In Muck Off, Carol Lopez shares her life story of how she fell into the muck and how she got out of it. “Muck” is a metaphor for all the bad things that happen to us in life, all the dysfunction that enters our lives, and the consequences of the bad decisions we make. Carol explains it as: “Muck! Muck! MUUUUCKK! You know what it is! It’s all the crap that tears you apart, breaks your heart, and spits you out, leaving you feeling empty, exhausted, burnt, and bewildered. You’ve tried to remain intact, but somewhere along the way, you’ve lost—you.”
Right from the start, Carol warns us: “Warning: This book is Rated R—due to the nature of it being Raw, Real, and Rousing.” R is a favorite letter of hers since she divides the book into four sections: Reflect, Recover, Redirect, and Rejoice. Muck Off is one woman’s true story about her recovery from the muck in her life, but it’s also a book filled with powerful advice and solutions for those wanting to find their own happily ever afters.
Trust me, Carol knows how to get there—to a state of peace and calm even when chaos surrounds her, and she has learned it the hard way. She opens the book with a story of how her father threatened to kill her with a gun. Her family was not happy because she was a white girl dating a black boy on the other side of the tracks. But it wasn’t just that her family members were prejudiced; they had a history of dysfunction, of not communicating well with each other, of walking on eggshells around her dad. Carol doesn’t share all these stories just to entertain the reader with her drama but to show how generational dysfunction played out in her family. She wants readers to learn from her experiences so they can overcome the dysfunction in their own lives.
Carol made some bad choices along the way as a result of growing up in a dysfunctional home. She got pregnant. Then she decided to have an abortion, which she always regretted. She got married and experienced domestic violence, but she stayed in the marriage, thinking she was doing what God wanted until a friend told her God did not want her to be a doormat. She also struggled with lust and with alcohol until she was finally able to give both over to God. She tells us:
“I decided to surrender to God and told Him, ‘Lord, I am done. I’m done being the party girl.’ Oddly enough, my next statement was, ‘If I have to go to church drunk, I will.’ In other words, I was going to be in His house no matter what. I was committed to doing things a different way, and that meant changing my behaviors. See, I had to show up and God would work on the rest.”
Through prayer, faith, and determination, Carol quit drinking. And then she found the right man—they’ve been happily married now for fourteen years. You would think at this point it would have been happily ever after for Carol. She’d gone through enough for one lifetime, but she had two sons and so did her new husband, and all four of them were drug-users. Carol had some real battles with her codependency as a result.
The problem many codependent people have is they are so busy taking care of others they don’t have time to take care of themselves. Carol reminds us, “Recovery is not a program. You don’t recover because of how many days you attend a program. You recover because you do the work internally to get to the root cause of your pain. It’s the most liberating, empowering act of self-love you can do.” Carol ultimately came to realize you can’t love others or help them until you learn to love and help yourself.
And once she began her recovery journey of getting rid of her muck, she realized it wasn’t as monumental a task as it first appeared. Part of why she chose her book title has to do with a real place, as she explains: “You will not want to get stuck on the Isle of Muck. This Isle actually exists! It is located on the west coast of Scotland. It is very small; two miles long and one mile wide! Imagine your muck being so small, comparatively speaking, to your life’s mission and purpose. It is only our thoughts and ego that make our muck the size of Mount Everest! Get over yourself and become your best self. Forgiving yourself is in line with loving yourself.”
She goes on to explain that once she learned to forgive herself and surrender her pain and shortcomings to God, everything began to fall into place. She tells us, “God was waiting on me the whole time. I had to get to the place of surrender before He could provide me the things I truly desired. I needed to trust in Him. I came to a place in my life where I knew my way wasn’t working.”
Ultimately, Carol has learned to rejoice. She does not regret any of her life because it has led to being who she is today. She knows it could have been easier, but in the end, she got where she needed to be: at peace with God and herself. Toward the end of Muck Off, she tells us:
“Life would have been less painful had I followed the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth. My life has been blessed even through the trials and tribulations. It is by the grace of God that I am alive today. If you do nothing at all with the information in this book, at least follow God’s basic principles. It is when you stray from them that you find yourself in—you guessed it—the muck!”
Anyone who has lived a dysfunctional life—and to some extent we all have, just as we are all codependent to some extent—will want to read and embrace Carol’s stories and apply the principles and advice she offers. Despite her strong faith in God, she is never preachy. She is just simply honest, and she stays true to her R rating of being Real, Raw, and Rousing. Each chapter ends with a series of questions for readers to reflect upon to help them move forward. Sometimes you can’t always see or remove your muck without a little help. Through her poignant questions and rousing stories, Carol offers that needed extra perspective so you can “muck off” too.
For more information about Carol Lopez and Muck Off, visit the author’s website.