A time of personal evolution began for me fourteen years ago and the catalyst was a promotion/job transfer. Left behind was a comfortable position of eleven years and a city known well after eighteen years of living there. Familiar surroundings and old-friends quickly became something a thousand miles away from where I relocated. While a son finished out a school year that just began, I lived by myself for eight months in the new city with visits back to my family around every 4 weeks. Here began real awareness that something was definitely wrong in my life; with me.
The first reaction was to point attention to my childhood, other people and circumstances to explain some of my behavior. “It was their fault!” Then came separation, divorce, my son 750 miles away, a new relationship, therapy, a hiatus from affairs, a 2nd marriage, an affair that ended that marriage, five weeks in treatment for depression and compulsions, more therapy, four years spent avoiding love relationships and finally becoming accustomed to being by myself. A good bit of the cure was overcoming loneliness and learning to be comfortable in my own company, a process that I thought at times was going to kill me.
Frequently I am asked what the “secret” was that allowed me to evolve, grow and change to be the person I am today. My response is “there’s no secret”. Trust me, I wish there was a shortcut because I would have taken it long ago. Getting from there to here focused primarily on four things:
1) Motivation, 2) Doing the work, 3) Support from others 4) Stop worrying about the future.
Motivation: For a day, week or even a full month here and there I thought was stimulated enough to make changes in my life and behavior. Given time old habits came back. Only when EVERY DAY I felt change HAD to happen did my behavior evolve positively in lasting ways.
Do the Work: Thinking about living life differently is not enough. Growth takes hard and consistent work; lots of it! It took reading (tons) about what ailed me to gain understanding. I had to go to therapy and realize I got as much out of it as I put in. Working a twelve program was very hard, but yielded lasting results. I had to make amends with those I had wronged, most of all myself. had to bust my butt and even today that is the recipe for continuing to move forward.
Support of others: There is no way I could have accomplished my personal growth and recovery without the help of others. My therapist was a huge help. The support of a handful of close friends even when they did not understand made a big difference. The support of peers during rehab helped a lot as did assistance an ex-wife gave me then. Attending help-group meetings at least once a week has been an important part of my work to grow. Without the support of others, I would not have made it.
Stop worrying about the future: It was necessary to stop being concerned about the future and instead just take life one day at a time. The attitude I had to adopt was to just get through the present day. Sometimes I could stay focused only on the current hour or even the present minute. My behavior always happened in the “now” and could only be addressed in the “now”.
I had to learn how to feel happiness and allow myself to know joy. A good explanation comes From a book I read titled “Change Your Mind and Your Life Will Follow: 12 Simple Principles” by Karen Casey: Joy is always available to us, moment by moment. But we must keep our minds open and pay attention. A closed mind or a mind filled with fear or judgment will never know joy. More here: http://www.dailyom.com/library/000/000/000000583.html
Learning the power of my thinking and coming to know my thoughts intimately, even the bad ones, was another key to getting better. I could not truly embrace the good if I did not know those thoughts well. Nor could the “stinking thinking” be changed unless I knew that thinking well. From the Wisdom of the Mystic Masters by Joseph J. Weed comes: Each thought at its inception produces an effect. There is a vibratory wave, a radiation from the center, not unlike the radiation of a radio wave from a broadcasting tower. The wave moves outward equally in all directions with gradually diminishing intensity, which varies with distance. It continues to emanate from the mind of the thinker as long as the thought is held but it ceases instantly the thinking changes or stops.
Sitting here finishing this blog today, I am so happy to be where my efforts have taken me. Getting here has been damn difficult, but worth every discomfort. I am grateful to my Higher Power, all those who aided my journey to now and those who will help me stay on my path in the future.
The Future’s So Bright,
I Gotta Wear Shades”
Lyric from a Timbuk3 song