Recovery During a Season of Grief

Recovery is hard. I’m not going to sugar coat it as anything other than hard work and tenacity. There are seasons of rest and joy and celebration when the work pays off, but there’s also a need to be honest with myself about the pain that has driven me to do the things I do and make the choices I make and a willingness to work through the pain I’ve spent decades avoiding because the only real way out is through. But those times I get that victory, and those hurts get healed…it makes every step of the journey worth it.

And then, I suddenly find myself an orphan. And the one person who had been there from my first memory isn’t there anymore. Suddenly, recovery becomes like trying to drag a 50-lb. boulder tied around my waist up a steep mountain on a path I can barely see anymore. It takes concerted effort just to put one foot in front of another. It takes a lot of setting aside time just to sob uncontrollably in a safe environment so I don’t lose it in a public place. It takes relapsing and running back to food to find some comfort when there’s none to be had. And then it’s shame because I feel like I failed, and I’m right back to step one…again and again and again. Recovery is hard. Recovery in the midst of grief is a battle. I lost a few skirmishes along the way. But I kept fighting. I’ve been bloody and bone-weary and felt like giving up. But I kept fighting. I’m still so very sad, and I miss my mom so much sometimes it is a palpable pain. But I keep fighting. I keep taking one step at a time, even if it is just an inch, because I know the fight is worth it. I know there is still hope and healing in honesty. I keep trusting the process. And I put my hand into the hand of the only Parent I have left because I KNOW He cares for me, and He will never leave me. And the journey continues.

Recovery is hard. Grief is hard. But I do not walk through either one alone. I have a team. I have encouragers. I have those who just sit with me and let me cry. I have people who pray. I have a coach who tells me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it and never gets upset when I say I’m not ready to talk about something. I have mentors who have walked the path before me. I have those who reach out when they haven’t heard from me in awhile because they know my tendency to isolate and shut down when I’m hurting. And I have a few friends that stick closer than sisters. I am not alone. Because I know I’m not alone, I know I can keep fighting. I can do the hard, “one day at a time, one moment at a time”.

1,095 Days – One Day at a Time

Three years ago, I could not have imagined where I am today. I walked through those double doors on a Friday night, absolutely petrified. I didn’t like crowds. I felt uncomfortable around strangers. And I had no familiar person to hide behind, which was my preferred place to be. It had been a long year to get to that point. A year of Father prompting and nudging that these were the steps (HA!) that I needed to take. Even after I decided I was desperate enough to seek help and shared with my best friends I was finally going to start this journey, it still took three weeks of loving (annoying) prompting from one of them (“Are you going this week?”) before I finally surrendered. And truth be told, I went that first week just to shut her up. (I did not realize yet how much of a people pleaser I am.)

Walking through those doors into that cavernous room filled with a cacophony of voices, I made a beeline for the outskirts, my favorite place to be. All the way to the left, as close to the wall as I could get, buried in the middle row so I wouldn’t be too far forward or visible from behind. A wallflower; invisible. My comfort zone.

Once worship started, I was able to set aside my fear briefly (for the most part). People around me weren’t paying attention to me. They were worshiping! It was glorious! I was able to lose myself in the singing for awhile, but soon the music was over and the lesson began. I don’t even remember what the lesson was that night. All I recall was sitting in that seat completely certain that no woman there in that “Fellowship Hall” was struggling with what I had been battling for three decades. I felt alone, hopeless, and fairly sure this place couldn’t help me.

Anyone’s first night at Celebrate Recovery, they are encouraged to go to a one-time group called CR 101. This is a group that educates newcomers on the small group format, what group options there are, and answers any questions. After large group, I dutifully filed into the room where CR 101 was held and sat down in the very back. I don’t remember processing consciously that it was so I could make a quick getaway, but having come to know myself a bit better, I’m pretty sure that was definitely a consideration. CR 101 has both a male and a female leader, and the group starts with each leader giving a short 2-3 minute testimony of their recovery. The woman that was leading that night began to share her story, and all I could do was sit there in shock, tears coursing down my face, as she told my story. In fact, her story was more horrific than mine, but there she was, boldly proclaiming that she had sought recovery for much of the same that finally drove me through those double doors. And I began, just a little bit, to have hope that maybe, just maybe, this WAS where Father wanted me to be.

The next week I returned, a little more hopeful, a little less afraid. I went to a small group I thought might fit (it didn’t). After small group, I went to Solid Rock, a gathering for meeting new people and developing relationships. I had skipped it my first week because I was so overwhelmed, but this time I was determined to track down that lady leader from the week before. When I found her, I expressed to her how much it meant to me that she had shared her testimony, that I had been convinced I was the only one. She listened to me then shared how she hadn’t even been on the roster to lead CR 101 that night. The woman that had been scheduled to lead had to cancel that afternoon, and she was the one asked to fill in. I don’t think I will ever forget the immense awareness of Father’s love for me in that moment.

I could not have imagined the amount of healing I would experience over the next three years. After decades of being depressed, I had no concept of what it would feel like to NOT be. I didn’t have a clue of the number of tools I would gain to help me learn new strategies for processing my pain, or that one day I would be sponsoring other women and helping them learn those tools. All I knew that night was that, for the first time ever, I had a sense that there was hope, and that I had taken that first step.

And I’ve never looked back.