“I’m so grateful I found a way out of sadness, a way to take care of myself each day, and a relationship with the God of my understanding, who will never abandon me. The pain I’ve felt in the past is equal to the measure of joy I feel now.”
That’s quite a mouthful. Whoever wrote those words in “The Forum” is saying that somewhere between despair and happiness she or he did some work, and found some answers. For me, anyway, I entered into a state of grace. I quite deliberately let go of my precious wounds, which served no further purpose in my life. The lessons they taught me have been learned. I’ve put my sadness in a back drawer—and replaced it with positive thoughts that keep me motivated to reclaim my life, my remaining loved ones, and keep my heart ticking.
Grief is not a badge I wear anymore. Joyfulness is.
attitude is crucial. It determines our experiences. A trying situation can be
tolerated with relative ease when we have a positive, trusting attitude. We
forget, generally, that we have an inner source of strength to meet every
situation…I can turn my day around. I can
change the flavor of today’s experiences. I can lift my spirits and know all is
well. To firmly believe that, when our lives are roiling with chaos and
heartache, requires a certain amount of faith. And that’s something that can’t
to me when I was on my knees, broken. When I finally realized that, despite all
my efforts to help her, my daughter Angie was going to do as she pleased, and I
needed to let go of my desperate attempt to save her. It was then that I
started to understand the concept of accepting things I could not change.
acceptance came with heartache, and I wanted some relief from that. So I turned
my eyes upward, and prayed for release from my unremitting pain. The harder I
prayed, the more faith I was given. The less I relied on myself and the more I
relied on (my concept of) God, the more I believed with certainty that all was
completely understand why people all over the world gather together to worship.
It breaks our spiritual isolation. It’s hard now, in the time of coronavirus,
to physically come together. So creative churchgoers are meeting in drive-in
movie theaters, and what a wonderful idea! The point is that faith is a gift
that must be regularly nurtured, either in a church or elsewhere. God has
graced me with faith that my life is unfolding as it was meant to. And when I
remember that, especially in times of trouble, I feel the peace and serenity
that is promised to me. A faith-based attitude of acceptance, gratitude and
love carries me through every day.
remember to adjust my attitude, I know that all is well.
From Each Day A New Beginning, by Karen
Casey, April 12:
yourself a blessing to someone. Your kind smile or a pat on the back just might
pull someone back from the edge.’ ~Carmelia Elliott
We are healed
in our healing of others. God speaks to us through our words to others. Our own
well-being is enhanced each time we put someone else’s well-being first…We are
all on a trip, following different road maps, but to the same destination. I
will be ready to lend a helping hand to a troubled traveler today. It will
breathe new life into my own trip.”
Easter, 2020, seems to be ushering in a brave new world to us all. I remember hearing the term “globalization” about twenty years ago, and I wasn’t sure what it meant because I wasn’t experiencing it personally. Now, in the throes of a worldwide pandemic that I’m gratified I saw in my lifetime, I am experiencing what it means.
I’m living through this crisis because it is unveiling so many unsung heroes.
My confidence in the human race is soaring. My grandchildren getting
home-schooled by two loving parents tirelessly stepping up to the plate in a
game they never planned for. Health care workers risking their lives so that we
might live another day. Postal workers, baggers at the grocery stores; the list
is endless. But what I’m seeing as a result of all this courage is what Ann
Frank saw in that attic in Holland before she died: “In spite of everything, I
still believe people are really good at heart.”
every day that our lives, and how we live them, are brought into such sharp
focus, from frequent hand washing to thinking twice before we hug someone. How
life has changed for us all! Now it is abundantly more clear to us how what we
do in our individual spaces has an impact on the community we live in, and in
neighboring communities and so on. I’ve learned a great deal about what happens
in a petri dish.
But of much
more interest to me now is how the health crisis has brought out the best in
millions of people around the world. There are also sad, angry stories of
corruption popping up like weeds in my garden. But I don’t focus on them any
more than I focus on anything else I can’t control. I am heartened by this
Easter’s celebration of humanity and hope in a time of fear and uncertainty.
And how creative we are! Drive-in movie theaters have become venues for church
services. And long after Easter Sunday this year there may be a revival of
drive-in movie watching!
My Latin tells me that word means “live again.” Is that what we’re all doing
now? Learning how to live again?
From Each Day A New Beginning, by Karen
Casey, November 28:
of God is different with every person. The joy of my recovery was to find God
within me.” ~Angela L. Wozniak
there’s a thought…and how empowering! Too much do I rely on the outside world
for kindness and goodness and strength. When I don’t always get those things, I
feel vulnerable. We’re all flawed human beings, and we don’t always give or
receive what’s needed. All the more reason to maintain a wellspring within
ourselves—one of faith and hope for better days.
is not the answer for us who are in recovery, though, admittedly social
isolation is necessary for some of us right now because of the health crisis in
America. But neither is too much dependence on how we interact with others. We
have to face life’s inevitable disappointments. I try hard to keep my
expectations in check, do what I can to make a positive difference in the
world, and then let go. I can’t control other people, places or things. But I
can try to remain a steady force in my own life and those closest to me.
recovery has taught me how to manage my ego and remember how small I am in the
stream of things. I have to muster humility in order to take the first three
steps (the “God” steps), and humility is knowing my place in relation to God’s:
a very small one, like the grains of sand on my beach. Every day I have the ability to marshal my
thoughts and inner resources so that I’m not thrown off balance by what’s
happening in my small world or the world at large. All I can do is use the
tools of the program as best I can. And, for me, that means keeping God close
in my heart and relying on His strength as I watch what’s happening in the
world. We all have the power to find peace amid the storms swirling around us.
Blessings to all my sisters and brothers in the weeks ahead. Stay safe!
road to my spiritual life began when I was a young child growing up in an
alcoholic family. But I didn’t start to walk down this road until halfway
through my life when my daughter fell ill with substance use disorder.
was very unhappy growing up. It’s a classic story of family dysfunction that
many of us have experienced as children. But back then I didn’t have Alateen to
go to. My father was never treated and died prematurely because of his illness.
I, too, was untreated for the effects of alcoholism, and grew into an adult
many of us know how rocky that road is: low self-esteem, intense self-judgment,
inflated sense of responsibility, people pleasing and loss of integrity, and
above all, the need to control. I carried all of these defects and more into my
role as a mother to my sick daughter, and predictably the situation only got
was a very hard sell on the first three steps of Al-Anon, and my stubbornness
cost me my health and my career. But once I did let go of my self-reliance, my
whole life changed for the better. The
Serenity Prayer has been my mantra every day. I’ve learned to let go of what I
can’t change. I don’t have the power to free Angie of her disease, but I can
work hard to be healed from my own. This
is where I’ve focused my work in the program.
daughter has gone up and down on this roller coaster for nearly eighteen years,
and right now she’s in a very bad place. But that has only tested me more. My
faith grows stronger every day when I release my daughter with love to her
higher power, and I am able to firmly trust in mine.
of mine ask me, “How do you do that? You make it sound so simple!” I tell them, “First of all, getting here
hasn’t been simple. It’s the result of years of poisoning my most important
relationships with the defects I talked about earlier. I knew I had to change
in order to be happy. Secondly, I fill my heart with faith-based unconditional
acceptance of whatever happens in my life. It’s my choice.
in the readings, someone wrote ‘Pain is not in acceptance or surrender; it’s in
resistance.’ It’s much more painless to just let go and have faith that things
are unfolding as they are meant to. There’s a reason that HP is running the
show the way he is. I just have to get out of the way; I’m not in charge. I
also read somewhere the difference between submission and surrender: submission
is: I’ll do this if I get XYZ; surrender, on the other hand, is unconditional
acceptance of what I get. Well, the
latter is easier because I’m not holding my breath waiting for the outcome. I
just let go—and have faith. Again, it’s a very conscious choice.
all have different stories. What has blessed me about a spiritual life is that
I can always look within myself and find peace regardless of the storms raging
around me. I’m learning how to dance in the rain.
cannot be discovered by a journey of miles…only by a spiritual journey…by which
we arrive at the ground at our feet, and learn to be at home.” ~Wendell Berry
Without the gift of spirit in my life, I would be drifting on an island in the middle of the ocean. Spirit can be anything we want it to be: some people say God, or Higher Power; others focus on a statue or a tree in the garden. It doesn’t matter. What’s important is that it’s not US. “My best thinking got me here.” (into the rooms of recovery)
another acronym: EGO=Easing God Out.
floating island in the middle of the ocean can be a dangerous vessel without a
steering wheel. Maybe not dangerous; just completely self-reliant and without
was something I learned as a child because I had to. The adults in my life were often distracted with their own
problems, so I learned to do things by myself. This was a vital survival
strategy when I was a child. But as an adult, it became a huge defect.
adult, I’ve too often carried that survival tool into situations in my life
that required outside guidance. Too proud sometimes, or afraid, to ask for help
or advice, I steered my ship into some dangerous waters. Like everyone else,
I’ve made mistakes, and some of them were preventable if I’d had the humility
to ask for help.
like everyone else, I’m just a child of (God, a tree, the stars), and I’m
growing every day, learning (hopefully) from my mistakes and trying to do
better. Humility is a great leveler, and it has brought me closer to the one
thing I’ve missed all my life: being part of a community of equals. When I’m in
touch with the spirit within me, I’m no longer alone or isolated. I’m at one
within my fellowship—and it feels good to be alive.
“This journey of mine, this parenting journey,
would involve going two steps forward sometimes and then three steps backward.
It was not vertical progress I was making, but it was progress. And strangely,
the more I kept the focus on myself and striving to be happy, the easier it was
to let go of my child. I knew I had paid my dues, and I feared no one’s
judgment, least of all God’s.
I’ve railed at God many, many times during
these dozen years of joy and pain, this God they speak of at Twelve-Step
meetings. How many times had I sinned in my life? Many, more than I want to
remember. And so the child in me had been sure, earlier on, that I was being
punished for all of them. It was my karmic payback. “What goes around comes
around,” etc. Indeed, for all of my life, before my breakdown, I had no faith
in anything or anyone other than myself. I grew up very lonely and isolated,
and if there was a god, he wasn’t paying any attention to me. So I learned to
be very independent and self-reliant.
But when I finally found myself on my knees, I
felt broken and whole at the same time: broken because my MO for dealing with
my problems hadn’t been working; and whole because I finally let myself believe
in something outside of myself to strengthen me, to fill in the gaps that were missing
in me, and to help me cope. I was starting to develop and cling to a faith that
assured me that I was not being punished and that I would be OK in the end, no
matter what happened to my daughter. And
I realized that fighting Angie’s battles for her was not only a waste of time;
it was also useless and of questionable value.
energies, spent though they were, would be better directed toward reclaiming my
own life, which had been sorely compromised in the fight to save my daughter.
And in reclaiming my own life, I was bidding for my redemption, long overdue,
but just within my reach. This was my journey now, I knew it; I sadly accepted
it. I wanted us to be connected but we weren’t. I wanted her struggle to be our
struggle, but it wasn’t. I wanted to save her life but I couldn’t. I could only
save my own. And I’d keep working at it—or this relentless disease would claim
two more victims instead of one.”
You can find my award-winning book, A Mother’s Story: Angie Doesn’t Live Here Anymore, by Maggie C. Romero (pseudonym) on Amazon.
“‘The Chinese say that water is the most
powerful element, because it is perfectly nonresistant. It can wear away a rock
and sweep all before it.’ ~Florence Scovel Shinn
Nonresistance, ironically, may be a posture we
struggle with. Nonresistance means surrendering the ego absolutely. For many of
us, the ego, particularly disguised as false pride, spurred us on to struggle
after struggle. ‘Can’t they see I’m right?’ we moaned, and our resistance only
created more of itself. Conversely, flowing with life, ‘bubbling’ with the
ripples, giving up our ego, releases from us an energy that heals the
situation—that smoothes the negative vibrations in our path. Peace comes to us.
We will find serenity each time we willingly humble ourselves.
‘Resistance is more familiar. Nonresistance means growth and peace. I’ll try for serenity today.’”
It is very hard to accept life on life’s terms. When I faced a heartbreaking situation in my daughter, I fought tooth and nail to free her of the addiction that had taken hold of her. And I was stubborn; I persisted. For several years, I resisted.
But I learned that my power in her struggle was limited. And I needed to surrender my ego and my will to the power of my God. And have faith—a deeply held faith that everything in my life is unfolding as it was meant to.
What is that? For years I was like a weather vane that spun around according to
the air currents that other people generated… I attributed these mood swings to
nervousness, lack of assurance, and whoever else occupied the room at the time.
Serenity always seemed beyond my control… Where does this serenity come from?
It comes from trusting that everything in my life is exactly as it should be…
It comes when I choose to care for myself rather than to fix someone else…
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: I am powerless over many things, but my serenity is not one of them.”
“Trusting that everything in
my life is exactly as it should be…” That’s the hard part, because everything
in my life is not great. My daughter Angie is lost to me and has been, on and
off for seventeen years. How does one learn to live with that? Everyone is
different, but I find serenity by focusing on my blessings. They’re all around
me: my other children, my grandchildren, and nature. The honeysuckle just blows
me away with its fragrance, and the Spanish broom is an explosion of bright
yellow in my back yard. My friends and my partner Gene are my daily supports. And
God—he pilots my ship. In spite of my loss, I find myself saying all the time,
and feeling sincerely in my heart, that life is good. And I’m filled with the
elevating power of gratitude.
“I’ve heard some people condense the activities of spiritual
life into these words: quiet the mind; open the heart. In encouraging myself to
expand my understanding of prayer and meditation, I like to recall those