Six Years’ Sober

Six years ago, I went to a retreat center on top of a mountain in a last ditch effort to get sober. I was there for 8 days. Here’s what I wrote while I was there:

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

I’d never heard of an Ayurvedic massage, not before my self-imposed rehab at a mountain retreat that promised yoga, meditation, vegetarian food, and healing. No meat or alcohol allowed on the premises.

It was here on a table, on top of a mountain so high that we often walked through clouds, that silent women anointed my body — my forehead, my palms, my feet — with warm, fragrant oil. Their skilled caresses and the lull of soft Indian music made me feel like I was in another world.

Like anything might happen.

I vaguely remembered something about the anointing of saints, of Jesus. I read later in the Ayurvedic literature in my room that it was a call for healing. For miracles.

I wondered if the silent women could feel how desperately I needed a miracle. I knew, though, looking in the mirror later, that desperation was a feeling that I could no longer summon up. Instead, a familiar numbness clouded my mind, obscuring what used to be concern for my own wellbeing.

“Miracles happen here,” claimed the retreat’s website.  I needed one for myself, no doubt. But also some to bless those I had damaged with my need to anoint myself with wine.

During my final days at the spa, I was anointed for the last time. Afterward, the woman wrapped steaming towels around my head and feet so that I was covered in a shroud of white, with a sheet wrapped tightly around my body.

Like a corpse I thought. The anointing of the dead.

It’s up to you, she seemed to say.

I could take this blessing from the gods and hold it tight forever. Or release it and turn away. Let the unforgiving tide roll in and take me out to sea.

I want to hold on.

Are You Hungover?

I knew that I was being called by all that is holy to lay this substance aside.”

From my memoir.

TODAY make the decision to align the stars in your favor. You’ve been sailing against the wind, and all it takes is one little shift in thinking to turn the ship in an entirely different direction, where you open your heart to everything good.

The ONE decision to stop drinking, just for today, will join you with a power so strong you absolutely cannot fail. Align your will with that of all the universe, which seeks only your highest good. In your heart, you know that drinking is drowning you, even if you’re sometimes able to tread water. Can you LOVE YOURSELF, value yourself, as you would a child, enough to save your own life?

You cannot fail because even if you drink again, you will be shown the error of your ways through signs and the cognitive dissonance that comes from treating yourself as less than the perfect child of Life itself. You will be drawn back to the path with the power of love, the love that will see you through what temporarily feels like loss.

The time is now. Reach out and join your hand with the millions who walk this path with you, in blogs, in meetings, in your own town, in every city everywhere. You are not alone.

Let the divine, whatever that means for you, show you the way.

To You from the Universe

Photo by Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Message from the Universe to You:

If it’s not yet obvious to you, the real reason for this, and all seasons, is you. A more perfect child of the Universe has never lived. Until now, only celebrations cloaked in myth and mystery could hint at your divine heritage and sacred destiny. You are life’s prayer of becoming and its answer. The first light at the dawn of eternity, drawn from the ether, so that I might know my own depth, discover new heights, and revel in seas of blessed emotion.

A pioneer into illusion, an adventurer into the unknown, and a lifter of veils. Courageous, heroic, and exalted by legions in the unseen.

To give beyond reason, to care beyond hope, to love without limit; to reach, stretch, and dream, in spite of your fears. These are the hallmarks of divinity – traits of the immortal – your badges of honor. May you wear them with a pride as great as what we feel for you.

Your light has illuminated darkened paths, your gaze has lifted broken spirits, and already your life has changed the course of history.

This is the time of year we celebrate you.

Bowing before Greatness,  

The Universe


(written by Mike Dooley)

The Most Beautiful People

This quote was on a card sent to me by the wonderful Barb from Letitgocoach. What an amazing shift of mind, to consider oneself beautiful instead of damaged or addicted or mentally ill or whatever it is you call yourself in the silence of your own mind. It reminds me of this quote from A Course in Miracles: “Only the mind is in need of healing.”

Like everyone else, if I don’t watch my mind, I’ll dwell instead on negative thoughts or regrets or grievances. But if everything emanates from our thoughts, then disciplining the mind to dwell on loving thoughts, especially those about ourselves, will have a miraculously healing effect. It clears the window from which we view the world.

So thank you, Barb, for the lovely mind-shift today.

Shawna

How to Save a Life

Isaac Slade from The Fray

And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life
.

This song has been in my head for days and now I know why. It’s about addiction. Apparently, Isaac is talking to a friend in what sounds like an intervention. Now that I watch the video, it’s devastating.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to a woman’s website that talks about all the imagery in the song and video. No matter where you are in the journey, or if you had a parent that struggled with addiction, it’s worth watching.

Lyrics

Step one, you say we need to talk
He walks, you say sit down, it’s just a talk
He smiles politely back at you
You stare politely right on through
Some sort of window to your right
As he goes left, and you stay right
Between the lines of fear and blame
You begin to wonder why you came

Where did I go wrong?
I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

Let him know that you know best
‘Cause after all, you do know best
Try to slip past his defense
Without granting innocence
Lay down a list of what is wrong
The things you’ve told him all along
And pray to God he hears you
And I pray to God he hears you

And where did I go wrong?
I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

As he begins to raise his voice
You lower yours and grant him one last choice
Drive until you lose the road
Or break with the ones you’ve followed
He will do one of two things
He will admit to everything
Or he’ll say he’s just not the same
And you’ll begin to wonder why you came

Where did I go wrong?
I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

Where did I go wrong?
I lost a friend
Somewhere along in the bitterness
And I would have stayed up with you all night
Had I known how to save a life

How to save a life
How to save a life

Love After Love

(a poem)

The time will come 
when, with elation 
you will greet yourself arriving 
at your own door, in your own mirror 
and each will smile at the other’s welcome, 

and say, sit here. Eat. 
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart 
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you 

all your life, whom you ignored 
for another, who knows you by heart. 
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf, 

the photographs, the desperate notes, 
peel your own image from the mirror. 
Sit. Feast on your life.

— Derek Walcott

One Small Change

In this new year, could you change this one thing?

Could you use the voice of a friend when speaking to yourself?

Could you encourage yourself when facing challenges? Could you refuse to call yourself names, and instead, choose terms of endearment?

How hard would it be to say, “Lovely, you’ve had a hard day. You deserve a restful night’s sleep”? Or “Sweetheart, I love that you tried to stay sober today. We’re going to keep trying, no matter the setbacks.”

And could you go a step further? Could you love yourself like you would a child? Could you treat everything you’ve ever done wrong (in your view) as simply a mistake? A learning experience? Would you fault a child for stumbling as she learns to walk?

Could you let go of the idea of guilt, and instead rely on the love you find within to heal and comfort you?

Could you do it for one day? Could you try?

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, and that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” 

– Buddha

DO IT.

If you’re looking for a sign, THIS IS IT!

Time to give yourself 31 days to HEAL your body and your mind. I’m here with two people (regular drinkers) who are dedicated to an alcohol-free January. You don’t have to struggle with whether or not you’re a problem drinker. Do it anyway. Dedicate yourself to this, and the magic will filter over to everything you touch in the New Year. Make a difference in your own life. YOU are what you’ve been waiting for!

There are resources everywhere for groups to guide you through this. I’ll be posting some later as well.

Here’s to a REAL New Years’ instead of a repeat of the old.

Be determined to be not as you were.

— somewhere in A Course in Miracles