I practice self-reflection through journaling and doing make up. They have no rules. You can wipe the make-up off or erase what you write and start over as many times as you want with no fault. I can express my emotions with less fear of being criticized or having fingers pointed at me because I am by myself. No one is blaming. No one is judging. For example, If I tell someone, "Hey, I want to use heroin,” I might be afraid that they will say, "You are just a drug addict." But if I channel my urge into my make-up, I can start working on a look of someone who doesn’t use. Or if I write it down in my journal, I might notice that every day at 7 pm I feel the urge. So instead, I can make the choice at 7 pm to take a shower or make a phone call to reduce the trigger of wanting to pick up.

  1. Watch the clock and take action.
  2. Keep a journal and write down how you feel.
  3. Keep track of what you are grateful for everyday.
  4. Keep track of recurring patterns of the day that trigger you to want to pick up and use again.
  5. Notice whether the pattern is a time of the day or a situation, such as talking to a specific person.
  6. Take those negative patterns and do something in the moment that will bring out the opposite emotion.
  7. Change your environment and get a new outlook.
  8. It’s as simple as taking a walk. Get some fresh air, circle the block and cool your head. 5–20 minutes minimum.
  9. It’s as simple as taking a shower. 5–20 minutes minimum.
  10. As a general rule, fit small positive things into your schedule to make yourself happy.

On the Move

I was living in a clean and sober house right across the street from the Church of Christ. The house was really hard to live in. I’d wear red angry lipstick and mad mascara most of the time. There was never any privacy. You had to share your room and closet with other roommates and one bathroom with 10 girls. I felt like I was going crazy hearing voices constantly through the paper-thin walls.

When things started getting really bad, I went to the tall tan church building across the street for a break from the chaos. Everyone was so nice there.

I met a man named Charles. He had 11 years clean and invited me to an NA meeting. I was so happy to get some support. We often spent time together. He turned out to be the nicest guy. My makeup looked really on point because I was so happy all the time.

I wrote in my journal often, about the first time he asked me out and later if we wanted kids and if we wanted to get married. Journaling helped me realize I wanted someone to accept me for who I was, knowing about my addiction, and treat me like I was someone special. And he did that. Then in November, he got sick with pneumonia and spent three weeks in the ICU on a ventilator.

Due to Covid, I couldn’t visit him until he was gravely ill. One day his sister called me and said we could come and finally visit. I read Charles a letter explaining how much he meant to me. The doctors took him off his ventilator and he passed away a few hours later. My heart was totally broken. Every night I cried no matter what I was doing. This went on for weeks. I didn’t even want to put on eyeliner or mascara because I knew I would just cry it off. I couldn’t breathe. It was eating me up inside. The only thing that helped was writing in my journal, facts about myself and what I was doing every day. It helped me feel grounded and fight the urge to want to pick up again.

One morning, I dialed the Pastor’s number and asked him for an appointment to discuss how I was feeling. He told me to come meet him at the church. I took a hot shower and got dressed. I started doing my you go girl makeup: I put a light layer of flawless foundation on, then a little tearless translucent powder over my forehead, cheeks, nose and chin. I applied a winged liner and smudged it around my eyes. I added curious brown arches to my eyebrows and finally added Just Black mascara and pink lipstick to my face and looked in the mirror. When I saw my completed work, I knew I was ready for change.

A couple days after meeting with the pastor, I moved into a house managed by the church, where I have my own room and bathroom. It’s been two months now and I couldn’t be happier. I saw how I can manifest things through my writing to make everything good. Through self-reflection, I truly believe that in order to wholeheartedly love yourself you must first accept and forgive yourself. Letting go of your past is the hardest part, but it is so worth the effort.


The Recovery Tarot Deck Exercise

Part 1

Come up with two ideas for tarot cards from elements in your life that help you combat your triggers.

  1. Name each card.
  2. Describe what images you want in them.
  3. Draw the cards yourself or ask someone else to draw them for you.

Part 2

Write a paragraph describing the message your card embodies. What does it teach those who pull it? How does it help a person combat their triggers?

Part 3

Create a short exercise for someone to do once they pull the card as a means for them to try another method to combat their own triggers.


Card title: Clocking Your Patterns!

Images: Some trees, a clock, a forest.

Card title: Get Up and Go!

Images: A pair of shoes, a doorway, some clouds.

Clocking Your Patterns!

When you pull this card, consider the things you do at the same time every day. You get up, brush your teeth, eat a bowl of cereal, check your phone, you might smoke a cigarette, etc. In your routine is where you find yourself; where you find things that you like and things that you want to change. If there are things that aren’t exactly working for you and you feel a certain way about it, keep track of the time of day in your journal. Reflect on how it makes you feel. It will give you the opportunity to pinpoint what needs work.


Get Up and Go!

When you pull this card, you might need to change your environment and get a new outlook. There might be someone that hurt your feelings and you don’t feel like you are in the space to tell the person without causing more harm to your relationship. Then get up and go! Treat yourself to some fresh air. Energy is refreshing. It does something to your brain. Find the right words to say; finesse the conversation in your mind before sharing your thoughts. How will the conver- sation play out? How will you respond if they take it the wrong way? The space you get by getting air should give you the courage to have the conversation.

Clocking Your Patterns!

Over the course of four days, keep track of recurring patterns of the day that trigger you at specific times. Keep a journal and write down how you feel in each situation. Focus on the moments that make you feel sad, depressed, or irritated and fit something positive into your schedule at those times in your day to make yourself happy.


Get Up and Go!

Daily, take a walk around the block, between five and 20 minutes minimum.

Clocking Your Patterns! tarot card (left)

Get Up and Go! tarot card (right)