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.

When UP is DOWN

That’s the bad thing about constant chaos—it destroys your sense of normalcy.

When illusions shatter like fine crystal smashed against stone, what remains is the broken glassreality of hand-cutting, glass shards left to gather; and that seems to be what we are doing most of the time now—constantly collecting the broken pieces of established Presidential protocols.

Critical mass was reached last week in the continuing saga of our Democracy under siege by a self-proclaimed “change-agent” who admires dictators.

The Acting US Attorney General assigned a Special Prosecutor to take over the Trump Campaign/Russian Interference investigations because Congress couldn’t be trusted to not be sppolitically influenced in finding the TRUTH, no matter the consequences; PLUS the President himself was directly interfering in the investigation—particularly by firing the FBI Director who had been leading it. (And then moronically admitting it on national television that it was indeed what he had done.)

However even chaos has its own system of dissolution and realignment. In Literary Criticism, which is “the study, evaluations and interpretation of Literature” (Wikipedia), that system of dissolution and realignment is called Deconstruction.

The effect of Deconstruction is like tearing apart a house just to see what it was made deconstructof—meaning you deconstruct it board by board until you have reached the ground on which it once stood. You may ultimately find your answer to the “what’s it made of?” question but you will unfortunately no longer have a structure to shield you from the harsher elements of life.

It would seem that is what is happening to our Democracy at present—Deconstruction. It is being tested by an unscrupulous agent of CHAOS—even in his own mind—who is attempting to deconstruct our Constitution and three levels of governance in favor of his single-ruler, autocratic aspirations.

Dare to cross him? His signature television quote “YOU’RE FIRED” would be his immediate response to you.

The gut-churning question for many of us was: How long autocracy.jpgwould his autocratic governing tendencies be permitted to continue without congress or the judicial system stepping in to stop him?

 

Well, two days ago a counter shot was fired across Trump’s bow to bring TRUTH and FAIRNESS back to the investigatory process. Perhaps a few congress-people awoke to the fact that without restraints on his attempts to seize more power, there could be public revolts that might affect their own congressional lives. Self-survival seems to be the one thing that they DO understand and will defend.

impeach.jpgImpeachment is a common subject for discussion now on news shows, as is the increased mention of Amendment 25 that I posted previously.

We don’t know where this all will lead. I know I have my preferences, but I will be content to see genuine justice served with fair hearings and investigations into abuses and criminal behaviors of all involved parties, no matter who they might be.

Who knows, perhaps in the near or distant future he himself fired.jpgwill hear those words he made so famous on his pseudo-reality TV show: “YOU’RE FIRED!”

I hope so, because this isn’t HIS “pseudo-reality” that the rest of us are living.

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

Overload

He should have come with a Users Manual and a RETURN POLICY.return.jpg

And on the very first page of that manual, in large BOLD print, it should have said, “WARNING: Frequent tweets of lunacy can lead to public overload with serious consequences for sanity.”

I think many of us about now are feeling the weight of not having that RETURN POLICY.

In fact, this whole situation would seem hilarious, if it weren’t so serious.

It would be even be comical, if it weren’t so dangerous.

And as each day mushes into the next, with verbal attacks on anyone and everyone who questions his statements and actions, we sit back—shell-shocked at the realization that this totally incompetent, petulant, moron has control of the nuclear codes that can instantly plunge the entire world into truth.jpgmass incineration beyond human comprehension.

But don’t worry.

Don’t believe the “lying press” who simply record and replay his every tantrum.

 

We know that “alternate truth” will win out in the end.

Murrow.jpg

It did for Hitler,  …..at least for awhile.

A Confluence of Events

Nothing invites chaos faster than proclaiming certainties.

No, the USA elections result isn’t because of a superstitious curse—the Cubs winningc-goat the World Series didn’t simply pass their “curse-goat” to the Democrats.

Last night (or early this morning), national news pundits began the election autopsy even before the critical battleground states were ceded. Something just wasn’t falling into line in every state’s rural-area voting totals; and all puzzled over what they were trump 2.jpgseeing until a deeper realization set in—Trump really was going to win.

The joke that we thought was his bid for the presidency, was actually on everyone else.

I can honestly say that this particular joke didn’t seem very funny last night—nor does it this morning.  But it is what it is. And you simply move forward from this day on just like I mentioned in my October 25th post. No matter who would be elected, it only mattered that it “makes life safer, better and happier for everyone.”

Time will tell, I guess.

Then I noticed that after listening to a few stunned morning-news people, I sighed and actually felt like a weight had been lifted from my shoulders. Yes. I could now pull out and gwbreuse my old response to every whining criticism I ever heard about President George W. Bush’s antics and actions from 2000-2008:

“Don’t tell ME about it—I didn’t vote for him!”

There……  I feel better already.

Karma and Dharma

Bobbsey.jpeg

No, Karma and Dharma aren’t the Bobbsey Twins (Oh Lord,…how old am I?).

olsensHow about the Olsen twins—is that more relatable?

For those of us who wish we better understood the relationship between the two hard-to-comprehend Sanskrit terms, I ran across a good comparative description in a blog entry called “Understanding Karma and Dharma” by John Burgos at  https://www.beyondtheordinaryshow.com/spiritual-dictionary/karma-dharma/ .

In that posting, this subject matter is explained by him in a “makes sense” manner that had me nodding in agreement.

When I write about living your true life purpose—being authentic—living a purposeful life, etc., I am actually describing DHARMA—a Hindu concept attempting to put a label on living in the natural, harmonious flow of life. Proper labeling is not easily done in any language. But for all practical purposes to better understanding it, that is what DHARMA means.dharma k.jpg

In that posting, according to Burgos: “So when we speak about you living your dharma, we are referring to you living your truth, living your highest potential, and living in a way that is supported by the Divine in a manner that is in accordance to your soul’s desire.”

And when I write about facing/resolving our personal and collective karma, I’m in essence writing about the boomeranging reciprocity of any action’s intentions for lovingness or harmfulness to others. Or as Burgos explained it: “Karma, put simply, is the Buddhist and Hindu manifestation of cosmic justice. It is the conglomeration of all your actions or deeds, both good and bad, in this life or past lives, that determine your future.”

As Burgos explained, when the two major life processes actually come into alignment with each other, life is good.chart.png

We feel deeply at peace and are riding the Divine Flow of Universal Lovingness.

But when we are out of alignment with either or both life processes, our negative Karma can prevent fulfilling our true Dharma; and/or not recognizing and living our true Dharma can add to the blow-back-in-your-face effects of our bad Karma.

So how do you clean up this possible calamity before it reaches critical mass in your life?

He has a suggestion of a 5-Step Karmic Cleanse technique to keep us from falling5 step.jpg into the bottomless pit of our own ignorance, paraphrased by me as:

  • Think before you act,
  • When emotions/memories surface and you start to react to them, pause and breathe through it to simply release them from your being,
  • Forgiveness is key to mending disputes with others and within yourself,
  • Be kind—don’t be cruel—we know Elvis wouldn’t want that,
  • Share the goodness of your heart and soul with others—uplift others, don’t degrade or belittle them.

Overall, I think his posting is worth a read-through, and his suggestions are well-worth considering.

Namaste.