Author: Nikki Russell

Becoming Real

Any story worth its weight on paper is a hero’s journey, where a person ventures toward empowerment—the gumption to take a leap of faith into the unknown to discover themselves. Entering recovery is a yes to the call of becoming real; the story of Nikki becomes real; conquering fears takes courage and unlocks gratitude.
The profound transformation from something unreal to something tangible is an innate drive within us to become whole and authentic. Love attaches to many things that provide instant gratification, preventing us from letting the flood of emotions wash over us. Grace is the root word of gratitude; an intellectual approach to spirituality produces positive change, yet heartfelt choices align with purpose and develop gratitude.

Patchwork Recovery

Recovery is 1000 small decisions that, at the moment, feel insignificant yet, when added up over time, have. I recorded my recovery journey on countless pieces of paper to create a compilation of ah-ha moments from depths of darkness into life in recovery. My recovery has been a patchwork of written thoughts, shapeless until I weaved them into my life, attempting to live them as profound as they are when they dance in my mind. This is where creativity began to inform my life, realizing that it is my choice to transform past conditioning into the spark that ignites passion. Dare I show the world who I am behind the facade of correct behavior and be the superstar I create in my mind?

Proud Momma

I am so grateful to be a mother. The ten years it took to become pregnant did not prepare me for the journey of motherhood. Just because having a baby is biological does not mean it is natural. Having my daughter activated a wound in me that had been dormant for many years; I would not fully understand this rugged process until much later. The medical community calls this phenomenon postpartum depression. I was attempting to maintain a belief that having a baby would fix me; it did, but not in the way I expected.

Be the Change

I can remember many times walking past a person experiencing homelessness. The thoughts that came to mind brought feelings of shame. Something inside me wanted to give to them, but I was taught they were dangerous, morally defective, and fully capable of making money if they wanted to. As time passed, I stopped looking at “them” but could never shake the feeling that something was amiss with my actions or lack thereof. The poverty around me made me wonder what kind of person I am to pass community members experiencing homelessness. Yet, I was going home, deciding which show to watch, Seinfeld or Friends.

Illustration of a girl holding a heart with rainbows and clouds around her.

In the Pursuit of Truth

Radical acceptance is like waking up in the middle of a dream and clearly looking at life for the first time. The reality of what I had created while I was asleep in my addiction was startling. The truth that I was unwilling to look at had built momentum, and the consequences of those choices were overwhelming. Recovery demands honesty; every courageous action forward balances authenticity and vulnerability. It meant I could no longer play the victim of life; I needed to be responsible for the life I could create with a willingness to work hard to heal and forgive.

Painting of a young woman in the water

Radical Acceptance Opens the Door to Self-acceptance

Radical acceptance comes in moments of clarity, where denial transforms into connection. The test of my commitment to radical acceptance shows up when I try to fix, control, ruminate about the past, predict the future, or avoid pain.

The Inner Child and My Mental Health Disorder

What people see on the outside is just a hint of what is happening within. Moving through life and feeling the world while my trauma weaves stories about my emotions creates a mental storm legitimized by science as a mental health disorder. Some people call this empathic or highly sensitive, being tuned into what my immediate circle feels and carrying the unspoken weight of our disease. Mental health goes back as far as I could research in my family; it is the generational pattern that has been transferred from mother to child; it manifests as the burning of the internal turmoil in the middle of my life and replaces the peace my heart came here to feel.

Forgiveness is Freedom

If I could give another word for recovery, it would be forgiveness because if resentment is the blind spot of addiction, then forgiveness is a corrected vision. Forgiveness is an inner connection versus an emphasis on the crisis. In other words, resentment is fear, and forgiveness is love.

Putting Principles into Practice

In the beginning of my recovery journey my life was about bringing myself to a balanced state of mind so that I could begin to build a life of purpose. Early recovery was about discovering who I was through a healing process that brought me inwards towards many wounds that I felt would be my demise. Through this emotional roller coaster ride, I learned that after the scariest moments of remembering past hurt came equally enlightening moments of truth that helped me face my past and build a life beyond recovery.

Leap of Faith

Relationships have served as a mirror into my heart, showing me where I need to grow and giving me the inspiration to overcome my greatest fears. Relationships reflect my internal frame of reference, the dominant conditioning that insists on being safe. I unknowingly used relationships to justify an abandonment wound I held since childhood.

Gritty Spirituality

Spirituality is gritty. I spent many years trying to find God, sitting in meditation for hours a day attempting to make her something separate of myself that would give me a golden ticket into heaven. Attempting to be good enough to achieve unlimited access to worth, making up for lost time in meditation and prayer, life could be good if I said the right words and did the right actions.

Living in Color

Culture develops my belief system, that develops my traditions, that gives me a sense of self within a community. Culture gives me my values; it tells me how to live my life.

Growing Through the Seasons of Change

As I am walking down the sidewalk, crisp leaves crunch beneath my feet and I cannot help but think about when I was a little girl, and my uncle would rake all the leaves into a big pile for us to jump in. My innocent years before I understood what my little life could become.

The Art of Recovery

Recovery allows me to reframe the artwork that is my life. My addiction took that piece of artwork and buried it in the basement of my soul. Through the years, I piled boxes of trauma over the top of it, it gathered dust and lost all its value.