Need Sobriety support? Check out The Luckiest Club

I’m writing this after several consecutive nights, weeks, and months of not sleeping well or much. I know I’m not alone, obviously. I also know I will not put these words together as well as I hope to, but writing is how I try and get to the truth, so I’m reminding myself that the process is the point.

The pandemic was already one level of unprecedented (in our lifetime) unrest. Then, the horrific murder of George Floyd and the aftermath has forced a collective reckoning with multiple, long-existing, systemic issues in our society. Institutional and individual racism. Government corruption on all sides. Unchecked violence. Generational trauma. Extreme political polarization.

These are extraordinarily complex issues. Deeply rooted issues. Issues for which there are no easy, quick, or straight-forward solutions, much as we want and need them right now.

On a collective level, we feel, see, and hear a tremendous amount of pain. On a personal level, I am profoundly uncomfortable. Not in a “poor me” way, but in a “what the f*ck should I do and where is the ground?” way. I’ve been dealing with it by listening and connecting in real life, in my community. I’ve not been posting on social media, despite getting criticism for my silence. I’ve been reaching out to friends and family, having difficult conversations, taking action in my home and community, leaning on my teachers, listening, and absorbing best as I can so that I act with integrity. 

In the middle of the night last night, when I woke again with a pit in my stomach, I thought, Just let it be uncomfortable. Let the discomfort work on you and change you in the way you need to be changed.

With that in mind, there are two concepts I want to share that are particularly helpful to me right now. Perhaps they will be useful to you too. I’ll continue to share my heart with you here. I will not be posting on social media for the time being. I understand that may be interpreted and misunderstood in various ways. I have to be okay with that. If I'm not okay with that and I act out of fear of losing popularity or capital, I am a puppet. I cannot afford to be a puppet. Being a puppet almost killed me.

Concept 1: Splitting.

In psychological terms, in times of extreme stress and fear, human minds tend to split. Splitting is a psychological defense mechanism that can happen when we feel threatened and our cognitive process is overwhelmed. When this happens, we group or split things into simplified buckets: good vs. bad, right vs. wrong; us vs. them.

This is typically associated with younger people—children, teens, young adults—because they are trying to figure themselves out. But it can also happen to adults as a result of trauma, extraordinary stress, and personality disorders. Splitting also isn't holistic, meaning when we split we don't necessarily do it with everything. It typically happens around cherished beliefs and complex topics like politics and religion. 

What’s important to know is that splitting is a normal psychological defense mechanism. When you see it, in yourself and others, it’s helpful to have a name for it. It’s not “wrong," per se, but it can be very dangerous. Because the truth of life and solutions exist in the paradox, in the space of “both, and" not “either, or." There is no room for expansion, growth, or healing in “either, or." When we are in the "either, or" place we cannot see, hear, love each other, or think critically. It is an absolute dead end, 100% of the time. Most of what we see on social media and in the media, especially right now, is broadcasted splitting in an attempt to make you split, too. Know that, watch for it, and observe. Catch yourself when you split, have compassion, and see if you can examine the fear behind it.

Concept 2: Process.

We are in a collective process. We are all in our own individual processes, too.

The collective process right now, when compared to the expanse of human history, has probably happened before. I’m no history scholar, but the literature and teachers tell me we have been here. The specifics are different, but symbolically the story is not new: we are in a burning, spiritually speaking. The burn has to happen. Though it is excruciating, we actually want it to happen so that we can be renewed and restored with fresh eyes and collective wisdom. By burning, I don’t mean violence. I don’t mean war. I mean the dissolution of ideas, systems, and paradigms that do not serve us anymore. I mean the death of our false selves and our separateness.

What does that mean for each of us, individually?

It means, I think, that we let the discomfort work on us. We stay. We don't try to escape it, outrun it, bypass it, or speed through it. We allow. As sober people, this is our superpower and our duty: to let the pain teach us what we need to know. For each of us, the learnings will be different. For each of us, the actions we need to take will be different. The important part is that you tune into your OWN heart, your OWN integrity, your OWN compass, your OWN process. The important part is that you do not rush to take a pre-determined position that isn’t tested against your own experience. Allowing this individual process is, counterintuitively, how you contribute productively to the collective.

Being in process also means that I (try to) give others the dignity of their process. This is not something I came up with on my own, it was taught to me by my sponsor. What does it mean to give people the dignity of their process? It means many things, but at the most basic level, it is simply accepting that they are in one and it's not personal to you.

My process at the moment looks like this: listening, learning, questioning. I've linked up a few resources below that I'm engaged with now. I'm also writing so I can find the truth. I'm speaking when it is called for. I'm doing my best to act with integrity. Above all, I am staying sober.

That's all for today.

I love you and I root for you, always.

Laura

This post was originally sent as an email. To subscribe to my newsletter, go here.

Resources

Practice You Ep. 31: Ruth King - On racism as a curable heart disease, the ever-expanding gift of mindfulness, and what it means to stay awake and responsive in these times with care and wisdom. This is solution-based and heart-opening.

Richard Rohr's lecture on Falling Upward - This is a lecture based on his book, Falling Upward. "As we begin to embark on a further journey, one that involves challenges, mistakes, loss of control, broadening horizons, and necessary suffering, we find that 'falling down' is actually the way that we move upward. Fr. Richard offers this new paradigm for understanding one of the most profound of life's mysteries: how the heartbreaks, disappointments, and first loves of life are actually stepping stones to the spiritual joys that the second half of life has in store for us."

Continue by Maya Angelou - This is a poem she wrote for Oprah. I'm using it as a guide.

Continue by Maya Angelou

Into a world which needed you

My wish for you

Is that you continue

Continue

To be who and how you are

To astonish a mean world

With your acts of kindness

Continue

To allow humor to lighten the burden

of your tender heart

Continue

In a society dark with cruelty

To let the people hear the grandeur

Of God in the pearls of your laughter

Continue

To let your eloquence

Elevate the people to heights

They had only imagined

Continue

To remind the people that

Each is as good as the other

And that no one is beneath

Nor above you

Continue

To remember your own young years

And look with favor upon the lost

And the least and the lonely

Continue

To put the mantel of your protection

Around the bodies of

The young and defenseless

Continue

To take the hand of the despised

And diseased and walk proudly with them

In the high street

Some might see you and

Be encouraged to do likewise

Continue

To plant a public kiss of concern

On the cheek of the sick

And the aged and infirm

And count that as a

Natural action to be expected

Continue

To let gratitude be the pillow

Upon which you kneel to

Say your nightly prayer

And let faith be the bridge

You build to overcome evil

And welcome good

Continue

To ignore no vision

Which comes to enlarge your range

And increase your spirit

Continue

To dare to love deeply

And risk everything

For the good thing

Continue

To float

Happily in the sea of infinite substance

Which set aside riches for you

Before you had a name

Continue

And by doing so

You and your work

Will be able to continue

Eternally 

Don't miss anything from the blog!

Sign-up for quick note each week. Weekly inspiration, new podcasts and music, reading and watching recommendations, and encouragement for your week.

Plus up-to-date info on upcoming courses, events, podcast interviews that Laura is hosting or attending.

Laura’s Dig List

Book reviews, music I’m liking, people’s work I’m engaging in, and other things I’m digging.

Weekly Thoughts

A brief look at what I’m thinking about lately, whether it’s a business idea, a cultural idea, a poem, or a snippet of writing.

New Offerings

Upcoming courses, writings, events, podcasts.

More from the blog:

How to Deal with Doubters and Naysayers (Video)

Whenever we make a big leap, we're going to have people who cast doubt and concern about our decision. Here's my response for how to deal with that and stay focused on the important thing you're doing.

Keep Reading

Don't Wait for Comfort: How to Summon The Courage to Make a Big Leap

How did you find the strength to leave behind a steady, high salary to venture into what might be even failure? How much of a nest egg did you have that gave you enough comfort to make the leap? Did you downsize your life, or was trust in the universe what made this work for you?

Keep Reading

Belief is a practice

I had to actively choose what I had for so long taken for granted because I was born with it. And I had to do so based on absolutely nothing but the promises of others who'd gone before me who promised a better way. I had to actively choose to believe in myself, despite all the evidence that I shouldn't. I had to believe there was something much bigger than my body, my mind, my very bruised heart, and that this thing wanted me to live, and live brightly. I had to practice believing because there was no other way to get out.

Keep Reading

Try out the
no-judgement sober community.

Sobriety can be damn hard, but we do it together. From AA old-timers with decades of sobriety to twenty-something atheists who are trying sobriety for the first time, and everyone between, we're on this ride together.

Explore The Luckiest Club