From Response to Repose

“I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”
– lyrics from Amazing Grace

It’s funny how 14 familiar words can take on an entirely new meaning in the blink of an eye.  My wife affectionately refers to me as “Mr. Gotta Go.”  She threatens to write my epitaph simply stating, “Mr. gotta go and he did.”  This concerns me.  I do have some pride and I desire something nobler be written about me.

Unfortunately, my mind has a way of keeping me very busy.  It’s very clever because it keeps me busy at doing the the activities I love doing.  When I am too busy I find myself endlessly responding to all the things that are now demanding my attention.  It then appears as though life is happening to me rather than being an expression of my own creation.

After three weeks of vacationing by the sea with my family I began to get the idea that I could repose in life as well as respond to life.  This revelation came after much encouragement in the form of firm limit-setting by my mate.  I would always want to go somewhere, do something or move on to the next adventure.  This is a good character  trait if one were a camp counselor.  However, it can be quite disturbing to a partner who is just trying to decompress and revitalize herself.  She insisted on being still.  I fought her tooth and nail but she held her ground.

Then a little miracle happened.  The age old lyrics from Amazing Grace found their way into my heart and mind.  “I once was lost but now am found, was blind but now I see.”  I was found because I remained still.  I did not aimlessly move about in my busyness.  I simply allowed myself to be found.  In that magical moment of repose, I repossessed myself.  I had not realized how blind I was to who I am.

I rediscovered the all-embracing and ever creating spirit that I am.  I felt my own breath.  Yet it was the same breath of the ever expanding and contracting universe that breathes life into us all.  In that common shared moment of breathing I  experienced wholeness.  I was at peace.

I am home now.  When I get lost in my busyness I find it helpful to forgive myself and remember who I am.  I then ask myself the simple question, “Does this action I am about to take originate from a place of peace within me?”  Sometimes I don’t want to ask the question.  I just want to get it done.  However, that sounds a bit like “gotta go and he did.”  I want my epitaph to read, “May he continue to rest in peace.”

Our hope is that you take a moment to allow yourself to be found.  In that moment is the void where all creation originates.  I -being a slow learner -needed to immerse myself in the quiet for five weeks.  I understand it can be experienced in a moment’s time.

Be well,
John Chupka

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The Time For Healing Is Now!

John ChupkaA Course in Miracles states, “It is the privilege of the forgiven to forgive.” Forgiveness, according to the course, is the healing of the perception of separation. What a relief it is for me to know that I am not separate from All-That-Is. I believe that within all of us there lays some sort of a genetic homing device that, when activated, leads us back to our original state of unequivocal, passionate love where unwavering strength and ongoing creation reside. The trouble resides in our ambivalence to allow that homing device to be activated. Each of us has our own personal reasons as to why we are hesitant to allow ourselves to be led back home.

Over the last 30 years the course has persevered throughout my own onslaught of resistance to its message. It stood with me and found a way into my heart. It is the privilege of The Forgiveness Center to offer opportunities where our unique and common reluctance can be safely placed aside for a moment in time. In that moment possibilities emerge where we may experience ourselves and others in a different way…a way that may be more life-enriching for ourselves and those we share our lives with.

I am presently on a five-week sabbatical where I intend to be open to new teachings from the course. I eagerly look forward to sharing these experiences with you upon my return. I’m excited to announce that The Forgiveness Center has a new and improved website! Please drop in to visit. In the meantime, thank you for the support you graciously offered throughout the years.

Be Well,
John Chupka

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The Phoenix Still Rises

The renovation of our beloved home was recently featured in the Times Union.  The captions of the photographs tell little pieces of her story.  The fire that could have destroyed her, actually led to a very beautiful chapter.  Now history comes alive, community comes together, and artisans practice their craft; breathing new life into our home.  This house has many stories to tell.  As she continues to rise from the ashes, her stories no longer go without saying.

CLICK HERE to view the pictures and read the article

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The Beginning

excerpt from It Went Without Saying

JOYCE: On the day Jamie was born, I promised her I would protect her from the evils of the world.  I would be her shield from harm.  What I came to realize was that I could never protect her from the demons she created in her mind – the demons that became real and almost consumed her.

When Jamie was ten, she became enthralled with the movie Poltergeist, a horror movie about a beast who took a little girl, Carol Ann from her living room while she watched TV.  Jamie loved that movie.  She watched it over and over.  She was particularly taken by the strange little psychic who helped the parents rescue their daughter from the beast.  The woman had a voice so peculiar that one had to strain to understand what she was saying.  Jamie could do a perfect imitation of that voice and she loved to tease me by mimicking one of the psychic’s speeches.

She would say, “I don’t know whatever’s over this house, but it’s strong enough to punch a hole in this world and take your daughter away from you.  It keeps Carol Ann close to it and away from the spectral light.  It lies to her, it tells her things only a child would understand.  It has been using her to restrain the others.  To her, it is simply another child.  To us, it is the beast.”

“Stop, Jamie,” I’d say.  “It’s horrible and scary.”  But it was a little prank she loved to play.  And we could laugh and dismiss it because, after all, it was just a movie.  It wasn’t real.  But something extremely powerful and terrifying really did reach into our lives and take our daughter away from us.  And there was no way to dismiss it.  When Jamie was 14, a beast took hold of her life – and it was real, very, very real.

The Beast had a name.  Its name was Addiction.

(click here to continue the story)


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Jamie Celebrates 9 Years of Sobriety

“Every year around my anniver­sary of sobri­ety I get a little twitchy. I don’t know why this hap­pens, but I know that some­times even now, I feel like I don’t deserve what I have. This year, how­ever, was dif­fer­ent. I did not want to cel­e­brate at all. I am truly blessed; I know this. It took me a while to learn that some­times strug­gling or going through dif­fi­culty and vent­ing about it does not mean that I am not grateful.

Having said that, it has been a rough year. I found out that there was a DNA hit on the man who raped me over twelve years ago. My par­ents’ house and the house my daugh­ter grew up in was destroyed in a fire on my par­ents’ Birthday a year ago. In addi­tion, I have been strug­gling with being employed full time, being a single mother and trying to make things work finan­cially. About a month or two before cel­e­brat­ing my ninth anniver­sary, things got pretty rough emo­tion­ally. I was strug­gling to make ends meet and my daugh­ter was giving me a really hard time. I was trying to bal­ance being a mom, work, recov­ery, a home, my daughter’s extra-curricular events, Birthday parties…nothing every single mother doesn’t do, but those two months were par­tic­u­larly drain­ing on me. I felt like the very life was being sucked right out of me. Babysitters were sparse and expen­sive, which meant so was my atten­dance at 12 step meet­ings, which in turn meant my sanity. All of this, and I’m sup­posed to cel­e­brate? I’m sup­posed to offer hope to a new­comer? It seemed twisted to me to share my hope when I felt hope­less.

Ahhhhh but…..therein lies the mir­a­cle of the 12 step pro­gram. I went, I shared, and I was bru­tally honest. I have to say, it felt so free­ing and it gave me hope to do that. What I thought would be a sad and heavy cel­e­bra­tion turned to one of hope. People shared their grat­i­tude for my being honest as well as for the pro­gram. One person even said they rec­og­nized me from eight years ago when they first came around, and the fact that I was still there offered him hope. I felt grate­ful for the pro­gram and my abil­ity to be honest and speak when I didn’t want to. Once again, it didn’t have to go with­out saying.”

– Jamie Chupka
co-author of It Went Without Saying
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“I Chose Life”

It Went Without Saying co-author Jamie Chupka shares her story of recov­ery on the web­site for the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services…

“My name is Jamie, and I am a grate­ful recov­er­ing addict. I have learned that using is just a symp­tom of my dis­ease; a dis­ease that long ago, when I felt that some­thing wasn’t quite right with me. There was a strong dis­com­fort, a sense of not feel­ing right in my own skin. I felt that there was some­thing wrong with me, that I didn’t belong any­where. I can recall feel­ing like this as far back as three years old. I came from an upper middle class family and was an only child. I can remem­ber feel­ing jeal­ous of my friends who had sis­ters and broth­ers but more impor­tantly feel­ing lonely and different.

The first drug I picked up—alcohol—helped me to not feel so dif­fer­ent, to fit in. I liked alco­hol because it released my inhi­bi­tions, and I felt “normal” for once. Everyone was doing it, or so I thought. I could do things under the influ­ence that I wouldn’t typ­i­cally do sober. I felt I was smarter, pret­tier and more like­able when I drank. And when I really got down to the core of my addic­tion, I just wanted to be loved. However, the more I drank, the more I made poor choices and the more I got in trou­ble, prov­ing that I was unlov­able. The down­ward spiral began.

By 18, I was a full-blown alco­holic, drink­ing at least a case of beer a day. My choices revolved solely around alco­hol. My values and morals began slip­ping from my grasp, and I became depressed. Then I fell into the trap of bar­tend­ing.  I loved it and made so much money that it was like another high! This new world intro­duced me to cocaine. That is when I found the high I thought I had always been look­ing for. But this high would almost kill me. It wasn’t just the drugs, it was the lifestyle, and it seemed to bring out my own worst thoughts about myself. I attracted abu­sive rela­tion­ships, expe­ri­enced many trau­mas and was near death sev­eral times. I wish I could say that this was where my recov­ery began, but it wasn’t. I was intro­duced to crack cocaine and nearly met my demise.

The trau­mas and near death expe­ri­ences con­tin­ued one by one—abusive rela­tion­ships, car acci­dents, assaults, jail, over­dos­ing and mul­ti­ple sui­cide attempts. I was less than 90 pounds, hope­less and in a rela­tion­ship with a man who had lost belief in life. I was insti­tu­tion­al­ized again—for yet another sui­cide attempt—and was informed I would not be releases unless I entered treatment.

After sev­eral attempts at get­ting clean, I real­ized that finally leav­ing behind the harm­ful rela­tion­ship that fed my addic­tion was the only way. I had to want to live just a little more than I wanted to die. So, I chose life. I chose recov­ery. Today I am alive, and I am a devoted mother and loved daugh­ter. I am recovery.”

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It’s About Community

Here is a heart warm­ing arti­cle from the Troy Record about Joyce’s receiv­ing the YWCA’s Resourceful Woman of the Year award!

“The phrase Resourceful Woman wasn’t some­thing that was in my imme­di­ate vocab­u­lary, but to me it means it’s regard­ing the source of women.  And our source is really our love and our wisdom,” the Brooklyn-native said, “..that’s what the com­mu­nity is.  We are all con­nected.  What hap­pens to one of us hap­pens to all of us.”
(click for full arti­cle)

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Rising From The Ashes

October 26, 2011 marks the first anniver­sary of the fire at our home, which we’d been lov­ingly restor­ing for eleven years.  Our community’s sup­port has been a tremen­dous bless­ing and a Resource.  Now, just one year later, as we approach the day when we can move back home, Joyce is receiv­ing the Resourceful Woman of the Year Award!

Like the phoenix rising from the ashes, love rises in our hearts in appre­ci­a­tion of the beau­ti­ful trans­for­ma­tion of both an his­tor­i­cal land­mark, and the next chap­ter in our own family’s story.  It Went Without Saying is just part of that story.  Join us in hon­or­ing the Resourceful Women of our Community, and meet the Chupkas as they sign copies of their book!  November 3, 11:30, Hilton Garden Inn, Troy, NY.

Proceeds will be donated to the YWCA of the Greater Capital Region in sup­port of their mis­sion to empower women and pro­mote peace, jus­tice, free­dom and dig­nity for all.


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