Holiday Hangover

7 12 2010

The first time I ever went out drinking was a day of exploration, fun, and carefree unconscious exuberance.  At the time there didn’t seem to be any consequences, but little did I know what was going to happen the next morning.  Though I wore the headache, irritability, lethargy, and pain as a badge of honor, I told myself I wasn’t going to drink like that again.  Oddly enough, once the hangover subsided and I returned to normal, I forgot my vow and was out at it the next weekend seeking a way to be connected with others yet unconscious and unaware.

Now just as I have been physically hungover and sick from drinking too much, I have also felt an emotional hangover when I spend too much time drinking in painful emotions without taking the time to express them responsibly.  This happens often with my family where I feel a lot, take on a lot, have racing thoughts and feel internally out of control yet appear dead to the world.  The exhaustion this struggle c

reates is breeding grounds for an emotional hangover.  The effects of which sometimes take days to recover from.

When I leave and retreat back to the safety of my apartment in Chicago, I slowly and painfully regain the consciousness I worked so hard to suppress.  I come away feeling so thirsty for aliveness and connection that it hurts.  I literally go through the physical sensations of being hungover even though I haven’t had a drop of alcohol!

The jolt that gets me out of my funk, the water that cures my emotional dehydration, is safety in community.  I had the experience of being jolted into aliveness through the tough support of community encouraging me to leave the mess I wallow in and join society as an alive, functioning, and supportive member.  While I am getting better at recognizing my foul moods, I depend on the support of other people to help me out of them.  When people hold for me the higher vision of being the strong, confident, capable man that I am I can more readily step out of my deadness and awaken to the aliveness of life that is happening all around me.  I choose to participate in the abundance around me instead of walking around in a slump only aware of a very narrow spectrum.

Where disconnection is my alcohol, community is the best cure I know for an emotional hangover.  The desire and drive to connect keep me in check, and where I once struggled with drinking too much my current area of growth is disconnecting too much.  Thankfully through the support of the community at the Center for Christian Life Enrichment, as well as my friends and growth work partners, I am creating the community and the opportunities for the type of authentic connection that are unavailable to me in the grips of an emotional hangover.

I hope you will join me in my efforts to connectand connect authentically by adding to the conversation either online or in person-  Here’s to an emotional hangover-free Holiday season!





Battling Loneliness- The Fight for Intimacy Part II

2 12 2010

Continued from Tuesday read more of my thoughts on fighting loneliness-

Especially for singles during this holiday season, feeling loneliness and shame are common and avoidable.  I would suggest a couple of simple things that I have found helpful in my own life and that were suggested to me by Rich Blue of the Center for Christian Life Enrichment:

First- change what you beleive about yourself and the world.  Believe that you are a person worth being in relationship with, that you have a lot to offer and that you are capable of creating the type of fun and connection you are hungry for.  It sounds simple and is yet often overlooked.  If you have the vision for and the definition of what you want it is much easier to actually get that.

Second- Do one thing each day to connect in a way you would not normally do.  Maybe it is calling a friend you have lost touch with, sending out a card, or writing a meaningful email.  It could be as simple as talking to the doorman in your building or the receptionist at your office, striking up a conversation on the bus, or simply looking people in the eye as you walk by them on the street.  The important thing is to be pro-active and assume that other people will be happy to hear from you.

Waiting for others to connect with you can be painful, and is normally a setup that perpetuates feeling stuck, in shame, and alone.

Doing these little things with the mindset that you are valuable and worth knowing will go a long way to filling your intimacy tank- they have and still do for me!  Creating intimacy does not have to be a fight; it can be a manageable, measurable, step-by-step process of getting what you want out of life.  Taking these daily steps does require an increasing level of consciousness as well as the willingness to engage with vulnerability and truth.  The payoff though is living an abundant life full of depth, intimacy, and meaning!





Battling Loneliness- The Fight for Intimacy Part I

30 11 2010

How do you fight loneliness? My best friend and I were talking about it the other day. People don’t realize how much time you spend alone; especially if you’re single and/or live by yourself.

 

The above question came from a good friend of mine and in the spirit of the site, AskMerce, I’ll take a crack at it.

Erik Erikson was right when he mapped out the stages of human development.  He labeled the twenties and early thirties as the time where people struggle the most finding love, oscillating between intimacy and isolation.  The successful completion of this stage is built upon the previous stage of identity formation and successfully finding a strong enough sense of self such that you are able to be in a relationship and still be an individual.

Emotional pain and anxiety triggered by feeling isolated and lonely are common to people during this time.  I know personally that I have spent most of my young adult life attempting to avoid or solve the problem of feeling lonely without ever really addressing the feeling head on.  Oftentimes I feel trapped and scared, stuck between a rock and a hard place.  Do I put myself out there and risk rejection in dating, with friends, and by meeting new people?  Or do I remain at home and continue to live a small and isolated life, not really investing in many people and not allowing them to invest in me?

I complain that I want to feel more connected and have more friends, a bigger social network, and to also find that special someone, yet I don’t live my life that way.  I am oftentimes too scared and sometimes overwhelmed to be the type of person I envision myself to be.  I see my best self as engaged, energetic, lively and attractive. When I am living in that space and get the connection and intimacy I am looking for, I set myself up to feel the love that I want to feel in my life.  Sometimes though, that’s the problem, I get what I want.

I don’t always believe I deserve to get what I want.  I act in ways that devalue my hungers so that it doesn’t seem to matter quite as much if I am getting them met.  In reality though, I’m messing with myself. Instead of living through and experiencing that hurt, I am avoiding the pain that not getting what I want stirs.  I end up living unsatisfied and ok with that because it has become strangely comfortable and familiar to be that way.

It hurts knowing I am capable of creating intimate relationships and knowing that I choose not to out of fear, scarcity and hostility.  I get in my own way and blame others for what I have created.  What I am learning though is that not only is this a natural process that people go through, going through it with an increased level of consciousness is helping me to find more satisfaction in my personal life.  I am allowing myself more grace and compassion- I am not as hard on myself as I once was.  I am beginning to see that in order to be more fully intimate with another person, I need to be more fully intimate with myself.  Through self-discovery and knowing more of what makes me tick, I have more of myself to consciously and authentically offer in relationship with another person.  Almost paradoxically, spending time doing my own personal work empowers me to be more fully present with another person, and taking the learns I get from my own growth work back to my personal relationships enriches and nourishes the bond between the two of us.

Check back on Thursday to hear some more thoughts on specific step you can take to avoid loneliness and maintain a deeper sense of connection and intimacy, especially during the holiday season!





Surprised by Success

23 11 2010
Surprised

Me in the face of success!

In my last entry I was surprised by the amount of sadness I carry around and have access to on a daily basis.  I am learning to better feel the weight of that sadness and to be more willing to work through the un

easiness of crying and feeling sad in order to experience a lightness and resulting joy.  This past week however, it was not sadness that caught me off guard, rather it was my own success.

I am a good public speaker, in fact my colleague Amy and I recently hosted a singles workshop, and yet what I am learning through this is that I don’t like to brag.  I have a very narrow definition of positive attention, and have been taught to think that any type of self-promotion is bragging.  I learned pretty early on that bragging was bad, it was arrogant, and did not lead to the type of humility that God expected of me; it was selfish.  In expanding my definition of positive attention, I am testing out exactly what the boundary is between bragging and positive affirmation, and looking to my support team to give me the feedback of when I have gone too far.  So far that has yet to happen!  Meaning there is a ton of positive attention available to me, I only need to be willing to ask for it and be willing to receive it once it is given.

I have some old messages or tapes that play in my head as it relates to receiving praise- “They don’t mean it, they only want something from me in return;” “If they really knew me they wouldn’t be praising me for this;” “They are only flattering me, it is not genuine.”  I have historically had a d

ifficult time accepting praise, and yet that is one of my deepest hungers to know that I exist, that I am good, and that I am worthy of love and attention.  At my core I both yearn to have those beliefs affirmed, and believe deep down that I am not worthy enough to have those needs met.  I am caught in a bind.  I want what I don’t believe that I deserve (positive attention), and so the type of attention I believe I deserve (negative attention) is stuff that I don’t really want.

Winner

What I am beginning to believe about myself

I am shifting my view of the world, whereas I once saw a scarcity of positive attention, I am seeing that it is abundant to those who seek it.  I have my sights set on that, on creating situations for myself in which I will receive affirmation and to also be engaged in activity worthy of praise.  I am learning to trust, to trust myself and the world that there is abundance out there and that I already have the tools to access and benefit from that abundance!





Hooking Up with Lyndi and Andrew

13 01 2010

My friend Lyndi and I wrote this and wanted to pass it along to everyone!  Please enjoy:

I remember watching MTV’s “Real World” in 2003, and realizing that the meaning of the phrase “hooking up” had changed.  One of the RW participants, Trishelle, used the phrase regularly to describe her nights out.  At first, I would naively think, oh, she means kissed or lots of kissing.  I was shocked by episode 4 when I realized she meant having sex with people that she just met!  At the time, I used this phrase regularly to mean that I was going to meet up or talk later with one of my friends.

There has been a shift among young people where getting to know a person physically is thought to help determine emotional compatibility.  The more traditional way of connecting emotionally prior to physical intimacy is out of favor.  “Hooking up” is an entertaining, but costly attempt to address our ravenous hunger for closeness, to matter, and to be important to someone.  Women are especially prone to using hooking up to avoid the hunger pangs for belonging, touch, and feeling attractive.  Random acts of physical intimacy with limited emotional connection can generate instant gratification not lasting satisfaction.

Additionally there is a commonly held misconception that men are capable of having these types of relationships without any negative effect.  Men do tend to be more visual and hard wired to seek physical gratification. . They are also more aware of their feelings throughout their bodies. Hooking up to get sex is usually done in reaction to feeling uncomfortable amounts of sadness, loneliness, and anger.  For men, sex becomes the antidote for the pain of emptiness or powerlessness.

To a person who is starving for affection, warmth and care, the seemingly harmless hook up is like a junk food binge. It  feels good in the moment but leaves you feeling empty.  As the sense of fullness from the encounter wears off, we metabolize the empty calories without the benefit of nutrients to grow and thrive. We end up adding dead weight and baggage instead of energy and vitality.  Binges on junk food and sex momentarily satisfy our cravings for fullness and connection, yet tend to intensify the desire for more.  That desire for more is then mistakenly fed through additional binging and hooking up, creating an unsatisfying addictive cycle.

Sex can be an outpouring of tenderness and love, a physical expression of what is already present in the relationship.  However, sex in the form of hooking up is not likely to produce those feelings in a lasting way.  Maintaining a healthy lifestyle through responsible eating and appropriate emotional intimacy requires hard work and dedication.  It is that hard work and dedication that make healthy relationships so satisfying and why junk food, or hook ups like Trishelle leave us feeling empty.  By filling ourselves with things that are valuable and substantial we will feel like we matter to the world, trusting in the abundance of love, acceptance, and grace.  I often wish there was a pill for that!  If there is… hook me up!

In the meantime, if you are ready to discuss how to satisfy your hungers for connection and intimacy, I would love to meet with you. In an environment of safety and grace, we will discover healthy ways to feed your hungers.  CLE is a great place to learn and grow and our staff would love to support you in your journey.