I drove off tonight to attend a couple of 12-step meetings back to back at the same church. I get there and the whole church is dark.
“Surely, it’s not closed for Martin Luther King Holiday?” I think.
I call the phone number of the secretary of the meeting and she’s not taking calls or messages. Why on earth is she the contact person for the meeting?
Eventually, four of us white people are huddled in a dark part of town and we’ve concluded there’s no meeting and we all think it is absurd that the church would be closed for Martin Luther King Day.
I suggest we make our own meeting outside but the women say it is too cold and so we turn around and head home.
I leave my radio off. I am sure there are important spiritual lessons I should be learning from this frustrating experience.
So I try to tune in to what I’ve learned from years in 12-Step programs. One is the teaching that God doesn’t make mistakes. He would not have me in this situation if there was not something I was to learn from it. After all, God carries around a picture of me in his wallet.
This makes me feel better.
I drive with extra care because of my frustration and annoyance and knowledge of how often I’ve experienced bad things swamping me in waves.
Just last night, I was feeling cocky and happy, and I scraped my car against the parking pillar. Very little damage was done but it was a huge reminder to me to become more present. I’ve done a lot of stupid things while cocky. I’ve said stupid things that could’ve gotten my head knocked off. I’ve offended women. I’ve made myself unwelcome around town from things I’ve proffered while feeling cocky.
I remember having a great meeting in the Valley about 15 years ago with Paul Fishbein at AVN about an exciting job and driving away feeling great, speeding at 45mph in a 25mph zone and getting a speeding ticket.
I’ve also made a great many mistakes while feeling frustrated. Sometimes, I’ve not been able to handle the frustration and I’ve lashed out at those around me. I once quit the best paying job of my life, I was making about $60,000 annually, and I got mad when my boss took down one of my blog posts and I got frustrated that he hadn’t kept a copy of it, and in my anger and frustration, I quit (in 2004) and for the next three years, I earned half as much money (while enjoying total freedom).
I’m casting my mind back to things I often heard in my childhood such as, “You can’t always get your own way.” I have a long history of feeling immense frustration and rage. If it is hysterical, it must be historical. This must be my reaction to growing up in foster care and not developing consistently loving bonds with my parents. From the chaos of my early years, I’ve learned to compensate by seeking as much control as possible, i.e., getting my own way. A lot of people have told me I’m not flexible. I’m very insistent on how things have to be done. I don’t tolerate tardy people. Feelings of rage often well up for me when someone is more than ten minutes late.
So the spiritual lessons I am supposed to get from tonight’s debacle including taking more care with details, I should’ve known the church was closed on holidays. I also need to notice when I am feeling frustration and rage and to understand that God has put me right where He wants me and my job is to learn from situation and to ask God for direction. Be aware that when I feel cocky and happy, when I feel like there are no consequences for my words and actions, I am in the up side of my bipolar cycle and it is a very dangerous place. I should be particularly careful when I’m feeling arrogant.
There are many emotional states that get me into trouble:
* Depression. I isolate, become needy, do weird things to get attention and sympathy, lose perspective, don’t care about others, make poor decisions, my focus narrows to myself and my problems.
* Arrogance. I feel like there are no consequences to the things I say and do.
* Frustration and anger. My focus narrows, and I make poor decisions, and I am not useful to others.
* Heedless and careless. Wow, this character flaw of mine is too painful to blog about. I will just note that I am getting many signals from the universe right now to take more care and to move beyond my natural laziness.
* Giddy. When I’m feeling giddy, I pop off with many comments that are inappropriate.
I am best when I am serene, when I have given up fighting anyone or anything (unless absolutely necessary). I should only fight when necessary, not out of habit or neuroses.
I am not an attractive person when I am rationalizing and justifying my behavior. I’m more approachable when I am simply in a sharing mode. I can’t share and justify. One way of thinking cancels out the other.