We won't always feel the thrill of this is the thing I was made to do. When it no longer sparks joy, we will wish we could throw away our calling like the jeans we've been hanging onto for someday. Just because you are called to something doesn't mean it will be easy. In fact, I can say with total confidence that it won't be. If it was, we wouldn't need a power greater than ourselves.
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HEY! I finally finished a book! And to celebrate me actually finishing a book and Dave's 10th anniversary of freedom, we are giving it away FREE to everyone who subscribes this month.
Dave celebrated 10 years of sobriety this month! Not only that, he passed his ordination exams and will be an officially ordained pastor this coming Sunday, December 31.
It’s been a big month! And there’s more to come.
This fall, Guideposts Magazine asked us to be a part of their 2018 series on addiction recovery. We are so grateful for the opportunity we had to talk with them and for this chance to share our story of hope with their readers. Dave’s story is in the January print issue, it’s featured online, and a video is coming in January.
Click on the image below to go to the story and watch the video on Guideposts’ site.
Take a few minutes to read his story and share it. People need to know there is hope for freedom from addiction.
Millions of people started raising a hand online on Sunday to say they’ve been assaulted, abused, harassed, and it’s still going.
Statistically, 91% are women.
I’ve heard another statistic, and I’m not sure I ever fully believed it until today when so many people noted their age at the time of assault.
It’s 1 in 4. Do you know it?
Beyond the “Me Too’s” today there are people who cannot or will not step forward to be counted. Sometimes, as many have pointed out, they live with the abuser or will have to see them at work tomorrow.
Here are some other stats:
- 90% of assaults that occur on college campuses are not reported
- Only 12% of child sexual abuse cases are reported to authorities
Why? Why don’t the majority of survivors report the crime?
In the comments section of any article or post about someone stepping forward years after abuse or assault, you’ll read the same questions over and over and over. Why didn’t you step forward? What took you so long? Why now? These are the “nice” questions. (Really, if you spend 5 minutes perusing the comments sections of these articles you’ll get a good grasp of why. People say absolutely horrible things to and about survivors.)
I think for most women I know who stepped forward later in life there are three major reasons they didn’t do so before: context, confidence, and consequence.
- Context: when your own children reach the age you were when you were abused, you realize exactly how young you were, how innocent, and how absolutely not at fault you were. Up to that point, you probably told yourself — or were told — a lot of lies.
- Confidence: when you reach a point of security or have enough support to step forward with your story you get braver. I know a whole group of women who finally stepped forward in their 40s, 50s, and 60s. It’s a thing.
- Consequence: survivors weigh the personal cost of reporting. Investigations, interviews, new investigators, more interviews, testifying in court, being questioned — graphically, media interviews, public hostility, family hostility, shunning. The idea of devoting years of your life to something you wish you could forget but the wheels of justice are slow requires intensity and courage. Especially if you’re fighting a powerful perpetrator or institution.
Somewhere between 85-90% survivors of sexual assault/abuse knew the attacker*.
It takes serious guts to raise your hand — especially if the perpetrator is well-liked, well-known, and/or well-connected. When a young woman no one’s ever heard of takes on the likes of Mr. Powerful and Charming, his defenders come out in droves, with pitchforks, to verbally assault a woman whose only “offense” is that she finally spoke up. Or she spoke with a tone. Or named people who were complicit. Or made people uncomfortable with her justifiable wrath.
It’s what happens.
Whether it’s Hollywood or a Baptist missionary agency, a massive east coast public university or a private southern California Christian college. Same, same, same.
She kept quiet to protect her career.
Did you read that one? God knows how many people have kept quiet to protect someone else’s. The doctor’s, the pastor’s, the teacher’s, the mission’s, the team’s? God’s? No really. As if God needed anyone to protect Him at her expense.
Why didn’t she speak up often has an easy answer: She did.
And someone told her it wasn’t what she thought it was, she should keep it to herself, she should forgive him, she should get over it, it’s just how it is, it happens to everyone, he’s just like that, boys will be boys, he’s really a good person, he’s done so much for Jesus, he’s so powerful you’ll never win, he didn’t mean anything by it, worse happened to me and I got over it, be thankful it wasn’t worse, what did you do, what were you wearing, you shouldn’t have gone, you’ll ruin his life.
Silence and shame.
Some survivors throw off that shame and just tell it like it is. And some have said their piece and that’s it. And some will go to the grave never having told a soul. But I’ll bet you every single one wants to be in charge of their own voice.
#MeToo is showing the world how common sexual assault, harassment, and abuse are — every generation. Incredible, isn’t it, that people can be bound together by a simple phrase. I hope we treat each other with a little more kindness and compassion because of it.
But I also hope we see the strength in numbers. The power of one really, crazy-strong person who has found her voice and braved the onslaught of nasty words and criticism and threats and loss to make a way for a few more courageous ones to stand beside her and pursue justice in the face of so much resistance and hate. (You know who you are, dear ones.)
And now Harvey Weinstein is finished. And he won’t be the last.
*85% of college women, 90% of children
Photo credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [LC-USF33-020207-M1-9058-C]
I keep getting notifications that I haven’t written here in a while… and I’ve had some messages from you over the last six months… so I should probably write a bit and let you know that all is well with my husband — because my last post here was written when we went to the emergency room last spring.
Facing surgery as a former addict
Turns out Dave’s gall bladder was very unhappy, it took many months for doctors to figure it out, treating him instead for severe acid reflux. When they did figure it out, he had surgery. In addition to removing his gall bladder, the surgeon took a liver biopsy. All tests came back negative, and he has recovered well.
If you are very familiar with prescription drug addiction, you probably wonder how post-surgical pain management went. For anyone who’s been addicted to pain pills, major injuries and surgery are minefields — even after years of continuous sobriety. Some people don’t understand that… maybe they have more self-control than I do.
I have a weakness for dark chocolate with almonds and cherries in it. I can’t just have a tiny bite and walk away knowing a whole bar is waiting in the cupboard… And chocolate’s power is nothing and utterly ridiculous to compare to a real drug.
You do what you have to do to keep from going back there again
We learned some good, hard things through this experience, and I will tell that story soon, but I think it’s important to tell you two things: Dave ended up staying overnight in the hospital (it was supposed to be outpatient surgery) so they could manage his pain and avoid sending him home with a bottle of narcotics — and it worked.
Recovery was slower, at first, without the powerful pain meds everyone else in the nation gets as a matter of course — but that was a good thing in the long run.
Prior to surgery, people told us their experiences of pain pills being too effective and jumping back into life before their bodies were ready for them to do so and doing long-term damage to their bodies (I did it myself after my last c-section almost 15 years ago and I still feel it almost every day.)
Refusing pain meds post surgery may not be a good idea, but you probably don’t need as powerful a drug — or as much as is usually prescribed (ask your doctor)
Pain pills mask your healing body’s need for rest and tend to give you a false sense of ability — which means we often do far too much post-surgery than we should.
We are grateful Dave had the option of using paid sick leave in order to recover properly without the stress and worry about how we’d get by. I know this isn’t possible for a whole lot of — maybe most — people. It wasn’t possible for us before now.
But research shows we’d have less of a pain pill problem [which has in turn fueled the heroin problem] in this country if we allowed people time to heal — if adequate paid sick leave post-surgery was mandatory for employers.
The right healer makes all the difference
Speaking of stress, the whole thing — pain, surgery, post-surgery — was terribly stressful. We’ve seen former addicts fall hard because of one outpatient surgery — even after years of sobriety.
I’m grateful for our surgeon’s vigilance, for all the friends who prayed specifically about pain management, and for the hospital staff who took care of him (though we had to tell our life story a dozen times because so many aren’t educated on the addictive properties of Tramadol, Dave’s former drug of choice & unfortunately our hospital’s go-to for pain). It was rough.
I’ve learned how important it is to find the right people when you’re seeking healing. They are the ones who listen well, treat your concerns seriously, and don’t turn immediately to the easiest, cheapest, most common course of action. This is why decent affordable care and patient rights are critical to curbing the epidemic of drug addiction in our country, but that’s for another post. Lock ’em up, as a strategy, has failed.
It’s hard to find the right people. When I was sick myself a few years back, I went to more than a dozen doctors over a couple of years before getting the right diagnosis.
I knew I’d found the right doctor when the first question out of her mouth was “Has anyone done an ultrasound of ___?” No one had even suggested it, but after the ultrasound, we had the answer.
Dave persisted over and over with one doctor who sent him out to specialists and eventually put the puzzle pieces together for his gall bladder diagnosis.
Be ready to push back
Some of us are prone to settling.
It goes against our nature to push back, ask questions, to insist, or to press for a different way. We’d rather not go at all than try again and again until we find the right fit. Plus, it costs money. We’re forced to choose what is both inexpensive and most expedient.
A wise friend told me recently that it’s important to remember medicine is a practice. But it’s also important to find the right healer.
Last week, The New England Journal of Medicine published an article about a study done on Opioid-Prescribing Patterns of Emergency Physicians and Risk of Long-Term Use.
Get answers, or get a second opinion
Researchers discovered that even within the same hospital, doctors prescribe differently. Some immediately go to pain medication, some don’t. They learned that “the intensity of a physician’s opioid prescribing was positively associated with the probability that a patient would become a long-term opioid user over the subsequent 12 months.”
What this says to me is that it’s more important than ever to be aware of your options for pain management. Find a doctor who wants to find answers for your pain, not just treat your pain with a bottle of pills. You have options.
When a recovering addict tells you repeatedly that what you are offering is his poison, there has to be a way to make sure you don't hand him a death sentence in a tiny paper cup.
There's exponentially more information online now, and experts to chat with at all hours...but I think, more than anything, we just want to know we're not alone: Someone like me has been through what I'm going through and she survived.