Step Eleven of Chronic Pain Anonymous – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

From earliest memory, I had sought God when trounced by pain and obsessive chatter: its frequency soothed scrapes with sidewalks or with others, squinched tears when Mother braided my thick hair, afforded comfort when ignored, and accepted my version of what had happened. God had become my refuge in daily storms filled with unrelieved turmoil.

In an earlier recovery program Step Eleven seemed like a good friend. I did know about prayer and meditation. For decades, such exercises, together with directed retreats, had maintained some kind of contact with God. Yet, chronic pain and illness entrapped me within bondage that blocked authentic guidance from God. In a sense, I became god, another source of irritation when around others; to them, it felt like arrogance.

What changed this scenario was study of the rest of CPA’s Step Eleven with my sponsor. The words conscious contact jolted me—it required silencing the inner turmoil, stepping outside my fantasy world, and listening, deeply, for responses from this God. In Step Three, I had already formulated Him, as I had understood Him. Now it was about praying only for knowledge of His will…and the power to carry that out.

Because such practices resulted in harmonious living with others, my prayer had to become other-focused, even asking God for awareness of my character defects lest they harm others during each twenty-fours allotted us. Such practice also throttled fear whenever it nibbled upon my resolve to live fully with my terminal illness, despite its symptoms and need for more care.

Step Twelve would frame such practices within the joy of living.