Tag Archives: Twelve Steps

I Surrender

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I have to work hard to stay clear,
present, awake, open.
When my beautiful children mention going to dinner
to celebrate their dad’s birthday
with the other woman,
when they say her name,
I just want to vomit.
I want to stomp up and down
and scream out
THIS ISN’T FAIR.
But I’m attending two 12 step meetings
every week now,
and I know enough by now
to turn this one over to my Higher Power.
Now God, show me how to contain myself.
Show me how to be an adult.
Show me how to forgive.
Show me what to do with this sadness.
I give up.
I surrender.
Now can you take this pain away?

The Third Meeting

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I attended
a Co-Dependents Anonymous
meeting the last two Thursday evenings.
They recommend you attend 6-8 meetings
before you make a decision.
The first meeting
I saw myself as superior to everyone there.
The second meeting
I realized that I am everyone there.
I wonder what will happen
at the third meeting.

Longing for Connection

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At the outset of this blog project nearly one year ago, I found myself wanting to explore the idea of creative recovery, how to pierce through the noise of my emotional system and delve into the creative, inspired self that can be expressed outwardly as writer, artist, crafter, teacher, mother, dancer…endless expressions of this indwelling creative spirit embodied as Lorien.

As I began to move through the Twelve Steps with the idea of my creative recovery in mind, I explored the idea of addiction and experiences surrounding this theme in my life; how I perceived my family’s relationship with alcohol, with anger, with hoarding, to name a few.  I started to see how alcohol use and abuse has been normalized within my family, and how choosing not to drink made me part of a slim minority. I am glad to have found clarity though; I didn’t need their approval or support to make this choice–it just seemed like the most loving thing I could do for my body, mind, and the people around me to choose to be substance free.

Having been completely alcohol free for almost a year and a half, I find myself even more sensitive to the use of alcohol in social settings. I don’t miss it, so I’m not worried about a relapse or anything; I never considered myself an alcoholic although I have displayed some unhealthy behaviors during my adult years.

The fact of my being completely sober threw into sharp relief the behaviors of my family members who were drinking, and I found myself wishing for authentic connection with them in the absence of alcohol use.  But how to meet them where they are?  How to be loving, regardless?

Is it unrealistic of me to hope for my family members to choose sobriety?  Is it futile? I want to know them, to be present to them, to listen, but it’s challenging when they are becoming more loud and aggressive with each sip.

Anybody out there have thoughts on being the only sober one in a group of people who are under the influence?

When I Am Ready

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Earlier in the year, I decided to work through the Twelve Steps on my journey toward recovery of my creative self.  For some reason this afternoon, I remembered that project, how I sailed through the first three steps and then stalled at Step 4, which is the moral inventory.  As I continued to mull over the project, I felt the familiar accusatory feelings arising, and I noticed some pretty big players becoming louder and more visible in this head game I have set up for myself.

You never get anything done.  You are so full of ideas but have no discipline to see them through to the end.  You have so many thoughts that a moral inventory would be positively exhausting…you can’t be fixed. Just accept that you will never be fully happy, peaceful, secure–and get back to hiding your deepest feelings…they don’t mean anything anyway.”

Wow. Yikes.  Thank you emotional system for all of that helpful advice. Now it’s time to be brave and cultivate even more radical self-acceptance.  To love the neurotic thoughts, the tired body, the spirit that feels lost and alone.  And then in that space of radical self love and acceptance, now my mind is free to bask in the infinite ocean of being.

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I know what I want to let go of:
greed, pride, shame, pain, blame;
regret, procrastination, envy,
competitiveness;
resistance, fear, depression, isolation,
doubt, anger,  impatience, mistrust,
isolation, frustration, resentment, reactivity–
and any attachment to any specific
person, place, object, mental state,
outcome or experience.

I want to be free.
Show me how to let go of these qualities
and make space for this moment,
to unclutter the mind and savor
the splendor of this moment.

Meeting the hurting places with compassion,
I see that they are just another story I have told myself
And when I am ready to see the truth,
I will.

More Step 4: A Bottomless Can of Worms

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Ok, so I’ve gotten myself into a bit of a pickle with this Step 4 work.  A few of my reader friends brought up some important points in response to one of my last posts, in which I blurted out my feelings of resentment toward my mother and father in quite an abbreviated manner:

I resent my father for all of the clutter he has held on to, for making our home an embarrassment to the rest of us.

I resent my mother for her reactivity, and for her stubbornness, and for her self-righteousness.

Well…it might not be solid step 4 work, but at least it’s another baby step.  This might take a long time.

Admittedly I felt a bit uncomfortable stating my feelings in such a terse way and then offering no explanation.  Most of the discomfort came from wanting to be clear about my responsibility for what I’m feeling–to let everyone know that I don’t see myself as the victim of my parents’ behaviors and resentment as the natural result of that victimization.  Is my perception of my parents accurate?  Is it true?  Or is it a story I’m holding on to because it’s familiar and therefore comforting?  Everything in this world of form is based on perception, and very few people are actually able to engage in observation without interpretation–I am certainly not an exception here.  Most of the time my mind is so full of thoughts that I’m left wondering what reality is, what this moment would be like without my evaluation of it.  And isn’t reality only ever what we make it to be?

Shawn Bird, one of the few people who actually likes every single thing I write (Goddess bless her), aptly articulated what had been swarming in my brain shortly after publishing the post:

Bigger questions:
Why does the clutter embarrass you?
Why does reactivity/self-righteous/stubbornness bother you?
.
What do your feelings about these reveal about you? Because our issues with other people are always really about ourselves, aren’t they?
.
I always figure something I detest in someone else, is something I’m fighting very hard with in myself, which can be simultaneously enlightening and traumatic.
Namaste.

And to her comment I responded:

Yes Shawn, exactly. Thank you. Questions like the ones you asked are exactly why I hesitate to spill my guts in my blog, because it is SO COMPLETELY TRUE that whatever judgments I hold of other people are painful places that I’m not addressing fully in myself. What am I revealing about myself when I make statements like the ones I spat out last night? Not sure if I’m ready for such transparency, such vulnerability. At the same time, if this is the only way the work will get done, might as well roll up my sleeves and do it. Have you heard of The Work of Byron Katie? Immediately thought after publishing, “I could SO turn around these statements and make them equally true about myself.” Yikes. Thanks for your insight.

Now I’ve really opened a whole can of worms.  Any of my feelings could be examined from different angles to reveal all sorts of information about my unconscious self.  To give one feeling enough time to really get to the root of it could take hours, days, weeks…years! Basically what I’m getting at is that I could spend the rest of my blessed life on Step 4 and never really get it all done, whatever “done” means.

Is it enough to simply acknowledge that I harbor feelings of resentment?  Feelings of fear? Of anger?  Maybe I could satisfy the straight A student in me by filling out the nice worksheets, putting them in a file folder labeled “Step 4” and then hold the file, telling myself, “Here it is!  Proof that I have worked through the 4th step!”  Even better would be to have a teacher take my worksheets and grade them…write a big fat A on them, slap some brightly colored stickers on them, pat me on the head, and say, “Good job, Lorien.”  It could happen, but it probably won’t.  Not that I couldn’t convince a teacher that my work is excellent or anything (wink wink)–it’s more the idea that the work of taking a searching and fearless moral inventory will never be over, nor should it be.  Regularly taking stock of my inner world makes me more available to be present in this moment, present with an open, spacious and clear mind.

The goal isn’t to reach a finish line. Willow, another dear reader who takes time to like and respond to my posts (goddess bless her too) commented:

I spent years working on my emotional healing before I grasped (though I’d been told more than once) that it was a journey, not a destination: there wasn’t an issue-free paradise up ahead; instead emotional healing meant I would recognize and deal with my issues much more quickly–and now that that’s happening, it’s more than enough.

If I could shift my perception from a need for resolution and a linear completion of this task and instead move toward acceptance that this work is ongoing, then I might be able to relax about it all, and perhaps even enjoy what the work reveals to me.

Here’s to hoping.  Maybe I’ll take that bottomless can of worms and go fishin’.

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No other moment but this one
Nothing to change or fix
Nowhere else to go,
Nothing else to do,
Nothing to judge, analyze, evaluate or understand.

Just here, just now,
clear sight and the joy of existence
Surrender and discovering the source of peace within–

Let this be enough.
And in this enoughness,
let me know true freedom.

Searching and Fearless

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“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves”
–Step 4 of the Twelve Steps

I just rediscovered some step 4 worksheets that I found back in April, when I thought I was going to continue my regularly scheduled work with the Twelve Steps but then got sidetracked by NaPoWriMo.  It’s late (again) as I sit down to write, and I had every intention of at least starting my step 4 work here tonight, but I honestly don’t know if I have it in me.  What am I waiting for?  Could I just dive right in and begin it?  I suppose I should at least try. What is holding me back?  I think I’m afraid to admit my faults.  I think I’m also afraid to name names, and Step 4 is all about identifying the specific relationships in one’s life that have caused problems like resentment, fear, anger, approval seeking.

There is always the worry that I might get too personal, and perhaps the people in my life might come across my blog and see how I have bared my soul and their behavior for the entire cyber world to see.  And also, who really cares about my fearless and searching moral inventory?  I suppose I do…so maybe I should keep this work in my personal journal, and write about my experiences with the step here?  This step is a toughie.  I flowed through the first three  like nobody’s business, and then arriving at this one is like looking up a sheer rock face 1000 feet high and being asked to climb without rope, harness, or gear to place protection from falling. But I suppose this is just resistance, so maybe I should at least try, like I said before.

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Here’s the first section of the Step 4 worksheets I plan on completing:

Resentment

Resentment is an underlying cause of many forms of spiritual disease. Our mental and physical ills are frequently the direct result of this unhealthy condition. No doubt others have harmed us, and we have a legitimate right to feel resentful. However, resentment doesn’t punish anyone but ourselves. We can’t hold resentments and find healing at the same time. It’s best released by asking God for the strength to forgive the offender. Learning to deal with resentment in a healthy way is an important part of our recovery process.

When we resent, we may be:

* Feeling injured
* Feeling violated
* Feeling left out
* Retaliating
* Experiencing low self-worth
* Angry or bitter

List situations where resentment is a problem for you.

Example: I resent my boss because he doesn’t care to hear my explanation of why I am depressed. This affects my self-esteem. This activates unexpressed anger. This makes me feel even more depressed.

I resent _________________________________________________________________

I resent _________________________________________________________________

I resent _________________________________________________________________

I resent _________________________________________________________________

Self evaluation: On a scale from one to ten, how much does resentment negatively affect your life? Number one indicates that it has little effect. Number ten indicates that it has great negative effect. Circle where you are today.

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Yikes, I don’t think I can just say out loud “I resent so and so.” I mean, like I mentioned before, if I mention a person (sister, father, mother, husband, boss) then don’t I run the risk of their eventually coming across this blog and feeling violated by my candor?

Sticking to my journal for this work is probably the safest bet.  But will I really do it?  Isn’t part of this work sharing it with others so that they may help hold me accountable?

Okay, I can share at least one of my resentments:

I resent myself for the stupid choices I made in the past.  I wish I could’ve been more aware and not made so many mistakes.  

There, baby steps…one foot ahead of the other.  Maybe I will take another baby step tomorrow.  But for now a poem, and then another attempt at evening meditation.

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Searching and fearless?
Searching and fearful, more like it.
Right in the moment that I proclaim my readiness,
the inner saboteur shows up and gives me every reason to put on the brakes,
to stop,
to shut down,
to clam up,
to minimize the importance of this task.

Even though I’m not drinking,
not doing drugs,
not addicted to sex, or food, or shopping–
there is some addiction somewhere,
and it shows up whenever I want to grow a little bigger,
challenge myself a little more.

I could call the addiction anger
I could call it resentment
I could call it many names,
but the names don’t matter.
How you can assign words to a feeling that exists beyond the rational mind?

Maybe it’s time to let myself feel the resentment, the hurt…
there is no hurry to heal
why try to prod the broken areas meanly
and then shout at them for hurting?
why not allow a soothing balm–
some compassion, some encouragement,
some lovingkindess–
and in this nurturing place allow the healing to flow
like the seasons flow, like the rivers, like the wind?

I have time to heal this old wound.
May I find the patience to work through it
and come out the other side stronger
and more loving than ever.

Whatever Is, Is

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I'm a lover, not a fighter...

I’m a lover, not a fighter…

I’m going to try to be brief. I wrote out my emotional angst in my journal, so I’m feeling a little lighter now…and am not seeking catharsis in this post.  It’s time for bed, and there is much left undone–but it’s time for bed, and so it will all have to wait.
On the agenda for the near future:

My fearless moral inventory (Step 4), which was completely put on the back burner for NaPoWriMo, and which was conveniently never picked back up again.  Maybe some of you will recall that I decided in February to work through the Twelve Steps in an effort to reclaim my creative self, and I was planning on working through a step a month to give myself some kind of scope for an entire year of daily posts.  The one step a month thing completely fell through in April, but this doesn’t mean I won’t do the work, because I can see it is good work and may prove valuable to my journey as a creative being.

Although I never really considered myself to be an addict, I decided it would make things clearer to be completely substance free, and this August will mark a whole year of no Bacchanalian libations. My family has a history of substance abuse, and so they think I’m completely crazy for not drinking.  Ah well…

Anyway, as I was about to write this post, I remembered a passage from the introduction to Coleman Barks’s A Year With Rumi in which he gives us Galway Kinell’s poem “Prayer” to consider:

Whatever happens. Whatever
what is is is what
I want. Only that. But that.

And then Barks proceeds to gush over it:

It is joyfully scientific, this pared-down, vast, three-ises-in-a-row petition of Galway’s.  The world is so amazingly interesting, I want to be completely here for its moment.  That longing is the truth I try to follow, rather than a religion’s iconography.  Watch an astronomer or a molecular biologist at work, an estuarist opening the net he has pulled up out of Doboy Sound.  They glow as the facts of the world surface.

You can see from my drawing above that I didn’t remember the exact quote from Kinnell’s poem, but the idea is still the same.  I will not fight reality, because as Byron Katie says, “Fighting reality hurts, but only 100% of the time.”  I want to want exactly what is happening now.  From the place of non-resistance comes the clarity to choose the best path, or at least the best next step on the path.

So I keep my thought as I move into my meditation–Whatever is, is…

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I am here, now
It doesn’t matter if my mind wandered a hundred times in the last minute–
Now, in this moment, I can be aware of this one breath in,
this one breath out.

Beyond the chatter of my mind,
there is this beautiful world, this life
this body plodding faithfully along,
the good friend that it is,
and for this moment I am grateful for what I have.

Yes, there is a long way to go,
or so my mind says–
but if I stop and really see,
I’ll remember that there is no distance
There is no time
It all unfolds in this now
And in this space of clear sight
I fall in love with the moment, exactly as it is.