Tuesday, November 29, 2011

5 years

End of the Line
by Warren Hayes

And now the gravity of trouble was more than I could bear,
At times my luck was so bad, I had to fold my hands,
Almost lost my soul, rarely I could find my head,
Wake up early in the morning, feeling nearly dead.

I was never afraid of danger, took trouble on the chin,
Mountains I have climbed, that have killed a thousand men,
Spent most of my lifetime downtown, sleepin' behind the wheel,
Never needed anybody, I was king of the hill.

Oh, when I think about the old days,
Lord, it sends chills up and down my spine,
Yeah life ain't what it seems, on the boulevard of broken dreams,
Guess I opened my eyes in the nick of time,
'Cause it sure felt like the end of the line.

No matter how hard I run, I just can't get away
I try to do my best, but the devil gets in my way
Spent most of my lifetime downtown, sleepin' behind the wheel
'Till it all came down to kill or be killed

Oh, when I think about the old days,
Lord, it sends chills up and down my spine,
Yeah life ain't what it seems, on the boulevard of broken dreams,
Guess I opened my eyes in the nick of time,
'Cause it sure felt like the end of the line.

These are the lyrics to an Allman Brothers/Government Mule song which pretty much sum up where I was at 5 years ago.

First a little humor. I walked into Mich's house last week and she asked if I use the word son-of-a-bitch because her roommate and her don't. Seems Angel was doing something and got frustrated and said son-of-a-bitch, which took Mich and roommate by surprise. Here's the thing, this has been past down from my dad, it was one of his favorite expletives, so my dad is still here and pasting on his ways to another generation. Still papa needs to pay closer attention to the words he uses and his actions, there are 2 mini me's in life, little ones who love their papa and mimic him because he is soo cool :-)

So for the second time in my life I have 5 years of sobriety today, it was 5 years ago I checked myself into a treatment center because my life had spiraled out of control and I wanted to get control back. When I told my family I was going to treatment my intent wasn't to get sober but to get the heat of the family, job and law off my ass. The Doctors Opinion in the Big Book talks about a psychic change taking place and this is what happened to me after a couple of days in treatment. Part of this happened by rereading We Agnostics and getting spiritually grounded and having a 2x4 hit me upside the head reminding me that AA is about finding a God of our own understanding and not someone else's, even if they are trying to persuade you to accept their God, this was part of my fall out with the fellowship.

This year started out with the breakup of my relationship with Lady B, it hurt but accepted nothing is permanent. Understood the reasons and moved on. Understood I was probably more in love with the companionship and intimacy than the core her and life style she lived with her son.

Lost the job I really loved in January, this really hurt. It took a while to get over my hurt feelings toward the executive director, I understood what I did wrong but still felt she was overreacting. But I was wrong for writing about other peoples personal lives on my blog which is a public format. A couple of weeks ago she sent me an email apologizing for what happened, how she was in a bad place and listening to people who didn't have her best interest and my words were just to blatantly honest at the time for her to accept. I wrote back saying all was good and had turned out for the best.

Because I lost my job I moved back to my adopted home town, Kearney. Losing the job was a blessing in disguise. I now live close to my daughter and grand kids, plus back with my old AA group and friends.

My moving prompted my mom to move back to Kearney also, she is much happier in her little apartment, she has other older women to spend time with, her youngest sister gladly helps her out and they enjoy spending time together, my mom has a lot less stress in her life now, another blessing which happened with me getting fired.

I learned to humble myself a lot when I took the job of doing manual labor bending steel for 10 hours a night, 5 to 6 days a week. I learned it didn't matter how much management experience I have, there are better qualified people out there for the jobs I have applied for. I have a steady income which pays the bills and provides me with a bit extra when there is a bunch of overtime. I have learned to handle the sore muscle and accept them. I have learned to and continue to learn acceptance of supervisors who in my opinion are poor managers, all I am responsible for is doing my job to the best of my ability.

I have enjoyed plenty of yard work, something I missed living in an apartment. I have gone camping a few times. I built a shed, even though it isn't perfect, I took the time and used the appropriate tools and materials to make it the best shed I could with the skills I have. I put up a Christmas tree for the first time in a lot of years, I did this for my kids because for me Christmas is about joy in children's faces and not commercialism.

I got into a weird short relationship and learned something from it. This relationship caused me to really reach out to my backup sponsor for help and take a close look at how I react to those things in life which upset me at a deep intellectual and spiritual level. I have also had to look closely at me relationship with those I work with and find ways to accept them for being who they are. My new mantra is "yeah like you are so damn perfect" this makes me step back and smile at my arrogance and ego/selfishness.

I cried at a meeting when I felt over joyed with the knowledge I can spend 4 hours between the time I get up and the time I go to work without picking up a drink. In the last years of my drinking I could not , not drink when I had idol time. I am filled with joy and gratitude that when I come home at night sometimes very sore, I reach for a can of soda or bottle of water instead of a beer. I no longer need to self medicate with alcohol neither do I take a bunch of over the counter drugs to ease the pain.

Some have had a hell of a lot worse year then I have but still I am grateful that through all the low lows and highs I haven't picked up a drink, the compulsion and obsession has been removed, so long as I stay spiritually fit.

What is different about this 5 year mark than the last? My first time around I never really found a spiritual way of life. Today I practice spiritual principles to the best of my ability on a daily bases. Meetings are not enough for me, I need a spiritual path in life. I have also been more willing to share what is really going on deep inside with others. I have embraced living in the moment, focusing on the here and now, do the dishes, bend the steel, I have learned to breath when anxious, I am not perfect at any of this but I work on it and my life is wonderful when I do so.

Thanks to all my blogger friends for sharing their experience, strength, hope and lives with me, I learn much from each of you, you bring me joy and insight.

Peace Love Light

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Thoughts on Inner Child

Hey all, seems like time is really flying along, one day it was sandals and t-shirts the next it is boots and jacket, plus holidays fast approaching.

A couple of you have been blogging about the "inner child" which is an odd coincidence because this summer I bought a book by Thich Nhat Hanh called "Reconciliation, healing the inner child". Even though I feel comfortable and forgiving about the circumstances in which I was raised; lack of emotional stimulation and affection, mental and physical abuse, I thought there maybe more I needed to look at, plus Thich always has some great nuggets for better awareness practice. Here is a passage from the book I really like,

"I wouldn't want to send my friends and children to a place where there's no suffering, because in such a place they'd have no opportunity to learn to cultivate understanding and compassion. The Buddha said if we haven't suffered, there's no way we can learn. If the Buddha arrived at full enlightenment, it's because he suffered a lot. We have to come to the Buddha with all our suffering. Suffering is the path. It's through our suffering that we can see the path of enlightenment, compassion and love. It's by looking deeply into the nature of sorrow, our pain, our suffering, that we can discover the way out. If we don't know what suffering is, there's no way we can go to the Buddha, and we'll have no chance to touch peace, to touch love. It is exactly because we have suffered that now we have an opportunity to recognize the path leading to liberation, love and understanding."

Please translate the part about going to the Buddha into what ever makes sense to you. I feel this passage really puts suffering into perspective. Whether I am suffering from the effects of my youth, my alcoholism/addiction, relationship problems, character defects or life on life's term's . It is through suffering I have the opportunity to grow, to learn to better love, show better compassion and understanding.

I have accepted my parents as being the way there were because they were effected by there parents and ancestors, I have to learn to recognize that how I treat my daughter and my grand kids is a reflection of my ancestors as well but in recognizing this I can break the chain of wrongful parenting and suffering.

The kicker is the emotional wounds from others who abused me growing up haven't healed. It is seeing others who remind me of the abuses of my youth which cause my inner child to resurface.
As a kid I was bullied a lot, some by jocks and some by older kids who in hindsight were probably dealing with their own insecurities so they picked on scrawny younger kids. The jocks were the verbal bullies, always saying how big of wuss you were, laughing at your awkwardness and lack of coordination, intimidating you during the ugly and mandatory P.E classes. Side note; I went to a school were the whole population of 7th thru 12th grade was under 150 students, the few kids who were not socially accepted were shunned and picked on, it was worse for boys than girls because boys were expected to play sports all 6 years whether you were good or not. I didn't play sports, I don't have an athletic bone in my body, nor was I ever big enough physically. I could read and comprehend what I read, find insight in literature and the arts, understood and had compassion for social and environment injustices but that didn't count for anything as far as how you were treated by your peers. Most of my friends turned to alcohol and drugs as a means to be a somebody, to feel comfortable in our own skin, some out grew this others like me are alcoholic/addicts.

At work the welders are like the bullies of the plant, they are led by a guy I suspect was an ex-jock. They pick on the non-Caucasians and anyone who doesn't fit into their neat little box of what a man working in a manufacturing plant should be like. Most of this talk is behind backs but of course but it isn't hard to figure out these guys have contempt for people who aren't like them, it is in their attitudes and how they interact with others. They sit in the break room and are loud and obnoxious, make derogatory/vulgar remarks about different races, religions, homosexuals, Democrats and anyone else they dislike.

I have had a few run ins with the welders this week, mainly the leader of the clique. I really dislike these guys and have a lot of contempt for them. The run ins have made me reflect on why have such contempt and dislike. Enter the inner child. The inner child is comparing these grown men to the guys who use to mess with me as a kid, he doesn't fear any physical violence but fears not being able to counter their smart ass remarks with strong enough words to shut them up, remember I suck at quick and witty responses and dislike overly aggressive people. So how does the inner child deal with these people? He displays a sense of arrogance, he displays aloofness and he keeps his contact with them as limited as possible. Now maybe to some people this isn't a bad thing but for someone trying to live a principled life it is.

I need to acknowledge how my sick actions effect my ability to show love, kindness and compassion to all people. The Dalai Lama says the hardest people to show loving kindness and compassion to are our enemies, oh how true this is. I am no better that the bullies when I use intellect as a weapon of superiority. My talents are more cranial than physical but this doesn't make me better than them, yet in my arrogance I think it does and I put off an air to let them know so.

Thich's words are helping me understand how the inner child surfaces in different areas of my life, how the hurt little boy still wants protection. He is also teaching me how to heal the wounds and comfort the little boy, to speak to him and tell him the wrongs of the past can't hurt him now. Thich also keeps reiterating the linage of wrongs we all carry, that sickness is pasted on generation to generation and how we need to end the suffering by showing others loving kindness and compassion whether they return it or not. He talks about how to deal with being hurt by someone close to us and how to get rid of the resentments. I know this sounds a lot like the passage on acceptance from the Big Book, but Thich is going a bit deeper. What I need to do is try my best on a daily bases to work on loving kindness and compassion, especially towards those who remind me of the people who hurt the inner child. I have to be aware of how my inner child will react with bitter cruelty to any who see it sees as a threat. If people dislike me it is probably because my actions effect the inner child in them, maybe they were jealous of the kids who were smarter than them, who think outside the box, who experience life more fully because they are not afraid of people who are different than them, or things which are foreign and new. We may not wish to be like each other but maybe the fears which cause our actions come from the same place? I read this book during my lunch break, so some of the words smack me right between the eyes, which is sometimes the best way for me to take an honest look at my thoughts and actions, plus keeps everything in perspective when my mind starts going places it shouldn't since running the machine can get very boring, just focus on breathing, moment at hand, use breathing exercise based on loving kindness, compassion, getting rid of self.

Anyway those are me thoughts. I hope all are doing well. I am happy to read how some of my friends are accepting life on life's terms, your words help keep me grounded and also make me smile. Love you all!

Peace Love Light and a special Namaste