I’d like to talk a little bit today about another adventure in my recovery which coincides with mindfulness. It coincides with being the observer and paying attention on purpose. Quite often when we’re out there – perhaps in another world we’re caught up in our own ego. We’re caught up in our own selfishness and self-centeredness. We worship our own thoughts, our own ideas, and our ambitions. We get so caught up in the world that we have little or no compassion – not only for ourselves but for other people. We don’t realize really and truly how we’re hurting people because we live in this insular, packaged world of selfishness and self-gratification.
When I was out there during my time of troubles, I would go see my mother. She was the last friend that I had on the earth when I was at my darkest time. When I would go see her, she wouldn’t lecture me or be judgmental. However, she would say some things to me. Back then, I didn’t see in the type of a mindset that would allow me to see the pain in her face. When we’re in an ego-driven mind, what do we do? We change the rules.
An enlightened person, a “normal” person would recognize and try to stop or moderate those behaviors that were causing the other person, and in many ways yourself, pain. However, being ego-driven, I had another idea. To avoid that pain – to avoid that agony, I simply quit going to see my mother. For two years, I didn’t visit the last friend and ally that I had on earth. Occasionally we would talk on the phone to know that we were still alive. However, I didn’t go see her. I was too caught up in myself and avoiding my pain.
When I had the experience, and I’ll relate that again to you sometime, the next morning I got up and I said, “Well, there’s one person I have to go see. I have to go see my mother.”
So, I drove.
After two years of not seeing this woman, my only friend and ally, she just looked at me. And, I said, “I’ve got something to tell you, Mom.” And she threw up her hands and she said, “Oh no. What now?”
Looking back, this was a legitimate question given how things had been during my time of darkness. After not seeing my mother for two years, who knows what I would have to tell her that was so important to drive to see her in person? I sat her down at that table, and I reached across, and I held her hand as I said, “I’m not going to promise you anything, but I’m going to try to stop what I’m doing. I’m going to join 12-step recovery.”
It was such a long time ago now, but I can picture it as if it were yesterday. That woman – my mother, laid her head down on the table and she cried and cried. She held her hands up, and she said, “Thank God! I’ve prayed for this day!”
It wasn’t until that moment that I sat back in that chair, and it finally dawned on me, “My God, what have I done to this woman?” It was at that moment that I knew the answer was, “Everything.” All the scales were removed from my eyes. Everything was clear. I was truly awakened.
Now, not all awakenings are pleasant. I was awakened to all the nastiness and all the evil thoughts and all the things that I had done – how I had hurt other people. I was able to see how I’d been mean and greedy and dishonest. I recall sitting back in that chair – across the table from my mother, and I thought, “What have I done? What have I done to my family?” Last of all, I asked, “What have I done to myself?”
Those are very, very difficult emotions to deal with. The easier way would have been for me to simply continue on the path I had been walking – that path of darkness that turned me from my mother for two years. However, as painful as an awakening as mine was, it was like being reborn. It was like coming out into the light – a blinding and overpowering light. It was as if I had no sunscreen standing on the surface of the sun. I was a raw nerve. I realized that I needed a support group to have people that were around that have been through that experience to help guide me through it. Fortunately, there were people in my life who took me in, who took me under their wing, and were able to treat me with kindness and compassion. My hope is that as you travel your own path out there you can find those same types of people. Remember that the awakening, however painful and jolting as it was for me, was certainly worth it as I do look back on my life today in the present moment.