Addiction affects the body, mind and soul. Recovery from addiction is more than just the healing of body and mind. It is reconnecting and engaging with one’s soul.
Here are the four most precious of the little spiritual treasures to be discovered along its muddy banks:
Gratitude: Gratitude is experienced in the sudden awareness that everything is just as it should be, that the gift of life is enough all by itself. When we learn to see all of life’s realities, tangible and intangible, as gifts that we get without ever asking for them, life is a gift, indeed, and so are the sunrise and the sunset, the moon reflecting on water, the feel of a kiss, the fragrance of rose. In Portraits of Recovery, a young man named Derrick speaks on his gratitude:
“I try to keep things in perspective. Regardless of everything, Derrick is sober. Derrick has one day at a time doing something he never thought he could do. And a higher power, if you will, has done for me what I could not do for myself. Now there is more or less deep gratitude and a thrill about existence and life. When you come close to being dead and come to know years and years of not believing that you can live for even twenty-four hours without chemicals can come to be productive, that is excitement. Life is never dull to me; it is a constant thrill. So that’s what sobriety is for me. It’s like, look what I’ve done… when I look at my life now, it’s nothing but a miracle.”
Humility: Gratitude leads to humility, for with the vision of giftedness comes to the awareness that somehow, for some reason, something or someone has singled you out as the recipient of this gift. That’s a humbling notion, for sure, and somewhere along the line, it will require the admission that you are not in absolute control. For how can you get something if it has not been given to you? You discover humility in the realisation that you do not have the power to alter the unalterable realities of life. Your heart will never be wholly at peace because you are human, which means that you are, by definition, incomplete and imperfect. You are, in other words, still under construction – a humbling notion, to be sure.
While working with a therapist, the alcoholic discovers that the therapist knows more about the problem and is able to break through the addict’s defenses and offer a helping hand. This is a humbling experience too.
Sober for seven years, professional golfer Laura Baugh describes how humility saved her life:
“The scary thing about being an alcoholic is you feel weak. You feel like you should be able to stop drinking by the strength of your willpower. I pride myself on my willpower, and I’ll tell you what – alcohol slapped me around like I was an infant. Only when I could admit to not being in control that I could, with God’s help, become strong enough to stay sober.”
Tolerance: We unearth tolerance while understanding that you are not alone in your imperfections, for every other human being is also under construction. If you are not perfect and your heart is not at rest, how can you expect anyone else to be flawless or error-free? Humbly accepting that you are merely human and therefore not God leads to tolerance for others who are also human and therefore imperfect, flawed, and simply mortal.
There is not a human being on this earth who has not at one point singled out another human being for judgement. One of the more humbling gifts of sobriety is realising that you have no right to sit in judgment of others. Bill Wilson– co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous – liked to poke fun at alcoholics who considered themselves more honourable or virtuous than others. “The way our ‘worthy’ alcoholics have sometimes tried to judge the ‘less worthy’ is, as we look back on it, rather comical,” Bill wrote in 1947 in the AA Grapevine. “Imagine, if you can, one alcoholic judging another.”
Forgiveness: We discover forgiveness when we become willing to let go of any lingering resentments that life hasn’t given you everything you desired or deserved. “Resentment is the ‘number one’ offender,” Bill Wilson writes in Alcoholics Anonymous. “It destroys more alcoholics than anything else.” Resentment is dangerous because it is a way of clinging to the past and holding on to the feeling that you didn’t get something you desired or deserved.
The word give is at the literal centre of forgiveness. When you give away your resentment, you release yourself from the need to get more than what you have received. The recovering alcoholic’s approach to forgiveness can be greedy and grasping – the “I need it right now” entreaty that characterised so much of the drinking days. “Please forgive me,” countless alcoholics have said to their families and friends. “I can’t go on if you don’t forgive me. Just say the words, please. I need you to say them right now. I can’t live without them.” That desperate plea sounds a lot like an alcoholic sidling up to a bar, plunking down some loose change, and saying, “Give me a drink right now. I can’t live without it. I need it right now!”
Forgiveness cannot offer you instant gratification. Forgiveness comes to you when you make room for it by clearing away the old resentments and accepting that life cannot give you everything, but what it has given you is more than enough. That thought leads back to gratitude for all the gifts given, which leads to humility and tolerance, circling back again to forgiveness.
If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, call +91 90008 50001 or 78930 03070 for safe, effective, confidential treatment at a boutique rehab that is more like a home rather than a clinic.