Change today

Fred (who was named after Scrooge's nephew in A Christmas Carol)and the bunny

Fred (who was named after Scrooge’s nephew in A Christmas Carol) and the bunny

I got up very early this morning, sat outside in the darkness looking at the stars with my coffee, and found myself thinking about sudden revelations, transformations, and profound inner change that can happen in the blink of an eye.  When I came back inside, I found my old, worn copy of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, and turned to the pages where Scrooge sees the error of his past thinking and behaviour, and begs the spirit for a chance to make things right.

He wakes up the next morning a changed man; a happy man. He doesn’t then try to figure out why he was so miserly or miserable, he steps into the new day as a new man and the actions that follow his epiphany show it.

Once we see……really see, what the error of our own past (thought and action or lack thereof) has created, we are finally free to move past it, and to change our futures for the better. There is a huge value in seeing our error but once seen, dwelling there (trying to figure out why we got there) just keeps us stuck.

Before I got sober, I suffered, and I caused pain and suffering to those around me. I went to therapy and figured out that I was acting just like the typical “adult child of an alcoholic”, could see how my childhood household was “highly dysfunctional”, thought a lot about the “emotional unavailability” of my parents…on and on…blah, blah. And one morning in July of 1986, I had a revelation that I was an alcoholic and that I needed help. I needed to change if I wanted to stop suffering.

My life did not instantly heal the day I stopped drinking, but much of it did. For one thing, I no longer had hang-overs so I could think clearer and I felt better physically. My behavior also became less erratic and unpredictable.

Today is a new day (for all of us) and it can be a radically different and better day if we stop trying to figure out whose fault it is (that we are in the mess we are in), stop blaming everyone (including ourselves), and make a decision to see this precious day with new eyes.

“When we are no longer able to change a situation…we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl

 

20 thoughts on “Change today

  1. Mary, this is so poignant. I never thought about why I kept dwelling on the “why” – now that I know I can move past it. Thank you.

    Cathy

    “When we are no longer able to change a situation…we are challenged to change ourselves.” Viktor Frankl

  2. Oh Mary… I believe you know I can relate! You were right when you said we have much in common.

    In many ways! The more you share… the more I connect. But I guess that is true for all of us.

    Thank you for the reminder of remembering to look at each new day with “new eyes”!

    All the Best to you..

    With Love,

    Lynn

  3. I never stop marveling how you always get what you need to hear when you need to hear it….blessings from a 27 yr sober person who just took off her invisible i am a horrible person memory shawl…blessings to this day and you

  4. Beautiful thoughts on taking responsibility for ourselves regardless of the past and or others who did the best they could at the time (me, included), reminds me of the Indian quote, “before you judge me , walk a mile in my moccasins ” Happy 12/12/12 ……love you!

  5. Mary, thank you so much for this post. Its such a good reminder that when we dwell on the why of things, were are stuck. Stuck in the past, stuck in the self, stuck in the ego.

    A new friend of mine told me on Sunday that she hates this time of year and just wants it to go away. When I asked her why she said that she was jilted the day before Chirstmas and that her parents blamed her. This happened almost 50 years ago. Immediatly I saw myself in her. I too struggle with the holiday season because of things that happened in the past. She told me that her partner, also a friend, said to her that she needn’t continue to hate Christmas, she could choose a different way. In my mind’s eye I can see Gerry telling her this. He has been sober 30 yrs. and is a very mellow soul.

    I am not sure how this relates but the message I heard was that I can also change not only how I experience Christmas, but also my relationship with food. I don’t need to eat in the same way-I am not a victim of my compulsions or my past eating habits.

    I have a choice to be here now in 2012 enjoying these Winter holidays as life is presenting itself to me.

  6. Mary, I always seem to relate to your posts. I too became sober in the 80’s and I, too, am an ACOA. When I learned the lesson that I am the only one I can change, it changed the blame game. I no longer find it helpful to graze in the past.

  7. Sometimes it seems so simple. We do have a choice each and every day and what a blessing that is. Yet sometimes I will still wake up and something/someone will be on my mind that I continue to emotionally and mentally ‘rehash’. I heard something recently that suggested we “wake up each new day EXPECTING God’s favor”. We can choose to live in that expectation or to attempt to ‘override’ His Grace and blessing with our negative thoughts and dwellings on the past. I am so grateful for the ability to wake up each day with new eyes. We have so many chances, don’t we? Each dawn presents Life to us again and again. I don’t want to waste any of them. Mary, you have told us before that it is never too late. That now is just the right time…what a great way to enter this Christmas season. XOXO

  8. Well, this has been a Medicine Ball of a year for me – probably one of the hardest ones of my life. I have been forced into a situation where there has been no backing out of it – it has required every bit of emotional stamina that I could muster. I relied very much on your posts, Mary. I have grown in ways that I would not have thought possible – integrating true perspective into my life on a deeper level.
    As it happens, this entire year converges all onto this particular day for me. Your quote by Victor Frankl has so much meaning. Thank you for being there so generously for all of us.
    Love, Lynne

  9. Thank you for sharing your life and your thoughts with all of us. Your honesty is so helpful to me and others. I look forward to your posts every day!!!

  10. Strong medicine today Mary, the best. We are blessed every day with the way you share your life and wisdom. Your last paragraph is so powerful. Even if there is a something or someone to place ‘blame’ upon, that still never solves anything. I loved what Kathye said about God wanting us, really wanting us, to expect His favor. But to do so, we have to turn our eyes away from the muddy rut we are stuck in and be open to grace. Blessings, faith, and hope to all this day.

  11. The first thing I do when I wake up is to thank God for allowing me to do this. And then, like others have said, whatever has been on my mind and is upsetting me, floods in like waves rolling up on a beach, to take the place of this gratitude. It’s so easy to loose that sweet, clear feeling that everything is right in my world and I do it all to myself. We do have choices; I don’t always take them. I fall down, pick myself up, fall down again, pick myself up. I wonder if I’ll ever stand upright in a peaceful place. I loved Lynne’s reference to a Medicine Ball of a year. Without further explanation, it slipped into place with me for I live with ongoing situational depression in my household and if nothing else, as much as I fight against it, living with someone who is depressed and unmotivated to get out and do things when his mind is not otherwise occupied as it is with his sporting pasttime of the warmer months, frustrates me. I have to become centred myself so as not to be drawn into the vortex of someone else’s mental framework. And the honesty with which you’ve spoken of your alcoholic issues of years past has placed a poignant reminder of my father and how grateful I was to have those last years with him not drinking for it did affect my mother’s life and my own. Thank you for sharing how it was for you, Mary, with such honesty.

    SandyP in snowflakey southern Ontario, Canada

  12. another of my spiritual mentors says that to remain in the past, especially in the re-iterating of poor and traumatizing childhoods, is simply crime-solving. this has helped me move from being stuck. i use this also in the more recent “unjustices-ess” that occur. i think we can all think of numerous instances when we feel we have been wronged; sometimes deeply wronged. yet, for me, i know that there is a time to let go and move on from that “wronged” place. i sometimes ask for help from someone i trust.

    i love this posting mary, from your early morning rising and contemplation to all that you bring to us. thanks for your gifts; over and over. i think i can be clearer about what really matters today! just for today!

    and yes, i know that change does happen in the blink of an eye; sometimes….. we are so blessed to be a part of the richness of your experience, strength and hope. be well mary, you and yours, and all of us.

  13. So poignant, so true, so life-affirming….your post today was all those and more.
    And then a right-to-the-point quote from Victor Frankl.

    Hard work, this re-birth stuff, but it’s the only way forward, no matter how many times we have to try. And I believe that as long as one is trying, there is help and support offered from many different directions however hard you have to look to see it.

    God bless alll who gather here. We’re each on our own road. It’s so nice to know there are fellow travelers.

  14. As you well know, easier said than done. I lost a daughter to suicide just over 5 years ago and have worked hard in therapy to not blame myself for things said or not said, done or should have done. I am doing a little better but it’s still a daily struggle for me. Losing a child is truly the most painful thing in life, and losing one to suicide only makes it more complicated. I just can’t seem to forgive myself.

    • Becky, I understand how you feel although for me, it was my husband and it happened many years ago. I’m not sure that anyone surives a suicide unscathed..no matter who it is…a husband, daughter, brother, sister, friend…it is a pain that really never goes away. Trying to make sense out of such an act means trying to put logic to it and because you think logically, does not mean that they were thinking logically. I, too, carried the guilt for many years in many differing forms. There are no easy answers but I can tell you this, the pain will lessen over time and when you are ready to forgive yourself, you will. Blaming ourselves is a waste of time but we seem to need to go through it. Your daughter made a choice, a painful one but it was her choice and no matter what you did or did not do, the wheels were in motion long before her final choice, no doubt, and there was nothing you could do to stop her for if it wasn’t then, it may have been another time. I’ve done an intervention for my step-daughter, more recently, but I see the reality of her mental illness and truly, I believe this is a disease that is often far worse on the ones around that person, than on themselves. You will learn perhaps to keep your daughter close to your heart and know that there was likely nothing you could have done to avert or prevent her suicide. Time, therapy and expressing yourself as you’ve done here will all help alleviate some of your pain. When you’re ready to let it go, to some extent, you will.
      SandyP in Canada

  15. Oh, how I love this quote. Thank you for sharing and for sharing your thoughts on change. Dr. Wayne Dyer says it is just a thought away when we want to change how we feel about things. Sometimes easier said than done, but none-the-less, so true.

  16. I really liked the insight from Scrooge – that he moved forward and made the change without overthinking it. It’s great advice for everyone.

    Nancy

  17. What I most love about your post was your ability to determine that Scrooge moved on without self recrimination. What a wonderful gift you delivered today. Thank you.

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