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H.O.P.E. Hold on, Pain ends

I remember like it was yesterday dropping my loved one off at a rehab facility and saying goodbye for the next six months, what seemed like forever to be without my best friend. The flood of emotions were overwhelming alongside the all-consuming feelings of what our journey through the bondage of addiction had already entailed. Tears flowed freely throughout my next four-hour ride home with what I would call a sense relief along with a ray of hope, which is something that I hadn’t felt in a long time.

Life had been entangled and all-consuming with my loved one. Throughout my first week without him, I felt so lost. As much of a relief that it was that he was safe and getting help, I found myself at a loss with him gone. A loss of worry, a loss of what to do with myself, and sadly, a loss of purpose. I had taken care of this person for so long and spent my life trying to save him, what do I do now? The question was: HOW DO I HEAL? One of the hardest realizations was that I was worthy of recovery too. Just as much as they need healing and recovery, so do we. And in order to heal together, we must heal apart and take care of our very own wounds.

Unfortunately, seasons of addiction are not a one-man sport, the whole family gets to play- lovingly, I like to call it.  What starts out as something so innocent and unknown turns into something you never expected it to be. My journey was killing me. Physically, emotionally, and mentally. I stopped eating, stopped sleeping, and stopped dreaming with this big cheery heart of mine. I started losing every piece of myself. Every second was wrapped up with worry. Every situation was ridden with bitterness and resentment. I’m sure you know these feelings all too well. You may be at the beginning of this journey, or you may be in the ray of light middle, but most importantly, I want you to know that you aren’t alone. On the darkest nights, you still aren’t alone.

Shortly into my journey to healing, a mentor told me something so simple that made it all so clear:

“Just as someone cannot love us enough into making us love ourselves is the same in that we cannot love someone enough to make them love themselves enough to want to heal from addiction.”

Healing comes from within and learning to love ourselves through God’s eyes and not the world’s. With this epiphany, as hard as it was to admit, I was crippling a man who was capable of walking because I chose to carry him. I was lovingly enabling him and it was time to lovingly detach from him. And in that moment, I realized he was not mine to save and that the healing started with and within me. It was between God and I, not John and I.

I had to ask for John’s forgiveness and for God’s. I realized that I had tried to love him so much and to make life so perfect that surely, he would never pick it up again. That if I could make life easy enough, that clearly, he wouldn’t want that life anymore. But that wasn’t a power that I was capable of having. The only person that could love him enough to heal him is God. I was carrying a burden that wasn’t meant for me to carry. And God said,

“For I, the Lord your God,
hold your right hand;
it is I who say to you, “Fear not,
I am the one who helps you.” (Isaiah 41:13).

In the quiet of my bedroom, broken and hopeless, with tears streaming down my face, I closed my eyes, and I released my grip and handed him over to God. “He is yours now God. Your will be done, not mine.” And in that very moment, I felt the peace that I had searched for in so many different places, that truly only God could give to me. And just like that, my journey to healing and recovery began.

This is a choice that you have to make every morning, if not 100 times a day. I had a mentor tell me one day in a fit of fear, “Lay him back down at God’s feet, you’ve picked him back up.” In some weak and fleshly moments, I still think that I can save him and protect him. God will allow me to pick him back up because it was My selfish will. Silly me! I lay him back down with a sign, every.single.time of ‘I told you child, I have him and I’m taking care of him.’ It’s in those moments, when trust has been ripped and broken that I smile because I am learning where my trust truly comes from and he has yet to fail me. Restoration with our loved ones and with God comes in so many forms during this process. I became grateful for the wounds that pushed me towards God. I think that’s the most beautiful part!

You think you love the one suffering more than life itself? Well if you can imagine this, God loves them even more than that! More than we could ever begin to fathom of what his kind of love feels like. How deep it goes and how wide it stretches and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that will tear him away from his children. Lay them down at God’s feet. Drop that rope of tug-a-war. Let go and let God. Watch them fall into his bountiful grace and watch God pick them up and heal like you’ve never seen healing before.

Life is an interwoven and intricate plan. I know that this may not be the path you would have chosen for your child, dad or mom, sibling, friend, or loved one, but what I can tell you is that you are about to see God work and heal if you will allow him. Don’t miss the miracle. Lay this weight down, take off this burden that you are carrying, and give it to a man who died to carry it for us. There is healing in his promises. Let him wash you clean. And if you have never been a believer, I promise, you will not regret it. It’s like chasing everything that never made you happy and coming home to a place of the most magnificent feeling you’ve ever felt. Just as freedom and healing are in store for them, it’s waiting for you too. To wake up knowing God is on your side, is enough.

So now it’s time to take care of you. You are deserving and you are worthy, don’t forget that! It’s time to go to bed knowing that God is working for your good (Romans 8:28). Rest peacefully. To wake up in the mornings with a joy that you haven’t felt in a long time. To remember what it feels like to laugh so hard you can’t stop. To be able to go through a day knowing that it’s been taken care of before you ever put your feet on the ground. To forgive yourself for the things that you did and didn’t do that you’ve held yourself to for far too long. To let go of that blame that you’ve let the enemy hold you to. It’s time to learn to enjoy things that you once did again. Find new passions. Grow in his strength. And know that you absolutely, whole heartedly, did not cause it, can’t control it, and can’t change it. God’s got it. It’s time to take care of you. And most importantly, learn to love yourself again. Be gentle to yourself, you are meetings parts of yourself that you have been at war with for far too long. Let the healing hands of God wash over you. Let the miracle begin!

 

Relapse–don’t loose heart

I think it is safe to say that anyone who has struggled with addiction is never immune to thoughts that are tempting and dangerous. It is a strange thing to have made it through the hard part of the recovery process and still struggle with the idea of using; of going back to a lifestyle that is so destructive and detrimental to the lives of the user and the user’s friends and family. I call it strange because after becoming sober; and after truly confronting your past; and going through the painful process of reconciling with that past; the devastation caused is so clear yet, we feel that inevitable pull from the darkness.  So, why does such a horrible lifestyle continue to haunt us after we have been sober for a time?  How can we effectively and successfully battle these urges?

First let’s address the stigma of a “relapse”. The world and it’s “performance model of success” wants us to believe that we have failed and therefore we must go back to the start. But if we believe with our hearts that we have already been forgiven and we are indeed living in a “purifying process” (sanctification) of life in Christ, then we don’t have to be haunted by these things. Two verses that really stand out concerning this are: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal”. And, 1 Peter 4:12, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you”. 

I believe another answer for anyone dealing with this type of struggle is the simple fact that we are indeed creatures of routine.  There is a great book by Charles Duhigg called, The Power of Habit, in which he describes the physiological processes of our brains after a habit is formed.  In short, our brain activity drastically decreases upon the formation of a habit.  For example, when we back out of the drive way, it is so ingrained in our unconscious, so routine that our brain doesn’t have to work very hard to complete the task.  This very same thing happens in drug use and relapse- it is ingrained in us.  We have to form new habits in order to replace the old ones.

How can we effectively and successfully battle these urges?  It is almost a cliché to say, “fill the void”, but that is indeed what must be done.  One of the most important things I have learned in my journey to be free from addiction is that my using was, simply put, a form of idol worship.  I believe every single person fills their respective void with something.  I believe this is unique to the human condition.  In my own life, the only way that I can be free from that haunting pull of returning to my demons in drug use, is to fill my thoughts and actions with the words of God and a desire to know him more intimately.  Ecclesiastics 3:11 says, “God has put eternity (or curiosity/ignorance) into our hearts and no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end“.  We are a contemplative and inquisitive people that throughout our history have searched for meaning in the spiritual.  It is our formed opinions and beliefs about the spiritual that shape our thoughts, actions, and desires.  This quest or desire for something bigger than ourselves is at the very center of our existence.  Once you start to consider that God is real, then the pursuit of anything other than a life seeking Him seems so insignificant.

In my own life, I had to succumb to the idea that there is a God.  Then I had to decide what that looked like, or rather, which God was real to me?  I love the Christian faith for so many reasons.  One reason is that the stories are verifiable.  Our New Testament (along with the Old Testament) tells the story of a transformation of religious customs and traditions by the death and resurrection of Jesus, bringing salvation to any who would believe and pursue Him. The story fulfills years of prophecy which can be traced throughout writings from hundreds and thousands of years previous.  After his death and resurrection the New Testament tells the story of how this truth spread across the known world and the persecution that came to those spreading it.  What is so amazing to me about this is how verifiable the story is.  Different people giving an account of the same thing.  I use to think, how is Christianity any different from a modern day cult?  One simple, yet powerful, argument is that the men and women that were the first ones through the door of modern Christianity were continuously imprisoned, beaten, and murdered in horrendous ways.  Why would so many people so passionately pursue something that wasn’t real when they knew that it meant a life lived in poverty and quite probably, torture and painful death?

All of this is important, but the main reason I choose to believe in Jesus Christ is because of what he stood for.  Two of my favorite verses in the Bible are from Luke 15:1-2,  “Now the tax collectors and sinners were all gathering around to hear Jesus, but the Pharisees and teachers of the law muttered, “this man welcomes sinners and eats with them“.  Tax collectors in the time of Jesus have no comparison by today’s standards.  In that time, the land was under Roman rule by way of the Roman army.  Roman soldiers were beyond cruel.  Imagine a foreign army invades, rapes and murders your family, and then they hire your neighbor to collect taxes from you to be given back to the very army that raped and murdered your family.  This was the role of the tax collector in the time of Jesus, and yet he spoke with them, ate with them, loved them, and offered them salvation.  This is the what I choose to fill my void with; the pursuit of righteousness by way of Jesus Christ.  Once set upon that path, temptations do not disappear, but they do diminish drastically.

It’s Time for an Intervention–Be Prepared – Part 2

In “It’s Time for an Intervention” pt 1, we discussed how to prepare for a formal intervention. An intervention is an intentional time to sit down with someone we love and express love and concern. For many, their intervention is a precious memory of something hard, but also something that put them on the path to change. There are so many things that go into having a healthy intervention day. If you missed it, check out pt1 here, and learn how to best prepare yourselves for the journey.

Ok, so now you are prepared! You have 3-8 people who love your loved one. You have learned all you can about their addiction, and about how to help without enabling. You have prayed and shared and made plans of action. Everyone has agreed to the ground rules. It’s time to do this thing!

 

Come up with a creative way to get your loved one to the intervention. Very few hurting people will show up if they know what is going on. Plan a family dinner, game night, party, or other engaging event. Have someone designated to pick up your loved one or to make sure that they come. Have a planned start time, plan out where each person will sit, and have every single detail worked out before your loved one arrives. Place people of high influence closest to your loved one. One of our friends shared that having his daughter right beside him during his intervention made a huge impact!

When your loved one starts to realize what’s going on, they may start to think “Oh great. Here it comes.” However, the idea is to shower them with love and to show them Jesus through your words and actions. The greatest thing they need to take away is that you care deeply about them and so does God. Nothing else you say or do will matter if they don’t first hear your love and the Lord’s love.

Have the designated facilitator open up and share why you all are there. Everything communicated should be said with respect. Avoid any temptation to talk down to your loved one. It’s very important that we help them maintain their dignity through this process. They are already telling themselves all the worst things, and believing all of it too. Your goal should be to see them as Christ sees them, and then to treat them that way.

Go around the circle one at a time and read each letter. No one should interrupt anyone else, and no one should speak unless it’s their turn to read the letter. This is harder than it sounds! As emotions rise, the temptation to jump in, defend yourself or your loved one, or to react to manipulation will be strong. You want to do your best to keep everything calm in a situation that could easily become a jumble of emotions and reactions.

At this point, introduce the options for getting help, and be prepared to address any excuses that your loved one gives. This is scary for them! Their addiction is their comfort zone, and leaving it behind is terrifying. Let them know who their support team is. A support team is the group planning to come by and check on them, clean out unhealthy items, be with them, and pray with them through this process.

Have the facilitator review the consequences laid out in the letters. Make it clear what life will look like if your loved chooses to get help and what it will look like if they choose not to. Everyone will need to be prepared to follow through on their consequences. Having your own healthy boundaries is the most loving thing you can do to encourage your loved one to get the help they need. By trying to love and care for them in the past, you may have been enabling their behavior for years. Change can be just as scary for us as for them! Have the facilitator collect the letters and save them for your loved one. They can be a great reminder down the road for your loved one as they pursue recovery! If your loved one chooses the path to healing, it’s time to put your plans into action to get them the help they need.

Some things to remember after the intervention:

•   Don’t forget to pray. Every day, over and over. Nothing that we can do for our loved one is more powerful than prayer!

•   The intervention team should keep meeting so that the loved one can’t manipulate anyone. It also helps keep everyone in the group accountable.

•   Continue to educate yourselves after the intervention, and to seek help and support for yourself!

•   Do not give your loved one money. If you have to, go and buy or pay for the specific need yourself. However, its better to never give financially to someone in any type of an addiction.

•   When you are enabling a love one it causes stress an anxiety in your own life. Codependency often means that your life and well-being depends on that person’s life and well-being. Don’t ignore that! Get help for yourself too! Attend meetings, join online support groups like Refuge for Families, and/or start seeing a Christian counselor or phycologist that specializes in codependency.

•   Most importantly – Their identity, and yours, is that we are children of God, made in His image and with a purpose. He/She/You are not your addictions or hang-ups or pasts or hurts. Getting out of denial and accepting the problem is important, but we cant stay in the “I’m an addict/alcoholic/codependent/etc” mentality. We have to see who God calls us to be in order to move forward and to heal.

 

If you or someone you love is in need of recovery,
please reach out and let us walk with you.
We are here to help you through this process!

I want to be Sober for the Holidays

I have been struggling to write this piece for a while now.  I wanted to write about how to deal with the Holidays as a someone who is newly sober and while writing that, I realize that I am still VERY new to being sober and that this holiday season, even though It will be my second sober one, is going to be my first “Out of the Bubble” of being in rehab.  Don’t take this as me being afraid to face the Holidays, I’m just simply stating that I have not had to deal with this season as my new sober self and am confident that I will be able to get through this without any slip ups.  I am simply going to take the holidays, just as I have been through out my sobriety.  One day at a time.

The holidays have always been a struggle for me as I fell deeper into my addiction.  A time that was supposed to be full of love, cheer, and thanks had turned more into a time of depression, shame, and the sense of being a burden to anyone and everyone that I was around.  When you are addicted, you lose grasp of what is really important. Not even my family or friends could get in between me and my pursuit for getting my fix.  My focus as an addict was more towards knowing if there was going to be alcohol at the party I was going to, how long church was going to be so that I can make sure I drink enough to get me through the service, find out what time the liquor stores were closing/opening, etc.  Everything was about my chase for the drink.  My family, friends and loved ones were always an afterthought.  It was all about my needs and wants; I was selfish.

As an addict, one thing that shames me (I’m sure if you currently are, or have been struggling with addiction can relate) is that I was never able to get anyone gifts for the holidays.  The fact that I would spend the money on a bottle of vodka instead of getting my Niece or Nephew a toy for the holidays is still something that bothers me to this day.  The sad thing is, the shame of showing up drunk, not getting gifts for anyone, being a burden to hosts, never seemed to outweigh the need for the alcohol.  Alcohol never judged me.  It was my safe place for a long time; somewhere I could go to hide and numb my fears and anxieties.

One of the worst fears for an addict is being judged, especially at large gatherings, weddings, holidays, etc.  I always scoffed at the one person to show up at gatherings that people secretly were praying would not be able to make it.  I became that person that I looked down on my whole life and I knew it, I just didn’t care.  Denial is an addict’s favorite weapon, and as with most weapons, it eventually runs out of ammo.  That’s when the denial turns into realization and shame.

When I went to treatment last year, it was right at the start of the Holiday season.  I finally hit rock bottom and actually wanted to try to get help.  A lot of people think “Wow that is so terrible that a family will drop off their loved one at a facility during the holiday”, kind of as if they were taking the easy way out and handing off their problem to someone else.  This is exactly what I was thinking when I came to S2L Recovery.  The thought that “Wow, my family doesn’t want me home for the holidays, that’s so selfish of them” was embedded in my mind.  This couldn’t be farther from the truth.  Being in Rehab for the holidays was actually the best thing that could have happened to me at the time.  At S2L, I was in a safe place, surrounded with people who understood me for the first time in a long time (if not ever), and at the same time, my family was able to celebrate the holidays without having to worry about me.  They did not have to worry about getting a call at 2AM Christmas Eve saying their son is in jail, dead, or has been in an accident.  It was a weight lifted off of everyone’s shoulders.

Now being home for the holidays, and no longer in treatment, I can honestly say that I am very excited about the Holidays coming up.  I have a new appreciation for the holiday season and what it is about.  This is the first year that I am actually anticipating the holidays instead of dreading them.  Being able to face this season with my newly found Christian faith, I have much more appreciation for what the holidays are all about.  I am not only celebrating sobriety this season, I’m celebrating Life, God, Forgiveness and second chances.

If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction please seek help.  Even though it may feel like it at times; remember that you are NOT alone.  We’re all Gods creation; we all have a purpose and are all here to love each other.

“God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8

 

Feel free to reach out to me via e-mail

Robert Jasinski

Robert.jasinski86@gmail.com

God Bless and Happy Holidays!

Home from REHAB, No More Bubble!

I have been home for almost three days now.  While I was a student at Spring 2 Life one of the things I heard most from staff and alumni was how difficult it is to stay diligent once you leave “the bubble”.  Already I have found this to be true.  Inside the Lost and Found Recovery in Christ curriculum there are seven simple principles taught at Spring 2 Life. Inside of this are 4 pillars: pray, read your Bible, fellowship with good people, and serve others.  I should say these are simple in principle and harder in application.  Not because we do not want to stay in these four disciplines, but because distractions come at you exponentially upon departure from a rehabilitation program.

If you ask students who have been through a program repeatedly what they were lacking when they went out into the real world the answer is almost unanimously, lack of diligence (not lack of desire).  So, I ask myself, how do I maintain my discipline in these areas?  How do I avoid or sift through the distractions and prioritize things?  Before coming to Spring 2 Life I would often ignore details in my life.  However, when we brush the small things off that require our attention, often the more important things in our lives begin to crumble.  Indeed, the big things are often held together by the smaller things.  Not just metaphorically, but literally.  It is the cement between the bricks that hold a house together.  You can’t have a piece of fabric without string.  Why shouldn’t this apply to the tasks in our everyday lives?

If I am aware of what I need to do on a daily basis in order to continue on in a life with Christ and without drugs and/or alcohol, but I do not implement those things (prayer, read, fellowship, service) even though I have a desire to, then I need to take a look at my priorities.  I need to tend to the details of my life.  To do lists are helpful, but only if you do the things on the list.  Personally, I need more than a to do list.  In my own life, it becomes more and more apparent how many bad habits I had and still have apart from drugs and alcohol.  I never made my bed.  I would wake up and scroll through social media and news headlines.  Even my hygiene suffered!

Tending to the small things in my life now starts with making the bed when I wake up.  As the director of Spring 2 Life says often, “If you make your bed when you get up, you have already accomplished something for the day”.  It is a small detail, but it is a small detail that can set the tone and pace for your entire day.  Now instead of laying in bed all morning I am up, with a made bed, and I have the motivation to pray to God and to read his Word.  Believe me, if making your bed can set the tone for your day, talking with the Lord can transform your day.

If you’re struggling to do the big things in your everyday life, then pay attention to the details that you have prioritized.

We want each of you to stay diligent until the very end, so that your hope may be fully assured
-Hebrews 6:11

It’s time for intervention–now what? Part 1

What to do when it’s time for the dreaded “i” word.

   Intervention. One simple word, but it can evoke such a huge range of emotions. Fear, anxiety, hurt, pain, and bitterness can all keep us from taking this step. “What will they do? What will they say? What should I say? What if I screw it up? What if they hate me?” This mental narrative can prevent us from taking action. Each recovery story is unique, but for many, an intervention is exactly what got them to the place where they were ready for change.

  You may be thinking, “Great! An intervention! Thats what we need to do!” But also, “How in the world would I even get started?” I had those same questionsI So I recently had the privilege of sitting down with Kevin Parker, a recovered addict and former ministry leader of Celebrate Recovery at Rock Point Church in Crawfordsville, IN. His own journey of recovery started when his wife, children, and a few good friends staged an intervention that ended up saving his life and all he held dear. Since being in recovery, Kevin has been able to walk through the healing process with many others, and he has been kind enough to pass on some wisdom to us. When I asked him if I could share this information with you all, he quickly agreed and said that “all the credit belongs to God!”

  So, you may be asking “What is an intervention exactly?” A formal intervention is when a small group of people prepare a time to sit down with the addicted loved one in order to: express concern and care, share love and hurt, and to set up expectations, boundaries, and also consequences if the loved one chooses not to get help. Choosing who to join you is key! A group of 3-8 people is the most ideal, and each person should love and care about the addict. Avoid inviting anyone who is angry or bitter. They may use this as a time of retribution, and this should be a time of deep love and care.

  Once your group is formed, set up a time, or times, to meet together prior to the intervention. Take time to get to know each other. Share with each other the experiences you’ve had with your loved one and get on the same page! Know what stories your loved one is telling and who has been helping him out. This will be the best safe-guard against manipulation and will help everyone to have the full picture and stay accountable. Don’t forget to pray together! This journey will not be easy, but it will absolutely be worth it.

  Encourage each person to learn as much as they can about their loved one’s addiction, about enabling behaviors, and about codependency. The more you each learn, the better the group can help support your loved one in a real and healthy way! If you have set up good boundaries, but Grandma keeps giving the addicted loved one money, nobody wins. Plus, many of us have discovered our own hurts and hang-ups as we have searched for answers. Loving an addict well can seem completely counterintuitive to our feelings. We need to take responsibility for our part in the process.

   The next step is to do research. Find a rehabilitation center that has a good reputation, map out group meetings close by, and find the name of a Christian counselor or phycologist who specializes in addiction and recovery. Have a plan in place to make it easy for your loved one to take action and get help! Brainstorm all the excuses the your loved one will use; will they need time off work, to rearrange their schedule, help with their kids, or a ride to meetings or appointments? Make a plan of action and choose who can help with each area of excuse. Be as prepared as possible for whatever your loved one may try to use to say no.

  Now choose people to be their support team! Who can help clean out the loved one’s house or space and get rid of unhealthy items (drugs, alcohol, paraphernalia, etc)? Who can visit with them? Take time to pray with them and be with them? Make a schedule and be ready to share your plan with your loved one. Also, choose an intervention leader or facilitator. For many addicts, chaos rules their life. They thrive on manipulation, high emotions, and trying to be in control. Having one point person to run the time with will keep things orderly and calm. Agree ahead of time to only have the facilitator speak to the loved one outside of the letter reading time. This will NOT be easy! This may mean ignoring pleas, insults, and tears. Remember, the goal is to keep everything as orderly and calm as possible. We don’t want to let our feelings be in control of the intervention.

  The last preparation step will be each person writing a 1-2 page letter to your loved one. This letter should include: ways that your loved one has been a blessing in your life, ways they have hurt you because of their addiction, and the consequences if they choose not to get help. Maybe their son decides that Dad can’t come to his games anymore, or Mom decides that her son can’t have any more help with his bills. Maybe his wife tells him that he will have to move out, or his friends tell him that he can’t come over any longer. Consider holding another pre-intervention get-together where you can share your letters with each other. Practice reading them out loud and get comfortable with what you will be saying. Writing and sharing the letter is hard, and can be very emotional. Take your time, pray for the right words, and remember that the goal is love and restoration!

  Now that you and your group are ready, the next step will be to hold the intervention itself. We will dive into the ins and outs of intervention day in pt 2! In the mean time, continue to pray and seek the Lord, and He will direct you in this process (Proverbs 3:6). Reach out and let us know how we can help! We would love to pray with you and help you along this journey.