Category Archives: addiction

Self-Help Junkie

Standard

I ordered more self-help books today…
they’ve been my drug of choice
since June.
I keep believing
someone else has found
the clear path to my healing.
I’m searching
for the recipe
the strategy
the tip
the trick
the magical incantation
the mantra
the meditation
the process
the 40 day workbook
the online program
the teacher, speaker, or coach
to help me feel ok
about my life,  my self.
The hungry ghost looms large;
its insatiable appetite aches loudly.
I am overcome by everything.
I start to believe
that some mistake was made
when I came to Earth,
because clearly
I wasn’t meant for this world.
I pick up another self-help book.
Oh, someone else feels this way too?
I find some hope, some solace,
one moment of respite.
There are worse addictions.

Friends With Them All

Standard

Make friends with your feelings
even the ones that send you
reaching for a beer
or a cigarrette
or shopping
or a TV show
or bon-bons–
make friends with those feelings
especially.
When you can sit with the discomfort
for even a second longer
than you ever have before,
that is one second closer to awakening.
Instead of seeking alternatives
to the present moment,
can you be a little more present
to this moment’s unfolding?
Right here, this is where the juice is.
Right now, the beating heart.
This life is now,
in whatever form it is currently taking,
in whatever feelings are making
their way from your heart to your brain
and back again,
just listen.
Make friends with them all.

Never Broken

Standard

The only reason that we don’t open our hearts and minds to other people is that they trigger confusion in us that we don’t feel brave enough or sane enough to deal with.  To the degree that we look clearly and compassionately at ourselves, we feel confident and fearless about looking into someone else’s eyes.
–Pema Chodron

Standing in the middle
of my own discomfort,
just watching and waiting
instead of lashing out,
I feel the parts of me
that I once disowned
clamoring for my attention.
What do I do?
What do I say?
Instead of taking a drink
or turning on the TV
or eating something
or shopping
or playing a game
or smoking something
or going to sleep
or running away
I just sit,
and I let myself feel this discomfort.
As I come to know
this energy of unrest
I see a small child
who doesn’t understand
why the world asks
her to be other than who she is,
smaller than who she is…
I see her sadness
and I mourn for her.
I tell her that she is okay.
She starts to believe me.

Hand in hand
we turn and face the world
together.
We aren’t waiting for the world
to make us feel complete.
We look out with the eyes
of compassion
and our vision softens our experience.
We can be in this world
with all the broken pieces
and sense the inherent wholeness,
that which can never be broken.

Yay Sobriety

Standard

This happened.

My mother, father,
sister and her boyfriend,
my husband and children
were sitting in a nice restaurant
to celebrate my birthday.

Some of you know
I have chosen
to not imbibe the fermented fruit of the vine,
and you also must know
that this puts me in the minority
of the adult population.

So I, my daughter, and son
sipped on our water,
while the five other adults drank,
two of them to excess.

I attended to my children,
enjoyed giving them bites
of delicious food,
sharing my salad and entree with them,
engaging them in conversation.

My husband,
bless his heart,
and to his credit,
did make an effort to engage with me
between sips of beer,
and we exchanged some pleasant words
in the course of the dinner.
He only had two beers and a glass of champagne.
Surely, this is moderation, is it not?

But inside, I felt lonely.
This was supposed to be my birthday celebration,
and the adults were focusing on their booze,
becoming loud, intoxicated…

I found myself looking around
at the others in the restaurant,
wondering about their conversations,
guessing that they were surely
more interesting
than what was unfolding at my table.

My family,
with its history of alcoholism,
couldn’t help itself.
The alcoholism had to follow us into this dinner,
even though the guest of honor
doesn’t drink.

What would you do,
if you felt lonely at your birthday dinner?
Would you have put your foot down?
Would you have said something?
Would you have withdrawn?

I tried to be kind and present,
but I couldn’t help feeling wistful.

Afterwards my sister was belligerent,
verbally aggressive…
because this is what happens when she drinks too much.
She yelled, gestured,
said she didn’t need anything from anyone,
and passed out in my bathroom.
She has done this many times before.
I wish I could help her,
but I know that I can’t.
She needs to help herself first.

And now, more than ever,
I see that my sobriety,
my clarity,
my lucidity,
my health
is one of the greatest birthday gifts
I can offer to myself…
and to the world.

Yay, sobriety.

The First Crocus

Standard

A dear yoga student and friend
shared with me the news
of a young man, twenty-three
who after many attempts
at sobriety
put so many chemicals
into his veins last night,
his body could no longer fight,
and his breathing
slowed down so far
that now he breathes no more.

Twenty three
with a whole life ahead
and now gone from the chemicals
and the struggle,
the addiction,
set free from these
and hopefully to find
sweet repose
and eternal peace
yes
but he is also now gone
from the first signs
that spring is finally here,
when winter’s chill
gives way to the first crocus
poking up through the still cold earth
to tell us,
“There is always hope.”