going out on a high note

You know how it feels when one of your favorite TV shows has peaked and begins to get desperate for story-lines? It can be so disappointing when the last few seasons feel forced, contrived or boring. If only the producers could recognize that we want to remember the show as it was when it was at its best; that it we want it to go out on a high note.

My time in quarantine brought so many gifts into my life, so many epiphanies. One of which was that I am finished writing for this blog. I’ve said what I needed to say. I told my story of active addiction; what got me there, how I survived, and how I am thriving today.

It isn’t a popular opinion among AA and NA’ers but I don’t identify as an addict any longer. It is part of my past that has enriched and informed my present, but there is no longer a need to relive the memories. I’ve moved forward, ascended, and now I have a new message, a new voice, a new purpose.

As that new thing develops, this one is put to rest. I will always keep this domain live, though, because I believe the messages that lie within transcend time and will always be relevant to someone. And to some degree, the messages will always be relevant to me.

I look forward to sharing with you my next chapter. Love and blessings.

Dallas

rewiring the heart

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Photo cred: https://unsplash.com/@judebeck

the color purple.

There were about four families who weren’t white out of the entire southern West Virginia county where I was raised.  This was a sheltered and skewed microcosm of how the world coexisted.  With limited exposure to diversity and enveloped by prejudice, the world-view I developed in regards to race was narrow to say the least.   I was taught implicitly to develop mistrust and disdain for “those people.”

I made a vow at about ten years old to be everything opposite of my father, and that included racist comments.  So, when I turned eighteen, I married and moved out of the county as fast as I could to the nearest city.  In Bluefield, WV, the demographics were dramatically different. At this point in my life, I equated being tolerant with being nice to people of color, having work friends who were black, and of course never using the “N” word.

I thought myself a pretty evolved young man until 1997 when I took a job as a bank teller.  The drive-through of this particular bank was a detached glass box sitting alone in the far-end of the parking lot.   It didn’t take me long to befriend a beautiful African-American woman named Ellen.  We hit it off beautifully; constantly laughing, singing, or attempting to dance within the confined space of the structure.  This friendship was something I was to proud to cultivate.

On one busy Friday afternoon, I was conducting a transaction for an African-American woman.  As I finished up and sent the drawer out to her, she pointed over to Ellen, who had her back to me, helping customers on the other side.  I turned and tried to get Ellen’s attention so she could speak to the lady, but she was so busy with her transaction she didn’t hear me.  The lady in the car began to drive off a little, so I raised my voice.  “Ellen, this lady over here wants to say hello!”

Ellen, still looking down at her paperwork asked, “Which lady is it?”

My brain must have gone into some sort of over-analytical state.  In a split second, so many thoughts rushed through my head.  I needed to use a descriptive word for the lady. I had heard all of my life that the term African-American was an entitled and stupid way to describe black people.  I had never once used it.  And the other word I grew up with would definitely not be acceptable.  So, I landed on what I thought was the safest word.

“It’s the colored woman.”

My hands are sweaty as I type this, my body reliving the sinking feeling I had in my stomach just after those words left my mouth.  It was if the entire world took a gasp as everything in the drive-through went silent.  Ellen immediately dropped everything in her hand, whipped around, peering at me over her bifocals.  “COLORED?!  COLORED?!” She stood staring at me, hands on hips, her jaw dropped in shock.  “Well what color is she?  PURPLE?!”

I instantly turned red and wouldn’t make eye contact with her.  I was embarrassed.  I took the next customer hoping the issue would be dropped for now.  In my ignorance and naivety, I was just trying to use the right word.  In retrospect, why I couldn’t say something like the lady in the silver ford is beyond me.

I could see her staring at me through my periphery.  “Who raised you, anyway?” She went on to say some other comments that, very reasonably, lasted throughout the entirety of the shift.  Thankfully, we were able to talk it out a few days later and now she is a very dear friend of mine.

Ellen had an excellent point when she asked me about my upbringing. Some people, like Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief, site that 95% of our current reality is being operated by the programs installed into our subconscious during the first seven years of life.  Installed programs refers to the beliefs and attitudes a child is surrounded by during those vulnerable early years when the brain is recording with intensity.  That situation showed me that there were subconscious programs running in the background of my brain about black people that weren’t in alignment with how I saw myself.

I refuse to place blame on anyone who influenced me as a child.  As an adult, it is my responsibility to take time for self-examination, expose my beliefs and hold myself accountable.  All I knew at twenty years old was that I didn’t want to be a racist, but I didn’t know how not to be.  As the years went by, I prided myself in using socially-accepted terminology and tried hard not to label, judge, stereotype; to treat everyone equally.  That was my definition at the time of being tolerant.

And then the Universe brought me the Target incident.

a target on my back.

Fast-forward twenty years to 2017.  Although I feel my worldview evolved through the years, I will admit that until I physically (and emotionally) experienced pure racism in person, I had doubts about its existence.  And when I would hear of racist acts, my response was to minimize the severity.  Outward expressions of tolerance do not overwrite internal beliefs.  

At one point during active Meth addiction, I decided to become a dealer. I took on a “business partner” named Zeek (not his real name), an African-American man who had been a former dealer with connections across the state.  That whole story could be a chapter in a novel.

One day as we drove toward Raleigh, NC, the car sputtered on the last drops of gas and we drifted into the parking lot of a convenience store.  I was beyond frustrated.  After stopping, a single cigarette rolled from under my seat.  I had been without smokes for a while, so I delighted at this unexpected gift.  However, all the lighters in the car were empty.  For the first time in my life, I decided to steal.  For over forty years, I had never stolen anything on purpose.  I walked into the store, straight to the counter, and scowled at the employee.  I kept my eye contact with her and reached up and grabbed a lighter.  I turned around and walked outside and lit up.  I had found a new high–the exhilaration of getting away with theft.  Zeek told me that that he would never have gotten away with that.  I scoffed.

I then became severely addicted to shoplifting.  My tactic was simple: I donned a nice suit and strolled through Target, filling my cart with whatever I wanted.  I would then simply walk out the front door.  Never once was I questioned and as far as I could tell, I was never given a second glance.  I was using white privilege to my advantage.  At the time I thought I was just a great thief.

I convinced Zeek to join me as I had concocted a two-man job.  He was very reluctant, arguing that he would profiled.  I assured him that this particular Target’s loss prevention team was very loose.   Here’s what happened: we were followed from the moment we entered the store, through every aisle, until we left.  We were trailed, practically on our heels, by two different employees.  I was so discombobulated that I couldn’t steal. I remember taking something off the shelf and seeing an employee moving closer to me, watching with intensity.

Zeek, typically an extremely secure individual, became meek, watching over his shoulder in fear, body slumped.  My mind was blown. And honestly, my heart was hurt.

After leaving, Zeek was relentless with “I told you so!”  He had every right.  I had never in my life felt so uneasy and criminal.  I was shaken by this, and my eyes were opened to an entirely different world.  (Note that I returned to that store and stole repeatedly following that day, so we weren’t being followed because I had been previously identified and somehow flagged.)

Since that experience, I developed a newfound appreciation for the plight of the black person in America.  My worldview was expanded.  I use the Target example every time the issue of racial profiling comes up to demonstrate its validity.  As if the validation from a white man makes it more true.  But, sadly, many times it does.

it’s not you, it’s me.

The death of George Floyd and subsequent events has reignited within me the fire of self-examination.  This process is raw, vulnerable, and uncomfortable.  I long to be exposed as I move from the head space to the heart space.  This journey has illuminated a broader scope than just the issue of me being a racist. I’m beginning to learn what I believe about everything external to me.

One of Neville Goddard’s most frequent topics is his assertion that everyone is “you pushed out.”  What this means to me is that my internal beliefs about people–and more importantly myself–drives the roles people play in my life.  This sounds very mystical to some, but I have personally experienced this phenomenon first-hand to such a high degree that I accept it as fact.

Everyone being you pushed out is a theory that your reality is a mirror reflection of your state of consciousness.  I began seeing Goddard’s theory in action while experiencing the energetic pendulum principle at my job.  Once I began altering the beliefs I have about people, they either changed or left my life.

To illustrate, let’s use African-Americans customers as an example.  I have been waiting tables for over 25 years now and everywhere I have ever worked there is a common belief that black people do not tip well and complain about their food.  Please note that I have only been a server in restaurants in the South, so that could have something to do with it.  But, if you don’t believe me, ask a server who will be honest.  

During the time I was learning to use the power of choice when it comes to feeding energetic pendulums, it was not limited to the snobby lady who sat in my section all night. Black people were also on the list.  At first it was difficult.  My mind had been running this same program of expectations about black people for so many years, that my reaction was instantaneous.  I was pretty appalled at how my mind had learned to function over the years, even after the Target incident. In my heart, I truly believed a story about people before I even met them!

Over time, I found a Universal principle at play: when I believe black people won’t tip well, they won’t tip well.  If I truly make a change in my heart space and believe that everyone is the best versions of themselves and that I was going to have a wonderful and profitable exchange with a black table, then that’s exactly what transpired.  Every time. Does this fix racism in America?  Maybe not.  But, for me, personal evolution is the first step in radical revolution.

Again, this goes beyond race for me.  During my daily self-discovery I have observed ingrained beliefs about groups of people based on weight, zip code, mannerisms, profession, etc.  It takes work to remain in awareness of your thought patterns throughout the day, but the more I practice the more enlightened about myself I have become.  I literally judge people all day long.  And the judgments I make about others will inevitably dictate their behavior.  That is the way it works.  Everyone is me pushed out.  

Catching on to this principle, I then realized that I had beliefs about individuals in my reality as well.  I found that the people in my life who were acting in ways I did or didn’t like were simply playing out roles that I believed about them.  For example, I had a belief that my daughter was a negative person.  I found myself thinking: “she is so negative.”  I would talk to my mom about her: “she is so negative.” I found in my journal where I had written about her negativity.  I had latched on to that role for her and the Universe continued to show me how lazy she was in countless ways.  So, when everyone is you pushed out, the first place to go is inside.

I have found that the only real change in my reality comes when I make changes in my own mind and ultimately my heart.  Instead of telling other people to change or wishing things were different external to me, I have found pure magic in shifting my own programming.  It all begins with a mantra for me: “Lili is such a positive person!” Then that evolves into meditation where I imagine her saying something positive to me or her friends.  Then, when I least expect it, I notice that she has said something uplifting or has perceived a situation in a positive light.  That’s when I latch on, lean into the gratitude, and something in my heart begins to shift. My belief about her evolves.

under construction.

The issue of racism is important, and I feel its demise is part of a world-wide awakening.  At least it feels like I am waking up.  Unconsciously, I have allowed my identity and my reality to be shaped by programming written by environmental factors (including media, friends, literature, culture) and centuries-old DNA coding.  To live in a world driven by external forces feels like mental hijacking.  Becoming awakened to this puts me in the driver’s seat.

I do not accept this programming as a reflection of who I AM.  I recognize that my heart could use some rewiring. I am remorseful about how I have perceived and behaved toward others–but I don’t feel guilt.  Guilt says that I have gone against my morals and that makes me a bad person.  Guilt drives my codependency to do things in hopes of being liked by someone else.  Remorse says I have gone against my morals but the intention of my heart is to rectify the situation.

As I have grown more in love with myself, I have grown more in love with everyone around me. I realize that the more energy I devote externally into what other people ARE or AREN’T doing is simply perpetuating whatever it is they ARE or AREN’T doing.  Everyone is me pushed out.  Revolution begins with and through me.

Please feel free to comment and add your thoughts.

how my inner child became my ally

 

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My inner child needed to feel safe. Photo by marcosprado.co/presets-lakeshore-homepage

Impatiently, I glanced at my watch and groaned.   It was past 11:00 pm on a Tuesday night.  The place was packed to capacity, the air almost too dense to inhale.  Regardless, the energy was nothing short of electric; people were wailing, running, jumping, falling.  I looked over and noticed the intense bass beat of the live band reverberating the window panes.   Three vocalists stood center stage, belting out a repeated chorus that had gone on for at least forty-five minutes. 

 

Making his way back to the stage, he stood towering above it all: a larger-than-life African American man with a microphone.  He wiped the sweat from his face with a colorful hanker-chief that matched his necktie and took in a deep breath.  His hand raised to the vocalists who instantly paused, leaving only a soft instrumental background.  It was time to address the gathering.    

This was revival at The First Pentecostal Holiness Church.

I was twenty years old on this particular night, having been married to my first wife for two years.  Marriage for me, both times, was the quick-fix shield to hide my inner identity from the outside world.  Every day for me was a tug of war between trying to live as the man the church perceived and enduring brutal self-loathing for the desires that invaded my head. I existed in a gruesome loop of asking for God’s forgiveness, entertaining unclean thoughts about men, feeling like I wanted to die, then asking for God’s forgiveness.  It really was a living hell.

After years of this dreadful dance, I had become adept at pretending.  No one at my church would ever guess that I was facing internal turmoil.  But, the game changed when traveling Evangelists would come to town.  I realize some people doubt the validity of Christian Evangelists, but I am here to tell you that they could walk into a crowd and ascertain–and announce–the innermost sins of random people.  I had been on the receiving end of this one night, but thank God I was attending another church alone; no one I knew was present.  

So, back to the late Tuesday night.  I was crouching low in my seat hoping to blend into the crowd. The last thing I wanted was attention of any kind.  The Evangelist had signaled to the vocalists and then he raised the microphone to his face.  I stared squarely at the floor.  Please let this be his dismissal.  I was already giving the side-eye to my wife and nodding at our belongings.  There would be no congregating tonight.

The voice from the microphone roared with authority.  There’s one more here that needs a healing and I am not leaving this pulpit until he comes forward.

My stomach knotted up and I stopped breathing.  Instinctively, my shoulders slumped and I closed my eyes so I wouldn’t accidentally make eye contact with the Evangelist.  I was beginning to shake violently.  The Evangelist stepped off the stage and made his way through the crowd and I could feel him standing close to me.  I opened my eyes and was staring at a set of long black leather tassel loafers. I will never forget those shoes.

My brother! Look up!

I raised my head to find that the entire crowd had turned in anticipation toward me.  I was at the point of quivering now.  The thought of him announcing to everyone that I was attracted to men made me want to run as fast I could.  It was one of those “flight, fight, or freeze” moments.  I glanced at the back door of the sanctuary, pondering an image of me plowing over my brothers and sisters in Christ to flee the scene.  But, I was frozen.  The Evangelist slowly bent down, placed his huge hand on my shoulder and whispered in my ear: You’re safe. 

I didn’t really know what that meant at the time, but something in his voice allowed me to finally exhale.  He then stepped back and held the microphone to his mouth again.  God has something planned for this young man!  Looking directly into me eyes, he exclaimed DEMON SLAYER!  

With that, he waved to the vocalists, the music began to boom again and–for lack of better words–the crowd went wild.  In the midst of the controlled chaos, my dear friend, an older lady who had taken my wife and I under her wing as her own, ran to me and we embraced.  The kind of surrendered hold when nothing is said audibly but volumes are exchanged telepathically.  I never talked to her about my secret, but in that moment I knew she knew.  We were both sobbing, I buried my face into her shoulder and felt a release that had been built up over years.

This was one of many nights at church when I left feeling hopeful that my misery was over.

It wasn’t.

***

For the next twenty years, I fought relentlessly to slay my demons.  There were several problems: 1) I was misguided in regards to the true source of my demons, 2) I believed myself too weak to fend for myself, and 3) all the energy I invested in resisting them only adding to my demons’ power.  And if you’ve read any of this blog, you know that those demons morphed into a substance abuse addiction.  A vicious monster that I unconsciously perpetuated because my approach was to wield a sword as the slayer prophesied by the Evangelist.

Along the way through recovery, I was able to unpack this concept of “perpetuating by resisting” and learned to surrender to the healing.  But, there was a milestone moment for me along this journey that I would like to share here.  My hope is that my experience will help others who find themselves feeling helpless and hopeless, ready to allow the demons to take over.

Through a synchronicity brought on by my desire to heal, I discovered the work of Tsultrim Allione, specifically her book called Feeding Your Demons: Ancient Wisdom for Resolving Inner Conflict.  This led me to her corresponding meditation on YouTube and through it I was able to have an experience that transcended decades of struggling and agonizing over the war inside me.

This meditation came to me at the exact moment in time because through self-discovery I had uncovered the true identity of the demons.  For all those years, I had been slinging my sword at shadows.  The demon wasn’t my sexual preference, Meth, sex, or the “disease of addiction.”  Those elements in my life were manifestations, or shadows, of the real scary demon: codependency.  And, more specifically abandonment trauma that activated as codependent behaviors.  The transcending freedom came when I grasped the concept of Tsultrim’s teachings; instead of fighting your demons, feed them, and make them your ally.

Here’s my personal experience with the meditation.  I encourage you to go to the YouTube link above and try the meditation along with Tsultrim.  If you want to skip through the introduction (I suggest you watch the entire video), the meditation begins at about the 21:00 mark.  An important note going into this meditation is to trust what arises.  In other words, don’t second guess the images, words and feelings you experience.  Go with the first thing that comes to you.  You’ll inhibit the experience if you tell yourself, “It is only my imagination.  This isn’t real.”  This is real.

Step 1: Find the Demon

The first step was to decide which demon I wanted to work with, and of course I chose codependency.  Then, to discover where in my physical body I felt the demon.  I thought back to the last time I felt symptoms of codependency; needed validation from someone, fighting for positive attention, needing a reminder that I belong, etc.  Once I recalled the last time I felt that way, the feeling returned; a pain in the pit of my stomach.  I intensified the feeling, it was a combination of anxiety and extreme nervousness.  Then, I imagined how this feeling would look in terms of color, texture, and temperature–the image of a black, gooey hot blob in the pit of my stomach appeared.

Step 2: Personify the Demon and Ask It What It Needs

I personified the feeling by giving it arms, legs and eyes.  It became a star-fish shaped black blog with distant, blank eyes.  When I took time to notice all of its features, it became a larger version of the star-fish shape, but now the skin was a thick red rubber-like substance, it didn’t have a gender, its eyes were still lifeless.

I asked:

What do you want from me?

What do you need from me?

How will you feel when you get what you need from me?

I then stood up from my bed where I had been lying down for the meditation and faced myself.  (Keeping my eyes closed as much as possible.)

Step 3: Becoming the Demon

I took some time to become the demon, to feel what it must be like in this gooey black substance covered by thick red skin.  I looked at myself on the bed from the demon’s perspective.  What I saw was a man who desperately desired freedom.  And honestly, he looked a little weak.

I then answered the questions as the demon (note that I simply let the answers flow from me without any predetermination):

What I want from you is strength.

What I need from you is security.

When my need is met I will feel safe.

Step 4: Feed the Demon and Meet the Ally

Lying back on the bed, I imagined looking at the demon once again.  I then imagined myself dissolving into nectar that had the quality of the feeling of the need being met (that may seem difficult to conceptualize, but at the time of this meditation it made perfect sense to me).  When I imagined a nectar having the quality of safety, I became a thick golden substance similar to honey.  I fed the demon this honey until it was completely satisfied.  Once satisfied, I looked at the demon to see what remained.  What I saw was the image of myself as a baby.  I was crying and reaching up to me.  The epiphany then came:

My inner child needed to feel safe.  There must have been trauma to that baby early in my life that caused him to feel insecure.  This was no demon after all.  I then realized that each time I sought approval from a lover, teacher, friend, boss, or anything outside of me, I was attempting to soothe my inner child’s need for safety.  There was security in being accepted, in being reminded that I was loved, in belonging to someone, being needed by someone.  I wasn’t giving him the safety he needed–I didn’t have it–so we were together endlessly seeking it externally.  

Time to meet my ally.  I asked;

How will you help me?

How will you protect me?

How will I gain access to you? 

I rose from the bed and now became my ally, the pre-verbal version of myself, and answered the questions;

I will help you find self-confidence.

I will protect you by providing the internal security you need.

You can gain access to me through your heart.

I returned to the bed and imagined my ally dissolving into me.  We became one.  I rested in this awareness for a long while considering what had just occurred.  I discovered that at the core of my pain was a little baby who didn’t feel secure and that insecurity had permeated into every aspect of my life.  I instantly felt a peace flow through my body, a comfort in knowing that I didn’t have to fight any longer.  I had an ally now, and I knew exactly what he needed and what I could gain from him.  I had mistaken the frightened cry of a baby for the ferocious roar of a monster.

There has been some work since then to acclimate and integrate this healing.  The work is on-going.  I would love to talk more about that process in future blogs.  What I have found so far is an uncanny sense of self-confidence, self-trust, and a letting go of the need for external validation.  I feel safe and secure and that has replaced my need to fill that gap with drugs, sex, love, or any other temporary substitute.

And now, twenty years later, it has dawned on me what the Evangelist meant when he whispered You’re safe. He wasn’t alleviating my fears of being exposed, he was trying to feed my demon.

 

 

to the mother of my children

I recall the disappointed expression on your face on Mother’s Day 2013 after you had read the heart-felt tribute I wrote to my mom.  The piece was raw and the vulnerability that I poured into the words to celebrate her was unprecedented for me.  There was so much attention attracted to that piece and accolades for mom all day long.   You loved my mom, it wasn’t jealousy, but I never made any effort to mention you.  The hurt you displayed was perceived to me at the time as selfish and immature. 

About a month later, I left you.  Your face on that particular day displayed an emotion that was of no comparison.

I have drawn nothing but blanks this year as I sit down to write a Mother’s Day blog.   I have started and stopped writing many times this week about my mom, then my grandma, and then even relatives who have passed.  I was perplexed as to why I couldn’t seem to put words to paper because I have so much I want to say about the women in my life.  Yesterday morning as I was driving I began asking myself writing prompts and the question came to mind: Who are some of the greatest mothers I know of who could inspire me to write? And then you came to mind.

Here is what flowed from heart to pen and I hope you realize that everything in our lives has perfect and divine timing.

There’s tolerance in a woman who will deliver two babies naturally without any complaints about pain.

There’s courage in a woman who grabs a kid on each hip and wades through waste-high water to escape a flooding house.

There’s discipline in a woman who takes on and successfully executes the daunting task of homeschooling.

There’s ingenuity in a woman who sets her sights on learning how to create balloon animals for her kids’ parties and becomes an expert.

There’s resilience in a woman who can get two kids to adhere to daily schedules without help from her husband.

There’s devotion in a woman who shows up without hesitation to a mental facility to find her husband is suicidal and asks how she can help.

There’s honor in a woman who stands by her husband despite the revelation of secrets and lies.

There’s integrity in a woman who makes the choice to allow her drug addicted ex-husband to remain in their kids’ lives because she knows he loves and needs them.

There’s pure grace in you.

No matter whether we were on the incline or decline of the the emotional roller coaster I made this family ride over the past twenty years, the one constant was your commitment to being the best Mother you could be.  So, here is a small attempt to show you the gratitude I feel and give you the tribute you deserve.  This year, instead of dismay, I hope these words inspire an expression of peace and light.  Happy Mother’s Day.

 

where wisdom is born

torchI’ve often heard that wisdom is found at the intersection of knowledge and experience.  I tend to agree with this statement and can attest that my direct life experience has illuminated the textual meaning of many words.  For instance, I spent years misusing and interchanging sympathy, empathy, and compassion.  This is the story of how my life journey taught me the meaning of these words and birthed invaluable wisdom.  

I turned the engine off after parking in dad’s driveway and stared at his half-opened front door.  This was one of many daily stops to clean up and make sure he had everything he needed.  This was also a daily ritual of bracing myself emotionally for whatever scene awaited me behind that door.  He had just arrived home in an ambulance a few days before due to angrily signing himself out of yet another hospital.  After many years of alcohol abuse, his esophagus was eaten away by cancer, but he refused any treatment.  He had been rotting away for weeks right before my eyes.  The man who I despised for most of my waking life was now dependent almost solely on my care.    

As soon as I stepped from the car, I could hear the television blaring.  He had lost most of his hearing in his 20’s while being treated for a brain tumor, and now at 41 he was practically deaf.  Walking into the living room, the scene was heart-breaking.  There was my dad, for years such a dominant and aggressive figure, now a skeleton in white briefs.  His little body almost disappeared into the recliner seated directly in front of the TV.  His eyes were wide and darting back and forth as he watched the old Western gun fight, the skin flaps from the open wound left by the emergency trach he ripped out flapped back-and-forth as he struggled to breathe.  There was a tube protruding from his stomach, resting on his thigh, leaking Ensure onto the chair.  

My stomach churned at the thought of breaking the news to him that there would be a nurse coming by in the next few days because all of this care was far beyond my capabilities.  He would not be happy about this, and even without words he had been able to express his feelings quite clearly.  I stood beside him for a while watching his chest struggle to expand and contract corresponding to the gurgling sounds coming from the hole in his throat.   He had no idea I was standing there.  I finally put my hand on his shoulder.  His head slowly turned from the TV and his eyes locked with mine in a way I had never experienced in my life.  My  body shook; I was taken off-guard.  

It was as if I was looking into a stranger’s eyes.  They were so expressive and deep and captivating and clearly trying to send a message.  He lifted his hand slowly to take mine.  As I held it, I thought how could this be the strong hand that had built our house from the ground up?  How could this be the hand I saw hit my mom, me, his brothers? This tiny, soft, frail hand that belonged to those mysterious eyes.  I held on to it with both of my own hands as if I were meeting my dad for the very first time.  I leaned in close to his face as if maybe he were going to speak.  We both had tears trailing down our faces.        

I’m not sure how long I stood there staring into his eyes.  I was trying so hard to decipher his message, almost telepathically.  There seemed to be desperation, sadness, apology, maybe some exhaustion…they expressed something beyond emotion.  Or was this me projecting into his eyes what I wanted him to say?  Was this me trying to reach closure? Was I simply dramatizing this?  Or was he asking me to put him out of his misery?  That look in his eyes will forever be vividly etched into my memory.  

I instinctively knew that there was no need to mention the nurse or to clean up. He would die that night.  The next morning my grandma and uncle traveled to check on him and found him dead in his bead; he had asphyxiated in his sleep.  

Throughout the years since that day, I stopped trying to interpret the mysterious message from his eyes.  What I decided I felt that day was sympathy–the feeling of sorrow for another’s misfortune.  To me, that emotion was something I had never felt for him before and was enough to break the walls of anger I had allowed to build up over my lifetime.  Sympathy opened a pathway to forgive him for everything that had transpired in my childhood and beyond.  It was relieving to me that I could feel pity for a man I had hated, and there was a sense of freedom in forgiveness.  In my mind, I had moved on and had the closure I needed.  

As my kids grew older and my parental skills tested, I began to see glimpses of my dad showing up in my screaming tantrums, knee-jerk physical reactions, stinging sarcasm, and manipulation.  Once I threw the TV remote and broke it against the wall which triggered memories of never having a working remote in our house growing up because dad broke them all in anger.  As I would go to my kids’ rooms to hold them and apologize after I had overreacted, flashes of my dad doing the same thing to me would flood my mind.  That’s when I experienced a newfound feeling toward my dad–empathy.  I was able to see from his perspective how he may have felt, and how easy it is to make some bad decisions and lose emotional control.  This was before I used any mind-altering substances, so as I thought about my actions I imagined how alcohol probably aided in this temporary mental hijacking.  This line of reasoning helped me embody and understand where he might have been coming from.  Empathy brought a new level of forgiveness for me.    

And I believed that was my ultimate closure.  Until last year when I had a reading from an intuitive medium.  

The medium told me that my father was “stuck” in an unknown realm (which I have come to believe is the spiritual middle world) where essentially “ghosts” exist.  He was suspended there because of the acts he had committed while alive.  I said to her that I had already forgiven him and come to peace with the past so it must be acts he committed to others.  She advised that I try to contact him, maybe sit down and have dinner with my dad in order to find what deeper meanings lie there.  He was a soul, she said, that had a generation of burden.  

Every other part of her reading was precisely correct, so I decided to follow her advice.  I had dinner with my dad.  I remembered how much he loved ribs, so for the first time in my life I bought two racks of baby backs and grilled them.  I sat down at the table with the ribs and I began carrying on a conversation with him, who I imagined in the empty chair across from me.  I went through the litany of reasons why I had forgiven him, letting him know that I was in recovery from my Meth addiction, that the family was thriving.  I forgave him again.  I left the conversation asking how I could help him and I sat in silence for a long time waiting for some sort of sign.  What came next will probably seem hard to believe.

After the dinner, I went to bed and was quickly swept into an altered state of consciousness where I had a vision.  I was standing on the banks of a river made of crystal clear water.  I received a message that this river was all the thoughts that had ever been thought and would ever be thought.  If I wanted answers, dive in.  So I did.  I swam underneath the water, the bottom of the river was made of the most beautiful and glittery crystals I had ever seen.  I noticed a door among the crystals which I opened to reveal a warm, dry room. Inside the room was a fire burning in a small fireplace and an iron kettle suspended above it, the contents bubbling.  

I approached the fire and noticed that instead of logs the flames were coming from a pile of what I perceived to be human bones.  The kettle above the fire was hot, thick blood.  (In research after the vision I found out that there is an ancient Shamanic tradition of releasing souls from a purgatory state by exhuming their bones and burning them.) Then an image appeared above the mantle of the fireplace and it was the image of my father’s eyes from the last time I had seen him.  The familiar and mysterious expression that seemed to penetrate my soul.  This time, though, I could hear words. You didn’t know my soul.  I didn’t know the damage I caused.  You didn’t know my soul.  I didn’t know.  That wasn’t me. Over and over.    

The eeriness of the words and the sight of those eyes caused chills down my spine and I rose up from my bed screaming and sobbing.  As I fell to the floor crying uncontrollably, I had some profound realizations.  

Dad was in active addiction all of my life.  I used to wonder how and why a man would ever treat his kids and family the way he treated us.  Now I know.  I had committed the same egregious acts to my own kids and family while in active Meth addiction.  My loved ones were just as abused and mistreated as I ever was, even more.  And just like that version of me didn’t reflect my soul, neither did the version of my dad that I knew reflect his soul.  I had to go through Meth addiction to finally feel the emotion I needed for complete and total reconciliation with my dad–compassion. To feel compassion, I had to suffer alongside him in the deepest way.  And I understood in that moment this healing was meant not only for me and my dad, but for the generations of men before and after us.  

My face was planted in a pool of tears as I continued to scream from joy, sadness, resolution, epiphany, victory and purging…I’m really not sure of the word to describe it.  I suffered alongside my dad and understood the final look on his face was the raw bearing of his essence transitioning out of his tired, sick body.  Those eyes were truly windows to his soul.  

I then saw a vision of me standing in a vast darkness holding a torch.  Suddenly my dad was there, but this time smiling.  I handed him the torch.  He turned and passed the torch to his dad, after which he vanished. Then my grandfather passed the torch to his dad, disappeared, and I watched the torch being passed down an infinite line of figures.  I knew from this vision that one of the reasons I experienced addiction in this lifetime was to break the generational curse of my ancestors and pave a new path of health for my own son and his descendants.  I laid face-down on the floor all night.  The whole experience was overwhelming and draining, to say the least.  I felt the weight of hundreds of years lifted from me.  I could feel the healing in my cells and a newfound confidence that my life had meaning, purpose, that my experience as a drug addict was not in vain. 

When I found myself addicted to Meth, I was asleep.  I didn’t realize my subconscious was lining this up for my benefit.  Freeing dad and healing across time and space wasn’t the only benefit I have found from that dark time.  Being awake simply means that I remain open to understanding the reason for my reality and always look for the advantage.  This practice eliminates regret, which is an emotion that stifles, hinders, and causes stalemates in my development.  The belief I now consent to is that nothing and no one in my life is left to chance, but part of an appointed journey.  I choose to stand firm within the intersection between knowledge and experience because therein lies the wisdom to move forward with intention.  

meditation: waterfall of blessings

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My rendition of a waterfall of blessings.

Walking through the woods, my mind feels dense as I consider the loved ones in my life and how I can bring the best and highest blessings to them.  How can I be of service, especially in this time of distance. I come across a swift-moving stream and sit on a near-by fallen tree.

Closing my eyes, I tune my awareness inward to scan my physical body . Where am I feeling tension, uneasiness, pain?  I feel a heaviness in my chest; the familiar sensation of anxiety. Breathing in through my nose as deeply as possible, my chest expands to its full capacity.   I hold in the air, sending it to my chest and lungs. Slowly I release through my mouth. I repeat this two more times until I can breathe normally and my chest feels light.  

I scan my mental body, then my spiritual body.  Where am I sensing any blocks that would inhibit relaxation? Are there distractions that need to be let go? I lovingly breathe into these energetic areas a comforting embrace.  There is no judgement of interrupting thoughts, only loving awareness of them and a gentle return to my breath.    

I am now entering an altered state of consciousness.  Every muscle of my body relaxes into the log as I become one with the atmosphere.  I focus on my breath which has now resumed at my typical pace, slipping into bliss.  

The sound of the nearby stream invokes an image of a waterfall cascading from the heavens.  I approach the falls in awe and observe a crystal clear pool collecting at the bottom and then flowing downstream with a seemingly purposeful mission.  The pool is surrounded by lush foliage; an oasis.  

I see a cave etched into the rock behind the falling waters and make my way into it.  I smell the earthiness of the dirt underneath me and the enclosure of wet rock. I feel the intermittent warm mist on my face.  I hear the roar of the mighty water splashing into the pool below. I sense the presence of something more than myself.

I walk forward, outstretching my hands into the water to feel the slight sting of the pressure.  I pause to appreciate the magnificence of creation. Moving closer, I am standing directly under the path of the water.  I feel the cascades cover me from the top of my head down to my shoulders, arms, torso, legs, and feet. It feels like the warm coating of milk and honey.  I feel safe, stable, cleansed, healed.  

Every cell of my physical body begins to feel fluid as my bones dissolve into the waterfall.  I am the water. I revel in the feeling of being a life-giving source for all beings of the earth.  I fall in love with the knowledge that I am powerful enough to carve the great canyons yet gentle enough to moisten the tiny leaves of a sapling.  I’m pressed in my heart to share this power; how can I bless my loved ones?  

I feel my being-ness plunge into the tranquil pool below, pausing momentarily to bask in the stillness.  I begin moving downstream as this infinite and divine river. Soon the images of some of my loved ones begin to materialize on the banks downstream.  Behind each one is a large plot of land that I recognize as their individual gardens.  

Moving closer, I see an image of my momma first, her garden outstretched behind her.  I instinctively rush to the earth of her garden feeling an amplification of love, gratitude and service.  I see myself following the curvatures of the roots below and suddenly burst forth from the ground. I see an intricate and majestic indigo plant sprout thriving vines and leaves that come to fruition in seconds.  The word “Health” appears within the foliage. 

I return to the earth as nutrient-rich water and spring forth again as a crystalline blue tree that erupts from her garden very tall, having the most magnificent branch structure and full leaves shaped like orbs.  The word “Protection” appears in the bark of the tree as it wraps around my mother in a loving and secure hug.   

Returning to the river, I continue to visualize people from my family, friend circle, spiritual brothers and sisters, co-workers.  I flow into each garden and see various plants, shrubs, flowers and trees form before my eyes and anxiously await the word that appears.  I feel overwhelmed by emotion, sensing tears running down my physical cheeks. This is how I can be used right here and right now to send blessings to the world.  

Awareness is slowly returning to my physical body.  The sensation of the fallen tree underneath and the slight breeze brushing my arms remind me of where I am.  I recount everyone that I saw on the river bank and revisit their garden in my mind. Who else could I visit next time?  Were there people who showed up unexpectedly and why might that be? Are there blessings that I have overlooked? Were there words that appeared in individual gardens that come as a surprise?  What actions could I take in this 3D world to add to their blessings?     

Feeling gratitude that I found a way to be of service, I smile at the sun and whisper Namaste.

full speed ahead

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How I visualize the river of my life.

This is the story of how I learned first-hand about energetic pendulums and began deliberately creating a new reality for myself.  

I was attempting to make my way through a distracted crowd of happy-hour minglers congregating at the bar.  It was the early dinner rush and I was on my way to grab two cocktails for a nice couple at my newly-seated table.  I stopped in my tracks, however, at the sight of her; a middle-aged woman dressed in a white business suit and bright red six-inch heels.  Her seemingly slow-motion procession through the bar was mesmerizing. She carried such an air of clout about her that as she walked through the crowd, the distracted people who had previously given me no notice instinctively moved out of her way.  Never missing a high-heeled beat, head tilted toward the ceiling, she didn’t make eye contact with anyone. I felt myself unconsciously remove myself from her path as she wooshed by me toward the dining room. She carried a stack of three-ring binders under one arm, a large leather satchel in the other.  

I came to realize later that this woman was serving as an energetic pendulum sent into my life in order for me to learn something valuable.  I had read about the concept of Pendulums in Vadim Zeland’s book Reality Transurfing, but hadn’t really grasped how it works in “real life”. My interpretation of a Pendulum is a person, thought, idea, or cause that builds momentum in one direction based on the energy given to it by a person or group of people.  A pendulum feeds on energy, swinging further in the direction pushed by the energy source. Some examples would be a political party or sports team.  

My personal conceptualization is a scene where I am floating down a river, which represents my life.  A pendulum would be a sudden water current, like a distributary that tries to divert my direction (attention) so that I will begin to float in a new direction, which is off my intended path.  This is the best way for me to visualize the phenomenon. I can exert energy by rowing in the new direction or I can simply remain face-forward on my intended course.    

I hope this makes sense.

As soon as this lady passed me, my natural instinct was to feed her my energy, or to use my river analogy, I began rowing along with a diverted current.  What a stuck-up bitch.  Well excuuuuuuse me. What an entitled diva.  I’m so glad she isn’t in my section.  I was feeling very strong emotions about her, which is the fuel for energy.  Had I simply observed her behavior and not devoted any thought to it whatsoever, the night might have gone very differently. 

I grabbed the drinks I needed from the bar and headed off toward the dining room.  Can you guess who was pulling out a chair to join my nice middle-aged couple? I growled under my breath and rolled my eyes as I approached.  I was now really putting my oar in the river, just rowing away, losing sight of my path. My energy was making her even worse. She began looking around the dining room before sitting down to decide whether or not she approved of the table.  I stood back watching and muttering under my breath. Once she saw there were no open tables, she proceeded to rearrange the couple in different seats and then moving the glasses and even the candle holder around to her liking. I sighed as loud as I could and decided to walk away.  She still hadn’t sat down. The obnoxiousness had become a dramatic scene and I was unknowingly writing the script.

I checked on my other tables and saw from the corner of my eye that she was waving her hand in the air at me as if they had been waiting for hours. My insides were beginning to feel tense and I could feel my face getting hot and red.  I took a deep breath, put a smile on my face, and approached the table. As I began asking her for her drink order she stopped me by raising her hand toward my face and kept her eye contact with her guests. Once she had finished her sentence, she looked down at the menu and muttered seltzer with lime.  

After being dismissed from the table, I went to the back to retrieve her seltzer. Oh boy did I begin to feed her energy.  I was rowing my boat with all the strength I had, going way off course from my desired state of love, empathy, calm. I recounted with everyone in the back about her behavior, I imitated her walk, the way she threw up her hand, I called her names; I lost all control of my emotions.  As I fed it energy, the current grew stronger and only made her worse.

I could fill pages describing what transpired through the rest of the meal.  By the time I was clearing plates away, I had grown cold and rude. I was ready for them to leave.  However after dessert, she then laid out the binders and began a two-hour presentation. Anyone who is or has been a server understands that amount of money she took from me by inhibiting that table to be seated the two more turns it would have for the evening.  The rudeness I could handle, but taking my table up for the entire evening pushed me over the edge.  

I bitched about her the entire night, especially during the two hours I waited for her to leave. I was rowing with all of the emotional energy I could muster.  I became way off center with who I really am. I was so livid that I copied down her name from some papers she left and found her financial planning website after work that night.  I typed up a long email to her detailing what a piece of shit she is and just before I sent it, I deleted it. That didn’t stop me from going to bed angry and even waking up practicing in my head what I wanted to say to her.  

Three nights later.  I stood leaning against a wall in the dining room.  I was staring at the last table remaining. It was four best friends who hadn’t seen one another in years, their checks had been closed for an hour and a half but they still chatted away.  All of the other servers were gone as I glared at my table. This same scenario had happened in my section every night since the “incident” with the financial planner.  

This was the moment when I remembered reading about energetic pendulums.  The concept had come to life in front of my eyes. I had given the situation so much of my energy that I had created a karmic loop.  A karmic loop is the Universe bringing a recurring situation into your life until you learn what’s needed to be learned to close the loop.  I had been swept away by the current and kept rowing harder. That night when I finally got home, I reflected on this and instead of shaming myself, I turned self-loathing into self-realization.  If I had truly created this reality then why wouldn’t I be able to create an alternate one?  

The next day, before my shift, I laid down in my bed and made a scene in my mind’s eye of the kinds of exchanges I wanted with my guests.  Not really particular faces, but enough so that I could feel the emotion of joy and connection that I feel when I serve great people. I envisioned getting the “right” tables; friendly, expedient, and generous.  I would feel the emotion of what it’s like to have a great night, and how that money feels when I’m walking out the door. I saw in my mind my section of tables being seated and getting up to leave over and over like clockwork.

I felt as if I could swing this pendulum the other way; I would row against the current.  

At first I didn’t quite “get” it.  Here’s why. I was still getting rude tables of people and ones who wanted to campout in my section.  My way to combat that was to give lots of positive energy to them. But, I was still focusing energy on the behavior– the extended stays in my section.  I would say things to myself like “its perfectly fine if they sit there all night.” Well, what I realized later is that energy is energy, current is current, and the Universe doesn’t distinguish between saying positive or negative things about the scenario.  If you are feeding it energy, it will grow. When tables stayed too long, I simply ignored it, kept my energy directed elsewhere. Eventually, they stopped lingering. 

The key was in the non-acknowledgement.  So, for example, when an older man snapped at me for dripping wine on the table, I apologized politely, but totally ignored the situation in my head.  I became an observer of the behavior but didn’t attach to it whatsoever. To attach to the annoyance, I would be feeding it energy and thus veering with the current of the negative situation.  By remaining neutral, my face remains forward, and I keep drifting down the river of life in the direction I desire.  

It didn’t happen instantly.  One can’t change the direction of a boat on a whim.  But night after night I practiced being the observer of behavior and non-acknowledgement.  I didn’t speak negatively about my guests to other servers, I refrained from dwelling on negative emotions, and I consciously kept a smile on my face.  Within a few weeks, I witnessed the most incredible shift in my reality. The types of people coming to my section, my mood at work, and my income all transformed.  I was beginning to hear comments from my coworkers about how the hostess must really like me or how I was getting so lucky (totally ignored that because they were simply pendulums).  I was getting the best tables in my section night after night.    

I bent reality. 

I want to tell this story to share in my excitement and illustrate the power of our consciousness.  Since the financial planner scenario, I’ve been able to create other realities in my life that I never thought possible.  For instance, with my kids: I began to take notice of how often I was feeding energetic pendulums. Of course my kids are going to continue to show me how sloppy they are if that’s the current I want to follow.  They will continue time and time again to fulfill that karmic loop. Once I became an observer and practiced non-acknowledgment with their sloppiness, I promise you I’ve come home to sinks full of clean dishes and my son with a broom in his hand (a feat that could only be labeled divine intervention).  I feel as though I have discovered the key to happiness, to success, to life. Face forward and full speed AHEAD!

infinite ripple

While taking a walk by the lake, I come across a secluded dock and find a bench.  The air 91351308_10158192863606948_964620809681240064_nis still and the only sound I hear is the gentle lapping of water against the hulls of secured boats and songbirds in the distance.  I plant my feet flat onto the dock and hands at my side. I close my eyes and rest a moment in the solitude.

Body scan.

I tune my awareness toward my physical body . Where am I feeling tension, uneasiness, pain?  I find tightness in my lower back. I breath in through my nose as deeply as possible, feeling my chest expand to its full capacity.  I send the healing prana of inhalation to my back and hold. Slowly I release the air through my mouth. I repeat this two more times until my muscles let go of their contracted state.  My lower back loosens and my body surrenders.  

I scan my mental body, then my spiritual body.  Where am I sensing blocks? Distractions? I lovingly breathe into these energetic areas to comfort, embrace, and spring new life.  

I am now entering an altered state of consciousness.  I am unable to ascertain where the border of my skin ends and the air around me begins.  I’m one with the atmosphere. I focus on my breath which has now resumed at my typical pace, slipping into bliss.  

I feel myself dissolve into a silver mist as I rise above the bench and float out above the tranquil waters.  I feel a breeze, I’m smiling and even feel tears of gratitude welling up. I’m floating above the water and feel vapors of life-giving and rejuvenating powers.

A radiant crystalline white beam of light breaks through the clouds above me and shines directly on me like a divine spotlight.  I feel the blanket of warmth and recognize that this light is for me. I bask in the sheer ecstasy of this light for a few moments.  I sense a desire to share this powerful, wonderful light with the rest of the world.

I then see a soft red orb of vibrating energy forming in the sky near the center of the cloudbreak.  It begins to float down toward me. I know in my being that this is unconditional love. My soul beckons for it and I feel myself quiver in longing.  The orb reaches me and fills every molecule of my body with the strongest love I’ve ever felt.  

The orb and I dip into the lake to create a massive circular ripple of red light that flows out in all directions.  The ripple spreads in waves throughout the earth, covering every inch with love.  

I see a green orb of light forming in the cloudbreak that I recognize as abundance.  It floats down and wraps around me like a security blanket. Together, we create another enormous ripple that permeates the globe in a steady, determined wave. 

An orange orb is next.  The vibrations of this orb seem faster as if they are on a mission.  It is healing. My emotions surge as visions of disease flash in my mind from the far corners of the earth.  The orange light enters through my heart space and flows into my body through my veins. We dip into the lake and send a ripple of health and immunity.  

Blue is next and I know it is peace.  The blue orb covers me as if thick liquid was being poured over my head.  I’m completely content, full of faith and hope. We create a ripple that more resembles a deep whirlpool of tsunami force flooding.  Peace saturates the soil of the planet and seeps all the way to the core.

I see a vision of the Earth suspended in space, an illuminated sphere of endless red, green, orange and blue ripples of light.  Now its own orb, the brilliant sphere splashes into an astral lake, creating an enormous ripple of pure golden white light that is sent throughout the infinite Universe.  Love, abundance, healing, and peace.  

I begin breathing in the golden white light, feeling it coat my insides like a thick honey.  Bringing awareness to my breathing, I feel it in the core of my soul.  

Questions arise.  Where in my life can I show more unconditional love?  A certain person immediately comes to mind and I cover them with the golden light.  Where is there abundance needed? A coworker appears in my mind’s eye and cover them and their family with the golden light.  How about healing? A vision comes to me of the peopl e all over the world affected by the Corona virus and I send healing beams of golden light that permeates every cell of their bodies.  Where could there be more peace? I see a fear, shaped as a dark shadow appear before me and I recognize it as my own loneliness. I shine golden light toward the shadow, and it transmutes into a beautiful figure who walks toward me with open arms.  I feel the sensation of a deep hug. I remain still and silent and allow all of this to resonate.

After several long deep breaths, I begin to feel the pressure of the bench against my legs, my hands at my side, my feet planted on the dock.  I’m slowly returning to myself. I open my eyes. I smile and whisper Namaste

wide-eyed christmas

IMG-1986On Christmas morning 2017, my kids came into my bedroom where I buried in blankets, drifting in and out of sleep.  I had been in bed for more than three days. I looked out from under the blankets to see two wide-eyed kids. They asked me if I was okay and if I wanted to come watch a movie.  The wideness of their eyes wasn’t a result of anxious excitement to open gifts because there wasn’t any, not even a tree. Their eyes showed concern, worry, fear.  

I made myself get out of the bed and shower.  I recall every movement being painfully heavy and my emotions numb.  I was in the midst of a pretty harsh depression compounded by withdrawals from three months of heavy Meth use.  Earlier, in the Fall, I had tried to become a dealer after being fired from my job, having zig-zagged around the state meeting all sorts of new characters and getting myself in precarious situations.  At the time it seemed fun to meet new people, have unlimited drugs and all the while making money. It was fun until I lost my profits to a man who tricked me into wiring all of my money to California.  I had no money, no drugs, and now no friends. My plan to save my condo from the eviction process, buy Christmas gifts, and be a bad-ass drug dealer had all gone to shit.   

I forced myself awake so that I could spend the day on the couch with the kids.  I was amazed at how happy they were without gifts; they just wanted to spend time with me.  But, in all honesty I wasn’t really there. I was on my phone plotting my next move, securing my next fix; ignoring the fact that I could sense fear in the kids’ eyes, in their questions, their conversations with me.   I had turned our lives upside-down once again; life for them had to feel totally unstable.  

Christmas morning 2019, I was the first out of bed, wide-eyed and anxious to watch my kids open a stocking full of gifts, and cards full of money.  I worked very hard for months to give them as much as I could in tangible gifts as a way of demonstrating to them in a concrete way that I had truly turned our lives around.  I wanted them to hold tangible proof of that change, to feel the security and stability that I haven’t given them in six years. It has taken almost a year and a half of consistently living sober and building trust, but today I finally saw a sense of calm in their eyes again.  But, I realized the gifts and money are not the reason.  

I have been here.  Day in and day out.  Not only physically, but mentally and spiritually.  I have kept coming home, kept coming back, being true to my promises and supplying their needs.  I don’t see fear when I am on my way out the door. I see trust when I give them my word. No amount of money could have ever supplied the kind of stability I felt from them today.   

I have single-handedly dragged them through situations and traumas that they will be processing for years to come.  I cannot undo that. What I can do now is make sure that I am present. Every day in every way. Be here. To be quite honest, this is the first time in their lives that I feel equipped to be a father.  I had to find my voice, write my own narrative, and steer myself into alignment with who I truly am. My own sense of I AM. 

But.  What I also sensed today was that through their front row seats to my own struggle, they are learning the importance of finding their sense of I AM.  They are asking me some pretty serious questions and coming to me for their own life decisions. To be quite honest, this is the first time in their lives that I feel ready to be a father.  I am grateful for the journey that led me, and us, to this place. Today, we are stable, today we are secure, today we are strong, and today we have wide-eyes of hope, not fear.

restoration.

RestorationI stood outside the car at 3am, staring at a row of ranch-style houses, my gaze fixed on the brick one with red trim.  The winter blackness fell on the desolate street, seeming to muffle sound. It was the kind of silence that buzzed in your head.  For a meth addict, that kind of constant buzz tended to be eerily soothing. It is as if the brain yearned for anything consistent to anchor the disorder of obsessive thoughts.  I had enough to obsess about, though. Someone had stolen cash from me, and I was going to get my money back.

I opened the passenger door and slid into the cold car.  The abruptness of my getting back into the car startled the guy in the driver’s seat (let’s call him Dax).  His body jolted, making him drop the phone he had been fixated on. Nothing was said, because this kind of instance was normal between meth addicts; spontaneous jerks from loud noises or being mindful that sudden movements could trigger a wave of paranoia.  I had only been out of the car for a few minutes, but that was enough time for him to lose himself in Grindr.

Without looking up from the phone screen, Dax asked So, what’s up? I’m freezing.

I’m about to get it done.  Just a minute. I had bribed him to drive me here with the promise of free product.  At this stage of my active addiction journey, I had elevated myself from drug user to drug supplier.   This was the result of a downward trajectory sparked by being fired from a job for the first time in my life.  The guilt and shame fossilized my heart and I had become calloused and bitter. What Dax didn’t know about this trip was that the guy who lived in the brick and red-trimmed house had stolen a pile of cash from my nightstand and now I was going to execute my plan to steal his beloved dog for ransom.  I didn’t have weapons nor did I know how to use them, so my “collections” approach tended to be psychological (and debolical) in nature.  

My body was beginning to convulse a little, a nice blend of extreme nervousness, freezing air, and coming down from the previous high.  I took a deep breath and the both of us used needles, which gave me the jolt I needed to spring from the car. I knew the hiding place of the spare key and also knew he was partying across town.  The little Yorkie was already standing at the door yapping loudly at the sound of an intruder, so all I had to do was scoop him. I raced back to the car, jumped in with the dog and screamed GO! I’ll never forget the look on Dax’s face; it was a perfect mix of confusion, fright and disbelief.  He sat staring at me as I wrestled the wriggling dog.

Damn it, I said GO! Dax finally started the car and we were on our way to the pet-friendly Super 8.

We got back to the room, and I really don’t know which of the three of us were more panicked.  My head was pounding in cadence with my heart. I was partly scared, but also charged by the thrill of getting away with it.  It was the same kind of adrenaline high I received when I would walk through the doors of Target with a cart full of stolen merchandise.  These were the instances in my life that I created to feel some semblance of being alive. Dax. on the other hand, was 100% freaking out, pacing in circles and mumbling.  The dog had taken refuge under the bed.

I sat down to begin my series of threatening texts to the man who lived in the brick and red-trimmed house.  Then I noticed Dax packing his belongings.

What are you doing?

Man, I’m out of here.  You are f—ing crazy.

I told you, he stole cash from me.  You have any other ideas?

Dax stopped scouring for his belongings long enough to stare at me wild-eyed.  Who the hell are you?

Oh I just love it when other meth heads try to judge me. 

There’s something wrong with you man, and I’m out.

I recall the sinking feeling in my stomach as he was leaving.  The realization of what I had done swept over me followed by the despair in thinking I would again be alone and stranded–now with a dog.  I grabbed his arm at the door and with tears rolling down my face I distinctly recall my words. Look, everything about ME has been stolen.  I don’t have much left, and I’ll be damned if I let anyone steal another thing from me again.

At the time, I really didn’t comprehend the profoundness of that statement.  All I knew was that my life had fallen apart and I was desperate to cling to anything or anyone who could give it meaning.  It was either my dramatic performance or the promise of free drugs, or both, but Dax ended up staying. I had given the man in the brick and red-trimmed house a deadline of noon, to which he complied by Cash App, and was given the address and room number at the Super 8 where he could find his dog.

***  

Please understand that I am not proud of this story, and I hesitated to make it public.  But, I feel it illustrates just how lost and broken I had become and an example of how Meth takes over brain function.  Methamphetamine is the most intelligent and evil drug available on the planet. It instinctively knows where one’s weaknesses are, the vulnerability areas, and preys on those spaces in order to exploit and transform an otherwise good person into a shell of their existence.  Meth knew that I lacked self-confidence and would literally whisper in my ear if you do this, you’ll feel powerful, you’ll be someone, you’ll be accepted.  

At 415 days sober, I’ve discovered the depth of liberation in my dramatic plea for Dax to stay.  I had lost every part of my soul, but the deterioration began long before I first tried Meth at age 39.  Through healing work, instances of losing parts of myself have been revealed as far back as pre-verbal. Throughout my life, I allowed parts of me to be taken, or I would give them away, until finally there was only a fragment of my identity left.  I never really knew who I was. How can you love someone you don’t know? After forty years of this, I found what I thought was the solution; a drug that magically filled in all the missing pieces and made me whole. It was if Meth had possessed my soul and taken over all my functions, mentally and physically.  And I was an easy target since I had lost all sense of hope that I would ever be truly accepted by anyone.  

The dark place I had arrived at when I stole a dog was triggered by the loss of my tangible life.  I had lost my job, then my car, and my condo was within the eviction process. It was the physical loss that brought it all home to me; I could try and fake my way in the world having lost my inner soul, but now my outer world was crumbling.  In the end of active addiction, I was left with only one black bag to my name, and when that was lost, I gave up.  But, this was also the beginning of my healing journey.  The first year of my sobriety has been about sorting through the previous years of derailment.  By sharing my experiences with Meth, I pray that others feel less ashamed about their past, less isolated, and more hopeful that they can rise above the grips of this demonic chemical.

With that said, I feel a calling to change the focus of my blog.  Yes, I was addicted to Meth for a time in my life, but that was only a small part of the overall picture of being Dallas. Instead of a hind-sight look, Memoirs of an Addict, I’m going to begin charting my journey forward.  I am on a mission to reclaim all those parts of me that had gone missing.  And through this assemblance process, emerge in the world a transformed being.   Being Dallas is finding out who I am at my core and loving that person unconditionally.  You’ve seen my descent.  Now watch my rising. –Rumi