Being Honest with Oneself

A couple weeks ago I read a man’s revealing blog entry about how his world was suddenly upended by his loving wife dying from a fast-acting form of cancer. He wrote how he simply came apart after her death and spent the majority of his time tipping a bottle. What saved him, he said, was bottoming out, letting everything go, and being brutally honest with himself about every aspect of his past, present, and future without her.

While these words below (inspired by his article) are mine and not his, it was a powerful and hopeful message that needed to be shared—how he slowly rebuilt his life from the ground up by changing how he viewed his role in the process.  I’d like to list his url page of the article here for all to read it directly but unfortunately I can’t locate it again. Sorry. This is the best I can do.

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Jack, my counselor, told me he had one rule, and that was to be honest in our talks. “Be honest?” I sneered back at him. The only truth I knew for certain was that I was still sinking in a tar pit of pain over my wife’s sudden illness and death that past year—I raged for half an hour at the unfairness of it all to both of us.  “You want REAL?” I told him, “THAT is very real to me—so there Jack, THAT is my being honest with you!”

My counselor then said to use that very real pain as the starting point to feeling what truth is for me—to use it as the gauge of honesty for every other aspect of my life to help determine what I expected from life in general, and even more importantly, what life might actually expect from me—which made no sense at all to me back then. “What LIFE expects from me?” I yelled, “Screw life! What did it ever do but give me more pain?”

He said that if I could just be honest with myself over what I truly felt for my wife before and after her illness, and allowed myself to feel the real depth of my loss over her death, then I could be honest about other parts of myself as well. That honesty, he said, would help me determine how I wanted to live the rest of my life.

The booze, he said, was keeping me from ‘feeling’ in general because if I never really let myself feel the pain, then I could never get past the pain to move on from there.

The court-required AA meetings helped because other addicts/alcoholics won’t let you lie about what you do or why you do it. They know. They’ve been there. They’ve said and done the same things, and they call you out on your stuff. You can’t hide it from them. You get that real fast. And I needed that.  I needed their truthfulness to help me uncover my own.

But I wouldn’t call those meetings support as much as I’d call it a mirror held up to your face that you can’t avoid.  There you are—twenty or so different versions of you—all gathered in one room sharing stories, shame, and self-loathing.  And there I was with a bunch of other people supposedly just like me—like being called by some other name to tell something similar to my story, like Jim or John or Lori, …or Frank or Jerry—but they were all different versions of me. “Same brand of ice cream, just a different flavor,” Jack said.

Well I didn’t like how that made me feel, so I told them about it. Said I didn’t belong there.

“Accept it,” they said. “We are alcoholics. You’re an alcoholic—lying is what you do, especially to yourself.  That’s who you are because that’s the most comfortable way to be—at least it always has been. Problem now is that even lying doesn’t work for you anymore.”

They were rough with me at times because I was so stuck in denial—claiming I was the victim here—why couldn’t they see that? One guy even pointed to me and said, “You want to keep seeing this same lying sack of shit staring back at you every time you look in the bathroom mirror? NO? Then change what you’re doing—change what you’re thinking. Because if you can’t accept the living proof of who and what you are sitting here all around you—if you can’t stand to think that you’ve been lying to yourself and to everyone you say you loved day after day for most of your life, then don’t expect your future to be any different. It’s your choice. YOUR choice, man!”

The “Your choice!” repeated over and over in their own stories. It’s always your choice. It’s your decision. “No one makes it but you,” they kept saying. “It isn’t really about life’s unfairness, or how much you miss your wife,” one of them told me. It was about being honest with myself about what I was feeling—what I still AM feeling about it all, and deciding if that’s what I want to feel in the future.

“If you can do that,” my counselor who led the group said, “if you can be honest with yourself, then you can pull yourself together and get on with your new life without the booze. But it’s really up to you.”

And as a parting shot, another guy who looked a lot like my sleezy Uncle Charlie, who was the last person in the world I ever wanted a lecture like this from, told me, “If you aren’t willing to help yourself buddy, don’t expect us to help you.”

Well, a couple years later I can tell you that it wasn’t easy by any means. Some days are still a struggle, but eventually I learned to view that past history of my previous self and life in a different way—what Jack called “in a more constructive manner”—one where I could refocus on how I had survived those painful life lessons, and use that survivor mentality to help me feel good about myself again, …which was far better than feeling so rotten all the time, where I simply wanted to numb myself into la-la land with the booze.

But maintaining the what Jack had named “lesson-filled, boot-camp view” of my previous life which he said I had successfully survived, was a difficult choice that I had to keep making day after day—sometimes every minute of the day for awhile, until I grew more comfortable in my new skin.

And getting to know this new me who thought and acted completely different from the old me, was the hardest part of it, because I finally realized that for 42 years I’d basically been doing nothing more than lying to myself, so I hardly knew what truth looked like, or even what being truthful felt like.

In fact the more I considered it, I’m not sure that I had ever been honest with anyone, let alone being honest with myself back then.

Was everything I’d said and done in my entire life a lie? If so, then wasn’t any part of it real? And what part of me was the real ME who was actually worth knowing? To figure that out, Jack tried to flip my mind again to see WHO it was that I wanted to become, to know how to get there. He said it was like creating an image of the new and better me that I would simply have to GROW into. But how could I do that?

Jack framed it to me this way: If I were the adult parent of a newborn ME ready to be introduced into this world full of challenges and wonders, what kind of parent would I truly need to be to successfully raise baby ME into a solid, well-balanced adult? Would I need a critical, demanding, drill sergeant constantly condemning ME and beating me down for my failings, or a nurturing, caring, coach continually encouraging my daily progress and raising me up to feel good about myself?

Not a tough choice, really. I didn’t need to feel any worse about myself than what I’d already been feeling.  What I needed was to feel more loved and supported than I had actually felt throughout most my childhood. Jack agreed. He said what I needed to help me succeed in my new life direction was my own loving guidance and support, not more self-condemnation.

Per Jack’s instructions, every morning now when I look in the bathroom mirror, I ask myself this question: “How are you going to encourage the best from that young kid in you today—how are you going to parent yourself to become a strong and loving person?”

Then I look right into my own eyes and say the words of a speech I’d memorized for doing this daily self pep-talk, “How can I express myself in more compassionate ways—in ways that other loving and caring people want to share in—ways that help them to recognize the goodness of my heart so they want to become more a part of my life?”

“How can I be a good person?”  I ask the ME staring back in all my imperfections. And that’s the goal I set for the day—every day—just trying to be a good person in some way—trying to help somebody or to do something nice for somebody else, because it makes me feel good when I can do that. And the more good I do for others, the better I feel about myself. Funny I know, but that’s how it is.

Well, as you can see, I’m still working on that goal of being a better person. But I wanted others to know that being honest with myself was a key to clearing out the garbage from my life. Think about it: You got to keep taking out the trash to keep from stinking up the house.

And if that ain’t being honest, …then I don’t know what is.

Moving Forward

2016.jpg

I’ve time-warped to Wednesday, November 9, 2016 and we have elected a new president to lead the nation for at least four years.

The task of that leadership is daunting—not easily accomplished by a single figure, male or female.

duties.jpg

In truth, the success of a nation and its people is never determined by one person, but that one individual known as The President of the United States of America has immense power to change millions of lives for the better or the worse, i.e.:

  • The use of nuclear weapons offensively or defensively, is a president’s prerogative.
  • Détente among world leaders is a determiner of cooperation and support for global policies.
  • Supportive alliances and multi-nation unity provide firm negotiating tactics for hot-spots around the world. NATO may not be perfect, but at present, it is the best we have.

Yes, on November 9th we will all be praying that change for all of us will be for the better.

We know by now there are no assurances that any policy or stance for or against an issue of importance will reap the benefits portrayed in an election campaign. Life just doesn’t play out that way.3 brances 2.png

And no matter what changes any President suggests or requests, it requires a Congress willing to support it, so there are things a President can do alone, but the majority of major changes need congressional support to enact and fund them. That’s just how federal governance is set up.

So when we all open our sleepy eyes on Wednesday, November 9th, there will be some very happy United States citizens and some not-too-happy ones. The largest challenge from November 9th onward is helping everyone to feel some degree of comfort with the election results and to find a way to make life better for everyone—even those who didn’t support the winning candidate.

That’s what it’s all about—how to make life safer, better and happier for everyone.

crayon2There are a lot more colors in the crayon box besides RED or BLUE. Let’s focus on the beauty of a multicolored pallet to paint a better and brighter future for all Americans.

I’m really tired of all the HATE lingo.

 

How about you?

Those Dissin’ “Chaos” Energies

(Pertinent repost from May 23, 2014)

Noticed a bit of discomfort lately in situations, relationships, and personal endeavors? It might be the malingering effects of the dysfunction-creating  “D’s”—those discombobulating chaos energiesdolphin waves rainbow we’re swimming in at present, with two of the most noticeable aspects being dissonance and disruption.

For those of us who are energy sensitive, we know the feel of these disturbing energies when you’re in them. Once-normal situations now seem tense and potentially explosive. People you normally associate with walk around frowny-faced and withdrawn, preferring to be left alone—with you being one of them.

Easy to tell that this isn’t a fun environment to be in or near; and that makes for yet another “D”—difficulties.

So what is going on in the world right now?

The likely culprits are some very weird energies coming in to the world at present, and those strange oceans of energy that we are all swimming in seem to be chaos energies. It’s easy to recognize chaos energies because they create lots of upheavals and uncertainties wherever they are present; resulting in all those previously mentioned “D’s,” which are so obvious right now whether at work, at home, communally or personally.

What is perhaps even more distracting is the sheer strength of these latest chaos energies which are straining relationships and creating sleepless nights for many of us who are so energy sensitive.

I asked a dear friend who is also a highly-intuitive energy-worker, for her take on what is happening because I was having a hard time getting a clear read for it myself, and she said it’s all about balancing the new energies coming in to our world at present—energies that are meant to be dissonant and disruptive to shake up the old systems—the old ways of operation—and create the opportunity for change: for both individual and world-wide change.

So if you find yourself immersed in this kettle of funky, murky energy that seems to keep stirring things hotter for you, maybe it’s time find a way to turn down the heat and let the situation cool a bit. Chill out. Walk away. Shift your focus for awhile.

As someone recently wrote, “Just because you’re invited to an argument, doesn’t mean you have to accept the invitation.”

But if these chaos energies continue to be so strong and continue to adversely affect us, perhaps we need to learn how to handle these powerfully disruptive energies in more calm and constructive ways, to prevent all those “D’s” from leading to one more: disaster.

If there was ever a time to learn how to hold your own center and keep your cool in adverse situations, this is it.  So my suggestion is to meditate more and spend some quality time in nature doing vigorous activities to burn off that excess energy flooding our energy fields at present; and by all means, simply relax….just relax. Sit back and take it easy for awhile.

These energies will shift again in a few weeks, and hopefully they will be more pleasant and nurturing by then. Just try to use these present disruptive-energy aspects to clear things from your life that have long needed to be cleared, but for some reason, you just couldn’t let them go.

Try again! I bet in these energies you CAN let them go now!

ImageClean out the basement or the garage, stack the trash bins full of all that old “stuff” you’ve accumulated and kick it to the curb. That’s what these energies are good for: Clearing out the old to make room for the new.

The Chinese kanji representing “Chaos” means many things. But the greatest positive effect it represents is the “Opportunity for Change.”  And that’s the whole point of this present world-wide energy scenario: CHANGE.

Flushing

It was so fitting—so appropriate for the energies of this time period that we are presently experiencing.

money flush.jpgA few days ago our toilet backed up when flushed sending instant panic through me as I watched the water rising ever closer to the bowl rim.  Luckily it stopped before overflowing, but those are the moments when you realize how instantly susceptible to life’s little surprises you can be.

Risking the “too-much-information” explanation, I will say that those of us in rural areas tend to have septic tanks buried out beyond the house perimeter to contain and disperse waste waters, rather than using a city’s sewer lines to which most folks are accustomed.

And those of us who DO have septic tanks know that after a few years of usage, those tanks need to be pumped out (also fortunately there are companies that do that particular septic-tank servicing). Once the storage tank is pumped out, it usually takes care of the “toilet won’t flush” problem.

drain lines.jpgBut occasionally, there are those property owners who can tell horror stories of what happens when their septic-tank, water-drainage lines plug up and have to be re-dug.

Yes, in essence the drain-line trenching firm “reams you a new one,” both financially in your pocket book and aesthetically across your carefully-manicured property. It looks like giant moles invaded your yard digging huge, mounded tunnels extending a hundred feet in three different directions.

Or as I will call it: “Welcome to my Monday.”

But even as the trencher grinds away out there spitting our carefully-coiffured grass into unbreakable clods and large dirt piles, I can’t help but recognize the metaphor playing out before my eyes:  Sometimes our energy bodies are so built up with energy blockages and stagnant memories/emotional triggers that we have a hard time releasing those things that no longer serve us. We have a hard time “letting go” of the wastes that we need to flush out of our minds and our lives.

Right now throughout the world, these are the “blockage-clearing” energies that we are energy cleaned.pngexperiencing globally, regionally, and personally. We’re all energetically getting our pipes cleaned and our drain lines reamed.  And it isn’t usually pleasant to have this done either mentally or physically, but it NEEDS to be done so we can eliminate the toxins from our lives.

The good news is that energetically, this cosmic purifying/purging phase won’t last forever; and that eventually once the wastes are finally gone, we can reset our lives in a new and more productive direction—preparing us for the next adventure, or exciting discovery, or educational experience that helps us to grow in awareness and to evolve in understanding.

new day.JPGBecause that’s the true advantage that proper “flushing” provides us: It gives us a clean, fresh start for the next phase of our lives.

 

Or as I also will soon call it: “Hello Tuesday.”

Changes

toggle.jpgWelcome to life—where the only antidote for stagnation is change—where the only prospect for difference is in letting go of sameness.

It is also where the only possibility for personal growth is in facing down the unknown stretching out before you.

Change is being constantly in motion.  That’s just how it is—from birth to death and beyond—we are continually evolving in awareness and understanding; and more importantly, we are changing some aspect of what we do, how we think, and where we look for answers to our life’s questions.

With springtime in the northern hemisphere as a major harbinger of change, let’s consider why change is so important to us individually.

  • Avoiding stagnation:

Who wants to be a stagnant pool where drain water collects little other than mosquito larvae?  Isn’t it better to allow for water flow and ample clearance of everything your little basin has been catching? The same holds true for our mental and emotional beings. Change allows us to clear out the old accumulated residues from our lives, and to refresh and reset ourselves for whatever challenge might lie ahead of us.

  • Providing growth incentive: watts change.jpg

“Growth” is one of those obscure terms that implies a positive outcome, but it usually comes at the cost of surmounting some degree of difficulty along the way.  In truth, if every aspect of our lives played out day by day exactly as they always have in the past, then we would cease to be amazed at not only the newness and freshness that each day provides us, but also at our own abilities to utilize our inner resources in pushing past a minor inconvenience in our path, or our ability to continually plow through life’s major challenges whenever they arise.

  • Testing our metal:

Life is a testing ground—no doubt about it.   How would you know what you are capable of achieving if you never had the opportunity to pit yourself against a challenge? How strong is your will to survive a life-threatening situation? How resilient is your resolve to keep moving forward through the darkest night and the densest undergrowth pulling at your feet?  How determined can you be to keep pushing onward when your strength is spent and your mind foggy—when sheer determination is the only thing standing between your success or your failure in this life?

What it really comes down to is how would you know any of those answers if you have never had the chance to experience an opportunity for change?

celestial pathI think one of the greatest learning situations we will ever experience is where we meet others along our life’s path and while moving past them, we look into their eyes and surprisingly see ourselves in them.

That very situation is the CHANGE in viewpoint most conducive to realizing our group interconnectedness and our shared intentions.

I also believe that is the very CHANGE we are experiencing most right now on a global scale.

In essence, change is simply seeing the world through the same eyes but with a new perspective—a shared perspective.

While sameness may be the comfortable illusion that we might choose to believe, change is the reality we must learn to celebrate.

CHANGE—it’s what’s happening now.

“The World According to Garp”

While watching the early morning news shows, that old book/movie title came to mind: The World According to Garp.

garp.jpgThe book was by John Irving, and the movie starred Robin Williams back in 1982.

When I search the dank archives of my memory, I can still recall snippets of the movie because it was a somewhat dark-themed effort at breeding reality with twisted humor, or as Wikipedia describes it:

“The story contains a great deal of (in the words of Garp’s fictional teacher) ‘lunacy and sorrow’, and the sometimes ridiculous chains of events the characters experience still resonate with painful truth.”

Why the news reminded me of the title is probably because of hearing the many laughable versions of world affairs offered by political candidates who think they want to be in charge of them all. Now THAT consideration is an Irving-esk dark comedy in concept-expansion stage—being both ridiculous and painful to watch.

For most of us, LIFE is an experience that we all share and yet recognize that each of us has our individual perspective skewed perspective.jpgon what LIFE in general means, on how it works, and why we believe that we personally matter to any of the events around us.

For our society in the broadest sense, reality itself is a consensual agreement governed by majority rule, and the majority that does rule determines the acceptance of behaviors, mores, and attitudes for the rest of us.

If we share that “consensus agreement,” it’s great—life is good. But if not, ….well I guess it depends on the majority who is ruling the rest of our hands in circle.jpgbehaviors, mores, and attitudes as to their punishment for being someone thinking or being different than they are.

This is often called the tolerance factor of a society. How expandable or rigid are the acceptability guidelines within that society?

Have you ever thought about this? What about you? How broad- or narrow-minded are your views on major issues that define our society in general?

Marcus Aurelius.jpgMutual agreement on much of anything is pretty hard to come by these days in congress or in coffee shops around the nation. But overall, opinions are plentiful.

That I believe is what we are presently hearing: huge volumes of vociferous opinions on what candidates believe people likely want to hear.

To me, what is most important is to watch and listen to the manner in which these opinions are expressed, and to note how they veer into tailored variation depending on the intended audience. If the message changes from day to day or event to event, what does that say about the speaker?

And if the message is one full of intolerance and hateful rhetoric, what does that also say about the audience listening to it?

Like the fictional character Garp, we all have our own take on the world around us—we see it as WE see it—we judge what we see by how it affects us and those we care most about.

garp plane.jpgAnd like that twisted tale of skewed perspective determining his future life tragedies, we lean toward the perspective that best matches our own.

Hopefully this revised movie version plays out better for all of us than Irving’s did.

Aftermath

Similar to afterthought except as applied to actions, aftermath describes the consequences of causal events.quart arm

While afterthought can be considered more benign, cerebral, and sort of “arm-chair, quarterback”-ish on 3rd down plays; …aftermath can be more like “sacked quarterback goes out for the season with broken arm—team in turmoil”-ish.

Afterthought can be second-guessing and reconsidering one’s better options afterwards instead of beforehand.

Aftermath can be the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, even decades following a questionable decision or wide-spread disaster that can irrevocably change the course of lives forever.

Afterthoughts of what we might have done better, rather than what we did do at the time, may haunt us indefinitely.

bombingAftermath is the inevitable result of our bad decisions, choices, or actions that adversely affect (and keep affecting) others besides ourselves long after the initial action occurred.

Where we as global citizens are right now is caught in the aftermath of decisions made by unscrupulous leaders throughout the world many decades and even centuries prior—decisions made by those who were trusted and depended upon at the time, to put humanity’s welfare above their own personal greed and self-focus.

What does this mean to all of us in the NOW?

We are presently living in the aftermath of bad decisions—decisions traditionally based on fear and hatredintegrity—decisions based on self-interest and bids for power and control of resources, finances, and real estate—decisions based on short-term, more immediate benefits and gratuities, rather than long-term sustainable values that help raise people from crushing poverty and provide a solid chance at self-determination.

So with the American election season presently underway, as these latest supposedsaviors of family values and middle-class economic stability trot out their inflammatory one-liners and slash-and-trash campaign tactics, please keep in mind that any afterthoughts you might United States presidential election, 2016have the day after the election for NOT voting in primaries and in November 2016, mean nothing to the rest of us; because we will be too busy dealing with the aftermath of voter apathy and irresponsibility to even consider it.

Listen, …and I mean REALLY listen to what ALL candidates say and claim as his or her platform of beliefs; and then ask if he/she can provide verifiable records of action taken in that same regard before making a decision to give that person your valuable approval.

I think most of us are tired of living in the aftermath of a power-person’s bad decisions made through self-interest and adhesion to conventional party-politics.wisdom integrity

Actions, like wars, have consequences.

Let’s make sure that we all aren’t someone else’s afterthought this time.

Let’s be their primary consideration for a change.

Let’s stop living in the aftermath of someone else’s personal ambition.