NOTE: To hear this story LIVE, come heal with us at the 2023 S.A. Lifeline Conference! This will be part of the “Personal Stories of Recovery” presentation.
It wasn’t until God reminded me that I like red, that I realized that I had lost myself.
Let’s rewind… I don’t like to brag, but early in my recovery I was an expert rescuer. (Said with a mixture of tongue in cheek and so much self-compassion.) I was laser-focused-determined to do all in my power to save my marriage and as such, I decided to drive 30 minutes each way to bring my husband (who was not displaying recovery behaviors at that time) a carefully made dinner.
I left that short encounter with a heavy heart and in tears. As I approached our home, I realized that I was in no position to walk in the door to our 6 children. Even though I didn’t have anything to purchase, I decided to first stop by a local thrift store that was near our home. I grabbed a cart and started walking, but as I walked, my feet felt more and more like they were made of lead. Each heavy step became slower and more labored which eventually led to me stopping by a rack of 2nd hand nightgowns.
“This is it,” I thought. “This is where I lose it. I am going to plop down on this floor by knobby old pajamas and sob my eyes out.” That’s when my common sense kicked in and I said to myself something like, “You can’t sit on the floor and cry in a second hand store, Jeni. People will think that you are nuts!!” I briefly debated about which internal voice to follow and decided that to continue walking was a better alternative.
So, I took a step forward.
And that’s when the magic happened. Another voice that was so random that it couldn’t be mine popped in with, “I like red.”
“God, was that you?” And I knew that it was.
I sat there stunned as I realized that I had forgotten that I like red. I was even more stunned to realize that my favorite color was important to God because it surely wasn’t important to me at that point.
My thoughts went to, “I do like red!! And I like moody colors and gold instead of silver!” With each thought of what I like, my feet started to lose the heaviness and I soon had a spring in my step. That day I was determined to find something with an apple hue in that second hand store and proudly left with a red undershirt.
Oh what a difference it made to realize that my favorite color mattered to God!! I decided that if God cared about things like the fact that I like red, then so could I.
I eagerly began exploring more things. What was my favorite thing to eat? Are there activities that I might like to do? Where would I like to go on vacation? If I were to choose the restaurant tonight, where would I go?
And then this truth sunk in: I always knew that I was a child of God, but I didn’t know how a child of God should be treated. Doing the best that I knew how, I had been a wonderful martyr and a well-used doormat. That is, I was those things until I realized that I am sacred and should be treated accordingly.
God At My Center
In 12-steps, we learn about keeping God at our center. Here’s the thing: I thought that God was at my center by trying to do all in my power to save my husband. Good intentions often seem God centered and can even give me warm fuzzies. That’s what made it so shocking to learn that I was unintentionally in God’s way.
When I focus intensely on someone else, like my husband, I put them at my center. The more that I could focus on God and being emotionally stable by taking care of my own needs, the more peace and serenity I experience.
The Domino Effect of Remembering That I Like Red
Guess what? Being reminded that I like red was like a domino effect that triggered all sorts of healing. A few things that it instigated and that I now treasure include:
- Delight in activities
- Soul care
- A greater capacity to spend money on things that are important to me, like therapy and red nail polish
- Coming out of isolation & developing amazing relationships
- A feeling of self-worth
And in case you are wondering, I also gained
- The ability to better make and keep healthy boundaries
Do you have quotes that make your whole soul melt? One such quote for me is by Emily Dickinson, “I am out with lanterns looking for myself.”
Are you searching for yourself like I am? I would love to hear more about your journey in the comments.
The day that God reminded me that “I like red,” I also learned that I am worthy of love, belonging and safety. So are you dear sister in recovery.
I love you.