Love, Forgiveness, Peace

I don’t like feeling angry or resentful towards anyone anymore. I know I have written about this before but felt I wanted to bring just a little more light to it today.

Until the day comes when I can reach an absolute state of peace in my mind, body, and soul, I believe it’s inevitable that at some point or another a person, place, or thing is going to set me off, triggering anger and resentments. The work that’s cut out for me when that happens is to get it out of my system as quick as possible. Harboring those feelings is like saying I want cancer within me, which of course I don’t. The best comparison I have to what anger and resentments do within me if I don’t work on removing them is like telling a cancer patient their chemo treatment is going to be paused for awhile. What this does to that patient is allow any cancer cells left within them to begin to multiply again making them grow more sick.

With all the work I’ve done in my recovery from addictions, as well as the quest I’m on to grow closer to God, it makes me feel very sick, ugly and uncomfortable now when I harbor those feelings inside me towards anyone or anything. Thankfully, one of my spiritual teachers has helped me to learn a few very important lessons around those times this might happen and has also given me a very simple tool to aid in their removal process.

The most important thing this teacher has taught me around anger and resentments is that they are only mirrors for me on some life lesson I haven’t learned yet within myself. In other words, when I get angry or become resentment, it’s just a mirror for something within myself I’ve yet to face. Understanding that has helped me so much to do the next thing she taught me, which is how to remove those unwanted cancer like feelings when they get within me. “Pray for love, forgiveness, and peace for whomever or whatever you feel angry towards…” this spiritual teacher has told me. I know this may sound trite but it really does work. It may not be immediate, but with consistent effort, I have always gotten positive results.

So when something happens to me today where I start feeling those toxic feelings, I immediately look for the mirror first and ask myself what is it about this situation that I am not facing within myself. I’ve gotten pretty good at identifying areas of my life now that still need work because of this action. Then, I pray for God’s love to come into the situation for all parties or entities involved. This helps to grow compassion within me and aids in the next part where I pray for forgiveness for everyone and everything involved in the resentment, including my own part in it because I always do have a part. Lastly, I pray for peace within myself and for all of the rest of those involved in the resentment so that everyone may move on from the negative experience. As much as this may sound too simple, it really isn’t. The hardest part in all of it is overcoming my own ego, which only tells me in each of my resentments, “I’m right, and they’re wrong!” And the only way I have found to move beyond that false statement, is to smash my ego by realizing it doesn’t matter who’s right and who’s wrong. What matters is to let it all go and for everyone and everything involved, to move on in life free from all those toxic feelings.

The last place I want to be in today is where I’m a miserable, angry, and resentment person. It’s a terrible state to be in that is no different than getting cancer. The one and only solution that has worked for me to move beyond those times I feel that way is to pray for love, forgiveness, and peace. It may be initially difficult to do as my soul battles my ego for control, but in the long run when my soul wins, so does God, so does my recovery, and so does everyone else.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Ups And Downs Of Being A Neat Freak…

Ok, I admit it, I’m a neat freak. But sometimes that’s not always a good trait, especially when it comes to someone who is the exact opposite of that. I recently spent a few days away at a friend’s townhouse on Cape Cod where being neat ended up becoming a thorn in that friend’s side, but more on that in a moment.

I wasn’t always such a neat and organized person. As a kid it definitely wasn’t the case as my room was often messy in the home I grew up in. Throughout college, especially in my fraternity days, I also could have cared less about keeping things clean in the places I lived, mostly because I was more worried about getting drunk or high. Somewhere alone the lines though, I began to notice a sense of anxiety arise within me when piles and piles of stuff started to accumulate around me in the places I found myself living in.

I have often wondered if my being a neat freak may have started as a substitute addiction in itself when I first got sober. For the longest time since that day, I had no real relationship with God and avoided doing any real recovery work. Because of this, my life often got out of control and this may have been the main reason why I started keeping any of my dwellings so neat and organized solely for it being the only control I felt I had in life. Regardless, most would say that it is a good trait to have and I would probably tend to agree, except in those cases where it deals with someone who is the polar opposite. What I mean by that can simply be summarized by stating that where I get anxiety when things are cluttered, there are those too who get the same feeling but only when things are completely clean and in order around them. There is a television show that has become quite popular out there called Hoarders which has shed some light on people who are like this.

In a nutshell, hoarding is a condition where people have an extreme difficulty throwing things away and keeping their places spic and span. While Hoarders may demonstrate only the extreme cases of that condition, there are many more minor situations of it, such as with that friend I mentioned earlier. While I may not fully understand what causes people like them to hoard things, I have come to believe that it is as much of an addiction as alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling were for me. In doing those addictions, I remained numb for many years from the mental and emotional baggages, traumas, and insecurities within me. It is my belief that this same principle holds true with hoarders. Keeping things in a disorganized state can help a person focus on all the messes around them instead of looking within at their “inner clutter”.

In my journey to get rid of all my inner state of turmoil, I have found the only answer is to turn over my ENTIRE will to the care of God each and every day. This solution truly has helped me to move away from all of my addiction seeking behaviors. The more uncluttered my life has become inside, the more it has become the same outside as well. So while being such a neat freak may have started out early on as an addiction, lately it has become more of just a way of being although I still am uncomfortable when things get cluttered around me. Unfortunately, that way of being can sometimes still cause problems such as it did on that recent trip to a friend’s place on Cape Cod.

When I arrived there, things were unlike how they were the last time I had visited when it was mostly spotless and uncluttered. Immediately I felt uncomfortable upon walking in and my first reaction was that I needed to clean. When I offered my services to do that, I was promptly turned down. Upon going upstairs to the room I was staying in, I noticed there was disorganization in it as well. Without thinking, I cleaned the room up and put things away in the closet so that at least the room I would be sleeping in had some order. What I didn’t realize with that action nor with a few of the others that I did around the house, that my friend was getting more and more uncomfortable. So while I tried to get my world more in control and less anxious, my friend’s world got less in control and more anxious. The end result was my friend asking me to head home early as they weren’t feeling very relaxed on their vacation with me around. At first I was taken aback by this request, but I realized that the two of us were operating on different poles and it would most likely be healthier if I left, so I did.

I know there’s more work for me to do surrounding this as I should be able to co-exist temporarily in someone else’s space that might be slightly disorganized and clutter filled. Thankfully through my prayers and meditations with God, I can see more growth for me to pursue and at least now I have a better understanding of my friend’s condition and how my actions affected them. I think until I can work through more of this, my best course of action may be to stay at a motel instead next time!

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Huge Explosion Of Gratitude

If there’s one thing that I have learned to do quite well lately, it’s to look for gratitude as much as I can. Enduring high levels of physical pain can often sap a person’s will to keep moving forward, both literally and figuratively, and it also can blur one’s ability to have any gratitude for life itself. This year, I mustered up enough strength to join several friends in a venture down to the city of Boston with the sole purpose of watching the festivities in the sky on the 4th of July. It was there where I would find a wealth of gratitude develop within me.

It has been a very long time since I had tried to do something like that given the physical limitations that have plagued me in recent years. The last time came many years ago in a life that was once lived in the Washington D.C. area, where I would frequent the fireworks celebration on the 4th of July every single summer for almost ten years. In most of those times, where the heat index ran over 100 degrees, you would find me early in the morning setting up “camp” near the base of the Lincoln Memorial steps perched high atop one of the pillars that people were allowed to sit on. There I had a clear view looking straight across the Reflecting Pool upon the Washington Monument throughout the day. At night, as the sun set and the stars emerged, the fireworks would eventually light up the sky in front of that monument and over that reflecting pool dazzling me with their many colors and loud detonations. Even after sweating bullets for over 10 hours on most of those days, that fireworks display had to be the best show I would experience throughout the whole year for those 20 to 30 minutes it lasted. Many of my closest friends and loved ones, including my father and mother were all part of that experience with me at one time or another. Upon leaving the Washington, D.C. area in 2003, I ended that tradition.

I could cite many reasons why it took me another decade to head back into a major city to watch their 4th of July celebration. During the first few years I bypassed this kind of experience, I might say that it was due to the fact that I didn’t want to relieve the memories of those who had gone with me and were no longer a part of my life either because they have passed on or moved on. As more years drifted by and I became single, I would probably say my addiction based life got the best of me and robbed me of any desire to go enjoy that type of experience. But in the most recent years, the truest answer I can give as to why I continued to avoid a major city’s firework’s celebration on the 4th was that I just didn’t have enough strength on a mental, emotional, and most definitely physical level.

Thankfully, this year, 2013, I prayed to God by asking for the strength and then headed into Boston on the 4th of July with two close friends, after that decade long strike. On a day that was reminiscent of many of those heat stroke filled days I once endured in D.C., I set up “camp” alongside the river in Cambridge directly across from where the barges held the fireworks to be set off. Throughout the day I played board games with my friends, took many pictures, ate good food, had wonderful conversations, and laughed uncontrollably more times than not. When 9:30pm came, the main event would finally begin. The music blared forth and loud booms rocked the sky as many colors would once again dazzle me like so many long years ago. But the best moment I had came a short bit later as I heard KD Lang’s rendition of Hallelujah play just as the sky lit up with a huge technicolor display along with those pounding ka-booms. With tears in my eyes and goose pimples everywhere, I thanked God that I still had two eyes and two ears that worked as well as they did to enjoy something so amazingly beautiful that I had abandoned so long ago.

Through prayer and facing my fears over the current state of my mind and body, I found gratitude for that entire 25 minute show. I became grateful as well for braving all those crowds and all those times I had to be on my feet for what my eyes got to see and my ears got to hear. And I’m most definitely found gratitude for all the new memories I now have with two of my dearest friends. While the 2013 Fourth of July Fireworks celebration in Boston has now passed, I know I will always remember it with a huge explosion of gratitude.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson