Endigar 245

I want to know if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
Yes.”

I am sitting in a meeting, and I hear another version of the “the boy whistling in the dark,”  another sally of false confidence in the face of past failures.  Someone who has relapsed speaks up and says that they understand that they should have been working this program harder.  The week before he was talking about a new sponsee he had just picked up, and how the Higher Power had made it possible, and the magic of self-sacrifice, and the triumph of prayer over insecurity.  He was saying all the right things then.  He struggled to just keep saying them now.  I touched him on the shoulder after the meeting and said, “glad you’re back.”  But he was in too much of a controlled panic, a mode of forced socialization, to even acknowledge my attempt to connect.  It appears to me that he is on the edge and he is trying to say the right things, trying to assure himself that he is actually back among the living.  But I see the fear in his eyes.  I have felt this before.  And unless he finds something of more substance, the right words will be read over the corpse of his tragic end.  I turned away and went home.

Was the meeting helpful to me or him?  I don’t know.  For me, it definitely lacked genuineness, and I could not put my finger on it.  Everyone was saying the right things, speaking highly of spirituality and encouraging desperate ones to do the work, follow the clear lead of the twelve steps.  They talked about how they came into recovery as selfish bastards and now their greatest joy in life is in serving others.  It saves them when nothing else will.  It was perfectly delivered to fidgeting legs, applauded by yawns of disdain.

If I am disturbed, there is something wrong within me.  And I have had something wrong with me in my response to helping others.  I am experiencing the inverse of what is supposed to be happening.  Helping other is depressing me.  If I do well sharing at a meeting and everyone is patting me on the back, or if I overcome my personal aversion to the telephone and give myself to connect with a co-sufferer of this disease, I spend the next three days recovering.  I drop into a pit of minor self-loathing.  I hunger for something filthy to wash away the sticky religious molasses goo of becoming good and learning to enjoy martyrdom.  I fear that this way of thinking makes me radioactive to new-comers, to those who are struggling.  Maybe even you, my reader.  But if I stay isolated, I will surrender to a tragic end.  So I share, not to help you, but to help me.  And there lies my freedom.  And maybe yours.

Trinity said to Neo in the Matrix, “you’ve been down that road before. You know exactly where it ends.”

I have spent the last four decades of my life trying to be good and say the right things.  The great failure of my life was that I was so successful building an image of what I should become, according religious doctrines and family pride and personal fear of being vulnerable to ridicule.  That image took on a life of its own, and become my chief critic and task master.  And I was filled with secret hurt and resentment because I believed that my Higher Power was disinterested in me, and was only near me when I was near that damn image.  He loved it more than me, maybe even instead of me.  I performed faith gymnastics to appease Him.  Yet I was filled with a lust that I sought to strangle out of me, and promised the Lord God a life of celibacy.  That is what the image would do.  “They have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of God.”  “If you even think it, you have already done it.”  “If your hand or eye offends you, cut it off.  Better to enter the kingdom of God maimed then to enter hell with your body whole.”  “I wish you were hot or cold, but because you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth.”  “I wish you all were as strong as I am, but because of your weakness, God has allowed you to marry.” 

That image I built was always compassionate, self-sacrificing, disciplined, devoted to the faith, and never had any thoughts of self.  That image loves God over everything.  But it was only an image.  It helped make me powerless and unmanageable, not useful. 

A chaos storm blew into my life in 2003 and I could not understand why God had allowed it.  As it began to pass over, I saw that the major casualty was that icon of perfection.  And you know what, I don’t think that my Higher Power ever really liked it anyway.  I don’t think Gomu (God of my understanding) liked the distance between us.  I was trapped by my success at being good.  I am extremely grateful for the freedom I gained through that failure.  I don’t want to enter the rooms to reconstruct another image, another task-master. 

Today I don’t have everything figured out.  The answers don’t vanquish every question.  They are just hints to push me forward as I  seek connection with the Unknown God.  And We, yes dammit, WE, that Mysterious Entity that the voice of religion would inadvertently declare as the universe’s greatest failure for creating the likes of me, We walk a path where I am alright with Not Knowing.  My Higher Power is not trying to make me a better person.  What I am is what I am supposed to be.  I beleive he desires the perfection of my freedom. 

I help others because the unfolding of your personal mythology strengthens mine.  The program utilizes my self-preservation.  It is not useful for me to hate myself.  I am lustful, but today, my lust is sacred.  Its expression is fulfilling.  Not damming. 

I am still up and down, second-guessing at times, powerfully confident at others.  But I am recovering from years of a life lived under self-condemnation.  I am not a good guy.  I am a free man.  I am more useful to you, and you are more valuable to me.  I think one of the side effects of no longer harshly judging myself, is that you are no longer a threat to me.  I don’t fear that your life will trip me up and cause me to miss the mark.  You are no longer a potential carrier of my destruction.  I don’t have to live in social quarantine because you don’t say the right things. 

If you find anything I said offensive, understand that was not my intent.  But I am not your Higher Power, your sponsor, your anything.   I am just me, and I hope something I said here is useful.  If not, thank-you for reading anyway.  It was useful for me.  It helped me understand an obstacle I was facing in my own participation in the recovery process.  And I love living in spiritual freedom and empowerment. 

“The fairest thing we can experience is the mysterious.  It is the fundamental emotion which stands at the cradle of art and science.  He who knows it not, or can no longer wonder, no longer feel amazement, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle.” ~ Albert Einstein.

One Response to “Endigar 245”

  1. sofreelygiven Says:

    It’s so painful to hear those people share, the ones who are obviously struggling to say the right things when it is clear they are fighting for their sobriety and their very lives. They invariably say the same things. As long as I stay close to my higher power… I just have to stay out of my own way… Just can’t pick up that first drink… It’s the first drink that gets me drunk… Program speak repeated not even so much for themselves but to convince the group that they are hanging on, if only by a thread. Talk to them after the meeting and they stare as if there is a sparkly purple horn protruding from your forehead, as if serenity is a mythical quality they have read about but will never attain. They don’t seem to comprehend that we were actually right where they were, maybe not so long ago. I was like an exposed dental nerve, though the acute pain gave way to the “pink cloud” phase in short order. I believe that God was doing for me what I could never have done for myself. I would have died if it would not have happened. I could not have endured the suffering. The members of my home group had to have grown weary of watching me weep through entire meetings, then run from their helping hands when they reached out to me. Our disease is baffling indeed. Even in relative health my perception is distorted, telling me that you see my outsides the same sick way I still see my insides and that I must change them to please you instead of letting God change me into what he would have me be. Fortunately I bring the message to the newcomer, not the mess, with His guidance.

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