[t]he essence of compassion lies in recognizing how hard it is to be good. To forgive someone is to let him be free, even if he abuses that freedom beyond expression.
Deepak Chopra, M.D., Quantum Healing: Exploring the Frontiers of Mind/Body Medicine
I read the above quote while reading the Deepak Chopra book for my own health issues. I was surprised to see this offhand quote about addiction (he used to treat advanced-staged alcoholics at the VA who he’d then watch run across the street to the bar after getting their liver or pancreatic function revived). In the past, I would have just read right over that sentence because I somehow felt that my own addicts wrongs were personal; directed against me. That if they loved me enough, they wouldn’t do hurtful things. At the very least, they wouldn’t continue to drink.
When I first attended Al-Anon, I expected to (and tried to) share all of my war stories from the trenches of my life with alcoholics; recounting all the many ways these alcoholics had disappointed and hurt me. I imagined that the Al-Anon members would join my pity party and agree that, yes, I’d been wronged. Yes, I was a victim. But that’s not what is happening at all. The other members have compassion for my alcoholics as they have compassion for all who are affected by this disease–including me. They gently (subtly) help me to stop focusing on my alcoholics, and instead start to focus on me. And maybe all I needed was permission to treat myself with compassion. When I do so, it’s a whole lot easier to treat my addicts with compassion.
I think the key is that I finally accepted that alcoholism is a disease and thus, I can finally see how powerless I am over it. I am beginning to release my clenched fists and open my palms to the sky, allowing God to take control; allowing peace to enter.