one thing i have come to know closely this last onth is that when i make efforts to change and the universe responds, well then thing are going to be different. damn! it is not easy to be different. it is easier to grow into being different. and of course that’s what happens when we change. we grow. and there is a death. and a dirge. and a birth.
tara branch’s quote is precisely reflecting my conundrum du jour. if i am to change, how best can i do this with true healthy change in view? how can i not make emotional decisions?
the really numbing aspect to this is its familiarity. i am hardly an ingenue and yet i seem to do-si-do myself into the same position emotionally over and over like a choreographed bit on a network tv show blah-blah. it’s a little bit flashy and interesting to watch for a minute, but the experience becomes empty and flat after a short time.
When we undertake the practice of forgiveness we find a portal to grace. A window to acceptance. We find at the core of every heartbreak, every betrayal, every event that we feel victimized by, every person we feel has harmed us, and every person we feel we may have harmed, that what we truly have been seeking is forgiveness of ourselves.
In times of sadness, deep grace, anger, happiness, gratitude and confusion it is helpful to incorporate forgiveness into our daily lives. This is the oil that runs the machine of our hearts. When the doors of the heart rage and threaten to close it is us who suffer and not who we feel is the justful target of whatever has happened. Forgiveness stokes the flames of beauty that live within our hearts. Saying this Forgiveness prayer in all situations can have beneficial healing effects. As Jack Kornfield says: “Forgiveness makes our hearts grow sweeter.”
i met bill when he first moved to denver from wisconsin. he joined the lgbt mixed chorus harmony of which i was also a member. he is a baritone, i a tenor, so we didn’t hang together very much during rehearsals. but about 5 of us co-hosted the parties at the seasonal retreats. those parties were epic- at least for colorado. we were traveling on different tracks in different circles but still in the same orbit. i had already begun my big spin.
in retrospect, i realize that the 1990’s were like a candle burning at both ends. i was running a travel company for an uncle and his college buddy. at the same time my immune system was disintegrating quickly from the stress of my working style and daily alcohol overuse. in 1996, i got my 2nd colorado dui, had a nervous breakdown, started on the new “hiv cocktail” and gotten frustrated with my work partners and decided to quit and move on.
after i started the protease inhibitor, i felt healthier and more energetic that i had in years. i had also spent most of 1997 completely sober due to my court treatment. i remember being very angry and very confused. i had been pushing so hard for years to not let the onset of AIDS get me. now i found myself no longer in need of that motivation. i was lost and i felt empty. at a time in my life when i should have been rejoicing because i was no longer going to die, i felt lost and without direction. anger and denial had been my compass for so long.
in classic bi-polar mode, 1997 began the rhythmic and calculated deconstruction of a stable life, and the insidiously stealth overthrow of normalcy by my internal tendency to disconnect. in my zeal to run, san francisco became the aim for the desperate trauma-driven slingshot. and it was only a matter of time till the complete unravelling.
this is the benefit of hindsight. had i known any of this, my fate may have been different. but i did not. i played from my heart and ran for my life. and i spun myself into a darkly familiar hole. one just like the ones i had made for myself on several occasions before in my life. although it really felt so authentic and unique, i now realize that for all my intelligence and self seeking, i am, just like almost everyone else, a creature of habit. i play the same tunes over and over. my emotional memory may very well be just like a shakespeare plot- it gets re staged, reworked and replayed with almost every new company. and i have been preoccupied as a player mesmerized by the lighting and the audience and didn’t realize that the story lines have been parallel.
when i found myself in yet another hole i had crawled in while i was in california, i decided to return to colorado. my romance with homeless performance art grinded to a halt. i had also burned almost every west coast bridge i ever had. denver bound it was. upon my return, i hooked up with bill in my undulating journey to find solid ground. i stayed with him at his home in park hill while i rotated through jobs and relapses. my last hurrah was while he was on a cruise in canada and the northeast. i helped my self to some of his belongings and betrayed one of the few friends willing to help me. it severed our immediate relationship. i had to move immediately and find a way to make amends. even after so much deceit, he refused to throw me shade. he stood by me- from a distance- and gave me permission to heal.
i don’t remember my life changing direction so quickly as this encounter created. turned on a dime really. i found myself looking at my life and my behaviors in the light of day because of his kindness. i couldn’t become a victim. i couldn’t blame anyone. the only move i could make was change. spending time with bill brought all this back into view. he changed my life. with just one effort, he changed my world view.
and change i have. i hope. the dance i have been doing with substances to cope with my life has come to an end. i often use shopping and chocolate to buffer the sharp teeth of reality. i have realized that i am not in charge. and i understand as often as i can that i have to pay attention if i am not to make the same mistakes over and over. sometimes i get this and some times i don’t. know which it really is in order to get beyond it. or maybe just to make another choice.
i hosted the 2nd advisory board meeting for C2R yesterday. none of the invitees outside my workplace that attended the 1st meeting returned for the 2nd, however 2 additional invitees made an appearance at this meeting. my hope is to set up a network of peers in recovery with the intention of providing additional support and extend tangible resources for newbies. i have asked several organizations to participate in order to widen our lens on how we grow our “peer services” so they are directed in a culturally competent direction.
my mother has been feeling poorly for roughly a month now. she is struggling with breathing and with ongoing issues with celiac and with diabetes. my fears are many but in front is the worry that she may have to go on oxygen. prayers.
a colleague asked what was going on between the director of a recovery organization and myself. i felt shame at the question. i certainly have not been as adult about the situation as i might. but i walked away feeling so burnt that i am giving myself time to rehydrate- both my psyche and my heart. i am very aware that forgiveness is the best thirst relief. i a hoping i can get there someday. i must admit that i am not actively working on that in my life today. but i am actively working on things.
my cousin came by this evening and we watched “people like us”. the film still resonates with me- having lived a fatherless life. i know that it took me 45 years to really forgive my parents for anything and everything. i am also becoming more acutely aware that i have really been getting angry as a defense for most of my life, so the motion of getting angry to protect myself is justified and it’s ancient. and it is really in need of a makeover.
a colleague was let go late on friday afternoon. it was not a surprise, but it was sad none-the-less. i had a love-disdain relationship with this person as there was as much distraction as there was engagement from my perspective. i told this person- and whole-heartedly meant it-that the cliche about a window opening when a door closes is well-known for a very good reason. and in this case- i think it is mantra.
am planning to take a couple of days and go to fairplay on 4 july. i need a getaway. and i want to go back to salida. salida is one of my funspots these days. there are some amazing organic farms happening there and i haven’t been in the summer. i would love to come back with a bushel of fava beans to make spread for everyone i know. and i want to spend some time in the pools at mt princeton as well. either way, i am looking forward to a change of pace.
i find myself entering a familiar yet precarious chapter in my life. my nature is very much geared towards program and process development. in my early 20’s, i found passion (and pain) in the collaborative creation and formation of an after-hours club in chicago. i certainly say collaborative here because i fully believe that nothing that is done is done alone and in no way did i participate in any of these things alone. the club became quite popular in chicago and lasted about 10 years, although my life and my nature didn’t allow me to be involved that long at all. disease, death (it was the 1980’s) and drug addiction kept me tied to a post like a sad and lonely pit bull, barking at almost every one who tried to get near.
i worked a small party for new clients tonight. it was for around 70 people and it was held to celebrate the installation of a new priest at one of the large episcopal churches in town. i saw several people from my past and i was reminded that i am part of a larger community as well as the communities i claim membership.
the most astounding thing for me was running into a former co-worker who had been present when i was creating the mile high meth project. the grant funding had come through and a mysterious anonymous letter had been circulated about me. i became convinced that it was the handy work of my supervisor and that he was fucking with me. i get triggered with ptsd with the whole scenario and ended up getting fired-(best thing and worst thing that has happened to me in recovery). anyway- this guy david and i talked last night for the 1st time since 2008. he validated my experience and my perception and i was able to make further peace with the whole situation. i cried this morning as i recalled the peace that touched me.