One of the best articles ever written on our story of addiction and recovery

Belmont Article

This is one of the best articles even written on John and his/our story. It was written by a Belmont University student about how addiction found an active role in our marriage. It’s a great summary of the toll addiction had on our marriage and family. Here’s to taking life one day at a time

A Long Road to Sobriety

 

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Baby Steps to BIG Dreams

Yesterday I had a very encouraging talk with a dear friend. We talked about all sorts of stuff especially our life dreams and goals. We both admitted that our dreams intimidate us. We share the fear of “How in the world are we going to achieve these goals?!?”
Here is what we came up with to achieve our goals in our short 4 HOUR (sarcasm) discussion:
1. Encourage one another

2. Take baby steps

3. Live one day at a time

4. Trust God

5. Follow your heart

6. Believe in yourself

7. Do NOT give up

8. We have ONE life (on earth), live it up!

9. Step out of your comfort zone

10. And…keep dreaming
I HOPE to do more and more with my art. It’s easy to get discouraged on this journey but I remind myself that I don’t need overnight success. Slow progress is better than no progress, right?!?
Today, I took another baby step in my ‘artist’ journey and set up a booth full of my paintings at a local store. I have to say that I am really proud of myself.
“I dream my paintings and I paint my dreams.” -Vincent Van Gogh

Rock Bottom Gave Me a Solid Foundation

Addiction is a family disease. One person uses but the whole family suffers. This statement holds true for our family. I may not be the addict, but addiction has messed with my thought process. I know I didn’t cause the addiction, I can’t control it, and I can’t cure it. However, addiction has often times left me feeling like a worthless failure of a mom and wife because my family was deteriorating in front of my eyes.
My heart was broken back in November when active addiction sneaked back into our home. I knew it wasn’t a choice to crumble as I had three kids who needed me to be strong. Hitting my rock bottom gave me a solid foundation to start rebuilding my life. I was determined to direct my energy to an area in which I believe I am gifted in, art. Art is very therapeutic and something I thoroughly enjoy. No longer was I going to allow addiction to hold me prisoner of JOY. I was set free with my big dreams.


So here I am two days away from launching my ‘Sarah Turnbaugh Mabry’ paintings at a local craft show. These paintings were all inspired from the HOPE, FAITH, and DREAMS I leaned on during a low season in my life.
“On Christ the rock solid rock I stand, all other ground is sinking sand.”

Living One Day’s ‘Act’ At A Time

Last night when I was laying in bed I found myself anxious about our upcoming wedding anniversary. So many thoughts and questions crossed my mind:


“Should we even celebrate this year of marriage?”

“What a year it’s been!”

“Do I really even want to acknowledge our anniversary?”

“Of course we are celebrating! We made it through another year.”

“What if I write about our anniversary and then an addiction bomb drops on our family again? I would be so embarrassed!”I shared my thoughts with John and he calmly responded with, “Practice what you preach. One day at a time.” There is so much truth in that statement. I try really hard to take life one day at a time and to not worry about tomorrow…BUT sometimes it’s just hard and I need reminders! It’s easy for me to let the fear of the future take over my thoughts rather than embracing the present. I constantly have to remind myself that today’s curtain closes when I lay my head on the pillow. Thinking of each day of my life as an act in a play helps me live one day at a time. Sometimes I have to sit and mentally imagine that this day,s ‘act’ will be ending soon. 24 hrs is a lot less overwhelming and worrisome than picturing the rest of my life story.


Not one of us is guaranteed tomorrow, so I am going to choose to live it up today, seek joy, and laugh until the curtain closes tonight.

Today Is Going To Be A Good Day!

I make the choice every morning to see the positives and seek joy. Before my feet hit the floor I tell myself, “Today is going to be a GOOD day!”

I haven’t always taken this approach in the past. It’s easy to have a negative attitude and be consumed with self pity, anger, resentment, bitterness, and fear. Let me just tell you, it makes for a much more painful life process!

The other day I talked to John (my husband) for the first time since he left to seek help. Communication is very limited and I never know when I can expect a call. When we do talk we have to keep the conversations to a minimum because other patients are waiting to use the phone. My phone started ringing as I was wrapping up the kids dinner one evening. I didn’t recognize the number but I answered it in case it was an employee from the treatment facility calling to give me information. I assumed it wasn’t John because I was told he would not have access to a phone for the first week of his stay.So while loading the dish washer, I answered the phone. Much to my surprise was John’s voice on the other end. My heart wasn’t prepared to hear his voice yet as I thought he would be calling the next night. I was caught off guard. The conversation was awkward. It was sad and it was painful to hear my kids talk to their daddy over the phone. After about five minutes, we hung up the phone and I sneaked into my daughter’s nursery and cried. I wanted to be angry. I wanted to be mad. I wanted to be bitter. It’s a slippery slope to the “why me??” self pity mindset and in that quiet moment I reminded myself that I made the choice to seek joy regardless of the circumstances.

I am choosing to trust that God will take these broken pieces and make something beautiful. Our worlds not falling apart, its falling into place. In a way, I am very excited to see what God has hiding behind the curtain for the rest of my life!

Now I challenge you to go out and have a GOOD day!!

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Mom and dad compete in homemade American Ninja Warrior course

Today, for the first time ever, I am pulling all the skeletons out of the closet and disclosing the greatest secret ever told about the Mabry family.  It’s a secret John and I have guarded so closely that our three kids don’t even know about it. Our kids are actually the ones that inspired us to create our undercover activity.  Before I reveal the shocking details that you don’t want to miss, let me give you a little background explaining how it all came to be.IMG_3376

One seemingly mundane day, I sat on our green micro suede couch with one of our three-legged dogs hovering over my shoulder.  I was busy getting caught up on the most current events on my Facebook news feed (a.k.a. my social world in this stage of life). I glanced up from my phone with that glazed-over zombie stare to the realization that a bomb had gone off in my house and I had no recollection of how and when it happened.  As my mind started to refocus on the real world from the Facebook fog and Instagram illusions, I noticed my boys busily playing next to me.  They were flailing around and giggling with that most innocent of child laughter.  Baby Sawyer was on the ground playing with a drawer full of toys while making her all too frequent high-pitched squeaky whine, similar to a teapot squealing when the water hits the boiling point.  The boys repeatedly asked if they could use my phone to serve as a stop watch to time themselves on the ninja obstacle course they had been building while I was lost in online land.  Didn’t they understand that my phone was my escape from reality?  Did they really think I was going to give it up so that I could actually be present with them in my own home?  After so much nagging, I gave in as they confiscated my phone.

Without my phone, I was forced to actually look at my sons (and daughter) and observe what they were doing.  What I saw was pure, FREE, child-inspired creativity and joy.  Not the kind of excitement that comes from getting a new LIKE on a post or a re-pin on Pinterest, but unadulterated innocence.  What I originally perceived as a bomb going off in my house was actually an elaborate American Ninja Warrior obstacle course using couch cushions and other props that circulated through the whole house.  I sat back on the one cushion left on the couch and watched as the boys’ deliciously sticky fingers smeared dried syrup all over my walls and furniture as they conquered their DIY spider wall obstacle.

My siblings: Mark, Katie & Melissa

My siblings: Mark, Katie & Melissa

I can remember how fun it was to let my imagination take me places out of my reality with my siblings.  Now, as I sat on my couch moping about not being able to stare at my phone and at how the kids had destroyed my house, it occurred to me that it is happening…I was becoming one of those people…I think they are called grown ups!  “Oh, no!” I thought.  I’ve lost my imagination and joy.  I’ve somehow turned into a grown up!”

This scary observation really made me think!  Do I really want to miss out on the fun going on all around me as I sit behind my iPhone worrying about what my home looks like and what everyone thinks of me?  The answer is a resounding NO!

That’s when it occurred to me that sometimes kids are my role models.  Kids are pure hearted people who have not been effected by the negativity of the world.  Kids accept who God created them to be and are not worried what others may think of them.  Adults should look up to children and allow their inner child to come out more often!  I decided that day that I was going to make it a goal to break down walls I had built around my inner child.  It’s been awhile since my own childhood and I was a little rusty on knowing where to begin.  I decided the easiest way to start would be to copy what my children modeled for me.

So without further ado, here’s our dirty little secret…

John and I are actually ninjas!

John Sarah Mabry Bio

Here’s how it usually all goes down in our house…

As soon as the boys are off at school and Sawyer is down for her nap, John and I take our skeletons, I mean ninja clothes, out of the closet and throw our grown-up mindset out the window.  We quickly change into our gear, get stretched out, and pump ourselves up for a fierce battle of speed, endurance, and mental focus.  Before challenging each other in a timed race through the finish line of our very own obstacle course, we pump up the jam of Ninja tunes.  Making a drum roll sound with our tongues, we proceed to introduce one another as though we were contestants on the popular show, America Ninja Warriors: Mom & Dad Edition.  Our inner child behaviors are in full force and not to be reckoned with during this time.

The anticipation skyrockets as I approach the starting point.  I take a few minutes to center myself before I begin the overwhelmingly difficult course.  It’s supposedly the hardest course in Ninja history, you know.  Ready…set…go!

The first stage started with the dreaded Quintuple Pillow Poppers, where we had to leap from pillow to pillow over the couch, followed by the Jumping Sticky Syrup Spider Wall.  The syrup on the wall is, of course, from our kids eating pancakes with their hands in the living room.  Next our agility and grace was tested as we had to contort our bodies to make it around the Teetering Log Towers.

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The second stage of the course consisted of the Mighty Mt. Midoriyama Unstable Balance Bridge of couch cushions and the Rapid Descent Somersault over the caked-with-gooey-globs-of-grossness coffee table.

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The third and final stage was the most grueling stage of all.  We had to dig down deep to crawl under the Highchair of Hell, swing through the Kitchen Counter Cliff Hanger, and finish by shimmying up the second and final Spider Climb before breaking through to the finish line.

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And the champion is…..Me, Sarah!  I finished the course in a record time of 58 seconds.  Wow!  Doing this was so freeing by allowing my unguarded inner child to come out and play.  Some might think this activity,and my other blogs and videos, are extremely immature.  However, I have to disagree and here’s why.

Just two short days ago I was in tears over the fact that I didn’t know if what I’m trying to do here at MabryLiving.com – putting my true self out there in an effort to inspire and entertain others through my unorthodox approach to life – is what I’m supposed to be doing with my life.  I was seriously struggling with the fact that putting silly stuff like this goes against everything the world demands of us grown ups.  It isn’t normal.  It isn’t what someone in the 30’s with a college degree should be doing with their time, right?  Well, I finally came to terms with this simple fact…I can’t care if you think I’m immature or wasting my time.  I’m following my heart right now.  It’s the greatest gift I can myself and I’m learning it from my kids.

Look, I know from personal experience that life can be really rough and it can be easy to plow through it being overly cautious and too uptight.  I understand that there are seasons where we all have to be, and should be, grown ups and tackle events with the utmost seriousness and respect they deserve.  Yet, there are also a lot of times where it is okay to let your guard down and see how magical life truly is when viewed with a child-like perspective.  The way I see it is that I have one earthly life to live, so I plan on living it to the fullest, allowing myself to feel my true, unguarded feelings without reservations as to what other people think or say about me.

I’d like to leave you with one final thought…go, right now, and pull that stick out of your bottom and do something to release your inner child, even if it’s just for a minute.  Sing a U2 song completely out of tune at the top of your lungs, dance a gig like a leprechaun who just found a pot of gold, or go ahead and take my idea and build a ninja obstacle course.  Your inner child needs to come out and will thank you for it.

Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw said it perfectly,

“People do not cease to play because they grow old: They grow old because they cease to play.” 

Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss out on my upcoming quirky St. Patrick’s Day post.

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Elvis didn’t survive this, but my marriage has

Hey everyone!  Thanks for stopping back by my online home.

As you may have read in a few of my recent posts, I have been lucky enough to have been given true gifts of love by my husband of 10 years and our three kids.  The first was winning an unforgettable mommy makeover from Extreme Makeover: Mabry Edition.  The second was being treated like a Princess for a Day when my son asked to take me on a date to the mall where I had to dress up like Elsa from Frozen and he dressed up like Superman.  Both were super special to me so I thought it would only be right to pay it forward and let my husband, John, be THE KING for Valentine’s Day this year.  I can’t wait to reveal the details and photos of our oddest celebration yet, which involves John dressed as Elvis, Costco and 4 lbs of king crab legs.  But before I do, let me explain how my marriage has barely survived and how I’ve come to truly LOVE this holiday.

To me, Valentine’s Day is one of the most important holidays for several simple reasons that most people, maybe even yourself, never fully grasp in their lifetime. But see, I look at life totally different from most; almost backwards in a way.  The way I see it is that LOVE is probably the most highly demanded commodity on the planet.  And the nifty thing I’ve discovered is that it’s absolutely FREE!  It doesn’t cost anything to give your spouse or loved ones a compliment, a hug, or simply to look them in the eye when you’re together instead of your TV or smartphone.

So why is Valentine’s Day so special to me? By every “normal” person’s standard – or the world’s standard for that matter – I should not still be married.  I’m embarrassed to admit this, but there were several years I thought John and I might not ever celebrate Valentine’s Day together again because of our rock and roll marriage.  After stumbling down several rocky paths, we both hit our rock bottoms.  Luckily, God’s gracious hand kept the door from shutting completely.  We have both fought hard to overcome these obstacles so it is an honor that we can celebrate our love for one another once again on February 14, 2015. That is why today I am so adamant about giving this day the respect it deserves.

Blue Suede ShoesLike Elvis, John has struggled for over a decade with alcohol and prescription drug abuse due to several traumatic events that occurred in his life.  Along with the substance abuse came lies making it hard for me to trust him and left me “All Shook Up.”  Truth be told, there have been plenty of days where I thought, “He Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog,” due to some of the stunts he pulled.  I figured that he would be dancing himself right into the “Jailhouse Rock” in his “Blue Suede Shoes” while I moved out and sobbed my way to the “Heartbreak Hotel.”  I don’t know if you know anyone who has suffered from alcoholism or addiction, but it is a relentless disease. It can fade into the background for a while but sneak back up on you in the blink of an eye. By the grace of God, he never ended up in jail but the ongoing rhythm and blues of addiction was an all too common reoccurring theme in our home.

I still struggle daily with my “Suspicious Mind” and often find myself wondering if the demon-ridden addiction has entered back into our home without me knowing.  After the last few relapses I would let him know that “It’s Now or Never” to get his addiction under control before he was living by himself in a sober living facility.  Unfortunately, it got to that point and we separated…while I was pregnant. Elvis had left the building.  We might not have lived together for several months but we still saw each other and talked several times a day.  As we lay in our separate beds at night and talked on the phone we would both usually ask, “Are You Lonesome Tonight?”  The answer was usually a yes.  Since he moved back home we have both made the choice to pour our “Heart and Soul” into our marriage while focusing on the positive blessings and not the negative curses.

Rear view mirror

Anyways…the point of Mabry Living isn’t to stare at our past in the rear-view mirror of Elvis’ “Pink Cadillac.”  Our primary focus is on the present moment and having a positive outlook on the future.  Although we’ve had our share of marriage mishaps, my cup is over flowing for my Hunk-a-Hunk-a Burnin Love this year as we gratefully celebrate another Valentine’s Day together.  OK, so enough of this sappy stuff. Let’s have some fun and see how this year’s unforgettable V-Day extravaganza unfolded…

The day started out with me giving THE KING his gift.  Although this particular gift wasn’t free I knew it was something extra special that would catch John off-guard.  I mean, what better way to say “I love you” than with a random gift of a wig, for THE KING.  As I suspected, John loved his new gift.

Elvis Wig

In keeping with our annual V-Day tradition of cooking crabs legs and watching a movie at home, John THE KING had to go to Costco to buy crab legs.  He decided it would be a great idea to wear the wig while shopping.  Let’s just say he looked more like a Las Vegas performer than a father of three kids buying fresh seafood for a romantic dinner with me.  Seeing a one-legged Elvis buying crab legs at Costco made me think, “I Can’t Help Falling In Love With You.”  Seriously, how could I possibly resist that!IMG_3167

Even Sawyer couldn’t figure out why her dad was wearing a wig (check out her face).  Honestly, Sawyer, there is absolutely no good reason.  It’s just your dad being dad.

Check out Sawyer. She's wigging out

Have you ever seen the email forwards titled, “People of Walmart?”  Well, we might have just started the Costco Crazies and THE KING will be the first one. I think it will be a hit. Look, people were lining up to take pictures with him.

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Never in my wildest dreams would I have expected Elvis to buy ME Costco flowers for Valentine’s Day with his precious  entourage.  One of his peeps, my sweet Austin, might have been too busy eating a Styrofoam cup to help select the perfect bouquet. Austin may have earned a spot as the second Costco Crazy.

 IMG_3183  Flower from Costco

John cooking is always an event in our home, but THE KING took it to a whole new level.

Elvis Cooking Crabs

I was starving after getting the kids to bed and started feeling crabby. So I told Elvis, “A Little Less Conversation,” so we could finally sit down to eat while watching our movie fireside.  We ended up watching the Academy Award nominated film, Boyhood. Then John noticed something lodged in my teeth. He said, “Hey babe, you’ve got some crab meat “Stuck on You.” Luckily I had a toothpick handy.  I’m so grateful for being able to spend another Valentine’s Day with John.  I don’t think we’ll forget this one anytime soon.

Feeling Crabby

Considering all we’ve been through I believe we have arrived to our own personal Graceland, at least for today.  Marriage isn’t easy. I have gotten furious at GOD often for continuously giving me signs as why I should stay in our marriage when I really wanted to call it quits.  However, I trust that the best is yet to come for the Mabry family if we can continue to put LOVE for God and our marriage above the distractions of the world.  “How Great Thou Art!”

Have you experienced any marriage-threatening events and wonder how you’re ever going to get through it? If so, you’re not alone. Finding support through trusted family members, a counselor, your church or this forum can help you get though it one day at a time. I would love to hear from you in the comments section below if you’re willing to share.

Also, don’t forget to…

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