Sunday, August 21, 2011

Serenity - Courage - Wisdom ... part two

"God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can and Wisdom to know the difference."  

Winston Churchill said, "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen."  Much of my recovery from a lifestyle of letting other people, places and things determine my level of happiness (also called codependency) involved sitting down and listening.  I attended 12-step group meetings, I went to therapy, I read books, and I listened to people speak who had traveled the road I was just beginning.  They all had one thing in common.  They listened and learned before they were able to speak about this lifestyle with any authority.  Me?  I was so grateful to have found any modicum of happiness that as soon as I started feeling just a little bit better, I was all set to change the world.  

But that wasn't the way.  The way was to learn how to BE instead of DO.  My whole life was geared toward, steeped in, and overshadowed by doing.  Doing for others.  Doing for God (or rather, should I say, the church; there IS a difference).  Doing to hide how I was feeling, to deny that I had needs.  Doing to keep from feeling guilty.  

In learning what I couldn't change (see previous post) I started to learn what I could change.  And let me tell you - there wasn't much that I COULD change.  Yet, as time went on, I came to understand that it was about responsibility.  I was responsible for my own actions, and I was to let others bear the responsibility for theirs unless their actions directly impacted my life.  Then it became my responsibility - not to make them pay but to look to my own reactions and response to them.  (That's a whole other post for another time.)  

Photo source is :
So, I did eventually come up with a (partial?) list of the things I CAN change, and I pray for the courage to change them.  

My focus

One of the things I learned when I took equitation lessons (long ago) is that your focus determines your direction.  Look to the left, your whole body leans left and the horse will pick up the cues and veer left.  So when I started recovering from the chains of the past, it was important for me to remember where I was going: I was going to be free.  I was going to find myself, to get to know myself, and then to be myself... even if it meant being seen as crazy, weird, or whatever.  Of course when I first started I had no clue who I really was. So, that led to another discovery.  

My inner mirror

This one was hard, and I did need help with it.  Writing down what I really believed about myself was wrenching but as I wrote down those things and analyzed where those beliefs came from, I came to some pretty shocking conclusions. Those conclusions were based on a distorted mirror which made me appear uglier than what I was, more of an awful person, more of a failure than I was in reality. Those were the things I could then leave in God's hands, and receive truth from Him to speak healing into my own life.  It was like looking in a true mirror for the first time in my life.  Yes, sometimes there were things in there that I didn't like - and I asked Him to remove them.  But there were also some things in there that surprised me - things I liked, and liked a LOT.  Who knew!  

In conjunction with knowing that some people were not "safe" for me, (again, see previous post) I intuitively knew which friends would embrace the new reality and which friendships - if that's what they were - could not be salvaged because those people were not willing to accept my newly discovered boundaries.  It was hard to let go of them.  But I gained so much more by letting go.  Self-respect for one. And my new and renewed relationships are more and more with equal partners - no superiority or inferiority complex to pussy-foot around.  (Theirs or mine.)

My measuring stick

All my life, I had measured myself based on what others thought about me, how much they liked or didn't like me, what people might or might not say to me or behind my back.  The numbers on my stick (like a see-through ruler) were all facing away from me as I allowed others to define what was acceptable.  The problem with the numbers facing away from me was that they were backwards and went in the wrong direction.  When I turned those numbers around, through discovering who I really was and starting to nurture that person, a lot changed for me.  I found that I could stand up and say what I needed.  I found that I could say what I felt without feeling guilty - surprisingly people didn't think less of me anyway - and the end result was that I felt more comfortable inside my own skin.  I discovered that it was okay to feel what I felt; I didn't have to stuff my emotions down inside of me and deny their existence, or mask or drown them with addictions that numbed how I was truly feeling.  

When I turned the numbers around, I was able to be honest with myself and to own up to my mistakes, to be strident and take responsibility for the (sometimes far-reaching) consequences of my previous actions.  I could see how my wrong behavior had hurt others and I was able to confess that to people and watch miracle after miracle take place as the power of truth liberated me to be who I truly was, and liberated them as they forgave.

I also started to learn (in figuring out where I stopped and others started - and vice versa) to give people the space they needed to figure things out on their own and not feel obligated to tell them what was what, what they were doing wrong and how to fix it.   

My light level

By 'light' in this context, I am referring to my attitude.  As I learned to (slowly) love myself in a healthy way, I was faced with a choice - to see each experience (pardon the cliché) as the glass being half-empty (which was my previous "light level") or half-full.  To enjoy the good, to enjoy today, to not regret the past or worry about the future.  

The word "gratitude" has taken on new meaning for me.  It's not only something that I do once a year at Thanksgiving; it's an ever-expanding way of life.  Seeing difficulties and obstacles as opportunities for growth.  Seeing trials as life-lessons in humility and (yes, I'll say it) patience.  And fully joying in experiences that make me sigh a happy little sigh and say, "Life's good,"  without sabotaging it by saying with one eyebrow raised in skepticism, "Wonder how long THAT will last..."  I've been happier and more content, more frequently since February 2009 than I had been in my whole life up until that point.  That has to say something right there.

One thing's sure.  It's never boring.

No comments:

Post a Comment