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hopes and dreams

"I allow myself my hopes and dreams" is an affirmation that was recommended to me years ago yet it remains one of the very hardest things for me to do.

Last week in one of my 12-step groups we were talking about hopes and dreams; specifically what ours were when we were kids.  Many of us had lost sight of our original dreams so trying to recall them, to bring them into the present, was very healing.  Now the next part is to have the courage to pursue them as adults.  Or pursue any dream, whether old or new.  Why is that so scary?

When I was in grade school my desire was to perform.  I did all kinds of dance (but failed miserably at all other sports) and I used to dance and prance all over the house all the time.   My biggest dream was to be on the PBS show ZOOM.  Those kids danced and sang and performed an eclectic mix of joyful skits.  I had completely forgotten about this until - 40+ years later - my group discussion brought back the memory.  Could it be that I would want to perform again?  As an emotionally weathered, overweight, middle-aged adult?  Is it even possible?  Either way, it felt great just to consider a dream because for many years this wasn't the case.  My teens and twenties nearly destroyed me.

My teen rebellion started the summer after I graduated from Junior High - aged 15.  It was when I had my first drink.  Once high school started I began drinking and smoking cigarettes and abusing diet pills in earnest (and let me tell you a diet pill "high" is one of the nastiest things ever).   Later on came the real drugs.  I was miserable; a mass of tangled hormones and emotions.  My idols were the artists, writers, musicians, and icons who lived hard and died young.  Who accidentally ODed like Janis Joplin and Edie Sedgwick or who intentionally offed themselves like Silvia Plath.  I had no intention of living into old age - I didn't see it as a possibility for myself.  I was hugely depressed and self-medicating on almost a daily basis. My whole life was about sneaking and hiding. Of course, sometimes the drinking was fun, but to say that I was out of control was an understatement.  My "hope" was that I'd be able to score some good booze or drugs for the night, my "dream" was to hook up with a cute guy.  That was it.  I had no thoughts for a career, a future husband and family, a lovely home.

When I made it to my 24th birthday and surprisingly found myself still alive, I decided I better go into therapy.  That helped a bit.  My drinking continued but became less suicidal in nature.  I even graduated from art school and got a job in the field I had studied in, but I still didn't dare to truly dream.  At best you could say I got a few ideas into my head and even pursued some of them (read about my crazy list of different careers here) but daring to go for the big brass ring?  Allowing myself to pursue what I really wanted not what I thought I should?  Never.  When I got sober at age 32 and was promised a life beyond my wildest dreams, things certainly improved but that particular promise never came through because I never allowed myself to let go and believe it was possible.  Maybe for others but not for me was my thinking.

So, the question is:  is it a self-esteem thing - not believing I deserve it?  Or is it a fear thing?  Probably both if I am honest.  Which may complicate matters, or maybe not.  It could be that the solution to the two is the same:  faith.  Faith in myself, and faith in the Universe - that it won't drop me on my ass.  I get anxious even thinking of possibilities so you could say I am tiptoeing my way towards faith.

As a teen, and even sometimes as a little kid, my ideas of what I wanted for myself rarely seemed to jibe with what my parent's thought I should do. I often had to fight to get my own way but a lot of the time it didn't always seem worth the effort.  Nowadays my folks are different but still, I must find most of my support elsewhere.  Fortunately, there is plenty of it available I just have to remind myself every day to tap into it.  Here are some of my favorite resources:

Radical Self Love: A GuideTo Loving Yourself And Living Your Dream by Gala Darling  and

You Are A Badass:  How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness And Start Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sincero

You Do You:  how to be who you are and use what you've got to get what you want (a no F*cks Given Guide) by Sarah Knight

Notes From The Universe email reminders and @mikedooleytut on Instagram

Of course, you don't have to have as dramatic of a story as mine to be deficient in the dream department.  I think society as a whole and life's conventions in general frown upon dreams.  There are so many shoulds or can'ts or don'ts out there.  Or not-until-I-retires.  Sure we have valid responsibilities, but what does the kid inside us want?  What would they do if they had a loving, supportive, encouraging parent?  So why don't I be that parent now?  Why don't I take some baby steps to get there?  ZOOM is no longer on the air but there is always YouTube...

PS  If you are one of the lucky ones who is following their dreams please share with us how you did it and what it takes!


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