Yesterday, my December 21 reading in Melody Beattie’s Language of Letting Go was about finding balance. It said that those of us (that would be me) who have been in abusive relationships, struggle with balance in the area of “what is normal”. After getting out of a relationship that is abusive, the pendulum swings to the other side, and we can’t tolerate even normal imperfections in other people. That was exactly what I needed to hear yesterday. I needed to know that I was reacting normally for the situation I’d been in. I get really confused about what is normal to expect from another person. But, I’m trying to learn.
I’ve written about how powerful words are for me and the large role they had in changing my brain and my negative thoughts about myself. My daily meditation books have been a huge part of that equation. They are a daily dose of reality to me and, when I read them in the morning, they help me set about on a supported path for the day. Some days it’s just a comforting reading and a reminder. But, often, the readings reach me right where I’m struggling, and they provide profound insight and comfort for me that day. I get a lot out of my meetings and connecting with others, but the books take it to a whole different level. Someone writes daily about their innermost thoughts and feelings during a certain time period. You get a really deep look into the mind and heart of the author.
I have several meditation books that I use from Al-Anon. After living with an addict or any dysfunctional, volatile human being, these books are targeted at healing the mind and soul. It naturally takes a toll on you when you live in an unpredictable environment. Courage to Change, Hope for Today and One Day at a Time, lovingly known as ODAT, all offer different flavors of the same messages. I gravitate towards Hope for Today for my particular brand of dysfunction. They are all collections of writings from many different people, so there is something for everyone.
My all time favorite, though, is the Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. She was the first person to write about codependency and has numerous books. She has struggled with addiction herself, and she’s single. She’s very adventurous and is a skydiver. I really relate to her. I’m on my second Language of Letting Go since I literally read the pages out of my first copy. It was tear-stained, splashed with coffee, and a whole section was falling out when I finally decided to buy a new copy. I hated to see it go, though. Those well-worn pages had carried me through so much pain and taught me so much. It was like letting go of an old friend. But, that’s sort of the theme of the book, right? I had to let it go. I deserved a copy that was new with a new cover and that didn’t hold the history and energy of all that hurt.
If you want to buy a meditation book, make sure you read through it a bit before you buy it. It really needs to resonate with you, or it will sit on your shelf. If it’s a single author, find one with whom you share similar hobbies, lifestyles and values. You are going to read a lot about their deepest feelings and struggles. If you can’t relate to them, it won’t feel as good. I have purchased several that I thought I would like, but, in the end, we had different values, beliefs in God or lifestyles. The readings are there to touch your soul not just provide information or food for thought. Make sure it fits like a glove.
I also make sure I have at least one that is not dated. Most have dates on the pages to lead you through a daily devotional. On most days, those are perfect. But, some days, days when I really need some guidance, or I want to roll the dice, I say a short prayer to God to show me what I need to hear. I open my undated book and read whatever page it lands on. On those days, I feel like God and I are playing a game where we both come out winners.
Post-divorce I bought Kristin Armstrong’s (Lance’s ex) book called Happily Ever After, a meditation book that chronicles her path in healing from divorce. I knew she was a runner, and I REALLY related to all of the things she wrote in Runner’s World, especially the ones about running being a part of her healing process. She is also a Christian. I thought I might relate to her writing. I did. It got me running again. I related to her little pack of girlfriends that supported her through the pain with running and chocolate. I related to her desire to sit with it and let it be. I don’t read it anymore, but I always keep an extra copy on hand to give to my friends that announce they are divorcing.
Words have the power the re-wire your brain and change your thoughts. If you find yourself thinking negative, critical thoughts about yourself, surround yourself with words that are supportive and meet you where you are. It’s not about Positive Thinking. I personally don’t believe that helps. I think you change your brain via the heart. All those little pathways that your brain goes down time after time telling you negative things about yourself are creating ruts where you automatically get stuck. You need to hear people say things that are different in order to change those pathways and that wiring. But, we don’t always have people handy who are ready to share. Books are always there….waiting….grab a cup of coffee and fill up. You deserve it.