Archive for October, 2009


…one direction… forward.

October 29, 2009

don draper

My favourite Don Draper quote from TV Series, ‘Mad Men’….

  “My life moves in only one direction…  forward”.

Don Draper is a man with a past he is leaving behind.  The character has a past secret life that he would just as soon forget.  He has entered a world he finds more befitting of his tastes, preferences, and capabilities.  A far cry from being an orphaned farm kid from who knows where.

My motives for adopting this motto are different from Don’s.  I have discovered that once reasonably dealt with, the past belongs right where it is… in the past.

There is an important difference between running from one’s past and leaving one’s past behind.  Running tends to be fear or shame motivated.  Leaving tends to be acceptance motivated.

I will never forget the period of my recovery where I began to gain a healthy acceptance of the past.  The regrets, the shame, the costs, the pain, the resentments, the humiliation.  I used to hide from it.  I used to flinch over it.  Until I heard enough fellow journeyers on the pathway of recovery share how they made the same mistakes.  Felt the same regrets.  Hurt others the same way I did.  Wasted time and money.

Then, as my ears and eyes began to open, I came to realize that it wasn’t just us alcoholics and addicts who made huge mistakes and felt pain and regret about the past.   I came to observe and conclude that this is pretty much ‘just life’.  And having done dumb shit is pretty universal.  Not the exclusive domain of alcoholics and addicts.

In fact, I eventually turned a corner and began to see that much of my dumb shit was done after having surrendered myself to mood-altering substances and practiced to perfection self-centred alcohilic thinking habits. 

So if we were to compare regrets, who would have the bigger regret?  The person who did dumb and hurtful stuff while intoxicated?  Or the person who did similar things without impaired judgement of intoxicants?

Don’t get me wrong… dumb is dumb, harm is harm, and pain is pain.  I am not trying to rank anyone’s behaviour.  I am simply saying that my perspective flip-flopped from being one of deep regret and pain, to one of relief and acceptance that I really wasn’t any worse than many “normal” people.

I rarely flinch anymore when I recall the past.  In fact, much of the past, I don’t actively recall anymore.  Why would I if it has been dealt with, amends made, and issues closed?  Time is precious and yields a better return when it is focused on today.  And good todays give the best chance of good tomorrows.

I have stopped wasting my time and energy ruminating over closed issues.  Instead, I invest my time in today.

I’m with Don.  My life moves in only one direction… forward.




Reminded of the emotional rollercoaster

October 10, 2009

 Remember the pain and utter disorientation when you found out about the betrayal?  Remember forgetting that it was actually real, emotional rollercoasterfeeling content for a moment, then realizing it was indeed real and feeling the pain over again?

Remember repeating this cycle over and over and over?  Remember the high highs and low lows?

Remember falling asleep and waking up thinking that maybe your shattered life was just a bad dream… then realizing it wasn’t?

Remember hearing some inspiring input or teaching and then feeling good for a moment?  Thinking there just may be some hope of hanging onto what you were so afraid to lose?  Then only hours or days later, that hope fades and the despair and pain return?

Remember the anger? The fear? The embarrassment?

I do.  Not often anymore though.  Thank God.

But today, years after life turned around significantly, I saw a brief scene in a movie where a young lady had just found out she had been betrayed by her boyfriend who was now sleeping with a friend of hers.  She was hysterical.  A short while later, when the initial sting subsided, she resolved to live the best and happiest single life… just as her mother did.  But the resolve seemed only veneer-thin.  She sounded as if she were trying to convince herself that she was OK.

It so reminded me of the moments of reprieve when the pain and confusion subsided and the clouds felt like they began to break.  I began to think there might be hope.  Sometimes it would last for days.  Then, the clouds would start to move in again.  The sky slowly darkened and depression, pain, and despair moved in again.  “I knew the good feelings and hope wouldn’t last”, I would tell myself.

Unfortunately, for about 2 years, I was right.  The pain came and went.  I was on the rollercoaster.  For the first year, my separated wife did not even commit to whether or not she was going for divorce.  She kept the other man in the shadows.  We all suspected but had little proof.  It was torture.  Today, I momentarily relived this rollercoaster by seeing this scene in the movie.

Today, it seldom happens and if it does, it never lasts.  Today, when the dark clouds move in, I say, “Ok, fine.  But I know that this too will pass so I will just ride it out”.  Today, I re-direct my thoughts to gratitude for what I do have.  Today, I turn over my pain rather than try to fight it by myself.  Today, I get in the company of people who have travelled the journey before me and are willing to walk beside me when the clouds move in.

Man, was I a mess during those days.  My thinking was all wrong.  It led me to fixation with suicide.  So glad I never took a step farther.  So glad I made it through and can now carry the message of survival and recovery to others.

There was a day when I felt there was no future.  Today, I love the present and am hopeful of the future.

These little reminders help me see how far I have come since those dark days not too many years ago.




What of vengeance?

October 3, 2009

vengeanceIs this a luxury we can afford?

What ultimate value does it provide?  Is it not a shallow, short-term reaction to an extreme of pain or injustice?

Does it equalize?  Does it heal?  Does it close anything out?  Or does it just perpetuate?

I don’t have answers.  There are people I feel have wronged me and I do not care for them.  I have painful memories…. at this stage of my recovery, the best I can do is surrender the hurts and not stew on them.  Let the hurts pass through and fade in the rear view.


If I feel them again by experiencing the memory again… let it pass again.  And again and again and again.  70 x 7 was once suggested.


I do not know where all of this will end up.  I just know that I do not wish to be vengeful.  It just seems to be there.


I believe an inescapable force in the universe is the Law of Attraction.  The law of sowing and reaping.  We reap what we sow. 


We do not attract what we want so much as we attract what we are.  Because what we are affects others.  We give it out whether we know it or not.  Whether we mean to or not.


If I am vengeful, I will attract vengeance.  I don’t want it… therefore I should not be it.


Thank God for the gift of grace.  Thank God, he has bigger plans, visions, and purposes than I do. 


Thanks God for someplace to go with my pain, anger,  and injustice…. other than vengeance.