Learning To Enjoy A Birthday Spent With Me…

Spending time alone used to be a really big problem for me. That was especially true on past birthdays, where I always found the need to surround myself with others for the majority of the day, mostly because I was so dependent on others to make myself feel better. This year’s birthday was certainly different though and showed how much I’ve grown, of which I’m truly thankful for.

Four days ago, when I actually celebrated my most recent birthday, my 47th, I woke up that day with not a single plan, other than to see my therapist for one of our weekly appointments. I had no lunch plans. No dinner plans. Nothing really, which in the past would have bothered me immensely because my ego would have attempted to convince me that no one loved or cared about me. Today, I know that’s a lie, because my self-esteem comes from within, not externally.

Although I still struggle for external approval at times, I decided it was important to spend this year’s birthday just chilling at home for the bulk of it, during which I soaked up the sun, did some gardening and cleaning up of the yard, watched plenty of cotton from the cotton trees lazily drift from the sky onto the ground all around me, and even spent a good portion of the day cleaning up the house. By the time my once a year special day ended, I had only spent approximately 2 hours of it with others, where the rest was spent making the best of my own company. And you know what? I actually found it more refreshing, peaceful, and relaxing then many of past birthdays where I was so preoccupied with activities with others. Activities that usually encompassed a lunch and dinner out with different sets of friends.

This year though, my special lunch was honestly nothing more than a good cup of Strawberry yogurt with dark chocolate granola. My dinner was a Big Mac and fries if you can believe it, something I did just to honor the little kid in me who used to love eating that growing up. And my dessert? Well it wasn’t a piece of cake with a candle in it with people singing happy birthday. Rather it was redeeming my free birthday drink from Starbucks that ended up being a Venti Decaf Quad Soy Mocha with two shots of Toffee Nut Syrup. And you know what? It was freaking fantastic!

All in all, I had a great day, which is kind of shocking to think about, seeing how I spent so very little of it doing any major activity. But lately, I’m beginning to realize, that some of the best moments in life often come when I’m by myself, in more stillness than not, as it’s in those moments I truly come to appreciate my life and my Higher Power as well.

So, while I did receive several hundred Happy Birthday messages from friends and loved ones that I’m very thankful for, I think the best birthday gift I received this year was ultimately taking the time to show myself that I didn’t need anyone else to make my special day special, as being with me and God alone made it special enough!

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

How Selfishness Prevented A Lawn Care Service Owner From Seeing The Bigger Picture…

Sometimes, I just don’t understand people, especially those who are in the business to make money. I say that because recently I called a local lawn care company to see about getting a specific treatment for a fungus that showed up in my yard last year, only to eventually learn they weren’t going to help me unless I signed up for their entire lawn care service.

Currently, I’m very content with my existing lawn care service. Other than this rare fungus that somehow got into my yard last year, a fungus called Pythium Blight, I really have been impressed overall with their results for the past six years. Unfortunately, when this fungus showed up out of the blue last year, my lawn care company didn’t have anything to treat it, as it is that rare, at least in this area, and it’s also somewhat pricey to treat as well, with the fungicide costing upwards of almost $500. Since I didn’t have the desire to spend that amount of money last year to get the expensive fungicide that would have fixed the problem, I ended up losing over half of my entire yard as a result. Thankfully though, after over-seeding last fall and this spring, my yard has fully returned to its former glory, yet so has the worries about this disease coming back, especially as the humid and hot weather that brought it out the last time has started returning as well. In lieu of that, I recently began calling around to other lawn care companies to see if they had a specific treatment for Pythium Blight, and if so, could I hire them specifically to treat my yard for it, if it was to show up again.

One such lawn care company who had great ratings on the Internet contacted me and told me they indeed did have a fungicide that would take care of Pythium Blight. They also said that it would probably take two applications and cost me about $60 dollars overall. When they asked who did my current lawn care, I told them, which upon hearing, they attempted to see if I’d be open to switching my lawn care service to them. I told them I wasn’t necessarily looking for that, but would be open to an estimate just to see their costs. A week later the owner of this company showed up and provided me an estimate that was relatively reasonable, except I had had decided in the meantime that I wasn’t really ready to switch services. But at least I now had a company who could provide me a spot treatment if the fungus was to show back up again right?

WRONG…

Because when I contacted the owner via phone the day after getting my estimate and asked how long it would take for him to come out and provide the Pythium service if it was to return, I received a very short text message back that said he wouldn’t help me unless I was willing to fully switch over to his lawn care service.

Honestly, I got pretty perturbed because of this. I felt this business owner’s tactics were shady because on the front end, when I originally made my first contact with him, he was totally willing to provide the spot treatment if it was to show up again. But later, when he realized I wasn’t going to switch over to his lawn care program, he couldn’t be bothered with me. And even after several attempts to reach out and speak about the matter further, I never heard back from him again.

Frankly, I don’t understand why business owners make decisions like this, as providing a small service for something like a simple fungicide treatment can go a long way with (a) me providing recommendations for his company to others, and (b) me providing them more of my future business as well. In fact, quite possibly, providing me the small service he said he’d do at the onset, could have eventually led to me down the road giving him my full lawn care service. Yet, this guy was only interested in me being a full lawn care client now and nothing else. Ironically, one lawn care company I talked to later about this issue confirmed that they have indeed taken on small jobs before just like the one I was asking for, because it usually has led to a lot more dollars of future business down the road.

Nevertheless, this deceptive lawn care service owner reminded me of my past addictive me who was only ever concerned about making the big dollars versus developing better relationships with clients. It’s a big reason why my bed and breakfast failed back in 2010, when I lost hundreds of thousands of dollars overall, because back then, I was often deceptive myself and far more focused on the money coming in then developing stronger bonds with my customers.

So, while this lawn care business owner couldn’t see the bigger picture of how some better customer service and a small fungicide treatment could have gone a long way to a more lucrative partnership down the road, I’m at least glad I was able to identify the mirror for my past self, and for being able to cross a company off the list who probably wouldn’t have ever been in my best interest to use anyway when push came to shove…

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

A Punching Bag No More…

Have you ever allowed yourself to be a punching bag for your past mistakes because you felt like you deserved it? I ask this only in that I recently realized that I was doing just that with someone I care about, that I once hurt immensely over a period of several years, starting during the summer of 2007.

Back then, I had just left an almost seven-year relationship and was feeling deeply hurt, broken, and not wanting to be in touch with any of it. So, on a trip to visit some friends, I randomly met someone at a coffee shop who I found quite attractive and struck up a conversation with. That brief encounter ended up turning into a friendship that would involve sexual intimacy over the next five years. Even though I really liked this person, I remained non-committal, all because I was still deeply wounded from my previous relationship and had never taken the time to grieve or heal. Frankly, I was running from myself and sleeping around to stay numb. What I never fully grasped though through it all was that this person wanted more than just a friendship with benefits. But I was too self-absorbed and self-centered to see this or the pain I was causing them through my ongoing actions.

When I finally became aware of it, I entered a new 12 Step recovery program to start the healing process. Not too long after, I made amends to this friend and owned all the selfishness and self-seeking behavior I had engaged in that had wounded them again and again. Through that amends I came to see that I had always placed them second to my addiction. After listening to how much they had been hurt, I asked for their forgiveness and was given that. Unfortunately, that turned out to not be the case as the years passed.

I began to notice this when this friend was having a down day, as they occasionally would lash out at me. The first such occasion I remember quite vividly was when they began dating someone new. I was truly happy for them and when I asked one day how the new love interest was going, I was told the sexual intimacy they were sharing was far better than anything I had ever offered them. It stung, but I accepted it. Why? Because I felt like I deserved it. Every bit of my former ugliness still sat inside me and I was often disgusted at myself for what I did.

As time went on, I had hoped that those brief stinging words would only be an isolated incident. Sadly, they weren’t. I started receiving random comments from this friend that honestly felt like I had not been forgiven for any of my past mistakes with them. Yet, I continued to allow myself to accept it, all because I really did believe I deserved to feel all that pain I had caused them. When my friend’s health began to wane after being diagnosed with an auto-immune disease, their comments in life would start to grow more negative, some of which would continue to be directed at me, where each felt like tiny hurtful missiles reminding me of how bad of a person I once was.

I eventually asked this friend if they could please fully forgive me because I didn’t deserve to keep being held to the person I once was and was told in response that it was hard for them to fully forget. Sadly, their occasional digs at me didn’t cease after that, but I kept on accepting them, even when I’d get unfriended and re-friended on Facebook more than once, when my calls didn’t get returned, and when I’d even occasionally be hung up on as well. For the life of me, this friend just wasn’t able to ever fully see how much I was trying to love them unconditionally and erase who I was in the past.

Repeatedly, I invited them over the years to come be a guest in our home, but they never took me up on the offer. I did my best to uplift them any time they were down, usually to no avail. I prayed regularly for them, often asking God to bring healing, forgiveness, and even a partner into their life, and was regularly told that they didn’t want anything to do with that God of my understanding. I’d shed many-a-tears along the way around this, but I kept on enduring, even when they personally attacked a number of my blogs, the one thing left I still found a little joy in doing.

And yet, I still stuck around, always telling myself over and over I deserved anything they sent my way. That was until just recently though when I realized through my therapist that I hadn’t fully forgiven myself for all the pain I had caused others and myself and that my continuing to accept this friend’s hurtful comments were a sign of that. So, when this friend sent me a text one afternoon that was most definitely loaded with negative energy, I opted for the first time to not respond. Shortly thereafter, I received a warning message that basically said there’d be consequences if I continued to avoid responding to them. Of course, I immediately fell back in line and responded to that with an apology, which in retrospect, I had nothing to apologize for.

A few weeks later, one of my closest friends passed away and as I began the grieving process, I found myself one evening on the phone with my best friend from Massachusetts discussing the details of his passing, when this friend called at a previously scheduled time. I quickly switched over and asked if I could call them back, which twelve minutes later I did, only to get their voicemail and a text message that said they were no longer going to be placed second in life. I was then unfriended again on Facebook, which for me, became the final straw. I messaged them and told them I no longer deserved to be held to my past and that I had done everything I could over the years to show them I was no longer that person. Deep down, I was sick and tired of being a punching bag and told them that when they finally decided to fully forgive me, I’d still be there for them with open arms and unconditional love.

And that’s where I am now with someone I do care about, but someone I also know who still holds on to the person I once was and not who I am now. I know the two of us could be great friends, yet that’s going to involve them fully forgiving me. Until they do, I know I must keep them at a loving arm’s length because I no longer wish to be a punching bag for them or anyone else for that matter. And ultimately, I’m ready to fully forgive myself for my past, because in all reality, I do deserve that.

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