Living Life on Life’s Terms: Relying on the Serenity Prayer


“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”

—The Serenity Prayer

Ladies and Gentlecats,

This has been too much of a rough couple of weeks for me.

First and foremost, I lost my driver’s license because–unbeknownst to me–I was driving around on a suspended license.  Not only was my car towed, but I couldn’t drive anywhere for two weeks.  During that period, I was training to be a Volunteer Rape Crisis Counselor.  However, because I missed too many hours (on Friday, I had to go an Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting that didn’t even happen and on Saturday I got the times of the training mixed up), I was told I couldn’t complete the training at that time.  This was AFTER I waited two years for an opportunity like this to appear before me.  As far as my car goes, I had to go to court and was told by the town judge that I have to come back in September.  Turns out that driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor and the possibility of being in jail for about six months looms over my head. Therefore, a lawyer has to get involved or I’m locked up like this female here.

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You would think that that would be the end of the story, but it is most certainly not.  Today, the muffler fell off my car while I was driving home from church and yesterday I found out via a former professor’s email that I failed Research for the third time.  This is extremely crucial because, unless I appeal her decision, I will be removed from the Social Work Program and I won’t get the Master’s degree I’m working hard towards.

Now, don’t get me wrong:  some of these troubles are self-inflicted.  Me losing my license for a couple of weeks stem from me not paying a traffic ticket some months back AND forgetting about it.  The only reason why I am not a Rape Crisis Counselor is because I 1) did not prioritize and 2) I didn’t pay close attention to the damn time. Though I will get to be a Crisis Counselor in the future, I was still hard on myself for a few days because the mistake was preventable.  But then there are some issues worth fighting like the fact that my Research group mates used the group evaluations to throw me under the bus and my freedom to walk outside instead of being in jail like Madea.

All in all, that was a hard couple of fucking weeks and there’s a part of me waiting for the sky to fall.  I’m now on edge, thinking some storm is going to brew and strike me at some random moment.  And the cloud is growing and stirring and I don’t know if I can handle another setback as massive as this:

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I cried at church today because not only am I tired of fighting, I am tired of having major setbacks bitch slap me in the face.  The Research course was the straw that broke the camel; I began to ask myself whether I was even meant to be a Social Worker or a licensed therapist.  If so, I told myself, I would not be going through these problems in the program.  Is this not my calling after all?  Is this pay back for all my past misdeeds? (Oh yes, I took it there). When I got home, I announced on Facebook that I failed the Research course.  I received the support I needed and then some.  However, one friend shared these words with me:

“In Zen practice and Buddhism at large, all experiences may serve to awaken and deepen our awareness and compassion. If you can, consider it an opportunity to practice compassion for self and others. Also, remember the program. You have plenty of tools from that too. I find the Serenity Prayer quite helpful in sorting things out when I am in situations like your current one. You will get the degree eventually.”

The important words here are these:  Serenity Prayer. For those who know the Serenity Prayer, it goes like this:

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 There is a much longer version of this prayer, but the first part of it is very well known among everyone in the 12 Step circuit.  I cannot tell you how many times that pray kept me from either drinking or acting out sexually.  Even during these two weeks with all that shit going on, I wanted to act out very badly.  Even today, I recited the Serenity Prayer in my head repeatedly as I cried because, if not, my best thinking would have me think the most negative.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Because those who have suffered from trauma in the past need something positive and healthy to help with coping.  Many of us were out there “rippin’ and runnin'” in order to deal with everyday life.  We couldn’t (or wouldn’t) live on life’s terms, so we became self-destructive and/or let our Dark Passengers play with us as if we were puppets.  At least that’s what I did.

But after being sober for a while, I realized for myself that there are certain issues in my life that are beyond my control and some not so much.  Either way, I have to place everything in Spirit’s hands and not try to run everything by self-will.  Furthermore, Spirit is not punishing me for the past nor does Spirit want me to fail at life.  Life happens and there are lessons to be learned here.  No matter what happens, I have to believe that I am going to be fine and whatever my desires are, they are going to be fulfilled in Spirit’s time, not mine.  The Serenity Prayer reminds me of this fact and when I work my Programs and reach out to others, I can think clearly enough to make my next move.

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