This is my second post in my interview series titled, Inspiring Women in Recovery. If you are a woman in recovery or know a woman in recovery, please contact me! I’d love to feature your story here and it can be wholly anonymous or not.
Today’s interview comes from Nadine Steele of Steele Recovery Addiction Counseling for Women and Families. I met Nadine after I was on the Dave Ramsey show sharing my testimony. Nadine reached out to me and an instant friendship was formed. Without further ado, here’s Nadine’s story…
My name is Nadine Steele and I live in southern California in a small town called Redlands. I’m a single woman and the mother of two beautiful children and three amazing grandchildren. I’m the owner of Steel Recovery Addiction Counseling for Women and Families. I have been in recovery, from drugs, alcohol, bad relationships and many wasteful decisions from my past, including my finances, for 24 years. My recovery birthdate is 9-25-95.
What Has Been the Most Difficult Part of Recovery?
The most difficult part has been to forgive myself for bringing up my children while I was under the influence. When you’ve lived a life that is self-seeking, looking at the truth is quite humbling. I thought I was always a good mother because I never…fill in the blanks…but through the lens of God and sobriety, I now have 20/20 vision, and that is the “difficult” part.
When I became sober, my daughter was turning 18 and I realized I missed it all. Everything. There was no do-over in raising her again. Unfortunately, I saw a sea of missed opportunities and it broke me. But that was the realization I needed to stop wallowing in my hollowness and get up and get busy. I began working on the present with my son and daughter, as well as repairing the past. Finally, I learned to let God take care of my future.
However, that required forgiveness of myself so I could change.
The second hardest was my finances. I developed bad habits and unfortunately and embarrassingly enough, I hadn’t exposed them to anyone yet. Thankfully, I had to change my mindset to learn to become financially responsible.
What Was the Most Rewarding Aspect of Your Recovery?
My relationship with my faith and my children! Faith has to come first, or I can’t have the other. My relationship with Jesus has shown me that whatever the problem or the cause, it can be fixed. The key is letting Him do His job. He loves me far more than I understand or deserve! There have been a few occasions, in my recovery, particularly with loss, that the following thought has come to mind, “I may lose everyone, but I cannot lose you, Lord!” That brings me back to the firm ground where I must always stand on. God is everything. I can lose all and be devastated, but if I lose God….then all would be lost.
Secondly, the restoration and relationship I have with my children is most rewarding. I have always been a mom to them but that is not enough. They are grown with their own children now. My grandchildren have never seen me high which is priceless. But my children have.
The amends I make to my children is three-fold.
1. I must change.
The essence of recovery is changing. There’s a little joke around recovering communities that states, “You only have to change one thing….Everything!” It’s true.
2. I make direct amends to my children by being a present, guiding and responsible mother.
This is true even with adult children. We are not given discharge papers when they graduate (although, sometimes I wish we were!). Because I have changed, and continue on this path, I make things right. I am present in their lives, I keep my word and they can count on me. Furthermore, I am their touchstone and their soft place to come to. I get to be their loving mother the way God intended it.
3. Last but not least, I have an open-door policy.
Each one of my children can come to me anytime they have a memory, a resentment, or a problem and talk to me about it. If it’s something they remember and I do not, I never minimize their feelings or their memory. I can only say, “tell me more.” I try to understand their feelings and validate them. Additionally, I ask if there is anything I can do to make it right.
These three things, with God’s healing and yes a whole lot-o-love and affection, has made the relationship with my children more meaningful and deeply trusting. More than I could’ve ever dreamed! Moreover, it has healed them and this is all because I surrendered myself to God and cooperate humbly in my recovery.
Do You Embrace a Growth Mindset?
I do! Recovery is a commitment to HARD WORK! If it were easy, everyone would do it! After 24 years of recovery, I must remain teachable or I become full of myself which invites ego and pride back into my life. I believe the disease of addiction begins in our mind and manifests in our thoughts. We reason our way toward self-destruction. To change it, I had to first learn about the mindset that led me down that familiar hole which increasingly got worse.
What Mental Tips Do You Practice?
If I find myself irritated throughout the day, I ask myself if I’ve prayed? I say the serenity prayer and really mean it. I take a look at my own flaws and reactions and get honest with myself. When I’m honest with myself, all kinds of miracles can happen. I can think clearer and see options. I know I have choices today because I’m sober. An attitude of gratitude and humility needs to be front and center.
Today, I allow God to change my life through daily connection with the 12-step program. Having a daily Spiritual routine is paramount because it is my daily bread. It connects me to what God wants me to do. When I seek God, I’m asking for His mindset. My philosophy is to remain teachable because the facts are that I know very little. By learning from my past mistakes I can receive more spiritual, personal & professional growth.
Schedules and routines are essential to recovery because addicts do NOT do well without structure. In my addiction, I did whatever I wanted to whenever I wanted to. In my recovery, I do the opposite of what I did in my addiction. I’m a firm believer in practicing an early morning routine for a fresh new daily mindest.
My Daily Routine
My routine consists of waking up early, usually before 5 am. I make my bed before the sunrises and hit my knees before I get my coffee.
There is a beautiful prayer in the Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, called the 3rd Step Prayer. I take a deep breath and slowly recite this prayer; every morning.
“God I offer myself to Thee – To build with me and do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy Will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power, Thy Love and Thy Way of Life. May I do Thy Will always. Amen.”
In doing this I am able to become self-aware of the feelings, emotions, and strongholds in my life that may be holding me back from true spiritual freedom. I read a daily Meditation, which includes scripture. I try to allow God to work in me and through me. This is how I stay grateful for where I’ve come from, who I am and who I can help.
During the day, when I find myself going astray, I take a deep breath and pray. I may need to remove myself from a situation to pray more deeply.
Rinse & Repeat!
My Weekly Routine
I attend weekly AA meetings to fellowship with like-minded people, who want what I want.
I’m mindful of focusing on what I CAN do and NOT what I CAN’T do. Additionally, I’m aware of my negative thoughts and where they can take me.
Lastly, I must practice this structure that has proven to work or I will absolutely fall back into old habits. This is how I see if I’m in relapse mode and need to make adjustments. Often it just involves going back to the basics. I have trekked that journey quite a few times in sobriety and you will too if you have no ego about it. No one does this perfectly. But if I’m to remain pliable and teachable, I need to recognize when to ask for help.
Have Your Gotten to the Place in Your Journey of Making Financial Amends?
Unfortunately, gaining financial stability has taken a long time. I became so tired of bill collectors calling me. Additionally, I was tired of being scared all the time. I was scared the lights would be turned off. I was scared of not having enough food or money at the end of the month.
My financial recovery was a slow process but it started out with me not spending my “bill money” on anything other than bills. I had to really focus on breaking out of that habit and cycle of emotional spending because I did not like the way I felt about myself. I felt tremendous guilt, remorse, and shame. It was a vicious cycle and I was desperate to get out of it.
In September of 2017, I was planning a long road trip to visit my newborn granddaughter. I was searching for my road trip music selection and nothing was jumping out at me. This was odd because jamming out to music on the open road is my thing!
But this time was different…I was different. I asked God the question, “What do I need to do to better my life? What do YOU want me to listen to on this trip?” And it was then that I listened to Dave Ramsey’s audiobook, TOTAL MONEY MAKEOVER. I listened to him talk about his 7 Baby Steps to Wealth and it was simple enough for this alcoholic, to not only understand but to also accomplish! So I began respecting money in a way that I never had before. My attachment to it was not emotionally driven.
How Much Debt Did You Pay Back?
My debt was about $15,000 at the time of my crackdown! It may not be a lot to most but is to some and it was to me. I started building $1,000.00 in my emergency fund and then, I paid all my debt (car and credit cards) off in a year. Additionally, I worked on building my credit score and saving more. I put more into my retirement, taught myself about investing and trading, and began building a bigger emergency fund.
The momentum of paying everything off began to excite me and I became more focused and exhilarated about seeing that number go down! I opened my bill binder every day to stay on task. I became motivated to change old habits! Then I started to see attainable goals were being set met daily, weekly and monthly.
At this point, I could actually think about my dream of retiring and starting my own business!!
In February of 2019, I was able to take my early retirement and launch my business full-time.
It’s the daily habits which are the hardest to break. For example, getting my paycheck and handing over hundreds of dollars toward something that wasn’t an emergency or a bill was so so hard to do. As a Counselor, the process of understanding me was fascinating. These roots of instant gratification were not done away with when I stopped using drugs and drinking… NO! They hid in the insidiousness of shopping, irresponsibility, and greed. Yes, greed. Who was I thinking of when I didn’t pay someone back or deprived another of something? Me.
When I spent money it was to feel instant gratification. So yes, if we’re going, to be honest about money, and how it relates to addiction versus recovery, we must go deep!
There is a verse in a song by Switchfoot, that says,
“We were meant to live for so much more. Have we lost ourselves?”
I believe that we were all born on purpose…for a purpose. There is a plan for you. Today is the day to discover that purpose. God has called us all to help each other. If He has pulled you out of the mire and the pit of hell and you live to tell about it, then that’s exactly what we are to do! “Go and tell!” We have much to give back. I wouldn’t go as far as to say, I’m happy to be an addict but, I can say I am grateful. He has promised to turn our “beauty for ashes.” And that is exactly what He has done for me and what He is doing for you. I’m so honored to have been asked by Deanna to share my story with you.
Thank you, Lord, for your Grace upon all of us.
Thank you for restoring our lives to your original plan.
Nadine Steele, CADC-II
Deanna’s Closing Thoughts
Wow!!! I never tire reading miraculous stories of recovery. If you are interested in counseling with Steele Recovery but don’t live on the west coast, don’t worry. Nadine does remote coaching. Check out her website or Facebook group and say hi!
Thank you, Nadine, for your honesty and friendship.