’t contingent upon other people’s acceptance of you – it’s something inherent.   You’re allowed to think things and feel things.  You’re allowed to assert your needs and take up space.  You’re allowed to hold on to the truth who you are is worthy.  And you’re allowed to remove anyone from your life who insists on making you feel otherwise.”  These are the things I am working on every day.

3.  Being more loving to others than we are to ourselves.

Here comes the people pleaser in me.  I want everyone to be happy, so I will make myself miserable to see it happen.  I have been told I am self-centered because of my addiction.  Truth be told “I don’t always get it”.  The result of those words though has created the struggle of being able to love myself without thinking I am self-centered.  If this is you, you are not alone.  “There’s absolutely nothing selfish about self-care.  If you don’t take good care of yourself then you can’t take good care of anyone else.  Because we can’t give what we don’t have.  Treat yourself right and you’ll be life-giving to others.”  This is one of my BIGGEST struggles.

4.  Dreaming of what could have been, or should have been.

Letting go of the shoulda, coulda, woulda is tough for me.  The inner gremlins have a field day on bad days.  Letting go and turning things over is a daily (sometimes hourly process).  I have learned (most days) before you can truly LIVE today, a part of you has to die first.  I have to let go and bury the what could have been if I never relapsed.  I (neither can you) can’t change the past, or the outcomes from our choices.  The best thing we can go is: Let go.  Forgive.  Be present and free.  Just for Today.

Are you struggling with any of these things?   You are not alone!  Many of us are right there with you, working hard to feel better, and leave a life free of addiction (all types).  The bottom line is it’s never too late to take a step in the right direction.  It’s never too late to break free and become the person you are capable of being.  Addictions of all kinds CAN be beaten!

I’m not sure if anyone needed this but it was on my heart this morning…

Have a blessed day!