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Spirituality = Reality

Discussion in 'Freedom from Hell ~ Staying Clean~' started by gettingbetter, Dec 5, 2008.

  1. teach07

    teach07 Well-Known Member

    Just wanted to say hello Dani. As a fellow teacher I so understand the need for students around you. I have said for the last several years that I am trying to discover Carol the woman because my identity has always been Carol the teacher!!!! My sudents validate me if you know what I mean. One of the most difficult adjustments I have had to make over the last 5 years is getting used to not being surrounded by students every day. Although I work with students one on one in their homes, its just not the same. That being said, I know you dont go to NA but if you have a basic text take a look at what it says about step 7. I find it very helpful when I am having trouble accepting life and my place in it. Much Love to you always Dani.....your SST!!!!!!!!!!!
  2. Trigger

    Trigger Well-Known Member

    wow dani-- you really do get it. not that i doubted it before, i've just never fully understood your blend of imperfect perfection. in case you don't hear it enough, you've been doing a really good job for the past 4 years, and i feel lucky to be your friend. the people in your life are lucky, but you know that. you don't give up on people, and that is rare.

    over the years, i sometimes ask myself, what kind of lifestyle would keep me sober? the answer is-- something that resembles your life. an intense amount of structure, full-time job that i love, and lots of independent study with completed art projects. no husband or kids, but lots of friends and interactive, dynamic relationships. being close to family, and having people that count on me... the spirituality thing is important, but hard to nail down...

    my own life hasn't turned out like that. i'm a freelancer, so every 6-8 months a project ends. art projects and obsessions die these dramatic deaths and i'm always left in darkness. cold, lonely, boring darkness. in the absence of everything, it is easy to use. and of course, these obsessions get born and die whether i use or don't use...

    buddhist practice and meditation continue to help me cope with impermanence of everything in life. how is your yoga?

    this all reminds me of a short Carl Jung interview i read recently, given right before his death. first off-- he said that every patient he treated over the age of 35 had a problem that required a spiritual solution. then the interviewer asked:

    How does one find happiness?

    and Jung's answer was: Happiness cannot be sought and discovered. One must wait for happiness, and greet it like a very dear friend that is late for dinner.
  3. Rainier

    Rainier Well-Known Member

    Jung was wrong. Wait for happiness to come courting, and you wind up dying miserable. You have to find happiness - and it can be an elusive creature..then you have to chase it.
  4. Trigger

    Trigger Well-Known Member

    hey rain-- boy do i owe you a post. ended up reading about ibogaine for 4 days straight last week, an eye opening experience. i had a lot of misconceptions about it.

    just by chance, i re-read that Carl Jung interview last night. it's just some lame medical yearbook from 1978, but i actually got what he said partially wrong. i'll quote him directly now:

    "the secret of happiness is unhappiness because man has fear, sadness and shadow over his life. those who seek happiness can never find it. it's extinguished when you seek it. you should wait till it comes, like the arrival of a guest late in the evening."

    surely you can't disagree with flux in life? it's not even a spiritual thing, it's a part of the natural world. in the Art of War, that guy explains flux by pointing at nature, seasons, the flow of a river, etc. impermanence is the one thing i'm entirely certain of, but i think i see your point-- especially when it comes to addiction. Jung seems to be discouraging people from being proactive, but he's just not mentioning the fact that things can either change for the better, or get far worse, depending on your actions... even if yer perfectly sober, it does not guarantee constant elation and enduring happiness. i'm pretty sure i use heroin/drugs so i can cheat this flux and control how i feel every single day. but of course, H does not guarantee happiness, that comes when it damn well pleases. *sigh* i really need to update my thread...
  5. Rainier

    Rainier Well-Known Member


    Of course there is flux. Life ain't all sunshine and kittens, after all...good days and bad, good weeks and bad - just part of living. But in seeking enduring happiness - by which I mean that most days are pretty damned good, and the package on balance is a positive one - I'm not waiting around for it to find me. I'm gonna chase it down and grab it by the balls.

    So far this has worked pretty well for me, and it keeps improving.

    And yeah, you can use dope to control how you feel, and it works well for a little while; but we both know that the only guarantee in that scenario is that sooner or later, you WILL be miserable, and there won't be enough dope in the world to fix it.

    I'll take the flux, thanks. And I say that after the worst week I've had in a while (and facing an ugly few weeks starting Monday)- during which I've still had some good times, and still spent time with some good friends.
  6. guinevere64

    guinevere64 Well-Known Member

    a kid is what occurred to me when i read your post above about wanting someone to love.

    i don't believe in total self-sufficiency. at least not for myself. i need to give love in order to feel human and sane. i need to have close relationships that touch me deeply.

    that said, i've also begun to think i need a period of time when i can learn that i can take care of myself. number 2 on your gratitude list would be good to experience at this stage of my life. i think life is leading me toward taking steps to make that happen.

    what would i do without my kid? aside from being smart, funny and beautiful to look at, he teaches me so much. i think of all the major mistakes i made while not sober, all the situations i got myself into by not-making decisions, by refusing to make decisions, by being passive, and i can see that not all of them turned out poorly. my pregnancy gave me my relationship with this kid, and it's one of the primary engines in my life.

    this year has been very, very hard for me, as you know. one thing i'm getting the hang of, finally, by surrendering into the endless difficulty, the ill health and the emotional upheaval, is to forget about controlling outcomes. i have to admit that i simply don't know what the fu ck is going to result when i take an action. i can try to make my life perfect, and other people look at my life and think i have a perfect kind of life, too--husband with secure job, healthy smart kid, huge house with seven stained glass windows and a whole empty city lot as a garden.

    getting the dog was a lesson that began to make amends for all these non-decisions. it was the exact opposite of the way i got pregnant, which was accidental. no: it was careless. i had careless sex without contraception because G Thought It Was Too Early In The Month To Get Pregnant. as if just thinking that would make it so. ... two years ago i fell in love with my friend Petra's dog Ginger and i waited 18 months to become clear about getting my own dog. i could feel the decision maturing inside myself, and while waiting i could feel myself wanting to solve it, to resolve it, to end the waiting, to just adopt a puppy so i would know how it would all turn out. in al-anon we talk about "not forcing solutions." i waited until it became eminently clear and until circumstances were correct--the way lao tzu might use that word. i wound up with a great dog and the help of my friend Petra, who also loves my dog. (she is my dog, no matter what happens.) the payoff is that my son also loves her, and it has been very important for him to have this experience too. ("Mama, I love my dohg." he calls her "dohg," with a long O.) and i've had the experience of taking care of a species i never thought i could love (i've always been a cat person). ... the dog loves me So Much. huge payoff for abandoning self.

    so i'm carrying this experience forward, as training in sober decision-making, as i wait for other questions in life to become clear.

    you've been very much a part of that, Dani. you asked me ages ago: Do you know everything will be OK no matter what? i didn't then, and i don't now, but i'm starting to. ...

    do you know how many times i look at the photo i shot of you that night in providence? thanks for sitting still for it. love /G
  7. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    I was going to just write for myself tonight, but I think I'll write here instead. It's been a while.

    Things are good: learning to live broadly and in the moment, sober, not thinking too much, not doing too much. Something in me hit a wall after I had that minor existential crisis in August. That makes things sound much more dramatic than they are, but this is not surprising. I am a drug addict and it is my nature to make things sound sweeping and dramatic.

    Sometimes the worst thing about living sober is that I cannot shut off - it is the best thing about sobriety, but I would say the most difficult thing about sobriety all at the same time ...

    What that looks like for me this evening, though, is as follows: It sure would be nice to smoke a joint and watch The Avengers alone here on Saturday night. I (think) sometimes I would love to be baked and watch Mark Ruffalo turn around and say "That's my secret, captain. I'm always angry." And then I would watch him turn into the Hulk, and I would eat a pizza and get chills down my spine as I watched the Avengers battle ...

    If that is the worst thing for me today about not being high, then I'd say that's remarkable progress from the delusions I used to entertain.

    I was supposed to go gambling tonight at Foxwoods casino in Connecticut for my best friend's 40th party. Woke up sick and couldn't go: spent most of the day reflecting, thinking, relaxing.

    Do you know what I spent time thinking about after I read all your replies above? Happiness.

    The assumption all those replies are based on is that we are all in some way ENTITLED to some form of happiness, that it can be found, that we DESERVE it in some way shape form. I don't think or know that the generations before us felt this way.

    I never told you what happened with that guy I got obsessed with at work. It is a long story but he got laid off last summer and after a long game of push and pull between he and I we became pretty good friends. We talk about divorce and life and write lengthy text messages to each other on occasion about what it's like, going through divorce.

    A while back, couple weeks ago, I asked him about happiness - I asked whether he was happy - and if he was still in the process of recovery from his divorce and/or learning to live life on his own terms in general. Here was his text message reply, which I thought directly relevant to this thread and my current/past experience:

    "I'm not sure I believe in happiness. It's very subjective and it always seems to be fleeting. As for being in the process, I'd say yes. But it's not directly involved. It was an event in my life that had an effect on that. It was a growing and learning experience. It definitely carried a lot more weight than some other instances in my life. It made me reconsider and challenge previously made notions and assertions. But in simple terms it's a fact of life. We're dynamic people in a dynamic world. Nothing is static. That's why I don't believe in this state of happiness that everyone strives for. Because even if you get there and have all your goals and dreams come to fruition, what's next? Life doesn't stop or remain the same once all those things are achieved. There is always something more. And those things (goals aspirations dreams ideals wants needs) that seemed so clear and defined change with time. It is good to have goals and have things you wish to accomplish. It is necessary to keep moving to keep learning to keep growing. But I wouldn't do it for happiness. I'd do it for fulfillment, pride, and contentment. Do it for yourself. Life is too short."

    See, finding out that I don't need to be perfect - that there's no real definition of perfect, that I'd realized all my goals in August and I was still the same old Danielle I always was - was huge for me.

    I haven't been very happy the past three months or so. But I haven't been unhappy, and I've always been me.

    I go to meetings, have a solid network in AA. I rely on yoga more than AA for my spiritual health. I am still a work in progress, and I don't know what comes next.

    It may be time to leave the school I'm teaching at, the one I attended, the one where I now teach. It may be time to move. Whatever happens at the end of this year, when contracts come out again, will dictate my next decision.

    Regardless I know that faith will move me foward.

    Another suggestion: Read The Mastery of Love by Don Miguel Ruiz.

    (i will love myself first and wholly and only truly me only me i don't need anyone else in my magical kitchen this i know this i believe this i repeat until i believe)

    Sometimes I pretend I am Artemis.

    But usually Katniss Everdeen or Sigourney Weaver (Ripley). :)

    I know ultimately it is true what Einstein proved, I think: that all energy is eternal

    that whatever energy i put into the universe is what i get back
    that what i accept is what i believe
    that if i do not have boundaries i cannot expect others to honor them
    that i am beautiful no matter what i weigh

    and that last one reminds me:

    the other day, in Bikram yoga, a woman came in ... obviously anorexic. obviously very sick. stared at herself in the mirror proud for a good ten minutes before class, standing. i had to physically work to not stare at her, she was so thin. hipbones were twin toy hatchets sticking out of her uniform. i couldn't believe she didn't break. seeing that obvious sickness was very eye-opening for me. and i'm sure she stared in that mirror and saw fat or flaws.

    because i know that addiction/delusion/anorexia are all the same animal = perceptual diseases brought on by delusion. at least that's what mine always was, always IS. I do not see things as they are.

    But I saw her. She jolted my reality and made me realize that oh my, things are not what they seem, and i was glad i weighed 141 pounds, i felt happy and healthy and robust and sexy. I was so glad I was not sick, physically.

    The road is long but we all step forward and if we are lucky we believe in love and tonight I pray for her.

    Life IS short, isn't it? As I approach 40 I realize this more, and more, and more.

    There IS nothing but love if that is the case!! Don't you agree???
  8. peacenik

    peacenik Administrator

    Hi Danielle It's great to hear you're well :) And I have a little time this morning so I'll just write this...hope it comes across OK I'm not a writer or academic you know ( lol :smile: )

    Yeah, I don't know that I'd agree with your friends message. He says he doesn't believe in happiness because "even if you get there and have all your goals and dreams come to fruition, what's next?"

    Well certainly, yes the feeling you get from accomplishing a goal, or getting something you want is fleeting but that doesn't mean that happiness can't be found, maybe just that you're looking for it in the wrong places?

    I mean think of the converse, suppose someone doesn't reach their goals, does that mean they're doomed to be unhappy? I don't think so.

    I remember years ago I heard a lecture about "love sickness" where the lecturer spoke of seeing someone across a crowded room, of long conversations,of the first kiss etc and said that stuff had nothing to do with love -that true love was about putting someone else ahead of yourself, about being willing to suffer. It sure as heck didn't make sense to me at the time.

    And then much later at an ACA meeting a woman shared that happiness wasn't having what you want, but wanting what you have. Well by then I had been through a couple serious heartbreaks and had to grieve the loss of what I had expected from my marriage and yes all the way back to the losses I suffered as a child. I had a bad childhood and my emotional needs were not met. It hurt me at a time when I didn't have any place to turn. I came to believe that having my needs met was the answer to my problems, but really, that was a mistake, really I needed to just let go, to grieve for the kid who didn't get enough love when it counted.

    I'm a lot older than you Danielle and I think some of these things just come with maturity, and having survived a few very tough times. But yes happiness is very real. It doesn't come from getting something it comes from being at peace with who you are. Of enjoying either reaching a goal, or not, and learning in the process. Like one of my faves James Taylor said " the secret of life is enjoying the passage of time"

    there you are :)

  9. Rainier

    Rainier Well-Known Member

    Yeah. Me too.

    I'm gonna agree with Dave that there is, in fact, such a creature as happiness. Also that it has a hell of a lot more to do with being at peace and content than with reaching goals or attaining something you want. The stupidest things sometimes make me ridiculously happy these days...

    Not that there is anything wrong with reaching goals; that is always worth celebrating. But I personally have found happiness to be much more about the journey, and enjoying the quest and the adventure, than about the destination. And for myself, well, the destination is a fluid thing, too. Goals, dreams, aspirations - all are subject to revision or outright change.

    You sound good, and it's good to hear from you again!
  10. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    I love that James Taylor quote, Dave. I have been thinking about it for the past couple of days. Thank you for your input. It's food for thought, because my friend/ex-obsession definitely does not have the market on happiness, that's for sure. There's more to that story I'll tell someday, or maybe not.

    RAIN, how are you. I do agree that happiness exists. I have been there many times. I guess it's the idea that we're entitled to happiness that I think about. But I'm going to stop fahhking thinking. It does me very little good insofar as the actual pursuit of happiness is concerned.

    I finally got a new sponsor. Older woman who I was taken with at a Big Book Step Study the first time I heard her spoke. This is what she said that captivated me: "I've attended a lot of funerals lately. And the last one I was at, I was staring at her collection of pictures she had everywhere and the box of ashes on the mantel. And I thought, 'so this is what it comes down to then ... our whole lives ... we end up as pictures and ashes, and then life goes on.' And I realized my affirmation to enjoy every single moment on this earth was all I had, and now my goal is to make as little of a footprint as possible on this planet, when before all I wanted was for EVERYONE to hear me. I just want to enjoy and to love."

    I knew right then that I wanted to know her but I didn't ask her to sponsor me until Monday night.

    On Thursday she looked through all my old inventory and we decided to reformat/redo it. And she grabbed me and took me into the sanctuary before the meeting and took my hands and we knelt and we said the Third Step prayer.

    As I started the familiar refrain she put her thumbs over the tops of my hands and stroked them very very lightly as we said the prayer and I was startled at the warmth and gentleness of that single solitary touch and how good it felt, and how long it's been since anyone really touched me with love in it. (I know this sounds sort of gay but I don't care.)

    I had that old piece of advice echo in my head, something Arlene said a long time ago - 'don't replace your higher power with a human one, namely, your sponsor' - but I don't think it was my own desire for human attachment resonating in that moment.

    I think it might have actually been whatever my embodiment of God has turned into. Because I actually want to call this woman. And work with her. And I want what she has.
  11. Rainier

    Rainier Well-Known Member


    Doing good, thanks. Happy, most days...

    That woman sounds awesome! I'm glad you found her. And no, that actually didn't sound even a little bit gay. Made perfect sense to me! I understand how powerful the need for that kind of human connection and love can be. And I'm glad you found someone with whom you can connect on that level.
  12. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    The other thing I failed to mention is that on Thursday a man got up at the meeting to present a chip. He said, "I have known this woman for 43 years ... she has been sober 25 of them. She lives and loves sobriety intensely and we have a great life together. I want to give this 25-year chip to my wife." And my new sponsor got up and got it.

    Thanks, Rain. It means a lot to me to meet a woman I feel I can connect with that I can learn something from. I finished my assignment tonight and I'm actually raring to call tomorrow. Weird.

    I need to read your thread.
  13. guinevere64

    guinevere64 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for writing, Dani.

    I think a lot about the adjurement to "want what you have." This becomes problematic if one chose what one has before one had a chance to mature and even approach experiencing who one is. If one suppressed parts of oneself early in life in order to make another person feel safe. If one chose what one has when one's primary purpose (as it were) was to make sure other people's lives went the way they wanted them to go.

    I also love what your new sponsor said about making a small footprint on the world. I think about this in terms of my work. When I wrote my first book 12 years ago, my purpose was to make a huge footprint, to slam it down and make people know I was there. When that didn't work I was angry. Now when I write, I write because I have to. It's just one of the things I do because I'm G.

    Yesterday mid-day I was walking my dog with my friend P, whose dog Ginger had made me want to have a dog. We were walking in one of the city parks and were climbing a trail next to one of the major four-lane thoroughfares through the city. Two does crossed our path, which is unusual because we were so close to the road and because it was mid-day. P had leashed her dog five minutes before so I'd leashed mine, which was lucky because the dogs would have chased the does and maybe run into the road. And as we stood there looking at the does, a buck stepped onto the path, following them. The dogs growled. He turned back but stood his ground, and as my little 40-lb black hunting mutt continued to growl at this huge animal, he raised his tail. (I had the feeling he was like flipping my dog the finger: "fu ck you, little b!tch! I am sooo much bigger, faster, and more handsome.") The sun shone through the puff of white hair. The does had strolled off but he was watching them because it's rutting season here in Pennsylvania. ... I think about these deer. And the dogs. They do what they do. They rut, they play, they eat, they hunt. Do they worry about how much of a footprint they make? they're just creatures, doing what they do.

    We all make footprints. Sometimes they're big, sometimes deep, sometimes shallow, sometimes we skid. The key for me is not to be invested in the size/quality of the footprint but to slide through life in the moment, like the deer. Like the dogs.

    I've been teaching Walker Percy's "The Loss of the Creature" to my college kids. When I was using, I always wanted to have the "it" experience he talks about. For me making a small footprint means not grabbing onto experience.

    Which sometimes means I have to mourn the loss of desires I can't have because I had sh!tty parenting and accept the fact that I can want what I have. And sometimes it means I need to admit some of those desires may come into my life if I open space for them, and that I might need to try to open that space, because I can't be happy with myself while trying to live with this situation I have.

    Even the deer need connection. Even the dogs, who have been neutered, need to jump on each other and bite each other's skin and roll around.

    Is wanting human connection equivalent to grabbing onto human experience? This year has been one of the hardest years of my life. I've had very little human connection, in part because I realized early this year that I never (ever, ever, ever) again have to have sex when I don't want to, how I don't want to, with whom I don't want to, no matter who the person is. Even unsatisfactory sex is some kind of connection. The no-sex part has been difficult but instructive: how much I have given up my body to other people's demands because that's what I was raised to do. How often I've said it was awesome when in fact it wasn't (for me). I've had certain kinds of connection or not had them based on what others wanted, not what I wanted. That was part of my sh!tty parenting. I had made other people into my higher power. Letting go of this way of life has been hard, I've had resistance to letting go of it because it is so ingrained in me to please others first, but my body has rebelled in the face of that resistance and I've gotten sick. I've bled and bled and become anemic and required surgery (someone I love suggested I was "bleeding out" because I'd rather bleed myself than live for myself and make someone else bleed). I had pneumonia for 6+ weeks and couldn't breathe or work out, and I had to hold still and not be distracted. I think you have suggested, Dani, that the loneliness of living alone is severe. I live alone with other people, and that can be lonely too.

    Anyway sometimes I just want to hold someone's hand. I sometimes hold my own hands. I quite often run my hands over the dog's sleek hair.

    There are a great many nerve-endings in a human hand. Design with purpose.

    Is there a difference between "attachment" and "connection"? Raising a kid, I can't say that I think "attachment" is a bad thing. My kid is "attached" to me. It's good. He knows he can always come back to this base. He knows where his body used to live—a place where no one else's has. I dislike the way so many people talk about being "hardwired" but I do believe our body-spirits are evolved to need this attachment. And connection. I'm a huge proponent of it. We need places of deep safety and we can't always provide that for ourselves. That said, people find attachment and connection in different ways.

    Has anyone heard from Arlene?

    love you, Dani. x /G
  14. peacenik

    peacenik Administrator

    No, not really G, because in that case, what you "have", what you would embrace, is change and growth.

    Wanting what you have means, to me at least, accepting who you are. It doesn't mean how much money you have or what job you have. If that were the case I'd still be broke :)

  15. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    Hi G :) I only have a moment here at work and way too much to say about what you wrote. But I do want to say that the loneliness of living with others when you are feeling it is much more pronounced and severe than the loneliness of living alone in my opinion. I bring this up because we've talked about it.

    I just don't want anyone to get the idea that the grass is always greener on the other side. I have always struggled with that type of thinking and I work on it daily. I think it's an addict thing.

    I still struggle with connection. I had to get used to being so self-sufficient when I first moved in alone that I eschewed most/any profound connections, especially the ones I couldn't control. Now I am realizing that I have to build them.
  16. Rainier

    Rainier Well-Known Member

    I just want to say one thing about wanting what you have.

    Today, I want what I have, because I can sum the essence of that up in one word: possibility.

    I didn't always have that...and it is a powerful thing.
  17. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    "The less I needed, the better I felt." - Charles Bukowski
  18. OnMyWay

    OnMyWay Well-Known Member

  19. gettingbetter

    gettingbetter Well-Known Member

    Thank you Ariel. I can't wait to see that.

    Why I Am Posting Today:

    Today is two years sober following a relapse in early 2011. I've been in CA/AA since August 2008, however.

    I post this not for the "yay atta girl you have two years rock on" because I'm not terribly dialed in to the time I have anymore. I do post this because it was very, very important for me to get the hell off my arse after the relapse and look at what was and wasn't working for me and what I needed to do to move forward.

    I am very thankful for that relapse. It taught me a lot about humility and willingness that I don't think I would have learned any other way. Two years past it, I can say that it made me examine a lot of other areas in my life in a new light.

    It is an incredibly lonely and gray day. But my cat is in a ball next to me, I finished my master's degree, and I am sober, and this is the only life I have. I will live it with as much dignity and humility as possible, and I will be of service to others no matter what. In fact, instead of feeling lonely, I should get off my duff and be of service now.


    and oh yeah p.s. If you relapse just get the hell up and do it again. No shame in that. In fact, I would say that my relapse has enabled me to be of service more than anything else in this program. Not a dang thing wrong with being human. I don't think so anyway.
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  20. teach07

    teach07 Well-Known Member

    Congrats on the 2 years Dani....and I get the whole not dialed in to the time so much....but....2 years Is a long time and a lot to be proud of!!! Glad to hear things are going well for you and another congrats on completing your Masters....that's awesome!!!! Life continues for me....still loving the HH job....thank God every day for it.....this is my 32nd year in education....damn I'm old!!!! Hit the 4 year mark in November and like you said its not the amount of time so much as the quality of it that counts....good days and not so good days....as long as I dont pick up it's gonna be okay!!!!

    Lots of Love.......SST

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