Okay, this reading seemed so appropriate this morning.  Again, Melody Beattie, from “The Language of Letting Go.”

“Surrender 

Master the lessons of your present circumstances.
We do not move forward by resisting what is undesirable in our life today.  We move forward, we change by acceptance.
Avoidance is not the key; surrender opens the door.
Listen to this truth: We are each in our present circumstances for a reason.  There is a lesson, a valuable lesson, that must be learned before we can move forward.
Something important is being worked out in us, and in those around us.  We may not be able to identify it today, but we can know that it is important.  We can know that it is good.
Overcome not by force, overcome by surrender.  The battle is fought, and won, inside ourselves.  We must go through it until we learn, until we accept, until we become grateful, until we are set free.


Today, I will be open to the lessons of my present circumstances.  I do not have to label, know, or understand what I’m learning; I will see clearly in time.  For today, trust and gratitude are sufficient.”





It’s been one year since my mother’s death, actually tomorrow, June 9th is the anniversary.

I think I can truthfully say that this has been the hardest year of my life, but like giving birth, we do forget the pain. Other years have been tough, but this one may have been the most challenging.  All I know is I’m still here, Lucy and Lola, my beloved beagles, are still with me, Zoe is doing well in San Francisco, and I feel like I have cried more and felt more this year than I ever have before.  I am filled with gratitude for everyone who kept me going this year and there were many, too many to name.  My loftmate, Abigail, deserves a Medal of Honor for taking me in and allowing me to share her space and her life.  Living in New York City during this difficult time has been incredibly healing.  The energy of the city keeps me from feeling despair and loneliness, although when I do feel sad, I have learned to embrace it, as Pema Chodron suggests.  

I haven’t been writing as much on the blog as I might have, but I have been writing every day on what I hope will be a book.  I like sharing the readings that have helped me during this time and I know have been helpful to some of you who read the blog.  This one I read this morning, on the theme of fun, was something that resonated, since the idea of fun was challenging to me during my marriage.



This is from “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie, June 8th’s reading:

“Fun

Have fun, with life, with the day.
Life is not drudgery; that is an old belief.  Let go of it.  We are on an adventure, a journey.  Events will come to pass that we cannot now fathom.
Replace heaviness and weariness of spirit with joy.  Surround yourself with people and things that bring lightness of spirit.
Become sensitive to lightness of spirit.
The journey can be an exciting adventure.  Let yourself enjoy it.

Today, I will have some fun with life, with recovery, with people, and with my day.”

 

I just came from a good day of rehearsing for a flash mob which is going to take place at the end of June at a secret location in NYC and then seeing “Sex and the City 2.”  I thought it was not as great as I’d hoped, and it was too long, and I still loved it.  I just love those relationships between the women and being in a audience made up of mostly women.  

After the movie let out, I heard a guy really complaining about it afterward to his date and the woman said almost nothing.  He said, “I hate those women.  I don’t think they’re at all likable.  They’re not smart…. They’re so annoying.”  He just kept talking and his date remained silent and I really wanted to say, “Shut up, we don’t care what you think.  We just like them, they’re imperfect, they make mistakes, they’re shallow in some ways, and they are fun.”  I thought there were some great moments and subjects discussed like motherhood, menopause and marriage, the three M’s.  Not to mention men. I guess in the next movie, someone will have to get divorced and I could write a movie about that.  

This morning, I did my daily readings and I came across another really great reading in “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie, which I wanted to share.

“Powerlessness and Unmanageability

Willpower is not the key to the way of life we are seeking.  Surrender is.  

‘I have spent much of my life trying to make people be, do, or feel something they aren’t, don’t want to do, and choose not to feel.  I have made them, and myself, crazy in that process,’ said one recovering woman.  

‘I spent my childhood trying to make an alcoholic father who didn’t love himself be a normal person who loved me.  I then married an alcoholic and spent a decade trying to make him stop drinking.’

‘I have spent years trying to make emotionally unavailable people be emotionally present for me.

‘I have spent even more years trying to make family members, who are content feeling miserable, happy.  What I’m saying is this: I’ve spent much of my life desperately and vainly trying to do the impossible and feeling like a failure when I couldn’t.  It’s been like planting corn and trying to make the seeds grow peas.  Won’t work!

‘By surrendering to powerlessness, I gain the presence of mind to stop wasting my time and energy trying to change and control that which I cannot change and control.  It gives me permission to stop trying to do the impossible and focus on what is possible: being who I am, loving myself, feeling what I feel, and doing what I want to do with my life.’

In recovery, we learn to stop fighting lions, simply because we cannot win.  We also learn that the more we are focused on controlling and changing others, the more unmanageable our life becomes.  The more we focus on living our own life, the more we have a life to live, and the more manageable our live will become.

Today, I will accept powerlessness where I have no power to change things, and I’ll allow my life to become manageable.”

 

Today, again, a feeling of sadness has come over me.  I went to Friends In Deed at noon and that was, as always, incredibly helpful. 

Mother’s Day is next weekend and my mother is gone, and the anniversary of the horrific month we spent basically watching her die is coming, and all of the feelings that go along with a divorce – all of it is difficult and understandably sad.  

I went back to Melody Beattie’s book, “The Language of Letting Go” since I find so much comfort in it, as I do Pema Chodron’s writings, and I looked up “Sadness” in the index.

Under May 20th was a posting about “Sadness:”

“Ultimately, to grieve our losses means to surrender to our feelings.

So many of us have lost so much, have said so many good-byes, have been through so many changes.  We may want to hold back the tides of change, not because the change isn’t good, but because we have had so much change, so much loss.

Sometimes when we are in the midst of pain and grief, we become shortsighted, like members of a tribe described in the movie Out of Africa. 

“If you put them in prison,” one character said, describing this tribe, “they die.”

“Why?” asked another character.

“Because they can’t grasp the idea that they’ll be let out one day.  They think it’s permanent, so they die.”

Many of us have so much grief to get through.  Sometimes we believe grief, or pain, is a permanent condition.  

The pain will stop.  Once felt and released, our feelings will bring us to a better place then where we started.  Feeling our feelings, instead of denying or minimizing them, is how we heal from our past and move forward into a better future.  Feelings our feelings is how we let go.

It may hurt for a moment, but peace and acceptance are on the other side. So is a new beginning.

God, help me to fully embrace and finish my endings, so I may be ready for my new beginnings.”

I love that reading.  It is so in line with what I have learned at Friends In Deed.  We learn that the only way through the grief is by feeling it.  When I was dealing with my mother’s illnesses and hospitalizations and other difficult challenges over a period of many years, I didn’t have time to worry about my feelings, I just got on with making decisions, feeling angry about having to do so much of it alone, and being emotionally drained.  But afterward, there is usually a flood of feelings that you can’t escape.  I have learned one really important life lesson through all of this: empathy. Until you’ve been there, you really can’t understand what it feels like to cope with so much loss at once.  My hope for my future is that I can use everything I’ve learned and come to understand in a way that will be of service to others.  

I don’t know how that will happen, but I don’t have to know today.  I just have to feel these feelings and hopefully release them, so that someday they will be a faint memory, like giving birth.  Who remembers labor pains?  Yes, it hurt, but so what?  

I was thinking the other day how difficult it is to be in a holding pattern.  Every morning I read a few daily readers and I found this passage in Melody Beattie’s book, “The Language of Letting Go,” which changed my attitude:

“Wait.  If the time is not right, the way is not clear, the answer or decision not consistent, wait.
We may feel a sense of urgency.  We may want to resolve the issue by doing something – anything now, but that action is not in our best interest.
Living with confusion or unsolved problems is difficult.  It is easier to resolve things.  But making a decision too soon, doing something before it’s time, means we may have to go back and redo it.
If the time is not right, wait.  If the way is not clear, do not plunge forward.  If the answer or decision feels muddy, wait. 
In this new way of life, there is a Guiding Force.  We do not ever have to move too soon or move out of harmony.  Waiting is an action – a positive, forceful action.
Often, waiting is a God-guided action, one with as much power as a decision, and more power than an urgent, ill-timed decision. 
We do not have to pressure ourselves by insisting that we do or know something before it’s time.  When it’s time, we will know.  We will move into that time naturally and harmoniously.  We will have peace and consistency.  We will feel empowered in a way we do not feel today.
Deal with the panic, the urgency, the fear; do not let them control or dictate decisions.
Waiting isn’t easy.  It isn’t fun.  But waiting is often necessary to get what we want.  It is not deadtime; it is not downtime.  The answer will come.  The power will come.  The time will come.  And it will be right.
Today, I will wait, if waiting is the action I need in order to take care of myself.  I will know that I am taking a positive, forceful action by waiting until the time is right.  God, help me let go of my fear, urgency, and panic.  Help me learn the art of waiting until the time is right.  Help me learn timing.

 

Last night, even though I was feeling quite happy – I love snow, a blizzard was coming, etc., I decided to go over to Friends In Deed for a Tuesday night meeting which is led by Cy O’Neal.  I always feel that I am in the presence of a very wise woman when I listen to Cy.   But I was feeling pretty good and was just listening, and then…my dear friend shared something that was painful and it moved me…so I suddenly got in touch with my own sadnessThere were only a few minutes left in the hour and a half session, but I was able to raise my hand, quickly talk about what was bothering me, Cy said, “Oh, I would so much rather be you, feeling my feelings, working through the grief, being a human being….” I don’t even remember what else she said, but it felt so good just to get out the tears.  It almost didn’t matter what she said at that point, it just mattered that I got in touch with the feelings.

So then this morning, in my readings, of course I found something that related.  In the Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie, this was today’s reading.  (EVERYTHING IN CAPS ARE MY COMMENTS – PLEASE FORGIVE ME MELODY)

“Letting Go of Sadness

A block to joy and love can be unresolved sadness from the past.  

In the past, we told ourselves many things to deny the pain: It doesn’t hurt that much…Maybe if I just wait, things will change…It’s no big deal.  I can get through this…Maybe if I try to change the other person, I won’t have to change myself.  (I LOVE THIS ONE.) 

We denied that it hurt because we didn’t want to feel the pain.

Unfinished business doesn’t go away.  It keeps repeating itself, until it gets our attention, until we feel it, deal with it, and heal.  That’s one lesson we are learning in recovery from codependency and adult children issues.  

Many of us didn’t have the tools, support, or safety we needed to acknowledge and accept pain in our past.  It’s okay.  We’re safe now.  Slowly, carefully, we can being to open ourselves up to our feelings.  We can begin the process of feeling what we have denied for so long – not to blame, not to shame, but to heal ourselves in preparation for a better life.
(YES!!  A BETTER LIFE!  IT’S COMING!)

It’s okay to cry when we need to cry and feel the sadness many of us have stored within for so long.  We can feel and release these feelings.  

Grief is a cleansing process.  It’s an acceptance process.  It moves us from our past, into today, and into a better future – a future free of sabotaging behaviors, a future that holds more options than our past.

God, as I move through this day, let me be open to my feelings.  Today, help me know that I don’t have to either force or repress the healing available to me in recovery.  Help me trust that if I am open and available, the healing will happen naturally, in a manageable way.”

You don’t have to believe in any kind of God to buy this.  You maybe have to believe in something, love, friendships, ice cream – whatever works.  Something bigger than you.  At least that helps me.  I love thinking about babies who just have their feelings all day long.  One minute they’re happy, they’re laughing, they’re joyful and the next minute something pisses them off and they’re wailing their heads off.  Somewhere along the way we were taught to stuff all those feelings, through some method, for me it was food, shopping, TV, driving, anger, any kind of diversion to avoid feeling.  Once your heart cracks open though – through whatever reason – the willingness to actually feel seems to make it much less scary and stuffing the feelings doesn’t work.  Many years ago, in my twenties, I had anxiety attacks because I was so afraid of my feelings.  When I was a kid, if I was crying about something and I went to my father, he would say to me, “I can’t talk to you when you’re crying.  Go to your room and when you’re finished, we’ll talk.”  I loved my father, but what a schmuck.  Another friend told me recently her mother said, “Never let them see you cry.  Never let them know that you aren’t strong.”  Whoever “they are.”  All the messages in our society is, feelings are ugly, messy, embarrassing, weak and inappropriate.  I think they are healthy, healing, powerful and positive.  I was numb for more years than I care to recall.


I loved that scene in Broadcast News when Holly Hunter unplugged the phone so she could have a good cry.  To me at that time it seemed so bizarre, fascinating, but impossible for me to do.  Remember (if you’re old enough) how strong we all thought Jackie Kennedy was at JFK’s funeral because she kept her emotions so under control?  I guess having her two young children and all the world’s leaders surrounding her and the TV cameras made it difficult to really wail and carry on.  But my guess is she was on many milligrams of Valium and hopefully came home and cried for months.  At least I hope she did. 

This entry from “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie was helpful to me this morning:

“Appreciating Our Past

It is easy to be negative about past mistakes and unhappiness. But it is much more healing to look at ourselves and our past in the light of experience, acceptance and growth.  Our past is a series of lessons that advance us to higher levels of living and loving. 

The relationships we entered, stayed in, or ended taught us necessary lessons.  Some of us have emerged from the most painful circumstances with strong instincts about who we are and what we want.

Our mistakes?  Necessary.  Our frustrations, failures, and sometimes stumbling attempts at growth and progress?  Necessary too.  

Each step of the way, we learned. We went through exactly the experience we needed to, to become who we are today.  Each step of the way, we progressed.  

Is our past a mistake?  No.  The only mistake we can make is mistaking that for the truth.

Today, God, help me let go of negative thoughts I may be harboring about my past circumstances or relationships.  I can accept, with gratitude, all that has brought me to today.”



This morning I took the dogs out for their walk and the wind chill must have been about 1 degree because it really sucked out there.  I had on many many layers of clothing, my down coat, a warm scarf, a hat and gloves and still it was really really cold and bitter.

And…as I was trying to get them to do their business, I was feeling a bit well, angry, that living in the city in the winter and having two dogs to walk is not exactly what I would call fun.

And…I love my dogs and they are my family and I worry about their health and they are the most loving creatures in the world.  And funny and excellent company.

So when I came home I was doing my readings and one of the things I read had to do with affirmations.  Sometimes I get really tired of people’s positive affirmations and their constant cheerfulness.  It’s boring, honestly.  Sometimes I want to say “haven’t you ever heard of a kanahura?”  (Spelling?)  It’s a Yiddish word that means roughly, if you brag too much and talk about something great, your life will turn to shit.  As in “My husband and I have the perfect marriage.  He loves everything about me.”  That means in six months you will find out he’s been schtupping your best friend for the last seven years.  Or “My ankles haven’t been bothering me for months” and then the next day you break your ankle. 

Still, in an effort to ward off the evil thoughts that have been consuming me as I walk the dogs in the wind chill of 1 degree this morning, and in the spirit of the reading I did, I will share some positive affirmations from Melody Beattie’s book “The Language of Letting Go.” 


“I love myself….I’m good enough….My life is good….I’m glad I’m alive today….what I want and need is coming to me…. I can….”  

Now say that out loud and then spit three times and toss salt over your shoulder.  Or is it pepper?  

Every morning (which has turned into my favorite time of the day) I wake up, make myself a cup of coffee and then meditate for thirty minutes.  It seems to give me a good outlook on the day.  I also have a few readings I like to do before going out into the world and the one this morning, from Melody Beattie’s “The Language of Letting Go” was particularly meaningful:
“Anger 
Feeling angry – and, sometimes, the act of blaming – is a natural and necessary part of accepting loss and change – of grieving.  We can allow ourselves and others to become angry as we move from denial toward acceptance.
As we come to terms with loss and change, we may blame ourselves, our Higher Power, or others.  The person may be connected to the loss, or he or she may be an innocent bystander.  We may hear ourselves say: ‘If only he would have done that….If I wouldn’t have done that….Why didn’t God do it differently?….’  We know that blame doesn’t help.  In recovery, the watchwords are self-responsibility and personal accountability, not blame.  Ultimately, surrender and self-responsibility are the only concepts that can move us forward, but to get there we may need to allow ourselves to feel angry and to occasionally indulge in some blaming.
It is helpful in dealing with others, to remember that they, too, may need to go through their angry stage to achieve acceptance.  To not allow others, or ourselves, to go through anger and blame may slow down the grief process.  
Trust ourselves and the grief processs.  We won’t stay angry forever.  But we may need to get mad for a while as we search over what could have been, to finally accept what is.
God, help me learn to accept my own and others’ anger as a normal part of achieving acceptance and peace.  Within that framework, help me strive for personal accountability.”

Last night I went to Leonard Cohen’s final concert in the NYC area, at Madison Square Garden.  I went with a man I’d never met before, who drove in from New Hampshire, who originally invited my friend Karen because his wife couldn’t go, and because Karen is out of town, she suggested that I go instead. Got that?  The tickets were given to him as a gift, he adores Leonard Cohen, and he wanted to go to the concert with someone who would appreciate seeing him.

Wow, did I appreciate it seeing him.  It may have been the best concert I’ve been to in my life.  Leonard Cohen is seventy-five, he performed for over three hours, the musicians he shares the stage with are all unbelievably talented, and he couldn’t be more generous in giving them each time in the spotlight.  And his music…and his lyrics…he sold out Madison Square Garden – over 20,000 people who seemed to know every song.  I wish I could see him again.  He spent five years in a Zen Monastery.  He is a genius. 

Then this morning, I was reading “The Language of Letting Go” by Melody Beattie and I thought it was worth putting it on the blog today, in honor of the generous gifts I received last night and also during this entire challenging year:

 “Opening Ourselves to Love


Open ourselves to the love that is available to us.

We do not have to limit our sources of love, God and the Universe have an unlimited supply of what we need, including love.

When we are open to receiving love, we will begin to receive it.  It may come from the most surprising places, including from within ourselves.

We will be open to and aware of the love that is and has been there for us all along.  We will feel and appreciate the love from friends.  We will notice and enjoy the love that comes to us from family.  

We will be ready to receive love in our special love relationships too.  We do not have to accept love from unsafe people – people who will exploit us or with whom we don’t want to have relationships.  

But there is plenty of good love available – love that heals our heart, meets our needs, and makes our spirits sing.

We have denied ourselves too long.  We have been martyrs too long.  We have given so much and allowed ourselves to receive too little.  We have paid our dues.  It is time to continue the chain of giving and receiving by allowing ourselves to receive.

Today, I will open myself to the love that is coming to me from the Universe.  I will accept it and enjoy it when it comes.”

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