Tuesday, November 1, 2016

When there's nothing left to burn...


A lot can change in a few months time. I look back to my last post in April of this year and though it speaks highly of presence and paying attention to the finer details, behind the scenes was a tiny undercurrent of grasping at a happiness that was becoming more elusive, by and large. 
If I could have known what the following 6 months had in store I'd have drunk my own Kool-aid and taken a swift turn into necessary change. Not to say that I wish the last few months away nor do I wish anything had gone differently because it is what it is and I suppose I am much bigger for it, but at the same time I could have saved myself and those around me the expense.

By all appearances to the casual observer I'd been doing fine. I'd maintain a somewhat decent attitude, my humour was intact, I'd try to remain positive, and I probably looked relatively healthy. To those closer to me it probably wasn't as rosy around the edges. You'd see a pessimist and someone who was quick to anger at smaller matters. You'd see someone who had unceremoniously hung several talents up to dry and was fearful of trying new things or even believing in self to conceive of them in the first place. 
You'd see someone who was spinning their wheels in fear. 
You'd see a man who'd all but given up on growing up. 
You'd see a drunk increasingly losing their way.

And so it went, my living out a day to day, building an impenetrable wall between myself and God and letting my heart become thoroughly overgrown with brambles. Easy to miss from the outside because I'm good at hiding it, impossible to hide from on the inside. 

So I drank and let my being fall into darkness because it seemed much easier to dumb down. 

These are not easy things to take ownership of and they are even harder to openly admit. I have been down this path before and I have seen small fleeting victories along the way, but it always came back to the resentments and fears and lack of self worth which always led back to pouring on several litres of numbing agent, thus stalling any hope of healing for another day. Mornings spent dragging myself out of bed and going through the motions of daily routine, moving neither forward nor back, heaping layers of shame and oftentimes regret onto an already suffering state, sometimes faking smiles and an easy nature.....all the while tossing matches at a tinderbox that threatened to burn my life to the ground.

It's a really hard thing to admit to, and for months I steered clear of the responsibility, thinking that I had it under control and that it could always be so much worse. 

But then things started to get worse. The difficulties in my relationship, or at least in my ability to relate properly within my relationship grew worse. The blackout nights became more frequent. The social gatherings where I'd embarrass myself and/or my partner came more often. My fears and frustrations reared their ugly heads more than I was comfortable with. The mysterious injuries I didn't remember causing myself. The well known beating and robbery I sustained in June. The bike accident in September. The stupid horrible things I said to Britt and don't remember saying. The almost nightly drinking. The sabotaging of opportunities to live life and do something other than isolating and getting shit-hammered. 
The matches tossed onto a bone dry tinderbox......it's a wonder that I'm still here.

But, like I opened this dialogue with, a lot can change in a few months. 

I will spare the details of my personal bottoming out as it is personal and something that I am still wrestling with. All I can say is that on the night of October 3rd the tinderbox blew up and though my life didn't burn to the ground it most definitely gutted a corridor or two and stripped me bare. 

Scared sober and humbled far beyond my own broken ego I turned and walked away from an existence that was sure to ruin me. I got myself to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting pretty quick and made it my intention to give sobriety my full attention. I wasn't sure what I had hoped to get from an AA meeting, but it was helpful knowing that I had support in hearing other peoples stories and being reminded that I'm not alone in this crazy little drunky-drunk world.

In the weeks since I took my last drink I have been clearing away the brambles and breaking down the wall that I have built around my heart. I have been deepening my relationship with my spiritual practice and have been acknowledging gratitude daily. 
Waking up sober has been nothing short of inspiring. Sometimes it has even been wonderful. And sometimes it has even been scary as fuck.
My relationship with Britt has been mending well and though things have shifted between us, there is a growing balance and harmony that feels ultimately right and good. 
I don't expect the shit I've done as a lousy drunk to be forgotten and in fact I wouldn't want it forgotten as it serves a daily reminder of how not to truly live a life in full. 

My relationship with self has been mending as well and though things have shifted there is a balance growing and a peace that I haven't felt in a long time. I am grateful for waking up and remembering the night before. I am revelling in the gifts life is offering, be it a simple breeze, a meal bought for me, something said that brought me back to myself, and most importantly the simple contentment that i am cultivating and growing into by the day. 

Believe me, I don't want to be one of those annoyingly happy preachy people but I'm most certainly not going to shy away from exposing and expressing unabashedly. If that means that I meditate, go to an AA meeting every once in a while, develop a deeper relationship to the God of my choice, cry over music, go raw vegan, tell you that I love you, or laugh at your kids fart joke, then so be it. 
When the alternative is so dire I think it's pretty clear where my loyalty rests comfortably. 

None of this should really come as a surprise to anyone and I'm not saying any of it to shock or to claim that my story is more significant than anyone else's or whatever. I'm not playing victim or hero. I'm not laying claim to any answers and I'm not pondering any deep questions. I don't expect praise and I sure as hell don't want a door prize for my efforts. 
I'm just laying it out bare because that's what I do. It's what I've always done, even when I've been stuck in the mud and not seeing the forest for the trees. 

It's just what I do. It's all I know. 

And in this clear headed sober space I am reminded that it is all I've ever wanted, this life so divine and full of promising change. 


Friday, April 15, 2016

So I stopped, and I looked at the scenery

There is something to be said for presence.
The quiet cacophony of your surroundings can lend such profound stillness to the mind.

I open my balcony door and sit. 
And I listen.
I gaze wide eyed at everything around me yet I focus on nothing at all. And I am present.

The snow capped mountains in the distance with their juicy coating of sun fed marmalade glaze makes my heart swell but then my eyes catch the big city buildings just a stones throw away, the light bouncing off of them creates a weird beauty.....their magnificence is palpable. 
These cities we live in truly are the modern day wilderness, and I'm not saying that's comparable or preferable, but when you have the chance to sit back and really stare into the abyss, they really can be quite beautiful and awe-fully peaceful.

I have this view from my porch where I can safely feel nestled in a neighbourhood replete with children being children, beautiful wind chimes chiming, bbq's beckoning me to crash 'em, dozens of varied birds croo-caw-trilling, and adults adulting as they put their garbage out or yell to one another from their multi-unit east van dwellings about the cool thing they built or did that day.

It's a life and we're all in it together up here on the pleasant mount away from the city.

12th avenue is an asshole who only stops being an asshole for a couple of hours in the 24 hours we have available to us. Like an unruly 2 year old who will never stop being an unruly 2 year old animal, this street never stops moving. Usually it's the din of traffic between 5:30am-3am that is the constant soundtrack, with guest appearances from the multiple ambulances, the odd car that skips a curb, spreading hard plastic bumper shit all over the place, and every once in a while there's a racoon fight or some other such animal getting their ass kicked by a speeding vehicle.

Side note; Last night I was fascinated by the guy who parked his vehicle in the middle of 12th to puke out of his window for nearly 10 minutes. He was loud. He was in a bad way. He was in a Lexus. And I was amazed that it was only 11:30pm and there was no traffic, as though the waters had opened up for this wealthy feller to do his business, wipe his chin, and then move on.

Indeed, this is an interesting neighbourhood to live in.

That said, it ain't my former Franklin street home with its constant industrial white noise, prostitutes and johns strolling by, wafts of dead chicken smell from the factory down the road, screaming junk hungry junkies, or delivery trucks loading at 4am.

But it has its perks.

To be honest, I feel very fortunate to be here.

I'm sitting at my computer and in my right ear is the 12th ave party that rarely stops, but underneath my feet in the apartment below is a girl who I love immensely, who encourages me to be who I want to be and who loves me even when I act like a poop and get caught up in the never ending cycle of head traffic.
Behind me is a water filled glass home where 3 fish live, and they teach me every day to keep being vibrant, to keep swimming, and to be excited just because.
To my left are the mountains. And the richly dense culture of humans living in my vicinity. And a crappy apple giving tree in our yard that is currently displaying beautiful blossoms, as it does every year. And wind chimes. And the gigantic sentient tree across the way that I swoon over every time I gaze upon her.

So.....maybe life dealt a knuckleball or 3. Maybe you have the flu. Perhaps you're paying too much rent and just lost your job. You might be a new and unwilling parent and your jerky kid is pissing you off. You might be in a tumultuous relationship that has to end but you can't do it because you're too fucked up to deal or too needy to know how to. 
Or maybe you're just mad at everything, sometimes.

Yeah....me too, sometimes. That's life.

Shit can be tough.
Personally, I hate working. I hate the time work eats up because I'd rather be digesting the present moment and investing in the things that make my soul sing, all the time.

Obviously I'd rather be looking at pretty trees, writing words, gaming, sleeping until 10am, and punching in to work for the minimum allotted hours humanly available. 
But that's not my life at this very moment, and while I'm getting all lost in the fact that this isn't my existence, I'm losing precious time not giving presence to punching in and paying attention to the good details. 

Indeed, there really is something to be said for presence.

And I don't want to lose any more time.....

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Breaking open the seal

With a touch of hesitation in my step I approach this keyboard, nervous as though I’m on a blind date or seeing an old friend for the first time in years. There is fear in my throat even as I type out these first few words because it feels as if I’ve been encased in stone and I’m not sure if I still have it in me to spin words the way I remember doing so long ago.
There is rust in these knuckles and my fingertips have gone soft. Each breath carries with it a bit of self-judgment. The passing moments present themselves as opportunities to slip my foot just a little further out the doorway of procrastination and excuses.
And so I steady myself, swallow the fear, let go of expectations, and allow vulnerability to be my strength.
I mean, after all it’s not as if I have some epic novel to write here.
So yeah, it’s been a while. It’s been far too long, actually. I’m not exactly sure what happened except that I just up and closed the lid on this book of thoughts…..hmm….actually that’s a lie. I know exactly what happened. I shut down. Life got really fucking strange and I shut down, emotionally and in some ways physically. As life was going pear shaped I was finding ways to distract myself, mostly self-destructive and not at all in keeping up presence with what was going on in my heart. I barely spoke out about it and instead chose to drown in bad decisions, alcohol, and pointless Youtube spirals.
It’s a funny thing that we fool ourselves into thinking that we can run from our suffering because in truth we can never really escape it. In fact running only heaps more on the already festering pile and even though this bag of stones strapped to your shoulders may create the illusion that you can carry the weight, you are only breaking your own back.
Getting wise to your own shit can be a bitter pill to swallow and lately I’ve been eating those pills by the fistful.
This is partially why I return to this medium of expression, because I don’t want to hide anymore. I’ve got nothing to gain from carrying excess weight and everything to gain from shedding it onto the threshing floor.
So I've been shedding, and I've been noticing lately that these pills have been tasting less bitter and positive changes are becoming much easier. My heart is becoming free of dead weight and miraculously my back is much stronger for it. Instead of hiding I am poking my head out and testing the air, shrugging off my armour in favour of bare skin.
Indeed it has been far too long. The past year and a half has been a series of trials, ripe with triumph and trip-ups. I have loved, lost, lived, and gained. None of it has been easy, but all of it has been exactly what I’ve needed and I honestly wouldn’t change a thing if I could. But what I can change now, and what I will continue to change until my dying breath is my mind when It wants to retreat into that comfy yet oh so stale hiding place. 
And as I write these words, as the fear leaves my throat and as I take my foot from the door and plant it firmly in presence I remember what it is like to be alive. As each day passes and I become stronger in my body, more whole in my heart, and more expressive in my speech, I remember what it is like to be free. As I embrace this freedom like an old friend I thought I’d lost long ago I remember who I am and what I am here for.

And I hold that old friend more tightly than ever before, whispering in their ear....
“Thank you, I love you!”

~ N