Clarity in Chaos - by Caitlin Meath
Updated: Mar 25, 2020
March 22, 2020
When we associate feelings with the label “COVID-19”, I hear a lot of fear, worry, discontentment, anxiety and annoyance. I am almost all talked out of these particular states of feeling, but I also know from experience that the more we talk about our displeasures - however horrific or not they may be, the more likely we are to put these burdens to rest even for the next hour. My aim in this brief reflection is to not only keep it on the “I”, but to also provide a bit of stability and to shed some light on a rather incomprehensible virus which has made itself known on a global platform.
As a woman in sustained recovery, maintaining some semblance of normalcy and serenity has proven more critical than ever. So, what does that mean for me? It’s simple, the application on a vigilant and consistent basis asks me to get right back down to basics and that has proven to be a gift. Imagine that, a gift is found amidst a global cry of hysteria and worry. When was getting back to basics ever a “bad” thing for any of us? If anything, this may be just the thing I need. I know what works for me so there is no need to reinvent the wheel so to speak, but here I am called to delve into some trust for the program I have been active in and some trust in the process. Maintaining a relationship with my Higher Power is first and foremost. I continue, each morning, to make it my mission to connect with this power greater than myself and to sincerely ask my Higher Power to show me through the course of my day how I can humbly set out to do His will for me, not mine. I ask to be shown which direction to take when I am most in doubt or confusion. God asks me to be gentle with myself, especially during a time in which so little is within my control. This experience has also put more into perspective for me in terms of the truth behind control, when do I truly have much control? Let’s be real. He asks that I be of service to my friends and neighbors whenever possible, but not to set myself on fire to help another. My heart, soul, brain, body and wellness are under God’s direct care but also require some action on my part to further nurture; it is my responsibility to maintain my personal recovery.
I am mindful, too, that substance use disorder manifests itself in different forms. Alcohol and drug use are but symptoms of an illness which wants me dead but will certainly settle for me living a life of pure demoralization and suffering. Even during a pandemic, I do not need to suffer, this is not my calling. If anything, I am blessed to have been provided the foundation I now live by and to have a set of spiritual principles to utilize. As I previously mentioned, it struck me just how much is out of my control and therefore how much humility and acceptance truly mean to me. I used to practice these principles, to the best of my ability, because that is what I was told works. Today, through the COVID-19 pandemic, I have learned just how much these principles not only work, but how much I personally value them. I was also reflecting how when I look back on the history of my life, it is the moments I recall most. Not the dates, not the times, not even necessarily the people but the moments of love, sadness, glee and more! I choose and vow to make my life filled with moments which are directed by a universal power greater than us all, to fully give myself in a way of present awareness to each moment of my life today.
In recovery, we are taught to lean on each other in times of doubt and worry. Well, thanks to modern technology, I am blessed to be able to get creative with recovery. I have utilized ZOOM meetings online since AA meetings are no longer meeting until further notice in the physical sense. Although this is not what I really like, solely because it is not what I am used to and let’s be honest change is not something I enjoy adjusting to, I am still able to see the faces of all the people I know and respect. More than anything, I am still able to hear the message which I so deeply need to hear. My heart swells knowing that the fellows I have met in AA wasted no time in putting together virtual meeting spaces for those of us who have come to value such meetings. I have also thrown myself into listening to speaker tapes which are phenomenal, as well as putting pen to paper again in constructing fear inventories and mini 4th step inventories. I believe in my heart that we are called to live lives which are happy, joyous and free. The Big Book talks about being rocketed into a 4th dimension of existence; that does not halt or evaporate because times are a bit rough and unknown presently. I have been picking up the phone and having direct contact with my Sponsor that way. She is a wonderful woman who I greatly admire and respect, so hearing that she too is finding some difficulties while navigating life currently helps to reiterate that relatability factor. I must remember that self-reliance never got me too far in the past, so it will not in this situation either. I know this about myself, the causes and conditions of why I do what I do. I know that shame and fear run rampant in my daily life, pandemic or not, this is important for me to be aware of. I am cautious to not let fear and shame be the tools in which I make my decisions or to tell me as a false belief that I am not whole. I have a God sized hole which can only be filled with the guidance of a force greater than me. Some people may view that force to be a group of recovering alcoholics, it could be their church or so many other personalized notions of a higher power.
My eight-year-old daughter is out of school currently. I would say my fears catapulted into a new realm of panic when I heard schools were closing. To me this would mean I would need to navigate her direct care, while my place of employment is still functioning. I had no clue how, as a single mother, I was going to manage this one. I am here to tell you that I found a way. That is not to say this has been particularly easy as of late: I know almost every cat video you can possibly imagine on YouTube, I have played scrabble more times than I can count and I am not sure if any child can trump my daughter in the amount of times one uses the word “Mom” in a 24 hour period. When I made a call to my sponsor, my daughter was right next to me and when I was attending an online meeting, she was laying on me. I could go around saying “I’m fine, I’m fine”, but frankly, I am frazzled! You are not alone! I have already made at least two amends to my daughter for responding with a short temper. That’s the thing, I am human. Period. I am actively showing my daughter that life on life’s terms is not always a sweet ride, but we stick together no matter what and when a mess is made, we clean it up, to the tune of apologies and forgiveness. We always find a way and when we do not know the way, we pray and ask for some help. It sounds simple, but speaking for myself, there are many factors which cause us to not reach out for help and further allows barriers to stay rigidly in place. Often, surrendering to a process which is again, outside of us, tends to move mountains which we never fathomed could shift. Many of my personal barriers look something like this: “I should have this handled”, “Why am I complaining, I have so much to be grateful for”, “I don’t want to bother others at a time like this”. While there may be aspects of these beliefs that offer some validity, there is a lot of ego in those comments alone, which keeps me further emotionally isolated from others who can offer a sense of unity.
I have needed to distance myself from the news somewhat and do not allow myself to be taken on journeys of futuristic ‘what ifs’ from others, knowing where to draw a boundary regarding what is helpful right now. I keep it in the day and I remain true to myself (while taking the precautions that those with the factual knowledge can provide). One of the most fulfilling ways I have been blessed with seeing God’s will play out, is through working with another alcoholic because at the end of the day, none of this is about me specifically. It is important that I offer my service to others and remain dedicated to turning my will over. I pray everyone can maintain some calm right now, that you are able to remember this is temporary and maybe see this as an opportunity versus a limitation. Be well!