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Taking a Vacation from Looking into the Mirror of Self

What emerges when we gaze into a thought mirror, one distorted by ego, rendering a reflection that persistently diverges from reality? When we act on these delusions--those distortions caused by warps, bends, fractures, and the various makeshift fixes meant to hold together a mind fragmented by random condemnations and criticisms--we witness a flickering self-image that offers no escape from suffering, nor a path to becoming fully whole and wholly free.

For the first 10 to 15 years of my recovery, rather than confronting this mirror alone, I fostered a close, co-creative relationship with my sponsor. I was actively mentored, learning to perceive and experience my authentic self, far removed from the narration provided by my self-obsession and unhealthy, self-centered thinking. In my Second Step meditation, as a Narcotics Anonymous member, I began to believe in the truths my sponsor and recovery network highlighted about me. I was open-minded enough to see myself through their eyes, their perspectives, as an integral part of being "Restored to Sanity" through a community deep-rooted to healing ourselves.

The practice that assisted me was metaphorically dropping the mirror into which the so-called 'I' was looking. As part of my "Step One," I conceded that I could not rely on my self-perception, as I was besieged by physical, mental, emotional, and aspirational malnutrition, having yielded to the addictive mind. I chose to trust the perceptions and actions of others because the reflections from others tend to be more genuine and direct than our own exhausted, repetitive, and often second-hand thoughts.

My practical application involved no advice being offered; my duty was to **follow directions** to the best of my ability, "See how things work out," and engage in subsequent discussions. The overarching process encompassed observing, imitating, investigating, assimilating, integrating, and innovating within the recovery framework--essentially, healing.

Approximately 18 years clean, I experienced a pivotal shift. Having established a new history of trust and confidence rooted in genuine recovery experiences devoid of opinions, the guidance from my sponsor became less directive. My sponsor and I, no longer in a dynamic where they were perpetually steps ahead, evolved our relationship. It shifted to resemble that between a parent and an adult child who has been guided to develop their own values, self-esteem, and self-worth. Our connection continues, but it's akin to walking side-by-side in mutual respect, solidarity, and autonomous interdependence--a transition so heartening it moved my smile from my face to my heart.

Now, with 13,344 consecutive Just For Today's, my actions have become the mirror into which I gaze and strive to maintain conscious contact. This mirror is clear and accurate, complemented by a consistent meditation practice grounded in sitting, breathing, observing, listening, and simply noting what is genuinely occurring without conjecture.

In conclusion, I remember a dear predecessor, Jim Miller, who wrote the Third Step prayer in the Narcotics Anonymous Basic Text. It reads, "Please take my will and my life, guide me in my recovery, and show me how to live." Essentially, it's an open invitation toward a broader and more wholesome perspective that reveals an authentic and true self, not an emissary of the disease of addiction. Thank you for letting me share. I pass to you.

--Dignity and Grace

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