Do you ever feel like you’re swimming upstream?
This feeling is my first indication that I’m in my will, rather than in God’s will. Experience has taught me that when I’m connected to my Higher Power, life flows easily. Not only does life take on an air of simplicity, but often this close relationship with God also yields opportunities, or nudges as I like to think of them.
I haven’t experienced many suggestions from the Universe lately, outside of the resounding feeling that I am playing a losing game. In the last two weeks, I have gotten a flat tire, caught an unremitting cold, engaged in numerous fights with my spouse, and took a nasty fall in the shower. When I hear those all too familiar lamentations that “I just can’t catch a break,” I know I am in spiritual relapse.
When you’ve been sober for a few years and have done as much work on yourself as I have, there are few surprises when it comes to your character, with the exception of one’s inability to change certain unpleasant things about one’s self. Sure, most of our character defects change as we grow and some even go away altogether, but some of them are persistent, painful, unwelcome hanger-on’s that we refuse to outgrow.
For example, despite having learned this lesson multiple times before, and despite desperately wanting to avoid cleaning up messes that I’ve started, I continue to take on more than I can handle. I over-commit and under-prioritize, and as a result, my relationships, health, sleep, and general well-being suffer. I know that the best gift I can give to myself or anyone else begins with taking care of self, yet it is sometimes the last thing I consider by preference of chores, commitments, or just busying myself. Another character defect of mine is martyrdom. No surprise there, given my unhealthy relationship to responsibility. It really is sick to expect others to treat themselves as poorly as I do, yet the expectations of thanks or reciprocity persist. I am also terrible at admitting fault. This is probably the character defect of mine that I am most ashamed of. I teach kids everyday about the importance of admitting fault, expressing regret, and learning from mistakes, but struggle to duplicate this mature amicability in my own life. Even when it is clear that I am the cause of my own discomfort, I avoid accountability like the plague. Instead of owning my shit, I crumble into tears and feel sorry for myself.
So, I’m not the poster child of sobriety, at least not right now. I am restless, irritable, and discontented- and this opposition to everything and everyone is evident in my personal life. Thankfully, I have a remedy for this typhoon I’ve created: Higher Power. Is there really anything else? The solution is always HP. The irony and the beauty about God, at least my God, is that it doesn’t take much to affect a great change. All that is required of me is to make a little effort and I can experience that peace I so desperately need.
So, if you’re like me and you feel mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually depleted, I invite you to join me in what I’m calling “My Selfish Christmas.” You can call it “My Selfish Hanukah” or “My Selfish Holiday,” if you want to be politically correct. You are welcome to join us even if you’re spiritual life is healthy and robust. I’ve found that the best attitude I can have towards spirituality is willingness: I seldom miss an opportunity to improve this area of my life when the opportunity arises.
So, here’s the deal: For the remainder of the year (and hopefully continuing into next year), we will reconnect to self and God through prayer, meditation, and self-care. I’m not interested in over-complicating things or setting myself up to fail, so I’m keeping it simple. If you are joining me on this adventure, pray, meditate, and take care of self in ways that make sense to you. If you’re not a morning person, don’t pressure yourself to meditate in the morning. If you don’t have thirty minutes to commit to a spiritual practice, start with 5. If you don’t know what self care looks like for you, feel free to borrow some of my tried and true methods: bubble baths, reading (for pleasure!), walking in nature, cooking, yoga, dates with self, browsing book stores, crafts, watching old movies, and listening to music.
Please share your experiences of connecting with self and spirit, so we can continue the spiritual momentum into the New Year!