That seems like my inventory alright. Took me years to get to that, and I still have to deal with it every day. I have a freind like that too. He shuts himself up with Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage on the radio all day, and if anyone challenges his assumptions, he tends to get violent and throw things. Mostly, I think he's afraid to get a job.
Moral: never leave your child a trust fund...
The last couple of days have been a very fourth step for myself. I have always taken out my anger on myself making myself sick and isolated. The last couple of days I have been think my stuff and others in a different light. I am not angry at myself and maybe I am okay. For me it is a scary thought and it is making it easier to forgive myself and let go of the responsibility of others.
Isn't it weird how it can be okay to be human and flawed if we are simply honest with ourselves and others about it? This leads to accepting others and ourselves as we are. This is based on not needing to be perfect in order to be lovable or likable. We realize we're just all one great, big, unwashed mass of sinners. Some are just better at hiding it than others. But what a relief to know that not only don't we have to be perfect to be loved but that, quite specifically, we can be loved because we're imperfect.
I hope you keep us informed of your progress because hope is a very nice thing, brother Jaan.
I'm interested in this discussion because I have a long term battle with depression. Since having an ICD implanted I now experience anxiety and insomnia.
I've been seeing a therapist (not Christian) for two years, and also have medication. I saw a psychiatrist five years ago who said with my history of depression I should stay on it permanently. I don't have a problem with that as I understand the biological basis of my type of depression and want to stay functional!
However, with my therapist I quite often feel as if my faith is being challenged. She sees my reading the Bible and praying as attempts to cope with my anxieties and this disturbs me because my faith is real, and God isn't a psychological construct to me. I'm afraid of trying to cope on my own though - she is very good and I have made real progress. I guess I need to discuss this with her, but I often feel 'dragged down' when I see her, even when things seem okay, as if I have to dredge it all up when I don't want to, but that's what you do in therapy.
At the same time I'm reluctant to find a 'Christian' counsellor as I don't think there are many that would really understand how things get and are for me at times. I am also reluctant to find a spiritual director because there are times when I'm frankly not well and I'd hate to inflict myself on someone else! My therapist is very insightful and compassionate, its just this one thing that bothers me.
She sees my reading the Bible and praying as attempts to cope with my anxieties and this disturbs me because my faith is real, and God isn't a psychological construct to me. I'm afraid of trying to cope on my own though - she is very good and I have made real progress. I guess I need to discuss this with her, but I often feel 'dragged down' when I see her, even when things seem okay, as if I have to dredge it all up when I don't want to, but that's what you do in therapy.
I would definitely have a polite chat with your therapist, FrancesB. Just tell your therapist that you think he or she is doing a great job and that your religion is something that you feel is complimentary to the therapy, not in competition with it.
Yes, thanks. That's good advice.
The wondering whether to continue with her is related to feeling that if I were really faithful and trusted God then I wouldn't need anything else and/or wouldn't have the difficulties I (sometimes)have.
The writer of a book I'm reading (The Cloister Walk) suggests that the psalms are helpful for this because they acknowledge the anger, frustration and powerlessness we all feel at times. She (Katherine Norris) had the same impression as I have (had?), that if you were a 'good' Christian then you would be all sweetness and light all the time. You know, imitating Christ - mind you, thinking about it He wasn't the easiest bloke to be around at times!
BTW I hadn't made the connection between addiction and emotional problems - in the sense of being addicted to feeling a certain way. That's a helpful idea.
The wondering whether to continue with her is related to feeling that if I were really faithful and trusted God then I wouldn't need anything else and/or wouldn't have the difficulties I (sometimes)have.
FrancesB, that reminds me of a joke:
�that if you were a 'good' Christian then you would be all sweetness and light all the time.
I suppose there can be a "sweetness and light" quality even to our pain and suffering.
So you have been attending meetings! It's still a
good joke to remember, even after hearing it hundreds of times from newcomers and oldtimers. One
of the central points and pillars of recovery, . Most of the good ideas in the twelve steps originated in a church somewhere and are widely disseminated and cross-fertilized and get sent back around to the churches again.
I haven't finished Cloister Walk yet, but the fact that you are reading it makes you someone I would like to know! The book was very popular, and along with Thomas Merton's journals and the Philokalia gives me hope for the future now that mysticism is "out of the closet." Wonderful!
I'va had The Cloister Walk on my shelf for a while, but didn't pick it up until recently. I've always been interested in monastacism and mysticism, but haven't read any Thomas Merton or the Philokalia. I didn't even know who Merton was until I picked up a biography in a charity shop. Another book on my shelf. I knew someone who used to say that the book you needed would always 'call' you from the shelf, so if you're attracted to a book then keep it even if you can't imagine when or why you'd read it. That's what happened with the Norris book.
I've always (half) joked that if anything happened to Andrew (my husband) I'd join a convent - if they'd have me! Seriously though I spend a week every year at a convent guesthouse in Oxfordshire. They are Poor Clares, only ten of them left and with an average age of 65. They are Franciscan rather than Benedictine, and Anglican rather than Roman Catholic. I love it there though. Of course I don't have the hard physical work, that's one thing I know I wouldn't cope with - I have a heart problem that is limiting, - but I do love the contemplative nature of Franciscan spirituality and the structure and discipline. Like the Benedicines, the Franciscan Office uses the Psalms at every reading. I feel genuinely called to the Franciscan way, and not just because we share a name
They and Norris' book show me that there isn't one way to do God's work. How many times have I read that verse about different abilities but I never applied it to me!
I liked the joke - it bears repeating if its an old one!
God sends me boats and helicopters every day, which I frequently as not fail to recognize. I met a young
man in premed who has vowed to quit smoking pot and do something with his life. More power to him!
Sometimes all I can share with them is not to do what I did. or still do....
Sometimes all I can share with them is not to do what I did.
Yes. I fit very comfortably with that sentiment, MM. I find it difficult to turn the tables from a negativistic to a positivistic outlook. But surely that is a large part of any type of transformation. There's a whole herd of "don't-do's" gathered up inside our head. We've got a whole pasture of them; in fact, an expansive prairie. To change the landscape is to rope just a couple "do's" from the herd and hang on. Do be authentic. Do be loving, but if you're not feeling particularly loving, then feel what you're feeling now. Do be hopeful, but if you're feeling down in the dumps then feel down in the dumps.
The trick, I think, is that "positive" ain't just all "rah-rah", I love god, I'm happy to be alive, top of the morning to you stuff. It's cutting out of the herd the numerous "I should feel this way's" or "I should be this way's". It's about what is. What is can look quite ugly, undeserving, and hopeless from a certain perspective but one need only find at least the beginnings of the sheer and enormous value of THATness in one's being. And quite often that THATness is hiding in some very unlikely places. Truth doesn't give a whit about what we want it to be. It just is. And it's always far friendlier and easier to handle than the opposite which is the complex network of justifications, delusions, biases, etc., that try to hold together our Rube-Goldberg-like images of who we are, should be, or need to be.
Don't look for redemption, per se. Let god divvy that out. Don't look for things to balance or counterbalance your life. Don't look to plug holes. Don't look to make up for shortages. Realize that everything is just one small part of completeness. And as ugly, incompetent, stupid, short-sighted, and clumsy as we may be, this is simply the human perspective talking. All these perceived shortcomings can only be perceived because of the very large part of completeness and rightness that is contained in all of us.
I have read all the posts and found them to be helpful. The last couple of days have been extremely hard and painful. My wife through an email reminded me of all my sins which are legion and why we can never get back together. I cried in the confessional and at home. Honestly today I could use everyones prayers.
My wife through an email reminded me of all my sins which are legion and why we can never get back together. I cried in the confessional and at home. Honestly today I could use everyones prayers.
Brother Jaan, can you let go of anger? Can you let go of anguish? Can you let go of heartache and neediness? Can you let go of trying to control? Can you let go of despair? Can you let go of all these things and believe, really believe, that what is left, whatever it is, is going to be better, stronger, saner, healthier, and more loving? Can you do the most insane and stupid thing that a human being can do and as a last resort Trust to Divine Providence for the direction of your life and marriage? Because that's the only thing that will likely help you now. You must find a way out of the trenches of battle and transcend. You must make a leap of faith. This present hardship is a message for both of you, singly or together, to grow.
One of the interesting things about Transcendence is that it transcends. There are other things in the world that work that way as well. Ever hear of quantum tunneling? It's where an elementary particle, such as an electron, can pass through to the other side of some barrier just like magic. It transcends the limitations of normal classical physics. If cupid is the classical physics equivalent of love, with his arrows that fly straight and true and pierce many hearts, than Christ, for instance, is the quantum mechanical equivalent of quantum tunneling. That is to say, there is love that can pass through seemingly impenetrable barriers. There is love that can heal great mountains of divide with just a smidgen of energy. And we can emulate that love and healing as well. But I'm not sure if true healing in this case means fixing a broken marriage. It could mean bringing peace and comfort to you individually�and then who knows?
Do you think it's stupid and ridiculous that one could have so much love for a person that they could let them go, that they could live out what is in that corny poem? If you love somebody, let them go, for if they return, they were always yours. And if they don't, they never were. Is there such thing as fate and destiny or do we have to scratch and claw like mad to hold onto just a little slice of heaven, should that slice ever come our way? When do we fight? When do we let go? And when do we try a third option and "let God"?
If I had any answer then my own love life wouldn't be so screwed up. But I think there's some truth in just backing off a bit, toning things down, trusting to God with things a person has almost no help of controlling, as much as we might want to. And you can bet you are in all our prayers.
A man asked me about self-esteem yesterday, as if expecting me to know something about it. God pulled an answer out of me in response to his need. In the answer I gave him about pulling esteem in from the outside versus finding it within and in relation to God, I realized I had an answer for myself as well.
This is how 12 step fellowship works. Find someone in more pain that you are and see if you might help them, and recieve a blessing in the process. The Dalai Lama says that this is what "smart" selfish people do. "Dumb" selfish people waste time in regrets and the past, the past, the past...
I was still afraid of the process for years. This
man from yesterday is taking about five years to take the fourth step. Oh, well, it's not a race...
That's a great suggestion MM. There are always people who are worse off in the world. I remember a good bit of self loathing I was in last year. I then met a little girl who had cancer. I quickly became quite ashamed of myself.
My experience with her left me feeling that I had much growth to attain. This little girl seem to have more life experience in her 4 years than I had my whole life.
"God is dead" -- Nietzsche.
"Nietzsche is dead" -- God
"I felt sorry for myself because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet." --smart guy
Do we need to start up another 12 step thread? What,
in your experience with the software, happens when we get up to 12 pages? Is there a limit? - mm
I think the new software is pretty stable, MM. Maybe a new thread on "working the Twelve Steps" would be a good one, however. As you wish . . .
Maybe a new thread would be a good idea. My spiritual director has said what some of the messages said that I need to believe and love myself. I was at the Benedictine Monastery today and felt calm but as I left I felt lonliness and my focus shift to me. I called my sponsor and talked with family. At the oblate we spent alot of time talking about Origion" I am killing the spelling" the church father in that discussion we talked about the will and the fundamental option. What I received from the discussion was I do have a choice and every choice I make will make it more difficult or easier to choose Christ at the end of my life. At times I paint myself still as a victim while still holding on to my addictions and idols.
A new thread for a new start. Great idea, Jaan.
And that sounds like great advice about believing in and loving ourselves.
I hope you are well. And all my prayers, love and best wishes are with you.
I finally made it to a meeting. My program has been centered on my work, parish life, and friends. I am thinking about what the new thread will be about maybe the issue of divorce and annullment. My life is calming down but the lonliness remains. God has been good.
My life is calming down but the lonliness remains. God has been good.
I wish I knew the cure for loneliness. I'd bottle it and make a fortune. I hope you start your thread soon and begin to talk this stuff out, Jaan. Meanwhile, here's a tonic for your loneliness.
This world is made by love, for love. That's it. That's the whole truth.
Everything you need for love will be put into your path. It is our pre-conceived ideas and our own blind and arrogant willfulness to do things our way, dammit, that is at the heart of the problem. Reality works if we trust it. It sucks big-time if we don't. And it's worse than that. Without a deep and total trust in reality, every moment can be like Chinese water torture because every moment that goes by that doesn't seem to go toward solving our problem is just another moment adding to the problem. Stress builds. Hopelessness builds. Loneliness builds.
I'm pretty much alone right now in my actually physical life and have been for some time. And I can't say that I really understand it, although I've thought a lot about it. I don't have B.O. I'm a nice guy. I can put more than two words together in front of another person. But this is my path right now and I can either choose to trust it or reject it. The price for rejecting it is enormous. The price for accepting it is trust. And the benefits are immediate and they quite literally last for eternity. Trust your path, Jaan.
I know at least a couple people in real life who are very angry people. And I think they remain that way because they expect the world to change. They do not expect or think that they are the ones that need to change. After all, they are the ones who have been wronged in their lives. (And they indeed have been.) So it is only natural to think that one can stay where one is, that there is natural righteousness and deservingness there, that it is the world that must confess its sins, so to speak, and move to enfold and accept us. And I think we catch by this behavior and belief the intution many people have that their lives will be ordered for them and that they don't have to struggle so much. And indeed, I do believe that is true, although I�m only slowly coming to grips with this and do not anywhere near understand the full implications of what is called Divine Providence. But the part of the equation that many haven't fully comprehended is that if one expects oneself to be taken care of by reality, then one must trust the Caretaker. And people surely do to a certan extent. But when we get stuck, when we stay in our anger or even our loneliness, I believe it is because we have a plan for ourselves and we're not very flexible about it. This inflexibility leads us to miss the lessons that are put before us. This infelxibility leads us to miss walking through some of those open doors that are presented. And this inflexibility, most of all, leads us to stay in ourselves as we are when what we need to do is open up and out to the world.
Indeed, particularly concerning anger (and I've experienced this myself for years), those who are angry may not realize that they have little desire to let go of that anger. Until I desired to, I could not. And I have recently desired to, and I have. And it occurred to me this morning whether the same dynamic could apply to my loneliness. And I think that it surely does. I am alone because I want to be alone right now and it does little good for me to complain about it. What I need to to is figure out why I might want to be alone and to trust that it's okay right now to be alone. As Pauline and others have taught me, it pays to pay close attention to our intentions�our true intentions, not the little stories and fairytales we fool ourselves with inside our heads. I've got a million of them. One of those stories that helps to justify my loneliness is that I am growing fast by having this "hermit time" by myself and that it will allow me to help other people. Indeed, part of that is true. But probably a much bigger part is that I'm just afraid of opening up and being battered once again by the world. They say the truth sets us free. This is one of those truism to hold onto and remember.
And so I'm going to challenge you brother Jaan to drop some of your own internal stories that you tell yourself and come to truth. Truth will be easy, light and cleansing. It always is. It's all that effort we put forward to stay away from it that is so hard, heavy, and obscuring. What is the truth of your life? What are you holding onto stubbornly so that you won't have to undergo the stretching and shaping of transformation? Is your loneliness no more than the desire to cling to the safety and protection of not digging deeper into yourself and letting yourself truly be known to others? That would be my guess because, particularly on this forum, I find you to be sincere, honest, warm, gentle�.but not particularly communicative. You give us broad outlines of problems, but very few details. And that's okay for here. We're all relative strangers. A person should probably keep one's problems close to his or her vest, at least concerning strangers. But I have a feeling that this simply mirrors what you do in real life, Jaan. And I wouldn't even dare challenge you like this if I didn't have my own severe and dehabilitating issues in this regard. And it�s a very common problem. But relationship IS the meaning of life. That's why we're all here. And the pinicale of relationship is to relate lovingly. And the method and means of being able to do so is by being authentic. I think it's no more or less than that.
And when one is lonely, when one has become isolated (for whatever reason), this is when we need a close and real relationship with God. We need this relationship to be real, not pretend or even just based on hope. We need to let go and trust so that this connection is made. And this is truly how all things work for the good. Our isolation from other people (if only for the moment) becomes a real and precise opportunity to deepen a relationship with Reality itself. And we dare not treat this relationship as a crutch, a comforting fantasy, or a projection of our internal need. This is one relationship that can be inherently private and intimate�but only if we truly let go into it. And that is what we must do even in the best of times, let alone those more trying times. God is, at the very least, our training wheels on the path to intimacy and authenticity. That is why I, for one, have no problem whatsoever swearing at him. I have no problem letting he/she/it know my anger, disappointment and needs. If God can see inside to my very soul then there is little point in trying to hide anything and to put on only my good face.
Yes, it would do our hearts good, perhaps the most good, to spend as much time as we can feeling thankful. But what if we�re not feeling particularly thankful? Should we just fake it then? I certainly don�t think so. Let thankfulness, when it comes (and it will come), be authentic. Let everything be authentic. That is the point. So our loneliness truly is at least partially a function of our stubbornness and just plain unwillingness to authentically communicate, for there is One to whom we can communicate completely authentically and do so completely privately and securely. And one of the ways god communicates with us is through other people. That�s the truth. I truly think we need to actually see the face of god in other people. And then � whamo � it just might occur to us to make that connection. When we make God very, very real in our lives we begin to see him/her/it acting and in those around us. People are no longer enemies and obstacles. They are a piece of the divine and are due at least a piece of the love and reverence we hold for god.
But old habits die hard. Old ways of looking at ourselves and the world most definitely die hard. But let them die. They are useless now and unneeded. Authenticity. Relationship. Love. I think those three things can guide us in all things. And if we�re feeling authentically afraid, then we must honor that. But to do so we must be honest that this is so and not make excuses.
wow brad this drives home the messages I have been hearing this week. My selfishness, so called needs are fueling my fantasies which are fueling my inability to be authentic keeping from developing my relationship with God and others. My sponsor would say except the fact I cannot do this and admit my need for God and allow him to do what I cannot do for myself. Thanks brad for reminding me of this
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