Bill W. was right

Posted by on 07.15.08 | 7 Comments
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Not that any of us thought he was wrong…

I woke up this morning after a week of frustrating events, feeling like I was the main source of problems in my (read: ‘the’) world. I felt like I’d alienated important relationships, had a disturbing set of dreams, failed at work, failed at parenthood, failed at being able to move steadily towards the lighthouse of my life of living in harmony, at peace with my surroundings and whatever-comes-to-me-as-teacher. And even failing at becoming a crone. The only thing I’d done right was not kicking my dear Damn Dog (and he was irritating me pretty profoundly with his 4:30am whining to go for a hike).

While still half-asleep, I processed most of this, tongue-in-cheek, with my beloved, who was kind and inherently wise in his unwillingness to get in the let’s-jump-on-Beth-soup with me. As I got up and around, my cell phone rang, and it was my kid, who is living in Denver and struggling to become a fully-functioning adult. She is in the same place as I—a difficult life transition. She from adolescent to young adult. I from some sort of adulthood to baby-crone. We talked for a long time, and began to laugh at our perceptions about how ungraceful we seem to be at these transitions; ungainly like some young animals. We talked broadly about re-calibrating our lives to be more in line with our goals. We shared the metaphor (I think it’s true) of airliners, which although they appear to be moving in a straight line, are constantly making small corrections towards the announced goal (of Denver, Miami or Stockholm).

Airliner flying out of the clouds
flikr photo by dondj2

We ended the call at 7:30am both feeling better from sharing our brokenness and vulnerabilities, laughing at our impoverished egos that seek always to catastrophize so that we become or stay paralyzed.


I remembered then what Bill Wilson said in his development of one of the most profound psycho-spiritual paths of our times–Alcoholics Anonymous. He said, and I paraphrase: ‘when you’re hurting and feel hopeless and helpless, go work with another alcoholic.’

Here’s how I would rephrase my own paraphrase: we can’t think ourselves out of our funks or depressions but we can work towards the greater good of connectivity and in that work find our own sorrow lightened. What my daughter and I had done was to help each other by connecting through the human conditions that we share.

And then I opened my emails. There, right in front of my out-of-joint nose was an offering on NetVibes (an aggregator) from a favorite website, zen habits

Posted: 14 July 2008 05:47 PM CDT

“Love is the only sane and satisfactory answer to the problem of human existence.” – Eric Fromm

The recent death of my Auntie Kerry put me in a state of mind that I think we all go through at different times in our lives: the feeling of utter isolation, of complete loneliness.

There are times when we feel that even if we are surrounded by other people in our lives, we are alone. We must go through this difficult journey called life by ourselves, no matter if we’re married or if we have children or close friends. And that’s a very lonesome prospect.

How do we overcome these feelings of loneliness and despair? While common, these feelings can be dangerous if we let them go too far — they can lead to depression, suicidal thoughts, or just a slump in our lives.

The answer is in connecting with other human beings.

When we connect with other humans, we are no longer alone. We share our suffering, our experiences, our common trials. The misery we face is no longer insurmountable when we have someone to face it with us.

But making that leap from being alone to making a connection can be a difficult one. One reader who contacted me recently, for example, has a form of social anxiety that stops him from talking to people in social situations. That’s a tough obstacle to overcome, but it can be done.

While I’m not an expert in social anxiety or in relationships, I have overcome my share of social anxiety, overcome my share of depression, and found ways to forge human connections in my years as a son, brother, husband, father, co-worker, boss and friend.

Here’s the rest of the story, some tips on How to Connect With Humanity When You Feel All Alone

Meta-message: I guess we’re not ever alone in this universe, although at times like early this morning, it feels as though we are. We’re always home, dang it.

May your day be full of connections that bring you home, like that airliner that’s headed, even slightly, towards *Fargo when you really want to go to Seattle. * This isn’t to say that Fargo isn’t a fun place to visit.

With great gratitude–

Beth, VTH Host

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