Today, I came across a quotation in one of my daily readings that struck me as a beautiful way of describing the freedom from addiction and self-centered constraints available through the Twelve Step spiritual recovery programs (Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the like):

“Be like the bird that, passing on her flight awhile on boughs too slight, feels them give way beneath her, and yet sings, knowing that she hath wings.”—Victor Hugo

Initially, use of alcohol or other drugs seems to offer freedom from, among other things, fear and other self-centered feelings, escape from the bonds of misery caused by awful circumstances, and solace for emotional pain. For individuals whose drug or alcohol use progresses to addiction, use of these substances results in the opposite of freedom. Addicted individuals have lost their ability to make healthy choices for themselves or those around them; their primary motivation for action, in fact, their reason for being, is to satisfy the insatiable demands of their addiction through use of their substances. The freedom from fear, escape from misery, and relief of pain initially experienced through alcohol or other drugs are now in addiction no longer available. Indeed, addictive disease enslaves those suffering from it.

Recovery using the spiritual principles embodied in the Twelve Steps will provide the individual suffering from the disease of addiction not only freedom from the need to drink or drug, but also, as stated in the preceding paragraph, freedom from "…fear and other self-centered feelings, escape from the bonds of misery caused by awful circumstances, and solace for emotional pain…" The Basic Text of Alcoholics Anonymous states that those who recover using the spiritual principles in the Twelve Step Programs will " … know a new freedom and a new happiness."

In my experience, developing a relationship with a source of spiritual strength creates the ability for one to say, and mean it, that"fundamentally all is well"even though life's realities may take away all that is important to one. Or, as Victor Hugo said in the quotation, above, even though the bough may give way, the bird will sing knowing she has wings. Those in recovery have spiritual wings to lift them up and support them no matter what life may bring.

As always comments are invited. Jan Edward Williams,, 10/13/2014.

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