Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Part Three- Trust in God

“In this symphony that is my life, God is not content to be a member of the audience or stage crew. He is not even content to be the conductor. He wants to be the composer.” That quote is from the book The Continuous Atonement, this post is about how I learned how to trust God, and how I continue daily to try my best to live in His will for me so I can continue to stay joyful and live the plan of happiness that He continues to show me. As you read this don’t separate yourself because you are not an addict, I write these posts in a way that will further the truthfulness of the Gospel but more importantly how to apply the Atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ constantly and daily. As you read this post reflect on whether you are allowing God to be the composer or if you are only allowing him to be a member of the audience, or have you not even given Him a ticket to the show?

One of my best friends from high school ended up entering the same treatment center I work at now. He is very eloquent with words and his story is so inspiring because not only did he have to fight addiction He had to basically change every single thing in his life to live a sober life and set boundaries with people who he loves and love him but weren’t helpful for his early recovery. I had him write his thoughts about step 3 and turning his will over to God, and I love love love how what he says about it being a decision, because once you “made a decision to turn your will and live over to the care of God” that decision is an enormous step into the freedom recovery brings.

This is what he wrote;
 “We made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.
 Step 3 was the time in my life when I finally stopped struggling against everything and decided to go with the flow of the Universe for better or worse.
“It’s only after you’ve lost everything that you’re free to do anything.” It’s a line from Brad Pitts character in Fight Club. I feel like it describes my Step 3 decision perfectly.

 I’d already lost my career, my partner, my health, my friends, my money and my family. I had lost the ability to even be content in my own skin without drugs. I had nowhere to go, and nothing to do with myself. So, finally, I gave up and decided to let God, The Universe work in my life.

The moment I did that it was a Thursday night. I was in intensive outpatient treatment and had a few days clean. I was withdrawing hard and felt like dirt. After we got out of treatment for the night, I was hell bent on scoring dope. I would start driving to Salt Lake to go get high, but for some reason, something that night told me it wasn’t worth the trouble anymore. I decided to go to an NA meeting at the Catholic Center at Weber State University, a meeting I’d never been to before.

I walked in sat down and the meeting started. The meeting Chairman chose the topic of “Decisions” to speak about. He talked about making a decision was to cut out one option in favor of a different path or option. As he was speaking, something in me clicked that felt more right than anything I’d ever experienced. I thought to myself. “It’s time I make the decision to be clean.” I had a sense that everything I’d been through my whole life had led me to that moment, and that God/The Universe would provide a way and a means for me to get clean and live happy.

So I took out my cell phone and deleted my last hookup for dope that I’d been hanging on to. I made a decision that night at that meeting to turn my will and my life over to God no matter what and to do whatever work He wanted me to, to accomplish His will.

It was a deeply satisfying and relieving feeling. As someone who thinks he’s pretty clever, and is diagnosed OCD, I had up to that point been going a million miles an hour in my head trying to outsmart everyone and everything around me, constantly trying to control things and manipulate my body, mind and surroundings into being some distorted version of what I thought they should be. When I gave up, and “gave it to God” that first time, that insanity stopped for me. The desire to use was lifted at that point and my cravings went away. I became willing to go to any lengths for my recovery and for God’s will for me.

Every day for the past 15 months, I ask God what his will for me is. I say “God, I love you, thank you, please help me understand your will for me and give me the power to carry that out.” I think this prayer in the morning, whenever I’m faced with a tricky decision or when I’m in fear. Whenever I speak in public, share at a meeting, work with another addict or even when I’m nervous for a date or interview, I say “God, please just let me let this go how you want it to.” And I know it will turn out perfectly every single time, because that has been my experience. God’s will, the natural flow and order of the Universe is perfect and bigger than me than I can comprehend. When I aspire to set my ego aside and be part of that flow, miraculous and beautiful things happen in my life.”

He is a spiritual giant, right? I am so grateful we were able to rekindle our friendship through recovery. The only thing I regret doing with Him in recovery is sober karaoke at a fundraising dinner for the treatment center we both attended.

When I think of trusting in God I think of it has a two-way street. I taught relief society this Sunday and there was a comment made from a woman in the class that had never thought of “having God abide with AND also me abide in Him”. God is constantly waiting for us to turn to Him to know what He wants you to do to embark on His plan of happiness for you. This plan is constantly there but instead of thinking “please Lord abide with me”, I see it as remaining or turning to Him to find the comfort, peace, and love I long for when I am tormented, going through a trial, finding it hard to love someone, finding the strength to forgive, or just simply day to day ups and downs.

When I worked this step 3 the first time I read my assignment aloud to a group of people I was in treatment with, when I finished the person facilitating the reading group said to me “are you really ready to complete step 3 because it is a huge step.” To me and with my pride still in full swing I was like “um yes that was easy.” Step 3 is a DECISION to turn your will and life over to the care of God. At that time, I was ready, my thoughts consisted of mostly “ya God here ya go it is total chaos why don’t you have it for a minute”. When in reality the staff member at the treatment facility that day was right, it is a HUGE decision to turn our lives over to God. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, Heavenly Father has a plan of happiness for all of us CONSTANTLY, it is our choice do the things necessary to obtain that happiness.

My will in active addiction was wild and crazy, thoughts and actions mimicked behavior that was irrational and insane. I didn’t know what I was doing or thinking half the time other that when and how I would obtain pills next so I could escape the insanity that was my life. I justified, defended and rationalized my behavior and actions to everyone, especially my husband. This step of trusting God and finding His will for me is constant, I work every day, and basically every minute to stay in His will.
At the very beginning of recovery all I knew about God’s will for me was that He didn’t want me to use mind altering substances, He didn’t want me to lie, He didn’t want me to cheat or steal, but all I could think of in those early days were what He did not want me to do, so what the heck DID He want me to do.
What I began to do were the simplest of things and yet all of the little changes and choices I began to make impacted my faith and confidence in God immensely and I believe that because I began to choose right action, behavior and thoughts Heavenly Father was giving me a portion of hope, faith, and more significantly sanity back “line upon line”. I began reading my scriptures, mostly the Book of Mormon and New Testament to learn of Jesus Christ and His Atonement. This brought faith to my life of the reality of Christ and what He did and what He suffered and endured for me, it brought so much trust and an additional reality that I can be free from my past that I felt shackled to and I could rid the scarlet letter I felt addiction and all that came with it had plastered to me. I began to pray, my prayers started out as pleading for help, to restore peace and sanity in my life and also in my husband’s. But as I continued to pray and meditate daily my prayers turned into conversations with Heavenly Father as though he were sitting right there by me. The trust I gained from prayer was amazing. In high school soccer, I had a coach teach us to meditate we did it every practice and for long periods of time until we could train our minds to tell our bodies to relax and focus. Before each game we would lay on our back and he would say “this is what relaxation feels like”, his theory was that if we weren’t stressed we could play to the best of our ability. Now as I relate that to prayer and meditation that I do daily aloud, silently, and with my family that feeling of relaxation enters my life. I sometimes get anxious when I think of my cringe worthy past, when I think of something in the near future that will make me uncomfortable, or sometimes for no reason. This is when the daily practice of prayer benefits me most, it isn’t something new or uncomfortable and the trust I have found in prayer can bring instantaneous peace, the trust I have that my Heavenly Father can calm the storm that is my life so quickly is truly awe inspiring.

I began attending church spiritually, I sort of continued to attend church in active addiction but only physically. When I started attending church spiritually what I mean is I was there to feast upon the words that were spoken from members who prayerfully prepared and because of their preparation I heard what the Lord wanted me to hear and because of this change in my church attendance I longed for church every week. I remember a week I went to church and during sacrament the hymn that we sang was “I believe in Christ” the lyrics pierced my soul that I just burst into tears and I still cry every time I sing this song when it gets to the words “I believe in Christ; He ransoms me. From Satan’s grasp He sets me free, And I shall live with joy and love in his eternal courts above… I believe in Christ; He stands supreme! From Him I’ll gain my fondest dream; And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard: “Ye shall obtain”. Church attendance with an attitude of wanting to grow spiritually, draw nearer to our Savior, and know what the plan of happiness is for us, can and is found when we DESIRE it. I am so grateful I changed my attitude toward church attendance and now go purely to renew my convents through the sacrament and listen to what God wants to tell me through His disciples and my fellow ward family members. I am grateful because I have a pure knowledge that Christ ransomed me from Satan’s grasp and the tool Satan used was addiction, now because of this belief in Christ I live with joy.

Next basic principle was I began following the word of wisdom strictly. I obviously started by not abusing any prescription medication, but I also followed a program of total abstinence from anything mind altering (Nyquil, Benadryl, Unisom, Sudafed, a lot of different allergy medications, etc., I think the list of medication I do and could take is shorter than drugs I can’t/wont) I did this because it was part of the program that I learned from the treatment center and it is researched based that if you alter your mind with any of such medications it can trigger cravings and ultimately return you to wanting to use your drug of choice, more creating an obsession to return to the substance that is my drug of choice. If you are an addict and you are reading this but you aren’t addicted to my same drug of choice, I’ll parallel it to pornography. If you your porn of choice is very graphic, an abstinence program for you would be not viewing any material where a girl is in a bathing suit, lingerie, or fitness clothing that is very revealing. As abstinence is my program I truly believe that God would rather me not even “chance it”. I would rather steer clear and have a huge boundary rather than live on the edge and have a possibility to crave opiate medication. Along with following the basic principle of the word of wisdom I stopped drinking an occasional coffee and made sure to follow priesthood counsel when I chose to drink tea occasionally. The word of wisdom is basically all good things in moderation, I began to eat healthy again and made sure I was fueling my body in a way that paralleled the word of wisdom. These simple things I do and started doing in early recovery have blessed my life because I have felt so strong physically and mentally, I always feel clear headed and I feel as though I can push myself physically running or at the gym.

Last basic principle is I started a moral inventory that I check myself at the end of the day, every night and see what weakness I used most to cope with that day, I notice my wrongs and if they are toward others I quickly make it right with them “clean up my side of the street” essentially. As I focus on these fragilities I ask Heavenly Father to help me practice the strength that is the opposite of that weakness and I strive daily to turn my weaknesses into strengths, I have seen Him time and time again do this. I actually see it daily as I notice myself becoming a better person “one day at a time”.

Some of the things I did had nothing to do with whether or not I liked to do them or they made me feel good, because nearly 50% of the things I began to do felt uncomfortable and odd, I felt out of my shell and I didn’t like that. I think that is why all of these things I began to do brought me such an amazing complete trust in God because I placed myself on the straight and narrow, it isn’t an easy place to live, but the blessings that flooded my life made that difficult road I was walking and all of the small and simple things worth it. Because of the covenants I have made with God exist if I do my part He is bound to do His. Something that is astounding to me is that slowly, about 6 months of clean time I had gone from an 8 on a craving measurement of 0-10 to a 0… ZERO. I had no cravings for drugs, I had no craving to use anything mind altering. Triggers for me are going to places where I have to socialize with other (even though I have been told I am a social butterfly), lack of sleep- if I go several days on little sleep and get over exhausted I am triggered to want to just sleep, fights with my husband- if we fight like a good mean worded fight I get triggered to escape the emotion, and of course physical pain- if I am in a great deal of pain I get fleeting thoughts of an exact way to take away the pain. But the amazing part is that I haven’t craved anything mind altering in nearly two years. That right there is a huge reason I trust God and His power, because I thought I would go my whole life craving substances and endlessly white knuckling sobriety.

I met with a member of the stake presidency who is one of my best friend’s dad and he counseled me to make a pact with God, tell Him that I would do my part and try my extreme hardest to follow all of His commandments and in turn I have been blessed beyond measure. I am grateful for that meeting early in recovery because I reflect on it always when I feel like neglecting something small or simple, remembering that God will bless me when I just persevere during the lulls of life.

Here are some lyrics about choosing God’s will and not our own:

We all know life can get hectic
But if you live in the second,
You exist in the present
And that's how you stay connected
Go through good times and hardships
And if you learn to accept it
And know that every struggle in life,
Is there to teach you a lesson
It's times like this that make you
It's always the darkest part of the night, right before the sun has it's break through
The spirits there to knock you down,
But if you make that the end
You will never know the beauty
Of being able to stand up again
And face it, with patience,
The Pace set is dealing
With judgements and hatred,
Depressed hopeless feelings
But I've been told,
You only create your own ceilings
Life is limitless,
And knowing this is what the spirit is

I love the all these words and I really love Macklemore, like a lot, when he sings about addiction and recovery it always hits me hard and feels like a warm blanket. That’s real life I am quoting Macklemore and the Book of Mormon in the same post. But where he says you create your own ceiling I think Heavenly Father sees this, He sees us lose trust in Him and His plan and He sees us stop our own growth. When we put our trust in God and turn our will over to Him whether it’s by action, thoughts, or behavior, that ceiling we created lifts off, that wall we put up is knocked down and we press forward and progress in the right direction or if we have stunted our potential by CHOOSING not living in His will, simply turning our will back over to him our potential expounds back to eternal in nature and He places us back in the plan of happiness.

Alma 19:6 “Now, this was what Ammon desired, for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness--yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul, yea, he knew that this had overcome his natural frame, and he was carried away in God”
I was in a spiritual death and overcome by the darkness and didn’t believe or trust in the power of God, this story is talking about King Lamoni in the Book of Mormon who raised from the dead after 2 days. He came back with a powerful knowledge and light because in his brief time in the Heaven he saw how loving God is and profoundly knew that Christ would come and Atone for our sins.
I use this story and post that scripture because I was king Lamoni I was under a dark veil of unbelief. Now as king Lamoni I built my testimony on rock solid ground of the truthfulness of the gospel and more importantly the plan of happiness that I feel I am living in right now! Like the king my soul has been infused with light and even in my natural mortal state I have so much joy.

I asked my best friend to tell me her thoughts and observations of how I began to trust in God and how I continue to decide to trust Him. This was her response; “Your positive attitude based on faith is because no matter what trials have come your way, you know the plan and know that Heavenly Father will see you through whatever it is He needs you to do. I watch as you strive to live by Gods will for you and the evidence is how you are quick to make amends, acting on your promptings, testifying if all you've learned as you've gained that knowledge and trying to build and lift others. You are (usually) (haha I say that because we all have our days and you're human) happy to be around because of your trust in God and His plan. I find that so refreshing because a lot of people say they trust God but don't follow through with the faith and actions that what His will is will work out (even if that isn't right now it will be ok eventually). Your daily inventory and that you are still working the recovery steps to this day... it's become a life mission for you instead of just getting clean and that is a testament to all those around you how much you value your recovery and what Christ has done for you. It's a personal thing but many take it for granted. You prove that you are grateful not that you need to prove anything to anyone but I think by living in His will everyone around you can see Christ's light and have hope they can too.”
Everyone deserves a friend that will say such kind beautiful words to and about you. Love you bestie!

I have turned and continue to turn my will over to God, it isn’t simple and easy all the time but it definitely is “an easier, softer way of living”. But more importantly I trust him with my whole soul, heart, and fiber of my being that when I get bruised, hurt, angry, jaded, lost, hopeless, feel as though a trial was dealt to me that I cannot handle, He is all knowing and all of it was meant for me to grow closer to Him. It makes me think of the lyrics “I am brave, I am bruised I am who I'm meant to be, this is me”, because all of what I have been through has made me exactly who I am meant to be and I am better, stronger, and so much closer to God and my Savior Jesus Christ and I am grateful I have the bruises that have made me braver. All of what we learn in this earthly life matters because we are duty bound to become and learn how to live as Christ lived, we will always fall short but the point is that we continue to learn of Him and keep trying, His grace is sufficient for the rest.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Part 2- HOPE, God, Sanity

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”

When I was going to the treatment facility for that 28-day period we were given assignments, these triggered emotional healing, self-discovery, and spirituality. When I was given the assignment to “believe a power greater than me could return me to sanity” I thought ok that will be a piece of cake. Some people found this assignment or step very difficult, because they didn’t know who God was for themselves. I found the first half of the step quite easy because I did have basic understanding to know Heavenly Father existed and I knew of Jesus Christ, but the second half that they “could return me to complete spiritual health”, that part I honestly had no idea. 
When I first went through this step I flew through it because it was “easy” and a “hope” step. Not a step or assignment I felt as though I needed to spend any time on, because I thought “yup have my higher power, and yup people say that they have felt the healing power… bing, bang, boom (one of my most favorite things a best friend of mine says)”. Needless to say, I had to revisit this part of recovery again, after the grueling truth and realization of the HONESTY (suicide, despair, dark, desperate) part and reviewing the path that lead me to the time I finally hit my knees in all desperation that IF there was Someone then please, oh please HELP ME. I stopped relying on others’ testimonies of Jesus Christ’s Atonement and I stopped saying “my higher power is God”. I put a face to Heavenly Father, I wrote my description of Him and His plan for me. Below is a journal entry from this time.
March 25th 2016 “My Heavenly Father is an all knowing, all loving actual physical being, and truly has complete control of this world, and the world around me. He is so loving that He created a plan for me, a plan of pure happiness, as I prayed last night I had an overwhelming feeling that for some reason this HUGE trial of addiction and recovery was part of it. But why? I have no hope, I had this feeling last night that strengthened my testimony of the reality of Heavenly Father, but I don’t “get” it. I haven’t ever really had to turn to Him. How do I do this? Ugh I’ll figure it out.”
I remember writing these words because since then there has been no turning back on what I now know, and I would compare myself to a sponge, grasping for more knowledge of this monumental and awe-inspiring gift Christ gave me and you. The Atonement- that is what kept coming to my thoughts, “I’m using it, I’m repenting, I’m trying my best”. But as I view it now I truly with “my whole heart” wasn’t because I didn’t allow myself the faith needed to actually feel like I was in the care of Heavenly Father and more importantly Jesus Christ’s care, Who has physically, emotionally and mentally felt all of what I was feeling. Aside from the Book of Mormon I read the most life changing book ever written, The Continuous Atonement by Brad Wilcox, in it he says; “The Atonement of Jesus Christ does not just provide a way to clean up messes; it provides the purpose and desire to avoid making more messes. The Atonement doesn’t allow us to ignore our appetites or pretend they don’t matter, but to educate and elevate them.” That right there describes my confusion, I wanted the Atonement to just white out the past and “come on guys let’s move on”.  As it does completely erase the mistake of the past, if all I did was “clean up the mess” it wouldn’t matter because regardless of cleaning up, the lessons wouldn’t have been learned and the desire to never use mind altering substances again would never be achieved because Christ needed to “educate” me through the Spirit on exactly how and why it could be achieved. 
There would never be enough time in the world for me to talk about the Atonement, I highly HIGHLY recommend Brad Wilcox’s book, I can’t tell you his level of expertise and truly divine words he uses to describe, define, but more importantly apply the Atonement to our lives. 
Something interesting as I reflected on finding hope again I wholeheartedly had to put a face, description, mannerisms, etc to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ to understand them more. To know with my whole heart Who they are and with my limited understanding and knowledge I can picture what they would look and sound like. As I debated the prompting to share my story, I wanted so badly to not put a face to it, have an account that is anonymous and people could still read and hear all the details and facts but I wouldn’t have to show my face. With more hope in the plan Heavenly Father has for me than any judgement or criticism this world would give me I felt like my story NEEDED my face attached. I don’t know 100% why this was necessary but if I was going to completely and honestly open up I felt as though the audience reading deserved to know that I am real, addiction is real, it honestly doesn’t have a crowd, race, gender, etc preference. When you read my story and as I continue to share my experiences please know that it could be or is you, your husband, wife, daughter, cousin, mom, neighbor, ward member, waiter, literally ANYONE. 
The title of this post HOPE from God that I could be restored to complete spiritual health. I wouldn’t completely say I am “sane” I still do things that I can see set my life out of balance, put too much focus on a certain hobby or fly off the handle to my husband, and I certainly have trials and demons to face every day, the change is in that I am definitely quicker to catch myself, but I am still mortal and I have not overcome the world. However, as far as my spiritual health I would say I am 98% different than I was before entering recovery, physically, mentally, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually. I told my friend yesterday that one of my biggest regrets was not choosing the way I live now my whole life. I spend a lot of time on my knees and in meditation every day. I know the word meditation immediately throws people off, but truly and with all of my effort I try to understand what the Spirit is guiding me to do next. My next step, action, or behavior is constantly trying to be better, it is pretty easy since my first step is usually always wrong or off course a hair, I listen and feel the Spirit guide my thoughts, actions, and love back to the course, as it is straight and narrow. 
I don’t say any of this to boast, brag or seem self-righteous, I say it because my life has changed and I honestly want nothing more than for people stuck in any trial to have a glimmer of hope. As cliché as it sounds the “bigger” and eternal perspective can truly heal any wound, trial, attitude, or behavior, the list can go on and on. But truly think of something in your life that you are trying to change to be more like Christ or you feel is something that is hurting you (allowing negative self-talk, negative people to influence you, watching too much TV, not reading your scriptures, not praying, not knowing who God is for you, yelling constantly at your kids, this list could get extensive, then I would be pushing into self-condemnation which isn’t my point at all) with an eternal perspective, stop and think about this, from the start to end of your life how will this affect me, my connection spiritually, and more importantly the plan of happiness that is already in place for you. Side note my niece is going to kill me when she reads this because whenever I give her this advice she always says, “I know it is better with an eternal perspective but that’s not how I want to complain about it”. Back to the point, if a certain thought, behavior, action, action of others, etc is driving you away from your spiritual self and connection (you have to come up with those morals and goals) or could be possibly affecting your plan of happiness that God has constantly in store for you, then change! If you just thought to yourself I can’t change x, y, or z, with wisdom you will know if you cannot physically change anything but without a doubt you can change YOU. Little by little begin to make the shift, begin to be more kind, stop yelling at your kids for 25 seconds a day, and as you do this have HOPE that Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ have our best interest and all control, so turn to THEM. I will testify that I know They are there waiting ANXIOUSLY waiting for you to humble and ask for Their guidance, strength and help. I am so grateful for HOPE because each day I grow and learn so much more and as I do I feel so blessed that I am trying my hardest to head in the right direction. 
Elder David A. Bednar talks about hope and where it is most readily found; “We should not underestimate or overlook the power of the Lord’s tender mercies. The simpleness, the sweetness, and the constancy of the tender mercies of the Lord will do much to fortify and protect us in the troubled times in which we do now and will yet live. When words cannot provide the solace we need or express the joy we feel, when it is simply futile to attempt to explain that which is unexplainable, when logic and reason cannot yield adequate understanding about the injustices and inequities of life, when mortal experience and evaluation are insufficient to produce a desired outcome, and when it seems that perhaps we are so totally alone, truly we are blessed by the tender mercies of the Lord and made mighty even unto the power of deliverance (see 1 Nephi 1:20).
“Some individuals who hear or read this message erroneously may discount or dismiss in their personal lives the availability of the tender mercies of the Lord. . . We may falsely think that such blessings and gifts are reserved for other people who appear to be more righteous or who serve in visible Church callings. I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us”.

And when you feel as though you have come to the end of your rope please read these very inspired words. Jeffrey R. Holland; “Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don’t come until heaven; but for those who embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ, THEY COME. It will be all right in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come.”

Our Savior has overcome the world so when we undoubtedly have trials and suffering we can find peace and hope in and only because of Him. 

Monday, January 29, 2018

Part 1, depression, addiction and peace through HONESTY

Now my story has a few twists and turns that I have found a lot of people silently struggle with, which include mundane life and an inability of finding joy in every aspect of life, infertility, postpartum depression, addiction, broken families and relationships with loved ones, but ultimately, I have a current "end turn" that has led me to trying my best DAILY to live in God’s will for me and be of use to Him. Before you stop reading here and think none of those scenarios apply to me, that is my overall goal for the rest of my life, to stop looking at others and think I cannot relate to that because I don’t suffer from any of those afflictions. But the eternal and bigger perspective we can on some level relate to EVERYONE’S story, hardships, trials, joys, and happiness. As a society if that singular thought process could be applied in every relationship, struggle, and decision we make, the end result is true JOY. I said joy because happiness and joy do not have to coexist, though they can, joy is the deep abiding feeling of overall health and taking emotions as they come and dealing with them in a manner that doesn’t lead to unhealthy behaviors. 
In 2010 my husband and I were married and sealed in the LDS Salt Lake City temple. I earned Bachelor’s of science in Nursing and my husband received his master’s in business management with an undergraduate in engineering, specifically software engineering. I was employed at a hospital with an emphasis in Pediatric and critical care. After about three years of marriage we began trying to have a baby, with no luck naturally we went through several treatments with our regular OBGYN to no avail after a year. We eventually went to an infertility specialist and after about two years and lots of negative pregnancy tests, tears, too many shots, and lots of medication we were able to get pregnant with my daughter who is now three.
After I had my baby in January of 2015 I decided to stay home, shortly after having my daughter and as I recall it was around when my husband went back to work I started having some dark thoughts. Never once did I think of harming my baby, but I truly felt as though I had no worth other than to be a feeding machine. I loved my daughter and had ZERO resentment toward her I just couldn’t figure out why life was just so hard. I sit home all day and feed every 2-3 hours, how can I feel as though this is hard. The days began to get darker and the more I pushed the emotions aside instead of actually feeling them I fell deeper into the dark. I would voice several times to several people who probably could tell something was off, that “I AM FINE”. I kept coming up short when I would think maybe if I just said something to someone it would help. However, my pride (the enmity of all that is joyful) continued to win. I honestly will never understand why God allows postpartum depression and anxiety to affect a woman who just went through the most uncomfortable nine months of their lives, the most painful few/many hours they will ever experience, then have to be in recovery mode while a helpless tiny newborn’s life relies completely on you for survival (if you breastfeed, which I did and truly did love every second of that) and if that’s not enough here you go sweet little mommy let’s make you feel like complete and total garbage and feel as though the world is closing in on you and is truly DARK. Something I have learned through research, recovery and prayer is that I don’t have to understand. I have so much faith in my Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness that I know that for whatever reason we are given that burden of depression after having a child, it is meant for a greater purpose. Maybe we won’t understand in this life why, but Heavenly Father does and that makes EVERYTHING ok. The better news to me that I have found is that Jesus Christ felt all those dark depressing emotions and feelings, He truly took it upon Himself to feel all of that so when we do in this mortal existence if we turn to our Savior He will comfort us and He will give the grace needed that we cannot with all our might, mind, and strength muster up. 
In the midst of this depression and darkness I began to get headaches, probably too much diet coke, no sleep, and of course fighting with all my might to place a plastic smile on me and be all “put together” when I was totally BROKEN. I had to only take the pain medication for a few days after getting home from the hospital but one day I had the worst headache and took one of those pills I had from delivery for the headache, and without any reserve I will tell you I felt completely free from the darkness and the negative emotion I had bottled up for those few weeks. The bliss I felt was unreal, I cleaned my house, showered and got ready. I made dinner and I even went for a really long walk outside in February (it was a warm one that year for Utah ). After a few hours, the medication wore off and I felt the world close back in and it was dark again. To say I was “hooked” after that first pill wouldn’t be totally true because it was hit and miss the days I would take mind altering substances. But I can tell you that I for sure craved to feel that normalcy in my life again. After taking pills on and off for a few months I owned up to my husband and told him I thought I was depressed, I am going to be honest here it wasn’t 100% me that came up with that decision to allow him to help me. There were several people with good intentions who were giving me subtle hints they knew something was up and a few people mentioning to my husband that something was wrong. Well as good as intentions as they were I wasn’t willing to be fully upfront yet, important thing to note as you help an addict, you truly have no way of helping them until they take the first step. Never did I feel unloved or unwanted but I did feel like there was a slight condition of that love, so my advice is hate the behavior please don’t ever hate the addict. 
I am going to fast forward a hair because basically it was a mix of getting on and off antidepressants, saying “screw that it takes too long to work” and turning back to mind altering pills. I was going to the doctor a lot and coming up with all sorts of reasons why I would need something mind altering. 
Several months later after stealing pills from loved ones and getting cut off by doctors, my husband and I had the conversation that maybe I was an addict. HAHAHAHAHAHA that was my honest thought along with “well no duh I am but there is no way in HELL I will ever tell you I am, plus I kind of still don’t think I am”. If you have ever heard the first step of any recovery program it is, we admitted we were powerless to overcome our addiction and our lives have become unmanageable. It is the first step because once YOU truly believe you are an addict that is when the magic and miracles starts to happen. That was the reason for my advice about helping an addict, until they 100% admit they cannot stop using drugs, drinking alcohol, viewing pornography, craving sex (in an unhealthy way), over eating, gambling, smoking, etc. whatever the addiction if you cannot just stop and never even think about wanting to do it again then you are probably an addict. But that it is why step one is so vital to recovery because it is all up to the addict. Once you are honest with yourself then others can help you, but more importantly God can help you, because this is about the time we hit our knees in full desperation and prayer, and the pain of using has become greater than any pain recovery will bring. 
I went to a meeting, sat in a room and remember thinking “wow these people are freaking brave!” I would NEVER share that with anyone, I don’t care if you are all complete strangers.. well look at me now, sharing my story with COUNTLESS people! But I did come home from that meeting itching to use again and told my husband that those meetings were for weird people that are talking about "God carrying them through the hardest parts of their life" and just complaining about "dumb stuff". I can just stop. I will just stop. Babe I am sorry.” These statements were a continual circle, these were the things I would continue to say to my husband and anyone else who tried to support me. 
Well I am going to fast forward again about a month, my husband was done, he was ready to jump ship and was so sick of the lies that I continued to spin and threatened calling the police along with a threat that he would do everything in his power to not allow me to ever see my daughter again. So, hello this should have been my wakeup call, right? Well ok yes, I tried a new approach to slide under the radar of not actually quitting but looking as though I would. I joined a treatment facility that I would just have to go to at night and that I would rush through and say ok babe and all you other nay sayers I did it and now I’m good let’s move on with our lives. I lasted two days, I came home with a sappy excuse “they are all like meth addicts and have really serious problems, I do not belong there, I honestly think that will just hurt me”. It’s almost comical how blind I was to reality, and I hate to admit this but I became the smoothest talker and the best liar around! He allowed me to quit after two days. I stayed clean for maybe a couple months when I had a bad relapse. When I say bad I mean I relapsed the night previous and the next day I had obtained a bottle of pills that I planned to take that night because I honestly, 100% was ready to leave this earthly world. My thoughts consisted a lot of my daughter doesn’t deserve this, my parents don’t deserve this, my husband especially doesn’t deserve to wake up and go to work every day wondering what the world could possibly be happening at home. This plan back fired, a dear member of my family came over and I was in the middle of the craziness of the plan and had the pills and she took them without knowing my plan of how I was going to use them. My husband heard mostly the drama of it and without going into too much detail he was DONE he took my daughter and they left to stay at my in-laws. I called one person who I will never be able to thank enough, who I still haven’t told that I was going to kill myself that night. The darkness was too great and I couldn’t go on living in the pain and plague I was causing this world. She is about my mom’s age and she came over and she laid next me as I just cried, I don’t know when she left but I fell asleep instead of making one of the worst decisions of my life and she was God’s ministering angel that night because there is no way I would have stayed on this earth that night. 
I ended up going back to that same treatment facility for 28 days about a week after that night and learned a lot about the practicality of recovery from an amazing counselor who I can honestly say had a huge part in saving my life. He is a very spiritual person and he created an avenue for me that led me to my loving, kind and most gracious Heavenly Father. Through the Book of Mormon, I learned of my Savior’s Atonement, my brother recommended that I read it and highlight any part that acknowledges mercy, justice and grace. I didn't follow the story line, I didn't look up words I didn't know, I just stuck to my soul purpose of reading it for the pure intent of what the healing and cleansing power of the Atonement can do and especially what it can do for me. 
I would love to omit this next part of my story but it is crucial and proves that in some way or another we all have to pay the consequences for our actions. 
I was happily in recovery I was attending meetings and I was three months clean when I got a job working as a nurse. My addiction took my husband and I for a loop and finances were tight, I also thought working a few days a week would boost my drive and bring me purpose.
I am going to use a little parable about a girl and a snake to describe “going to any length” for our recovery:
A young girl walking along a mountain path to her grandmother's house heard a rustle at her feet. Looking down, she saw a snake, but before she could react, the snake spoke to her.
"I am about to die," he said. "It's too cold for me up here, and I am freezing. There is no food in these mountains, and I am starving. Please put me under your coat and take me with you."
"No," the girl replied. "I know your kind. You are a rattlesnake. And if I pick you up, you will bite me and your bite is poisonous."
"No, no," the snake said. "If you help me, you will be my best friend. I will treat you differently."
The young girl sat down on a rock for a moment to rest and think things over. She looked at the beautiful markings on the snake and she had to admit he was the most beautiful snake she had ever seen.
Suddenly, she said, "I believe you. I will save you. All living things deserve to be treated with kindness."
She then reached over, put the snake gently under her coat and continued toward her grandmother's house.
Within a moment, she felt a sharp pain in her side. The snake had bitten her! 
"How could you do this to me?" she cried. "You promised that you would not bite me, and I trusted you!"
"You knew what I was when you picked me up," he hissed as he slithered away.
Well I knew getting a job in the department of nursing where I would deal with opiate prescription medications was indeed a snake. If your reading this and your addiction isn't drugs things such as driving past the liquor store is a snake, having access to a phone and ability to be completely alone to view pornography is a snake, buying your favorite treats if you are addicted to over eating is a snake, keeping your drug dealers name in you phone is a snake, the list can go on and on. But I continued to tell myself that I knew that it was different I was happy and clean, regardless of being around pills I am living a different life. The beginning of your recovery has to include going to any length for your sobriety and has to continue that way because Satan is cunning and baffling and will work in anyway to have you return to your addiction. I work a program of COMPLETE ABSTINENCE, I don't take Benadryl, certain cold medications, certain prescription medications, (the list is long) even if I used them exactly as they are intended. I do this because it has worked for ME, my program is different than yours and anyone else's but it has kept me clean and sober and has ultimately allowed me to completely avoid my mind to be altered in a way that I would "crave" drugs again. I can now tell you that I had not honestly worked step one, although I had plenty of evidence that I would never successfully be able to take anything mind altering again, I thought I was “powerful” enough to avoid them. I never did have to administer them to patients and really was never around them much but I was given some to “dispose” of and you know what I did? I kept them for a "rainy day". That is how sick addiction is, you do the weirdest most outlandish things to feed your addiction, a rainy day, really that was the best excuse I could come up with. Well I got some sort of morals and values back in those three months of sobriety because I didn’t steal I decided “I’m a nurse and I know how to obtain them”. I didn’t want to fall back to my old ways of deceiving people, this way I won’t hurt anyone else. About three months later I was arrested for perscription fraud and theft. 
I obviously realized what had happened as I was taken to jail but it didn’t hit me till the next morning waking up IN JAIL that I was completely broken. Like seriously Lizzy you are in jail, all for pills? Really? ..............Really?!!!!!! I can’t tell you a lot of the thoughts I had and I will continue writing this 12-part series on my blog that I will share more details as I process and remember all the feelings I had during this time. But you can kind of get the jest of the severity and the condemnation I was giving myself. I was a college graduate in nursing, I had just served for four years in the young women’s presidency, I am a mom to a beautiful daughter, and a wife to a beyond amazing husband. Yet I am this total piece of crap, I can’t do this anymore and suicidal thoughts began to creep back in. I was released from jail and went to my parents, which at the time I was mad about but in reality, I see God’s hand in having that be where I go because I promise you with all my heart that if you thought that previous suicidal thought was at all real, this one was surefire. I had a gun and I knew I didn’t have enough pills to overdose with, a gun was the way it would happen. As a nurse when I would access someone for suicide, you knew they were serious if they had a plan. God knew I had a greater purpose, so many angels on this earth knew I couldn’t go home but as they thought it was just for the soul purpose to give my husband and I space it was to save my life. 
This is a key factor in the whole process, at this moment I made a decision. A decision that to this day I hold dear to my heart because that was the moment I finally and wholeheartedly worked step one. I admitted to myself that I was 100% POWERLESS over drugs and that if I ever turn back to them my life will without a doubt be unmanageable again. I went back to the treatment center I had “graduated” from and went once a week, this time my husband attended with me, two years later I advanced on and was offered a job there, where I work once a week (Action Recovery Group in South Ogden, the counselor there is the man.. literally AMAZING). I got a sponsor who I now view as one of my best friends and second moms. She is kind hearted and is one of my softest places to land, she voices her opinion through which she uses God to obtainMy counselor is one of my best friend’s now, he is my boss, and ultimately one of the people I hold to the highest regard in terms of life decisions and opinions, and he is not even one bit afraid to call me on my “bull shiz” because he has been there every step of the way. I have a best friend who I have ran or went to the gym with nearly every day since I was released from jail. She is the most innocent, kind person that will ever walk this earth and she has taken it upon herself to change herself and grow with me. We have the most amazing deep conversations and we both continue to push each other to be better, less judgmental, loving and ultimately more Christlike. My husband is my rock, we still have problems daily small and big but through this process of rediscovery and self-improvement we have both worked on our weakness and relied on each other’s strengths. We would not be as loving, kind or happy in our marriage had we not gone through this very difficult time. A quote I love goes, “God allows you to break so He can put you back together better than you were before.” That applies to every single aspect of my life. 
The ultimate thanks go to my Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ. I found the plan of happiness for me will always involve trials, and they are exactly what draws us nearer to the spirit of Christ. I am so grateful that I have gone through this amazingly difficult trial because I found a better version of me. The Atonement of Christ is truly impossible to understand, but for me I rely with my whole heart on the Grace that comes because of it. Because of His grace I have been able to have the smallest glimpses of true Christlike love and for that I am eternally grateful, also it is how I strive to treat others now, not because I feel as though I have to, but because I feel as though that is what I needed and wanted most in the depths of hell I walked, to be loved with Christlike love.
My story will continue and I will strive daily to spiritually connect and do what I feel this earthly mission is all about, serve and love others as Christ did, I will always fall short and I will rely on Christ’s grace to continue with all my might, mind, and strength to try my best. 
“When we feel as though we have failed, try again and this time with God.”