French impressionist painter Pierre Auguste Renoir is recognized as one of the greatest and most independent painters of his period. During the last 20 years of his life Renoir was crippled by arthritis; unable to move his hands freely. He continued to paint, however, by using a brush strapped to his arm. Asked why he continued working with twisted and cramped his hands, he answered, "The pain passes, but the beauty remains".
So it is with recovery. The inner addict holds to only one value; that is comfort. All that interferes with the goal of comfort, the inner addict discards. There is pain when a person moves into recovery. The pain may include withdrawal, the shock of recognizing that years have been wasted, others hurt, possibility misused. Sometimes the pain comes from terrible social and economic consequences. The pain comes from the deep shame. The temptation to continue or resume the addiction can be tremendous.
Values are the compass of recovery. Truth, compassion, faith, justice, fairness, growth, creativity, love, responsibility, connectedness. Rare is the person who does not hold these or other values deeply. The work is to let go of the addictive behaviors. These only serve to avoid or reduce pain. The recovering person must accept the pain. Having accepted the pain, the way is then simple but not easy; act in accord with your values. Tell the truth when doing so will frighten you. View others as valuable beings that must not be exploited. Think decisions through, carefully considering the impact on yourself and on others. Sometime that comes down do doing these things one day, one hour, one minute at a time. Some recovering people think of this process as "doing the next right thing". Examine what you think and feel. Assess the resources at your disposal. Ask yourself, "What is the next right thing for me to do.". That may be leaving a dangerous situation, calling a friend or your sponsor, taking a walk or a warm bath, reading recovery or spiritual books, writing in your journal, eating healthy food. When you have the compass of your values clearly in mind, the way will come clear and you will stay on or near the path. Do not despair in moments when you cannot see the face of the compass. With patience and purpose, the way will become clear.
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