Bigger is not always better. That is certainly the truth about my life. With my recovery and then my chronic illness, my life grew small in ways measured by our fame-craving, success-seeking society. But for me, the smaller it has grown, the more opportunity I have had to develop spiritually and artistically. And that is a great gift.
I used to be the Drama Queen. When I was “on,” I could be quite funny and entertaining. My writing style was cutting and sharp. I had delusions of grandeur that I strove to achieve. Being the big spender with others made me feel like the King of the World as well as the Drama Queen.
But my chronic illness has happily conspired with my recovery to slow me down and remove that drama. Cutting and sharp and dramatic are no longer the main attraction of me. And I can no longer be even the Jack, much less the King, when it comes to financial generosity.
As time has passed in recovery, with my illness making a huge impact as well, I have come to miss that old me a lot less, and have found a rich internal life that fulfills me in ways far more profound and meaningful. Where I used to strive for worldly success but never quite made it, I now have internal riches by following my heart instead of my dreams. Achievement means something quite different to me now. And being of service has replaced fame as a goal.
Meditating daily, doing my art, writing this blog, and being slower, kinder, and more loving feel so much better than the unfulfilled yearnings and frenetic activity of my old scrambling life.
So, when I am with others, I do sometimes still feel small and dull when the conversation comes around to my life and what I do all day, because it is hard to explain the richness of my life in context of the world. Plus, I still have embarrassment at being on Social Security Disability and, because my illness doesn’t show on the outside, I still fear others think me a fraud.
Yet, I am blessed, yes, blessed, by having both DA and my illness. My illness forced me to step out of the worldly work day. My DA recovery led me to tremendous spiritual growth. Both together give me the time to pursue my spiritual and creative life as a vocation.
While my illness has made the circle of activity smaller, even this is a gift for me. Due to my illness:
- I can no longer be on a computer for too long
- Cannot drive very much
- Have trouble reading and processing complex information
- Cannot tolerate big box stores for more than 15 minutes
- Have to be concerned wherever I go about chemicals and perfumes
- Must severely limit my time on the phone and
- Keep socializing to a bare minimum
At first, I felt tremendously sorry for myself. But 99% of the time now, I am grateful for the not-so-gentle nudge of my illness and DA that have forced me to recreate my life.
Crazy as it may seem, I am more contented now than I’ve ever been. Striving to accomplish the BIG dreams only frustrated me in the face of reality over the past few decades. Letting go of all that and having the time and space to explore and develop into who I want to be in recovery is a fantastic adventure.
I get pulled, from time to time, back into big dreams. Lately, I’ve been wanting to publish old books on Kindle. As I got more worked up by the idea of it, I felt more agitated and less peaceful.
Further, despite “wanting” to Kindle some books, what I’m actually doing with my time is: writing this blog, doing my art, working my program, being of service, and working on my spiritual life. Because I am able to live more quietly, I can better hear what my heart and Higher Power tell me to do. And that helps me let go of what my craving puts in the way.
If the truth is that your actions and your desires are at odds:
- Look at what you are actually doing with your free time each day vs. what you think you “should” or “want” to do.
- If they are in conflict, find a way to get quiet, such as in meditation, so you can feel the difference between “craving” that can delude you and what your Higher Power is gently guiding you toward by speaking in that “still, small voice” inside of your heart.
- Think about which path brings you peace and calm and which agitates you.
Consider letting go of beating yourself up over what you aren’t doing and shifting your focus to appreciating what you are doing. You might also want to seriously consider letting go of any goal that doesn’t make you feel peaceful.
Last year, for about six months, I wanted to become a harp therapist. I obsessed about it, read about it, planned a PRG about it. You have no idea how much yearning and pain was involved. I saw myself in that role. I took a couple of harp lessons.
At the same time, I was developing my artwork and quietly doing it every day. But I saw it as nothing important in my life. I got involved in art because a therapist made an off-hand suggestion that I needed something “right-brained” to do with my time.
In the end, I had to accept that, for now, being a harp therapist looked great in theory, but my health issues made impossible for me to do realistically and my financial situation made it irresponsible to pursue. And, the truth was that it would have been more of a hobby than a career as most harp therapists do this service for free.
The funny thing was that, with my PRG’s help, I shifted my view on my artwork. This is what was healing me. This was how I was spending my time. This was what I felt called to do. It was right in front of me, but maybe because it didn’t cause angst and yearning, I minimized it. Now, I cherish it as a great gift in my life.
This is the first time in my life that I’ve had a hobby. I never allowed myself the space or time to do something that I didn’t think would lead to money or fame, something that wouldn’t make my life bigger in others’ eyes. And it’s made a world of difference in my world.
Look at what feeds your creativity and soul, what you love to do. Maybe you won’t make a living at it (for today), or maybe it’s truly a hobby, but you will find riches beyond compare if you allow yourself the time to do it.