This weekend I am writing from my parents VRBO, where I spent some time with eleven very courageous women. As you know by now, I am in recovery… clean and sober for over 20 years. Periodically we get together to support one another in a unique way. We call these gatherings “Recovery Retreats”.
This is my second time hosting the event and my heart is once again full. These beautiful souls, continue to impress me and fill me with so much hope.
Okay… so back things up. What is a recovery retreat? Why do we gather in this way and what do we do? Why do we travel to a cabin in the woods… sleep on a twin sized bed with earplugs… 😉 or a blow up mattress? (Several of us shared a queen bed with another… too!) Who travels 75 mins to spend three days and two nights with people we barely know? We do. Why? Because this is how we grow.
We began on Friday afternoon, the women started rolling in around dinner time. Some had to work so they came later… but most were here for dinner. We put two leafs in the dining room table, someone set the table with plates, someone else folded napkins and laid out the silverware. We each grabbed a spot at the table and we ate a Mexican chicken casserole… it was delicious.
I arranged a menu ahead and each person had a few items to bring and a dish to pass for lunch on Saturday. (We ate like Queens!)
I regret not taking a picture on Friday night because one woman came for the day to hang, then left at 11:00pm… So sorry sister… On Saturday morning, another person had to leave for work… and another joined us to take her spot.
Here is our gang..
My mom’s dog Teddy, even joined us!
So… what do we do at these gatherings? We get vulnerable, we build each other up and we encourage one another. When was the last time that another woman celebrated you? When was the last time that you cried tears of joy? My cheeks ache today from smiling so much…
One of the little exercises that we did was to sit around the living room, and each of us took a minute to explain what made each person special. How do you tell someone you just met… what you love about them? It wasn’t hard at all. Actually once it got flowing, it was amazing. Totally surreal. People wept. Each and every one of us needed to hear and to say, these things.
I attended a women’s retreat with about 65 women a few weeks ago, we did something equally as powerful- called Angel Whisperer… two lines formed about two-three feet apart. One person was blind folded and then passed off with a loving affirmation down the line… we took her hand, we whispered kindness and love to her… then handed her hand to the next person. She went back and forth and as she walked (Still blindfolded…) she learned how to trust, how to allow… and to accept.
Brene’ Brown talks about being in the arena, she talks about how vulnerability makes us powerful, sets us free. She also says that unless you’re in the arena getting your ass kicked… your opinion doesn’t matter to her. I agree. If you aren’t growing, learning and pushing through those stereotypes… what the hell is the point in getting clean? What is the point in working a spiritual program if we remain the same?
I don’t have to work a spiritual program today… I get too. 💥
Why do we get vulnerable?
Isn’t it hard to bare it all? Isn’t it hard to share our deepest insecurities or secrets? Isn’t it the worst feeling in the world to know that someone may be judging us? How do we grow in this?
Yes. It is hard to bare ourselves. Yes, it’s hard to let someone in and to “really see us”. Yes, my mind tells me that I am going to die… literally die… if you really see what’s under all the fluff and the make-up. The way that we grow… is simply to survive it. Once we do this… once we face this fear and this made up scenario in our minds… it no longer has power over us.
And here is the really cool thing… who gives a damn if someone is judging us?? Really?? I have learned in my almost 54 years… (B’day next week!!) that other people and their opinions do not define me. Read that again. Other people and their opinions of me… do not define me.
Our song for the weekend was Lauren Daigle, You Say! If you haven’t listened to it… do yourself a favor and listen to the words. So powerful. Just like the women who attended this weekend. As a matter of fact, it’s playing right now. Everyone vacated… just me and my moms dog and one of the girls who forgot her wallet… I am sitting at the table soaking in all the feels… and the song comes on. “I believe….”
Something else happened too… Something that only a Divine power greater than any of us… could orchestrate. One of the women, was getting messages about a friend who was still “out there”… (Meaning still using, not clean.) This morning she got the devastating news that her friend was gone. She died last night. I am so very sorry for our friend and her loss… but am so thankful that she was with us- when she got the news. We were able to hold her, cry with her… allow her to feel and to process it all in a safe place. Thank You Jesus… If you believe in such a power… please, send some good thoughts to our sister and to her family.
The other powerful thing that happens when we get together… is that we heal. How do we heal? By allowing others to hear our story.
By allowing the lie to die.
By showing up and being present.
Not many people had their phones out all weekend. It was a wonderful thing…. A wonderful thing indeed.
We made connections. We listened. We saw each other’s pain. We showed grace and we heard our own stories, coming out of someone else… The lie dies when we show up and allow others a safe place to speak their truth.
We are not alone.
I say this often… but never enough. Find your Tribe. Hold them… love them. Your life may depend on it some day.
Until next time Peeps,
Peace and Love.