Gratitude – Episode 129

DSC_0053Have you heard someone say they were grateful for the alcoholics in their life? How do you practice gratitude? Can you find gifts in the “punishments” of your life?

I reflect on gratitude while walking in the woods on a beautiful fall day.

  • (How) can I say I am grateful for my loved one’s alcoholism?
    • it is part of who she is — her personality
    • I am the person I am now
  • (How) can I find gratitude for pain in my life.
    • Colbert: “‘You have to learn to love the bomb.’ It took me a long time to really understand what that meant. It wasn’t ‘Laugh it off.’ No, it means what it says. You gotta learn to love when you’re failing… The embracing of that, the discomfort of failing in front of an audience, leads you to penetrate through the fear that blinds you. Fear is the mind killer.”
    • “What punishments of God are not gifts? … So it would be ungrateful not to take everything with gratitude. It doesn’t mean you want it. I can hold both of those ideas in my head.”
    • ”It’s our choice whether to hate something in our lives or to love every moment of them, even the parts that bring us pain. At every moment, we are volunteers.”
    • http://www.gq.com/story/stephen-colbert-gq-cover-story
  • What am I grateful for today.
    • I have a home to live in and food to eat and energy to keep me comfortable.
    • I have a family who loves me and who I love.
    • My body-self is reasonably healthy, despite the minor aches and pains I complain of daily.
    • The day is beautiful, crisp, clear with bright fall colors.
    • I have a program that helps me to grow spiritually and to become more of the person I want to be.
    • I am the sum of my live experiences. I would not be who I am without them.
  • What are you grateful for today? Can you find gifts in your “punishments”?

Upcoming topics include living with lies; clearing a path; and recovering from the death of a loved one who did not find recovery. Please call us at 734-707-8795 or email feedback@therecoveryshow.com with your questions or experience, strength and hope. Or just leave a comment right here.

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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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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blessing – a meditation

 

Every experience, no matter how bad it is, holds within it a blessing of some kind. The goal is to find it.

Buddha

Recently, I thought I have been struggling with acceptance because of a loved one’s addiction and denial. My program has taught me that it is not up to me to classify someone as an addict, or alcoholic, or codependent since I know that I can only honestly speak about my own experience. But I have found myself deeply affected by fear and pain because I do not feel accepted or loved by this person. I found myself trying to explain my loved one’s behavior to myself by assigning labels to this person’s actions or creating stories around why they can not give me what I want. I would tell myself, “this person is not spiritually fit enough to be open and loving”. At other times, I would think “why doesn’t this person love me enough to do this for me? Am I not good enough?”. Sometimes I would just call my loved one an addict and detach with resentment and anger.

In the end, I realized I was right – I was struggling with acceptance. Only, I was struggling with accepting my loved one rather than judging. I was also struggling with accepting myself and trusting in my Higher Power. I know this because my entire focus was on the acceptance I did not feel I was receiving from my loved one. I worried about this person and their behaviors rather than keeping the focus on me and my behavior and my needs.  It is none of my business what my loved one does or why unless it violates my boundaries; and having my boundaries violated is not the same as having my fears triggered. And that is all that is happening – my fears are being triggered. I am afraid that if I do not feel acceptance from this loved one,  I will suffer and be abandoned.

I remember thinking, even up to this morning, “Why did I invite this person into my life? Why couldn’t I have left well enough alone?” But this is why. It is because my Higher Power wants me to love myself and know that my Higher Power loves me unconditionally – even when other people do not. What a blessing it is that I have the opportunity to learn how to love myself and accept the love of my Higher Power no matter what!

So, today, I took a pen, and wrote a message to myself that reminds me that I am loved by my Higher Power. And I know I will feel the fear that I am not good enough for the people in my life to love me. But then I will look at my wrist and realize the more important thing – that I am, have always been, and will always be good enough for my Higher Power to love and accept every part of me.

A meditation for September 26, 2013

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Higher Power – a meditation

 

When I fear the unknown
You feel like home, you feel like home
You put my feet back on the ground,
Did you know you brought me around?
You were sweet and you were sound
You saved me

Zero 7 — Somersault

I do not know where or when I got the idea that pain was bad or that I must do everything in my power to keep from feeling that pain. I don’t think it’s relevant that I know where this feeling came from, but it’s important to me to be rid of the idea for a few reasons: 1) pain is inevitable, 2) some of the things I love most came about because of painful situations.

As I have grown in my program, I’ve started seeing pain and fear as communications from my Higher Power about my soul instead of seeing pain as an indication of something in me that I need to carefully guard. I hate talking about feelings because I am afraid that I will be rejected or judged and then I will feel pain. As a result, my Higher Power has put people in my life that are very interested in discussing feelings. When I feel terror, I know that this is my Higher Power telling me that in order to heal and grow spiritually, I need to be self-aware about my feelings and feel safe in that awareness rather than rely upon another’s reception of my feelings.

At first I used to wonder why I need to heal and grow, but I think I know now. I think it is because fear is the opposite of love and when I feel fear, I am unable to love. When I am unable to love, I am unable to be close to my Higher Power. And so every time something happens in my life to inspire growth, I think it’s really just Higher Power asking me to be closer so that It can take care of me instead of me trying to control a situation in a vain attempt to care for myself.

When I can keep my focus on my Higher Power, I am able to move towards serenity and peace and love. When I focus on the fear, it my spiritual growth is blocked and that fear becomes my Higher Power. So when I feel afraid, I try to close my eyes and whisper to my fearful heart that we are safe and we will be protected and I focus on my Higher Power.

A meditation for August 7, 2013

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