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.

Vestigial Appendages

While reading a novel I ran across a humorous sentence—the main character was describing his boss’s mindset against treating others with basic human dignity.  “He viewed doing so as a vestigial appendage”—meaning it was similar to wisdom teeth and the appendix in human anatomy—an unnecessary present-day function and a left-over remnant from an vestigial.jpgancient time.

I chuckled at the reference, thinking it worthy enough of further consideration to have written it down on the napkin beside me. Those two words inspired memory flashes to my ninth grade Biology class—possibly a test question using that same mouthful, multi-syllabic, moniker for “the appendix” that I would eventually have removed forty years later.

In our current world, we deal with society’s vestigial respect dignityappendages all the time, but I wouldn’t call treating people with dignity and respect as one of them. Unfortunately in the last decade, our society has devolved into this particular mindset. We don’t respect others—we don’t respect differing opinions—and we don’t respect those who think differently than we do.

When a presidential candidate, and now The President of the United States, calls people that he wants to demean or diminish by childish, hurtful, disrespectful names, it lowers social mores in general to the level of street-slang and playground taunting.

Hearing a candidate for president doing so is disgusting, but hearing the chief representative of the American people doing it daily is appalling and unacceptable.

The problem, in my humble opinion, is that there are too many other adults who enjoy the childish nature of disrespecting others—too many people in our nation who like to put others down just to feel better than them—too many people who like to feel superior or separate from others for cliques.jpgone fleeting, delusional moment in time and alternate reality.

It’s like reliving junior high all over the nation—with mean-girl cliques and popularity trumping group camaraderie and compassion for all others.

Grow up people!  We are better than this!

Treating people with basic human dignity is NOT a vestigial appendage.

As the Senate now shows its take on the health care bill to the rest of us and many responsibilityviewing it aren’t surprised at the Medicaid cuts to people who need the most help, or the abundant tax cuts for those who need it the least, this situation is simply representative of a far deeper problem: How do we view ourselves in relation to all others around us?

Societies are only as strong as their treatment of the weakest among them. If some members of a society are considered expendable and not worth the rest of our time or expense, then how do you make the determination of where each of us rank in that same scenario?

hands of societyAre we already expendable now or perhaps will we be in another decade or two? Is there an age limit to caring about others? Are others too old, too young, too challenged, too needy, or just too much trouble?

When other people’s problems aren’t presently MY problems, how will I feel when suddenly life flips like it often does and I suddenly need help, and now MY problems aren’t something anyone else wants to deal with?

What we are seeing right now are the warning shots of a aree to respect.jpgGreat Society in peril of losing its sense of humanity—of losing its premise of basic human rights and dignities—of losing compassion for others, or failing to recognize that by one nasty twist of fate, you or I could be on the wrong end of someone else’s refusal for social responsibility.

This is a certainty: That social pendulum has to swing back to center soon or it is just a matter of time before we ALL will be considered vestigial appendages—easily removed from public consideration by a surgical slice—or the slash of a pen.

Do you want to find yourself on the operating table this year or maybe the next?

I know I don’t.strong together.jpg

When “NOT DOING” Isn’t Doing It for You

buddha quote.jpg

At present this is the conflict I feel inside: the NOT DOING (and not reacting to aggravations and frustrations over what is happening around me) at times feels like a betrayal to my inner fire—the driving force of ME-ness.

The “Why aren’t you out there marching for Women’s Rights to be heard, seen, and respected?” is in conflict with my philosophy of “Be at peace, to spread peace”.

So while questioning myself over this tumultuous, mental agitation I remembered the ultimate example of peaceful protest, Mahatma Gandhi, who not only changed the direction of a continent, but also deeply influenced another of the great Civil Rights icons: Martin Luther King, Jr.

I know that Gandhi raised peaceful protest to an artform; and many of the women’s marches last Saturday were meant to mirror that—a peaceful display of our right to disagree and stand for something greater than ourselves.womens-march

The numbers participating were impressive—far more so than the blatant attempts to discredit and distract from them was, BUT…..numbers alone won’t change anything, nor will standing around NOT DOING anything make the necessary changes.

So I researched a bit on Gandhi and found a few quotes that might apply to the conundrum of my own being at present.

20 Inspiring Quotes from Mahatma Gandhi:

  1. “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.”
  2. “A man is but a product of his thoughts. What he thinks he becomes.”
  3. “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”
  4. “The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.”
  5. “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
  6. “Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.”
  7. “An ounce of patience is worth more than a ton of preaching.”
  8. “Change yourself – you are in control.”
  9. “See the good in people and help them.”
  10. “Without action, you aren’t going anywhere.”
  11. “Take care of this moment.”
  12. “Be congruent, be authentic, be your true self.”
  13. “Continue to grow and evolve.”
  14. “A no uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ uttered merely to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”
  15. “Glory lies in the attempt to reach one’s goal and not in reaching it.”
  16. “An eye for an eye will make the whole world blind.”
  17. “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.
  18. “A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave.”
  19. “Nobody can hurt me without my permission.”
  20. “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

 

I now thinkgandhi.jpg that if anything can change the world for the better, it is a unified effort designed to do this, believing as Gandhi proclaimed in his own calm way: You can “Be the change that you want to see in the world,” and as such, “In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”

Well, let’s start shaking it. My NOT DOING just became DOING.

A Bit Too Early

After watching last night’s debate spectacle the only thing that I am certain of is that I took my nightly shower WAY too early.

It’s unfortunate that so much shadow-fodder has become the determiner of who will become the next President of the United States of America, but it appears that this is indeed the case.

limbo party.jpgThis was reminiscent of 1960’s “limbo” party-goers shouting to the gathering crowds: “How low can you go, my friends?  How far backward can you bend and still pass under the low-hanging bar?”

Well, it looks like we nearly scraped the ground last night with only those who slither capable of passing beneath it.

And slither he did, …this way, … and then that way.  One commentator said it was like watching a stand-off between a cobra and a mongoose.cobra-mongoose

 

Beyond the dust-kicking spectacle on last night’s television, I was a little amused Friday night and Saturday by the religious zealots suddenly remembering their moral stances and denouncing their alignment to limbo snake-dom; but as I mentioned in my previous “hypocrisy” rant, if they were actually true to their supposed moral-compasses, they wouldn’t have needed to change direction at this stage in the game. Trump said the same thing to all who defected from his campaign. He actually called them “HYPOCRITES” for deserting him, and that was about the only truth that he stated all weekend.

So there you have it.

In my opinion, this is what the murky, shadow-world exposition has revealed to all: There’s a lot of nastiness (energies, attitudes, actions) everywhere in the world right now, and when a candidate tries to make himself look cleaner by slinging twice the amount of mud on his opponent, we all get doused with it.

We’ll need to shower more frequently until this election season is over, so don’t use all the hot water.group showers.jpg

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.

The Juxtaposition of Expectations

I was fascinated by this image—the subtlety—the softness—the ephemeral quality where the horizon is inferred yet not easily distinguished—and most of all, non pink flamingos.jpgwhere the expectation is reversed of seeing black flamingos against a pink background with a pink sun.

To me it is powerful on many levels: You have the incongruity of subject matter whose very name suggests a distinct color, you have the distinction of the silhouettes cast against the pastel backdrops, and beyond all of that, you have the mirror reflections of sky with birds crossing a suggested watery surface that gives the impression of floating above their own shadows.

My mind quipped, “It’s a juxtaposition of juxtaexpectations. Nothing here is what you expect it to be: not the sun, not the birds, not the sky or the water. You aren’t even sure where the horizon meets the sky.”

That’s what makes it so powerful.

It could be my Graphic Arts training, but when I see an image this strong and almost other-worldly it gives me pause to assess why it is so impactful.

True, there could be considerable image manipulation here through filters and color adjustments to achieve that unusual background hue, but compare the image above to a few additional images that cover the same subject matter, and then see for yourself how pastel sky waterthe photographer/artist really took the walking flamingos to a new level with his rendition of them.

flam sky.jpg

 

 

 

flockflaming in water

 

The POINT

After a difficult night’s sleep, who hasn’t raised a drooping head to look bleary-eyed into the bathroom mirror and said, “What’s the point?”

“The point” could mean the point of going to work, or the point of a troubled relationship, orpoint watts even the point of life itself. No matter what subject we are referring to, there often comes a time during the course of our lives when we have asked those simple words: “What’s the point?”

So to this existential question I say: “YOU are the point!”

Your soul’s continuing evolution required that YOU incarnate upon this earth-plane to expand your limited consciousness and awareness of oprahyour interconnectedness with all other beings. Your work and relationships and life itself all fall into line with that same premise. The point is that YOU are here for YOU, and for your soul’s expansion and progress.

In Spirit World prior to your incarnation on earth, you heard the theories of what love, fear, anger, envy, excitement, and heart-felt connectedness meant, but you have to be a physical presence on some type of testing grounds to actually experience those feelings for yourself.

THAT’S the entire point of why you are here: for 1st-hand experiencing of all that you are capable of handling: emotionally, psychologically, and physically.

So when you check out your disheveled self in the morning mirror and shake your head at the sight, please keep in mind that you chose to be here to see what this whole “living” thing was about, and it’s up to you to make the life experience a good one (happiness) or a bad one (unhappiness).

You can do the “victim” thing if you want—it is your choice—but in truth only YOU can determine ythour attitude and activity during the time you are here, so choose wisely—choose love-based activities—and make your time on earth the best possible experience for yourself.

That morning mirror only reveals what you expect to see in it. If you are so busy living your life, who needs the mirror?