Zen and the Art of Being

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©2018 DAMGarrity

I took this picture yesterday at the Lehigh River. This first stack of Zen Rocks I ever made was a therapeutic moment in my life. It took only minutes, but I learned a lot.

One, even though there was activity all around me (people conversing, kids playing in the river, my husband talking nearby as he did his own thing) I remained intently focused on my task at hand. Once I finished my zen rocks and sat quietly for a few minutes, I readjusted to the reality around me, pulled out my cellphone and snapped this picture.

There were other zen rocks around me that I appreciated and nodded at as I walked the brief shoreline of the river. There were so many people sitting in chairs in the river, splashing about and sitting on towels in the dirt eating lunch. The energy was incredible and I inhaled all that energy in the oxygen around me, paused, then exhaled every tense fiber of my being. It was in that moment, I finally learned what it meant to JUST BE.

My husband and I did other things that day, too. We walked on the Appalachian Trail briefly yesterday and realized a few things: one, the trail is no joke (we would watch a documentary later that night about the AT and find out we did alright considering the Pennsylvania terrain). Number two, if you really want to do something, you just have to freaking do it.

What am I sitting around waiting for? All these wasted days of worry and fretting over shit that either hasn’t happened yet or has happened and I can’t change does me no good. After we got home yesterday, we took quick little power naps, made coffee, had some burgers and dogs, watched fireworks and then put on a documentary about the AT and were so inspired by these people who left their daily lives to just go BE. These people who I am sure had jobs, ideas – life in some town somewhere in the world – gave most of it or even all of it up to go live on the AT and hike (mostly by foot) from Georgia to Maine or Maine to Georgia.

This morning, I awoke to the sun beaming through my bedroom window and as I did my normal morning routine, felt more peaceful than I ever did before. I did my morning meditation with more conviction, I journaled, I got my coffee, watched the weather, then left for work after I kissed my husband ‘see you later.’

I just feel different today; I feel more hopeful. I have direction and plan on using it to steer me exactly where I want to be.

Blessed be.

 

 

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About Suicide Thoughts

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**I found this post while cleaning out my document folder. I wrote it four years ago and assume I did so because I had recently lost someone and I questioned my own mortality. **

Why People That Commit Suicide Don’t Talk About It Beforehand

I am terrified to share this, because of the stigma associated with people that attempt or commit suicide, hell, people who even think about suicide.  However, I am going to because I had a very dark moment last night that I believe only God helped me out of.  Only God because I was alone in my basement.  People don’t talk about this shit because they are embarrassed.  They don’t talk about it because they are afraid they will be laughed at, made fun of or worse yet, called a psycho and told to “get help.”

We all know someone who committed suicide.  Tragically sad, it’s true.  We sit and we think, “Why didn’t we know how they felt?”  “Why didn’t they reach out?”  “How could they do this?”

I’ll tell you why.  Because during the grey moments before the darkness consumes; before the shadows engulf the eternally depressed, We Did Reach Out.

We complained a lot.  We were sad a lot.  Or maybe even we were a little too happy.  We tried to talk about how we felt, but no one wanted to hear about it.  They were either too busy or they judged.

“Stop being stupid.”  “Don’t be an asshole – grow up.”  “You have so much to live for.  Just be happy.”

Or there is the whole: “Everyone feels like that.”  “Oh, you’ll be fine.” “Suck it up, buttercup.”

There is a subtle, consuming darkness before the thought that “I seriously cannot think of one goddamn reason to be on this Earth” hits a person.

There is that complete darkness – literal and virtual – that we sit in and we actually begin steps to take our own life.  We yell, we cry and sob – We beg God to help us.  We do this alone, maybe in the basement while our loved ones sleep upstairs, clueless.

Some of us get a fleeting moment, a millisecond in time of rational thinking – some of us do not get that sliver of hope. Some of us write notes because there is no other way to communicate, some of us do not because we have no idea what to say. And quite frankly, they didn’t want to hear it in the first place, so what is the point of a note, really?

I mean… fucking really.

So, maybe we go to the ‘shrink’ and we talk about our shit for a while and the only solution they come up with is, “You are (fill in the blank).  Here, start this medication and come back in a month.  We’ll see how you’re feeling then. And oh yeah, don’t forget the $50. co-pay.”

Or we go to the shrink and they nod the whole time we talk and they hand us a piece of paper with bullet points on it.

Or we go to the shrink and it’s so goddamn expensive it comes down to “Electric Bill or Mental Health?”

We have really exhausted every option and all we want is to be heard. We need someone to just shut the fuck up and listen.

So maybe the next time someone you know (whether you are very close or not so close) seems to be acting different or is sad (maybe for the 13th time in 3 weeks) or really happy (too happy?), ask what’s on their mind and really mean it.  Sit and listen; don’t judge.

You might just save that person’s life.

***

Image: Pixabay

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/observe/

Relocate or Rearrange

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Image: searchhomesinnashville.com

 

There is a fresh feeling in starting over. Shucking the dead weight of the past can invigorate and inspire.

Despite moving many times into new places, or new neighborhoods and towns, it took me a while to understand that relocating didn’t change anything for me. Sometimes, it made things worse.

I finally realized that no matter where I went, there I was. Sure, things were good for a while. However, no matter how many times I paint over the bloodstain on the wall – it may be covered – it is still there. Just like my past. I didn’t learn until doing step work that holding onto all that shit was killing me and causing me to self-sabotage.

Dealing with those ugly parts properly so I didn’t have to keep moving when things got icky and uncomfortable was the key. Since I have unlocked that door, I have dealt with almost all of it that could be dealt with accordingly. Some things cannot be closed or handled. Maybe people die and so we’re left with the wreckage of our past. Sometimes, trying to amend a situation would make things worse for that person. So there are other ways to handle it. Maybe mail a letter to a bogus address with no return address. Maybe write it out and burn it, rip it up and throw it in the stream after you’ve read your letter aloud to the universe.

However it can be done, sometimes it is a necessary evil that when complete, feels like twelve pounds of dead weight had been lifted off your mind.

The last two times I have moved was not to run away from the past but to continue to build my life and my future with my husband and cat. My kids are grown now and have started lives for themselves.

It’s always okay to visit the past, just be sure not to move back there.

Blessed be.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/relocate/

relocate

Just A Fraud

 

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Image: Pixabay

Most people, I think, hear the word fraud and think of money or maybe counterfeit goods. Or maybe they hear fraud and they think of some guy preaching from the pulpit of a ‘church’ while he commands the plain folk to give money else Christ will be sure to make thou heathens pay for ye ‘sins.’

 

Whatever.

I got a real story about a fraud.

I knew this woman once: good looking, smart, pretty well put together and she could talk her way out of a paper bag (or maybe into one). Her charm was only exceeded by her wit and both were trumped by her smarts. Men were wooed by her – bewitched – as they fell for her wiles, but she only possessed these wiles when she was sober.

And sober she was not very often.

She was one of those women you may have seen at the bar: first, she is the picture of beauty and poise but soon after she starts slamming back the shots, she morphs into this whacky, immoral tramp that decides it is a great idea to flirt with your boyfriend in front of her own boyfriend.

Ugh. What a bitch! 

Oh wait, that was me. I was that fraud of a woman pretending to be mature and just, all the while the alcohol would let the real me slip out 100% every damn time. I lied to everyone and anyone I could so that I could either be the victim, the hero, or the shining star set at center stage.

The truth was: I hated myself. I hated everything about me and I hated everything about anyone else that was just like me. Okay, I hated everything about everyone no matter what they were like. Nothing ever went right, no one ever treated me right, blah blah blah.

Well, how the fuck could they? They never knew who I was because I never knew who I was! It’s like trying to have a moody alligator for a pet. Sure, he is nice once in a while, but no one knows when he is gonna snap (your face off). I was happy for ten minutes but then someone looked at me wrong or maybe it was too warm that day and I didn’t get the right compliment on my outfit.

You’ll all pay!

 

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Image: Pixabay

 

So I would use my fraudy ways to get people to like me and spend time with me and then as soon as I was sure I had them right where I wanted them, boom. I would start to change, little by little, bit by bit.

I think the correct term is a NARCISSIST. I guess it is close that I was a narcissist, but, if I truly were, there would be no helping me without years of intensive professional therapy.  Narcissists don’t recognize their demented ways, so I can’t say without a doubt that I was one.

All I know is that I was a fraud. It was a long, hard, winding road to get to a point of sanity and self-acceptance but I am here now. I work on myself daily and really try to be a better human every day. Of course, I have bad days (don’t we all?) but getting through the bad days helps me appreciate the good days.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/prompts/fraud/

G – Grieve (The Old You)

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Grief (Photo credit: tombellart)

Grief.  It’s one of those things that is hard to let go of and hard to handle.  We grieve loss: Loss of people, places and things; loss of pets. But did you ever consider grieving over yourself?  I’ll bet you never quite looked at it that way.

Recovery is a rebirth.  We come into the rooms, the doctors’ offices and the out-patient programs beaten and broken. We are torn, tattered and abused; looking for something or someone to save us.  We’re either meek and mild or loud and brazen.  Some of us are a little of both.

When I first got sober I was a little of both. I was kind of shy (especially around women) and I dressed provocatively, stuck with the men, pulled up at meetings blasting my heavy metal.  I needed to be noticed. I needed that attention to flip that self-worth switch on inside.  Seeking outside validation is classic in alcoholics and I was (still am!) a classic alcoholic.  I made all the conversations about me (I was really good at this!).  Gosh, I could go on forever!

This self-seeking behavior (definitely a character defect) went on for years until one day…

I got serious about my program.  I started hitting six meetings a week.  I got another sponsor and actually talked with her and did step work with her.  I listened at meetings and even started sharing at some of them.  I started hanging with the women, giving my phone number to newcomers and even hung out with these chicks outside of the rooms. What was happening to me?!  Who was this woman who stared back at me in the mirror every day?  I didn’t know her, but I liked her.

She was different.  She didn’t want to wear “hoochie mama” clothes anymore; felt comfortable around other women.  She liked the image in the mirror.. sometimes.

Yes, I still blast my heavy metal but I definitely notice a change in me.  So do a lot of other people.  I like who I am these days.  I no longer hide behind the insecure mask of “LOOK AT ME!”  I know that sounds strange, but insecurity leads to external validation which is a band-aid that never heals internal wounds.

And I did take a moment a couple of years ago to grieve the old me.  I sat down in a park with my journal and nature and wrote a letter to myself.  I said, “Goodbye, Old Darlene.  There are some parts of you I shall miss, but ultimately, not much.  This is my new path, with my new life and a new me.  I’m sure you’ll visit sometimes, Old Darlene, and that’s okay, but you cannot stay.”

Have you ever given any thought to an “old you” and “new you?”

F – Fear – An Integral Part of Life

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F...
Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit: epSos.de)

When I was little, I wasn’t scared of much, which is kind of scary in itself.  I remember being afraid of my closet and upsetting people.  Oh, and worms… but these days I love worms.  Funny how feelings change.  All my life, while not afraid of objects, heights, scary movies or a bad hair day, I was terrified of hurting others feelings, failing and not measuring up.  Most of us can probably relate to these fears which are normal to an extent.

These fears destroyed me!  My fear of failing caused me to not try. My fear of not wanting to hurt others’ feelings caused me to make choices in my life that were damaging. My fear of not measuring up kept me in toxic relationships because I felt, “hey, I cannot do any better than this!”

Having no fear isn’t healthy, either. I remember when that slogan was everywhere: NO FEAR.  I saw it on pickup trucks, shirts and have even seen a tattoo or two of this slogan.  It is fun to project the ‘no fear’ attitude, but fear is real and sometimes it is there for a reason. Fear is that feeling in the belly that says, “Danger!” It is up to me to assess that fear.

Is my fear legitimate?

I found a fascinating article on the five basic forms of fear here. The interesting this is that they all deal with the death of that crazy thing called EGO.  I suggest reading the article.  It details great explanations of the five basic forms of fear:

  • Extinction
  • Mutilation
  • Loss of Autonomy
  • Separation
  • Ego-Death

In my twelve-step work, I had to take an honest inventory of my fears (which was a fear in itself!) to get to the nitty-gritty of why the hell I could not stop drinking, why I insisted on sabotaging my life and a host of other calamities that caused me unnecessary stress.

When I got the core of my fear of abandonment, rejection and humiliation my life started to change; I started to change.  I asked for a raise.  I left a toxic relationship. I let my guard down and started being me.

As I continue my journey to self-discovery, I still have fears.  After all, that human element is something inherent in me forever.  With the help of God as I understand Him, my program, and the awesome people in my life, I am able to work through those fears and grow.

How do you handle fear?  Do you recognize an irrational fear?

A – Anger: External and Internal

Straßenschild Anger
Straßenschild Anger (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A raw emotion that sucks the life out of us, anger is a byproduct of one of the two core motions: hate. The other core emotion is love, but that does not apply here. Oh yes, people will cry “anger!” in the name of love, but alas nothing could be further from the truth.   I read a lot of self-help books and (as you know) attend meetings to help me in my recovery from alcohol. One of the emotions touched on a lot is anger.Internal anger:  that rage you feel when you perceive an injustice.  Oh how could they do this to me!  Those bastards!  You get that knot in your stomach, your heart races and it takes all your mental strength not to resort to tactics of passive aggressive neanderthalism.  Now, for a drama junkie (or a former one like yours truly) this is prime pickings for digging deep down in the crevices of justification so the gnashing teeth of self-righteousness can prevail. And if you are a true alcoholic or have anger management issues, this leads to external anger.

External Anger:  not always beating the crap out of someone.  External anger comes in the form of violence (against others and/or self-harm), breaking things, driving recklessly and silent scorn.  External anger stems from unchecked internal anger.  Think about it.  If you weren’t so pissed off inside, you wouldn’t feel compelled to exude physical forms of anger.

There are a lot of ways to deal with that seething, inner rage:

  • count to ten or twenty.
  • go for a brisk walk.
  • run.
  • write (careful with this one – it can keep you in the anger).
  • find a place (alone) to scream, yell and cry.
  • listen to music.
  • clean.

After you’ve calmed down, if you’re angry with someone, and you’re able to talk it out, be sure to come from an “I” place and not an accusatory “you” place.

How do you handle anger?