Sunday, May 16, 2010

Well, I Was Going to Bed, but Then This...

Now it's been over a year, a very good year. Not necessarily a long year, but 365 uninterrupted days - 399 actually, or 400 in an hour and half. Regardless of its relationship to the calendar, the milestone has been passed and it had been remarkable to experience. I could go on for quite a while on the exciting things that have transpired, but that's skirting on boasting, and while there is a lot to be proud of, it's not what I hold most dear from the past thirteen months. It's the truly intangible, that which we make tangible through our actions, which has caused the greatest momentum shift in this life.

The first thing that comes to mind is the ability to have a relationship, any kind, really, but especially that with my family. This has been absolutely integral to the success of recovery, and it began without delay and without question. There was a quiet understanding that this was about now, and without the now there would be no tomorrow, yet there could be a now without the yesterdays. A proximity exists that never did before and somehow feels as though it was never missing. The birth of my newest niece and nephew, and the chances to see them grow in just the past few months, brings tears to my eyes for the joy and hope and wonderment they represent. I can't imagine again missing anything so profound for the sake of addiction. I see them and for the first time truly understand the desire to be a parent - it was so foreign and far beyond my reach before - and even though I'm not sure if that will happen in my life, I have these two to keep me happy (without the dirty diapers). Next weekend the honor to be their godfather will be mine. That's better than a perfect GPA.

Outside the family is of course the fine friendships I've been blessed with establishing, and reestablishing, in recent months. As anyone that's been down a similar road will say, the early months are lonely, not just for the old way of life but also the friends you leave behind. It's been fortunate enough that the loneliness did not solidify into lonesomeness, or worse. And while it did take heaping helpings of patience and introspection, it has paid off. I have wonderful friends in my life, and even though they are much smaller in number than in the heyday of "most popular man in Uptown" status, the people are genuine, loving, concerned, and supportive. It is such people that give anybody hope that world isn't out to kill you. I've always wanted that bond with the world that leaves you open and willing to do it everyday. Waylon Jennings wrote a song about that once, kind of, maybe not exactly but it sounds good so I'll stick with it.

What is the intangible being made corporeal about? It is the open heart full of faith, the open eyes full of wonder, the open mind full of recognition, and the open arms full of welcome. It is the knowing of one's self that allows you to see others, to accept others, the hold others and to share others. You see the value in the deepest and sincerest aspects of life, make yourself ready for the undefinable weight of its lightness, stabilize yourself for the unshakable momentum, and give all of it away because it wasn't meant for you; you are only a catalyst and your reward is the freedom to seek and share the next incredible slice of life. I have so much but none of it is mine. None. Nor would I ever have it any other way. It has never felt better to know that this feeling I have now I can share and let it go and help change someone, and even though it "goes", it is never truly gone - because it becomes part of you.

This I dedicate to the innumerable people in my life; some I know now and cherish, and many more I will with faith, wonder, recognition, and welcome.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Welcome Back Blotter

Hello, stranger. I haven't seen you since August, the seventeenth to be exact. I suppose I owe you an explanation, and that's okay because I need to take a look back anyway at just what the hey has been going on in the past four months.

Well, I started school and now the first semester is already over. I'm expecting A's in all four classes: counseling skills; addictionology; interpersonal communications; and English. The semester started well and my self-esteem was high. The weather was fantastic all semester and Loring Park proved to be a great place to establish some personal time. By mid-term I started to get a little down on myself for no apparent reason. I didn't like the work I was doing, especially for English, although I kept getting very high marks - one composition was even chosen to be included in future English 1110 curricula. By the end of the semester I was losing sleep and not overall pleased with myself. Despite the fact that I was maintaining my A status, I just wasn't happy with my work. It eventually ended up as if no matter how I tried to sabotage myself in the traditional way I just couldn't succeed. And that's good. So here I am academically solid as far as the school is concerned but I know I have plenty of room to improve. So I plan to make those improvements, and continue with fine standing.

I joined the Addiction Counseling Club, which is the student group for the AC program. I got heavily involved right away creating posters and flyers, and coordinating events for National Recovery Month (September), which for us was Recovery Week. The events were successful in their own very small way and not a bad turn out for such short notice and minimal planning. We had Darren Littlejohn, author of "The Twelve Step Buddhist" visit us from Portland and he conducted a powerful meditation workshop. That really opened my eyes to a great approach to recovery, and one I hope to pursue over the Winter break. I also attended the Minnesota Association of Resources for Recovery and Chemical Health conference in October. HUGE SUCCESS. Met lots of great people and really saw what was happening in the field today. Last month I was voted in as the new President of the ACC. It is still sinking in what this club can be. We are now affiliated with MARRCH - the first time a school has done so - and I have been asked to participate on their Ethics Committee starting 8 January. We will have a huge presence for their Spring conference in April. I have a great feeling about not only my internships but my professional career. I have a feeling it will be up to me where I work.

I found out yesterday that I won the Addiction Counseling Scholarship for the Spring semester. That is certainly a confidence booster. Also, I have been given the green light on the remainder of my treatment plan. It's officially over. That, too, is a huge relief.

Overall, a few things have been a bit scary but I'm learning to stand strong, and seeing the results from that effort. People say I've got too much going on with school, sobriety, and two jobs, but mainly I feel like I need to do more. The reational side of me says there is no possible way to do more, and that's the side that is getting more ear-time form me.

I really can't believe how much things have changed in eight months, and as it is now the twelfth (12:49 a.m.), this is my mark. Before the big change none of this would have happened, or if it had I would have found some way to completely blow it. I think that's what is going on in my mind - I'm so used to letting things slip away that I'm "trying" to do it now, except God won't let me muck this one up. We've got a pretty good thing going. I say that a lot to myself, but there's nothing wrong with being redundant if you're speaking the truth. I've been shown a good path that can help an incredible amount of people, and that's all I've ever wanted to do. Now, really, why would I want to fail?

Monday, August 17, 2009

4 Months and Counting

It occurred to me last week, and this wasn't all to difficult to realize, that my six-month mark is the day after my birthday. That means every six months I will have a birthday - my actual day and that which AA celebrates as a year of sobriety.

Last Wednesday was my 4-month mark, which unfortunately, like the month before, went by without any fanfare. I'm not talking ticker-tape as a necessity, but for the past couple months there have been preoccupying thoughts at this certain time, and I didn't even think about it until the next night at my weekly meeting (I really like this meeting because even though there are about 275 attendees, I feel much more centered, at peace, and alone than at any of the smaller meetings I attend.)

Perhaps ironically, perhaps not, after writing a friend to say that overall things seemed just fine (on the night I completely forgot was significant) is when life decided to remind me how rough things really are. Thursday was pushing an emotional boulder up an active Vesuvius and all day was spent knowing that there was nothing I could do to escape the pain. Without alcohol there is no easy escape, as artificial and temporary that means would offer. There is no escape anymore, and rightly not. Life is not to escape, but to experience, not matter how unbearable it may seem at that moment. By Friday morning, it became akin to walking on a broken ankle, alone and far from help. You can't do damn thing but move forward. Jolts were surging through my body, winces and grimaces, pangs of loneliness and deep, deep breaths. I am fortunate enough in life to know myself well enough, especially now, to recognize this is only temporary, and at times beautiful. The beauty I found was in the fact that no matter how heavy my heart became, it never felt sunk, beaten, or empty. I could feel that in all of these moments of weakness there was something holding me still, keeping my heart in my chest and air in my lungs. I could feel this comfort wrapped around me and inside me, to keep a modicum of strength till it blew over. I would like to think this was my own personal power, and perhaps in the grander scheme it really was, but deep down I know it is the higher power I surrendered to four months ago. At work later that day I received two pieces of news that turned everything around. I passed the test.

I've always felt that God does not exist externally but is there within us every second, and that praying to the heavens is neglecting this idea because we do not give ourselves enough credit. It is experiences such as last week that bolster this opinion, that when we're in the really rough spots, when we feel the most alone and hungry, when the pain can be almost crippling, we find the power to not only move forward but look forward and know that in simply holding on, and accepting the sadness as real, it will work its course. It also reminded me that no matter how bad things seem, I can always remember that I walked out of the most frightening situation of my life on April 12th, 2009...and that's why don't like to forget those dates!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Perpetually Perplexed (this is going to ramble)

It's now in the fourth week of not knowing what the hell to say. It's very frustrating to have so much going on in my mind and absolutely nothing feels like cooperating. I can't believe this blog has remained inactive for so long. Everyday has been the same..."Let's write something tonight, anything will do, right?" You'd think.

Lately it has felt like simply existing. When considering the options that's not such a bad thing, but life has always been about dynamism, in many different directions. Perhaps this is what the Buddhists know, water over the stones. Mindfulness. Befriending both pain and pleasure. Perhaps this is a hint of the serenity I've been meditating on everyday for months. I was talking with a troubled friend recently and I told her that I don't tend to run with emotions anymore. The high peaks and dark valleys don't really exist anymore. The need to curb my anxiety with drinking certainly doesn't exist anymore. I tried to explain that the depression that she and I both experience can only affect us the way it does if we give it something on which to hold, energy on which to feed, a soul on which to step. Hearing someone speak of accepting pain with open arms sounds at first mad and quite ridiculous. Hey, it sounds the same after about the hundredth time, but eventually, and when you least expect, it begins to make a lot of sense. Just like when I was happy, but not ecstatic, about getting into school, I was upset, yet not devastated, when finding out yesterday that my financial aid is suspended because of the amount of time it took me to get back to school. I simply found what I needed to do and when. Not much and on Monday. Staying focused and calm, feeling the blood in your veins, the air in your lungs, hearing and seeing just what is there and nothing more.

I've also been thinking a lot of "hope". I use it in everyday conversation, but lately it feels very likely wrong. For an optimistic word, it sure does carry an amazing amount of uncertainty. It seems so open-ended, so left up to chance and nothing more. If we grasp onto hope we must unfortunately take hopelessness as well. Personally, I've had enough of hopelessness, so there must be something other than hope. Faith outweighs hope, right? I'll try that for a while. Faith is belief in action. Faith requires action. I have beliefs, and I can actually visualize results of my faith. With hope, I cannot. Hope doesn't exactly necessitate action or thought or willingness. With paper and pencil you can say either "I hope I will draw a circle" or "I have faith that with deliberation and accuracy I will draw a circle." More work, better results.

This leads to the concept of "more" (I warned you this would ramble). People have always asked me why I keep such an minimalist approach to life. Very few clothes, very little furniture, very few words (in public, at least!) Thinking back on this, the explanation has been that there is less burden this way, less connection to the material, less holding me to any place or time. I've never kept anything I've written or drawn. I've no photos or letters. This was quite intentional, and I now consider it to be mental preparation for where I am now. Starting from scratch with the world, spending copious amounts of time on my own, staring down fears with no means of escape. It seems lonely and difficult, but I've never been more thankful for what I have, as little as that is, and the people in my life, as few as they may be. I don't ask life for more because it will come without asking when life is ready. It's not a reward for good behavior, it's just the way it is.

Live by faith and be thankful for that and those in my life. Pretty basic.

I'm done rambling. It's late and I don't even really remember what just happened.

Thanks for reading. Good night.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Independence Day

I would like to wish everyone a great Independence Day celebration, whatever that might be. I like this holiday because it can be applied to not just the freedoms our country stands for, but also a life free of personal tyrannies. Sometimes this liberation is a chosen path when life is simply going wrong. Other times it can be thrust upon us when life appears to be going as planned. Whether or not we expect or appreciate it, whether or not it is a gentle push or a jarring blow, it comes because it should.

Everyone loses something very dear to them at some point in their in lives. I have spent the past year rebuilding after losing something I spent years working on. As time has taken me further away from that moment, I realize more and more how unhealthy it was for me to live in. No matter how beautiful I thought it was or could be, or how dedicated and supportive I thought I was or could be, or what dreams and desires I thought there were or could be, it disintegrated for a reason. I needed to be alone in the world in order to face my next challenge. I needed to break myself down to the point where none of it mattered. I needed the loss, the emptiness, the loneliness and the pain to be so raw and so real that the only possible next step was forward. Forward to healing. Forward to knowing. Forward to accepting. Forward to conquering. Forward to serenity. Forward and onward. Forward and onward.

Although we may lose something that was built upon the ideas of love, beauty, commitment, honesty, cooperation and respect, we should never lose the capacity to feel them again. To survive loss you must apply them to yourself. Learn to love yourself. Find beauty in yourself. Commit yourself. Be true to yourself. Don't fight yourself. Respect yourself.

In time you'll find that day you once considered the most devastating in your life is your own personal Independence Day.

© 2009 Uncover/Recover

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Sense That...

You're not simply moving forward through life, but exponentially through each obstacle.
Each challenge launches you farther and faster, straighter and truer, more streamlined and wider-reaching than before.
You're closer to the frequency of the energy around you.
Your posture is a little more natural and your gait is a little more confident.
These days are more intoxicating than any tipple could possibly provide.
This time could not have come at a better period in your life.
Every moment you feel more human than the last.
If you've made it through this past year, you can make it through the rest.
Everything that's been subtracted is less than what you've added.
The next breath will be deeper and fresher than expected.
There doesn't need to be a limit to anything.
At times a free-flow feels better than meter and rhyme.
The sun and the moon and the stars are always there.
This life is yours and yours alone.
You wouldn't exchange it for anything, anyway, anyhow.
Soon everyone will see exactly why