“The Most Massive Characters are Seared with Scars” – Khalil Gibran
I attended an Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) meeting recently, as a guest. In my role as a therapist, I wanted to experience this. I certainly was not prepared for how life-changing their hope and strength was going to be for me, personally. The meeting fluctuated from fun and irreverent, to moments of vulnerable unveilings of the raw truth of their journey. There were 19 people there and often they have more. All ages and types of people attended. Anyone can be an alcoholic.
Many of the members suggested it helped them to “play the tape all the way through in their head.” They mentioned that the tape has to continue playing past the first drink, to the end of the episode and the consequences that happened afterwards. Many spoke of their times in jail, waking up in some strange person’s bed, losing multiple marriages, losing relationships with their children, losing money, losing jobs, and most importantly, losing themselves due to drinking. It is that loss of self, of not being present in their life and losing all those years, that keeps them working the steps day by day. This sense of finding themselves, spiritually, and being present and alive is what they want to preserve. Don’t we all?
Experiencing these meetings is tremendously important to alcoholics in recovery. They live their spirituality in ways we often forget on a daily basis. It is their life raft. It provides the structure of a safe container to rest in when the chaos of life becomes overwhelming. We would do well to remember to be that intentional in how we live our own lives. I saw how their loss led them to an authentic place that was real and raw. Pretense was a luxury ill-afforded by those who have walked in their shoes. As one woman stated “My first drink at 16 escalated into a black out. My last drink at age 40 was cologne.” Being our true authentic self comes out of our biggest scars and deepest wounds. Kahlil Gibran said, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” I believe that, which is why I hold a place of healing and hope for my clients when they can’t hold it for themselves. Are you holding a place of hope and healing for your own possibilities?
Lynée Durham, MA