Showing posts with label fear. Show all posts
Showing posts with label fear. Show all posts

Friday, November 1, 2013

A victim of self-centered fear

Today an old friend celebrated 23 years without a drink.  A lot has happened in the last couple of years for him.  He was out of work for about three years but now has a steady job.  He also seldom goes to AA meetings anymore.  Most likely, he will go to one to pick up his medallion.  I remember when he would go to 3-4 meetings a week.  And now he probably hasn't been to one is over six months.

I know that he suffers from ADHD.  And he still has a lot of the "isms" in spite of all those years of sobriety.  But what he does with his recovery isn't any of my business.  I am glad that he has celebrated another year of sobriety.  I can't help but wonder what he would be like if he were attending meetings and had a sponsor.  But I keep my mouth shut and wonder at the power of alcoholism that manages to have a hold on someone even after so many years without a drink.

Self-centered fear is described as being "the chief activator of our defects" in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The fear stems from thinking "that we would lose something we already possessed or would fail to get something we demanded. Living upon a basis of unsatisfied demands, we were in a state of continual disturbance and frustration." I see my friend as having a lot of fear and frustration.

Being a victim of circumstances in life and exuding negative energy makes a person difficult to be around.  I see how the self-centered alcoholic thinking narrows the universe down to just what is in their sphere.  I used to wonder how alcoholics could only be concerned about themselves.  Now I see that being a victim, whether alcoholic or not,  tends to make a person think mostly about what their problems are.  People who are victims seldom seem interested in what others are doing because all the focus is on their own situation.

What if a person decided to stop being a victim and focus outside of themselves, broadening the world to include others and inquire after their happiness?  I think that is where a real difference can be made towards having a life that is full and rewarding versus one that is confined and negative.  But it takes a real change in attitude and behavior.

I don't know if my friend has victim mentality.  I know that I did for a long time.  I blamed the alcoholic for most of my unhappiness, until I began to wonder who had erected the prison that I was living in.  No one was forcing me to stick around for emotional abuse.  I did that willingly.  When I came face to face with my own victim mentality,  I began to see that the walls of isolation and self-pity were erected by me.

Moving away from being a victim and accepting my part was key to having healthy relationships with others.  I have no one to blame but myself if I stick around for abuse.  I am glad to have stopped wondering who is doing what to me and why.  I can look at what I am doing which has made a huge difference in my life.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Those in peril on the sea

Sad stories and images of the damage inflicted by Hurricane Sandy continue on news channels here.  The wind continues to blow and small craft warnings are still in effect.  I see the images of the flooded tunnels, subways and streets of New York and New Jersey, yet I can't get out of my mind the story of the sinking of the HMS Bounty off Cape Hatteras.

Cape Hatteras, the graveyard of the Atlantic, and the watery depths off the North Carolina coast have gripped the sunken relics of 1,000 ships for more than four centuries.  And now the masts of the Bounty are what can be seen rising from the water.

Of the sixteen crew members on board,  14 were rescued by the US Coast Guard swimmers and helicopters.  One of the two lost crew members, Claudene Christian, a distant relative of Fletcher Christian who led the mutiny on the original bounty, was found on Monday afternoon but was pronounced dead that evening.  Captain Robin Walbridge remains lost at sea.

The heroes in all this are the United States Coast Guard who put themselves  in situations that give most people nightmares.  My respect for them is enormous as they rescue people from the sea.  The following video is a bit long but shows what they did during the rescue of the Bounty's crew members.

I enjoyed touring the ship when she was in town in May.  I wrote a little bit about my fascination with the ship and the story of the original Bounty here.  I want to share a few of my photos from my visit to the ship.

And finally this comes to mind:
Eternal Father, strong to save,
Whose arm hath bound the restless wave,
Who bidd'st the mighty ocean deep
Its own appointed limits keep;
Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee,
For those in peril on the sea!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

After I left, I still think back

It's a delightfully cool spring day here.  I'm going to meet up with some of my former staff for lunch.  We get together ever so often to talk about the good ole days and find out what's new with each other.  I suspect that they will have a lot to tell me about what is going on at the laboratory.  I haven't been back there in quite a few months.

I have heard from a few people that the halls are nearly deserted, staffing numbers are down, number of grants are down, and more people have retired or are thinking about it.  It was a bustling, exciting place when I started working there. And that excitement continued until about the last 10 years of my employment.  Gradually, the politics and the bureaucracy ate away at many of us. I'm glad that I left when I did because I could tell that my enthusiasm had waned. It was time to leave.

My reservation about going back is that I feel I no longer belonged.  I actually felt like that the last couple of months while I was there.  Everything was moving around me in terms of planning and the future, but my future was to leave.  It was an awkward feeling, almost like I had left already but was physically still present.  My sponsor pointed out that perhaps the people needed to process in their own way that I was going and the best way to do that was to look forward.  Maybe.

But one of the things that I did not previously write about here was a note that was left under my door.  I opened my office one morning a few weeks after I had retired.  I was still going in to work on some last things that I wanted to wrap up.  I had a series of lectures to give and some other writing to do. The plain piece of paper was folded over.  I thought perhaps it was a note from a well-wisher.  But when I opened it,  there was a copy of one of my blog posts and a note with some hateful words typed on it.  I guess that I have blocked those words because I can't remember them exactly.

From that moment on, I no longer wanted to go back there.  I don't know who put the note there.   It doesn't really matter.  What matters is that I felt angry, fearful, sad, distressed--all tumbling together.  Someone knew about my blog and decided to write something nasty to me.

I did not give any thought to abandoning the blog, but I knew that going back into work in my old office was not an option.  I told the Director that any work that I would do, I would do from home.  I haven't regretted that.  I am okay with it all today.  My distance from work there is okay.  I do miss the people I worked with.  And today, I'll get a chance to tell them that again.

I'm glad that I finally wrote this blog post.  It has cleared up some hidden stuff within.  Thanks for reading.  

Saturday, February 25, 2012

What do you fear?

Awoke to brisk weather and a head cold.  Not the way that I wanted to start the day, but I can tell that I have been invaded by something that will sap a bit of energy for a few days.  My head feels heavy, but my spirit feels good.

Yesterday's meeting topic was on fear.  That one word seems to sum up so much of what is at the root of the human psyche.  What do I fear? Less and less.  I have written so much about this trait that seems to come in and undermine living.  I still have the abandonment issues, but I am moving through those by realizing that I will deal with things as they come.  No sense in following the old slogan of F*#k Everything and Run.  We can only run on far, until we are brought down by those jackals of fear.

There is a lot to fear in this world: bad people, bad economy, wars, famine, death, sickness--the list is long.  But at this moment on this day,  I have little to fear.  There are so many things that I am powerless over. Inviting them into my mind is pointless. All I can do is be aware, accept and take action on those things that I can change.

A newcomer to Al-Anon was sobbing because her husband is an alcoholic who is verbally and emotionally abusive.  I could sense the people in the room collectively sigh, breathing out empathy for this lady who faced her fear and came in.  Face Everything and Recover is what we are doing.  It takes time, but I could see the hope in her face as we each told her how glad we were that she was here.

She fears reprisal for being at a meeting, that her husband will yell at her, that he will be drunk, that she will never be happy.  All these things may happen, but there are other options, other plans that can be made to keep the focus on positive action.

There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.  ~ John Lennon

What are your fears today?  Are you avoiding them, putting them off with denial?  Or are you facing them and realizing that there is power in self-awareness?