In their meetings, AA and NA members often offer thoughts and prayers for those addicts who are still “sick and suffering”.
It is a powerful reminder for many of what they have come from and come through and what they don’t want to go back to.
I had – by coincidence – some reminders of that today. First, I was towards the end of my run when I passed a very large man coming out of the pizza joint near my workplace. Even though I had my headphones on, I could hear how hard he was breathing. He had a pizza box and a large soda and he just GLARED at me when I ran by. He was a grey color and waddled along with difficulty.
Because I am a terrible person, my first thought about him was very judgmental. And then – almost immediately – I wondered if - when I was fat and frequented that very pizza joint - I ever glared at a particularly thin or fit person I passed.
And then I remembered how I felt back then. When every step was painful. When clothing was always too tight and horrifically uncomfortable. When walking short distances made me pant like a Basset Hound. When I felt guilt and shame for my eating choices but ate them anyway.
And I thought that this man was sick and suffering and even though I could not stop and “fix” him, I could offer thoughts of compassion, not judgment.
Later in the day, it came to my attention that someone that I know – who has a terrible problem with alcohol – was in the midst of a crisis and was angry at and fighting the people who were genuinely trying to help. Out of shame and/or denial.
And I felt for this person who is clearly still horribly sick and suffering but not yet ready to surrender. The pain I know that this person was feeling – even while lashing out – is almost tangible to me.
So as I reflected on this on my drive home – these 2 people from presumably different worlds – who came to my attention today I tried to realize what I am grateful for.
I have an addiction that I have not gotten complete control of yet. It still is ever present. And some days it wins.
But I am lucky that, for the most part, I am not someone who is still sick and suffering. I am reasonably fit. I can run and play and enjoy life more moments then not. My addiction no longer threatens my health on an everyday basis. I am not at risk of losing my family or career over this addiction.
So, as you guys know, I don’t pray. But I offer my positive thoughts to the 2 I brought up, as well as everyone else who is sick and suffering tonight. Because I KNOW – with absolute certainty, that is CAN get better. I know because I have been there and emerged – not perfect – but better. So much better…