Why I Don’t Take Things Like Medical Marijuana, Cymbalta, Or Lyrica For My Pain…

One of the most common things I’m often asked by those who feel sympathy for my long battle with chronic pain is why I don’t take things like medical marijuana, Cymbalta, or Lyrica, each of which are geared to help those living with conditions like mine. There’s a simple answer for that. Things like them tend to numb me from connecting in my heart to the world around me and to my Higher Power as well, ultimately leading me to feeling rather disconnected and inauthentic in life.

While living with high levels of chronic pain on a daily basis does indeed tend to royally suck, if there’s one positive thing I can say that comes from choosing to not take anything to curb it, is that I’m able to legitimately speak about my experiences, strengths, and hopes in life from my heart, something that marijuana and anti-depressants have always prevented me from doing. Please don’t take me wrong though because I would never knock someone else for going down the path of needing those things to cope with their painful conditions in life. And I personally can’t say I’ll never do them again because I don’t know what my future holds. I just know for now, I’m choosing to live with the levels of pain I do because I feel more effective in my ability to live in my heart and to remain open to any communication that comes from Source.

To be rather blunt, the simple reality I’ve faced in life is that drugs and medicines have always left me feeling quite numb to life in general. In fact, my last journey with them came back in 2011 where they left me in a state I really didn’t care about anyone or anything. I honestly developed a “I don’t give a flying f$%#” type of attitude under the influence of them. That being said, I do understand and accept there are very valid reasons for taking things like medical marijuana, Cymbalta, Lyrica, and plenty of other medicines as well that are meant to help pain-filled people cope.

For example, medical marijuana is a great resource for those stricken with disease or illness where one’s appetite is seriously waning. And indeed, when an individual is extremely mentally unstable and unable to function, drugs like Cymbalta and Lyrica can be critical for stabilization. In 2011, when I actually did become mentally unstable, I totally needed an anti-depressant to even face the issues I was going through at the time. It’s what happened after I faced those issues that became the problem. Because the tendency for an addict is to stay on a drug or medicine long after the problems are under control, thus leaving them to rely upon it more than a Higher Power, clinging to it for stability, and becoming dependent all over again on something else, which is the very thing that began to happen to me back then. Ultimately, I became so numb in doing so, that I no longer felt my heart, God, and life in general, which eventually led me to a suicide attempt. It’s precisely what led me to the belief that feeling pain is often a necessity in life on a spiritual journey. Yes, I really indeed said that. Because for all the moments in my life where I numbed myself through addiction, or took things to cope with pain, I found very little purpose and reason to keep going in life and stopped caring about myself and the world around me.

So yes, I’m choosing presently to fully experience the pain I’m going through, which has left me on most days feeling levels of pain that are quite difficult to navigate. But, it’s that pain that drives me to get on my knees and pray every day, sometimes in heavy tears, where I ask God for the strength to keep going, where I think of others and their sufferings and pray for them as well, and where I continue to ask for a release from this burden, things I’ve always stopped doing whenever I’ve numbed myself with any type of drugs or medicine that are meant to curb pain.

The bottom line is that choosing to live in this pain has helped me to really understand others going through their own painful sufferings in life and have compassion for them. Take one of my dear friends for example who suffers from Parkinson’s. My heart feels an incredible amount of compassion for the pain he endures from it. But, I know well enough that if I took medical marijuana or things like Cymbalta or Lyrica to cope with my pain, I wouldn’t care about my friend or his condition, because it simply just leaves me not caring about anything at all other than keeping myself numb from my own pain.

Look, I’m not a martyr and also not saying that my path is one many would probably take. I’m only saying that I know I’ve become a far more caring, compassionate, and loving human being in life by choosing to live through my pain, rather than choosing to numb myself from it.

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

“You Need To…” NO, I DON’T!

“You need to…” Those were the words my partner spoke at the beginning of a sentence a few weeks ago one morning when we were in a heavy discussion about my life in general. Before I knew it, I was in a total tailspin reacting to those words, oblivious to the fact that the anger I was dispelling at that point wasn’t about him at all, even though I was directing it at him. Once I became more level-headed though, I realized the anger was actually with my mother, someone I desperately tried to make happy for as long as she lived, by constantly changing parts of my authentic self, or said in simpler words, trying to people-please her. And people-pleasing would become a toxic pattern that carried on well into my adulthood.

The fact is, I don’t “NEED” to do anything to gain the favor of another. I am me and I am working quite diligently to love my authentic self now. But for many decades I didn’t live in my authentic self. So, when anyone said to me “You need to…” and finished that sentence with something I should change about myself, I’d do it. I’d become a chameleon of sorts, changing my stripes to fit in, all because I was so desperate for the approval of others, all stemming back to where it began, wanting my mother to just love me for me. But, my mother struggled to love me for me because she didn’t love herself. She tried to change that inappropriately by constantly looking outside of herself and using many “You need to’s’” in life with myself and my sister. After a childhood of listening to her countless “You need to’s”, I allowed the pattern to continue into each of my friendships and relationships. I stopped being anything close to authentic because of it. The list became endless on how many things I changed about myself, all stemming from someone saying, “You need to”. Heck, my best friend in my senior year once said to me, “Andy, you need to change your name because Andy doesn’t sound cool” so I changed it to please him, by allowing myself to be called by the name he came up with, that being “A.D.” I became ashamed of my name so much so because of it that I didn’t go by my biological name for over 15 years. Today I go by “Andrew”, because it is a part of my authentic self, something I appreciate now more than I ever used to.

I believe everyone in this world has a truly authentic self, with authentic likes and interests, that make them who they are. Changing any of them because of someone saying “You need to…” is not only people-pleasing, it’s codependent. When my partner spoke those words a few weeks ago, what followed after it was him suggesting that I’d have more friends in life by knowing my audience and not sharing as openly about my life or being as deep as I am with others.

But you know what? That’s me. I’m a deep question kind of guy who loves to share openly about my life. But, I stopped being that in my early childhood because I so desperately wanted the love and approval of my mother that I thought I’d get it by obeying all her “You need to’s.” So, I spent my life trying to be everything I wasn’t and that always seem to come at my own expense, sacrificing my authentic self in the process. And you know what happens when you sacrifice your authentic self in the process? You get depressed, you develop anxiety, and you start living in a codependent relationship where your authentic self isn’t appreciated, where your flaws and shortcomings are pointed out more than the love another has of your authentic self. And unfortunately, one will remain in that type of relationship for as long as they continue listening to those “You need to’s.”

I have very few friends in my life today not by choice, but because I refuse to listen to those “You need to’s” anymore, as I don’t want to compromise my authentic self. Sadly though, it seems that living in my authentic self makes many people I meet uncomfortable. Some say I can be intimidating by how personal I am about my own life and how direct I am with others. Could I be less personal? Could I be less deep? Could I be less of who I am now? Sure, but I don’t want to be “less” anymore, because what I really want to be is “more” of me. The true me. The me that I was as a little boy who just wanted to explore life on his own terms. The authentic me.

Today, I don’t need to be what anyone wants me to be. I choose to be what I want to be and will only give that authority over to my Higher Self, to God, to figure out what that is. I don’t believe a person will ever be truly happy so long as they keep listening and obeying statements from others that start with “You need to…” Because in all reality, the only thing any of us ever need to do is to stop listening to those who think they know better for us what we need to do in life when only God and the Spirit within us ultimately knows what that is…

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

I Truly Love My Sister In Every Way But One, Her Codependency…

My sister doesn’t like me writing about her, but she also doesn’t like talking about the one thing I often need to talk about, something that keeps on affecting my life quite painfully, so I’m choosing to talk about it here today, because I need to, because my heart is hurting a lot and I don’t have a voice for it anywhere else.

I absolutely, 100%, love my sister with all my heart, mind, and soul and I know deep within her the same is true as well. Yet, there is one thing I don’t like about her presently and that is a behavior our mother instilled in us long ago that I have done a lot of work to break free from, but she hasn’t yet and that is codependency.

For a long period of my life, my codependency led me into one unhealthy relationship after another with people I allowed to control my life, frequently at my own expense. How many times I allowed that to negatively affect my relationship with my sister and her family is countless. Thankfully, I finally woke up to this about ten years ago and realized how much I had become just like my mother. I have worked hard though to change this by not allowing anyone in my life anymore who is toxic like my mother, who uses fear and control tactics to make others do what they want, and I do my best now not to be that way with others either. Sadly, my sister still allows my long-deceased mother to control her on a regular basis, especially where I am involved, because of how her husband feels about me.

While I’ve done as much as I can to eradicate my addictive past through amends both written and in action, for whatever his reasons, my sister’s husband has been unable to come to a place of full forgiveness and acceptance of me and made it almost downright impossible for me to have any type of healthy relationship with my sister and her kids. While I don’t expect him to ever have to like me, I do at least know in the evangelical Christian world he lives in that I am worthy and deserving of forgiveness and acceptance, but I have never been given that. How that affects me in my relationship with my sister and her codependency with him is this.

I haven’t been allowed to stay at their home for years and presently am not even allowed to be in their house if her husband is home. My days are limited on how long I can come for a visit, which is never more than once a year, and when I’m there, I’m not even allowed to have time with my youngest nephew alone because of her husband’s irrational fears that all gay people are pedophiles. I often find myself on the defensive there, walking on egg shells, trying to be perfect, and when I make a mistake, any mistake, it’s verbally pointed out a number of times to me. Any promises made surrounding my visits seem to get repeatedly broken or changed when there as well. And even on my sister’s once a year visit alone to me, they’re often compromised too with her limiting her days to see me and her regularly receiving texts and phone calls from her husband that negatively affect what little time I get with her during those trips.

Countless friends, therapists, spiritual teachers, and the like have all asked me over the years why I continue to subject myself to this. The truth? I feel guilty about my own past behaviors of addiction that once affected her family greatly, so I carry this guilt, and in doing so, I’ve realized I’m leaving one bit of codependency still active within me by accepting whatever crumbs I get from them, telling myself I deserve to be treated this way because of how long I treated them in the same way. But continuing to live in this way is causing me too much pain now, especially when I see how many of my friends have some pretty awesome relationships with their siblings, talking to them multiple times a week, some even daily, having visits and vacations several times a year with them where they are welcomed with opened arms and love, where there are no special rules, regulations, or conditions surrounding their time together. So, I have to do the one thing that Al-Anon says to do when someone you love is living in a toxic addiction and affecting you negatively and that’s to detach with love. To do that, I end by declaring the following once and for all:

I am a good brother and a loving brother and a good uncle and a loving uncle who deserves to no longer be held to any of his past iniquities. God has forgiven me for them, now I must fully forgive myself for them as well by detaching with love to someone I love dearly who doesn’t clearly see how their addiction is painfully affecting others, just like I once didn’t. Sometimes it’s painful steps like this that need to happen for an addict of any caliper to finally wake up and see the truth. I pray my sister does one day and ultimately releases my mother and all my mother’s toxic behaviors once and for all. Whether that ever translates into a better relationship with my sister isn’t what matters the most for me, as what matters the most is my sister’s happiness, something that I know will never come to fruition so long as she continues to lead a codependent life.

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