acceptance – a guest meditation by Scott B.

 

“Every good thought you think is contributing its share to the ultimate result of your life.”
Grenville Kleiser, Courage to Change P. 176
My first months in program, I couldn’t gather new tools fast enough. I tried everything I could, anything anyone recommended. One of the personal methods suggested was to repeat to myself; “I am good. I am unique. I am beautiful. I love you,” while looking in a mirror. I had the initial thought that it was cheesy, something crazy people said to themselves. Well, I was feeling crazy, so I took a deep breath, and said it out loud to my reflection. With my low self-worth and self-esteem, I didn’t feel comfortable. I felt awkward, embarrassed and ashamed even in the privacy of my home.
In spite of my mixed emotions, I said each of these four sentences again and again, day after day. I would say it in my car rear-view mirror while stopped at a light, (heaven forbid, never when another car was beside me) worried that someone might see me talking to myself. Faithfully, I kept repeating these phrases even without a mirror, now memorized by rote from many weeks of repetition. The words almost became a mantra.  Internally, I didn’t approach the place of transforming love I had expected to reach (and I expected to reach someplace, anyplace, much sooner). I felt no comfort from my repeated efforts over time.
Disheartened, I concluded that saying these simple things could not possibly work and there was no use in continuing. As time in recovery went by, I would occasionally break out a simple, “I love you.” in the mirror. Still, after all this time, I felt the awkwardness spread through me and my stomach tensed as I looked away. Forgotten in the depths of my mind (lost in one of those bad neighborhoods) my affirmations faded, though I continued going to meetings.
When I experienced what seemed like a long period of no growth in my program, I figured I had plateaued. A friend shared during a meeting that change, lasting change, happens on her Higher Power’s time. All she needs to do is her footwork, go to meetings and be patient. This stuck in my brain like a burr. It would not go away. It echoed in my head daily.
That summer I went on an eight mile walk, in eighty degree heat.  I rested, but I had run out of water about 3 miles from home. Dehydrated, I arrived at my house, filled up on water and poured an ice-cold glass of milk. I sat down in front of my computer. I reached for my mug of milk, my hand moved way too fast, and I spilled the white liquid all over my laptop. The screen went half black, the other half froze and I turned the laptop on its side, unplugged it, and ejected the battery.
Anger rushed through me. Powerlessness surrounded me. The feelings were coming and I couldn’t stop them. I felt overwhelmed. I had heard so many times not to try to stop feelings. It was best to recognize them, feel them and let them go. But I made a mistake! And not just a little one! How could I of all people, be human? The turmoil inside me swirled. Old tapes told me to shame myself. New behaviors told me to laugh and accept it. Before program I would spend months, even years beating myself up over such an incident. Which direction should I take? Help me God, what do I do, where do I go?
The mirror. The mirror? Now? Really? My gut feeling was to walk into the living room and stand in front of the mirror. I felt nudged. I looked deep into my own panicked eyes and said, “I love you, Scott and there’s nothing you can ever do to make me stop loving you.” There was no awkward pause, no feeling of inadequacy. I held my gaze and didn’t look away. A wave of gratitude washed over me. Tears welled in my eyes as I cried and laughed at the same time. My gaze was unwavering until it was blurry and I couldn’t see. Thank-you, God. Thank-you. I kept thinking that the feeling would leave, but there it was; solid in my Higher Power’s Love.
Only in looking back from now can I see that everything contributed to my growth; every meeting, every coffee, lunch and potluck. Each email, text and affirmation. Every conversation, every call to my sponsors, every vulnerable moment. All the Concepts, Traditions and every Step along the way. My Higher Power takes it all in and uses my experiences to change me into who I’m meant to be.
A meditation for October 16, 2013.

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denial – a meditation

 

“The most confused we ever get is when we try to convince our heads of something that our hearts know is a lie.”

Karen Moning

My ego and soul often have conversations with one another. This interaction between the two parts of me is constant, whether I awake or asleep, happy or sad, or restless or at peace. The details of each conversation varies depending on what the topic is, but the general gist is the same: my ego says “I am afraid that everything needs to be different for me to be happy” and my soul responds “I am happy already, I am just afraid to see that I am.”

Before recovery, these conversations occurred also, but I didn’t realize because the voice of my ego had reigned supreme over my choices for so long that I hardly heard the small voice of my soul respond. As I worked the Steps, that changed. The voice of my soul became louder and louder. I wasn’t used to hearing both voices and I suppose my ego wasn’t used to the competition so it often felt like a battle in my head. My initial days in the program felt like a struggle between the ego that I knew and the soul that I had rejected. But I slowly began to listen to the voice of my soul. It was so calm and peaceful that I felt at peace listening to it. I felt charmed by it and began to utterly ignore my ego.

This, however, was very typical behavior for me. I always go to extremes. With my black-and-white thinking, I had either entirely ignored my soul or entirely ignored my ego. But the truth is both are part of me. To reject either one is to reject a part of myself, and when I reject part of myself, I feel fearful and fall to old patterns. And this is exactly what happened. I began to ignore my “bad” feelings. I began to tell myself that I shouldn’t be angry and that I can’t be unhappy and that I have to be serene all of the time. But I am human and I could not do those things and I began to be afraid that I wasn’t good enough to listen to my soul. The irony of it all was that my soul, ever loving and accepting, never told me ignore my ego. It kept trying to guide me to acceptance of all of me by signaling me through my emotional discomfort that the path that I was treading would not guide me to happiness. When I finally became desperate again, I was able to listen to my soul once more as well as my ego. I learned that I am both things. I am yin and yang. I am dark and light. I am ego and soul. To deem one good and the other bad is to not honor myself.

It is only when I am able to listen to what my ego is telling me that I am able to understand myself and my fears, and then my soul is able to reach out and be nurturing during this awareness and guide me to healing and peace. One without the other does not help me. That is only half of me. It is only when I am able to accept both sides, able to accept all of me, that I am able be open, honest, loving, and peaceful.

A meditation for October 12, 2013.

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the Fourth Step – a meditation

 

The more you love your decisions, the less you need others to love them.

This quote, I feel, captures the essence of my low self-esteem and lack of self-trust. I sought the approval of others because I did not love myself. I sought the advice and direction of others because I did not trust myself. As I spent more time in the program, this began to change. I started to love myself and honor myself…mostly. As long as I am honest with myself about my motivations, I am able to love my decisions because I brought them forth from a place of love and awareness. But I find I am blessed in the moments that I find myself seeking out the approval of others because, in my awareness, I am able to see this as a symptom of my not being honest with myself and not loving myself. It is only during those times that I seek out the approval of others because I am unable to feel connected to myself or my Higher Power in moments of falsehood. When I notice myself turning others into my Higher Power in this way, I honor myself by taking pause and taking an inventory of the situation and my true motivations. It is only through this rigorous honesty that I am able to find myself. And it is only by finding myself that I am able to let go of fear.

A meditation for October 11, 2013.

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self – a meditation

 

It is always our own self that we find at the end of the journey.

Ella Maillart

What I find most beautiful about this quote is that it doesn’t say that I need to be someone different at the end of the journey. What I see in this quote is that spiritual growth is not about changing into someone else, at all. It’s about becoming more myself. This is something I feel is true with every passing day in recovery. Sometimes I think to myself that I’m not recovering, I am uncovering. That, I seek out the person I am under all of my fears and resentments and anger. I used to reject that person because I thought that person was weak and unloveable. I thought that acting on fears or anger makes me strong. But I realize that it’s those anger-based actions that have brought me the most suffering because I am not being myself. I do not believe I am an angry person or a scared person. I am a person that can feel angry or scared, but basing my whole life on those two emotions has brought a lot of imbalance in my life. Once I became more aware of myself, I am able to feel fear and angry and choose to act out of love for myself.

A meditation for October 09,2013

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amends – a meditation

 

The only way out of the labyrinth of suffering is to forgive.

John Green, Looking for Alaska

I have had a lot of anger towards loved ones in the past. I remember that I used to write down the resentments against them when I took my inventory. I was so upset from the harms that I perceived had been committed against me – even if they were decades old. I had heard in the meeting rooms that forgiveness is key to finding peace. And I kept telling myself to forgive these people. I would even chant it to myself or act as if I had forgiven them. Nothing helped. My resentments remained and I felt frustrated.

Eventually, I got to the 8th Step in my Stepwork with my Sponsor. To do the 8th Step, I had to make a list of all persons I had harmed and become willing to make amends to them all. I listed everyone on my resentment list and listed my anger and judgment against them to be reasons for my amends. Thankfully, I had a wonderful Sponsor that asked me where my amends to myself was on the list. I realized I had no amends to myself – not really. I had hastily scribbled my name on the last page in the margin. My Sponsor reminded me that I was not really honoring  and respecting myself by ignoring my self-amends. I took her suggestion and sat and wrote a proper amends to myself. In the amends, I apologized for not standing up for myself in the past. I apologized for lying about my feelings  to myself and others. I apologized for ignoring my own needs. I apologized for giving up my power to other people. And then I cried because I had just been given an amends by the one person with whom I actually angry, myself.

As I cried, the pain left me and the suffering left me and my wounds started to close. Since then, every day that I am honest about my feelings, every time I honor my needs, and every time I stand up for myself, the wounds close a little more and open up more space for gratitude and love and even more forgiveness. And as I heal and forgive myself, forgiveness for others comes so easily. I think this is because my reality exists within me and I project that reality onto the world around me. Now that my reality is that I am responsible for loving myself, so I am able to seeking external validation and resenting people when I do not receive it.

Today, my Higher Power blessed me with happiness and peace as well as pain and fear. All four blessings are always present for me; some offer comfort and some offer opportunity. When I can see all of these as equal, one not better than another, I can stop feeling like a victim and be accepting, grateful, and forgiving.

A meditation for September 29, 2013

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