Terminal Uniqueness vs. Celebrating Our Recovery Road

wolfRecovery literature often reminds us that as individuals, we share a common disease/addiction/dilemma.  I find this understanding very important to my recovery.  Very early on I made a decision that I did not want to stand on the edges of recovery, but wanted to place myself squarely in the middle.  That is:

  • I did not want to try the moderation with alcohol game, but made a decision to give up that fight and place myself squarely in the middle of staying sober.
  • A recommendation I received early on was to attend 90 meetings in 90 days.  If at the end of the 90 days I wanted to go back out and drink, the bars and liquor stores would still be there.  I followed that advice and got a solid foundation to build my recovery.
  • The recovery literature abounds with common understandings around concepts such as acceptance, anger, higher power and so forth.  I have always tried to find my place at the table, as it were, in applying these concepts in my recovery.

But an interesting thing has happened over the years.  I have taken these common issues or concepts and worked through my own approach to them.  For example:

  • The twelfth step of the AA program goes that we ” . . . carry this message to alcoholics and practice these principles in all of our affairs.”  I never raise my hand at recovery meetings that I am available to be a temporary sponsor.  I don’t think I am much good at that and my schedule in general is too erratic for a regular commitment.  However, I am pretty much an open book on being in recovery and regularly share my experience, strength, and hope both in formal and informal settings – including this blog.  Because of my career, I have the opportunity to share on a regular basis with young folks grappling with their addiction issues.
  • I don’t often crack the spine on my Big Book these days, but I do read a piece of recovery literature each day.
  • In meetings folks describe their routines of prayer and meditation that include the various prayers in the Big Book.  I could not repeat them, or the page numbers they are found on, if my life depended on doing so.  However, as I go throughout my day, based in my recovery experience, I attempt to be very mindful and intentional in all of my thoughts and actions.

In these ways, I see that in recovery, though there are common roads that we all travel, there are divergent paths along those roads.  I have come to enjoy both the roads and the paths.

The Process of the Spirit

St. Louis

To me, one of the truly exciting aspects of spirituality is this – I don’t think I practice a better brand of spirituality today than in the past.  Rather, the spiritual practices of today are what’s in front of me, the next steps on the path in the opportunities of grace.  For me, key to that understanding is the conventional wisdom that I am not a recovered alcoholic but rather a recovering alcoholic.  I view my relationship with my higher power or spiritual growth in the same way.  I do not see salvation and redemption as static events to be achieved, rather, I see them more as verbs or dynamic processes.  What is so humbling about that recovery process is that I could never have predicted or dreamt up the blessings of this relationship.  It is humbling because I know it is not me but being open to that image of God or the spirit in which we are all created.  Regular spiritual practice is an important part of that process.  Practices of piety are necessary to sustain and move forward in recovery.

Here is one of my favorite practices of piety.  Before I walk into a classroom, I stop and think for a moment, and remember this teaching gig is for the students and not for my ego.  Inevitably, if I have that mindful 30 seconds of thought before a teaching session, the class will go well.  If I am rushed, running late, and breeze into the classroom trying to get things in order without that bit of mindfulness and intentional understanding of my role, things do not go so well.  On occasion, when I get off to a bad start, I will stop, excuse myself saying I forgot something in my office, and in that 90-second interval where I go back and forth between my office and pick up a book or piece of paper, I mindfully center on the role of my true self, and resurrect the classroom experience.  The mindfulness does not give me better recall or insights into the seminar readings.  Rather, the act of piety before entering the classroom makes me mindful of my role and responsibility in the process.  Quite a wonderful and productive process.

And here is link on substance abuse and mindfulness