Combined Factors of Pouring Light

I suppose there cannot be true recovery and progress without gratitude for what have happened outside of one’s personal efforts. Changes roll along the horizon and the wind of difference blows in many ways that are sometimes in alignment of what we hope for, and sometimes not.

I was lucky. When I came to an AA meeting 16 years back, I had no idea what to expect, and yet the wind did blow in alignment to what my tortured mind and spirit were calling for. I kept revisiting the meeting and kept listening and sharing. The social factor united with the spiritual worked wonders for my recovery. Combination of all the right things, even though sometimes looking scary and not something I wanted to do the work in, brought me to the places where I felt and home and had support I never hoped for.

I still look back once in a while and think “Hell, I haven’t really did much, have I?” The Steps work was not like a coal mine work. It was a cozy time with a book and a conversation with a person who walked in my shoes. But it was still hard at times, because I had to look deep inside at things I said and did, things that were not nice, things I wasn’t proud of, and some that I was ashamed of. Strength with which I addressed those issues and confusions paid for success in continued abstinence and more joyful living, enjoying sobriety.

How? I had poured those efforts and hopes into the recovery that I believed in, and what came out, as reflected light, with the support of the AA community and the spirit of healing was a light of ten-fold strength. That thought kind of lived with me for years, but I’ve never put into words until recently I looked up yet again at the Pink Floyd poster in my room and realized that the “Dark Side of the Moon” cover art reflected those thoughts exactly. The Promises of AA worked for me so greatly. I’ve received in sobriety so much more than I’ve put in.

Thank you again, Dave T., fellow in recovery, who gifted me that poster and thank you to those that supported me all these years. It is my thinking of you and I, that keeps me together. May we all last joyous and free in mind, body, and spirit!

———–

the image was copied from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Dark_Side_of_the_Moon and sand-blasted by me. there is also some interesting info on that page how the artwork came about. thank ya!

Allowing the Learning

I know the Force may be with me, but I think it is important to let it be with me. In other words, I need to allow myself to accept change, just as allowing myself to learn of it, or the lessons that come my way.

Over 15 years ago, I saw the signs that there were negative events happening in my life regarding alcohol consumption, and yet I’ve chosen to disregard them until they stared me right in the face.

I had to make myself teachable in order to learn. I could’ve been taught by the most brilliant minds, and still receive nothing. So often when been talked to as a kid and youth, I blocked it all, staring into the space of the floor. Why? Perhaps I knew not how to react, how to say what I was really thinking. Perhaps there was pride involved. Perhaps I didn’t understand why I wouldn’t be just left alone in serenity of my own devices. The point is, I blocked what was said, and made the people who were trying to break out to me disgruntled.

Disgruntlement kept blooming where I went from there on, and sometimes I had no idea I’ve caused it. Also very important, I wasn’t learning, be it from school classes, or people, or environment. Thus, naturally, I kept making mistakes, usually the same ones.

It took dire circumstance such as realization of being enslaved by alcoholism and asking strangers of AA for help to allow myself to learn. I had to recognize personal mental deterioration to invite positive change. I had to allow myself to learn to get better, because, again, no success of recovery could be instilled if I refused accepting help.

From the day of my allowing myself to accept change, my life started to spring in positive direction. So far it has been 16 years of it, and many things were accomplished, mostly because learning from the initial experience of acceptance, I’ve practiced embracing openness to change on a daily basis, whether I liked it or not. When you ask the cosmos for assistance or somewhat re-assurance, you recognize personal vulnerability and become open to suggestion. Among other things, it’s called a prayer. I prayed a lot in the last decade and a half, simply because there were so many things out of my control, and because by then time I knew of my powerlessness AND accepted that vulnerability was not always being a negative thing.

Let the Force be with you. Allow it.


the image was copied from https://giphy.com/explore/may-the-force-be-with-you. thank you.

inevitable wounds, lucky scars

Most of us

Are lucky

To have scars

Form over wounds.

We may forget,

Or not even know

That there are some

In their hemophilic body and spirit

That keeps bleeding.


I’d rather have

Actual scars in my skin

Than scabs of old carnage

Over my soul.

Reality whispers into my ear

That doesn’t work like that.

People’s energy keeps being bled

And the wise ones call it

“Experience.”

Sometimes I wonder

If I can pass that knowledge

For, clearly,

I wouldn’t need it

Like some subjects

I wasted years on in school.

But I guess

Some crap still manages

To fly into your life

Even if you shut the windows well.


The fortunate ones live with scars

And over time

They become a part of our skin

To the point

We often don’t notice them

For what they are,

Or remember

What they represented.

We live on and care for our skin.

With creams and oils.


I do remember what they came from, though

That’s why I am still here –

My scars became part of my body

In a healthy way

Because my pain

From obtaining those wounds

Made me stronger.

I remember what I cannot do

And why.

Experience is no longer

Such a negative word

In my vocabulary.


the image was copied from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WpFulmjknb4 Funny enough, this video demonstrates how to removes scars with the use of Photoshop program.

unplain view

Sometimes I must be blind to life itself,

And being deaf to reasoning

For me is no stranger.

My excuse is the pulse of existence so mercilessly fast,

And rules that seem to change every hour.

I swim in the river,

Paying attention to direction,

Not surroundings.

That’s when the view comes through

In times and places unexpected.

The shock, though subtle,

Is still strong.

Such is the time –

I’ve looked at this photo for years

Vainly,

Bothering my mind not,

And still I saw just branches and an occasional face.

It was when questioning came –

Of the fairness of reality,

Of the sense of trying hard,

That I saw them,

The runes of abundance.

Just trees they were,

And just trees I always seen in them

Yet when I needed to know it,

Their growing grace came through

With me least expecting it,

Filling my mind with knowing

And my spirit with feeling cared

For many a time.

Plentifulness is not always noticed,

But it is present,

Just like the earth keeps springing with life,

Unseen, uncared for by our ever-busy minds,

Yet it’s always pulsing in its own steady dance,

Ignoring my impatience

And short belief circuits failures.

Subjectively Generalized

Somebody in the meeting long time back said something meaningful about sobered up folks reuniting families, adding “There must be something seriously wrong with you if the sound of kids playing and laughing doesn’t make you happy.” No matter how much strong and connected I felt that morning prior and through half of the meeting, I somehow managed to find myself thrown to the side of the road by those words, coming out of the mouth of the person I respected a lot. I don’t like the sounds of kids running around shrieking. Call me weird, I don’t mind. That’s how I feel. No big deal for me. No big deal for me to consider there is something really wrong with me, either. But there are others. They may feel inferior in that room designed for care. I tried to get over my “thinking too much” which I know I do have… and I couldn’t, because generalizations stink. I hear them a lot.

“We all know,” they say. They like saying that. Maybe there is a desire to be part of it all. Maybe there is a need to think you know more than you know you know. At any rate, it doesn’t help.

When someone says something in the vein of “everybody does it” or “you all know”, it has a potential to be a thorn in someone’s side. Maybe it’s just me… but maybe not? The only time it does speak the truth about us the everybody, is when that song on the radio comes up, singing “everybody hurts.” That I cannot argue with.

Yet the rest of them generalizations and maxims, such as “never” and “always”, they don’t help, because we are all different, and some of us don’t have others’ experience and they can and do feel inferior to the rest. Words can single people out more than actions.

Nothing is absolute in this world. Subjective statements are not cool when imposed on others. Let’s try not to do that to each other, especially in the meetings. I assume we are all there to heal and connect, not break away, hmm?


[the image of deer Algiz, the rune of protection, health and spiritual connection, was copied from https://society6.com/product/algiz-rune-and-deer-in-silver_print. thank you.]

add tea dude

Today and everyday

I need to remind myself:

You have a right

To have a good day.

You also have a right

To have a bad day.

It’s your choice.

In the midst of cataclysms,

Most of it boils down

To your attitude

To the way things and people are

And will be.

[image was copied from https://angelorum.co/holistic-runes/mannaz-rune/ and cropped by me. thank you.]

Shark-swim Life

Inspired by a conversation between the characters in the LA’s Finest series I have recently watched, I began thinking of the phenomenon of ever-moving sharks.

Modern mythology suggests that sharks don’t sleep, that they have to move all the time in order to breathe and therefore stay alive. Contrary to that, says Don Vaughan in the article Do Sharks Sleep? while “many types of sharks must keep moving in order to receive life-giving oxygen from the water passing through their gills… some types of sharks are able to remain stationary because they possess special structures called spiracles, which force water through their gills. Some sharks use both spiracles and buccal pumping… in which water is pulled in through the mouth and forced out through the gills by the cheek muscles… Whatever method they use to breathe, sharks are able to engage in periods of deep rest while still but do not fall asleep in the traditional sense. Lacking eyelids, their eyes remain perpetually open, and their pupils still monitor the motion of creatures swimming around them. Sharks that are able to rest while stationary include the whitetip reef shark, the Caribbean reef shark, the nurse shark, the wobbegong, and the lemon shark.”

So, the mythology is wrong, but I will go with the wisdom of the myth anyway, because I am looking into metaphorical sense of the shark example. In order to stay sober in body, I need to be like the ever-swimming shark (without hunting and attacking humans, OK?). I must not stop doing right things and keep myself busy if I want to continue to breathe recovery.

Since the beginning of my sobriety, I was attending AA meetings, and shared, and listened. I did the Twelve Steps, as it was recommended. I chaired meetings a few times. I did service for the home group as putting up chairs and making coffee. I went to recovery houses and detox centres and shared the way of AA with people in treatment. I wrote my personal blog about recovery for over ten years.

I’m not boasting. I have listed here things that I think anyone can do. They are not difficult activities to take action in. The best thing to do is practice these things on a regular basis. It is harder to do these things, perhaps, in the events of the last 365 days when many places are shut down or don’t allow visitors, but there are still Zoom meetings and as I attend those, I am still blogging and connect with recovery through my writing.

On regular basis. I am not saying going to meetings 24/7 (although some people do, and for years). You still have to go to work and spend time with your family, and what not. Yet I keep in mind that I need to be like a shark, constantly moving, being involved in recovery, because to me it is a full-time job – my health and sanity. This is priority.

(image was copied from https://www.nrdc.org/experts/elizabeth-murdock/more-vulnerable-vicious-sharks-need-cites-protection thanks.)

times

There are times when one comes close to doubt reality.

Times when one starts seriously pondering the existence of time beyond the obvious existence of time as in nature of seasons changing.

Times when death doesn’t seem to be much different than life; when death seems to be not just continuation of life after the moment of physical demise of bodily processes, but a constant process that is following life as a being breathes each moment.

Times when the necessity to keep going and doing things different to survival of one’s body and mind is meaningless, for all effort is vain considering the eventual bane of physical life.

Times when even survival of one’s body and mind makes no sense anymore considering eventual and absolute bane of physical life.

Times when breathing is the only thing that seems to be real, for nothing else seems to matter.

Those are the times when I say to myself that wondering about reality of things is what is going to drive me up the wall sooner than I’d know, and persistence of marching through the day today counts as a good reminder of a good effort tomorrow and I have to keep going forward one step at a time because what the fuck else am I going to do today?!

[the image is the segment of the painting by Salvador Dali “Persistence of Memory” 1931 copied from https://www.moma.org/collection/works/79018%5D

of all the demons

Over a month ago I’ve learned that my brother died.

It was taking time to think about what happened and what my brother’s life and death meant to me in all the ways that surrounded them. For weeks I wrote poems and blurbs, but the text below sat on its digital shelf for the whole month until today. Today is the forty days since the day. I guess it is time.

Days prior I was listening to the latest Ghost record Prequelle and while it is a great album as a whole, one song stood out for me. Listening to “See the Light” and thinking of its lines

“But of all the demons I’ve known/None could compare to you

Every day that you feed me with hate/I grow stronger!”

I thought how it related for me, in regards to seeing the world and some people in it.

I was ten years older than my brother Nikki, and yet we still had a great connection and talked about anything in the world every time we had a chance to. He was a special person to me and to our parents. He had light and kindness in him that illuminated us all. Besides all the grief and mental pain that came through me that day and others to come, music that I knew came through too. Some of them were songs I haven’t listened to for years. “See the Light” came too, but this time it related to something different.

When he was thirteen years old, Nikki started having issues unexplainable at that time, but later called anxiety. That soon has been coupled with what the doctors called manic depression. Couple years later the “manic” part has fell aside, and my brother has got his life going through severe anxiety and chronic depression on one side, and normality on the other. When it was in the stage of normality, he travelled to Europe, half the time hitch-hiking with a friend (the very thought of it terrified me, when he told me of it, laughing), studied in math analysis in college, listened to lots of music, and helped our parents with whatever they needed. When it was a storm of crippling depression and anxiety, he stayed in, refused to go out of the house, looked sad and withering, slept into the lunch hour, and although illusory, his worries were many, while his words were little. Eighteen years of that. I cannot even imagine what he really felt that he never gave voice to in conversations with me, as I lived on the other side of the world, or with our parents who he lived with.

Luckily our parents were great people who paid close attention and cared for us the kids, and they took heed regarding Nikki’s new behaviors. He’s seen doctors who put him on some meds, and soon after the list of meds he took started growing, because it turned out his body was largely resistant to most of the meds. Nikki was always a very smart kid so he took responsibility for his well being. He was very punctual and attentive to the effects and dosages, keeping diary of what medications he took and how it worked, or if it didn’t. It took me some time to realize at least a bit what he was dealing with. I did some research on clinical depression and found that Nikki would have to change meds with time and do near-scientific research to make sure things worked well and what to do if it didn’t.

He was the kindest man I knew, and he always made our parents and grandparents hearts melt. He was attentive, and compassionate. His life, however, went like waves hitting the beach. When his mind state was favorable, there were weeks of tranquillity and family fun, him travelling with parents and watching movies, laughing, and visiting relatives. But in the times of chemical imbalance, there were also weeks and sometimes months of shutting down, during which Nikki tirelessly researched what he could do to help himself, unless the anxiety came knocking hard and he would let it all go and walked the apartment like a ghost.

Several months back I started reading book Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson in which she, who suffered from many a mental disorder, described them all and how her life was taking unexpected turns. She said that depression was one of the worst illnesses out there because it basically pushed person to self destruction. It was probably the most honest and crazy book I’ve read about mental health so far. I was thinking of sending it to my brother, but I was late. Nikki went through so much in the last year and a half, including a break-up with a woman he dated and the death of our mother who fought cancer for two years. As his letters showed, he saw no end of his misery and even having all of the loving support of our father who spared nothing to be of assistance to Nikki, dealing with life in his state was becoming too much for my brother. Of all the demons he knew in his 30 years, not one could compare to the one that kept eating him alive on a daily basis. The last straw for him was learning that obtaining medications he required was becoming a serious issue in the country he lived in, his home, his native land.

My demon was alcohol, and it sure was a demon, because it kept changing shapes, growing from little friendly smile of “have one, you’ll feel better” to “you gonna need a sea to drink to deal with all this crap, so learn how to swim!” kind of an attitude. When I found the courage to sober up, I also found perseverance to move steady through the world that seemed to change with menace to my sanity. I struggled with depression, but it was more of what I called “alcohol-induced” variety, and once I stopped poisoning myself with drinking, depression has weakened its grip on me. It still comes back, but it’s hundred times less crippling. Every day that life seems to fill me with hate, or maybe, concern and confusion, I get stronger with the meaning and works of recovery I am living. It’s not only by my own efforts and determination – I know that the community I am part of has my back. We speak the same language, and we are there to help one another, literally.

The way I see it, my brother was not that lucky. Nikki had the most involved assistance and love of our parents, as well as psychiatric and psychological help, and yet he didn’t partake in any community involvement like I did, even though I strongly advised it to him in our conversations. I suppose his illness filled him with doubt, and fear, and confusion to reach out to others. It was probably similar when I proposed for him to create a routine of physical exercises that I was reading about. I told him there was scientific findings supported by tons of research and success stories of those were diagnosed with depression and working out, just a little, but steadily, and it helped them immensely to gain positivity and mental and emotional well-being. Nikki told me he knew of it, and he considered doing it, but he hasn’t, or maybe his level of dedication was not high. I remember feeling angry about that, but the understanding came later. The way depression communicates with your healthy mind is it pushes away all logic and common sense, bringing instead destructive thoughts and breaking up your values and beliefs. Another thing that I recently found out was that his mental condition also had an effect on his body: Nikki lived with muscle spasms that limited his movement, so getting dedicated to making a routine of physical exercises was out of the question for him.

Nikki who was very loyal to his friends started breaking up the connections and staying away from that social life to the point that even the closest ones were shocked to find out what he dealt with, and how his life ended, and why. He was afraid he will be judged. He thought people wouldn’t understand all the pain and difficulties he had to deal with regarding his mental health. He knew this subject had a lot of misunderstanding among people. The kindest person in him didn’t want to drop all of that knowledge on people he cared about.

It ate him alive, but he fought. My father told me several days ago that Nikki was the strongest and courageous man. I can see that now. What I originally saw as his inaction to connect with others who could help him and other ways to improve his mental health was more of inability due to serious complications of his illness. While in hate to the blackness I grew stronger, Nikki’s mind and spirit and body were being corrupted in the way all supports he has received couldn’t alleviate the pain of constant invasion that had no face, no logic, and no mercy.

I believe my brother died as a warrior who’s grown exhausted of fighting. He wanted peace for himself and love for others. It seems he has grown to think his ill existence was a burden to us. There was no way he saw he could heal in any ways this world could provide. All who knew him will miss this amazing man who gave a lot of light, and I will miss him as a kid who made me feel better and hopeful in his presence. I wish he could have more hope for himself in spite of any demons possible.

I miss him terribly, all of our years together and apart, the conversations, serious and silly, trips and games, all the complete and shattered. This pain is only the beginning, and I fear how it will be from here on, but I believe Nikki is not in pain anymore, and it makes me relieved. Rest in Joy, brother.

(the image was copied from https://www.liveabout.com/visions-at-the-hour-of-death-2594543 and messed around with by me. thank you.)

in adults’ clothing

We are all adults here, I heard her say,

Nope, not all, I know so.

Some of us are, yes.

Codes of conducts are ours to follow,

Objective judgement,

Laughter at our own imperfections.

Yet some are children wearing adult human disguise

Thinking it’s us who are all messed up.

They don’t seem to know

What is respect yet they tattoo that word on their arms.

To them general rules don’t apply

And yet the rules they create make it seem

They are unaware of responsibilities for the responsible

Unless it serves their expectations.

Their mistakes are always someone else’s fault.

And still we are not all adults.

Some of us are crazies in kids clothing

Which is the way it should be…

But only in our minds in our night time dreams that never come true.

Unless we talk or write about it, like I do now.

(the image of Chiildren, a project I quite like, alas it was short lived, was copied from https://chiildren.bandcamp.com/ check ’em out.)