Do I Do Good Because I Really Want To Or Because I Really Want Something?

Do I do good because I really want to or because I really want something? This is a question I have asked myself many times over the past few years as I continue to do my best to give back to this world rather than take from it, even in light of all my ongoing pain and suffering.

Up until 2010, before any of my severe pain and suffering began, I was still quite a selfish being, taking more from this planet than giving back, living more for myself, than for others. When the first bout of physical pain hit in late April of 2010 that would begin my long journey of suffering, I resisted changing anything about myself and thought I could just wait it all out. When a year passed, and then another, and the pain and suffering didn’t end, my heart started to open, and as it did, I truly began to see just how selfish of a person I had been for most of my life. I saw how all the good I had done prior was usually because I really wanted something, whether that was to get noticed, to gain some type of glory or recognition, to receive compensation, or to achieve some other type of agenda. It was rare that I did anything where there wasn’t an angle, where I wasn’t seeking something in return.

But pain and suffering have a unique way to shift a person’s energy field completely and as the years went on with it remaining a part of me, I found myself striving to do good more and more, without any expectations or hidden agendas. Volunteering my time to help others became something I simply wanted to do, not because I had to do or because I was hoping to get something out of it.

Yet, I’ve endured a solid nine years now of pain and suffering that still seems like it has no end in sight and as I continue to sponsor others in recovery, to volunteer both at a local jail and a local crisis center, and to carry positions of leadership in the 12 Step groups I belong to, I have pondered what might happen if all my pain and suffering suddenly went away? Would I still want to do good? Or was my underlying motive all along for me to do all the good I’ve been doing for years now been to gain God’s favor, to restore my health, and my sanity?

If you want me to be perfectly honest, then my answer to this is that I don’t know. I don’t know what my life would be like if my pain and suffering suddenly went away. I don’t know if my motivation would still remain the same to give back to this planet rather than take from it. I don’t know because all I’ve known is pain and suffering and a burning desire to help others who are in pain and suffering, so long as I have enough energy to keep doing it. As there are days where my pain and suffering get so great, I am forced to remain home and take care of myself.

Nevertheless, I know I want to feel far closer to God than I do in life these days. I know I want to feel far healthier in life than I do these days too. But, is there some part of me that’s driven to do all the good I do, solely because I want those things, or solely because I’ve been transformed from the once quite selfish and self-centered person I used to be most of the time.

I don’t have those answers, and often ask God to give me a chance to experience my life without this pain and suffering, to show Him I’ll still do the good I do so prevalently now. Sometimes I think God keeps me in this pain and suffering because He has seen me freed of this pain and suffering, returning to the selfish being I used to be. But, seeing God in that way is not a very unconditionally loving God and, on some level, is more looking at God as the controlling and punishing mother I used to live under.

Regardless, I don’t have an answer to this question at this time. While I’d like to believe I spend the majority of my life these days doing good simply because that’s who I am now, I’m plagued with ego-based fears that tell me I’m still that same selfish and self-centered person below all this pain and suffering. I really hope the latter isn’t true and that when God lifts my pain, because I believe He will, that I’ll find myself with this same drive to give back, to do good, every, single, day, without wanting or expecting anything in return…

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

I Feel So Empty…

I feel so empty, like a car running on fumes that’s seriously in need of a fill-up, except in my case, I can’t seem to find the fuel, or the pump for that matter, no matter what I do.

In my 12 Step recovery from addiction world, it’s always said that when one feels empty, it’s best to get out of oneself and help another. So, I’ve tried to fill that emptiness by sponsoring others, by volunteering, and by attending more meetings. Yet, most frustratingly, it hasn’t helped much to fill up that feeling of emptiness whatsoever. Through my recovery, I also learned to pray and meditate each day, do daily affirmations, write gratitude lists, listen to positive music, and eat healthy, but none of that seems to have any effect on removing my emptiness either. In addition, I’ve tried to deal with the emptiness by keeping myself busy with healthy hobbies like going to more movies, working on puzzles, watching uplifting television programs, and coloring in my adult coloring book, but none of them have had much success with removing the emptiness, even for brief periods, either.

And as much as I’m not happy to report this, I’ve even resorted to trying to fill the emptiness with things I know wouldn’t be healthy for me in the long run if I kept them up. Things such as the occasional flirting and fishing to see if someone else finds me attractive, glancing at pictures of people on Facebook I find handsome, or trying to hang out with people I think are good looking. Things such as eating 92% dark chocolate for comfort, pigging out on junk food till I feel bloated, or overeating in general. Things such as buying a scratch ticket or visiting a casino here and there. And things such as trying to oversexualize my own relationship. All of which has done nothing to remove my emptiness and if anything, created even more of it.

And last, but most definitely not the least, I have sadly attempted to forget about my emptiness by attempting to control other people, take their inventory, and make it my business to help them see the work they could do on their life. All any of that’s done is just piss people off.

Honestly, I have no idea how to remove this emptiness and believe me when I say I’ve been sitting with it more than not, without trying to temporarily fill it, for about a year and a half now. I have begged God to fill it. Begged and begged and begged. Because ultimately, I don’t believe there’s any person, place, or thing here that can take it away and I’ve exhausted countless energy, money, and resources to figure that out.

It is said that only God can truly ever fill that emptiness and help us feel full of life and zest and joy, but no matter how hard I’ve tried to connect with God, He seems to be on radio silence with me. I’ve waited and waited and waited and waited, asking for guidance and direction, often feeling like I’m being punished for something when I receive no answers as to why I feel so empty.

I have no answers right now as to how to comfort this little boy within me who keeps crying day after day, who feels like he’s been abandoned. I continue to do my best to remain clean and sober and help others in the process. I continue to keep doing my healthy activities as well, with an occasional backslide here and there. But, all in all, I remain still and wait upon God and have never gone through as long of period as this where I haven’t felt God’s presence and instead, have felt this incredibly deep and dark emptiness. An emptiness that I can’t seem to fill or escape from, no matter what I do.

Lord, my tank feels empty and I’m in desperate immediate need of Your fuel. I have nothing left to give but my life itself, which you know is Yours anyway to do with as You wish. Please help me God. Please remove this emptiness and replace it with joy and a lot more of You, as I know only You can do. Because a life that constantly feels empty, where I don’t feel You, is a life I’m truly struggling to see is still worth living. Yet a life filled with You is most certainly one worth living, one where even something as simple as taking a single breath will provide me all the fuel I need to keep on, keeping on, and one where I know  my car will never run empty again…

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

Missing The Ocean, The Caribbean, And Most Definitely Some Snorkeling…

After recently discussing how I’ve been running out of things to say in my blog, a friend suggested talking about any of my vacations to exotic or interesting places. Ironically, the last time I took any sort of exotic trip was to where I actually met this friend, that being Grand Cayman in February of 2016. Sadly, I haven’t travelled since because of how challenging it’s been with my health.

Nevertheless, there is one thing I truly miss from all those exotic vacations I used to take with such regularity in my life and that’s seeing the brightly lit clear blue ocean that I always experienced when in the Caribbean. By way of cruise or a land-based resort, every year for more than a decade, I’d take a one to two-week vacation somewhere in the Caribbean. And one thing I always made sure to do whenever I was on one of those getaways was to go snorkeling, and usually a few times at that.

I love snorkeling and wish I could somehow beam myself onto a Caribbean island whenever I want, solely to do this activity at least once a week. Gliding across the top of the ocean and exploring what’s underneath was always so peaceful for me. Even with all my pain, the buoyancy of the salt waters and the warmth of them as well would always support and soothe me, all while I found a wonderful way to draw closer to another aspect of God.

Through my many snorkeling adventures, I’ve swam next to huge sea turtles, been within arm’s length of the largest and most colorful lobsters you could ever imagine, held starfish in my hands, stood still as schools of vibrant fish surrounded me, fed and petted stingrays, explored shipwrecks and other treasures left on the seafloor, weaved my way through complex coral reefs, been face to face with barracuda, touched many shiny humongous fish, and plenty more.

In the silence of the depths of the ocean, stress just seems to melt away for me. Quite often I’ll even take a long deep breath and swim down as far as I can where I pretend that I’m part of all the ocean life somehow. I have definitely had some strong spiritual experiences doing so and am very grateful for them.

While I’m told that scuba diving is far better for this type of exploration, I unfortunately can’t equalize the pressure within my ears and suffer too much pain the deeper I dive, so I resort to doing what I can do, which is snorkeling and diving down to about 10 to 15 feet at the most. And honestly, I’m fine with that, as I’ve fully enjoyed all my experiences every single time I’ve done this activity throughout my life and probably would do it on a daily basis if I lived in the Caribbean.

I find the ocean to be extremely healing for me, mind, body, and soul, and know that someday I’d like to be living far closer to one of its shores than I do now. I keep saying I’m going to take a trip again to the Caribbean soon, mostly because I miss those bright blue waters and exploring their depths, but I still haven’t and have gone three years now without doing my most favorite activity in the world. I’m sure a day will come again though where I’ll be snorkeling once more, but for now, I’m at least thankful that I have such vivid memories of doing this activity in plenty of years past.

Regardless, I still like to take a few moments from time to time to close my eyes and visualize myself feeling supported by something so much larger than I. As it’s in each of those moments, where I’m brought back to a place and time that I surely have felt much peace and joy and most definitely the presence of God…

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