I only wanted to live in accord with the promptings that came from my true self – why was that so very difficult. – Herman Hesse
To thine own self be true – written on AA anniversary coins and Hamlet.
I find there is a radical nature in the proposition of to thine own self be true. It strikes me that this really is a huge gamble. Here is how I get it. This only works for the world if we really buy into the proposition that we are all made in God’s image and that being true to self is being true to God. If we are made in God’s image then being true to self brings us all closer to being God. If that is a bunch of hooey, then we get self-will run riot as it says in the Big Book. I prefer to think that we are truly made in God’s image and what being true to self allows us to do is to live more into God – this whole big luminous web of life.
“We often speak of the ‘wounded healer’, the person who is able to be an instrument of healing because of her own wounds and the way in which those wounds have been used. In my experience, many of those who have endured great pain and have transcended its damaging effects have a remarkable power to draw others to them when they are in need of strength and consolation . . .” Kenneth Leech, We Preach Christ Crucified, pp. 24-25
This type of thinking is often discussed in the context of working with other addicts. I have often thought how incredibly blessed we are to be able to share our experience strength and hope.
But I think this type of service goes much further than discussions of addiction. Some years ago I made the acquaintance of a woman who at the age of 50 was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. She commented to me that the diagnosis was the first challenge that she faced in her life. She had an idyllic childhood, married her high school sweetheart, raised two perfect children, was financially secure, etc. But with the ms diagnosis she soon became confined to a wheelchair and miserable.
I was recently sober then and suggested that she consider a support group. She refused saying that she could not relate to “those” people. Instead, she had all the fillings in her teeth replaced and tried every new medical treatment on the market. She seemed unwilling to “transcend the damaging effects” of her disease.
I counter that with a friend of mine who is facing a lung transplant at the age of 40 after a life with cystic fibrosis. Long ago she seemed to “transcend the damaging effects” of her disease. She lives a vibrant life. Although clearly anxious with her unknown future, she is anything but miserable, despite hospital stays that are becoming more frequent. She is a poster child for living into what is possible.
I think too of my granddaughter who at the age of 13 has marked her 5th year in remission from a four-year bout with leukemia. She too “transcended the damaging effects” of her disease. She plans to be an architect and has for the past several years. She has followed in her mother’s steps excelling in sports such as softball and soccer.
I think of how when my granddaughter and friend facing a lung transplant share their experience, strength, and hope, they too are carrying an incredible message of recovery.