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Since its 2004 inception in Baltimore, Maryland, Chronic Pain Anonymous has offered a heartening response to sufferers around the world who embrace the gentle discipline of 12-Step recovery. Social media and word of mouth spread this spiritual approach to the afflicted, often shunted from one doctor or health care practitioner to another. Experience subsequently led to the inclusion of chronic illness as it, too, exacerbates mental, emotional, and spiritual disorders that worsen physical pain.

Fifteen years have passed, with anonymous members reflecting upon their cumulative knowledge; from these efforts emerged Recipe for Recovery – A Guide to the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous. Its founder Dale L. articulated its premise to read: “…based upon faith, humility, and the ability to turn over problems of our life to a greater power, without trying to control or direct the outcome.”

This guidebook is necessarily slim to accommodate the limited energies of its readers. The recipe motif works well: a list of Ingredients (virtues) critical to working each Step opens each chapter, followed by the Description (photo of the desired product), the Directions (the work involved) followed by Questions (to be written), and What It Looks Like (members’ practice of the Step). Of necessity, the words are sparse, though not without affording a spiritual wallop.

Daily meetings, via phone, Skype, and Zoom continue forging this spiritual fellowship through which Higher Power transforms psyches: Life is still full, despite physical affliction.

A member since September 2017, I depend upon this gentle discipline, underscored by daily phone contact with my sponsor. Within each twenty-four hours, I remain largely content as I wait out my time.

 

 

Listening relaxes strangleholds that impound change within padlocked barriers.

Listening steels resolve to accept the unacceptable, with its terror of the unknown.

Listening encourages taking the next step wherever it leads, up or down, anywhere.

Listening eases raspy breaths until the next treatment, with the expulsion of fluids.

 

Listening stills the gibberish wheel whirling nonessentials into crazed perceptions.

Listening staunches imperatives that impound choices within sticky globs of paste.

Listening softens the jagged edges of anger intent upon maiming, grousing, lying.

Listening defuses pompous pretending like pricking helium balloons tied to gates.

 

Listening twizzles cacophony into harmonious rhythms that brilliance moods.

Listening unearths flickering images signaling critical change in the night sky.

Listening greens hope that hides out in recesses of stuffed closets and drawers.

Listening waters parched arroyos with decades of insect and animal detritus.

 

Listening enhances words that vibrate like dulcimers along mountain streams.

Listening teases shimmering pastels that titter in sunshine-drenched mornings.

Listening patches potholes of isolation and ignorance with significant connections.

Listening burgeons whispered prayer like striped camellia blossoms in full flower.

 

 

Such listening fosters obedience of the heart, authentic living, and growth in His likeness.

“Remember to scoop your abdomen and purse your lips when you exhale,” my Pilates coach said, her voice supportive and encouraging. Again, I concentrated as my bare feet pushed the bar forward on the reformer, moving the padded carriage upon which I was lying. Still, I could not visualize my breath enhancing my movements. My mind was split off from my body, my cheeks flushed, my breathing shallow.

It was September 2001, my third lesson in her studio. Balance issues had led me to seek her guidance. Walking across grass or uneven surfaces had become hazardous, and my usual exercises did not help.

“You’re doing very well, Liz,” she said drawing me a cup of water from the cooler. “It takes a while to get the knack of this—Pilates is different from your workouts in physical therapy: gentler, a slower more effective toning of the body. You’ll see.”

She was right. That winter’s wetness did not prevent long walks up and down the hills in my neighborhood as strength coursed through my body.

But over the years more than coaching was offered me. She loaned books on anatomy for my review, recommended supplements, shared spiritual insights, channeled the world around me, even supplied my needs when hospitalized—all with lightness of Spirit hiding out in the next breath.

She still serves, despite chronic illnesses kept at bay with Pilates and research into healing modalities. A wounded healer, she’s touched me deeply and still does.

 

 

Her name is Mary.

Available on Amazon

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