Monday, September 22, 2008

Fear, used car, wooden ladder, speaking at a meeting

I am reading Tara Brach’s, “Radical Acceptance -- Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha”, which is an awesome book, today at lunch the chapter I was reading was about “fear”. I read a couple of sections and then reflected on what I read and what is going down in my life.
The used car; I am having some conflict with Michelle (daughter) over buying a car, she is currently using my car to get a around in. She doesn’t have the money to buy a car but I told her I would help her out and find an inexpensive car for her. She has also been looking around and she found a mid 90’s Grand Am that has a broken timing belt for $500.00, she has always loved Grand Am’s and that has been the model of car she has set her sites on getting. I have to tried to tell her in a nice way that this isn’t a good deal because without a timing belt you can’t really tell if anything else is wrong with the car. Saturday she showed up at my house and started talking about the car again and how a couple of friends told her the car was a good buy; being only 17 she trusted what the salesman is telling her also. I told her no I wouldn’t buy the Grand Am for her and that I was going to buy my sisters Taurus for her for the same price; I know the Taurus is in good mechanical shape. Mich got pissed and told me no on the Taurus and she would buy the Pontiac on her own. So now the problem is I really need to set down and talk with her about all of this. The fear factor is in making her upset, my drinking took it’s toll on her and deep down inside is still the fear of losing her love, that sick story within that says I don’t deserve her love since I was a lousy parent during my heavy drinking days, which is partial true and partial false but the fear is sometimes more powerful than the reality. I know I need to face my fear about her, know that yes she will probably still be angry at me, yes she probably won’t comprehend what I have to say since her mind is made up but I know it is all temporary. We have been down this road different times in the past when I have had to make decisions which she didn’t like but in the end she accepts things. The fear involving Mich is the most powerful type of fear, I tease people who are afraid of animals, yet I myself become immobile when it comes to confronting my daughter over something we have a big disagreement on.
The ladder; I borrowed an 8ft wooden ladder from a friend so I could repair and seal the roof of my mobile home Saturday. I was able to climb up the ladder and on to the roof but when I tried to step on to the ladder to come down and get some supplies I couldn’t do it. The old wooden ladder was wobbly and I am not comfortable with heights nor my balance on ladders so I was stuck. Thankfully I had my cell phone and smokes with me, I called a friend who wasn’t doing anything and he came over and brought a fiberglass ladder which was totally stable and I had no problem climbing up and down it. While I waited for my friend to show up I smoked and thought about my fear and dealing with it. I thought I would be able to over come it this time, I tried mediating to overcome the fear but still every time I reached my leg out and touched the next to the last rung on the ladder I started to shake uncontrollably so I just had to accept that it wasn’t safe for me to try and force myself to climb down the ladder. Nice thing was I wasn’t ashamed about my situation or my fear it is what it is, some people can monkey around on shaky ladders all day long, I can’t, some people freak out over bugs, spiders, snakes and such and I have no problems handling any of them, o.k. never had to handle a poisonous snake but it wouldn’t freak me out to do so. So here was a fear that I dealt with in an appropriate manner.
The meeting; yesterday I went to my regular Sunday morning meeting at the hospital, the usual people where there. Topic was on basically using spirituality to over come fears and live in the moment to the best of our ability. About mid way through the meeting, my head started getting fuzzy from too much coffee and my thoughts were all mucked up. I honestly try and share from the heart at meetings but I had too much Tara Brach running through my mind, along with the caffeine and nicotine, since I was reading her for around an hour prior to going to the meeting. I was trying to focus my mind on being humble and not preachy, but it was still pretty fuzzy when it came my turn to share. I very much wanted to pass with just saying I was grateful to be there alive and sober, but since I always share something I told myself I had to share. So pride in hand I proceeded to share with half a heart and mind and from my ears what I heard sucked!!! Here I was afraid of what others would think about me if I didn’t share, afraid that people would think I was going through some emotional funk for not sharing, pride was telling I needed to say something profound, to impress people, to share the Dharma in a non-direct way. Once again I brought suffering upon myself for selfish reasons, I disrupted my inter peace due to my perceptions/expectations of other peoples minds which were hidden from me. But l learned I hope, it has been a while since I have done this and the last time I did I felt like shit then also, maybe this is just something I need to do every so often to remind me to stay humble, to go with my inter spirit.

Fear so many faces, the good fear keeps me safe and ask for help. The bad fear plays havoc with my insides. It can also be a thief like when I don’t ask someone who appears interested in my out for coffee because I am afraid of rejection. It is a creator, it creates opportunities for me to work on procrastination when I am afraid in financial situations to ask for help but have no alternative to and realizing the sooner I ask for help the better. Fear the teacher, fear has taught me a lot and still does so if I am aware. I am stepping deeper into mediation which is improving my awareness. I hate tiny steps but that is what I have to take right now, the tiny steps are good but the little Veruca Salt inside my head sometimes screams out “I Want it NOW”. Oh well such is life, I woke up this morning I smile at the day, gave thanks for being alive and sober, focused on compassion and the Eight Fold Path, even though I may stubble a little here and there I feel that by starting the day with those things in mind I am able to recognize emotions, act and re-act in a much better way than I have ever done in the past.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Leaf on a Stream, going with the Flow

I have been going through a lot of changes lately. Having my daughter back in my life after her living in group homes for the last 10 months and now her living on her own but close by has provided me with an opportunity to practice letting go. I have had to ease off on making sure she is making her appointments and taking care of business, if she is going to live in the real world she needs to learn how to handle real world situations. I haven’t thrown her out in the cold but I have given her the opportunity to make her own mistakes and learn from them. She has the assistance of the HHS independent living program for now to get her use to living on a budget and other living skills and hopefully when she is done with the program she will be equipped to live on her own and take care of Angel.
Angel is still a bright spot in my life, I am so grateful that I am sober and can be a part of her life. She continues to be a very content baby unless hungry or wet. She takes in the world around her, looking at things, she smiles at calm friendly voices. She has started trying to talk, her mouth moves like crazy, cooing and making grunting sounds, she has also started laughing out loud. Last night was a real joy I was singing Beatle songs to her and she was doing her best to sing back to me. The bonding is a special and beautiful happening.
My dad will be moved into an assisted living unit at the Veteran’s home in the near future. It has been sad watching this once proud and strong man wither away to nothing and losing his ability to comprehend things in the process. The blessing is he doesn’t have Alzheimer’s just dementia, some times he is with it other times he doesn’t have a clue or his mind goes back 20 or 30 years. A couple of weeks ago he woke up in the middle of the night and started messing with the outlets because he was dreaming he was troubleshooting an electrical problem the next day he asked me if I would check to make sure the circuit was right, I had mom remove any extension cords from the room in fear that he might accidentally shock himself in one of his delusions. Having to pay closer attention to my dad and struggling with him when he gets the bouts of delusion is taking its toll on my mom who has always suffered with anxiety and thus she goes through periods of confusion and anger. So the time has come to have him place in the care of others. I am grateful I have been able to be a calming voice and able to take them to appointments when need be.
All this and more have been going on but the one thing I have noticed is how I am dealing with things and also other changes in my behavior. I don’t get very upset or excited much anymore. Each morning I do a short mediation and prayer, the mediation consist of maybe 30-45 seconds of relaxed breathing followed by a prayer of thanks for waking up (because of my drinking past I should be dead) then a prayer that Thich Nhat Hanh wrote which says “I smile at the world, a new 24 hours to practice compassion” followed by asking for guidance in applying the Eightfold path to the best of my ability and the removal of the bondage of self. By doing this every morning I am amazed at how often when I start to get excited, anxious or angry my mind brings up living in the moment, pause, breath deeply in and out, focus or refocus, I am able to relax if I do these things, I also identify the emotion and if it goes against the precepts or path I correct the action or make a mental note not to repeat the action, I am slowly becoming aware. This doesn’t happen all the time and I get impatient with myself for not being better at countering my suffering but at least I am doing what I can do. In reality I am extremely happy with the little progress I have made. The negative energy at work is affecting me less and I am letting up on mentally slandering certain co-workers but trying to understand them with compassion and not contempt. I am going some minor public speaking and even though I have been very nervous it hasn’t shown very much. My use of profanity is also getting better, “right speech”. So much has change since I started down the path of the Dharma, it would be long list if I listed everything but the main thing is I am aware and I am aware that some of the things I use to do just don’t set right with me anymore, I have also gained strength by giving calm response in confrontational situations, well most of the time anyway. I stay out of the future a lot better and don’t project so much on conversations I may have or events that haven’t taken place, I still to the footwork by planning out what I can, or doing what needs to be done, but I don’t worry as much as I use to. I am still undisciplined but that is getting better, I have started sitting mediation at night, now I just need to work on getting up earlier and doing the same, I still put off some unpleasant things but bit by bit I am getting better at doing them too. I have found some teachers in Nebraska and now need to contact them; I need to mediate once again to overcome my fear about being a raw newcomer to the Buddha. The of what they will say to me, even though I know they will act with compassion the “old self” still dwells deep inside and is very insecure.
I am gratefully for the disease caused me to crash and find a new way of living one beyond the 12 steps and the rooms that I need as well. I am starting to see a balance between recovery and this spiritual path.
Thanks to all the teachers who have helped me.