The Ups and Downs of a Sports Fan

It seems a long time ago when my life had a large amount of it revolve around certain pro sports teams. Living in the New England area, it’s hard to exist as a non sports buff. On some level, everyone here seems to wear around a type of paraphernalia favoring one of the local teams. I will admit that I do have a few articles of sports based clothing that place me here in this area.There is a major difference though with me and most people I meet here when it comes to sports. I don’t follow any of the local pro teams nor any of the other ones outside this area. There was a time I did though.

If you live in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine or Vermont, your bound to be a loyal devotee of one of the New England based pro sports teams which include the Boston Celtics ( NBA ), the New England Patriots ( NFL ), the Boston Bruins ( NHL ), and the Boston Red Sox ( MLB ). I grew up in New York though and for most of the younger years of my life I followed two local teams, the New York Mets ( MLB ) and the Buffalo Bills ( NFL ), and one other team, the Chicago Bulls ( NBA ). If a game was on with one of those teams, there was a strong likelihood that I was watching it, face glued to the television. If my team won, I was so happy. If my team lost, I was miserable and criticizing the players or the coaches. And then there were the debates I got into with people about how “my team” was better then “their team”.

All of this shifted in my life just past my college years when I lost my father and then my mother both tragically. During those years of grief, I sought healing through several things but one that specifically changed my whole level of interest in life. When I discovered meditation, my life changed dramatically. It was at a silent retreat that I had gone on for ten days that I was given a crash course in meditation.

During that retreat, all the creature comforts of life were removed and I spent ten complete days in silence meditating, walking, and reflecting. There is no media on any level and no writing instruments either. It’s just myself and my thoughts. That’s when I realized how I was on hyper speed in most of my life every single day and how I spun myself up and down based upon so many external things.

When I emerged from the retreat, my eyes were focused differently on life. While everyone and everything seemed to be on a freeway racing at top speeds, I was at a snail’s pace. That’s when I really started to see how I was allowing things outside of me influence how I felt every single day.

Why did I get so bent out of shape when one of the teams I liked lost? Why was I so hyper when one of my teams was winning? Why was I so angry and irritable at life and people around me when my team was doing poorly? Why did I treat everyone around me so much nicer when my team was in first place? Meditating helped me to go deeper with these questions and find some answers.

I wasn’t connected in ANY way to ANY professional athlete on ANY team. Yet I based a large portion of my life around those things and my life reflected it depending on how each was doing. I bragged about how great my team was to others, especially to fans of opposing teams, and I got into arguments to those same people just trying to defend something I wasn’t even connected to.

Upon moving to the New England area, I immediately felt different than most people here. There really are a vast amount of avid fans here of the local pro sports teams, especially the New England Patriots. A few years ago, they went 16-0 and then lost in the superbowl in the final minutes to the New York Giants. I swear you could have heard a pin drop in every house, on every street, throughout all of New England when that happened. And then the next day, it was the most called in sick day that whole year. No one was on the roads, as if it was Christmas Day. A few years later, the same thing happened again in the Superbowl, to the same team, in the last few minutes. And once again, life shut down for another day and everyone seemed angry and irritable. On the news they show people near the stadiums destroying property, shooting guns, getting in fights, and more whether the teams have won or lost.

I’m not sure why I ever was so deeply invested in any team. Maybe it gave me something to believe in. Maybe it was an escape. Maybe it was just something to do. Whatever the reason, it’s not me anymore. I’m not following any team or any player or any sport anymore and interestingly enough, I’m a much calmer person in my life. I’m concerned more today about reaching out and helping others and focusing in on people that are suffering and how I might be of assistance. The other night when the Patriots were playing the Ravens (and lost) I was at a Detox speaking to alcoholics and addicts that were needing help. To me it was a no brainer of where I wanted to be that night. To others that I called and asked if they wanted to join me, I was told I was crazy for wanting to miss “the big game”.

My truth is that I don’t want to feel anxious and jittery anymore and that happened a lot when watching a game. I don’t wish to subject myself to the highs and lows that come throughout the minutes I glue myself to a television during a sports season. I’ve dealt with enough anxiety and depression in my life that I don’t need to enhance it by tying myself so closely into the life of a pro sports team.

The biggest pro sporting event in the country is coming up in two weeks. The Superbowl. Will I watch it? Yes. But not for the reason one may think. I like the commercials and the halftime show. If I could string that all together for 60 minutes of viewing and remove the game, that would be a great hour spent for me.

I really am not on a roller coaster anymore of ups and downs and don’t plan on being again in this life. I like being a much calmer person throughout the day and I know that I wasn’t when I invested hours of my life each week cheering a team on. I’m happy for the athletes if that’s where their passion is. I pray for the best in each of them, their teams, as well as for their safety. That’s about the extent of connection I have anymore to sports. I like feeling more at peace and I’m grateful that meditation helped me to look at my life a little deeper to see what things kept me from getting centered and balanced, being an ups and downs kind of sports fan was just one of them.

Peace, love, light and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Beyond the 12th Step of Recovery

Lately, with the world not ending on 12-21, but going into a shift for greater awareness and healing, I got to thinking about the 12th step in AA.

“Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

For those who are in any recovery based program, it is this step where one goes out into the real world and begins to try to make it a better place for not only themselves but more importantly for all others.

In the first part of this step, a person emerging from all their hard work within goes out and helps others who are still suffering from the same condition the steps helped them with. Whether it’s alcoholism, drug addiction, gambling addiction, overeating, smoking, sex and love addiction, etc, the first part of the 12th step is for those that have found recovery to go out and share their experience, strength, and hope to others still suffering from the throngs of their addictions.

But, I have found that the second part of this step is one that is often overlooked, “…and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

What does that exactly mean? I wondered that myself for a long time.

When I finished the steps in AA, I thought the only actions of the 12th step were to reach out to the still suffering and sponsor them, offer them hope, get them to meetings, and go speak at places of recovery about my experience, strength, and hope.

There’s more than just that. Look at these words for a moment. “All our affairs.” Is the still suffering “all our affairs.” Is staying only in the arena of that addiction all that is necessary.

I compartmentalized the 12th step in my life and had my work with recovery and those still suffering and then I had the rest of my life. What I discovered is that Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob had a bigger purpose in writing the steps. It was their hope that God or a Higher Power would become the center of a recovered person’s life and that upon their recovery they would emerge a new man or woman and bring more light to this planet in everything they did both inside and outside the halls of their recovery.

Sometimes it’s painful when I see someone speak at the podium or working with another because it’s those same people that I see when not in the recovery mode harboring resentments and being open about them, gossiping, throwing trash out their windows from their car, snapping at those on the highway that aren’t driving the way they think they should be, driving recklessly and endangering others on the road, swearing profusely amongst their friends, diminishing deep intimacy with sexual jokes and perversion and well the list goes on and on.

I only see this because I was guilty of all of those I just listed and more. Each of them was a part of me when I was living partially in self will and partially in God’s will. The point of the 12th step is to be a better God centered individual in everything one does in their life from their words, to their thoughts, and finally to their actions.

It’s my deepest belief that Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob established a foundation for all of recovery based programs to have individuals become more spiritually centered in their whole lives once they were brought fully through the steps.

Back in 2008 with over 13 years at that time of continuous sobriety, I was on the one hand helping alcoholics and speaking in meetings about how great my program and life were and on the other hand I was in adulterous based relationships, driving on the highway at super speeds, watching vast amounts of pornographic material on the web at night, swearing at the drop of a dime, character assassinating people behind their back, and tearing apart my life from within without even realizing it.

“All our affairs” means just that. In every affair of my life from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, I live today with God directing me in everything during those periods. I try to be courteous to others emerging in on roads and let them in ahead of me. I pick up garbage that is in parking lots and bring it to the nearest trash cans. I take shopping carts that are left in the middle of a parking lot to the nearest collector of them. I hold the door open for people behind me when walking into stores. I smile at those who seem to be having bad days. I do extra things around my roommate’s house that he might have on his list of things to do, so as to help him and his burden out. I surprise my partner with doing some of his chores to ease his day. I tell people that I’m proud of them when they achieve something even if its relatively small in their own minds. Sometimes I even buy people in line behind me their coffee’s and donuts. The list goes on.

There is much more that I can do and everyday I ask God to guide me how to serve His needs. Every day is different and every day brings new challenges to me. Sometimes my ego gets in the way. I’m not perfect, but I do try to do those things that even my ego says it doesn’t want to do for someone else.

All in all, I learned that just because one is a good speaker or a good sponsor in recovery, doesn’t mean that they are living the fullest 12th step they could be. Appearances are often deceiving. It’s my hope that I can achieve with every waking breath, a life of servitude to God’s needs and wants, as I know that I’ll be a far happier man in my life then any of the years where I lived in any amount of self-will.

If you have experience in any recovery based program and are out there helping others in your program, please realize that it’s just as important to reach out to the rest of the world in all your thoughts, words, and actions and make it a better place to live.

Peace, love, light, and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson

Grudges and Resentments – Poison To the Soul

One of the things in the New England area that AA groups do are commitments. A commitment is when an AA group will go out to either another group or to a place of recovery such as a Detox, a jail or a halfway house. At those places, its members will share their experience, strength, and hope in their AA recovery. It’s part of the 12th step work of reaching out and helping others.

Recently, I had an interesting experience happen one night when my group was on the schedule to speak at a detox in Brockton, MA at a place called High Point. Sometimes groups get double booked, meaning two different groups are scheduled to speak at the same time. The normal process when that happens is for one person to chair the meeting and to call a mixture of speakers from both groups.

I made a phone call to the detox ahead of time to make sure my group had the commitment that night as a few times that’s happened as well with a group showing up that wasn’t on the calendar. To my disappointment, my group indeed that night was not on the calendar for some unknown reason even though we had it on our calendar. What was ironic though was that the group that was scheduled was my former home group of which I still had AA friends in.

One of its members was still a friend of mine, her name is Jen. I called her and asked if she was going to be there. Sadly, she was not, but she encouraged me to still go. Truthfully I had really been looking forward to the commitment that night as I had not been on one for quite awhile.

After some dilemma, I agreed with her and went. When I walked in there were two people I knew and two I did not from my former home group. Up in the front of the room were five chairs and four of them were occupied. A girl I knew out of the people there asked me if I was even part of their group anymore and I made a joke about not being sure where my home was lately. She laughed and then I told her about my group having been on the calendar and then suddenly we weren’t.

This is where the story brings up the title of this posting. Also at this commitment was a guy who I had known for several years. He is most often referred to by a nickname but for purposes of anonymity in this posting, his name is Darren. Having just seen him a few weeks before and sharing a good conversation, I said hello and he ignored me which I found odd. Then he slid his chair towards the wall as far away as he could get from me which I found even more odd. He was chairing the meeting and just before he was to begin I asked him what was up and why he was sitting so far away.

The only response I got was that he was just claiming his space. During the commitment I noticed he wouldn’t look my way at all and when I tried to talk to him silently during it he closed his eyes and ignored me. He proceeded to call the three people to my left that were members of his group first and then with 15 minutes still left in the meeting, he called me.

When the meeting ended the other three members said goodbye and it was nice seeing me and hearing from me and several of the women and men in the detox came up and thanked me for a God centered message. I went to say goodbye to Darren and he was already gone.

I’ve really tried in my life today with recovery to not take ownership of other people’s stuff. I’m far from perfect in this and can say there are still areas of unsettledness within me and insecurity when I know someone has an issue with me.

Two nights later, I showed up at this former home group for a beginner’s meeting. Darren was in the front of the room helping to set up. I went to talk with him and ask him what was up from the other night and he walked away. When I proceed to follow him into the kitchen in the church basement and ask him for a few minutes as I had a question for him, he said he had nothing to say to me. I could feel the anger seething from him towards me and yet I had no idea what it was about.

Then the topic that night was presented at the beginner’s meeting by the speaker. It was about letting go of anger and resentments. How ironic! I listened to each person that raised their hand and was called up. One of which was Darren. I found it interesting when he shared because he talked about how he was free of anger and resentments and how his program was working so well that he didn’t walk with the anger anymore in his life that he once had.

It reminded me of much of my own journey where I went into meetings and wanted to speak just to feel important. I would tell everyone when I shared how great things were in my life, how I was free from this or that, and yet deep down I was still that same angry and resentful person. In hearing Darren’s message I saw the mirror for myself on something that I did quite often in my life until I truly decided to turn over my will completely as the 3rd step says to the care of God.

It’s been about two weeks now since that night and I have come across his path a few more times. Each time he has completely ignored me. Last night was the most difficult as I was talking to two AA friends of mine and Darren was also talking to them and when he left he said goodbye to the both of them directly with their names and said nothing to me.

I really don’t know what Darren’s anger and resentment towards me is about. I’m not really sure why he’s ignoring me. I wish I did. The human side of me has thought a lot about every possible thing it might be and I finally just prayed and I’ve been praying. A pacifist by nature, I like everyone to be happy and joyful with each other and I don’t like feeling anger or resentments. They are poison within. They eat away at the soul. If I was to walk in a room of 10 people and 9 of them shake my hand and say they are happy to see me and one ignores me, guess what, I want to know why and the self-centered side of me wants to fix that person and make them talk to me or like me again.

I’ve been praying daily for Darren to be free from whatever anger or resentment he holds towards me. I send him peace, love, and light and hope that whatever it is will come to the surface and that he will share it with me. My recovery today has taken me to a place where I will own anything that I may have done to bring harm to anyone else on any level. And what I’ve learned as well in my recovery is that I can make the attempt to find out what it is by speaking with the person if I don’t know what it is. If that attempt is met with a conversation, then I listen with an open heart. If that attempt is met with avoidance as such with Darren, I’ve learned there is nothing I can do.

It’s frustrating on some level now for me because it’s like the “elephant in the room” when I see him. I go to say hello and then I realize he doesn’t want to talk to me for whatever resentment he’s harboring. I don’t want to hold anger, resentments, grudges or anything negative towards anyone today including him. My own will leads me to being angry back at him. God’s will helps me to let it go and pray for peace, love and light for him.

It’s IMPOSSIBLE to be spiritually centered and God driven when I hold anything negative towards anyone. Where Darren is at is where I lived for most of my life. I am not better than him. I spent many years harboring negative thoughts and feelings towards people that I didn’t like for whatever my mind told me. Today, it’s not a way that I want to live and I’ve made a choice to live differently. I practice daily praying for those that I might feel anger or resentment towards. I also have a list of mantras that work around that same area and I do them each morning. It’s my goal each day to serve God faithfully and love all the people here on this planet, even those that I may not like how they are treating me.

I will continue to pray that Darren will find peace within himself towards whatever it is that has cause him to now ignore me. As much as it’s difficult for my wanting the whole world to get along and for everyone to like each other, the sad reality is that people aren’t there yet and that people carry those grudges.

To be filled with God’s pure light and be a beacon of hope and joy for everyone, all darkness, negativity, and toxicity must to be removed. I pray that one day Darren may approach me and talk about whatever he has been carrying negatively towards me, until then I turn it over to God and will pray for Darren’s happiness.

Peace, love, light and joy,

Andrew Arthur Dawson