12/16/2013

Recovery + Three Lessons That Helped Me Understand My Self Worth

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*I try not to talk about anything pertaining to religion on this blog, but the story of my life is a religious one.  

Every once in a while my heart will pound.  If you are a member of the church and have ever experienced a testimony meeting, you may understand this feeling I am speaking of.  It's not pounding because I just worked out or pounding from anxiety or nervousness.  It's pounding because the Spirit is telling me, "Speak up."

To publicly talk about this is a bit scary, more out of human fear of what others will think of me, but I trust in the Lord that there is a reason.   That there must be someone out there who can relate or who will gain a better understanding of whatever it is they need to know.

Over these last few months, I have been blessed beyond measure.  I feel that I am generally blessed with good things like health, family, friends, comfort, and talents.  But this blog has opened a few doors that I never knew would open, and so today I am feeling grateful for that.

These opportunities, among other things, have made me reflect about my life, and it really has made me question, "Why?"  I pose this question to the Lord more than to those close and dear to me, and I am constantly amazed by the Lord's outpouring of love for me.

To understand the lessons I have learned and why I ask "Why??" to myself and to the Lord, you must first understand what happened in my earlier years.  My past is a dark one filled with many dark moments, depression, and thoughts of suicide.  I tear up as I type that because those words remind me of those moments when I felt so lost in the world, so alone, and so worthless.  My mother passed away when I was 15, and that was the turning point in my life.  She was not the true cause of my despair, but it definitely was the push that sent me rolling down a hill.  Soon after her passing, I began to experiment with cigarettes and alcohol.  Then I started to smoke marijuana.  By the time I graduated high school, I was smoking weed weekly, if not daily, and drinking any chance I got.  After leaving my hometown, I started to experiment more with harder drugs like hallucingens and cocaine.  This lead me to mischief and small crime.  My life really started to spiral downhill, and one night when I had hit the lowest point in my life, I found myself curled up sobbing in my bedroom.  I was ready to end it.  I seriously felt like Joseph Smith in Liberty Jail.  I felt there was no hope for me, and I had no hope in the world or in the people around me.  I pleaded fervently, yet silently, for someone to hear me.  For someone to pull me out of this heavy blanket of depression, dishonesty, and drug abuse that I was tucked under.  To this day, I still do not what happened in that moment in the bedroom other than there was an awakening of my soul.  I realized something needed to change, and it needed to change NOW.  By the time I turned 21, I cleaned up.  I started to go to church, and guess what?  Life became good.  Life was still not perfect.  I relapsed a few times, but they were quick, and I found myself getting back on track.  I got rid of my old "friends" and got new ones who shared good morals and values.  It was really difficult to be in a new place and make new friends.  It was tough, but I did it.

In retrospect, I firmly believe the Lord helped me get out of that dark pit I was in.  He was there casting his flashlight on me when I only thought it was the sun.  I know He could see my potential, and He did not want to see me suffer any more.  I cannot express the following enough.  I SHOULD be in jail or in the grave right now.  I am SO serious when I say that, and that is why I am ever so grateful today for the current state I am in and question the Lord, "Why??"

1.  The atonement is real.

I am a walking testimony that the atonement is real.  I have seen the power of it in my own life.  I know this post will shock many (Hi Dad! I love you!) because, if you have ever met me, you would never think in a million years I did those things.  People can be forgiven.  The atonement can CHANGE people.  The atonement is for EVERYONE and EVERYTHING.  It's not limited to race or sex, age or religion, sin or sorrow.  The atonement can be used for all sorts of things.  It is there for any pain or affliction.  It is there for real world problems in life.  It heals any heart broken by sorrow.  It heals, so people can move forward in their lives.  There is hope, peace, and happiness, which can only be found in the Savior and Lord Jesus Christ.  And I am not talking about the superficial, instant gratification kind of peace or happiness, but the kind that calms your soul for a long time.

2.  I am loved.

I know I broke my Heavenly Father's heart, and I contributed to a lot of the blood that the Savior shed that day in Gethsemane.  But I also know that I have been forgiven, and they have an unconditional love for me.  When I look back at certain moments in my life when I chose to do wrong, I know there were heavenly angels watching over me.  I don't say this as to go out, do bad things, and you will be watched over and cared for.   I'm just saying there must be a reason why I am still on this Earth.  Maybe I have completed that mission by bringing Owen into the world.  Who knows, but what I do know is that I am loved.  It is manifested daily in my life.  I caught a glimpse of this love by having my own child.  I will unconditionally love that boy even if he hits or kicks me or says he hates me or is an ungrateful brat.  I will still love him, and I will do everything in my power to keep him.  I know my Heavenly Father loves me the same way.

3.  Heavenly Father wants me to be happy.

I wasn't brought into this world to be unhappy.  Yes, there will be moments of pain and suffering, but that is the process of life.  Just as I want Owen to be happy and to experience all that life has to offer, my Father in heaven wants the same for me.  I witness this in my life when little things, like the doors that have been opened through blogging, happen in my life.  I'm sure He is looking down at me responding to my question, "Because I want you to be happy."

I am eternally grateful for this second chance at life I have been given.  I'm still learning to forgive myself, which is part of the atonement process, and maybe this is my way of helping to let a chunk of it go for good.  Even though this post will be around and my poor decisions will now be publicly known on the internet, this may be my way of shutting that door and throwing the key away.  Yes, I have made some terrible choices, but hopefully, my bad choices can help prevent someone else's.  And this can be applicable to anything in life, not just drugs and alcohol.  ANYONE can change, and everyone has the POWER to change.

I can go ahead and say right now that making poor choices will not get you the grand opportunities your heart desires, so please do not think, "Well Nancy did x,y, and z, and look how great she turned out!"  I have suffered and paid for my consequences, and on occasion, I am reminded of my poor choices.   If you could take a glimpse into my brain, you would understand the mental torment and hell my body has experienced, and it would easily persuade you to never go down the path I did.  There are still some real consequences I suffer from like short bouts of depression (I'm not on any meds.) and short and long term memory loss, but I am healthy and alive!!  I know that one day I will be made whole again, and my brain will be restored back to its natural, healthy state.   It was so easy to belittle myself as soon as my memory reminded me of the mistakes I've made, and sometimes, it still happens.  I'm human.  But once I understood those three things - the atonement, His love, and my happiness - I was able to move on.  Maybe not completely or all at once, but I am able to take bigger steps, no leaps, to forgiving myself and allowing myself to live the grand life I deserve.  I still may question why at times, but I quickly remind myself why.  And in the end, I am always amazed.


Matt and I // 2007 

xx nancy

If you think you know someone who might benefit from this post, please feel free to share this post.




19 comments:

  1. A beautiful story, bravely told. Thank you for sharing.

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  2. Yes, the Lord has blessed you in many ways. And now you are a blessing to many. Thank you for sharing the good news.

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  3. What a story! Thanks for sharing. I have no doubt God will use your honesty as a great encouragement to many.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your truth... it would be so easy to hide those parts of yourself, especially at this time of year, but this is exactly when those who are still sick and suffering may benefit from your bravery in sharing. May God continue to bless you and yours...

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  5. Nancy, I had no idea. You are very brave for sharing. I can say that you truly are a wonderful daughter of God.

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  6. Thank you for sharing a bit of your real self here. This is very inspiring, and reminds me that God really does want me to be happy.

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  7. Nancy, thank you for sharing this--your testimony, built through all of your experiences, is beautiful. Your talents shine all the more brightly because of all you've been through!

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  8. Wonderful post. I get those heart beats too every now and then when I write a blog post I'm sure is too personal. But then I know it's right and I always find out why.

    I come from an extremely dysfunctional family. I think people would be shocked if they knew my family's real story. So I, too, know that the atonement is real. I know that addictions can be overcome and that sometimes you will experience a small pain to remind you why those moments in the past aren't worth repeating. Everyone has those.

    Thank you for being humble enough to share this. It takes a lot of courage to do that. Love you!

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  9. Thank you for sharing this, it is a beautiful post (also love your wedding photo, so cute!). I think it is important to be open and honest about mistakes that we have made because it is so easy to think that other people are perfect. This post is really powerful and I am sure it will reach the people it needs to and give them the hope they are looking for.

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  10. Isn't the Lord and His boundless love and mercy amazing? When I'm down, I remember that if I was the only sinner ever, that Jesus would have died for me alone...how can I stay down when I am loved so much? Blessings!!!

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  11. Nancy.....thank you for sharing your story. It is truly courageous and inspiring! There are always Angels watching over us!

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  12. What a brave post - thanks for sharing with us.

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  13. I think you are so amazing, Nancy. You have such a wonderful testimony. I can relate to this post more than you know; thank you for talking about it. It is a great reminder about what Heavenly Father and our Savior have done for us and how we are never lost to them.

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  14. I agree. This was very brave and I am sure it will help others in ways you will never know. Thanks for sharing this piece of your story with the world Nancy. I am so happy for you that you have experienced God's love and have such a wonderful life and appreciation for life and all that you have. I'm happy to call you a friend and look forward to meeting you in person in a few months!!

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  15. Thanks for sharing your story. Very well written and a beautiful reminder of the power of the Atonement of Christ. I hope to be able to share this story with others that can benefit from it.

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  16. Thank you for sharing. You are very brave and I'm so glad that you were able to persevere. I know trying to overcome an addiction is hard. I'm watching my aunt slowly wither away and it breaks my heart to see her in so much pain. It wreaks havoc on your body while you're doing drugs but then it wreaks even more havoc when you're trying to stop. God bless.

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  17. I was amazed when you talked about this at church. I know you feel you are taking a risk by sharing your story-you never know what people will think. Yeah, you are right, when you said that people might be surprised to find out that you were this person, because there are some who think that if a person is a Mormon, that they are immune from anything that goes against the "Word of Wisdom", because, in our church specifically, we are counseled to follow it constantly, not casually, but people who are in pain, whether it is physical, emotional, mental or any other type, have to have a way to deal with it. Those types of pain are not like the flu, where you know that in a week or so, it will be gone. Anyone can tough it out, if they can see that it will end soon. Even just trying to look at the big picture, knowing that there will be an afterlife, where we will be free from all our sorrows, isn't enough. It is too easy, and understandably so, for others to look down on someone who has addictions, and I know that is one of the reasons you are afraid to share your story, but I'm glad that you have. It's like the story of The Good Samaritan. If the guy had been there not looking so scary, people would have no problem talking to him, but because he did look like that, they avoided him. Your own horrible experience is what shows others that they should have compassion, because pain and sorrow are not always visible on the outside, and you never know what someone might be dealing with in life. Since my husband died 5 months ago from an aneurysm, some people at church have avoided me, which really upset me, but I soon realized that they just didn't know what to say, or how to react. Because David was only 47, and it was so sudden. It's not like someone who is elderly, whose death is sort of expected. Keeping that in mind, I wasn't angry anymore. I have always been afraid to tell people that Amy and I both have severe depression, which is now kept at bay by medication, (Hooray science!!) 16 years ago I spent a week in a mental hospital, getting shock treatments for it. (I don't recommend it!) I felt suicidal, but because of everyone I would leave behind to deal with it, I knew I couldn't act on it. Very few people know that, because it does freak people out, and they don't know how to react. Another patient in the hospital told me, "How can you be depressed? You have a husband and kids, and you are so pretty!" I just laughed to myself, and I came to realize that because you can't see a person's soul, they may look like things are perfect on the outside, but they are barely holding it together on the inside. By telling your story, you can help people see that, and yeah, that is a risk, but it helps you in your continuing recovery, and it helps others to (hopefully) understand that people who use food, drugs, alcohol, etc. aren't necessarily selfish, and doing it for fun. There might be a bigger reason.

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  18. Thank you. I needed this tonight. My self worth is very low and the present and future seem bleak. I do have the LDS Church in my life. I feel like I am at a fork in my road and I know the direction, but it is so hard. Thank you.

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