Posted by: innerpilgrimage | May 10, 2011

What Dreams May Be

      I’ve had three nights in a row where a person inside my dream actually tells me something important about what I am learning. They tell me a lesson, repeat it, and I try to remember it upon awakening. I just don’t keep it in my head. But I am aware of these messages, that I am getting them loud and clear and even repeated. At some point, one will stick all the way to being able to pick up a journal and write the lesson down.

      I was going to write about these dreams, but had little to say. I have been given a lot of messages over the last few months, and when I did my Point of Meditation, I got the Major Arcana Tarot card: Temperance. In the “translator” I use for my tarot readings, it said that I have all the lessons–now I have to act on them. Well, I have learned quite a lot in the last 19-or-so months of recovery, and this is what I got out of my own journals:
      I know that, in acting out/acting in my SLAA approval/appreciation addiction, I will manipulate people to get my basic survival “needs” and a high to boot. That’s unsafe person behavior. To attract safe people, I choose daily to be a safe person to myself and others.

      Anger is a call to act now; sadness is how I clear out stuff to start a new cycle/beginning; fear warns me of danger and is the only way I can practice courage-building (by facing the obstacle of fear and finding a way around it or through it).

      Over-committing is giving from the dregs of me. It builds resentments and conflict because I martyr myself in order to gain approval/appreciation. Self-care is necessary so I can give from abundance (as the overflowing cup). When I feel drained, the recovered choice is to self-care first. Replenish my energy, then, when I am energized? Use it to care for others and see if I can keep that system going.

      I cannot change five things, but I can see them as blessings and act on them:
           (1) When things end, it means something new has begun;
           (2) When things don’t go how I plan, it means I should be looking around for signs of a greater plan in motion;
           (3) Life is not fair, but my internal commitment to fairness is a gift I can act upon to “be the change I wish to see in the world”;
           (4) Suffering is part of life, and it is the most efficient teacher I have;
           (5) People may not be loyal and loving all of the time, but I can accept that reality and choose to act of of love without fretting over “the other” (ie., I can practice detachment).

      Like smiling can change my negative moods to positive ones, acting out love will grow love within me. The Five A’s of Acting Out Love are:
           Attention, Acceptance, Appreciation, Affection, and Allowing.

      Writing out a Fourth Step Inventory gets old messages cleared out of the way so I can act from my Higher Self. Addiction is a disease of perception; recovery is a solution of reality.

      The opposite of grandiosity is not humility–it’s inferiority. That inferiority is still my ego trying to manipulate others. Humility is the acceptance that my desires and wants have equal weight to all others’.

      My path is a path of balance–not asceticism. This is reflected in the addictions I chose. With food, I either hoard or deny. With approval/love, I either hoard (want everyone’s approval) or deny (reject everyone outright). There is a humble balance: Enough food to have a healthy body (OA), and vulnerability with boundaries (SLAA).

      Some words I use have loaded meanings and pull me into ego-resentments, fear, anger disappointment (unmet expectations/assumptions), self-abusive loathing, guilt, and shame. By removing loaded words which damage from my vocabulary (like “need” and “deserve”) and by moving spiritual words into the silence (like “believe”, “know”, and “truth”), I can communicate without the heavy filtration of my ego messages about those words.

      My past is not (and cannot) be honored by trying to “clean slate” it. By reviewing my past, I gain huge life lessons from the things which caused the most pain. My failures are lessons; my mistakes are learning opportunities. It’s definitely not personal if I learn from it all.

      I embrace everything I truly wish to let go. The experience (with its associated addicted ego-mind messages) can only be released if I am honest. Only by listening to my own anger and pain with compassion can I heal it with real love and compassionate kindness.

      My weakness gives me empathy for those who share it with me. Through H.O.W. (Honesty, Open-Mindedness, and Willingness), I can speak from experience, strength, and hope. This is the essence of the trinity of Faith, Hope, and Love–service to others. My faith in the program and in my HP (reality), the gift of hope to myself and others that a life out of addiction is possible, and love for myself and others by being honest about my mistakes and failures and how I live the solution to the best of my ability every day is how I can grow in recovery. Living a strong recovery (by being honest, open about my past, and willing to share the ugly details) offers others the faith that a solution is out there which they can achieve, gives hope that it is achievable for them, and is an act of love by being vulnerable in my honesty about how wretched I can be when acting out my addictions. And I can be simply awful in my self-seeking behavior.

      The people, places, and situations which challenged me the most are my greatest teachers. I love learning; why punish myself and harm others by acting on my resentment toward them? Why not act out my gratitude for these easy lessons? The sheer force of the desire to not repeat those mistakes (which I do in addiction) energizes me to choose an alternative way of life. The harshest lessons drive me to greater achievements in body, mind, and spirit. To honor my teachers, I learn the lessons as fully as possible. Then I take the new way of life forward and release the old coping mechanism. To forgive is to let go of the resentment; to forgive compassionately is to not forget yet detach myself from the meaning I put into it. Forgiving others is the choice to release the destructive negative energy, let it return to its natural state of neutral energy, then choose to renew myself with powerful, positive energy instead.

      My intuition enters the physical realm through my mind and body. I get inspired by what I read and hear, things which change my perceptions. Passages in books, snippets of songs I haven’t heard in a long time repeating in my head, synchronicities I observe and participate in all affect me profoundly. My physical body has a distinct set of reactions which let me know when I am in or out of alignment with reality. From a heartfelt feeling of comfort to the tense gut-feelings of anxiety, I get intuitive messages from my body’s reaction to what I think I should do.

      Amends are how I live after a lesson. When I leave the grab-what-I-can ego behind and align to reality? I am living amends. The act of the honest admission of harm to others is a formality–it is the surgery which digs out the disease and allows me to start the healing process. By asking forgiveness, I can give it to myself because I have used those lessons to actively choose a life meant to reduce harm to myself or others.

      Recovery is a paradox which delivers the promises addiction made but doesn’t keep. I become stronger when I am vulnerable and honest about my vulnerability (aka “weakness”). I surrender the perception of freedom (white-knuckle “control” of people, places, and situations fully out of my control) in addiction for real freedom (surrender to reality and a life of inspiration and possibility) in recovery. I embrace to me and suffer through past hurts in order to let them go and heal. I surrendered to a Higher Power by acting on recovered inspiration and was released from the prison of a mind clouded by acting on addiction impulses. My darkest moments illuminate my strongest beliefs–the suffering I had because of the choice I made drives me to seek alternatives which draw me closer to the serene and peaceful I want to live.

      The lesson, not the teacher, deserves the student’s attention and appreciation. When I share my story, I am merely a means to communicate a message of experience, strength, and hope. If one person gets nothing out of it? Then that was not a lesson they were ready for. If the person next to them gets something out of it? Then it was a lesson they were ready for. It’s not my business what other people think of me–my footwork is only to be honest, open-minded, and willing to the best of my ability so I can live in recovery instead of in addiction.

      Dealing with people, places, and situations with grace and skill can be learned; spiritual solutions are divined through intuition and insight. To divine a spiritual solution, I just combine silence, prayer (asking with intent), and meditation (listening with intent).

      Diets have a goal, a graduation, and an aftermath (“commencement”) with a let-down; abstinence (or withdrawal) is for life. If there even is a goal, it’s a lifetime goal: To be the healthiest person in body, mind, and spirit I can be today.

      My recovery is about “enough”-ness. Enough food to fuel my body (no more or less); enough education to open my mind to the possibilities; enough isolation to pray and meditate and enough socialization in order to be the change I wish to see in the world.

      Awareness is a gift. It lets me know where energy is going to be put over time in order to guide me gently into a life of daily serenity and peace. I don’t expect to be serene and peaceful all of the time–no one is–but if I can be it at least once daily for even a few minutes? I’ve made progress. Awareness opens me to synchronicity, and that’s where “miracles” (possibilities colliding and creating unexpected moments of awe and serenity) occur.

      Inspiration comes from anywhere at any time. The only way to be aware of it is to live in the now, to be receptive to it. I find inspirational quotes this way, things which open my mind to new ways of approaching old conflicts and coping mechanisms.

      Many of my memories are linked by the meaning I applied to them. Some memories open deeper, hidden memories–the things I hide from myself out of pain and fear that I will repeat the worst of the worst events in my life. In addiction, I replay them; in recovery, I heal from them by creating alternatives.

      Being underweight is just as dangerous as being overweight. To respect and show myself love, compassion, and kindness? I actively choose a healthy body over a thin one.

      I am not just my body and brain. I am a spiritual being having human experiences.

      Delegation (asking for help) honors others by asking them t use their special gifts and talents. It helps me heal by becoming vulnerable to others–something that is at the core of my approval addiction. When I seek approval, I am not emotionally present or vulnerable. I try to control situations by manipulating people into doing what I want them to and keeping a wall between us.

      There is no “evil” force in the world–that’s an assumption based on the perception that the spiritual is a force of “good” and requires an opposite to be defined. There is either nearing the spiritual or retreating from the spiritual–this is a conscious choice I make daily (because the spiritual is right here and now; living in the past or the future are distractions from it and means to retreat from it).

      A balanced life, for me, is meditating in the morning (isolation for the purpose of silence in order to look within for guidance from my Higher Self) and socializing in the afternoon in order to put it into practice. This is what I consider to be the Eat, Pray, Love Effect–Ketut Liyer teaches Liz Gilbert to take the ascetic path in the morning then appreciate life to its fullest in the afternoons. It’s a great way to live and balance the spiritual and the physical to honor myself as a whole person–in body, in mind, and in spirit.

      To have a simpler life, I simplify things. For example, the Five Stages of Grief have been distilled to the Three Stages of Renewal: Embrace (get into the past and let myself touch the resentments and suffering), Examine (seek the lessons held within then use insight to come up with alternative choices to those coping mechanisms I’ve used until now), then Enlighten (release of the old coping strategies and be grateful I finally have a real choice available to me–addiction coping mechanisms or recovered acceptance of reality and the possibilities which are now open to me).

      Even my basic core “needs” are choices. If I choose to live, I am choosing to act in a manner which will keep my body alive. Yes, I will die some day, but as long as I choose to pursue my body’s demands for food, water, rest, activity, warmth, and shelter? I am choosing to enable my body to go another day. Now, it’s a process, since I’m still choosing some things which are bad for my body. However, I am not choosing to eat a diet which puts me at very high risk for heart disease and diabetes, so the immediate danger of those is minimized.

      All suffering comes from unmet expectations or assumptions. If I detach expectations and assumptions, and I don’t suffer any more (because I don’t place meaning on the outcomes of events or the interactions with people or places). When I do this, I am choosing love, joy, peace, and serenity instead of trying to control what I cannot control–which is everything outside of me and some things inside of me (like the arrival of unexpected, though real, emotions).

      Celebrating people means I take time, expend energy, and have emotions in order to connect with another person. I bring to any event with that person my sense of them, not my sense of myself. This is how I can honor and respect others.

      Don’t wait. Every day is precious and unique. Use the good china; dress in the shirt I love but don’t want to wear out; tell someone I love aloud that I appreciate who they are and what they do; forgive people, places, and situations I resent. Choose joy now, and I will live a joyful life today.

      Meddling (advice-giving, especially unsolicited advice) and rescuing (doing for others when they should being doing for themselves) are not compassionate–they are about me trying to manipulate and control others. Compassion is not getting in the way of another’s journey.

      Any advice I want to give others is advice I need to take, myself.

      For every human ailment, there is a spiritual solution–even if there is no “cure”. The only way to access the spiritual is to be present in the now. I choose to be in the now in order to find the spiritual solutions to my problems.

      I can actively choose at any moment to live in the now and the H.O.W. (honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness) instead of living in yesterday and asking myself, “Why?” or living in tomorrow and asking myself, “If . . .?”

      I am learning how to love by learning about love. I researched the Greek words for love to understand it better. Eros is sexual/romantic love; storge is familial love; philia is friendly (brotherly) love; agape is spiritual/unconditional love. By distinguishing between the loves, I can show each kind of love appropriately and use those distinctions as a means to maintain healthy boundaries while also being a loving being.


      Well, that’s pretty-much what I’ve been working on in my personal journal. Yes, some may change, but every last one of those brings me personal serenity in their revelations. They encourage a healthy mindset of growth and inspiration, of creativity and acceptance. For today, they are the lessons I consider will guide me into a stronger recovery from the clouded, self-obsessed world of food and approval addiction.
      I have other lessons which haven’t gelled as well as these ones have, but I have hope and faith that they will have their solutions presented when I’m ready for them. Until then? I have quite a lot to consider, and I am quite content with my progress since walking into an OA room desperate to change. Well, change is here, and it is quite drastic. It feels like a lifetime ago since I wondered if I would ever know serenity at all, and now I touch serenity daily. I’ve even had a full day in serenity–one observed by others who “knew me when”. So, this progress is amazing to me.
      To be honest, it’s a miracle I believed was unreachable, so much so that I put up distractions and false promises of perfection in order to hide from the truth that–as long as I was a slave to my addictions–I could not know the peaceful life I wanted so desperately to have.
      I actually am a little giddy at the idea of revisiting this in a year to see the progress I’ve made. I’ve had growth beyond my wildest dreams in the last 12 months alone. It’s been quite a ride, and I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings. But, for now, I am here and present in my life.
      And I’m off to bed, not waiting to tell my husband, M—, that I love him before I lie down and sleep . . . grateful for having such a beautiful day today–even when things happened which would have sent me into paroxysms of fretful control-freaking five years ago.
      I feel like life is a gift right now, not something I have to endure until I get rewarded for suffering enough. I guess walking into OA was the reward for suffering enough, and I am grateful to every person who opens a room, every person who leads a meeting, every person who attends and shares their experience, strength, and hope with intense honesty. Together, we really do get better.
      Jess. Addict. Food. Approval. Recovering. Learning. Grateful.
      Very, very grateful.


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