I used to think spirituality meant finding God in a church or at some ashram yoga retreat. Which for a 24-year-old heroin junkie like me, I had no chance of finding spirituality. While that can happen, and I have had my moments since getting sober in 2009, today for me spirituality is finding love and connection with myself in all of my humanness and seeking a higher good or purpose.
Since I was 12 years old, I was searching for connection using psychedelics, weed, alcohol, MDMA and cocaine as catalysts. I eventually landed in heroin’s arms. Heroin was the biggest place holder for my deep desire for connection. The problem is my life did not get better with heroin. I spent my life chasing evasive highs and evaporating connections. In fact, after any drug wore off, I was more depleted and more disconnected then before.
This idea that spirituality was outside of me was terrifying. This meant that if I wanted to get sober, I would have to join a religion or somehow find something outside of me to satisfy this consistent unease I felt when I stopped using. My journey began when I was broken and open enough to hear something different. I felt it in Jail when I was arrested in 2009 for heroin possession. It was inspiring to hear the women start to sing at night. There was a beautiful sadness to hear them crying out for connection and sharing their deepest wounds in song. I think Jail is sometimes Gods hospital. In AA I heard someone tell the truth about what was going on in their life. I started to crave more.
“Our members have tapped an unsuspected inner resource which they presently identify as Power greater than themselves” page 567 of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Inner resource? This was very unsuspected. In fact, it was hidden and buried under years of shame, toxic relationships, fear of failure, loss of trust and feelings of never being good enough. How was I going to FIND spirituality? Well I don’t. It is not lost. It’s just not cultivated.
There were seeds along my whole life that others had to point out to me. For example, when I was a little girl, I would go out in the morning sun while everyone slept in. I would go sit on the front porch and my eye lids would flood with the orange glow. This was a moment of peace I felt among the chaos of growing up in a home where addiction and disconnection was thick in the air. I didn’t know it then but I was meditating. I was seeking peace in the chaos.
As I began to be open to seeking it was everywhere. It was in the face of the bus driver. It was in the song that played at just the right moment. It was the lesson that came after the heartache. It was in the way the sun shinned through the trees. It was in my sacred salt of tears streaming down my face when I thought the world was ending. It was in the belly laughs I hadn’t felt in years. It was in the feeling of wind in my hair riding my bike. It was in facing my fears and not doing things perfect. It was in the books I was reading. It was in making my bed daily. It was learning how to say an honest “I am sorry” and not crumble. It was in the times where I felt like dying and showed up anyway. It was in the sound of grumbling coffee pot at an AA meeting. It was in the quality of my relationship with me and the world. What was I giving? What was I receiving?
I woke up this morning. I prayed. I asked to be open and curious about the possibilities of the day. I exercised. I made my bed and my son breakfast. I snapped at him for not putting his shoes on fast enough. I apologized for snapping. I texted a friend who is going through a break up and asked her if she wanted some homemade pumpkin pie. I noticed the birds singing in November. I took a deep breath when I hit traffic. I listened, like really listened to my son tell me stories of Godzilla even though my anxiety wanted to focus on the election. I redirected my thoughts. I showed up to work and prayed I could be useful.
I over thought this blog a bit as my anxious mind tends to do but really these moments are spiritual. They are loaded with connection and so much love. We are in constant relationship to self and to the world.
Spirituality is not something to find. It is a daily cultivation, just like any practice. If you want to borrow some ways to tap into your own inner resource, here are some borrowed simple and yet not original ways to plug in:
- Help someone.
- Create something.
- Spend time in nature.
- Challenge your comfort zone.
- Tell the truth (the whole truth).
- Practice gratitude especially when things don’t go as expected.
- Remember you are hum and mistakes are a part of learning.
- Surround yourself with people who inspire you.
- Read something that inspires you.
- Spend time with the older generation and children- hear what they have to say.
- Learn how to say no to yourself and others.
“Where you invest your love you invest your life” Awake My Soul, Mumford and Sons