And the Band Plays on – Addiction Complacency / Grace-full Recovery

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“The sale of pills is at an all time high,
young folks walkin’ ’round with their heads in the sky,
Cities aflame in the summer time,
and the beat goes on.
Eve of destruction, tax deduction,
City inspectors, bill collectors,
Evolution, revolution, gun control, the sound of soul,
Shootin’ rockets to the moon, kids growin’ up too soon.
Politicians say more taxes will solve ev’rything, and the band played on.
Round and round and around we go, where the world’s headed nobody knows.
Ball of confusion,
That’s what the world is today.
Hey hey.” –
The Temptations, “Ball of Confusion”
By: Jana Greene
I just came across a post on my Facebook news feed by a friend who just lost someone she loved to the ravages of addiction. He OD’ed on heroin.
It started like so many, many posts I come across – RIP. Rest in peace.
I’m so tired of people resting in peace before their lives are lived to completion.
I never knew this friend of my friend’s.  I’ve  never heard his name prior to this event – but my spirit knows his spirit, and I pray his is at peace.
It’s easy to become numb to the loss of life from addiction. We are in the midst of opiate saturation and fatal / ‘functioning’ alcoholism, because the human condition is so confoundedly painful. It just really is.
Behind every story of death via substance abuse, there is a son or daughter. A mother, a father. A friend. A person of great and precious worth.
How does society deal with loss on such a grand scale?
Too often, by accepting the undercurrent of judgement as truth, and denying that addiction is a freaking brain disease.
Another day, another RIP memorial page on Facebook.
One more overdose victim. I guess he had it coming.
One more person who drank herself to death. She asked for it.
Nobody says it out loud, but the sense of exasperation is tangible.
Hey world-at-large – IT’S A DISEASE.
Meanwhile, the rest of us cannot afford to rest.
I’m glad that there are programs that allow participants the luxury of anonymity (and I certainly respect the anonymity of others) but I’m not sure how long we can afford to hide our faces. The faces of addiction, but more importantly – the faces of RECOVERY.
Because not all of us will RIP before our time, but surely stigma enables keeping the disease alive and kicking.
Every overdose should shock the shit out our systems. It should worry us when we start thinking of a lost life ‘just another.’ It should break our hearts.
Karl Marx is quoted as saying ‘religion is the opiate of the masses,’ and I think there is truth in that. But religion as we know it often carries the same numbing properties as any other opiate. Relationship with the living God is what the masses are really craving.
We are all just really jonesing for relationship.
If you can’t justify being compassionate because you believe addiction is solely a moral peril, I challenge you to consider it an act of compassion from one fellow human being in confounding pain to another.
One spirit to another.
The gentleman who died of a heroin overdose, he brought to mind tonight the parable of the lost sheep in the biblical book of Luke.

“…By this time a lot of men and women of doubtful reputation were hanging around Jesus, listening intently. The Pharisees and religion scholars were not pleased, not at all pleased. They growled, “He takes in sinners and eats meals with them, treating them like old friends.” Their grumbling triggered this story.

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.”

Jesus gets it. He didn’t go after that one sheep to feed it opiates. He went after it because He couldn’t bear missing out on relationship with one who had so much worth.

It’s my honor to show my face and be non-anonymous. I am an alcoholic who did not die of my disease, but who still asks God for help in my recovery journey every single day.

I pray we as a society ‘get it’ too.

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Self Care in the New Year

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This week, I would love to explore the oft-overlooked issue of Self-Care, and what it really means to care for yourself in the tenderest way. I welcome all comments, as I’d love to start a conversation about how God figures in  your journey. Taking care of yourself isn’t just for those in recovery – I think all of us struggle with it at times. Women especially – the mothers and grandmothers and caretakers – are often expected to put their needs last. It may not be an audible and clear message, but the societal expectations buoy it up all the same. When we don’t self-care, we have nothing to pour out. God bless you in this new year!

 

By: Jana Greene

Have you ever just gotten lazy about something? Like really taking care of yourself – Mind, body and soul?

This time of year, we are all thinking about priorities. That’s all New Year’s resolutions are, right? Putting priority on one healthier endeavor and maybe letting other, less healthy habits slip down a notch or two.

For me, going to 12 Step meetings is my re-boot.

When I say I don’t have time to go, I’m suggesting to myself that I’m not worth making the time.

When I say I’m too sick or tired to go, I am opting out of an experience that may not heal my body, but will certainly be a salve to my soul.

When I want to hide away under my duvet cover and eat a box of Thin Mints instead of going to a meeting, well …. that should be a big, red flag.

I was raised with the notion that you don’t want to think too highly of yourself, and I get that. I understand why that is a slippery slope – God is God and I am not. I’m not talking about being self-righteous or pious. Any righteousness I might have certainly doesn’t stem from my own actions, but by the willingness to surrender my will to God’s. That’s not what I’m talking about at all.

I’m talking about how easy it is find your own heart and mind and spirit on the bottom rung of the priority ladder. You may not even notice the slippage happening. You may have been too busy caring for everyone else to see it. You may have stacked up box after box of codependency to reach your top priorities. Without a basis of loving self-care, it will topple and take you with it.

I’m terrible at self-care, true self-care. I’m really good at showing myself love by giving into it’s appetites. Isn’t that what care is about? If I want a cookie, I want the box. If I want to treat myself to something on Amazon, 10 things end up in my basket. Stay up late to watch “Call the Midwife” on Netflix? ALL NIGHT LONG.

Somewhere my psyche learned to equate moderation with deprivation.

If one is good, twelve is better. Except for that’s hardly ever true.

“Self-Care” that makes you feel awful afterward is not self-care. This may seem rudimentary, but this morning as I write this post, it’s kind of an epiphany to me.

I’ve gotten lazy with self-care, cheapening it. Worse, when someone I love needs help or care, I’ve got only a dry well to draw from.

This January 3rd, I will celebrate 16 years of consecutive sobriety. For my Recovery’s Sweet Sixteen, I’m going back to the basics. Because that’s where I find God most of the time. Like most teenagers, my recovery often likes to think it knows everything. But oh how wrong that mindset is!

I still have SO much to learn!

So, as we enter a New Year, I’m going to try to take better care of myself and re-arrange the rungs on the priority ladder. If you’ve forgotten how to truly self-care, join me on the intentional journey to care for yourself. Take time to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write out some self-care statements. Here are mine:

I will seek out one-on-one time with my Heavenly Father. That doesn’t mean carving out an Instagram-worthy devotional time, but authentic conversation with God. (Authentic conversation means listening, too. I forget that.)

I will not apologize for showing myself the same level of kindness as I would a friend, or even a stranger.

I will not call myself names, deriding myself for being ‘so stupid,’ for example. Even when just kept in the confines of own mind, putting myself down takes a toll.

I will make the time and effort to make at least one Celebrate Recovery per week. I will ask God to help me out of the rut of making excuses to avoid going. At the meetings, I will LISTEN and learn, and love on my tribe.

I will make a sincere effort to consider that moderation and deprivation are not the same thing. I need Holy Help on this one, because it is ingrained very deeply. Honestly, it stems from a place of fear, of being without. And that isn’t what faith in the Lord looks like. It’s what trusting in only this world looks like.

I will get up and walk at least once every day. Jesus, walk with me and talk with me as I strive to make the changes my physical health so badly needs implemented.

I will listen to my body, and try to heed what it’s telling me. I have limitations that I’ve been fighting against for years. Maybe it’s time for acceptance.

I will maintain boundaries to protect my sobriety.

I will become more intuitive about what I REALLY need, and feed myself that which cares for it best. The Word of God. Spending time with friends. Investing in my marriage. Bringing my anxiety straight to Jesus instead of rolling around in it first.

I will give myself permission to enjoy life. And I will rely on God to help me do that. All evidence points to doom in the worldly estimation, but all truth says that He has already got this. He’s GOT it, already.

I will make the cup of tea the right way, not the microwave way.

Take the bubble bath.

Enjoy the funny cat memes.

Sometimes self-care is so simple.

Father God, praise to you for my sobriety, and for my tribe of recovery warriors. Thank you for friends and readers, and family. In this new year, reveal yourself to us in our ordinary days and through extraordinary circumstances. We need to feel your presence. Help us to actually BELIEVE that we are worth the care, the way YOU say we are worth caring for.

Amen.

Goodnight, Sweet Prince

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By: Jana Greene

Today I have a great sadness.

I am sad because the autopsy results are in – : Prince died from opiate overdose. I just lost my musical main man, David Bowie, earlier this year. Prince was my second music love; his lyrics wove the words of my final growing-up years with fine purple thread.

My friends and I saw Purple Rain in theaters half a dozen times. We sang along with “Party like its 1999” and marveled at how OLD we would be when it really was 1999. I played “KISS” on my boom box, rewinding it until the tape in the cassette broke. My friends and I ALL  loved Prince’s voice and drowsy sexiness and ridiculous androgyny, and we all wished we were Apollonia or Sheila E., or Vanity. He also fostered in me a love for Corvettes – little red and otherwise.

In the weeks since his untimely death,  I had been under a tiny umbrella of denial, even in a monsoon of Purple Rain. It’s not drugs, I convinced myself. Please no. No. No. No.

But it was drugs, and we need to talk about it.

Lets talk about the fact that around 40 Americans die each and every day from prescription opioid overdoses.

Let’s consider that the increased prescribing of opioids — which has quadrupled (QUADRUPLED!) since 1999 — is fueling an epidemic that is blurring the lines between prescription opioids and illicit opioids.* (Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin, heroin…it’s all the same to your body and mind. It all anesthetizes the Spirit.)

Lets talk about how hard life can be to get through – even when you are rich and famous, or talented and much-loved. Addiction is an equal opportunity destroyer.

I don’t know why Prince was an addict. Maybe he fed the monster to keep the music going, or to make the hurting stop. I can only guess.

Whatever the reason, I wish he’d discovered that freedom didn’t have to cost him his life. People can and DO recover. (If you are waiting for a sign to get help with a drug or alcohol problem, here it is – your Sign of the Times. Today is your day!)

We, Dearly Beloveds, need each other to get through this thing called life. We, the ones in recovery and our advocates – are that grassroots effort.

Prince (or the Artist Formerly Known as) didn’t die in vain if his overdose opens an honest conversation on addiction and closes the doors of stigma and apathy. How many Great Sadnesses do we need before we pay attention?

It was drugs, and we need to talk about it.

 

Dear Prince Rogers Nelson,

I hope your tender heart is satiated.

I hope you are in Heaven serenading angels with “Purple Rain.”

I hope your doves have finally found peace.

Thanks for the memories ❤

 

And God bless us, every one.

 

“Sign of the times, mess with your mind.

Hurry, before it’s too late….. – Prince”

 

*CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden, in an interview with People Magazine

 

 

Recovery Coach Challenge Accepted!

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Proof positive that I am indeed ‘certifiable.’ And very, very excited about being a Recovery Coach!

By: Jana Greene

Hello, Readers.

Things have been a little slow here at the Bakery, but they’ve been moving along at quite a clip behind the scenes. For one week this month, I traveled a couple of hours away to attend a 30-hour course at Recovery Coach Academy. Last week, I was under the weather, but I can’t wait to start blogging again to share some of the things I learned at the academy.

Like, there are many more pathways to recovery than I ever knew existed.

And we are all much more alike than we are different. This is especially true in the world of recovery.

I also took away the profound truth that being in recovery is a sheer gift. And I needed that reminder.

So, apologies for neglecting my little space in the blogoshpere, but I’ve been absorbing tons and will share those musings with you in due time.

Also **SHAMELESS PLUG** The new In Recovery Magazine Summer issues should be hiting stands at Barnes and Noble, Books-a-Million nation-wide. (You may also purchase at http://www.InRecoveryMagazine.com.) Yours truly contributed a piece titled “Plan B” in the issue. I love, love, love the work of that publication!

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God bless us, every one ❤

 

 

 

Grace – Apply liberally and immedietly (and preferably before calling yourself a dumbass)

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Whenever you consider excellent candidates for a liberal and immediate application of grace in your life,  imagine yourself here – the divine hand of God pointing straight at YOU. Now go forth and LOVE on that person to whom God is pointing. She deserves it!    (photo taken on a truly divine trip to Wimberley, TX – God’s Country proper.)

By: Jana Greene

Greetings from the State Capital! I am reporting from Raleigh today to share a story with you that is a little difficult to share and really quite embarrassing. But I feel transparency is important, so here it goes:

Several months ago, I made a decision to start a brand new career at 47 years of age. I didn’t think it would be too hard because I’ve kind of been doing aspects of this job for many years. It’s my passion and I badly want to succeed at it.

When I grow up, I want to be a Peer Support Specialist in the recovery field.

Yes, it’s a thing. But it’s a pretty new-ish thing. I did my research and signed up for the certification class. I tried to dot my ‘i’s, and cross my ‘t’s’. I wanted to make sure it was right. I arrived today (the first of five days) early and with sharpened pencils. I would have brought the instructor an apple, but I didn’t want to appear over-eager.

So imagine my surprise when, in the middle of the first day of training (yes, it took me half of a day), it dawned on me that I was sitting in THE WRONG CLASS. I had traveled half the state away and booked a hotel and spent gas money on a program to become a Recovery Coach – a noble aspiration, but not exactly what I thought I signed up for.

When the realization hit, I felt my face burn. And the barrage of self-shame was immediate.

You DUMBASS, me called me-self. How could you get this SO WRONG?  Very quickly, things got dark in my head. This is why you are having a career crisis in mid-life. Get your SHIT TOGETHER, loser. You’re old, you’re not qualified.  You can’t do anything right. You just really can’t. You never have and you never will. Well, that escalated quickly!

But then I did something crazy and deliberate. I caught myself and decided to treat myself the same way I’m always imploring others to treat themselves – grace-fully.

I’m here for a reason. I’ve already met incredible people who I can tell will become friends. I cannot spend a few hundred dollars and five days to launch a new career. It will take longer and be more difficult. But so what? God’s got a PLAN, MAN. Go with the flow already.

It wasn’t automatic, I had to deliberately derail the sneaky spiral of negative thoughts. THIS IS A BREAKTHROUGH.

As it turns out, I will need these credit hours to become certified anyway. I’m just doing things in reverse – not because I’m a dumbass who cannot do anything right, but because I’m a willing participant in whatever gig Abba has got going behind the scenes. It doesn’t have to look like my preconceived notions (and it’s usually better it doesn’t.) My very kind instructor and awesome classmates (some of which made the very same mistake) all rallied around and noshed on the process.

“Is it a big deal I didn’t take ‘x’ class before ‘y’ class?” I asked.

“Oh, you couldn’t have signed up for ‘x’ class anyway before now,” the instructor informed us. “The state suspended the training. They’ve only just now re-instated it.”

Ah.

Shortly after this episode, I private-messaged one of my best girlfriends. She is this fabulous, wild, creative, loving tour de force for the Father, and a safe place for me to fall on more than one occasion. She had very recently schooled me on taking every thought captive.

Me: I screwed up, but I’m not going to stay there because I’m here for whatever reason and have learned tons and met incredible people already…Here for a reason!

My sweet friend: I am so proud of that much progress in giving yourself GRACE! !! (God) allows us to make this sort of mistake so we learn to apply grace liberally and immediately!

Yes! of COURSE! Instructions for grace: Apply liberally and immediately. I LOVE that.

Be tender and gentle with yourself.

Don’t call yourself any name that you wouldn’t call a hurting friend to her face.

I’m allowed to make mistakes, and so are you.

I’m starting a brand new career at 47 years of age, and that’s kind of a brave thing to do. It’s my passion, and I will (God willing) succeed at it. It may take longer and be more difficult, but all things work for the good of those who love the Lord and are called according to His purposes.

Your thing? It’s brave, too. Do the thing. So what if it doesn’t go off without a hitch. You’re DOING it!

Do something crazy and deliberate. Be passionate.

And when you mess up? Apply grace liberally, and with the same zeal you grant it to others.

You’re worthy of that grace.

Yes, you are.

 

 

15 Years Free – A Look Back at Me

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The “AFTER” Me, imperfect but FREE

By: Jana Greene

I never smiled with teeth showing before I got sober.

When you are trying to shrink back into yourself, your smile can’t be genuine.

For a while, every photo album I had seemed to have this ONE photograph of me from the year 2000. It was taken at work, and as my job was in an elementary school, it was quite literally an awkward school picture for the directory.

On the cusp of my 32nd birthday, hair bleached blond, face bloated, eyes downcast, and a slight close-lipped smile for the camera. The whites of my eyes were slightly yellowed. I was afraid of my own shadow; afraid of myself.

It was taken two weeks before I got sober and stayed sober.

For years, every time I’d come across a copy of that one picture, I’d throw it out. It brought up such primal feelings of disgust. Now,  I wish I could find it to share with you.

The image is burned into my brain. I’m not disgusted by that young woman anymore. I just feel sad for her. I know she is me, but she is also kind of a stranger.

I want to reach back in time and hold my active-in-addiction self. Tell her she will be okay.

“You wouldn’t say ‘boo’ to a goose right now,” I’d say.”But one day you will be wild and free. And smile with TEETH showing, even.”

I would tell her that she will not drink herself to death. That she doesn’t need alcohol to function. That the drug is LYING to her.

I want to tell her that its LIBERTY to be free of protecting secrets.

I want to let her know that she will feel like she is dying when she divorces the drink, but she won’t die.

I would implore her to go ahead and FEEL all of those feelings instead of numbing them. They have a right to be felt.

I would tell her that major boundaries are going to have to be built, but that she will survive the fortifications.

I would tell her she will one day be okay with being fully HERSELF – crazy and silly and ridiculous. And that the people who really love her stick around are not repulsed by the real self, but drawn to it.

I would tell her that her daughters will not be ashamed of her. That she isn’t a terrible mother, just a sick one. That one day those children would be proud of her sobriety.

I would tell her that life doesn’t get easier, but she gets more able to deal with life on life’s terms. For real.

I would tell her that she would experience a happy marriage – something recovery would make directly possible. That there is so much to GAIN from living a life free of addiction.

I would tell her to cut herself a freaking break, already. (And that she would be working on this one for quite some time…and that’s perfectly okay.)

I would tell her that God is more than capable of getting her through a recovery life. So capable, in fact, that she one day will not SHUT UP about Him and His infinite goodness and GRACE, and that grace will become the platform of her entire life. A good life, made possible by active recovery.

I would tell her she will smile with teeth, genuine-like.

And I would tell her she is loved. That I love her.

I forgive her.

I cannot find a single copy of the ‘before’ picture, but I can show you the ‘after.’

I can assure you that all of the things I would tell my old self are also true for you, that recovery is there for the taking. That God’s grace is available in the the same measure to you, no matter where you are on your journey or what you are recovering from.

God bless us, every one.

 

No Glory for Demons

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Scott Weiland, commons.wikipedia.org

By: Jana Greene

Another creative genius, another casualty to drugs. On this occasion, Scott Weiland – front man for Stone Temple Pilots – breathed his last on December 3rd. Sadly, his family had already been in mourning for years.

As usual, there is almost a tone of glorification in the reverberations of his passing. He was a creative giant, so the natural progression of his ‘going down in a blaze of glory’ is sort of a sick, societal expectation.

Sex, drugs and Rock n’ Roll, right?
Right?

Not at the expense of living.

Not if death is the consequence. The price is too high.

According to his ex-wife Mary Forsberg Weiland, the musician claimed atheism as his belief system (or lack thereof) but I counter with the assertion that he served the little “g” god of addiction, perhaps without knowing it.

What a greedy god addiction is! It promises glorification of self while taking a razor to self, and making you too numb to notice it’s happening.
But it’s happening every day. We are losing music and art all the time.

Addiction can be a religion all its own. There is ritual sacrifice involved. But death does NOT have to be the natural progression of an addicted life.

Or as Mary says, “Let’s choose to make this the first time we don’t glorify this tragedy with talk of rock and roll and the demons that, by the way, don’t have to come with it.”

I’m not a Stone Temple Pilot fan per se, but I’m posting today just to encourage you to read Mary’s letter, which was published in Rolling Stone and has been widely shared. In it, she implores us all not to glorify his death, but instead to recognize addiction for what it really is – a void-maker.

Don’t celebrate the demons. They only ever bring loss and death to the cultural landscape and to the families who grieve.

“…But at some point, someone needs to step up and point out that yes, this will happen again – because as a society we almost encourage it. We read awful show reviews, watch videos of artists falling down, unable to recall their lyrics streaming on a teleprompter just a few feet away. And then we click ‘add to cart’ because what actually belongs in a hospital is now considered art.”