We’ve heard that necessity is the mother of invention and that change emerges when you can’t keep doing something the same way. Mental balance is sometimes that necessity. Positive change and acceptance are more than just talking and coping. It’s not necessarily as complicated as it sounds. Change in context to acceptance is powerful and it takes courage to break through the destructive patterns that are in the way. Change is born of courage. Acceptance is what we give something we know we are powerless with. Wisdom is knowing that difference. In a nut shell, that’s the serenity prayer. It has served those impacted by the actions of an addict as much as it has any addict.
In a 2007 film about addiction, Things We Lost in The Fire, Benicio Del Toro plays a heroin addict so convincingly you might think you’re right there feeling acceptance and compassion for his struggle. It works both ways. The film shows an innocent side to addiction as a disease and the miracle of compassion that is attracted when courage and acceptance meet. After years of shooting heroin, Jerry (Del Toro) endures a brutal detox in the home of his best friend’s widow, Audrey (Halle Berry). What you see, is how much courage and acceptance it takes for an addict and those around him to see life as it is and contrast it to what it can be. The message flows in all directions. Acceptance is the key to making a choice to change because, in the face of many of the things we would like to transform, we find that that we are powerless. It is like the want of a quick cure in context to the difficult struggle to save a young addict or resuming a “normal” life. Acceptance gets us out of the way of opportunity so a clearing for action is possible. It is not giving up. Acceptance is a baseline for clear mindedness in the wake of discovering a family member suffering from drug addiction. Regardless of what our actions were, most of us knew then as we know now, that reactive and destructive patterns made a problem worse.
Wisdom and introspection can clear up where we have power and where we don’t. Change becomes a possibility when a clearing is seen through the barriers of our destructive patterns. Many American families face the long road of living with the impact of addiction. They know great losses, deaths and tough recoveries. Yet, we can be resolved with all of it. No one helps anyone, including themselves, without remaining balanced. For me change is partly acceptance and partly the courage to keep moving away from old patterns. By sharing the experience of parenting a loved one who fell into the abyss of addiction, I can make a difference to someone struggling to transform coping and anguish into acceptance and action. Co-dependence and addiction is like quicksand. Without courage and some outside help it easily sucks you in deeper. Out of our listening emerges compassion, which is the glue of recovery. Compassion is what comes when one accepts the struggles of another as part of a larger picture in which we all belong. Compassion is ultimately what will make the biggest difference in addressing America’s dark nightmare with drugs.