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.
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.
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!
While taking a walk by the lake, I come across a secluded dock and find a bench. The air is 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.
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.
On 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.
I 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
That question cycled through my mind for over forty years. And the search for the answer fueled most of my major life decisions. Of course, I wouldn’t have asked the question at an early age unless someone told me or made me feel abnormal. Some early memories include my mom telling me at age four or five to stop pretending I was walking around in high heels (to which I lied and said they were pretend boots) and the babysitter catching me playing with her daughter’s doll at age seven and telling me if she told my dad he would beat my ass. Inadvertently, everyone around me created the imprint in my mind that I did not belong; that I was different and something was wrong with me.
This narrative that I adopted evolved into an incessant need for acceptance and approval. At home, among friends, at church, at work–my level of self-regard hinged on acceptance in the tribe as evidenced by my perception of approval. What I didn’t know then was that every time I asked the question of what’s wrong with me I was approaching the world from a place of inferiority. This means that I lived a life assuming that I needed to prove that I was normal, and the reactions from others served as my gauge. The sense of belonging made the emptiness inside subside. At least temporarily.
After the marriages, church involvement, college degrees, children and five bedroom house on the corner, I still asking what’s wrong with me? What was wrong with me that I still felt out of place, still battled depression, still considered suicide, and was still in constant need of outside approval. That’s when I made the decision to accept the sexuality I knew was true from age six and live my life as an open gay man. Finally I would be free, accepted by the community, applauded for my bravery and live happily ever after.
Not even close.
If I ever felt like I was not accepted or that I needed to fight for approval, it was most brutally obvious with the gay community in Charlotte. It didn’t take long after discovering Grindr (a “dating” app) and enduring a few interactions with men that I was looking at myself in the mirror and asking what’s wrong with me? I felt like a child who’s big shiny balloon had just popped; all those years I dreamed about “coming out” only to feel worse than I did when I lived a lie. Granted, I approached the community from the same place of inferiority I had always used as my lens, so most of this was self-sabotage.
And then one day, Grindr opened the door into the gay Meth community. I was thrust into a whole new tribe who were actively seeking new members. Since I had plenty of discretionary income and had learned to use promiscuity as a means of finding approval, I was a perfect match. I was welcomed with open arms and oddly enough, in the midst of active addiction I never asked the question what’s wrong with me. I had never felt more normal because I was among other guys who were also damaged and searching for those same answers; we all shared an unspoken bond. But, it wasn’t long until my life came crashing down around me and when reality finally set in, I was back to asking what’s wrong with me?
About four months into sobriety, there was a dull, numbing pain that sat like a rock in the pit of my stomach. It began showing up as I realized that taking the substance away from my life did not fix me. I was broken before I started using Meth, so why would I miraculously be fixed once I stopped? I felt hopeless as I considered the prospect that I would still grapple with the same issues of approval and acceptance but this time couple them with the challenge of starting my life over from scratch. How could I have not progressed through all of these years? What would it take for me to change? What is wrong with me?
There was one particularly defeating morning when these questions were swirling around my mind that I decided to attend an AA meeting before my rehab session. Per usual protocol, I introduced myself to the group as an alcoholic-addict. But something about that statement didn’t set well with me once the words left my mouth. Was this the label I was to identify with for the rest of my life? Was I destined to forever sit in a circle and lament about my disease? Being an addict seemed like such a small part of the overall hurt inside. Actually, it didn’t feel a part of the hurt as much as a product of it. Again, I left the meeting asking myself what in the hell was wrong with me?
An hour later I sat staring at a worksheet the treatment counselor had given me. I felt as if my world was crashing down around me once again. The feelings of hopelessness and overwhelm was making it hard for me to breathe. Deciding to push it all down for the sake of getting through the session, I rolled my eyes and began the worksheet. The activity was a problem-solving exercise that asked “why” five times to get to the core of a particular problem. At that moment, the issue on my mind was I don’t want my identity to be equated with the word ‘addict’ for the rest of my life. So, then I began the why’s:
Why? Because realizing that I have the disease of addiction doesn’t feel like healing.
Why? I still have this dull empty place inside and feel like I don’t belong.
Why? I suppose because in my core I have never solved the real problem.
Why? Because I don’t know the real problem.
With hands shaking and tears welling up in my eyes, I answered the fifth why. Because I’ve never sought it out… That’s when it hit me. I assumed my problem was drug addiction. I never considered that there was a “real” problem.
And so, through discovery work, I unraveled the driving force behind my foray into drugs. I’ve written about this before in previousblog posts, but it bears repeating. There was a raw, liberating power that was unleashed once I realized the core issues that lead to active addiction: I was told that I had to be something different to be accepted and I never felt approval from those who meant the most to me. Having that answer unlocked the secrets to my entire life, enabled me to truly understand myself, and to feel like I had finally made measurable progress. From this, hope was born.