I was recently asked to speak at a Visions meeting and turned it down. I never turn down opportunities to share my story as I know it is a service to others. However, in this case, I felt that my share would be counter-productive. But my sponsor helped me see that my attitude may not be accurate. First, let me explain my initial reticence.
I don’t believe in visions for me anymore. I believe that this is part of what fueled my physical sickness and partially caused my disability. My incessant attempts to achieve worldly success and fame were always thwarted, even when I succeeded in my goal.
For instance, one of my dreams was to be a published author. I had successfully self-published and had been paid as a writer for magazines and newspapers. But I wanted to have a book published by a traditional publisher.
When that dream came true, I worked myself to the bone to complete the non-fiction book that would be my ticket to the acclaim I wanted.
Reviews were terrific. Thirty five Libraries, including Harvard University, house my book.
But guess what … nothing, absolutely nothing changed in my life. I have made no money on the book other than a $1,000 royalty and never had the ability, energy, or desire to use it as a platform to build a career from it.
No one was more shocked than I was that this didn’t work out as I had hoped. Never mind that many were helped by the book. My intention was to achieve financial and career success from it. I had been warned by two successful non-fiction authors:
- Writing such a book would mean a substantial financial investment on my end
- If you are new to traditional publishing, even the best of publishers expect you to do your own marketing
Indeed, I spent quite a bit of money on various aspects of the book. And, as warned, the publisher did nothing to market the book, but I didn’t have the resources to do it myself. So, learning the lesson that a book in itself doesn’t create success was hard-won for me.
I strove to create business after business online. All of them were successful in people’s perception of the information. None made me any real money.
Eventually, I became so sick that I could no longer do my day job and ended up on disability. And then, I could no longer even work at these side “businesses,” that, in recovery I finally saw as hobbies, and that were sucking the life out of me.
Every time I tried to step out into the world, to fulfill a dream in the world, I was thrown back deeper into my illness. One year and a half after going on disability, with the kind nudging of my loving PRG team, I finally let go of it all. I “got” my Higher Power’s message.
Fast forward to the present. So I think I am not living in visions anymore. But over the last year, I was guided to start finding a creative outlet for myself, one that didn’t involve the computer or thinking. And after months of painful experimentation, I found a form of drawing and painting that I love. For the first time in my life, I am doing this purely for my own pleasure … not to make money.
And I have become pretty good at it. At first, I was still stuck in self-consciousness and how others would perceive it so that I couldn’t really enjoy it and just judged every effort.
But with persistence and lots of spiritual work, I let it all go and just did it for me. And I love it. It has become a meditative process and I do art nearly every day. My husband thinks it is good enough to sell, and while I have dipped my toe in exploring that, for the first time in my life, I couldn’t care less if anyone buys it or even likes it in order for me to continue doing it.
Then, for about six months, I felt called to create this blog, but ignored that calling. I was totally blocked and have a lot of dizziness when on the computer for any length of time. Writing had become nearly an unbearably painful process. I felt self-conscious and just kept shoving it away. But eventually, it felt imperative for me to do this.
The decision to be anonymous and to do this blog as service, and not for profit, gave me the same freedom as doing the art. While I naturally hope that people read this blog, in the end, it is not a choice for me, but a calling. And I have no control of the outcome.
I am shocked that I have now written nearly 21,000 words with no pain at all. In fact, each post seems to write itself within usually 20 minutes. Well, this one is longer, but feels effortless. It doesn’t feel painful, but like a release and freeing. And whether anyone reads it or not isn’t my point because all I feel called to do is to write it.
So this process has taught me to listen to faint nudges to move ahead with something, which is vastly different than my old “I have a great idea” type of thinking. I think this is what they mean by “the still, small voice.”
All of that is leading up to what my sponsor told me when I said that I couldn’t share my story on a visions meeting. She said:
- Visions are HOW I am in the world, not WHO I am
- Visions are when we are teachable
- Visions are not the same as self-will directing our lives
- Visions are allowing it to happen rather than telling God what I want.
What I often hear on visions meetings are what people WANT to have. And for me, that is dangerous because I kept hitting my head against the wall demanding my will.
When I am desperate for an outcome, that is not living a vision. When I insist on an idea when I know on some level that this isn’t really what calls me, but I think I can succeed at it anyway, I am not living a vision.
When I can find peace no matter the result, though I may have a preference, that is more in keeping with my recovery.
When I live in my passion, instead of what I THINK I should want, then I find joy and peace. This is the first time in my life I have found my passions. I have always wanted fame and success, but these are not recovery goals for me. These are not recovery visions.
For me, it’s the term “visions” that had me confused. Visions are not CREATING my own destiny (that is self-will, which is what brought me to my knees in the first place) but allowing my map and life to unfold as my Higher Power sees fit and being OPEN to finding my passion and WILLING to do it without thinking about the outcome. It may be, as a DA friend suggested, that one’s work and one’s passion may just not be one and the same. That is where acceptance is vital.
So, if you have been unable to achieve your visions no matter how hard you try or if you don’t really feel passionate about them but think they are the way to your success, maybe take a break and stop trying. Instead, meditate and slow down to become open to something entirely different that fuels your passion. And most importantly, and possibly hardest of all, once you find your passion, work on loving the process and letting go of the outcome.