The original newsletter (pdf)
- A Reflective Moment for December: Patience: Acknowledging and Accepting Reality
- Rotation C Topic: Possible Meeting Topic for December: The Holidays: A Stress-Filled Time of the Year
- ASCA Meeting Ongoing Education Moment: Using the Survivor to Thriver Manual
- From the Desk of George Bilotta
1. A Reflective Moment for December:
Patience: Acknowledging and Accepting Reality
by George Bilotta
(The following brief article is a continuation of our monthly series focused on pondering some of life’s basic questions.)
Living in a fast-paced society, the virtue, goodness, and advantage of fostering patience in our daily lives receive little notice and discussion. Advertisements bombard us with manic-type messages to move quickly, to gather as much as possible, and to soak up the gratification that our contemporary culture offers on a routine basis. Consequently, we have Olympians who use steroids. Banks offer credit cards to college students who often have little or no ability to pay off their debt. Many people expect to be in solid relationships without first changing their dysfunctional ways. While extracting information from the Internet, many will become impatient with having to wait 5 or 10 seconds for information to appear on their screen.
I think that it would be safe to say that our society at-large lacks the stamina for patience. We often have difficulty quietly being in the moment. While standing in a line waiting for their turn with a checkout clerk, many people grow impatient. They experience the situation as a waste of time. Because they lack the stamina of patience, they do not know how to transform a few waiting moments into an exercise of personal growth, into a pause that refreshes. Often, we become agitated when something does not go our way, when a person does not do something the way we want, or when the world in general does not seem to flash green lights all day long for us.
What is patience, or what are some of patience’s constituent parts? In general, a dictionary would suggest that patience is the ability to endure pain, difficulty, or annoyance in a calm manner. Many people might retort—who wants to endure pain, or undergo difficulty, or bear with annoyance? In addition, we are asked to endure with calmness. For some people, it sounds almost masochistic. For others, they picture themselves as children listening to a parent who reprimands them, reminding them to be patient, to hold their horses. However, the reality of our daily lives suggests that life is constantly intersected with difficulties, annoyances, disruptions, obstacles, complications, problems, controversies, pain, worries, and troubles. It is impossible to escape from the usual stuff of life. In part, this is what life is all about.
Fostering the stamina of patience offers a sense of calmness within our daily difficulties, worries, problems, etc. The alternative is to be constantly knocked off balance, off course, or to react in a manner that results in more difficulty, worsening an already difficult or problematic situation. So, in daily life, we can choose to calmly accept reality and appropriately and creatively respond to a difficult or problematic situation, or we can fight reality and constantly be knocked off balance.
For me, patience and fostering a calming endurance have more to do with acknowledging and accepting reality. It has to do with not fighting or resisting our present or past realities, whatever they may be. Again, while standing in line, if I acknowledge and accept that this is my present reality, i.e., waiting my turn to check out, then I can provide myself with options as to how I want to be a person who is waiting in line. If I choose to deny or resent my reality of waiting in line, then my heart becomes agitated, bored, impatient, numb, dissociated, etc.
Cultivating patience gives way to calmness. Deliberately and purposefully fostering patience unfolds a specific way of living that enables us to maneuver calmly and reflectively through life’s daily storms and disturbances. If we choose not to foster the virtue of patience, then we might find that we have lost our rudder and our way. We may discover that the daily grind of life is burdensome and without joy. In a sense, the stamina of patience unfolds the serenity of hope. Without hope, we live in despair, without direction and void of meaning.
2. Rotation C Topic:
Possible Meeting Topic for December:
The Holidays: A Stress-Filled Time of the Year
What do the holidays evoke for you? Some people feel weighed down with painful and disturbing memories. Other survivors feel conflicted with thoughts about good times during the holiday but also recall some horrendous recollections of abuse, chaos, fighting, etc. Many people long for the mythical and elusive Norman Rockwell picture of playing out the holidays that the news media dangles constantly in front of us, like a thousand blinking lights strung around a tree, alluring and mesmerizing us.
One thing that seems universal about the holiday season is the acknowledgement and growing acceptance that the holidays are full of stress. Stress derives from a wide variety of circumstances and reasons. If we travel, there is the stress of being away from the comfort and reassuring surroundings of our home. If friends or family visit, there is the stress of the responsibility of providing and taking care of many details. For many, there is the stress of purchasing presents, participating in parties and gatherings, and being swept up in the holiday mentality. Not feeling in control is another form of stress during the holidays. Feeling resentful and conflicted that we should be up and cheery when in reality we are down and sad is another kind of stress for some.
Like in any other difficult situation, thinking through and developing a plan to handle the inevitable stress that comes along with the holiday season might provide us with the best possible way of dealing with the holidays.
- What has been your experience of the holiday season?
- What are the sources of stress for you during the coming holidays?
- How might you proactively reduce the stress on yourself during the holiday season?
3. ASCA Meeting Ongoing Education Moment:
Using the Survivor to Thriver Manual
The Morris Center’s Survivor to Thriver manual was created as an accompaniment to the recovery process for adult survivors of physical, sexual, and/or emotional child abuse or neglect. We should always remember, however, that our manual and ASCA are only two of many different and powerful ways that we survivors use to heal our emotional wounds and to move on with our lives.
The Survivor to Thriver manual offers an organized way and plan to proceed. It is a discriminating aid to help us clarify our story of abuse and recovery. Providing exercises that gently challenge us to work through some of our unresolved issues, the manual is full of practical ways of looking at our past abuse experiences and how we proceed with our recovery. Often, the material will stimulate our recall and jog our memory. In working through much of the material, we may notice a piggyback effect, whereby one memory leads to another, to another, or to an elaboration and clarification of past situations. In many ways, the Survivor to Thriver manual challenges us to rethink, clarify, and acknowledge not only the past, but also our present and future.
Finally, many people who regularly attend ASCA meetings find that their shares become more insightful and fruitful when they work through some of the material in the manual during the week.
The Survivor to Thriver manual is available free for your use by downloading the manual from our web site: ascasupport.org. It can also be purchased.
From the Desk of George Bilotta
With the fall season quickly giving way to winter’s hibernation accompanied by the end of the year holidays, I want to use this occasion to thank everyone who has contributed in any way whatsoever to making The Morris Center and ASCA vibrant, helpful, and a healing avenue for many survivors. So many people, in a wide variety of ways, dedicate time, energy, and a spirit of goodwill to making us a successful endeavor.
Looking back over the past year, there is much for which to be thankful. The board of directors continues with diligence and skill to bring us into the 21st century. Various co-facilitators from the community-based and provider-based ASCA meetings ensure that meetings are safe and consistent. Without the work and management of the co-facilitators, ASCA meetings simply could not exist. There are others who do a variety of odds and ends. They are like the glue that keeps everything together, whether they contribute financially, gather the mail, make telephone calls, etc.
Finally, I want to express my appreciation to Norma Morris. Norma continues to provide the majority of the financial resources that allow The Morris Center, the creator of ASCA, to carry out its mission. There is no person in the United States who has given more generously and wholeheartedly than Norma Morris. Through her backing over the past 9 years, we have been able to promote effective and cost-sensitive alternatives for healing for adult survivors of childhood abuse. We thank you, Norma, for your generosity, compassion, and commitment to an unpopular cause.
Happy Holidays and best wishes for the coming New Year!
Selection editing note
Above, for clarity, the word “co-secretary” was replaced by “co-facilitator” as the current title used in ASCA meetings for the same role.