September 20

FREEDOM MONTH: DAY 20: “Freedom is what we do with what is done to us.”― Jean-Paul Sartre

I really like this quote. New one for me. And it is the best one for this step, at least in my experience of Step 9.

Many of the people I harmed had also done harm to me. I cannot remember a functional relationship in my life before recovery. Did not have them. Did not know how. Could not do it even if I knew.

So my amends were also to people with whom I had ongoing damage that went both ways. That is a real challenge for many of us. However, Step 4 gave me a guideline for what is and is not my part in the problems. That is what I can clean up in Step 9.

Then I get to work through the things that were damaging to me. I was a perpetual victim, full of rage and shame. That began to soften as I saw how much damage I had inflicted myself and how I began to shift my view of the damage others had also done. I heard it in meetings and began to see that there was not a lot of intent on anyone’s part just to f—k with me. That others were drunks or druggies just like me. After all, why would I be with any other kind of people?

So I got to learn to reframe my life in ways that were less victimization and more powerful for me. It was always true that I was fierce and independent and strong. Those qualities happen to a person when they live with abuse. They learn to either become extremely resilient or they die. I was very resilient, a true survivor. Oh!

So that was the first gift I recognized. Then I saw how brilliant and creative some of my devices were for coping and surviving situations that were less than nurturing, to say the least. And I was grateful that I was taught by those experiences to think creatively and outside the box. And that was freeing. The more recovery work I do and the longer I stay in this process, the more wonderful it is to see what I thought was “done TO me” truly has always been what was “done FOR me.” Thank you so much!

Published by: Kelly

I am a therapist and counselor with long-term recovery from addictions and personal trauma. My writing reflects these experiences and the road I have traveled in 12-Step recovery settings, along with the work I have done for over 30 years in the field. My love of dolphins includes the stories of them being healers in places all over the world. I long to offer every broken spirit and body the experience of a healing hug. May my words and stories inform, uplift and delight your spirit and soothe your weary heart.

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