Monday, December 27, 2010

I AM an alcoholic ...

Day One Hundred Ninety
Originally uploaded by Dustin Diaz

I sat in a healing space today with a friend who is wrestling with the identity of being an addict. Would actually like to toss it away forever and also knows that it's the truth.

I too tried to push down, away, and out  for many years the fact that I am an alcoholic. It held stigma, shame, embarassment, self-loathing. I would eventually learn that these were my narratives about it -- not actual facts.

The healing journey that I have been on has allowed me to consciously shatter and open up space for the Truth to enter. Funny thing is ... when something is "just the truth", it no longer has a story attached to it. It just is.

I now am able to bear and even embrace this Truth: I AM an alcoholic.
It is no longer an identity to hide away, but rather it is one which has opened the doors for me to an entire community of people who have the allergy to alcohol. I have found a home, a place where I belong.

My friend's struggle today allowed me to soften and deepen my compassion for not just her, but for my former "who was" and the countless others who are in and out of the recovery rooms. Being an alcoholic does not have to be a damaging, shameful label anymore; it is just the truth of one part of the whole that is me.

I AM an alcoholic. I AM a teacher and a writer and a healer. I AM a lesbian. I AM adopted. I AM a spiritual seeker. I AM rigid and stubborn. I AM loving and passionate. I AM a swimmer. I AM a neat freak. I AM the fertile ground for the seeds of my Future Self to grow in.

There is incredible power and healing in re-claiming buried parts of ourselves. This, most definitely, is one I am grateful to have resurrected.   The paradigm shift that I have experienced allows this identity to take a new shape,  hold new meaning for me.   I am re-committed,  renewed,  and dedicated to my recovery in a way that I was not open and could not connect to before.   It is now with great pride that I proclaim:

"I AM an alcoholic !"

Friday, December 24, 2010

Marrying Life ...

Originally uploaded by magnetic_aesthetic

Last evening, I was brought to a new level of appreciation about the gift of sobriety through the messages of several amazing recovering women.

I listened to the story of 1 woman on a CD that was given to me as a Christmas present by my beloved -- a fellow traveler of the 12 Step rooms. The depth of her despair and hopelessness as a result of the insanity of the disease of alcoholism was compelling and moving beyond words. She traveled from jail, homelessness and losing her children to getting sober, graduating from college and becoming a probation officer ! And, the kicker was this: some of her most significant life challenges came AFTER she stopped drinking. She had a fantastic sense of humor about it all AND was simultaneously dead serious about the life-or-death nature of alcoholism.

At my favorite women's AA meeting, I witnessed a poignant exchange between 2 women who have both lost a child in the course of their sobriety to tragedies. One, whose daughter was killed in a car accident several years ago and the other, whose son committed suicide earlier this year. The mother whose daughter was killed years prior used to sit in this meeting and barely be able to compose herself as she was consumed by grief. Last night, she was able to extend her message of strength and hope to the woman whose son committed suicide. She shared with her that there is light on the other side of the darkness, that life does get better, that you do move on, and, most importantly, that it is never worth taking a drink over. I felt as if I were watching a miracle unfold -- a beam from a lighthouse that was bright enough to carry another safely to shore because she too had others shine the way. The relief that washed over the woman who lost her son was exquisite. It may have been the first time in months that I saw her actually relax her shoulders and crack a smile.

What I walked away with last night from these powerful messages, as I basked in the gorgeous full moon on my trip home, is that one of the greatest gifts of sobriety is that we can choose to accept and love what is here for us, what is being called for healing. It is about marrying life -- through richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, good times and bad.

I am down on 1 knee, making a proposal with God by my side ... I vow to not take a drink, to be true to myself, to love whatever comes my way.

I am marrying Life ...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God Got Me ...

we are beautiful

I have been working with the strategy of waiting for a form to take shape.   It is showing up everywhere:  in relation to a friendship that has shifted and moved in separate directions; in the area of not chasing people who may not be ready to show up;  in my urgency to want to write and have something interesting to say and not wanting to make something up that is not authentic for me to pen.   

This is a return to a recent mantra of  "No job to do".

This morning,  as I walked quite briskly with 2 full bags of produce and was whining to myself about how friggin cold it is and how heavy the bags were,    I turned the corner to walk down my street and a woman was a few paces in front of me,  walking with a liveliness in her step while toting two significantly larger bags than me!   I marveled at her ease and her cheeriness,  as I could hear her humming a tune in the distance.    I picked up my own pace a bit to catch up with her and I remarked aloud:   "You know,  I am admiring how you seem to be negotiating these huge bags so easily.   Just awhile ago,  I was complaining to myself about lugging this produce and I'd love to know how you manage it!"

Without skipping a beat,  she turned to me with a brimming smile and simply said:
"God got me".

And then, just as quickly,  she took off to catch her bus and wished me a Merry Christmas.

I too walked with a livelier step after our paths crossed and could not stop repeating her phrase:   "God got me".

Everything always boils down to this:  when I forget God is with me,  I complain or moan or feel self-pity or doubt or get scared and anxious or I lash out.    Remembering that God is always with me,  never has or will leave me,   then I can find peace and serenity and love. 

This was the form I patiently awaited to take shape and to write about.   I am typing effortlessly.   It feels right and true in this moment.

God got me.

Friday, December 17, 2010

In the Holy Presence of God ...

365 Days Project - Day 14: Prayer
Originally uploaded by { karen }

This has been a week of intense prayer. But not the usual down-on-my-knees at night for my 10th Step review. It has been sitting for people for whom I care and love. The healing power of praying for another is amazing. It is a reminder for me that my recovery program is only strengthened when I am in service. You have to give it away in order to keep it.

Perhaps the most gratifying aspect of praying for others is that I get to be in deep conversation with my higher power in a selfless, rather than selfish way. I am brought directly to the line of the Prayer of St. Francis: "It is by self-forgetting that one finds." Putting my ego and neediness on a shelf this week allowed me to drop into Divine connection in a way that I haven't felt in quite some time. All week, I felt kinder, gentler, softer, more spacious and open-hearted.

Today, I sat with a former colleague at a new college that I will be teaching at this coming Spring semester. Their mission is very spiritually-driven and I was given a small book which was chock-full of information about the origins of this mission and, much to my surprise [pleasantly], a mulititude of prayers. It literally has the feel of an AA Big Book ! Complete with the serenity prayer AND the Prayer of St. Francis. One of the main statements in this little gem of a book captures the feel of this prayerful week I have had :

"Let us remember we are in the Holy Presence of God."

Life is always, always better when I do remember this. And, conversely, when I forget about my relationship with God, I am out of sorts, unkind, off my beam, acting from my small self.

There is no mistake that I should have this college and their handbook cross my path at this exact time. I am ready and open to receive and participate in fulfilling this mission. It is so much in alignment with my spiritual path. As my beloved fellow traveler & partner in healing shared with me when I relayed these pearls with her today: "You may just have found your teaching home."

The word that shouted the loudest from her statement: Home.

Home is when I remember that I am in the Holy presence of God.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Living from the Inside-Out ...

Sotto la torre del Mangia..
Originally uploaded by sirVictor59

Go out from the center and in from the world.

This is one of the lines from my teacher's conflict resolution healing process that has been reverberating in me. It has to do with feeling my internal structure and relating to the outside from the solidity of this place.

For the first time in all of my adult life, I have a deep bodily sense of my own boundaries. I vividly can feel where I begin and end, where another begins and ends. I have become increasingly aware of when and how my boundaries are violated by another as well as how I have done the same to others in the past.

As an adopted child who entered the world not attaching right away to a mother's form but instead experiencing the gaping hole of formlessness and then navigating the chaos of the unpredicable forms in an alcoholic home, I came by my fucked up sense of boundaries rightly. This is not an excuse, just a statement of fact.

I have gone from being a doormat to an overflowing fountain of messy, spilling boundaries to a steel trap that cuts off any attempt of intimate contact at the first whiff of danger. Today, I am finding that center, the balanced place of knowing what is acceptable and not acceptable, when to speak up assertively and advocate for what I know is right for me coupled with the loosening and freeing of defensive strands that no longer serve a purpose so that there is a flow for deep intimacy.

I am experiencing the world from in my body. I can feel the sensations and vibrations of the outside and simultaneously, I feel my sturdy inside that is no longer pulled of its base to move in the direction of the outside. I feel my separate self on the earth plane and I am no longer afraid to be one with the whole of the Universal life force.

This is living from the inside-out ...

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Remote Therapy

Day FiftySix
Originally uploaded by Christa Watson |

I have not had a television by choice for 4 years -- a temporary recovery program of sorts in media abstinence. In my former relationship, as we drifted into separate bedrooms and paths of self-indulgence, my drug of choice became TV. I would numb out on hours of endless, mindless shows of which I recalled little to nothing.

Unlike other addictions, I now believe I can return back to controlled television watching in moderation -- hence my purchase of a TV and cable hook-up about 5 weeks ago.

Interestingly enough, I watch very little; an hour or so in the evening and some nights not at all. My top show is Iron Chef. My favorite network: the Cooking Channel.

Now television feels like a treat, a little slice of relaxation heaven. It is a choice I make and it serves no other purpose than to delight my visual and audio and-- given what I watch-- tastebud senses.

A few days ago, I began to get a fierce head/chest cold which turned into an upper respiratory infection. My doctor insisted on "easy does it". Me, the one who has been working with the theme of "no job to do", has found herself with just that. And not resisting it either! There are, however, a few small tasks required:

1) Have beverage and phone nearby on bookshelf.
2) Get comfy plush blanket for over legs/feet.
3) Sink into overstuffed chair and prop legs up on ottoman.
4) Grab the remote and click "on".


Remote therapy.