Me, Against the World

me world.jpgI had someone say this to me once—something to the effect that I acted like it was ‘me, against the world.’

“So?” I asked him back, “You mean it isn’t?”

While I might be able to laugh about it now, he likely had a point that I couldn’t see at the time. However, he also didn’t live in my skin back then to know how the world and everyone in it actually appeared to me.

I think all of us have lived through difficulties either of our own making or we’ve been the recipients of the attempted manipulations or the ill will of others. Yes, there are some genuinely nice, caring people in the world—I do know some, but at the time, they either weren’t in my circle of intimacy or they had stepped back and decided it was up to me to sink or swim by myself.

Back then I felt that I had been betrayed by the people I had called my friends—that I’d even been abandoned by those I cared most about; that they left me to survive alone with little resources abandoned.jpgor options other than by my own indomitable will.

At the worst of the worst, all I knew was that some way, somehow, I had to make it through each day and night, and to do that I needed to muster my own inner fortitude to simply endure the horror of everything that I was experiencing and to keep pushing through the darkness until something in my life changed for the better—until I could actually see the light again and pull myself out of that underworld hell I’d unfortunately been touring.

I could give specifics, but they don’t really matter because it’s all about the lessons we learn along the way. Everyone has a story. Everyone has a challenge that pits them lifes challengesagainst the demons, real or imagined, in their lives. Everyone has the choice to fight for their own existence or to lie down and die, hoping death will free them from the torment (It won’t—don’t try it—your next-life challenge might be even worse.).

So sure, I might do the ‘me, against the world,’ thing at times. That’s fine. I’ve earned the right to do it if that’s what I want to do, because I did survive my personal ordeal to be here right now laughing about some aspects of it with the rest of you.

No one gets out of this life untested in some way, primarily because it’s why you came. You came to be tested. You came to be thrown into the blast furnace of your choosing and then be hammered into strong steel for whatever purpose your present life represents.

That’s why you are here: To learn, to experience the joys and sorrows of life on this dimension of existence.  Sometimes the joys are indescribable and sometimes the sorrows are nearly unbearable, but only YOU can choose to share them with others or face them alone.

myss quoteI know now that I’m not really alone here. I never was.

But those dark nights of the soul that we ALL must face sooner or later only strengthens our resolve to better appreciate the beauty of the light again, once we can pull ourselves out of that damn hole that we’ve stumbled (or jumped) into earlier.

That’s the real choice we make each day: the choice to whine and wallow away in the darkness, or to climb out of that stinking hole and come back into the light.

It’s a choice we ALL have to make.light.jpg

I made mine. I prefer the light.

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.

***

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.

Taking the FUN Out of Dysfunction

Just saw U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent on Morning Joe talking about the latest Trump insane rants and the accumulative effects of his instability-laden speeches and actions, and dysfunction.jpgCharlie shook his head and said “President Trump has taken the FUN out of dysfunction.”

Yep, definitely NO FUN there now.  But then I can’t remember when it actually WAS fun.

Yesterday Trump expressed his usual campaign pigswill at the National Boy Scouts Jamboree (“a gathering of tens of thousands of hitler boys.jpgyoungsters from around the world eager to absorb the ideas of service, citizenship and global diplomacy.”–Wikipedia) which was so chilling because it was reminiscent of Hitler addressing his Youth Squads who were specifically groomed to idolize der Fuhrer. (Oh my, even the uniforms are similar.)

With a captive audience of 30,000 mainly impressionable kids of all ages, Trump delivered a propagandistic diatribe on everything dredged from the depths of his own darkness—all his insecurities, all his inadequacies, all his fears, all his malevolence, all his vindictiveness, all his mental incoherencies, all of his negative character deficiencies for which he is best known—ALL of it, he delivered primarily to pre-teen and teenage males looking for good, solid role models that Scouting is meant to represent for them.

But instead of providing those Scouts with a reputable model for “service, citizenship, secs of BS.jpgand global diplomacy,” not to mention a shining example of the best possible adult character and behavior, they got him—the worst living example of what wielding a position of power can mean.

Unbelievable.

Hello Congress people out there who represent the last possible salvation for our future: Why are you allowing this ludicrous, dangerous, top-administrative insanity to continue?

Do your jobs!!!

Can’t you see that his malignant dysfunction is now being promoted onto our youth?

You want to start offering a Scout Badge now for mastering the skills of bigotry and scout badge.jpgracism?

And the other thing I want to know is when was his aberrant dysfunction ever FUN?

 

God’s TRUTH

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. kalidescope stained glass
It fell, and broke into pieces.
Everybody took a piece of it,
and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.”
~ Rumi

 

Love this poem by Rumi, but then I usually love most of his poems. However this one really struck me after my recent experience with trying to help some friends save a dying church congregation.

Clearly I love my friends and valued our united effort to create a better spiritual environment for all involved, but I did NOT love the scripted “churchiness” requirements of the experience—the dogma, the empty ritual, the traditions of doing something a certain way because it had always been done like that, and the dictatorial manner of the pastor deciding the church’s focus.

That kind of ‘pseudo-spiritual’ experience is definitely not for me—in fact it is the very church ladyreason I shunned churches in general for most of my life—because of the phoniness and hypocrisy of the experience.

Even from the start I knew that my participation in the group endeavor would not be easy because of my personal views on organized religions (Religion and spirituality are two very different aspects of believing in something greater than oneself, and while I am deeply spiritual, I am not a fan of the restrictive, entrenched, self-perpetuating structure of religious teachings.).

But again, I love my friends and wanted to help them pull off this effort successfully—to rebuild the dwindling congregation for the small-community betterment.church.jpg

After sitting with clenched teeth through eight months of services/sermons over what was being said and done at the pulpit and altar, I decided I couldn’t continue what felt to me to be a ridiculous charade and poorly disguised ego-trip for the preacher.

As Rumi said above, my piece of the mirror didn’t reflect what was being said and done there, so to me, it could never be MY truth. And I don’t feel bad about quitting the group endeavor or for leaving my friends there who are still a part of it.

What I would feel guilty about is if I hadn’t quit, because then I would be betraying my own self—my own spiritual connectedness that always feels pure and direct.

A week ago someone said something derogatory to me, and I let it go without responding or feeling ill will toward the person for saying it; and my best friend said to me that I was being a good ‘Christian’ about the situation.

rumi religion.jpgI had to bite my tongue to keep from saying back to her, No, ….that was being a good Muslim, or a good Jew, or a good Buddhist, or a good Jainist, or a good Taoist, or a good Hindi.

 

What I actually was demonstrating had nothing to do with any religion in particular, but with ALL in general: I was being a good PERSON!

We throw these religious labels around far too easily to separate us from others—to make distinctions between US and THEM—and what THEY believe as opposed to what WE believe.

But the entire point of living this life is to recognize our similarities and our sameness, not accentuate our differences. character quote

So to me, if you want to build a better world and create more loving and peaceful environments for everyone, including yourselves, then be better people, not proselytizers of elite-ness and separation from those who don’t share the same piece of God’s TRUTH mirror that you have in your hand.

Let’s put all those mirror pieces back together and then look within the reconstructed TRUTH mirror because it is only God’s TRUTH when it is in Its wholeness.

gods truth

No Sense of Identity

snack.jpg

Looking at my Facebook homepage this morning and seeing yet another of those “Who Are You?” quizzes (a potato chip or a Dorito?) being shared and taken by people who I actually know, I could make a broad non-judgmental comment like: “Human nature—go figure.”

But I think there is something deeper there to consider.

marketingAside from the on-line fun-quizzes being a marketing gimmick to further determine your buying habits or preferences for future products, they also show how gullible people can be and how willing many are to label themselves in some way for public acceptance.

 

I guess that aspect mystifies me the most.

The entirety of my life I have fought against the ready use of labels and judgments in labels.jpgdefining people—against me personally being grouped as a thoughtless commodity so easily shelved into a hierarchal genus or a colloquial catch-all phrase that disputes my individuality and unique qualities as a living, breathing, human being.

I refuse to be de-humanized.

While here, on my Facebook homepage—amidst people I actually know—they giggle and comment on which Saint they are, or which animal temperament they resemble, or which world leader they most emulate or which….snack food they seem to be.

identityI mean, ….seriously people? Do you have no sense of personal identity that you need to have a marketer try to group you onto some grocery shelf in the snack isle?

What’s wrong with you?????

 

So the best I can offer the people I actually DO know is to say: “Human nature—go figure.”

And leave it at that.crisis ident.jpg

Perspicacious

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I ran across this word yesterday in a crime novel and not knowing its meaning, I web-searched to find:

“having a ready insight into and understanding of things. SYN: discerning · shrewd · perceptive · astute · penetrating

Ok, …great.  Never knew what it meant, but now I do. So do I use it in every third sentence, or will it slip off my mental horizon as quickly as it emerged?

Yes, it’s more likely to be the latter case especially because in today’s world, perspicaciousness (the intelligence manifested as being astute) is rare.

Who needs to be exceptionally perceptive? How about insightful? I mean where will that get you, eh?

A knowing, penetrating gaze—capable of seeing through deceptions—of what value is that in our lives?

Certainly we can trust everything we hear, and see before us, can’t we? I mean when is discernment ever valued?

For example, would a President or his spokespeople ever intentionally deceive us?

Would some news outlets use their media platform to spread lies or carefully sherlock.jpgmanufactured propaganda like some autocratic dictatorship trying to keep its people in line?

Would disinformation ever be spread by either side of a political campaign to destroy all confidence in the voting process of a democracy?

Well of course not.

That just doesn’t happen in America, right?  What with all our FREEDOMS of press, religion, speech, right to bear arms, right to peaceful protest, etc., those nasty blotches on our freedoms cannot possibly exist, can they?

Yes, I can see that this new word “PERSPICACIOUS” will be gone from my mind as quickly as it arose, because there simply is no need for it.

All is well.  I can easily see that.

Contemplating the Year Ahead

I suppose if one were truly in THE MOMENT, then one would NOT be contemplating year change.jpgthe future or rehashing the past, but when it comes to this time of year it is hard not to give both some thought.

About now in my journal, I do a year-end-review to summarize all that occurred (good and not so much) throughout the year just passing. There are usually personal triumphs and losses that have been absorbed and evolved through—noting whatever knowledge was gained or wisdom acquired in the process of living life day by day, 365.

But at year’s end when I do this summation, it is easier to tell which lingering aspects are contemplationstill affecting me in some way. I always ask myself was 2016 a “good year” for me overall, or was it a constant challenge?

Each of us has our own opinion on the personally transformative aspects of this past year. Each of us was affected by events that were directly related to our own efforts, as well as being affected by events beyond our personal control. How we handled those two affectations was individually felt by everyone on many levels of our being: physically, mentally, and spiritually.

For me, I knew 2016 was a purging year—purging old memories, old associations, and old behaviors.

One purges physically to clear out the old toxins and disruptive agents affecting the body.

One purges mentally to clear the old trauma energies and stagnant thoughts from the mind.

One purges spiritually to clear the old, unhealthy beliefs about life and ourselves from our energy fields.refill.jpg

All this lengthy purging creates considerable disruption in our status quo/feelings of normalcy. But it also allows for completely emptying the old vessel to refill it with freshness and new experiences.

As we begin anew in 2017, I’m sure that we all hope the year ahead is one of joy and laughter, peace and prosperity.

However, we will take what it actually is as it slowly transpires before us.

I wish each of you all the best life can offer, and I hope that our collective-vessel refilling is with the highest frequency and purest energies of Divine Love and Light.

sunshiningMay we all shine like little suns and light whatever darkness that we may encounter throughout the days and weeks ahead of us.

Believe in yourselves. Believe in your natural abilities and resilience. And simply shine your light wherever you can.

BE PEACE to spread peace, because whether 2017 is a good year or not, is up to each of us.