Journeys

Occasionally I have to take a journey for truth and meaning; question my motives and find out while I’m still around. I do it best when I get in nature and away from the  clutter closer to home. The sea calms my spirit and reminds me of the vastness of our planet and how it all began. When I see the beauty and magnificence of a sailboat on water, or soak in the quietness of watching a boat moored, then I am reminded of how God paints brushstrokes on the canvas of my own journey. The book of AA and the Book of Life both speak to this journey. One group of people had to wander around for years, just like me, in order to find God and themselves. I write more and more of the spiritual side of my recovery now because it is just where my footprints in the sand are. The paradox is that those footprints can get washed smooth by the surf in a flash. Addiction is like that, it will render a healthy guy like me useless in just a matter of days but for the grace of God. It’s ugly, vile, cruel, and powerful. It’s not just about staying sober as much as it is about being sober. God has caused me to believe more and more in His plan and my faith has grown. I’ve watched my life turn,  and today I experience viewing real sunsets like the one above, alive and in person, rather than the ones on the front porch of my mind. A lot of us addicts die there, stuck in the rocking chair of time, caught between the space of feeling desperate, but tragically wanting one more hit and believing it will be different tomorrow. People influence me, but God changed me. He took away my fear of people and taught me how to handle situations that at one time baffled me. It’s straight out of the compass of the ninth step promises. It’s been a journey I’ve accepted and truly been one worth taking….blessings from the Maker…..b

 

Time

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Someone once gave me a card that read, “nothing heals like love and time.” I write this as I’m waiting to board a delayed plane. Some days, even time forces me to slow down and remember that I’m simply not in charge. I am always at the mercy of another’s clock. I see people of all races, nationalities, and color and wonder “where are they going?” There are 7 billion people on this planet and I’m a blade of grass, made in God’s very image, just like the rest of you.. Answers come when I diligently seek His will.  The reality is that I hurry up just long enough to slow down. I believe rest and laughter to be God’s stepping stones to my spiritual growth and enlightenment. Frankly, I get tired at times and I allow life to wear me out. I forget my watch and run out of time at warped speed. All to sit and wait for the next flight out, the wheels churning so fast that the gears wear out before the brakes do. I remind myself that I have to learn newer methods of slowing down. I really want to live forever. Why am I like this?….I stopped trying to figure it out and accepted it is the way God designed me. I know it in my head, but waiting on anyone or anything has always ground my nerves to a screeching halt.  I get on my own nerves sometimes, but I can’t escape me. I tried, and I failed.  Patience is not my strong suit and working on time management can become a daily toil. I have to remember that others also struggle with this. I’m not alone. I don’t have to isolate. So I smile, laugh, crack jokes,  manipulate, and tell you “everything is good.” I think I have to keep moving to avoid the inevitable, whatever it may be. A truth that my granddaddy taught me by the fire is that a man has to take his hand off the plow, enjoy time for nothing more than a tick, and slow down long enough to make time for one’s self…..good day!….b

 

A Beautiful Gift

 

It may be snowing or raining wherever you are but the Son always shines after the storms blow thru. At least that is what I was taught.  Willful gratitude takes work when self pity seeps into my little world. We all have our parades rained on from time to time, and then someone finally had the courage to tell me the truth. The truth that getting out of myself and thinking and doing for others is the answer to the riddle that had puzzled me most of my life. The glass is half full today because I believe it no matter what may be going on around me. We all have struggles, heartaches, and pains. For me to see the beauty in it all, I usually have to mull thru the hard stuff and then turn around and thank God for helping me make it. Life is so much better today being sober minded, better than I’ve ever known. My relationships with people are better, my moods are generally more stable, and my reactions to life have changed. I don’t always see it, but I am quite certain that those close to me have. The world is generally a safer place as well when I am not running on self will, propelled by a compulsion to drink myself into stupors. At one time, I hated getting up at 3 in the morning to put together plastic toys for Christmas when my kids were little. I hate to admit it but it is the gut level truth, and then get back up all hung over, smile, and act like I was happy only to wish the misery of being drunk on Christmas would somehow go away. The good news is am no longer ruled by those same emotions that I could not handle. I found out who I am and what I am by working the 12 steps. Now that I know, I can walk about in freedom from the bondage that once kept me enslaved. God gave it to me, a gift of sobriety that is the best Christmas present I’ve ever had…..happy day!…b

How It Works

c68ad24e-6aa3-4c42-8065-f306996749cbVann Morrison  sang that he had been lost, double crossed, with his hands behind his back. When I first walked into the rooms of 12 step recovery, I felt handcuffed, too. Hollowed out eyes,  incoherent, unintelligible thoughts all created by hitting myself over the head with a chemical hammer for 25 years. It’s really insane, looking back,  and yet I wouldn’t admit unmanageability. Admitting  defeat with that glass in hand can be a real dogfight. Sometimes a man will struggle to stay in his own misery.  I’ve been to sordid places all for a walk with the devil. What I heard in your shares in the beginning was hope, and that’s all a man like me needed. I heard it last night, when a friend shared she wished she could give the gift of hope to everybody.  I wanted a better life, I just had to ask God for the willingness. I still do. Complacency is what I have to watch for today. It takes patience and love, but most of all it takes time. I’ve stuck around long enough to find a man who walked me thru the steps. It has changed my life. Living miracle?…..you are absolutely right. Another reason to be grateful. Everyday, that same little boy who couldn’t look in the mirror a few years ago, now sees a man whose faith has grown all from  daily surrender. Today, I recognize it’s a spiritual malady brought on by self will. Bottles were a symptom. It’s just one man helping another who knows where he has been.  Pain creates change, and I’ve often heard when the pain of doing the same thing is great enough, I’ll try something different. That is the miracle of the whole experience that I found God thru it all……blessings!….b

 

 

Work in progress

 

imageI’ve accepted I will never get it all right. My mother called it “paying for your raising.” Some of us just have to learn by trial and error I suppose, and when I don’t know the answers to life’s questions, I smile, act as if, and pretend like I still know what I’m doing. I swing and miss, and tell myself to keep swinging even when the fastballs are coming. I have to admit that I’m just a work in progress, and I have to practice principles before personalities: at meetings, in my home, with friends, colleagues, and with family. It’s not always easy, either. I try to stay connected spiritually, but I lose touch and my cool. I snap and trash spews out of my mouth like a salty sailor, then my thoughts start to race. Even when I’ve been taught to pause, my brain is over flooded with adrenaline and the pause button breaks sometimes. Maybe you have it all together, but I’m confessing I surely don’t. I was riding with a friend when he asked a simple but profound question today. “What do people do without God?”  From what I’ve learned, I did the best I could. I used basic instincts that once ruled me and now remember those were necessary for survival. If deep down in every woman, man, and child is the fundamental idea of God, then those instincts must be God given, too. I mustn’t forget that, but when they spin out of control is when I get in big trouble. My anger flairs up, my tongue rattles, and I become the very being I abhor: a babbling idiot. The biggest difference today is that I’m not a drunk babbling idiot. It takes work to pause when I’m agitated and frustrated, and it also takes a Power greater than me who works on my behalf. After all, He’s the reason I’m still here and still a work in progress….glad tidings of great joy!…b

 

 

Wanderings

 

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I don’t know about yours, but my mind wanders all over the place. I think I need to be doing this, got to be doing that, and before I know it I’m hiking somewhere beautiful all in the luxury of my lazy boy mind.  I write to stay focused, but it’s hard being ADD and living in a world where everything moves at warped speeds, especially unmedicated. I know it sounds like I need a whambulance, and I’m not a martyr here, I just get frustrated and out of sorts when my racing mind overwhelms me.  Its the feelings that get me stuck every time. I even get on my own nerves some days. Having to put events in perspective for those who may not have a focus problem is like trying to explain quantum physics to a historian. I manage better than I ever have in my life because before recovery, I would use substances to control those parts of my brain that really were out of control, without a doctor’s knowledge. That is self medicating and is what many of us with dual diagnoses do. It’s like putting a band aid on a bullet hole. You’ll eventually bleed to death, but at least it slows the pace. I lived with it all my life, but it never actually started catching up with me until my second year in college. I could no longer use humor to deflect, and  neither could I manage taking 4 classes, work, and party. So guess which of the three won out?  I eventually reentered, but not before I got some medication to help me, prescribed by a doctor, and one that is not abused. For those of us who bumble around having 50 things run thru our heads at a time, it helps us stay focused on the task at hand and actually finish what we started. Without it, I’m off in never land hoping to find that silver plated, pearl handled knife I lost when I was a kid…..totally driven to distraction…..good day!…b

Solitude

imageSometimes I have to slow down my brain like Kay Redfield Jamison describes in her book, An Unquiet Mind, and especially around the holidays. The world and it’s people really have the power to dominate me if I allow it. I’ve worried about the outcomes in situations where I absolutely have no control, but my thoughts race like quarter horses down the backstretch. Finding solitude in a cluttered, chaotic framework can be difficult. I must create the space necessary to feel safe once again. Chemicals were the only way, in the past, I could get my wiring slowed down enough to process even the little events that were occurring at the time. Then a thought gets obsessive and I can’t let it go. My addiction used to be like that, and  my thinking still can be. Recognition of it is huge progress for me, before my actions turn into a fear based onslaught. Just because the circus leaves town, doesn’t mean that the monkeys stop showing up all at once. Today, I use the same tools of recovery that worked in the very beginning: meetings, sharing, reading recovery literature, working with others, prayer, and making alone time.  I try to center my thinking on one word, and concentrate on my breathing. I’ve paid good money to learn that.  I have also found that exercise releases endorphins, natural painkillers, that help too. Listening to my inner voice helps, as well. When I’m tired, I rest. When I’m angry, I pause. When I’m frustrated, I pray. And when I get overwhelmed, I  call my sponsor or someone in the program and listen to their experiences. Chances are that they probably have been there before and worked thru it sober. After all, that’s the goal, one day at a time….blessings!…b

Who and What I am….

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My identity, how I think and what I feel, is rooted deeply in my experiences. These are what have shaped my way of viewing the world. Some experiences have made me better, while others, I am ashamed to admit, worse. We all have our war stories. I remember once in New Orleans,  I told my myself I was going to sit in a bar and watch a football game to prove I could drink like a gentleman. With no mental defense, it all came crashing down when that compulsion hit. No consequences or repercussions ever entered my mind when it would happen. Needless to say, that trip home was not very fun.  Today, I understand it better when those hot thoughts produce a feeling. I must take action if I want to stay sober and forge thru with gut level honesty to take full advantage of what I’ve learned. That is wisdom. When I acknowledge who and what I am, I understand that most of the answers to my identity crises, can be found right there. That’s acceptance. When my thinking changes, my behaviors begin to change, too. What I am looking for now as compared to a few short years ago is not the same. I don’t have to sit in bars to prove anything. That is surrender. Socrates abhorred wealth and would take his sandals off, walk barefoot in the market while looking at the men’s fine shoes. When asked why?….he replied, “to see what I am perfectly happy without.” That is serenity. Being human forces me to look at myself. So, here’s my challenge: I will do the best I can with what I have today, make amends when I am wrong, grow my spiritual life, and help my fellow man: that’s the program in action……Good day!….b

Acting As If

“Do not waste time bothering whether you ‘love’ your neighbor; act as if you did. As soon as we do this we find one of the great secrets. When you are behaving as if you loved someone, you will presently come to love him.”-CS Lewis

How many times I have heard the phrase “act as if” and it flew right over my head.  Some topics need my experiences and response, not my silence or opinions. It’s where my demons hide.  Holidays are tough for lots of reasons: endings to another year, sadness of lost loved ones, and the fear of the unknown. All can drive me over the edge. I remember one time loading everything we had in a 26 foot trailer and moving out of state. Dreams come slow, but die so fast. It is an uncomfortable topic for many of us until you get that phone call, and then you realize you have no choice. I know because it happened six years ago last week. Life can be such a cruel teacher. I will no longer stand on the sidelines of life and watch life go by me. I can tell you the pain and suffering we all have had to endure as a result of her taking her own life. Survivors don’t want sympathy but awareness, so we learn to “act as if.” Life’s game plan can change quickly. My old one was killing me too. Watching friends and loved ones drown themselves in a bottle is sad and disheartening. Fear, abandonment, and shame creep in like a night crawler on a full moon night. There is one thing I’ve learned, and that is there are some things in living even daddy’s can’t fix. This time of year must have been extremely tough on her. It is on a lot of people. Somehow, we all want a revelation and understanding. I can’t afford to live in the “what ifs” because there is no solace there. What I can do is reach out to others and share with them our family’s experience.  We don’t make excuses, but we can make adjustments, and be relational with the lady who shares that her daughter was locked in the psyche ward last Christmas for attempted suicide. I encourage you to share your stories because it gives people hope and reminds us that we are not alone……God’s peace…..b

Necessary Endings

imageThe title necessary endings is from a book by the same name. The author, Dr. Henry Cloud, is also coauthor of a book entitled Boundaries which is on my GOODREADS  on the home page. When I read a good book, I pass it along, just like friends have done for me. There are crossroads that I’ve come to in business, relationships, and employment that didn’t end well. The reason is because I did not know how to end them. I simply was not equipped. They left me bitter, angry, remorseful and lost but staying stuck surely didn’t fix it. The answers lie within when I ask for the proper use of God’s will. Of all the fears and resentments these losses have caused, they were necessary as I look back over my life. Hurtful and sometimes excruciatingly painful, they left me feeling insecure and emotionally and financially unstable at times, but necessary all the more. Dr. Cloud uses the term “pruning” to extract those negative forces that zap my limited resources of time, money, and energy. Boy, have I spent many an hour there. Spinning my wheel like a hamster, distracting myself from the primary purpose of being helpful and useful to others. It’s the equivalent of shooting at the same target without adjusting the scope sights. The idea is to get a “grouping” of rounds within a small radius. Otherwise, I shoot to miss the mark. The sick part is that I stayed stuck in my addiction to booze and pills much the same way. I was fearful of leaving the comfortable for the unknown. Some are born with the innate ability to skip thru life without fear of change. That gene skipped my pool. I will procrastinate the obvious until it becomes the inevitable. When I do a daily inventory, I am often amazed how difficult and challenging pruning the unneccessary parts of my life that cause me pain can be. It’s only a daily reprieve when I remain willing to cut the fat in order to get to the meat and remember that sometimes endings are necessary to move forward ….good day!…b