Pointing The Fingers

It’s real easy to point a finger at something my brain says doesn’t seem right in this world. There are lots of things around me everyday that I notice don’t seem to add up in a fair sense.

Here are just a few of them:

1. People speeding up rather than letting a car in that’s trying to emerge

2. People whispering at meetings about things they heard about someone else

3. Seeing on the news another shooting and more talk about gun control

4. So many blaming the president for the woes of our nation

5. Noticing yet another reality show that highlights the craziness of yet another family

6. Watching person after person go by a homeless person who’s hand is outstretched and receiving nothing

7. Hearing about how it’s unfair that athletes earn so much money

8. People saying one thing to the masses and then doing another

9. Churches stating they are all-welcoming but rejecting people from various backgrounds

10. Criminals get away with light sentences for serious crimes because they have money to get a good lawyer

The list really could go on and on. Here’s the reality. With just about every judgement that I place out there and every finger that I point at the ills of this world, I am guilty on some level of doing those same exact things.

Let me get back to the list but answer them from my deepest truths.

1. Many times I’ve sped up on the highway when I saw someone merging in to “beat them out” or to “be first” because “I was there first”.

2. I lost track of the number of times that I have gossiped to someone else about a person that relapsed on their addiction or that was doing such and such behavior.

3. I’ve been to a gun range and been friends with people who loved to sport their guns and gun licenses.

4. I’ve shouted at the TV or to a friend many times about how the president was crappy and causing this problem and that problem.

5. I’ve thought about how a reality show on my life would be better than what I see being put in the airwaves.

6. I’ve ignored homeless people when I had a dollar in my public judging that that would just spend it on alcohol or drugs.

7. I earned large sums of money in jobs years ago where I wasn’t really doing much of anything except dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s.

8. I’ve stood up on a podium in meetings and spoken about how wonderful my life was and how good I was to everything and everyone and outside of those meetings, was swearing often, lying regularly, and living in other addictions day to day.

9. I’ve been a member of different types of groups such as my fraternity that rejected people for the way they looked, the way they acted, their lifestyle, and more.

10. I was arrested for stealing a long time ago and because my father had money and was able to afford a good lawyer, “it went away”.

The truth is that it’s easy for me to look at the misfortunes of society and comment negatively on any of it. It’s easy to do it because on some level I’m guilty of what I’m condemning.

I look at all these things now. When I find myself judging someone or something, I look in the mirror and ask myself where have I been guilty of this. I’m a firm believer that anytime I feel negative towards something outside of me or anytime I point the finger at someone else that I think is living sideways, I need to look within and see what is it about myself that I don’t like or that I haven’t dealt with.

All of those things I listed above I work on today and ask God for guidance on. Here’s that list one last time.

1. I drive much slower on the highway or on any road today and I try to allow a car to merge in when I see them attempting to do so.

2. I stay away from gossip as best as I’m capable. I stay away from people that live in that mode.

3. I stay away from guns, I don’t support guns, and I don’t have any friends who have guns or carry guns. I don’t even play games that are “shoot ’em up” type games. I’m even beginning to not like going to the movies and seeing over the top gun based violence movies.

4. The President is a figure head. There are many people that are part of how laws and legislation get passed. Because the nation is a certain way, trickles down all the way to me and I know that any woes of the nation is due to all of us and not just one person. I admire any president for standing firm in all of that attack they get daily from people angry with the state of the nation.

5. I don’t watch any of those reality shows anymore about any family. I don’t expose myself to those types of programs that highlight the things some might find as silly or crazy. My life is crazy enough sometimes and it’s a reality show just to live it. I don’t find a need to see it on TV too.

6. If I have a dollar bill in my wallet, I will give it to a homeless person. If I have some loose change, I’ll give it to a homeless person. I could be that homeless person one day. How they spend that dollar or whatever sum I was to give them, is between themselves and God.

7. I learned that the more money I earn, the more I seem to spend and the more I seem to spend the more I need more money. All I felt towards athletes was jealously that I no longer had large sums of money that they are earning. Truthfully, I don’t watch sports anymore on TV and I traditionally don’t go to sporting events. Money isn’t ruling my life currently like it used to.

8. What I say at a meeting today is the exact way that I live my life outside of a meeting. I do not live two separate lives anymore.

9. Anything that I am a member of now or any group that I take part in, I am open about my lifestyle and I am open that I accept everyone equally. If there is any hesitancy to accepting that or me, I do not go to those places.

10. I haven’t committed a crime since my drinking and drugging days for starters. And, I also realized that I don’t know all the truths to any crime that I see on the news or in the papers. I’m just hearing the news’s side of things. So anything I may say is just my own judgement of what’s being presented to me.

The bottom line is that for every finger I’ve pointed at someone or something else that I didn’t like in my life, I need to point that same finger if not all of my fingers back at myself. The more that I work through my judgements and negativity, and the more that I look within and ask God for guidance, the more I find myself accepting all of these things.

It really is true that when I point a finger, I’m guilty of something related to that within myself. By asking God for guidance on revealing those things, I have seen a much greater level of peace in my life towards everything and everyone.


Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur

My Sunday Best

When I was a kid, every Sunday I was taken by my family to Community United Methodist Church in Poughkeepsie, NY. For just about 17 years of Sundays, you would find me at the 11am service wearing “my Sunday best”. In other words, the nicest clothes I had to wear for a church day. My parents and my sister would also be wearing their best and we would walk into church and give the customary greetings to all the people our family knew.

There were plenty of smiles and hugs. There were many who said “it’s good to see you” to us. And there were a lot who thought our family was the family to be. A few years ago I ran into some of my old parent’s friends who knew them before they had passed. I remember telling them how bad things had gotten when I was growing up. How my father was bi-polar and an alcoholic and how my mother was also an alcoholic. They were shocked. They said our family always looked so happy and that many of their friends said they wished they were more like our family.

From the outside looking in, especially seeing us at church on Sunday with us wearing the nicest of clothes, with my mother in the bell choir, and my father being a layman and plenty visible in the church hierarchy, it’s no wonder people thought that. Sadly, it was all an act. That’s what alcoholic families do. They fake it. They cover up the truth. My mother was so deathly afraid that anyone knew just how insane things were in our household.

So there we were, sitting in church each Sunday, together as a family and I remember wishing I was anywhere but in that pew. My parents made everything seem so great with us and I remember the pastor always blessing us and being so kind to us. If he had only known just how much pain we all had inside within the safe confines of our home.

To make matters worse for me back then, I never understood church in the first place. To me, it was a lot of all rising and all sitting, reciting words that weren’t coming from my heart, singing songs that even if they felt inspiring, we weren’t able to clap at the end, and listening to a message that provided a singular viewpoint of the pastor and his relating it to some passages in the Bible.

I’ve learned that God is everything and not just about going to church on a Sunday and practicing a religion. God is in all religions not just one, and He is in nature, He is in all the people we see around us, and He can be in everything I come across each and every day. I can experience a sermon at hearing an uplifting AA message at a meeting. I can experience a reciting of words when I pray on my knees throughout the day. I can experience the church music by singing or listening to an inspiring song on the radio. I can experience my connection to people by just smiling at those that may seem down, by holding the door for those going into a building, or by just reaching out and calling someone and listening to what they are going through.

I didn’t go to any church service today and I’m not currently a member of any church. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not opposed to it. I just haven’t met a church today that embraces God in everything especially with me and my sexuality. So while my family may have covered up the truth on Sundays when we were wearing our Sunday best, I too have found many places of worship presenting similar illusions.

Even though many churches say they are, many are not all encompassing, all friendly and all welcoming. I went to church services and got the friendly handshakes, hugs, and
hellos, and was greeted with the usual “I’m so glad you’re here today”,
but when I made attempts to join those churches, I was subsequently rejected because of my sexuality and told I wasn’t welcomed. I dug deeper at those churches and I was truthful about me and I saw their truth. If anyone had dug deeper with my family, they would have seen the truth too.

The thing I’ve learned about church, religion, people, and life in general, is that what I may see with my eyes and hear with my ears isn’t necessarily the whole truth. The whole truth is what rests within my own heart and soul and all those thoughts in between. The whole truth is something that I’ve had to discover through a journey alone in prayer and meditation, and with God. The Bible, The Koran, the Torah, and any other great text are all wonderful tools to use for discernment on who God is within our own being.

I love God and I am truthful to the extreme today on every level of my life. What you hear me say, what you see me do, and how I live my life is as truthful as one is going to get. I don’t paint any illusions nor try to present myself as something other than I am. Using a famous person in the Bible; Jesus, well he did just the same. From what I read in the Bible at least, it seems Jesus never wavered from who He was and what He was all about. Why couldn’t my family have been that way? Why don’t churches just state openly their truths? Why don’t people just be honest about where they are at in their lives? I can’t really answer any of those questions because I’m not any of them. I know for me, I wasn’t truthful about my life because I was afraid of not being accepted and liked.

With the work I’ve done on myself so far, I like myself a lot more today. I’m OK with being alone and I love who I’m becoming. I present who I am to everyone else as the same that I present to myself when I’m alone. I’m rejected a lot today from people who don’t understand me and I’m often attacked on some level for reasons that I don’t even understand. But because I love myself and how I live my life today and because I have God at the helm of my life, none of that matters. I just continue to be honest and truthful because that’s how all the spiritual teachers throughout history have been.

On a final note, I still attend a church service every now and then and I’m not against it. There are some wonderful messages that I can hear and some wonderful music that I can feel at them. What’s different today is that I go to church when I would like to, I wear what I want when I go, and while I’m there, I am exactly who I am just like when I’m not there.

JUST BE YOURSELF. I know I am today.

Peace, Love, Lights, and Joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson

I Better Pack My Bags, I’m Going On A Guilt Trip!

What is a guilt trip?

Google defines it as: “An experience of feeling guilty about something, esp. when such guilt is excessive, self-indulgent, or unfounded”.

I define it comically today as “An experience Andrew Dawson had often during his dysfunctional childhood.”

I don’t believe God can ever be present in a guilt trip. Guilt is a tool used by those who wish to selfishly gain off the manipulation of another. Those that fall prey to guilt trips and give what the other person is asking of them are people like me that were never able to establish healthy boundaries in life.

In the alcoholic family I grew up in, there were no boundaries. There was no unconditional love. Things got done more than not with a combination of fear, control, and guilt. I was not able to say no as a child to my father or mother on anything. The sports I partook in, the classes I signed up for, the places we went out to dinner, the vacations we took, the food that was put on my plate, I had no voice in any of it. When I spoke up and tried to establish my voice and a boundary, a guilt trip was usually the result.

When one spends the first 18 years of their life with guilt, it stands to reason that responding to it favorably for someone else’s benefit will continue to occur until one heals from where it started. Until the age of 39 years old, I could easily be guilted into doing just about anything for someone.

I fought very hard as a child for approval and I shouldn’t have. All I wanted as a child was for my mother and father to tell me they loved me and were proud of me for me. I wanted to be good enough just as I was. Why wasn’t sixth place out of 25 in my sectionals swim meet good enough? Why wasn’t the B in school ok? Ironically, they were. I just couldn’t tell myself that then. I listened to my mother and father about how I had to try harder.

Sadly, what I didn’t know then, was that they were just replaying the tapes from their childhood. They were only teaching me what they had learned themselves. And I’m sure their parent’s parents were the same and so on and so forth. Someone had to break the pattern and learn what unconditional love was all about. And at the age of 39 I was exactly like my parents.

I was guilting others to get what I wanted and being guilted by others into what they wanted.

“Will you do this for me. Please? You know that I’m so good to you…”

“Will you loan me some money? You have way more than I do, don’t be selfish…”

“Why don’t you buy dinner for us? You earn more money than me…”

“Can you clean my car for me? You don’t have anything better to do since you’re not working like I am…”

These are just a few of the guilt trips that I’ve experienced. Each one of them I’ve given into. Why? Because I didn’t feel like I was worthy and deserving of unconditional love. I never had it. I only got conditional based love. If I did those things, then I was given a hug, an embrace, and a thank you. If I was lucky, I got a “I love you for that”. That’s all I knew.

I didn’t know that it was ok to say no and that I could still be loved by the person I was saying no to. I didn’t know that there were people out there that might ask if I could do something for them but not put any condition on the end of the request. I didn’t know that those same people would be ok if I said no and still love me just the same. I didn’t know any of that because I was replaying the same tapes with my parents again and again in relationship after relationship.

The saying is true that when the pain gets great enough that a person will take action. For me it took a lot of physical, mental, and emotional pain. It took a lot of fighting and anger. It took a lot of my happiness.

And there came a day when I finally said “ENOUGH!” “Enough of the guilt, enough of the manipulation, enough of the conditional based love. My pain had manifested so great that the price of continuing in the same patterns from my childhood was greater than what I was getting from it. So I faced the people that were doing it to me and said goodbye. Who I was really saying goodbye to were my sick parents. And suddenly I found myself alone and just about friendless.

I had brought into my life so many people that were begging me to work through these issues with my Mom and Dad and finally I did. And I did the one thing that I needed to after I had done the massive cleaning of my house of friends. I spent time with me. I learned how to like me. I learned how to love me. I learned who I was, what I liked, and what I wanted. I realized that I would never be able to have a healthy friendship or partnership with anyone unless I had a healthy one with myself and was able to set boundaries with everyone else.

These past nine months have been a huge learning curve for me. I’ve had to say “no” so many times when my mind was saying yes to people giving me guilt trips. My landlord has asked me many times to take care of his dog when he was running off to do something else or had fallen asleep on the couch and didn’t want to get up. I know today that his dog is not MY responsibility. I took responsibility for so many other people’s things. Their animals, their money issues, their health issues, and so much more. I’m not responsible for making anyone else happy or sad. I’m not responsible for someone else’s life. I’m not responsible for someone else’s responsibilities. I’m responsible for me. Strike that. God is responsible for me and I’m responsible for serving God as best as I can.

Don’t get me wrong. I will help out those that need help and are ailing on some level. But I allow God to guide me now and not my brain which gave into all the guilt consistently my whole life.

Would I walk my roommate’s dog if he was sick? Of course.

There’s a fine line between selflessly helping someone who needs help versus being guilted into helping someone else’s selfish nature out.

The only way I’ve been successful in not falling prey anymore to these guilt trips is to developing that loving relationship with myself and learning about what is ok and what is not. I used to always be on the go and never slowed down to even think about any of this. Thankfully my body responded with enough pain that forced me to slow down and reflect on the state of my life.

I’m still in a learning process. I know I’ve grown though. And I’m very thankful for the progress I’ve made and the boundaries I have put in place.

While saying “No!” is still rather new and difficult, I know the more I practice it, the easier it will become to not pack my bags anymore and go on that guilt trip.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson