“I Can’t Wait Till I’m Older…”

I can’t wait till I’m older and stay up past my bedtime.

I can’t wait till I’m older and have a later curfew.

I can’t wait till I’m older and be able to drive myself places.

I can’t wait till I’m older and be able to see “R” rated movies.

I can’t wait till I’m older and don’t have to go to school anymore.

I can’t wait till I’m older and able to buy cigarettes.

I can’t wait till I’m older and go to college.

I can’t wait till I’m older and be able to drink legally.

I can’t wait till I’m older and graduate from college.

I can’t wait till I’m older and have better experience for my career.

I can’t wait till I’m older and have enough money to go into my own business.

I can’t wait till I’m older and able to retire.

You know….I really wish I were younger.

I found myself lately thinking a lot about this. Through great reflection, I see now that the majority of the 40 years I have lived so far on this Earth were focused on something to come and something I didn’t have. What’s sad about that is the amount of things that I may missed experiencing fully because my eyes were always down the road instead of where my feet were planted below me.

There’s that old saying, “Stop and take the time to smell the roses.” Well it’s true. Unfortunately many don’t take the time to smell the roses or any flower for that matter. I’m using this phrase more metaphorically in this case as for most of my life until recently, I failed to see how many things God had placed so beautifully in my life because of my gaze being somewhere out into the future.

Today I look back and remember wonderful games of kick-the-can, hide-and-go-seek, and kick ball in my neighborhood until the last of the sun light was just about gone. I think about the ice cream truck coming down the street and me racing towards it to get a frozen bomb pop. I remember going to Myrtle Beach every summer and playing mini-golf, building sandcastles, swimming in the ocean, and having huge gooey sundaes. I have fond memories as well during college of pledging and helping build a chapter for my national fraternity, Phi Kappa Psi. There is a vast wealth of treasured thoughts about many parties I dj’d, sports I partook in, and social outings that I had a lot of fun doing during my undergrad years. In my post collegiate years, the same thing holds true with many things I can remember being a part of, doing, or going to, that bring a smile to my face. Unfortunately, I can also remember during all of them, that I was always partially present as I experienced each of them. One part of me was enjoying them and the other was thinking about something down the road that I wanted, didn’t have, or felt like I needed to be happier.

With all the health issues I’ve faced in the past few years and having been slowed down immensely from being able to do what I once could, I have caught myself wishing that I was younger again. I see how much I might have lost by not remaining in the moment and making the best of what I had all those years. Today I’m doing all that I can to be more present where my feet are like on my drive home from the gym today. I noticed how picturesque the clouds and blue sky behind them appeared. I took a deep breath in and thanked God for still having two eyes to see it.

No matter where I am in my life, no matter what state my health is in, and no matter what experiences I am having to go through, there is always something around me in every single moment that is God-given, amazing, and filled with light and love. I just have to remain in the moment and stop wishing for something that the future may or may not bring. If I can do that, I know I’ll never miss again experiencing for ALL its worth, another great moment of my life.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

What I Needed As A Kid

There are days I think back to my childhood when I am out and about and see parents with their kids playing at parks, going out to dinner, laughing as they walk into a movie theater, or walking hand in hand while browsing at stores in the mall. While I may have experienced each of those things as a kid here and there, what I remember most is the nightmares of growing up in an alcoholic family.

My father was bi-polar/manic depressive and battled with addictions including alcohol and gambling. My mother too suffered from alcohol addiction and battled her own codependency issues. One of my earliest childhood memories with them involved me answering the front door around eight years old. Seeing two policemen standing there and asking to speak with my mother was scary enough. Being ushered into the basement and told to stay down there with my sister until she said it was ok to come upstairs was even scarier. Come to find out, my father had been found in the apple orchard down the street in a coma-like state after trying to drink himself to death.

Sadly, memories such as this one are common in families that suffer from alcoholism and other addictions. When I speak at recovery meetings, I normally ask those in attendance how many suffered from at least one if not both parents being an alcoholic or a drug addict. Normally at least 80 percent of the people present raise their hands. Many of those people have shared with me privately their own horror stories after hearing mine. For those born into addiction based families, it’s rare to experience what a child truly needs as they are growing up. There is one thing and only one thing that I’ve come to know in my God-centered journey that every kid should have received growing up and that’s unconditional love. In an addiction based home, it’s extremely rare if that ever happens.

My parents weren’t happy with themselves. Most anyone that is suffering from serious addictions never are. My mother and father were constantly caught up in their own disease and misery. Part of them did their best to raise my sister and I as good as they knew. Unfortunately, when alcoholism and mental disease were added to the equation, it seemed as if there were nothing my sister and I could do that could ever make them happy.

I was a swimmer and a dam good one at that from a very young age. A day that I try hard to not reflect on anymore was when I was at a large swim meet and was in the final race of several heats that had taken place earlier in the day. When the race had ended, I saw that I had finished last. Overall, because of the prior heats, I had come in sixth out of close to probably forty people. When I got out of the pool and my mother came over with a towel, what I wanted so desperately to hear was that I did great and that she was proud of me. Inside I was sad because I really had wanted to finish in one of those medal standings. Her first words to me as she wrapped the towel around me were “You didn’t kick hard enough.” For a child to hear those words in their own moments of despair is like being kicked when already down. What I really heard in those words was “You didn’t try hard enough.” And what I took home that day was the feeling inside that I wasn’t good enough.

Unfortunately in a toxic, addiction-based home, loving words, loving praise, and warm and embracing hugs don’t happen often, if at all. From my own experience in my addictions when I was active in any of them, there was nothing and nobody that could make me happy and it was common for me to put down anyone and anything that was doing better than me. I couldn’t stand seeing anyone succeed while I felt such a failure. And for anyone that was already down, I usually made them feel even worse by putting them down even more, because in some sick way, if they felt worse then I, then what I was going through didn’t feel as bad. Knowing this has helped me to understand at least why it was as a child that I was disciplined when I got a B instead of an A. Or when I dusted, I was always told I missed a spot. Or if I vacuumed, why there was always an area I seemed to have overlooked. Or if I cleaned the pool, there was always dirt still in it. And so on and so forth.

Today it’s becoming common in households where addictions are present for kids to suffer from physical and sexual abuse on top of the mental and emotional abuse already present. What’s even worse is when these same kids grow up and become addicted themselves and repeat the same patterns their own parents lived out in their lives. It seems like it could be a never ending cycle.

But it doesn’t have to be.

I’m walking proof that the cycle can end. What I really needed as a kid was to be loved and to grow up knowing I was good enough just as I was. As an adult, through my recovery from the same addictions that my parents suffered and died from, I found God. After finding God through my recovery, I found that God has always loved me just as I am. And after finding that God always loved me just as I am, I learned how to love myself. And after I learned how to love myself, I’ve begun to live daily loving others as best as I can no matter what my ego may say.

My goal today is offer love to everyone no matter what. It’s my way of giving back to as many people as I can that may have been just like me and grew up feeling worthless and unloved. It’s not always easy. Sometimes I find myself having to love people that seem to hate me for no reason. But even in those cases, I remember that at the center of those people is a soul and a piece of God. And I remember how I was once filled with hate because of all the hurt and pain I had been through. Knowing this helps me to spread unconditional love everywhere even in the presence of that hate.

Through my journey of healing, recovery, and finding God, I have learned to forgive my parents for their own addiction based behaviors, and been shown how to not only love myself but everyone else too.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Why Am I Here?

“Why Am I Here?” This thought has crossed my mind so many times in the last year of my life with all the pain and struggles I have had to face every single day. The life I once lived now seems like it was someone else’s or a very distant memory.

Ten years ago I was still employed by the U.S. Government, earning $82,000 per year. I was about to sell my house and make a $200,000 profit which would be invested fully into a new bed and breakfast venture with my then partner of several years. I was soon to be owning a home and a business on a small island off the coast of Virginia. And I felt like I had finally arrived to a life that I was always meant to be living in.

Since then I lost my mother, then that partner, then that business, then all that money, than my health, then most of my friends, and finally my ability to be employed. There are days like today that it takes every ounce of courage and determination to keep moving forward with faith that God will deliver me out of this state which I have referred to lately as Hell. Religion speaks often to a fire and brimstone place that one’s soul goes to when they die a sinner. On days like today when pain wreaks havoc in various areas of my body and when depression fills my vessel, it often feels like I’m in that fiery pit now.

In the Bible, there was the story of Job who was tested for his faith as he endured great losses all around him and within him. For anyone who’s read the story, Job was able to maintain his faith even as he lost more and more. But eventually he would cry out in the end and plea to God to take his life because the pain was so great and because he had no answers as to why he was suffering. God finally did speak to Job after his plea. The chapter in the Bible concludes with God restoring Job on every level with even more than what he originally had lost. Unfortunately, there is no proof that Job’s story is even real. Some biblical scholars say it’s true. Other’s have said it’s a parable to provide hope for those going through great suffering. For me, I have often thought of myself on some level as Job, like on days like today, when I have cried out in my own anguish and wished God would take me from this life.

The memory of me having all that money, all those friends, and all those possessions so many years ago obviously wasn’t supposed to be the journey that I was meant to be on. Where my journey is heading, I don’t know. What I do know is that I have endured great pain and suffering for almost three years now, the last year of which has been more than not, unbearable.

I don’t understand God nor His plan for me. To a few people that I know, comparisons have been made to the life I’m now living as somewhat of a monk. Quite often, it’s extremely difficult for me to be around a lot of people. I spend most of my days and evenings alone now because I find it very hard to explain to everyone what I feel inside when what they see on the outside doesn’t quite line up. To some I’m sure the feeling is that I have some area of unconfessed sin that is driving all of this. Job’s three friends even tried to convince him of this, except Job’s suffering was due to Satan trying to prove that Job would denounce God when all of what he had was taken away. Rest assured, I have confessed everything that I am aware of in my life that wasn’t done in love and light. I’ve made amends wherever possible. I’ve done everything that I know I can do from a health and healing standpoint. I’ve been prayed for, prayed over, and anointed with oil. And I have removed everything from my life that would drive me away from living a completely spiritually God-centered life.

So far I still have no answers. I am told by my spiritual advisor and Shaman, by my closest friends, and by my partner, to remain patient. It’s really hard. And on some days, like how I feel right now, tears come to my eyes, and I silently ask God “Why?” I don’t know why I’m still going through all of this. I don’t know why I’m still even here. It’s even harder when I see people all around me getting away with behaviors that are filled with a lot of darkness and hate while I try to do the best I can to stay spiritually centered with God.

What I do know is that I am going to continue to do the best I can to keep going and trust that God will one day bring light to the darkness that I feel. That He will deliver me out of this pain and suffering I continue to endure. And that He will show me the next step on my path as to why I’m still here and how best I can serve His will.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson