Shame on me…

It’s funny how sometimes it takes awhile to realize what is the cause of increased fear. The sometimes, was my gift this past weekend…

My daughter Annie, who lives in Los Angeles, was taking a wine tasting birthday trip for her best friend, Tracy, who was celebrating her second 39th birthday.

They had done it right, renting a vehicle that would hold some twenty people and was driven by a non-wine tasting person. Like I said, they had done it the right way, the safe way.

But, how would Annie get home from Tracys? I wondered to myself . . . and the impending doom grew.

Knowing it always made me feel better to talk to someone else, I refused to call my son, Jason, because he would just tell me she will be fine. . .and he would be right. . . .and I would feel better. But, I didn’t want to bother him and most likely didn’t want him to know how crazy I was.

I sure couldn’t call Annie, after all she’s a woman who is in charge of her life and doesn’t need an over protective father.

I know I am NOT in charge of my daughter, or anything else, but when the impending doom is in full swing, I suffer. I know I have unwittingly given the damn impending doom to Annie, and that hurts me. . .badly.

By Saturday night I was a mess and couldn’t stop thinking  the worst would happen if Annie dared to attempt to drive home after a wine tasting journey.  I told myself trust God, he is in charge, but I went deeper into fear. How could I trust some one or some thing I believed in, but no one alive has ever seen.

I refused to call Annie because my struggle with this negativity made her angry. . .and it sure as hell triggered her struggle with impending doom, but I hadn’t thought about that until now.

Then it happened.

I realized that when Brannon and I went wine tasting… I went wild. Drank a lot, smoked dope, drank some more.

I thought about all the times I drove drunk, and by the grace of God wasn’t stopped by police.

It was then I realized that Annie was not Jerry. That she is a smart woman. I was feeding my impending doom and fear by projecting that my daughter was acting like I did . . . and that was my gift.

Annie is not Jerry.

It was my shame driving me. Shame for the way I had acted.  Shame on my shame.

That truism took 30 years of sobriety to finally surface.

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Expectations lead to disappointment…

I was reading an article on Jennifer Lawrence in the Hollywood Reporter and the question “Is your life what you expected?” came up.

I thought about that and tried to remember if I had any expectations for my life when I was young.

 At first I couldn’t think of any. Then during my high school years, mostly because of my mother, I expected to be medical doctor. The problem I had, being so young in college, 16, was that I couldn’t get into the science classes. Actually, I really didn’t care for all that book learning.

By age 18, I’d had enough and dropped out of college. Accidentally. I met a fellow named Ron who worked for WBON-FM in Milwaukee (that was before FM Radio became popular).

I got a job at WBON as a radio host and that’s where my career began. Oh, and I worked for nothing.

There were 4 other stations I worked for and was fired by. And there was alcoholism; I’ve been sober for over 30 years, a fine family and a good ex-wife. Yup, there was a divorce.

Yes sir, all of that was what I expected.

Seriously, how can you plan out your life with an expectation? Expectations bring disappointment . . .disappointment brings anger . . .anger brings- – -well you know what’s next!

Acceptance is the key to my happiness. When I accept what is happening . . .when I accept, truly accept, good with bad, I find happiness. Acceptance is the key to my happiness.

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The journey is not meant to be traveled alone…

  Early one morning, while wandering along the main street of a village at the farthest end of land, I found myself.

            The picturesque village of Mendocino sits on the coastal bluffs of northern California. It a village where Main Street is a few short blocks and ends a rocks throw from the Pacific Ocean.

            Driving toward the sea this morning, balancing a cup of coffee, I was looking for pictures to make. Glancing in the rearview mirror, the sun blinded me for a second. As my eyes adjusted, an image came into focus.  Soon, I would come to understand, it was a mirror of me.

            It was a man, a lone traveler, walking toward me in the morning mix of ocean mist sliced by slivers of rays from the sun. The man was a silhouetted figure passing under trees that shaded the street. In a floppy hat, his coat thrown over his shoulders and hanging loose, one sleeve dangling. In the sunlight it looked as if he was wearing a cape.

            I recognized this man walking toward me from the night before. A lost soul, he’d been sleeping in a doorway when I last saw him.  I’d wondered about him then, his life, his journey.  Now, this? Coincidence? I think not.

             I jumped out of the car and aimed. A long lens brought the man into full frame.

            Click, focus, click, tighter focus, click, click.  Four times I fired, and four different images were frozen in time—images that spoke clearly and showed struggle with loneliness, sadness, of traveling alone on this journey of life.

            I saw my yesterdays on that morning in Mendocino, and by the grace of God realized, with deep gratitude, the joy of my today.

            This stranger in the morning mist mirrored to me so many years of fighting the battles alone, believing only I could handle it all. Struggling until I was bloody; finally beaten to surrender, then humble enough to reach out, to ask for, no, beg for, relief of self.

            It was only then, when I pushed through the paralyzing power of fear, did I come to realize that we are not meant to travel alone.

             I’m not speaking so much of physical partners, of marriage and friendship, as I am of truly being connected. It’s a spiritual connection, one united with fellow travelers.

            In some ways, I still travel alone, but never am I alone, for when my spirit becomes weary, I have learned to reach for a fellow traveler that has walked before me. I have learned to put aside false pride and ask for help. Perhaps most importantly, I’ve learned to accept myself for who I am at that moment—to accept all of my frailties, weaknesses along with all of the power of my strengths.

            For a lot of us, it is only when we are beaten to desperation that we surrender. Why?  Because we didn’t know better? Fear? False pride in what others will think? What excuse can you think of?  What rationalization do you use?

            A lot of us have gone through life believing that when problems surface, we alone must carry the burden. That fear stops us from sharing our fears, struggles—] our humanness. That alone has contributed to a lot unnecessary suffering.

            After many years of struggling to be happy, after many successes and some failures, I came to realize that never again would I have to be alone on this journey to happiness.

            How about you?

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©Stanecki 2018

If you enjoy reading this blog please tell your friends and everybody else about this blog.

Thanks, Jerry

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Run, but you can’t hide from – feelings

 

            Melody Beattie, a noted author in the recovery-personal growth field, suggests that we learned how to deny a situation, or certain people and their actions, because of the way it felt to us. We trained ourselves; to deny or ignore how we felt because we had no choice or no say in the matter.

            Why? The answer is pain. Rather than continue to feel pain, disappointment, rejection, we develop a way to cope until we could escape the situation. Or, mistakenly, we think we’ve escaped.

            My thoughts are this applies especially, but not exclusively, to men raised for the most part to deny and avoid feelings.  “Big boys don’t cryMen don’t cry.” Ring a bell?

            One day while sitting with a group of men in recovery, someone suggested we talk about feelings. Gino the Razor started singing, “ Fe-e-e-e-l-i-n-g-s.” Several guys laughed, others groaned at the dreaded song, but we didn’t run, we talked at gut level openly and honestly about our feelings regarding death. It was a powerful and rewarding hour.

            Stuffing your feelings, denying them, leads to a lot greater pain.

            Addiction and/or obsession to food, alcohol, drugs-street and/or prescription, work, sex, are some of the ways we deal with feelings. If life hurts—eat. Life hurts—drink. Life hurts, don’t feel, focus instead on work, shopping or… .

            One of my most exciting moments came a few years into recovery when I realized it was OK to feel OK, to take care of myself. And, with those feelings came a stranger knocking . . .grieving.

            I realized that years before, when my father died, the shock stunned me into numbness, a numbness that stayed for 30 years. Oh, I was sad, but it felt almost like and actor playing a role of sadness. I controlled the degree of feelings and stood tall with a stiff upper lip.

            I was raised believing that fear was to be met, lived with or buried. You thought about it, then either charged head-on into it or you lived with it.

            I buried and avoided those feelings, only to contribute more to self-destruct. Like someone who finds food ease’s the pain, I drank.

            For a lot of folks that solution doesn’t work, because when the fear or pain gets too intense, they turn to the medicine—food, drink, drugs, shopping—anything to feel better, to help cope, to deny and avoid the feelings.

            Sadly, I heard Gino was back in prison somewhere in Florida. He apparently couldn’t deal with all of his fearful feelings and emotional pain because he went back to the monkey, heroin. While in an altered state I heard he did something that sent him back to prison.

            Here’s a guy awarded two Silver Stars (our country’s second highest award for bravery) while in combat in Vietnam. Today, at fifty something, Gino sits in a cell.

            I wonder where Gino would be, if he’d learned during those years of support groups, how to deal with his feelings rather than make fun of them.

            Ironically, Gino used to say, “A lot of people create the illness to get to the medicine.”

            Turns out he was talking about himself. Or, could he be talking about you?

            Feel life; embrace solutions that come from feelings—then celebrate your victory.

© Jerry Stanecki

If you enjoy reading this blog please tell your friends and everybody else about this blog.

Thanks, Jerry

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Acceptance is…

Written by Jerry Stanecki

When I feel depressed and start feeling sorry for myself, fortunately, I remember to use what I’ve learned from my program.

Acceptance is the key to my serenity.

Accept, easy to say but hard to do.

It takes willingness and practice to accept what is and to truly believe there is a power greater then yourself in this world or out of this world.

Once I get past that diversion and really believe, I can and will accept what is happening at that moment.

So, I, willing and humbly accept what is in my life at that moment.

I genuinely feel grateful for what I have in life. A great family, a daughter who cries at the airport when she hugs her father, two great sons, a nice home I created. I have clean sheets, a kitten named Daisy Mae that loves me, (even though I am armed with a squirt gun used to keep her off the furniture) and everything else that comes to me.

Good times are easy to accept. It’s most important to accept what is when bad times in life occur.

When I surrender and get grateful I feel better.

So, I can enjoy the journey by surrendering to the old useless feelings that aren’t serving me any longer. Feelings learned by repeatedly watching and learning from my parents and replace the negative with positive thoughts and, if you have to, force gratitude for the seemingly good and seemingly bad to allow myself to feel better.

Acceptance is the key to my serenity.  How I feel is a choice, my choice.


Copyright © 2017

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