Friday, June 22, 2007

Daily Meditations

There are a lot of books out there with daily meditations. Most of them annoy me. If I were SWATFAY (Single With a Trust Fund and Young), they’d probably be worthy and useful, but mostly they read like Zen Koan to me. When I’m standing over a washing machine, adding soap, pondering the sound of one hand clapping makes me feel like adding bleach to the darks load more often than not.

Yonks ago, I read Be Here Now by Baba Ram Dass, which was OK in its time and place. A friend gave me meditations for AlAnon members, which mystified me a little since neither she nor I had alcoholics in our families, but I read a few entries anyway and tried to squeeze meaning out of it. Eventually, I got to the point of wanting to add it to the bleached darks load, so it’s sitting in a drawer somewhere, waiting for me to stick it in an envelope and return it to her. Also, there seemed to be a lot talking about barf in it, which is just yucky.

My sister sent me a book on daily meditations for grace. That’s OK, too, but I think it is better for my single sister (no trust fund, alas), and my brother in law sent me a book about fuzzy slippers and mediations, which a friend of his wrote and he probably got free. It was worth every nickel and, to be nice, probably a couple of bucks if I were buying it remaindered, which is the only time I’d even contemplate adding another stack o’pondering to my daily “must read” list.

There is one book on daily meditations that I do read pretty regularly. I bought it for a dime at a used bookstore, and I got my money’s worth within 5 minutes of opening the cover. It’s The Language of Letting Go: Daily Meditations for Codependents by Melody Beattie, and it supplements her books Codependent No More and Beyond Codependency (available on Amazon). I think it’s great, and I have recommended it often to the other women in my support group.

As a short recap, my group is comprised of women who suffered abuse as either children or adults or both. The abuse was profound, repetitive, durative, and life altering for all of us. Some were sexually abused, others physically, and all of us have had an unspeakable amount of emotional abuse to deal with over our lifetimes. All of us are middle-aged or older, and we’re all in different phases of recovery. We’ve all got “complex PTSD” as part of our diagnoses, and it’s that aspect that led to having lived codependent lives for us. You can read up on it here, if you want.

Nevertheless, we’re in group to shed the lingering effects of whatever we survived, and for me, the Beattie meditations are often spookily apt, and very frequently enlightening. I’ve been reading it for almost two years now, and you’d think I’d be fully enlightened, but I’m not. I need reminders of how to stay out of the vortex of codependence. I need a cheering section, and I need frequent readjustments to any “stinkin’ thinkin’” I might fall into out of a lifetime of dealing with codependence. The daily entries are not just short, pithy statements out of which I’m supposed to extrapolate huge meanings over the course of a day, they’re paragraphs and mini-essays with a little summary at the end of each, they’re specific to a particular thought or aspect of codependency, and I enjoy them every day.

I also find they spur me to do more reflection on my own past and experiences than any other meditations books I’ve encountered, and that wee summary is something my calcified old brain can hang onto for the better part of a day, letting me move from thought to action. And that’s really the key for me, moving from merely thinking the thought and agreeing with the point being made, to turning that into action, day after day, to make real changes, lasting changes, permanent changes that I need to make.

So, while you might not luck into a copy for a dime, maybe, if you think it would be useful, a copy in your hands could become as well-worn and Post-It flagged as mine is. Here’s the thought for today:

Relationship Martyrs

Many of us have gone so numb and discounted our feelings so completely that we have gotten out of touch with our needs in relationships.

We can learn to distinguish whose company we enjoy, whether we’re talking about friends, business acquaintances, dates, or spouses. We all need to interact with people we might prefer to avoid, but we don’t have to force ourselves through long-term or intimate relationships with these people.

We are free to choose friends, dates, spouses. We are free to choose how much time we spend with those people we can’t always choose to be around, such as relatives. This is our life. This is it. We can decide how we want to spend our days and hours. We’re not enslaved. We’re not trapped. And not one of us is without options. We may not see our options clearly. Although we may have to struggle through shame and learn to own our power, we can learn to spend our valuable hours and days with the people we enjoy and choose to be with.

God, help me value my time and life. Help me place value on how I feel being around certain people. Guide me as I learn to develop healthy, intimate, sharing relationships with people. Help me give myself the freedom to experiment, explore, and learn who I am and who I can be in my relationships.

Thanks, Melody, for making it real.

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