honesty

November 28, 2017

When I was dishonest, it gave people power over me.

The irony, of course, is that most people (myself included) are dishonest to try to maintain power, usually the power that comes with a positive image or perception by others, but in doing so, we actually forfeit that power to the person or people we lie to, because we have to live with an awareness that the relationship will always be contingent on the truth never becoming known accurately, if at all.
But when I tell the truth, I actually have real power. I have the power of solid reality. I don’t walk in fear that I’ll be found out as a fraud, or that a secret will be revealed and I’ll be discredited. I just get to be myself, perfectly imperfect, and I have peace, because I don’t have to scramble to frantically cover anything up. When my life is consistent with reality – and perhaps more significantly, when I just try to do the right thing without worrying about the consequences, even if it makes me vulnerable (as in making amends for being profoundly self centered and admitting when I am wrong), I get the peace and power and serenity that I never ever got by lying, whether the lie was about how great I wanted you to think I am or about how I wasn’t truly responsible for something I had done. Life is a lot easier and less messy when I just do the right thing and keep telling the truth.

the List

Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs,
Being purged, a fire sparkling in lovers’ eyes,
Being vexed, a sea nourished with lovers’ tears.
What is it else? A madness most discreet,
A choking gall and a preserving sweet.

William Shakespeare

So, I don’t have this all figured out – not by a long shot – but one thing is making a lot of sense lately. I spent years (decades, really) trying to “find the right person” for me. I had a List, sometimes written, usually just mental. Things like “is not a pathological liar,” or “is faithful” usually remained unchanged (yes, I know all too well from firsthand experience that a pathological liar can fool you into thinking he or she is not one). But other things (“lets me cook a lot,” or “is physically active,” or “loves craft beer” [back when I did], or “is creative”) rose and fell in importance as life went by. And I wondered after two failed marriages and an overflowing handful of stupid or painful or chaotic relationships why I just couldn’t seem to pull it all together – why “that right person” remained elusive.
And then it hit me – not like an arrow, but like the gradually brighter rays of dawn: Most people don’t spend much time on becoming the right person. I know I didn’t. If you look for the right person, you have very little control, other than to say yea or nay to each person. But if you become the right person – perhaps using the person that you imagine as the “right person” as a reference point for who you want to be loved by – you have so much power to have an incredibly fulfilling, wonder-filled, passionately amazing life, because you get to do more than just vet or veto potential loves. You get to become something greater – in fact, if you do it right, you might even fall in love with yourself before anyone else gets to – and someone genuinely in love with him or herself, living his or her life with passionate abandon and joy, is pretty hard to forget.
So immeasurably grateful for every moment I get to think clearly, to love myself deeply, and to become me.

meeting after the meeting

September 6, 2017

One of my favorite things is going out after meetings. It’s just great being with people who get me. Tonight, we went to a place I used to live quite literally within crawling distance of, and it was amazing to not be drunk here. Kind of felt, like so many things lately, like I was getting yet another part of my life back.

five.

September 11, 2017

During my second marriage I think I had six months of sobriety, and only started drinking again when my wife told me to. (I tell that story a lot, not out of malice, but out of amazement.) I was thrilled to start drinking again…and kind of aware that it was a bad decision. The first of many that followed, although really just one of many more.

The truth is, I don’t know if it was six months or three months or something in between. So much has happened in the time between then and now and I honestly remember so much less from that time than I probably should – not just because I drank a lot in the interim, but because so much of that is just not important to me anymore. When you abandon your resentments and fears and work at being a more useful and better person, so many truly trivial and pointless things fall away like cold fall rain pounding and pouring and sliding down the windows of your heart.

I had the opportunity this past week to think back really thoroughly on the last year, and the better my life becomes, the more true it is that I neither regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. I am grateful for the heartbreak, the tears, the longing, the doors slammed shut, and the hard vivid void left when all that remains is the quiet voice that says “don’t give up.” I could cry over all I’ve been through, but I’m not sad anymore. I’m not even wistful for the past I wanted to be different. I’m just glad to be here, in all the imperfect glory of right now.

curtains

September 17, 2017

I used to get the thickest, darkest curtains I could find, so that I wouldn’t be awakened by the morning light, but these days I keep the blinds slightly open, and often wake up before sunrise without any provocation, even on nights I don’t sleep enough. I don’t hate mornings anymore. They feel now like an old friend returning after some time spent apart, rather than a jilted suitor pounding on the door demanding attention. Maybe that’s what making amends to myself feels like. Every new day is another adventure, and I am still surprised and delighted that I get to be a part of it.