Monica: In December of 2007, after a desperate battle with addiction, I watched my husband leave our home and embark upon his own perilous journey to sobriety and another lease on life. The nature of this specific rehab included the family by inviting us (wives, parents, siblings) to participate in their family-system healing course from the disease of codependency and addiction. In the ensuing heartbreak and cracking open of prior patterns of behavior and incorrect beliefs, what I needed was support. What I needed, was someone who understood. And this need was driven deeper each week when I would glimpse intimacy in ways I never knew existed: These broken men (from all walks of life) would hold each other while they wept, would call each other out on aspects of denial and emotional sabotage, and would touch each other so gently - so innocently and with a vulnerability that made me weep as I walked through the frigid cold to drive home - alone.
The apparent unfairness was a blaze of pain; my husband got a sixty day (plus ninety more out-patient) sabbatical while I was completely alone to pay the bills, raise the children, feed the children, run the home, stave off collectors and foreclosure, somehow work for a paycheck, and all the other responsibilities that a couple is meant to share. And then, I was supposed to find the time and energy and resources to work on my own emotional health? Impossible, to say the least. And while the logic was clear; yes, my husband had to take those sixty days or he would die, it did nothing for the lonely ache in my own heart and the raw and unbearable hopelessness that followed me day and night.
And when I finally obtained some courage to share with others what I was going through, I was more often than not met with unsolicited, unhelpful advice or cruel judgment that threatened my already tenuous grasp on sanity and hope. What I wanted was the intimacy I watched grow between the men of that rehab. What I needed, was a support system of women who, instead of tearing each other down or endlessly comparing and striving to be more perfect than their fellow sisters, would simply listen to my struggles and heartbreak and triumphs. Listen, without advising. Validate me, without ulterior motives of dishonesty, gossip or self-aggrandizement. Empower me, in the spaces where I cannot see my progress because I am drowning in grief and the overwhelming details of my life. And be a Mirror for me, when denial would serve to keep me captive in self-pity and anger.
Slowly, as I chose to make room for myself despite the odds, some light began to filter through. And in that sliver of light came the inspiration and unquenchable prompting to create such a support group that I sought to find. When there is a need, there is opportunity to create the solution. And with the help of my God, my dearest friend and fellow warrioress Jen Sturgis, HOYH began on a cold winter night on January 30, 2010. Addiction may have been my detail, but it is not my definition. We all have our different details that make us need one another, and HOYH was born out of such need. Ultimately, it is a place where we may both provide and receive respite, service, relief, peace, inspiration and encouragement.
Since then, it's grown into so much more...
Jennifer: The seed of HOYH was planted within my heart sometime between the day I first walked through the doors of the Renaissance Ranch, where my husband was in rehab for drug addiction, and the day I left that program. I remember sitting there in the mandatory family group, wondering why I had to be there, since my husband was obviously the sick one. Initially, I decided that my attendance would help him in his sobriety. But it wasn’t long before I realized that I, myself, had some deep wounds that needed healing, and that the emotional fallout of these wounds was something I needed to be accountable for, regardless of my husband’s sobriety.
As my husband was able to focus on nothing but his own recovery while in rehab, I was raising four children on my own, as well as two teenage foster girls, going back to work for the first time in 4 years, and finding my heart slowly unfreezing from the numb, dead block of ice it had been since the first few years of my marriage. I remember looking around me at these family group meetings, and seeing some of the most beautiful, impressive, well-put together women I had known. We all came from different walks of life, but we all had one thing in common. The disease of addiction had brought us to our knees, and to a point where we had to acknowledge and address our own dysfunction and codependency. The learning, honesty and vulnerability that ensued, as we all made our way down the path of healing, was exquisite and life-changing. The bonds of trust and love we forged as we looked to each other for empathy, validation and acceptance, became an integral part of my recovery. I knew, after two months, that I was not done with my journey of healing and that I didn’t want to lose the opportunity to share my struggles and my triumphs with women like these, who fought on the same battlefield that I did and could relate to my life and experiences.
Giving up my own recovery and just focusing on the never-ending list of things to do and people who needed me, would have been easier than acknowledging my own emotional responsibility and ongoing work. But of all of my fears at that time, the biggest one was that if I didn’t continue working on my own recovery, I would pass this unhealthy way of being on to my children, and that the cycle of addiction and codependency would continue.
Monica’s vision, to continue the Heartwork™ that we had started in the family program, and to offer other women the same opportunity was an answer to prayer. It just felt right. We have continued the same way we started: We lift each other when we stumble, we love and celebrate each other’s triumphs, we encourage vulnerability and healing, and we reach out to other women who are looking for the same.
In that honest, vulnerable, heart-felt journey, we have since then cultivated a brave, compassionate tribe of women supporting women. And if this feels like truth, for you - join us. You are needed, important, and valued. We welcome you in...