“Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery” – Workshop Transcript

note: You may discuss this workshop in the Message Boards HERE

Obie-Host Welcome to the “Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery” Workshop
Please join me in welcoming Chaplain Michael Clark who will be leading the workshop. He is involved with Shadows of the Cross Ministries as well as Prison and Recovery Ministry. Chaplain Clark is a noted Speaker and Writer, Addiction Counselor/Professional as well as a Recovery Support Specialist. He will speak for several minutes after which we will open the floor for questions and comments from you for Chaplain Clark.

Let us open in prayer this evening.

Heavenly Father,
We ask Your blessings upon Chaplain Clark as he leads this workshop today.
Anoint him as he speaks to us….
Open our hearts and our minds to Your truths. Help us to apply them to our
daily lives. In the name of Jesus we all pray. Amen.

MichaelC Amen,….Thank You for inviting me this evening. I thought I would start out with a little bit about myself and then provide a few remarks on restoration, then open it up for discussion.

I had everything a person would want: great job, great friends, two kids, nice house, then because of medical conditions I was forced to go on disability. That was the beginning I think for me.

Both my step father and father own very successful businesses and I was taught a strong worth ethic. Unfortunately it was one that based my worth on my job, and on the accomplishments there, so as that was gone, I feel into a depressive state and started looking for other avenues.

I ended up hanging out with old friends…friends from high school days and we did what teenagers did…. smoke pot.
The only thing is these friends were had moved on and were now smoking crack and I hung around a year. I knew the dangers, but figured their live was going well, or so I thought.

As the Friday nights turned into weekends then weeks, I soon realized they weren’t keeping, jobs, had no outside friends — that life for them was not what I had thought. But by that time I was in too deep. My active addiction lasted for around 5 years, 1,000 dollars a day…lost everything… wife divorced me, to protect my children. Looking back I am thankful she had the courage to do the things I was not capable of doing.

We are remarried now, but it took five years and several attempts and trying to rebuild. We basically had to start over. She was not the women I had married. She had changed, do to choices she had to make… and choices my addiction placed upon her. She was more independent now. The failed attempts at restoration, were simply from trying to act as if my addiction never happened and trying to force the restoration process along faster than she was willing to move.

I would grow agitated and frustrated, and even though I was no longer using, I resorted to the same manipulation tactics.

A friend told me let her go, let her do what she needs to do, and you do what you need to do.

My response, was “I don’t want to lose her”….

My friends response was ” You already have. Let her work through her issues and let God work on her heart. As long as your doing what you need to be doing, You will be in position, if she opens up to Gods prompting on her heart. The worst thing that can happen at this point, you remain where you are, with her already being out of your life. What do you have to lose by waiting on God?”

Waiting is the hardest part…..My we need to be constant in our recovery and keep doing what we need to do, not matter the outlook of restoration may seem.

My friend reminded me over and over…..”This was never supposed to be about you getting your wife back, but about you getting your life back…..then maybe God can work restoration. But without you getting your life back there is no hope in getting her back.”

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again; from the depths of the earth you will again bring me up. You will increase my honor and comfort me once again. Psalm 71:20-21

Today we remarried but still have issues. Sometimes she says I’m the same person. I tell her I’m not the same person, but still do make the same mistakes — but in Christ. While others may see me as that same man, He never does. In Him, He sees me as perfected in the likeness of his Son. His opinion is what matters most.

The need for restoration implies something has been lost or taken away. The joy of your salvation is gone. It is in need of restoration. Your passion for God has become apathetic. It is in need of restoration. Your marriage has grown stale. It is in need of restoration. Relationships that were once relied upon are now gone or diminished. They are in need of restoration.

Your career path is at a dead end. It needs restoration. Your life in general seems to be in a downward spiral. It desperately needs restoring. The need is there and now is the time to begin the restoration process.

Now that you are clean shouldn’t all these things simply return to the way they were before the addiction?

Not necessarily, you may be forgiven, but restoration, if possible, will most likely take time. We need to understand that most people have a right to feel the way they feel, because of the things that we did.

Restore means to bring back into existence. Restoration is a beautiful process to watch. The old passes away and new becomes front and center. It is a metamorphosis, a changing of the guard. Objects are restored all the time, but few people take the time to restore their lives.

Restoration can happen, but it takes time. What took you years to “behave yourself into” will probably not experience a full restoration overnight. You need to stay committed to the process and stay engaged with God, because He is the father of restoration. This is His expertise, and His completed work is breathtaking. the restoring work that God can do with a submitted life is truly amazing.

Sometimes the worst thing we can do, is place our hands into the mix, and try to help God out. We usually end up trying to move people faster and further than God has moved their heart, and in the process, both parties become frustrated and grow more agitated. Restoration may happen, but let it be in Gods timing, not a timing you try to force.

Do not let your shame keep you from asking for forgiveness. Restoration begins by asking for forgiveness. This is foundational. Restoration is predicated on honesty. You have to be honest with God, yourself and others about your blind spots, bad habits and wrong perspectives. Honesty is the best attitude for restoration

Both parties have to understand where you are and what needs to happen to move them forward. Restoration implies that it will not be pain free and it will cost you something. But it will be more than worth the effort. It may take gallons of stripper to clean away the mess in your life, but be patient. The beauty below is what God has intended for you all along.
If you allow God to do His thorough work (which He does so well), there is a good chance you will receive more honor and comfort than you have ever experienced.

A restored life is a broken life pieced back together by the grace of God. Your pride is weaker than before. Your faith is stronger than before. Your gratitude is much more abundant than before. Your expectations are based on God’s character, not your selfish whims. This is the beauty of a divinely restored life

You are more appealing than the original. No longer is your faith tentative. By faith, you now allow Christ to unleash Himself through your everyday living. People are in awe of God because of His beauty in your life. You are almost unrecognizable compared to the old you. In Christ all things have become new. God has restored you for His purposes.

Again, my wife and myself will continue to have issues, that is what marriage is about, there will be trust issues for a long time to come. I have to understand that and do what I can to elevate the ones that I can. That means if I’m late, I need to call. If I can’t be somewhere, I need to call. But who does the five minute phone call help, if it prevents a five day argument? ME — by simply being mindful.

Life is good today, but not without its struggles. I didn’t stop living life because I got clean. Now that I’m clean, it means I’m living my life more fully. That means experiencing all the emotions, all the struggles, all the bad along with the good. But its alot better then numbing the bad at the expense of the good. The good overall outweighs the bad. But I avoided both when using.

I can’t expect what took years to diminish be restored in one night. Sometimes that is the worst thing. Everybody thinks everything is forgiven, and while that may be true, issues will exist that need to be addressed and worked through.

My wife use to remind me of my past a lot Until I mentioned to her, I didn’t need reminding — I lived every minute of it, remembered it all, and will have to live with those memories the rest of my life. I reminded myself enough. I didn’t need her help. That was one issue that had to be resolved — whether she was willing to truly let the past remain in the past… not just in word, but in actions. She had her issues to deal with, and in sense, had to recover as I was recovering — just from a different source of pain and behaviors.

We so often think, “I’m in recovery now…things are fine.” But if you are like me, how many times had they heard that before?

The truth is, a times, we may be more in recovered in our lives than they are in theirs — the life we thrust upon them — but no less issues that the now have to work through.

I will now open up the floor know for discussion if anyone has any questions or comments…

Obie-Host Thank you Michael

Oswin Michael….one of the things that was hard for me was waiting — having the patience to trust in God for restoration once I started recovery. I wanted to get recovered…. NOW!!! I was on a roll. How did you learn to slow down and trust in God for the restoration?

MichaelC I had to realize recovery was a lifelong process and I had the rest of my life. I will be recovering and growing throughout the rest of it.I also realized that waiting was nothing really compared to the years I threw away. If I can wait for the hope of something better in my relationships, and in my life, it definitely would be better than what I already knew to exist in the past. Like I mentioned, I too had several attempts at rebuilding relationships due to rushing. But I realized I had nothing to gain by rushing. I lost her over and over again by trying to push her in areas she wasn’t prepared to go. So it got to the point, where I placed my pride on hold, quit demanding, and waited.

The rebuilding, and working through the issues, actually brought us more intimate in our relationship. She understood more of why I made the choices I did….what parts I could explain. Much of the time I don’t know why I made the choices and I truly began to understand the hurt and the damage I caused. Today we are closer because of waiting: Hope that helps.

Oswin yes, it does. thanks.

Obie-Host Who else has a question or comments for MichaelC?
The topic is Rebuilding Relationships in Recovery

mickey I think the hardest thing for me is rebuilding the relationship with myself. After many years in recovery I am still trying to do this and, like Oswin, its a daily practice of patience — which for an alcoholic patience is not easy.

MichaelC The best advice I got was my friend as mentioned above…..”You don’t get recovery, you participate in it.” You didn’t enter recovery for anyone else but yourself. We have to discover this new “us” and who we want to be, and become. You are so right mickey, rebuilding a relationship with God then ourselves is paramount to rebuilding or even building a relationship with others. We have to be comfortable with who we are, before we try to bring others in the process. That is where the danger lies, in recovery — we have isolated so long, now we are in recovery we want someone around.

That is one reason they say not to get involved in a relationship, a close relationship, for at least a year. Make sure your recovery is being grounded and you are getting to know your own self. If you don’t know you, how can you expect someone else to get to know you….the true you? If you move into a relationship before you even know who you are…..you maybe selling a sell of goods to someone. That may not be a true picture of who you are. In doing so there will undoubtedly be issues that arise when the real you shows up one day….good or bad.

As you grow , your likes and dislikes, your practices and your habits will change. You may give more time to recovery… or less time…..any change….if abrupt can cause a problem in a relationship. Most relapses occur with people in a recovery group, getting into a relationship too soon, with others or with each other.

Obie-Host Who else has a question or comments for MichaelC?

Teddybear From my experience with relationships after addiction, there is one thing that controls the whole issue… TRUST. Once that is destroyed, the relationship is over.

MichaelC Trust is one of the major issues. But trust can be rebuilt, albeit, its easier to maintain trust than to rebuild it Forgiveness coming in words, comes easy. But it doesn’t mean forgetting. I can forgive a rattlesnake for being what it is but it would be foolish for me to forget what it is and pick one up. I have to understand that when making amends, that just because I am forgiven doesn’t mean they necessarily start trusting me. I can’t grow angry at that.

If I was a liar in my addiction, them forgiving me, doesn’t automatically make me trustworthy. Even in our lifes we have to make decisions based on the facts as they are today. If the facts change, our decision can change.

But to say anyone, is beyond hope, or is a lost cause devalues what God has done in my own life. It wasn’t that long ago people were saying the same about me. My experiences in the recovery centers where I speak and in a lot of recovery groups is that those with a little or lot of recovery are quick to make judgments on the new person — forgetting we once stood where they now stand.

Trust can be rebuilt but it takes time and effort. And the truth is not everybody will trust you again. I realize that but that is not my responsibility. I can do what only I can do and leave the outcome to God. I do all I can do…then let God do what only He can do.

Obie-Host Thank you Michael….
Any final questions or comments?

bj. I read a quote once that you gave about not being a paper plate but being precious china. How did you make that transition?

MichaelC I think you are may be referring a comment a made once about us considering ourselves like paper plates — easily discard-able, rather than fine china, something precious.I think when I started realizing I was precious in Gods sight, and to him I was like fine china, and in being so what I reflected, should be a reflection of him. Ultimately it doesn’t matter what others think of me, I know what he thinks of me. I just look to the cross for proof of his love. That was one of the reasons a lot of people in recovery are there — trying to please everyone.

I live for an audience of one today. As long as I am OK with myself today, and know He is….I am OK with that.

Obie-Host Any other questions or comments? observations?

Obie-Host Let us close in prayer…..
Michael would you like to say the closing prayer?

MichaelC Dear heavenly father,
Thank you for this group,
Thank you for the efforts here to show your love and grace.
to other in recovery, Thank you for being who you are,
Thank you for grace you display to each of us,
The you for our host tonight, that dedicated a lot of time, in his dedication to you and to those in recovery,..
Be with each of us, help us grow in patience, in humility , mostly help us grow in you….
As we grow in you, we will grow stronger in our recover and in our relationship….
Help us to be reminded of your grace shown to to us God, when a new person arrives….
and to show him that same grace….
none of us are so bad that we are beyond your grace, and none of us are so good that we are in not need of your grace….
be with the members of this group God
provide them strength, courage and patience in the days ahead,,,,,
be with them and guide them by your loving hand….
thank you for our time together, and as we go out from this group tonight…..
help us to be reminded you go with us…amen

Obie-Host Amen

BAPearl amen

mickey amen

Teddybear amen

Oswin amen

bj. amen

BAPearl ty Michael

mickey ty Michael

Obie-Host Thank you so much for your time and sharing your expertise Michael….
you are a tremendous blessing to us all.

BAPearl yes

Oswin Thank you Michael

mickey i gotta run but it was great seeing everyone

MichaelC as all of you are to me…..i would not be hear if for not others sharing with me

Obie-Host Thank you Michael for leading this wonderful workshop this evening. You were very inspirational and enlightening. We hope that you can lead another workshop with us again in the near future.