Tag Archives: Spirituality

Prayer

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The topic tonight was prayer.  After a short but not-so-sweet rant I interlaced my fingers,  and brought them over my head like a triangle.  “I feel crazy.  I should pray about it.”    A people laughed, probably understanding all too well.

I tread lightly when speaking for others, but it seems to me that most of “us” (in the rooms) had no connection to a higher power before getting sober.  Since I’m so out of shape as a writer, I will merely highlight what I absorbed in the meeting, as quotes and paraphrases.

 

–       “It was revolutionary to come into the rooms and realize prayer doesn’t have to be religious.”

–       “When I wake up in the morning, I pray to feel oneness.  Then at least when I act like a shithead I’m not a shithead all alone.”

–       “Oneness is the opposite of isolation.”

–       “I can’t call it prayer; I’m embarrassed.  I call it that thing where I get on my knees and talk.”

–       “I call prayer meditation.”

–       “Way to pick the worst topic possible.”

–       “Catholic school killed prayer for me.”

–       “My sponsor told me: fake it ‘til you make it. So I did.  I prayed everyday. I prayed to no one and nothing…and gradually I started to feel better.”

–       “I wish I could get an email from God telling me what I’m supposed to do.  If I did get an email I’m pretty sure it’d tell me to help others, and I know when I’m drinking I can’t help anyone.”

 

That’s all for now. Hope to write coherently again soon. 🙂 

 

 

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Fact, fact, feeling?

In my last post I spewed heartache goop all over the page, lamenting the loss of my old life.  As the rollercoaster would have it, today I feel differently.  A brief look at the facts helped.

Fact #1: It’s undeniable that I had some great fucking times “out there”; from house parties in the suburbs, to beers on beaches in Central America, to dive bars in Rome, and private jets to Utah, memories were made.  I don’t have to pollute ALL of my past with where drugs and alcohol took me in the end.  (Just have to remember what the end was like.)

Fact #2:  Rome was a great time.  But…it is marred by the fact that I spent the last night hounding my best friend’s friend for cocaine, as though it was the most important thing in the world.  Once the dry goods were obtained, everyone carried on drinking like normal people and I snuck to and from the tiniest, dingiest, darkest, bathroom to blow lines off my passport till the wee hours of the morning.   I lied all night…”I swear it’s all gone.”

Face #3:  Some of college was hysterical; I’ll never forget my girlfriends rolling a keg across the lawn in torrential rain, right as the sprinklers went on, and as a cop drove by.  I’ll never forget road tripping all the way to San Francisco at 3 in the morning with five of my friends to watch the sunrise, just to realize the sun rises on the east, (so we just watched it get light out.)

There are one hundred humorous recollections, but for every one good memory there are 1,000 regrets…for every one fun college night there were 100 days I couldn’t hold my head up walking across campus.

Fact #4: There were no laughs at the end, no “remember whens” or “let me see that picture.”  Drugs and alcohol made all my choices for me; where I would end up, who I would go home with, where I would drive to during a blackout, and what I would say.  The only decision I had left was to change.

Fact #5:  In the past year I have learned more about life than in all 26 prior years.  I’ve tapped into what it means to be a good person, how to ask for help, and most importantly how to help others.

I’ve restored relationships with my family, some of which I thought were irreparable.

It turns out I love rock climbing.  And probably fly-fishing.

Turns out I still suck at cooking.

Best of all, I’m able to connect with whatever is keeping us all connected, and that’s a fact, too.  Or maybe a feeling?

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The Process

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“I have found that the process of discovering who I really am begins with knowing who I really don’t want to be.”

Amen.

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At the End of the Day….

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Day 352
“Here’s one simple approach to the daily inventory.  We set aside a few minutes at the close of each day to sit quietly and check out our feelings.  Is there a knot, big or small, in our gut?  Do we feel uncomfortable about the day we’ve just finished?  What happened?  What was our part in the affair?  Do we owe any amends?  If we could do it over again, what would we do differently?
We also want to monitor the positive aspects of our lives in our daily inventory.  What has given us satisfaction today?  Were we productive?  Responsible?  Kind?  Loving?  Did we give unselfishly of ourselves?  Did we fully experience the love and beauty the day offered us?  What did we do today that we would want to do again?
Our daily inventory doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.  It is a very simple tool we can use to keep in daily touch with ourselves.”
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Just Keep Swimming

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April 29, 2013

“I’ve been rethinking California.   I don’t want to live in fear of a bad “relationship” that I’m not even in, and I don’t want to live in fear of a drinking problem I may not have…I just want to live.

I want to make money to travel.  The ranch = funding for my passport. It’s not backwards, it’s just going back so I can move forward.”  (The ranch = the pot farm.)

Today: Day 326

The entry above was written seven months ago, at three months sober.  Reading passages like this make me smile, because I feel like I’m in on a secret that my past self didn’t know.  The writing reveals notions that were oblivious to me then; and I’m sure in months when I read this, I’ll see what’s oblivious to me now.

If I could go back in time and tell myself what I know now, I wouldn’t; the lessons I’ve learned have been hard earned.  I feel a confident sense of accomplishment reading old thoughts, like, “I need money,” or “I don’t want to live in fear.”

I was living in fear, especially of what others thought.  My insecurities were so intensely binding because everyone surely had the same opinion of myself as I did.  If I felt stupid, they thought I was stupid, too. I felt ugly, therefore everyone else saw me as ugly, too.  When I felt isolated, it was because no one was letting me in…It’s a huge relief to know that the world doesn’t revolve around me.

My fear of financial unsustainability was pretty sad, to be frank.  The amount of money in my pocket determined my worth because I couldn’t find valuation anywhere else, certainly not from my “relationship.”  The man in my life used me like a doormat and I made it easy; his negative attention was better than his indifference.  The weight of my importance was weighed by everyone but myself.

In the “grand scheme of things,” (I don’t really like that phrase) ten months can be considered the blink of an eye, but the past 10 months have been the most literal a “journey” has ever felt to me, and it’s been by physically staying in one place.

My mind, on the other hand, has come light years further.  Recently I haven’t been bound by negativity, and I’m less afraid of the “uncomfortables.” (Scientific term there). I have unguarded moments all the time, and they’re okay.  I haven’t fallen apart at change or lost my mind in monotony.  I’ve coped at the loss of life; I’ve gotten better at recognizing which lives I need to walk out of.  I respect myself by doing estimable acts.  I’ve also learned that my self-development comes most from helping other people, which is the backbone of my growth and destroying self-centeredness.

I hope the old Faith doesn’t hijack my brain, and I know it’s possible.  I’ve learned these lessons but I know I can forget as soon as tomorrow.  My recovery relies on living in faith, not fear. Staying sober means knowing that I’ll never stop learning,  that I need  to keep going to meetings, help others, ask for help, and writing down where I am on the “journey.”

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Freed

Day 319

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I wrote this around 4am:

 

It’s been one of those sleepless nights.  Instead of forcing my eyes to stay closed, I did what anyone would do–logged onto Facebook. (Hah.) Through the social grape vine I was sad to be informed that a friend from the past died a few days ago.  He overdosed.

 

When I failed out of college freshman year, my punishment was a little backwards—I got to enroll in the National Outdoor Leadership School, (NOLS).  My Dad was a NOLSee back in the 70’s when the program was just taking flight.  Back then, the expeditions were limited to its base, in Lander, Wyoming.  Dad said his old-school instructor hiked the bouldery mountains in cowboy boots.  By the time I got there, NOLS had expanded its courses worldwide.  I chose destination Mexico.

 

In 2006 NOLS was a perfect place for a kid like me…it was sort of a rehab…but freer, masked as a very expensive camping trip.  Nothing about NOLS suggests it as a rehabilitation program, but 11 out of my 12 classmates were coming off some form of substance.  (I’d been smoking weed almost every single day from 2003-2007; that’s over 1,000 days of being high, ew.)

 

Unbeknownst to me, the process of abruptly abstaining from drugs and alcohol the body goes through what is called “detox.”  Imagine 11 troubled nineteen-year-olds detoxing in the wilderness. Crazy town.

 

Over the course of 78 days my classmates and I came to know each other in every heartwarmingly good and infuriatingly bad way possible.  Anyway…For what would have been my sophomore year, I went to Baja, Mexico.

 

My friend who passed away was a member of FSB.  (Fall Semester Baja). I was in “Group 1” and he was in “Group 2.”  We saw each other in passing, at re-rations, and at breaks on the beach, where we’d swap stories of whale sharks, Mexican federales, and a new found love for banana chips. 

 

My friend had that light that you hope to see in everyone, and he didn’t have to dig deep to find it.  He made every moment feel like the best moment. He was compassionate, talented, and had no business dying.

 

When I saw the RIP’s and tributes on Facebook, I started to cry.  It’s been years since we last spoke, but its impossible to forget someone with such infectious positivity. He almost literally glowed. He was a true-blue surfer and I thought perhaps he died doing what he loved.  After reading his obituary it was revealed that he OD’d on heroin, and had been struggling with dope addiction for years.  It makes me feel like I know him even better, even though now he’s gone.  I wrote to him through the words of Einstein — ‘Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.’

 

Friends wrote, “You’re finally free.” 

 

 

 

 

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HP’s Don’t “Do” Punishment

Recieved this email today and thought I’d share.  The wonderful thing about spirituality, for me, is that he/she/it doesn’t have to be defined, (which is why I disfavor organized religion).  I can try to describe how my Higher Power lives in and around me, but in my opinioin it does’t matter.  I think the message is the same, and my understanding is something along these lines:

Today’s thought from Hazelden is:

How can I believe in God when just last week I got my tongue caught in the roller of an electric typewriter?
–Woody Allen

If our introduction to religion and God was filled with threats of punishment and hell it would make perfect sense for us not to want to believe in something so scary. Even though we may have been taught that God is love, we may not have witnessed a lot of God’s love in action.

All we are asked to do in recovery is to believe in a Higher Power. That could mean God, or it could simply mean the sober people who are helping us to recover. Our Higher Power is there, watching over us, ready to be seen in any way we are willing and able to see.

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Practice Makes Progress

Step 7 : Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings

After reading the literature and coming up with my own interpretation of Step 7 I felt ready to move forward.  I met with my sponsor, we debriefed with big Bill W., I closed the book and said conclusively, “Onto Step 8!”

“Nope.”  She said, shaking her head sorta assuredly. “Now you practice.”

Practice isn’t a word I respond to well, because it implies effort.  To be honest, I gave up practicing when I quit lacrosse sophomore year of high school to become a pot head.  My attitude is under construction, but residual quitter-traces remain.  Old habits die hard.

So, I knew what my sponsor meant, but didn’t know how to implement Step 7 consciously…probably because I have an aversion to the “P” word. (Practice).

Fortunately, my mind is under steady reconstruction, and I’m constantly making headway on the person I want to be, even subconsciously.  New synapses are being formed with each decision I make and emotion I feel; by feeling the feelings I have awareness and the capability to make the right decision.  What I realized today, is that when I make the right choice (as opposed to acting on old behavior), I’m practicing Step 7.

Yesterday I blogged about the trials and tribulations of change, in lieu of an internal battle of good vs greedy.  The debate was simple; don’t help the people I care or DO help the people I care about.  My greed started making justifications for me, convincing myself that my un-involvement would not affect anyone…When in fact I knew that by staying home to satisfy my laziness was wrong.

So I had a choice; act the old way, or act the new way.   Unbeknownst to me, Step 7 helped me make the right decision.  It’s been helping me all along!

Last night before I went to bed, I came across this reading on Steps 6 and 7, by Joe McQ in The Steps We Took:

“You know, here’s what a shortcoming is:  when you’re long on resentments, then you’re necessarily short on love, patience, and tolerance….Just what is love?  Love is basically concern for another person’s welfare or for your own welfare.”

Joe McQ’s quote struck me because of the likeness to my post yesterday: 

“Today my catch phrase was “spiritual vacuum.”   The vacuum refers to how we remove our defects.  As I understand it, we can’t simply remove what we don’t like, and *poof* be gone.  We have to replace the hole with love.  Sounds soo corny.  I don’t care.” 

So that’s what my sponsor meant by practice….It’s not that I have to stop, drop, and document where my flaws are taking command. In this case, a simple awareness of how my actions affect others did just fine.  I’m practicing without beating myself up and my coach is pretty forgiving.

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Spiritual Vacuum

I’ve learned a boat load since arriving in Argentina; new words, new foods (blood sausage is disgusting), school systems and kids’ education, settlements in the 1500’s, religion, the President, and all about inflation.  I have also obtained a new “system” to work on myself every single day.  Sounds exhausting, but it’s actually easier than the alternative.

New behavior (actively trying to be a better person) creates dissidence in my mind.  It would be effortless to behave however I wanted, i.e. being selfish, impatient, introverted.  I used to make decisions based upon what would make MY life easier. Now, I am trying to change. Change is hard.

Sometimes I try to focus on everything all at once that I want to fix about myself; respect others, respect yourself, don’t be selfish, be humble, reach out to another alcoholic, lend a hand when needed, connect with your HP, breathe deep, have faith, don’t act out of anger, pray for those you hold resentments against…I could go on forever. That’s why it’s important for me to read different excerpts daily, and focus on just one.

Every morning I chose a quote, phrase, word, etc., to call on throughout the day.  If I read an entire chapter of the big book before breakfast I retain nothing; a result of trying to process too much advice too fast.   Short simple antidotes are uncomplicated, and accessible.

Today my catch phrase was “spiritual vacuum.”   The vacuum refers to how we remove our defects.  As I understand it, we can’t simply remove what we don’t like, and *poof* be gone.  We have to replace the hole with love.  Sounds soo corny.  I don’t care.

This afternoon I had big plans to sit by the pool and read a book, in the sanctuary of the backyard.  It turned out, there was an itinerary I didn’t know about; I was to go to the site of the wedding where my best friend is getting married next week, and help plan where the tables, flowers, and chairs will go.  We had to make decisions on how many candles we envisioned, and what petals would be in the pathways. I didn’t want to go.  Why?  Because I was being selfish.

It’s not my favorite thing to admit that, but it’s true.  I had to access the quote of the day to remind myself why I am here, and why I had to be there.  I had to remove the negative narcissist and replace the absence with my HP. Simply saying in my head “think spiritual vacuum,” I was able to reset with complete clarity.  I love this friend with all my heart!  She’s been my best for 19 years, she’s about to marry the man of her dreams, on a beautiful farm in Argentina, under a tree over 150 years old, and I’ve been asked to help make the special day even more special.  DUH.

I’m so grateful that I didn’t trudge through the day absorbed in my self-centered sphere.  After remembering how to be  the person I want to be, my attitude was reformed.  I wanted to (and want to) help in any way possible – directions, flowers, plot plans, candle lighting, whatever!

It’s going to be beautiful.  🙂

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