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Easing the Journey Through Shadow & Light

  • Dawn

Practicing Ease: Only Your Own

Back in the day, I spent a lot of time in 12 Step groups--which can be wonderful places to recover from the vagaries of growing up in a well-meaning but flawed and sometimes very difficult family. I learned many new and very helpful concepts, often presented in the simple--some people might say simplistic--form of slogans. Like:

  • Live and let live.

  • One day at a time.

  • Let go and let God.

  • Easy does it.

  • Keep it simple.

  • Detach with love.

Simplistic? Perhaps. There are thousands of self-help books out there that are much more nuanced or complex, often very well written, certainly well-intended, with diagrams, multiple case histories, well thought out processes and well articulated arguments. I expect many of them have helped many people.

But when I am feeling stressed, or when the backwash of old trauma brings on anxiety, depression, guilt or shame, those wonderful books rarely work for me. I need something very direct and very simple to penetrate into and re-direct my poor beleaguered brain.

I've found that frequent repetition of those very simple slogans often reaches into the middle of that neural cacophony, offering new pathways for my thoughts--a blessed relief when nothing else seems to help.

Detachment was a particularly difficult concept for me to get. Still is sometimes. Apparently, children of alcoholics (and other addicts) tend to think "if anything goes wrong anywhere it is somehow my fault." It is an absurd conclusion, one that any rational adult could easily analyze and dismiss. Nonetheless it can remain a haunting, un-worded undercurrent where boundaries have been repeatedly broken or where blame has been cast onto others, consciously or unconsciously, by an addict, in an attempt to deal with the often major guilt that many addicts carry regarding how they are living their lives and how they are treating others.

While some of the baggage I carry is not my fault, I do need to take an honest look at myself--a fourth step, or personal inventory, as they call it in twelve step groups--and admit where I do have responsibility or when, in fact, I have hurt someone else. Some stuff is mine. Some is not.

And then there's all the good stuff. The talents and hopes and dreams. The accomplishments and kindnesses. The successes, even the failures. The affections and specialties. The idiosyncrasies. The thumbprints. I need to claim ownership of all that too.

A few years ago I came across the following in an inspirational daily reader: "Detachment is the freedom to own what is mine and allow others to own what is theirs."

Oh! A light went on.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce a new slogan, which combines the concepts of live and let live, detach with love, let go and let God, and easy does it. One simple phrase made up of seven words, none of them longer than four letters:

Own your own and only your own.

Ponder that. Roll it over in your mind. See if it works for you.

May it bring you some ease.

Until next time,


Photo credits:

Steps, Janko Ferlic, unSplash

Friends, Simon Wood, unSplash


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