Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Doing our Work

In the conversations I've been having with Anna, my spiritual director, over the last months, one of her comments has really stuck with me. That giving up sugar and learning to be with and befriend my feelings is my Work. I know she means Work with a capital W.

I believe that each of us comes into this life with some Work to do, some aspect of life to explore and come to understand. Clearly in my life, part of my Work, or perhaps all of it, has to do with addiction. Addiction to work, to sex and unhealthy relationships, to alcohol, to sugar, to anything that can put a buffer between me and my feelings, me and life.

When I stopped drinking in 1989, I didn't have much difficulty accepting responsibility for my alcoholism. While I could have railed at my mother for passing along the genetics or my unfaithful boyfriends for making me jealous and heartsick so that I drank more, none of that rang true with me. I'd had an unnatural relationship with alcohol (and with sugar) nearly all my life. Whatever switch in people says "I've had enough," I didn't get one. Add to that my fears and insecurities, my perhaps limited sense of what was available to me, and full-blown alcoholism was pretty inevitable.

So if I accept that alcoholism is part of my path, then recovery from addiction, from using buffers to not experience life, is my Work. Learning how to befriend my feelings, my fears, my inadequacies, my misperceptions and fully engage in life, how to come into alignment with my true self, not the one that I've pretended was true all this time. This kind of inner work is important work, perhaps the most important. That's what Anna is helping me to see.

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