Yes, I Accept.

Typically, whenever I utter the words, “yes, I accept,” there is a an unmistakable shit-eating grin on my face and a twinkle in my eye. ¬†The only times I have ever found these words worthy of elliciting my signature¬†response¬†apply to the following situations: A). I have been offered a badass job, B). Apple products require me to sign off on Terms and Conditions for my new iPhone, or C). Someone has asked me if I am willing to pay extra for guacamole or sour cream. ¬†These days, my acceptance threshold has reached new levels of discernment: I face (with equal enthusiasm) an undeniably¬†sobering reality, in addition to¬†an unrelenting desire to coax the joy out of myself, even if it kills me. ¬†(The “me” I reference here is Ego.)

What I have discovered in the last 48 hours–which have passed so effortlessly–is that acceptance has set me free. ¬†I have attended hundreds of meetings since March of 2014, where many of the best passages out of the appropriate alcoholic literature describe acceptance being the antidote to my life’s “recent unpleasantness” (as my grandmother Myra “Bunch” Morrisette used to say). ¬†One passage greets me with offensively bright pink highlighter each time I open my Big Book to read about how to get through the present time sober:

And acceptance is the answer to all¬†my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some¬†person, place, thing, or situation–some fact of my life–unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or¬†situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment…I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my¬†attitudes.

I find immense joy in the knowledge that resistance is futile. ¬†Sure, when my spicy Italian hot-headedness commands attention, I can spit expletives with the best of them. ¬†A friend once even referred to it as The Morrisette Charm Offensive (and offensive it was). ¬†I¬†like¬†being angry sometimes. However, the moment my Higher Power¬†nudged me toward the exotic realm of sobriety, I agreed to disarm by disengaging my anger. ¬†I made a commitment to myself and to all that is good and right in the world that I would no longer answer to the dictates of my own thoughts or emotions. ¬†I am now reaching a new stratosphere of consciousness where there exists a far greater power in humility–or as I like to call it, knowing when to just shut the fuck up–thoughts, feelings and all.

I have struggled with powerful questions about what surrender and acceptance mean for my feelings, because I am addicted¬†to feelings as much as I am addicted to my own¬†line of thinking. The best, most non-addicting thought that has crossed my mind thus far is simply,¬†“I don’t know”. ¬†I find that my higher power lives in me amidst uncertainty, as well as in the outside world, guiding me with an ever-pliant intuition. ¬†I see now that to accept how I feel at any given time requires a bit of consolidation rather than compounding. I¬†get¬†to feel angry; I don’t get to let that anger pervade all of my thoughts and actions with unconscious motivations…I am trying to stay sober, here, people.

And today, I accept that I no longer have the fight in me to resist joy. ¬†I spent the afternoon with an alarmingly irreverent friend of mine, riding the same buses that recently brought me to public tears, panic and¬†confusion…only to find that we did not stop laughing the entire 2+ hours we spent schlepping to West Hollywood, Silver Lake and onward to Glendale. ¬†I observed my anger, resentments and situational depression slowly deflate after a meditation meeting last night clear through to this afternoon, job-hunting with a friend rather than lumbering under the duress of my false ego’s stronghold.

So, yes.  Yes to less.  Less pressure, less unhappiness, less trivialities.  Yes, I accept these terms and conditions.

 

Photo courtesy of en.memory-alpha.org

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“The Rent is Too Damn High!”

On Saturday, February 7th, I parted ways with my former apartment on West 4th Street, where my Los Angeles neighborhood was never fully determined–not quite Downtown, not quite Historic Filipinotown, not quite mine. ¬†My heart and mind were laden with strangely peaceful misgivings about my next moves as a person who is now officially homeless. ¬†I spent a week pouring¬†all of my energy into scouring every square inch of that space to leave the place better than how I found it. ¬†I suppose that was my way of gracefully letting go of something no longer meant for me.

I made the decision to leave¬†my apartment when I watched as the financial dominoes continued to fall amidst the aftershock of my horrific accident. ¬†I knew this was coming; a person cannot possibly maintain the lifestyle she is accustomed to when a full-time job is no longer in play. ¬†I am not alone in my current state, as many of my friends and others less known adhere to the “struggling artist” lifestyle of couch-surfing. ¬†I am fortunate and blessed to have a strong enough support system wherein I do so much as sneeze and a friend or acquaintance is standing right next to me, offering a tissue–or in my case, a place to rest my head at night. ¬†I do not quite know what I would do if it were not for the bewildering kindnesses and unconditional love I experience every single day from these angelic forces for good.

This post marks the first in my brief blogging history where the writing feels more like heavy lifting for me.  I am saddened that I left a place where I discovered sobriety and where I met the cast of characters who became the authors of my laughter for nearly two years. After a very difficult struggle against my own demons to find a sense of belonging and a safe place (read: cute apartment in a fabulous city), the last thing I wanted to do was leave.  I am happy to report, however, that my sense of safety and security has returned after its brief sojourn.  Thanks to the tireless love and affection sobriety provides me through my spiritual support network, I am able to edify the home in my heart, which allows me to be mobile now more than ever.

As I reflect upon my latest and most obvious experience of complete powerlessness, I am reminded of my most favorite quote by the inimitable Muhammad Ali (and countless other wise men and women): “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth”. ¬†My Higher Power has testified yet again on my account that my purpose at this time is to be spiritually fit in order to help other people to keep the focus off of self-pity and discouragement. ¬†While the rent for my former apartment was unaffordable¬†to my weakened wallet, I can rest easily knowing that I can, at the very least, afford to pay my rent here for room on Earth.

The Moment I Wake Up, Before I Put on My Makeup…

God, I love that song. I also love Dionne Warwick, who originally sang with a group called the Drinkard Sisters…appropriate much??? At any rate, I’ve had that song in my head since last night because a curious thing started to happen: I began to see and hear prayer requests coming from my friends, friends of friends, and their friends, and so on–mostly via Facebook. I am gonna be honest here and say I am not comfortable yet being so vocal about prayer considering that A). The Higher Power I pray to wears body suits made of leather, power clashes his outfits and used to leave traces of cocaine and sparkles in his trailblazing wake; B). I do not consider myself a religious person. In fact, I identified as an atheist for a few years following my father’s death, leading straight into recovery (Okay, maybe not directly… I needed a few more iron-clad alcoholic years before my spirit broke). My spirituality and willingness to keep an open mind did not come easily for me–that is, until a powerful voice within me urged me to get sober before my life became a predictable, dramatic mess.

I have been taught in the past 10+ months that prayer is a crucial piece of recovery. My version of praying involves saying “thank you” and/or “help”. I used to cry for help for my own woes, but I have learned that praying for others is where the true gift comes. I pray on bended knee first thing when I wake up, just saying “thank you” to whatever the hell keeps me alive and loving that day. This act teaches me humility; I humble myself to whatever force is strong enough to keep me sober, to keep the world spinning and to provide love in my life and in the lives of others. All I know for sure is that when I start the day like that, I have more confidence and feel more comfortable in my own skin because I do not act on fear that I will lose control of events or people around me, as I am not the one in charge.

There is something to be said about selfless and solution-based thoughts manifesting positive things in my life. The Buddha himself taught his people about their thoughts becoming reality. I am into that for sure, though resetting my thoughts requires a lot of time, energy and patience. This is where being of service to others comes into play because the efforts of helping those in need mute the fears in my mind, if only for a few precious minutes.

The most effective type of praying I’ve found is to send positive and loving vibes to the Haters in my life. Like anyone ever in The History of the World, I have people in my life who I resent or have resented in the past for slighting me or stepping on my sensitive ego. I engage in reverse psychology by praying that these people have the same things in life I seek: unconditional love, safety, abundance, confidence, peace, success and serenity. The standard time period to actively pray like this is about two weeks. I’ve tried it twice and it worked like a charm both times. I ended up feeling love and compassion for the prayee, and my self-centered fear slipped away.

If all else fails, I put on a Bowie record to redirect my thinking to something more … fabulous.

Annnnd, of course,

 

… I say a little prayer for you.

xx

Go On, Give A Little

It took the better part of a year for me to realize that though my own orbit is speckled with all kinds of cool people and things, the world does not, in fact, revolve around me. The trouble with being overly sensitive or too hell-bent on self-improvement is that I inadvertently become the center of my own universe, and for someone with a brain wired like mine, that can only mean trouble.

The most important lesson sobriety has taught me is that the only way I stay better emotionally and spiritually is by being there for someone else. This bit annoys me to a certain degree, considering that I am not a saint and there are many people who I feel do not deserve my unique blend of kindness and generosity. This may or may not make me a betch but I have had to learn not to over commit to people who aren’t really there for anyone other than themselves. That being said, exercising discipline by calling people I might not know that well or sitting with them for coffee to actually listen to how they are doing, has eroded my ego quite a bit. It is a lesson to me that I have such an ego problem in the first place, but once I saw my fears as the real ego-culprits, I felt much better about knowing my own character defects.

When I am helping someone work through an issue, I cannot possibly focus on my own problems. It is virtually impossible to do two things at once. Though I tend to carry on full-blown conversations with myself in my mind, nine times out of ten, a conversation with someone else is almost always more interesting because it is unpredictable. I practice listening, particularly when I do not want to because it is my way of learning selflessness while donning my best attentive face.

I would be remiss if I didn’t note here how my friends and relative strangers have been incredibly generous and thoughtful to me with their time and resources. I have gotten a premier education in selflessness through these people who I would be lucky enough to even attempt to emulate. For today, at least, I’ll give in and give it a try.

Photo courtesy of Alana Jones-Mann