Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Spritual Awakenings in General

I guess most of my spiritual awakenings could be classified as waking up to the truth about myself.  In the past if I had "come to" and seen those things I would have been in despair.  There's a reason why the first three steps of the 12 Steps are the first three steps.  Waking up to reality has the foundation of the realization of powerlessness and unmanageability, followed by the belief (hope/suspicion) that there is a force for good in the universe that can and will restore sanity, followed by the decision to let that power care for us and change us.  At first my spiritual awakenings were definitely rude awakenings and were painful.  But not so much any more.  I am completely dependent on a higher power for my life and any changes that happen in my personality and attitudes.  My awareness of other people and how to treat them comes to me from a higher power also.  To sum up - no spiritual awakening has happened to me except as I was surrendered to the care of that force for good in the universe.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Welcome Memories

At a meeting a few days ago, the speaker mentioned Ron and how much help he was in getting sober.  I remember how Ron spent a lot of time helping people who were stuck and really didn't want to do anything but meetings, so he would take off his counselor hat and put on his AA hat and try to take them through the steps.  From what the speaker said, I'm guessing he was one of those.  Then after the meeting, a gal came up to me and said that Ron had helped her mother do an intervention that eventually got her into treatment and she said how grateful she was.  She said that the intervention itself didn't go that well.  As soon as she realized what was happening, she ran out of the room and went up on the roof where they couldn't talk to her.  But she eventually got sober.  I'll bet Ron was entertained by that.  Going up on the roof was a bit unusual, but stuff like that happened all the time.  People hate being called on their addictions!  It's been over six years since Ron died, but people I don't know still tell me about how he saved their lives.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spiritual Awakening #7

This was a gradual one.  I don't remember there being a moment in time when I had a flash of light and woke up, although there was one flash a few years ago when the whole concept solidified and I totally got it.  I heard things in meetings like, "My mind is dangerous territory, and I shouldn't go there alone."  Or the "stinkin thinkin" phrase.  The upshot was that I should not believe my thoughts.

I always thought that my thoughts were me and that they were true.  I've come to believe that for whatever reason my thoughts are often - nearly all the time - not in my best interests at all.  They almost always are either judgments of myself or others or worries about the future.  They urge me to do things that are destructive.  I've also learned that being aware of what I'm thinking as continuously as is humanly possible and questioning the truth of my thoughts and then changing them, is a huge key to serenity and peace and love.

Learning that my negative thinking was very likely the cause of the majority of my emotional upsets was a huge turn around for me.  Recently I've been practicing the "morning pages" recommended by The Artist's Way.  The idea is to empty your mind of whatever you're thinking about in order to fill it up with the good stuff. 

I've actually been journaling daily since 1991, or thereabout, for that purpose, and it's been my experience that although I don't have control of my first thoughts, I do have a choice about whether I entertain and believe them or not.  These "morning pages" take the process a lot deeper in that they're three pages of longhand every single day.  All the stuff that's buried under the usual blah, blah, blah of my thoughts usually comes to the surface by the end of that third page.

Questioning my thoughts is a challenge because I have unconsciously come to believe a lot of things that are not true.  Recently I realized that some of it probably comes from the fairy tales I learned in childhood.  For example, I learned from fairy tales that some people are evil and some are good (the wicked step sisters and stepmother of Cinderella) and that when people do things that hurt me, it means that they are just bad people and want to hurt me for no reason.  Of course, I always saw myself as the good person.

Well, the actual truth is that all of us are hurt emotionally - seriously wounded - by the crazy world we live in, the crazy way we bring up children, and we pass that woundedness to each other all the time.  That's the reason there are "bad" people.  I'm not one of those brainless do-gooders that wants to let everyone off the hook because of their woundedness - that doesn't help at all.  Being accountable for our behavior is always the right thing to do.  But having compassion for myself and all other humans means not living with fear caused by my thinking. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Spiritual Awakening #6

Early in my recovery I read a lot of books trying to find a way to connect with a Higher Power.  One of them was "Love is Letting Go of Fear."  There was a story in the book about a guy on the subway who was very, very disturbed by some children who were more or less running amok.  He got angrier and angrier because their father was sitting right there doing nothing about the situation.  Finally he got so mad that he confronted the father.  The father apologized and got the children to sit down.  He said that he guessed the kids were just letting off steam because they had just come from the hospital where their mother had died and he, himself, was just not quite present since he was in deep grief.

Of course, the moral of the story is that I don't know whether my harsh judgments of other people are true or not.  There may be a good reason for what I've judged as their bad behavior.  In fact, instead of assuming that they are bad people, lazy, uncaring or just have bad motives, it might work better if I assumed the best instead of the worst.

This has helped me immensely in that I no longer wear myself out so much with judgments of other people or myself.  If I assume good reasons, I can just adjust to what is, instead of using my time and energy blaming and complaining and keeping myself in emotional turmoil.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Spiritual Awakening #5

Oh how I hated this one.  I was complaining and blaming to my sponsor about how awful my boyfriend was behaving.  She suggested I take his inventory - write down all the bad things he was doing and what character defects he exhibited.  When I finished, she asked me to come to her house and tell her all about it.  As soon as I finished, she said for me to sign my name at the bottom of the list.  Of course, I was horrified and greatly insulted.  Then she explained that it's actually impossible to see someone else's character defects unless we have some form of them ourselves.  We might be going in a different direction with them than the person we're judging or we might just wish we could get away with the same behavior, but there's something we're secretly judging ourselves for that we're covering up by judging someone else.  If I call someone a miser, for example, I might be feeling guilty about overspending or being "tight" myself.  If I'm not judging myself, I might just see the person as thrifty. 

Oh how hard this one was to swallow.  On the other hand, it's an absolutely perfect way to see my own character defects that I'm blind to.  Very handy.  After enough personal examination, I'm not so shocked at my character defects, and my ego doesn't try so hard to defend me.  None of this has a purpose of trying to make me feel bad or guilty, but just to help me see how I'm getting in my own way and keeping me unhappy.  By continuing to work the steps on whatever I find, I'm able to forgive myself which helps me be a lot more accepting of other people.  Unfortunately, it's a process, not an event.

Monday, February 06, 2012


Poinsettias last way past Christmas.  This one is a little bedraggled though.
Below is the sweet potato vine is started months ago.  Just as I was giving up and going to throw the potato away, I saw a tiny bit of green, so I put it back in the water.  By spring I'm going to have a huge plant - I think I'll start another one!
Cisco loves the heating pad.  He's such a skinny baby that I feel sorry for him and keep turning it on all day.

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Spiritual Awakening #4

This one absolutely amazed me.  I had someone in my life that walked into my house without knocking and another person who took any money I left anywhere in my house.  Of course, I had thrown my usual fits about being victimized, so they both knew how I felt but kept going.  I felt like a helpless victim.  My dear sponsor was not impressed with my victimhood and kept asking me 1) why I didn't lock the door and 2) why I didn't lock up my money.  I thought this was bad advice since the obvious solution was for them to behave. 

Eventually I got it, though, and did what I needed to do.  I realized that I just expected people to do what I wanted and was horrified when they didn't.  She told me that everyone has different rules and different motives for doing what they do and that my expectations were what was making me miserable.

It turns out that those principles are applicable to a lot of things in life.  She suggested that I quit taking other people's words and behaviors personally, bless them and live the way I thought God wanted me to.  I forget about this from time to time, but life always gives me a reason to remember it.

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