Sunday, August 20, 2017

My first beer - The voice in my head - Finding happiness

I am off this weekend and working on various things that peak my interest.  On Monday I hired a friend from the program to trim the one huge tree I own that grows about six feet from my front door. He agreed to do the work on Friday and at one o'clock I hadn't heard from him. I text him and he said he would be there by 3:30 by that time I had to leave to meet a client at the office.

This use to make me nuts this kind of personality but now I just let things flow if his schedule works with mine then it will get done. I text back that as long as he did not need me then he was welcome to come whenever he wanted. We are both in recovery and have worked together before so I know to just let it go.

My theory about recovery, both sides of the table, is that we are all too smart. We have quick minds that work against us most of the time. Our minds constantly need a challenge something to solve something to entertain us.  If we don't have that our minds drift to the negative or create crisis. Once this happens we can focus on fixing the problem or if it can't be fixed we can spiral into asking why we did this and why we are so stupid.  Once this talk starts it can take over an paralyze the body a constant loop of self-hatred and we all look for a way out.

I imagine for the addicted that the substance of choice gave a moment of relief from that voice. Even though I am not addicted to alcohol I remember being 15 years old and having my first beer. As the liquid went down throat I could already feel a sense of relief.

The years between my mothers death and when I left home are still the worst years of my life. I was trapped in an emotional situation that was unbearable in so many ways.  I was too young and could not escape.  I had done everything I knew to make my dad and his wife happy but nothing was enough. I blamed myself because I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. When I drank that first beer all that stress melted away. It was only one beer but I got a taste of freedom from my own mind.

What that teenager didn't know was that it wasn't me it was two immature adults stuck in their own self absorbed world. I thought it was all about me, as most teenagers do, I was sure if only I changed my behavior I could fix the problem.  They would love me and we would all be happy. I had the power.

I took both of these beliefs into my adult world. First I have been immature myself in thinking that everything is about me  The second is that everything is my fault and I have the power to fix it. If something bad happens then it is a result of something I did. This has been the theme of my life. I have been a self-improvement junky because I believe if I change I can keep the next bad thing from happening. What a mind trap.

The 12 steps and every other spiritual quest I have been on helped me to first and foremost identify that I actually have a negative voice inside. The child's voice that still blames me for anything unpleasant that happens. It is that voice that becomes unhappy when I am bored or lonely and lashes out with words that only a child would use. "This is your fault".

I get it now. Oh how I wish I had gotten it sooner but better late than never. The program taught me to tame the voice - make friends with voice. It taught me to be more mature on the outside and take responsibility for my part in every sick situation. What was holding me back was that my core beliefs were a child's belief that everything is my fault. Your parents are unhappy then it is your fault.

This all came up because my tree trimmer is a brooding man. He told me he hasn't been to any meetings for awhile that he has been a recluse. I know he has had problems with depression the same as I have. I also know that him not arriving on time is his rebellious child in him. It doesn't bother me. I talked to him about our child's mind running the show. To not listen to the negative talk I hope it helped.

My own addiction has been trying to find out what is wrong with me so I can fix it. Today I am happy because the voice is quiet. We are free to play and do whatever we want to it is the weekend and we are getting stuff done.  We are all trapped with the child's voice and making peace with it is the only way to find happiness.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Magical powers - Intuition - worst critic

There has been a little lull in the action at work the past couple of weeks. The quiet has generated some fear about my security. I have push that away and decided to take this time to purge old files at both my current position and at home purging files from my closed company.  It feels like "This is Your Life" or "This was Your Life" depending which boxes.

I started with the more recent boxes from the old business which was during the end of the recession. Those jobs were mostly small jobs and for me thy represented some of the worst times in the business.  Since I packed up in one weekend I didn't have time to look at much of anything.  This seems like a familiar theme in my life leaving in a hurry. I had all the bids I gave whether I got the job or not.  The time I wasted on jobs that I knew in my heart would never happen. I needed them to happen to survive or so I thought.

I was new in the business and the times they were desperate and I had to at least try to close anything that came to me.  I am older and wiser these days and instinctively I know when I should pass on a customer even if sometimes I don't.  My intuition is good but sometimes I take a chance even if I know it is a long shot. This way I don't take it personally if it doesn't work out.

When going through these files I only saw my problem customers. The jobs where the people were difficult to begin with and I couldn't magically make them happy.  I skipped over the people that loved what I did for them and ended up with something better than they imagined.  I only saw my own short comings what I could have done differently.

When I am my worst critic it is because I believe if only I had been a little more on my game things would have turned out differently. It always puts the control back on me instead of all parties involved.  At the time I wanted to believe that I had magical powers and could make these people happy if only...this thinking leads me to "I am not enough" a core belief I have fought most of my life.

After the second box I felt I needed help so I turned to an old stand by on YouTube a teacher named Gangaji. The first video she said it  "We will never be enough" stop this endless search for perfection. Life is not about the destination of "being enough" the search for this feeling exhaust us and keeps us from loving the life we have. Seeing was is right with our world. Lost our thoughts instead of what is in front of us. I needed to hear it. My thoughts about myself were making me miserable.

Today I woke up lighter.  This is a pattern I have noticed about myself I take a dip and then I have another awakening and I am ready to move on.  I have learned or re-learned something and now I can stop taking myself so seriously.

I realize again that whatever happens isn't always about me.  I am not the center of the universe. All I can do is be my best self and let other people do the same and if it works out great if it doesn't just move on. The good news is that I only have three boxes left. UGH!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Graves - Tragedy and Denial

I was looking for an old receipt for my shower unit and came across some paperwork of my deceased aunt where she had been sued over the family section of the cemetery. I had forgotten about this but it was a very big deal for her.

My mothers family is from a small town that still has only one light,  After my grandmothers death she decided that the family area of the cemetery should be spruced up. She had a concrete border poured around it and gravel filled it in.  She was really proud of the work and thought that at last she did something for her family.

She received a letter from an attorney stating that she had covered over the graves of another family. A local family that claimed their brother and still born child were buried there. The family still lived there and the matriarch of the family who had dementia became disturbed by the change at the cemetery and wanted it changed back.

My aunts paperwork had a neatly drawn layout showing the graves and the people they believed were in them. I also found records of funeral provided by the funeral home for almost everyone buried there after 1930. Before that it was here say and children were buried on top of other graves which is why we had this dispute..

My aunt her small town in shame.  Her husband left her for another woman the first year she was married.  She was pregnant and after the baby was born she got a divorce and left town leaving her baby with my grandmother. She moved to the closest town and found work waitressing sending money home. An escape from that small town where she was disgraced. She never went back.

Her son died of dysentery at the age of two in the care of my grandmother. My aunt was never the same after that. She stayed in the city working. She meet my uncle a navy pilot. He wore a uniform and drove a red convertible. She had movie star looks and he was in love. They married and she moved about as far north as you can in this country.

Over the years she created a carbon copy of the life she saw on TV right down to the Cape Cod house with the white picket fence. They were not able to have children so they adopted a boy and a girl exactly one year apart both blond. He golfed they belonged to the country club and on the outside it looked perfect. Over the years she built a delusional fortress around herself that could no one penetrated.

Her baby was buried in that cemetery and I imagine that was what drove her to put such effort into fixing it up. She was nearing the end of her life and she wasn't mobile. Everything she did concerning the lawsuit she did over the phone.  She denied the one request from the other family to remove the headstone over the grave of one of there members. Her 4 year old sister was buried there. She refused.

They went to trial with a jury and everything. It wasn't a jury of her peers to them she was just some highfaluting northerner getting into southerners business. She lost and was required to remove the gravel covering and head stones over the disputed graves. She didn't do it and I am guessing that because of the age of everyone involved it never got done.

My aunt was cold and unloving to her husband and her children and frankly to everyone that tried to make her see life in a truthful way. Her two kids were emotionally disturbed to start with and she never really bonded with them. Her son turned to alcohol and her daughter has had a tragic life. She stayed in denial until her death. No one came to the funeral but myself and her caregiver.

I was the closest to her (except her caregiver) at the end of her life. She was more likeable to strangers than those of us who knew the path of destruction she left behind. Literally crushing the people close to her daily with her words.  I was her favorite mostly because I didn't anything from her money or even approval. I can't say back then I had compassion for her like I do today.

Before she died we set up a trust together for her kids and one grandchild. They don't live in luxury but they are not homeless like they have been. She often told them they should be like me. When I was getting my interior design degree she told everyone I was going to law school. To her lawyers, doctors and nurses were stars and so in her mind I had to be a lawyer. I am real popular with her kids.

She was the first born and my mother was the last.  She moved back to the city where she waitressed and that is where I live now. I distanced myself from her until after my uncle died it was too painful to see how unhappy they were and how things got worse as they aged. I spent one day a week there bringing her back into reality for just one day. I was the heavy and she fought me all the way.  She never left her world of denial and in the end she died peacefully. She told me that she was seeing Jesus and other family members that had gone on before her.

When she died we buried her in that same little cemetery in the deep south. Not in the area where she did the improvements but off to the side.  That is appropriate because the rest of the family might just come to life and get up and leave.

Life can be so hard that your mind guards you from reality.  When we can't accept that life didn't turn out like we imagined or some dream we had has been shattered we do our best to survive first and then if we are lucky we get help. We can't rely on our own mind to always tell us the truth. My aunt suffered her whole life and died basically alone it didn't have to be like that.


Monday, July 31, 2017

Inventory - Imagine - spaces

I was cleaning my garage yesterday an idea I had at the spur of the moment. It was raining and windy so the temperature was acceptable. Every time I take on something like this it feels like I am taking an inventory of my life. Everything out there represents a time in my life or person or worse some unfinished project. Up until now I haven't felt safe enough to let go of much of anything.

I try to tell myself it is because I am creative person and like to have all this stuff incase the spirit moves me and I think of something cool to do with it. But in reality I don't like waste of any kind so if I think something needs to be saved for repurposing then I keep it. 

When I moved into this house my spirit had been shattered. I didn't have time to look at anything and I packed everything or I should say my friends packed everything. Over the years I have gotten rid of the obvious junk but never the stuff that I imagined I might need.  

I thought something would happen in my life that would make it clear what I would need to keep and what I should let go.  Ironically the physical path works just like the spiritual path slow and steady. We are only able to see a short way in front of us most the time so we have be happy with just moving forward.  We can imagine a big bold folk in the road with a clear sign "go this way" we can even force a big move on ourselves but we always end up right here with ourselves doing what we are doing today. 

I use to think what happened to me was unique.  This is before I grew up and realized what has happened to me wasn't a direct result of who I am it is just life. During my own inventory I was able to see how the people I chose reflected the way I felt myself.  I have been able to see my own desperate need to find validation gave away my own power. Thinking that my own worth was based on whether you loved me if you do then I am lovable but if you don't then I am not. 

I did have to change in order to love myself the way I wanted to be loved. I had to give up the dependence I had on the opinions of others. I now have to face everyday what scares me even if that is the story I have about each piece of junk I have in my garage. They represent the past which makes me think about how I got here and the people I have lost.  

Taking an inventory of "my stuff" spiritually and in this case physically gives me the chance to see where I have been and what I am now willing to let go of.  I can make space for something new or I can just make space to just breath. 

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Acceptance - Heartbreaking - Running

Acceptance is something that has been forced upon me over the years.  I always felt when people talked about it that it seemed like giving up or at least giving in to unacceptable circumstances.  Now I feel my own lack of acceptance at any given time really is the source of my unhappiness.

My thoughts were always "I don't want this to be happening to me right now" or "I don't want to feel this way right now".  At this point I usually run as fast as I can towards any distraction instead of just sitting with the uncomfortable feelings I am having.

This week my friends daughter was diagnosed with something bad. She is a recovering addict for eight years from crack and other things. They say her situation is terminal and short term. Everyone is in shock and trying to find their place in this new situation. Her mother my friend has Parkinson's and her daughter and her husband moved here to help look after her as he illness progresses.  What now?

Life isn't fair and it is so random.  I use to think that if I did everything right then I could keep the bad stuff at bay. We have spiritual beliefs that give us the illusion that with the right behavior and mind set we can protect ourselves from our worst imagined fears.  These beliefs do give us support during our transition from shock to acceptance but life just keeps happening.

Acceptance is all we have when life is heartbreaking if we push back we miss the moments that are happening now. The spaces of happiness that can be found every day.  The weekend before we got this tragic news a few of us had gone to new local restaurant. It was a beautiful night with breezes blowing in July so we sat outside. The food was great it was the perfect night. None of us could imagine what the next week would bring. We all soaked it up and something perfect to remember.

I do believe in the spiritual and my search for it has brought me back from what felt like was permanent darkness. The power of the spiritual is that we can open ourselves up to life as it happens instead of running.

We don't want to waste time standing with our backs against the wall bracing ourselves for the next impact.  We have to let life wash over us knowing that it is not our fault it is just life.  Blaming ourselves or anyone else is just away of running from what is and thinking we can control might come next.

Acceptance can give us moments of peace to see what is right in front of us. To see what is going on with the person sitting right there in front of right now what comfort do they need. Instead of wasting time being miserable about the future we will have plenty of time for that when it comes.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Spaces - Being alone - stay cation

I took the week of the 4th off.  I decided at the last minute and figured that I had jury duty on Monday and the whole country was off on Tuesday and everyone else could live without me for the three remaining days.  The idea of being on my own for that amount of time up until now terrified me. I am not even that great for a long weekend too much time to think but this week was different.

I didn't plan anything unless you count jury duty which was planned for me.  Luckily they all decided to settle after we waited at the courthouse for a few hours.  We never actually made to the rooms where they question you trying to find out you prejudices. A judge came out and read us parts of the Declaration of Independence to fill our time while the lawyers were trying to settle things. I figure they all had plans for the 4th and just wanted to get out of there. We lucked out.

The theme for my week off was spaces.  I read once when hanging art that each piece should have a certain amount of space around it to let the viewers eyes rest and contemplate on what was in front of them.  This is what I did for the week I left space and time to just float around doing anything that might interest me.

Being a person with ADD in order to accomplish anything I have to stay focused on a specific task and put blinders on to keep the visual (shinny pennies) or auditory (conversation of others) at bay. I start something and I just stay with it until I am finished. It takes me longer sometimes but it works for me not to multi-task and on my best days I get it all done.

My point is the week I was off I just did what every task my mind was interested in even if it was only five minutes. It was pure joy just running from one thing to another without a plan. When I got tired I would sit on the porch and wait for the next urge. I planted - I cleaned - did some art - watch some TV and started a book.  I wasn't a hermit I spent the 4th with a friend - Friday shopping with a friend from work and Sunday hiking with a friend from the past.

It was the best stay cation ever for me.  I had considered going to see my sister but the timing did not fill right for me or for her. In my moments or spaces of contemplation I looked at the big picture of my life and felt happy to be me again.  It feels strange to be a better and stronger person than I was when I started this blog. I was wounded by life and I thought those wounds were permanent but this was a limited perspective. A wounded perspective that only time has healed.

I know there are a lot of people out there suffering like I did and when I meet them I know not to take their actions towards me personally. I don't know what they have endured that has made them who they are today but it has nothing to do with me. I can listen and if I need to I can stand up for myself this keeps resentments at bay. But mostly I can remember what I have been through and know that I haven't always been at my best either and hope they will find peace.

I feel lucky that my sub-conscious mind was always looking for a way out of my paralyzing depression and the years of self help and 12-steps stored there helped me to find my way back.

Today I am seeing the spaces in my life and deciding what I want to fill them with. Each day seems like a promise something to look forward to instead of something to fear. I am so grateful.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Baggage - Freedom

I was watched a lizard crawling across a horizontal support on the porch this morning.  He had a clump of debris around one of his back legs.  He just kept going and didn't seem to notice even though it was slowing him down and making his movements a  little awkward.  This made me think of how we sometimes carry so much obvious baggage that others can see so clearly but we just can't see it ourselves.  We just keep moving although very slow ignoring the obvious.

The week it was announced that someone is leaving from the company. A person I don't know well but they affect everything that happens in our world. A brilliant person that exudes so much anger that it infects everyone.  I have often wondered what story are they telling themselves to make them so unhappy. Their life from the outside is enviable to most peoples standards but that doesn't mean anything.  It is that inside story that controls our day to day happiness.

For me it was and still is sometimes that I am not lovable. I am somehow damaged throughout my life this has made me try harder to be liked and with those closest to me I would do anything to secure that love. Since I have found that this doesn't work, love cannot be secured,  today this idea makes me do less to please. I have dropped out of the social world all together. I don't really notice it that much unless it is a holiday and generally just doing my own thing makes me happy.

I do worry that if I was to go missing it would take awhile for anyone to find me. I have been evaluating the relationships I do have and seeing that there is something missing. Recently after seeing a terrible accident I called someone I barely knew at work instead of my closer friends. This made me sad and missing more intimate relationships.  I use to be the person called in a crisis but now no one calls me and I don't call them.

I know this is all selfish talk here and if I live long enough I will work through this and find the intimacy that I am looking for or not. It doesn't escape me that you get back what you put out there and being more selfless would conjure up more of what I think I want. I will get there eventually.

This week I am taking time off.  I have been sick this past month and the timing seems as right as it is going to be.  Tomorrow I have jury duty at 8am downtown but the rest of the week looks open.

Before the announcement at work I have been praying that person. I have been imagining light and happiness surrounding them. All our pain is in our heads and the baggage can be dealt with if we stop long enough to look at it and know that it is our thoughts that make us suffer.  We run so fast thinking we can out run it and all the while dragging it with us. Just like that lizard.