The Journey, Unteach Me

A Child of God

Asking God to help me see my life from His perspective is what truly helped me. I went back forty years, to when I was lost in that awkward limbo between childhood and adulthood, and serious issues consumed my thoughts. I was convinced that no one would EVER understand what was going on in my head. I was the odd man out, the outsider, and a teenage misfit. I just didn’t fit in anywhere, and it was too risky to try.

I let fear win.

How I saw things now was that a curious young girl stood before me—full of intriguing thoughts and questions about life—and I silenced her. I introduced her to alcohol to help ease her angst, and we hit the fast-forward button. We raced into the adult world- totally unprepared.

What I came to realize was that, although my outward appearance had changed, that child had lived on. She carried-on in protest like a rebel without a cause—always reminding me that I was not like everyone else, and that I’d never measure up in this world.

I stamped the “reject” label on her myself, years ago, and she carried that stigma for decades. I was my own worst enemy! That’s probably when my recovery process really started to take hold. I visualized this younger me, and thought about what I could say to her…

You are loved, and you are worthy. You’re not different; you just see the world differently. That doesn’t make you less, it makes you unique. Be strong. Be courageous. Trust your Creator. He is with you wherever you go.

I embraced my inner child, and I told her these things. And then… I whispered to her the words that have never failed to see me through the darkest of days…..

You are a child of God.

See how very much our Father loves us, for he calls us his children, and that is what we are! 1  John  3:1

 

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The Journey, Unteach Me

A Step Forward

There’s a term pink cloud that refers to a state of mind in early sobriety, characterized by extreme happiness and grandiosity, in spite of problematic conditions. The newly sober person feels high on life because they’re experiencing emotions that were previously numbed by alcohol.

Once I read up on the subject, I knew it was time to take a harder look at myself. Not to mention the fact that a couple of my longtime sober friends expressed their frustration with me, uttering cries that I “wasn’t getting it!”

Needless to say, I was booted off of my big cushy cloud. Fortunately I didn’t plummet and hit the ground exploding, but I DID crash land. Rather uncomfortably, I might add. It appears I don’t handle criticism very well.

After I picked myself up, I realized that I’d been holding onto an optimistic delusion about recovery. Every time I managed to “get” sober, I considered the crisis over, and deemed the problem solved. I’d frolic around—reveling in my sobriety—and never REALLY attempt to change. Given my previous track record, it’s obvious that this was NOT accurate thinking.

Getting sober is indisputably something to celebrate and be joyous about, but there’s endless toil involved in staying, and living sober… and I continually refused to deal with it by hiding out in a cloud of denial.

Gil suggested, numerous times, that l focus my efforts on community—rather than romantic interests—to help combat my loneliness and cultivate a healthier lifestyle… but I kept sweeping that whole notion under the rug. Did I mention I’m stubborn?

Not surprising, lack of a sense of camaraderie was the underlying reason I felt so isolated. What I had failed to recognize was that being part of an assemblage was not just something to consider, it was NECESSARY.

My friends did me a HUGE favor by confronting me about my lackadaisical attitude. Their rigorous honesty turned out to be my saving grace. If they hadn’t challenged me, I might still be up on my diva-like pink throne… daydreaming about another fish to fry, and buying time until my next fall.

I started attending meetings and gained a sense of connectedness that I had never felt before. The loneliness that had tormented me was diminishing. I guess you could say that God blessed me with WAY more than a desire to quit drinking. He provided an entire rescue team. Like-minded people who want to stay sober, and help others do the same.

And my foot was in the door.

Next Up: A Child of God

Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. Tip toe if you must, but take a step. Naeem Callaway

 

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The Journey, Unteach Me

The Great Escape

It may seem odd that I always look on the bright side of things, but that’s how I roll. I’m an optimist ninety-eight percent of the time.

I don’t enjoy writing the other two percent of the time, when I’m feeling down and out. I don’t even like thinking about the times when I wanted to give up. The nights when I wondered why I was still breathing. It seemed like my life was meaningless, and I had nothing left to offer.

That’s how I felt when I had to move. I had lost my job that paid my rent, and I had no other options. I don’t think I need to explain why I lost my job; it’s pretty self-explanatory.

I hated the idea of moving. I had spent a year and a half decorating my place with second hand treasures, and I was SO proud. I LOVED my things! I never spent enough money on things to merit paying for storage though, so I knew I’d have to let so much of it go.

I cried for days!

But…I was miserable living there! My friend Sherry pointed that out to me, and she was right. I realized that my “things” were holding me hostage. I had created my own prison, trying to hold on to all of that stuff, and now the shackles were coming off. I gave away almost all of my furniture to family, friends, neighbors and the Goodwill.

The day that I watched my son’s truck drive off, full of my old belongings, the sun peeked through the clouds and lit up my face. It felt SO beautiful! I realized how long it had been since I had enjoyed the outdoors, and I felt a remotely familiar feeling. That feeling that I get when I’m on a road trip…

Like the morning that I woke up in Colorado, when it was so eerily quiet that I could hear a pin drop… and I realized that tiny snowflakes had silently covered the entire landscape overnight—with a beautiful white canopy. And that moment when I was sitting on the trailer porch in Arizona… and the night suddenly looked like day as thousands of lightning bolts lit up the sky at once. Or while driving through Utah, when my car was swallowed up by deep canyons, sheer cliffs and majestic rock formations.

That feeling that life is just as it should be. No tangible explanations, no concrete answers… just an awe-inspiring, indescribable understanding that everything outside of that moment is insignificant, and that God has everything under control.

So… with palms up, I looked to the sky and offered a silent prayer of gratitude.

I was ready to soar.

Next Up: A Step Forward

But those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31

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The Journey, Unteach Me

Through God’s Eyes

There was something else on my mind when I first contacted my friend Gil. I was trapped in that little world that I call SELF and I knew that I needed to get out of there. I wanted to make a contribution to this world.

I’m going to back up and talk about the man that I saw for four months, who finally admitted he lived with a woman. I actually mentioned to him that I’d written about him in my story. I had to assure him that he was anonymous just to bring some color back into his face (and later I learned why!). Anyway, he had hopes that I likened his character to Chuck Norris, but I’m going to call him your average “Joe”.

It was never my intention to present a one-sided version of this particular saga. Obviously he was dead wrong to withhold that crucial piece of information from me, but in spite of THAT, there are some really nice things I could say about Joe.

We had many laughs together, he listened to me talk incessantly, and he encouraged me a lot. We shared stories about our hardships, past and present, and there were things he told me about himself that left me with a heavy heart, full of compassion.

I’m not an idiot. I knew something was amiss from the very beginning, but I chose to ignore it. I wasn’t ready to face reality, I guess. I was living in fantasy land and was perfectly happy there… for a while.

My point is… I read something once—I think it was in a Philip Yancey book—about the way we see people when we are falling in love. We put all of our focus on what’s good in them, and overlook the bad. He compares it to how God sees us. Everyone has flaws, and we all make bad decisions, but God looks right through our defects and deep into our hearts.

I set out on this journey hoping to make a difference in the world. Perhaps imagining how people look through God’s eyes was helping me grasp that things aren’t always black and white. I was learning to appreciate the bigger picture, where the two extremes merge together to create countless shades of gray.

Anyway, I wasn’t trying to throw Joe overboard, or under the bus for that matter. I stopped seeing him, of course, but I have no anger. He’s only human, and he has a story. Everyone has a story.

Maybe we all just need to be heard.

Next Up: The Great Escape

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you. Maya Angelou

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