Excerpt from ‘Presage in a Bottle,’ by J. L. Forbes

Presage

Twice in my life I nearly drowned in the undercurrent of the ocean. Both times I was caught off-guard by waves of mass erosion sucking and folding me into the lethal body of water like a listless rag-doll. In milliseconds, the shoreline morphed from beauty to beast; first fulfilling my soul, then virtually robbing me of my young life. One of those times, my head crashed into the seaboard. I spun mercilessly inside the rifting tide, which harshly indicated my own vicinity between the water and the land beyond the whirlwind. I was lucky to hit my head regardless of the pain and shock. I dizzily anchored my knees and palms into the sandy floor, offering me enough leverage to stand and save myself. Both of those perilous times, I was dragged, hurled, slammed, twisted and regurgitated. I panicked in the terror of death’s taunt each time, and was instantly alleviated when my pleading lungs sucked in air instead of salt water.

Years later I dreamed of saving a drowning baby girl from a ravage river. Saving her almost took my own life. I pulled her in from the back of a moving speed boat; painfully gripping the wooden swim step with one hand while pulling her out of the river with the other. She was going to die if I didn’t use every fragment of my own strength to rescue her. My heroine tactics sufficed. The girl was brought to surface and survived. She was an infant. I lifted her, handed her over to the people aboard the boat, and then pulled myself to safety.

Upon awakening I knew exactly what the dream meant, although it would be several years before I took heed and followed the path of my heroine self. I fervently remained a drowning child in the hollows of alcoholic bottles and benders with every intention of dying drunk. At the end of my drinking I didn’t care about living. Problem was, I could not drink enough to die. At the end of every bottle and blackout, I found myself awake in the same world I was trying to drown myself out of. Each time I should have died, I awoke in a hospital attached to needles pumping liquid life into me. Goddammit I wanted to remain asleep. Where is my Vodka?

Washing up into a detox facility was me finally saving myself. It was my decision to go. Still drunk from several days of heavy boozing, I was stained with urine, bruised from tumbling on sidewalks and streets, scratched all over from trying to sleep in bushes believing it would be a great place to hide from my desperately searching husband. My right knee was inflated with fluid from clumsy collapses. My palms scraped and bloodstained; face, stomach, feet and fingers swollen with liquor, skin dehydrated and taut, eyes bloodshot and expressive of exhaustion, terror and humiliation. Facing myself in the mirror was seeing an enigma of myself. Who is this lost girl? Where am I?

Cherry Hill Detox felt like shore to me after many nights of drifting out at sea. Even the dry ham sandwiches and watered down tea were satisfactory, as well as the thin plastic mattresses and ongoing commotions from people suffering in withdrawal. Their horror was all too familiar. Sometimes I laughed in sinister appreciation, but mostly I related and empathized in quiet agony and sadness. Opiate detox is excruciating and messy. I’d been in their sweaty sheets a few times when I’d swapped alcohol for pharmaceuticals in a shallow and brief attempt at sobriety. Before my own alcohol wore off during the first night in the facility, I observed what was ahead for me in the likes of other addicts; my hopeless brothers and sisters. What should have been disturbing felt harmonious in comparison to the drunken awfulness of passing out alone in the back seat of my car, or in vacant fields where I always hoped to wake up before being discovered by someone who would overreact at the norms of an everyday drunk.

A presage is a foreboding of things to come. Negative things. An omen of sorts. It isn’t a word I even knew while facing my alcoholism in the end, but you don’t have to know fancy words in order to make intuitive decisions. Intuition does not require any thinking or logistics. It’s a simple knowing of things to come and which direction to follow. Both intuitively and cognitively I knew my ass needed serious help. I had been identifying myself as an alcoholic for seven years by this time.

The morning I went into detox, I was so frightened of my self-destructive behavior, that I completely embraced everything that resulted after walking through those clinical double glass doors. I was in a state of complete surrender, and this is where one needs to be in order to recover. It’s really the bottom line. Surrendering is the foundation of true recovery. And the surrender must be eternal. There is no wavering here. There is no taking back the reigns. You are fucked if you think you get to ever be in control again. When I say “fucked,” I mean, rock bottom becomes a deeper and denser pit. This pit is muddied with terror and self-deprivation. Once you start sliding down that pit, there is less and less in this world, and of yourself, to grab a hold of. Once a person has given up on themselves, all hope dissipates into the wasteland of their own disgrace.

This was the presage in my bottle. The emptiness of every dry liquor container mirrored my internal state of desolation. I knew what was at the end of every bottle. It was more disconnection from who I was, and all of the dreams I ever had for myself, which were many. It was despair beyond measure. No matter the size of my bottle (a half pint, a pint, a fifth, or a five-bottle box of cheap wine), there was never enough. Never enough booze to wet the desert inside of me. It wasn’t even numbing me out anymore. It was scaring me and sucking the life out of me, yet it wasn’t killing me.

I would eventually cry. Tears would come in ample time, but now I needed to be alert and aware of my surroundings. Relief and the need for survival in this rancid place dammed my frolicking emotions; parting them from the single particle of sanity burrowed in like a calcified gem within the twisted and haunted confines of my mind. You dare not mix one last morsel of sanity with ravaging emotions. In inconsiderate monstrosity, emotion shall devour sanity.

There really is no diversity in addiction when I think about it now. There is no skin color, fat, thin, tall, short or intellectual vs. idiot. The only difference between us is what drug we abuse the most. Even that doesn’t matter because real addicts only care about one thing and one thing only – where their next hit is coming from. We all relate and empathize with one another on that wretched level. There is a safe and harrowing bond between us all.

(Coming soon to Amazon)

http://www.amazon.com/J.-L.-Forbes/e/B00HS980ZI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1426859153&sr=1-1

Embracing the Things We Don’t Like Instead of Rejecting Them Will Liberate Humanity

Garbage

We don’t shun the darkness each evening when the earth rotates and the sun shines on the opposite side of the world.  Darkness serves a purpose and it is part of our daily experience.  We have no choice but to accept this experience.  I don’t think there is anyone travelling back and forth from Fiji each evening trying to keep up with the daylight.  That would be ludicrous.  Death is a part of life.  Darkness shadows light.  Weeds grow among the most tranquil of gardens.  Disease and health exists together on one planet.  If there is a positive charge, the laws of physics tells us that there is also a negative charge balancing everything out.  On this dense physical plain of existence, we cannot separate Yin and Yang, so why do we constantly label everything as “good and bad” and then try to reject the “bad?”  It sounds a lot like chasing the sun to Fiji everyday.  It’s insane.

We think the world has problems because of the choices that people make (freewill), but the problem is so much simpler than this. Freewill is a gift to each and every human being, so to limit people on what they can and cannot do based on our own freewill of an idea, opinion or belief we harbor, creates much more discord than it does any sort of good.  It creates bias, judgment and separation from compassion, or Source (God).  If God is all there is all and there was, and all there will ever be, then where does “evil” even derive from?  Evil is merely man’s illusion of separateness from his/her creator.  It is nothing more than an idea that we are distant from our source.  The more we delve deeper into an idea that we are separate from our creator, the more “evil” we create, but this dark part of our existence is merely part of a bigger whole.  There is truly no separation or “evil vs. good.”  This is just what we experience on a physical level because we have a very limited perception here.  We cannot see the whole. We are constantly trying to make things better by ridding the world of the bad, but this has never worked.  Negative and positive exist together to create a balance.  You cannot separate the whole, or rid the world of one without the other.   

Contrast is needed in order to experience wholeness.  This human experience is a way for the soul to travel “apart” from its source in order to find its way back to its source.  It’s merely a game of hide-n-seek.  It’s our Source’s way of self-discovery – a cosmic scavenger hunt if you will.  The insanity of humanity is that it believes it is fragmented, so we tend to focus on changing the things we don’t like instead of embracing the wholeness of life, which includes both negative and positive as equal polarities.  In my own human experience, when I am embrace my so-called character defects instead of resisting them, they magically morph into my greatest assets.  This is the key to re-discovering our wholeness – first on an individual level, and then on a planetary level.  Realizing our wholeness and operating from a place of compassion will restore harmony.  Resistance is our source of dis-ease and “evil.”  Acceptance and compassion is the key to restoration (recovery), and to heal humanity in its “fallen” state.

For more information, read this incredible book:  http://www.amazon.com/God-I-Am-Tragic-Magic/dp/0646052551/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1410186738&sr=1-1&keywords=god+i+am+from+tragic+to+magic

Recognizing Stressful Sitations as a Process for Inner Awareness

woman meditating on rock

WOW it’s been a week!  Too much going on, yet no way to slow it down.  I don’t know what planets are aligned where or if Mercury is in retro-freaking-grade, or if Gemini is being eclipsed by whatever, but I feel like a frigging tennis ball.  Friday finally approached, just before a three day holiday I’m having with my family out on our private river island (oasis from this hellish week), and it turns out to be the most stressful day of all.  Unexpected twists and turns – a roller coaster of a day and evening, and none of it was fun, except when I finally sat down in bed last night and saw a really funny FB post.  Laughter certainly eased my anxiety, but then there were the dreams.  More stress, twists and turns and then I found myself purchasing a big bottle of god-knows-what at a liquor store. Drinking dreams.  They’ve come up a lot this week.  The worst ones are so realistic.  I drink and actually feel drunk.  I smell the booze and the next day I cannot recall anything from the night before.  It’s all too realistic for me.  This morning, my nerves are like the tattered strings of an old violin.  I’m spent. 

We all go through off-days and off-weeks.  I haven’t had anything like this come up for me in such a long time that I actually believed I’d transcended chaos.  Ha!  It’s good for me to know that I’m still in the running for Gandhi’s successor (I am so just kidding – trust me I really need sarcasm as a crutch today).  The truth is, I stopped looking at physical situations as “reality” and have come to a place where I understand these situations arise so that I can actually feel what’s going on for me – the inner reality.  I’ve been in fear all week.  I mean, anxiety central right here.  It hasn’t been constant, but there have been several occurrences that have brought up so much fear in me that I could not even pretend to be at peace.  And thank god for that.  I don’t like being delusional about myself.  I want to know what’s really going on with me.  I want my awful ugly side to come up once in a while so that I can get a good look at it and remember that I am human.  Life is not a fairy prance.  It’s raw.  It’s sometimes terrifying, and it comes with unexpected cliff hangers.  I don’t particularly like being on the edge, but it keeps me real.  It helps the suppressed fears to bubble up so that I can shine a light on those fears and release them out of my body.  These twists and turns are like physical exfoliation of my suppressed emotions.  Ugh, it sucks, but man I’m so grateful to be aware of myself, instead of thinking the world is coming up against me.  On the contrary.  It’s time for me to release some of this fear.  It’s time for me to be aware that it’s deep down inside of me.  It’s about time I faced it and had a little rendezvous with my old suppressed acquaintances.  The truth is, nothing BAD really happened this week, although a lot of things could have went “wrong,” and they still could go “wrong,” but now that I’m aware of my fears, I can easily accept any “wrong” that does happen because it isn’t the situation occurring.  It’s truly about facing those fears that come up when those situations bring it on.

I’ve been in jail.  I’ve lost everything.  I’ve faced the entire world on the Oprah show regarding a traumatic DUI involving my child.  People probably wonder why I’m so open about my life and my break ups and all the other shit that comes up for me.  I’m not afraid of other people’s judgment.  That’s LONG gone.  Don’t care what people think about me when I’m being true to who I am.  What I am afraid of, are other things that came up for me this week.  So it’s good that they came up for me through the mirror of physical reality.  I’m quite aware of my fears right now, and I’m not beating myself up for how I feel or my mistakes or for simply being human.  I’m merely taking a good look at myself and asking for guidance as I continue along my path. 

If you’re having a bad week, or a terrible month, or you just can’t seem to break the funk – take a good look at what’s coming up for you.  Take a real good inventory of those arising emotions.  That’s where the focus should be.  The outside stuff will work itself out.  Just keep looking inward.  This is where we need to keep our focus.  You wanna change the world?  Or at least YOUR world?  Well, keep working from the inside out.  Eternal peace often needs to rid itself of suppressed fears, so love yourself enough to allow those fears to dissipate through the mirror of physical reality.  For me, it all started with an earthquake at 3:00 a.m. last week, and here I am almost a week later still having a lot of anxiety.  Good for me.  I’m not anywhere near a place of arrival in my recovery.  It’s a good reminder that I only have right now and right now needs my full awareness and attention!  Never perfection – ALWAYS progress…

The Wayshower’s Way

Beacon Light

To shine the truth on others

Truth must shine from me

They’ll listen if the truth

Is what they what they truly seek

 

When the door of truth knocks hard

Deep within their soul

They shall seek out truth in those

Who walk in kindness whole

 

The road to Truth is narrow

And buried deep in script

Very few will find the path

On words they will be tripped

 

Be a beacon light

Not a foghorn loud

Be the stillness standing firm

Rejected are the proud

 

Speak not with condemnation

Emanate with love

See yourself in others

Over them you are not above

 

The thing we come to do on Earth

Is to learn the “I AM” way

Choose fear or choose your freedom

Be confused or learn to play!

 

J. L. Forbes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Most People Are a Slave to Something – Are You a Slave to Something?

Slave

When I was growing up in church and playing the piano for our youth group (over fifteen years ago now – MAN I’m getting old), one of my favorite song’s chorus was “Break through the chains, in my life. Tear down the strongholds and the walls.  Deliver me from all bondage and strife.  That I may hear when you call.  I give you my all.”  We sang this over and over, feeling the power in the affirmation to break free from those chains.  At the time I thought of marijuana as my chain because I smoked a lot of it and loved it, and lived a double life because of it.  I probably thought of sex too, as a chain, although I was monogamous with the one boyfriend that became my husband.  I loved him dearly, but felt guilty about the intimacy we shared because we were taught in church that if we were not married, that sex was wrong.  I had no idea at the time that I was a slave to more than just marijuana and sex.  I was a slave to fear, to religion, to other people’s ideas and beliefs.  Bottom line – I was a slave.  I had no sovereignty like I have now.  I didn’t know who I was, which direction I was going, what my purpose for being here was, or my relationship with the surrounding world.  I was completely lost.  ‘Amazing Grace’ was one of my favorite songs at the time too, but when I sang the words (“I once was lost, but now I’m found”) – I was lying.  I was not found.  I was still completely lost.  You see, I was going outside of my own inner light to attach myself to a belief system.  I had no idea that I was part of something greater.

If you are a slave to something, you are probably quite aware of it.  But if you aren’t aware of your dependence on something, how do you find out if you are a slave?  It is really simple… Without it, there will be a grave state of fear in place of that “something.”   If you are afraid to let something go in your life… BINGO! (a.k.a. indication of slavery).

Case and point – I am a fairly spiritual person (really?), and when I first left the rehabilitation center after six months of rigorous treatment, I was challenged by my peers about it.  I was at a place in my recovery then that I was able to look at myself and see myself without debating the people confronting me, or being defensive about my “ways.”  I looked at how I was navigating in the world and realized that I may have been using spirituality as a crutch in order to feel better about reality.  So I willfully let my spiritual side go.  It terrified me to let it go, but I was willing to test the waters without my mask of “spirituality.”  I trusted the process because we were taught to shed our masks in order become whole and firmly rooted.  I walked around Berkeley and went to my two jobs without any thought toward God or the power in my life, or the magic surrounding me.  I simply took on the rawness and mundaneness of the physical world.  It was intense for me, but it taught me something about myself.  You see, I was AFRAID to let that part of myself go.  I was scared to “not be spiritual.”  This was a good indication that I was a slave to my “way of being.” 

For several months I walked in the rawness of reality and it was then that I found my balance.  It was there that I became rooted in who I was (which is exactly where we want to be).  I was not living a personification of joy.  I was not deflecting every situation into a “spiritual lesson.”  Some things in life are just shitty and it’s ok to admit this and to be aware of it.  I was tested and tried in myself.  I felt pulled from the inside out.  I was forced to walk through my fear of boredom and to look at things as they were without insight or philosophy.  It was a time when my repressed emotions came to swallow me whole.  I allowed them to overcome me, and I discovered that I was NOT at peace.  I was not at peace like I believed I was.  This was abundantly clear through my current of my emotions.  So I continued shedding that mask of being a “spiritual person” and simply walked in the world as a human being, which was full of dynamic contrast and incredibly beautiful.  You know what happened?  I woke up.

When I got to a place where I was no longer afraid, is when I knew that I had something solid in my life.  I understood then that I didn’t need the crutch of spirituality.  You see, I became whole in myself.  I understood that I was responsible for my life.  I understood that I was responsible for what thoughts I bought into, and which ones I could toss aside but more than anything, I learned how to feel my way through life.  I saw things for what they were without the rose colored glasses, and felt every emotion that arose from within me, and it was invigorating.  I walked through my fear of letting go – THAT was powerful.  What was on the other side of my fear?  ME.  Just simply me along with my constant river of emotions.  And it is up to me to reach inside myself to discover that inner light.  I had it all along.  I didn’t need to cloak myself in spirituality.  I simply learned to center myself from the inside out, which a spiritually balanced way of being. The human experience accompanies our soul journey. There really is no separation.  When I talk of spiritual things now, and share my insights, it is because I am truly experienced in my walk of faith.  I am solid.  I share with a genuine knowing instead of sharing a belief. 

If you have something in your life that scares the shit out of you to relinquish, then it is a clear indication that you are a slave to that something.  Do yourself a favor and let it go.  Walk away from it.  Put it down.  Recondition yourself to live without it.  Step out in faith.  Be courageous.  Be sovereign.  Be set free from that bondage.  If it is a belief – challenge and test the belief until it becomes a knowing. And in the words of one of my favorite church songs, “Break through the chains in my life.  Tear down the strongholds and the walls…”  Hallelujah – AMEN!

 

 

New Day – New Beginning

New Beginnings

Nature is the greatest example of “how to be.”  Nothing in nature (besides human beings) worries about what comes next.  We are the only species that has the ability to embody fear indefinitely.  Some of us walk in the darkness of our fear without even knowing it.  But if we look around and see how the plants and animals live in harmony, we will notice that they are in a constant state of trusting their environment in a state of being present.  They thrive from the offerings of the earth and they don’t worry.  They innately know that they will be given all that they need.  This is a great lesson for all of humanity.

I wake up as the sun is rising and it is a beautiful reminder that each day is a brand new beginning.  The crickets and frogs pass their symphony onto to the birds.  The darkness is relinquished as the sun moves her dance to this side of the planet.  A morning dew refreshes the plants, and we wake up again.  A fresh start is offered to each living creature. Tomorrow does not exist.  Yesterday is long gone.  The thing that we are generously given on a constant basis is NOW.  The only thing that takes us out of now, is our labyrinth of thoughts.  We wake up with regrets, worries, plans, ideas and often we rush through our mornings to get somewhere on time.  We lose ourselves throughout our day, and forget to touch, taste, see, smell, listen, laugh… feel.  We forget these gifts of life because we think that life is a car, a job, parenting, wearing the mask of professionalism, grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, finding out what’s on the news… etc.  I’ve got news for you.  Real news.  There is a whole universe you are missing out on while you’re engrossed in the surface of life.  The whole universe is you and this very moment.

I used to think life was incredibly boring.  I was so bored that I despised even being here, and there were times when I looked forward to death.  If I wasn’t bored, I was terrified, which is even worse.  How did that all change for me?  Well, first because I yearned for it to change, and second, because one beautiful morning in 2011, I woke up with the sunrise and realized that it was all I had, and it was all I ever needed.  There was nothing other than me and this moment.  That was it.  That was always going to be it.  How refreshing.  How thirst quenching.  How simple and incredibly profound.  So here I am.  Here you are.  Wake up.  It’s a new day.  Embrace the new beginnings rather than embody your fear.  Let go of the need to control outcome and take it all in, because this is all you have.  This is all you ever have.  Thank God for that, because it is so perfectly uncomplicated – this right here, right now moment.  The whole universe (you) is encompassed in today.  Isn’t that something to behold?

What Does it Feel Like to “Wake Up” or to Become Conscious?

Conscious Living

When you go through transformation and change, it often feels like the world is squeezing you through an emotional birth canal.  And as you begin waking up to your life, there are times when it may feel as if you are disconnected from everything.  I recall feeling detached from the world around me, which caused me to question even moving forward with “spiritual enlightenment” (this is the label that is placed on ‘waking up’ from living inside your thoughts into living in the present, detached from your thoughts).  Detaching yourself from your thoughts is somewhat like peeling and scraping an old piece of scotch tape from a desk.  It takes some time and strength.  It is certainly frustrating, and there are times you feel like giving up.  Don’t.      

Trust that when you begin this process, there will be some turbulence along the way, but keep your eyes and ears open to things leading you into the right direction.  Know that you are always being guided along your journey.  Be aware of the silence that may feel as if you are completely alone in the world, but don’t use it as an excuse to give up.  The silence may feel like desolation, but it is this desolation you need in order to discover your Self (your higher self).  Silence is the space in which to listen to your inner being.  It’s the place of healing, growing and learning about walking in faith.  In time, silence will become your friend – and the closer you become to your Self and understand who you are through this process, the more connected you will feel to the people and the surrounding world.

When fear comes up for you (oh, and it will), step out of its grip by acknowledging its presence, and by finding out what it’s telling you without following its path.  You can listen to fear without heeding to it.  In order to “wake up,” you must overcome your fear by facing it – for this is what has kept you quite asleep in your life.  If it is becoming too much for you, simply tell the universe to “slow down” the process.  You are in control.  You have authority over your life.  When you begin waking up, you will understand your power, and fear will no longer have authority over you.

You will be tested and challenged throughout this process.  Know this and be aware of it as it is occurring.  People will come along and push you into other directions.  Others may prod you toward “negative” emotions.  They are not aware that they are your teachers along your path.  Keep moving forward, ignore distractions, be aware of anything that enters into your experience to send you off course.  And if you go off course for a time, know that it is nothing more than part of your experience.  Sometimes we have to go off the path in order for the path to become clearer.  Always practice compassion for yourself – no matter what.

Emotions will arise – some of them so intense you may feel like you are nowhere near “enlightenment.”  Don’t suppress your emotions.  Don’t be a fool and act like they do not exist.  Emotions have to be regarded so that they can move through your body.  Anger and rage may overcome you at times.  Sadness may envelop you for no reason at all.  Scenes in movies may trigger you to cry uncontrollably.  Allow the tears to flow.  Feel any rage that comes up without acting on it.  When I was going through this process, I felt completely out of control at times, and it would usually be when I thought I’d reached the height of my “awakening.”  It was a gentle reminder that “waking up” is an ongoing process.  It never ends.  Each day is a practice of self-awareness and living consciously.  There is no end to the path, except perhaps upon death when we are in spirit.  As you continue this practice of acknowledging your emotions, they will begin to move through you much more swiftly, and you will discover this is because you are firmly rooted in joy.  Your emotions are like rain and your inner joy is like a window that the rain merely rolls down and dissipates while the window remains in tact.

Shedding the ego is part of this experience, and for me it always feels like something in my body is thrashing.  I am still shedding my ego.  When it occurs, is usually when I’m feeling the most restless.  I used to dread these moments of restlessness, but now I embrace them knowing that it is a time of great growth.  The ego is afraid to let go.  It feels like it must protect you, so it fights when you are ready to move on from that portion of yourself.  It is helpful to talk to your ego and to tell it that it is ok to move on.  Give it permission to leave.  Gently tell it that this part of you no longer serves you and that you are graciously letting it go.  Thank it for wanting to protect you.  If you are anything like me, you will feel something in your being, squirm and wrestle around.  It will also provoke emotions.  Watch it, rather than buy into it.  The shedding of the ego is like getting rid of “demons.”  When I read about Jesus casting out demons in the Bible, I truly believe that he was clairvoyant enough to see the ego, and to call it out by name.  The way the Bible describes how the demons reacted, was exactly what I feel in my own body when the ego is being shed.  To remain humble, we must shed the ego.

Waking up is a choice and once you make this decision, there really is no turning back.  In a room that is dark, when a candle is lit, you can blow it out, but the memory of that room will never go away.  There are times when I doubted everything about this awakening process, and then I understood that doubt is part of the experience.  Waking up to yourself is like going into the dense wilderness and coming out with a fresh and beautiful new perspective.  Learn to meditate for clarity, pray for guidance and practice trusting that where you are is exactly where you need to be, without judgment.  If you are going through this process and want to share with others what you are experiencing, please post in the comment section.