What Happens When You Compare Your Current Relationship To One From The Past?

New relationships can be quite troubling especially when one or both of the people in it keep comparing each other to past flames. Recently I had to have a discussion with my partner about this very issue as he was doing just that by comparing me to a person he had dated just before meeting me.

I’ve had three long term relationships in my life that have lasted at least two years or more and quite a few others of shorter durations. Each of them had their positive qualities throughout but all of them also had many negative ones as well. Unfortunately, until I figured out that I was carrying the downside of those relationships into the ones that were following it, they all continued to crumble around me, one after another.

It’s really not fair for either person in a couple to bring past relationship baggage onto their current one. It undermines any growth that can happen as they try to become closer to each other. It creates anger and resentments between them. And it fuels arguments that destroy the foundation their relationship was built upon in the first place.

I’m guilty of this and have been doing a massive amount of work in my current relationship to prevent this from happening again. I’ve had a lot of tumultuous relationships in my past. I’ve dated active alcoholics and drug addicts, mentally and emotionally abusive people, and many who had serious issues with spending money wastefully. What I never realized were how much of each of those people were only mirrors for myself to the negative behaviors I still held within. Instead of working on my own issues, I cited them out in the people I dated manifesting arguments in the process and comparing them to the past people I dated who had the same traits. Eventually because of this, my own behaviors sabotaged yet another relationship leaving me single all over again.

Now when I see a behavior that really bothers me in my partner, I look at myself and into my past and see if there is something I am hiding from, holding onto, or not wiling or wanting to let go of. In every case, there always is.

Just because a past partner had no money management abilities doesn’t mean that if my current partner overdrafts his bank account once or twice that it’s going to be that same type of relationship. Just because a past partner was angry all the time and abusive doesn’t mean that if my current partner comes home from work one day and lashes out that it’s going to be just like before. And so on and so forth. In any of these cases when trouble arises now, I look at myself and ask where my part was in all of it. I ask questions such as whether I pushed my partner to spend money they didn’t have or whether I did any behaviors that were selfish and self-centered that provoked the anger? What I learned in doing this was gaining the knowledge that the demise of all of my former relationships were as much my own fault as it was with the people I had dated. I had contributed to the negativity in every case with my own behaviors. The biggest realization though that has come to me in the past year of my life on why I had been in so many previous relationships is that God had been left out of them.

I do not believe any relationship can survive without having God at the center of it. After the initial happy romance phase is over and the real work begins to keep it going, trying to hold it together with control and self-will always failed for me. Personalities took over. The inevitable would then happen with me comparing each of them to someone in the past I dated that I felt they were now becoming. What was really happening was the real me was emerging in the relationship. The one that was broken before I got into the relationship that had never healed. The one that still had past demons within me being carried forward over and over and over again. The one that jumped from person to person experiencing only the short periods of time where the oogly-googly occurred and then leaving when that period was over.

The moral of all of this is that my success in any new relationship needed me to face myself and cut all the cords of attachment I still held onto from my negative past. My success with a partner was also dependent on me remembering the positive things I gained and learned in all of those past relationships. I had to forgive each of them and myself for all of the negative things that had happened throughout it. And most importantly, my success with any partner needed me to ask God each and every day to remain at the center of it, guiding it away from control and self-will, and into only where God sees it heading.

I now have over a year with my current partner. So far it’s the best one I’ve ever had. I thank God for that and I’m glad to realize now how much I can’t hold onto or compare any of my past relationships to my current one if I want it to last. I also realize now that anytime I find myself getting angry over anything with him and find myself comparing him in my head to someone from my past, that its probably an area of my life that still needs healing and I go to God in prayer to resolve it. It always comes back to something within me that was still broken and thankfully, through my prayer, God always leads me to healing it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Spiritual Experiences Are All Around Us

In 12 Step Recovery the words “spiritual experience” come up often. Over time since the origins of any of the recovery programs, it was found that to be removed from the throngs of any addiction that one would have to have a transformative spiritual experience to relieve a person of their obsession.

It sounds quite lofty doesn’t it?

It’s really not.

Spiritual experiences are quite simple actually. For some reason though, most people assume when they hear those words that an example of them is something of biblical proportions. Having a spiritual experience doesn’t necessarily mean the seas are going to part or the angels are going to sing for an individual. In my case, the first spiritual experience I can remember in my life was on June 10th, 1995 when I had finally grown tired of running from my own sexuality identity and immersing myself in alcohol and drugs. On that day, I cried out in a very simple prayer in my bathroom no less, and said, “God, Please help me”. And God did. In those moments after that prayer, the desire to drink, drug, and even smoke cigarettes left me for good. The only feelings I can remember all these years later from that moment were ones of being calm and peaceful after I had said the prayer. It’s been almost 18 years since that day and with all that time passing, my perception of what a spiritual experience is, has changed dramatically.

Do I have some great definition now for what one is? Not really. But I hopefully can tell in a better way through many examples of ones I’ve had so far in this life since that first one. Here are just some of them in no particular order of importance.

1. Seeing a double rainbow as a storm passes and the sun re-emerges.

2. Watching the sun rise or set over the ocean.

3. Having someone tell me that the words I spoke changed their life for the better forever.

4. Holding someone’s hand or placing an arm around them in support as they cry tears of sorrow.

5. Seeing a newborn baby’s first smile.

6. Hearing someone say they love me.

7. Getting a strong hug from someone I really care about.

8. Having my hand shaken at a recovery meeting and told warmly that they’re glad I’m there.

9. Making an honest and humble amends to someone and being fully forgiven by them.

10. Holding hands with my partner during an intimate moment.

11. Seeing any baby animal being nuzzled by its’ mother.

12. Swimming in the Caribbean and being surrounded by a coral reef and brightly colored tropical fish.

13. Crying during my prayers to God.

14. Being alone on top of a mountain peak with miles and miles of visibility.

15. Warming my hands over a crackling fire under the stars.

16. Receiving a card from anyone that writes a personal message of warmth and kindness.

17. Seeing flowers and trees beginning to bloom after a long, harsh, winter.

18. Having a total random stranger do something nice for me and vice versa.

19. Drinking an ice cold glass of water on a sizzling hot day.

20. Taking a hot bubble bath on a frigid cold day.

21. Going to the drive-in on a warm summer night and watching a movie on a big screen outside with my partner.

22. Hearing a song on the radio that moves me to tears.

23. Seeing any movie that opens me up to cry.

24. Being with my sister and her kids after long periods of absence.

25. Asking God to guide me completely for the day no matter where it may take me.

Spiritual experiences are happening all the time. They are happening right now as you are reading this. They are happening with each breath you’re taking. They are happening in every given moment, of every single day for all of us.

For me, the simplest way I can put it is that when my heart moves with any feeling of love and warmth, I know now I’m having a spiritual experience. Along the way, God has helped me to see something really important about all of this too.

When enough of these spiritual experiences have happened in my life, I have received a spiritual awakening. And when enough of these spiritual awakenings have happened in my life, I have become more aware that every moment can be a spiritual experience and every day can be a spiritual awakening.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

What Is The Difference Between Religion And Spirituality?

With a lot of what is going on in my life lately, anyone spending time around me would probably hear me mention the word God at least several times during any of my conversations. I know at least more than once, I’ve had people tell me in those conversations that they are not religious. What’s funny is that neither am I.

For some reason, the first thought is of religion when one might hear the utterance of the word God. For the longest time, I probably felt the same way. I grew up in a family that attended a United Methodist church on just about every Sunday. My father was a layman there and my mother a bell choir ringer. My parents donated faithfully to the church every Sunday. They volunteered for many of its events. They even did religious weekend retreats and weekly Bible studies. On the outside to everyone else, we seemed like the perfect family. We weren’t though. In fact, we were far from it. Like many might today, my parents often used the Bible as a weapon for their arguments. “That’s not very Christian like” might have been a phrase used during one of them. The way they acted at home was so very different from the way they presented themselves at church and in the public. While we might have been deemed a good Christian family to others that we knew back then, I had secretly vowed to part ways from it all when I left home. Being religious brought up a lot of negative connotations within me because of what I endured growing up. On top of the paradox that my parents lived behind closed doors versus how they lived in public, I also remember many sermons at church that were about how all human beings are sinners and that we are guilty more than not. I remember that to keep a good religious label meant donating more time and money to building a better church. And that’s just with what I remember as a child on what being religious meant. Today, the Bible is being used as a dagger in so many different ways, one of which is affecting me directly. Homosexuality is still deemed one of the ultimate sins by most major religions and I have been rejected from ever being a part of at least five different churches now in my life because of it.

Through my work in the rooms of 12 Step recovery, I have learned that spirituality is quite different from religion. I once heard of a very simple way to understand the difference. Religion was defined as the study of all its laws and principles that came within its own practice. Spirituality was defined as simply applying them in one’s life. My 12 Step work has led me to expand this definition more by realizing that I don’t need to go to church to hear God’s higher calling for me. And I don’t need to attend a weekly service to learn what is in my greatest highest good.

Being spiritual for me instead means serving God in whatever capacity I can every single day. It means starting my day by asking God to guide me in all my thoughts, words, and actions. It means asking God to keep me free from all addictions and obsessions throughout that day. It means keeping myself open to giving and receiving by praying and meditating daily. And it means giving thanks and gratefulness to God when each of my days come to an end. While I do own a Bible, several of them for that matter, I also own many other religious books and texts and none of them are the basis for living my life today. While each of them may lay forth good principles to living a healthier life, being spiritual in my life has led me to taking my instructions on daily living directly from God.

So am I religious because I use the word God often in my life? Absolutely not. I am spiritual because I live by my spirit within and I do my best every day to listen to what my Higher Guidance may be asking me to do. For me, it doesn’t come from a building that has a cross in it. It doesn’t come from a structure with an alter at the front of it’s hall. It doesn’t come from studying books that were written a very long time ago. It doesn’t come from a constant reminder that I was born a sinner and need to repent often. It doesn’t come from learning laws and principles that someone else is preaching to me. Where it does come from though is from my own daily practices which include praying, meditating, and communing with God alone. In those times, I ask how it is that I can live a more peace-filled and loving life here on Earth and then I wait for the answers to come. They always do. And when they do, I apply them to my daily living and in doing so, I continue to maintain a life of living spiritually.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson