Is It The Best Course In Life To Be Totally Honest And Forthcoming?

Is it the best course in life to be totally honest and forthcoming about one’s feelings and inner truths? I have traditionally felt it was until recently, when it seems as if me expressing myself as openly as I have, is only causing me and plenty of others greater distress.

I speak openly on my blog about the harmful addictive past I lived and do the same in recovery meetings, with friends over the phone, and everywhere else I go as well. In doing so, people have quite often misunderstood me and in turn, labeled me with plenty of their projections. This has frequently lead to me feeling as if I caused myself more drama by being so forthcoming.

In the process, I’ve become overly lonely and feel like an outcast in society, tending to feel lately that I’m still that little kid back in grammar school who was always the last to be picked in group events like in gym class.

People seem to like me from afar when they only know me a little and see me expressing those truths in meetings and such. Yet, when they get to know me better and see my total honesty up front and center, they are inclined to shy away from me and I end up being more alone than not.

I don’t have many close friends in life much in part because of my honesty. Yet, it keeps me asking the same question lately, do I keep this up?

Do I keep telling people about my life through the stories I go through, through what I’ve grown from and did? Do I keep myself in the firing line of people misunderstanding me and then projecting their own stuff back onto me, when I could just remain silent and say nothing?

Is my blog really helping anyone with all the honesty I put forth?

Is this writing even helping me being as honest as I am?

Is sharing my full truth even God’s will for me?

These are all the questions I ponder on most days as of late because back in the day when I wasn’t being honest and lived more in deception, it seems like I had way more friends and way less painful drama.

I’m not even sure what my purpose is in writing about this today, but in the spirit of all truthfulness, this isn’t even what I was going to post today, as I opted to scrap an entire 675-word article about something else that I felt would only cause me greater pain in publishing.

So, I’m at a crossroads right now in life that I know is being affected by the pain I keep having to go through, by the throngs of people who keep misunderstanding me seeing that I can’t seem to find a way to communicate to everyone successfully, and because no matter how hard I try to change my past and be a good, loving, Christ-centered person in the present, I feel like I keep failing and keep being judged that I’m more of a problem, than a helpful solution.

If you’ve ever felt like this in your life, then know I’m truly sorry for that, as it’s an extremely sad place to be in. I have great compassion for you, as living on this Earth in a life of truth and making ourselves completely vulnerable and open isn’t easy and probably never will be.

Nevertheless, I trudge ever onward, asking for forgiveness to those who have misunderstood me and taken my words in ways that I never intended. I’m not perfect and am flawed like I’m sure we all are in some way. But in the end, I know I can only keep on, keeping on, as my spiritual teacher once said, and hope that somehow my being as honest and forthcoming as I am about my life, is still doing what God wants me to be doing and is actually helping me and others as well…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Holiday Season Depression And Joy

It’s hard to believe it’s already the middle of November and the holiday season is now upon us. I feel like life is racing on by while I continue to wait as patiently as I can for guidance and direction from my Higher Power, a much healthier mind and body, and the one thing I desperately want more than anything in life, that being joy.

Some have suggested I might find all of that by just going and trying something new, but so far each of my attempts to do so haven’t had much success and instead only left me in even greater despair and pain. In the past few months I’ve become so exhausted with my life that I find myself struggling on most days to even do the bare necessities.

People would say that’s depression and while I may be experiencing that on some level, it’s only because of the intensity of what I keep having to deal with inside me. Because on the few days where that intensity has subsided even slightly, the depression completely lifts and that’s when I find joy automatically radiating from within.

Nevertheless, this time of the year is notorious for people getting depressed for all sorts of reasons. And seeing all the good cheer going on around those who aren’t feeling that at all makes it so very challenging to navigate through this season for them. I get that completely. I may have a partner who loves me dearly and a warm house to live in as I enter this holiday season and I may also have an abundance of food and water and the ability to go treat myself to a movie or dinner from time to time during it too. Yet the pain I deal with inside me robs me of truly enjoying any of it.

My faith is definitely being tested that’s for sure and I find myself continually asking lately, “God, are you there?” And I wonder if God has seen me crying as often as I have been, while I beg for help and answers. All of which of course is totally working against me being able to appreciate a season that is meant to be synonymous with joy.

Many Christians would say it’s a joy to follow Christ and that this time of the year is all about experiencing that because of the birth of Christ, yet I struggle to feel any of it because of that painful intensity going on within. I told this to a friend of mine recently who said I should just stop focusing on the pain and instead place my attention elsewhere. Trust me when I say I do my best in that, but even with my greatest attempts to do so, Christ’s joy continues to elude me.

If you don’t understand why, try doing the following exercise with someone close to you. Grab their arm with your hand and clamp down on it really, really, really tight, so tight it could actually leave a bruise behind if you did it too long. Now start having a conversation with them, make a joke, or do something that usually would get them to smile, and see what happens. Do they laugh and carry on the conversation with you, or are they just wanting you to stop hurting their arm? I would gather it’s the latter and that’s about on par with why I am not feeling joy hardly at all in my life as I enter another holiday season with that hand clamped down on my arm and everywhere else around my body as well.

I’m sure some may be wondering at this very moment as they read this, why I’m writing in such a depressing way today and why my writing has been more down than up lately. Ultimately, my writing has become an outlet to express my ongoing grief, especially as I enter the depths of yet another holiday season riddled in pain.

I may still have my faith and hope in God, a mustard seed at best right now, but I’m lacking the one thing I really want to have this holiday season, and that’s to experience true joy from within. True joy that’s not based upon receiving or giving some gift, or from any charitable act I do, or anything else that comes from an action outside of me. The joy I seek this holiday season is one I remember experiencing as a kid, one that fully emanated from within, and one that simply came from being alive and loving Christ.

So, that’s where I’m at as I enter this 2017 holiday season and if you happen to be someone who’s also going through something similar, please know I have great compassion for you as well. Know that whatever type of depression you are going through, albeit from health issues, being alone and single, penniless and broke, having family issues, experiencing abuse, or something else altogether, my heart grieves with each of you, as all of us wait upon our Higher Power for guidance, direction, and deliverance into a better place of joy, one that I know we all so desperately need and want in life.

I love all of you and thank everyone for the prayers of healing that are sent my way and to all others who are suffering during this holiday season. I do believe God hears each of them and I remain faithful and hopeful in God that they will be answered when they’re meant to and when they are, I eagerly await that life where I know will be filled with a lot more of Christ’s true joy…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

How Isolating Is Ok In Some Cases…

Lately I have found myself isolating quite a bit from people. Frankly, it’s been just too difficult for me to socialize with all the pain I’ve been dealing with inside me. Some might say that’s not healthy, but I disagree, as I tend to believe that isolating is ok in some cases.

Throughout most of my life, when I’ve overextended myself, giving of myself to others, over and over again, even when I wasn’t feeling well, only ever made me feel worse. And through that repeated action, I learned I can’t transmit anything healthy to anyone, when I’m not feeling healthy myself.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the message I was raised with though. Instead, I, like many others, was told to push myself through everything, even sickness, and that I’d feel far better when I did. But in many of those cases, the sickness often fought back and said, “No, you are going to rest now and take care of yourself!” And that’s precisely what’s been happening to me lately. My health has been so challenging to deal with, that I have been taking a lot more time for me, alone.

But maybe that’s a good thing. Maybe that’s exactly what God’s wants. And maybe that’s exactly what my mind, body, and soul is truly needing right now, a period of isolation for me to heal.

In the 12 Step recovery world though, we’re often told that isolation is never a good thing. Instead, we’re told to get out and help another, especially when we’re not feeling well, and that action alone will help us to feel much better. But trust me when I say that’s not necessarily true. Well maybe it is for someone who is depressed in life, as that action of helping another can lift the spirit right out of a depressed state, at least temporarily.

But for someone like me, who is dealing with high levels of physical pain in the body, trying to get out and give more time of myself to those in need or even on a social level, only seems to make my pain levels feel far worse, and in some cases, so much worse that I end up regretting helping the people I did or hanging around those I was with.

Sadly, my parents never learned this lesson. They pushed themselves a lot in life and both were serious work horses. They often worked through a lot of their sickness and pain, which only resulted in them having nervous breakdowns and engaging in addictions like the over consumption of alcohol. Neither of which are something I ever want to happen in my life again, as indeed I have experienced both in this life. And they always tended to happen whenever I pushed myself through my health issues, thinking that if I got out and did more, I’d feel far better. I never did though.

That’s why I feel isolation may at times actually be a healthy thing for a person to do, especially for someone who’s on the mend or someone who’s simply trying to get on the mend in their mind and body like I am.

So, I’m not going to feel guilty about my pattern of isolation I’ve been doing as of late, because ultimately, I know that I can’t be of help or a good companion to anyone when I’m not feeling healthy myself. And pushing myself to get out and do more with and/or for others, will only drive me into a place where I will be of no service to God, which I’m sure is the last thing that God would want for me. Hence the reason why I believe that isolating really is ok in some cases…especially when it means going through a period alone to take more care of one’s health…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

Finding A Moment Of Gratitude As You Take A Brief Walk In My Pain-Filled Shoes Of Life…

It’s 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, as I walk in the doors of a Bob Evans where I quickly greet my fellow group members who are already there for our monthly social get-together. My body is hurting pretty bad today and the last thing I feel capable of doing is being social with anyone. Yet I say hello and push on through with a few casual hugs and then immediately head to the bathroom for what seems like the millionth time to relieve myself. I stare at a cold wall in front of me once there and glance around to see if anyone else is around. Thankfully no one is so I cry out aloud and ask God to help me get through this. You see I do this often in places just like this, ones where I find myself alone, even though I feel pretty much alone everywhere I go these days.

When I emerge from the bathroom, the hostess asks us to follow her to our table. I promptly take my seat in the middle of it, but regret not sitting at the end where I could withdraw from conversation if I needed to. Oh well, I say in my head, as I proceed to look down at the menu. Trying to make a choice from one of its four pages seems next to impossible when a body is screaming in agony like mine is at the moment.

Should I get breakfast? Lunch? Dinner? Do I want a big meal or a small one? Maybe I should just eat nothing and starve myself out of self-pity. No, that’s ridiculous! I need to eat something as those two pieces of bacon and that banana I ate earlier were long gone from my stomach. I ultimately settle on the large grilled chicken salad, as maybe eating healthier might make me feel slightly better.

Suddenly, I hear at the table that our lead speaker for our meeting that night is a former sponsee who I abruptly parted ways with three years ago and not under the best circumstances. But instead of remaining silent about it, my pain overtakes me and I become negative with the words I start speaking.

That happens a lot when my pain levels get high, as trying to find words of positivity are often downright difficult when I hurt as bad as this. I begin breaking every one of my spiritual rules for the next ten minutes at the table, as I talk about this former sponsee, none of which comes out in any of Christ’s light. And by the end of it, I feel spiritually unclean and find my pain is hurting even more now. My words were more like gossip and I wasn’t 100% truthful in all that I said. My soul is sad now because of it and I decide its best I remain more silent than not from this point forward.

As I sit there and watch people smiling, chatting, and enjoying each other’s company, I begin to squirm in my chair, wishing I could just die right there in that moment, and be taken to some place like Heaven, or somewhere else that doesn’t involve living with this painful flesh and body I’m stuck in. Life doesn’t seem fair and I feel even worse now, because deep down I think about that former sponsee I just put down, as they too have a piece of God in them, like I do as well. I make a promise to myself that later at our meeting, I’m going to make an amends to all those who listened to my negative comments, especially the ones who had done their best to turn each of them around to something more positive, the very thing I normally would have done if I hadn’t felt so much pain within.

The food arrives as I silently ask God for forgiveness and it’s then I notice my large salad doesn’t appear to be very large at all. In fact, it’s about the same size as the one my friend got across from me, yet she had ordered the smaller version. Unfortunately, that’s another thing my pain often does to me. It makes me feel dissatisfied with the littlest of things, things that never seem to bother me one bit when their level is far more manageable.

“I can get you some more salad if you want…” the waitress says after hearing my not-so-quiet displeasure of the salad now sitting in front of me. I feel slightly guilty after letting her know I’ll take her up on her offer, because when she returns with another whole salad, free of charge shortly thereafter I still feel dissatisfied. Because none of this was about my salad in the first place. I’m just unhappy with my life’s circumstances and sadly, there’s nothing more I can do about it other than what I’m already doing in life. Believe me I’ve tried. And as I stare down at my now double portion of salad, I realize it doesn’t change a gosh darn thing.

I eat my salad in silence and occasionally put a smile on my face, chiming in a conversation here and there, just so no one asks me what’s wrong. That never does go over too well when they do. Because it always ends with me receiving unsolicited advice, mostly things I’ve already tried before, when all I really want is a reassuring touch or hug.

The next thirty minutes is filled with more trips to the bathroom, more squirming in my chair, and thoughts of me ordering a dessert hoping it might somehow bring me a little comfort and joy. Watching everyone else seem to have that a lot more than I, is probably the most challenging thing I face in life these days. I don’t have much fun in life anymore and I silently wonder if any of these people around me truly understand how I feel.

I ultimately decide to skip my comfort-seeking dessert, because I had just tried that the prior two nights unsuccessfully. As I stare down in defeat at the placemat before me, I see there’s a contest to win free dinner for a year at Bob Evans and smile sarcastically to the realization that even if I won that, it wouldn’t make me any happier in life. Not even a million dollars could do that, because none of it is able to take this pain away. Believe me if it could, I would already have found a way long ago to make that happen.

Finally, our get-together ends and we all head to the cash register to pay our bills. I ponder our next gathering as the woman takes my credit card and painfully hope that I feel far better by then. After saying goodbye and letting everyone know I’ll see them in a bit at our meeting, I drive away and head towards a quiet parking lot, the only thing I really have been looking forward to today. As when I arrive, I blast my heater in the car and find my eyes quickly getting very heavy.

I fall asleep and for those few short minutes I do, I experience the only peace I’ll probably have the entire day, peace that comes from not having to feel this awful pain, even if it is for such a brief moment. And that alone becomes the very thing I find I can be grateful to God for and something I vow to write about later that night, so that each of you might understand me a little better as you take a brief walk in my pain-filled shoes of life…

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson