A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Let Go And Let God

I have seen signs and bumper stickers proclaiming "God Bless America!" and have been annoyed by them; even when I was very psychotic I thought "May God bless the world and not just America." So a few years back I shot a photograph of this bumper sticker because I think it is more to the point. Lately I've been reading 12 step daily readers, some Al-Anon, some AA/NA, because I want to bring an awareness of God back into my life. I'm too detached from the spiritual side of myself and have been for a while.

I am still a beginner when it comes to understanding the Higher Power. Growing up in an atheistic/agnostic family conditioned me to avoid thinking about even the existence of God. I can't discuss the spiritual side of life with my family to this very day. To them it is a taboo subject. To them, we live and then we die and that's it. But I don't believe that. I believe that there's more to the picture than meets the eye. My experience with psychosis only confirms this belief.

One of the daily readers I have is called Each Day a New Beginning and it asserts many things. One thing it asserts is that God loves us unconditionally. I have enough guilt and shame in me to find this hard to believe, but I also think I do need to seriously consider it. Unconditional love means that whatever negative things I have done in my life, God will always accept me, in any condition. But before I can embrace that belief, I have to love myself as I imagine God would love me, unconditionally.

I have been through a lot, but the older I get I think, well, who hasn't? And mixed in with that idea is the understanding that I am not alone, though sometimes I act as if I am. So I have to say right here, right now, that I forgive myself for all the rotten things I've done in my life, intentionally and unintentionally. But just saying it is not enough, I have to practice self-forgiveness so that I can move on to more worthy pursuits.

So, if there is a God, God loves me, loves everyone and accepts us unconditionally. It's we who create all these conditions, not the Higher Power and it's we who do the punishing usually both of ourselves and those who have disappointed us. If it is true that God loves us unconditionally, then I can't believe the Old Testament was written by anyone but mere mortals. Mortals who believed in taking an eye for an eye, rather than in forgiveness. I believe the New Testament was also written by men because there are contradictions in it, but still Jesus' message gets through--"Love your enemies" just as God loves our enemies, because God loves everyone unconditionally.

Well, perhaps I am talking a good game, but my conception of God is still pretty hazy. Is it enough to know that some wise and benevolent entity out there somewhere in the universe looks down kindly on me and all of us as we blunder along? It may not be enough, but it's a start in the right direction.

Saying that God is love brings me closer to actually believing it. I have been working with affirmations this week. I've been writing them out on index cards and posting them near the computer. I have also been speaking them into my tape recorder and listening back to them. Gradually I will increase my exposure to them because I'm finding that they really do make me feel better and clearer. What initially startled me was my resistance to them, but now I've gotten past that stage and can start to incorporate them into my life.
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