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At 5 A. M., I awoke with this strong dream:

A bitter controversy rages between my young parents and me about my right to dress my child. Dad speaks in a barely audible tone of voice. I refuse to listen. Later, Mother barges into the room, carrying a folded satin blue outfit and demands I put it on my child. Again, I refuse. She threatens to cut me out of my inheritance if I persist. I take the child and leave.

This strong dream thrilled me with its new developments in my individuation. True, Twelve-Step recovery has afforded me with voice, expressed uniquely in speech and writing. True, I’ve owned my sinfulness, weighted with guilt and shame, but little lightness has resulted. Also true, I’m loathed to express differing opinions, but remain mute when a response is indicated.

The bitter controversy in the dream attests to this change, especially arguing with the young parents, Mother and Dad as I remembered them; symbolically, they represent authority figures responsible for developing the personas of their offspring, or in Jungian terms, clothing them. That Mother intends to force my dressing my child in a blue outfit infuriates me, given the color blue associated with the masculine and my actual mother’s penchant toward this gender; she never actualized her own. And the fabric satin suggests entitlement, another face of pride, in which I grew up.

And leaving behind my inheritance speaks of my resolve to detach even further from the crusted residual in my psyche. There is another way, its dynamics similar to the Twelve Steps but with a light-some outcome: Martha Moloney’s Inner Child Meditations, available through Generation Mindful, a conglomerate of on-line therapists, devoted to Reparenting the Inner Child. It works, like nothing I’ve ever tried.

I wait for words, my note card opened on my table, my pen in hand. Distractions assail me: in my neighbor’s yard hangs the KC Chief’s banner, its bold red and black design flashing in the afternoon sun. I shake free of the team’s fierce determination to trample the Raiders in tomorrow’s game, then adjust my note card and wait for words. They must come.

My friend of long years is ill with double pneumonia, worsened by a blot clot in her lung. Round-the-clock surveillance monitors her condition and keeps her bed-fast. This is just another hospitalization. Others have checkered her life-steps, from all of which she has rebounded, her cheery attitude still sunning others through her continuous practice of acceptance—Even more following a night in her own bed, in quiet environs.

Indeed, she exemplifies Twelve-Step Living, even during these uncertain circumstances; her discovery of the joy of living deepens and teaches us to do likewise. Over and over, we learn that it’s not about us.

In some ways, her hospital stays mirror my own, but with my hospice admission, my return is unlikely.

But enough of this word-game. My note card is still empty, the pen limp in my hand.

I begin, “Dear Judy…”

At 6 A.M., I awoke to a recovery dream:

Alone, I stand at the sink of the industrialized kitchen and scrub platters, bowls, and mugs used by our AA buddies during our pot luck dinner. Our meeting in the theater had preceded this gathering. It is quiet.

Within my psyche, I am alone, characteristic of my behavior, even now, as I prepare for my transition. A venerable priest recently likened me to a hermit mystic, a description that fits my individuation, and one that relieved the pressures of socialization, even in recovery. I was to learn other ways of relating to people, especially through writing and prayer.

My work setting, the industrialized kitchen, suggests the larger-than-life tools for daily use in my psyche: the Twelve Steps of recovery, essential for deep cleaning and restoration. The platters, bowls, and mugs symbolize containers of undigested life experiences, stored away for assimilation another time, but that time never came. In the dream, I had to scrub my psyche of scum, availing myself of Higher Power’s direction. On my own, this was impossible.

The image, pot luck dinner, suggests varied nourishment for the psyche and calls to mind the AA slogan: “Take what you need and leave the rest.” Because Twelve Step recovery is unique among members, their experience, strength, and hope differ, and teach members accordingly.

And the image, theater, speaks of venues where life-changing stories occur. That can occur in all thirty-seven recovery programs of the Twelve Steps, and eight partially patterned ones, provided willingness and honesty motivate the participants. Higher Power is always present, within and among us.

The continuing miracle in my life is adherence to the Twelve Steps of Chronic Pain Anonymous, one day at a time. It works …

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