marilea.rabasa@gmail.com

Breathing Lessons

From Each Day A New Beginning, September 16:

“When working the steps we are never in doubt about the manner for proceeding in any situation. The steps provide the parameters that secure our growth. They help us to see where we’ve been and push us toward the goals which crowd our dreams.”

Many times in recovery meetings people refer to us all as shipwrecked human beings. I like that metaphor because it reminds me that we are all together on that ship, all part of the same human race, triumphing sometimes, often struggling, but together. We are never alone.

But there is much division around the topic of addiction. Much of the problem arises from semantics: is addiction an illness that strikes, like cancer, without permission? Or is it a moral failing? That simple question lends itself to hours of discussion; whole books have been written about it; bloggers have exhausted themselves going back and forth in the argument. I used to enthusiastically participate, certain that I was making valid points here and there.

It’s the “here and there” that finally derailed me as I was hyperventilating on this fast-moving train of rhetoric. In the final analysis, does it really matter what it is? Getting caught up in all the arguments just kept me from putting my focus where it belonged. I needed to get back to self-care. And stepping back. And taking a breath.

How we navigate our lives together on that ship is as varied as the shells in the ocean. Twelve-Step work has a lot in common with many other forms of spiritual recovery, some of them organized religions. I might well have learned many of the principles elsewhere. I happened to learn them in Al-Anon. But this recovery program doesn’t have a lock on the ideas of acceptance of things we can’t change, or on surrender to something bigger and smarter than we are. Those ideas are found in many places. I go out of my way to avoid the “R” word, but don’t we all seek peace and serenity in our troubled world?

The tools we use strive toward the same goal. When I try to keep my eye on the ball, I don’t get embroiled in discussion that leads nowhere. We need not be divided. We all pray for the same miracles, the health and wellness of ourselves and our loved ones. When I remember that, I feel as though we are all part of the same solution.

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