Lead Me Not Into False Expectations

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” -Semisonic

It’s another New Year, another time for new beginnings, resolutions (if you’re into that sort of thing) and a blank page in a yet unwritten book. I am wary of making resolutions due to the fact they are usually slightly unrealistic. If I were to make a resolution that I wouldn’t go all Hulk-like in traffic, but I had done nothing to change my frame of mind or manage my emotions, then I’m fairly certain my effort would be met with failure, or at the very least an inability to magically transform my commute from December 31, 2016 to January 1, 2017. When you think about it, it’s really just a change from one calendar to another; from a Sunday to a Monday. If my resolution is to not drink but I have a full cupboard of alcohol that I see every time I reach for a glass, it will be more difficult to not grab that bottle and have “just one” drink. If I haven’t dug deep to find out the “why” behind the drinking then my resolution is dependent upon my mood; if my mood goes dark and dangerous and I haven’t developed any healthy coping skills, then guess what? Chug-a-lug. Another great reason for my resolutions to fail is that I make them based on what I think I should do, not what I really want to do. Making a resolution to lose weight, so that the hot guy I have a huge crush on will notice (and hopefully fall in love with) me. Making a resolution to start attending mass on a regular basis because my parents (God rest their souls) would be pleased, as they look down upon me from Heaven. Or even better, so that I can get in God’s good grace and therefore avoid the fiery alternative. These are all great resolutions, as great as resolutions can be, but they are doomed to be unsuccessful if I haven’t invested in them long before January 1st.

I prefer to set intentions rather than resolutions. They are much more forgiving, loosely defined and honestly, give me an out if things don’t go according to plan.

in·ten·tion
inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/
noun
1.
a thing intended; an aim or plan.
“she was full of good intentions”
2.
MEDICINE
the healing process of a wound.

– Google Search

I love the second definition because the majority of my intentions do involve the healing and recovering from wounds, be it physical or emotional. My intention is to forgive those who have wounded me, but that may take not days, but years. My intention is to forgive myself for the wounds I have inflicted on others. My intention is to accept my faults and failures and love myself unconditionally, which will be my intention for every New Year until my Last Year.

I feel the danger in resolutions is that they lead us into false expectations; by changing my physical appearance, I will find love. By doing things for others, I will be accepted and loved. It’s not the resolution so much as it is the expected outcome. Realistically losing weight will not guarantee that the hot guy falls in love with me, especially if he’s gay, married or simply not interested. Not drinking alcohol is a great resolution, but there is much more involved than just not raising a glass to my lips. Forgiving others is a great idea, but that means letting go of old hurts and grudges. If they have been your constant companion for years and help you to feel righteous in your belief that they are in the wrong, then it will take much more effort than simply thinking you forgive them. One must take personally responsibility for their role in what happened and own up to it. My dad used to say, “It’s not the making of a mistake that should embarrass a person, so much as their failure to benefit from it.”

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Learning from mistakes so that we don’t make the same ones over and over is more helpful (in my experience) than making a resolution that is unrealistic.

So, Happy New Year to one and all! May this year bring you comfort when you’re distressed, company when you’re lonely, a hand to hold when you’re frightened and a safe harbor during Life’s many storms; the courage to face your fears, the strength to slay your dragons and the faith to believe that there is more to Life than just crossing days off the calendar and making unrealistic expectations. Peace and love to you all!

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This Someone

As I stand inside my mind

The colors of darkness I do find.

The blackness of extreme depression

Brought about by lack of possession

of clearer, lighter, brighter thoughts

of sunshine, beauty, things I have not.

To see the sun halfway in the sky

Think of it as rising to a greater high

See it not as setting, as to an end,

but rather a new day, ready to begin.

If the colors in this mind

Were lighter, sweeter, more sublime

I believe I would have achieved

the inner peace of which I’ve not yet received

Is there hope for this to be?

Can I ever truly love this person that is me?

Will I ever feel that happy glow from gorgeous dreams

Of touching clouds, embracing sunbeams?

Or will I always be so tightly wrapped

in heavy blankets of gloom; so completely trapped?

I do not wish to feel forever down

To hear only the drumbeats of lonesome sound

But change is pain and pain is growing

I cannot keep this all from showing

In weighing the fears of what is to be

Against the measure of this person that is me.

Can I rise above the fears that bind me

and let the truth at last find me?

The courage to do what must be done

is hidden deep within me,

this someone.

-October 1993, Gulfport, MS

Happy One Year Anniversary to Me

Today I celebrate my one year anniversary of freedom from drinking. When I started out on this journey, I had great expectations and a healthy dose of fear about giving up my dear friend, alcohol. We’d had a long relationship that started when I was 13 and it had been my constant companion throughout my life. I wasn’t sure that I could manage without it. From the days of standing outside the liquor store asking people (mostly men) to buy me Bacardi, to the homesick days in Mississippi, drinking White Zin (yeah, I know – yuk!) to the days of red wine and roses (without the roses) to the final days of Happy Hours ending in blackouts, not to mention the poor choices I made while intoxicated, I have come to the realization that alcohol is no friend of mine.

Since I have quit drinking, I’ve been able to reconnect with myself, feel my feelings and have regained a sense of power that I thought I didn’t have. I have faced events that would have sent me running to the nearest bottle before and I have lived through those events, shed the tears and moved on. I have regained my self-esteem, my confidence and my ability to truly be present. I would have to say this is the best gift that I’ve ever given myself and I know that there will be times when I romanticize those drinking days, but much like the boyfriend that wasn’t any good for me, I will have to strive to remember why we parted in the first place.

Today I celebrate my first year and I pray for the strength to have many more years to come. I have made a promise to myself that I will nurture and love my mind, body and soul; I cannot keep this promise if I am drinking. I have found a clarity that is better than any buzz I had gotten while drinking and have shed the guilt, the shame and the constant worry that came with drinking. I no longer have to wonder if I’ll make it home without getting pulled over; I no longer have to ask someone else what I did or said the night before. I don’t have to choose between buying a bottle of wine or buying groceries. It sounds pretty simple, but it all adds up. I am by no means stress free, but I have a found better ways to cope with my stress.

So, today I will be celebrate my one year with family and look forward to the next year. I have found a great strength and comfort in the Serenity Prayer and for those of you who aren’t familiar with it, I’ll leave you with the prayer in closing.

God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can

and the wisdom to know the difference.