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Though we come to this path of recovery shattered, fragmented pieces of ourselves we are still beautiful human beings. The actions and substances we have taken in an effort to feel whole and complete are the very things that have left us in this broken state. We find in recovery through the 12 steps something that will actually mend the broken pieces. Through recovery we discover our own beauty.
We are mended using what we can call the gold powder of the 12-Steps, yoga, meditation, connection with a higher power and being of service to others. These are the elements that make up the golden lacquer of the path of recovery. When we use these tools as the golden glue in which to mend our broken pieces, something incredible happens. We become transformed into an entirely new being more beautiful than what our original self could have been.
When we look in the mirror, our cracks are still there, filled in now with unique golden lines. We see the cracks and our defects of character more clearly. Maybe we felt like fragile dolls before, too vulnerable, too fragile to live without our addictions. Through recovery we know where we have been and we are better now for having been there. We continue to take personal inventories, and make amends whenever necessary. We have combined our fragility with resilience to find a life of such richness that we never could have imagined. We have been damaged, have a history, but now we are more beautiful with our scars and cracks filled in with the golden powder of recovery.
NEW MOON in Aries is the beginning of the Astrological New Year, spring time inspires us to bring in the new. Aries is the sign of the self, and sets in motion the internal and eternal quest for “Who am I?’ and “Who am I now?” We are inspired at this time of year to make changes, clean out our closets, and try new things. We are encouraged to find and trust our own unique expression to embody the changes and the energies we wish to experience.
We literally are able to set the seeds we planted last Winter Solstice into motion. Aries is a go-getter, enthusiastic and all about motion. The old aphorism of Spring fever is true, it moves us to say to ourselves “Where do we want to go? What do we want to do?” We certainly don’t want to stay still and work!
In our quest to define who we are Aries energy can be very cerebral, impulsive, and self-centered. During this time we may need to be reminded that “The hardest journey is from our head to our heart. But once we get there, we’ll know who we are.” When I am feeling comfortable in my own skin, I know who I am and can therefore have compassion and love for everyone I encounter. When I am scrambling to find myself, I stumble, and sometimes inadvertently trip over others feelings. During the month of Aries our competitive energies may also be engaged. We may think we have to “be the best”. That’s when the compassion in Maya Angelou’s statement helps me to pause and find compassion for myself. In recovery I am learning that I am doing better rather than getting better. My soul’s already whole and wonderful, it’s my brain, and heart that need convincing of that truth. Aries people can also be great models of self-compassion, where they believe “all I need to do is do my best today, and then maybe do better tomorrow.”
We must each find our courage—an Aries trait—to become the people we are meant to evolve into. We are challenged to bring our ideas, our love and our purpose to help the larger community. As we find ourselves, we are then able to bring our unique gifts into play. As we share our gifts, the more we find ourselves. The question “Who am I now” becomes a guide to action and more action. What would our future be like if everyday we knew we did our best, and looked for the option of doing better tomorrow?
Perhaps you are like me. All my life I have been told “I am too sensitive”, “too intense”, or “just too something. As a child I took that in as there was something wrong with me, that I needed to cover, adapt, or pretend better. Now as an adult I am finding that these traits can be gifts. They help me to write, to be intuitive, to care about people, to be deliberate in my way of speaking.
With psychological tests I seemed to perch on the edge, neither completely introspective or extroverted. I like people, and I need quiet time to recharge and come back to balance. With all the recovery work I have done, therapy I have undergone, meditations I have focused on there was still a place that felt broken inside. I often asked myself why couldn’t I stop being hyper alert, stop being overwhelmed so easily, stop caring so much about others.
Hearing the symptoms, taking the self-test, and discussing this with friends on FB I am accepting that I am and always have been a Highly Sensitive Person. There are positive attributes of Highly Sensitive Persons that can be remembered as DOES:
- Depth of processing.
- Over aroused (easily compared to others)
- Emotional reactivity and high empathy
- Sensitivity to subtle stimuli
Take a self test here on Oprah.com http://www.oprah.com/spirit/Am-I-Too-Sensitive-Highly-Sensitive-Person-Quiz
This is what I found: you’re a Highly-Sensitive Person (HSP)
With your hyperawareness come many strengths. HSPs consider matters deeply and often have unique and interesting perspectives. You are intuitive and tend to be an emotional leader (the first to be outraged by injustice, for example). But because you’re so tuned in to the subtleties of your surroundings, you can feel overwhelmed in chaotic environments. You’re not necessarily shy or introverted; you simply think more clearly when you’re not overstimulated—which is why navigating unfamiliar places and meeting many new people at once (think cocktail parties or client presentations) can be especially taxing. To avoid shutting down in such situations, it can help to prepare in advance. Rehearse what you want to say. Brainstorm conversation starters. Bring a friend for social support. Take frequent breaks. It’s crucial for HSPs to build downtime into their lives. Make rest a priority at least one day a week. Take time off every three months. Learn to meditate. And try not to overextend yourself when it comes to family and friends. Thanks to their affinity for reading other people’s emotions, HSPs frequently dole out more support than they can afford to give. To handle your physical sensitivities, choose decaf tea, coffee, and sodas. And carry a snack with you (preferably some form of protein) so you never get too hungry. Finally, keep in mind that HSPs tend to change careers several times. More than most people, you crave meaningful work—but a job that’s too stressful won’t make you happy. It may take several tries to find the right fit.
September is national recovery month. What comes to your mind when I say recovery? Recently at a Yoga and recovery retreat at Yogaville, VA I heard this: “What do they mean by recovery? I just had oral surgery, and I am recovering from the treatment. Is that recovery?” In her experience she was in recovery. I have been in recovery from cancer, and in recovery from addictions. Both have their unique challenges.
For most of us who are in recovery from a physical, mental and emotional addiction, our only solution is a spiritual one. Reaching for a spiritual solution is opening to a power greater than the everyday minutiae of life. That power is beautiful and all about love. Finding that beauty in me, and the universe around me is a huge part of my recovery. My spirituality is always creative; it is at the center of all that is good, noble, and inspiring.
For most of my life I have had an awareness of the beauty of this world and an appreciation of what people can produce. Sobriety has made my writing as an art form more accessible. Sobriety helps me to broaden my horizons and see all the beauty around me. Today I see beauty everywhere in paintings, sculpture, music, literature, and the art of nature. Personally I cannot paint or draw more than stick figures, however, I appreciate and have a feeling of belonging to the beauty of this world. In a sense, it all happens and takes shape through me. The deepening of my spirituality has brought the beauty of the universe into my life to a greater level than I thought possible.
Today I know I walk in beauty. My meditation is: thank you for the desire and ability to re-create Your splendor through my experiences.
How we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to go to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am enough, and worthy of love. I am enough! What a concept! Would I rather think I am enough than think I am damaged goods? You bet. Would you rather feel worthy and loveable? I am sure. What stops us from feeling whole, brave and accepting all of who we are? What will help us to realize that we are not damaged, or that there are no mistakes? What are the tools we have or can create to change those beliefs?
This message of being damaged goods is pervasive and insidious. It can also be a self-fulfilling prophecy. We may say to ourselves, “I think I am damaged therefore I act like I am damaged. And if I act like I am damaged then I don’t have to act out of self-respect let alone self-esteem.” Thinking we are damaged may be at the root of casual violence, drug use, or any form of self abuse. The thought that we are damaged is wholly based in shame. When we create awareness of how we carry shame in our lives we take our first steps towards freedom. I am, and hopefully you are, ready to change that message.
Do we carry shame like some kind of emotional genetic code? Does our parents shame becomes our shame? Maybe it doesn’t look exactly the same. My mother was ashamed of her immigrant mother, my father was ashamed of his hillbilly father. My shame comes out in second guessing and berating myself for apparent mistakes. Are we carrying shame around as if it is the sweetest smelling nosegay when actually it is a “hot mess” as the teens are saying these days?
Awareness of these messages of shame is the first step. Maybe the second is the realization that shame is carried forward through our families. My mother was ashamed so therefore she shamed me. If I can let her off the proverbial hook, then maybe I can do the same for myself. And only THEN we can create a tool that addresses these beliefs at the unconscious level. To simply notice something may or may not change it…however, when we interrupt the negative pattern and consciously reprogram the unconscious change is more likely to occur.
Most of us ‘try’ to change our idea of being damaged goods at the level of willpower. As in “I won’t think that way anymore…I will not think that way anymore…I will not think…oh shoot! I am back there again.” If we are still doing the same thing, can we continue to be surprised when we get the same results?
I had a conversation with a mentor the other day. We were talking about the pattern I still have after all these years of therapy and recovery of being upset by little things that did not go as planned. I used to call them mistakes and grind them into me like a broken record. She and I were talking on the porch of a grocery store, and just inside the door was a large sign that said, “Thank you!” And I realized that I could say thank you, when I have turned left instead of right. Thank you when I did not have the answer to a clients question. By saying thank you I am acknowledging that there might have been a reason for the left turn, or for saying “I don’t know”. I can be grateful that each time these alleged mistakes happened they provided me with a chance to do something different. The first time I said thank you rather than berating myself the feeling of freedom and internal space was sublime.
You may already know that you are not damaged. You may already realize that you are worthy and loveable. What do you do to change your beliefs around shame, being damaged or making mistakes? What do you do to claim that you are indeed “Enough”?
Dr. Brene Brown “The vulnerability paradox: It’s the first thing I look for in you and the last thing I want you to see in me. Trying to remember to show up and be seen today!”
Being vulnerable as an adult is about feeling safe in the world. A friend shared this wonderful affirmation – In my world of loving, generous, joyful stable souls I am safe moving forward with my gifts and dreams. When I say the word “safe” my heart takes a giant leap. I have to breathe in I am safe, I am safe, I am safe. Now if only I could wave a magic wand and convince all of myself this is true life would be so different. Because those moments when I know that the world is safe life is wonderful.
By now I have learned that feeling vulnerable doesn’t have to hurt. Growing up with my father’s bullying behavior shaped my life and instilled a form of PTSD in me. I was not safe being myself and definitely felt alone. As an adult memories of abuse get triggered when I feel scared and alone. Then I feel powerless just like I did when I was a child. When I am caught by these anxieties I forget that I am no longer a child. Feeling vulnerable can send me into a panic and the anxiety builds. That’s when anxiety girl takes over to find a solution to whatever problem is causing me discomfort.
Most of my life anxiety girl was the mask I wore. When I was caught being her I was careful where I would be seen and often stopped myself from attending parties or other social events because of how vulnerable I felt. I would do anything rather than feel the anxiety. Besides hiding there were other remedies that I sought to soothe that anxiety. Anxiety girl was always hungry. Or if she wasn’t hungry she was thirsty. Anxiety girl always needed more escape routes whether it was FB games or reading science fiction. Soothing the anxiety was a full time job.
The good news is that the mask of anxiety is changing. Anxiety girl does not have such a strangle hold on me or my emotions. Instead of soothing her with substances, or escape I am writing more. Daily I am walking more out into the world with my heart open as I am safer being me. I can breathe when I take risks. Instead of fighting the powerless feeling I am accepting that there is a solution to feeling powerless. Instead of feeling alone, I am reaching for a power greater than me and feeling comforted by that power.
Today how I react to being vulnerable can change from day to day. Some days I still feel so vulnerable I can’t bear to be seen. Other days vulnerability is a powerful place that exists in me, a place that exists totally without fear. It’s just me being human walking out into the world heart open.
What do you think? What does vulnerability mean to you? How do you react to being vulnerable?
The human condition. Today I will call it the process of remembering and forgetting. Remembering that I am spirit and divine. Forgetting my true nature. How many times a day do I go through that process? On a good day frequently and always returning to remembering. On a bad day I am lost in the forgetting. Fortunately there are guides to help me stay in better spiritual condition. Last week I attended a retreat at Yogaville.
Ayurveda and Durga Leela offered us the Six Tenets of Recovery, incredible tools to encourage, and support the process of remembering. www.yogaofrecovery.com
Life is Sweet. This tenet is a reminder that I can absorb sweetness from all aspects of my environment. All I need to do is open my senses to the bliss that appears in each moment. That can be a friends smile, the sound of a cardinal singing in the tree outside my window, or the taste of a fresh peach.
For most of us our first taste was mother’s milk the essential building nutrient for our bodies and our emotions. We hold onto the memory of that sweetness. We long for it and search for that feeling in healthy and destructive ways. When we are not dealing with people well we abuse that sweet taste with addictive people and substances. We grasp for something to fill us, anything to avoid the pain of loss of that state. Then nothing compares with the memory and we are lost in the forgetting.
The first step in coming back to remembering is a big one. I have to own that I am powerless over my thoughts and longings. As I accept that powerlessness I can surrender the grasping and searching and become a willow tree bowing and bending in a dance with the wind. Some days this requires no effort on my part. On other days I am like a salmon caught in a rill trying to bump my way out. Today is a good day. I am remembering well.
Where are you on the wheel of the human condition? Are you remembering, or are you forgetting who you are?