Facing Some Fears With Traveling And Trusting God Will Help Me Through Them…

I haven’t travelled anywhere overnight since I went on vacation to the Cayman Islands in the beginning of 2016, because frankly, it became too difficult for me due to my physical pain levels and the anxiety I had surrounding it. It wasn’t fun anymore to go on any trips so I made a vow at the end of that last vacation that I wouldn’t go away anywhere until I felt a lot better.

But that all changed a few months ago when my Spirit told me during a prayer and meditation session that I needed to go see my nephew Luke for his 5th birthday at the end of August. Seeing that I always do my best to follow any Higher Guidance I receive, I opted to heed this call and am actually flying out today to the Nashville, Tennessee area to go be with my family and celebrate with my nephew. While I’m excited to see him, as he really doesn’t know me given the last time he saw me was when he was under 2 years old, I’m also having to face a few fears going on this trip.

The first deals with the whole airport and flying thing, as standing for long periods in those security checkpoints and walking for long distances around the airport is never fun on my body at all. The last time I travelled, I had to get a wheelchair to deal with the pain, which was very humbling. But even more humbling was when the airline-agent questioned me about what my disability actually was when I asked for early boarding, because they didn’t see any real signs of one at first glance.

The second is due to the fact that my partner isn’t going with me on this trip, as he can’t get out of work. Although I used to go on many trips by myself in the past and totally enjoyed them, being by myself now without any in person support by someone who understands the pain I go through is difficult, especially because odd things often arise with my health that usually require the help of my partner to deal with them.

The third relates to the last time I visited my sister’s family, which was about three years ago now, as it didn’t go over so well, because back then was precisely when all this physical pain and mental anguish really began to get to me. That in turn led me to isolate more than not while there, spending most of my time on the phone getting support from my recovery circles instead of being present with them, and they just weren’t able to understand that.

And lastly, speaking of recovery, the final fear I have surrounding this trip relates to the past addictions I’m now sober from. As sad as it is to admit this, much of the reason why I used to love traveling so much alone is because I used to act out in addictive behaviors on most of those trips. So, I’m sure that my ego will try to convince me once again to do that, especially if I’m dealing with any type of high pain levels.

So that’s all the fears I’m facing at the present moment with this trip, but thankfully I have something much bigger than I to help me during it and that’s God! Because I believe it’s God who actually led me to go on this trip in the first place and in light of that, I know He’ll be present to help me overcome any of these fears if they should arise.

Nevertheless, I would like to also ask each of you to please pray for me to receive strength, peace, and joy during this trip, as I walk through each of my fears of traveling to be with my nephew Luke for his 5th birthday. And know as well, that as I place a few “Thought For The Day” entries about trusting in God these next few days in my blog, that it’s mostly to give me some encouragement, just in case I might need a little of that while I’m away! 🙂

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

My Sensitivity To Negativity And The Path To Positivity

I’m really sensitive to negativity these days and I truly struggle being around any person who’s overly negative in their life. I’m also quite sensitive to the abundance of negative energy going on in our country right now as well.

I know all of this sensitivity is related to the pain I go through on a daily basis, as I’ve come to accept that what I’m dealing with inside me is out of my control, yet when I see others expound a bunch of negativity who have much better health and life circumstances than I, it makes me seriously cringe for two reasons. The first is related to gratitude and the second is related to my health itself.

With the first, most people who regularly expel tons of negative energy don’t practice daily gratitude in their lives. Instead of seeing all the good they have to be thankful for, they choose to constantly comment on every single little thing they find wrong in the world. What makes me become so sensitive to this directly relates to the greater limitations my life brings as compared to theirs. Like when someone complains about how long the lines were at an amusement park they attended recently. What they don’t see is the gift of being able to walk around that park and ride those rides, when others like me are unable to do so. That’s why I work really hard to practice gratitude now because there are even those out there who would love to live a day in my shoes and perceive that which I have is far greater than them.

As for the second reason, the one that relates to my health, my physical pain always seems to increase exponentially every time I get around someone who’s spewing negativity out of their mouth. Like when my partner is driving down the road and starts complaining about one “bad” driver to the next, I find myself shifting uncomfortably in my seat as my physical pain drives upwards. And trust me, I’ve tried everything from taking control to letting go and praying, hoping each might prevent this unwanted and unneeded pain increase, all to no avail.

So yes, I’ve become very sensitive to negativity these days, which is precisely why I spend so much time alone now, as there at least I don’t have to be around it. And in turn, I choose to be positive as best as I can when I get around others, even in light of my current circumstances, looking for gratitude in the things I still have like my eyesight and hearing, or the food, water, and shelter I’ve been given, or my sobriety from addictions, because there are plenty of others in this world who are lacking in any one of them.

While I wasn’t always this way and was once the very type of person I would currently be so sensitive around, I’ve learned the only thing that stands in the way of remaining more positive than negative, no matter what my circumstances, is my ego. As it’s the ego that says the world must become more positive for me to become more positive, but the real truth is that I must become more positive the more I want to see the world become that way…

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

Breaking Free From The Elephant Rope

As a man was passing the elephants, he suddenly stopped, confused by the fact that these huge creatures were being held by only a small rope tied to their front leg. No chains, no cages. It was obvious that the elephants could, at any time, break away from their bonds, but for some reason, they did not. He saw a trainer nearby and asked why these animals just stood there and made no attempt to get away. “Well,” trainer said, “when they are very young and much smaller we use the same size rope to tie them and, at that age, it’s enough to hold them. As they grow up, they are conditioned to believe they cannot break away. They believe the rope can still hold them, so they never try to break free.” The man was amazed. These animals could at any time break free from their bonds but because they believed they couldn’t, they were stuck right where they were.

I often wonder how many of us are like this in the world? How many of us tend to go through life hanging onto to a belief that we can’t do something, simply because of the conditions we were brought up with?

In my case, my parents were alcoholics who never found healing from their addiction. When I became an alcoholic at the age of 17, I thought I’d never find healing from the addiction either. But through the grace of God and 12 Step recovery, I was able to break the rope tied around my leg that always said I’d never achieve sobriety and thankfully, 22 years later, I’m still free from that rope.

That’s only one of many ropes that have been tied around my leg in this life which kept me a prisoner of sorts. Through God’s grace though, I continue to break free from them one by one, trudging forward on my spiritual journey, becoming ever lighter from the bondage I was born into and raised with.

Currently, the biggest rope I seem to be dealing with is the one that surrounds a belief that all this physical and mental pain I’m going through will never going away and that the only solutions I have in life are either to take drugs to numb it or hope for an imminent death. I’m choosing to believe otherwise and have been working with God to break this rope that has felt stronger than all the others I’ve ever faced. Truly, it’s one that was placed upon me long ago that said the only answer in life when sick is to have someone or something else fix me. I know that’s an illusion and that the Spirit within me will eventually guide me into a much better state of health. And when it does, I’ll be free from a rope that has dug into my leg for far too long.

Nevertheless, I don’t believe there’s any rope that’s tied around my leg that can’t be broken, as it just takes some work, a little faith and courage, and a bit of God’s grace to make it happen. I think I’m living proof of that and you can be too…

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

The Path To Freeing Myself From Two Demons – Hypochondria and Obsessive Compulsiveness

Hypochondria and obsessive compulsiveness are definitely the two biggest demons in my life right now that I’m fighting to overcome and I’m not using this word “demons” lightly either, because these two conditions torment me badly every, single, day.

Both are ailments that have afflicted many of my family, yet I am choosing to work through them and find healing, rather than suppress them with drugs and medications like most of them did. But it’s not easy.

For the hypochondria in me, every single sensation, every single bump, every single blemish, every single pain, every single everything that I see or feel with my mind and body is multiplied by a thousand times in seriousness in my brain. In other words, I struggle with having any real sense of rationality over anything dealing with my health.

As for the obsessive compulsiveness in me, once any hypochondria fear kicks in with something dealing with my health, I become immediately preoccupied with it and can’t turn my mind off from thinking about it. Eventually, I always seem to cave in to some type of compulsive action that arises out of my brain’s attempt to deal with it in the hopes it will eliminate the fear and the perceived problem.

It’s probably best for me at this point to provide a real-life example of what both of these demons do to me when they become overly active.

Take two weeks ago when I woke up one morning and noticed an oddly-shaped, red welt on my left side just above my hip that had a black mark directly in the center of it. To the hypochondria part of my brain, it all appeared to be the size of Mount Vesuvius and was most likely the result of some type of spider, maybe a brown recluse, that had bitten me during my sleep. Or quite possibly it was actually a bug that had burrowed its way into my skin and was now living there at that very moment, feeding off of me. Thoughts of necrosis and chunks of skin having to be taken out of my body slowly began to consume me. And that’s when the fear and the obsessive-compulsive part of me really took over. I started looking in the mirror, staring at it for one minute, two minutes, three minutes, and more, until I totally lost track of time. I then proceeded to dig at it with my nails, and then a needle, until I bled, as my brain screamed at me that I had to remove whatever it was that was in there. Sadly, I created an even bigger problem for myself that ended with me using tea tree oil to cleanse the entire area, which had now become three times the size of what it originally was. I spent the rest of the day after that worrying about it, looking at it in the mirror countless times, hoping it would just disappear. When my partner finally came home later that day and took a look at it for me, what he saw was so much simpler to him and far more rational. As what he saw resembled either a mosquito bite or a horsefly bite that I had mucked around with way too much. I’m happy to report that I listened to his advice from that point forward, which was to leave it alone, and thankfully, at this point, it’s mostly gone.

That’s why I feel so powerless over these demons a lot lately and have had to rely more on people like my partner to be the rational part of my brain for now. Because in my brain, I perceive everything with my health as a serious crisis that warrants either a trip to the doctors or a drastic attempt to fix it myself and neither of those situations ever fare well in the long run.

It wasn’t all that long ago before beginning my work on healing from these two demons that I actually spent a good year running from doctor to doctor, holistic practitioner to holistic practitioner, having test after test run, procedure after procedure conducted, spending countless hours, multiple days a week, and tons of money, until I landed in the psych ward, heavily medicated on anti-depressants and anti-anxiety drugs that only made me feel like a zombie and didn’t help one bit, leaving me an even bigger mess than before.

So why I’m writing about this subject today is not only to help all those out there who are facing something similar in their brains to know they’re not alone, but also to help educate those who might have someone in their life who’s dealing with these two conditions at the same time. The answer isn’t to tell them to get over it, to ridicule them, to tell them they’re crazy, to provide a healing path, or to diminish what they feel. Instead, I find it’s best to support them by letting them know they are loved, by attempting to ease some of their irrational fears if possible, and by supporting whatever path they’re on to find healing.

In my case, I’ve chosen an extremely difficult path to heal from both of these demons, and that’s to face them head on, and walk through each perceived health crisis without drugs and medications, or anything else that might be my brain’s attempt to curb or numb the irrational fears and drives that continue to arise from within. Because for me, I want to be completely free from these conditions once and for all. And I know with God’s grace, with my dedication to this process, and continuing to trust and believe that everything happening to me is part of the healing process to get me there, that I will eventually be freed from two demons that have plagued my family for generations.

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

The Growing Negativity Of Social Media

Why is there so much negativity on social media?

That’s something I’ve really been wrestling with a lot lately. And I do mean a lot.

Often, I feel like I’m on the fence with removing all social media and just maintaining my blog and personal website and nothing more because of all the negativity. But, I stay connected to Facebook, Google Plus, and Twitter still for one reason and one reason only, and that’s to repost my blogs, hoping that it helps to reach more readers who may get something out of my spiritual journey. Yet, as I say that, I experienced something recently that made me wonder if it’s worth it to remain on social media anymore.

I had asked a question to ponder that was simply a follow up to an article I had posted the previous day about a former gambling addiction I had and how I got a great reminder of why I don’t gamble anymore. The question was brief, asking readers what was the most amount of money they had ever lost gambling on something. The first response I got was from someone who asked why I was even asking such a question and then told me I had too much free time on my hands and should go get a job. The second response I got was from another who thought the question was a little too negative and suggested other questions that might be a little better to ask.

When I responded to both, I was honest and had love in my heart by saying that my questions to ponder are never written in negative energy and are only meant to engage people to consider in their own lives the things they might have learned along the way from poor decisions in their past. I also said that maybe if my question didn’t interest a reader in the future that maybe they could just refrain from responding and only comment positively when it did. Because in all honesty, I really need uplifting feedback in my life right now with the level of pain I keep going through and am not looking for constructive criticism, as that only seems to add to my level of pain.

Nevertheless, the very problem with social media is this notion of leaving constructive criticism, which in my understanding is nothing more than one’s opinion and judgment that’s often weighted in negative tones. And a long time ago, when Facebook first came around, I was one of those who constantly left constructive criticism to people’s postings, which only led to plenty of stress and arguing in the digital realm, and of course, a lot more negative energy.

That’s why my rule of thumb with social media these days is to only hit the “Like” button when I relate, connect, or identify with what’s being said. The same goes for commenting. I’ll only leave one when I want to show my positive support, but if I disagree or have an opinion that’s not in alignment with it, I don’t say anything and either keep it to myself or channel that energy into a blog article like this one, where I’ll look for the positive lesson in it all.

And while I agree that social media is a great tool to get information out there for many others to see and something that’s pretty good in connecting people together from the far corners of the planet, it’s also rapidly becoming, if not already become, a dumping ground for all the world’s problems and negativity.

It seems like every time a famous person has a slip of the tongue and says something that’s in poor taste, it immediately gets sensationalized with such negativity in social media that one negative comment is followed after another through countless postings. It’s so frustrating and precisely the reason why I don’t follow anyone on Facebook anymore, nor have a news feed to read.

I just don’t understand why we can’t all just be a little more positive on social media? Why can’t we leave postings that are more slanted to the positive realm and refrain from commenting when we don’t agree with something?

I believe the answer can be summed up in one word, ego.

It’s the ego that feels the need for constructive criticism. It’s the ego that feels the need to argue a point. And it’s the ego that often lives in a negative realm.

Frankly, I’m doing everything I can these days to let my ego die, as it’s my ego that lavished in all that negativity and constructive criticism and arguing points for years, but to what end? To be in a body now that’s riddled with pain, hurting every day, wondering when life will ever feel better again. Trust me, living in all that ego wasn’t healthy for me on any level, as it drove me totally away from God, which is why I choose nowadays to only use social media with positive intentions.

Nonetheless, I still treasure all of my readers on Facebook, even the ones who don’t agree with what I write about. I only pray they understand that I’m looking to create a world of positivity through my writings, including in the comments I receive, as the negative ones only discourage me from doing the very thing that had one intention when I began it. To add more Light into a Universe that’s constantly having to battle against the growing negativity of things, like the growing negativity of social media…

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

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Why does God allow suffering? That’s a question so many would like to know the answer to, especially those who have gone through a lot of it in their life. I honestly wish I had the true answer to this question, given that I’ve been suffering myself with chronic pain issues for some time now.

How I’m currently handling this question is not something that seems to work for others, as I ultimately believe that I made a contract with myself before I ever came into this life. One where I was meant to go through this very suffering I’m going through now, solely to help raise my spiritual vibration.

Look, I know that might sound preposterous, but really, if you knew me just over six years ago and any year before that dating back into my late teens, then you would see how much of a transformation I’ve gone through already that wasn’t happening before I began dealing with this pain. As prior to this, I lived in a constant state of addiction with someone or something. I also was always manipulating, lying, controlling, scheming, and lacking in compassion, generosity, and sensitivity for anyone going through tough times.

Except that’s all different now, and all that has come through this suffering. But do I enjoy suffering? Hell no, with a strong emphasis on the word Hell, because it often feels like I’m living in Hell these days. Yet, somehow, I care a lot more about people now. I consider other’s needs, wants, and desires ahead of my own more than not. I let life going on around me happen so much more than how I used to try to control every second of it. I tell the truth all the time, even when it hurts. And I don’t have constant hidden agendas anymore either.

This suffering really has changed me. Greatly.

It’s opened a heart within me that was closed for years and helped me to become more respectful not just of people, but also of nature and all the animals and creatures that live amongst us. In fact, I often try to rescue many of them that come into my house now, by escorting them outside in a glass, rather than stomping on them, like I used to do in the past. And as hard as it is for me to admit this, suffering has transformed me from being a guy who once threw a duck’s nest and all its eggs back at the duck in anger, only because it was on my property, to someone whose heart now grieves at the thought of ever doing something like that again.

Yes, I was that type of guy before this suffering.

And prior to this round of suffering, I went through plenty of other sufferings too, like when my father committed suicide, or when my mother drunkenly fell down the stairs to her death, or when I was molested at 12 by a man thirty plus years my age, or when I was bullied throughout most of my grammar school years, or when I lost my business, my home, and an incredible amount of money along with it, and so on and so forth.

So yes, I’ve had my share of suffering in this life and have often asked why an unconditionally loving God would allow me to go through so much of it. Because honestly, in the midst of all these sufferings, life has generally sucked. But through each of them, I always seem to draw much closer to God, which in turn has led me to much greater spiritual growth.

So, why do I think God allows suffering? Well, while one of my friends has said it’s because God is a sadist and gets off on seeing people suffer, I choose to believe that God knows the person I’m going to become on the other side of my suffering is a much better version of myself. And maybe, just maybe, it’s also because I actually planned it for myself prior to ever coming into this life, knowing it was precisely what I needed to go through, to become the brighter, higher vibrational soul I absolutely wish to become.

And consider this as well. If God prevented all of our suffering, would we ever become grateful for what we have, given that our ego would never go through any pain? And for that matter, would we even have any desire at that point to seek something Greater than ourselves to guide our lives, because wouldn’t our ego’s be just fine in guiding ourselves?

I think those are definitely some better questions to consider, rather than why does God allow suffering. Because suffering is something that really has made me become a person I like, and one that others like too, which is a far cry from who I used to be before all this suffering began, as then hardly anyone really liked me the more they got to know me, including even myself…

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

Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow For Me…

Parting is such sweet sorrow for me every time someone I’m close to heads home after a visit. The fact is, I don’t do well with goodbyes at all and haven’t for quite some time.

I’m sure it has a lot to do with some abandonment issues that stem from my parent’s early deaths. I’m also convinced it’s tied to the reality that I have very few people in my life I consider myself extremely close to. And, it most likely can be attributed as well to the emptiness and loneliness I continue to face in life due to the limitations I have from my ongoing health issues.

I clearly remember when this feeling first began, as it was right after my father had committed suicide and my mother had come for a visit. I can still see her passing through the inspection area at the airport on her way home, turning around and waving, wondering if this might be the last time I ever see her again, tears falling from my eyes in the process. When she died tragically a number of years later, still relatively young, that feeling only intensified each time someone parted ways with me after spending an extended amount of time together.

Once both of my parents were gone, I stopped allowing people to get close to me. Truth be told, I pretty much kept everyone at arm’s length at that point other than three people: my best friend Cedric, my sister Laura, and the person I was in a committed relationship with. Over the years though, I’ve worked through much of those abandonment issues and started opening up a little more. For a while, things definitely changed for the better and I noticed I wasn’t as sad when people close to me left after a visit. Unfortunately, when the chronic pain issues of my life kicked in, I started to withdraw again and have been ever since.

My pain has caused me to isolate, not so much by choice, but by the reality of my current state of life where it’s hard to be doing much of anything, especially with people who aren’t hurting and don’t understand what I’m going through.

That’s why it was so difficult for me yesterday when my best friend left in the early afternoon, after his week-long vacation to my home here in Toledo, as he understands what I’m going through more than most. My tears began to fall during our last hug and didn’t stop falling for a good hour after he had actually driven away.

Yet, as I sit here and type these words, still feeling sad, I don’t think it’s all about my best friend’s departure. Rather, I’m beginning to believe it’s more about where I’m at in my life presently and how far away it feels like God is to me right now. And that has nothing to do with any of my own actions, as I do a ton of spiritual work every day hoping it may help me draw closer to God, except my pain often seems to block that from happening.

But somehow, when Cedric or Laura come for a visit, some of those blockages feel like they fall away, and it’s then I experience a little bit of God’s light back within me. This is probably why their parting becomes so sorrowful for me once their gone because not only am I missing them, I’m also missing that little bit of God I felt for the brief moments I did.

Nevertheless, that emptiness that’s generally created with their departure is something I used to immediately fill with addictions in my past. I usually did whatever I could to numb myself from this sadness and loneliness, almost immediately after they left. But this time, I’m choosing to do things differently. I’m choosing to just sit with it uncomfortably, and ask for God to fill that void instead with Him. Because ultimately, I know that when I’m filled with God’s presence, I tend to feel joy, even when those close to me in heart are now far away.

So, although parting really is such sweet sorrow for me at the present time, especially with my best friend now back at home some 700 miles away, I remain grateful for the joyful memories we created this past week. But even more importantly, I’m also grateful for the fact that I’m looking to God now to help me through this emptiness, and not some other person, place, or thing, as looking outside of myself to fill this void will only ever lead to the very thing I’m looking for God’s presence to take away…

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

“We’re Only As Sick As Our Secrets”

What would life be like if none of us held onto any secrets? For me, it wouldn’t make a single bit of difference, because I don’t have any anymore. But for others who do, I’m sure it might create total chaos in their life for a while. Yet what many who harbor secrets don’t understand is how they are still creating a world of chaos within themselves by holding onto them.

“We’re only as sick as our secrets”, that’s what I heard when I first began my recovery work from alcohol and drug addiction. I didn’t quite get that statement initially and especially didn’t grasp that concept in all the prior years before coming to recovery either.

In fact, I lived for a very long time holding on to one secret after another until the anxiety and depression of keeping all that muck suppressed within finally caught up with me. Hiding all my of addictive behaviors caused me to live in a constant state of fear, guilt, and doubt. I had to always watch what I said and was concerned that somehow my partner or anyone for that matter would discover a few things about me that I knew wouldn’t put me in a good light.

It has brought me great freedom though to be fully honest these days, notably so in my writing here in this blog. I divulge the full truth of my life in the words I type and even do the same when I speak as well. The freedom from not having any secrets to worry about ever seeing the light of day is pretty amazing.

In stark contrast to that freedom was all that fear I used to have when I was regularly engaging in highly sexualized connections with others while in all the prior committed relationships to the one I’m in now. I always worried that I might slip up and say something to the people I was dating that might reveal the secret of my toxic behaviors. Or I also worried that I might run into one of the people I was doing those behaviors with and have to somehow find a way to keep the secret covered up.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg of the many secrets I used to carry around and the more I did, the more I had to lie to cover them up. And the more I lied to cover them up, the more I became spiritually sick. And the more I became spiritually sick, the more I became mentally and emotionally sick as well. And the more I became mentally and emotionally sick, the more I experienced anxiety and depression. And the more I experienced anxiety and depression, the more my body fell into disrepair, eventually becoming physical sick too. Thankfully all that physical sickness led me to finally see the truth about harboring secrets, which is why I’m so blatantly revealing about my life now, as I don’t want to cause myself any more health issues.

So, that’s why I’m not concerned if somehow the world suddenly had a switch flipped where none of us were able to hold onto any secrets anymore because I no longer have anything to hide. And ultimately, I think that’s precisely what our Higher Power wants for each of us, to get fully honest in every area of our lives and see that we truly are only as sick as our secrets…

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

Trying to Remain Patient While In Pain…

Patience has not necessarily ever been my strong suit in life, but, it is something I’ve cultivated a lot more of over the past five years or so through my spiritual recovery work. Unfortunately, it’s still been an extremely difficult thing to have on those days when my pain levels are really high.

Just last week for example, I woke up and felt like I had been brought through the wringer during the previous night’s sleep. As I attempted to start my day in agony, I found myself feeling on edge with everything, and I do mean everything.

It started immediately when my partner returned home around the lunch hour after running a few errands. I had asked him to buy me some top soil for the yard, yet I discovered he had bought garden soil instead. But rather than being grateful for the attempt, I reacted negatively with strong criticism. Shortly thereafter, he presented me with a surprise, a bag filled with an ornament for our garden and a few other miscellaneous things, none of which I needed. So instead of thanking him for the gesture, I snapped at him over his expenditure of money I felt he didn’t need to spend. And snapped is probably an understatement, because in all reality, I used the “f” word a number of times, as well as a bunch of other swear words too. To put it bluntly, I was a complete jerk and seriously ungrateful, all of which was directly attributed to the level of pain I was experiencing at the time.

The rest of my day after that followed suit. I became impatient with people in lines at the places I was at, with the cars on the roads I drove on, with the friends I hung out with, and with just about everything else too, which is not the norm for me on days when my pain isn’t so great. In fact, most have said I seem to be a pretty patient person in areas they often struggle with. But being in pain is like being on a short fuse. In other words, it’s like being a ticking time bomb, ready to explode at any moment.

I’m not proud of this and honestly, it’s definitely my biggest flaw and frustration right now in life. What makes it even harder to deal with is those days when my pain returns to calmer levels, as it’s then I tend to look back and see all the mistakes I made in my impatience over my pain, and usually feel a lot of despair over it.

Being patient is truly difficult on every level for any person who deals with chronic pain that’s for sure, and it’s something that also feels downright impossible to practice on those days when the pain reaches exorbitant levels. The main solution I’ve found to deal with this when it happens is to isolate, because at least then I don’t end up taking it out on a bunch of other innocent people. Sadly though, because I live with my partner, I can’t totally escape everyone. The result of which is me occasionally reacting in impatience to silly things like receiving garden soil instead of top soil.

Look, I know I’m not expected to have the patience of a saint and it probably seems like I’m beating myself up in my words here. And maybe I am. That’s why I generally find myself doing a lot of praying these days, especially when my pain is high, saying short prayers like “Jesus, please help me be patient with others.” I also utilize the amends process every time my impatience still gets the best of me, because the last thing I want to do is make someone else feel as bad as I do inside.

Regardless, I continue to do my best to remain patient on all days, especially those when my pain is so great. And one day soon, when my pain is finally gone, I believe all of this work I’m doing now to remain patient will pay off. Because it’s then I’ll have a level of patience in life that’s far greater than how I’d be with a life that had never experienced any pain at all…

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

Would I Find True Peace At A Monastery In The Mountains Of Nepal?

Sometimes I really just want to leave the mainstream world behind me and head to somewhere like the mountains of Nepal where I might find a monastery to experience some true peace. The fact is, I haven’t been feeling a lot of peace at all lately and that truly bothers me, as I have experienced before what true peace ultimately feels like.

The last time I felt it was after embarking upon a 10-day silent retreat in the mountains of North Carolina back in 2005. But eventually all of that peace departed when I fell deep into some addictions many months later. It’s now been a good ten years since and I have often felt just about everything but peace.

While my life isn’t filled with addiction anymore, it has been filled with plenty of other difficult things like deaths, physical pain, financial hardship, mental imbalance, loneliness, and a number of other struggles as well, all of which have made it extremely difficult to feel anything even close to peace.

Trust me, I have done everything I know to do to find it, yet it constantly seems to elude me. I have prayed and prayed and prayed for it, asking God for guidance and direction to get there, and haven’t heard much of anything other than to keep doing what I’m doing and remain patient.

In the meantime, however, temptation has beckoned me at every turn, constantly knocking on my door to do all the former unhealthy things I once did with such regularity. I have been enticed to drink, lured to smoke weed, drawn to look at pornography, aroused to commit infidelity, and even thought about taking my life more than a few times.

Waiting has never been my strong suit and neither has been letting go of control. Usually when I want something so badly, I have always found a way to get it by my own means. But peace doesn’t appear to be something that will ever come in that way. It isn’t something I can buy and it isn’t something I can get through engaging in any of those temptations either.

Peace seems to be something that comes when it’s meant to, usually when God sees that I’m ready. So, I guess I’m still not ready, which is probably why I continue to ponder the idea of going to a monastery in the mountains of Nepal to look for it.

Unfortunately, the likelihood is that I wouldn’t find it there. Because the last time I tried to recreate the peace I received from that retreat, was when I embarked upon a second 10-day silent retreat, feeling exactly as I do right now. There, instead of discovering the peace I so wanted to discover again, I instead found there were a number of areas in my life I had to work through first, which caused me to leave the retreat early, feeling the exact opposite of peace.

Ever since, I have asked God many times if I should try again, and the answer has always come back the same.

Be still and remain where you are, doing what you are doing.

UGH!!!

That’s how I feel right now knowing that and the best picture I can portray of this is of a person who’s stranded in the middle of the Sahara Desert with nothing in sight but one sand dune after another. And they are thirsty, so very thirsty for that life-giving water and not even a single oasis is in sight either.

I don’t know why God allows us to be in places like this for long periods of time, where no matter how much action we take to find peace, it still eludes us.

Sitting in this emptiness, waiting for guidance and direction, is tough. Yet, I believe it’s a step that I must continue to take on my spiritual journey toward enlightenment.

One day I will feel true peace again, that I believe, because my eyes remain focused on following the love and guidance of God and not the illusions of any of those temptations.

And while I may still think from time to time about going to a monastery in the mountains of Nepal purely out of frustration and desperation, I know that true peace can be found in every step, no matter where we are in this world, even right here in Toledo, Ohio, where I remain to pray and wait upon God, who I know will deliver it within me when I’m truly ready…

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

Embracing My Intensity

The number one thing that people have often told me is how intense of a person I can be. Intense in my demeanor, intense in my conversations, intense in my spiritual walk, yup, that about sums it up. And yes, I completely agree, because I am intense and that’s ok, but for some it’s not, as I’ve experienced over the past five years or so.

While plenty of people simply like to hang out and just keep the topics of conversation loose and as far from serious as possible, I tend to be bored when that happens. Like I am when conversations surround sexual banter, political dissent, judgments about people in general, or on what money has allowed someone to experience.

Frankly, none of that interests me anymore, although at one point I must admit it did.

Nowadays though, what I enjoy talking about the most are things that many have said are too intense for them like holistic healing modalities, the mind/body connection, energetic climatic shifts, God “coincidences”, strange cultural changes I’ve been noticing in the world, etc. And to be perfectly honest, I’m also that type of guy who likes to really talk about feelings and emotions when hanging out with someone.

Except, none of that seems to be what many others enjoy doing when hanging out. Take for example when I go see a movie with a friend. While I like to reflect upon how it affected me spiritually, most of them only like to say whether they enjoyed it or not and leave it at that.

Does that make me an intense person, maybe so?

Or maybe it’s because I’m a man of integrity and return phone calls and messages promptly and want my friends to do the same.

Or maybe it’s because I enjoy talking about God a lot no matter where I am or what I’m doing and like when my friends do as well?

Or maybe it’s because I give very strong eye contact to those I spend time with and ask questions that are personal and not superficial and hope my friends do the same with me?

The reality is that it could be all of these things that make me an intense person or none of them. I don’t know precisely what it is that makes people say I’m an intense person, but I accept that I am and I know it’s not for everyone. Usually I find that out when people stop contacting me to make plans and don’t return my calls anymore. Because each time I’ve pushed the issue to find out why that’s happening, I’ve learned the answer is always the same, that I’m too intense for them.

Well, that’s ok. Because I am who I am. Sure, I could lower my vibration and talk about sex like I used to. I could talk about tops and bottoms and other sexual positions, but where did that get me? Nowhere but acting out regularly in addiction and feeling completely empty feeling in life.

And sure, I could talk about things like President Trump or any of the prior presidents with disdain and complain about the state of the nation, but where did that get me. Nowhere but feeling only more negative in this world that’s already filled with too much of that.

And let’s not forget about money. I could talk for hours and hours about what money has afforded me in the past, and all the places I’ve been to, and all the things I accumulated, yet doing so only ever caused me to covet more in life, especially the things others had done that I hadn’t yet.

So yes, my life has totally shifted to a much more intense type of person. One who cares about being spiritually healthy in both my words and all my day to day actions. And if that’s too intense for someone to hang out with me, I’m becoming more and more ok with that.

Because frankly, I want to be around those who spiritually challenge me to go higher. I want to be around those who see what’s happening in this world and want to talk about it, and maybe even do something about it. I want to be around those who are concerned with their energetic vibration, instead of how they can come into more money or who’s hot and who’s not.

Does that make me intense? Well, according to others, it does. But that’s ok and I accept that. I’m not everybody’s cup of tea. In fact, I’m truly a very select brand of tea that only a few seem to enjoy on any consistent type of basis. Accepting that reality has been an arduous process, yet important nonetheless.

Because accepting myself as an intense type of person, instead of constantly trying to change it to please others, has helped me to love myself far more unconditionally. And just as important, it’s also allowed God to bring people like Karen W., Robb D., Frank M., Steve F., and a few others into my life, who embrace my intensity with unconditional love, which is the very thing that I know Christ would do with me if He were alive today.

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

A Vacation In The Wilderness?

When I think of a vacation, it’s usually of somewhere in the tropics where I’m lounging on a beach and snorkeling in sparkling blue waters. The idea of heading out into the wilderness though, at least ten miles away from the closest sign of civilization, setting up a tent, and living off the land is definitely not. Yet for my friend Robb, that’s precisely the first thing he thinks of.

Even though my type of vacation would most likely never be to venture into the wild for several weeks of time to dine on things like mushrooms, turtle soup, and freshly-caught fish, I have learned to have great appreciation for those like Robb who do find spiritual rejuvenation in that sort of thing.

Regardless of whatever one thinks of when it comes to a vacation, I truly believe all of them are meant to be spiritually rejuvenating. Except for many individuals, they often aren’t, because so much of them become occupied with busyness while on them.

I should know, as I grew up in a family where every moment of our vacations was planned out before we even got to wherever we were going. And sadly, I carried this behavior into much of my adulthood, going on each of my getaways with huge agendas to be accomplished where the result was me always returning home feeling the polar opposite of spiritual rejuvenation, that being spiritual depletion.

Thankfully, that’s changed quite a bit in the past few years though, as I’ve opted to throw out any type of itinerary on my vacations and instead, just spend a lot more time being still. And although my health issues have been a thorn in my side during some of them, I still found enough spiritual rejuvenation from not having to constantly go and do anything at any particular time.

That’s why I have such an appreciation for my friend Robb and his type of vacation, because even though it’s not on a tropical island, I can see that it’s still in a place where he’s able to experience his own form of rest and renewal.

To be perfectly honest, if I had Robb’s skillset of living in the wild, I’d probably enjoy a vacation in the middle of a forest as much as he does. Unfortunately, I have next to no survival skills and that was confirmed even more so when I did one of those questionnaires once that said I’d last a mere three days if I was alone in the wilderness with nothing but my wits.

Robb, on the other hand could last years, if not a lifetime out there, as he can hunt, fish, and spot all the things in the forest that are safe to eat. He also enjoys sleeping in a tent, bathing in natural streams, being still and watching the creatures move about the forest all around him. And through all that, he experiences the presence of God, thus finding the spiritual rejuvenation he desperately seeks when on a vacation.

In my case though, sitting on a beach and reading a good book, taking long walks with my feet just at the edge of the ocean, picking up pretty seashells, and watching marine life swim in and around coral reefs below me, is what brings me a lot closer to God and provides my own form of spiritual rejuvenation these days.

So, although Robb and I have very different ideas of what a vacation looks like and how we achieve spiritual rejuvenation when on them, we do share one thing in common and that’s how neither of us want any specific type of itinerary or agenda to guide our lives while on them.

But even more importantly, we also share something else in common as well and that’s the desire to grow closer to God on our trips away, which the both of us have found in various forms of nature by just being still and taking in the beauty that God has placed so beautifully in the world all around and beneath us…

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

“The Gift Of The Obstacle In The Road”

Today’s inspirational story is titled “The Gift Of The Obstacle In The Road” and is one that speaks quite a bit to how many of us often choose to avoid overcoming the obstacles that come across our paths in life, instead looking for ways around them, which in turn only cause us to miss out on the gifts that tend to arise when we actually conquer them.

There once was a very wealthy and curious king. This king had a huge boulder placed in the middle of a road. Then he hid nearby to see if anyone would try to remove the gigantic rock from the road. The first people to pass by were some of the king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers. Rather than moving it, they simply walked around it. Then many others began passing by, loudly blaming the King for not maintaining the roads, not one of them attempting to move the boulder either. Finally, a peasant came along. His arms were full of vegetables. When he got near the boulder, rather than simply walking around it as all the others had, the peasant put down his load and tried to move the stone to the side of the road. It took a lot of effort but he finally succeeded. The peasant gathered up his load and was ready to go on his way when he saw a purse lying in the road where the boulder had been. The peasant then opened the purse, which was stuffed full of gold coins and a note from the king. It said the purse’s gold was the reward for moving the boulder from the road.

 I related very much to each of the characters in this story. For much of my life, I was one of those wealthy merchants and courtiers who flaunted the money I had and generally used it to surmount any obstacles that ever got in my way. Thus, walking around those obstacles became the norm for me, especially during my addiction-laden years.

During other periods of my life, I was like those other characters in the story, who simply just complained about things like the boulder being in the middle of the road. In fact, it was pretty common for me to point out all the things wrong in this Universe, rather than ever choosing to focus on ways I could help change any of that.

In both cases, I missed out on the many beautiful gifts that could have come from working through the obstacles that came across my path in life. Eventually though, through a lot of pain and hardship, mostly caused by avoiding those obstacles time and time again, I became that peasant and actually began working on moving one boulder after another from my spiritual path. The gold that has come from continuing to do this has been largely rewarding, in that my heart feels far more open in life, my friendships much closer, and my desire to serve the Lord way deeper than ever before.

And while I’m still working on overcoming the largest boulder I think I’ve ever faced on my path in life so far, that being the health issues I’ve had to deal with for some time now, I know that by continuing to place all my efforts in surmounting it and by holding onto my resilience, my fortitude, and my faith in God, that I will eventually reap a reward that will be far better than choosing to walk around it…

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

How God Proved He Does Care About Our Places Of Employment…

Back in March, I wrote about my partner’s sudden job loss in one of my daily reflections (https://thetwelfthstep.com/2017/03/08/daily-reflection-46). There I spoke about my belief that God does care about our places of employment, so long as we seek His help with them, even though many told me that God probably has far more important things to be concerned about. I ended that daily reflection with a strong statement of faith saying that I truly believed God would help my partner find a new place of employment and I’m here to report that indeed God did, and in a very unique way at that.

For almost two months following his sudden job loss, my partner prayed daily for God’s help while submitting one resume after another, for positions that were in his field and even for ones that weren’t. Sadly, I watched him receive one disappointment after another, mainly because each of the employers seemed to only want their potential candidates to hold bachelor’s degrees, given he only had an associate’s. I began to grow frustrated and started allowing my ego to take control, telling him he needed to become a lot more aggressive in his search. I also found myself growing angry each time I saw him take breaks and sit in front of the television for extended periods, totally forgetting about my own statement of faith from that daily reflection, the one where I stated I knew God would guide my partner to a new place of employment.

Then one morning, a few weeks ago, my partner abruptly received a call from a company in Toledo he hadn’t applied to, let alone even knew about. They had found his resume on one of those job websites and asked if he was still looking for employment. When he responded he was still in the market, they immediately asked if he could come in that afternoon for an interview, which he did. Then, they contacted him the next day as well, and asked if he could come in again that afternoon for a second interview. As he left that second interview, he was told they had a number of other people to still interview and would get back to him in the beginning of the following week. During that period of unknowingness, I really did my best to pray to let go of control and to trust in that statement of faith I had made about God from that daily reflection. It was hard, trust me, but I kept on praying for God’s will.

By the time a full week had passed since his second interview, my faith had started to really waver again, even more so when my partner called the company and was told they hadn’t made any decisions yet. That’s when my ego began posing all these questions in my head.

Was this just going to be another letdown because my partner only had an associate’s degree?

Was someone else going to be more qualified because of their years of experience?

Was someone much younger going to be offered the job instead?

Yet, even through all that doubt, I kept praying. I said to God that I would accept whatever the decision was and that I truly just wanted my partner to have some hope in his life, given how much he’s endured lately, not just with his job woes, but also with the constant challenges he’s faced when it’s come to supporting me and my ongoing health issues.

And then suddenly, it happened, a week and a day after that initial phone call out of the blue. God delivered! The company presented him with a job offer and it’s then I think God truly proved to me He does care about people’s places of employment. Because through all my partner’s and my prayers, a job that my partner never applied to and never even knew of the company either, found him, said his resume stood out more than the others, and swiftly brought him in for back to back interviews, only to offer him a job at a pay rate equal to his last job over the course of 8 days!

So, do I believe God does care about our places of employment? Absolutely. We simply need to just ask for His help and remain patient for those prayers to be answered, as I clearly see now they will, it’s just usually not in our own ego’s timing.

That being said, I decided to harness the positive energy from this experience into the wavering faith I’ve had as of late with my health and healing and hold firm to my belief that God can, and will, deliver me out of the hell I’ve been living in with my chronic pain issues. That one day, God will restore my physical, mental, and emotional health and when He does, I plan on proclaiming once again that God does care about everything we pray about, even like something as little as this new place of employment he delivered to my partner…Thank You God…

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

Learning To Respect Another Type Of Boundary Through A Very Painful Lesson

Respecting other people’s boundaries is something I’ve worked on quite a bit in my life over the past few years, but there’s another type of boundary I’m realizing I need to work on as well and it’s one I came face to face with recently through a very painful experience.

It happened a few months ago while I and my partner were out taking a sunset drive through a local state park named Crane Creek. There, we came across a number of people sitting alongside the park road near the beach, taking pictures and peering through binoculars. When we saw what they were looking at, two bald eagles sitting in a tree far off beyond a roped-in area, we opted to join them and did our best to enjoy the view. Unfortunately, we didn’t have anything to zoom in on them, which my ego then decided wasn’t acceptable at all. That’s when I noticed the roped off area didn’t continue onto the rocky shore next to the lake.

“Hmmm, maybe I could go walk down those rocks and come up from behind the tree where the bald eagles are perched and get a close-up picture on my phone that no one else is ever going to get?!”

 Yes, that indeed was the thought I had at that very moment and it’s one I’ve regretted ever since. Nevertheless, as I cut through the thicket that bordered the rocks and the lake and headed onto the first of those huge boulders I was about to embark upon, my intuition began nudging me, “Andrew, this isn’t a good idea, you really need to turn back…”

Alas, I didn’t, because my ego often has the tendency to push the limits of boundaries in life, solely to get what I want. So, I continued to proceed forward anyway, hopping from one boulder to the next, when…WHAM!

 Down I went, onto one of the large rocks, as my feet suddenly hit a patch of ice that hadn’t melted yet in the spring thaw off. My left hand awkwardly slamming into one of the boulders in the process, hyper-extending my ring finger grossly backwards. Now, two months later, I still have a bunch of pain in that finger in two different places and have definitely had to learn another very painful lesson in life because of it.

Like so many boundaries I used to cross with friends in the past, where I experienced many of them disappearing from my life because of it, here I faced something similar because I didn’t respect a boundary that was clearly established. A boundary that was not only for the safety and protection of the bald eagles, but also for myself.

Looking back, I really wished I had listened to my institution, which I ultimately believe was my Spirit attempting to gently let me know I was doing something that wasn’t in my highest good. Yet, all too often, I’ve ended up having to go down very painful roads in life, to learn lessons that my ego doesn’t think it needs to learn.

That’s why I’ve decided to respect any roped-off area the next time I come across one, even if my ego begs for a closer look, and even when it attempts to show me a potential exception might exist to the boundary itself. Because the fact is, boundaries are usually in place in life for pretty good reasons. So, hopefully I’ll choose to listen to my intuition the next time this arises and not my ego, as I really don’t need or want any more pain in life, especially any that is directly caused by my own ego-based actions…

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

Why I Don’t Like Talking About The Specifics Of My Chronic Pain…

A friend of mine privately messaged me recently to inquire on the details of the pain I go through on a daily basis after he read one of my articles titled “The Pain Filter”, which spoke about what it’s like to live life through the eyes of chronic pain. When I messaged him back, I said I’d rather talk about it in person, but the more I thought about it in all the days since, that really wasn’t the truth. The real truth is I that actually don’t like talking about my health issues at all anymore, unless it’s with my therapist, my partner, or my best friend from Massachusetts.

You see, with each of them, they know the lengths I’ve gone to, to take care of myself, to foster a healthy mind and soul, and all the exasperation I’ve endured through it all seeing little to no results manifest as of yet, which in turn helps them to know how to respond in a way that makes me feel supported and loved. But for those general bystanders, casual friends, acquaintances, and others who haven’t known me for years and years, or spent enough time talking with me to get to know all that I’ve been through already in my attempts to heal, I tend to receive responses that only lead me to greater frustration.

I know I’ve written about this subject before in a multitude of ways, but it’s something that continues to repeat itself in my life from time to time and is worth mentioning again in a slightly different way. Here are the top 11 responses I normally receive after opening up about my chronic pain to someone who’s not my therapist, partner, or best friend from Massachusetts:

  1. “I have a cousin, friend, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, etc., who has that same condition. They’ve been suffering from it for years…man that sucks!”
  2. “Hey, I just read an article the other day about what you’re going through and did you know that the such-n-such medicine, therapy, healing modality, etc., have helped with that?” (Yoga is probably the number one suggestion I receive.)
  3. “Oh, I have this great book that will change your life and deals specifically with that, have you read it yet, if you haven’t, you need to?!”
  4. “Have you considered that maybe God isn’t happy with your same-sex relationship and that you’re suffering because of it?” (Yes, this indeed has been said to me.)
  5. “How much are you getting out of yourself to help others, maybe you should go volunteer some more, sponsor a few more people, or get out to more recovery meetings, as that might help alleviate some of your pain?”
  6. “You know what your problem is, you have too much free time on your hands, you need to get a job, as that will probably fix most of your pain!”
  7. “Well you are growing older, and you aren’t a spring chicken anymore, maybe some of your pain is coming from that?”
  8. “Have you been checked out this disease, this illness, this disorder, etc. yet? It kind of sounds like you have some of the symptoms of that?” (This is probably the worst thing to say to me, especially being that I’ve suffered from hypochondria quite a bit in recent years.)
  9. “So, what if this never goes away, what are you going to do? Or what if this is God’s plan for you to suffer the rest of your life?”
  10. “You need to dive deeper in the Word brother, it sounds like you aren’t trusting God enough, don’t know you that God can and will take care of this for you? You probably aren’t turning it over enough. Surrender brother!”
  11. “It sounds like you aren’t accepting it enough and practicing enough gratitude, maybe you should start working harder on that?”

 While each of these statements may feel supportive to the speaker of them, they tend to affect me quite the opposite each time I receive them. The reality is that when I share about my pain, it’s not because I’m looking for suggestions, advice, knowledge of someone else that has the same pains or similar, or told I’m not doing good enough in my attempts to heal, or that I’m the cause of my own problem, or anything similar. None of those responses are truly being unconditionally loving and supportive. They aren’t holding space for me to feel safe to open up further either. Instead, it generally causes me to shut down.

The fact is, most people who are in chronic pain like me, simply just want to be heard and told by the person they’re talking to, that they are loved, because with the depth of pain we go through, we often feel so unloved. And if that conversation is held in person and not over a phone by some chance, having a reassuring touch or a hand held comfortingly are also great ways to respond as well. But most people aren’t programmed to answer like that. Rather, most people are programmed to offer comments that frequently seem like they’re coming from a good place, yet their impact typically doesn’t feel that way to the person in chronic pain.

So, the point I’m trying to make here is that if you ever have someone with chronic pain open up and bare their soul to you about what they’re going through, just listen to them and when they’re done, only offer them compassion through your loving touch, your tears, or your gentle words with things like “I’m there for you” or “I will pray for you” or “I will be sending you positive healing energy and light.”

Because anything else, is frequently just the ego trying to either fix them or come up with something that it thinks is comforting, when in reality it often isn’t. What’s comforting to me is the thought of Jesus’s love, as in His case, I’m pretty sure if I bared my soul to Him, I’d receive tears and a loving embrace and that alone would be enough to make it through one more day of this…

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

Clinical Depression Versus Spiritual Depression

I wholeheartedly believe that there are two types of depression, clinical and spiritual, yet many doctors and other people of science would probably argue otherwise, saying depression is depression, and merely results from a chemical imbalance in the body. I beg to differ, only because I’ve experienced them both, and they definitely originate from different sources.

Let me start with a look at clinical depression. I’ve been clinically depressed a number of times in my life, where my serotonin levels have been extremely low. Whenever that’s occurred, it tends to feel like I have the flu. I’m achy and lethargic, it’s hard to keep my eyes open, I want to sleep all the time yet I frequently can’t seem to. I’m usually plagued with anxiety, along with a feeling that I’m being buried alive in a casket, where there’s no escape, and where I can’t see the light. I generally have no energy, no desire to do any type of work, to be creative, to be social, or partake in anything that puts me front and center of people. To put it quite simply, when I’m clinically depressed, it really just feels like a chore to even do the smallest of task, like take a shower. And the only solution I’ve ever found when my clinical depression has reached a severe level has been to take some type of anti-depressant medication like Zoloft, Prozac, Effexor, and the like for a period of time until I could work through whatever it was that was creating the chemical imbalance in the first place. In every single case, it was always due to me either engaging in toxic behaviors, i.e. addictions, or holding onto anger, resentments or past traumatic events, refusing to face the fear of working through them. Thankfully I haven’t experienced this type of depression ever since I entered my recovery for sex and love addiction in April of 2012.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same is true with the other form of depression I mentioned, that being spiritual depression, as I’m currently still facing that in life. But before I explain what that is, it’s important to note that when my last bout of clinical depression ended, I began working ferociously to grow closer to God through prayer, meditation, helping others, becoming more selfless, giving back, listening to happy music, doing daily gratitude journals, writing uplifting articles in this blog, remaining positive, staying away from toxic people, reading spiritually moving literature, eating healthy, spending more time in nature, and turning my life back over to Christ, amongst a number of other things as well. Because of all this, I found myself feeling a presence that I hadn’t felt in a very long time, that being of God. I experienced signs on a weekly basis, sometimes even daily, of God’s presence, in dreams, through people, through nature, and a number of other ways too. Many who knew me said I had a glow about me, which I can only attribute to that of God being very active within me. That lasted pretty consistently into the early spring of 2015. But then, that glow began to evaporate and so did the signs of God’s presence, which in turn caused my level of joy to decrease.

I attempted to double, triple, and quadruple my efforts to connect with God hoping this would counteract that. That’s when I started burying myself more in the Bible, reading more daily devotionals, writing more, sponsoring more in recovery, doing more service work, all to no avail. Then my spiritual teacher asked me to work on myself without her help anymore as summer was about to begin in 2016 and it was a huge blow mostly because I had become dependent on her to feel much of the joy that remained. Ever since, while I’ve seen plenty of God’s presence around me and felt joy for others, an emptiness remained within, one that medication didn’t and can’t fix. That’s the spiritual depression I’m speaking of.

I have remained faithful though with all my spiritual routines and continued to do the best I can to remain selfless and unconditionally loving in life, even in that absence of joy. On most days, I feel nothing but despair, and long to feel God’s presence and love within me, not just around me. But this is where it ultimately differs from clinical depression because I still have plenty of energy. I have no trouble doing my daily routines, I don’t feel like I have the flu or constant lethargy. My serotonin levels are just fine. I don’t feel like I’m being buried alive or that the world is closing in on me. I still keep my commitments and often speak in front of others with no problems. And I get out of myself on a daily basis to help others too, yet I feel little to no joy in doing any of it. That’s what spiritual depression is to me and is so very different than a clinical one. I truly wish there was some spiritual medicine I could find to change this, but alas I haven’t found one through my countless efforts. And while many who read this article might do exactly what Job’s friends attempted to do with him in the Bible, telling him it’s his fault as to why he was dealing with his circumstances, I do what he did and plead my case directly to God.

While I have no idea why I’m experiencing this spiritual depression for as long as I have God, I know that human medicine can’t fix it and that You are the only medicine that will. I know it’s not a clinical depression and although people may continue to tell me it is, or that I’m doing something wrong, or that You aren’t ever going to fix me, or that science and medicine is the only answer, or that I simply need to place greater effort out there, I know otherwise. And like Job, I will continue to wait patiently upon You, as best as I can, to provide me Your medicine, as when You do, I know my spiritual depression will finally lift and I will glow once again in all Your glory…

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

The Pain Filter

I often feel like the physical pain I regularly experience acts like a filter to the rest of the world that goes on around me. If you habitually deal with chronic pain on any level, then you probably already know what I mean by this, but if you don’t, let me explain.

Have you ever had the flu? Or some nasty virus that lasted for a short bit of time? Ever got a sinus infection that was overly painful? Or for simplistic purposes, what about a bad cold, ever got one of those? I’m sure that most of you can say yes to at least one of those and if so, then take a moment and remember how you truly felt the last time you were in the midst of any one of them.

I’d venture to say you probably didn’t like to be around others when it was going on. And I’m sure your patience level was much less with everyone and everything during those times too. Now continue to imagine yourself during your last sickness. Did you still go out to a movie, or take a stroll in nature, or dine at a restaurant, or hang out with friends, or do anything that might normally bring you some happiness when you’re not ill? If you did, I’d venture to say it was extremely challenging for you to enjoy, wasn’t it?

You see, that’s what makes it so hard for people like me who continue to deal with chronic pain. We can’t ever escape it; thus, we only have two choices. We can either remain in our homes becoming hermits or we can force ourselves to go out and attempt to do some of the things that normally would bring a person not in pain, a little happiness and joy. In my case, I have continued to do the latter, which seems to frequently go against what my mind actually wants these days, that being to remain a hermit.

Case in point, anytime I attend my men’s social group on Tuesday nights where everyone is usually laughing, joking, and connecting, I’m usually shifting uncomfortably in my seat over and over again in pain, missing out on so many of those jokes, failing to laugh, and feeling like I’m not even part of the group. That’s the pain filter I’m speaking of.

A few other good examples of this pain filter are when I go to the movies and keep having to get up and go to the bathroom or stretch, which only causes me to miss out on ever becoming fully engrossed in the film. Or when a group of friends choose to go dancing, bowling, or some other type of physical activity, where the best I can do if I go with them is watch from a bench while I ache. Or when I go to one of my many recovery meetings and fail to absorb most of what people are saying, instead hearing “blah blah blah” because I’m screaming inside my body over the level of pain I’m going through.

This is the pain filter I’m talking about and it’s like having the flu all the time. It disseminates most of the joy away from me, preventing me from ever really having a good time with anything. What’s even worse is when people tell me to smile when they see me out and about, while they themselves are living in a body that’s either medicated to numb their pain enough so that it doesn’t bother them or they’re not dealing with any pain at all. They have no concept of the pain filter I go through just to be present in the world.

Thus, I write this with the hope of providing a little education to people who aren’t having to deal with this pain filter, who don’t know what it feels like to go out and be social in the midst of having chronic pain. It’s not easy, and having fun, enjoying life, or experiencing happiness, sometimes feels next to impossible for us.

So, until you walk a day in our shoes, you’ll never truly know what the pain filter feels like, that is unless you choose to go out and be social the next time you get the flu or some other type of temporary illness. As I’m sure if you do, you’ll most likely then finally understand this pain filter we go through every day, just to step outside our homes and try to experience life like everyone else.

Try and remember that the next time you tell someone to smile at a social event who says they’re in pain, because that pain filter might not be so easy for them as it is for you. Instead, tell them you’re glad they’re there. Give them a hug. Stay away from offering advice. And really listen to what they’re going through. As there’s a good chance if you do that their pain filter might just get a little less, and they’re joy a little more…

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

“I’m So Proud Of You!”

“I’m so proud of you!” Those five words are something usually quite hard to come by when a person grows up in a dysfunctional family, such as in an alcohol or drug addicted home, like I did. Instead, what one usually tends to hear is the exact opposite.

In my case, the things I heard were always about trying harder, doing better, and needing to push myself more. The one example of this that still sticks in my head decades later was when I came in last place in a final heat of a swim race after qualifying through several prior rounds at the young age of twelve. When I emerged from the pool that day, my mother told me I didn’t kick hard enough, rather than saying how proud she was of me for making it as far as I did.

It’s unfortunate when children end up growing up in families where things like this happen, where they don’t normally hear their parents telling them how proud they are of their personal achievements. But in a dysfunctional home where any type of addict or even a mentally unstable parent exists, there’s a constant lack of unconditional love, which is precisely where statements of being proud of someone comes from.

I truly believe that every child in this world deserves to hear their parents tell them how proud they are of them as often as possible. From what I’ve seen in healthy families where this was done, it’s usually translated into far more self-confident individuals when they’re all grown up. But in the case of myself, since I didn’t live in a spiritually healthy home as a kid, I ended up growing up into someone who spent far too much time vying for the approval from others, just wanting anyone to tell me how proud they were of me. I jumped from one relationship to another seeking this approval, until I realized I was just ending up with the same type of person over and over again who resembled either one or both of my dysfunctional parents.

Sometimes I think that’s how the Universe operates, that the only way we can fix something that’s broken within us is to be placed in relationships that bring those very painful feelings from our past connections up to the surface. Thank goodness I came to understand this principle, as it helped me to find the willingness to actually begin working on fixing this approval-seeking part of me.

To do this, the first step I had to take was to forgive my parents for their lack of healthy parenting. In the process, I came to accept that they were sick people and did the best they could. I also placed myself in their shoes by thinking about all the times when I was an active addict and mentally unstable. Because in doing so, I saw how I was never capable of offering any type of unconditional love in that state, which included saying things like “I’m so proud of you” to someone else. I also learned through this initial step that when people are dysfunctional and addicted to something, they’re never proud of themselves, which makes it virtually impossible for them to ever be proud of anyone else.

The next step in fixing this part of me was accepting the fact that this void from my childhood was never going to be permanently filled by any person I ever had a relationship with. While any of them could tell me from time to time how proud they were of me, the feeling never lasted. I best compare this to that of a car needing gas. No matter how many times a car fills up with fuel, it always reaches empty at some point and needs to be refilled again. Hence the same principle when constantly looking to another for self-approval. It just won’t ever completely fill that void permanently. That’s why I had to learn how to start offering my own self-approval. So each time I began achieving some type of personal accomplishment, such as completing a puzzle, or doing some intense gardening work, or finishing some other project, I started telling myself how proud I was of me for my achievement.

The final step in this healing process has probably been the hardest though and it’s the one I’m still working on. While I’ve been slowly moving away from seeking that self-approval from others, I’ve continued to look for it from something far greater than myself and that’s from my Higher Power, whom I choose to call God. I long to know that God is proud of me for the work I’ve done in my life to become a more spiritually-sound and unconditionally loving person and I don’t think there’s anything unhealthy in seeking that. It really matters to me what God thinks, but the problem is that I just don’t know how to tell whether God is proud of me or not. It’s probably the biggest dilemma I have in life right now.

So, in the meantime, I continue to pray for that knowledge and do the best I can to offer it to myself instead of seeking it from others each time I make a personal accomplishment. Some days are better than others, but all in all, I know I’m leaps and bounds far healthier than I used to be with this. And somehow, I’m inclined to believe that God is actually smiling upon me, even right now, in the small achievement of writing this very article…

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

Have You Ever Been Told That You’re Overly Needy?

Have you ever been told that you’re overly needy? I ask this question because one of my friends has been going through this very thing recently with their partner who never seems to be content with what love my friend offers them.

Unfortunately, I have to admit I relate more to my friend’s significant other, given how many times I’ve been told in past relationships how needy I can be. And for the longest time, I blamed each of those who told me this and always thought I was just picking the wrong people to grow close to. But the reality I eventually learned was one that was quite difficult to face.

I was needy because I never received much unconditional love growing up, especially from my mother. The fact is, I tried so hard as a kid to receive her love and never really felt like I got it. So, I constantly searched for that in subsequent relationships with every person I tried to grow close to, hoping to somehow fix the problem that originated in my relationship with her. But in all reality, the only thing that ever happened was me super-imposing the energy of my mother on each of them. And sadly, none of them were ever able to satisfy that void she left behind within me.

I drove a lot of people away from my life because of this behavior, but thankfully, after hearing enough of them tell me how needy I was, I found the desire to work on healing this part of me. To do so, I had to come to a place where I learned to love spending more time with myself, where it was ok to be alone. And that’s a hard thing to do when one spends most of their life pining for someone else’s love all in the hopes that it will fix the love they never received as a kid.

While I’m still working on this in my current relationship, I’ve definitely gotten much better. I do enjoy spending a lot more time alone nowadays, often in the solace of writing in my blog, doing puzzles, reading books, going to the movies, or simply just sitting in nature. In each of those situations, I’ve learned to love and nurture the parts of me that my mother never could.

Because the bottom line is that no person, place, or thing in this world will ever be able to give me enough love to replace that which was mostly absent from my past. It is only through learning to love myself and filing my emptiness with God have I ever felt that void disappear.

So, if by some chance, you are someone like me who been told more than once over the years that you’re needy, try working on figuring out who it was that was first in your life to never give you the unconditional love you truly deserved. Next, work on forgiving them once you’ve figure that out and finally, and most importantly, start spending more time alone. As in doing so, you’ll realize that loveless void can and will be filled by you and your Higher Power like no one else ever could.

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

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Why I’m Grateful To God For My Heavy Heart

The weather has definitely shifted here in Toledo with temperatures dropping close to 0 degrees over the past week along with several days of snow accumulation. And while I find some peace and serenity with the beauty that comes in this change of weather, my heart still feels heavy.

It feels heavy for all those like this young man I saw standing outside the entrance to a Home Depot the other day in frigid temperatures, obviously homeless, bundled with several layers, hoping for some kind of financial help. On his back was a sleeping bag and a few possessions.

It feels heavy for all those like this woman I saw a movie theater recently who had barely any motor function control in her body and seemed very sad, all while taking my ticket stub and having to use a cutting board to slice it in half.

It feels heavy for all those like this good friend of mine who recently relapsed heavily back into their alcohol and drug addiction and was kicked out of their home in the process.

It feels heavy for all those who lost their jobs recently and are wondering how they’re going to provide gifts to their family or even make ends meet.

If feels heavy for all those in hospitals that are sick and ailing, and maybe won’t make it through this season or be with any loved ones for the holidays.

It feels heavy for all those who won’t be able to make it outside to enjoy any bit of the magic that comes from seeing or feeling the snowfall on the face and body.

It feels heavy for all those who have no one to be with, are completely alone, and wish they had a companion or a family to enjoy this season with.

It feels heavy for a lot of other things too.

Which is why I’m truly starting to realize there’s a lot more people right now in life going through far worse than any of my own current struggles and woes.

Unfortunately, it’s so easy to get caught up in self-pity at times, even when it’s obvious there is much greater suffering going on all around me. The reality is that I just have to take a quick look around and keep my eyes open every day to see there’s a lot of other pain and anguish going on in this world far worse than mine.

So, thank you God for helping me feel this heavy heart even during this change of weather that usually brings me some peace and serenity. Because it’s through all those things that’s caused me to have this heavy heart that’s helped me to see the abundance I still have in life. I’m truly sorry for all of those selfish moments where I’ve failed to see that. May You forgive me for that and may You bless all those who are going through pain and struggles far worse than I.

I’m truly grateful to you God for my heavy heart…

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

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God’s Precise Timing And Smokey The Cat

Having a pet in my house is something I wasn’t accustomed to at all until I met my partner in February of 2012. That’s when I became acquainted to Driggs, a very ornery cat who had previously been with my partner Chris for more than ten years at the time. It took Driggs a good year from that point to get used to me and vice versa, but when we both did, the two of us became inseparable. But tragically Driggs developed oral cancer four years later and had to be put to sleep, leaving me devastated.

Part of me wanted to replace Driggs as soon as possible to cover up the pain I felt inside, while the other part of me wanted to take enough time to grieve like I would any other member of my family if they had passed. I opted for the latter and chose to leave the decision with God on whether I was ever meant to have another cat again.

Month after month went by after that where the only answer I got from my Higher Power about getting another cat was “not yet”. It’s hard to explain how I kept getting that answer and any attempt to do so would probably not make much sense. But let’s just say I know God was being overly clear that I wasn’t meant to get another cat any time soon.

Ultimately, I had plans to get a purebred Siberian Forest Cat when God eventually said it was time, because I wanted a hypoallergenic animal in my house. Not that I’m allergic to animals these days (like I once was), but more so for any guest that may come visit me who is. Nevertheless, it seemed like God had a different plan, as God usually does, because one day my sister contacted me and said she had to get rid of one of her cats.

When I asked why, she told me that her two female cats were having major issues with a male cat she brought into her household earlier in the year. Supposedly they were now constantly peeing and pooping outside their litter box as acts of defiance for having this male cat around. It’s probably important to mention at this point that how my sister acquired this male cat was rather interesting.

She discovered him at around 2 weeks old by a dumpster in her neighborhood. He had been abandoned there and was most likely going to die if left unattended. She chose to rescue him, and nursed him back to heath as best as she could. At one point not too long later though, he developed a pretty serious urinary issue that the vet thought he wasn’t going to heal from. That’s when my sister and her husband opted to pray for him and wouldn’t you know their prayers worked. He fully healed and ever since has been an extremely friendly and playful cat. Unfortunately, my sister knew she still needed to part ways with him because of the trauma her older cats were feeling with his presence. That’s when she called me and suggested I take him.

At the time of that call, I was still receiving the same answer from my Higher Power that it wasn’t time to get a cat yet. So I started praying to God at that point that if I truly was meant to take my sister’s cat, to let me know somehow. And wouldn’t you know, just on the precipice of when my sister was planning on taking the cat to a shelter, I received the answer that it was time to get a new and my sister’s cat was it. Zoom forward to just a few weeks ago with my sister’s visit here and it was then I was formerly introduced for the first time to Smokey.

Sometimes I find it really funny how God knows just what you need, when you most need it, because ever since Smokey’s arrival, my spirits have been much brighter. This cat has bonded to me exceptionally well and now usually follows me everywhere, is constantly purring, and regularly just wants to sit near me like he is right now as I type this very entry. (See the picture below.)

Smokey has brought a smile to my face and humor into my home a good number of times already and on some level, that’s exactly what I need these days with everything I continue to go through with my health and healing. Thus I’m grateful to God for once again having such precise timing in knowing when I was meant to get a cat again. Thankfully I remained patient enough with God to see it all come together in the way it was meant to. I’m sure the same holds true with my health and healing, but for now, I thank you God for bringing me Smokey The Cat.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

“Things Aren’t Always What They Seem”

Every now and then I come across a great parable that truly touches my life. The following is one of them, of which I found long ago when I was hoping to inspire my mother who was going through a rough period in her life. Ironically, this parable resurfaced recently when my sister visited and pulled out one of my bibles from my bookshelf that I hadn’t opened for a very long time. It was my mother’s bible and within it was the email I sent of this parable to her almost two decades ago now. The parable is titled “Things Aren’t Always What They Seem” and I feel it definitely applies to the many hardships I’ve been facing myself over the past bunch of years. My only prayer is that each of you will enjoy its message as much as I have and still do.

Two travelling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angles stay in their mansion’s guest room. Instead, the angels were given a space in their cold basement. As they made their bed on a very hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it. When the younger angle asked why, the older angel replied, “Things aren’t always what they seem.”

The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but quite hospitable farmer and his wife. After sharing what little food they had, the couple let the angels sleep in their bed so that they could have a good night’s rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angles found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole source of income, now lay dead in the field. The younger angel was confused and asked the older angel, “How could you have let this happen!? The first man had everything, yet you helped him,” she accused. “The second family had little, but was willing to share everything, and yet you let their only cow die.” “Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel replied.

“When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so that he would never find it. Then last night as we slept in the farmer’s bed, the angel of death came for his wife. I gave him the cow instead. Things aren’t always what they seem,” the older angel said humbly.

Sometimes this is exactly what happens when things don’t turn out the way we think they should. But if we have faith, we just need to trust that every outcome in our life is always to our advantage. And while we may not know that at the time it happens, one day it will make sense. Until then, just keep your faith and remember that “Things aren’t always what they seem…”

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Simple Dream And A Great Reminder About Control

I had a dream the other night where my partner and I were heading up to the roof of a building and were about to board a very crowded elevator to get there. But instead of stepping onto that elevator, I told my partner I’d meet him at the top and was going to take the stairwell because I was sure it was going to be much faster. I then sprinted as fast as I could up a bunch of flights of stairs and when I reached the top, I discovered there wasn’t any access to the roof! At which point I then had to go back down and take the elevator anyway! When I finally reached the roof, the time it took to get there was far longer than what originally would have happened if I had just boarded that very crowded elevator in the first place.

After pondering this dream the next day upon waking, I realized there was a pretty strong message in it for me about control that I know my Spirit was attempting to communicate. The simplest way I can explain this is that there are a number of things going on in my life right now that are ultimately out of my control, yet I still constantly look for faster ways to get them resolved.

The state of my health, a totally reseeded yard, a blog that has been having some operational issues, and a relationship that has some serious kinks to work out have all been those things that have been out of my control. While I am doing the best I can with each to achieve my end desire, I often still look for those alternative stairwells to run up as fast as I can to reach the top. Yet every time I have, I’ve been faced with the same result when I get there, that there is no access to complete the journey.

You see that’s the lesson right there I continue to face in life. That there are plenty of things on a spiritual journey that can’t be pushed along, that can’t be rushed, and that any short-cuts found will only in the end take much longer than needed.

So at the present, while I am doing my best to stay healthy, while I am watering my yard every day, while I am doing the work-arounds needed on my blog to keep it going, and while I am doing my best to treat my partner with the unconditional love he deserves, actually getting healthier, seeing a fully grown lawn, having my articles publish correctly when I schedule them, and being in a stable relationship is going to take time. Time that I can’t rush. Time that I can’t push along any quicker. Time that occasionally means riding in those very crowded elevators instead of racing up a stairwell.

Thus I’m thankful for my Spirit providing me with a dream of something I might have already known on some level, but still needed that gentle nudge in my sleep as a reinforced reminder…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Dark Night Of The Soul

Lately, I really seem to be experiencing something that’s called the “dark night of the soul”. Ever since my spiritual teacher asked me back in May to start working on healing myself without her help, I’ve found myself struggling immensely. The truth is I’m so used to someone regularly holding my hand and telling me it’s going to be ok. So now I frequently just feel quite lonely, lost, and confused because I don’t have anyone doing that on a consistent basis. But even harder to deal with than that is the reality I haven’t had any clear answers to any of my prayers about my health as of late either. It’s almost as if I’m wandering in a desert crying out to God and hearing and seeing nothing.

That’s why I have to say this is probably the most challenging place I’ve ever been in throughout my entire life. It’s far more overwhelming than even when my father killed himself or when my mom fell down the stairs drunk and died with a broken neck. It’s more difficult than all the days I engaged in any of my addictions as well. Because what I feel more than not on most days is a large amount of emptiness and a void within me.

It’s been so frustrating that even when I’ve been in social situations recently, I’ve had to place a smile on my face as best as I can, all the while I cry within. The only thing I truly desire in life is to feel God’s peace and joy within me, but as the days continue to pass by one after another, with my body aching, with my mental and emotional state feeling frazzled, and with no real sense of whether God wants me do something different, I’m left feeling nothing but this “dark night of the soul”.

Does God truly exist?

Is anyone really hearing and answering my prayers?

Were all the signs I thought I received over the past few years just mere coincidences?

Of course these questions are coming from my ego because I know what it ultimately wants. It wants me to give up and return to any one of a number of former addictions so that I may receive some temporary ease and comfort. But I know where each of those will eventually take me, so I find myself in a quandary. I can stay on the path I’m on, with blind faith, trusting that God does exist and is with me right here, even as I write this entry. Or, I can give up and check out early like my father did or do it more slowly by sabotaging my sobriety like my mother did.

Thankfully though, there are people in my life like my friend Steve who remind me late at night when I get into thinking like this why I need to keep going, to keep seeking the light. And thankfully there are people like my sister Laura, my friend Cedric, and my partner Chris who continue to believe in me no matter what, as sometimes it’s their reassurances that have helped me to make it beyond another day of this.

So God, while I may be experiencing this “dark night of the soul” these past few months that has surpassed a level of emptiness I’ve never felt before, I want You to know that somewhere within me, deep within me, I still believe. I still believe in You. And while I long to come home and be one with You again, I trust that You still have a purpose for me here on Earth so I wait. I wait expectedly, lovingly, and trustingly. I wait on you for a brighter day to come, one where I will truly know your joy and peace as I have never known before. I love You God.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Pilot Of Positivity And Joy

Have you ever met someone who seemed to exude nothing but positivity and joy, and when you were around them you simply just felt better? I recently was acquainted with a person exactly like this when I came into the good fortune of being able to take a small airplane ride over Lake Erie.

It all started with a good friend of mine from the town of Tiffin, who said he could arrange for my partner and I, as well as himself, to travel via plane to a local island on Lake Erie named Put-In-Bay. On the morning this all came to fruition, I was struggling to remain upbeat about this little trip, given how I felt with my health. In all honesty, it’s quite difficult for me to look forward to doing anything these days, but I certainly do my best to keep the faith and hope for the best.

So when my partner and I arrived at the tiny Seneca County Airport early on a Friday afternoon, I asked God for help and entered the waiting lounge. My friend was already there and quickly introduced us to Nevin, who would be our pilot for the day. From the onset, Nevin, who had recently turned 30 years old, greeted us with a huge smile and engaged us with warm and inviting conversation. On some level, I felt as if he was at that moment, living on the exact opposite side of the spectrum from where I was. I was glad for this though, as I didn’t think having a depressed pilot would be a good thing for any of us.

Upon entering the four passenger propeller-based plane outside, I sat up front in the co-pilot’s seat and proceeded to ask Nevin a barrage of questions about his job, what we were looking at once up in the sky, and everything in between. He made sure to answer every one of them, not once ever growing bored or irritable with any of them. In fact, it was quite the opposite, as you could really tell he was extremely happy with his career, of which he had been doing since the young age of 18.

When we landed on Put-In-Bay some twenty minutes later and acquired a golf cart to travel around the island, Nevin was more than glad to be the chauffeur with it as well. We first headed off to lunch at a place oddly named The Goat and I noticed that every time he spoke on the way there, there was a sense of constant cheerfulness about him. It was so refreshing, especially with the amount of despair I had begun the day with.

During the course of the next three hours, not once did Nevin ever waiver in his optimistic mood. At one point, when he and I were on the top of a tall monument on the island, I finally asked him if he was happy like this all the time. As he looked out over the island from where we stood way up high, he told me how blessed he felt his life was and said “After all, how could you not be when your job is flying a plane for a living and getting to enjoy so many different things of beauty just like this.” I shared with him after that the struggles I’ve been facing for as long as I have. I told him about my past and all the darkness I had once lived in. And I said that I inspired to be as joyful and hopeful in life as he was. He responded in saying he felt I was on the right path, that I just needed to keep doing what I was doing, and keep my faith in God. When the day came to a close a few hours later, it was kind of hard saying goodbye to this gentle soul, especially given that my mood had completely changed for the better.

It truly is refreshing in life to come across individuals every now and then who have that unique ability to help a person find peace and joy within themselves by them just being them and Nevin is one of these people. His soul is a bright one, and one that I would say is a beacon of hope for others. It’s what I believe Jesus was like back in his time as well and it’s what I long and strive for in my own life too. And what’s funny about this entire story is that Nevin wasn’t even the original pilot that had been scheduled for our plane ride. Due to some conflicts, the plane and pilot changed almost at the last minute for us.

So in the end I came to the conclusion that God ultimately wanted me to meet Nevin that day, mainly to provide me some hope, to not give up, and to remind me that I’m still on the right path of healing, which is why I’m so grateful to have come across a person like Nevin. As it’s individuals like Nevin, who shine their light as strongly as they do into the darkness in our world and after doing so, leave nothing behind but light. So thank you Nevin for being a great beacon for us all and for being an exemplary example of yet another ray of the light of God.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

The Spiritual Symbolism Of A Simple Walk In A Park

Have you ever walked on a trail in a park without any idea where it led or how long it was to get to the end of it? If so, have you always seen it through or have you ever turned back?

I went through this recently with my partner at a place called Crane Creek, which I guess back in the day was a beautiful beach that people often went to. Nowadays though it’s a wildlife preserve and a place I occasionally go to, just to see a little of God’s unspoiled beauty that still remains on our planet. But back to the question I posed.

My partner and I were walking on this trail at Crane Creek the other day without any idea how long it was or where it ended. We had opted to take a stroll on this boardwalk-like trail on a very warm day, that actually turned into a much longer one than we originally thought. Nevertheless, about 30 minutes into it, my partner suggested we turn around and go back in the direction we came, as he felt it wasn’t going to end any time soon. But somehow my inner guidance felt differently and instead told him to keep the faith, as I believed we were almost there. He balked a few more times with each strange bend on this trail, but eventually he finally did see the parking lot off in the distance. When we ultimately reached it, I could tell he was overly relieved.

Why I find this so interesting is because I think it’s a lot like our own spiritual journeys in life. I truly believe each of our journeys consist of a bunch of smaller paths that we walk on as we move forward. But sometimes we find ourselves on one of those paths that seems like it’s never going to end, especially when it’s also filled with a ton of painful obstacles. When this happens, it’s common for many of us to turn around and go back in the other direction we came, because at least with that, we know where we’ve been. But unfortunately, the only thing that usually comes out of doing that is even greater frustration.

I’ve been on a part of my spiritual journey now for so long that over the past few months, I’ve often thought about turning around and going back in the direction I came. During each of those moments, my mind has frequently wandered to thoughts of taking drugs, drinking alcohol, having promiscuous sex, numbing myself on medications, or even killing myself. Yet I haven’t done any of the above because like that Crane Creek trail I was on the other day that eventually did end, I know there will be an end to this part of my spiritual journey as well. And ultimately, the last thing I want to do is turn around when the clearing could be just beyond where I’m currently at.

So like those trails in parks we may occasionally find ourselves on with no idea where it leads or how long it really is, the reality is there’s always a clearing and an end to each of them. Just like I believe there is to every path on our spiritual journeys in life, even the ones that have lasted for as long as they have. Thus no matter how difficult things may seem right now, the important thing is to keep moving forward, one step at a time, and trust that God will get us to the end, as more than not, it’s usually closer than we think…

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

A Spiritual Contract With A Higher Being?

Today’s entry might polarize some or maybe it won’t. But I’m a writer and also a deep thinker and something’s been on my mind as of late that deals with the idea that spiritual contracts are made by us with Source prior to ever entering our life.

Ok, so I’m sure some are probably already turned off by this topic but after all this is a blog and just my own thoughts. Yet it’s something I’ve been dwelling on quite a bit over the past few years, especially given what I’ve been going through with my health.

I know I’ve spoken about this in lesser detail here and there in prior entries, but today I’m going to expand on this a little bit more and I’m going to do it in a strange way that might feel like I’m actually writing a story. But before I start, let me pose a few thought provoking questions.

What if we really do live multiple lives and at the end of each of them, in some place beyond our current limited comprehension, we review the lessons we learned and the ones we didn’t? 

And what if we then have the ability to rest for a bit and then prepare for the next life by making agreements with Source that will help us learn the next set of lessons or the ones we hadn’t quite grasped yet?

The following is just some of the dialogue I’ve imagined I’d have with a Higher Being, if there really was truth behind these questions:

“So you’re ready to enter the next life I see Andrew?” says the Higher Being.

“Yes, and this time I want to ensure I will move beyond this place I continue to get stuck in.” I said, knowing I had spent the past five lives repeating the same mistakes of over-indulging, living in debauchery and gluttony, manipulating, cheating, lying, and essentially remaining selfish and self-centered more than not.

“Be gentle with yourself Andrew, you know how difficult it is with those energies on Earth and how easy it is to get caught up in the lower vibrations there.” 

“I know, but I don’t want to keep on repeating these same mistakes life after life.” 

“So what do you have in mind then Andrew?”

“I’d like to make a contract for myself. I want this next life to have conditions that will predispose me to the same problems I’ve had in prior lives, but much stronger. Strong enough to reach the point where I feel totally broken, where I have no other solution but to call out to God and ask for help. One where I will finally ask God to free me from all of the things that have kept me separate from God. And once I do, I want to feel all the pain as I heal. In other words, I want to experience the pain that came from falling away from God’s grace again and again.”

“That’s quite a tall order Andrew! Are you sure you want to take on something that difficult?” 

“Well nothing else has worked so far and I don’t want to have to sit here again, coming up with something even more challenging!” I said with a chuckle.

“You know this isn’t going to be easy Andrew.” The Higher Being said gently.

“I know, but I want to show God how devoted I am to finally learning these lessons. I’m sure that by being willing to go through all that pain I won’t repeat this ever again, not in the rest of this next life or any future life for that matter.”

“Andrew, God already knows how devoted you are. You don’t have to go to this extreme to prove that.”

“I said that the past five lives and look where it got me.”

“Well if anything is going to prevent you from repeating this again, this will, if that’s really what you want.”

“It is.”

“Well then all you need to do is sign here.” The Higher Being said pulling out a sheet of paper with what I was agreeing to.

“I know this is going to work this time.” I said out loud to myself as I signed it.

Andrew, I’m sure it will. And when you reach the other side of it, just think of how many souls you will be able to help find their way to the Light…”

“A beacon of hope…”  I said as I walked out of the room looking forward to the next life.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Looking At My Healing Journey As A Two-Legged Race

I truly believe everyone’s on their own healing journey in life to find themselves and grow spiritually and how fast each moves along that journey is always different. Some may focus all their efforts on this process day in and day out, while others may work at much slower paces, often taking detours along the way. These days I’m definitely one of those who falls under the former, but for most of my life prior I was more of the latter. Regardless, I’ve come to reflect on my healing journey as that of a two-legged race.

While I can make each of my steps forward as fast as I want, that doesn’t always mean the Universe is going to move forward in response as quick as I did. So what that translates into of course is having to wait on the Universe to take that next step. In other words, it requires me to have plenty of patience and perseverance. Initially that might not seem so difficult when that waiting period is only a day, a week, a few weeks, a few months, or at best, a year or so. But when that waiting period translates into years, it can lead to great frustration, as it has for me. This in turn has regularly caused me to be at odds with others who aren’t waiting on the Universe and instead are avoiding the next step on their own healing journey.

I see people all the time who complain about their lives and the state of their being and then watch as they repeatedly do things that tear themselves apart, that are unhealthy for their minds and bodies, that are strictly ego-based and grounded in nothing but self-will. So much of their pain and suffering is only because of their own actions. Thus as I sit in that period of patience and perseverance, waiting on the Universe, I grow irritated with those who are able to make a step forward in life but don’t.

I know it’s wrong to judge another on this or to attempt to help move them along a little faster because there were plenty of times in my life where I too had plenty of steps I could take forward, but never did. I was just too afraid, so I instead constantly took those detours. But eventually I always found my way back to the path I was always meant to be on, except that never came because of another judging or controlling me, it came when I was ready.

That’s why I’m inclined to believe that the Universe knows precisely when to take the next step forward with me on this two-legged race, as maybe the Universe knows somehow I’m not ready, even though I think I am. And it’s also why I know I must not judge or attempt to interfere with anyone else’s healing journey either, because after all, I really don’t know whether they’re ready for that next step forward or not.

So as I continue to practice patience and perseverance with this two-legged race I’m on with my healing journey, I’m going to keep doing my best to trust that everything is unfolding in the time it’s meant to, not just in my life, but in everyone else’s as well.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Finding The Good Memories From Childhood

It seems like the older I get, the more I miss my childhood, which is rather funny given how much I couldn’t stand my childhood when I was growing up. Such irony right? My mind tends to think this way usually when my pain levels are quite high. It remembers the moments of fun I had in my youth, but it tends to also forget about the depth of pain I went through during all that time as well.

Pain such as the loneliness of having very few friends, watching my parents fight over and over again about everything, seeing them drink alcohol too much, dealing with a father’s constant attempts at suicide, facing rigid rules by a very controlling mother, being bullied at school, struggling with my sexuality in the closet, hiding the fact that I was molested by an adult male, and a number of other things as well.

But there is one thing I must say I’m grateful for and that’s the fact I can even remember these days the good times I did have during my childhood. To me that says I must be healing because there was a time when all I could think about when I thought about my childhood was the pain I endured and nothing more.

Somewhere along the lines in recent years I began to recollect the things I did enjoy as a child and I think the only reason why those memories started to materialize is because of all the wreckage I worked on clearing away. Living in recovery from addiction, going to therapy, and pursuing other organizations for spiritual development helped me to remove much of the pain and resentment I carried into my adulthood and that in turn seems to have cleared the way to having better memories. That’s why I must thank God today for having a lot fonder thoughts of a time in my life that once was so extremely painful.

I thank God for remembering plenty of ice cream treats from the ice cream truck on hot summer days, for huge games of kick the can, for those annual vacations we took to Myrtle Beach, for the hundreds of mini-golf games we played there, for all the fun swims I had in our backyard pool, for the hikes I often took with my father, for the snowmen and snowball fights we had in those stormy winters, for the cookouts we had out on our deck, for the game nights we occasionally enjoyed together, for all the ping-pong battles we had in our basement, for the singing of Christmas carols while playing our piano, for those pizza nights out at a place named Dick Sarah’s, for other surprise dinners out to new places, for the many around-the-world games of basketball we played in our driveway, and so much more. I’m grateful to have all these good memories now, and although I wouldn’t want to go back and relive my childhood again, I at least can remember it with greater fondness now.

So if you’re like I once was, where all that can be remembered are the terrible things that happened growing up, I encourage you to draw closer to your Higher Power and work on clearing away all that negative energy from within you. As I’m sure in doing so, you too will find a weight lifted off of your chest and memories flooding back in of times that really were fun.

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Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

God And Me In A Driver’s Education Car

Do you remember those driver education cars? You know the ones where there’s a second brake in the passenger seat for the instructor to use if needed. Lately I feel like I’m in one of those cars, except my role is reversed. I’m in the passenger seat and my instructor, God, is driving.

Since turning my will and life over to God and trusting that God has a far better plan than any one I ever tried to make for myself, the rides in this spiritual car have often been very challenging. Sometimes the road we’re on is way too bumpy. Other times it feels far too windy or steep. And then there’s plenty of moments where I feel like God is going exceptionally over the speed limit.

Because of this, I’ve occasionally tried to hit that second brake, but I’ve realized something every time I do. It’s usually due to me not trusting that I’m safe and in good hands. The funny thing is that I don’t even think the brake on my side of the car works. On some level I actually feel it’s only there to give me the illusion I’m taking control, but the reality is I’m really not. Thus I’ve come to the conclusion that there’s only one real way for me to leave the car if I truly want to and that’s to jump out.

I’m sure you can imagine how painful it would be in real life to jump from a moving car, especially one that’s going around hairpin turns, travelling up steep hills, or racing along at high speeds. I’ve never done it myself but I know there’s a pretty strong chance I’d be seriously injured if I ever did.

I think the same principle applies to this spiritual car I’m sitting in right now. God has given me free will to get out of the car if I want. But doing so in my world would be equivalent to going back to addictions or finding someone or something else to try to fix me in an easier, softer way. Yet, so far none of these attempts in any of the prior moments of my life have ever quite worked out. In fact, most ended with disastrous results.

Thus I’ve come to the conclusion that the best course of action for me is to remain firmly seated, buckled up, and keep the faith in my Driver. I can’t promise that I may not attempt to hit the brake on my side a few more times as we continue forward on this journey together, even if it doesn’t actually do anything. After all, trusting fully in God can often be an extremely difficult thing to do, especially when you don’t ultimately know the direction your vehicle is heading in.

Nevertheless, I know that God is a far better driver than I am. So I’m going to keep trusting that we’re heading in the right direction and are safe. I just look forward to when we actually reach the next resting place, as I know that while there, I’ll be able to stretch my body and feel at much greater peace than I ever have before…

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson