A Human Being Spiritual

At the end of the day I am happy with who I am, because I know who I am. A human being who has learned how to practice love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance toward others and themselves. Or what I like to call, being spiritual.

Now it can be hard to show any one of these things toward some people. Sometimes a person’s behaviors can be so obnoxious or rude that it seems impossible to even tolerate them. But it has been my experience that, often times, it is these very people who need love and kindness.

Their behaviors can actually be an indication that they don’t love themselves and aren’t happy with who they are. In this respect being an example of someone who is can defuse what seems like an attack, and turn the situation into a more positive one.

I’m not saying we should allow people to treat us badly. It should be the very love of ourselves that spurs us to confront someone’s harsh behaviors and let them know we will not tolerate their treatment of us. But this can be done without showing anger or disdain toward the individual.

It can take a lot of practice to get to a point in our lives where we can calmly assess a situation and react in a spiritual way when someone is acting badly. But I know it can be done. Sometimes all I need to do is remember how my own rude and obnoxious behaviors were often due to the lack of love I had for myself.

Fortunately, I’ve spent the last twenty-two years of my sobriety trying to not only grow spiritually, but also as a person, and this has brought a wonderful revelation to me. Even if I cannot treat someone with love and kindness, I can at least try to be understanding of their behaviors, and show a level of tolerance that I know I will later be glad I did.

Again, though, it does not mean that we have to be tolerant of anyone’s rude and obnoxious conduct. It simply means that we should remember the times when we have acted badly toward someone, and why we did.

Hopefully, if we are lucky, there is at least one incidence that we can recall where instead of being treated back in the same way, we were shown some level of love, kindness, understanding, and tolerance from another human being who had learned how to practice these things toward themselves and others.

Or what I like to call. Being spiritual.

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Being Happy With Who We Are

“When I was young. I never needed anyone. And makin’ love was just for fun. Those days are gone.
Livin’ alone. I think of all the friends I’ve known. But when I dial the telephone. Nobody’s home.”

I had girlfriends as a teenager. But the above lyrics from the song All By Myself, sung by Eric Carmen in 1975, still sums up my teenage years. And although I got married at the young age of nineteen, the song also sums up many of the years that followed. Years that I call my drinking days. Where even with a wife and kids, and friends in bars, I still often felt sad and alone. But fortunately that’s not the case anymore.

I celebrated 22 years of sobriety on April 27th, and although I was actually “all by myself,” it was a quiet and relaxing evening.

With my wife at home in a nearby state, the night went by with some TV and doing a few things to improve the personal use of my blog. I then fell asleep in front of the TV at some point, (it happens a lot more now that I’m fifty-eight years old) and after waking up at a time I don’t remember now. I went to the bathroom and then went to bed. (There’s a lot more peeing at fifty-eight too).

Now the point of this blog post isn’t to talk about my drinking days or tell you about my bathroom habits. I covered the loneliness I experienced throughout my life in my book and my frequent peeing may fall under the expression, “too much information.” But I do want to talk about how after 22 years of growth, both personal and spiritual, I am the happiest I’ve ever been, even though I’m not as happy I was several years ago.

I know that sounds confusing but stay with me. I promise there’s a positive message coming.

Back in January of 2013 I wrote a blog post called A Quiet Confidence. It’s about my college experiences, but it mostly focuses on one in particular. An experience that helped me to grow at the age of fifty-two, and one that reflects how I have been feeling for a while now.

I have spent the last year and four months working as a case worker for people with mental illnesses and I have also spent that time being away from my wife more than before. Although we have been married for over 38 years now, I can honestly say that we miss each other when we’re not together.

Since there’s a rather long story behind my current situation, I’ll move on by simply stating that my present circumstances came to pass due to the passion I have for helping others.

It was in that blog post from 2013 that I wrote how I had begun having doubts about some of my personal views on counseling and addiction and how it was affecting my self-confidence. And it was also in that post that I wrote that I felt like I was losing my identity. Now while those things currently hold true, I will say that I love myself and that I’m happy with who I am. Which is why I am the happiest I have ever been, but not as happy as I was when I was in college.

Now for the positive message I promised.

I have found that being happy with who we are can sustain us in times when we’re not as happy in life as we want to be. And that as long as we don’t give up, our lives will improve for the better.

I believe that this past year and four months have helped me to grow as a person, but it has also shown me where I need to grow more. And that even though I have a job that I love, I need to start being with the wife that I love more.

I also need to start believing more in a creator of some kind. A creator that I sometimes call god. Not the God of the bible, but one that gave us the ability to be happy and to change our lives for the better if we need to. After all, it’s what helped me to grow spiritually and become happy with who I am.

“All by myself. Don’t want to be, all by myself anymore. All by myself. Don’t want to live, all by myself anymore.
Hard to be sure. Sometimes I feel so insecure. And love so distant and obscure. Remains the cure.”

In truth I have been sad at times without my wife by my side as much. But I know that love will be the cure.

The love I have for my wife. The love I have for myself. And a love for life that I never had in my drinking days.

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Don’t Fear Your Happiness

I’m wishing everyone a Happy New Year. And a sober one should help ensure that. When I look back over my 21 and a half years of sobriety, I can honestly say that the biggest obstacle I faced was fear.  Fortunately many of the fears I had turned out to be the boogeyman, and the ones that turned out to be real, helped me to grow and become a stronger person. So while not everyday may bring us happiness, we cannot fail to be happy by facing our fears, knowing that we will find greater strength in doing so.

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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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I’m No Superman

I can’t imagine ever drinking again. I enjoy being sober and living a spiritual life. I’ve become a good person who loves themselves and others. And I’m happy with who I am. But let me make two things clear.

I’m no superhero when it comes to living a spiritual life. And it’s not always easy being me.

There are times when my thoughts become filled with anger about one thing or another, and a small resentment can crop up. I can be somewhat cynical when it comes to certain people—a few celebrities and politicians come to mind. And I’m a man who enjoys looking at woman, although I’m careful not to stare, especially when I’m with my wife. Oh yeah. I also drop the F-Bomb sometimes and say things I wish I hadn’t.

As far as why it’s not easy being me, well that’s a little more complicated.

You would think if I’m happy with myself and enjoy life, it only stands to reason that being who I am shouldn’t be hard. But sometimes it is. Sometimes, a sudden sadness comes over me, or I feel anxious without any real reason for it.

Now I know that may not seem like a big deal, but wait, there’s more.

I’ve gone to bed in a good mood already, only to awaken the next morning feeling down or actually fearful. Dreams are sometimes the culprit and these feelings usually go away quickly. But sometimes they linger and I have to fight mentally to feel better emotionally.

Science tells us that some people have lower levels of what I like to call the happy chemicals in our brains, which I’m sure I am one of. But that doesn’t help much when I’m feeling unhappy for no reason of my making.

Fortunately, I’ve come to realize that there are going to be times when I’m not as happy as I want to be and that the way I am feeling will pass. I just wish it was easier on some days is all.

In the end I do know that living a spiritual life, which doesn’t have to be anything more than trying to be a better person than we were before, helps us to love ourselves and to be happy with who we are. And that may well be another reason I have to fight to be happy.

Truth be told, I haven’t been trying as hard as I have in the past to improve on myself—correcting my negative thoughts and behaviors.

I may not be a superhero when it comes to living a spiritual life. And it’s not always easy being me. But I can’t think of a better way to live or a better person to be.

I just need to work harder at being the person I say I am.

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Maybe Our Dreams Do Come True?

I celebrated 21 years of continuous sobriety this month. I went from calling myself a high bottom alcoholic, to a recovered alcoholic, and at some point I called myself a self-proclaimed alcoholic. But eventually it no longer mattered what I called myself. The bottom line is that I was a problem drinker who needed to be something I wasn’t, full of fears and insecurities that made me unhappy, and I was often quite lonely and sad.

Thankfully that all changed after waking up hung over on April 27th, 1996, sick to my stomach and afraid that the argument I started with my wife the night before had cost me my family. Fortunately, it somehow didn’t, and the rest is history as they say. But I’ll add that it was hard and scary along the way at times.

I didn’t drink every day, and I was far from the stereotypes one sees in movies and on TV, bottoming out and losing everything. But I had bottomed out emotionally and spiritually, and at the time I only knew of one place I could go to get help—Alcoholics Anonymous.

I wrote about my experience there in my book, and how the Twelve Steps helped me to love myself and be happy in life. And I wrote about some of the answers I found outside the rooms of AA that helped me find even greater happiness. But this post isn’t about AA or my book. It’s about the two answers I didn’t find.

It frightens me some days that there may not be something after we die. And I’m still not sure what my true purpose is in life.

Yes I have a book and a blog. Yes I help people with substance use problems. And yes I currently work helping people with mental illnesses. But I have to wonder why my prayers of being able to financially support myself while writing more books and helping more people haven’t been answered?

One might say that vanity has something to do with it. If I get a swelled head and begin to think I’m more important than what I am, I could end up drinking again, right? But I’ve ruled this out. A lot of things have contributed to my growth and my happiness, and I know drinking would rob me of that. Plus I have never been more humble in my life. I don’t have a lot of money, an expensive car, or a big home. And I’m aware that I still have a lot more growing to do, both spiritually and as a person.

So what is it then? Why haven’t I achieved my dream yet? No god? Not my purpose to help the many people suffering from what has become better known as a chronic, progressive disease of the brain? Maybe I’m just not qualified? Maybe a book and blog doesn’t make me an expert on addiction and helping others? And if there is a god of some kind. Maybe I’m not supposed to be famous or well-known in the field of addiction?

I’m not sure if the answer as to whether or not there’s a god will ever be answered. And I can only hope that the term “when preparation meets opportunity” becomes a reality for me. But I can honestly say that there have been some signs that I’m on the right path in life.

I celebrated 21 years of continuous sobriety this month. I went from calling myself an alcoholic, to a recovered alcoholic, and at some point a self-proclaimed alcoholic. But it no longer matters what I call myself. I don’t need to be something I’m not, and I’ve learned how to overcome my fears and insecurities. I’m no longer lonely. And although I feel sad on some days, finally being happy with who I am sustains me during those times and the sadness never lasts.

So I guess I’ll simply keep trying to believe that something created life and the universe for a reason and that we do have a purpose while we’re here. And not worry about the answers.

If my sobriety has taught me anything, it’s that we can create our own happiness, and that living in the present moment is one of the best ways to achieve it.

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