Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

 

Autobiography in 5 short chapters

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson

Chapter I.
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost…I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

Chapter II.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in this same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it there.
I still fall in…it’s a habit…but my eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV.
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V.
I walk down another street.

I have never encountered a writing that more closely reflected my life and journey. I am grateful I have reached chapter 5, even though it took me many years. On this first day of 2018, my wish for anyone who is currently living through chapters 1 through 4 is that you find the strength and clarity to get to chapter 5. Happy new year!

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not this

(Reprinted from the Elizabeth Gilbert Facebook Page)

Dear Ones –

Most of us, at some point in our lives (unless we have done everything perfectly…which is: nobody) will have to face a terrible moment in which we realize that we have somehow ended up in the wrong place — or at least, in a very bad place.

Maybe we will have to admit that we are in the wrong job. Or the wrong relationship. With the wrong people around us. Living in the wrong neighborhood. Acting out on the wrong behaviors. Using the wrong substances. Pretending to believe things that we no longer believe. Pretending to be something we were never meant to be.

This moment of realization is seldom fun. In fact, it’s usually terrifying.

I call this moment of realization: NOT THIS.

Because sometimes that’s all you know, at such a moment.

All you know is: NOT THIS.

Sometimes that’s all you CAN know.

All you know is that some deep life force within you is saying, NOT THIS, and it won’t be silenced.

Your body is saying: NOT THIS.

Your heart is saying: NOT THIS.

Your soul is saying: NOT THIS.

But your brain can’t bring itself to say “NOT THIS”, because that would cause a serious problem. The problem is: You don’t have a Plan B in place. This is the only life you have. This is the only job you have. This is the only spouse you have. This is the only house you have. Your brain says, “It may not be great, but we have to put up with it, because there are no other options.” You’re not sure how you got here — to this place of THIS — but you sure as hell don’t know how to get out…

So your brain says: “WE NEED TO KEEP PUTTING UP WITH THIS, BECAUSE THIS IS ALL WE HAVE.”

But still, beating like a quiet drum, your body and your heart and your soul keep saying: NOT THIS…NOT THIS…NOT THIS.

I think some of the bravest people I have ever met were people who had the courage to say the words, “NOT THIS” outloud — even before they had an alternative plan.

People who walked out of bad situations without knowing if there was a better situation on the horizon.

People who looked at the life they were in, and they said, “I don’t know what my life is supposed to be…but it’s NOT THIS.” And then they just…left.

I think my friend who walked out of a marriage after less than a year, and had to move back in with her mother (back into her childhood bedroom), and face the condemnation of the entire community while she slowly created a new life for herself. Everyone said, “If he’s not good enough for you, who will be?” She didn’t know. She didn’t know anything about what her life would look like now. But it started with her saying: NOT THIS.

I think of my friend who took her three young children away from a toxic marriage, despite that fact that her husband supported her and the kids financially…and the four of them (this woman and her three children) all slept in one bed together in a tiny studio apartment for a few years, while she struggled to build a new life. She was poor, she was scared, she was alone. But she had to listen to the voices within her that said, NOT THIS.

I think of friends who walked out of jobs — with no job waiting for them. Because they said NOT THIS.

I think of friends who quit school, rather than keep pretending that they cared about this field of study anymore. And yes, they lost the scholarship. And yes, they ended up working at a fast food restaurant, while everyone else was getting degrees. And yes, it took them a while to figure out where to go next. But there was a relief at last in just surrendering to the holy, non-negotiable truth of NOT THIS.

I think of friends who bravely walked into AA meetings and just fell apart in front of a room full of total strangers, and said, NOT THIS.

I think of a friend who pulled her children out of Sunday School in the middle of church one Sunday because she’d had it with the judgment and self-righteousness of this particular church. Yes, it was her community. Yes, it was her tribe. But she physically couldn’t be in that building anymore without feeling that she would explode. She didn’t know where she was going, spiritually or within her community, but she said, NOT THIS. And walked out.

Rationally, it’s crazy to abandon a perfectly good life (or at least a familiar life) in order to jump into a mystery. No sane person would advise you to make such a leap, with no Plan B in place. We are supposed to be careful. We are supposed to be prudent.

And yet….

And yet.

If you keep ignoring the voices within you that say NOT THIS, just because you don’t know what to do, instead…you may end up stuck in NOT THIS forever.

You don’t need to know where you are going to admit that where you are standing right now is wrong.

The bravest thing to say can be these two words.

What comes next?

I don’t know. You don’t know. Nobody knows. It might be worse. It might be better. But whatever it is…? It’s NOT THIS.

ONWARD,
LG

what’s really killing me

I’ve started watching some great TED talks and thought I’d share some of them here. This one by Anita Moorjani is pretty great. She talks about her miraculous recovery from cancer and the epiphany she had when she was very near death. I love her quote near the end, when she says she thought that cancer was killing her, but really she was killing herself. I’ve changed the word “cancer” to “marriage” and I’ve come up with this quote, that really applies to my life.

I thought my marriage was killing me, but actually, I was killing myself before I got divorced. The divorce saved my life. In the end you will always find that your challenges are a gift. And if you’re in a challenge and it doesn’t feel like a gift yet, it means you haven’t gotten to the end yet.

codependency and alcoholism – parallel diseases

Someone posted this on the Sober Recovery message board. It is 1000% true and something that I finally realized.

Maybe if you try and think of codependency and alcoholism as similar problems, then you can understand why it is just as hard to get rid of someone you love no matter how much of a negative influence they are on our lives, as it is to recover from alcoholism.

They are addicted to alcohol and we are addicted to them.

They have denial about how alcohol negatively affects their lives, and we go through denial about how they negatively affect our lives.

They know something is wrong with their lives, but can’t put a finger on it…for a while, and we know something is wrong with our lives, but can’t put a finger on it…for a while.

They have to accept they need alcohol out of their lives for it to be healthier, and we have to accept that we need unhealthy attachment out of our lives before we can be healthier.

You see what I mean?

The steps to getting better are similar as well.

We admit we are powerless over THEM.
We turn inward and become selfish about our recovery.
We stop doing things for others that hurt ourselves.
We rediscover our self worth.
And then, we remove what is affecting our serenity and growth.

The Awakening

I found this on Sober Recovery. It seems to fit where I am at right now perfectly. By Sonny Carroll.

There comes a time in your life when you finally get it…when, in the midst of all your fears and insanity, you stop dead in your tracks and somewhere the voice inside your head cries out…ENOUGH! Enough fighting and crying, blaming and struggling to hold on. Then, like a child quieting down after a tantrum, you blink back your tears and begin to look at the world through new eyes.

This is your awakening…

You realize it’s time to stop hoping and waiting for something to change, or for happiness, safety and security to magically appear over the next horizon.

You realize that in the real world there aren’t always fairy tale endings, and that any guarantee of “happily ever after” must begin with you…and in the process a sense of serenity is born of acceptance.

You awaken to the fact that you are not perfect and that not everyone will always love, appreciate or approve of who or what you are…and that’s OK. They are entitled to their own views and opinions.

You learn the importance of loving and championing yourself…and in the process a sense of new found confidence is born of self-approval.

Your stop complaining and blaming other people for the things they did to you – or didn’t do for you – and you learn that the only thing you can really count on is the unexpected.

You learn that people don’t always say what they mean or mean what they say and that not everyone will always be there for you and everything isn’t always about you.

So, you learn to stand on your own and to take care of yourself…and in the process a sense of safety and security is born of self-reliance.

You stop judging and pointing fingers and you begin to accept people as they are and to overlook their shortcomings and human frailties…and in the process a sense of peace and contentment is born of forgiveness.

You learn to open up to new worlds and different points of view. You begin reassessing and redefining who you are and what you really stand for.

You learn the difference between wanting and needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and values you’ve outgrown, or should never have bought into to begin with.

You learn that there is power and glory in creating and contributing and you stop maneuvering through life merely as a “consumer” looking for you next fix.

You learn that principles such as honesty and integrity are not the outdated ideals of a bygone era, but the mortar that holds together the foundation upon which you must build a life.

You learn that you don’t know everything, it’s not your job to save the world and that you can’t teach a pig to sing. You learn the only cross to bear is the one you choose to carry.

Then you learn about love. You learn to look at relationships as they really are and not as you would have them be. You learn that alone does not mean lonely.

You stop trying to control people, situations and outcomes. You learn to distinguish between guilt and responsibility and the importance of setting boundaries and learning to say NO.

You also stop working so hard at putting your feelings aside, smoothing things over and ignoring your needs.

You learn that your body really is your temple. You begin to care for it and treat it with respect. You begin to eat a balanced diet, drinking more water, and take more time to exercise.

You learn that being tired fuels doubt, fear, and uncertainty and so you take more time to rest. And, just food fuels the body, laughter fuels our soul. So you take more time to laugh and to play.

You learn that, for the most part, you get in life what you deserve, and that much of life truly is a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You learn that anything worth achieving is worth working for and that wishing for something to happen is different than working toward making it happen.

More importantly, you learn that in order to achieve success you need direction, discipline and perseverance. You learn that no one can do it all alone, and that it’s OK to risk asking for help.

You learn the only thing you must truly fear is fear itself. You learn to step right into and through your fears because you know that whatever happens you can handle it and to give in to fear is to give away the right to live life on your own terms.

You learn to fight for your life and not to squander it living under a cloud of impending doom.

You learn that life isn’t always fair, you don’t always get what you think you deserve and that sometimes bad things happen to unsuspecting, good people…and you learn not to always take it personally.

You learn that nobody’s punishing you and everything isn’t always somebody’s fault. It’s just life happening. You learn to admit when you are wrong and to build bridges instead of walls.

You learn that negative feelings such as anger, envy and resentment must be understood and redirected or they will suffocate the life out of you and poison the universe that surrounds you.

You learn to be thankful and to take comfort in many of the simple things we take for granted, things that millions of people upon the earth can only dream about: a full refrigerator, clean running water, a soft warm bed, a long hot shower.

Then, you begin to take responsibility for yourself by yourself and you make yourself a promise to never betray yourself and to never, ever settle for less than you heart’s desire.

You make it a point to keep smiling, to keep trusting, and to stay open to every wonderful possibility.

You hang a wind chime outside your window so you can listen to the wind.

Finally, with courage in your heart, you take a stand, you take a deep breath, and you begin to design the life you want to live as best as you can.