Saying I’m Sorry – Part II

“I’m sorry!”

My previous entry spoke about my learning to not say those words and not taking ownership of all the bad things that happen around me. Well, there’s another side of this coin too where the phrase was overused in my life. For years I suffered at the hands of several addictions. No matter which one I was at the mercy of, there were many, many incidents where I created mishaps, pain, hardships, and wounds in others and felt the words “I’m sorry!” were enough. Sadly, they didn’t hold much weight when I continued to remain an active addict and live in toxic patterns over and over again.

Being at the mercy of any addiction, a person’s only focus is on getting a fix and staying “high”. All too often though, life comes in between them and their seeking of that fix and that’s when the addict will lash out most and create suffering for others. There were so many times that I had plans that I cancelled because it was more important for me to go get my fix. My only response in each of those times was to say “I’m sorry” to the people I was canceling out on. In my past, I stole, cheated, and lied to get my fix and if I was caught, the only thing I knew how to say was those words. They don’t hold much weight though when they’re said all the time.

If a drug addict steals from a friend or family repeatedly to get their drugs, is saying “I’m sorry” really going to hold any weight?

If an alcoholic has a terrible binge and is verbally or physically abusive to someone close to them one night, is saying “I’m sorry” the next morning when they are a little more sober enough?

If a gambler goes out and spends all their wife’s and his money that was set aside for a mortgage payment, is saying “I’m sorry” going to make her feel any better?

If a sex addict goes out and cheats for one night on their partner, is saying “I’m sorry” going to take the sting away from the infidelity?

All of those answers can be said with a resounding “No!”

Making amends to all the people that an addict has harmed isn’t as easy as saying “I’m sorry” and moving on. It begins first with recovery and becoming clean from the addiction. Then it involves prayer and finding a Higher Power who can help the person become less selfish and more selfless in their life. And finally, it leads that person through their new God centered life to making a true amends to the people they have harmed. To make an amends is not just to go to those that were harmed and say “I’m sorry.” It involves a lot more. It means being honest to those people the addict has harmed telling them where they were selfish, self-centered, dishonest, and afraid. Even more importantly, it involves asking those people that were harmed how they felt and what they need to truly heal from what happened.

I always thought that saying “I’m sorry” for all my bad behaviors would be enough. It wasn’t. Until I began living a life that was centered with God, I didn’t know that. Today I do my best to live my life with a Higher Power guiding it. I don’t just say those words anymore for something where I did cause suffering to someone else. I work on changing the behaviors that caused it in the first place, and I do everything I can to offer restitution to those that I’ve harmed. And even better, I’ve found that the more that I seek out God’s will in my life, the less I even have situations arise anymore where I might have once just said the words “I’m sorry!” to deal with it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Saying I’m Sorry – Part I

“I’m Sorry.” Two words I’ve said many, many times throughout my life.

There are two ways I’ve said I’m sorry in my life that weren’t healthy and meaningful for my spiritual growth. This entry talks about the first of them.

The first time I ever mouthed the words I’m sorry can be traced back to when I was just a child, living in the home of my alcoholic-based family. My parents fought all the time. Yelling and screaming were common. Deafening silence was also just as common. Everyone was always on edge and my sister and I did everything we could to stay out of the way of upsetting our parents anymore then they always seemed to be.

For any person active in any addiction, things that go wrong are never their fault. At least that is what they tell themselves. It’s always everyone else’s fault. The fingers are pointed. The blame is directed outward. With my parents, blame came my sister’s and my way quite a bit. After my mother passed away some years ago, my sister and I found letters in her house that we both wrote as kids saying we were sorry for all the yelling and screaming they did. We wrote many words on many pieces of paper to them apologizing for all the fighting they did.

Sadly, there were many things that happened in my childhood home that were never mine or my sister’s fault yet we took the blame. We said “I’m sorry” almost as if it might make them be happier with each other and with us. Life in an alcoholic household always seemed to be like a ticking time bomb to when the next rage filled discussion was going to happen. I can remember feeling like I was walking on a tightrope with everything I did. Alcoholics aren’t happy when themselves and because of that, they aren’t happy with anything around themselves either. So for my sister and I, anything that we did regardless of how much perfection we tried to place into it, always seemed wrong in my parent’s eyes. Thus there were many days that those words “I’m sorry” came out of our mouths.

Unfortunately, living that way for so many years created a pattern for both my sister and I. Throughout our lives since leaving home, we have found ourselves saying those words in many different situations that weren’t our fault. For me, I continued to take the blame for things happening negatively in my places of employment, with friendships, with relationships, and with anything for that matter even though I knew inside it wasn’t my fault.

I have to work very hard today to realize that when things go wrong around me, they aren’t always my fault. In fact, in most cases today with me living in a God-centered life, rarely are they my fault. My last stint of having to face this issue head on, to conquer it and move on came over a year ago when I was hanging around with an active drug addict who I thought I could help save. His marriage was falling apart. His finances were falling apart. His world was crumbling all around him and he was lashing out at me day after day after day. He blamed me for everything going wrong in his life and I began to realize at some point that I was taking ownership of his crazy life saying “I’m sorry” for things that weren’t my fault. Thankfully, I parted ways with that person after coming to understand this lesson.

One of the main things that I’ve had to do since then to ensure my spiritual growth towards God is to remove all the people in my life who are actively suffering from any addiction. Sadly, for those people that still are, they live in the footsteps of people like my mother who refused to look at themselves and take ownership of the chaos they were creating around them. They will always blame everyone else for their problems until they are ready to look in the mirror and point the finger at no one but themselves.

Living as best as I’m capable today in a God-centered, selfless reality has helped me to see that I’m not responsible for all the bad things that might happen around me even when people say it’s my fault. Through my spiritual growth and a deeper connection with God, I am able to see clearly now when someone is projecting their stuff on me as well as when it really is something I need to take ownership of.

Thank God today I don’t find myself saying “I’m sorry” for everything bad that happens. I feel a lot lighter because of it.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Man’s Best Friend

History says that dogs are man’s best friend. They are loyal, affectionate, caring, kind, loving, devoted, playful, and more. Many people have them for pets for those reasons. While I’ve never owned one, I definitely have had my share of being close to some through my sister’s family, through friends, or through roommates. But as much as dogs are willing to offer so many wonderful traits, they have feelings too just like people.

Over the past few years I’ve had a few people close to me that have mistreated their dogs. The worst was with a guy I knew that was an active drug addict and every time he was on the downside of his addiction, he would kick his dog when it was just trying to get attention and affection. Most dogs won’t defend themselves, especially to their masters. Ironically, the way this man treated his dog was the same way he treated everyone else in his life.

On a more subtle level, any house-bound dog is dependent on their owner to be taken care of. Unless there is an exit-way to the yard from inside the house, a dog is unable to go to the bathroom. As for feeding themselves, I don’t know of any dog that is able to do that. Dogs really can’t show themselves affection with the exception of grooming themselves. While they may chase their tails or run around the house at times on their own, most are dependent on their masters to play with them as well.

My reason for writing this entry is due to observations of people I continue to see that are mistreating their pets. There is one person I know that is completely unaware his animal is being mistreated by him. Neglected is probably a better word to describe it. Sometimes, this person works upwards of twelve hour shifts leaving his dog at home for the duration. They have maintained that their dog is able to go for those periods of time holding their bladder and waiting to eat again. While this may be true, is it really fair? I know I couldn’t go 12 hours without urinating. And unless I’m fasting, I’m usually pretty starving after twelve hours of not eating anything. At least with human beings, most are able to go out, socialize, take care of themselves, and be independent. Dogs can’t do that. And this person’s dog will sit and wait all day doing nothing at the house just waiting for their master to come home. What’s even harder on this dog is that this person doesn’t always walk them when they first come home after all those long hours or even after their master first wakes up in the morning. Just recently, this dog had an accident all over the floors and carpets in that person’s house because of that reason. It was blamed on some medication the dog currently was taking. While that may have been the cause, is it really fair to make a dog wait for their master’s own needs?

I compare all of this to someone who is in hospice care or dependent upon a day nurse. People under care such as this rely solely upon this help to go to the bathroom, shower, eat, socialize, and receive attention. Without it would be disastrous. Should it be any different with a dog who is house bound?

Currently I’m not able to have a dog as a pet because I’m renting. I look forward to the day though that I’m able to. With all the work I’ve been doing on my life to become more selfless and God-centered, I know that any dog I owned would be well taken care of before even my own needs. I really can’t imagine spending 12 hours in a house alone staring at the walls every day, holding my bladder, and waiting to eat again. Most dogs offer so much unconditional love. Don’t they deserve the same treatment that their master might offer their own self? If a dog is truly man’s best friend, then why should any dog be neglected or abused?

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson