January 29, 2016
On Fridays, we often speak about the spiritual power of the 12 Steps; that the steps themselves are a spiritual practice and are the Higher Power for many. Most of us would describe the 12 Steps as a great healing power; a gift from a Power so much greater than us. So we've decided that the beginning of the year would be the perfect time to begin a series of topics based on the 12 spiritual principles represented in each of the 12 Steps. Although there are many more principles that must be "lived" through the steps, there are 12 that are commonly accepted. The spiritual principle that must be practiced and realized as we surrender in Step 1 is honesty.
We had several families with us this week. One of the patients shared with me that it has been painful (for all the patients) hearing how much our families have been hurt, how deeply we hurt the ones we love the most, and how deeply it hurts to hear and feel this. There is so much overwhelming regret we experience. But, we cannot heal it if we cannot hear it, admit it, and accept it - if we are not honest with ourselves and our loved ones.
We explored honesty, and acceptance, about the truth of who we have been as addicts AND the truth of our Spiritual identity - who we really are. I have heard it said many times, and I share this on Fridays, that recovery isn't changing who we are but rather who we think we are. We behave and we live based on who we think or believe ourselves to be.
Several patients read some powerful quotes:
"As we open our minds further, we may discover that some of the old ideas we have held are wrong. We are like those who lived before the discovery that the world is round. They honestly believed that the world was flat. They were not lying, but they also were not speaking the truth. As we examine our old ideas and acknowledge much of the fallibility in them, we begin honesty as the seeking of the truth. And the path of honesty leads to G-d." - Sandy Beach
"Owning our story can be hard, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky, but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy - the experiences that make us most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light." - Brené Brown
"If we are PAINSTAKING about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through." - The Promises from the Big Book
Yes, painstaking - our work is supposed be painful. Those who came before us knew that and then they go on to tell us how very much it is worth it!
I've begun asking the patients to bring spiritual readings or prayers that inspire them. This one was read on Friday:
"I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.
I now see that cultivating a wholehearted life is not like trying to reach a destination. It's like walking toward a star in the sky. We never really arrive, but we certainly know we're heading in the right direction.
I now see how gifts like courage, compassion, and connection only work when they are exercised. Every day.
I now see how the work of cultivating and letting go that shows up in the ten guideposts is not 'to-do list' material. It's not something we accomplish or acquire and then check off our list. It's life work. It's soul work.
For me, believing was seeing. I believed first, and only then was I able to see how we can truly change ourselves, our families, and our communities. We just have to find the courage to live and love with our whole hearts."
- Brené Brown, The Spirituality of Imperfection
We passed our bag of "If” questions around:
Q: If you could go back to one place you've been before where would you go?
A: Fishing and time with my dad before he was killed on 9/11.
Q: If you could define courage, what would you say?
A: My Dad had courage to let me go to jail.
Q: If you could define the most joyous thing about life what would you say?
A: Hope and optimism.
Q: If you could use one word to describe why life is worth living, how would you answer?
A: My daughter.
One of the questions we posed in small groups was: What is the hardest thing to be honest about for you?
Answers included: Needing help, that I need to be here, realizing that I can live without my husband, my feelings, admitting my anger, that I feared for my life in an abusive relationship.
I loved this quote that a patient shared: "Honesty is seeing yourself the way G-d sees you."
We watched an awesome Ted Talk titled "Honest Liars".
"Choose to be more honest about the lies you tell yourself. Use the truth to live the most fulfilling life for you!"
It's always beautiful to witness awakening and the truth.
Reverend Laurie Durgan