The End of My Rope

August 17, 2010

The End of My Rope

The End of My Rope

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

How are you in a pinch?

I’m pretty good in an overt crisis. Maybe not so good after a long bout of “little pinches.” Give me three, four, six setbacks in a row, and I start to feel like I’m going to lose it. Sometimes at that moment a stranger volunteers to help my recovery along by running a red light and almost killing me. It’s even better if they go on their merry way and never realize I was there. As I am about to reach the proverbial end of my rope, I open up my trusty toolbox of coping skills, and voila: the only tool left is a hammer. And as it’s been said “If the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

Sometimes, though, when life gets on my last nerve and I’m about to bite the head off a chicken, I’m served up with a gentle reminder that there is a different path. The other day I heard a fellow traveler share:

“God is at the end of my rope.”

That hit me in the head, just like a hammer.

Other than being pounded into helplessness, what else could lead me to a different way of living? What else but pain could get me to search for things like humility, honesty, openness, willingness… service! Somehow I don’t think that accolades, wealth, success and adoration over whatever I felt like doing at any given moment would do the trick. Other than complete defeat and surrender, what could possibly force me to acknowledge the mess I’ve made, ask for help, and accept the help that’s offered? *

Powerlessness may not feel great all the time, but I it feels better than madness, chaos and destruction. Just for today, I can accept the help where I find it. I can stay humble and teachable. I can learn to experience joy in accepting life “on life’s terms.” After all, I don’t have to live it—I get to live it.

When I do that—what a ride.

Happy trails!

PS * “We perceive that only through utter defeat are we able to take our first steps toward liberation and strength. Our admissions of personal powerlessness finally turn out to be firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives may be built.”

— from Step One in Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions

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Breaking Up Is Hard to Do (Caterpillar and Butterfly)

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

Greetings, fellow trudgers on “the road of happy destiny”…

I’m feeling a little nuts today. I think it’s because I’ve been putting up with too much abuse, neglect and craziness from someone close to me, and for far too long. I’ve finally decided I can’t take any more: it’s time to break up.

It’s sad, but I feel like I have no choice: I’m breaking up with me.

I have a long history of breaking promises I made to me. I haven’t shown up for appointments I made with myself. I told myself all kinds of things about me that are not true. I’ve talked myself into saying and doing stuff that’s gotten me into trouble. I may not even have wanted to do it—but I allowed me to talk myself into it anyway.

This me that’s been running the show up to now is a genuine pain in the ass: self-seeking, dishonest and isolated. It’s foxy and clever (cunning, baffling and powerful, I’ve heard it said). It’s constantly on the move, like a shark, hunting and seeking consolation, escape, even oblivion. It doesn’t trust anything or anyone else—at least not enough to ask for help when I’ve needed it. This me seems to think I can do life on my own—even believes I’ve done most of it on my own up to now (which isn’t true). It’s a gossip, it’s critical, judgmental and even downright nasty. It whispers terrible things about me in my ear. It wants to convince me I’m not worth it, that I’ll never be any good.

Who needs friends like this? Hey—who needs enemies like this?

So how do I go about this breakup? According to this reading, it starts with just standing still…

“Through all of this we became, one day at a time, available to ourselves. By the simple act of “standing still,” we inaugurated a relationship with ourselves based on growing self-honesty, trust and intimacy. Now we knew that [our goal] was to lay the foundation for a personal wholeness. How this would translate into personal relationships or careers, we did not know. But what we did know was the the externals would eventually develop around this inner foundation of wholeness, and come to reflect our inner state. We were able to embrace this feeling of growing capacity for wholeness, and leave specific outcomes to God…”

Perfect.

I don’t have to take responsibility for changing my whole life. I don’t have to know how—or if—it’s all going to turn out. I just have engage in this process of change. I can stand still, one moment at a time. I can ask for help, one thought at a time, one decision at a time, one action at a time. That’s what will change my world view, my relationships, my circumstances, my entire life. That’s what will lead to a spiritual awakening. That’s what will lead to a new self, one that believes I’m worth it—every bit of it. The rest of life will wrap itself around my new self as I shed the old.

So, just for today, I’m grateful to be reminded: I don’t have to put with abuse or neglect, I can insist on being treated with love, generosity, and kindness—especially from me.

Happy trails!