five years later

I’m going to start this post with a few quotes from two different books, the AA Big Book and Conversations With God.

“My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea. He said, ‘why don’t you choose your own conception of God?
That statement hit me hard. It melted the icy intellectual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many years. I stood in the sunlight at last.” – AA Big Book, page 12

“This is what your religions mean when they say that you were created in the ‘image and likeness of god.’ This doesn’t mean, as some have suggested, that our physical bodies look alike… It does mean that our essence is the same. We are composed of the same stuff.” – Conversations With God, page 26

Over the course of this year I have explored my spirituality more than ever before. There have been days when I have solely relied on my Higher Power. Days where I have prayed to the great Oneness and felt the love that I create by connecting to that Oneness with intention. In my world, having faith means believing in something that might not be there. Believing in something that, most of the time, I don’t really think is there. Because I still revert to the shadows of my icy intellectual mountain.

Sometimes I find myself unable to believe that I am a part of a whole. But my foundation of recovery and of connection with others is faith — belief that something that I don’t always think is there is actually there. All the time, it’s there. Even when I don’t believe in it. Just like the stars.

And the stars are the tangible representation of my Higher Power. The way they work, the way they live and die, the way they fall. I need something tangible. And because I am made up of star stuff, I feel connected to stars. And I feel connected to the ocean and to the moon because so much water flows within me.

When I say, “this is all bullshit, nothing means anything and this is all random,” I tell myself, “yes, both can be true.”

I can believe that this is meaningless. In that meaninglessness is some sort of feeling of completion. This deep belief I have that within this mess of randomness, we are all one. We are in it together, working together (whether we know it or not), to learn what need to learn. To learn that we are one.

We came from one moment. Out of that moment came every single thing that has ever or will ever exist. Oneness is the cornerstone of my faith. Oneness keeps me going.

Five years later, this is where I am. In the middle of this infinite exploration of my spirituality.

I am surrounded by a community of people who remind every day that I am one. I am a part of a whole. When I am sitting in meetings, I feel connected to every person there. When I am having coffee with inspiring women, I feel totally free to say my real truth, because we are ultimately one. (Another thing that has developed this year — I am less afraid of women than ever before, and have come to the understanding that it is so important to keep inspiring women in my daily life. I have a lot of women surrounding me with love). When I am at work, I am a part of family of people who work hard and practice compassion with every action they take. I have begun my career, and that feels really good. I feel secure, valued, and cared about both professionally and personally. I am grateful.

When I married my husband in February, I made a spiritual promise to my twin flame. (I know that might be the most woo woo sentence ever). My husband is my number one fan, my teacher, my best friend. I am grateful.

My sponsor has helped me understand what my higher power is constantly revealing to me. Different things every day. I have owned up to my self-seeking, selfish behaviors and I am working my through the fact that I cannot make others be what I think I want them to be. I am grateful.

I have learned that it takes effort to be a good friend. I am figuring out how to prioritize that effort. I have a best girl friend who understands me to my very depths, and who makes me laugh when I am feeling sorrow and fear. I am friends with people who inspire me and push me to be my best self. People who will not co-sign my bullshit. People who love me unconditionally. I am grateful.

My teacher works with me to gain a closer relationship to my higher power. She lights the path for me. She knows exactly who I am, and that does not scare me. My teacher helps me make connections. She helps me untangle my web and sit in feelings. I sit, I get curious, I accept. I am grateful.

I would have died. And I am alive. I was going to die. But I am alive. Every morning when I wake up, I remember that I am alive.
And though I make mistakes and feel shame and fear, I have this deep love for myself. A compassion for that girl. And for the woman I am today. I am becoming who I was always meant to be. At the same time, I am already who I was always meant to be. I am grateful.

My sobriety is the most important thing in my life. And because my sobriety is the most important thing in my life, I have received so many gifts and opportunities. By prioritizing myself, I am able to show up in my world and be helpful, kind, and hard working. Also, I have great dance moves.

comfortable in the uncertainty

Basically, I am noticing. I wanted to say more in that sentence, but all I can say is that I am noticing. I am learning to notice, really.

I am fascinated by this experiencing of beginning to sit in a non-understanding, a not-knowing, of the universe and the everyday goings on of every single thing. There is nothing that I can truly know. That makes me super uncomfortable. I can’t truly know what is going to happen at work tomorrow, I can’t truly know what a person is thinking about me, or if they’re even thinking about me.

And it makes me uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to sit in the not-knowing of things. It is uncomfortable to say, “I have no idea what will happen tomorrow, and that is just fine.” Like, I almost can’t even type that, it’s such a strange idea to me that I could be perfectly fine with not knowing, or even trying to know, what is going to happen.

So, how do I get comfortable? How do I come to this place of peace with the inability to know everything?

Here’s what I am trying (I’ll let you know how it goes): Every time I have a thought that begins with “I know what is going to happen…” I am trying to think, “oh, there’s a thought,” and then replace it with a positive thought of the current moment.

For example, I might think “Ugh, I am going to make such a fool of myself when I share in that meeting tonight.” In that moment I can respond to that thought by thinking, “oh, there’s a thought. That’s okay. Right now I am enjoying the feeling of the breeze on this hot day.”

Over time, that positive thought could replace the negative thought all together. At the beginning, they will just get closer and closer together.

I am curious about how I have come to do this so easily with negative self-talk. I do the same thing. I think something negative about myself, and I immediately replace it with loving thoughts. Now, I have love thoughts all the time without even having negative self-talk.

What I think happened is that my ego wanted to find a way to make things negative, and used this avenue of fortune telling to get me into a negative headspace.

I am addicted to excitement. That is a trait of an adult child of an alcoholic, and I am the poster child for it. Super addicted to excitement. Part of this tension with assuming that the worst is going to happen is exciting to me. I get revved up when I am getting ready for something negative, and I like the feeling of being revved up.

So how do I let go of that sort of desire for excitement/tension? I notice it. I simply become aware — “oh, I am having a thought. There is a thought in my head that life is boring if I don’t have that sort of excitement. Okay, it’s natural to have that thought. It’s simply a thought. Here I am, in this moment, having this thought. And all is well.”

All of this is pretty new to me. This idea of getting comfortable with uncertainty. It is also a cool thing to imagine the peace of mind that could come with this work. Peace of mind doesn’t sound super exciting to me. It does sound consistent. And the idea of enjoying something as simple as the breeze at my feet sounds so pure to me. And I think I can get to a place where every part of me, even my ego, truly wants that.

I’ll keep you posted.

marathon

My trips to Houston always breed interesting blog posts. Every time I talk with Dr. Mary Oxford, she gives me tons of amazing things to write about. We have some of the coolest conversations.

Yesterday we discussed a number of things. One of the big themes was — how do I keep going? How do I continue this journey of working on myself and staying curious?

There is no end in sight for my development and healing. It’s not as though some day I’ll graduate from the work I do on myself and be deemed “healed” or somehow done with the work. That’s not why I do the work.

I am constantly asking questions. I’m still in therapy twice a week, and there are still times where I go to therapy three times in one week because I’m really hammering away at an issue. I work a program of recovery and I stay close to my sponsor. She has become a huge source of inspiration and growth.

I have learned to love the work, I guess. There are days where I want throw my hands up and say, “ugh, I am done with this self-help shit.” In fact, there are days where I do exactly that. And then I take the minutes I need to (usually) sit in my self-pity about how “I’m never going to get better, why should I even try?” And then I pick up the pieces of my day and I keep working.

The work brings the light. The work keeps the candle burning. The work I do when I am not depressed keeps the light on when I am depressed. I am always preparing future Sim for the shit storm. There might not be a shit storm for a while, and if there isn’t, the work makes the good times that much sweeter. However, life comes with shit storms.

I don’t look at the fact that I know there will be shitty days with this attitude of doom and gloom. I’m not (always) afraid of the bad days. I don’t (typically) dread them, because I know they are a part of my cycle of depression. I mean, really, they’re just part of the cycle of being a human being.

If you know me, or my journey at all, you know I do a lot of maintenance to keep myself healthy and happy. I don’t mind the work. I love it.

Some people get tired of working on themselves. And don’t get me wrong, there are days when I am in my depression and I think, “oh my god, you’re telling me I’m never going to be healed? That I have to keep up this work for years and years to come? And I’m STILL going to suffer from depression. despite the work? Fuck that!” And then I read notes to myself that clearly state, “yes, dear, this work will continue, and yes, you will still have shitty days despite the work, and yes, you badass warrior princess, you can do it.”

The cost of the work is time and dedication. I have to remain consistent in my treatment, and that isn’t always easy to do. Thankfully, I have built my treatment into my daily life. It’s been five years. I can’t believe it’s been five years. But, after five years it comes naturally. It doesn’t (most of the time) feel like an inconvenience, it just feels like part of my day.

I wake up, I practice gratitude. It’s not something I force myself to do, it’s something I’ve been doing for a few years. I don’t even have to remember to do it, I just do it. I go to sleep, and if I can’t sleep, I write and meditate. It isn’t frustrating (most of the time) or hard to think of what to do when I can’t sleep. I tried a lot of things to help my sleeplessness, and that worked, so that’s what I just naturally go to.

There are days when I think “ugh, please not more therapy!” and then I go to therapy and talk about that.

The pay off of doing these things is that I don’t want to kill myself. I am fully aware that when I am suicidal, suicide is the best option I can think of. The work I have done and continue to do keeps a tiny ember burning in the darkness that says, “hey, I know you and I know you’re happy to be alive. There’s a chance you’re not totally in the best place mentally right now, maybe you could reach out/go to a meeting/ask for help/call your psychiatrist, and try to get out of this.” And then I’ll do one of the things that I have trained myself to do and I will come out of that mindset and think, “whew, awesome, I am so glad I’m alive. What can I do to make that ember burn a little brighter next time?”

I know that if I didn’t do this work, the chances of suicide sounding like a good idea and then not doing anything to change that thinking get higher and higher.

Another pay off of this work is that there are a lot more good days. A lot more days where I feel really solid about being alive, even when I am in depression. Because I practice mindfulness when I am depressed, I also practice mindfulness when I am not depressed. It makes happy days happier and sad days happier.