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Friday, December 10, 2010

My mini-bestfriend

I feel grateful to have what my sponsor calls a mini-bestfriend. Today I came home from a meeting to someone who was truly excited to see me. She waved and waved at me from the top of the stairs. When I went upstairs to join her and play, well really she helped me make the bed, we rolled and giggled and cuddled together on the fresh sheets. I can't ask for anything more. I would have said "much" more but that would have implied that there is something more that I could ask for, even if just something small, but really I believe I can't ask for anything more. I've been given such a beautiful gift from the universe.

I heard a story today about someone losing their son to suicide by hanging. Whenever I hear stories about the loss of children these days, my heart just breaks. I feel my stomach harden and my breath stop. Tears threaten to spill out of the corners of my eyes. True love and one's actual vulnerability in the universe are experienced through having a child. I would not go back and change this decision in spite of the fact that now I have something huge to lose. As I was tumbling with her on the bed I thought, I'm going to simply be here now and enjoy being present with her. That is all that matters. If either of us only has a short time left on the planet, I want both of us to spend it wrapped in as much love as possible.

I highlight the fact that I would not go back and make a different choice, even though I am struggling so much these days with marriage, for a reason. Eve would not exist without the choices I have made. She is like the man and the little girl in A Beautiful Mind that remind Russell Crowe about his disease--they never grow old. Eve reminds me that the world is truly good and miraculous. In the midst of all the difficulty, I am reminded that if I perceive the world as only difficult and too hard to deal it is the fault of my perception, not an accurate read on life. Eve brings me back to reality.

And she brings me back to reality hard!  In between the above writing and now, Eve woke from her nap screaming and then, when I went to cuddle her, promptly peed all over both of us. Like I said, she brings me back to reality!

Saturday, December 4, 2010


"But the key to our deepest happiness lies in changing our vision of where to seek it" (Salzberg, 8).

I have been thinking a lot about "happiness" in the last couple of months. The program says that we will be happy, joyous and free and I used to think that I meant that I would feel the "high" that I used to get from taking a drink or drug or doing anything else that allowed me to feel power over myself momentarily. Another way of saying this, is that I felt that "the bondage of self" would be permanently removed. Then I came to think that happiness, joyousness and freedom could never come for me and that I would need to learn to accept that and/or realize that the program doesn't work. More recently I have begun to revise my understanding of happiness. Happiness might be the mindfulness that Buddhists talk about -- being okay, really okay in the present moment with whatever IS. Content. Being human is part of what is. So is having a self. When I seek perfect relief from the self I am asking for perfect oneness with God and the Universe and in that state it is very difficult to live in the world. To live in the world one actually has to get to know the self -- work with the self that was given to him at birth (or even before birth if you believe that).

As an aside, in astrology the final sign of the zodiac is Pisces which is a sign whose drive or energy exactly reflects the conundrum just mentioned. As the astropsychologist Glenn Perry asserts in his section on the lessons of Pisces:

Buddhism holds that liberation from duality is contingent upon the ability to recognize that such opposites [subject-object] are ultimately a trick of the mind, a self created illusion (maya), the reconciliation of which allows for unitive consciousness and liber-ation. By neutralizing opposites through awareness [mindfulness], the illusion of duality is extinguished and the individual attains nirvana.  While all of this is classically piscean, it helps to understand what happens when such a state occurs prematurely, i.e., before the individual has developed a strong and stable identity. In order to give up the self, the self has to be fully mature and differentiated. This is one of those lovely little paradoxes that typifies Pisces. Self-awareness is contingent upon recognition of duality" (Perry, 52).

What this suggests to me is that until I am willing to see my Self and live with my Self, I cannot let go of the Self. This also explains why if you look at the development of an individual he or she begins as a baby and child who is ultimately very self-oriented. It is only late in life that the same person might have developed enough awareness of the Self to be at the point where it would be possible to let that self go. Alcoholics perhaps learn early about the Self, at least that part of it that is hurt and they are forced to get to know that Self, not divorce themselves from it.  And it is in coming to embrace their Selves that they begin to feel liberated from that Self and to feel a connection with God.

In a wonderful book called Mindful Recovery, Thomas and Beverly Bien discuss the way in which the practice of Buddhist mindfulness can allow addicts to heed the lessons of their emotional pain rather than running away from it or trying to fill it with any number of numbing agents (12). Their definition of mindfulness is as follows:

"Mindfulness is a quality of openness, of present-moment awareness and acceptance. Mindfulness is experiencing this moment, this very one, the only moment that exists. Mindful living is not about living in the future or dwelling in the past. It is also not about recriminations when you find yourself in the past or the future. Mindfulness is about getting back in touch with your spiritual essence, your true nature" (13).

They suggest that mindfulness teaches the addict to begin to face the pain, and to listen with awareness to what is going on in one's body, in one's emotions and in the environment. This allows us to "receive clear signals concerning what is out of balance and what hurts" (14).

I highlight this definition of Buddhist mindfulness because I think it helps me heal from a past history of Buddhism that was not quite on the target. What I learned about Buddhism as a child and as a young adult was that meditation and other awareness activities-- practices that teach mindfulness -- were meant to teach me about the delusions of my mind. I was to learn to ignore them. In doing this, I would be freed from the bondage of self. This taught me to IGNORE the signals that I was getting from my body, my emotions and the environment around me. Rather than getting to know myself better, I learned how better to ignore my Self. This might have been useful if I had already developed a good working relationship with my Self, but I was very unaware of who I was -- am. It is in AA that I have come to know myself -- and at a very slow pace I may say!

So how does this connect back to the earlier issue of HAPPINESS. What I am learning is that the happiness I used to seek -- instantaneous relief from the bondage of self -- might have given me short glimpses of what nirvana could be but that in the real world -- away from drugs, alcohol and fantasies -- that kind of liberation has to come from a LONG journey, which begins with actually getting to know my Self, listening to my Self, embracing and accepting and learning from my Self. This means learning to live IN the world where a Self is needed.

Now the other issue is that when I ignored my Self, what got buried got ugly and expressed itself in numerous yucky ways -- addiction, bulimia, exercise obsession, lack of ability to connect with people, depression, anger -- continuing to live THAT way was not going to work. So actually, ignoring the Self does not work at all. Therefore, when I say that I got to know my Self it means that I acknowledged the PAIN that ignoring the Self caused me and stopped identifying my Self with the pain.  It's the Self that I have been ignoring that is the Self that I need to get to know. Embracing and loving that Self is happiness. It is acceptance of what God made.

Friday, November 12, 2010

One year journal turns to two year blog

Now that Eve's one year journal is full -- I haven't really written a *review* yet -- I am trying to figure out the best way to keep track of her life & changes. I love to write about this stuff. Maybe it will be here! I can't seem to get myself to blog regularly about myself -- maybe that is because my other blog got erased -- or just because I haven't got a lot of time. But I've been collecting things about Eve.

Her birthday party, what she did and highlights. One great highlight was the fact that her great grandparents came -- Mildred and Louis -- that was really special. It's not very many one year olds that can say that their great grandparents were at their birthday party! She also got a push cart with alligators on it that move up and down as she pushes. It is an old fashioned toy, really well made, and she seemed to really enjoy pushing it around the community center. It was wonderful to have all of the supportive guests that came--my friends, John's friends, our families and people who have become a part of our lives because of Eve -- Janice, Steve, Shelley and Troy. She definitely enjoyed her cake, which was sweetened with agave (the frosting with fructose). It was delicious, indeed.

The fact that she has begun to eat tomatoes (and other citrus foods), egg whites and nut butters (cashew and peanut). She enjoys rice crackers with cashew butter on them. She licks the butter off and throws the cracker on the ground. She also seems to really enjoy spicy chili and food with tomato sauce and/or gomasio. Concurrently she has stopped eating green (and other) veggies. I don't think she likes the texture! Here she is enjoying my mum's chili and cornbread (with grandpa) and then some of her birthday cake.

She has also begun to have a love for a *wubby.* It's a handmade blanket by someone in Michigan (I don't even know who) that she reaches for now at night.  When it is next to her head she softens and kind of cuddles up with her thumb. Our routine is that I rock her for seven minutes or so while she nurses or sucks her thumb and then I put her in bed awake or asleep, cover her up with her cotton blankets and then put this handmade one on top. She knows it is coming and reaches for it as I go to pick it up. It's adorable. She's really growing up!

She is also having a blast pushing her various push carts around the neighborhood. I've taken one video so far that I will upload for this blog but it's not ready yet. What's hilarious is that she really has a mind of her own. You can't make her go in any particular direction and she will actively resist you if you turn the cart in the direction you want to go. She is exploring as she wants to--going down curbs, down hills, over the grass, stopping to pick up leaves or tasting a dirty rock. What's amazing is that she is very agile. I was afraid that going down hills would cause her to get out of control (she can run!) but I can actually see her body tensing to resist the pull of the downward slope. She's very strong, sensitive and intuitive. When she starts to go over the curb she knows it is dangerous and stops, pulling back. This is not to say that she hasn't had a few spills, she has! Over the top of the cart (when she tries to force it to go if it is stuck), or the cart falling over sideways with her or her just falling back on her bum. I was most worried about her cracking her head open on the cement, but nothing like that has even come close to happening.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Perfection: What would it look like?

If I accepted myself as the unique human being that I am? I suspect that would mean that I would accept you and the world the way you and the world are too. How much more happy I would be then!

"I can now admit that most of my troubles stem from one large and glaring defect: self-centeredness. For how can I wallow in self-pity, weep over resentments, be sick with righteous anger, ache with envy, and tense up with fears and anxieties unless all my thoughts are exclusively on poor me?" (Drop the Rock, 23).

Several years ago a sponsor had me go through the fourth step in the 12 & 12 in order to extract the plethora of character defects that one could have. However, in the Big Book it specifically points to just four defects -- resentment, dishonesty, self-seeking, selfishness and fear. What I am coming to believe is that all other defects stem from these four issues untreated. They are all permutations of the same basic problems. Keeping it simple works much better for me than does having ninety different character defects to think about. At the deepest core, however is this self-centeredness, which I think also comes from the even more central issue of fear.

Fear stems from the belief that I am God (extreme self-centeredness). Fear produces perfectionism, which is the idea that "I know best." It says that I know better than God. How else could I find so many things wrong in the world, with me and with others? The definition in the dictionary of perfection includes the word flawless. Looking even more closely at this definition I realize that the definition of perfection can actually be equated with my definition of God.

Perfect: being entirely without fault or defect: flawless. Satisfying all requirements: accurate. Lacking in no essential detail: complete. Sane. Absolute, inequivocal. Certain, sure. Contented, Satisfied.

Syn. Perfect, whole, entire, intact meaning not lacking or faulty in any particular. Perfect implies the soundness and the excellence of every part, element, or quality of a thing frequently as an unattainable or theoretical state. Whole suggests a completeness or perfection that can be sought, gained, or regained. Entire implies perfection deriving from integrity, soundness, or completeness of a thing. Intact implies retention of perfection of a thing in its natural or original state.

Flaw: a defect in physical structure or form. An imperfection or weakness and esp. one that detracts from the whole or hinders effectiveness. Fragment.

God is perfect and I am a part of his universe. The one he created. That means that I am flawless and perfect as well. I was made by God as I am with my assets and my defects -- my so-called flaws. I am the one who looks around and finds a flaw in everything because I think that I know what perfect looks like. But I don't know if I can't see that things are already perfect and flawless. Finding these flaws first is a sign of my self-centeredness, selfishness and self seeking, it then produces resentment in me. All of this blocks me off from the sunlight of the spirit meaning that I no longer experience my relationship with God, which then sets me spinning into a world of fear, which reproduces this cycle of resentment and self-centeredness ------> fear. Dishonesty is tied up in all of these in exactly the same way. My dishonesty is coupled with my resentment and self-centeredness and fear. The flip side of dishonesty is truth. When I say that I am God and that I am flawed, and you are flawed and the world is flawed I am claiming that my judgment of reality is correct. My judgment may not be correct, therefore it may not be true, so it is dishonest to claim that my judgment of reality is the only one or the correct one.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Drop the Rock

Have you heard the story about the man who was searching for his keys where the light was even though that was not where he had lost them? He said he couldn't look for his keys where he had lost them because it was dark there and he was scared of the dark.

I'm thinking about how this relates to my challenge of letting go of of two major "defects" of character: self-pity and micro-management of my marriage. What is interesting is that I can see that God is working through these character defects to change me. I'm only just beginning to see this though. Indeed, last week I got an email from an astrologer who said that saturn quincunx all of my Aquarian planets explained a lot, including the moon which meant that I would struggle with feeling heard. In both cases, with self-pity over not finding my career path and the power struggle in my marriage that often leaves me feeling terrible but self-righteous, I feel unheard. I feel like I cannot express myself in this life. I feel that very few people can "hear" me and what I mean by that is that I struggle with expressing the true me to people. There are only a few people and a few places where I feel like that is possible. So my struggle with career and with marriage brings this issue to the light. God is working through those struggles to bring them to light. However, if I quit, run away, stick my head in the mud, drink or drug it is much less likely that I will become aware of what God is trying to help me to see so that I can begin to let go.

This has been my experience in all of sobriety. I have not known what defects God is working on, I have just known about the struggle I am in the midst of and which I often don't like because it seems like it is getting in the way of me living my life the way I want to. But when the defect central to the struggle comes to the light -- becomes painfully obvious -- something shifts and things seem to get easier. The defect loosens its hold on me. I begin to see that God is working in my life (again).

Not feeling heard goes way back. Even when I was a little girl of three I remember having a longing for someone or something to pay attention to me. All my happy memories involve people who were attentive to me in particular. They involve people who seemed to value me for me. People who didn't judge me constantly or abuse me or ignore me. My Aunt Lynne, my grandma, people at the temple who took me out or bought me a nice dress or shoes, people who listened to me, people who made it clear they wanted to spend time with me (Edward, Robert, Alyson, Betsy, Heather). And then there was always this seeking energy. I thought it was about my dad since he was mostly gone or we struggled to get along. So this seeking was about either how to get him back or how to get along with him. With my mum the seeking was about how to get her to spend more time with me. And I would take up her time by talking to her either about books I'd read, or my righteous cause of the moment.

Today I seek to feel heard by my husband and by the world at large in the sense that I keep trying to find the perfect career for myself. Something that will draw on my key talents so that the world will recognize them i.e. "hear" them. If they hear me, then I will exist. I wonder what would happen if I dropped the rock?

What if I let go of the need to be heard? What if I began to listen to myself? What if I began to value myself and my talents? What if I focused on myself? What would it look like if I stopped trying to convince others that I exist?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Kaleidoscopic Me

I'm no longer a pregnant woman! I'm the mother of an almost one year old who has been sleeping for nearly two hours now. Go figure. Of course I get worried that she is dead, not sleeping...but then she awakens! The weather is starting to develop outside into a storm -- sprinkles, wind blowing, a chill in the air. I guess fall is really here. My mother is flying over the country as we speak ---> to visit my Aunt Noreen in Victoria, B.C., which I am awfully glad about. There's so much to report on, I don't know where to begin. Perhaps I will start with the challenges that I am facing career wise and my thoughts on faith.

Right now I'm in the phase of suddenly realizing "that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves." God is doing for me what I can't do for myself. And there is A LOT that I can't do for myself. I used to think this was a weakness. And, indeed, it is a *weakness* for it is that which makes me human aka *not* God. But these days, I see that acknowledging that actually gives me strength. It is powerful to acknowledge ones actual relationship with God rather than continuing to live in the fantasy of super-human power and strength. It allows me to get right sized in the universe. I can't see the whole picture. I don't know what the *plan* is. So to have faith today means to continue doing the next right thing even when I think everything has gone wrong because reality is not conforming to my expectations. More so this means that reality is not providing me with the confirmation that I am *okay* or even better than okay, in fact reality is triggering feelings of insecurity and fear in me. In the past this mean that something had gone wrong. That I needed to work harder to alter my experience of said reality so that I wouldn't feel that way. These days I'm coming to accept that I can live with such feelings without having to alter them OR assume that something has gone wrong. In fact, something *good* might be the outcome of walking through said discomfort. God might be working on me -- kind of like a cat scan -- even when I feel super claustrophobic and scared. When my view has been made so small by my feelings. God is working on me. Today my sponsor said that she doesn't believe in the concept of people *working on themselves.* She says God is working on us, that's not our job. Our job is to figure out how to be present, how to suit up and show up, how to do the next right thing. How to work with our resentments.

The book says "all men of faith have courage" and I have really been trying to live this and by that I mean that if I have faith then I will know because I am taking actions. Actions require courage, especially when taking them means that I may fuck up. Say the *wrong* thing. However, in reality, if God made me, then what I do and say is not fucked up. It's the right thing, at the right time, in the right place even if I feel uncomfortable about it. Even if at another occasion I say something different and do something differently based on what I learned from my prior uncomfortable feeling. We call this learning. But just because I learned to do something differently does not mean that I did it *wrong* the last time. This is ultimate faith. It's the willingness to be who I am--the kaleidoscope--at every moment. When I reject me or you, I reject God because God made each of us perfectly.