Friday, February 17, 2012

Love is the Opening Door

"As time passes in AA, we hear or read much about love:
love is as simple as becoming always available.
Love is a sincere interest in others. Love is a desire to be of service.
Love is an ability to understand others and their problems.
Giving love is more important than being loved."
- The Best of the Grapevine [Vol. 3], pp. 296-97

An Open Heart
"I had not known that my heart was closed.
Now I knew -- because it was opened. I could now ask and receive help,
and I hoped that some day I would have something to give.
I felt free and light and good.
I would no longer block out love if I kept my heart open."

- Came To Believe . . ., p. 50

I only subscribe to a couple of FB groups and one is AA Thought for the Day, nice small group which doesn't bombard you with a bunch of post, the guy who runs the group comes up with some great quotes from a vast variety of AA literature. These 2 quotes were posted lately, they made me sit back and reflect a bit.

I have talked to my sponsor about love, a few others also but just for me, I am going to write out my thoughts and experience with love. BTW the title from the post comes from the Elton John song, Love Song which can be found on his brilliant and underrated Tumbleweed Connection album from the early 70's.

I have written before emotions were not really expressed in our family, I can count the times I heard my parents say I love you to each other on one hand. My mom and I have said it to each other on a few occasions but not regularly, the knowledge is there and is expressed more in actions than words. I never told my dad I loved him or he me. I have no regrets over this, I respected his old world view on men not saying such mushy things to one another and once again we expressed our love in actions, he took care of me even when I was bottoming out and been there my whole life to give his support in one form or another. I was there for him when his health was such he couldn't take care of himself and was unable to leave the house, I sat by his bed as he took his last breaths and with all the love in my heart sent positive energy his way so that maybe his transition into the great unknown was easier. I did these things because I loved him, I couldn't take away his pain but could just be around for the simple sake of being around.  

In writing about dad, one aspect of love for me is letting go. I have been sad many times in life but slowly am coming to understand true love means letting go of my selfish wants and allowing others to live their lives. Carter's premature birth was a lesson in love, knowing I had no control over whether he would live or die. When Carter was born I did what I could for Mich and Angel. Mich has always been a roller coaster of letting go with love. I love her dearly and don't always like what she is doing but I love her and allow her to make her own mistakes, mistakes I have made and cringe at seeing her make. Carter and Angel are my babies and gifts of sobriety, as long as I am sober we will be able to spend time together, time in which they are the center of my world for good or bad, bad meaning Papa allows them to get away with some things Mama won't and Papa is able to treat them to things Mama can't afford within reason. 

My siblings and I don't say we love each other either, well my youngest sister will usually put in an I love you on occasion but we have had a falling out so our contact with each other is limited. She is probably the hardest person in my life to let go of and love unselfishly, with my other sister and brother we have a very casual relationship not close but when we are together to talk there is a love present there born out of being family and acceptance.

My youngest sister was a drinking buddy, we would squabble but usually relied on each other, we confided in each other about what was going on and expressed our true feelings the best that we could to each other.  She was one of the few people who could get me to say I love you out loud. She got sober a few months after I did and one would think this would bring us closer together but it has had the opposite effect. I started using Buddhism as a spiritual path and basically I am vague about what God is or isn't, honestly don't know and don't try to hard to figure the concept out, I do openly admit I have a hard time accepting a puppet master type of God or that God is one sex or another. My sister on the other hand embraced and fell heavy into fundamental Christianity, she worries about the souls of those who don't believe in the new testament version of Jesus and God, believes pray is the great fixer. She was once very open minded about spirituality but has become more closed. She moved to Oregon a couple of years ago and the last few times when have been in room together she has given off a standoffish aura. I have tried the agree to disagree approach with her but it doesn't to work. It makes me sad that we don't have a friendship anymore, never talk, she sent me a text message on my birthday but didn't add I love you too it even after I replied with a thank you and I love you. O.k I dig that I am being selfish about this, that I want the relationship back. I pray nightly for her, my way of letting go of the situation and not allowing the hurt to fester into anything more serious. I will be writing a new 4th in a month or so and you guessed it, she will on it, hopefully I will get a bit of closure on this love gone astray.

Understanding intimate love is becoming easier for me. I've always wanted the romantic Bogart/Bacall, Tracy/Hepburn, John and Yoko type of magical love, the kind poets and bards write about. As of yet this hasn't happened and I am finally alright with it. The women I have been intimate with I have loved because of who they were and what we shared together. When the relationship ended I didn't love them less, just accepted the path had come to an end, understood we were both probably looking for the romantic magic and even though we cared deeply for each other in time found out the magic wasn't there.

My sponsor is the one person who has taught more about love than anyone else. My sponsor always tells me at the end of a conversation he loves me, if we are together physically, we hug each other and say I love you. He showed me his love in actions as well as words. Even in my 40's I didn't understand love or more to the point my heart wasn't open to love because I didn't feel I was worthy of love. I didn't understand love was actions by others, sometimes kind and sometimes tough. Again I was trapped in the romantic notion of love, I put way too much stock in the word, seeking something deeper than just people genuinely caring for me and me for them. I think back on my close friends from school, we had a love for each other born out of sticking up for each and companionship, we the lesser than's had a bond. We needed each other to survive, we didn't place any payback on our friendship, we cared for each other, we protected each, not so much physically but with support. I can now see how this type of love works. I see how those who have supported my recovery over the years did so out of love and I can care so much for recovering and sick alkies and addicts.

I have come to understand and still work on understanding love means just caring for another person, no fireworks, just unselfish caring. It hasn't been hard for me to doing things for others but having them do something for me has been another story or struggle. I have learned to love myself by accepting others love for me. With the practice of unconditional loving kindness and compassion I am learning to love myself unconditionally and with compassion, to accept me just as I accept you. The gradual awakening of self forgetting and self forgiving, makes me available to others and paradoxically to myself. I have to see the difference between people pleasing and honestly caring about others, to say no to people because I love myself enough to not allow me to be hurt by my actions.

Working on understanding how all beings are co-dependent on each other is a work in progress. To follow the Dharma and love those who make me angry or whose actions I disagree with is challenging. Sometimes I just have to break it down to we are all dependent on the same air, water and earth. There is no self, we are all connected my our basic needs. I may not like someone but I should love them because we are apart of each other in the most fundamental way. I can work on doing the smallest of things for those I don't like by simply being kind to them, give them a pleasant greeting and smile, they to need to feel loved and accepted. Those who are always bitching, cutting others down or just seem plain ass miserable are the ones who need a kind smile and greeting the most even if they don't return the jester in kind. The prayer of St. Francis is what this is all about, giving of myself unconditionally to those I care about the most and those who rub me the wrong way. I don't feel there is anything wrong with the old hippie dippy all you need is love philosophy, if we treat each other with kindness, especially those we dislike, then the world will be a better place. It takes practice, each day I am challenged, some days are good some days are bad but the good is become more common than the bad. I had to find the willingness in my heart to pursue this avenue. My sponsor and others have shown me through their actions how to love others and myself because I saw something I needed I became willing to work on change.

I put too much into the word love, just as I did God. Love is a roomy word, something which can't be really pigeon holed. Once I started throwing my preconceived notions of love out the proverbial window my heart and mind became open to love. Coming to turns with love is an opening door to inter peace and true happiness. It won't solve all my problems but the simple act of loving all which is around me, getting out of self, provides a perspective which makes other anxieties less. If I focus on the love and beauty in the world, it takes me out of what I am worrying about, just stop to breath and really focus on the beauty of now and the gifts of love. No matter what happens to me I can know I am loved, I can give love, in doing so all will be well.

Love you all!!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Just somethings

Hey all, just writing because I like to do so every week or so. Angel is asleep on the couch and Carter in the bedroom, I have the t.v. on Nick Jr. which is showing a Franklin the turtle movie, this way when Angel wakes up there is something on she will watch without having to channel surf or her getting upset because Scooby Doo or Bugs Bunny isn't on, she is still to young to understand different shows come on at different times. I am not a big pro football fan so could care less about the super bowl.

The colonoscopy went well, the prep wasn't that bad for me, a lot of people I know complained about drinking the cleansing stuff, I just mixed in some Crystal Lite and drank it as fast as I could, first 2 glasses really fast the other 2 took about an hour, the results didn't bother me either. It was kind of funny because the kids were here and they are my little shadows, so at times I had both kids and even the dog in the bathroom with me, every time I went Carter followed, he would stand by the tub pulling on his shirt thinking Papa was going to give him a bath, he loves taking a bath. My biggest concern was being anesthetized, I have never been put under before, never had surgery. Now grant it I have passed out but never been put to sleep with anesthetics I didn't take myself. My ex and Mich both have a hard coming back around and get a bit sick. It was a rather cool experience, one minute I was talking and the next I was waking up in the recovery room talking to the nurse, I felt really good, think it might have been the drugs they gave me for the procedure, anyway she gave me a cup of coffee and I was good to rock and roll. I didn't over do it after the scope, didn't eat much just some chicken and a bit of candy, rested and watched movies. I am glad I had the colonoscopy done, it really gave me a good piece of mind because I am only 1 year away from 50 and they say colon cancer is a silent killer and I have had stomach troubles off and on for years.

The temperatures have been in the 50's and low 60's up until Friday. Friday started out with rain and by evening it was snowing, by midnight there was probably 6 inches of snow on the ground. One of the young guys at work is from El Salvador, he drives a Civic and lives in a hilly area. I told him when we left work at midnight, they let us go early due to the road conditions, if he had any problems to call me, sure enough he couldn't make it down his road, got stuck but was able to get out and head back to town. I met him at a gas station and took him home, even with the Suburban the road was treacherous. It is nice having the Suburban, knowing I can get around in the snow plus know it will come in handy this summer. We ended up with 10-12 inches of really wet snow, I stayed home all day and vegged out, made chili and brownies to eat on, the plant was closed due to the weather. It may not seem like much to others but spending a day in my house alone and being perfectly happy is a wonderful thing for me. Not that many years ago I would have started drinking early, probably run out, driven icy roads to get more, would have been pouring beer down the pity pot of loneliness and nobody loves me, boo hoo hoo. Somedays it still amazes me the cravings and compulsion to drink are gone, I give thanks every night when I lay my head on my pillow.

This morning at my home group meeting, a portion of We Agnostics was read, I love this chapter in the Big Book. For one it takes me back to how angry I was toward religion when I was drinking, how a major of the people I was associating with in recovery my first time around were very 1 sided on spiritual matters and how I suppressed my thoughts just to feel a part of the groups. I remember reading We Agnostics in treatment and the freedom I felt, the comfort of Bill's words retelling me it was alright to have my own understanding of a God, the realm of the spirit being broad enough for all conceptions of a power greater than ourselves. It also brought me back to a night early in this recovery. I was in a meeting, people were sharing about their God which seemed the same for everyone and I felt really disconnected, just about walked out in frustration. After the meeting I stood outside smoking and thinking about what I had heard, also talked to my sponsor. It was at this meeting I truly understood believing in my own concept of a God, not comparing my feelings about a God concept with what others were sharing, not comparing my insides with their outsides. I believe that night was a make or break point for me in my recovery, I stopped think so hard about what God was or wasn't and stopped comparing myself to others so much, I didn't stop the comparisons just started being more mindful of my comparing and how it make me feel. I still catch myself comparing on occasion but usually now when I do it I am looking closer at where I am falling short in working the steps daily or living a spiritual life. I need the reminders of where I have come from, I also need to share this with others because this morning there were people in the room who were feeling the same way I did 5 years ago.

Life is good in my tiny little speck of the universe. I do have some anxiety going on concerning the job prospect. I have been told I am the top candidate for the position and there are just some things the guy who would be hiring me needs to find out. The guy is the regional sales manager, so he has a lot on his plate which I understand so things will happen in his time not mine. I doubt I am much different than others when I foresee a new avenue possibly happening in my life, I think about the changes to come, ability to hit more meetings and put more time into DCM work, the freedom of weekends off, I am also more aware of muscle and body pains at work focusing my my mind on how I need to get a less physical job. I do my best to focus back in on the moment, to be grateful I have a job which pays my bills. Standing in the hallway waiting to see if a new door is going to come open sucks but it is what it is and I will be alright no matter the outcome. This is just a bit of honest reflection on what is going on within me, I know way too many others who are experiencing far worse challenges in life, these people are in my thoughts and prayers.

Writing this the morning after I started. The kids woke up about 1/2 way through, let them play in the tub together, then just play in the living room. End up with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire being put in, Angel loves most of the Harry Potter movies, Carter played with his ball and didn't get into too much stuff but still kept Papa on his toes. Mich showed up at midnight to get them, Carter was asleep by then and Angel was ready to go home to her bed. She has got to the point where she still loves spending time with Papa but also wants to be home with mommy, Mich was working a lot of late evenings for awhile so both the kids missed being with her.

I am grateful for the life I have, for not have an obsession to drink, for my job, for my daughter and grand babies, for my health, for being able to shovel snow, for my sponsors and friends in recovery and for my friends not in recovery, for the awareness of the beauty of nature, seeing how beautiful the heavy snow is on the trees, for the sweet little dog who lays on my lap or whats to play ball when I get home from work, grateful I can afford a 4 wheel drive to get myself and others around in bad weather, grateful for the acceptance that nothing is permanent, grateful for another day to try my best to live a life based on recovery and Dharma principles, for a hot cup of coffee and a warm shower.

Peace Love Light