In the Quiet with Gentleness

Good morning to each of you. May this day be a quiet one, filled with gentleness.

I really liked the search term, “in the quiet with gentleness.” It took me immediately to a place of serenity, of peace, and I felt my soul washed clean with the gentleness spoken of in the query. I am excited about the term, because it speaks so eloquently, yet simply, of the place where I live today, where you can live also.

When we have been on a journey of peace, searching for it, finding it, then we know quietness like never before. We have learned to see ourselves with gentleness, rather than the harshness of days past. We offer ourselves and others that gentleness, and it feels expansive in our soul. It is a deep knowingness that all is well.

How do we find the quiet with gentleness? We learn peace… peace with ourselves, peace with the world around us. We find forgiveness of others and ourselves; we actively seek this out. Our primary goal is to find that peace-of-mind and to live in grace, in gentleness. Ah, yes, gentleness is living in grace, that place of unearned favor, that quietness of the soul, where everything just flows smoothly.

This is a lovely place in which to live and I enjoy that place every day. But it wasn’t always this way. No, I used to be pretty hyper, very judgmental and critical, both of myself and others. I was angry and bitter, blaming everyone and everything for my woes. Then, after I found sobriety and worked at being sober in my life, I began to find forgiveness… of others and of myself and I began to live in gentleness of spirit, gentleness of soul.

It was a choice I made, to find that place of peace, that place of gentleness. You, too, can find that place. All it takes is willingness, and some work on your part. Let’s spend a couple of days and look at how to find that quiet place where gentleness resides. Over the next few days, I’ll write about the process I underwent in hopes that you, too, can find the place of gentleness, that place of quiet in your mind and spirit, you soul. Join me, won’t you?

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Despair and Trauma

Hi, all! The day dawns bright and clear here in my home town of Novato, just 30 minutes north of San Francisco. It holds promise of peace for me and I hope for you also.

Yesterday’s search term really spoke to me. It was “despair and trauma” and it spoke to me because I experienced trauma that caused me great despair throughout my life as an adult. My upbringing was physically and verbally violent, traumatic for me, and throughout my adult life, I drank heavily to quell the feelings of despair I felt over the incidents I experienced.

Sometimes, I got drunk enough that I lost all self-control and found myself wailing over my despair. I would keen for hours until I was cried dry. Even in sobriety, I experienced despair over the issue that I saw no purpose in having had experienced the abuse I did; there was no purpose in it other than to make my life miserable.

Then one day, I had the opportunity to be useful to another person who was struggling, simply by relaying what had happened to me and what I had been doing to heal from it all. He was so grateful for the information, he almost started crying.

As I walked to my car, I started crying because I suddenly realized my upbringing had been of use. I was crying tears of realization, of joy. My background had been something that allowed me to connect to someone who was suffering, and I was able to have compassion for their plight.

If I never would have suffered as I did, I never would have been on the healing journey I was, and what I learned never would have been helpful to that man. See how my upbringing suddenly became useful to another? I did, and my despair disappeared and has not returned since that day about 6 years ago.

You, too, perhaps, can quiet your despair simply by letting your experience with trauma be known to someone else who is struggling. Then, share what you have done to heal from that despair, things that have been useful for you, things that have given you even a little bit of hope.

It is my hope that you discover, as I did, that your heart soars because you used your trauma and despair to be useful to another. It is my hope that you find peace.

 

 

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How to Develop Tolerance

Good morning, all! Once again, the morning got away from me yesterday and I had to leave for work for the day before I blogged. I really don’t like people coming to my site to find my blogs and not finding a new each day. Yet, there is a wealth of information to keep visitors busy. 🙂

How to develop tolerance was searched for three times yesterday and today, so I thought I’d write my thoughts on that. The definition in Webster that fits my belief of tolerance is to recognize and respect another’s ideas or beliefs without sharing them. The definition goes on to say, to bear or put up with something that is not especially liked.

I suppose tolerance boils down to one saying that is a good motto to follow, and that is, “live and let live.” If we pay attention to our own affairs, and allow others to pay attention to theirs, we are that much closer to practicing tolerance. This assumes, of course, that the other is not being a harm to themselves or others. When they are being harmful, we do not tolerate that behavior or action.

If we dislike what someone believes in or is saying, then we can remove ourselves from the situation. What if we can’t? For example, I disliked the verbal abuse I was enduring as handed out by my now ex-husband. I couldn’t leave at the time. I wasn’t strong enough emotionally. Yet, it was a choice to stay in the marriage. And, I tolerated the abuse.

In retrospect, I see that I could have made good on my threat to leave much sooner than I did. I also could have employed lots of self-talk while being verbally put down, by building myself up, telling myself what he was saying were lies, that what he was saying was a reflection of his insecurities. Much easier said than done!

In the end, when we have the strength to do so, we can remove ourselves from the vicinity of someone whose opinion and actions we do not like and thus, tolerate them, while still taking care of ourselves. We allow them to be themselves while, at the same time, we respect and tolerate our own views and opinions.

Tolerance has to do with ourselves, also. We need to learn to tolerate our foibles and failings, accept them, and then move forward to correct them. We have the power to change ourselves and our behaviors, actions, and beliefs, and we can exercise that power.

When we act in such a manner, we end up finding peace-of-mind. How do you tolerate those people in your life that you find disagreeable? Have you tried any of the things I’ve suggested here? How did it work for you? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Fear of Emotional Sobriety

Good morning, all. I hope this day is a productive one for each of you. I actually started this two days ago, and the days got away from me, so I’ll try again…

I liked it that “fear of sobriety” was searched for twice, as I had been thinking of writing about whether sobriety was for you. Fear of sobriety fits quite nicely into that question. Before we dive into it though, I want to redefine the way I will now be looking at sobriety, which is what led me to add “emotional” to “sobriety.”

Sobriety refers to more than just abstaining from substances. It also refers to behaviors, and this is what I wish to focus on from here on in when I blog. I would like to define it as the act of developing more awareness – of self, others, and surroundings – as well as becoming more enlightened spiritually. It is about going through the gates of your heart, the gates of your life.

Webs of Fear

Using this definition, let’s look at fear now. Like a fly or some other insect, we each can get stuck in the webs of fear. My fear was not only about leaving behind the substances, it was also about changing my thoughts and behaviors as well. In fact, I didn’t even know that if I became more aware of myself and others, I would find peace-of-mind. And isn’t peace our goal? Don’t we all wish for peace-of-mind?

I was slow to wake up to self-awareness and especially awareness of others, as I was so emotionally damaged. It took doing a lot of work on myself to even identify what I was feeling! I was afraid to look at myself… fearful that I would find a nobody, a worthless person with no merit.

What I have found instead over the years is a highly compassionate and caring person with lots of gifts and talents. I discovered many strengths and character traits that I didn’t even know I had! Today, I can recognize and celebrate these.

It works that way when we do our emotional work, when we take a look at who we are at our core. It is scary, and the reward is immense peace that is gained. It grows on us. We become more self-aware, and thus, develop more sobriety. Also, as we become more self-aware, we become able to be more aware of others… their needs, their desires, and we become able to treat others with respect, kindness, and tolerance.

Said another way, when we become more self-aware, we are able to show more love to ourselves and to others. We also become enlightened in spiritual principles, such as gratitude and compassion. The end result of all of this? Sobriety in our behavior and more peace-of-mind.

Will you walk through the gates of your heart to more self-awareness, awareness of others, and the ability to practice spiritual principles? Or, will you continue to allow the fear of looking at yourself keep you from emotional sobriety? The choice is yours. Which will you make? Leave a comment and let us know. : )

 

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Surrender in Sobriety

Good morning, everyone! I hope this is a glorious day for each of you. Today’s search term I have chosen to address is “surrender in sobriety.”

When we surrender, our sobriety moves along much more smoothly. When I say surrender, I am referring to giving in to sobriety, or letting go of trying to manage our drinking. There are many points along the way where surrender will aid the pursuit of sobriety.

The first thing to surrender is the pretense that all is fine for us. To quote my book Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing and the verse Surrender of Pretense, “I am no longer able to maintain the pretense that all is fine behind my gate of false bravado and politeness. It is time to let others see the pitted and rusted metal that is me. It is time to come out from behind my gate”

Once we give up the pretense that all is fine, we need to next surrender our thought that we can manage our drinking and stay sober through our own willpower. This is a myth. People are told all the time by friends and family, “You are a strong person. Just exert your strength and you will be able to stop.” It doesn’t work that way.

We need to give up our efforts to manage our drinking, to become sober, and turn to others and a higher power for help. We need to give in to the process that occurs in sobriety. This means letting go of trying to manage and control everything, of being in charge of everything.

After giving in to our efforts to manage our drinking, we need to next surrender to a higher power in our lives that will guide us, if we allow it to do so. This higher power can be anything we want it to be: nature, God, Buddha, our favorite place to be. The point is, we stop making liquor our higher power and allow something outside of liquor and ourselves to guide us, to support us, on an on-going and continual basis.

The next thing we surrender to is a major part of the process of sobriety. This includes looking at ourselves and our behaviors, our actions, and then apologizing if it has harmed another person. We give in and realize we are not perfect, nor is our behavior. This self-appraisal is a major step to freedom and peace-of-mind. The process then includes an on-going look at our behavior, catching ourselves when we act or behave poorly. By doing this, we can right our wrong immediately; this will help tremendously to maintain our sobriety.

We now surrender to the positive things that will come our way when we have surrendered all the things I have discussed above. Sometimes we feel we are undeserving of the good that comes our way, but if we have surrendered to all the things I have discussed, then we are worthy of the good. Welcome it in.

The photo and verse above are from my book, Opening the Gates of the Heart: A Journey of Healing, which is an accounting of my journey of healing in sobriety. It is an excellent source of guidance for you to use through the feelings that surface in sobriety. Many claim they use it as a daily meditation guide. My book is available on this site, under the “Products” tab above. When you order my book, I sign it specifically for you. You can see examples of the pages under the “About” tab; then go to “The book.”

What are some of the things that get in your way of surrendering to sobriety? Or, have you found surrender to be easy? Please leave a comment and let us know.

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Rewards of Sobriety

Good morning on this foggy morning in the Bay Area. I was sitting on the front enclosed porch with my coffee, watching the day awaken, and the sky got a pink glow to it as the sun rose. Pretty soon, I was surrounded in pink. It was beautiful.

That is one of the biggest rewards of sobriety – being able to enjoy a sunrise without being hung over. I love not having hangovers. Used to be that I awoke and was badly hung over for about 6 hours, so much so that I couldn’t function, had to eat hot burritos from Taco Bell or a greasy thigh from Kentucky Fried Chicken. After I felt better, I functioned until 5 pm, when I started drinking and did it all over again.

What a miserable existence that was. I was missing out on experiencing things like sunrises. But in sobriety, I enjoy them and so much more. In sobriety, I find I am able to open my heart in a very genuine way to others and to myself. The feeling of really caring about another, seeing them with gentleness and kindness, is so soothing to my spirit.

Compassion is another emotion I am able to feel in sobriety and that allows me to connect with others in a very intimate way. My soul is fed when that happens. It has led me to forgiveness.

Perhaps the biggest reward of sobriety is my ability to look at myself – my actions, words, behaviors – and be responsible for them, fully responsible. It is humbling at times as I realize how I’ve treated another poorly, or treated myself poorly, had negative thoughts about myself, beat myself up. Being responsible for myself and my behavior has led me to inner peace, as I can settle the score with myself and others as I go through the day.

The reward of sobriety for me also includes being able to care for others in a deep and meaningful way. It’s hard to describe the feeling that evokes, but it feels great! I also have much more patience, and I allow others to be themselves, accepting them as they are.

So, a lack of hangovers, feeling more kindness, gentleness and compassion toward others, being self-responsible, and generally being more aware of my physical surroundings are my rewards of sobriety.

What are the rewards of sobriety that you experience? Leave a comment and let us know.

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PTSD Despair – the Conclusion

Today, we conclude the post about PTSD despair. Yesterday, we ended with me saying I wanted to share my experience of what was happening at the end, when I was praying to die. Here’s what was going on for me.

I had been in a state of decreased energy, of lethargy, for weeks, feeling that my abusive past had occurred only to make my life miserable. Other than that, there was no purpose to it, there was no purpose to me, to my life. This was my state-of-mind at about five years of sobriety. One day, I was at a group meeting for that sobriety, and a man shared about the difficulties he was experiencing from his childhood that were affecting him today. It sounded like what I had been through, but I was a few steps ahead of him in the process of healing. So, I went up after the meeting and began to talk with him.

I first asked him for permission to share some things with him. After he said yes, I related to his experience by relaying some of what I had been through. Then I began to talk of the books I had read that had been helpful with the symptoms of abused people, such as Claudia Black, Alice Miller, John Bradshaw, books that had helped with my healing. I relayed how wondrous my therapist was in dealing with recovery issues, both for my alcoholism and my abusive past and the characteristics I was displaying, and was able to give him her number.

What I had to say was useful to him – I could see it in his face, in his eyes. He was so grateful for the information, he almost cried. As I walked back to my car, I realized in a flash that I DID have purpose, my abusive past WAS for a reason. That reason was to help others who were dealing with what I had overcome, even if I was just two steps in front of them in a couple areas. If I had not endured the abuse, I never would have been able to offer him anything. Therefore, my abuse had a purpose.

I had a purpose. From that point, I realized my purpose in life was to connect with people who were suffering emotionally, and relay the things that had helped me, so that the information could be of use to them.

In your case, with PTSD, let’s say you are a veteran, reliving the trauma you experienced, the terror, living in anger over the grief of premature deaths you witnessed, dealing with the guilt that somehow you could have prevented it. You are living a nightmare, and, yet, I invite you to take action to get out of the place where you currently are. Here is what I invite you to try. It worked for me.

Seek assistance from a qualified therapist, versed in PTSD issues. They exist at VA medical centers, if you are a vet, and interviewing a potential therapist about their experiences with PTSD treatment will help guide you in the right direction in selecting a well-versed therapist. I looked for a therapist that was versed in alcohol recovery and who knew the effects and treatment for being an abused child, for example, because at the time, I had not been diagnosed with PTSD.

After you select a therapist, ask about the use of EMDR, or get that yourself. It was roughly $100 a session and I needed three. I would imagine the VA centers have someone available to do it or could refer you. Do some reflection about your feelings of despair, your lack of purpose in the world, your guilts, your grief… writing, journalling was extremely helpful to me to get feelings out, and especially because I wrote with my left, non-dominant hand.  They say that writing with the non-dominant hand brings forth new information from the other side of the brain, and it stimulates you with deeper thoughts. I invite you to try it.

I invite you to stop drinking, if you are doing so. The liquor fuels the symptoms that you are experiencing, especially the anger. I know it doesn’t feel that way when you’re in the middle of it. But your world remains very small while you are drinking, filled with resentments and bitterness, guilt and remorse. You look for relief for these things in the alcohol, yet you will never find them there. It is in the absence of alcohol that you will find relief. There are many resources to help you stop drinking that are listed in the yellow pages, or on the internet. For me personally, I found getting sober to be the beginning of the process that has allowed me to find the peace I looked for in alcohol and drugs. I invite you in from the cold. 🙂

Finally, I’d like to invite you to look at the cause of your PTSD despair, and discover how that experience, the experience over which you despair, can be useful to another if you were to share with them your experience and what one, maybe two, steps you’ve taken to heal. All you have to be is two steps ahead of them in the healing process. I cannot describe the way my heart soared to know I had been of use to another and I invite you to experience it also.

I hope these two posts have been useful for you. I wish you well in your journey. May you have peace.

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Living in Wonder in Sobriety

I was going to take Sundays off, yet I am pulled to the keyboard this morning to write again about sobriety. I don’t see anything in the search terms that grabbed my attention. There were two about having no value, however, and I just cannot go there this morning. I will say to those of you who feel you have no value, hang in there, and if you are struggling with a drinking problem, I invite you to try sobriety.

Sobriety is a powerful tool against the feelings of worthlessness, the feeling you have no value. Oh, you may feel those feelings more intensely for a bit after you get sober, just as you will feel all of your feelings more acutely, including things like joy and wonder. In other words, when you get sober, you will feel your feelings again, and you have the capacity to feel all the feelings along the continuum, from the very difficult to the sublime and empowering.

The sublime and empowering feelings are available in sobriety, just as much as the negative and difficult ones, but we forget to access them because we get so mired in the difficult ones. They consume our energy. We would do well to practice seeing the joy, the wonder… seeing with gratitude when we can. 

The more we can recognize the good and tender feelings in our lives, the sooner we will pass through the acuteness of the negative and difficult ones. Maintaining our sobriety is key during this process. When we keep on drinking, we delay the thing we need to do to get through to the other side… through to peace-of-mind. That thing is feeling our feelings, all of them.

Remember to look for the positive… the joy, the wonder in a flower along the way, or a child growing and experiencing life. Set the intention to look with those eyes, and soon, it becomes something we naturally do.  This took me years to learn to do in sobriety, as I got really hung up on myself and my pain. I wish I would have had this input; it would have saved a lot of heartache, or at least, would have given me a welcome reprieve from the pain of my difficult feelings periodically.

How about you? Do you make it a practice to notice the joy, the wonder around you? Or, are you mired in the difficult, the painful? If you are experiencing the latter all the time, I invite you to try looking with new eyes, and letting us know what that was like for you by leaving a comment. By looking with new eyes, the eyes of wonder, you will enhance your sobriety so much, and you will know your own value. Are you in?

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What Are Resentments and What Can You Do About Them?

Today let’s talk about resentments… grudges, anger toward another. Webster defines resentments as feelings of hurt or indignation from a sense of being injured or offended.

When feeling resentments, one is overcome by bitterness and anger. It’s a slow burn in the gut. Much emotional energy goes toward justifying  one’s resentments, leaving a feeling of incompleteness. There seems to always be a feeling that you are right and justified in feeling your resentments, but that does not provide relief from them.

If you experience resentments, you know what I am talking about when I say they produce a slow burn in the gut. You relive that anger again and again, over and over. Many people drink over their resentments. In fact, it is a well-known and documented fact that resentments are the number one reason people drink.

So, how does one get past them?

First, there has to be a feeling that you want to resolve your resentments. You are tired of that slow burn and the emotional havoc they play. To resolve a resentment after deciding you want to resolve it, you can follow the steps below.

Humbly look at the situation and determine if you did something to provoke another. Did you say something or do something to hurt another? If so, look at whether the other person responded in an expected manner in response to your actions or words. If this is the case, own your behavior. Recognize that you were in the wrong and give up the resentment. Apologize if that is indicated to set a situation right.

If you did not contribute negatively to a situation and can still say you were wronged, feel that wound, feel how devastating the event was. Grieve the loss from it… loss of trust, loss of safety. For example, the Vietnam vets who were wronged by the American people when they returned home need to consider how they lost their trust in the public. To come to resolution of their resentments, they need to grieve that hurt, that loss.

Now consider looking 180 degrees, with new eyes. Choose a life of peace rather than one filled with resentments and bitterness. To do that, hold yourself in compassion for being a wounded person. Before going on to the next step, allow yourself to feel that compassion for as long as you need. Try not to cross the line from compassion to self-pity. Compassion is open and expansive, while self-pity is closed and contracted.

Finally, consider that the other person was, in fact, wounded themselves and was demonstrating the humanness of a person in emotional pain. Offer them compassion for their pain. Keep repeating this process of looking at this person with new eyes until the resentment begins to lessen.

In the case of the Vietnam vets, consider that the American public was terrified, looking for something or someone to blame to lessen their frustration about what was happening at the time. In their ignorance and lack of ability to place blame in the right place, they unfairly took it out on the vets as they returned home. It is possible, even though that experience was horrible and highly uncalled for, to get past those resentments against the American people.

When you deal with your resentments in the above manner, you will find a freedom that is most rewarding. Your relationships will be more satisfying, and you will experience more peace-of-mind.

What has you trying to cope with resentments? Can you define one of your resentments? Follow through with the process above and see if that helps to lessen your resentments. If you notice a lessening of your resentments, leave a comment telling us of your success to resolve them.

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Finding Compassion in Sobriety and Sobriety in Compassion

Very interesting the search terms that were used yesterday to find my site. Two of ten known ones were about how to show compassion and six of the ten were about sobriety. I was planning on continuing today with compassion, so that’s why it’s interesting what showed up in the results.

Over half counted were interested in sobriety, so I will include sobriety in my discussion… I am always happy to talk about sobriety because it is such an awesome addition to the journey.

Compassion is another one of the actions you can take that will help to push open the gates of your heart. That compassion, once you learn how to do it, is needed for both others and yourself. It’s a double -laned highway on the way to forgiveness. Through forgiveness, you will find peace. I am jumping ahead. Let me refocus…

As you develop new ways to be in the world for others and yourself, consider adding compassion to the tools you use to promote peace within. I found I had no clue what compassion was nor how to show it until I was a few years into sobriety.  At some point, I began to notice the wonderful feeling of goodwill I had toward others, where my heart went out to them in a truly genuine way.

Without sobriety, I was too into myself… my fears, my ego, myself. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to be much concerned with what was going on with you. I am talking about concern that was more than superficial. I am talking about concern that makes me want to hear more of your plight, in an effort to determine how I can be of service to you.

This same concern for others that I show has to be shown to myself, also, in order for me to stay sober and to find more peace in my life. The same is true for you. You have to start learning to show yourself compassion in situations, for example, where you behaved badly because of some wound that was touched, some chord that was struck.

In that situation, if you can recognize that you were a wounded person in the moment you erred, needing some love and understanding, triggered to return to an original wound, then you can offer yourself compassion. Even, especially, offer yourself compassion for the ways in which you err against yourself with your negative self-talk, the criticisms, and beating-yourself-up.

This is virtually impossible to do if you are drinking and drugging, which is why sobriety becomes so important. You see, once you realize you have a wound that needs to be healed, the pain from that wound is exposed to the light and the pain may be intense. You want to deaden that pain, and perhaps use substances to do so.

But deadening the pain only prolongs the process you need to go through to heal and get to the other side of your angst. I experienced many times, again and again, that by exposing my pain and being willing to look at it, and to feel it, that it dissipated, resolved. I’m not saying the pain wasn’t excruciating at times, because it was and I wanted desperately to drink or dull the pain in some way or another.

Yet, my sobriety was my number one concern and I did not want to go back to the horror of my last several months of drinking. I did a LOT of journalling, brisk walking, and attending meetings of my support group. I did that for the first year and a half of sobriety. It helped. I also had a CD of soothing music, classical banjo and guitar, and I played it non-stop in the evening and night to soothe me.

I was showing myself compassion at the time, but didn’t know it as such.

You, too, can begin to become aware of how to treat yourself and your wounds, with great compassion. It will add to your sobriety, and your sobriety will add to your ability to show compassion to yourself. It feels really good. I invite you to try it for yourself.

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