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Another night of psychic distress roused me. No dream snippets clued my sense of what was amiss, especially since yesterday’s puttering around had gone so well—even had my teeth cleaned. I was clearly in Step I: “We admitted we were powerless over terminal illness—that our lives had become unmanageable.” Yet, I preferred my comforter’s warmth to my chilled study and meditation with Recipe for Recovery. Hours limped by. Dawn light finally sulked like spent embers.

Bleary-eyed, I sat in my prayer chair, turned to the Ingredients of Step I, and mulled over “Accepting the Unacceptable.” Often, I had begun my day with this practice, one that countered the denial of my mortality and opened me to bliss on other side of my diminishment, however it played out. But this morning was different—my insides were raw as if scraped clean by a scalpel.

I groused, mindful of conscious efforts to live fully in the present moment, the locus of grace, as I thought I had done the day before. How was I to move toward acceptance of my terminal illness as practiced in CPA? What was I to learn? More daylight filtered through the blinds. I waited, listened to my breathing: inhaling, exhaling. I began to relax, wiggle my toes.

Then it happened—I fell prostrate before the God of my understanding, the source of last night’s distress. Anther lesson in humility was underway and I knew it. Beneath my façade of contentment still lurked control, albeit limited, of my homebound world. Without the support of oxygen and Dexamethasone, my symptoms would level me.

 

 

 

Again, I accepted my ultimate lack of control over my terminal illness, until the next rupture and lesson. I’m not humble.

Totally relaxed, I awoke with this dream:

After a long time I complete an arduous task. Others have helped me. The sky is jubilant with light.

 I turn over onto my back, blinking hard at the ceiling. Such joy baffles me. The first morning of creation must have felt like this: fresh, colorful, whole, energized. I am loath to clamber into another day of living with terminal illness, preferring, instead, to luxuriate beneath my flannel sheets and comforter. Yet, I must and I do.

The dream suggests one of profound affirmation. Its task took everything in me to complete and would not have happened without others’ willingness to lend a hand. I sense that my daily practice of CPA plays into this task, given the support that I receive in this spiritual fellowship from others thriving with chronic pain and illness.

But more to the point—yesterday’s completion of the moral inventory with my sponsor—Step V—has left me light as a feather.

Indeed, I am a new creation.

 

My dawn prayer continues.

Terminal illness feels like a run-away train hurtling down a trestle toward a narrow tunnel; its wheels spark emotional and spiritual negatives for which there are no words. Such corresponds to my experience of unmanageability noted in Step I; its angst prods me toward the solution: Step II—Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.

Yet, the dregs of the rough night still sour my faith and straightjacket my willingness to believe. I sit quietly and listen, breathing in Spirit. Minutes morph into yesterday’s CPA meeting: courage, humility, honesty threaded within the members’ sharing. I sit straight in my wingback chair. Again, it’s beginning to work: the stinking thinking in my psyche breaks apart and reveals a Power greater than I could ever imagine.

Like a persistent lover, this Power changes often as our relationship deepens. Such keeps this exercise fresh.

Then, buoyed by faith, my terminal illness comes front and center, no longer breaking up like the run-away train in the dead of night. Life on life’s terms, CPA reminds me: dying is integral to living. No exceptions.

Dr. Singh also speaks of death as an arduous process that must be passed through in order to actualize the full measure of our humanness. Practice of Step II helps allay pitfalls and restores conscious contact with Higher Power, without whom I flounder.

Then my dawn prayer moves me into Step III and deeper surrender.

 

 

 

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