Addiction, NA, Narcotics Anonymous, Recovery, Spiritual Principles, Twelve Steps

Compassion For Me

It’s a little after 4:00 in the morning, unusually early for me to be up. We just had the time change, where we “Fall back,” turning the clocks back one hour to compensate for the shortened days. So, my internal clock began telling me it was time to rise and shine one hour earlier than usual.

I don’t mind being up early at all. Though there is still the occasional sound of traffic, for the most part, what I hear is mainly the rustling of leaves on the trees as they blow in this morning’s breeze. It is almost like the sound of water as it breaks onto a beach. Very calm and peaceful. Serene even.

Of course then there is the cold temperature. It’s only 48° out here on my balcony this morning. My heavy robe and fleece-lined slippers are a true necessity out here. Not that I mind, not even a little. I know that my days out here are numbered. Soon the sound of leaves rustling will fade, and it will just be cold. Too cold to sit in my cozy spot out here.

When I drew compassion this morning as my spiritual principle, I wasn’t sure what to write. Rather than waiting for an inspirational story to come to mind, I felt the prompting to just write. Write about what was just happening. Write about the couple having a “too-loud” conversation just below our apartment. Write about the neighbor who just got home from work after an overnight shift. Write about myself, and the effect this morning routine has on my life.

Finding compassion for myself and for others is getting easier with each passing day in recovery. As my mindfulness increases, I’m able to take a step back and analyze a situation. Bring it into perspective, and address any issues that require attention.

Last night is an example of such an opportunity. Shaun has just returned home from a weekend visit to his grandparents, and shared with us that his phone had been an issue during his weekend with them. Apparently he was ignoring them in favor of playing on his phone. Amanda and I both over-reacted to the situation, and told him that he needed to learn to put his phone down and be a part of his surroundings.

So, as is easy to do, we over-reacted, demanding that he set his phone aside for the remainder of the evening. It didn’t take long for us to realize we had blown it. Amanda was the first to recognize our mistake. Sending Shaun to his room for a moment gave us time to discuss our plan. We then called him out to the living room and proceeded to apologize to him for over-reacting.

An amazing thing happened at that moment. Shaun apologized for his role in the situation too. We were all able to forgive and move on. Our night was not ruined. There was no division among us. Instead, a spirit of unity and love returned to our home.

I know this example sounds simple and sensible. However, there was a time, not so long ago, when acting with such compassion would have seemed impossible. My need to be right in a situation trumped compassion on a regular basis.

So, what has made the difference in my life? From whence cometh this newfound compassion?

The simple answer is that it comes from the Narcotics Anonymous program. From working the steps. From being guided by spiritual principles. That’s the easy answer. Yet it is an answer that is way too simple. It’s an answer that could easily mislead.

The truth is, my compassion, or any other spiritually principled act on my part, comes from this time. My time spent each day, asking God for guidance, and listing for a reply. Time spent meditating and writing. It’s my daily investment in myself and in my recovery.

It comes from taking time to hear the rustle of leaves in the distance. The sound of neighbors talking. Of traffic passing by. Even the willingness to be a little cold on a crisp November morning.

This past Saturday night at my home group, a member shared about how her disease still tries to get the best of her. She shared that even with “a little clean time,” her disease tries to convince her that she’s not worthy of the life she lives. Her words reminded me that this thing called recovery is not a short-term fix. Rather, it is a life-long commitment.

At the end of that meeting, when key tags were handed out for various lengths of clean time, this friend stood to receive her black key tag for multiple years. She was celebrating thirty years of clean time!

For thirty years she has been working her program. For thirty years she has been doing the next right thing. For thirty years, she has shown herself compassion, insisting that recovery be given priority in her life.

I cannot say how long I’ll keep up this morning routine. It would be silly for me to commit to any amount of time. What I do know is that for today, this routine works for me. It provides me with the kind of fresh start my day needs in order to be productive and full of joy. So, for today, I’ll continue to show myself compassion. It has already begun. I pray it will continue.

Have a remarkable day!

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