Embracing Your Quirks Along with Your Qualities

We all have sides to ourselves that we don’t like.  I don’t want to know or admit that I can be moody, or argumentative.  I want to believe that I am incredibly balanced, super zen, and supremely centered.  The truth is, I can be those things, but I also deal with bouts of anxiety followed by terrible panic attacks.  I grow restless sometimes.  I get irritable.  I still have moments where anger comes up for me, and there is a dark side of myself that doesn’t rear its head often, but it’s undoubtedly there.  I’m human, you know?  And we all are, so rather than trying to rid ourselves of the parts of ourselves that we don’t exactly like, or trying to pretend that we are all that, we should be willing to accept our quirks and learn how to look at them without judgment.

Without judgment?  Yes, without judgment.  There are so many parts of myself that I wish I could change, and I’m constantly working on myself, but I still mess up in life and say the wrong things to people, or get trapped in gossip sessions.  I am not consistently serene.   Every day has its challenges – and people, places and things often pull me in ways and bring out dark parts of myself that I didn’t even know still existed.  I surprise myself at how balanced I can be in certain settings, and also how unglued I can become in other situations, but there is no need for alarm.  If we begin accepting the stuff we don’t like about ourselves, we learn to laugh, rather than scorn ourselves for those things.  Laughter can alleviate the negativity, and it will transform a heavy situation into something more palatable.  Life is life.  It’s difficult.  On top of all of life’s unpredictable nuances, we have moods and stresses that push and prod us, often without our permission.  It’s ok that we are quirky and moody and sometimes unfiltered.  I think the best thing we can do is be self-aware and when we feel like we’ve made a mistake, or when we overstep our boundaries, we simply need to take a step back, re-evaluate and take responsibility.

I think the most difficult situations are when we screw up and we take responsibility, yet another person is affected and does not accept our apology.  When someone else judges us for our quirks, or for our mistakes, it makes it difficult not to judge ourselves, but we still need to learn to let go of what other people are harboring about us.  Most of us are doing our best, and sometimes we are caught off-guard in life.  If this affects someone else and you’ve said your apologies to no avail, then the only thing you can do is let go and move on, and allow that person to have their experience, or to cut you off if that’s what they choose to do.  Beating yourself up never does anyone any good.  Life is way too short to spin out about things you cannot change.  Take responsibility, learn from your mistakes, trust that you are unconditionally loved and always being guided.  Let go.  It’s ok.  Life goes on and you’re allowed to make mistakes here.  Earth is a playground of learning experiences.

I read this cute thing online the other day that some people call taking one step forward and two steps back, a “setback,” while some of us call that a “cha-cha.”  I really liked that.  It’s true.  As a recovering alcoholic, I have overcome challenges that I thought I would never overcome in this lifetime, but once in a while that old addict returns out of nowhere and wreaks havoc within me.  I cannot help this.  It’s just part of who I am as a person in recovery.  I am certain that I will deal with this for the remainder of my life, and when it comes up, I have to sit with it and talk about it and stare it in the face, but I can no longer judge it, because it is part of my own humanness.  The one thing I know is that I have beat it before.  I have moved through the cravings and the restlessness and the negative thoughts with flying colors, so when these things arise, I know there is light on the other side.  I don’t hate myself because of my challenges.  I learn to cha-cha with them without resistance.  It’s a fun little dance, you see?  It’s good when these things come up for me because it’s a reminder that I have come a long way, but I still have a long way to go.  I certainly do not want to go backward, but I am in no way, shape or form at a point of arrival.  We just keep moving forward and picking ourselves up when we fall, and laughing at ourselves for being so human.  Life is not asking you to be perfect.  It’s simply asking for your participation.

Don’t dwell on the negative stuff about yourself.  Just let it be there and observe it, and know that it’s something you can work on, but don’t ever buy into an idea that you’re less-than or not worthy.  Have compassion for yourself and move forward, regardless of how other people judge you.  We all here doing this thing called life, which is not in the least bit easy.  The challenges are set before us for our personal growth.  It doesn’t matter what other people think.  What matters is that you continue moving forward and taking responsibility and trying.  Don’t ever give up on yourself.  Surround yourself with people who care about you, and let go of those that don’t.  You will never please everyone, and not everyone is going to accept you.  The most important thing is that you accept yourself in all of your variations.  Keep the cha-cha in mind, and embrace all that you are.  If you can laugh at yourself, no one else will have power over you.

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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

How Long Will the Cravings Last?

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The obsession to drink and use can become so overwhelming in early recovery, that we give in just to stop the noise of our minds.  I recall a desperate time of my addiction when I was in a constant battle with myself.  More than anything, I wanted to quit drinking, but my thirsty addict-self was a monster inside me, breathing down my neck in repulsion of my weak sobriety.  For me, it took getting into a treatment program to save me from that monster, but many people tackle the beast by simply getting a sponsor and working an honest program, or by recognizing the voice of the addict and not giving in to its desire to use.  As a chronic relapser, my monster was well groomed by the end of my drinking.  It knew if it became loud enough, I would do whatever it took to get it a drink.  This was how the beast grew and overwhelmed me in the end.

In treatment, I spent six months with a mindset that I was never going to have a drink while I was in there.  I had no money, no friends or family nearby, and no transportation.  Leaving the facility would be a shot in the dark to nurture the beast, so he remained silent, but when I left the program to enter the real world, I would face the greatest challenge of my life.  You see, the beast was growing inside of me all of those months, and now I was dealing with a terrorizing bully inside of me. He arose when I was at my weakest, and he caught me off-guard.  

It was about seven months after treatment… one year and three months into sobriety, when the bully shadowed everything I learned in recovery.  He was not backing down while I was emotionally grieving for the first time since I left the doors of the treatment center.  The monster was so loud, it eclipsed my instincts to call a sober friend, or to go to a meeting.  I was alone and it had me captive, so there I was face to face with my addict-self, and it was winning, but suddenly I whispered something that saved my life, “God, please help me right now.  Please help.”  My body was shaking as I thought about buying a pint of vodka, knowing exactly which liquor store I would make the purchase, and as I salivated for that warm buzz.  Nothing was about to stop me, but when I whispered those words, I grabbed my backpack and ran; not to the liquor store, but right up the Berkeley Hills where the treatment facility was located.  I walked into the sacred place and slid down into a wooden bench in front of the front desk where one of my closest peers just happened to be working that day.  I melted into tears and told on myself, “I was just about to drink…” 

I spent the remainder of the day inside that facility, joining my peers in groups and telling the woman what it felt like to be defeated by my emotions.  I spoke to a couple of counsellors and went home feeling both drained and victorious.  I had never overcome a craving of that magnitude, and it was empowering.  What I didn’t know was that I was well on my way to defeating that beast inside of me.  My cravings are far and few in-between these days, and they certainly don’t last very long when I stay with them and allow them to be part of my experience, without giving in to their greed for my sanity. 

I’ve been sober for two years, eleven months and four days.  The obsession to drink is far removed, but I’m not going to lie and say that I have won this battle.  Just a few months ago I was side-swiped with devastating news and the first thing I wanted to do was buy a bottle of vodka.  This came out of nowhere.  Sometimes I can go months and deal with many emotional upswings and downswings without thinking about alcohol, but once in a great while, it will overcome me, and usually when it’s least expected.  I think of recovery as a practice of NOT DRINKING.  Every time I move through a craving without picking up, I’m exercising my sober-self, and my beast is finally backing down.   

What keeps me from taking a drink these days is the self-respect I feel, the love I have for myself, and knowing that taking a drink will not solve anything.  It will set me back and I do not want to feel like a failure.  I have never felt so good about who I am, where I’m going and my sobriety.  I’m simply happy and life is so much easier without an addiction to battle.  

Although I can’t give you an exact day when the obsession to drink and use will diminish, I can tell you that the more you practice NOT using, the stronger you will become.  And it certainly gets easier as time goes on.  Think of the cravings as the treacherous road you must travel in order to get to your destination.  Allow them to overcome your body once in a while, knowing that this road is temporary on your long term journey.  The cravings won’t last more than a few hours, and usually they diminish within an hour.  Sometimes we’ve got to walk through the fire to get to the oasis.  Don’t let the beast take over your soul.  It is your battle to win, and you are strong enough to claim your victory.  Discover this for yourself; it is incredibly empowering!

http://www.amazon.com/THE-DEVILS-ALTAR-Dynamic-Recovery-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_fkmr1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1395671279&sr=8-1-fkmr1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar+by+J.+L.+Forbes

Is There Another Route to Recovery Besides AA?

Powerless

Even before I arrived to the conclusion that I was an alcoholic, the answer to my own recovery was waiting for me in the rooms of AA along with the suggestion to get there as quickly as possible.  Most of us resist these meetings because of preconceived notions that we will be joining some kind of cult.  Others of us find ourselves reluctant, because going to meetings means we are doomed to eternal sobriety, which sounds terrible.  I’ve been sober for a while now, through the help of a behavior modification program.  I tried AA prior to getting into treatment, and I got a sponsor and everything, but my inner addict was ruthless, and I found ways to circumvent the program which lead me to my own drunken demise. 

Treatment somehow worked for me, but not everyone can take this route.  It’s a time commitment and many of us do not have the luxury of time.  In treatment, the twelve steps are the crux of most programs, but what if some of us are tired of being overrun by “programs.”  It sounds like “programming” to me.  Isn’t there an easier way to become and remain sober?  Also, what is all this powerlessness stuff about?  I’m not willing to say I’m powerless over anything.  For me, my powerlessness is another word for “acceptance” that I am someone who cannot drink like a normal person.  It is also more about surrendering to my own self-will and tapping into something deeper within myself, rather than claiming that I must surrender the bottle.  Our self-will is a monster, and it needs to be put in check, but this is something that we have the power to overcome, because we are created intelligently.

According to a former AA member, there is a much easier and shorter way to recovery.  It’s really simple.  It’s… (get this)… complete abstinence.  The author and founder of this road to recovery is Jack Trimpey.  His book is titled, ‘Rational Recovery’ and it teaches the addict to recognize his addictive voice, which is always causing problems.  Jack Trimpey cuts to the chase in his new way of thinking about recovery, and does not believe that addiction is a disease.  Rational Recovery is simple, and has a very high abstinence rate.  People who can think for themselves, and want an alternative to a lifetime commitments of meetings and sponsors, should find out for themselves if Rational Recovery is right for them.

I’m still learning about Rational Recovery, but so far, it really makes a lot of sense to me.  I feel like I should have been given the opportunity to chose which route to recovery I wanted to take, but AA is so ingrained in our society, as the only way to true recovery.  I am all about taking responsibility for my life and for the future of my life.  I think Rational Recovery is a responsible answer to an irresponsible problem.

Check it out for yourself, and any feedback is greatly welcome and appreciated!