“You are watching people go through withdrawal from emotional addiction to the myth of certainty.” – – Ashley C. Ford

I will proudly say it took some time for my dam to burst but I have finally succumbed to an attack of Coviditis.  There is little comfort in not being alone.  The pressures of being put into a hugely different work schedule, no live Al-Anon or AA meetings and not enough other self care have led to a blowout with a neighbor in my building, and an overall feeling of depression. What brought on the rift was repeated door slamming by a guy one door down from me.  I decided to confront him once and for all as he passed my apartment one day last week.  Little did I know he had our landlord on his phone and she heard the entire conversation.  Fortunately I didn’t do anything close to threatening but was still rewarded with a call about getting along with neighbors.  Truth be known, the issue has been a ticking time bomb in me for over a month, and though I ended up splattering the walls with my ego, it was finally resolved.

I know I’m putting conditions on my recovery but to display this kind of behavior after being in various programs as long as I have got to feeling just plain shameful.  And I’ve carried it around since the incident with my neighbor last week.  So I’ve been the proverbial frog in the boiling pot. My savvy young boss noticed how out of sorts I was yesterday and she promptly changed up my schedule to have today off so I could do a little re-tooling. For a long time now I’ve thought of the “no room at the inn” story as the equivalent of a mind dominated by an ego that doesn’t allow the still small voice in.  As someone pointed out to me today in Courage To Change, “there is no room in a shame-filled mind.” So maybe I just brought myself to new starting point of knowing there is another way of looking at the world.  Recovery does move in cycles.

Step two suggests to me that belief and sanity are related.  A belief is nothing more than a thought or group of thoughts repeated over and over again.  During my “social distancing” my mind has become a dangerous place to be over repeated musing of the self pity kind – I have to endure this noise, I’m never going to see anyone I know again because of my work schedule, why am I not a millionaire writer, blah, blah, blah.  So the practicing of these thoughts has resulted in a belief that I view the world from and automatically act out of.  Basically, I’ve gotten to looking at the world through shit-colored glasses. Thank God beliefs can be changed.

One of the blessings of my recent experiences is that “aha” moment of remembering there is an eternal peace available in me.  It never left, I just forgot It was there.  Before I even begin practicing Its presence I need to remember that Its there.  Re-member.  To become a member again.  To practice the title of Kent Nerburn’s book Make Me An Instrument Of Your Peace.  My friend David once had a group that was reading this book.  As a new member joined he let David know how excited he was to start reading Make Me A Piece Of Your Instrument.  Obviously something got lost in the translation.  Lately, I know the feeling.

Hope is a strong theme in the Stephen King novella The Shawshank Redemption.  In the movie one of my favorite scenes shows an imprisoned Ellis Boyd Redding reading a letter from his friend Andy DuFresne, a letter Andy sent after escaping from Shawshank.  He finishes it with “And remember Red, hope is a good thing.  Maybe the best of things.  And a good thing never dies.”  One definition of the word hope reads “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”  My hope is for a stronger feeling of peace in myself and everyone I know.  I agree with one of my old sponsors that recovery is an inside job.  And also that the external world is a manifestation of our collective ego in all of its grotesque glory.  I also choose to believe that a spark inside of me started the ball rolling in purging me of another layer of insanity.  I am a contributor in good standing to the craziness of the world.  By the same token, taking the baby steps outlined for me over and over again by people much wiser than me, I can little by little, one day at a time, be restored to my real Self, or at least closer to it.

Like Ellis Boyd Redding in Shawshank, “I hope that I can make it across the border.  I hope to meet my Friend and shake his hand.  I hope that the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope.”  And  I’ve been in recovery long enough that not only do I hope, I know.   Another biblical analogy has Jesus calming the stormy sea after waking from a nap.  Could that be a metaphor of his follower’s faith being asleep until they finally turned to him for help?  How ironic that the human body is approximately seventy percent water.  So from the hope of a peaceful mind springs the peace itself.  I doubt that I will never have conflict in my life again, but for the time being I think I’ve countered the folly of acting like a Covidiot.  As strange as it may sound, I guess due to the “new normal,”  it’s easy for me to forget that we are all under much more pressure than normal.  Yes, I am grateful that I’m still employed.  Yes, I am grateful to be alive.  I am also grateful that being human allows for making mistakes.  We’re all making them.  And we’re all making it through this.









“The search for love is but the honest searching out of everything that interferes with love.” – – A Course In Miracles

In 1965 two psychologists who worked in the same department in a New York firm became fed up with how hostile they were toward each other.  One of them was named Bill Thetford, who told his partner Helen Schucman words to the effect that “there must be another way.”  Not long after, Helen began experiencing what she described as an “inner dictation,” and which she later began referring to as simply “the Voice.”  She continued to take the dictation for seven years, worked on the material with an editor named Ken Wapnick, and shaped it into what is now commonly known as A Course In Miracles, published in 1975. Until her dying day, Helen Schucman had much difficulty applying the basic tenets of the Course herself. She is not alone.

Since November 6th of 2016 I’ve been working to combat a growing sense of dread.  Each day I’ve had the thought “nothing can be worse than what was said or done today.”  I have been incorrect more than eleven hundred times.  Last night I just felt oppressed to the nth degree.  I am not used to being in that place.  I attempted to sleep and couldn’t, running over the world’s events in my head repeatedly. Possibly a diversion might help.  I turned on the tv only to tune in to a program on fascism, with this chapter dissecting the rise of Hitler.  It was obviously not hard to draw lines from then to now. I’m seeing this stuff everywhere.  But I’m getting fed up. I too have been looking for a different way out.

For years now I’ve had a lingering resentment against a guy who I’ve known since childhood.  I have not seen him socially since 2012 when I finally told him our friendship was done.  For years while lying in bed trying to get to sleep his image would pop into my head, and as it was a fantasy I did whatever I felt like in my mind.  Suffice to say he likely would not have survived if what occurred in my head was real life.  So it seemed odd that when I thought of him earlier this week I felt discomfort at the idea of causing him any harm and began to chant a mantra instead.  Automatically. I believe it was Wednesday night when here came his image again, but alongside it was the sentence “You do this unto yourself.”  I have been an on-again off-again student of ACIM and I remember that line used to describe projection. The complete phrase is “Here is the secret of salvation: you do this unto yourself.” That felt strangely liberating, to know that all I’m doing is projecting my garbage onto what I see as a sick world.  So off to bed I went.

As I lay trying to sleep, it seemed too coincidental that dropping my resentment, thinking “there must be a better way,” and flicking on the tube to a fascism piece all happened so close together.  Again I couldn’t sleep and went to my book shelf. I grabbed the first book I could by feel rather than looking at it.  It was one of my ACIM support material books.  I randomly opened it to a page where I had highlighted the following: “We actually believe we know the problems – ours or the world’s. Some are better at identifying them than others, but everyone has some idea of the nature of what is wrong, from heads of state to ordinary citizens.  Even more absurd from the point of view of A Course In Miracles is that we think we know the solutions.” One of the basic ideas of ACIM is that there is only one problem: a sense of separation from God.

A Course In Miracles consists of six hundred sixty-nine pages of text, three hundred sixty-five  lessons, and a ninety-two page “manual for teachers.”  I have had many aborted attempts to go through the entire thing since 1991 as  my resistance has won out every time.  Its only in recent years that I’ve come to understand why.  ACIM (not unlike any recovery program) requires one to look at one’s self with absolutely honesty – gently.  Ironically, being gentle with myself is the hardest part.

When I lay down again after all of this, I had such a deep sense of peace. The words almost formed solidly in my mind: “Oh my God, I don’t feel alone any more!”  I had no idea the depth of loneliness I was in. As my day went on today I pushed all of last night away as best I could, but as I sat to meditate about a half an hour ago, I just couldn’t deny my need to write about it.  So here it is.

Doing ACIM is a lifetime study.  I’ve often thought of it as the Big Book on steroids.  There’s no way possible to read it and do the lessons and comprehend it in one year. So it’s cool to pick up a few books and have everything seem so familiar to me.  I know some of the basic principles.  But I have not “done” ACIM.  So why now?  As cumbersome as it can be, it is the perfect match to the mindless repetitions of world events I’ve unfortunately come to know as normal.  It is also truly wonderful to feel that Presence in such a scary time.  I’ve been in recovery for thirty-one years.  If perfection was required  I would have been toast my first day sober.  I need to practice being gentle with myself while being deeply honest.  It is a tall order, and all of my fear of not finishing may be unfounded.  My world will not end if I drop it again.  And maybe this fear is my first practice point.  I already don’t even know the problem.  The problem is a sense of separation from God.  And it has always been a choice.