THE SPIRIT AND THE FLESH

“There is a charm about the forbidden that makes it unspeakably desirable.”
― Mark Twain

I have written before about my adventures in dating, men and everything that comes with that whole endeavor. Since I quit drinking, I have been trying to re-set my moral compass and live a life that is based on truth and honesty. This seems like it would be pretty straightforward: just stay away from certain people (unhappily married men), places (bars, dating sites, back seats of cars) and things (alcohol mostly). I have been doing very well at staying away from the places and things, but the people – let’s just say I haven’t been as successful. Not to say that I am carrying on or having an affair with someone, but there are a few men that I cannot avoid and by necessity must interact with them. I can literally feel the desire coming off them in waves; they are almost angry in their desperation to be recognized, to be loved and to be heard. Not to say that their wives ignore them or don’t love them; they just have gotten comfortable with each other and no longer have that spark, that passion that was so prevalent in the early days of their relationship. Maybe that’s just the way things work when one has been married for so many years, but I digress…

I have been talking to this one guy off and on for quite some time and to say there is chemistry between us would be like saying the sun is slightly warm and a little bright. There is a crackling of energy when we get too close, there is an overwhelming urge to just grab him and kiss him until his lips fall off. It has nothing to do with intellect, reason or anything sane and/or logical; it’s simply a very primal part that is not concerned at all with cause and effect, morals or anything other than I WANT THAT. I have done a fairly good job of keeping that part of me heavily sedated and shut away from the front of my mind, but certain times, people and places make me realize I am fooling myself if I think I’m totally in control of it because I am most certainly NOT.

I believe that anytime we try to better ourselves, something (or someone) will come along and attempt to divert our course. It does not necessarily even have to be an outside source; it can just be our own thoughts. Those cognitive distortions I love so much. That voice in my head that tells me I’d better grab that guy because he’s probably the best I could hope for, as no sane guy would take on a relationship with me. Above all else, the voice that tells me that I am not worthy of love. Those thoughts and that voice have always led me down a dark path to a place of depression, shame and sadness. I know this!!! So why when it speaks, do I immediately believe it still?? Why can’t the positive messages I send myself have the intensity of the negative?

A Christian may say that Satan is trying to get me to lose faith; a psychiatrist might say that it’s due to my childhood; a good friend would say that it’s just a part of figuring out who we are and finding our own personal truths. I say it’s something much simpler – the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. I cannot deny the power of attraction, the pull of desire and the sweetness of stolen kisses, but I can certainly try. I know I have been and will continue to attempt to better myself, to control that part of me that is searching for instant gratification, validation and yes, even something as simple as the human touch. Whether I will be “successful” depends largely on what I discover about myself, about love and about what truths are revealed to me. What I do know is that I’m worthy of love, real love and if I have to wait another 20 years to find it, so be it. For now, I will just be aware that if I were to find myself alone with this guy, all of my best intentions would evaporate as soon as my lips touched his and there would be no turning back. For now, I will keep my distance and try to align my thoughts with my goals and my heart’s desire.

Pause and Reflect on Cause and Effect

Anyone who has tried to make any type of change in their life knows how difficult it can be to keep on that path and not be lured away by temptations. When I decided to get clean and sober, they were everywhere. Consider people – friends, strangers, that guy on TV who drinks beer and (because of that?) is the Most Interesting Man in the World; the lady in the movie who sensually enjoys her glass of wine (or two, or nine) while on a romantic date with her lover. My best friend who loves wine as much or more than her children, another friend who couldn’t have a conversation without some form of alcohol in some type of vessel in her hand or sitting on a table by her side. Wherever I looked, there were people buying alcohol, selling alcohol, drinking alcohol, singing the praises of alcohol and in general, having a damn good time with alcohol. It seems pretty alluring when you’re recently sober in a world that is too bright, has too many sharp edges that cut like a scalpel and hurt like Hell. When your normal is everyone else’s falling down drunk, it’s a little difficult and most uncomfortable to make that change. Difficult, but not impossible. If I were to give advice to anyone about any decision/choice/change, I would say to pause and reflect on cause and effect – If I do this, then this could happen…

In my case, I would have a little conversation with myself that goes something like this:
Hey – that Chateau St. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon is on sale and you’ve had such a hard day (week/month/hour) that you deserve to have a nice glass (bottle) of wine. You’ve been sober for years now, so you’ve already proved you can do it. Just one glass (bottle) won’t hurt anything!

Really? Ok – let’s play this out. I buy that bottle and drink it all; now I’m hammered, shit-faced, pissed drunk. What now? Now I feel like crap because I have put myself right back on the very slippery slope that I had worked so hard to get off of in the first place. Now all the years of sobriety are just a memory and I can already feel my thirst for another bottle. Remember all those black-outs? Remember your friends standing around you, concern and fear in their eyes, asking you questions that you can’t answer? That scary feeling of being chained to something that wants to kill you? Do you really want that again? Do you miss waking up in the morning and having absolutely no memory of huge chunks of time, including driving home? The answer is emphatically NO to all of those questions. Just remembering that feeling, those years of being so reckless, so apathetic about not only my life, but the lives of every person who was on the road when I was. If it wasn’t me, I would call this person a Monster. It’s more like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, though; it’s me on the outside, looks like me, sounds like me but there is an added element (alcohol) that is really in charge, that is calling the shots and making the (bad) decisions. Once alcohol is on board, all bets are off except the bet that I will never, ever stop drinking before I am completely intoxicated and when I do stop drinking, I will more than likely pop a Xanax just to hit the high notes. That’s the person that I was. I have been that Monster, that desperately ill person, that sad, lonely person whose only company is regret. I am no longer that person and have no desire to return to any form of that person. All I need to do is pause and reflect and those truths drown out all the noise of the addict mind’s chatter of need and justification and false truths.

After all of that, it’s rather easy to pass on the wine and find a healthier reward for my continued sobriety and my dedication to adding more days, months and years to today’s tally.

Knowledge is Power

I just had my final exam in my Geology class and considering that I thought the final was next Saturday, I think I passed, at least. Now I have next Saturday off and I can’t begin to decide what to do with that free day.

When I started this program, I thought I was doing it to just prove to myself that I could actually finish something I’d started (haven’t had much luck in that particular area in a long time) but as I celebrated my first year, I realized I was learning more about me, my relationship with my “cohorts”, how I work with other people in a group setting and how I handle time management, stress, deadlines and difficult content. The second year of the program I lost my focus, started feeling like I just couldn’t do it, it was too much, etc. You know, those negative thoughts and irrational fears that strike when you are least prepared to fight it off. I am now looking back to find where I went off track and regroup to meet the challenge of my third year. I love learning, I love meeting new people and I love finding out that I am smarter than I give myself credit for, more dedicated and willing to do the hard work to get the reward.

As I look beyond this program and into what I will do with all of this knowledge, I see endless possibilities of travel, teaching and trying to realize my potential. I believe that the greatest reward one can have is to serve others; not just in the personal service of say, a waitress or butler; but to help someone learn, grow and be relieved of their burdens, to educate themselves about their demons (everyone has them, be it mental health issues, gambling, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, physical/emotional abuse and neglect). In this regard, I feel that I have much to offer, simply from my personal experiences. I am eager to proceed into the next year of my education, with a renewed sense of purpose and much gratitude for my cohorts who have helped me, encouraged me, given me a hug when I was close to tears and above all else, believed in me.

My Birth Card

Your Birth Card for December 21, 1967 is:
The High Priestess
With an intuitive edge sharper than piranha teeth, the Priestess knows exactly what her opponents are thinking. Possessing chameleon-like diplomacy this natural born politician can mediate even the scariest family or global dispute. The Priestess is here to find inner peace and make the peace. Famous Priestesses: Henry Kissinger, Dame Judith Anderson, Bill Clinton, Madonna, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, Alice Walker, Mozart, Harry Houdini, Edgar Allen Poe, Goethe, Chagall, Ronald Reagan, Norman Mailer, Sydney Poitier, Isadora Duncan

I can attest to mediating the scariest family dispute, but have never had the opportunity nor the inclination to enter the realm of politics, be it domestic or international. I would like to believe that my intuitive edge is sharper than piranha teeth, but the more I think I can get a “read” on people, the more I am surprised at how much my personal feelings, prejudices, pre-conceived ideas trip me up.
I am certainly all about finding inner peace but I also believe that an unquiet mind may never be truly, completely at peace (at least not mine and at least not right now). I do believe that we all have gifts that we may or may not be aware of and that it is part of our journey (individual and collective) to realize those gifts, make use of them and contribute whatever you can to make your little corner of the world a better place to live and grow. This seems like a rather lofty goal when one takes into consideration all the things that are working against us; finding the time in our busy day, pulling our eyes away from the multitude of screens – computer, cell phone, tablet, television, etc. Just looking up and seeing the beauty in the world requires little effort but provides an immediate reward. When was the last time you looked at a sunset? Laid on the grass and looked at clouds or stars or simply the beautiful blue sky? Do you take the time to appreciate even one single rose throughout the course of your day? How many times has true beauty been ignored while our attention is focused on thoughts that are neither beautiful nor positive? We say that we are so busy, there are not enough hours in the day, but is that really true? If Season 2 of your favorite show is streaming on Netflix, do you spend an entire weekend binge-watching it rather than going outside and enjoying the sunshine or calling a friend? I am guilty of doing just that on a pretty regular basis.
I know on an intellectual level that it isn’t the best thing for me and it doesn’t give me anything other than escape, but it doesn’t stop me from doing it.
Taking the time to discover our gifts, to check in with not only our friends and family, but ourselves, is one of the best things we can do. If we were to factor how much time was spent standing in front of the mirror, body-shaming and criticizing what we see, or how many hours spent searching the internet to find something to Make It All Better, it would soon become apparent that there are many hours in the day that are available if we can spend less time searching for answers from external sources and more time going inward; reflecting, healing and above all else, listening. If we hear negative comments and distorted thinking when going inward, we must work to tear down those thoughts and rebuild a more positive, affirming track that speaks truth and offers encouragement and a source of comfort.
If I were to consider myself a High Priestess of anything, it would be of learning the hard way. I have had more hard lessons than would have been my preference, but through those hard times, I learned that I was much stronger, more resilient and more powerful than I had thought possible.
I feel as though I do have many gifts and if I listen to that voice (my intuition) that tells me to stop and speak with someone who looks lost, or to put away my phone and look up to the sky, I am never disappointed. It’s only when I think I know better that I find myself in trouble. I am a work in progress, as we all are. I’m a perfectly imperfect human being that much like the caterpillar who will become the butterfly, my wish is to transform into an even more beautiful, caring, healing, force and find my place in the world, helping those who are afraid and alone, lost and unloved.

Seeking Purity At Some Point

“O Lord, help me to be pure, but not yet”.
-Saint Augustine

I couldn’t agree more. I have the desire to be pure; to think pure, loving thoughts and fill my days with gratitude and working in service of others but at the same time, I am reluctant to let go of my old ways. Critical, never pleased, always finding fault, judging harshly (not just others, but myself included) and holding grudges.

I have some serious issues that I haven’t even begun to work out regarding my ex-friend/roommate/leech and the whole experience with feeling like a ghost in my own house; not having a voice, being trapped in a situation by my own inability to just speak up and draw a damn line. A boundary line so that people know they can only go so far and the rest of the way is PRIVATE PROPERTY. NO TRESPASSING. As I said, I have not even begun to deal with all of this but I can tell you that it is slowly oozing into my current life, back into my thoughts and coloring the experiences I’ve had and continue to have. Mostly because it’s unresolved and so like a rotting corpse in a body of water, it will eventually bob up to the surface, all it’s ugliness and buried secrets exposed. This doesn’t keep me from saying that others should seek counseling; others are stuck in the past and need to WORK THROUGH IT so they can GET OVER IT and MOVE ON. If only I could take my own advice on that front.

I know there will come a point at which I will have no other choice than to deal with it; it will damage me, damage my relationships and take me down a road of darkness that I have no desire to travel again. It’s so scary to know that is what is in store if I continue to ignore it, but it’s terrifying to open that Pandora’s Box and let out all the hurt, sense of betrayal, rage at myself for being weak and easily manipulated, for “keeping my word” while I lost my sense of self. What good does it do to keep your word in an agreement that basically guarantees you are going to be far worse off than when you started while your “business partner/best friend” walks away without a scratch; a brief inconvenience of having to move house and life goes on with no real marks or scars?

If I am to become pure, I have to forgive myself, him, and let go of all the negative, hurtful, black-hearted, broken hearted wishes of revenge and karma returned one-thousandfold.

So yeah, I guess you could say that I want to be pure, but certainly not right now.