Wish List

A few weeks ago I decided to write a list of goals for myself. The purpose was two-fold. First, to identify the goals themselves, and second, to help keep me focused on what’s important. I started with five:

  1. I wish to be completely free from addiction
  2. I wish to know my own true nature
  3. I wish to write for a living
  4. I wish for abundance for myself and my family
  5. I wish to free all beings from their suffering

This list came fairly easily, but it is not without its conflicts. The first major conflict came from number three, “I wish to write for a living.” This is a goal I have had, in one form or another, for most of my life. There is still something vital in it. I love to write, and when I write well I can get completely lost in it. I am able to pull out parts of myself that I had no idea were there. it puts me in touch with a very deep part of myself.

But it has been so difficult to write lately. I started the blog as a way to put writing back at the center of my life, and partially it works, but partially it doesn’t. I often feel like I am just writing the same thing over and over: “Had a slip, feel miserable.” I don’t really want to write that anymore. I mean obviously I also want to stop having slips (see wish number one, “to be completely free from addiction”), but it is not particularly satisfying to just write about my honestly pretty boring pain all the time. It doesn’t help me and I can’t imagine it’s very helpful for anyone else either.

So I have gone back to trying to write stories. This is actually the main reason for my long absence from the blogosphere. I wrote one short and I think pretty good story, but I am finding it very difficult to fully engage with writing the way I used to. I just can’t get as deeply into it as I need to.

Partially, this has to do with work, and partially it has to do with having a kid, and partially with a general exhaustion. Also, this relates to wish number two (“I wish to know my own true nature”). There just isn’t a lot of time to meditate, and meditation is a crucial ingredient to the deep internal quiet I need in order to access those deep parts of myself.

I am willing to accept that writing may never be profitable, but wish number four, for “abundance for myself and my family” is a constant source of stress. I mean on one level we have abundance, we have enough to eat, we live in a beautiful place, we spend time together as a family, we own a kayak.

But at the same time we have no cushion, there’s hardly any money in the savings account, the credit cards are maxed out and our retirement plan hinges on a couple of houses in another state. If we sold them now they might bring in enough to pay off my student loan debt, but even that is questionable.

So there is always a sense that I have to do more, bring in something extra, but no matter what I do it seems like our situation doesn’t improve. We don’t have enough money to invest in anything, so I’m left looking at my skill set. Which consists primarily of writing and doing therapy.

If there is is a word to describe how I feel, I think it would be “depleted.”

Last week I added a couple more items to the list:

6. I wish for excellent health for myself and my family

7. Kayaking is important

I have been seeing an acupuncturist in order to work with the crushing back pain and also with the energy depletion. The special diet is helping as well. My hope (only hope?) is that if I can stop feeling so physically depleted this will help me to live the rest of my life in a less depleted way. I want abundance on all levels. Then I can start truly working on wish number five: “to free all beings from their suffering.”






Wish List


June 9, 2016

Well, that threw me for a loop. Always does, or almost always. Nothing messes with my center of gravity like a visit from my mom.

Got thrown completely off the diet. I realized that the diet is actually a kind of front-line defense against the porn use. The diet is all about being resourced and not depleted, because it’s when I feel weak and depleted that I’m most likely to use. So again: No alcohol, coffee, sugar, dairy, or wheat. Very tight on the alcohol, coffee and sugar; a bit looser on the others.

Got to watch the bottom lines as well. I notice I get very resistant… if I tell myself that I can’t binge-read all the top twenty lists on Rotten Tomatoes, I tend to rebel against myself and do just that. So I have decided to take up a less damaging vice: I bought myself a mystery novel.

Anyway, just wanted to check in and let the world (and myself) know I’m not lost.


Mom’s back

May 16, 2016

Jagged morning. Mom’s here. She’s staying in an Airbnb. Left her last night feeling pretty desolate, I think. I think it hurts her to stay separately from us. She feels abandoned. I think that’s kind of a core thing for my mom. I have sympathy, but I just don’t have space to deal. She attacks and defends, attacks and defends. It’s exhausting. I find myself most of the time just shutting down, staying in the conversation but with no investment. I don’t have the time or energy to do what I used to do, which is to allocate a big portion of my energy and attention to just being with my mom. Can’t do that with a kid and a demanding job and marriage I’m trying to keep on track. I can’t give her my full attention for hours on end and put my own emotional needs aside, because I already do that for my son and it’s also what I do for a living.

Mom’s back

God’s Love

May 2, 2016

I was lying in bed last night, and I started to think about the concept of God loving me. Right? It’s one thing to love God, but a whole order of magnitude larger to begin to accept that God loves me. To realize that all my spiritual practice, all my struggle and prayer and meditation and reading and contemplating is really just a way to realize that God loves me. Already. Completely. As I am. It’s that simple.

I’ve had people telling me this in different ways for years. It is actually an important part of the Buddhist tradition, although many Buddhists don’t talk about God, as such. There are Tibetan stories of sages meditating in caves for years, seeking enlightenment, only to realize that enlightenment has been seeking them. I was on a retreat with the spiritual teacher Adyashanti, and one of his students reported the experience of having the Universe bend back around and ask her: “…and who are YOU?” One of my own clients reported a similar experience. He said, “I spent so much of my life seeking God, but the amount of effort I put in was nothing compared to what I received from God.”

In a certain sense I think that Christians may have it a bit easier than Buddhists, in that many Christians seem to know intuitively that God loves them. It has been a much harder road for me. I remember the shock I had several years ago when I realized that the Universe is cognizant. It was like my reality turned inside out. Here I had thought I was this little ball of life in a vast sea of non-life, only to realize that I am just a tiny part of an infinite sea of Life.

When I practice, and pray, and take care of myself, love begins to shine through me. It shines through to my clients, to my family, to people on the street. There are times in my life when I just radiate love. I know this is Divine love. I don’t own it, I am just lucky enough to be the conduit through which it expresses itself.

But here’s the reversal I am trying to perceive, and it comes back to me lying in bed last night. I am starting to feel that all the good things that come to me are blessings. I am very accustomed to think that I am responsible for many of the good things in my life. You know: I’ve worked hard, I got myself into school, I have focused as much as possible on my spiritual practice. Effort leads to results.

I’m not sure that’s true, or at least not in a strictly linear sense. I’m beginning to think it’s more like the blessings are there all the time, pouring down upon me, and all the effort I make is just to open my eyes a tiny bit and see.

But it’s more than that. Somehow all the effort I am making is really God’s effort to reach me. God is moving towards me, not the other way around. He is calling me and has been my whole life. Every “positive” action I have performed has been an answer to that call, and every “negative” action a turning away. Not only does God already love me, I already know it, in that I can feel the effects of this turning towards/turning away. In fact, on some level I have lived my life according to that knowledge.

If only I weren’t so forgetful.



God’s Love

Bottom Lines

April 27, 2016


Mike, the author of the fantastic porn addiction and recovery blog Hi my name is Mike writes about what he calls “bottom lines.” “A bottom line” he writes, “is a line you draw around behaviors and daily patterns to create a buffer zone between healthy living and living in the ‘danger zone’ where you might become triggered and ultimately slip or act out.”

This tool seems very useful to me, and I decided to compile a list of the behaviors that most often lead to a slip.

  • Allowing myself to do a Google image search when I’m bored.
  • Allowing myself to do ANY kind of Internet browsing when I’m bored.
  • Allowing myself to get on the computer for any reason when I’m alone and tired, angry, hungry, stressed out or lonely. Even if I have work to do.
  • Using the computer for entertainment, unless specifically sitting down to watch a movie.
  • Reading the news for entertainment.
  • Watching TV for any reason, especially (since I don’t have a TV at home) when I’m travelling alone.
  • Allowing myself to get to a place where I’m physically depleted, especially hungry, when I can be alone with a computer.
  • Allowing paperwork to pile up at work, so that I have too much to do (and avoid doing) at the end of the day.

In large part, I notice that what comes up for me again and again is wasting time. Almost everything I do on the computer, except for work or blogging or intentional entertainment (almost always with my wife), seems to fall into the category of wasting time. It is basically procrastination, and looking at porn is procrastination par excellence: it is not just an avoidance of work, but of life itself.

My bottom line list, then, is fairly simple:

  • Do not use the computer or other electronic media for entertainment.
  • Do not use the computer for any reason (even if I have work to do), when I am alone and tired, stressed out, angry, lonely, or bored.
  • Do not allow paperwork or other bureaucratic chores to build up. If something needs to be done, do it as soon as possible.
  • Do not allow myself to get to a place of depletion. Bring snacks to work and program in appropriate breaks.

I will probably have to add to this list, but I think it’s a good start. I’m actually pretty sure that if I follow these guidelines, I can avoid a real slip entirely.

Thank you, Mike!

Bottom Lines

Looking For a Heading

P1000824 copy

April 26, 2016


I’m not feeling nearly as energetic as I was during the first days of the diet. I’m still getting these moments of utter deflation, in which I also tend to feel hopeless and depressed. I suppose it could be because the most recent porn slip was less than two weeks ago. Two weeks is usually the point at which I start to feel like myself again.

Also, significantly, my mom is coming for a visit. She lives all the way across the country, so getting her out here is a bit of a hassle. She is also terrible with computers, so it usually falls to us to get her plane tickets. Even just writing about this makes me feel sluggish. This is something I definitely need to work with.

Last night I finally managed to arrange an airbnb apartment for her, which helps me to relax a little. I am in a constant struggle to have her be a part of our lives (especially important now that there is a kiddo), but also keep some space in the relationship. My mom is the kind of mother whose secret dream would probably be to have my wife and me move into her house on the East Coast with our children. She never remarried after my dad left, and instead has put 90% of her emotional eggs in my basket, something I have resented since before I was a teenager. I have actually spent most of my life trying to get as far away from her as possible, a strategy that just doesn’t work anymore, now that she is a grandmother and entering her early 70s. I want her to be a part of our son’s life, and I know that it is up to me to make sure that she is cared for as she continues to age.

One thing I definitely do not want to do is move back East. There is no work for my wife there, and it would be difficult for me to get licensed as a therapist. Also, I don’t have any friends there anymore, and I start to get depressed whenever I even think about going there for a trip, much less permanently.

We love living on the West Coast. We live in a beautiful city, near big water and mountains. We love to hike and kayak. We dream of raising our family with this outdoor lifestyle, retiring to a cabin near the ocean and spending our later years doing expedition kayaking.

But it’s expensive here. We have little in our bank accounts, and not much saved up for retirement. We have done some real estate investing in the past, but it is far too expensive for us to buy anything here, at least not in the city. We rent our apartment. We have discussed the possibility of buying something with my mom, (she would buy it, really, we would help to find it and perhaps do some work on it) but it would be a huge investment for her, and we don’t know for sure how permanent we are here. It’s expensive as it is for my mom to come out, making mortgage payments on a 300k apartment wouldn’t help. It feels more like stress than a great idea.

My wife and I lived in the Southwest for most of our marriage, and we still own a couple of houses and a couple of small apartments there. If we moved back, we could easily afford a bigger place for my mom. She could buy a medium sized house for the price of a tiny apartment here. Or she could move into one of our places. Or, after not too long, we would probably be able to afford another place and make sure it had a sizable casita for her in the back. It is just so much easier to live there.

My fear is that if we move back, all of our kayaking dreams will dry up. There’s no ocean in the desert. Maybe we could still work towards a future in which that would be possible, but it would be more difficult. I think I know my wife pretty well, and if we sell the kayak, it’s going to be a VERY long time before she’s going to be willing to try again.

For myself, I think the draw is increasingly back towards the Southwest. We will almost definitely stay here for at least the next two years, and that feels good to me. Also, my wife has her own reasons for wanting to stay, although I know she also dreams of the Southwest sometimes. I guess we’ll just have to see.

Looking For a Heading


April 16, 2016


First, the diet is still going well. I allowed myself an ice cream today, but other than that I have been keeping it well and continuing to feel much better physically.

Second, I told my wife that I had slipped with the porn. That always brings relief, but I also hate it because now she has to live with it too. I guess she was living with it anyway, and better that she knows the truth.

Terrible withdrawals. Waves of depression, wishing for death, and intense craving to use again.

But also, waves of okay-ness. I haven’t been able to post because of the block on my computer. Got it sorted so that I can access the blog. That helps.

How is it that I am able to feel so much love and also be such a selfish prick?

Thanks for listening.


Meditation Issues

April 15, 2016


Not sure where I’m going today. Feeling a mix of things, patches of depression from the slip(s), and also periods of calm and wellbeing, especially since I asked my wife to put a block on the computer again. Perhaps the biggest source of agony around the slips is the thought that this will never stop, that I will never be free. Having the block on my computer helps me to feel safe at least for the time being: no matter how badly I want to, I will not be able to use.

Meditated for two hours yesterday. I’ve been working my way through a 200-hour Bodhisattva training. I started it last summer when I was on retreat, and it is a requirement for another retreat I’m hoping to do this summer. I partially love the practices, and partially hate them. I’m currently working on a practice designed to remove blockages from feeling the heart. It involves a visualization of the heart as a thousand-petaled lotus, as I breathe in, I’m supposed to visualize a petal beginning to open up, and as I exhale I’m supposed to visualize it relaxing open. There’s a bit more to it than this, but this is the body of the practice. I’m supposed to do it for an hour at a time. It drives me CRAZY. After about fifteen minutes I’m looking at my watch, stretching, checking out the scars on my arms and hands. I am usually a pretty patient meditator. I have done several month-long semi-silent retreats, and I generally like sitting meditation very much. But this practice just makes me so uncomfortable.

Partially, I just don’t like being told what to do. In ordinary sitting meditation the instruction is very simple, sit and watch what goes on in your mind and body, using the breath to anchor you if necessary.

In this meditation the instructions are explicit. I find myself getting angry. My heart doesn’t WANT to open, goddammit.

I’ve been trying to work with trust: trusting that the instructions are valid, trusting that this is designed to help me, I guess in a big sense trusting my teacher and the lineage I study in. Also trusting myself, that I can do it, that I will know to stop if it isn’t right.

It’s a tough balance. My instinct says STOP, and I’m hesitant to give that instinct up entirely (as I should be!). I need to care for and trust my own heart before I trust anyone or anything else. This is given some credence in light off how I felt after doing the meditation. I felt very spacey and uncertain. Usually I feel clear and grounded after I sit.

There’s something to this. I do have to trust that the meditation is a valid practice. I trust my teacher very deeply, both because of how he presents himself and the teachings, and also because of the quality of his students. I trust the lineage because it has never steered me wrong. Usually my heart is in perfect alignment with both what my teacher says and what the lineage has to say. That’s why he’s my teacher.

So my guess is that something else is going on. It may be that I’m doing the practice wrong. I know I can get a bit aggressive with stuff (especially myself), and perhaps I am putting too much will or force behind this meditation. There is a kind of feeling of cranking my heart open, which I’m pretty sure isn’t right. Although powerful, most Buddhist practices I am familiar with require a light touch. You can’t brutalize yourself into enlightenment.

Meditation Issues

Don’t Even Ask.

April 13, 2016


A shitty morning for a shitty guy. Actually a beautiful morning, crisp but sunny. Shitty leaving the house, screaming kiddo.

Also not really a shitty guy, but some shitty stuff went down.

Series of slips. I think it started Monday. Two days ago. Is that true, or was there a slip over the weekend? Something tells me maybe there was a slip on Saturday, when my wife was at a training. Maybe a brief slip then, not sure. I think there was a slip then, but I was able to “hold it together,” by which I mean lie about it by not saying anything. I was able to put it away, not let it get out of control. I think I didn’t masturbate and I was able to get mad at the porn, feel sad for the people in the pictures. Felt like a victory.

But then Monday, a choice. A palpable choice. I decided to do it. And it was a pretty major slip. Fucked up a couple of sessions with clients, not badly perhaps, but I could have given more. People pay a lot to see me, they deserve to get me at the top of my game.

Again didn’t tell my wife. Decided not to masturbate. Did Yoga. Tried to use it as a way to see porn as suffering. That worked pretty well, but Tuesday morning I woke up early, masturbated in the shower, and then was so surprised to feel an overpowering urge to look at porn again. Surprise surprise. Most of the day at work between sessions.

Asked my wife to put a block on my computer this morning. I didn’t tell her I had used, but if she asks I will.

Worst thing is the separation. Even if I can “fake it,” be cheerful and affectionate and do the stuff I need to do, I still feel completely separate from her, and that hurts a lot. The kiddo is also going through a “Momma” faze, he says Momma even when he’s asking me to pick him up. It may just be linguistic (we’ve been singing a song lately that has “Momma, Momma” in the refrain), but it also kind of hurts, like, “what about Dad?”

It may be the Universe saying “Dad’s not here and the kiddo knows it,” or it may just be me knowing that I’m not as here as I should be, and I feel guilty about it. Either way, it hurts.

Don’t Even Ask.