DISCLAIMER: Today's post could be seen as a little tough. My response is... Facts! Despite this reality, I'm not harder or tougher as the consequences leveled by the reality of the disease. I'm sharing my experience, and how I was taught recovery. And I have to say... the predecessors that I grew up within what was originally known as the C&P Region that also included the Eastern Shore of Maryland and into Delaware, shockingly many are still clean today. They haven't given up, on an article of faith, "That an addict, any addict can get clean, lose the desire to use, and gain a new way of life." They have and hold uninterrupted clean-time with massive experience in healing, and remain our living predecessors. It blows my mind, how skillful and adept so many of them are, and am thankful for their continued inspiration, as I continue to learn from them.
In the branch of the NA Tree of recovery I grew up in, we didn't finish the Steps so we could go out and sponsor other people. While everyone ought to have a sponsor, that didn't mean that everyone's ability allowed them to sponsor people. Many times I've gotten to see members apply principles of sponsorship in guiding service committees, with the point of focus as the Traditions, without ever directly sponsoring another person in the way we might normally understand it. We worked the Steps, because the disease turned us upside down, shaking our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual pockets out until it left us damn near for dead. Active addiction wasn't a trip to Disneyland, it was a hell realm. Getting out of that hell realm is a team sport.
Our inner Jedi was that sponsorship is a learned skill. We weren't supposed to "Wing-it," and just "See what happens." It oftentimes involved three people and not two. It was my sponsor, one of my sponsoree brothers or sisters, and me sitting in a corner and observing so that I could learn. From that, I got the point that sponsorship isn't willy-nilly, but rather a guided path, a sacred responsibility, requiring assimilated and integrated understanding of the Twelve Steps, buoyed by C.A.R.E.N.A. We also went to Twelve Step co-dependency meetings at that time, as a part of our preparation, practice, and process. We were told it was so we didn't mystically get ourselves triangled into others' responsibilities.
Going to those meetings, and paying attention, provided me tremendous insight into not only interpersonal relationships but our impact on friends and families. In both active addiction and recovery, my mom used to remind me of how stunningly opaque I could be when it came to understanding my influence and impact on others. Co-dependency meetings help me to learn how to clearly, decisively, and directly own my stuff, even when I got scared or lost confidence in the possible results.
In approaching Step Nine, I hear many say, "I'm making this amends for me, not the other person." Though I usually don't say anything when I hear that, it doesn't mean that internally I'm not saying bullshit!
The point of amends is, that my behavior jammed something and/or someone up, causing a tear as a result. As a point of honor, it's my responsibility to return to the person, admit that I knocked them down in some way, extend my hand, apologize and ask them what the experience was like for them, and ask what could healing or a go forward be like for us, and find ways to make that happen in a tangible way.
As a result, we don't pass through or by their personhood, and opportunity for dignity with a minimum of concern. Amends is for them, me, and closing the gap of the tear. Recovery is generous, and never selfish in my experience... A process and not an event... where I'm no longer tied to a need for instant gratification, transacting my way through things like a drug deal. For me, I was taught it's about practicing mindful patience, that empowers us to be physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually available, which results in transformational healing wounds.
One of the ways, I did that was to support my mother as she died from cancer. I was there for her last breath. My brother and I cremated her as she wished. Part of her ashes was released on Mount Rainier with the friendship and support of my buddy Jyota, who as a friend went on the hike of grief with me. Part was given to her best friend in life, and the rest in a sacred place to her as she requested. In addition, donations have been made to domestic violence shelters, because as a social worker, she cared deeply for those people as a professional. I hope my sharing my experience opens some perspectives on what's possible, and how Step Nine can be not only for ourselves but for those we need to mend what was torn.
Just for today, I will experience amends as a living meditation practice of healing rips and torn relationships within myself and with others, as an act of Love with L.O.V.E. (Lots of Voluntary Effort).