Saturday, November 22, 2014

Understanding My Special Relationships

I had always thought a special relationship was the closest thing I could get to having a human experience that mimicked the perfect God-Human relationship. A special relationship was love and marriage, Rock Hudson and Doris Day, Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. But, that never worked for me. The closer I seemed to get to someone, the more intense and disturbing things became. The closer someone was to me, as I understood me, the more I was vulnerable and ended up being hurt, angry, disappointed or frustrated. My special relationships more closely resembled the movie, “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolff.”
What was going on? What was wrong with that picture?
In my recovering from alcoholism, I got a glimpse of what was wrong. I heard people in AA meetings say over and over: “We don’t have relationships. We take hostages.” Everyone would laugh. Then, as I began to write my Fourth Step (“… an honest moral inventory of myself…”), I began to discover how true that adage had been for me.
In the end all my relationships had been all about me – all about being the perfect giver of love and nurture and, in doing that, being in control. In short, my relationships had been all about self-image and self-satisfaction. They never lasted very long. I would begin to run out of gas. I would try to be an occasional receiver of love and nurture – but I didn’t know how to ask for love and nurture and, by definition, the one I was in a relationship with was someone who didn’t know how to give love and nurture. In my mind the perfect special relationship was one where I HAD to be the “giver” and she HAD to be the “receiver.” That’s how my control was intended to work and, when it stopped working, the relationship always crashed and burned.
After almost 20 years in my current rrelationship, I’m still discovering portions of that lesson I still need to revisit.
In A Course in Miracles (ACIM) specialness and a special relationship are defined as: [Specialness is] “The idea of being set apart from others and set above others. Having more or being more than others. Specialness is the great payoff promised by the ego. We seek [specialness] in our special relationships, where others give us special love and their special selves…. We seek [specialness] with our body, adorning our body in order to attract [specialness]. We also seek it by accumulating idols…. All ways of seeking [specialness] involve attack, for specialness requires that others must be beneath us….  A [special] relationship [is] based on the pursuit of specialness, in which we try to (a) have a special arrangement (an exclusive relationship) with and (b) receive special treatment from (c) a very special person so that (d) we can feel more special…. To keep our allegiance, the ego must provide something that offers a semblance of the love we really want, yet is still of the ego….
We can describe this relationship in stages: 1. First we search for a person different from the rest, one who is more special…. 2. Then we offer him special behaviors and gifts that give him our specialness and, ultimately, give him our ‘self.’ These ‘gifts,’ however, are attacks designed to make her guilty and so induce her to give her ‘self’ in return. 3. We (almost certainly) do not receive from him the specialness we think we paid for, so we resort increasingly to taking vengeance on him for not reciprocating….”   [Robert Perry, Glossary of Terms from A Course in Miracles, Circle Publishing, 1996]
I don’t know about you, but those definitions of “Specialness” and “Special Relationships” have pegged me right where it hurts. It was as if Robert Perry looked into my soul and concluded: “Don provides a pretty generic and accurate description of everything there is about Specialness and its Relationships.”
The definition of a Special Relationship continues, however, with a fourth stage, which states: “The Holy Spirit, however, would not deprive us of these relationships or have us throw them away. He would transform them into holy relationships through forgiveness…. [Our special relationships] are holy relationships-in-training…,” if we are but willing to turn them over to the Holy Spirit.
In Alcoholics Anonymous the Big Book [page 417] discusses much the same thing: “Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.” [From the story entitled: Acceptance Was The Answer]
Bottomline? As I’ve said to myself and in these messages over and over, it’s not what’s “out there” that bothers me. It is how I perceive what’s “out there.” Do I see the other as an attacker or as another version of me? Do I see the situation as an aggravation or as an opportunity to see inside me? Do I respond or react?
As it always is, it always is an inside job.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#4 November 2014
Copyright, 2014

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Getting Back On Track - Spiritually

As you have recognized from my last several posts, I have been fearful, angry, frustrated, and generally upset about a myriad of things – mostly at myself.
Last week I received the latest issue of a publication based on A Course In Miracles (ACIM) that I relish reading. It is The Holy Encounter, a publication of the Miracle Distribution Center, Anaheim, CA., www.miraclecenter.org. As I began perusing it, “Voilà!” There were two articles that seemed to be written just for me. Sometimes, as a writer, I read someone who has stated what I want to say in a way I just cannot improve. The following excerpts are from the November / December 2014 edition, pages 1, 4. They are reprinted here by permission of the publisher.
From Beverly Hutchison McNeff: “As the season of gratitude and peace approaches, it is often difficult for us to believe God is present in the painful, confusing situations of life, or that anything ‘good’ can come of a tragic circumstance. And, yet, this is our guarantee, for as we read in the Course, ‘All things work together for good. There are no exceptions except in the ego’s judgment.’ (ACIM, T-4.V.1:1)
“The face of God is in that person who judged me unjustly, the hand of God is working in the internal political struggle our country is going through, and the peace of God is the final outcome for that battle between those warring countries. Yes, God is present, not because He caused the problems in our lives or seeming pains and conflicts in the world. God is present because He can never be absent from our minds.  God is in our minds as the reminder that there is a better way, that love is our strength, that forgiveness is the key, and joining with my brother past the seeming circumstances of life is the way that Christ is recognized. In that recognition is salvation accomplished. ‘Salvation of the world depends on you who can forgive. Such is your function here.’ (ACIM, W-p1.186.14.5).
”So, it becomes plain to us that wherever we may find ourselves is exactly where we should be, for we are there to bring salvation to the world through our forgiveness of the situation, or rather through our willingness to let the Holy Spirit’s perception be ours. This healing in thought may not always bring change in the way we think it should appear or come as quickly as we think it should happen, but ‘healing is always certain.’ (ACIM, M-6.1:1)” (underlining is mine)
From Gerald Jampolsky, MD and Diane V. Cirincione-Jampolsky, PhD: “Spiritual vision [or seeing with the vision of the Holy Spirit ] is experiencing the world through Love’s eyes and not through our body’s ego eyes of fear. More and more we are remembering the only thing that is real and that never changes is our united connection with our Source. We believe our spiritual vision has a DNA of happiness, unconditional love, kindness, tenderness, and gentleness. It is celebrating the Light and Love we know we are and seeing only Love wherever we go…for that is what we are. It is celebrating freedom from our self-imposed ego prisons.
“For me, utilizing spiritual vision is remembering I am blind when I make interpretations followed by judgments of other’s behaviors based on what I see through my physical eyes. And I am sighted when I remind myself I am not my past or my glaucoma, nor am I my body. I am the essence of the Peace of God. Spiritual vision is to see everything through the eyes of a loving and gentle God; through our hearts and not our heads.”
To see with this kind of divine vision is not something I can make myself do as an act of sheer willpower. I can only be willing to allow it to happen. All I need to be able to do is step out of the way.
I heard a member of the Fellowship in a recent AA meeting say something that resonated with me. She explained exactly what I had been doing. She said, “A very good friend in the Program always told me, ‘You cannot fix this,’ he said while tapping his head, ‘with this!’ while tapping his head again.”
And that’s what I had been trying to do – fix my head with my head; fix my egoic thinking with my intellectual (but egoic) thoughts.
I have been trying to figure out and understand why I was allowing myself to get so angry, exasperated, and frustrated. I knew that I knew better, but I was unable to stop the vicious cycle of fear-anger-frustration, which was only leading to more fear-anger-frustration the more I tried to intellectually deal with my fear-anger-frustration.  This may not make sense to you but it surely does to me.
All I need to do is recognize what is going on and do nothing but acknowledge it and focus my attention on becoming willing to allow the Holy spirit to help me see things through His eyes.
I am finally getting back and what a difference that has made!
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#3 November 2014
Copyright, 2014

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Dealing With The Unreality Of My Fear

I’m very glad our elections are over. I’m very glad – whether I’m hearing a conservative or a progressive pundit – that I no longer have to listen to predictions that the sky is falling, our world is ruined and all hope is lost. I’m very glad the fear mongering is over – at least I hope it is for a while.
I do understand fear is a great motivator. I do not understand why those who want to be political leaders purposefully feel they must frighten the crap out of me.
This world I see is not the real world. It is the world of my creation being reflected back at me. It is like looking in a mirror and wanting to blame the mirror for making me view this unsightly mess. That’s not what I want to do. But that is what I do. That’s why I feel sick to my stomach – literally and figuratively – when I’m in one of these fearful episodes.
I understand that fear is the most difficult emotion for me to control while I continue to keep my focus on the fact that I am an already-loved spirit having a human experience. I am not a human, fighting all my fears in my outside-of-me world, in order to “save my eternal soul.” I am not who I think I am. I am already eternal. I am already loved. I am already light.  I am already at peace.  
I do have a sense of knowing this. It’s not an intellectual knowing. It’s an experiential knowing. I cannot explain it – I simply know it.
However, as I listen and watch the purposeful and intended incitement of fear and doubt when discussions are about the elections, about Ebola, about ISIL/ISIS, about the economy, about same-sex marriage, or about voter suppression, it becomes very difficult for me to deal with the unreality of my fear. It is both a fear of the messages as well as of the messengers.
Some have suggested that I not listen to the news at all. But isn’t that like sticking my head into the sand and pretending it isn’t there? For me pretending is not the same as dealing with the unreality of my fear. Walking around my house looking at little yellow “stickies” proclaiming positive affirmations (Fear is the opposite of Faith; Faith is merely Fear that has said its prayers) is not the same as finding my true center and enjoying the peace and serenity of being there.
So – why can’t I go there with more regularity?
I believe it’s because I have gotten so used to my fear it has become a type of addiction. I remember a bumper sticker that proclaimed: “If you are not frightened, you are not paying attention.” If I’m not frightened I’m not aware. If I’m not frightened I’m pretending. If I’m really frightened I’m really alive. That’s the emotional hook. My fear has become this kind of addiction.
Yet, when I do sit and center myself in meditation or with readings from A Course In Miracles (ACIM), I experience the peace, calm and truth that I know I am. Then my monkey mind leaps up and shouts for attention. I acknowledge it and it abates – only to repeat, over and over again. Sometimes I persevere. Sometimes I succumb. Then the literal and figurative sick-to-my-stomach sense of failure overwhelms me.
I wish I could state that each time I go through this cycle of fear it gets easier and of shorter duration. It would be nice, as the author of these messages, if I could present my strength and confidence. As of today, however, I cannot state that. I wish I could, but that’d be a lie. All I can do is share my ugly honest truth today.
Bottomline: I get through these fearful episodes by going through these episodes.
Take heart. This too shall pass.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#2 November 2014

Copyright, 2014

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Thunder Is Simply God Chuckling At My Plans

While I was away I came face-to-face with some of the projections I have been making. It was a real wake-up call for me. Although I can learn and believe in certain intellectual principles, there is nothing that drives those truths home like experiencing them in real life. That is what happened to me over the last several weeks.
My wife has a few fears that seem to drive her – and drive me crazy at the same time. I was vaguely aware that I shared a little of some of these fears, but not to the degree she did. Whew!
But I was wrong – very wrong – and what happened on our trip exposed that.
We argued and “enjoyed” quite a little spat. After the spat had run its course, I was still upset and angry. Remembering ACIM’s pronouncement (“You are never upset for the reason you think”), I tried to focus on what I was really angry about. I realized that a lot of what was going on inside me was a certain amount of blame I was placing on her. Why? For revealing – full-blown inside me – the identical fear that terrified her and that I had thought I didn’t have much of. Well, I can tell you I didn’t like that conclusion at all. “But, obviously, it was all her fault,” I weakly consoled myself.
What an idiotic rationalization!
Yet there it was and – actually – I finally understood it WAS all Felix’s fault. But this time, it wasn’t a rationalization. It was the Truth. My ego (Felix) was out in full force and I had been dutifully following along, saying: “Yes, Felix” and “I’m right here, Felix” and “Okay, Felix.”
I guess the good news is that for me to begin to change requires me to begin to acknowledge and understand when I’m wrapped up in the same old behavior pattern again. The earlier I can recognize this, the earlier I can make different decisions. After doing some of AA’s Fourth Step work on myself, I recognized what was truly going on. I recognized that the projections of my fears on her were simply coming back to bite me. I was seeing the “me” I didn’t want to look at. I was merely seeing myself as I looked at her, and I didn’t like what I saw. This is exactly what A Course In Miracles (ACIM) states: “You think you hold against your brother what he has done to you. But what you really blame him for is what YOU did to HIM. It is not his past but yours you hold against him.” [ACIM: T-17-VII, 8, 1-3]
That is the real meaning of the first of the Three R’s: Recognize; Release; Relax. [I discussed this earlier Msg-4-Aug-2014; The Power Of The 3 R’s]. However, as I was perusing my previous messages to find the correct reference to my discussion of The Three R’s, I also realized how angry I have been over the last couple of months. What has been going on? I recalled some similar experiences I’ve had as I was getting sober.  All these earlier experiences had followed the same pattern: Turmoil; Recognition; Growth.
Is that what has been happening to me?
I think so. My growth has always followed pain.
There is a statement old-timers in AA say: “God can't give you anything new until you let go of the old.” So – how do I know what “the old” is? How do I let go of “the old?“
I remember one particular incident when I thought (through Sixth and Seventh Step work) I had identified the character defects I wanted the God of my understanding to remove. Although I was praying for Him to do that, it simply wasn’t happening. I was frustrated. My sponsor kept telling me to let God decide what character defects I had to have removed. The ones I had decided to let go weren’t the real defects I had to have removed. The ones God was focusing on were already being removed – my trust in my intellect; my trust in my ability to express ideas; my trust in my ability to comprehend what I needed to hear from the experience, strength and hope of others. God was removing my defect of trusting, well, ME. How humbling was that?
I can no longer trust my intellect to decide what it is I need to let go, what I need to replace it with, or how I need God to “fix” me. If I can simply focus my mind on being unfocused – just for a little bit – and throw in a dash of willingness to see things differently, God will do the rest. He will work the miracle. In short, I am at my worst when I believe I know what’s best for me. Sometimes I think thunder is simply God chuckling at the plans I’ve made for Him to execute.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#1 November 2014

Copyright, 2014

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

I Always Grow Through Pain

This is from AA’s Daily Reflections, a book by alcoholics for alcoholics:
In the Reflection for October 7 the meditation is entitled Daily Monitoring. “The spiritual axiom referred to in the Tenth Step  – ‘every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us’ – also tells me that there are no exceptions to it. No matter how unreasonable others may seem, I am responsible for not reacting negatively. Regardless of what is happening around me I will always have the prerogative and the responsibility of choosing what happens within me. I am the creator of my own reality.
“When I take my daily inventory, I know that I must stop judging others. If I judge others, I am probably judging myself. Whatever is upsetting me most is my best teacher. I have much to learn from him/her, and in my heart I should thank that person.”
The Tenth Step of Alcoholics Anonymous states: “[We] Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it.” Hmmm – Continued to take personal inventory. Hmmm – continued to look within to “fix” whatever is wrong. Notice that the emphasis is NOT on trying to “fix” what’s “out there.” It is always an inside job.
AA has taught me that I always grow through pain. The exception, of course, is when I spend all my mental energy blaming and judging everything and everyone “out there” for my discomfort. When I do that, I also spend a tremendous amount of mental and emotional energy plotting, planning, fantasizing, and mentally meting out the just rewards of my revenge.
I try always to remember the little “as” in the Lord’s Prayer: …Forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us…. If you believe the typical images of many Christians’ idea of Judgment Day, you better believe I don’t want God to forgive me the way I forgive.
The easiest way for me to forgive is to never have blamed in the first place. For me to not blame is to focus on what was going on inside me. Why did I choose to react rather than respond? My anger, fear, dislike, disappointment is not with the person or event that triggered it. A Course in Miracles teaches me I am never truly upset for the reason I think. So, if it wasn’t the person or event, what was it? That’s what I try to focus on. That’s where the pain lies. That’s where my growth occurs.
I will be out of pocket for the next two weeks. I’ll talk to you later.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
Don
#2 October 2014

Copyright, 2014