Living for Good

I haven’t written in a while because life has gotten in the way of my blogging. It happens. I have found my life as a writer has taken me on a different course, which has made blogging difficult. This isn’t all together a bad thing, just means I’ll be blogging in spurts.

I’ve mentioned this before in a previous entry, however, I am compelled to write about it again. “Doing bad, never leads to good.” This  has been proven true in my life many times, even when the ‘bad’ isn’t necessary intentional.

As an alcoholic, there is always that want, that need, to have a drink, especially when life is freaking hard. I don’t like to admit it, but I love the feeling of having an escape from reality, whether it be with alcohol or prescription drugs. Life sucks, so make it better with a drink or seven. That was my motto. That’s how I thought. And sometimes I find myself thinking, “Why not?”

Here is the truth: Nothing good has ever came out of my drinking. NOT ONE THING. I have never woke up from a night of drinking and thought, “Wow, that was amazing.” I’ve only felt guilt and shame. Humiliation. I’m the drunk that has to have everyone know she’s drunk-which again, never leads to anything positive.

We’ve all heard the scripture in which we are told we cannot slave for two masters. This is something I  keep telling myself. Either I succumb to life as a drunk or I live my life as the daughter of God in the way He meant for me.

Last month’s visiting teaching message was that Latter Day Saint women recognize their strength comes from the Lord’s atonement and they will not give up during difficult times.

I’m proud to be a Latter Day Saint woman, because I know no matter how many times I trip or fail, I’ll never give up.

 

Book News: My Book I’m Writing

I wrote a book.

And now…I’m writing another one.

Details:

I’m in the sixteenth revision of Scriptures and Tattoos, A Most Improved Life. As of right now, the book has been reviewed by a few people in the literary world and it seems after this final revision it will sent off to a few publishers.

From there…we wait.

How I’m Feeling About People Reading This Book:

In my bio on this blog, I write that I’m not Mormon enough for most Mormons and not non-Mormon enough for non-Mormons. This will not be a book you will find being promoted by Deseret or probably any other Mormon.There are curse naughty words. There are some situations in which I write about that are not ::ahem:: Mormonlly. This is a book about mental illness, alcoholism, addictions and dealing with being a Mormon convert when life isn’t so kind. It isn’t a sweet story or even a pleasant one. But it is real.

In one of the first drafts of the book, one person commented by saying it sounded as if I was venting. In the later revisions, I was told the story is compelling and haunting. A few weeks ago, I was told it was not only compelling, but inspiring. I hope it will remain inspiring.  Being mentally ill with all the other ‘stuff’ isn’t beautiful or fun. It’s ugly and cruel. However, I’m this little woman with a southern accent with a husband, kids, a dog and work a real job and studying for a real education. I’m your sister. Your daughter. Your next door neighbor. Your fellow soccer Mom. I want to shatter the stigma attached to mental illness and alcoholism. I want to blow the sucker up, because it shouldn’t apply. l

That lady next to you at church…what’s her name…Molly Mormon? Always at church and never turns down an assignment. Yet, she holds a secret. She’s depressed and sleeps eighteen hours a day. No one knows this because she’s afraid to tell people because …::gasp:: what would people think?  Would they tell her she needs to only pray a little harder and all that yucky sadness will go away? Will she even be taken seriously? Or will she be judged and stigmatized?

If you find yourself wondering why  I wrote Scriptures and Tattoos think about the questions above. You’ll have your answer.

What I’ve Learned:

This process has given me endless opportunities to work on patience and keeping still so I can listen to my conscience. There are many times in which I had sat down to write Scripts and Tatts and think of it as a complete waste of time. I didn’t want anyone to know how crazy being crazy is and here I am writing about it?! And I want it published? Not only that, I’m talking about addictions and alcoholism and then I’m throwing marital and family stuff in there along with being a Mormon.

Yeah, well, in my defense…I did say I was crazy.

Joining the Church for me was a huge blessing and I’ll never regret my decision. However, by converting, my life did not magically become like the days depicted in a Summer’s Eve commercial. (Yeah, I wrote Summer’s Eve and I know what it is. I’m only trying to keep you focused. It worked, right?)

Writing a Book is Harder Than Blogging:

I don’t view blogging as work. It energizes and relaxes me. Here I am on my own soapbox and there are people seeking this blog out to read what is on my mind. How could that be work? It’s not. It’s pretty darn awesome.

Writing a book is a conveyance of information and has to be (in my opinion) perfect. It’s going to be read by people who probably would never read this blog and people who do read this site and will expect the book to be the same tone of writing as I write here. It won’t be. And that may make some a little irritated with me.

What You Can Expect in Regards to Having Your Own Copy:

I feel strongly the book will be published in 2012. You heard it here first. However, I still have a lot left to do:

  • Add in those pesky mundane details that require a lot of research.
  • Read it with fresh and clear eyes in a few weeks as if I’ve never read it before…which I’m dreading… then make the necessary edits and rewrites.
  • Send it to my editor with the hope that all will be golden and we can proceed.

In other words…

Stay Tuned. 😉

Atonement, Repentence and Addictions

Most of us know the scripture in Matthew 6:24 in which we are told we are not to slave for two masters. I have to always go back to that scripture daily…so I will always remember I was once a slave to two masters.

I am an alcoholic/addict.

As an addict, converting to Mormonism wasn’t easy. At the time, giving up alcohol wasn’t a huge deal. I didn’t believe or even consider I was an alcoholic. I believed this based on how I drank compared to others in my life who suffered from the disease. No, I didn’t drink everyday. I could go months without drinking with ease. Yet, when I finally became honest with myself and looked at the reasons WHY and HOW I drank…I knew I had a problem.

Drinking was my escape. Tequila was my outlet I used to ease my anxiety, cover my insecurities and lose my inhibitions. I’ve always been somewhat of a dork in a socially awkward way. I have a moronic laugh and I’m anything but graceful. That’s how I am sober. Apparently, I thought drinking erased my social quirks. Turns out…they only enhanced them…I just didn’t care.

Alcoholism isn’t a black/white disease. It isn’t the same for everyone. When I accepted I had this disease, I was already a baptized member of the Church. I had some slip ups and it was only after I fell into old habits that I had to come to terms with the truth concerning this illness.

Here’s the thing about addictions of any kind: you can not get help for your addictions until you accept and understand you’re powerless against them. You can not do it on your own.

As a Christian…you have to take it one step further: you must grasp, understand and accept The Atonement.

Atonement of Jesus Christ

As used in the scriptures, to atone is to suffer the penalty for sins, thereby removing the effects of sin from the repentant sinner and allowing him or her to be reconciled to God. Jesus Christ was the only one capable of carrying out the Atonement for all mankind. Because of His Atonement, all people will be resurrected, and those who obey His gospel will receive the gift of eternal life with God.

For years…without even realizing it…I was a slave to alcohol and prescription drugs. I thought I was okay because hello…LOOK AT ME. I do not look like a drunk. I’m little. And cute. And I speak with a southern accent.

Alcoholics surely cannot be little, cute and speak with a southern accent. Right?

In His loving and firm way, God showed me I was fooling myself. As a creator of false facades in many areas of my life, I convinced myself and others that I didn’t have a problem with addictions. I had somehow shifted and justified my sins in order to be a slave to the illness.

Why?

Well, because it was fun.

Drinking was fun…in the beginning. That stage of drinking most call ‘tipsy’ is exhilarating. I always wanted to stay in that phase…yet as my tolerance level grew…the shorter the tipsy phase would be. And because I always felt I had something to prove, I’d find myself in these situations in which I tried to out drink everyone. I think my reasoning was because I was little. And cute. And spoke with a southern accent.

The first time I spoke the words: “I am an alcoholic” was one of the worst and best days of my life. I won’t sugar coat it…I felt as if I was a failure. I didn’t want to admit to alcoholism and addiction. It didn’t seem fair I had to say those words and do the steps and go to meetings and then REPENT? I had to repent too? Are you kidding me?

I didn’t want to repent to God. I was really mad at God.

Being angry with God did not align well with repentance. I was angry with God for allowing my life to be so messed up. It didn’t seem fair He created me to have all these things wrong with me.

My anger with God led me toward a season of rebellion. I gave up caring and trying to  live a spiritual life. I felt as if I had given everything I had to be a good Christian woman and I kept failing. So what can a person do but throw their hands in the air and give up? May as well have some fun!

Alma 34:32-34 tells us we shouldn’t procrastinate repentance. We will all have to one day answer for our sins and be held accountable. My having the disease of alcoholism wasn’t the sin…it was my ignoring it and acting with a rebellious heart that was sinful.

The fun of drinking was long gone. I knew that, but I wanted it to be true again. What was fun about it? Who can really say at this point…most of those days are hazy. Drinking can only be fun for so long for an alcoholic. The fun never lasts.

To admit weakness is also not a sin. In the scriptures we can find many righteous and humble men who admit their frailties: Moses, David, Peter, Paul, Alma, Ammon…those are only a handful of examples. When we repent…we acknowledge regret for doing the things that separated us from God. Admitting our sins isn’t weak…it is the buildup of strength in which creates a stronger bond between us and our Heavenly Father.

Accepting The Atonement of Jesus Christ for me was a huge factor in my recovery. Elder Boyd Packer explained it best: “Atonement is really three words: At-one-ment, meaning to set at one, one with God; to reconcile, to conciliate, to expiate.”  The Atonement could cleanse me of sin…but only after the condition of my repentance.

It seemed as if I would never live the life Heavenly Father created me to live. I continued to make the wrong choices, made excuses, and honestly didn’t care…as long as I was having fun! Then one day, life wasn’t fun anymore and the things I was doing in the name of fun had turned ugly. Yet, I couldn’t repent because I felt as if I wasn’t good enough to be a daughter of God.

Then one day I realized I wasn’t that “great” not to be forgiven for my sins. Yeah, I’m little. And cute. And speak with a southern accent…but I’m not that powerful.

Here’s the thing that we all must accept: We will never be so powerful to be to messed up for our Savior to redeem.

Ever.

Shine, Baby, Shine

Sitting upstairs in my bedroom, I began to think about Jesus. Simply, the man and who he was and how he lived when he was on this Earth. It struck me as somewhat ironic, that this man, the Son of God, who created numberless worlds and could have manifested himself in such a way that there would have been little doubt that he was in fact a god. The SON of THE God, no less. And yet, what did he do? He lived humbly as a carpenter’s son, barely noticed by his social and economic class.

He didn’t force anyone to hear his message. He was a man of love, of truth, of charity. Yet, his mission was that he would sacrifice his life for all of us…which he did. His purpose was clear and he stayed on his directed path, never faltering, even when he was faced with magnificent temptation. (Mark 1:9-13, Luke 4:1-14)

We all want to have our shot in the limelight. Who doesn’t think it would be fantastic to be popular and be noticed for our talents? Yet, how many of us are truly ‘popular’ as defined by the world’s standards? Have we found ourselves shifting gears and stumbling off our path in an attempt to be noticed? To be popular in the standards of this world?

I know I have. Many times. And each time I’ve detoured off my path, life gets amazingly harder and things are never quite right. Things I thought were important, (IE:Materialism) became less so as the different areas of my life crumbled.

As I pondered over my Savior, my thoughts shifted to my own life and what legacy I will leave behind. Will I be known as a gossip? A liar? The recovering alcoholic with the mental illness? My stomach dropped when I thought of every aspect of my life in which I’ve been rebellious and haughty. When my illness had gotten the best of me and my broken mind saw and caused things to be chaotic and painful…not only for me…but for my family and friends as well. These illnesses are not who I am…they are not what define me…they will not be the essence of my soul. I have these things…yes, for now… in this life… and I do what I can to control it. I will not allow these illnesses to control me. Heavenly Father knows my soul. It is with that truth I keep close to my heart, never allowing it to be the start of my drifting off course onto another path.

My light may not be noticed by the entire world, but it shines brightly by those who are near.

When you find yourself thinking you are not being of service to people, or are not receiving the opportunities to present your talents because of your own insecurities or that you may just be under the radar in your church, school or work…think about this: Jesus lived simply, but gave gloriously…in such a way that you and I will one day be able to live with Him again in perfection.

Live simply. Give gloriously…whether it be your talents, your wisdom, your sense of humor…you are a light. Never allow this world to define you. We know that it will end eventually. We have amazing things to look forward to.

Our light? Will shine on for all eternity…