I believe each of us memorializes the course of our life one way or another. It gives things shape and substance, the early years often providing a kind of armature on which the succeeding years attach themselves, not always to our benefit. Developing an awareness that accurately says it is okay to be who you are more often than not requires breaking free of that part of your history – usually people – who defined you as flawed, bad, stupid, ugly, less than others, a failure, etcetera. Not an easy task, but, I assure you, an achievable one.
How do you achieve it? In part by giving yourself permission to have your life experience which includes allowing your emotions, experiencing them. It means not suppressing them. It means remembering that emotion and behavior are two separate things. Anger is emotion. It won’t last forever. Yelling at someone, name calling when angry (sound violence) or any forms of physical violence are behaviors. The behaviors are the problem, not the emotion. Why would God or whoever or whatever you believe is behind this life experience give us emotions if we weren’t supposed to experience them in the first place? Hmmm?
It is not a stretch for me to say that therapy and being a friend of Bill W’s has made all the difference. Both have taught me that the capacity for acceptance along with a devotion to honesty are the foundation for a healthy life and for healing when life wounds you. After all, life happens to us whether we like it or not.
All my life the anniversary of meaningful events have been important me. Some may think this silly or pointless and, if they do, I don’t care. As I said at the beginning, we each memorialize our life experience one way or another. I do it with anniversaries and my writing. I am also find meaning and spiritual sustenance in symbolism and ritual. When it comes to anniversaries, this august month has more than its fair share. In it are the day my father died (I was 15), the day my mother Virginia committed suicide (I was 39) and the day I was shot in the head (I was 30). It is also, thankfully, the month my daughter was born (I was 23, she is now 36). There is nothing tragic about all this. It is merely life. Now, as a sober man, an honest man, I go through each and every day as myself, no webs of dishonesty, no hidden motives. Trust me, it’s easier.
Honesty is a glorious gift in life. Not always easy but always (always) easier in the long run. Humility too. Humility I have learned from others is not thinking less of yourself it is thinking less about yourself. It is also remembering to respect and appreciate the life you have, and august months like this one.