Sunday, January 16, 2011


Merriam-Webster describes compassion as a "sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it." Other words that convey something similar might be mercy, tenderness or soft-heartedness. I bring this up as a reminder to myself. There is a fellow I've known for the past couple of years who keeps on slipping. He gets of bit of clean time, relapses and tries again. Of course, I take his inventory; finding that he typically blames others for his slip, spends a lot of time blaming others for all his problems, and refuses to look at himself. I get hard-hearted towards him, wondering how he can stay blind to all his own defects. I see the pain he brings to his family, the hurt of the addiction spreading out to those who love and care for him.

As I meditate and write about this, I feel frustration and anger as a tightness in my chest. I see my own powerlessness to help him, I don't have words to describe how I sobered up, I can share my own experience, how the 12 steps brought me to a journey of sobriety, but I cannot have expectations that if he would do precisely as I did he would sober up.

My own experience shows me that recovery is cyclic. How many times did I vow to stop drinking, stop porning, only to find myself right back in the midst of activity that brought me unhappiness. It was only when I came to a place of great emotional pain that I became willing to do whatever it takes to get sober and stay sober. Someone said, "Life isn't meant to hurt you but you get what you need to grow."

I am grateful for the roll that pain and suffering has taken to bring me to sobriety. I have gratitude that there were men and women willing to share their stories with me, stories that guided me in my journey. They helped me to see the cages I had built and trapped myself in, showed me how to dismantle those barriers and start my life a new. How life is a journey, not a goal. The happiness is not a constant state, but comes and goes. That resentments kill, that I should look for my own part in them, for would I rather be happy or right? That reaching out to help others is the best way to help myself. That surrendering to a power greater than myself is a path to freedom.

In regards to a Higher Power, an old timer once told me that there there are two things I need to know. That God is and I ain't.

I will continue to spend time with this fellow, and if I don't feel compassion from the centre of my being, then I will fake it. I only have my hope and experience to offer. That and a listening ear.

On page 67 of the Big Book:

Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, "This is a sick man. How can I be helpful to him? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done."

We avoid retaliation or argument. We wouldn't treat sick people that way. If we do, we destroy our chance of being helpful. We cannot be helpful to all people, but at least God will show us how to take a kindly and tolerant view of each and every one.


Annette said...

Seeing our own part is such a process. It is so hard to look at our own stuff when being right has been so important for so long. Our very sense of worth comes from being right when we are stuck in that place. In time though, many of us eventually are able to muster up enough courage to look at the reality...and the reality is that we have created our own worst nightmare on so many levels. That is when we become broken and are able to surrender our will to our takes a while, but when it happens it is the real deal and it will be his forever. What a good friend you are. I'm glad he has you by his side...listening and sharing your experience.

Grace-WorkinProgress said...

We are powerless over our own progress sometimes and it amazes me that I still think I can do something to move someone else along. I think about how many times I have been stuck and denied the truth that was right in front of me. This is compassion seeing myself in another and being willing to wait until they are ready to move forward. This is when working my own program means being patient. At least I can be greatful I am not where they are.

Syd said...

I am glad that you are a friend to him. He will learn from you and you will learn from him. Discarding others because they don't meet my expectations is not in God's plan these days.