Forgiveness is Not for the Other Person

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Children learn by example. The other day I was in the car with my twelve year old daughter and out of nowhere she said, “Mom, you are a really forgiving person.” My body was filled with chills from her words. It wasn’t like I’ve been trying to preach forgiveness to her; I’ve merely been walking my path knowing that she is paying more attention to my actions than my words. It touched my heart that she would bring this up and it opened a door for me to explain something valuable to her.

“Thank you for saying that. I am a forgiving person. I always have been a forgiving person. It comes very naturally to me, but not everyone forgives very easily.” She was listening so I went on. “I learned a long time ago that it takes much more energy to remain angry than it does to simply let things go. And if I’m angry, then I’m the one who is suffering. When you forgive, you set yourself free. When you stay mad, it’s like drinking your own poison, or deliberately swallowing hot coals. I really don’t want to waste my life being angry or jealous toward other people. It’s much easier to just forgive. Life is too short.” She took my words in and we talked about it for a little while. She gave me an example of where she observed me being forgiving. She sat silent afterward and I wondered what she was thinking about. Perhaps this was a moment in her life where she would deeply understand the precious value in forgiving a friend for hurting her feelings.

We derive from a Christian family, and she is very receptive to what the Bible says, so when I talk to her about my way of life, I always refer to the teachings of Christ. I don’t care what the Hebrew laws were in the Bible. I certainly do not take the Bible literally. I don’t pay much attention to the words of his followers after Jesus ascended. Very few people understood his message, including his disciples who also took his words literally. His message was simply compassion, which has been the message of all the major prophets throughout history. When I explained to my daughter about forgiveness, I referred to Christ’s very simple message of compassion. Learning compassion is a way of life. It is not an easy way to live, yet it is the most simple way to be.

There are a lot of things we could all be angry about, but how many times have we wronged others and screwed up in our lives? How many second and third chances have we been given? I’ve even heard so called spiritual people say things like, “Forgive but don’t forget.” There are all kinds of philosophies around forgiveness, but when you live a life in spiritual freedom, and you understand that your entire walk in faith is about constantly letting go (of everything), it won’t matter how people behave because you won’t be trying to get something out of them. You won’t be plotting your life out, trying to impress others, looking for acceptance, or making things happen the way you want them to occur. Most importantly, other people’s behaviors will not affect you. You will simply wake up in the morning without thought of yesterday or worry of tomorrow. You will live your day according to how it pans out and talk to people who come into your experience, while being present with them. You learn not to get caught up into any drama, which is happening all around you, yet you will be so aware of it that it’s impossible to get snagged into it. Often I play along, but I’m only playing along. Situations that arise between people are not real to me. The truth lies somewhere between the lines of physical reality and emotion. I pay attention to arising emotion, and if there are no emotions arising, then I am able to partake in dialogue without being a participant in the drama – kind of like an actor. Most of the time because I’m not interested in the drama, other people don’t include me in it, which makes my life a hell of a lot easier. I also don’t go around planning things any longer. If people want to spend time with me, I’m open to that. It doesn’t matter how they are as a person. I simply don’t care. I’m not trying to get anything out of anyone. I just walk in my spiritual freedom and let things flow through me without any agenda, which gives me the freedom to not be hurt by others. And when I do find myself with an agenda, I take a step back and let go again.

I used to be a really controlling person. I wanted things to work out a certain way. I wanted others to feel a certain way about me. I based the way I felt by how people responded to me. That’s a really high maintenance way to live. Who has time and energy for that? I suppose it’s because I’m getting older and I’ve grown up a bit, but whatever the case, I simply do not put much thought into daily situations (sitcoms) any longer. If I’m faced with intense drama, I try to deal with it as soon as possible, but above all else, I let things go. In fact, I let things go so quickly now that I forget why I was even mad toward another person. Being mad at someone is like carrying their weight around while they are out there living their life. It’s really pointless, and toxic to your body. Being angry and remaining stressed or hurt places your body in an acidic state, which is cancerous. Forgiveness and letting go keeps your body alkaline, which is healthy. If anything, forgive others for your own health!

Forgiveness for some people is not an easy thing to do. If this is the case for you, might I suggest that you look at your life situation and see how many people are taking up space in your head. I would guess that there are plenty, which is indicative that there is a great opportunity for you to practice forgiveness right this very moment. We are always offered opportunities to grow and to practice spiritual freedom by the way the world and people respond to us. Most of the time we are blind to this so we react. We are incredibly ignorant about the inner journey of life. We don’t see that the world is staged for our spiritual and emotional development. If people in your life are constantly bringing up anger for you, then they are simply reflecting what you need to work on within yourself. They are not your enemies. They are your teachers. Once your lesson is learned, they will either move on from you, or you will become the best of friends. I know this from experience. Take the opportunity to practice forgiveness –or don’t, and remain on the merry-go-round.

I don’t like preaching forgiveness – I simply live it and don’t put too much thought into it, but I felt it was relevant today because it is an important way to respond to life, especially in recovery. Sometimes I read someone’s blog, or watch a YouTube video that is so parallel to what I’m facing in my life – so when a topic comes up for me as I’m about to blog each morning, I write about it knowing that someone out there will relate. This came up for me today, so here it is plain and simple. Forgiveness is not easy for everyone, but it sets you free, so I highly recommend it. There are plenty of opportunities to practice forgiveness, and once you learn it and become it, you will discover that people won’t prod and poke you toward your anger any longer. Keep walking the internal journey and noticing that the outside circumstances are there to point you in the right direction – right back to yourself!

“Forgiveness is the fragrance that that violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it” – Mark Twain

https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/JLForbes

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The Winds of Change Are A-Blowin’ and I’m a Butterfly

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As summer kicks off and my life turns into a new direction (one that I couldn’t have predicted even a few weeks ago), my first instinct is to be excited, but my own body revolts in quiet disagreement.  It knows from experience that change is not as easy as my free-spirited self makes it seem.  Just last year I made one of the biggest changes of my life.  Everything that I desired was delivered to me into one dynamic package, and it was mind-blowing, but the actual change was overwhelming.  It took a few months to settle and depression was hanging out with me trying to grip me into its mighty claws.  I didn’t succumb, but it was all very unsettling in the beginning.  After a few months, life calmed down a bit and once the routine was simplified, there was harmony.

I dreamed last night of two fabulous and massive butterflies.  One was a brilliant monarch who kept coming back into my space to enlighten me with her beauty.  Her colors were marvelous and she made me feel alive.  Then there was another type of butterfly that looked more like a fairy.  She had what appeared to be crimson petals for wings.  They folded easily with the wind and below her body was a lavish extension of her wings.  They floated behind her and touched every leaf she passed as she fluttered through the trees.  I wondered if she was going to be caught up in the branches of the mighty tree, but she floated on without being held back by anything, even the leaves that seemed to entangle her as she moved through them gracefully.  Of course upon my awakening, I knew these two butterflies represented me.  Transformation.  Change.  Moving through life gracefully.  Illumination.  Carefreeness.  Life on life’s terms. The crimson wings represent being passionate.  I’m not getting snagged into the moments as I move along and follow my intuition. 

There are so many ways we move through life, and I do not think that any certain way we choose is right or wrong, but I do know that the way we choose to think while we navigate through life, determines the experience we will have.  As I embark on a new experience with my daughter, and include my son in what I desire for him as well, I have to ask myself what it is that I so deeply yearned for, and how I’m going to use this extra money which is suddenly coming to fruition?  How can I use my creativity in this experience, and what are my long term goals?  In the past, I would have dwindled the extra money away on clothes and conveniences, but now that I’m more mature, my thinking is that I need to invest it into something.  Debts will be paid, a vacation will be taken, but there has also got to be an investment of some sort, and because my daughter is a natural business woman, I have the chance to teach her something that will benefit her for the rest of her life by thinking outside the box of our smaller living space. I trust that this is a perfect opportunity to explore a home based business.  We will work together and create an income.  We will build a harmonious life together and no one will be there hovering over us when our dishes aren’t put away, or complaining about the cat who is licking himself and shedding on the bed.  We will be like two butterflies, free to move about our world and open to experiencing all that life has to offer us.  How can I not be excited?  We have just entered the land of opportunity.

There is great fear about things that I have no control over right now, and some things are happening a little too fast.  My body wants to panic, but my experienced soul tells it that everything will be ok – which is exactly how it has been so far.  Everything’s ok.  When you reach for your dreams, and focus on your well-being, all the little details that we often get hung up on, seem to work themselves out.  I’m choosing not to get tangled into the branches right now.  I’m moving through the leaves as they rustle all around my body, and floating along with this dynamic wind that is taking me above and beyond what my mind can fully comprehend at this moment.  The winds of change are a-blowin’ and I’m going with them.  I am so grateful today, and excited about where I’m being lovingly carried.

   

In a World Filled with Mothers

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Being a mother has been my greatest gift, and I’m certain that I’m not the only mommy that would make this statement.  My children have molded me from a child into a woman.  They have given me more life than I physically gave them.  It’s because of my son and daughter (wise, accepting and loving) that I have discovered myself rooted into the ground that once seemed infinitely shaky.  They are also the reason I cherish my own mother even more today than ever.  

At a very young age I played with and loved my dolls like I was their mom.  I changed their diapers, fed them, rocked them, sang to them and gave them names that I enjoyed saying aloud.  I named my son several years before he was even born.  I was dreaming of being a mother long before I was a teenager.  It was something innate within me that yearned to give life, to teach, to love and to guide.  When I was gifted with both a son and a daughter, just like my mother and her mother before her, I was elated.  But being a mother is not as easy as holding, and fake feeding a doll.  It means you have to be a mother to yourself first, and I lacked these skills for a very long time.  I grew up while my children were growing up.  I made mistakes worse than my own parents made with me, and often cursed myself for falling short as a mom.  The one thing that never changed, however, was how much my children loved me regardless of my shortcomings, which is why I made a choice to grow up and to learn to love myself so that I could spend the remainder of their lives honoring them.

Without a mother’s love a child is lost.  We are the life chord our children’s hearts.  Mothers are the spirit of the planet, drawing in and extending out love that unites and connects the world.  For the mothers out there who have a difficult time with love because of the abuse that they have endured, love must come from within.  Love must be given to yourself, from yourself first and foremost before it can be delivered outward.  This is a difficult endeavor to love yourself, when you have been taught that you are worthless. But when you look into your child’s face, they are reflecting your own worth, which is eminent.  Let your child lead the way back to yourself.  Let them teach you to love the way you were never loved.  For they are our greatest teachers. 

For the women in the world without children, I have discovered that you are mothers to many.  I have had moms delivered to me in times of need who have never held their own infant.  Mothers come in so many different forms, even in the hearts of dads who raise children on their own.  To be a mother means to be filled with infinite love for someone other than yourself, but to love yourself enough to extend that love through you.  It is a circle of being, and of giving.  It is what makes this world go ’round.

I love my mother, who has not only given me life, but who has also given me dynamic depth.  When looked upon with clarity, the challenges we have faced together were a path toward overcoming inner obstacles that were holding us back from greater dimensions of our lives.  We entered into each other’s lives to become better people, to show each other the way; to poke and prod one another into noticing what we need to face in ourselves.  It has been difficult, but now that it is clear to me that my mom was my greatest advocate for my spiritual growth, I treasure her more than ever.  I wouldn’t have chosen a different mom.  She was the one, and she’s done her job with honors.

Mothers are amazing human beings, although none of us are perfect.  Even the moms who give their children up for adoption are offering the most unselfish love to their child.  It is what a mother is.  When we do our job correctly, we are unselfishly loving.  I’m so grateful today that I’m one of the mothers out there who is deliberately making the world a much better place.  Peace to all you mothers today!

 

L-O-V-E: Letting Others Voluntarily Evolve

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I heard this acronym last night at a meeting…  Love is to Let Others Voluntarily Evolve.  What a lovely way of “letting go.”  So many of us want to mold everyone into a way that makes us feel better.  We believe if the people around us change, that we would somehow be happier, or that we would be more content.  If my son plays sports, I will feel like a better parent.  If my daughter makes Cheer, I will feel like I fit in with the other moms.  If my husband is working his way up the ladder, I will be at peace because we would be financially secure.  If my parents would move closer, I would feel safer… etc.  Some of us place a lot of our well-being on what other people are doing, and this is not only controlling, but it is extremely unhealthy.  It removes us from being responsible for our own joy, and gives us excuses to be unhappy, or to procrastinate in our own personal goals. 

Most people are pretty controlling.  It’s a sort of self-preservation that we’ve created in this society, though if we become aware of it, we will notice how truly absurd it is when we try to relinquish control over others through trivial matters. In the end, it’s all smoke and mirrors.  There is no real control over another human being or the outcome of anything.  People are going to do what they want, and be who they are, and we can bully the world, but the world will always disappoint us when we try to control the end result.  

I’m controlling in a subtle way, so I’m really looking at this in myself. Sometimes when I’m with my children, or with friends and family, I imagine myself as a guide along their spiritual path.  I reverse this image and envision them as my guides as well.  In this scenario, no one is trying to control anyone.  We are all simply there to assist the other in their movement, but their movement is arbitrary.  I’m not allowed to manipulate, suggest anything for my own benefit, or direct them into any direction.  I’m only there to offer my support and to give them information… if they ask.  I’m there to listen.  I’m there to laugh with them, or cry with them.  I’m there to hold their hand if they need it, or to hug them if they require my loving arms.  Above all, I’m there to accept them as they are, because nothing will give them wings like knowing they are understood and sanctioned by another human being.  I also don’t expect anything from anyone.  This is essential, because expectation of others is a set up for grave disappointment.  No one outside of myself is responsible for my happiness or my well-being.

Lastly, I remind myself to stop judging.  This is the most important standard I’m learning to utilize.  I do not benefit by judging others, and neither do they.  Judgment is merely a scoop of horseshit delivered to my ego on a delusional silver platter.   No one is anything near being perfect, and we should always remember this about ourselves before pointing our fingers, or whispering catty things about another human being.  I don’t care who they are, how they behave, or what they did.  I have not walked even ten seconds along their path.  There is absolutely no place for self-righteousness, especially when I recall my own mistakes, which are copious.

When we allow others to be themselves, and allow them to navigate along their own journey without meddling, we are liberating ourselves to do the same.  This creates harmony.  Harmony is the key to our joy, and our well-being, and we can only have this if we relinquish the need to control.  I’m certainly not perfect at any of this stuff, but at least I’m finally aware of when I’m trying to control something, which is often.  I’m still learning, and growing and allowing myself to be without judgment of myself.  I’m still a caterpillar building a little cocoon where I can grow some beautiful wings. 

Now, if only the whole world could do this, I would be so much happier…

 

 

 

 

Being “AS IF” When I’m Feeling So-So

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Have you ever met someone who always seems to be in a perpetual state of well being?  Or perhaps you knew a friend’s mother who never reflected a bad mood.  What about those rare people who have endless energy while giving to those in need.  They are the true saints of this world; the ones who care more about the needs of others, than they do about the nuances of their emotions.  Others, like myself, tend to wear their emotions like a daily change of clothes.  Why can’t I be like that mother that always had a smile on her face, warmth in her heart, and a chuckle followed by a genuine hug when her child makes a mistake?  I tend to mask my inner stress with sarcasm, rather than being present and thinking of the needs of my loved ones.  Progress

Recently, I recalled a saying we have in recovery which places us in an awareness state of our actions, rather than unconsciously being driven by our emotions, worries or fears.  “Act as if…(fill in the blank)”  Act as if… I’m the kindest person in the world.  Act as if… I’m perpetually filled with joy.  Act as if… I were in a really good mood today.  Act as if… I were not annoyed right now, or as if I were light hearted, or non-controlling.  The thing about this is… it really works.  If you wake up in the morning with an intention to treat others with pure, unadulterated kindness, you will discover yourself much more aware of your behaviors and actions prior to them seeping out.  You will take heed in what you say to others, and stop yourself before you express negativity. 

This goes a long way, and for those of us who are seeking self-awareness, this is like placing yourself under the heat first thing in the morning.  It takes the power away from others, or from circumstance, and reminds me that I am responsible for how I behave.  It reminds me to thoughtfully respond, instead of to blindly react.  It places me back into conscious awareness of myself; and the world with all the people, offer me plenty of opportunity to practice compassion and gentleness, as opposed to retorting.

We have to be reminded of ourselves.  We tend to project our inner anger, stress or fears onto the world, but if we make an agreement with ourselves to be more compassionate, even though we don’t exactly feel compassionate, we are teaching ourselves how to become a genuinely compassionate person.  This isn’t about faking your way through life.  It’s simply about setting a daily intention to practice being a better human being.  In time, I believe, this practice becomes an art form of who we are.  After all, our true nature is kindness, goodness, love and well-being.  It’s a good way to shed the ole’ ego and to become genuine.  It also feels better to offer kindness and laughter rather than sighs and sarcasm. 

I am not writing this just to the reader.  I am here reminding myself of what I need to do today, and how I need to be.  I want to walk along the path of grace, and I long to have power in my life, where I am moving mountains.  Often that mountain is my own ego.  What better way to begin the day than telling my ego to go twiddle its invisible thumbs, while my gentle spirit leads the way?  <Great big smile here.>  If I’m going to talk the talk; I’d better walk the walk…

(Speaking of Ego, I wrote a book all about it and it’s free on Kindle this week.  This is my addiction to recovery memoir.) http://www.amazon.com/DEVILS-ALTAR-Dynamic-Journey-Recovery-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1397310809&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar

How About a Little Story… Just for Today

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There is a widely told story that speaks to the value of compassion. It seems that a woman who lived a Tao-centered life came upon a precious stone while sitting by the banks of a running stream in the mountains, and she placed this highly valued item in her bag.

The next day, a hungry traveler approached the woman and asked for something to eat. As she reached into her bag for a crust of bread, the traveler saw the precious stone and imagined how it would provide him with financial security for the remainder of his life. He asked the woman to give the treasure to him, and she did, along with some food. He left, ecstatic over his good fortune and the knowledge that he was now secure.

A few days later the traveler returned and handed back the stone to the wise woman. “I’ve been thinking,” he told her. “Although I know how valuable this is, I’m returning it to you in the hopes that you could give me something even more precious.”

“What would that be?” the woman inquired.

“Please give me what you have within yourself that enabled you to give me that stone.”

The woman in this story was living her life from a sacred place of compassion.

I heard this story from Dr. Wayne Dyer, although it was not written by him. It’s brilliant and when he shared it on one of his latest seminars, it overwhelmed me to tears.  So often we reach for the things that seem incredibly important during the course of our lives, yet we miss the mark completely. 

What does this have to do with recovery?  Well, for me it is a great reminder about a day I was in treatment and I couldn’t break free from this incredible pain I was having in my neck.  It was a familiar pain.  I’d been carrying it, on and off, for at least a decade.  The pain was stress, and it was my constant companion, but sometimes it became so uncomfortable, that I could almost cry.  One of my counsellors was leading our group that day and she noticed my awkward stance.  I was stiff, and bore my unease on my face.  “I’m just stressed,” I tell her, and then I continue to list all the things that contributed to my physical discomfort. 

She listened as I went on and on about the stuff I was dealing with, which was nothing much (in retrospect).  Life had a grip on me, and little things that “normal” people consider “part of life,” overwhelmed me to no avail.  Finally, I finished my personal saga, and my counsellor said one thing to me.  “You have no compassion for yourself.”

Needless to say, I was a bit stunned.  This didn’t quite make sense to me at the time, but I trusted this woman enough to take heed, and to hear what she was truly saying to me.  I was searching for the treasure in this statement.  After saying this, she added, “You are always in a state of stress.  This is what you do to yourself.  This is common for you.”  Well, duh… But I hadn’t once considered that the stress I carried was a result of the way I filtered things.  I was under the impression that life was always stressful.  NO, as usual, I was creating my experience, and stress was my “go to” emotion.  I understood this loud and clear, and it has taken several years since this moment for me to live without stressing out all the time, but the compassion part… well, that took some deep consideration on my part.

Today, I recall this statement, “You have no compassion for yourself,” on a daily basis.  It took me some time to understand what my counsellor was trying to tell me.  It’s a very simple thing, yet because she was right on (as usual), what she said was foreign to me.  I lived my life punishing myself, you see, and while I was in treatment, I made things harder than they actually were, because I felt like I deserved to go through hell after living such a harrowing existence.  I believed that recovery was a road of drudging after many years of self-destruction.  I had no idea that I was allowed to treat myself with kindness, and to let go of my past.  I was under the assumption that I had to attack all of my demons, rather than allowing them to rise up one at a time and deal with them in a natural process called “healing.”  I was scared of myself, but there I was doing everything I could for myself to get better.  I should have recognized my willingness, rather than approach myself as a failure.

The treasure the woman had in the story can be anything to anyone.  I suppose the treasure for me this year, has been a desire to have a successful, blissful relationship with a man I love, but that simply did not pan out.  When I first met him, and everything seemed to fall right into place, I grabbed onto the relationship as if it were a gem.  I just believed in it so deeply.  And then our year together began, and the year is up today, but we didn’t make it.  I feel like an incredible failure, but I’m remembering that statement, “You have no compassion for yourself,” and as I review the year with this man, I am seeking something more here, than what I first thought was important.  Besides pulling through an entire year moving to a new town, taking on a new job, taking on the role as a full-time mom again, writing and publishing several manuscripts, and going through a breakup, I have also experienced incredible bouts of stress and anxiety, but I didn’t pick up a drink or a drug to alleviate my troubles.  No, I went through this year sober, and most of the time, I didn’t even once think of drinking.  This is the treasure in my life that I truly desired.  The treasure wasn’t a happy relationship, a perfect life, or being successful as a writer.  All these things are important to me, but beyond them, I desire to remain sober.  And that’s pretty much it.

I think we all tend to focus on the shimmering lights in life, but beyond the lights, is something greater holding everything together.  That something greater, is simply compassion.  Compassion is the cosmic thread of life that unites all living things.  It seals the sphere of humanity into harmony.  If we can practice compassion in our daily endeavors, we will discover a truly profound treasure and the greatest gift of all.

 

Devistating News and The Story of the Monk

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The irony of getting my life together, is that my children’s father has gone on a downward swing in the meantime.  This isn’t the first time this has happened.  When we got divorced, it was because he was mixed up in meth, and I couldn’t help him.  He pulled himself out of it, we became close again, and then I spiraled out on alcohol.  Up and down; up and down, the pendulum swings between us.  It’s like the extreme ebb and flow of parenting in recovery and relapsing.  I’ve spent nearly three years sober, and I’ve been diligent this time around.  I’m not going to relapse again, but I wasn’t expecting a phone call like I received yesterday.

We’ve been divorced for ten years, but we’re raising children, so we try to keep a civil relationship.  He has supposedly been sober for several years now.  He disappeared in September, and I suspected a relapse.  I expected a phone call, any minute, that he was dead, but it was his voice on the other end of the phone yesterday… “Hey Red,” (his nickname for me), “I’m in a lot of trouble.  I relapsed and I’m going to be spending some time in state prison.  Possibly two years or more.  My court date is in a month and a half…”

The weird thing was, I didn’t flip out on him for disappearing.  He is like a brother to me, and the love I have for him is unconditional. I totally understand addiction, and I know what he is feeling is one hundred times worse than anything I could say to him.  I practice living in the moment, and being in total acceptance of whatever it is that comes my way.  I trust the Universe is constantly supporting me, so I surrender, but I cannot deny that I am devastated; hurt; saddened; heart broken, stressed and anxiety stricken. 

There is story I keep in the back of my mind for situations like this.  It’s about a monk who lives by himself in a village.  One day a baby is delivered to him by the angry parents of a girl who says the monk impregnated her.  The monk takes the baby in without question, saying, “so be it,” and for several years he raises her.  When she is a toddler, the parents come back with their daughter and apologize to the monk; for he is not the father.  The girl was afraid to tell the truth about her pregnancy, and in order to keep a boy from getting into trouble, she lied and blamed the monk.  The family took the toddler back into their care, and the monk, without question says, “so be it,” and goes about his business.

I believe the monk practiced, “Life on life’s terms,” beyond anything that I could ever imagine “being,” but I’m giving it the good ole’ college effort today.  It is not for me to judge what comes my way in this human experience of mine.  If I am open to receiving, and trusting in a higher purpose for my life, I should ask no questions.  I should trust that this is par for the course of my recovery.  I won’t sit here and lie about how I felt yesterday.  It was the first time in a long time that a shot of alcohol tempted me in my disoriented state of shock and anxiety.  I reached out, however, and told on myself for these alcoholic fantasies I was having.  They were old tapes playing.  Back in the day, receiving news like this would have been a perfect reason to drink.  I’m still shedding old skins and practicing NOT picking up a drink.  This was good practice.

Four months of a meth relapse, and my ex is looking at state prison time.  Our daughter will be well into her teens when he gets released, and our son will be an adult.  I will be in my forties.  The old part of me wants to scream at the top of my lungs and slap this man who is supposed to be a father to my children, but the recovering person in me wants to be like that monk in the village.  I remind myself today that I am not in control.  I’m not the conductor of my life; I’m merely a passenger on a spiritual journey.