Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Question

She handed me some paper and a marker and said "Write this down":

"Is it going to make me FEEL better, or GET better"

So I did, with a deep blue green marker. I stared at it for a few seconds, and looked into her deep blue eyes.

"Okay...what does that mean?", I asked.

"That is the single question you need to ask yourself at every juncture of thought and action, when you can't decide, or even if you CAN decide. That way you will know: Am I anesthetizing myself, or directing myself to a True and Authentic experience?".

I thought about that for a while, coming up with possible scenarios, and how it would feel to face my own addictions to Self Soothing.

"What if what I really want at the moment is to FEEL Better?", I asked.

"Then OWN that, and if you are ok with it, go ahead, have a blast!" was the answer. "Sometimes a beer, or a piece of cake or going to a bar to get fucked is just what it is. Just, well...OWN it." She threw back her head and laughed, her long hair flowing over her shoulder.

I stared at that paper for a while, as she continued to chat about some guy who picked her up hitchhiking once many years ago, a heroin addict who was Native American. She said he used to grab a clump of dirt from every pow-wow he attended, and he would throw it in the back of his car on the floor. There was about 2 inches of dirt back there. She loved him, deeply, and was "there" for him through so much over those years. She got him into the AA program.

She said she knew she was avoiding leaving that relationship, and felt some shame that it took her four years before she asked herself the question. She stayed because she FELT better. But she knew, at one point, that their roads had diverged. She stayed anyway.

Another tale came out, as we sipped mango juice and ate some potato chips. It did not seem, at first, to have any thread back to The Question, but later when I pondered this more, tossing it around like stones in a polishing machine, it was very clear.

There was a friend of hers who invited her for dinner one night. They were looking around for some objects to use in a ritual for the full moon; shells, and rocks, things to be written on with blessings then thrown into Mother Ocean. Going to the bureau in her friend's bedroom, seeking precious things to use, she opened the top drawer and inside that drawer was a box. It was chocked FULL of AA 24 hour sobriety coins spilling out all over the place. She looked at her friend, who tossed up her hands and said "Well, they say keep on trying! So, I do! I keep going back to face my stuff. I always will...try".

She was a very close friend. One who had never, in any moment of her life, told anyone that she was in the AA program.

But, over and over and over and over again, at some point when her self soothing had reached toxic levels, she would ask herself: "Is this going to make me FEEL better, or GET better?" And she did so without judging herself about the 247 other times she had asked herself the same question. Because it is not about judging yourself. This question must be asked with as much compassion for yourself as you can possibly muster.

Is not facing the dysfunction and staying in that empty relationship going to make you feel better or get better?

Is not taking the challenge of clearing up family discord going to make you feel better or get better?

Is that beer you want going to make you feel better or get better?

Is that $200.00 pair of shoes going to make you feel better or get better?

Is that casual fuck going to make you feel better or get better?

Is isolating yourself because it is more comfortable going to make you feel better or get better?

Go ahead. Ask yourself The Question.

Own it.

THEN you can move forward with integrity.