The Little Engine That Could

It’s amazing how my brain tells me I can’t do something quite often. And it’s even more amazing that when I can get out of my brain and into my heart and soul, I’m able to do just the things it says I can’t.

Last night, as I was attempting to get myself to sleep, my brain continued to tell me that there was no way I was going to be able to make a 12 to 13 hour drive I would be attempting to make the next morning to visit my partner (we currently live apart). Normally I would fly but with financial issues looming, I opted to drive for the first time. Even more interesting is that he doesn’t even know I’m visiting, it’s a surprise for our anniversary which is February 25th.

So as I lay there reciting mantra after mantra, doing breath work and trying to get myself to fall asleep five hours sooner than my normal bed time, I drifted in and out of an anxiety based state. If you’ve read any of my previous postings you’ll know by now that I handle day to day chronic pain currently in my life. Sitting or standing for extended periods is quite a challenge.  The anxiety finally got the best of me this morning bringing me fully awake at 4:00am. After my morning prayer, mantras, and chakra balance, I was on the road with the clock reading 5:20am. The clock hadn’t passed a complete hour before I had already thought many times about turning around. But, there was a thought that was more silent and more subtle. It was one telling me that this was a lesson in my life to learn.

I’ve been going through chronic pain now since April 20th, 2010 and have been healing slowly. I have chosen to heal holistically which is a much longer process than taking prescription drugs and having invasive medical procedures done. For the last few years I have battled the same feelings about this healing like I was about the drive this morning. I have wanted to give up, to pop some pills, to go back to my old addictions, or have surgery done to see if maybe it might help somehow with any of what I feel every day. It’s almost been three years now since that day it all began to manifest on a physical level.  The progress I have made to change my way of living and become healthier on every level has been arduous but fulfilling. And I’m still moving forward, one day at a time. Really, one moment at a time. And I haven’t chosen to go back to any of my old behaviors or go get that surgery doctors aren’t even confident will help.

So back to my drive and how this all relates. Within that first hour of my drive as some of my pain kicked in and the doubt crept in, I made a decision. I made a commitment. I’m not going to go back. Not in this. Not in my healing. Not in anything that is going to bring me closer to becoming a spiritual warrior for God. I’m tired of giving up. My father and mother gave up and cut their lives short by their own actions. Their parents gave up as well suffering tragic endings too. I’ve seen a lot of tragedy in my family with a lot of throwing in the towel. I made a decision in my life that I wouldn’t follow in their footsteps. My decision today to go through with this drive, and my decision to keep healing holistically, is all part of a bigger plan. One where God can one day use me as an inspiration for others who are going through trials and tribulations. Giving up on my drive, giving up on my healing, and giving up on my life, would prevent that dream from happening.

Incidentally, I’m writing this now in a Starbucks at my destination. Along the way, I made several stops to get out and stretch when I started to feel overwhelmed. I followed within the speed limit and actually arrived three hours sooner than I was supposed to.

I feel pretty amazing right now. Regardless of the pain, I’ve had a smile on my face and thanked God for giving me the strength to get here. My partner has no idea yet that I’m here. He’s in school right now and because I arrived early, I have time to kill that I didn’t expect I would have. It’s funny how these things happen. It’s funny how when I shut the old tapes off and made a decision from my spirit, what I can accomplish.

While the drive may seem like a small thing, it’s really not. It represents a small victory in the bigger picture of my life. One that I am going to win with God at the center of it. I am healing holistically. It has taken awhile, and I know there is never an end to the generic healing process one goes through in life to getting closer to Source. But what I do know is that there will be an end to these short term chronic pain issues that I’ve been dealing with as long as I keep going, putting one foot in front of the other, and telling myself just like the little red engine did, that I can do it too.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Pointing The Fingers

It’s real easy to point a finger at something my brain says doesn’t seem right in this world. There are lots of things around me everyday that I notice don’t seem to add up in a fair sense.

Here are just a few of them:

1. People speeding up rather than letting a car in that’s trying to emerge

2. People whispering at meetings about things they heard about someone else

3. Seeing on the news another shooting and more talk about gun control

4. So many blaming the president for the woes of our nation

5. Noticing yet another reality show that highlights the craziness of yet another family

6. Watching person after person go by a homeless person who’s hand is outstretched and receiving nothing

7. Hearing about how it’s unfair that athletes earn so much money

8. People saying one thing to the masses and then doing another

9. Churches stating they are all-welcoming but rejecting people from various backgrounds

10. Criminals get away with light sentences for serious crimes because they have money to get a good lawyer

The list really could go on and on. Here’s the reality. With just about every judgement that I place out there and every finger that I point at the ills of this world, I am guilty on some level of doing those same exact things.

Let me get back to the list but answer them from my deepest truths.

1. Many times I’ve sped up on the highway when I saw someone merging in to “beat them out” or to “be first” because “I was there first”.

2. I lost track of the number of times that I have gossiped to someone else about a person that relapsed on their addiction or that was doing such and such behavior.

3. I’ve been to a gun range and been friends with people who loved to sport their guns and gun licenses.

4. I’ve shouted at the TV or to a friend many times about how the president was crappy and causing this problem and that problem.

5. I’ve thought about how a reality show on my life would be better than what I see being put in the airwaves.

6. I’ve ignored homeless people when I had a dollar in my public judging that that would just spend it on alcohol or drugs.

7. I earned large sums of money in jobs years ago where I wasn’t really doing much of anything except dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

8. I’ve stood up on a podium in meetings and spoken about how wonderful my life was and how good I was to everything and everyone and outside of those meetings, was swearing often, lying regularly, and living in other addictions day to day.

9. I’ve been a member of different types of groups such as my fraternity that rejected people for the way they looked, the way they acted, their lifestyle, and more.

10. I was arrested for stealing a long time ago and because my father had money and was able to afford a good lawyer, “it went away”.

The truth is that it’s easy for me to look at the misfortunes of society and comment negatively on any of it. It’s easy to do it because on some level I’m guilty of what I’m condemning.

I look at all these things now. When I find myself judging someone or something, I look in the mirror and ask myself where have I been guilty of this. I’m a firm believer that anytime I feel negative towards something outside of me or anytime I point the finger at someone else that I think is living sideways, I need to look within and see what is it about myself that I don’t like or that I haven’t dealt with.

All of those things I listed above I work on today and ask God for guidance on. Here’s that list one last time.

1. I drive much slower on the highway or on any road today and I try to allow a car to merge in when I see them attempting to do so.

2. I stay away from gossip as best as I’m capable. I stay away from people that live in that mode.

3. I stay away from guns, I don’t support guns, and I don’t have any friends who have guns or carry guns. I don’t even play games that are “shoot ’em up” type games. I’m even beginning to not like going to the movies and seeing over the top gun based violence movies.

4. The President is a figure head. There are many people that are part of how laws and legislation get passed. Because the nation is a certain way, trickles down all the way to me and I know that any woes of the nation is due to all of us and not just one person. I admire any president for standing firm in all of that attack they get daily from people angry with the state of the nation.

5. I don’t watch any of those reality shows anymore about any family. I don’t expose myself to those types of programs that highlight the things some might find as silly or crazy. My life is crazy enough sometimes and it’s a reality show just to live it. I don’t find a need to see it on TV too.

6. If I have a dollar bill in my wallet, I will give it to a homeless person. If I have some loose change, I’ll give it to a homeless person. I could be that homeless person one day. How they spend that dollar or whatever sum I was to give them, is between themselves and God.

7. I learned that the more money I earn, the more I seem to spend and the more I seem to spend the more I need more money. All I felt towards athletes was jealously that I no longer had large sums of money that they are earning. Truthfully, I don’t watch sports anymore on TV and I traditionally don’t go to sporting events. Money isn’t ruling my life currently like it used to.

8. What I say at a meeting today is the exact way that I live my life outside of a meeting. I do not live two separate lives anymore.

9. Anything that I am a member of now or any group that I take part in, I am open about my lifestyle and I am open that I accept everyone equally. If there is any hesitancy to accepting that or me, I do not go to those places.

10. I haven’t committed a crime since my drinking and drugging days for starters. And, I also realized that I don’t know all the truths to any crime that I see on the news or in the papers. I’m just hearing the news’s side of things. So anything I may say is just my own judgement of what’s being presented to me.

The bottom line is that for every finger I’ve pointed at someone or something else that I didn’t like in my life, I need to point that same finger if not all of my fingers back at myself. The more that I work through my judgements and negativity, and the more that I look within and ask God for guidance, the more I find myself accepting all of these things.

It really is true that when I point a finger, I’m guilty of something related to that within myself. By asking God for guidance on revealing those things, I have seen a much greater level of peace in my life towards everything and everyone.

 

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur

A Testing of Faith

Faith is a strange thing. It’s easy to say that I’m faithful when everything is going great in my life. When I’m on the top of the world earning great money, where my health is awesome, where I have a great relationship, and where my social calendar seems quite full, sure it would be easy for me to say that life is grand and that I have faith in God’s plan for me.

How about the reverse? Where is my faith when I’m unable to work and am earning no money?Where is my faith when my health is filled daily with chronic pain? Where is my faith when most of my friendships have disappeared and where my weekend nights are spent alone? I’ve been pondering these questions a lot lately as I continue to deal with a shift that I’ve been praying is an energetic one to raise my spiritual vibration.

First, what is the definition of faith in God (or a Higher Power). It is when one makes the Words of God (or Higher Power) the main determining factor for every action you take, and remaining at peace whether you know the outcome or not.

Not too long ago I remember feeling like I was living on top of the world. I was earning $82,000 a year, had a partnership with a person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with, had all the latest and greatest gadgets, owned a nice single family home, had two cars, and a nice retirement building up. Back then the excitement of my life consisted of living in the indulges of what this world had to offer. Traveling often, dining out frequently, engaging in multiple sports leagues, shopping for whatever I wanted and thought I needed, and often being driven sexually either with my partner or on the web with images and chatrooms.

I went to church at that time in my life. I did weekly bible studies too. I even was serving communion and had become a Deacon. And I told everyone how faithful I was in God and that God was rewarding me daily with plenty of abundance. Using the definition of faith in God that I just wrote in here, I knew the outcome of where I was at every day. There were relatively little surprises in my life at that time. And other than some minor incidences that I call hiccups in my life, my life went pretty smoothly and I made sure to always present to others that I had faith.

Faith is truly the absence of proof of anything tangible. Faith is something that one does not go around and tell everyone it is within themselves. Faith is walking through ANY situation and being ok with it no matter if the results are favorable or not.

Somewhere along the lines, things fell apart in my life and things became very unfavorable. I turned to addictions to sustain my life force and vitality. I chose quick highs to keep myself going. As the years passed, I lost that partner. I lost my home. I lost my business. I lost most of the money I had saved up. I lost many friends who I thought were close to me. And then over the course of the past three years, I lost my health and my ability to work. Since then, I have been in chronic pain with serious Fibromyaliga, prostatitis, and severe sciatica and numbness on my left leg and foot. Add in depression and anxiety and that is my current state of health.

So where is my faith now? Where is my faith in God? I wish I had the perfect story to share. I wish I could say that I felt everyday that everything is going to be ok and that God is going to get me through this and that all this was a healing process. I can’t say that. Where I once walked around with my head up high telling everyone how much faith I had. I find myself questioning God a lot. I find myself asking if God exists a lot. I find myself asking if there really is a plan for me. My faith has been shaken. On most days when the pain is high like today or like yesterday, I find myself asking those closest to me if I’m ever going to make it through this. Where I’m at now I find myself reflecting on the story of Job a lot.

I love the story of Job. Job is a wonderful story in the Bible that although I’m not religious, I love to read and reflect on it. Job had everything and then he lost everything. Job was faithful to God when he had everything and even when he had nothing. And even though Job didn’t understand why he lost everything for a period of time, he continuously prayed and asked God for understanding. The worst Job ever got was cursing the day his own birth happened and demanding God take his life. And Job eventually did have God speak to him and after God spoke about faith, Job was rewarded with everything he lost and then some. Job had lost his wife, his land, his ability to work, his children, and his health. And Job gained it all back at the end. How much time in between did the losses last for? It never says. I wish it did.

It’s been 9 months now where I’ve been living free from all things that I would say are poison to a spiritual life. I have a very diligent list of spiritual things I do each day to keep me on that path. And while I everyday thank God for making it through one more day of what I endure, I do find myself often asking why I’m here and going through all this now. I find myself asking if God has a plan for me through all of this. I pray a lot throughout the day. Much of it is me just asking for strength and help to make it through one more day, one more hour, one more minute, or even one more second of the pain I endure.

I’m not taking drugs or medicines to deal with what I’m dealing with. I was reacting violently to every medication when I tried that route and also feeling extremely numb and indifferent to life. I was either a zombie then or a sponge for pain now. Truthfully I’d rather be a sponge for the pain right now as I at least am able to feel tears, my sadness, and my emotions in general.

On any of the drugs I used to take, or any of the medications, or even with any of the people I put in my life to chase after, all of it just numbed me from the pain that was there. It wasn’t healing any of it.

I’m not sure what I believe right now in this moment on what’s happening to me. I wanted to write an article that showed my truth. The real me. I had written a lot of hopeful stories so far about my life that all are indeed very true. But there is also much in my life that is challenging that I would not wish upon anyone and I felt today it was necessary to share those truths with the level of pain I’m feeling today.

I know one thing. My faith is being tested. I pray to God everyday to make it through this and to heal holistically. I pray to become a complete servant for God’s needs. I pray that I don’t ever go back to the toxic living that I once did not too long ago. I pray that my DNA makeup in my body will shift to drive me down spiritual paths rather than the toxic ones. And I give God thanks at the end of each day in a journal writing down at least nine things that happened that day that I was appreciative of.

Does God exist?

If so, is He watching me?

Is all of what I’m going through a test of my faith?

Is all of what I feel just a shift to make me spiritually healthier?

I don’t know the answers to those questions. I do know one thing. I’ll keep on doing what I’m doing, which is praying to the God that I believe is there, to the God that has gotten me this far, and to the God that has sustained me through so much already. And I’ll hope that one day I’ll see this from a better perspective, one where I can look back and understand why it is that I went through it all in the first place.

Regardless, I will keep on sending out my love to God and trusting in an old AA saying, “This Too Shall Pass…” And in doing that, I know I am being faithful…

Peace, Love, Light, and Joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

My Sunday Best

When I was a kid, every Sunday I was taken by my family to Community United Methodist Church in Poughkeepsie, NY. For just about 17 years of Sundays, you would find me at the 11am service wearing “my Sunday best”. In other words, the nicest clothes I had to wear for a church day. My parents and my sister would also be wearing their best and we would walk into church and give the customary greetings to all the people our family knew.

There were plenty of smiles and hugs. There were many who said “it’s good to see you” to us. And there were a lot who thought our family was the family to be. A few years ago I ran into some of my old parent’s friends who knew them before they had passed. I remember telling them how bad things had gotten when I was growing up. How my father was bi-polar and an alcoholic and how my mother was also an alcoholic. They were shocked. They said our family always looked so happy and that many of their friends said they wished they were more like our family.

From the outside looking in, especially seeing us at church on Sunday with us wearing the nicest of clothes, with my mother in the bell choir, and my father being a layman and plenty visible in the church hierarchy, it’s no wonder people thought that. Sadly, it was all an act. That’s what alcoholic families do. They fake it. They cover up the truth. My mother was so deathly afraid that anyone knew just how insane things were in our household.

So there we were, sitting in church each Sunday, together as a family and I remember wishing I was anywhere but in that pew. My parents made everything seem so great with us and I remember the pastor always blessing us and being so kind to us. If he had only known just how much pain we all had inside within the safe confines of our home.

To make matters worse for me back then, I never understood church in the first place. To me, it was a lot of all rising and all sitting, reciting words that weren’t coming from my heart, singing songs that even if they felt inspiring, we weren’t able to clap at the end, and listening to a message that provided a singular viewpoint of the pastor and his relating it to some passages in the Bible.

I’ve learned that God is everything and not just about going to church on a Sunday and practicing a religion. God is in all religions not just one, and He is in nature, He is in all the people we see around us, and He can be in everything I come across each and every day. I can experience a sermon at hearing an uplifting AA message at a meeting. I can experience a reciting of words when I pray on my knees throughout the day. I can experience the church music by singing or listening to an inspiring song on the radio. I can experience my connection to people by just smiling at those that may seem down, by holding the door for those going into a building, or by just reaching out and calling someone and listening to what they are going through.

I didn’t go to any church service today and I’m not currently a member of any church. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to it. I just haven’t met a church today that embraces God in everything especially with me and my sexuality. So while my family may have covered up the truth on Sundays when we were wearing our Sunday best, I too have found many places of worship presenting similar illusions.

Even though many churches say they are, many are not all encompassing, all friendly and all welcoming. I went to church services and got the friendly handshakes, hugs, and
hellos, and was greeted with the usual “I’m so glad you’re here today”,
but when I made attempts to join those churches, I was subsequently rejected because of my sexuality and told I wasn’t welcomed. I dug deeper at those churches and I was truthful about me and I saw their truth. If anyone had dug deeper with my family, they would have seen the truth too.

The thing I’ve learned about church, religion, people, and life in general, is that what I may see with my eyes and hear with my ears isn’t necessarily the whole truth. The whole truth is what rests within my own heart and soul and all those thoughts in between. The whole truth is something that I’ve had to discover through a journey alone in prayer and meditation, and with God. The Bible, The Koran, the Torah, and any other great text are all wonderful tools to use for discernment on who God is within our own being.

I love God and I am truthful to the extreme today on every level of my life. What you hear me say, what you see me do, and how I live my life is as truthful as one is going to get. I don’t paint any illusions nor try to present myself as something other than I am. Using a famous person in the Bible; Jesus, well he did just the same. From what I read in the Bible at least, it seems Jesus never wavered from who He was and what He was all about. Why couldn’t my family have been that way? Why don’t churches just state openly their truths? Why don’t people just be honest about where they are at in their lives? I can’t really answer any of those questions because I’m not any of them. I know for me, I wasn’t truthful about my life because I was afraid of not being accepted and liked.

With the work I’ve done on myself so far, I like myself a lot more today. I’m OK with being alone and I love who I’m becoming. I present who I am to everyone else as the same that I present to myself when I’m alone. I’m rejected a lot today from people who don’t understand me and I’m often attacked on some level for reasons that I don’t even understand. But because I love myself and how I live my life today and because I have God at the helm of my life, none of that matters. I just continue to be honest and truthful because that’s how all the spiritual teachers throughout history have been.

On a final note, I still attend a church service every now and then and I’m not against it. There are some wonderful messages that I can hear and some wonderful music that I can feel at them. What’s different today is that I go to church when I would like to, I wear what I want when I go, and while I’m there, I am exactly who I am just like when I’m not there.

JUST BE YOURSELF. I know I am today.

Peace, Love, Lights, and Joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson