Thanking the People in Your Life Who Have “Done You Wrong”

Cover for In Lieu of a Dragon Tale

Abuse comes in all forms, from emotional to physical, and the abuse is passed down from one person to the next.  It is extremely unlikely that an abuser has been nurtured in a balanced and healthy environment.  Most people who are mentally and emotionally abusive are unaware of their control issues, nor do they have any sort of self-esteem because of what has been inflicted upon them and taken away from them, usually in childhood.  We know this when we deal with abusive people in our lives, but how often do we find compassion for them?  It is so much easier to take the stance of a victim and to blame that person for most or some of our “issues.”  I am writing this today because I was walking with a friend yesterday who was terribly neglected by her adopted mother, and even after the mother has passed away, my friend is still harboring a lot of anger from her childhood.

I asked my friend this question:  “Although your mom was abusive, neglectful and caused you pain, what positive influence did she have on your life?  I mean, when people push us to the point of misery, and cause us to want to rebel, often we go to the extremes to prove them wrong in some way, shape, or form.  Their behavior toward us has a direct influence on some of our biggest life decisions.  How did your abusive mother push you in your life, which proved positive?”

My friend considered this for a moment and then relayed to me that she would have never left home as early as she had, and taken several opportunities to travel the world if it weren’t for her mom driving her to the point of practically running out the front door.  My friend has been all over the planet because she refused to remain home in that abusive relationship with her mother.  She has literally seen most everything there is to see out there, in all of her childhood fury.  She went out and found her place in the world because she had no place with her own mom.  How empowering that relationship truly was for my friend.

In my own life, I have recognized other people’s “bad or weird” behaviors as an opportunity to look at my own self and see how I can change (clean up my side of the street) in order to navigate in a balanced way with those people.  Other people enter our lives to show us something about ourselves.  We think that life is incredibly random, but if nature shows us anything, it proves that it is clearly balanced, and it is constantly rebalancing, healing, growing, providing, etc.  When we are physically hurt, our body immediately sends signals to our brain to rush in extra blood so that it can begin the healing process.  It is no different in our emotional, spiritual and mental experiences of life.  The universe always provides people, places and things to offer healing, balance and growth.  If we recognize these people, places and things when they arrive, we will discover that life is not random.  It is incredibly connected and unbiased.

Everyone experiences pain, and everyone is provided opportunities for healing, balance and growth.  It is up to the individual to recognize their role in the ecosystem of their relationships.  If someone is causing you pain, another something or someone will be provided for healing.  Life is certainly not random.  If we are to become conscious of ourselves, we must also recognize what role other people play in our spiritual, emotional and mental development.  Everyone plays a role in our lives, including those who are completely clueless to themselves and how they behave.

If I have learned anything this year, it is that no matter how awful other people’s behaviors are, there is something I can change about myself in order to find serenity in that relationship.  I can find a balance within myself through their reflection of whatever pisses me off or annoys me.  Rather than trying to control them (because I can’t), I take control of my responses, and there I discover that I am way more in control than I previously thought.  When we begin searching for balance within ourselves, we discover how incredibly powerful we are as human beings, and how life is constantly offering us opportunities to heal, balance and grow.  When I heal, rebalance and grow because of those other people’s influences in my life, it is easy to take a step back from my ego and silently thank them for the significant role they played, without them even knowing it.  There is so much to this life experience that we miss if we are not aware of our soul journey while we are in this human form.

I spend most of my free time writing, and this is how I rebalance, and figure stuff out about myself.  I don’t know what else I am supposed to be doing with my life other than raising my two children and writing, so that’s what I’m doing.  I have recently published a book called ‘In Lieu of a Dragon Tale – A Modern Day Fable for the Young at Heart.’  It is about a girl and her unexpected relationship with a dragon.  The dragon represents wisdom and the girl is having a difficult time navigating through her life with this giant beast in a society that does not accept dragons.  The story wrote itself and surprised me in each unfolding chapter.  The ending was especially unexpected.  I’ve loaded it on Kindle for 0.99 and it is also available in paperback.

If you have suffered in your addiction, or if you are trying to make sense out of the chaos,  this story is extremely relatable, as the girl eventually descends into the darkest of places in order to separate herself from the dragon, until she has a powerful moment of clarity.  I am very excited about this book and am asking for some reviews on Amazon.  Here is the link if you are interested:  http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=in+lieu+of+a+dragon+tale%2C+j.+l.+forbes

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Surrender

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In recovery, isn’t it curious how our lives begin to fall right into place after so much drudging during our addiction?  Even in our wreckage, we receive clarity.  Endless possibility accompanies our restoration.  What we used to dread dealing with, we become open and willing to manage through now; and what we once deemed impossible, is very much possible today.  Life is not as difficult as we believed it was while we were twisted in our addiction.  Moving into serenity isn’t only plausible, it becomes a natural state of being.

I have pondered this phenomenon often.  It goes without saying that if one is struggling in their addiction, then the obvious solution is for them to get clean and remain sober.  What is so difficult about this course of action?  Why don’t more addicts become and remain sober?  During my addiction, many people suggested that I just stop drinking, or just don’t drink, as if I’m throwing a feather into the wind.  It should be a breeze, right?

The truth is, getting sober is not easy.  In fact, I’ve discovered for myself that remaining sober has been much easier than becoming sober.  I think of an addict getting sober as being equivalent to someone who has been running away from an impending train for quite some time.  The train is always right at their heels, but every time they take a hit or drink or pop a pill, the train seems to back off.  The speed of the train subsides.  The noise of the strain subsides, and the fear of the train hitting also subsides.  The drug or drink keeps that train at bay every time the addict uses.

Inadvertently in late addiction, the train has already hit the addict and caused a lot of wreckage, but the addict continues to run and hide from it.  As a result, the drug or drink no longer has the same effect as before.  The drug or drink no longer drowns out the noise or the speed of the train.  It doesn’t reduce the fear.  In fact, all of these things become amplified.  When we finally acknowledge that the train has wrecked, we have a choice to either face the train or to get buried in the wreckage.  When we face the train, it is called surrendering.  When we choose to get sucked into the wreckage by ignoring it all, it is called denial.

The train represents life.  A significant difference between an addict and a non-addict is that an addict, at some point in their existence, purposely jumps off the train and begins running away from it.  Ironically, the train is always moving and it’s never apart from the addict, who is completely delusional.  The addict truly believes he or she can forever run from himself, from emotion or from pain and sorrow.  All of the troublesome things arising from within the addict, is what the addict wants to hide from, completely.

When it finally occurs to the addict that his or her only alternatives are to surrender, or to die, we must make a choice.  When we choose to surrender, our guard is then eradicated; we become vulnerable and open.  We face the train wreck and then uncover what has always been there.  What has always been there is our emotional responses to our experiences.  What we discover in our moment of surrender, is the capacity to stand before the wreckage and admit that we have absolutely no control. 

You see, we were never the conductor of our life; we were simply a passenger on a journey.  When our experience of that journey became uncomfortable or unbearable, we heedlessly tried to take control.  We got off track and created a disaster, but in the spirit of surrender with minimal resistance, the train is eventually restored and we, the addicts, are restored.  We get back on the train, as wrecked as it may be, but this time we begin to accept everything along the way, in a state of constant surrender.

What exactly, are we surrendering to? 

We are surrendering our self-will and re-connecting to Spirit.  We are re-aligning ourselves with that gentle flow of life that always was and always is.  What happens when we surrender our self-will and decide to face the wreckage of the train, is that our perspective becomes much clearer.  We are raw and facing the truth.  Finally there is potential, because we are no longer running away.  We are no longer heading off track or headed in the wrong direction.  Although the train may seem un-restorable at the time, something within us has shifted because we are at least facing the train wreck.  This is the point where we begin trusting in a process which we know nothing about, and we begin walking along in blind direction.  Somehow we gain the ability to believe in something greater than ourselves, which we cannot clearly see.  Our understanding at this point is that a power greater than ourselves will restore us to sanity, as stated in Step 3 in the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

This is a difficult concept for many recovering addicts to wrap their minds around, which is okay.  We do not need to wrap our minds around anything.  We simply surrender and admit that our lives have become unmanageable.  This is the first step.  Once this step is courageously taken, we have deliberately re-aligned ourselves on the journey that we began at birth.

There is so much possibility when we surrender, because it is then that we become completely open to living within the wholeness and completeness of our lives.  We begin making space, without illusion or limitation, to be guided through our wreckage, in total clarity of each moment.  When we grasp how simple it is to live a life in sobriety, by taking just one day at a time (or one moment at a time as I like to do), we begin to experience gratitude for even the smallest of details that make up the whole.  The uncommon slowness of our lives becomes a vastness extending into completeness.  Everything we need at any given moment is granted to us without hassle.  We begin to realize that emotions and conflicts that arise are not only manageable; they are efficiently beneficial to our spiritual growth.  We experience harmony more often than not.

If a self-destructive, severe alcoholic like me can make these claims and have this understanding of life, anyone can.  I truly believe that recovery is the most significant gift to a suffering individual, especially when it is done with the intention to dive into life with the same earnestness we had in our addiction. 

Recovery is so simple, yet so opposite of what we know.  It’s very much about being responsible and aware of our experience at any given moment.  It’s about having kindness for ourselves, which extends out to others.  It’s about picking up on our emotional responses, as opposed to picking up a drink or a drug.  These are all things we are not accustomed to doing.  In recovery we are undoing many years of hardwired conditioning.  This takes willingness, awareness, practice, patience, and diligence. 

Excerpt from ‘THE DEVIL’S ALTAR, An Alcoholic Woman’s Spiritual Journey into Recovery’ – Coming Soon to Amazon and Kindle

Ego

 

 

An Alcoholic in the Making

 

Much of my life has been spent searching for meaning.  More specifically, my purpose for being here.  I have never bought into an idea that there is no purpose for my life and that death is the end all for me.  If this were the case, I would have never stopped drinking. 

My curiosity and questioning has dominated any savage religious doctrine that I was predestined to buy into, or some lackluster philosophy that this human experience is strictly non-dimensional and linear.  I do not believe that this is an assembly line we were born into with random moments of bliss.  If this were the case, why do we have endless desire, multiple talents and brilliant minds?  Why are there varying degrees of personalities, stars which bring us to awe and an instinctual yearning for exploration?  Why is there unfathomable beauty, immeasurable contrast and limitless color?  How do we explain harmony, expansion, octaves, vibrations, music and the depths of love, if creation is simply an accidental calamity?  Why the full spectrum of emotions we experience as opposed to robotic responses?  What’s with laughter and humor?  Why do we dream and why do we have an endless myriad of choices?  Why do humans both differ so immensely and correlate so intimately?  Doesn’t everything we experience from birth to death point to a bigger picture?  I conclude, it certainly does.

If we were here to merely exist and then to die, what’s with the magic in between?  I mean really, why fuss with teasers of unexplainable phenomenon if there isn’t something greater happening?  What on earth, exactly, would be the point?

When life began feeling like an assembly line, somewhere in my mid-teen years, I had a vivid image of being a meaningless ant in a droning line of other ants, hauling salvaged crumbs around as a desperate method of survival.  I grew restless, irritable and discontent, constantly staring at metaphoric ant butts while carrying the lead weight of life upon my shoulders.  Unable to bare the tedium of my existence for long stretches of time, I created ways to make things more exciting for myself which included excessive drug use, drinking and spontaneous decision making.

 This eighteen year stretch of insanity led to me finally admitting that I am completely powerless over alcohol and drugs, and that my life had become unmanageable (Step 1 of Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous).  I made this assessment several times throughout my drug and alcoholic years, but the final declaration was on April 21, 2011.  This is my sobriety date.

 When I finally decided to quit the delusional race of running away from myself, the first steps of an incredible journey began.  It has been over two years of continuous sobriety; something I never believed was possible.  What has also occurred on this journey of mine, is that I am fully discovering a beautiful and complete person who I left behind in the wake of my running.  It is as if I have returned to the innocent child I once abandoned, and we are reconnecting on a very deep level. 

My story is a drastic tale of how I began running away from myself, and the turbulent journey back home.  I tell it without any shortage of clarity.  Everything connects, and as I review my life, it is easy to follow the thread weaving through my colorful tapestry.

– J.L. Forbes

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/455639