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A relationship of our own understanding

Exploring our relationships with our higher power

A relationship of our own understanding


August 17th, 2007

My higher power is so good! i had been obsessing about WHY i couldn't write, for hours, because i was thinking about writing things all day, and i finally got that i was tired and that being tired was why i couldn't write AND that it was "legitimate" for me to be tired because i walked all over the place all afternoon. It is frustrating that I don't give myself compassion or support around being tired unless I know why I am tired and think it is "legitimate." Maybe that is something that I can turn over.

And i was having the same problem with getting around to working. I just didn't want to do my work, and I had a limited amount of time left to finish (or indeed start) it. And then i did start and my higher power gave me a huge pile of the easiest tasks imaginable. Like, I didn't even have to think. I've never seen work so easy before.

And then my addict brain, the super-controlling negative voice from the abuse, was all, "you should do more now! since you can! to show you are grateful! and to pay them back for you being able to do the work fast!" And I decided to do ONE more thing, and I saw that there were none of the super-easy tasks left - there had been just exactly enough for me to finish all my work, no more or less. It was awesome! And the more that I turn work stuff over to my higher power and ask her for help, and the more that I use program principles in my work life instead of overworking and judging and criticizing and shaming myself, the more I notice things like this happening. Things like getting just the right kind of work for me each day, and like not having to worry that I put off working and now I am tired because no matter what my needs are going to get met.

Also, I was trying today to find this new ice cream place. And first I went too far in the wrong direction and it led me to my cat food store, and I got to remember that I hadn't bought catfood yet and that I had enough left over to buy ID tags for my cats. And I wanted to second-guess myself and obsess about whether it was okay for me to get ice cream or whether I was trying to binge-eat or binge-spend or something - but I kept seeing signs, literal signs for ice cream, and parking spots right in front of them, and I figured my higher power was letting me know it was okay. That critical abuse-related voice is all "oh sure, that's convenient," but I know that it's not a rationalization because I have years of practice exploring the ways that I communicate with my higher power (which other people might call finding the next right step or listening to their gut or any number of other things) and so I know the difference for me between obsessive rationalization and actually getting heathy helpful messages.

And then I was trying to find it in the other direction, and i couldn't, and i got a local free paper that told me it was at College and Ashby. And I'll explain first that one of the ways I get messages from my higher power is through coincidence or "shout-outs," and one of them lately has been ads for this particular car sharing place called Zipcar that my girlfriend and I used on our vacation. So i had decided that Ashby was farther down and that i was at Alcatraz, so i walked back to my car, and i passed a zipcar ad! and it was like, you are in the right place! and then i drove a little farther down and realized i had gone too far, and i turned around IN A CITY CAR SHARE LOT! and it was like, this is city car share not zip car, so you are NEARLY in the right place! It was like the Goddess was playing "hot and cold" with me. "You're very hot... now you're just warm!" And I found it and did not binge-spend and just bought the amount that I wanted that felt appropriate and it was really good, and I was able to experience eating it and enjoying it... as opposed to just mechanically eating it because I'm dissociating, which happens especially when I am eating from what my brain thinks it wants when my body wants something different or nothing at all.

And the third thing is that - coincidences and motifs again - my higher power, out of nowhere, has started showing me instances of great parenting. Normally what I see other parents doing is acting out with their kids, and I get to struggle with how and whether to say anything. And then last night in the bookstore, I saw a mom with these two little kids. And I guess they had to leave and they weren't getting all the books the kids wanted, and one of them was going "but I want this book now!!" kind of thing. And before the mom could even say anything, the other tiny little kid chirped, "You can always get it ANOTHER time!" And it was such a healthy voice, you know - it has taken me years to be able to accept not getting everything right away and waiting until ANOTHER time, because I never got to feel like my needs were met as a kid so I never felt safe waiting for anything I wanted. It all felt very desperate and NOW NOW NOW.

And then, as if to prove where the kids were getting this healthy stuff, the mom said, "Come on, my beautiful boys, it's time to go!" I was like, wow, I never hear people being that nice to their kids! Shouldn't she be "laying down the law" unnecessarily about which books they are getting and yelling at them for wanting more and for slowing her down? And then they went and found their dad, and she explained to him that they would be coming back in five days to get these other books. Even more amazing! She had actually let the kids know when they could get more books, and made a commitment to them, and now she was communicating it to her partner! And then one of the little kids was talking a mile a minute to the dad about every page of this book they were getting, and the dad was actually listening! And then she told the kids to say thank you to the store owner but the kids got stuck in the revolving card rack while playing in it while the mom bought their stuff, and instead of yelling at them to prove what a good mom she was to everyone else or ignoring what was going on with them and yelling at them to say thank you some more, she just laughed and helped them! And then they did say thank you on their way out.

It was crazy! And then today at the ice cream store, this mom was in line at the ice cream store and her kids came and the older one had the poutiest pout on her face. And the mom NOTICED and asked her what was wrong NICELY, and the kid was all, we wanted to do another thing with the parakeet! And the mom asked what, and the kid got all excited about how they were going to build it some kind of tree, (I did not understand this story at all), and the mom totally was like, that sounds great! we're going to get ice cream and after that we can go back to the parakeet and do more things! I was like, why isn't she getting upset because the kid is ungrateful and spoiling her plans?

It was amazing. I want to see more of these people who can actually nurture their children and rejoice in them and value them and meet them on their own ground!
(x-posted from joyousfreedom)

I heard two awesome stories and shared one myself recently, and I wanted to share all three of them here.

So I was talking to someone after a meeting in another program. She had a "God Can" that someone had made. And she told me about how she had looking for some kind of "god box" for a while, and she had been writing down things to turn over to her higher power and stashing them in pockets and bags and corners all over. And she realized that she hadn't really turned a lot of them over - she was literally still hanging on to them! And then she came to the center where our meeting is and found this "god can", free - and not just that but it is one that you can't open, you have to REALLY turn things over and not see them again when you put them in there! I was really impressed with this as an example of getting exactly what you need, of really being heard without even meaning to say anything. I love that kind of thing.

So then I told her my story from last week. I was hanging out before my meeting and I was thinking, you know, maybe I don't HAVE to go to my meeting. Maaaaybe what I am supposed to do will turn out to be to go to the bookstore and write and look at cool books instead! That would be a good thing to do, right? And I was fully planning to stop and ask my higher power what I should do, (maybe even for long enough that there would be no point in going to the meeting at all so I'd be sure of going to the bookstore!), but I found my feet carrying me right back to my car to go to the meeting. So I'm walking to my car, mentally kicking and whining and dragging my heels all "I don't wa-a-a-aa-aa-aaaant to go to the meeting! I wanna go PLAY!" And I get in and turn on the radio and it starts up in the middle of this song that is going, "They tried to make me go to rehab! I said NOOO NOOO NOO!" I was like, you are hilarious!

And she told me another one I liked. She was struggling with the idea of her higher power and just "praying the help prayer" over and over ("help! help! help! help!") and there was a bible nearby. So she decided that this time, that would be what she would use, and she grabbed it and told her higher power, okay, I need a sign from you, okay, a very clear sign, a clear sign, right here, right now, I need a clear sign! And she opened the bible up right to something that said, "You will not get any signs from me"...! Like, "I am here, and I am not one of the things that is in your control!"

This exchanging of stories was also really helpful to me because while I've been having a great time noticing shout-outs from my higher power in the form of a lot of synchronicity, I have been having resistance to asking for what to do next. And I realized that today, and that if I could notice when that was happening I could try making quiet time to feel what that was like for me and ask for help around it. And then I got some good reminders about what talking to my higher power is really like!

November 23rd, 2006

(no subject)

It's Thanksgiving, and I'm letting everyone I care about that I am very thankful for them and their presence in my life.

Thank you.



November 5th, 2006

(no subject)

Hear ye, hear ye, hear ye!!!

In addition to participating in NaNoWriMo this year, I also just posted my very first ever necklace to be sold on ebay! [If you're curious, "jpferal" is Morgan's user ID - I'm getting myself set up with a seller's ID, but I really wanted to post it tonight. :)] I think it's pretty, but I'm biased as I made it. :) If you'd like to, feel free to look at it, and if the mood should strike you... well, I don't currently have a job, and I'm trying to make money, so please, if you like it, feel free to bid on it. :)

I'm very proud of it. :)

[Edit: I know I cross-posted this, like, everywhere, and I hope no-one is terribly upset about it. I'm *really* excited about this - I'm proud of the work I do, and it's exciting for me to see this necklace I made posted. I honestly kind of squeaked when I first saw the posting. So, I'm a silly, enthusiastic girl, but I hope that's OK. :)]

July 21st, 2006

(no subject)

I've posted on both sobriety and pain_n_sobriety about my court date yesterday, but I didn't explore my gratitude toward my Higher Power in either of those posts. [Edit: Apparently, the markup tags for LiveJournal have changed slightly, causing an error message. I've fixed it. :)]

I have a tendency towards insomnia, particularly when I'm feeling very stressed. But I created a new mantra/prayer/meditation that allowed me to sleep on Tuesday night. So, although I could definitely have used *more* sleep, I at least got a little. :)

Get as comfortable as you can, close your eyes, and seek that place in yourself that feels connected to the divine. Breathe deeply and slowly for a minute or so, making sure that your exhalation completely empties your lungs. Allow yourself to just relax a little more every time you exhale.

Inhale slowly, thinking "Serenity". Imagine as you inhale that you are drawing serenity in with the air. Hold for a moment, envisioning your tissues absorbing the serenity you took in, as it takes up the air, then exhale, allowing your breath to carry any stress out with it.

Following the above steps, inhale slowly again, thinking "Faith". As you exhhale, allow distrust to exit , your body through your lungs.

Repeat, this time thinking the word "Love". And this time, exhale hatred and fear along with the expended breath.

The final word of the mantra is "Peace". Follow the above steps, and allow your body to exale any non-peaceful feelings.

Repeat as needed, and hopefully, you will feel tension leave you, and relaxation seeping in through your pores. If the words I mentioned above don't work for you, try other combinations of words - whatever will make you feel better.

But, beyond my gratitude that I was able to sleep, I am overwhelmed by gratitude that I am at home, free. My Higher Power was with me in front of the judge, and I have no other way to express it than by saying thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

July 11th, 2006

I think of my higher power as the universe or sometimes as mother nature because I identify so much with nature and trees especially. I feel very drawn to forests and creeks and water and the ocean, and like those are places where I am in touch with whatever created me and with the system that I'm naturally a part of. It feels more true to me than it does when I anthropomorphize it - I think because I'm pagan and aware of so many different gods and goddesses that people have, and so putting just one face on it seems too limiting and specific for me. But sometimes I do that too. I tend to think in general of "higher power" as this big force - well, maybe AS the universe, the way people sometimes think of it as the earth, in the way where people can see the ways that it works as being sacred and miraculous, sort of, and how it meets all our needs but it's hard to explain - but anyway, I tend to think of it as like we all have the same higher power that takes care of everyone and different people just put different ideas on it and talk to it through those ideas because we're so much smaller than it is that it is easier to deal with it that way.

I also don't believe in the idea of an omnipotent higher power who is to blame for everything. Like when people want to know how god could let bad things happen, how there can be a loving higher power for them when that higher power let them be abused, stuff like that. Like, maybe that higher power or god or whatever is omnipotent and could stop all of that, or maybe they're not, but either way that would totally take away free will and then we'd just all be puppets, and I'm sick of being people's puppet. Like, when my higher power is all "go resurrect that DA meeting," I can still be all, "I don't wanna! fuck you!" I definitely don't wanna live in a world where I don't have that option. And the more recovery I get, the more I get to see the ways that my higher power did help me and does help me escape abuse, and how maybe I can only escape it when I'm willing to work in partnership with my higher power. Because that's so intimately tied up in filling my needs and being willing to do good things for myself and stand up for myself even when it's scary, which it's a lot easier to do when I'm inspired by my higher power.

anyone else wanna share what theirs is to them? I love hearing new ideas!
Here's how it works for me:

ok, actually, there are a bunch of ways that it works for me.

The way I think of it working is that I listen to the gut feelings in my belly. I ask what I need to do next, or I just listen in general, and I pay attention to the sense in my belly of what I am supposed to do. I know that when I am not respecting my own boundaries, or not being honest with myself or others, or ignoring things I need, or specifically ignoring the things that my higher power is telling me I need to do, my stomach feels shut down and tense and it feels wrong. And when I'm listening and open, also, I notice that I automatically become present (which it's really hard for me to be) and breathe deeply/the right way (which is also just about impossible for me to do on purpose).

When I'm paying attention to how my life is working I notice other ways too. Like, I see my higher power in coincidences, in surprising and perfect timing, in getting exactly what I need or asked the universe for, in opportunity, in inspiration, and in motifs that keep turning up. I know (or maybe I'm reminded) from listening to annathebean that sometimes my higher power talks to me and gives me presents through other people. And I know from talking to people like my sponsee that sometimes other people's higher powers use me to tell them stuff that they need to know or be reminded of or give them answers that they were looking for. I like to ask my higher power to guide me before I go in to meet with my sponsee, and sometimes other times too, and then I try to listen for the right thing to say to her, and I get a lot of insight that way. Things become much simpler and clearer.

And a lot of the time my higher power just works directly through my body, like if I let go and my feet lead me to the next right thing that I need to do. Listening to my gut is part of that, but also I can just listen to my body in general and find out what it needs, and that's somehow exactly the same thing to me - maybe it's just that my body is part of the universe and listening to what it needs is part of my mission here.

ETA: And also today she's been talking to me through my cats! I was making shakshuka for the first time (actually because I was led to it via typing "dear goddess, what should i make for breakfast?" into google a while ago, as words not as a phrase) and one of my cats sat at the front door and stared at the kitchen, reminding me that I should check it and and eggs... and then another one came in from the kitchen, walked around making funny squeaking noises, and returned to the kitchen, right when I needed to take it off or it would have burned... and then later I was thinking of lighting candles on my altar and had been putting it off and the same second cat walked over to the altar and started poking around near the candle!

I would love to hear how other people do it!
A little bitty part of me keeps feeling like that. I've been kicking and screaming and throwing sulky temper tantrums at my higher power (which I more usually think of as the Universe, but sometimes it's nice to anthropomorphize) lately, which is kind of fun. I'm all "OH YEAH WELL YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!" and then I go do it.

So a few weeks ago, I got the message from the universe that I should try showing up to this 7 am DA meeting nearby. 7 am! And I was like, well, if you want to wake me up at 6:30 I'll go but I'm not setting my damn alarm clock. And then I thought about it and I decided maybe I should trust my higher power and give it a shot, and I set my alarm clock for 6:30. And then I woke up at 6:24!

And I went, and it appeared as though the meeting had been dead for some time. I had a key to the building so I could get in anyway (it's a community center that mainly hosts 12-step groups and I am one of the keyholders for my home group in CODA) and I figured I could set out the literature and do the meeting myself, and that eventually I would figure out why I was there and what I was going to get out of it. And then someone showed up!

And it was cool because she had never been to that meeting either and hadn't been to DA in ages, and she had been in the neighborhood to pick up a car but the dealership wasn't open yet, and she had decided to drop by and see if there was some kind of early morning meeting going on, even though she had barely been to this building in the past five or ten years. So we totally had our little meeting, and it was fun.

And then I felt moved to see if I could help revive the meeting. It appeared from the phone list and business meeting notes that nobody had attended it since about February (and this was in June) and that they had been having trouble making rent. But for some reason it's still on all of the meeting schedules, both for local DA and for the building itself (which usually takes meetings off when they stop paying rent)! So I emailed the local DA intergroup and told them that the meeting appeared to be defunct but that I would be willing to show up for three months if they could put out the word that the meeting needed a little jolt.

So last week I didn't manage to get up that early and I figured it was a holiday anyway. And then last night I remembered that the meeting was today - after overworking for two days and not taking care of myself when I was sick and feeling totally exhausted - and I was like "do I haaave to?" and my higher power was like "You can come home and sleep again if you need to!"

I woke up in time to get there, and then fell asleep again and woke up after 7. And I was like "So I don't have to go, right?" And my higher power was like "You need to go. There will be people there." And I was like, "No, but, I don't wanna." And my higher power repeated, "You need to go. You can get there at 7:15. Go before people leave, okay?" And I was like "nobody will be there! Nobody was there the last time I showed up and I haven't seen any email announcements about it...."

So I dragged myself out of bed and showed up in my pajamas (sweats) and lo - there were people there! TWO people, who had peaceably waited in their cars for almost 20 minutes because the building was locked and empty. And they were really cool! And we had a good meeting where I learned lots of things, and they want to show up again next week. And one of them was basically a newcomer to this particular program and I'm so glad that we could all be there for three people who needed help and support!

It's just crazy to me that this is happening, because it's like - I have no intention, personally, of putting any energy into resurrecting a 7 AM meeting. I'm all, your meeting died because it's TOO DAMN EARLY. But it is a really cool format (a visions meditation, writing, sharing, and some other stuff too) and I get a lot out of it when I go. But I feel like the universe is all, "You're around, I'm going to tap you to give this thing the kiss of life." And I've read things where people talk about the stuff that their higher power moves them to do in life, but I've never been consciously aware of it happening to me before. It's a trip.

July 7th, 2006

At OA meetings, it's harder than I would have thought to mentally replace the objectionable "Gods", "Lords", and "Hes". Higher Power. Huh. Do I have a higher power? The closest I've ever come to that is that Emersonian notion of the transparent eye-ball. I know, that sounds gross, but listen: (I mean, read:)

the perspective that nature serves as an intermediary between human experience and what lies beyond nature. Emerson expresses a similar idea in his claim that spirit puts forth nature through us, exemplary of which is the famous "transparent eye-ball" passage, in which he writes that on a particular evening, while “crossing a bare common . . . the currents of Universal Being circulate through me."

I'm not sure how that sense of powerful and moving transcendence, attained visually, on rare occasions (more when I'm open to them) can be linked to a notion of a higher power. It's certainly not a conscious one. It is... something beyond myself, I reluctantly write as a materialist. But I don't think of it as something or someone I could invoke to offer me support or strength. It seems very individual and internal. precisegirl is starting an LJ community called hp_hp_hooray, which is a hilarious name, to talk about this very subject, so possibly this entry should be crossposted there.

I guess the way that this transcendent state or sense of loss of self is somewhat linked to the idea of a higher power as I understand it, at least in the way that it represents or is similar to mindfulness and -- despite the loss of individual thought at that moment -- a centering of self upon what is ... well, the word that keeps coming to mind (again, reluctantly) is holy.

Here's the rest of the quote about Emerson (lifted from some website on him; the first one I came to, in fact):

Emerson invokes the "transparent eye-ball" to describe the loss of individuation in the experience of nature, where there is no seer, only seeing: "I am nothing; I see all." This immersion in nature compensates us in our most difficult adversity and provides a sanctification of experience profoundly religious

That's exactly, exactly what it feels like, when it happens. I remember the first time (not the first time I felt it, but the first time I realized I had someone else's words to describe it, because I'd finally READ some Whitman, some Thoreau, and some Emerson) I united that experience and the description of it, walking across the parking lot on the east side of MU's campus, walking towards home, looking at the richly colored sky and the wheeling flights of starlings and stopping stock still, unable to move for several minutes.

The other person I've heard describe just this was a lesbian Rabbi who read at one of Charlie Anders' Writers With Drinks evenings at the Make-Out Room bar in the Mission. When she was in spiritual crisis, and walking around town most of the night, searching for God, that's what she found. It sounded remarkably similar, to me.
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