“Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become” – Reinhold Neibur
I’m not a Buddhist, but I deeply appreciate something a Buddhist monk recently said: “Some people panic at things being out of control. However, we can also choose to be with things being out of control.”
It’s obvious the coronavirus pandemic has thrown an unprecedented set of challenges into the mix of all of our lives. Seemingly every facet of life is being affected by the recent changes we’re all being asked, if not required, to make. However, the key word here, I think, is “seemingly.”
Because if you are in recovery—be it in a treatment center, involved in a professionals health program, in an alcohol or drug rehab of any sort, or attend a 12 Steps fellowship—you have learned from your own experience that addiction is “cunning, baffling and powerful,” and needs to be effectively treated consistently, i.e., on a daily basis. And this means whatever recovery routine or protocol you are doing needs to stay in place while this pandemic is being addressed by you, by those around you, by your local community, by health and governmental agencies, by literally everyone.
You see, the professional staff, counselors and therapists associated with every addiction treatment program in the country, as well as any experienced, caring 12 Steps sponsor, will certainly continue to tell you the same message they’ve been sharing with you, make the same suggestions and stand by the same policies, procedures and protocols that have worked for countless alcoholics and addicts seeking recovery in the past. Your “job”—during this coronavirus pandemic—is to simply continue going forward, putting one foot in front of the other, doing the same recovery program you’ve been doing, following the same suggestions or program protocols you’ve been given, without creating or harboring any undue resistance, rebellion or distractions for yourself or others just because there is a “new situation” at hand.
Here’s another way of saying the same thing: Given you’ve been engaged in a program of recovery from addiction, one in which you have not only “been involved” for days, weeks, months or years, but have also put in much effort, energy, commitment and dedication, the rapid emergence of widespread changes in the world around you due to the coronavirus pandemic do not justify your suddenly questioning, resisting or rejecting the foundation you’ve been developing for a new life, free of the obsession and compulsion to drink or use drugs.
Instead, recognize that it would serve your recovery best to recall, practice and adhere to the spiritual principles you’ve learned in recovery, acknowledging that “they work when you work them.”
Here are two concrete examples, both of which seem particularly relevant to the choices we in recovery are all facing:
- adaptability (e.g., we make the adjustments we need to in order to preserve our health and well-being, including doing “social distancing” whenever necessary)
- faith (e.g., trusting the process of recovery we’re in will lead us forward toward greater sanity of mind and serenity of heart).
We are actually no different than everyone else in the world, because we all have choices to make about how we address the coronavirus pandemic. In recovery, though – whether in lockdown at a treatment center or in lockdown “on the outside” — we are being called upon to make choices, each moment, about how we address our daily recovery regimen: do we adhere to our commitments and the requirements of the program that we know will help us heal, grow and live in freedom, one day at a time? Or do we “panic” in some way?
Your sanity and serenity and health will be affected, one way or the other, by the choices you make. Therefore, choose wisely. Choose to “be with” things being out of control, and you will very likely be much healthier and happier as a result.