A More Level Playing Field

“Until we all fully understand that it’s not just the current and previous administrations who are to blame for the growing economic inequality in America, but big corporations and their greed. We will never unite and prosper as a people. The demise of the Middle Class will continue. And the true culprits, specifically the Billionaire businessmen behind the real politics that go on unseen, will continue to make insanely huge profits. It’s time to cry out for a more level playing field that allows all the hard-working people of this country to live a better and less worrisome life, instead of living pay check to pay check.”

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I’m Not Sick Anymore

Some people don’t like using the word “sick” when describing someone with an addiction. I get it. Just like the words alcoholic and addict, saying someone is sick can add to the shame and stigma associated with addiction, and prevent a person from getting the help they need.

But was I sick? Yes.

Although I didn’t drink every day and I seemed to be doing well in life, I wasn’t. I had fears and insecurities, not of the normal variety, that made me emotionally sick.

As a result, I was overly jealous of people and an extremely jealous husband. I felt like I needed to prove myself at almost every turn—believing deep down that I didn’t stack up to others. And I tried to be something I wasn’t, often acting out in arrogant and egotistical ways, in an attempt to feel better about myself.

I was also spiritually sick.

I should have been a better person than I was. A better friend. A more loving husband. And certainly a more loving and caring father.

Not that I was a bad person. I tried not to do things that I knew I shouldn’t, and I actually did some good things in my drinking days. But I just couldn’t sustain a better way of living. Sooner or later my fears would overwhelm me. My insecurities would become too great. And I would turn to the only thing that I thought could help me with how I was feeling.  Even when riddled with guilt, I could not stop drinking for a long period of time, and I would return to the behaviors that actually made me feel worse about myself.

Eventually I got help and began living a different way, but I was still emotionally and spiritually sick in the beginning. But as I remained sober, my brain healed. And as I kept trying to be a better person than I was before, I was no longer sick.

I had changed the things about myself that needed to be changed. The thoughts and behaviors that didn’t make me a bad person, but along with my drinking, kept me emotionally and spiritually “sick” and prevented me from becoming the person I always wanted to be.

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We Are No Longer Alone

“The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to.”

The above quote is from this article written a few years ago about a Ted Talk author who, while also trying to sell a book at the time, was professing that the likely cause of addiction has been discovered, and it’s just simply loneliness and an unhappy environment.

I disagree in calling someone a “street-addict, or addict really. But I do agree that loneliness and an unhappy environment can contribute to drug use. It’s true that people can feel isolated and alone from their childhood into their adult life, I know I certainly did, but that doesn’t mean everyone who develops an addiction feels that way.

Many people who develop a substance use disorder have friends. Successful business men and women, school teachers or other professional types, and loving parents come to mind. People who also seem happy in their surroundings or living conditions, but sadly, may not be happy with themselves.

They appear to be all right to others, but fears and insecurities, ones they’ve denied and kept hidden from the outside world continue to reside inside them. They often don’t feel good about themselves despite any successes they have in life, and although they go about acting as if they’re happy, most know different. The same drug that made them feel better about themselves fails them, and this is when they can began feeling isolated and alone.

After I stopped drinking I found friends in Alcoholics Anonymous, but other than having occasional lunches with some of them, I didn’t hang around with anyone long enough to form a true friendship.

I’ve now been sober for over 21 years and I stopped going to meetings several years ago. I’m also a self-professed loner, (although being married and having a best friend in my wife isn’t really being alone) who admittedly does have a few close friends, but I don’t really do much with any of them.

My point is that I drank and hung around with more people than I call a friend today and had some type of connection with them, yet I have no desire to start drinking again.

Personal growth, self-confidence, and self-love are all factors in being happy with who we are, and it doesn’t matter if we have a lot of friends or not.

These things allow us to love and help others, and that along with an environment that we have improved on can be enough to help us remain sober.

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The Spirituality Of Cynicism

I’ve blogged before about me being a bit cynical at times, despite trying to live a more spiritual life. But because I believe that having a sense of humor is part of spirituality. I thought I’d list a few types of people who I’ve been cynical about. All in good humor, of course.

One is the “gym dancer.

They’re kind of funny to watch, as they dance around in front of mirrors with their headphones on listening to music that only they can hear. But if you’re not in the mood for it, they can be slightly annoying. You can’t help watching them do moves that can only be described as “made up on the spot,” and you look at them and wonder where, if ever, they learned to dance. Every gym I’ve been a member of has had one, and I’m sure yours does too.

There’s also the “indecisive food order person.

Somehow, you manage to time it just right that you have the misfortune of winding up behind one of them, and usually starving at the time I might add. You already know what you want—you’ve thinking about it all day. But you can tell right away that this person is going to take a while, so you get out your smart phone to see who liked your latest Facebook post, and try to be patient while they ask questions that are pretty much answered by the descriptions on the brightly lit menus with pictures.

Chances are they’re going to finally make a choice, and you’re going to get excited thinking it’s soon your turn, but inevitably they change their mind at the last-minute. If you’re lucky, the whole frustrating process won’t start over again. But sometimes it does.

Then there’s the “ocean view peripheral vision obstructionist.”

You picked out a great spot on the beach. Close enough to the ocean so no one sits in front of you. And just when you’re sitting there relaxed and enjoying the ocean view this person walks by with their chair and carry bag, filled with everything they’ll need for their beach adventure. For whatever reason, they always sit even nearer to the water than you and just close enough to the left or right that you can’t help but notice that they’re there.

Most of them are probably nice people, but since you’re with someone and they’re not, a reason for why they’re by themselves quickly comes to mind. It seems to take a long time for them to set their bag down, open up their beach chair, and place it on the sand. I’m guessing it’s a ritual of sorts for them to look around the beach before making a hard and fast decision like sitting your shit down where you’ve been standing for the last several minutes.

Although they, at least, usually sit down right away after “pulling the trigger” and finally placing the chair in what I’m sure has to be at just the right angle for sun, fun, and viewing, you can bet your ass that the “opening of the bag” ceremony will soon commence.

As time passes you can’t understand how they got so much stuff in that damn carry bag, including a hardcover book that seems larger than the bag itself. But at some point all you can do is hope their stay is short. Fortunately, sometimes it is.

And finally, for now at least. There’s the “loud talker.

They can also be at the beach, where I find them the most annoying, but I’m sure you’ve heard them in restaurants, lines at stores, and anytime they’re on the cell phone talking with someone. It doesn’t matter what they are talking about, but the “bragging loud talker” is more annoying and brings out the cynical side of me even more. But no matter if they are bragging or not, try being around a loud talker while you’re picking out a special birthday card for a loved one, and see if you too don’t become cynical.

I believe for those of us who are naive and over-caring, we need to be cynical of people at times. I’ve allowed others that I thought were good people to fool me and temporarily hurt me emotionally. But nevertheless, being cynical for no real reason can prevent us from feeling good about ourselves, especially if we’re trying to live a spiritual life.

Perhaps it’s OK to have what I’ll call a spiritual cynicism. We know that we’re not being the best person we can be at the time, but we also know it’s not who we are.

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Building A Wall Of Insanity

Let’s say the neighbor’s kids keep coming into your yard. They like it there and your kids like to play with them, but you don’t like it. You’ve been trying to stop them from coming over for quite sometime, but to no avail. And you swear they’re taking some of your kid’s toys.

In actuality, your children don’t want the toys the neighbor kids play with. But you feel that’s not the point. You’ve lived there longer than these neighbors have, plus you were born in this country and they weren’t.

Your wife is OK with the neighbor’s kids. She believes they aren’t hurting anything. But something inside you detests these rascals. They’re different from your kids. Their parents are different from you.

You realize a lawyer is out of the question—this is something you know you can’t sue over. And then bam! “I know,” you say to yourself. “I’ll have a humongous wall built to keep these undesirable’s out.”

Deep down you know they haven’t done anything to you personally, or anyone really. But the idea of a wall and the fact that you came up with it, fills you with a sense of power, and you become obsessed with your mission. You can’t wait to tweet about it and add it to the thousands of other well deserved rants you’ve felt the absolute need to tweet about over the years.

It’ll be an expensive adventure, and although you know your wife and kids will be upset, you’ve talked to other people in the neighborhood who said they were all for it. (Apparently these kids have been a menace to some of them too.)

“Now how to pay for it,” you wonder.

“I know,” you say to yourself again. “I’ll get the foreign neighbors to pay for it.” “After all, it’s their children causing the problem not mine.”

Sound insane? It is.

Nuff said.

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An Idea Before Its Time?

I am happy to post what I consider a work in progress (I believe there is always room for improvement in certain things we do) that I hope will help others. I have written Five Basic Concepts that helped me remain sober and find greater happiness in my life. You can click here or the tab above to see how the idea was formed.

I wrote about this in my book, and for those who read it, let me add that although I tried to be something I wasn’t throughout my drinking days, and even in my early sobriety, I am not doing that now. I am actually worried that maybe I’m asking too much of myself—I feel fearful at times about trying to start these meetings/discussion groups.

I  may not know what my future holds in this endeavor. But I know that besides believing in myself, trying to believe that something created life and the universe for a reason will also be a part of it.

Currently my faith isn’t as strong as it’s been in the past. In truth, being happy with who I am has been sustaining me while toiling away at a job that I like, but that I’m not fulfilled in. I’m actually thinking about moving back to my home town next year to find people who can help me get this started, that’s how serious I am about it.

Of course, thinking about doing this adds to my fear. But when you write a book called Facing Our Fears, well, I think you get the point.

Here are the Five Basic Concepts of Creating Our Path.

1. We are capable of creating our happiness through the Six Selves

Self-Awareness– Understanding the emotions behind our thoughts and behaviors. Knowing our strengths, but also where we need to grow.

Self-Improvement– Changing negative thoughts and behaviors to positive ones. Seek knowledge in a variety of subjects. Search for answers needed to grow as a person. Be open-minded to others values and beliefs. Practice love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others.

Self-Confidence/Self-Esteem– What do we like about ourselves?
Practice love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward ourselves.

Self-Love– the instinct or desire to promote one’s own well-being; regard for or love of one’s self.

Self-Actualization– the realization or fulfillment of ones talents and potentialities; considered as a drive or need.

2. We are capable of changing ourselves for the better
We understand the power of changing any negative thoughts and beliefs we hold about ourselves, others, and life in general.

3. We are capable of changing our lives for the better
We understand how important behaving and living differently is to our sobriety and happiness.

4. We are capable of loving ourselves and others
We become more receptive and excepting of love.
We are able to forgive ourselves and others more quickly.

5. We are capable of being happy with who we are
We realize how being happy with ourselves sustains us in times of uncertainty and unwanted circumstances.
We are able to laugh at ourselves and embrace all that we are.

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Let’s All Have A New Mind-Set

We must become united as a people if we ever expect to help solve our nation’s problems. But first we need to drop the self-defeating mind-set of “us against them.” A division of our citizens that was instigated by the government a long time ago. We need to see how both sides of our political parties point the finger at each other for the problems in this country, and nothing much gets done. Especially when it comes to helping the dwindling middle class. Black, White, Hispanic, no matter what race. This struggling and yet largely ignored group of people find it harder each year to live the American Dream, while the extremely wealthy and the extremely poor seem to get all the attention and all the benefits.

We can, of course, continue to believe that we’re right and the other side is wrong, and argue our political views with each other. But I’m hoping more people will begin to see the insanity in all of this and stop the debates. First, however, more people will need to see the insanity within our political parties. It shouldn’t be too hard. The extreme foolishness, folly, senselessness, and foolhardiness exhibited by our politicians over the years, the very people we trusted to make things better in our country, should be evident by the shape its in. If we can all agree on this, maybe then we can become united in a common cause that benefits everyone.

We can even have the mind-set of “us against them” once again, only this time it will hold a new, and perhaps promising meaning for everyone involved.   

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