Encouragement for Transformation in the New Year

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And we do not know what we are looking for,

Until we come again to our beginning… 

Robert Lax from Circus of the Sun

There is something significant about feeling lost once in a while. For me, it’s a reminder that I have no control over anything, which is good because when I try to be in control, I’m bound to make a terrific mess. This new year, there was a lot on my mind, and a discomfort that I can only describe as slow inner torture, overcame me to the point that I had to sit unnervingly with it. There the terror emerged, flopped around inside my gut, agitated me to the point of tears, and then gave me insight that wouldn’t have come if I would have carelessly numbed it out with a drink. While I sat with the discomfort, I thought the suffering would never cease, and this was the point at which my fear took over and told me that it was necessary to drink, because there was no other way out of my misery. Thank the gods for that vivid tape I play in my mind of my old self, who used to heed to that mocking fear. She ended up in even worse misery than where she began in the first place. There is no way out of misery except to embrace it. In the words of the beloved poet and sage, Rumi, “The cure to pain is the pain.” Yes, it is true.

Today, doctors will give you something to numb the anxiety, which may seem like a perfect answer in the middle of an emotional crisis, but as a person in recovery I have to ask myself if this is the way to go. From a spiritual perspective, life is not always comfortable, especially when inner growth is occurring. The problem doesn’t lie in the discomfort itself, but in the resistance of it. We are a fast food thinking society, conditioned to eclipse our pains and moods with pills, rather than learning a very natural process called healing. What a concept – to heal, rather than to anesthetize our inner conflict. But during the conflict, it is almost impossible to conceive that this is simply a spiritual rebirth, which is terribly confusing and constricting. It takes a great amount of faith and courage to accept the agony, but it is necessary if we are truly in recovery. During these times you just have to know that your soul wants to play its role here, and if it’s not able to emerge, it’s going to make things very uncomfortable. I have to constantly ask myself if I am in my natural state of “being,” or if I’m being bounced around by outside conditions. I am very sensitive, so I must be careful with moving too quickly in the world, or becoming stagnant. Either one of these things will send me into an emotional spiral. I am certain most of you in recovery can relate to me here. We need to keep aware of ourselves, so that we don’t lose ourselves during times of spiritual development.

I got through the agony because I surrendered to it, but it wasn’t easy, and I also know that it won’t be the last time I go through this sort of spiritual discomfort. It’s a good practice to journal during moments like these, so that we can refer to something when we experience it again. We tend to forget that life has its ups and downs and spirals. It is ever-changing and so are we. Becoming spiritually aware and emotionally mature is a bitter process, but it doesn’t last forever. The last thing we should do is numb it out. We should always ask for help when we need it, which I did. I had to lean on friends this last month, more so than I have to in a long time. Today I’m feeling anew after weeks (or probably months) of discomfort. It was worth it to not take a drink. I’m so glad I didn’t, but man, the old alcoholic self really wanted one. What have I learned from this process? That I really need to let go of all the things I want, and trust that there is a guidance system in place for my life while I am here. My soul wants to emerge and shine and play its role here. I do not have a clue as to what that role is. I really don’t, but I know that when I let go of trying to figure things out, clarity comes rushing in, whether it’s through dreams, or from the mouths of my friends. I get to experience the magic of simply surrendering and saying, “Damn, I have no control, and I’m letting go now. I’m giving the universe the reigns of my life because I know from past experience that I will be nurtured, guided and protected during this process. The discomfort is temporary.”

Do what you have to do to nurture yourself when life is difficult. It’s important that you stop everything and just ask yourself what you need, rather than extending yourself even more. I finally did this, and after one day, I feel myself centered again. By simply taking time to honor my own being, I received clarity and balance. I should have done this sooner. The other thing is when you feel lost in the world, or misplaced, don’t try to figure things out. Just surrender. When I did this, some interesting people came into my experience whom I wouldn’t have expected. Two of them told me the same exact thing on the same day. “You need to be your own best friend.” They said this when I told them that I feel like I’m lacking any mentors or support, or guidance in my life. “Be your own best friend.” What a concept. The third person who came into my experience was a comedian and motivational speaker, Michael Pritchard. He spoke at our office meeting yesterday. I rarely go to these meetings, but it’s the beginning of a new year, and I heard he was good. He spoke of happiness and how to collaborate with people, rather than to compete with them. He works with children and inspires them to live from their hearts. While I sat there listening to him, I realized that he’s doing exactly what I want to do. I had been wondering what I wanted to do. Now I know. It’s very clear. He works in my county, so the first thing I did was email his foundation and find out how I can volunteer. There are always signs pointing us in the right direction. You simply have to be aware, open, and willing. Sometimes you’ve got to get out there and talk to people, and ask for help along the way. There is nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, it’s imperative.

So in a very short amount of time I went from floundering, to feeling centered. That’s a huge shift. It was a very transformational new year for me, although it wasn’t anything that I would have planned for myself. It would have been easy to cave and give up. That’s for sure, but I kept thinking about people in life who have it worse, and those who never give up.

Never give up. Continue moving forward. Find a reason to get out of bed, even it is simply to feed your cat. Sometimes you have to push yourself a little bit, or a lot, and most of the time, you need to be your own best friend, your own support, your own motivation, and your own nurturer. If you do this for yourself, the world will follow suite.

My New Year resolution is simply to let go, and also to try new things, meet new people and volunteer somewhere. Sometimes you have to give what you don’t feel you have in order to receive what you need. Life is cyclical. Once you give, you open yourself up to receiving. Usually all we are ever looking for when we feel lost, is ourselves. So if you feel lost, or out of control, don’t go numbing it out with a drink, or distracting yourself through another human being. Simply let go and know that the universe surrounding will return you to center, if only you listen and watch for the arrows pointing you toward the right direction. In time you will see that the arrow is pointing right at you. With love for the New Year – J. L. Forbes

http://www.amazon.com/J.-L.-Forbes/e/B00HS980ZI

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Good Ole Socrates Knew What He Was Talking About

Know Thyself
Some of us come to this earth out of the womb knowing exactly what we want to be when we grow up. My mom probably has hieroglyphic script scarred into her inner abdomen from my earliest writings. An artist knows her path without much outside influence. And then there are those who are born without direction who may feel like they came here without a purpose. Perhaps a purpose for being here doesn’t even occur to them. I don’t honestly know. I’ve always been a poet, a storyteller, a philosopher of sorts. I knew my purpose early on. I don’t know what it feels like to not have a craft, or if it even matters to those who don’t, but even if you are some artistic prodigy right out of the womb – until you know yourself, your craft may feel a bit unbridled and frivolous.

For those of you who don’t know your purpose in life (and if you even care) – we all have been given one unique thing in life. That one unique thing is yourself. If you spend your whole life trying to figure out who you are through the likes of other people, or by searching outside of yourself for answers, there will always be a sensation of feeling lost. If you feel lost, it is because you have not yet discovered yourself. Trust me, I know. I spent a good majority of my life feeling completely lost although I knew very well that I was a writer. Writing is just a tool that I use to channel my voice, but if I don’t know who I am, then how do I even know what I want to say? More often than not, I wrote from the point of view of other people, and a lot of times I plagiarized (in a sense) because I would read books and try to imitate those author’s writings and voices. My writing did not become organic until I took an interest in myself. When I decided to put down the bottle of booze and began learning to treat myself with respect and love, I discovered that my inner child (my soul) was the one thing I’d been searching for all along. I wasn’t lost simply because I was an alcoholic. I was lost because I detached from my essence when I was twelve. That innocent part of me simply wasn’t “cool” when I was trying to fit in with my peers, so I left her behind and molded myself into what I thought would be acceptable to others. I was a fish out of water trying to breathe in air. It never worked for me, but I spent over twenty years trying to develop lungs in place of the gills. This became incredibly gruesome in my thirties. People began catching on that I was a charade, so through the gift of recovery, I made my way back into my natural environment. Here I am now without a doubt of who I am and what I am doing while I am alive. I got to know myself, you see, which is an ongoing process. Each human being is an entire universe. Explore that universe. Discover your essence. Be a physicist and get to the bottom of yourself where you will discover that you are everything. This is the purpose of your life. This is what we should all be doing.

To “know thyself” is a powerful statement of action. It sounds a bit self-centered, doesn’t it? But truthfully when you come to love yourself in a genuine manner, you learn to practice compassion for your faults. You learn to not take yourself so seriously, and you chuckle instead of condemn yourself for being human. This self-love is a gift to others because once we know who we are, we understand who each human being is and we are able to love our neighbors with the same kind of compassion as we have for ourselves. Jesus knew what he was talking about too, when he gave that one commandment to “Love God with all your mind, your heart and your soul, and love thy neighbor as yourself.” To honor yourself is to honor your Creator, and to love yourself, is to love God. To love yourself is to love others. This statement Jesus made was symbiotic. Love is circular – global actually. The universe was created in love, and everything in the universe is cyclical. On a smaller scale, this love we learn to have for ourselves has a cyclical effect on those around us. It is the ripple effect we so often hear about (one act of kindness extends out unto the world).

What does it mean to “know thyself?” Yes. Continue asking this question and allow it to lead you to the answer. The only thing we all should be doing, is being ourselves. This is the soul purpose of each human being. We come to earth in this body. We leave the body behind when we die. In the meantime, we should know that our body is a temple – the dwelling place of our essence (our soul). The human body should always be searching for its beautiful soul while it is alive. Remember in ‘Finding Nemo’ how Dori forgot who she was, and Marlin was there to remind her. This relationship between Marlin and Dori was a beautiful analogy of the dance between the body and the soul. Keep re-connecting to yourself and discovering who you are. Align with that essence and unify with that inner light. We all have it. That light will lead the way (just like Dori intuitively lead the way for Marlin), and you will never feel lost again. Remember when Dori told Marlin that he just “felt like home?” Yeah, Pixar is pretty deep. Going home has nothing to do with entering heaven upon death. It has everything to do with the soul uniting with the body right now. This is the truth in the words of Socrates, “Know Thyself.” And the message of Christ, “Love Thyself.” More than anything – BE Thyself.

Why Humility? (Because it is So Underrated)!

monk bowing
When I lived in Berkeley for two years, I walked and rode my bike everywhere. There was a photography place I passed on my way downtown, and for those two years there remained a painting so profound that I had to stop each time I walked by the window. The painting was simple. It was a monk in a marigold robe. His hands were clasped together and he was standing while bowing his head before a small flower in the same color as his robe. The monk was honoring the flower with the gentle bow of “Namaste” (“I honor the place within you in which the entire universe dwells. I honor the place within you, which is of Love, of Truth, of Light and of Peace. When you are in that place within you and I am in that place within me, WE ARE ONE”).

If I could have bought that twelve-hundred dollar painting, I would have. It moved me so deeply. After six months of rigorous treatment in a facility in the Berkeley Hills where I was brought down to Earth from my grandiose thinking, that precious painting was a reminder to me of my place in the world, which is not above anyone or anything, or beneath another man’s ego, but a sacred place where I remain aware that every living thing is an extension of the divine. If all living things are an extension of the divine, then there is no living thing above another. We are all a spark of life in the vast wholeness of our creator. For those of you that do not believe in a creator, you can certainly agree that the spark of life dwells in every living thing; therefore, life is delightful, even if for the moment that it is alive. To honor the life we are given, and to be aware of it in another living thing, is humility. There is not one living thing greater than another. Each living thing on the planet has a purpose and each purpose provides for the well-being of all.

Humility has several definitions, but that painting provided me with a quintessential understanding. Whenever I am on a hike in the woods, I spend a few moments honoring the life surrounding me. Often I clasp my hands together in the presence of a deer, or a butterfly and thank the creatures for blessing me with their divine nature (life) and for their part in the ecosystem of the planet. At times when I am annoyed with another human being, I try to remind myself that I am not above that other person. They encompass the same spark of life as I do. The ego doesn’t see things this way, but the heart does. To be humble is to live through the heart center, rather than in the space of the ego. Sometimes (often) I have to remind myself to drop down into my heart because I am way up in the Tower of Babel of myself where my ego has delusions of its own greatness.

Look around you – although one person may have wealth while another is begging on the street, what would happen if neither had water to drink because of the severity of a drought? Both would eventually die of thirst and the one man’s wealth would be of no use. If you drive a nicer car than many other people, this does not make you a greater human being. If there were a sudden natural disaster and everything got swept away (homes, cars, buildings, etc.), the only thing that would matter to you would be your life and the life of your loved ones. Life is all that matters in the end, therefore life should be regarded each day, rather than taken for granted.

Humility is not about being a martyr or seeing yourself as below others. Humility is standing in balance with yourself and knowing your own divinity, as well as being aware of it in others (even when they are not aware of it in themselves). Humility is the shelter that brings us in alignment with who we truly are. It washes away the delusions of the ego and comforts you in the knowing of the heart. It is the only place I want to be, because it is a place of truth. It is the place of ultimate surrender, and the space where I do not get ahead of myself or where I fall behind. It is a place of total clarity.

When you think of the word “humility,” think of the painting of the monk and the flower. It is simply a place of being grounded and centered – where you understand that there is something great in simply being alive. Be alive and know that this is enough. See the life in others and understand that you share a common ground. Honor the life surrounding you in gratitude of its purpose toward your well-being. This is how you remain humble, and to remain humble is to walk in the entire wholeness of yourself, rather than in the fragments of your splintered mind. Humility is so underrated! It is what keeps me sober. It is where I want to spend the remainder of my life. It is where ultimate freedom welcomes me.

Namaste!

Restlessness – How to Settle the Inner Storm

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Restlessness is a sure sign to me that I am not in my body.  Even after three years and a couple of months in recovery, once in while I still become restless.  It is rare, but it does come up for me.  Yesterday even after meditation, a steadily busy day at work and an hour walk with a friend, I was still splitting at the seams.  A drive home in more traffic than usual, an unexpected encounter, an apartment that was too hot to cook a good meal for myself in – all more reasons to come even more undone.  I had hours before it was time to go to sleep and nothing I focused on could keep my attention for long.  I had to figure something out because this will last a few more days if I don’t get myself back to center.

I understand why I am feeling restless, which is good to know.  I just moved.  The break-up is final.  My daughter is gone for a couple of weeks.  Most of the time when I’m feeling restless, it’s a cue to take really good care of myself.  Back in the old days, the restlessness would vamp me up and I would turn into a self-destructive, unpredictable wild person.  Luckily the opposite of that is true for me today and I am able to see that I need some self-care.  I’ve been going to a lot of meetings and they help a little, but when it gets to a point where I am thinking about getting a tattoo (which probably could ease me back into my body, actually), I know that I’m in a bad space.  Tattoos are ok.  I have one.  I just don’t want anymore, especially one that isn’t planned out very well.  I can just imagine Jon Hamm’s face on my forearm holding a ‘Mad Men’ banner, or something even more outrageous.  I really needed to place my attention elsewhere, so first things first – I ate a healthy meal.  Nutrition and exercise are so important in recovery, but sometimes it isn’t enough, so what else can you do during times of restlessness an/or boredom?

Self-care during restlessness is the opposite of self-destruction, so that’s what I did last night.  There is a quaint little massage therapy place close to where I live.  They were slow last night, so I made myself an appointment and offered myself a little pampering.  It absolutely helped.  Afterward, I was in a different space and I slept very well.  Upon waking up today, I feel more centered.  The place I go is not expensive, which is great, but in the beginning of my recovery I may not have been able to afford any type of massage.  I know how that can be.  During these times, I would take myself to an artsy movie, or walk to a farmer’s market and engage with the people.  Sometimes they offers massages for a dollar per minute at farmer’s markets.  Massage is a great solution, especially if you can find someone who gets in tune with your body and feels what you need.

If you can’t get a massage, I encourage you to take care of yourself no matter what.  Bake yourself your favorite dessert.  Make yourself a delicious meal.  Watch your favorite comedy – laugh out loud.  Whatever you can do, or whatever you can afford to pamper yourself – do it.  Talk to people who are also in recovery.  This is a good time to do service as well, but don’t forget that you need some self-care too.  Even buying a new item of clothing, or getting a haircut and color will change things up enough to loosen that discomfort in you.  It’s important that you don’t spend money you don’t have, because that would be self-destructive.  Spend what you can afford, and if you can’t afford anything, perhaps you can take a swim, or spend an evening with friends.  Go somewhere new.  Take a long walk and listen to soothing music.  Pick yourself some wild flowers and put them in a vase.  Take a bubble bath with lavender to sooth your restlessness.  Love yourself and honor yourself back into your body.  This has really helped me in the past, and it certainly alleviated the discomfort last night when I had a massage.

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Restlessness is part of life.  Any big changes, or even the slowness of life can trigger this experience.  For addicts, however, this is a trigger to use or drink.  Remember that recovery is doing the opposite of what we know, so instead of splitting into several parts of yourself and destroying everything in your path, reign it in and pull yourself together by taking really good care of yourself in these moments.  If you are too busy to do anything for yourself (which is probably an excuse), just remember that this too shall pass.  The restlessness is not eternal.  It will flee at some point, but do not resist it.  Find harmony within it.  Allow to be with you and get curious about why it’s there.  Learn something about yourself while you are experiencing the discomfort, and be present with it.  Tell yourself it’s going to be ok, and then be good to yourself.  Take one moment at a time and don’t judge yourself for being human.  Peace be with you today.  Remain sober (no matter what) and this too shall pass.

Turning Chaos Into Harmony

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In Jr. High I took a Home Economic class with a very intense teacher.  She was half my size and intimidated the hell out of me.  We made our own dresses which we were supposed to model in front of the school and I ended up sewing the upper arm hole shut so that I couldn’t attach the sleeve, or even slide my hand through.  The teacher fixed it for me by tearing out the thread with a little tool that I cannot recall the name of today.  When we baked muffins, I used two cups of baking powder instead of two tablespoons of baking soda.  This was all occurring while I was impressing my creative writing teacher, along with making lead roles in the skits and plays we performed in drama.  Home Economics and Biology were not my cup of tea, but obviously I excelled in the creative arts.  During this time of my life I became very depressed and withdrawn because I felt lost.  

When I wore my homemade dress in front of my schoolmates, I was happy that all the holes and seams were in the correct places, but the dress itself was a little Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz-ish, minus the pleats, and it was a much more novice version.  I chucked that dress in the garbage after wearing it once.  I didn’t want the reminder of my failure as a seamstress.  In retrospect it was a good experience because it taught me something about myself.  I wasn’t interested in sewing or baking.  To this day, I do not enjoy either of those things, unless I’m eating the cookie dough during the baking process.  In that class, I got a D, which is one notch above failing.  I’m certain my teacher would have given me an F, except that she didn’t want to have to deal with me again the following year. 

The thing that I don’t enjoy about baking and sewing is that it creates a big mess, and I have a difficult time looking past the mess in order to create a masterpiece out of the chaos.  This week as I was moving, I took things really slowly, only moving a carload per day, as not to overwhelm myself.  I do not own a lot of “things” because I don’t like the burden of having them.  If I decide to move to Greece on a whim to write a book in a window overlooking the Mediterranean sea for a year, I don’t want to have to deal with a bunch of “stuff.”  I just want to get on a plane and go.  My daughter, on the other hand, doesn’t get rid of anything.  When I opened the door to her bedroom one afternoon last week, a rush of panic took over my sanity.  That evening I ended up eating a ton of chocolate candy for dinner, and then headed to two AA meetings.  It was just too much for me to take in.

Lucky for me I have a former boyfriend who knows how to place things in boxes without having an emotional breakdown.  The next day I came back to a very clean and organized bedroom.  Everything was taken off the walls and neatly rolled up into boxes.  Toys and books were neatly compiled and I was off the hook.  (Sigh of relief inserted here).  All I had to do was move those boxes into my car and sweep the floor up afterward.  I was a little disturbed at how easily my ex cleaned up the disastrous room.  He did it in one evening.  I’m certain that it would have taken me at least two or three days, and I would have been cramming M&M’s down my throat in the meantime, or chewing through packs and packs and gum just to withhold an impending panic attack. 

The really ironic thing is that the packing for me was way more intensely difficult than the move itself, or the breakup.  I understand that there are greater things awaiting me when I let go of burdensome relationships and hefty rent payments, but it is terrifying for me to clean out a dirty refrigerator.  On another level, I am extremely comfortable organizing my random thoughts into words on a computer screen, and I enjoy the process of putting on a performance in front of an audience, although both of these things are tedious and time consuming endeavors.  I am not a chef, or a very good housekeeper.  If my kids need something sewn, I would rather toss the item of clothing into the garbage can and go shopping for a replacement.  I am actually envious of people like my ex, who know how to focus on one thing at a time rather than overwhelm themselves in the details.  I’m quite the opposite.  I focus on the bigger picture, but get very overwhelmed with the small details during the process of getting there.

So how do I go about my life without feeling incomplete?  I can beat myself up all day long for not being a detail oriented person, or I can accept this about myself and focus on my assets, which is making things happen.  I’m an artist.  I envision end results.  I put things out in the universe and watch them come into fruition.  I don’t get hung up on people, places and things.  I’m good at helping others understand their soul journey.  I definitely understand my own.  I can interpret dreams. As a mom, I’m very accepting of my children.  I am more of a guide than a dictator.  I laugh more than I yell.  Although I’m not the best housekeeper, I certainly know how to make a place feel like a home. Wow, these are all positive things that I can say about myself.  Why do I stand back and beat myself up for what I consider “flaws?”  There has to be people like me in the world, and there has to be those who know how to turn some thread and material into a lovely costume.  Together, our contrasts and differences create a beautiful tapestry throughout the planet.  This is why it is so important to stop comparing yourself to others.  You have a purpose here.  You are a light to others through your dynamic gifts and talents.  Focus on those things and learn to connect with others who compliment you by doing what you are not exactly good at. 

I think it’s incredibly amazing that the world is made up with so many different people who all make up the wholeness of the planet.  We have doctors and teachers, musicians and speakers.  We have givers and helpers, lovers and wise leaders.  No one holds all of these gifts in one package.  We all came here to offer something to the world in order to create a harmonious planet.  Sadly this is not how it exactly works out, but it isn’t up to me to worry about what other people are doing, and what they aren’t doing.  It is up to me to stop beating myself up for not being a good baker, and to focus on my writing instead.  If I have a difficult time packing because it overwhelms me, I should feel confident enough to ask for help from someone who doesn’t find it overwhelming.  If I can’t bake a cake for a party, I should offer another service, like making the invitations.  We are all in this together, and rather than envy the soccer mom who is a dynamic organizer, I should do what I know how to do, which is coaching the team. 

I wrote this today because I’ve been annoyed that I couldn’t clean that room without melting down, when I should be pleased with myself for being brave enough to make an enormous change in my life to benefit my children and my own well-being.  Life is not easy, but it is more difficult when you focus on the negative, instead of seeing the big picture, or realizing your own worth.  I’m not a detail oriented person by nature, but I can write a manuscript no problem.  We all have something that we excel in.  This is where we should place our focus.  This is what we should offer to the world.  Simply do your part.  Then and only then, will we discover harmony in the midst of universal chaos. Like they told us in drama class, “There are no small roles…”

http://www.amazon.com/DEVILS-ALTAR-Addiction-Awakening-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1404057542&sr=1-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar

Replacing Consumption with Patience

Patience

It is said that people can’t truly change.  I know people who fully buy into this concept.  And it is true to some degree.  People’s personalities don’t change.  My friends from high school still have the same mannerisms as they did in their youth, and when we all get together, it’s basically the same group of people laughing at each other for being so individually predictable.  People do transform, however when they decide to take the Hero’s Journey.  Transformation occurs when someone intentionally sheds their old ways, habits, ideas and belief systems because their life simply isn’t working for them.  It is a difficult endeavor, but once the transformation occurs, there is an obvious shift in the person’s demeanor.  They walk in the wholeness of themselves and appear lighter – less weighed down.  For me, I’ve noticed that I laugh a lot more now, and emotions flow through me much quicker.  I don’t hold onto anger for very long.  My daughter has even told me that it is “weird” to watch me when I get mad because one minute I will express anger and the next I’m talking about how beautiful the sunset is.  She literally observes me flow through difficult emotions in minutes, whereas before, I would wallow in them for hours or days even.

Proof of change is in the pudding.  I am not a naturally patient person.  I mean, addicts are not patient in general (duh).  We want everything NOW, and we want more of that everything as soon as possible.  When I wasn’t getting my way in life, I would rage.  If I had my mind set on something and for whatever reason, that something was taken from me, I would lose it.  The difference now is, I do not get my mind set on anything.  I can thank my treatment counsellors for helping me overcome my impatience.  They made us sit and sit and sit and sit and wait for hours.  They told us “no” when we expected a “yes.”  They switched things up when we got comfortable and if we got impatient with them, they had a bit of fun with that, which angered us.  That anger was purposely provoked.  It was the one emotion that we could not mask, so we had to sit through it because there was no other outlet, unless we wanted to be kicked out. Six months of hearing “no” and sitting through my anger was well-crafted to re-train me to navigate through life without expectation.

I change my mind quite often, which drives some people crazy. (I can dish it, but can’t take it).  I honestly feel that I was created this way in order to assist others in their own growth of not expecting things to be one way.  Since I’ve been back with my daughter, who is a naturally “fixed” person (which means she doesn’t appreciate sudden change), she has learned to roll through life with me.  Sometimes she resists, but more often than not I am witnessing a big shift in her entire way of being.  It is difficult for her to “let go” when she’s got her mind set on something, but she is a good negotiator so we have learned a manageable way to compromise her fixed way of thinking with my flightiness. 

When you learn to slow down and not to expect, and to be present – life flows much more smoothly.  Plans often change in life.  Things come up unexpectedly.  Traffic slows things down.  We do not always get what we want when we want it.  We must learn to roll with the punches, as they say.  Recovery has taught me this.  And if you knew me seven years ago and ran into me now, you would notice a big difference in my demeanor.  I’m lighter.  I don’t think much about outcome.  I don’t plan things down to the minor details.  I do not expect much, if anything at all, which opens up the space for me to be pleasantly surprised more often than not. 

Life happens and it is difficult to control how things occur, and when they occur.  Since I’ve replaced my need to consume my life with temporary pleasures, and replaced that inner void with patience, everything seems to work out just fine, and I am much happier.  Life unties it’s own knots when you let go of outcome.  And when you wait for something patiently (instead of tensing up), often there is a pleasant surprise awaiting.  I used to speed through life, and now I envision myself on a raft just floating along, enjoying the view, taking it all in and being grateful rather than expecting something more, or for it to happen at a certain time. I’m not 100% patient about everything, but overall, I would say that there is an obvious transformation.  

http://www.amazon.com/DEVILS-ALTAR-Addiction-Awakening-ebook/dp/B00FO72854/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1403968657&sr=8-1&keywords=the+devil%27s+altar

“This Isn’t a F*cken Friends Episode!…”

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Those infamous words knocked me back into my seat as I sat in a circle with my recovery peers who all stared at me, shocked at the way I was being put in my place by the director of the program.  It was “Focus Group” which meant that we got to sit across from someone we wanted to confront.  This was a way to clear up tensions in a healthy manner, and to also point out behaviors in one another so that we could assist each other in changing the things that led us to drinking or using.  I was rarely focused on by any of my 40+ peers.  I had it all going on as if my shit didn’t stink.  What I didn’t realize was that my behavior of “looking good” and being everyone’s buddy was exactly what was going to kill me in my addiction.  This was pointed out by the counsellors, not my peers, because we were all too blind at the time to notice subtle behaviors, or to even relate perfectionistic traits as a revelation of a sneaky addict.  Yeah, I was one of those.

Humility was part of the process of changing our behaviors, but you cannot really get to a place of humility if you’re not aware of yourself.  So that’s how the director of the program saved my life in a sense.  After that dramatic session with my peers, another director walked into the evening house gathering and pointed at me.  She told the group that they were letting me “die” because they weren’t aware of how I navigated through the program like a little “honey bee.”  At first I was clueless as to what this even meant, but as time went on, I became aware of my own intensions to be everybody’s best friend, and how I buzzed past important things, including my assignments.  I knew how to get things done quickly without putting much effort into them.  Basically, I was living on the surface of my life to avoid difficult emotions.  Life to me was a checklist – “Get this done… CHECK!  Get that done… CHECK!”  I was driven to complete tasks as swiftly as possible and to make sure that everyone liked me in the meantime.

Laughing out loud right now at the thought of spending so much energy trying to please everyone.  Handing all of my assignments in on time was a way for me to get acceptance from my counsellors.  Like they even paid much attention to me when there were 40 of us addicts running around with minor dramas always occurring.  I was so self-centered, I swear to god.  When I left that sacred place, it was scary walking out into the real world where people are pretty much oblivious to their behaviors.  I recall thinking that I wish I could have focus group at work, or with my family.  It really did save my life and I was scared to not have that safety net of a group because I was still wobbly on my own two feet.  Luckily I continued going to groups and moved into a sober-living environment with many of my peers. The group I graduated with has been a very solid handful of people.  Most of us are doing very, very well.  We were really hard on each other too, but now there is nothing but love and support between us.  I know I can call any of my peers at any time and they would drop everything to be there for me.  I have needed some of them this very week, and four of them have immediately been there for me, even if it was merely words of encouragement after listening to my “drama” for the week.

There was a little upheaval this week with my ex and for the first time in a very long time, I felt extremely overwhelmed.  But that only lasted for a day.  I went through it, got sucked into it for a little while, and then stopped pointing my fingers and began looking at my part in the situation.  Once I did this, I stopped myself in my own tracks – almost as if I slammed myself into my own chair with awareness of my negative behaviors.  I felt ashamed, and scattered.  I took myself to three meetings and announced my “behaviors” to the group.  Afterward, I apologized to my former boyfriend.  I haven’t heard one apology from him, but that’s ok.  I’m not in this to even out the score.  My only obligation to my recovery is that I recognize my part in every situation and clear it up as soon as possible. 

I felt better when I got out of the drama and took some responsibility.  Last night, I ran into “him” and he was clearly uncomfortable.  He left the restaurant immediately after realizing he was uncomfortable.  I was not at all uncomfortable.  What I would love to tell him is that all of this turmoil coming up for him is simply a guiding light into himself.  It’s nothing more than emotional growth occurring.  Regardless of the obvious happenstance, and the “drama” surrounding me moving out and our breaking up, there is something much greater happening.  I don’t take much interest (any longer) in surface situations.  People are dramatic.  I’m even dramatic.  The daily dish comes and goes, but the real deal is what’s below the surface.  A year from now when we are both a little stronger from the situation, we will look back and see how much we changed because of our year long encounter.  When we met, the stars were in alignment.  Fireworks ignited.  We went into the relationship open hearted and confident.  Both of us knew that we might get hurt, but we were very ambitious because we were extremely aware of the yin and yang between us.  We knew that in harmony, we could be a dynamite couple.  It was difficult for us to keep that harmony, so there was a lot of conflict instead.  That ambition between us stretched us to the max, however, and this part of our experience (the turmoil) is merely growth occurring quickly.  That’s all it is, and I see it for what it is. 

Forget the scene, or the way things are playing out.  Look beyond them.  Life is not about the drama occurring – it’s truly about what is happening for you (emotions) during the experience.  I took a massive bite of humble pie this week.  It was bitter to the tongue, but sweet to my belly.  I’m in a much better place because I took some serious responsibility.  I’m not writing any of this stuff to pat myself on the back. I have such a long way to go, and there is still some wreckage to attend to. What I do understand in all of this, is that my former boyfriend was simply a player in my life to show me what I really need to work on in myself, and where I need to grow. For him, I was also a player in his life who stirred up a lot of things for him. When I met him, he talked about longing to be more flexible and easy going. When he met me, I spoke of wanting to keep growing as a person. I think we organically provided this for one another. He really opened my eyes to myself and I am growing greatly because of it. For this, I am incredibly grateful for him. He’s been a great teacher.

I can’t change some things that are occurring, or that have occurred, but I do know where I could have done better.  Progress… It’s funny – My former boyfriend used to call me “Phoebes.” This was his name for me. I’m going to miss that a lot, but this isn’t a Friends episode. The season has ended and life moves on.