Freedom Is Accepting Yourself Right Where You’re At

A few posts ago I declared myself a fraud and think I also said something about being worthless, perhaps. I would like takesies-backsies on both of those.

Since then, I have spoken with both my Al-Anon super sponsor, and my therapist, Heather, and they have helped me learn something valuable.

I thought I was a fraud because the nearly year-long time I had spent going to Al-Anon had only gone into my head-sense, but had not traveled the 12 or so inches to my heart.

Both my super sponsor and my T. heartily disagreed, and I have to say I finally understand. I’ll explain why. It takes everyone WHATEVER IT TAKES and AS LONG AS IT TAKES to get to the next level in the program.

Just like it might have taken my sister getting arrested to get straight finally, it might have taken MY SISTER GETTING ARRESTED for me to take the focus totally off her and put it completely on me where it belongs. I gotta tell you it feels weird, but freeing, because I get to learn about my needs, and get to learn a lot about myself for the first time in a long time.

I don’t jump every time the phone rings anymore. In fact, the phone is eerily quiet. I’m journaling, and I’m eight days self-injury free.

The freedom that comes with accepting yourself right where you are means you don’t need to pretend. You don’t need to say you’re fine when you’re not. You don’t have to paste on a fake smile until your face hurts at a party. If you need to you can slip out and take a break. Or *gasp* not go at all. You don’t have to put yourself in situations that threaten the core of what you value, if you know those values. If you don’t – there’s freedom in working that all out.

The best part is we are not alone wherever we are on our journey. Our Higher Power (mine is God) is with us, talking us through it, holding our hand at the scary parts, walking ahead of us, lighting the way. He’s been there before. He’s done that. He knows exactly what it feels like. More importantly, He knows us way better than we even know ourselves.

This has been a post for the Christian Writers Blog Chain. The theme for July is FREEDOM!

As always, love you big. Peace out.

It’s July Already? Step Seven Time!

The 7th step says: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”

This is an image of the 3rd Step Prayer Book Marker available at hazelden.org, in their bookstore. On the other side is the 7th step prayer, which reads as follows:

My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.

That prayer is taken from p. 76 from the Big Book of AA.

To me, Steps 4, 5, 6, and 7 are all closely linked. We take our inventories in step four, so that we KNOW our shortcomings and character defects, then we share them with our higher power, ourselves and someone else we trust in step five; in step six we become entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character, and in step seven the READINESS and WILLINGNESS turns to ASKING.

I’m on the first two of these action steps. I’m in a small women’s group, going through the Blueprint for Progress, which is a detailed fourth step. We share with each other the progress we are making, and it’s very intimate sharing, sometimes much like a fifth step. Of course I will share again with my super sponsor when we are finished with the book.

But I’m getting practice now. And every day I ask God to remove my shortcomings, of which there are many. I still operate from fear a lot of times when I should be operating out of trust in Him. I procrastinate. I get lazy. I walk my dog before the sun rises in the early morning because I worry I won’t be able to handle her around other dogs or people. I don’t trust myself to write the stories I want to tell. I miss meetings I need to go to. I don’t call my sponsor when I get scared. I watch mindless TV instead of writing in my journal. I haven’t knitted in days and days. I don’t call my friends.

These are all shortcomings. They are my weak, sore spots, and I cry out to God to remove them. Thankfully, He doesn’t do it all at once, and He is gentle with me. But He will do it, because He loves me too much to leave me the way I am.

There’s something so much better out there.

Humility is key. Never be to proud to ask for help.

Love you guys. Peace out.

What I Learned About “Listen And Learn”

Let’s be real. There’s so much information we are confronted with on a daily basis, it’s a wonder we can absorb even the  infinitesimal amounts we do, without losing our minds. It’s even worse if you are a student. But think about it. From the time that we wake up, we are bombarded with thoughts, facts, questions, demands, statements, exclamations, commercials, hypotheses, fantasies . . . and all of that gets sorted through the amazing filter of our brains.

Al-Alon’s slogan, “Listen and Learn,” reminds us that if we have the self-discipline to be quiet and pay attention to others’ words, we can learn a tremendous amount about ourselves and our world. –How Al-Anon Works for Families and Friends of Alcoholics, p. 99

I don’t believe in coincidence anymore. When something happens to me that just seems to click for me, like it was supposed to happen, I call it a “God thing.”

A God thing happened for me Wednesday night when I went to a meeting and listened to the person opening the meeting as she read about detachment (Please do click on this –  I don’t normally tell my gentle readers what to do, but this is pure gold. Read it.).

As I’ve been praying for help in getting off the train (no, I’m not all the way off, for I still carry this cloak of despair), I listened intently. I listened to everyone talk around the circle before I shared. There was laughter, as there always is at these meetings, and there was plenty of wisdom.

On my way out the door, the woman who had opened the meeting stopped me. She wanted to share a personal story with me. She knew about that train, she said. Her therapist had told her it’s normal to feel some grief after you have detached and pulled away from a loved one who is bent on self-destruction. It’s like, yes there is quiet and there is peace and there is not the constant tugging on your sleeve to drive you here and drive you there . . .

But it is never easy to watch someone self-destruct. Anyone who tells you they have detached and it doesn’t bother them a lick that their loved one is dying or pickling themselves is lying. 

What lightens it is getting involved in the living around me. A couple of hours ago I got back from auditions for solos and small group ensembles for the September production of our Senior Broadway musical. I’m a Tenor Alto. I was nervous but so excited to be trying something new in my life. We won’t know what parts or songs we will be singing until Monday.

Woot! Life can be very very good.

Peace out.

The Morning After A Good Sleep

I SO LOVE this picture. In case you can’t read it, it says: “So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Had THE BEST sleep last night. I mean, if I could call The Guinness Book of Records and report it, I would, but I’m not sure how they rate the scale. In terms of number of hours slept, it wasn’t amazing: eight. Lucy woke me once and I took her round back, eyes at half mast, to do her thing before I slid under the covers once again. But I went to bed at 9:00 last night. THAT’s a personal record. Slept until 5:00.

Everything looks better in the morning. I’m on my 3rd day in the Summer Reading Program, and enjoying my 2nd book.

This photo reminds me of a trip to Ireland I took with Karissa, to see mutual friends of ours who lived in the countryside of Dublin. The roads out there are so narrow that when another car approaches one has to pull over in the next available spot on the side of road. And I don’t remember seeing any posted speed limits. LOL Maybe fast and faster? But it was so much fun, and very, VERY spiritual to be there. I’m an early riser, and Karissa as well. We’d both get up, she to read her Bible, and I to walk along the winding path, pray, meditate and smoke, commune with the sheep in their pastures. We had lovely hosts. I did try a Guinness while I was in Dublin for the day. Our hosts laughed at me, because I couldn’t tolerate the dark ale.

This other picture reminds me of a weekend Mom, my sister and I went to a place halfway between here and Traverse City. It was

during National Novel Writing Month. I was working on a novel and my sister was working on her memoir. Being late November, we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving there, and were treated to the worst blizzard they’d had in years. I was in my element. I’m a snow bunny. If I’d packed proper boots, I would’ve been traipsing about in the woods every day.

Good times. It’s a grand Wednesday after a proper sorting in therapy. I hope you are well.

Peace out.

Easy Always Does It Better

So. Stuff happens. Into each life a little stress will come, some more than others. I just got off the phone with an old friend of mine, who has bipolar like I do, and she has been hospitalized twice since April because of rapid cycling. New meds aren’t really helping, so she’s dealing as best she can.

Stuff happens. It’s what we do with the stuff that either helps us or hurts us more. 

One of my (for I have a few) favorite slogans in the program is Easy Does It. When something stressful happens in my life, when something goes way wrong, I have one of two responses.

Curl up like a fetal ball on the couch and watch mindless TV, or go all in. I’m absolutely sure I hold all the best cards, they will carry me through whatever decisions I have to make—if they aren’t the best cards, I’ll make them the best cards. I’ll turn them upside down, or sideways or backwards . . . somehow those cards will fit the problem facing me.

They’re the cards I’ve been dealt, and dammit I’m going to make them work if it kills me. 😉 I’m not going to ask for help, I’m not going to stop to think, not me.

Any of this sound familiar? Do you ever try to force solutions when the easiest thing to do is to step back and take a breath first?

know not to trust my first instincts, so to go into any situation blindly, guns blazing, is going to turn out badly. I’ve learned that the hard way. It’s not been pretty. There have been casualties. I could tell you, but then I’d have to shoot you. 😉

Now I know that, yes, I have to press pause when I get bad news. I have to talk it through with people I trust. I have to let myself feel any strong feelings I have first–get them out–before I head into the stressful situation. Maybe I’ll even knit a little bit, or take Lucy for a walk. I’ll definitely pray. God will hear about my fears and my feelings.

What about you when stuff happens?

Peace out.

Who is Your Higher Power?

Often, when people get to the 2nd step, Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity, they are not quite sure what to do.

Many (including yours truly) have come from a place where they felt so beaten down they didn’t believe anything or anyone could fix it. I was told “Keep coming back.” So I did. I came. That’s all I could do for a while. I came and got my butt in the chair and I listened.

I came and then I came to and then I came to believe. 

It’s a process, and it looks different for everyone because everyone is an individual.

Here’s the problem, though. Sometimes, people in the program will make another person their higher power. Like, say, a sponsor. So what do you suppose happens if that sponsor should happen to get really sick, or die?

The difficulty is people are fallible. They are HUMAN. They make mistakes. Sometimes they fall down. Sometimes they’re late, or they forget to call, or they don’t show up at all. If we rely on another human being — someone with 10 fingers and 10 toes, just like us — we are in for a world of hurt.

I found myself thinking this morning “What in the world would I do if Super Sponsor died?” (I don’t really call her that in my mind, but this is an anonymous blog.) The fact is, I’d be really sad. I’d probably cry for a long time, because I love her a lot. She’s a great person. But I’d have to move on with my life, because she wouldn’t want me to suffer for too long.

My higher power is God. He doesn’t go on vacation. He’s never late, He is always there when I call, He doesn’t have voice mail, is never in a pissy mood, always has time to listen, loves to hear me go on and on about things I have on my mind, and has the best solutions if I just listen.

Who’s your higher power?

Conscious Contact and the Novi Senior Choral

The 11th step from Al-Anon states: Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

According to Dictionary.com, the word ‘conscious‘ means: 1. aware of one’s own existence, sensations, thoughts,surroundings, etc., and 2. fully aware of or sensitive to something (among others that you may peruse if you wish 🙂 ). Some synonyms of conscious are understanding, sure, vigilant, watchful. Contact can be seen a few different ways: touch, actual touch; meeting between two people; a nifty friend or acquaintance who can garner you influence.

I’ve been trying to improve my conscious contact with God, and yesterday I wanted so badly to be in His will, but I struggled with my own anxiety and it felt like a huge risk I would be taking. It seems like such a silly thing to say now.

Since I’m going to be 50 years old in September, I qualify for the senior choral in my city. It’s a very big deal. It’s not just singing they do, but dancing, skits and small group duets and singing. There’s a big production once a year, and this year it’s about Broadway show tunes. I had been looking forward to it, but as my mom and I (she’s been in the group for years, approaching her 85th birthday this year) sat on the porch, just about ready to go, anxiety sank in my stomach like a serrated knife. It was that quick.

Mom suggested I go anyway, just to see what it was like. I wouldn’t have to commit, or pay the $50 fee until the next week. She was already sure I would love it, because everyone was going to love on me and not want to let me go. I was so anxious I ended up taking an anti-anxiety med before I left. 😦 All the way there I asked my mom questions. And I was so glad Tweetybird  was clean, because we drove my car so I could smoke on the way. Yeah, now you know why I sing Tenor. 😛

Well, I prayed and prayed as we walked in the door. I already knew God wanted me to take more chances and to get out into the world. I needed more friends, and these were good people, friends I could count on to stick with me through thick and thin. They had been there for my mother for several years already. Hadn’t He stuck with me through my anxiety with work at the Book Nook? What other proof did I need?

So I went in, and every hand I shook, I couldn’t help but blurt out, “I was so NERVOUS! I don’t know why I was so nervous, because everyone’s been so nice to me!” …even though I had pointedly expressed to my mother NOT to mention to anyone how anxious I’d been, on pain of death. ::eyeroll::

It’s amazing what can happen when we keep up that conscious contact, and we stay in at least what we hope is God’s will . . . He always gives us the power to carry it out. Whew! Slept 9 1/2 hours last night after that. Was pretty tired. But it was such a good experience.

AND . . . I ended up paying the $50 that very day. I didn’t need to wait. I also signed up for skits and small group singing. It’s going to be a bang-up production. Wish you were here!

Peace out.