Before support groups I was lonely and miserable.
Before I started attending support groups I felt lonely and isolated. I was afraid to talk to anyone about my situation and what I was going through. I had tried a few times with negative results.
When I first started attending support groups I was worried about my differences from others and that others would judge me and my family. But I found that support groups gave me unconditional love and a place where I felt like I finally fit in. We were all going through very different problems and trials but our feelings and negative coping mechanisms were remarkably similar. When I was finally able to share, I was not judged or blamed. I felt relief, love and acceptance.
When I focus on my differences from others, my attention is focused on others. When I work the tools I am learning and attend meetings regularly and read and study the literature, my focus is on me. It is really not my business what others are thinking of me. When I focus on me I don’t care what others are thinking of me and I am happier and healthier.
Support groups have saved my life from chaos and misery! I am learning to use the atonement to heal and recover in support groups. I am finding companionship and friends. I am learning to listen to God and to my heart.
My life is not a soap opera!
I used to tell people that my life was like a soap opera. Bad things just seemed to always happen to me and my family. I did not know what to do about any of it. I always felt like a child, even as an adult and that I had no control over anything. I thought everyone else knew more than I did.
I was a timid and shy child. As I was growing up, I learned to hide. I hid in my room, in books, in being quiet. I learned to appease, please and placate.
I’ve been married multiple times. My marriages have not been easy because of addictions, bad communication skills, depression, etc. We have all suffered and learned many negative coping skills.
Going to support meetings has shown me that I was thinking of myself as a victim and others as perpetrators. This thinking affected how I treated others and how others have treated me. As I have been able to let go of being a victim, I realize I do have control over me and my life and that is really the only thing I do have control over. I feel like an adult for the first time in my adult life and am learning to make decisions and to take care of myself. Now that I am not thinking of myself as a victim, I can see the good in others and in myself and look on the bright side of things. I have given myself permission to be happy and to “take life on life’s terms”.
My healing is never “done”.
I used to think that I would quickly go through the steps in my support group meetings and be done and healed and not need to ever return. But, I find that even though I attend my support meetings regularly, my bad habits of fear and anxiety, isolation and worry, feeling victimized and helpless often return when something “bad” happens.
I used to live with those negative feelings all the time, and when they return with a vengeance they surprise me and remind how miserable life used to be. My support meetings remind me of the atonement and how much the atonement has changed me and my life. Even though the people around me have not changed or chosen to find help and healing, and my circumstances have not changed, I have changed immensely.
I know that I can choose happiness and joy. I know now that I can feel my feelings, go through them and then choose to let them go. I know that I can choose to take care of myself and be kind to myself. I know I can be kind to those around me and let them live their life without trying to control them.
I choose now to attend support meetings, because I need the constant reminders to trust God and trust His plan for me. Without my support group, I quickly return to my old painful ways. But I know better now and I know how to regain my serenity – I attend a support meeting, and choose to give my negative feelings and my loved ones over to the care of my Savior and let Him take care of them and me. I’m learning that using the atonement and healing is never “done”, it is ongoing.
Sometimes I start slipping back into old ways of denial and not living in the present. A lot of pain returns and stays around. I start asking myself negative questions. Why do these things happen to me? Why can’t my loved one give me the love and support I need?
At these times I have found it very helpful to attend more than one support meeting a week. When I do this I am reminded to live in the present instead of living in denial. I am reminded that feelings are good – that I am alive and feelings remind me that I am alive. I remember to feel my feelings even if they hurt and to go through them so that I can let them go. I am reminded that I tend to turn to people for love and support that cannot give me that love and support. As I relax and accept these truths I can stop blaming, let go of the pain and find others who can and will support me. It is unreasonable to expect that one person can give me all that I need. It is OK to seek support from multiple people. I am reminded to reach out and not isolate. I am reminded of the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Making mistakes or slipping back into old ways is normal and human. I need the atonement, reminders and support from those who are going through similar problems to help me. I guess that’s why I’ve been going to support groups for 6 years now and have no plan on stopping! I want to keep the happiness, growth and change I have in my life now.
In dealing with addictions, it is so easy to fall into unhealthy habits and responses. If I learn to take care of myself, including having a support person, coming to support meetings and listening to everyone’s experiences, it helps me to see clearly, to respond in healthy ways, to not become obsessed.
Anger, obsessions, isolation, fear, and anxiety are some of my weaknesses and bad habits. They are tools the adversary uses to pull me down and to keep me down. I need the Savior’s help in overcoming my own weaknesses. As I grow spiritually and learn to respond in healthy ways through my own application of the atonement, my loved ones who suffer from addictions sometimes will seek change in their lives too.
One way I can respond in a healthy way is to “detach with love”. As I learn to take care of myself and to not rescue my loved ones from consequences, I can respond with compassion and more as the savior would. I attended a conference for group leaders in the Addiction Recovery Program and heard at least one experience where a husband sought help after his wife began to be less dependent and sought spiritual strength and growth through the atonement.
Even though my loved ones have not changed, I have noticed a big change in myself since I started attending support groups. I am so thankful for my own growth and for the hope I have in my life now. This growth and hope have come from the atonement and from attending support groups and from each person who shares their experience, faith and hope. Each one teaches me how to practically apply the atonement in my life.